Dangers of a “One Man” Translation

By Luther W. Martin

The King James Version of the English Scriptures was translated over a period of seven years, being published in the year 1611. Fifty-four scholars were invited to participate in this work, but only forty-seven took part in the actual translating.

The English Revised Version was translated over a period of ten and one-half years, with a total of sixty-seven men taking part in the project. The Old Testament Company was composed of thirty-seven members, and the New Testament Company made up of thirty men. The English Revised New Testament was published in 1881, and the English Revised Old Testament in 1885.

The American Revised Version, more commonly called the American Standard Version, was published in 1901. In addition to the English Revisers mentioned above, thirty-four additional American scholars worked on the American Revision of the English Version . . . making a total of fifty-two in the combined Old Testament Companies, and forty-nine in the combined New Testament Companies; making a complete total of one hundred and one scholars whose abilities were utilized in the translating of the American Standard Version of 1901.

These translators came from various sectarian persuasions which may well have influenced each of them to some extent. However, there would be a great tendency for the more extreme views and/or positions to be counter-acted or neutralized between them. The following religious groups were represented: Anglican (Episcopal), Dutch Reformed, Presbyterian, Evangelical Lutheran, Baptist, Unitarian, Methodist, Congregational, and possibly others.

These translators were all well educated and could be properly termed scholars. Any one of them might possibly have rendered a “one man” version. But with the “balance of power” arrangement described above, their tendency to equalize each other’s views was no doubt beneficial. A “one man” version would not have the protection that a plurality of views might produce. Whatever particular or peculiar view the lone translator may have . . . being only human, he may well inject his peculiar views and preferences into his translation.

Examples of “One Man” Abuses of Scripture.

(1) Westminster Version, By S. J. Lattey, a Jesuit, a Roman Catholic. Acts 20:17 – “From Miletus, however, he sent to Ephesus to summon the priests of the church. . . .” The word “priest” is simply inserted here. It has no equivalent in the Greek. Instead, the Greek word, presbuterous, is there and should be rendered “elders.” Some have Anglicized it, and coined the term “presbyters.” Lattey’s religious bias colored his translating.

(2) F.A. Spencer Translation, a Roman Catholic. Matt. 13:55-56 – “. . . Is not His mother called Mary, and His kinsmen James, Joseph, Simon and Jude? And His kinswomen – are they not all with us?” Spencer uses the terms “kinsmen” and “kinswomen,” in order to avoid admitting the obvious; that Jesus had half-brothers and half-sisters. Roman Catholic teaching asserts that Mary bore no other children. The Greek words here are adelphoi, (brothers, plural), and adelphai, (sisters plural). Philadelphia is the “city of brotherly love.” In this translation, religious bias won!

(3) Ronald Knox Translation, a Roman Catholic. 1 Cor. 9:5 – “. . . Have we not the right to travel about with a woman who is a sister, as the other apostles do, as the Lord’s brethren do, and Cephas?” Here Knox seemingly seeks to inject the idea that a Catholic “sister” was traveling with the other apostles. True, the word adelphen, (sister) is in the Greek, but the next word is gunaika, which means wife. Knox ignored the word gunaika in his translation . . . you, see he believes in an unmarried (celibate) clergy. It must be added, to Knox’s credit, that in his footnote he suggest that the term “sister” may not have implied any physical or spiritual relationship . . . only that she was a Christian. (This would be a spiritual relationship. LWM.) Knox further states in his footnote: “Woman may also be translated ‘wife’; and that may be the sense intended.”

(4) The Living Bible-Paraphrased, by Kenneth Taylor, a Baptist. Psalms 51:5 – “. . . But I was born a sinner, yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.”

Rom. 6:4 – “Your old sin-loving nature was buried with him by baptism. . . .”

Eph. 2:3 – “. . . We started out bad, being born with evil natures. . . .

Col. 2:12 – “For in baptism you see how your old, evil nature died with him. . . .”

Note that in each of the four passages given above, Taylor has worded them to teach the false doctrine that babies are born into the world in a sinful, depraved, condition. These passages have been mis-translated in order to teach Baptist doctrine. Jesus on the contrary taught: “Except ye turn, and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 18:3).

(5) The Living Bible-Paraphrased, by Kenneth Taylor, a Baptist. 1 Timothy 3:1 – “It is a true saying that if a man wants to be, a pastor. . . . ” Here, Taylor is trying to make a “Baptist pastor” out of the Greek word episkopos, which should be rendered “bishop” or “overseer.” I repeat, “The Living Bible” is, in my estimation, the most sectarian version available in the English language.

(6) The Concordant Version, Copyrighted, 1927, by A. E. Knoch. Luke 23:43 – “And Jesus said to him, ‘Verily to you I am saying today, with Me you shall be in paradise.'” The punctuation is changed in order to avoid the statement that Jesus would be in paradise that day, after his death. The publishers of this version are “soul sleepers;” i.e., such as Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc., who teach that there is no consciousness after death; that the soul is unconscious or “asleep” after death.

I have been unable to secure accurate information as to the background of this Concordant Version. If any readers of Truth Magazine have any information concerning this version, I would appreciate receiving the background concerning it.

(7) The Expanded Translation, by Kenneth S. Wuest. 1 John 2:16 – “Because everything which is in the world, the passionate desire of the flesh (the totally depraved nature), and the passionate desire of the eyes, and the insolent and empty assurance which trusts in the things that serve the creature life, is not from the Father as a source but is from the world as a source.” The King James Version, in this verse, lists “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. . . .” However, there is no textual basis whatsoever, to justify Dr. Wuest’s having inserted “the totally depraved nature” into this passage, except his own sectarian bias.


A “one-man” translation would compare with a one man-football team, or a one-man-regiment. Where only one person is involved in translating the Scriptures, personal feelings, and individual religious persuasion or bias will make themselves known. The writers of the books of the Bible were inspired of God! This insured the accuracy and correctness of God’s message to the world. No prophecy of Scripture exists from private interpretation. . . . “But his holy men of God spoke as they were impelled by the Holy Spirit.” The persons who translate the original language into English, French, German, Spanish, etc., are NOT inspired of God. They must depend upon their own learning . . . their own knowledge of the original language as well as the receptor language, into which the Scripture is being translated. When such a task is intrusted to a group … several persons with differing viewpoints, but hopefully with a reverence and respect for the Bible as the Word of God, the result will be a version that has avoided as much as possible, the influence of sectarian bias.

However, Bible students also need to be alert to the product of a group, which consists in the majority of translators who have no real respect nor reverence for the Bible and its contents . . . those who reject the Deity of Christ, etc.

Truth Magazine, XX:8, p. 11-12
February 19, 1976