Virtues And Vices Of Various Versions!

By Luther W. Martin

Some versions of the New Testament were produced in order to promote a specific religious teaching. Others were published to hopefully cam profits for the publisher. Still others were written for the honorable and sincere purpose of spreading the Gospel of Christ and making it possible for a greater number of readers to enjoy and actually benefit from the study of the Scripture.

The Living Bible – Paraphrased

Definition: “paraphrase – To reproduce the sense of, in other terms. A restatement or free translation of a passage or work.” Note that a paraphrase is a “free” translation, the opposite of a “strict” translation. We copy, below, a paragraph from the preface of the Living Bible, which in turn was adapted from the preface to the first edition of Living Letters:

There are dangers in paraphrases, as well as values. For whenever the author’s exact words are not translated from the original languages, there is a possibility that the translator, however honest, may be giving the English reader something that the original writer did not mean to say. This is because a paraphrase is guided not only by the translator’s skill in simplifying but also by the clarity of his understanding of what the author meant and by his theology. For when the Greek and Hebrew is not clear, then the theology of the translator is his guide, along with his sense of logic, unless perchance the translation is allowed to stand without any clear meaning at all. The theological lodestar in this book has been a rigid evangelical position.

This paraphrased version is the work of a premillennial Baptist, Mr. Kenneth Taylor. I suggest that it is practically

impossible for a “one-man-translation” to be free from the influence and bias of the translator’s own belief and convictions. I further suggest that this is demonstrated in the Living Bible.

For example, even though at the completion of creation, God saw that everything he had made was “good” or “very good,” Mr. Taylor has David saying: “But I was born a sinner, yes, from the very moment my mother conceived me” (Psa. 51:5).

In Ephesians 2:3, Mr. Taylor has Paul writing: “We started out bad, being born with evil natures.” In Mr. Taylor’s “free” paraphrase, he inserts “born” when there is no word in the text for it, whatsoeverl So, his “theology” is showing!

Mr. Taylor’s premillennialism is demonstrated in Isaiah 2:24 – “the world will be ruled from Jerusalem . . . . the Lord will settle international disputes Further, in 2 Timothy 4:1 – “who will some day judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his kingdom . . . . ” So, Mr. Taylor’s beliefs have colored his paraphrase.

Faith “alone” is inserted by Mr. Taylor, in, Romans 4:12 . . for Abraham found favor with God by faith alone I’d sure like for Mr. Taylor to tell me from what Greek text he found the equivalent of the word “alone.” Then, in Galatians 5:6 – “For all we need is faith working through love I hope Mr. Taylor can find a Greek text having the word “all” (its equivalent) in it!

Another poor feature in Mr. Taylor’s version, is his use of footnotes, wherein he teaches his doctrine, just like Catholicism teaches her doctrine in footnotes in Catholic versions.

The New World Translation

This version is the product of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, originally known as “Russellites.” One of their cardinal beliefs is that at death, man simply ceases to ‘ be. According to them, both the soul and body go to the grave and the result is total annihilation or disintegration.

Notice the following excerpts from ‘Judge’ Rutherford: “No man has or possesses a soul” (Riches, p. 180). “A man dies like other animals, and all go to the same place” (Where Are The Dead?, p. 36). “Death means a change in condition. For an individual it means a change of condition from entity to non-entity” (Ibid, p. 33).

Now, with the followers of Russell and Rutherford denying that nay part of man exists after death, there are actually a number of Bible passage that oppose their false teaching. However, in their New World Translation, they render Luke 23:43 as follows: “And he said to him: ‘Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in paradise.'” Note the comma after the word “today.” Other translations show it: “And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'” So, in a false effort to counter the promise of Christ to the dying, but penitent thief, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have Jesus saying, “I tell you today” instead of “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” To the Russellites, “paradise” merely means a burial garden, thus, a place of graves . . . . not the intermediate state of the righteous dead!

Now, for some other passages of Scripture that show the lie of Russell:

“In your patience possess ye your soul” (Luke 21:19).

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:19-20).

“He shall come in like manner as ye have seen him go” (Acts 1:11).

“Behold He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also that pierced Him. . .”(Rev. 1:7).

Obviously, one should beware of any religious sect that dares to tamper with Bible translation, in order to further their own false doctrines.

Even the Emphatic Diaglott, which in their book, entitled Creation (p. 129), they assured the Diaglott to be “one of the purest translations of the New Testament,” renders Luke 23:43 as Indeed I say unto thee, ‘This day thou shalt be with me in paradise.”‘

The New English Bible

The Introduction of the New English Bible, reveals the thinking and procedure of its translators. Speaking of the 1881 English Revisers, “The Revisers no longer followed (like their predecessors) the text of the majority of manuscripts . . . . During the eighty years which have passed since their time, textual criticism has not stood still. Manuscripts have been discovered of substantially earlier date than any which the Revisers knew . . . . Meanwhile the methods of textual criticism have themselves been refined and estimates of the value of manuscripts have sometimes been reconsidered . . . . There is not at the present time any critical text which would command the same degree of general acceptance as the Revisers’ text (Westcott and Hort -LWM) did in its day . . . . In particular, our knowledge of the kind of Greek used by most of the New Testament writers has been greatly enriched since 1881 by the discovery of many thousands of papyrus documents in popular or nonliterary Greek of about the same period as the New Testament.”

“It should be said that our intention has been to offer a translation in the strict sense, and not a paraphrase. . . But if paraphrase means taking the liberty of introducing into a passage something which is not there, to elucidate the meaning which is there, it can be said that we have this liberty only with extreme caution, and in a very few passages . . . . Taken as a whole, our version claims to be a translation, free, it may be, rather than literal, but a faithful translation nevertheless, so far as we could compass it. “

Although the “Introduction” mentioned the reduction in acceptance of the text used by the 1881 Revisers, this version generally leans heavily on the Sinaiticus and the Vaticanus, texts which were the basis of the Westcott and Hort Text.

The thing that I cannot understand about the New English Bible is the “big words” that the translators selected, rather than using simple and more easily understood words. Here are a few examples: admixture, ambiguous, apprehensive, arbiter, astutely, beclouded, bedizened, beneficent, benighted, bombast, conflagration, deigned, effulgence, extirpate, exuberantly, fabrications, fomenter, pompous ignoramus, imputation, indefatigable, interloper, machinations, magnanimity, parricides and matridices, obdurate, rapacity, recalcitrant, servitor (for servant), specious, thwarted, and Whitsuntide.

Whitsuntide was inserted in lieu of Pentecost (which is in the Greek text), just like the King James translators inserted Easter in lieu of the Passover. In each case, the customs or traditions of the established church dictated the word selected by the translators.

The point that I wish to stress about the New English Bible, is that it could have been far more easily understood in modem speech, if they had kept it simplel Another sad thing, is similar to the errors of the New International Version translators, that is the insertion of the word “nature” in so many passages where it is not in the Greek text. Such as Rom. 7:5, 7:18, 7:25, 8:3, 8:4, 8:5, 8:7 8:12; Gal. 4:23, 5:13, 5:16, 5:17, 5:19, 5:24 and 6:8. The Greek word is sarx or sarkos, meaning flesh, but there is no word for “nature.” Therefore, again, we have translators who handle God’s Word loosely and freely. This shows a basic lack of respect for or reverence toward the Word of God.


As two scholars, John Beekman and John Callow, have written in their book entitled Translating The Word of God, there are basically four types of translations: (1) The highly literal like inter-linears. (2) The modified literal, like the King James Version, the American Standard, the New American Standard, and the New King James Versions. (3) The idiomatic, like the Cotton Patch version. And (4) The unduly free versions, and among these I would list the New International Version,the New English Bible, the Living Bible, Good News Bible, Jerusalem Bible, New American Bible, and Revised Standard Version.

As far as I am concerned, (2), the modified literal versions are the only ones I have respect for. It is helpful to study all of them, but only place your confidence in the modified literal versions.

Guardian of Truth XXIX: 10, pp. 299-301
May 16, 1985