October 20, 2017

A Review of the Kenneth S. Wuest Translation of the New Testament

By Luther W. Martin

The complete title of Dr. Kenneth S. Wuest's translation is: "The New Testament, an Expanded, Translation." In his preface, the author states that his work is intended "as a companion to, or commentary on, the standard translations . . ." And, although he is to be commended for the greater portion of his effort, still we believe that he has fallen sadly short of literal accuracy in a number of instances . . . particularly those that involve the subject of baptism in order to the remission of sins.

Dr. Wuest has endeavored to observe and follow the Greek order of words in his sentence structure, and we wish that he had been equally accurate in remaining with the meaning of the Greek context, rather than resorting to a substantial amount of paraphrasing and interpolating.

Careless Use of the Name "Christian"

Dr. Wuest has made use of the name "Christian" 45 more times than it actually appears in the Greek New Testament. In the First Letter to the Corinthians, he uses the word "Christian" 13 times; and in First Peter and Titus, he went so far as to insert the term "Christianity" once in each letter.

Careless Use of Names for the Church

In 1 Cor. 11:16 he selects the expression "assemblies of God." This is a very good rendering, but in other places he resorts to: "church assembly"1 Cor. 14:18. This is equivalent to saying "church church" or "assembly assembly." In 2 Thess. 2:2, Dr. Wuest inserts a lengthily explanatory statement, in which he uses the expression "Christian assembly." There is no Greek equivalent for this explanatory statement whatsoever.

Deliberate Insertion of Translator's Views in Context

In I John 2:16, he inserts"the totally depraved nature . . ." In 1 Thess. 1:4, he inserts . . . "in which God in sovereign grace selected you out for salvation . . ." In Acts 22:16, he gives . . . "Having arisen, be baptized and wash away your sins, having previously called upon His Name." Please note the two words that I have underscored . . . "Having previously" . . ; By resorting to such a rendering, he attempts to infer the idea of salvation prior to baptism.

Deliberate Avoidance of Immersion

Dr. Wuest seems to desire to totally avoid any wording that would teach the necessity of immersion for the remission of sins. In his preface, he indicates that he has attempted to do away with anglicized words, such as "baptism" . . . and with that goal, we concur. If most of the English revisers would have reduced baptize to immerse, or baptism to immersion, there would be less false teaching and confusion in the world' relative to just what constitutes "baptism." But let us examine how this translator deals with what should be rendered as immerse, dip, submerge, plant, overwhelm or plunge-under.

Acts 2:37-38: "Now, having heard this, they were stung to the heart with poignant sorrow. And they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, what shall we do, men, brothers? And Peter said to them, have a change of mind, that change of mind being accompanied by abhorrence of and sorrow for your deed, and let each one of you be baptized upon the ground of your confession of belief in the sum total of all that Jesus Christ is in His glorious Person, this baptismal testimony being in relation to the fact that your sins have been put away, and you shall receive the gratuitous gift of the Holy Spirit . . ." (Note the extreme lengths to which Wuest has gone in inserting his own views in such a rendering.)

Romans 6: 3-4; "Do you not know that all we who were pieced in Christ Jesus, in His death were placed? We therefore were entombed with Him through this being placed in His death...." The underscored words "were placed in Christ" are used in lieu of "baptized into Christ." To get away from the anglicized Greek word, it could read, "immersed into Christ" or "submerged into Christ." "Were placed in" fails miserably to show forth Christ's death, burial and resurrection.

Gal. 3:27; "For as many as were introduced into union with Christ, put on Christ." Here, Dr. Wuest has certainly avoided any transliteration.... he has completely tossed the subject away. "Introduced into union with Christ" means no specific act or thing.... while the Greek context uses ebaptisthete, from bapto, meaning to dip. We agree with Dr. Wuest, that the action described achieves or accomplishes what he gave in his translation . . . namely, "introduced into union with Christ." But instead of actually translating the Greek text as it is, Dr. Wuest favors his readers with a commentary at this point.... and by handling it in this manner, he leaves great leeway for all sorts of sectarian conclusions and teachings.

One Lord, One Faith and "One Placing Into"

In the fourth chapter of Ephesians, the paragraph on "oneness" is given as"There is one Body and one Spirit, even as also you were in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one Faith, one placing into (the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit), one God and Father of all, the One above all and through all and in all." (Eph. 4:5-6.) Note that in place of "baptism" the translator uses the expression "placing into." This, of course, is that which is accomplished by the action of baptism, properly preceded by faith, repentance and confession of Christ .... but by such a rendering as "placing into" there is no indication whatsoever as to what comprises the actionyet the Greek gives the word "baptisma" which in turn comes from the Greek stem bapto, meaning to dip. Wuest also goes beyond the call of translating duty, when he inserts "the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit".... thus, tending to leave the impression that the baptism under consideration is that of the Holy Spirit, rather than immersion in water.... as in Acts 10:47-48.

Other Unusual Renderings

That Dr. Wuest has some very fine work demonstrated in his translation, we do not deny. However, we sincerely feel that he has neutralized the good things in his work, by the great number of questionable wordings.... wordings that seem to generally reflect sectarian doctrine. Here are some further examples of unusual renditions: The word "Cross" with a capital "C" is used a number of times.... as in Phil. 3:18, Col. 2:14, and Heb. 12:2.

In several instances, Dr. Wuest uses the word bairns to further describe "first-born ones" or "little children." As in 1 John 2:28, 3:1, and 5:21. We cannot understand how the use of this word bairn which is Scotch and archaic, can assist in clearly rendering the Scriptures in a modern helpful manner. In 2 Timothy 4: 5, where Paul urges Timothy to "do the work of an evangelist . . ." (euaggelistes, is the Greek word for it), Dr. Wuest instead, renders it "pastor." No doubt, he thinks that "pastors'' and "evangelists" are one and the same . . . and, so thinking, he chose to switch the terms. However, further study will demonstrate that in the New Testament, elders, pastors, and bishops, all refer to the same work and responsibility, while the word "evangelist" may be interchanged with "preacher." See the word kerux, as used in 1 Tim. 2:7; and 2 Tim 1:11.

Conclusion

In numerous passages, Dr. Wuest has translated excellently and well. But as we have already stated, some of his brilliant renderings are dulled and dimmed by some of his unfortunate word choices. For comparative reading, his translation is worthwhile, but for regular study, or for exact literal renderings of the Greek text, we cannot endorse it.

TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 10, pp. 16-17 July 1966

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