A Study of Translations: The Translation of the Word

By Bobby L. Graham

If people are to have access to the word of the Lord, then it must be accurately and faithfully translated-that is, it must be conveyed from the languages in which it was originally written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10; Eph. 3:3-5; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20, 21)-Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament. If the word is not translated correctly, then there is no word of God, but the twisting and perversion of the so-called translator.

The translator, then, must himself be an honest individual, willing to place principle ahead of personal belief so that the word of God might always show through. If he places his own ideas ahead of principles of correct translation, then his work will become a hodge-podge of false acid distorted notions, capable of misleading people into the belief and practice of error. It is important, therefore, to learn about the translator as well as the translation, lest his own ideas take us unawares through his faulty work.

Some principles for determining the worthiness of a particular version of the Scriptures are timely: (1) Not every translation is correct, and no translator is inspired of God to do his work. (Any version claiming inspiration or special guidance for the translator bears watching.) (2) If translation is done accurately, we do not lose the original meaning, as some claim, but rather gain it! (3) Though clear, understandable English is desirable, it should not be gained at the expense of truth, as has been done with most modern versions. What good is clear, understandable English that does not translate the truth? (4) All words added as thought necessary by the translator should be italicized to signal their addition. This is violated by the Revised Standard Version and the New English Bible. (5) Group translations are much more preferable than one-man translations because the one man would be more likely to impose his ideas, doctrines, and commentary upon his work, not being restrained or checked by the group. Most modern versions are the work of one man-for example, Today’s English Version (Good News for Modern Man) and The Living Bible.

The chief reason for alarm and concern over the modern versions of the Bible is that their producers, almost to a man, do not believe in the inspiration of the Bible or the deity of Jesus Christ. We can not, therefore, expect them to handle God’s word carefully or to present Jesus as the Son of God. Those who do hold to the verbal inspiration of the word and the deity of Jesus have, in many cases, pushed some false notion through their work: original sin, salvation by faith alone, the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit today, premillennialism, etc.

It is with these thoughts in mind that we appeal for concern on the part of the reader for a correct version. To this end we shall be exploring the different versions that have flooded the market in recent years. This study will occupy us for several issues.

Truth Magazine XXII: 25, p. 409
June 22, 1978