Bible Word Comparisons
Third Millennium Publications®
A phenomenon of the last third of the twentieth century has been the astonishing proliferation of contemporary Bible translations, all containing differing messages. Sociologists and theologians may disagree as to the cause of this phenomenon, but the stark fact is that the sacred Word of God, which has been both divinely inspired and providentially preserved from the earliest times to the present day, has been altered in innumerable ways by contemporary translators involving changes in language, meaning, and theology.
It must be remembered that what modern translators are attempting to change is not the wording of a transitory document, but the holy and blessed Word of God. Can we through our silence suffer this to happen? Is not the Word of God eternal? Does not also the twentieth century have a responsibility to transmit the unsullied Word to generations to come?
The nature and magnitude of this gross and tragic contemporary development is the subject of this Bible Word Comparison.
It is the position of the compiler of this study that the large number of translations of the Scriptures is evidence of an underlying translator hostility toward many of the great ideas and thoughts that have characterized over 3,000 years of Jewish-Christian cultural history. We point out specifically that many modern translators and their client Bible publishers too often reflect the negative aspects of the post-Enlightenment era. We assert that the social and cultural orientation of many modern translators has influenced negatively their translating efforts. Modern translators of the holy Word of God have actually politicized, in multifaceted manifestations, their Bible translating efforts. Not only have they demeaned and downgraded the exalted diction of traditional Biblical English, but they have also contaminated biblical idiom with political ideas and concepts alien to the spirit and tenor of the Scriptures. Twentieth-century materialism and secularism, and also the influence of special interest groups, have each impacted to one degree or another most modern Bible translations, as has the Gnosticism of an ancient Egyptian and Hellenistic heretical culture.
In our approach to the problems posed by modern Bible translations, we broaden the scope of previous comparative word studies. Earlier word studies have compared wording in the Authorized (King James) Version with a few contemporary versions. In this Bible Word Comparison, we compare selected texts of four traditional bibles with twelve widely used contemporary bibles. The traditional bibles used in this comparison are the following:
with the four traditional bibles enumerated above we have
selected the following frequently used contemporary
Before discussing specific word comparisons, we list in the following paragraphs five major differences between Traditional Bibles and Contemporary Bibles:
1.) Traditional Bible translators use a more formal, literal, and precise translating technique than is used in contemporary bibles. Most contemporary bibles reflect a less precise technique, known as dynamic equivalence. In essence, this latter technique results in translations which, in the mere subjective opinions of the translators, purport to reflect the meanings rather than the text, and are allegedly more in accord with the presumed intentions of the original writers. Some contemporary translators use an even more extreme translating technique referred to as paraphrase; wherein the translator simply decides approximately what the original writers may have meant, and then casts it in modern colloquial English. The use of these nonliteral translating techniques accounts for much of the flood of differing readings found in contemporary bibles.
2.) Traditional bibles all employ Biblical English. Contemporary bibles use the secular, colloquial English currently in use in commerce and the media. Biblical English has been the historic language of liturgy, worship, and prayer. It is not, as has often been alleged, Elizabethan or Shakespearean language. Biblical English, in fact, has never at any time been the popular or spoken language anywhere. It is the language reserved exclusively for the holy Scriptures and for liturgy, worship, and prayer. It owes its character to the faithful and literal translation from the original biblical languages into English. It has as a matter of history found its acceptance in Scriptures for more than five hundred years in over ninety percent of the English-speaking churches throughout the world. Only in the last half of the twentieth century does one find secular, colloquial English being used in Bible translations.
3.) The New Testament Greek text of traditional bibles, used continuously for almost two thousand years, is generally referred to as the Ecclesiastical Text or the Byzantine-Antiochian Text. The text used as a basis for contemporary bibles is dramatically different, and is referred to among scholars as the Alexandrian cluster of texts. This text was unused and ignored in the Christian community for over fifteen hundred years, and was first used in an English-language Bible translation in 1881. Since then it has become the basis for most contemporary bibles. The Alexandrian Text used in contemporary bibles contains almost 3,000 fewer words than the traditional text, and reflects the secular bias of the ancient Hellenistic and Alexandrian culture of the third century A.D.
4.) Most modern Protestant bibles omit books, totaling over 126,000 words, contained in the Authorized (King James) Version of 1611. These omitted books are known as the Apocrypha/ Deuterocanonical Books. The Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical Books in the Authorized Version of 1611 are: 1st and 2nd Esdras, Tobit, Judith, The Rest of the Chapters of the Book of Esther, The Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, The Song of the Three Holy Children, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, The Prayer of Manasseh, and 1st and 2nd Maccabees. All but two of these books are found in the Douay-Rheims Version. Most of these books were included in the original editions of the most widely used bibles of the last six hundred years, including the Wycliffe Bible (1382), the Coverdale Bible (1535), the Great Bible (1539), the Geneva Bible (1560), the Bishop's Bible (1568), the Douay-Rheims Version (1609), and the Authorized Version (1611). These beautiful writings were also included in the original German Luther Bible, the Latin Vulgate, the Syriac Peshitta, and Ethiopic Ge`ez, Armenian, Coptic, and Old Church Slavonic versions. In addition, these books were included in the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament used by the Apostolic Church. For reasons never widely publicized, and without adequate advance public knowledge or discussion, these books were removed from the Authorized Version by agreement among the publishers and certain special interest groups approximately two hundred years after the original printing, and have not yet reappeared in most Protestant bibles.
5.) The actual wording of the Scriptures has been changed in contemporary bibles in hundreds of instances. Plainly stated, many contemporary bibles have adapted Gods Word to accommodate to recent secular social and political trends through the use of gender-neutral language and other forms of socio-linguistic engineering, currently referred to as "political correctness." This development in modern translations is truly a lamentable attempt to modify the Word of God to conform to the prevailing secular culture.
In the balance of this Bible Word Comparison we will be discussing specific examples (among many) of theological, linguistic, social, and political biases which have been incorporated into modern translations. We suggest that the reader focus attention primarily on the specific biblical words being compared rather than on the comments of the compiler. Though necessarily subjective, our remarks are based on forty years of legal experience in studying and evaluating the meaning and nuances of English words, together with years of comparative study of English-language bibles. But, if you do not agree with our comments, ask yourself how best to explain the enormous differences in both text and meaning between contemporary bibles and traditional bibles. Work out your own explanation as to how and why these substantial differences developed in translations of the inspired Word of God.
Abbreviations Used in Comparisons
Bible Word Comparison
Does God say that human beings shall not kill each other (traditional bibles) or, alternatively, that they shall not deprive another person of life in a manner which secular laws and judicial decisions define as murder (contemporary bibles)? Note that most modern translators, in using the word murder rather than kill, he in fact exempted certain types of killing of human beings from the commandment. Examples, among others, are doctor assisted suicide, negligent killing, abortion, and euthanasia, none of which are legally considered to be murder. God's Word is that thou shalt not kill a human being, not merely that you shall not murder a human being.
In traditional bibles the cause of the poor is regarded with great concern and compassion. But contemporary bibles focus on the rights of the poor, quite a different matter.
In traditional translations the circumstances of the poor are intended to elicit loving compassion by those more fortunate. But in some contemporary bibles what should elicit compassion becomes a vehicle for the promotion of the political rights, entitlements, and claims on society by the poor. Thus so-called social justice supplants compassion for our less fortunate brethren. When godly love for the poor is replaced by legal claims or rights to be politically asserted by the poor, love and compassion vanish and are replaced by class tensions and conflict.
Traditional bibles use the blessed words live joyfully by contrast to the hedonistic, secular admonition to enjoy life, in most contemporary bibles. In traditional bibles, the preacher of Ecclesiastes recognizes and celebrates the unique and blessed status of traditional marriage together with its joyful potential. The difference between living with one's wife and living with a woman you love is obvious. The Bible is devoid of God's blessing on live-in arrangements, which violate over 3,000 years of Jewish-Christian values and morals.
Here is a monumental difference between the traditional bibles and some contemporary bibles. A reading of this verse in context discloses the writer's intention to describe a notable and astonishing miracle, namely, the birth of a child to a virgin. But some modern versions substitute the words young woman for virgin, thereby tending to deprive the birth of our Lord of its miraculous and blessed nature.
The translating of this verse in some contemporary bibles is a prime example of the materialist and secularist challenge to the whole concept of the miraculous. In its ancient form this verse is prophetic of the birth of Christ. Changing it is an attack on miracles generally, but more specifically upon the divine birth of our Lord.
Is this deviation from traditional bibles consistent with wide-spread efforts of secularists and atheists to explain biblical miracles in terms of natural phenomena?
I Maccabees 9:10
It appears that certain political groups, in their efforts to promote a gender-neutral culture, object to the attribution of the quality of manliness to a soldier, even though the meaning is well understood. This is an example of the constantly recurring linguistic bias in contemporary bibles against masculine characterizations.
Note the difference among translations in respect to the enormously important understanding of the nature of Christ Himself. Most traditional and conservative translators use the word Christ, whereas the word Messiah is used by most contemporary translators.
We pose this question: is the difference in word selection due to relative skill in translating, or social and theological bias? Messiah is a historically Hebrew concept and describes a much awaited and anticipated hero-figure who would deliver Israel from its political oppressors and had been prophesied by Hebrew prophets for hundreds of years before Christ. The Messiah was historically not endowed with the power to forgive sins. The word Christ is a more complete and adequate description of Jesus, the Son of God who came to save and forgive. Hebrew and Greek scholars tell us that the Jewish concept of Messiah did not include viewing Jesus as God (Oeos).
Does the birth of Christ, accompanied by the praise of a multitude of angels, signify a glorious event to be shared by the human race generally, or is it a blessing shared only by and for those who are favored by God and pleasing to Him? Does not the Lord send His rain on the just and the unjust? (Mt 5:45)
Scripture is used to interpret Scripture. Thus, every time a crucial word or statement is left out, biblical teaching is undermined. The opposite is also true, namely, every time the translator leaves in a crucial word or statement, as in versions based on the traditional, canonical Byzantine text, it preserves and reinforces a crucial Christian truth. In this case, the truth is that we serve a God who asks us to live by every word of His revelation.
Also similar omissions from most contemporary bibles are Matthew 17:21; 18:11; 23:14; Mark 7:16; 9:44, 46; 11:26; 15:28; 16:9-20; Luke 17:36; 23:17; John 5:4; 7:53-8:11; Acts 8:37; 15:34; 24:7; 28:29; Romans 16:24, to name a few among others.
This particular type of deletion is illustrative not of a translation error but rather of the selection by modern translators of a different, shorter, and inferior text for translation purposes.
Traditional bibles characterize the men who were crucified with Christ as malefactors. Contemporary bibles characterized these two men as criminals. A malefactor is an evil person by definition. A criminal, on the other hand, is a person condemned by a ruling judicial and political authority. Not all people who are adjudged criminals according to some secular code of law, are malefactors, but all malefactors are evil-doers. Conduct which political society defines as criminal is profoundly different from conduct which biblical tradition defines as evil. For example, some political protestors are arrested, convicted and jailed; but they are not necessarily malefactors.
The law of right and wrong - God's law - defines who are malefactors. The law of political powers defines who are criminals, some of whom may be malefactors, and some of whom may be, in fact, heroes and saints.
Notice that here all traditional bibles, and also the conservative contemporary bibles, contain the ringing confession and affirmation of the Ethiopian official that Christ is the Son of God. But most modern translators either omit this clause entirely or put it in a footnote implying that only lesser versions contain it. Such is yet another example of omissions in contemporary bibles resulting from the translators' use of the shorter Alexandrian cluster of Greek texts. It has been suggested previously in this discussion that the Alexandrian Text, the basis for almost all modern translations, is the product of editing by early Gnostic sects in order to conform Scripture to suit their particular heretical theological agenda. It requires no stretch of the imagination to conclude that the affirmation that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, as found in traditional versions, would hardly suit such an agenda.
Contemporary bibles are the source of one of the great errors of modern secularists. This passage in traditional bibles indicates that God does not show favor on the basis of worldly status (i.e., social, economic, cultural or political status of people). It makes no difference whether people are poor or rich, weak or powerful, male or female, or of any particular color of skin. Contemporary bibles, on the other hand, say that God has no favorites and treats all people alike. This, of course, is utterly untrue. A recurring message of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is that God does in fact have His favorites, namely, His children who sincerely love Him, earnestly try to live by His Word, keep His commandments, and receive His Son as Savior and God. The implication of modern translations, on the other hand, is clear: it doesn't make any difference how a person lives or how grossly he defies God's law; such a person shares God's favor equally with persons who love Him and live in accordance with His laws.
Historic Bibles reflect this seminal theme: God has a preference for the good--not a preference for the poor or the rich, or the weak or the powerful. God's preference extends to virtuous and godly people, regardless of their race, national origin, color, or economic circumstance.
1 Corinthians 13:1
In this wonderfully moving and eloquent chapter, the traditional bibles are correct in using charity instead of love. Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition, Unabridged (Webster II), defines charity with precision: "Christian love; specif.: The virtue or act of loving God with a love which transcends that for creatures, and of loving others for the sake of God;--is rendered in Greek as agape in the New Testament." The word love, though it may connote selflessness, can also mean a number of other things, including brotherly love, romantic love, erotic love, love of country, etc. Charity is the highest form of love, i.e., Christian love (agape). There is no precise English word equivalent for the Greek word agape. The traditional translators chose charity rather than love as more precisely meaningful. Charity triumphs even over faith and hope.
This is an age devoted to the banalizing, romanticizing, commercial exploitation and perversion of the concept of love. The great traditional translators providentially anticipated this development and provided the best possible translation of the Greek word agape in order that the depth and precision of its meaning might not be lost.
We who prepared this study prayerfully hope that this little book will, to some degree, alert both the lay reader and the scholarly community alike to the dangers which current political and cultural biases in contemporary Bible translations pose to the very foundation of 3,000 years of Jewish-Christian culture. The secularist battle for the hearts and souls of men is being fought not only on the theological level, but also on the social, political, and linguistic level through the vehicle of contemporary alterations in the historic Word.
Hopefully, goodly and godly souls will be inspired to join us in our efforts to combat this spreading threat to truth and virtue. We welcome the help of believers from academia, the churches, and all segments of the public at large in exposing the moral and cultural errancy of many modern Bible translations. It is an urgent task. Our work has only begun.
We earnestly pray that others will join with us in a commitment to accurate and faithful proclamation of the eternal, divinely-inspired and preserved Word of God.
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