Thinking Out Loud

June 28, 2021

The Christian Book of the Year for 2021

In 25+ years in and around Christian publishing, I’ve seen products come and go, but this is one time I think that a forthcoming retelling of the gospel story is going to be significant both in terms of sales and ministry significance.

The First Nations Version (InterVarsity Press) is just what the name implies. The term first nations is commonly used in Canada to describe the indigenous people and the term is catching on in the U.S. and other parts of the world. More than two dozen tribes had input into the production of this New Testament, which the authors claim is a dynamic equivalence translation containing additional words and phrases added for clarity as was found in The Voice Bible. However, I think of this as a contender for “Book of the Year,” and not “Bible of the Year” because it is simply so very different from other translations, particularly in its treatment of proper nouns (people and place names) that I expect that outside the communities for which it is intended, it will be studied more as an artifact of contextualization in sharing the Bible’s message. To that end, it belongs in a category with The Kiwi Bible or The Street Bible which we’ve covered here in years past.

Spearheading the project is Terry Wildman. As early as 2013, he published Birth of the Chosen One which was marketed for teens and described as,

A book for children of all ages. This is the story of the birth of Jesus retold for Native Americans and other English speaking First Nations peoples. The text is from the First Nations Version project…

In 2014, he released When God’s Spirit Walked Among Us, which was

A harmony of the Gospels combined into a single narrative. It retells the story of the Gospels using words and phrases that relate to the First Nations People, then also for English speaking indigenous peoples from all nations, and finally to all who want to hear the story in a fresh and unique way.

In 2017, he published Walking the Good Road: The Gospel and Acts with Ephesians. It was in delving into the annotation for this title that I found more information about the project:

The First Nations Version was first envisioned by the author Terry M. Wildman and with the help of OneBook.ca and Wycliffe Associates has expanded into a collaborative effort that includes First Nations/Native Americans from over 25 tribes. This book is the introductory publication of the First Nations Version of the New Testament. A translation in English by First Nations/Native Americans, for First Nations/Native Americans. This project was birthed out of a desire to provide an English Bible that connects, in a culturally sensitive way, the traditional heart languages of the over six million English-speaking First Nations people of North America. The First Nations Version Translation Council has been selected from a cross-section of Native North Americans-elders, pastors, young adults and men and women from differing tribes and diverse geographic locations. This council also represents a diversity of church and denominational traditions to minimize bias.

But who is Terry Wildman? It was only in the information provided for the forthcoming complete New Testament that I was able to learn more:

He serves as the director of spiritual growth and leadership development for Native InterVarsity. He is also the founder of Rain Ministries and has previously served as a pastor and worship leader.

The information above is on trade (book industry) pages I can’t link, but the website for Rain Ministries provided more details.

Rain Ministries is the home of RainSong Music and the First Nations Version translation.

Terry and Darlene currently live in Maricopa Arizona on the traditional land of the Tohono O’odham and the Pima. Terry’s time is divided between mentoring staff on Zoom for Native InterVarsity and working on the First Nations Version translation.

As RainSong Terry and Darlene travel North America and abroad, teaching, storytelling, sharing their music at First Nations gatherings, on Reservations, and also at Churches and Conferences…

Terry and Darlene founded Rain Ministries, a non-profit corporation based in Arizona in 2001, and have been actively involved in the lives of many First Nations people since 1998.

Their biography indicates they got their ministry start with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) and given their current connection to Wycliffe Associates and OneBook (both arms lengths organizations of Wycliffe Bible Translators) and their involvement with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship; I am led to believe that this is a well-anchored project theologically. Besides, I trust IVP to vet their books well.

Still there are going to be people who find things like the chapter titles (names given to the books of the Bible) and people names somewhat different. I would assume that, as with so many Christian endeavors, the people who might object the loudest are the people who are not the intended audience for this New Testament retelling.

I’d like to get into more stylistic details, but my exposure to the project is based on a sample booklet which only contained 19 pages of actual text, and was lacking the go-to chapters I look for in doing passage comparisons with new translations. I suspect that’s because so many people are asking for an advance look, they’ve decided to limit who gets what. Disappointing. I was also going to include an excerpt from the book at Christianity 201, but without a proper review copy, I decided not to discuss the actual content, and so you’re having to settle for this copy-and-paste presentation of information related to its publication so that you can keep your own eyes and ears open. Sorry I was unable to do more.

The book is being published simultaneously in hardcover and paperback editions. Where First Nations communities are nearby, I expect the FNV to be a popular outreach tool and as stated at the outset, perhaps the most significant title to be released this year, at least in North America.

 

 

December 17, 2020

Answering the Two Common Objections to The Message Bible

Because I work in and around the world of Christian publishing, I often find myself having to enduring some rather bizarre comments about Bible versions. I do my best to correct these, but often I’m not considered as authoritative as some random person they watched on a video, or on a Christian television show.

This week in going through my hoardings, I discovered a single sheet which was no doubt part of larger package used in the early days to introduce The Message Bible. I don’t see an exact date, but this was distributed by the publisher, NavPress.

The first objection commonly raised is that The Message isn’t a true translation. In terms of the translations with which people are most familiar, there is some truth in this. (See below.) But it’s true of all translations to some degree. In the KJV rendering of Romans 6:1-2a we read, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid…” The term “God forbid;” is a popular colloquialism of the time, much akin to “God save the King!” But God’s name, or the name of any deity for that matter, doesn’t appear in the original languages, nor in any other English translation. It’s not the type of thing Paul would say, as a Jew or or as a Christ-follower. The KJV lapses into paraphrase at this point, and several others.

One linguistics source I checked several years ago expressed some difficulty with the word paraphrase. They basically said, “If you’re taking something in one word-set, and re-stating it for other readers in a different word-set, you are in fact translating.” In the Evangelical world, paraphrase has become a pejorative term, leaving the translation ripe for criticism by those lacking a fuller understanding of how the world of Bible translation operates.

Which brings us back to The Message:

Obviously, a person looking for purity in translation would be best to stick with NASB, but those who get irate when they feel a Bible lacks integrity by the addition of things which strictly speaking are not in the original languages would have greater issues with The Amplified Bible or The Voice.

The second common issue frequently raised is that The Message is the product of a single individual. I don’t remember hearing this so much when J. B. Phillips introduced his New Testament in Modern English or when more recently, N. T. Wright introduced his Kingdom New Testament. Both are respected, though people are free to disagree with Wright’s interpretations that are published elsewhere. Ken Taylor’s original The Living Bible was a one-man production, but Taylor freely acknowledged this and the publishing company he created met this objection head-on with the creation The New Living Translation (NLT) which involved 128+ scholars, but still gets confused with its predecessor by some people.

I will admit The Passion Translation by Brian Simmons is enduring much criticism and has been updated at least twice that I am aware of in a very short period of time. And there are a host of independent translations published each and every year which never make it to the Christian bookstore market, some of which are written by people whose scholarship leans more theologically liberal.

Here’s what I learned — which I didn’t consider before — reading the information sheet:

Academics and scholars use the term peer review to describe the process by which their work is submitted for critique by others, and Eugene Peterson apparently followed this process…

…I think the people trashing The Message Bible are just looking for a fight. They’re the same people who become argumentative on so many fronts, a list of which isn’t needed in these times.

But Peterson himself was apparently surprised the first time he heard of a church using The Message as its core text for scripture readings. He didn’t envision the widespread popularity.

So my advice would be, purchase one, use it, enjoy it, but keep a more formal-correspondence or dynamic-equivalence translation close at hand.

October 24, 2019

Calvinists Launch ESV-Only Movement

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:43 am

Because I work mostly on the retail side of Christian publishing, twice a week I get to deal with customers directly and witness transactions first-hand. What follows is not conjecture, extrapolation from a too-finite study, or exaggeration of a few anecdotal observations.

We are witnessing — if we have not already concluded this — the birth of an ESV-only movement that is equal in its militancy to the KJV-only movement with which which we are already familiar.

The final driver to write these words came just an hour ago, when a young man who had purchased a study Bible which he greatly liked, was basically forced by his pastor to return it for an ESV.

The other translation was not acceptable.

Knowing his story and having met with him and his wife personally, I would argue this the other way around: The ESV text is not appropriate.

His pastor probably doesn’t care.

Remember, the neo-Calvinists — the Young, Restless and Reformed (YRR) — are bullies. You do it their way or you suffer the label of apostasy.

I suspect the young man will occasionally think back to ‘the one that got away,’ or in this case the Bible he loved he was told he should (could) not keep. It takes all types of Bibles to connect with all types of people. He had made an excellent choice.

The ESV serves only one useful purpose: As a badge of identification for the ‘chosen’ ones of the modern, internet-networked Calvinist movements, of which this particular church is one.

To me it’s just sad.

No, it’s worse than that, it’s pathetic.


May 23, 2019

The Bible C3P0 Read

Filed under: bible, Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:12 am

Someone mentioned this on Twitter this morning. I’d seen it at the time, but don’t know that we ever ran it here. Source unknown, but I’m willing to re-edit this if you can tell me.

 

May 2, 2019

Bible Translation: Parishioners May Be Easily Deceived

Increasingly, Twitter is becoming a long-form medium. It’s not just the 140 vs. 280 character thing, but with the use of threads, writers can present rather extensive essays.

Every once in awhile I find threads which I think are worthy of being preserved somewhere more permanent. The writer may have envisioned something temporary — a kind of Snapchat prose — but the words deserve greater attention. So as we’ve done before — Skye Jethani, Mark Clark, Sheila Wray Gregoire, Steve Bezner etc. — we want to introduce you to a voice which is new here.

Thomas Horrocks resides in Bloomington, Indiana where he serves as pastor of Stoneybrook Community Church of God and also as a chaplain in the Indiana Army National Guard. He’s co-host of the Sinnergists Podcast.

If you want to read this on Twitter, go to this link.


Okay, everybody. Time for a mini rant. As you may or may not know, I pastor a small church comprised of mostly older people, all of whom are wonderfully devout but basically none of whom have had any formal theological training. This probably describes most churches to be honest.

Today at my midweek Bible-study, one lady, who deeply loves the scriptures, brought to me a new translation of the New Testament that she obtained. It is called The Pure Word and bills itself as “an Unparalleled New Testament Translation From the Original Greek.”

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Naturally, having both an interest in Bible translations and the things my congregants want to show me, I asked if I could look at it a little closer. I started reading the preface and, folks, this thing is A. Train. Wreck.

Here’s the first paragraph

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“Never before has such a pure and genuine translation been completed.”

Are. You. Kidding. Me?

This is the kind of thing I would write if I was writing a parody. But wait, it gets worse.

They employ a methodology they call “monadic hermeneutics” in which each they assert that each word has “an accurate, single definition.” They, of course, base this in the Psalms that says “every word of God is pure.” They explain:

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“Each word…was intended to have a single specific meaning, never open to personal interpretation.” Somehow these translators, and no one else ever, were able to “bypass personal interjection and cultural influence” and determine these “unambiguous and clear meanings.”

It gets worse. They also capitalize any word “which pertain[s] to God’s Attributes and Characteristics, God’s Works, Works of the Holy Spirit in us, or Works of Angels (as opposed to works of man.)” This they determined, of course, without “personal interpretation.”

Pure Word Bible

“So,” you’re probably asking, “How does this work out in actual translation?” Great question.

Here is their translation of John 3:16, which they insist is “the original Greek to English translation,”

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These people claim they are “Unveiling the Original Meaning After Nearly 2000 Years” and that they are “re-implementing the full and original Greek…as it was understood during the first century” and that this “is commonly recognized as the most accurate…in the world.”

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Now, anyone who has received any kind of training in Greek or Biblical interpretation knows this is all absolute malarkey. But the good-hearted people in our pews may not know this.

These people are preying on our peoples’ desire for certitude and easy answers and using it to slip in genuinely debatable interpretation under the guise of The Original Word of God.™

We need to be teaching our people that the work of translation and interpretation is messy and that there things that debatable, things that are ambiguous, and things that are unclear, otherwise we end with this (below), but for real.

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December 17, 2018

Choosing a Bible for a Child

Filed under: bible, Christianity, parenting — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:08 am

With Christmas Eve a week away, I thought I’d look at this topic again; however, this is an new article written last week which was published elsewhere.

This hurriedly produced image shows the most popular Kids’ Bible in its two most popular translations, and a graphic Bible which we’ll discuss at the end of the article.

Unless you’re buying it as a family keepsake, very young children will be given a Bible storybook, which gives you three reading options, “Read to;” “Read with;” or “I Can Read.”

However, with an actual full Bible (New Testaments by themselves are hard to find) you’re assuming the child is going to be reading it on their own, if not now, in the very near future.

For the youngest kids, Simplified text versions like the NIrV (notice the little ‘r‘ slipped in there; it stands for New International Readers Version) offer a Grade 3.5 reading level with shorter sentences. (Can’t help you with place names or people names, though!) The International Children’s Bible or ICB is at a Grade 3.9 level. (It’s a cousin to the NCV, New Century Version.)

For kids who are now in Grade 3 or higher (or read well in Grade 2) they can handle a regular NIV, NLT; but with children I would avoid the ESV or NKJV unless there is a strong family/church preference

As the kids get older, there are specialty Bibles for girls and boys; and also the same options as we have for adults: Text-only, Study Bibles, or Devotional Bibles.

There are some great editions for teens, but for tweens, make sure any topical issues introduced in the supplementary readings aren’t too mature.

I’ve also pictured a comic book Bible in the picture above. The Action Bible (product line shown below) and The Picture Bible are better for kids aged 10 and higher. These, and graphic-novel styled Bibles are preferred by boys over girls; and should never be a substitute for a regular Bible.

If the child is going to be taking the Bible back and forth from church, you can also buy a Bible case.

The Action Bible product line will help kids engage with the text as never before, however, that being said, it’s never a substitute for a real, text Bible.

March 11, 2018

83% of Statistics Are Made Up

cartoonkjv

Yes…I made up that stat in today’s headline…

Four years ago a number of Christian websites, blogs and media outlets ran with a story about a research study at the — deep breath — the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis; with the primary takeaway that the King James Version of the Bible is the most-read in the United States and therefore most-popular English Bible translation.

My reaction when I read this, summarized at Christianity Today, was “What have these people been smoking?” Alas, the study was based in Indianapolis, not Colorado or Washington.

As someone who has devoted a lifetime to various aspects of Christian publishing, these results are so completely counter-intuitive. I guess all those Gideon Bibles in the drawer underneath the motel telephone are getting used after all. Maybe now the King James Only movement can stop campaigning and say, “We rest our case.”

But the study has to do with what version the survey group claimed to be reading. In a library, the book most-read might be the dictionary. Among our aforementioned motel guests, it might be a telephone directory. If they survey dentists’ offices, it might be nondescript magazines from 2007. None of these things turn up on the bestseller lists because nobody is interested in what people use for reference, people want to know what items in print are of significant interest that they cause people to part with their money to obtain them.

Personally, I think time spent follows money spent. I think the sales data, which in most parts of the English-speaking world still supports the New International Version as the top English translation, is of greater interest. I also have a hard time believing that the majority of searches at BibleGateway.com have KJV set as their default.

Has the KJV greatly influenced English and North American culture? Absolutely. We celebrated that in 2011, recognizing the 400th anniversary of the translation that has outlasted most others in the past two millennia. It’s often quoted and my own online searches often revert to KJV because that’s how I memorized the verses as a child.

But it’s time to move on. Studies like this one — all 44 pages of it — only confuse the central issues.

Furthermore, the study is biased in several places. On the topic of where respondents find help and clarification in their Bible understanding, choices are clergy, commentaries, study groups, electronic media and the internet. I’m sorry, but my go-to resource if a passage is muddy is to use other translations. As one person taught me a long time ago, “Let the translators do the work for you.” That’s also the point behind parallel Bible editions and sites like BibleGateway, BibleHub, Biblios, etc.

I also know from decades of anecdotal experiences with teaching people about Bible translations that many people simply don’t know the names of any of them, and if asked, will answer “King James” or worse, “Saint James” because that’s the only answer they can give. Furthermore, the study has been widely criticized for not allowing the New King James Version (NKJV) as an option. The surveyors also showed a rather glaring ignorance for their subject matter by referring to The Living Bible (sic) instead of the New Living Translation (NLT), the version that is currently number one in the bookstore market where I reside.

…But then, here’s the thing. Just days after publishing a news story on the study, the same website, Christianity Today, released Three Ways to Recognize Bad Stats. Ed Stetzer suggested:

1. Be Wary of Statistics in Promotions
2. Be Wary of Stats that Cannot be Verified
3. Be Wary of Stats that do not Line up with Reality

It is the third category in which I place the Bible reading study. I would also like to propose a couple of friendly amendments to Stetzer’s article:

4. Be Wary of Stats Backed by an Agenda

Too many studies, surveys and statistical compilations are presented by people or groups who have predetermined the outcome they wish to see.

5. Be Wary of Stats Designed to Invoke Fear

There are two reasons why people do this. Some rally the troops by suggesting there is a common enemy we face in order to galvanize support for a particular ministry that can stem the tide and reverse the situation. Sadly, some Christian research firms do this in order to sell survey data. If it bleeds it leads. This is best seen in the tension between Barna Research’s David Kinnaman and sociologist Bradley Wright, the latter titling one of his books, The Sky is Not Falling.

I should also say that I don’t fault Christianity Today for the confusion, especially since they write me a weekly paycheck for the Wednesday Link Lists. In the former case, they are simply reporting the study, and writer Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra possibly plays her hand by saying, in the 4th paragraph, “The numbers are surprising;” and then links to a 2011 CT story by — wait for it — Ed Stetzer reporting on the NIV’s dominance. In the latter case, Stetzer is simply being pastoral, warning the CT-readership flock that they can’t believe everything they read.

Note to KJV-Only trolls: This is not the blog you’re looking for. Comments will be deleted.

March 3, 2018

Popular Bible Verses in The Passion Translation (TPT)

Each year there are many new translations of the Bible released, but only a select few reach a level whereby they find acceptance and are known by the broader Christian community. We’ve seen conservative translations such as the ESV and more recently the CSB do this but there are also versions of the Bible which attempt to do something new and different, while still remaining faithful to original language documents.

Such was The Message and more recently The Voice; and it’s into that marketplace that The Passion Translation (sometimes being referred to now as TPT) by Dr. Brian Simmons steps. The New Testament is now complete, so we thought we’d share some verses with you.

 A hardcover edition is now available in two hardcover editions and several leather editions, with two more hardcovers due in March and in addition to the NT contains Psalms, Proverbs and Song of Songs.

Ephesians 2:8 – For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ!


Matthew 28:18 – Now go in my authority and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


2 Timothy 3:16 – Every Scripture has been written by the Holy Spirit, the breath of God. It will empower you by its instruction and correction, giving you the strength to take the right direction and lead you deeper into the path of godliness.


Romans 10:9 – And what is God’s “living message”? It is the revelation of faith for salvation, which is the message that we preach. For if you publicly declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will experience salvation.


Romans 8:28 – So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.


Romans 12:2 – Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.


Philippians 4:13 – I know what it means to lack, and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance. For I’m trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty.


…Read more; now available on your computer at Bible Gateway or on your smartphone at You Version.

March 2, 2018

There’s King James Only, and then There’s Hardcore King James Only

Filed under: bible, Christianity, cults — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:08 am

We’re having some fun going back over old posts because it’s our 10th Anniversary week and next Wednesday is the 400th Wednesday Link List (WLL). We actually found the very first use of WLL as the title and decided to try the links to see what worked.

But in the process, we also found this and couldn’t resist posting it to Twitter. I wrote a simple set-up:

When being King James Only ain’t good enough.

If you want to be real King James Only you need to be using the British edition. Otherwise, your Christ may be the anti-Christ.

and then posted it:

I almost immediately heard back from a respected author who I consider at the epicenter of all things King James Only related. (See below for book information.)

Is this for real?

Yes, James, it is. We thought you’d seen it all!

We couldn’t find the actual page on the website of the church which had posted this, Jackson Summit Baptist Church (tag line: an independent, fundamental, Bible Teaching, conservative worship, King James using Baptist Church*) but we did find a link to the text where we found it at the now-defunct but still visible Stuff Fundies Like where it’s existence is substantiated in the comments including these:

• FWIW, “saviour” is five letters in Greek, and has three consonants in Hebrew. Of course, this makes me a “Bible corrector,” one of the worst insults that could be used by a die-hard fundamentalist.

• “Christ” has six letters in English. Rats. I used to like that title. Guess it’s satantic like savior.

• [Paragraph which precedes our quoted text]”Because the King James Bible is not copyrighted, secular publishing companies are making many minor changes to the standard text so that they can please certain groups which translates into extra sales for them.”

• I have to wonder if this affection for Elizabethan British spelling could be cured by language education, something in which most Americans are deficient but Fundies make an art form. “Savior” in a few other languages:
Retter (German, 6)
frelsara (Icelandic, 8)
frelser (Danish and Norwegian, 7)
verlos (Afrikaans, 6)
pelastaja (Finnish, 9)
salvator (Latin, 8)
salvatore (Italian, 9)
salvador (Spanish, 8)
sauveour (Old French, 8)
sauveur (French, 7)
Slánaitheoir (Irish, 12)
Is it possible that the number of letters in a word doesn’t mean squat? But then again, I’m leaning on my own understanding…

…Yes, the whole thing shuts down when you speak more than one language, but then so does the entire translation debate itself.

The way I see it, when many of these people enter eternity, the Lord is going to look at them and just say, “Seriously?”


*Their real tag line is “Holding Fast the Faithful Word,” but the above appeared right afterwards along with a short defence. Jackson Summit located in Millerton, Pennsylvania (just south of the NY state border) and is currently between pastors, so if this sort of thing is up your alley, you might want to apply. Also if you’re reading this on March 2nd, today is Carolyn Oldroyd’s birthday. And if you waded through the rest of the comments at SFL, yes they still have the SWAT ministry for teens.


I can’t recommend James White’s book enough, especially if you’re new to this discussion. Even if you don’t have a huge interest in the issue, you’ll find the parallel verse-by-verse discussion makes a great platform for personal Bible study. I actually own two different editions of this and I believe I’ve read each twice, but then again my vocation sometimes puts me in the middle of the debate. The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust The Modern Translations, Revised Edition. (Bethany House, 2009, paperback)

April 29, 2017

C. S. Lewis on Bible Translating

I originally posted this excerpt in 2015, but it’s hard to believe it wasn’t penned yesterday. I don’t know the original date it was written, but it first appeared in the collection titled God in the Dock, and we found this excerpt in another anthology tiled The Joyful Christian. Since Lewis died in 1963, we know the material is, at minimum, around 60 years old. I’ve changed the paragraphing and (horrors!) Americanized some spelling. Revisiting it today, I was struck especially by the second-last paragraph which reminded me of the ESV “permanent translation” discussions of 2016.

It is possible that the reader … may ask himself why we need a new translation of any part of the Bible… “Do we not already possess,” it may be said, “in the Authorized Version the most beautiful rendering which any language can boast?” Some people whom I have met go even further and feel that a modern translation is not only unnecessary but even offensive. They cannot bear to see the time-honored words altered; it seems to them irreverent.

C. S. LewisIn the first place the kind of objection which they feel to a new translation is very like the objection which was once felt to any English translation at all. Dozens of sincerely pious people in the sixteenth century shuddered at the idea of turning the time-honored Latin of the Vulgate into our common and (as they thought) ‘barbarous’ English. A sacred truth seemed to them to have lost its sanctity when it was stripped of the polysyllabic Latin, long heard at Mass and at Hours, and put into ‘language such as men do use’—language steeped in all the commonplace associations of the nursery, the inn, the stable, and the street.

The answer then was the same as the answer now. The only kind of sanctity which Scripture can lose (or, at least, New Testament scripture) by being modernized is an accidental kind which it never had for its writers or its earliest readers. The New Testament in the original Greek is not a work of literary art: it is not written in a solemn, ecclesiastical language, it is written in the sort of Greek which was spoken over the Eastern Mediterranean after Greek had become an international language and therefore lost its real beauty and subtlety.

In it we see Greek used by people who have no real feeling for Greek words because Greek words are not the words they spoke when they were children. It is a sort of “basic” Greek; a language without roots in the soil, a utilitarian, commercial and administrative language. Does this shock us? It ought not to, except as the Incarnation itself ought to shock us. The same divine humility which decreed that God should become a baby at a peasant woman’s breast, and later an arrested field preacher in the hands of the Roman police, decreed also that He should be preached in a vulgar, prosaic and unliterary language. If you can stomach the one, you can stomach the other. The Incarnation is in that sense an irreverent doctrine….

When we expect that [the Bible] should have come before the World in all the beauty that we now feel in the Authorized Version we are as wide of the mark as the Jews were in expecting that the Messiah would come as a great earthly King.

The real sanctity, the real beauty and sublimity of the new Testament (as of Christ’s life) are of a different sort: miles deeper and further in.

In the second place, the Authorized Version has ceased to be a good (that is, a clear) translation. It is no longer modern English: the meanings of words have changed. The same antique glamor which has made it (in the superficial sense) so ‘beautiful’, so ‘sacred’, so ‘comforting’, and so ‘inspiring’, has also made it in many places unintelligible…

[He then gives some examples.]

…The truth is that if we are to have translation at all we must have periodical re-translation. There is no such thing as translating a book into another language once and for all, for a language is a changing thing. If your son is to have clothes it is no good buying him a suit once and for all: he will grow out of it and have to be re-clothed.

And finally – though it may seem a sour paradox – we must sometimes get away from the Authorized Version if for no other reason, simply because it is so beautiful and so solemn. Beauty exalts, but beauty also lulls. Early associations endear but they also confuse. Through that beautiful solemnity the transporting or horrifying realities of which the Book tells may come to us blunted and disarmed and we may only sigh with tranquil veneration when we ought to be burning with shame, or struck dumb with terror, or carried out of ourselves by ravishing hopes and adorations.

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