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Gamaliel's Desk
Friday, May 31, 2002
Scripture Translations

I hesitate to enter the debate on which version or translation of Scripture is the best, but since I receive this question often enough I feel that it is time I added my opinion to the fray.

Let me say first of all that any arguments about the “accuracy” of a translation are largely red herrings. True, some translations may be closer in form to the original vernacular but that does not necessarily make them more accurate. All languages are filled with figures of speech that lose meaning through translations. We may translate the literal words but that doesn’t mean we have translated what those words mean in the way they are used.

When we say, “A horse of a different color” we are not referring to a literal horse. Anyone not familiar with English would need to have this phrase explained to them if it were translated into their language. This is why we say things are, “lost in the translation.”

I use the Authorized Version and do so for a very important reason. The form of English in this version is archaic and fell out of common usage hundreds of years ago. As a result, most people who read this version of the scriptures find it difficult to read and are easily frustrated in their attempts to read through the Bible. So they don’t read it at all. If they ever do manage to read through the Bible, their comprehension is so low; they get very little from the experience. This is the chief reason for sticking to the Authorized Version of the Scriptures.

“But shouldn’t everyone read the Word?” you ask. Of course they should! Scripture reading is one of the signs of spirituality. It is a devotion to reading the word that sets us Spiritual Christians apart from the Carnal Christians that make up the bulk of Christianity. If Bible-reading were easy, then everyone would do it and we wouldn’t have much to brag about as Spiritual Christians, would we? No, for daily Bible reading to have value, it must be difficult and something worth bragging about.

“What if they read through the Bible and still don’t understand it?” is another question I receive. Of course they can’t understand it – they are not Spiritual. Only Spiritual Christians can understand the Authorized Version of the Bible. Their lack of understanding is once again a proof of their carnality. If they would spend more time in the word, then they would understand it, wouldn’t they? But they are lazy Christians and so they aren’t as dedicated to the Word as we are. Thus they are inferior Carnal Christians and should be made to feel guilty for not reading their Bibles.

If they claim to read a modern translation, then we say that it is an inferior translation and doesn’t contain the richness of meaning of the “original.” We say they can’t possibly understand fully what God means if they read from one of these inferior modern translations which are full of errors and mistranslations.

Another benefit to their ignorance is that they have to come to us for answers. What if the Bible were easy to understand and anyone could read it for himself? Where would that put us? Why, we would be out of a job. No, it’s better for us to force people to hold on to a Bible version that they don’t read and can’t understand so we can be the ones who truly know what the Bible says. That way, they keep coming to us for answers and we maintain our Spiritual superiority.

“And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!”
Mark 7:9 (NIV)
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