About Bible Translations


From a Michigan reader, brother Peter De Young, comes the following question: “Some time ago we read in “The Banner” (Feb. 14 ) an article on “A Contemporary Translation” by Edwin H. Palmer. He gives a long list of incorrect translations, which does not mean much to me or the average reader. My question is: Are they forever trying to do away with the sharp points in Scripture with all the new translations and trying to bring the Word of God in line with their scientific conceptions? 


I no longer have the Feb. 14 issue of “The Banner” at hand, and so I cannot reflect on the article mentioned. I will; however, make a few general remarks in collection with the question submitted: 

1) There certainly are new translations which try to do away with “the sharp points” in Scripture. Whether or not this is done in an attempt to bring the Word of God “in line with their scientific conceptions” is not so much the question. But it indeed makes a world of difference whether the scholars who engage in the work of translation do so in faith or in unbelief. In the latter case, the attempt will be made to bring the Word of God in line with their unbelieving conceptions. 

2) Personally, I am not pleased with today’s multiplication of translations and versions. At best, if carefully used, some of these can be of help in Bible study; at worst, they only serve to confuse the Bible student. Also for public reading of the Scriptures these multiple translations serve to be confusing. For one who is accustomed to the old King James Version or the American Revised Version, some of the contemporary translations are so unfamiliar as to make one wonder whether he is hearing Scripture or not. 

3). There is a movement afoot to produce a new translation by conservative, or evangelical, scholars. Perhaps the scholarship necessary for such a project is available. Personally, however, I have grave doubts whether the spiritual and doctrinal condition of conservative scholarship is healthy enough to produce a truly good new translation. 

4) I think that the King James Version has served us admirably. It has stood the test of time. It is reasonably accurate. It is beautiful and majestic. And as for the argument that its language is archaic and cannot be understood by the present generation, I would answer that the fault does not lie with the King James Version but rather with homes and families in which the Bible is not regularly read any more. Certainly,—and I speak from experience now,—in those homes where the Bible is regularly and systematically read there is no serious problem with understanding the King James Version. On this score we may all take warning. The Bible must not be a dust-covered book in our homes. Nor must the Psalms be the only pages which give evidence of use. We and our children must be thoroughly familiar with the Scriptures through daily use of them.