A Review of the "New English Bible" (New Testament Portion)
Luther W. Martin
In Truth Magazine, June 1961, this writer published a similar article entitled: "New English Bible Another Disappointing Translation." Since that time we have become even more disappointed with the N. E. B. Some of the material contained in the earlier article will be found in this treatise, but we hope to provide even more information showing the folly involved in its folly of using the translation, and the N. E. B.
Acts 13:2"While they were keeping a fast and offering worship to the Lord...." (Note the expression 'offering worship,' like 'offering mass,' etc.)
Acts 3:11 and 5: 1 2 What has been translated porch, like Solomon's porch, is now rendered "cloister." The term "cloister" originally meant a covered passageway (such as a porch), but today has an entirely related meaning to secluded, confine, etc. Thus, to insert such a word in reference to that which existed in the first century, implies antiquity of early centuries for that which did not develop until much later; i.e., the idea of buildings devoted to the cloistered or secluded life of monks and nuns.
"Crude Colloquialisms" Used
A "colloquialism" refers to words used conversationally as contrasted with literary or written usage. Thus, idioms, words, phrases, that are characteristic of conversation and informal speech or informal writing, are described as "colloquial." Above are some examples as rendered in the N. E. B.
Blatant Sectarian Renderings
Matt. 16:18"You are Peter, the Rock; and on this rock I will build my church . . ." (Textually making out that Peter is "THE ROCK.")
Acts 4:13"Now as they observed the boldness of Peter and John, and noted that they were untrained laymen . . ." (Thus, introducing into the text, the idea of clergy and laity.)
Romans 15: 16 ". . . My priestly service is the preaching of the gospel . . ." This rendering tends to imply that "priestly service" applies to those who publicly proclaim the gospel; while in reality, every child of God is a priest of God.
Abuse and Misuse of the Word "Christian"
Romans 16:22 "Christian greetings."
1 Cor. 14:4"Christian community."
Gal. 1: 2 "Christian congregations."
Col. 3:20"Christian way."
1 Tim. 3:1"non-Christian public."
1 Cor. 7:14"Christian wife," "Christian husband."
2 Cor. 12:19"Christian men."
Col. 3:18"Christian duty."
2 Thess. 3:6"Christian brother."
I Tim 3:13"Christian faith."
The foregoing passages do not contain the Greek word for "Christian" a single time. Christianos, is found only three times in the Greek texts: Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, and 1 Pet. 4:16. In each of these instances, it is used as a proper noun, and is applied only for individual followers of Christ.
Unfounded Insertions in the New English Bible
1 Cor. 16:8 The word "Whitsuntide" is inserted in place of Pentecost.
Luke 23:54The word "Friday" is inserted in lieu of "the day of preparation."
Acts 20:7The word "Saturday" is inserted in place of the "first day of the week."
1 Cor. 16: 2 The term "Sunday" in place of the "first day of the week."
A Seeming Deliberate Effort to Make the Bible More Difficult to Understand
We now give a few of the more difficult words: (Can you define them without a dictionary?) Extirpate (destroy), exasperate (grieved), repudiate (reject), imperial (mighty), calumny (speak evil falsely), massacre (slew), reprimand (rebuke), astrologers (wise men), infamous (evil), etc. The words outside the parenthesis are found in the New English Bible. Here are some others: obdurate, impeached, atrophied, magnanimity, monstrous, ambiguous, cosmic, unscrupulous, sophistries, superlative, mythology and others.
Peculiar and Unusual Expressions in the N. E. B.
The usual reasons for a new translation of the word of God, is to make it more understandable to mankind. However, this is NOT the case with the New English Bible. Please note the above odd wordings.
Words That Are Inappropriate and Lacking in Restraint Used by the New English Bible
In Luke 1:26-27, the N. E. B. reduces Mary's status from that of a virgin to merely a "girl." Yet, the Greek uses the word parthenos, from which the temple of the virgins was named . . THE PARTHENON! Matt. 1:25 as given by the N. E. B., can scarcely with propriety be used in a Bible class of those of tender years .... "Joseph .... had no intercourse with her until her son was born."
Luke 2:6"She was pregnant . "
Matt 21:31,32 "Prostitutes."
Rornans 1:26"Women have exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural...."
Gal. 5:12"As for these agitators, they had better go the whole way and make eunuchs of themselves."
As for the foregoing, we realize that in modern day society, there is scarcely any subject that is forbidden in mixed company. However, being old-fashioned and conservative, I regret the tactics of the N. E. B.
Literary Losses and Poor Substitutes
"Pearls before swine" has been altered to "Pearls to pigs." The "whited sepulchres" of the old English, is not equaled by "Tombs covered with whitewash." Paul's "thorn in the flesh" now becomes "a sharp pain in my body," making it more literal, rather than recognizing the figure of speech involved therein.
The N. E. B. uses "bad characters" for "sinners"; "true self" for "soul"; and "on whom my favour rests" takes the place of "in whom I am well pleased."
Other unusual word selections include: inkling, buckle, hubbub, in the dock, perfect pest, gibberish, catch me out, bed and all, its drift, rounded on him, shook hands on it, and did not square.
It is my humble opinion, that the New English Bible is one of the very poorest versions to be produced for general usage in the last century.
TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 11, pp. 8-10 August 1966