Continuing our evaluation of ACT, we call attention to a few more points at which, in our opinion, it does not offer any improvement over the King James Version. In some instances its translations are not accurate; in some they are inconsistent; in some ACT follows rather radical tendencies in textual criticism; and in some instances, there appears to be no weighty reason for any change of language, nor any need of clarification. Admittedly, some of the changes which ACT offers are not of great importance; and yet, in the light of the fact that ACT purports to give a more accurate rendering, even some of these less important changes ought to be examined, in order that we may determine if ACT truly offers improvement.
First of all, we call attention to John 1:30. We present both translations:
KJV: This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
ACT: This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’
Here is a rather minor change, perhaps. But the fact remains that in the original we do not read, “This is the one I meant when I said. . . .” The KJV presents an accurate and literal translation; ACT does not, but even in a minor expression such as this it inserts its own commentary by the words, “This is the one I meant when . . .” Besides, it is at least doubtful whether ACT offers any improvement and help by substituting “has surpassed me” for “is preferred before me.”
In John 3:6 we find another instance where the translation is not accurate. Here is the passage:
KJV: That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
ACT: Flesh gives birth to flesh, but Spirit gives birth to spirit.
Here again, if the question is one of accuracy of translation, the producers of ACT will have to grant, on the basis of Greek, that the KJV is accurate, while ACT is not. Nor is there anything difficult to understand about the language of the KJV here. Hence, there does not appear to be reason for change of any kind.
A third example is John 3:36, where we find the following well-known words:
KJV: He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.
ACT: Whoever puts his faith in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see that life, for God’s wrath remains on him.
There are three changes made by ACT in this verse: 1) ACT unnecessarily uses the words “puts his faith in.” Why not simply “believes in,” especially in the light of the fact that ACT itself is not consistent, but elsewhere renders the very same expression in John 6:40 by “believes in”? 2) ACT offers the highly questionable translation “rejects,” a strong and positive word for a term which in the Greek is negative and can very well be rendered by “believeth not” or by “disobeyeth.” 3) ACT inserts the word “that” in the last part of the verse, an insertion which is neither accurate nor necessary. The word “that” does not occur in the original. It might even leave the impression that while he who does not believe shall not see that life, he could see some other life, while the meaning of the text is that he shall not see any life whatsoever.
Next, we call attention to two instances where the inclusion or omission of parts of the text is involved. The first is the much debated passage about the man at the pool of Bethesda in John 5. ACT omits the last part of verse 3 and all of verse 4, which are found in the KJV. We will quote the KJV, vss. 2-5, and bracket the parts which ACT omits: “Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, [waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: Whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.] And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.” Now admittedly, there is a goodly amount of manuscript evidence in support of omitting these words or part of these words. But it should be remembered, in the first place, that manuscript evidence is not the only evidence to be considered here. Secondly, there is by no means unanimity of opinion on this point among scholars. Thirdly, the exclusion of these words presents a difficulty when it comes to the explanation of vs. 7: “The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.” In general, my preference is to include in the text that which our King James Version includes in all so-called doubtful passages, and to leave such matters for commentaries. Call it the mind of safety if you will, but personally I would much rather include too much in a Bible version than too little.
The second instance which involves the text itself is the entire passage of John 7:53 to John 8:11. This includes the entire narrative of the woman taken in adultery. ACT includes this passage, but inserts before the passage a disturbing note which can serve no useful purpose and which can only serve to raise doubts in the mind of the reader not only about this particular passage but also about the whole matter of the trustworthiness of our Bible. Here is the note which is inserted: “The consensus of textual scholarship is thatJohn 7:53-8:11 is not a part of Scripture. It appears in some manuscripts here or after John 7:36 or after Luke 21:38. It may, however, report a true incident in the life of Jesus.” Now it seems to me that if ACT states that this is the consensus of textual scholarship, and if ACT puts any confidence in such textual scholarship, then it should also have the courage of its convictions and simply leave the passage out; and in that case I would prefer that the passage be left out without even a footnote. Why raise doubts in the mind of the ordinary Bible reader, especially doubts which he cannot possibly resolve by personal study? For my own part, however, I would certainly leave the passage in, as the KJV does; and I would leave it in without a footnote. Evidently when all is said and done, according to ACT’s note, it must be granted that this passage “may report a true incident in the life of Jesus.” It is perfectly safe, therefore, to include the passage, while it is risky to exclude it. And it is both risky and confusing to the ordinary Bible reader to insert a note of this kind.
Next we return to a few matters of translation in John 6. A very important question of accuracy arises in connection with verse 39:
KJV: And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
ACT: And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.
Perhaps the KJV does not succeed completely in bringing out the fact that the original uses the singular throughout this verse. But ACT fails here on two counts: 1) It changes the emphasis of the original by changing the position of the words “all which he hath given me.” And, 2) it obviously changes. the singular to the plural. I will not enter into the difference of meaning that is at stake here. I merely point out that ACT has no right to speak of accuracy of translationhere, on the basis of the original.
Also in John 6:45 ACT, in our opinion, does not offer any improvement when it translates, “Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me,” instead of the KJV, “Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” Even apart from the question of tense (“listens” or “hath heard”), ACT’s use of the word “listens” instead of “heard” presents a different idea, and not the correct one.
In John 6:60 there is also an unjustifiable change as far as literal accuracy is concerned.
KJV: Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
ACT: On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
Here it is a simple fact of the Greek that the word “accept” does not occur, but the word “hear.” ACT is not accurate.
Again, an inaccuracy which can only involve a deliberate and misguided attempt to clarify is involved in John 6:65:
KJV: And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
ACT: He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”
It is a simple fact of the Greek text that it does not say, “unless the Father has enabled him,” but very definitely, “except it were given unto him of my Father.” A change of this kind on the part of ACT is in the nature of a commentary rather than a translation; and I submit that it is not even an accurate commentary. When the text speaks of coming to Jesus as a matter of being given of the Father, this says much more than that it is only a matter ofenablement.
In John 7:39, where ACT had a good opportunity to prove that it was intent on accuracy, it falls into the same mistake as the KJV, but adds to the mistake by failing to italicize the word “given.” This verse reads as follows (KJV): “But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” It is accurate in this instance to translate simply: “for the Spirit was not yet.” But ACT, like the KJV, adds the commentary of the word “given.”
Turning to John 10, we find several instances where ACT does not offer real improvement.
In the first place, there are again some instances where ACT substitutes the word “listen” for the word “hear.” To say the least, this change is not helpful. To this reader it does not convey an accurate connotation when we read concerning the sheep in vs. 16: “. . . and they shall listen to my voice.” The same is true of verse 27, where the KJV reads: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” In the second place, ACT is neither accurate nor consistent in verse 25 when it translates: “Jesus answered, ‘I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s namespeak for me.'” The words which I have italicized are rendered in the KJV: “bear witness of me.” And ACT itself renders the very same word elsewhere by “testify,” which is an accurate rendering. Why not be consistent? In verse 26 two changes are made. The first concerns the translation. In the KJV we read: “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.” ACT substitutes the word “flock” for the word “sheep,” a change which is completely unwarranted in the original, as well as altogether unnecessary. In the same verse, secondly, ACT eliminates the words “as I said unto you,” words for which there is rather good manuscript evidence.
In John 12:27 ACT arbitrarily substitutes the word “heart” for “soul” in Jesus’ statement: “Now is my soul troubled.” This is a change which is in no wise founded on the original, and a change which radically changes the meaning of the text. There is a great difference between trouble of soul and trouble of heart. Scripture speaks of both, but does not mean the same thing by these two expressions.
In John 13:31, 32 there is another example of a change which is both useless and inaccurate. Compare the following renderings, of which the KJV is the accurate one:
KJV: Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.
ACT: When he was gone, Jesus said, “Glory comes now to the Son of Man, and glory comes to God in him. If God is glorified in him, then God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. In John 20:3-9, where we find the narrative of Peter and John at the tomb of Jesus, ACT spoils the narrative when, in verses 5 and 6, it speaks of “the strips of linen” instead of “the linen clothes.” This rendering of ACT leaves the impression that the linen grave clothes which had been wound about Jesus’ body by Joseph and Nicodemus had. been unwound by Jesus at the time of His resurrection and left lying as so many strips of linen on the floor of the sepulchre. But a careful study of the narrative will reveal that this was exactly not the case, but that it was the very fact that those linen clothes were lying in the tomb just as they had been wrapped about Jesus’ body which drew the wondering and believing attention of the disciples. Again, the KJV is to be preferred.
Finally, in John 20:16 we find another blatant change of the original text in ACT when it translates: “She turned toward him and cried out, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is Aramaic for teacher).” Now the text simply does not say, “which is Aramaic for teacher.” It does not mention “Aramaic” at all. The KJV is again correct when it renders, “which is to say, Master.” While this, again, may be considered a minor point, it is nevertheless a taking of unwarranted liberties with the text of Scripture and does not reveal a proper respect for the language of Scripture and for accuracy of translation.
Our conclusion, therefore,—even apart from all our other objections to this and all the new translations—is that in this sample ACT does not measure up to the standard of accuracy which is required in a good Bible translation. Not only has the King James Version stood the test of time and won a large place in the hearts of the people of God; but also, in spite of many criticisms aimed at it, it furnishes a translation which is amazingly accurate and sound. Our vote continues to be for the King James Version. If you like to study and compare versions, get ACT when it is completed; and get some of the other versions for your library shelf. But use them with discretion even for study purposes. And for daily Bible reading, for society use, for school use, and for use in public worship, stick to the King James Version.