Unveiling the Shift: How the 2020 New American Standard Bible (NASB) Deviates from Its 1995 Predecessor in Pursuit of Readability Over Literalness

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“Unveiling the Shift” offers a comprehensive analysis of how the 2020 New American Standard Bible (NASB) diverges from its 1995 predecessor. This article exposes the 2020 NASB’s shift towards readability and interpretive translation, arguing for a return to a literal translation philosophy that prioritizes truth and faithfulness to God’s Word. Truth Matters!

Introduction: The Weight of Bible Translation

Why Translating God’s Word is a Profound Responsibility

When embarking on the colossal endeavor of translating the Bible, one is not merely converting words from one language to another. Rather, the translator is rendering the very thoughts of Jehovah, as conveyed through his human authors in the original languages—Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek—into a target language, such as modern English. This is a task unlike any other and should never be taken lightly.

The Heaviest Responsibility

The gravity of translating the Bible cannot be overstated. The translator has the monumental role of serving as a bridge between God’s revelations and humanity’s understanding. The risk is not just a matter of semantics but one of spiritual integrity and fidelity to Jehovah’s Word. Mistakes are not merely textual inaccuracies; they can lead to doctrinal errors and misguidance of the soul.

The Imperative of Literal Translation Philosophy

Our primary goal is unequivocal: to be accurate and faithful to the original text. Truth matters. This is the cornerstone of a conservative approach to Bible translation. Therefore, we employ a literal translation philosophy. In other words, we aim to give the Bible readers what God said via his human authors, not what we think God might have meant.

The Role of the Reader in Interpretation

The meaning of a word or a phrase is the responsibility of the interpreter—that is, the reader—not the translator. To compromise on this principle by venturing into interpretative translations is to risk diluting, or worse, altering the intended message of the original text. Translating truth necessitates that we respect the reader’s role in seeking understanding, even if it demands more effort on their part. It is better for the Bible reading to be a little more difficult to understand than to compromise our foundational principles.

The Sacredness of the Original Texts

In line with our commitment to a literal translation philosophy, our approach to textual criticism aims to ascertain the original words of the original texts. This is a meticulous process that digs deep into the oldest available manuscripts, comparing them and weighing the evidence to arrive at the most authentic rendering. We reject diluted concepts like striving for some vague “initial text” or the “earliest text possible.” Our goal is, and will always be, to get back to the original texts.

By holding steadfast to these principles, we honor both the profound responsibility of translating God’s Word and the reader’s quest for scriptural understanding. Anything less would be a disservice to the Divine Author and the seekers of His truth.

The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02

The Philosophy of Literal Translation: Truth Matters!

In the realm of Bible translation, various approaches contend for acceptance among scholars and readers alike. Yet, among these, the philosophy of literal translation stands as an enduring edifice, unyielding in its commitment to textual fidelity and unambiguous in its purpose: to render God’s Word as precisely as possible into another language. Truth matters, and this is the bedrock upon which the literal translation philosophy is built.

Unadulterated Rendering of God’s Word

When we speak of a “literal translation,” we mean an unadulterated rendering of the original text into a target language. This approach is not confined merely to a word-for-word translation, as it also respects the idiomatic and grammatical nuances of the original languages. Therefore, it involves a painstaking effort to grasp the intended meaning behind each original-language term, phrase, and sentence structure, aiming to replicate these as closely as possible in the translation. The goal is absolute fidelity to the original text, not a subjective interpretation of it.

The Dangers of Dynamic Equivalence

Some translations lean towards dynamic equivalence, where the focus shifts from what the text actually says to what the translator believes it means. While this may make the text more accessible, it introduces a layer of interpretation that can diverge from the original intent. Such an approach inadvertently makes the translator a quasi-commentator, explaining rather than translating the original text. This runs counter to the literal translation philosophy, where the reader should be the interpreter, not the translator.

Staying True to Textual Criticism Principles

Our textual criticism philosophy harmonizes perfectly with our translation philosophy: both aim to get back to the original words of the original texts. We don’t chase after nebulous ideas like an “initial text” or the “earliest text possible.” By rigorously examining the most reliable manuscripts and applying stringent textual criticism methodologies, we seek to establish the authentic text that serves as the basis for our translation. Literal translation is, therefore, not just a methodology but an extension of textual integrity.

The Reader’s Role and Responsibility

A literal translation places the onus of interpretation on the reader. The Bible reader has the responsibility to make the time to understand their Bible. It should be noted that a literal translation may at times be more challenging to understand, but that difficulty should be viewed as an invitation to deeper study rather than a barrier. This is not a concession to complexity; it’s a commitment to accuracy.

No Compromise on Truth

A literal translation is unwavering in its aim: to offer readers what God communicated through His human authors, untainted by human bias or interpretation. It doesn’t seek to dilute the complexities or intricacies of the original text for the sake of accessibility or comfort. It is, at its core, an uncompromising commitment to truth.

Literal translation philosophy is not about ease; it’s about accuracy. It’s not about bending the Word of God to fit contemporary norms or expectations; it’s about aligning our understanding with the Divine. For when Truth matters, compromise is not an option.


The Cornerstone: NASB 1995 Edition

Upholding the Literal Translation Philosophy

The 1995 edition of the New American Standard Bible (NASB) stands as a laudable milestone in the history of Bible translations for its rigid commitment to literal translation philosophy. As a cornerstone, it served as a firm foundation on which Bible readers could depend for an authentic translation. Let’s delve into the specific features that made the NASB 1995 a paragon in upholding the literal translation philosophy.

Prioritizing Word-for-Word Accuracy

The NASB 1995 didn’t merely aim for thought-for-thought translations, which often fall prey to the subjectivities of the translator. Rather, it strived for a word-for-word translation, taking care to translate each Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek word into its closest English counterpart. This methodology ensures that the reader gets what the original human authors intended, not what a translator thinks should be there.

Respecting Context and Grammar

Another strength of the NASB 1995 edition was its rigorous adherence to the grammatical structures of the original languages. It did not shy away from complex sentence structures or intricate idiomatic expressions. Instead, it sought to carry those over into English, thereby preserving the nuanced meanings that may be lost in more ‘flexible’ translation methods. Context and grammar are keys to understanding any text, and they were not compromised.

Annotations for Added Clarity

While the NASB 1995 was uncompromising in its commitment to literal translation, it also employed extensive footnotes for textual variants, alternate readings, and idiomatic expressions that didn’t easily transition into English. This dual approach provided the reader with a text that was both literal and well-supported, empowering the reader to delve deeper into their Bible study.

No Room for Doctrinal Bias

The NASB 1995 was meticulous in avoiding any doctrinal biases, a pitfall that can easily affect translations with looser methodologies. When Truth matters, doctrinal purity is not negotiable. Every word, phrase, and sentence was evaluated in its original context to ensure that no doctrinal leanings tainted the translation.

The Reader’s Responsibility: A Partner in Pursuit of Truth

The NASB 1995 didn’t aim to make the Scriptures easy but to make them accurate. As such, it may present challenges to the reader in terms of comprehension. However, this is consistent with our philosophy that the reader has the responsibility to invest the time and effort to understand the Word of God as conveyed by the human authors.

A Commitment to Textual Integrity

By keeping the focus solely on the original words of the original texts, the NASB 1995 adhered to the core principles of textual criticism. This unswerving commitment allowed it to align closely with the most reliable ancient manuscripts, resulting in a translation that can be trusted for its textual integrity.

The NASB 1995 Edition remains an enduring testament to the benefits and reliability of adhering to a literal translation philosophy. It serves as a dependable guide to what God said, rather than offering a diluted or compromised version that aligns with what we think God should have said. This unwavering commitment to truth and textual fidelity makes it a cornerstone upon which readers can firmly stand.


Strengths of the 1995 Edition: Faithfulness to Original Texts

The New American Standard Bible (NASB) 1995 Edition has long been heralded for its faithfulness to the original texts of Scripture. Let’s examine the specific strengths that make this translation an exemplar in this critical aspect of Bible translation.

Precision in Word Choices

One of the most significant strengths of the NASB 1995 is its meticulousness in choosing words that closely mirror the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words. This is not just a matter of semantic accuracy; it’s a commitment to conveying the very thoughts of God as they were originally penned. This precision allows for a more nuanced and deep understanding of the Scriptures.

Integrity in Maintaining Sentence Structures

Maintaining the original sentence structures as closely as possible is another forte of the NASB 1995. By doing so, the translation conserves the emphases and nuances placed by the original authors. For example, a Greek sentence that employs a particular verb tense to emphasize ongoing action is translated in a way that retains that sense of continuity in English.

Commitment to Literalness over Ease

A noteworthy aspect of the NASB 1995 is its commitment to literal translation even when it may result in English that is not as smooth or straightforward. This commitment ensures that the translation remains untainted by the translator’s own interpretations or biases.

Annotations and Footnotes: Aid to Understanding, Not Substitutes for Text

The use of annotations and footnotes in the NASB 1995 serves as an aid to understanding. Unlike paraphrases or more interpretative translations, these notes do not replace or substitute the text but illuminate it, offering alternative renderings, textual variants, or background context that can help the reader in his quest for understanding.

No Compromise on Textual Variants

Another important aspect of the NASB 1995’s strength is its rigorous approach to textual criticism. It does not shy away from indicating where there are textual variants in the manuscripts, but neither does it compromise its translation by opting for a “safer” or “more accepted” variant. It aims to get back to the original texts, not some watered-down or politically acceptable version.

Theologically Neutral

The NASB 1995 maintains theological neutrality by strictly adhering to the text, eschewing the temptation to insert doctrinal biases either overtly or subtly. This ensures that the reader encounters what was originally written, not a text that has been adjusted to fit certain theological constructs.

Keeping the Reader in Mind, But Not at the Expense of Truth

The NASB 1995 is user-friendly but does not compromise the truth for the sake of user-friendliness. The reader has the responsibility to delve into the Scriptures, and the NASB 1995 aids in that endeavor without sacrificing the complexity and richness of the original texts.

In summary, the NASB 1995 Edition stands as an edifice of translation fidelity, allowing readers to engage with the Scriptures as they were initially inspired. Its strengths lie not just in its literalness but in its unwavering dedication to transmitting the original texts of the Bible in all their theological, grammatical, and linguistic integrity.

The New Kid on the Block: NASB 2020 Edition

Intended Misguided Goals: Readability and Contemporary Relevance

The New American Standard Bible (NASB) 2020 Edition came onto the scene with the intention of increasing readability and providing contemporary relevance. While these aims may seem admirable on the surface, it’s crucial to scrutinize whether they align with the more sacred goal of preserving the integrity of God’s Word. Here are some areas where the 2020 Edition’s goals may inadvertently compromise that essential objective.

A Shaky Emphasis on Readability

The pursuit of readability is not inherently problematic. However, it becomes a grave issue when it comes at the expense of accurate and faithful representation of the original texts. The 2020 Edition, in many instances, appears to prioritize reader comfort over strict adherence to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. This shift can subtly introduce interpretation into the translation, which is a responsibility that should be left to the reader.

Losing Linguistic Nuances in the Quest for Simplicity

Simplifying language can often rob the text of its rich, linguistic nuances that the original authors intended to convey. For example, the Greek New Testament has several words for “love,” each with its unique shade of meaning. Consolidating these into a single English term for easier reading undermines the depth and range of the concept as initially presented.

The Risk of Theological Drift

Contemporary relevance should not be the compass guiding Bible translation. The problem is that “relevance” is often in the eye of the beholder and is influenced by cultural and personal biases. This push for modernity can lead to the inclusion of contemporary idioms or phrasing that were not present in the original text, posing a risk of theological drift away from the intended message.

Quick to Update, Slow to Consider

There’s a tendency to want to continually “update” the language to keep pace with modern vernacular. However, this can lead to hastily adopted changes that have not been sufficiently vetted for their faithfulness to the original text. Quick changes may satisfy modern ears but can dilute the eternal truths contained in Scripture.

Reader-Centric Over God-Centric

The ultimate aim of Bible translation should be to present God’s Word as faithfully as possible. The NASB 2020, in its quest for readability and contemporary relevance, seems at times to pivot from a God-centric to a reader-centric model. This shift could potentially distort the Word to fit into the mold of modern cultural or linguistic norms.

Summary: The Path to Caution

In aiming for readability and contemporary relevance, the NASB 2020 Edition walks a fine line that borders on compromising the very truths it seeks to convey. While the goal to make the Scriptures accessible is laudable, it must never overshadow the primary task of Bible translation: to provide an accurate and faithful rendering of God’s Word, allowing the reader to engage directly with the text as it was originally inspired. As translators and students of God’s Word, our call is to approach this task with the utmost integrity, ensuring that we do not stray from the bedrock principles that anchor faithful Bible translation.

The Move Toward Dynamic Equivalence: A Concerning Trend That Will Likely Become More Interpretive with Each New Edition of the NASB?

A Dangerous Shift from Formal to Dynamic

One of the most alarming trends with the NASB 2020 edition is its subtle yet evident lean towards Dynamic Equivalence—a translation philosophy that often substitutes what the translator believes the text means rather than what it says. This can be akin to placing a layer of interpretive frosting over the cake of God’s Word. The problem? The reader is often left consuming more frosting and less of the actual cake.

Gradual Descent into Interpretation

History has shown that once a translation makes a slight concession to dynamic equivalence, the door is opened for more interpretive liberties in subsequent editions. It’s a slippery slope. Imagine this process like incrementally adjusting a camera lens from a sharp focus (literal translation) to a blur (dynamic equivalence). Each small adjustment might seem inconsequential, but the cumulative effect renders the original scene unrecognizable.

When a Bible Becomes a Commentary

The risk here is that future NASB editions could potentially morph into mini-commentaries rather than pure translations. The shift from being a mirror reflecting God’s Word to becoming a lens that refracts it through the translator’s own ideas is a grievous error. Translations that have previously made this shift now stand as towering examples of interpretive excess, robbing the reader of the opportunity to grapple directly with God’s Word.

Sacrificing Precision for Palatability

The allure of dynamic equivalence often lies in its supposed “readability” and “relevance.” Yet, what is sacrificed is the razor-sharp precision of the original languages. The Hebrew and Greek texts are rich in grammatical and syntactical nuances that are often flattened in a dynamically equivalent translation. For instance, the Greek aorist tense provides a richness of action that is often lost when smoothed over for the sake of easier reading.

The Imperative of Reader Responsibility

The reader must never be removed from the equation of interpretation. In a literal translation, the complexities and challenges of the original text serve as invitations for the reader to dig deeper. A dynamically equivalent translation essentially does this digging for the reader, which, though convenient, is not the reader’s biblical responsibility.

Summary: A Cautionary Tale Unfolding?

The move toward dynamic equivalence in the NASB 2020 Edition could be the initial step down a perilous path. Once a translation starts to interpret the text for the reader, it moves away from being a faithful representation of the original text. Our core objective should always be to offer an accurate and faithful rendering of the Scriptures, placing the onus of interpretation on the reader. Any compromise on this front risks diluting the integrity of God’s inerrant Word. Therefore, we must approach this new trend in the NASB with a discerning eye, alert to the dangers it could pose in undermining a rigorous commitment to textual fidelity.

A Dangerous Shift from Formal to Dynamic

One of the most alarming trends with the NASB 2020 edition is its subtle yet evident lean towards Dynamic Equivalence—a translation philosophy that often substitutes what the translator believes the text means rather than what it says. This can be akin to placing a layer of interpretive frosting over the cake of God’s Word. The problem? The reader is often left consuming more frosting and less of the actual cake.

Gradual Descent into Interpretation

History has shown that once a translation makes a slight concession to dynamic equivalence, the door is opened for more interpretive liberties in subsequent editions. It’s a slippery slope. Imagine this process like incrementally adjusting a camera lens from a sharp focus (literal translation) to a blur (dynamic equivalence). Each small adjustment might seem inconsequential, but the cumulative effect renders the original scene unrecognizable.

When a Bible Becomes a Commentary

The risk here is that future NASB editions could potentially morph into mini-commentaries rather than pure translations. The shift from being a mirror reflecting God’s Word to becoming a lens that refracts it through the translator’s own ideas is a grievous error. Translations that have previously made this shift now stand as towering examples of interpretive excess, robbing the reader of the opportunity to grapple directly with God’s Word.

Sacrificing Precision for Palatability

The allure of dynamic equivalence often lies in its supposed “readability” and “relevance.” Yet, what is sacrificed is the razor-sharp precision of the original languages. The Hebrew and Greek texts are rich in grammatical and syntactical nuances that are often flattened in a dynamically equivalent translation. For instance, the Greek aorist tense provides a richness of action that is often lost when smoothed over for the sake of easier reading.

The Imperative of Reader Responsibility

The reader must never be removed from the equation of interpretation. In a literal translation, the complexities and challenges of the original text serve as invitations for the reader to dig deeper. A dynamically equivalent translation essentially does this digging for the reader, which, though convenient, is not the reader’s biblical responsibility.

Summary: A Cautionary Tale Unfolding?

The move toward dynamic equivalence in the NASB 2020 Edition could be the initial step down a perilous path. Once a translation starts to interpret the text for the reader, it moves away from being a faithful representation of the original text. Our core objective should always be to offer an accurate and faithful rendering of the Scriptures, placing the onus of interpretation on the reader. Any compromise on this front risks diluting the integrity of God’s inerrant Word. Therefore, we must approach this new trend in the NASB with a discerning eye, alert to the dangers it could pose in undermining a rigorous commitment to textual fidelity.

Comparing Language and Readability

Word Choices: From Archaic to Modern Is a Legitimate Literal Translation Characteristic – Removing Theological Terms and Dumbing Down the Language Is Not

The Fine Line Between Modernization and Simplification

There is an important distinction between modernizing archaic language and oversimplifying complex theological terms in Bible translation. Updating antiquated language to contemporary equivalents can serve as a bridge for understanding without sacrificing accuracy. This is like switching out old, rusty nuts and bolts in a machine with new ones that serve the same exact purpose, only more efficiently. Modernizing language is not the same as undermining it.

Theological Terms Matter

When it comes to translating theological terms, attempts to ‘dumb down’ the language can result in loss of precise meaning. Take, for example, words like “justification,” “sanctification,” or “propitiation.” Replacing these with overly simplified phrases may make the text more approachable, but it does so at the expense of depth and richness. Theological terms are not stumbling blocks to be removed; they are cornerstones to be understood.

The Risk of Intellectual Dishonesty

Stripping the Bible of its theological depth and replacing it with a more digestible vernacular can verge on intellectual dishonesty. It’s comparable to offering students simplified versions of classic literature while claiming they’re getting the full educational experience. Such an approach fundamentally underestimates the reader and cheapens the text. If the reader is expected to dive into the deep end of theological truths, offering them a kiddie pool does them a disservice.

Trading Profundity for Popularity

There’s a growing tendency to prioritize ‘readability’ and ‘accessibility’ above all else. While these are worthy goals, they must not come at the cost of the text’s integrity. Imagine having a treasure chest, but then deciding to exchange its valuable contents for cheaper, more easily obtainable items, just because more people want them. The treasure’s worth is compromised, and so is the Bible’s when its language is dumbed down.

Honoring Reader Responsibility

It’s crucial to remember that the Bible reader bears the responsibility to delve into its richness. An accurate translation should serve as a robust tool in the hands of the diligent seeker, not as a spoon-feeding mechanism for the casual reader. Reading the Bible is not meant to be a passive activity; it demands active engagement.

Summary: Modernization Yes, Dilution No

In essence, modernizing archaic language can make the Scriptures more accessible to a contemporary audience without sacrificing fidelity to the original text. However, attempts to simplify complex theological terms risk eroding the text’s richness and depth. The overarching principle in translation should always be to maintain the integrity of God’s Word. Any compromise in linguistic depth equates to a compromise in biblical truth.

Sentence Structure: Clarity or Compromise?

Striking the Right Balance: Complexity and Simplicity

Sentence structure in Bible translation is akin to building a house. You need a strong foundation, which is the original text, and the building blocks, which are the words and sentences in the translation. Tamper with the structure, and you risk the integrity of the whole house. A translator might be tempted to simplify sentence structures for the sake of “readability,” but this can often lead to diluted meaning.

The Dangers of Over-Simplification

Simplifying sentence structures can sometimes be like watering down juice; it’s still juice, but it’s lost its original richness and potency. Hebrew and Greek sentences often contain nuances that simple English sentences can’t capture. When translators opt for simple sentence structures, they might unwittingly leave out key elements that convey deeper meaning or context. Loss in complexity is often a loss in content and a failure to transmit the full richness of the original text.

The Role of Punctuation and Syntax

The original texts of the Bible often employ a complex system of conjunctions, clauses, and rhetorical devices. Translating these into English sometimes requires the creative use of punctuation and syntax to faithfully represent the original text. The use of semicolons, dashes, and parenthetical clauses isn’t just a stylistic choice; it serves to convey meaning. Altering the structure for simplicity’s sake can be like removing the beams from a building: it weakens the entire structure.

Clarity Doesn’t Mean Dumbing Down

The idea that “simpler is better” when it comes to translation can be misleading. Imagine a musician simplifying a complex symphony so that everyone can “understand” it. While more people might be able to play it, the composition loses its depth and intricacy. Clarity in translation should be about illuminating the text, not stripping it of its complexity.

Reader Engagement and Study

The Bible is not a fast-food menu to be skimmed but a gourmet meal to be savored. Simplifying sentence structure robs the reader of the opportunity to dig deep into the text and discover its manifold treasures. The responsibility for understanding rests with the reader, not with the translator aiming to make things ‘easy.’

Summary: Hold the Line for Truth and Complexity

In summary, while there might be a temptation to simplify sentence structure for easier readability, doing so risks compromising the text’s original meaning and depth. It’s critical to remember that our duty is to be faithful to the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, which often employ complex sentence structures to convey nuanced meanings. The goal is not to produce a translation that is merely easy to read, but one that accurately and faithfully represents the original text, no matter how challenging it may be to the modern reader.


Bible Authors Expect Readers to Get What They Said, Not What the Translators Think the Authors Meant (The Author’s Words Matter)

The Author’s Intent: The True North of Translation

Imagine trying to replicate a masterpiece painting, stroke by stroke. Changing even a single brushstroke changes the artist’s intent. Similarly, the biblical authors wrote with a specific intent, governed by the context of their times and their own linguistic choices. Any attempt to modify these choices is essentially altering the message.

Replacing Words: Substituting Diamonds for Glass

Sometimes, translators might opt for what they consider a “suitable” word to replace the original. But a cubic zirconia, no matter how much it sparkles, isn’t a diamond. Replacing original language terms with what a translator assumes to be a ‘fitting substitute’ is risky and jeopardizes textual integrity.

Commentary is Not Translation: Avoiding Interpretive Layers

Think about it: if a translator decides to interpret the text, the translation becomes more like a commentary. While this may provide an immediate and simplified understanding, it eliminates the need for the reader to grapple with the text. The Bible is not a newspaper that needs editorial sections; it is the divine Word that stands on its own authority.

Reader Responsibility: Digging for Gold Takes Effort

Reading the Bible isn’t supposed to be a walk in the park. Just like mining for gold, the real treasures are often embedded deep within the text and require effort to extract. The readers should engage with the text, wrestling with its complexities to uncover its rich truths. The onus for this process rests squarely on the reader’s shoulders, not on the translator aiming to make the text easily digestible.

Trust the Original: The Best Formula is the Original Formula

When it comes to time-tested products, we often hear the phrase, “Don’t mess with the original formula.” This couldn’t be truer for Bible translation. The original texts in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek were inspired by God and penned by human authors with specific intent. Any deviation from this ‘original formula’ is a compromise.

Summary: The Weight of Every Word

In conclusion, every word chosen by the biblical authors serves a purpose. Substituting or simplifying these words or the structure not only jeopardizes the integrity of the text but also shifts the burden from the reader to the translator. We must aim to give the Bible readers what God said by way of his human authors, not what we think God meant in its place. The words of the author are the building blocks of divine communication, and these must remain untouched if we are to faithfully transmit God’s Word.

Readers Expect to Receive What the Bible Authors Said, Not What the Translators Think They Meant

The Unwavering Standard of Original Language

If you were to order a classic dish at a restaurant, you’d expect to get exactly what was described on the menu, not a chef’s reinterpretation of it. In the same vein, Bible readers expect to consume the Word as it was originally penned, not a modernized or simplified version. The Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts are our unwavering standard; they are what was ‘on the menu,’ so to speak, when the biblical authors were inspired to write.

The Risk of Presumption: Trespassing on the Author’s Territory

When a translator takes liberties in conveying what they think an author meant rather than what was said, they overstep their boundaries. This is akin to rewriting a legal document because someone thinks they can make it ‘clearer.’ Translators must adhere strictly to the words and structure given by the original authors; otherwise, they trespass into interpretation, which is the reader’s domain.

Responsibility Lies with the Reader, Not the Translator

Much like a student who needs to study for an exam, the Bible reader has a responsibility to delve into the Scriptures. When translators take it upon themselves to interpret or simplify the text, they remove this learning process, acting like a parent doing a child’s homework. The reader should engage directly with the text, grappling with its depth and richness.

Complexity Is Not a Sin: Honoring the Text’s Intricacies

Let’s think about a complex machine like a car engine. It’s designed with various components, each serving a specific purpose. If one part is simplified or replaced with an ‘equivalent,’ the engine may no longer function as intended. Similarly, the complexities in the original biblical languages are there for a reason, often revealing deeper layers of meaning that should not be simplified.

Literality vs. ‘Readability’: The High Cost of Sacrificing Precision

Imagine a GPS that provides directions in a vague manner, sacrificing precision for the sake of simplicity. You might hear, “Go in a generally northwestern direction” instead of “Turn left at the next junction.” While the former is easier to understand, it lacks the precision needed to reach your destination accurately. So it is with Bible translation: we cannot sacrifice precision for the sake of readability.

Summary: Standing Firm on the Bedrock of Original Language

In closing, the purpose of Bible translation should be to provide the reader with a direct link to the words penned by the original authors. Any attempts to simplify or interpret these words muddle this connection. Just as you’d trust a surgeon to perform surgery with the utmost precision, so too should translators approach the task of Bible translation: with an unwavering commitment to accuracy, respecting the complexities and intricacies of the original languages. After all, what’s at stake here is not merely the quality of a literary work, but the integrity of God’s Word. Translators must remember: Truth matters!

Figurative Language Should Be Retained. Explanations Are the Responsibility of Commentaries, Not Translators

Figurative Language: An Integral Component of the Biblical Text

Figurative language—whether it’s metaphor, simile, or idiomatic expression—is not an optional garnish on the plate of biblical text; it’s an essential ingredient. Just like a recipe calls for specific items to create the intended flavor, the Bible’s figurative language is meticulously designed to convey nuanced meaning, emotion, or emphasis. Altering or removing these figurative elements is equivalent to altering the recipe—what you end up with is something different from what was intended.

Translators Are Not Commentators

Imagine being a curator in an art gallery. Your job is to display the artwork, not to alter it. If a painting has darker tones, it is not your place to brighten it up because you think that’s what the painter would have wanted. Translators must resist the urge to act as commentators who explain the art; their role is to display the original artwork (text) as it is.

Don’t Steal the Reader’s Opportunity for Discovery

When you buy a model kit, part of the joy is putting it together yourself, step by step. If someone else assembles it for you, the thrill of discovery is stolen. By “simplifying” or explaining away the figurative language in the Bible, translators are essentially assembling the model kit for the reader, robbing them of the opportunity for personal discovery and insight.

Commentaries Are the Space for Explanation, Not the Translation Itself

When we think of sports, we have players on the field and commentators in the booth. The players’ actions are the game itself, while the commentators provide additional information for better understanding. A translator’s work is to accurately reflect the game as played (original text), while the task of commenting, explaining, or making it easy to understand is for commentaries or study notes, not the translation itself.

The Cost of Sacrificing Figurative Language: The Erosion of Depth

Imagine a 3D movie being altered to 2D format because it’s assumed that it would be ‘easier’ for the audience to understand. What’s lost in the process is depth and a layer of experience. Similarly, sacrificing figurative language in biblical translation leads to an erosion of depth, texture, and richness in the text.

Summary: The Line That Must Not Be Crossed

Translators have a sacred duty to preserve the integrity of the biblical text in all its complexity and beauty. When we begin to substitute that text with our own interpretations under the guise of ‘simplicity’ or ‘readability,’ we compromise not just the text, but the inerrancy and infallibility of the Scripture itself. The role of unpacking complex or challenging passages lies with the reader, supported by biblical commentaries, not with the translator who must focus solely on offering the text as originally written. Remember, Truth Matters!

The Gender Language Delusion

Inclusivity Versus Accuracy: A Mistaken Belief

Original Gender Language Is Deliberate

Let’s not mince words: The original languages of the Bible used gender-specific terms purposefully and with intent. Like a master craftsman choosing exactly the right tool for each task, the biblical authors, under divine inspiration, employed language that precisely conveyed their—and God’s—intended message. Tampering with this specificity, under the guise of “inclusivity,” is not only irresponsible but also a compromise of the text’s integrity.

The Faulty Logic of Gender-Inclusive Language

The attempt to make the Bible gender-inclusive stems from a well-intentioned but misguided desire to modernize the text and make it more “accessible.” However, altering the gender language of the original texts is comparable to changing the ingredients in a historical recipe; the end result is not the same dish. What is lost may seem minor, but it creates a cascading effect on the overall message and the specific nuances the original text sought to convey.

Language Evolution Versus Textual Devolution

It’s true that language evolves over time, but the original text should act as a fixed point of reference, like a lighthouse for ships in an ever-changing sea. Changing the language of the Bible to suit modern sensitivities is similar to moving the lighthouse; it’s not only the ships closest to it that are affected but all those that follow, leading them progressively off course.

Inclusivity at the Expense of Accuracy Is No Virtue

Imagine an architect deliberately altering the structural plan of a building to make it look more inviting but at the cost of its stability. The change might make the building more attractive to potential occupants, but it is a disservice to those who trust in its integrity. In the same way, prioritizing inclusivity over accuracy in Bible translation undermines the spiritual edification and grounding of its readers.

The Role of Culture Should Not Overstep

Culture is like the stage setting for a play; it’s not the play itself. As society becomes more aware of gender inclusivity, it is tempting to retrofit the Bible into current cultural molds. But the Bible stands transcendent above culture, not subordinate to it. The moment we begin to adjust the Scriptures to align with cultural trends, we cease to treat it as the immutable word of God.

Summary: Accuracy Must Reign Supreme

The highest obligation of Bible translators is to faithfully replicate the original text in a manner that the reader can comprehend. Any attempts to modify the text for gender-inclusivity effectively erode this aim and replace God’s words with man’s. Remember, our primary goal is to be accurate and faithful to the original text—because Truth Matters!

In the quest for a more inclusive text, the real casualty becomes the authority, sufficiency, and inerrancy of Scripture. The reader should not be robbed of their opportunity to grapple with the text as it was originally penned; to do so would be a dereliction of our sacred duty as translators. Let’s honor God by holding fast to the original texts, rendering them with the accuracy they deserve.

Examples of Gender Language Changes and Their Damage

Mistaking “Brothers” for Siblings

One common alteration is changing the term “brothers” to “brothers and sisters” in an attempt to be inclusive. Let’s consider a passage like Romans 1:13, where Paul addresses the Roman believers as “brothers.” The Greek term here is “adelphoi,” which is masculine and refers to male siblings. While it’s true that the term can be inclusive of both genders in certain contexts, altering it to “brothers and sisters” in all instances overlooks specific instances where the male audience is particularly addressed. By broadening the scope, the translator waters down the precise aim of the original language.

The Pitfall of the “Human One”

Another glaring example is the change of “Son of Man” to “Human One” in an attempt to skirt around gender-specific language. This change doesn’t just affect readability; it strikes at the heart of Christological doctrine. The term “Son of Man” is heavily laden with Old Testament prophecy and New Testament revelation about the identity of Jesus. Changing it to the “Human One” is akin to using a pocket knife instead of a surgical scalpel; it lacks precision and can do more harm than good.

Debasing “Father” to “Parent”

Changing terms like “Father” to “Parent” in reference to God is another glaring compromise. The word “Father” is not just a descriptor but an integral part of God’s identity, rooted in a long tradition and line of revelation from the Old Testament onward. By reducing “Father” to “Parent,” the unique relationship that exists between God and His people is diluted.

The Flaw of Generic Stewards

In the Parable of the Talents, some translations have changed the “servants” to “stewards” in an attempt to be gender-neutral. While steward is a somewhat accurate term, “servant” carries connotations of authority, obedience, and responsibility that “steward” misses. The parable is not just about stewardship; it’s about servitude to a Master, and this vital nuance is lost when the language is tampered with.

Undermining the God-Ordained Family Structure

There are also examples where terms like “wife” and “husband” are replaced with “spouse.” While this might appear harmless, it actually weakens the biblical portrayal of the family structure, where roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. By removing the gender-specific titles, the translator effectively neutralizes what is meant to be a divinely established order.

Summary: The High Cost of Compromise

In each of these instances, the compromise of gender-specific language inflicts damage upon the text’s clarity, doctrinal integrity, and applicative force. Truth Matters! The text becomes less like the precise work of divine revelation it is meant to be and more like a watered-down version tailored to human sensitivities. Remember, our primary goal is to be accurate and faithful to the original text, placing the responsibility of interpretation squarely on the reader’s shoulders—Translating Truth!

To be swayed by modern cultural trends in the realm of Bible translation is to abandon our commitment to the purity of God’s Word. Our highest calling is to represent God’s thoughts as they have been revealed, not to reconfigure them according to the whims of contemporary culture. Therefore, let us keep our translations anchored in the solid rock of the original texts.

How to Interpret the Bible-1

Footnotes: A Window to Translator Intent

Changes in Footnoting Style Between Editions

Shifting From Clarity to Ambiguity

Footnotes in a Bible translation serve as a critical guide to the reader, offering insight into textual variants, explaining nuances in the original languages, or clarifying why a particular translation choice was made. In comparing the 1995 and 2020 editions of the New American Standard Bible (NASB), one cannot help but notice a dramatic shift in the style and substance of footnotes, moving away from the clarity and precision we expect in literal translations.

The Disappearance of Textual Notes

In the 1995 NASB edition, footnotes often provided information about textual variants and how they affect the understanding of a verse. For instance, the reader might find a footnote explaining why a certain word in the Greek text was chosen over another variant. This practice reinforces our commitment to the original texts and underscores the importance of the textual criticism process. The 2020 edition, however, has minimized such notes, leaving the reader less informed and more reliant on the translators’ decisions.

The Introduction of Interpretive Notes

While footnotes are supposed to assist in comprehension without influencing interpretation, the NASB 2020 leans towards footnotes that actually guide the reader to a particular interpretation. For instance, instead of just providing the literal Hebrew or Greek term, the footnotes might now include a brief explanation of what the translators believe the term means in the context. This veers dangerously close to crossing the boundary from translation to commentary, compromising our literal translation philosophy.

Obfuscation of Gender-Specific Language

In line with its gender-neutral language agenda, the 2020 NASB edition’s footnotes often include justifications for why a gender-neutral term was used in place of a gender-specific one. However, this practice betrays a dilution of the text and serves to mask the exactness of the original language.

Reducing Scholarly Engagement

An important role of footnotes is to encourage scholarly engagement with the text. Readers who wish to dig deeper should find the footnotes as starting points for further study. By simplifying and reducing the information, the NASB 2020 edition lessens the impetus for deeper exploration. This undermines the intellectual rigor that Bible study demands and contributes to the ‘dumbing down’ of scriptural engagement.

Summary: A Disturbing Trend

The changes in footnoting style between the 1995 and 2020 NASB editions reveal a disturbing trend—a move towards interpretive choices and away from the kind of rigorous, text-focused translation that upholds the integrity of the original languages. Footnotes should serve as a bridge between the ancient text and the modern reader, aiding in understanding but not imposing interpretation. Truth Matters! By altering the nature and function of footnotes, the latest edition compromises our mission to provide readers with an accurate, unfiltered Word of God. Our foremost duty is to the text itself, not to the shifting sands of cultural or linguistic trends. Therefore, the integrity of footnotes should be non-negotiable in any serious translation effort.

What Footnotes Reveal About Translation Philosophy

The Role of Footnotes in Defining Philosophy

Footnotes in a Bible translation are much more than mere explanatory remarks. They reveal the heart of the translation philosophy adhered to by the translators. A close examination of these footnotes can tell us whether the translation leans towards a literal (formal equivalent) philosophy or adopts a more interpretive (dynamic equivalent) approach. In essence, footnotes are the microscope through which one can scrutinize the integrity and intent of a translation.

The Telling Nature of Textual Variants

When footnotes detail textual variants without prescribing which one should be accepted, they align with a literal translation philosophy. This stands in stark contrast to footnotes that attempt to guide the reader toward a preferred interpretation of textual variants, which is indicative of a less rigorous approach that compromises textual fidelity. Translating Truth!

Clarification Versus Interpretation

When footnotes aim to clarify the meaning of a Hebrew or Greek term by providing its straightforward equivalence in English, they reflect a commitment to literal translation. Conversely, footnotes that offer an interpretation of what a term “means in context” reveal a more dynamic or interpretive philosophy. Our primary goal is to be accurate and faithful to the original text.

The Footnotes’ Target Audience

Footnotes in a translation adhering to a literal philosophy are generally more academic and invite the reader to engage more deeply with the text. This is consistent with the expectation that the Church should elevate the reader to the Bible’s level, not bring the Bible down to the reader. On the other hand, footnotes that aim to simplify concepts and meanings for the reader betray an interpretive translation philosophy that seeks to make the text accessible at the expense of accuracy.

The Slippery Slope of Sociocultural Concessions

Footnotes that justify changes based on sociocultural trends, such as gender neutrality, signal a significant departure from the mission of being faithful to the original text. These footnotes indicate a willingness to compromise the text to fit contemporary norms, which is antithetical to the principles of literal translation. Our foremost duty is to the text itself, not to the shifting sands of cultural or linguistic trends.

In Summary: Footnotes as a Litmus Test

Footnotes serve as a revealing litmus test for discerning the underlying philosophy of a translation. When they focus on providing clarity based on the original languages and invite scholarly engagement, they reflect a literal translation philosophy. Conversely, footnotes that guide interpretation, simplify meanings, or make sociocultural concessions demonstrate a drift towards an interpretive philosophy. Truth Matters! It is crucial, then, to scrutinize these footnotes to ensure that the translation in your hands upholds the integrity of God’s revealed Word.

The Risk of Interpretation: Leaving Meaning to the Reader

How Dynamic Equivalence Can Blur Original Meaning

The Misguided Appeal of Dynamic Equivalence

At first glance, the dynamic equivalence approach may appear to be a reader-friendly way of making the Bible accessible. However, this methodology falls dangerously short of preserving the original meaning of the Scriptures. It begins the process of distancing the reader from the words and intent of the original human authors inspired by God.

Interpreter Versus Translator: The Crucial Difference

The Bible is a divine document, divinely inspired yet written by human authors. The task of a translator is to transport these words into another language as accurately as possible. The interpreter, which ideally should be the reader or the Church, takes on the responsibility of understanding the meaning of those words. When a translation begins to interpret rather than translate, it invades the space meant for the reader and the Church. The meaning of a word is the responsibility of the interpreter, not the translator.

The Danger of Interpretative Decisions

When translators use dynamic equivalence, they make interpretive decisions that might not align with the original text. For instance, replacing “Jehovah” with “the Lord” in the Old Testament alters the nuance and personal nature of God’s name. Similarly, smoothing out idiomatic expressions or figures of speech into a more “digestible” form robs the reader of the chance to dig deeper and truly understand the text. Compromising the original language’s complexity erases layers of meaning and context that are essential for accurate interpretation.

The Reader’s Responsibility: Engaging With the Text

The Bible, penned in languages rich with nuance and depth, offers a treasure trove of meaning that demands the reader’s engagement. By taking the interpretive role upon themselves, translators practicing dynamic equivalence unwittingly remove the necessity for the reader to grapple with the text. This is akin to giving someone fish instead of teaching them how to fish. It is the job of the Church to bring churchgoers up to the Bible’s 11th-12th grade level, not dumb the Bible down.

Erosion of Theological Precision

Many of the changes from literal to dynamic equivalence are not benign. They often have theological implications. When translators decide to interpret a passage in a certain way, they risk misrepresenting or diluting key theological points. For example, adjusting the phrase “Son of Man” to “a human being” could significantly alter Christological understandings. This intrusion of interpretation into translation can have long-lasting impacts on doctrinal positions.

In Summary: The High Cost of Interpretation

Dynamic equivalence, while perhaps well-intended, poses a risk to the accurate and faithful conveyance of Scripture. By moving from a role of translation to one of interpretation, translators inadvertently remove layers of meaning, reduce theological precision, and relieve the reader of their responsibility to engage deeply with the text. Translating Truth! Therefore, it’s crucial to approach Bible translations with discernment, ever mindful that the primary goal is to be as faithful to the original text as possible. Truth Matters!

The Importance of Reader Interpretation in Literal Translation Philosophy

The Mantle of Responsibility: Why It Matters Who Interprets

When it comes to understanding the Bible, the responsibility ideally falls on the reader, guided by the Church. The literal translation philosophy adheres to this by staying as close to the original text as possible. A faithful, literal translation does not seek to give you its interpretation of the text; it seeks to present the text in such a way that you can interpret it yourself. Translating Truth!

Literal Translation: The Pathway to Authentic Understanding

Literal translation is about transporting words from the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek into another language as precisely as possible. This is critical because each word in the original text was inspired by God and penned by human authors for a reason. Maintaining the original language’s integrity keeps the doorway open for the reader to step into the ancient world, to understand context, culture, and linguistic nuances. Truth Matters!

The Value of Struggle in Understanding

In life, many valuable things come only through struggle, including a deep understanding of the Bible. When a reader encounters a challenging word or concept in a literal translation, it prompts them to study, to seek guidance, and to engage in contemplative reflection. This process is vital for spiritual growth and doctrinal soundness. The struggle to understand should not be viewed as a problem but as a necessary journey for deeper understanding.

Words Matter: The Intricacies of Language

Language is not just about words but also about the layers of meaning, cultural context, and theological implications packed into those words. For example, the Hebrew term “Jehovah” is rich with connotations about the nature and character of God. A literal translation retains such specific terms, offering readers an opportunity to engage directly with the original text’s richness. Fidelity to the original language enables readers to come as close as possible to the inspired words.

Role of the Church: Elevating Rather than Diluting

It is not the Bible that should be simplified to match the reader’s level; rather, the reader should rise to the level of the Bible. This is where the role of the Church becomes invaluable. Churches must educate and provide resources for readers to grow in their understanding of the Scriptures. Instead of embracing translations that do the interpretative work for the reader, the Church should encourage the use of literal translations and foster an environment of diligent study.

In Summary: Preserving the Reader’s Role in Interpretation

The literal translation philosophy respects the reader’s role in interpreting the Scriptures, thereby safeguarding the text’s richness and depth. By doing so, it allows for a deeper, more authentic engagement with the Word of God. Translating Truth! The interpreter’s role—ideally the reader, aided by the Church—is to delve into the text, exploring its every nuance and facet, guided by a translation that remains as true to the original as possible. Truth Matters!

The Deceptive Contrast of Literalness Versus Readability By Interpretive Translators

How Readability Undermines Accuracy

The False Dichotomy: Literalness and Readability

Interpretive translators often present the Bible translation task as a balance between literalness and readability. This view suggests that a more literal translation may be harder to read, while a more readable translation must sacrifice literalness. This is a false dichotomy. A literal translation can maintain readability without compromising the accuracy of the original text. Translating Truth!

Readability as a Camouflaged Excuse for Interpretation

One of the deceptions in the readability argument is that it subtly allows translators to add their interpretations under the guise of making the text “easier to understand.” Once the Pandora’s box of interpretation is opened, it is hard to close. This leads to the text becoming more of a commentary than a translation, which undermines the original text’s integrity. Translation should not be an act of commentary; it should be an act of accurate textual rendering. Truth Matters!

The Dumbing Down of Sacred Texts

Dynamic Equivalent translators often justify their approach by claiming that modern readers are not capable of understanding a text written on an 11th or 12th-grade level. This is not only insulting to the reader but also diminishes the role of the Church in educating its flock. There is a real danger in translating the Bible to the lowest common denominator: It trivializes God’s Word.

The Role of the Reader and Church in Ensuring Accuracy

The notion of making the Bible “easier” to read by using dynamic equivalence or other interpretive techniques inherently undermines the reader’s role in grasping the Scriptures. This, in turn, weakens the Church’s role in educating and elevating the reader’s understanding. The reader should be encouraged to ascend to the Bible’s level, not the other way around. Translating Truth!

Readability Versus Reliability: A Compromised Faithfulness

When readability takes precedence over literal translation, it alters the emphasis from what God has said to what the translator believes God meant. This creates an unreliable text, which could lead to an unreliable faith. Truth Matters!

In Summary: The Perils of Choosing Readability Over Literalness

The argument for readability, often touted by Interpretive translators, is a slippery slope that can lead to inaccurate and unfaithful translations. It moves away from giving readers what God said, as conveyed through human authors, to giving them what the translator thinks God meant. The role of the Bible is to present the inspired Word of God, not an interpretation thereof. Translating Truth! Truth Matters!

The Call for Maintaining Literal Translation Philosophy

Literal Translation: The Foundation of Accurate Bible Understanding

The objective of translating the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts into a modern language is monumental: to render God’s thoughts, delivered through human agents, into understandable terms without corrupting the intended meaning. Literal translation serves as the bedrock of this task, ensuring a faithful rendering of the original languages into modern parlance. Translating Truth!

Dynamic Equivalence: A Deviation from Fidelity

Dynamic equivalence or interpretive translation approaches pose a significant challenge to maintaining a text’s original meaning. Under the banner of “readability,” these methods allow translators the liberty to alter, add, or diminish the original text, ostensibly to make it more accessible to contemporary readers. This compromises the fidelity of the translation and hampers the reader’s ability to engage directly with the Scriptures as they were written. Truth Matters!

Literal Translation and the Role of the Reader

The push for readability often underestimates the reader’s capability and role in understanding the Bible. Translators shouldn’t pre-digest the text for the reader; the latter has the responsibility to invest the effort to grasp its contents. Rather than lower the Bible to an easily digestible level, readers should be encouraged to rise to the challenge of comprehending God’s Word. Translating Truth!

Guarding Against Incremental Drift

The shift towards interpretive translation philosophy can be subtle but cumulative, much like the proverbial frog in the boiling pot. The 2020 NASB edition, among others, illustrates how even reputable translations can succumb to the lure of readability over literal accuracy. This incremental drift can have long-term consequences, transitioning translations from being faithful renderings to essentially being interpretive commentaries. Truth Matters!

The Imperative of Maintaining Literal Translation Philosophy

For the sake of spiritual growth and accurate understanding, it is critical to safeguard the principle of literal translation. By adhering to a literal translation philosophy, translators fulfill their paramount obligation: rendering God’s thoughts into another language without corrupting or diluting its original message. This approach honors both the authorial intent and the reader’s role in discerning the text’s meaning. Translating Truth!

In Summary: Upholding the Integrity of Scripture

We must never underestimate the gravity of translating God’s Word. Any drift from a literal translation philosophy towards a more interpretive approach threatens to distort the Scriptures, impede spiritual growth, and cloud theological understanding. Therefore, the call is clear: To maintain a pure and unadulterated translation of the Bible, a literal translation philosophy must be steadfastly upheld. Truth Matters!

The NASB Continues to Retain the Corrupt Textus Receptus (KJV) Readings in the Main Text

Trying to Appease King James Version Readers by Retaining the Corrupt Textus Receptus (KJV) Readings in the Main Text

The Textus Receptus: A Brief Overview

Before delving into the matter, it’s important to clarify what the Textus Receptus is: a Greek New Testament text that served as the base for the King James Version (KJV) and other early translations. While historical and traditional, the Textus Receptus is fraught with textual issues that later manuscript discoveries have shed light on. Truth Matters!

The NASB and the Textus Receptus

The New American Standard Bible (NASB), particularly in its 1995 edition, exhibited remarkable fidelity to the original languages. Yet, even then, it had a noticeable inclination to retain readings from the Textus Receptus—readings that are widely recognized as less accurate by modern textual scholars committed to the objective historical-grammatical method of interpretation. This persistence is problematic; it appears to be an attempt to appease readers who hold the King James Version in high esteem. Translating Truth!

The Risk of Inaccuracy

The main issue here is the risk of perpetuating inaccuracies from the Textus Receptus. When a translation opts for readings that have been corrected by later, more reliable manuscripts, it puts at stake the very integrity of God’s Word. The role of the translator is not to preserve tradition but to convey the most accurate rendering of the original text. Truth Matters!

A Dilution of the Literal Translation Philosophy

By incorporating the Textus Receptus readings into its main text, the NASB has subtly diluted its commitment to literal translation philosophy. It has made a concession that could be a stepping stone to further compromises. Such drifts start small but can lead to more egregious deviations from literal translation standards. Translating Truth!

Appeasement Over Accuracy: A Dangerous Precedent

The 2020 edition of the NASB has continued this trend, raising questions about its future editions. If a translation begins to prioritize appeasing a segment of its readers over fidelity to the original languages, it sets a dangerous precedent. It may lead to broader interpretive translation methods that further distance the reader from the original text. Truth Matters!

The Ultimate Responsibility: Faithfulness to the Original Text

A translation must always be faithful to the best and most reliable texts available. Incorporating less accurate readings from the Textus Receptus, just to gain or retain readership, runs counter to the most foundational obligation of any Bible translation: To convey God’s Word as accurately as possible. Translating Truth!

In Summary: A Call for Unwavering Fidelity

Any compromise on the original texts, whether to appease a demographic or to broaden readership, is untenable. The NASB and any other translations must commit unflinchingly to the best and most reliable manuscripts. To do anything less would be to compromise the unchangeable and eternal Word of God. Truth Matters!

Translators Should Not Knowingly Retain a Know Interpolation In the Main Text. It Should Be Relegated to a Footnote

The Problem of Interpolation in the Textus Receptus

The Textus Receptus, upon which the King James Version was based, includes what are known as interpolations. These are verses or phrases not present in the most reliable early manuscripts. They were added later for various reasons—sometimes out of tradition, sometimes out of a mistaken understanding of the text. Truth Matters!

NASB’s Unfortunate Decision to Retain These Readings

The New American Standard Bible (NASB), particularly in its 1995 edition, earned respect for its fidelity to the original languages of the Bible. However, even that edition opted to retain certain readings from the Textus Receptus. Continuing this trend in the 2020 edition raises serious questions about the translation’s commitment to accuracy over tradition. This is not just an academic concern; this is about the integrity of God’s Word. Translating Truth!

Why Interpolations Should be Footnoted, Not Main Text

A text that claims to adhere to a literal translation philosophy should not knowingly include an interpolation in the main body of the text. If there’s compelling evidence that a phrase or verse was not part of the original manuscripts, then it should at best be relegated to a footnote, not included as if it were part of the original text. Doing so compromises the text’s fidelity and confuses readers who are seeking to understand God’s original Word. Truth Matters!

The Significance of Relegating to Footnotes

Putting these interpolations in footnotes is not merely a matter of academic honesty; it’s a matter of spiritual integrity. By placing such text in footnotes, a translation makes it clear that while the text may have historical or traditional value, it is not considered to be part of the inspired Scripture. Translating Truth!

Not a Matter of Appeasement but of Accuracy

Some may argue that retaining these readings could be a way of acknowledging the traditional importance these verses have held for some. However, the ultimate goal of Bible translation is not to affirm tradition or to appease particular groups but to be faithful to the original text. When tradition conflicts with truth, truth must always prevail. Truth Matters!

The Long-Term Risk: Compromising the Integrity of the Word

Interpolations might seem like small deviations, but they set a dangerous precedent. Once a translation takes liberties with the original text, even if it’s for the sake of tradition or appeasement, it becomes easier to make further compromises down the line. The role of the Bible translator is too sacred to allow for such risks. Translating Truth!

In Summary: Faithfulness Over Tradition

The NASB’s decision to retain readings from the Textus Receptus in the main text, particularly known interpolations, challenges its credibility and its claim to prioritize a literal translation philosophy. For the sake of maintaining the integrity of God’s Word, such interpolations should be relegated to footnotes, making it abundantly clear they are not part of the inspired original text. Truth Matters!

Ryken’s Five Fallacies About the Bible with Andrews’ Answers

Fallacy 1: The Bible Is a Uniformly Simple Book

The Misconception: A Uniform Simplicity

One common fallacy, even propounded by well-meaning individuals like Leland Ryken, suggests that the Bible is a uniformly simple book easily understood by anyone who picks it up. This notion, however well-intentioned, diminishes the rich complexities and depths found within the Scriptural texts. This misunderstanding can lead readers and translators alike to underestimate the profound layers of meaning, historical context, and linguistic nuances in the Bible. Translating Truth!

The Bible’s Diverse Genres

Let’s not forget that the Bible comprises multiple genres, from historical accounts and legal codes to poetry, prophecy, and apocalyptic literature. These genres, each with its unique set of rules and characteristics, require distinct interpretive skills. To say the Bible is uniformly simple is to ignore the kaleidoscope of its literary forms. Truth Matters!

Variable Linguistic Complexity

The original languages of the Bible—Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek—each have their own sets of grammatical rules, idioms, and vocabulary that don’t always neatly translate into modern languages. It’s not just about translating words but also about faithfully rendering complex grammatical structures and idiomatic expressions. Translating Truth!

Historical and Cultural Depth

The Bible was written over a span of around 1,600 years by about 40 authors from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Understanding the Bible in its fullness requires an understanding of the historical and cultural contexts that shaped it. Ignoring these layers results in a shallow and potentially misleading interpretation. Truth Matters!

Theological Profundity

The Bible explores profound theological truths about God, humanity, and the universe. While some of these are stated in simple terms, many are deeply complex and require rigorous study and contemplation to fully grasp. Misrepresenting the Bible as a uniformly simple book overlooks its theological richness. Translating Truth!

Implications for Translation

Translators need to honor the complexity of the Bible. Simplifying it under the assumption that it’s uniformly simple leads to the loss of crucial details, subtleties, and meanings. Our translation philosophy asserts that the meaning of a word is the responsibility of the interpreter (i.e., reader), not the translator. For translators to presume the Bible’s uniform simplicity is to abdicate their responsibility to faithfully represent the complexity of the original texts. Translating Truth!

Conclusion: Celebrating Biblical Complexity

A robust understanding of Scripture embraces its multi-faceted nature. By doing so, we encourage a richer, deeper engagement with God’s Word. Recognizing the Bible’s complexity is not a barrier to understanding; rather, it’s an invitation to explore the inexhaustible riches contained within its pages. Truth Matters!

Fallacy 2: The Bible Is a Book of Ideas Rather Than Concrete Particulars

The Misconception: An Ideological Textbook

Leland Ryken points out another pervasive fallacy: the idea that the Bible is principally a book of abstract ideas, doctrines, or moral principles. This oversimplification can distort one’s interaction with Scripture, reducing it to a mere ideological manual. Translating Truth!

The Nature of Biblical Narratives

A large portion of the Bible is written in narrative form, detailing historical events, human experiences, and the lives of individual people. These aren’t abstract ideas; these are real stories about real people in real places. The narratives contain crucial particulars, and to neglect these is to forfeit a full understanding of the text. Truth Matters!

Symbols, Metaphors, and Imagery

The Bible is rich with symbols, metaphors, and other forms of figurative language. For example, Jesus is described as the “Lamb of God” and the “Bread of Life.” These aren’t abstract ideas; they are concrete images designed to convey profound truths. Translators must take great care to preserve these particulars so that readers can grasp the depth of these symbols. Translating Truth!

Ethical and Legal Codes

While the Bible does contain laws and moral teachings, these often come in the form of concrete examples and real-life situations. The Ten Commandments, for instance, are not just a list of ideas but concrete principles set against the backdrop of Israel’s historical experience. Truth Matters!

Biblical Geography and Culture

The Bible mentions specific places, customs, and historical events. The Apostle Paul, for example, addressed specific situations in specific churches. Neglecting these concrete particulars results in a superficial understanding and potentially even a distortion of the text. Translating Truth!

Implications for Translation

The translation process should honor the Bible’s focus on concrete particulars over mere abstractions. Translators are entrusted with the solemn duty of preserving these details. They have the task of ensuring that the richness and complexity of the original text are conveyed without oversimplification or the injection of interpretive bias. Translating Truth!

Conclusion: A Multifaceted Treasure

The Bible is not a mere collection of abstract ideas or a doctrinal handbook. It’s a multifaceted work that communicates its profound truths through concrete events, characters, and symbols. To reduce it to a mere compendium of abstract ideas is to ignore the full spectrum of its divine message. Understanding the Bible requires a nuanced approach that honors both its ideas and its particulars. Truth Matters!

The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02

Fallacy 3: The Bible Is a Modern Book (Or the Bible Can Be Made Into a Modern Book)

The Misconception: A Book for the Present Age

One of the common fallacies identified by Leland Ryken is the notion that the Bible is a modern book or can be made into one. This belief is not only misleading but also harmful to a proper understanding and respect for the Scriptures. Truth Matters! It’s akin to putting an old master painting into a new digital frame and claiming the artwork is modern. This undermines the ancient, historical context that gives the Bible its richness and depth.

Historical Setting and Cultural Context

The Bible was written over a span of roughly 1,600 years by about 40 authors from different backgrounds, cultures, and historical contexts. Ignoring these factors and treating the Bible as a modern text is like taking an artifact out of a museum and placing it in a modern-day setting without explanation. The artifact may look interesting but it loses its significance. Translating Truth!

Language and Idioms

The Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek and includes idioms, expressions, and literary forms of those languages and times. Translating these into a modern vernacular without preserving their ancient context essentially distorts the message. The words and idioms of the Bible carry the flavor of their original languages, and to render them into a modern idiom without caution is to dilute their meaning. Translating Truth!

Theological Truths and Interpretation

Certain theological truths expressed in the Bible are timeless, but the way they are expressed is rooted in the culture and language of the time. Modernizing these expressions can easily lead to misinterpretation. This is not to say that the Bible cannot speak to modern issues; rather, its truths must be carefully extracted from its historical context. Truth Matters!

Implications for Translation

Translators must be exceedingly cautious not to project modern ideas and concepts back onto the ancient texts. This is where the literal translation philosophy stands as a safeguard against the dilution of the original message. Translating Truth! Interpreting the Bible through a modern lens only serves to water down its true message and dilute its richness.

Conclusion: Ancient Text, Timeless Truth

The Bible is not a modern book, nor should it be treated as such. While its truths are timeless and applicable for all generations, the form and context in which these truths are presented are rooted in the ancient world. Truth Matters! Attempting to modernize the Bible is not just a disservice; it’s a form of intellectual and spiritual dishonesty. Translators have the solemn responsibility to preserve the ancient context while presenting the Bible in a language that can be understood today. Translating Truth!


Fallacy 4: The Bible Needs Correction

The Fallacy Defined: A Presumptuous Attitude

One of the most audacious fallacies that Leland Ryken identifies is the notion that the Bible, a sacred text, needs correction. This fallacy makes the outrageous assumption that human wisdom surpasses divine wisdom. Truth Matters! It’s akin to a student claiming they’re smarter than the teacher who has decades of experience and knowledge.

Theological Foundations: Inerrancy of Scripture

The Bible is understood to be the inerrant Word of God. In the original manuscripts, the text is without error, presenting theological truths, historical facts, and ethical guidelines that are infallible. Translating Truth! This doesn’t mean that we understand everything immediately, but the problem lies with our understanding, not with the Bible itself.

Textual Integrity: Preserving Not Altering

When approaching the task of translating the Bible, the objective is to preserve the original message. The words of the Bible are not to be corrected; they are to be protected and accurately conveyed. Any attempt to “correct” the Bible indicates a lack of trust in the original text and undermines its divine origin. Translating Truth!

Language Barriers and Cultural Gaps

While there may be complexities due to linguistic differences and cultural gaps, these do not warrant a “correction” of the Bible. Rather, they necessitate diligent study to bridge those gaps. Truth Matters! For example, if a centuries-old text uses measures like “cubits,” it would be ludicrous to “correct” it to feet or meters, as that would alter the historical context.

Moral and Ethical ‘Updates’: A Perilous Path

Some argue that moral and ethical norms have evolved, suggesting that the Bible should be updated to fit modern sensibilities. This is not just a slippery slope; it’s a cliff off which one falls away from authentic faith. The objective moral truths in the Bible are immutable and are not subject to change based on cultural or social developments. Truth Matters!

Implications for Translation: Guarding Against Compromise

Translators have an enormous responsibility. They act as the gatekeepers of the words that convey divine truths. A lapse in judgment or a deliberate alteration in translation can have long-lasting impact. Translating Truth! That’s why sticking to a literal translation philosophy is crucial to prevent even the slightest compromise on the integrity of the original texts.

Conclusion: Standing Firm on Divine Truth

To suggest that the Bible needs correction is not just flawed reasoning; it’s a position of arrogance that assumes human understanding surpasses divine wisdom. Truth Matters! It is the role of translators to bring the original words into a new linguistic context faithfully, not to act as editors of the divine message. Translating Truth!


Fallacy 5: The Bible Is a Book Devoid of Mystery and Ambiguity

Defining the Fallacy: Oversimplification of Divine Wisdom

The fifth fallacy identified by Leland Ryken suggests that the Bible is straightforward in all respects and lacks any sense of mystery or ambiguity. This fallacy implies that every part of the Bible can be easily dissected, understood, and applied, undermining the deep richness and complexity of the Scripture. Truth Matters!

Inherent Complexity: A Testament to Divine Inspiration

The Bible, in its original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts, is layered with intricate literary structures, nuanced word choices, and deep theological concepts. It’s like peering into the complex architecture of a historic cathedral; each layer and component contributes to its majesty. Translating Truth!

Danger in Eliminating Ambiguity: The Loss of Depth

Sometimes, the original text does contain ambiguities, or a single word might carry multiple meanings. Translators who try to resolve such ambiguities take a step too far. They try to clarify what might have been intentionally complex or mysterious, thus thinning the profound depth of the original text. Translating Truth!

Mystery as a Vehicle for Spiritual Growth

The mysterious and ambiguous aspects of the Bible are not stumbling blocks but stepping stones for deeper understanding and spiritual growth. Truth Matters! For instance, parables often have multiple layers of meaning and invite readers to grapple with their implications. Simply explaining away the mystery robs the reader of the opportunity for deeper engagement.

Literal Translation: Respecting the Mystery

Our approach to translation should be a reflection of our respect for the original text. A literal translation seeks to maintain as much of the original structure and wording as possible, keeping both the clarity and the complexity intact. Anything less is a dilution of the divine message. Translating Truth!

Implications for Modern Translations: A Warning

The move towards simplifying the Bible in modern translations is troubling, particularly when it’s aimed at eliminating mystery or ambiguity. Truth Matters! Just as diluting a potent medicine weakens its efficacy, so does diluting the complexity of the Bible weaken its spiritual impact.

Conclusion: Upholding the Integrity of the Complex and the Mysterious

It is not our role to simplify the complex and mysterious aspects of the Bible but to faithfully translate them, respecting their divinely inspired intricacies. Truth Matters! The Bible is not a book that has been sapped of its mystery and complexity. It’s a profound text that has been divinely inspired, and our role as translators is to ensure that this depth is fully conveyed to the modern reader. Translating Truth!

Ryken’s Seven Fallacies About Bible Translation with Andrews’ Answers

Fallacy 1: We Should Translate Meaning Rather Than Words

The Fallacy Unveiled: A Slippery Slope

The first fallacy according to Ryken argues that Bible translators should focus on translating meaning rather than words. This notion is not just flawed; it’s perilous. By emphasizing the translation of meaning over words, one sets the stage for interpretive subjectivity to creep into the process. Truth Matters!

The Danger of Translator Interpretation

When translators take it upon themselves to translate meaning rather than words, they essentially become interpreters. That’s problematic because the role of the interpreter belongs to the reader under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, not the translator. Translating Truth!

Words as Building Blocks: Inviolable and Sacred

Each word in the original languages of the Bible was chosen deliberately under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. These words serve as the building blocks of sentences, paragraphs, and entire books within the Scriptures. To change these words is to tamper with the very foundation of the inspired text. Truth Matters!

Nuances and Multi-Faceted Meanings: A Rich Heritage

The original languages of the Bible often contain words that have multiple meanings or nuanced shades of meaning. In Greek, the word “logos” can mean “word,” “reason,” or “principle,” among other things. It’s like a multifaceted gem that gleams differently depending on how you look at it. Translators who choose one “meaning” inadvertently dim the sparkle of this gem. Translating Truth!

An Example: The Hebrew Word “Yom”

Take for instance the Hebrew word “yom,” which generally means “day.” In the Genesis creation account, the term is rich with various interpretations, including a 24-hour day or a longer, indefinite period. A focus on translating meaning could tempt one to narrow down this richness to a single interpretation, thereby undermining the textual integrity. Truth Matters!

Literal Translation: The Antidote to Fallacy

The surest way to guard against this fallacy is to employ a literal translation philosophy. Literal translation respects the text by translating words and their original structure, leaving interpretation to the reader. This safeguards the text from human bias and subjectivity. Translating Truth!

Conclusion: Why Words Matter

Translating words rather than meaning maintains the integrity, richness, and depth of the original text. This is not just about linguistic fidelity; it’s about theological and spiritual fidelity. Any drift from this approach sets a dangerous precedent, and the 2020 NASB is a glaring example of the perils of diverging from this path. Translating Truth!

Fallacy 2: All Translation Is Interpretation (The Interpretive Translation Lie)

The Fallacy Exposed: A Veil Over Objectivity

The second fallacy according to Ryken posits that “all translation is interpretation.” This claim attempts to justify interpretive liberties by stating that translation is inherently interpretive. However, this is misleading and can have significant theological implications. Truth Matters!

Translation vs. Interpretation: Not the Same Endeavor

Firstly, it’s crucial to establish that translation and interpretation are not synonymous. Translation aims to render words from one language into another. Interpretation, however, seeks to explain the meaning behind those words. Translating Truth!

The Burden of Interpretation: Where It Truly Belongs

The responsibility of interpretation belongs to the reader, guided by proper exegetical methods and the Holy Spirit. When a translator assumes the role of an interpreter, he or she robs the reader of this crucial task. Translating Truth!

The Dilution of Precision: The Cost of Interpretive Translation

Languages are rich and complex, containing words with specific meanings and nuances. When a translator adopts the interpretive approach, there is a risk of diluting this richness. For example, the Greek word “dikaiosune” can mean righteousness, justice, or justness depending on context. A translator focused on interpretation might pick one of these and ignore the rest, simplifying the complexities of the original text. Truth Matters!

An Example: The Word “Repent”

Consider the word “repent” in the New Testament, which comes from the Greek word “metanoia.” Some translators have used “turn around” or “change one’s mind” to make it more palatable. However, the act of repentance in the Bible is a far more profound concept involving a deep spiritual change. An interpretive translation might miss this depth. Truth Matters!

Literal Translation: The Path of Least Bias

The solution to this fallacy is a commitment to literal translation philosophy, which allows the original words to stand as they are, respecting both their meaning and their ambiguity where it exists. Literal translation minimizes the bias and subjectivity that can tarnish God’s Word. Translating Truth!

Conclusion: Safeguarding the Integrity of the Word

In sum, translating is not interpreting. To blend the two is to compromise the objective conveyance of God’s Word. A move towards interpretive translation is not merely a shift in methodology; it’s a departure from the responsibility to preserve the Word of God accurately. Translating Truth!

Fallacy 3: Readability Is the Ultimate Goal of Translation

The Fallacy Unveiled: Reducing Complexity to Simplicity

The third fallacy in Ryken’s list suggests that “readability is the ultimate goal of translation.” This claim argues that the main focus of translating the Bible should be to make it easily understandable for modern readers. While readability is important, making it the ultimate goal can lead to compromise in accuracy and richness of the original text. Truth Matters!

The Importance of Readability: A Misplaced Emphasis

It’s not that readability is entirely irrelevant; after all, a Bible that no one can read serves little purpose. However, making readability the primary objective can cloud the deeper goal: being faithful to the original languages. Readability should be a byproduct of good translation, not its ultimate aim. Translating Truth!

The Role of the Church: Elevating Understanding

The argument for extreme readability often asserts that people are not equipped to understand a complex text. However, this is a misplaced responsibility. The role of the Church is to educate its members, helping them rise to the text’s level, not to bring the text down to a lower level. Truth Matters!

Complexity as a Feature, Not a Flaw

The Bible contains complex ideas and linguistic structures that are essential to convey its message. Stripping them away for the sake of readability compromises the integrity of the text. For instance, the Hebrew poetry in the Psalms or the Greek rhetorical devices in Paul’s letters have specific purposes and should not be overly simplified. Translating Truth!

Examples: The Pitfalls of Over-Simplification

Take the Hebrew word “hesed,” often translated as “lovingkindness” or “faithful love.” A focus on readability might translate it simply as “love,” but this would miss the depth and richness of the original term, which includes elements of loyalty, faithfulness, and covenantal love. Truth Matters!

Another example is the Greek word “logos,” usually translated as “Word” in John 1:1. Simplifying it to something like “message” would fail to encapsulate its broader connotations, which include reason, discourse, and the very essence of Jesus Christ. Truth Matters!

Literal Translation: Respecting the Reader and the Text

In literal translation, the aim is not to simplify but to clarify. The reader is respected enough to be given what the original authors actually wrote, not a watered-down version. Literal translation honors both the reader’s intelligence and the text’s complexity. Translating Truth!

Conclusion: Balance, Not Compromise

While readability should not be dismissed, it must be balanced with accuracy, faithfulness, and depth. Making readability the ultimate goal is an abdication of our responsibility to preserve the richness and complexity of God’s Word. Translating Truth!

Fallacy 4: The Important Question Is How We Should Say Something

The Fallacy Dissected: Prioritizing Expression Over Essence

Ryken’s fourth fallacy proposes that the critical question in Bible translation is how something should be said rather than what should be said. This implies that the focus should be on the way the message is conveyed, rather than faithfully rendering the original text. By doing so, this approach risks altering the original meaning and thus compromises the integrity of the text. Truth Matters!

Context and Language: The Twin Pillars of Meaning

Understanding the original context and language is essential for accurate translation. These aspects offer the richness and depth that God intended. By asking only “how should we say this,” translators shift their focus away from understanding the context and the nuances of the original languages. Translating Truth!

Style vs. Substance: A False Dichotomy

The question should not be whether to prioritize style over substance or vice versa. The style is part of the substance in biblical texts. For example, Paul’s usage of rhetorical questions in Romans is not merely a stylistic choice; it’s a way to engage the audience in a dialectical manner. To render this in a straightforward manner would strip the text of its intended communicative power. Truth Matters!

Examples: Lost in Translation

Consider the Hebrew word “shalom,” often translated simply as “peace.” However, “shalom” embodies much more—it encapsulates well-being, completeness, and prosperity. To merely ask “how should we say ‘shalom'” neglects the fullness of its meaning.

Another example is the Greek term “agape,” often rendered as “love.” However, “agape” signifies a selfless, divine love, not just any form of affection. Any translation focused solely on how to express “agape” might miss the weightiness and specificity of the term. Translating Truth!

Dumbing Down: The Slippery Slope of Interpretive Translations

The problem with asking “how should we say this” is that it leads to a dumbed-down version of the text. Translators may opt for easier words or simpler constructs, thereby losing the depth and richness of the original language. This approach is condescending to the reader and disregards the text’s inherent complexity. Truth Matters!

The Reader’s Responsibility: Grappling with the Text

The role of the reader is not just to skim through the text but to wrestle with its complexities and discover its deeper meanings. The reader should be provided with the tools—accurate and faithful translation—to do this work. The translation must maintain the original complexity to allow the reader to fulfill their part in engaging with the text. Translating Truth!

Conclusion: Honoring the Text and the Reader

The critical question should not merely be “how should we say this,” but “how can we best capture what is actually being said in the original text?” By concentrating on the essence and not just the expression, we honor both the Word of God and the reader’s intelligence and spiritual hunger. Translating Truth!

Fallacy 5: Koine Greek was Uniformly Colloquial

Unpacking the Fallacy: The Misconception of Uniformity

Ryken’s fifth fallacy argues that Koine Greek—the language of the New Testament—was uniformly colloquial. This argument is often used to justify a casual, conversational tone in modern Bible translations. This perspective is flawed and overlooks the complexities and variations within Koine Greek. Truth Matters!

Koine Greek: A Diverse Linguistic Landscape

Contrary to popular belief, Koine Greek is not a monolithic language style. It encompasses various registers, including legal language, poetic elements, and philosophical discourse. Ignoring these intricacies leads to a loss of nuance and depth in the translation. Translating Truth!

The Context is King: Different Styles for Different Messages

The Bible has diverse genres, from historical narratives to poetic Psalms to apocalyptic literature like Revelation. Each genre demands a different style and tone. It is a mistake to apply a uniformly colloquial style to all these genres. For example, the Gospel of John employs a philosophical and theological tone that is far from colloquial. Truth Matters!

Examples: The Range of Koine Greek

In the New Testament, terms like “logos” (Word) and “agape” (divine love) carry philosophical and theological weight. Paul’s letters often employ legal terminology to establish theological points, such as the term “justification.” A uniformly colloquial translation could severely dilute these terms’ original depth and richness. Translating Truth!

Misguided Simplicity: The Danger of Dumbing Down

The notion that Koine Greek was uniformly colloquial often leads to translations that are overly simplified. This can be disingenuous and fails to respect the reader’s ability to grapple with the text’s complexities. Simplifying the translation assumes that readers cannot handle or do not desire the depth found in the original text. Truth Matters!

A Higher Calling: Elevating the Reader

If the fallacy is accepted and a colloquial style is uniformly applied, the reader is not given the opportunity to rise to the occasion and engage the text at a deeper level. The role of a faithful translation is not to water down the text but to elevate the reader’s understanding. Translating Truth!

Conclusion: Respecting the Text and the Reader

The argument that Koine Greek is uniformly colloquial is fundamentally flawed and does a disservice to both the text and the reader. A faithful, literal translation respects the diverse linguistic landscape of the original text and equips the reader to engage with it deeply. By honoring the complexities in language and genre, a translation can be both faithful to the original text and edifying to the reader. Translating Truth!

Fallacy 6: If Biblical Writers Were Living Today, How Would They Express Their Content Today

Deconstructing the Fallacy: A Flawed Thought Experiment

The sixth fallacy posits a hypothetical scenario: If biblical writers were living today, how would they express their content in our modern context? The assumption here is that they would use contemporary idioms and language styles. This is a flawed line of thinking and is a speculative venture into the realm of what-ifs that detracts from the truth of the text. Truth Matters!

Language is Time-Bound: The Trap of Anachronism

Every language exists within a specific cultural and historical framework. For example, Hebrew has constructs and idioms that are inherently connected to the time and culture in which it was written. Attempting to modernize these idioms risks anachronism and compromises the historical and cultural context. Translating Truth!

Cultural and Historical Context: Irreplaceable Factors

Scriptures weren’t written in a vacuum; they were penned in distinct cultural, historical, and linguistic settings. Paul’s letters were addressed to specific congregations dealing with issues pertinent to their time. Ignoring the context and attempting to ‘modernize’ the text diminishes its depth and richness. Truth Matters!

Examples: The Danger of ‘Modernization’

Let’s consider the concept of “covenant,” which has deep-rooted historical implications in the Bible. If we were to modernize it into today’s contractual language, we would lose the relational and divine elements that “covenant” implies in the biblical context. Such ‘up-to-date’ translations can inadvertently strip the text of its intended meaning. Translating Truth!

The Authority of Original Language: A Pillar We Must Uphold

The original language carries with it the weight of God-given authority. Our role as translators is not to update the Bible but to provide as accurate a rendering as possible of the original text into the target language. Translating Truth!

Overstepping the Translator’s Role: The Pitfall of Interpretation

By speculating how biblical writers might express themselves today, we shift from translation to interpretation. This is where we overstep our bounds as translators. Our primary purpose is to give readers what God said through his human authors, not what we think God meant. Truth Matters!

Conclusion: Staying Faithful to the Text

The idea that biblical writers would express themselves differently today is both speculative and potentially damaging to the integrity of the text. Our commitment is to preserve, as much as possible, the original text, respecting its cultural, historical, and linguistic dimensions. Modernizing idioms or expressions may seem appealing but comes at the cost of distorting God’s Word. Let us remain steadfast in our quest for accuracy and fidelity to the original text. Translating Truth!

Fallacy 7: Any Difficulty In Reading the Bible Is the Fault of the Translation

Deconstructing the Fallacy: The Blame Game

The seventh fallacy under scrutiny is that any difficulty encountered while reading the Bible is the fault of the translation. This fallacy is grounded in a misguided notion that seeks to oversimplify the complex interplay of factors that contribute to understanding a text. Truth Matters!

Reading is a Two-Way Street: The Role of the Reader

Interpreting a text is not a one-sided affair where all responsibility lies with the translator. The reader also has an active role in the process. It’s akin to a dialogue, where the reader engages with the text to derive meaning. The meaning of a word is the responsibility of the interpreter (i.e., reader), not the translator. Translating Truth!

Complexity in Original Languages: The Hidden Depths

Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek—the original languages of the Bible—are replete with idiomatic expressions, literary devices, and complex theological themes. Capturing the nuances of these elements is crucial for a faithful rendering. Truth Matters!

Examples: Biblical Concepts that Defy Simplification

Consider the Hebrew term “hesed,” which refers to God’s loyal love or loving-kindness. There is no one-word equivalent in English that conveys the full depth of its meaning. Simplifying it to just “love” or “kindness” would be misleading. Faithfulness to the text sometimes necessitates that the reader delve deeper into the study of biblical terms and concepts. Translating Truth!

The Role of the Church: Elevating Rather Than Dumbing Down

The Church should guide its members towards a deeper understanding of the Bible, rather than having the Bible simplified to meet the congregation where they are. The church needs to help elevate the congregation to the Bible’s level, not bring the Bible down to a 6th to 8th-grade level. Translating Truth!

A Matter of Priorities: Fidelity Over Ease

Our primary goal is to be as accurate and faithful to the original text as possible, even if that makes the text a bit more challenging for modern readers. It is better for the Bible to be a little more difficult to understand than to compromise our literal translation philosophy. Truth Matters!

Conclusion: The Necessity for Mutual Responsibility

Blaming any difficulty in understanding the Bible solely on the translation is an oversimplification that ignores the role of the reader, the complexity of the original languages, and the intricate themes woven into the fabric of the text. Both the translator and the reader have responsibilities in this interpretive dance. We must resist the urge to simplify the text at the cost of diluting its richness and depth. We remain committed to providing a translation that is faithful to the original text. Translating Truth!

Ryken’s Eight Fallacies About Bible Readers with Andrews’ Answers

Fallacy 1: Contemporary Bible Readers Have Low Intellectual and Linguistic Abilities

Unpacking the Fallacy: Misjudging the Audience

The first fallacy posits that modern Bible readers possess low intellectual and linguistic capacities, requiring the text to be ‘dumbed down’ for easy comprehension. This notion is not only an affront to the readers but also a disservice to the sanctity and depth of the Biblical text. Truth Matters!

The Misguided Basis for Interpretive Translations

This fallacy often serves as the underpinning for the shift towards interpretive translations, also known as dynamic equivalence. The premise is that complex structures and intricate theology are beyond the average reader’s grasp, and so the Bible must be simplified. Translating Truth!

Assessing Linguistic Capabilities: The Case for Literacy

Contrary to the fallacy, many readers today are quite capable of handling complex texts. They routinely engage with intricate documents, whether it be legal contracts, academic papers, or advanced literature. Denying them a rich and challenging biblical text on the assumption of incompetence is not only patronizing but also entirely unfounded. Truth Matters!

Example: Intellectual Demands of Other Fields

Consider the intellectual demands made by other disciplines such as law, medicine, and engineering. Individuals in these fields are expected to grasp complex concepts, terms, and languages specific to their domain. Why then should the Bible—God’s Word—be any different? Translating Truth!

The Church’s Role: Nourishing, Not Diluting

If there exists a perception that the modern congregation lacks the skills to engage with a complex text, then the onus is on the Church to provide adequate instruction and context. The Church’s role is to uplift the community to meet the Bible at its level, not to bring the Bible down to a lower standard. Translating Truth!

Preserving Linguistic Richness: Non-Negotiable

We stand firm in our commitment to preserving the linguistic richness of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. Our primary goal is to be accurate and faithful to the original text. Truth Matters!

Conclusion: Respecting Reader and Text Alike

Condescending to simplify the Bible based on a presumption of low intellectual and linguistic abilities in contemporary readers does a disservice to both the readers and the integrity of God’s Word. The Bible’s inherent complexities and intricacies should be respected and preserved, not diluted. Translating Truth!

How to Interpret the Bible-1

Fallacy 2: The Bible Is Read Mainly By People Unfamiliar with It

Examining the Fallacy: Underestimating Biblical Engagement

The second fallacy contends that the Bible is primarily read by those who are unfamiliar with its content. Such an assumption reinforces the drive toward interpretive translations, which aim to provide excessive hand-holding for readers. This can diminish the theological depth and historical context of the Scriptures. Truth Matters!

The Problem with Assumptions: Don’t Assume, Ascertain

The notion that the Bible is read mostly by neophytes is a critical misunderstanding that needs correcting. Not only does it ignore the numerous Bible studies, sermons, and theological education many Christians engage in, but it also assumes that new readers require a simplified text. Translating Truth!

Case for the Informed Reader: The Multi-Layered Experience

It’s worth noting that many readers of the Bible are far from uninformed. They include academics, pastors, and laity who have spent years, even decades, delving into Biblical texts, employing concordances, commentaries, and original-language resources. Reducing the complexity of the Bible to cater to an assumed uninformed majority does a disservice to these engaged readers. Truth Matters!

Example: Learning a Skill Over Time

Imagine learning a musical instrument. Beginners might start with simpler compositions, but the ultimate goal is to progress to complex pieces. In the same way, Bible readers mature in their understanding over time. Why provide only the “beginner’s songs” when the repertoire is so much richer? Translating Truth!

Role of the Church: Equip, Don’t Enable

If the argument is that new readers need more accessible text, then the Church should be instrumental in educating its members. Instead of relying on simplified translations that strip the text of its richness, churches should focus on equipping the congregation with the tools to understand the Bible in its fullest form. Translating Truth!

Maintaining Original Complexity: Non-Negotiable

Our steadfast goal is to preserve the integrity and complexity of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. Anyone who approaches the Bible, whether new to its pages or deeply familiar with them, should have access to the most accurate representation of God’s Word. Truth Matters!

Conclusion: A Misguided View Leads to Unwarranted Compromises

The fallacy that the Bible is primarily read by uninformed individuals paves the way for unwarranted compromises in translation philosophy. Every reader deserves the richness and depth that come from a faithful, literal translation. Simplifying the Bible not only deprives the reader of full theological understanding but also dilutes the richness of God’s Word. Translating Truth!

Fallacy 3: Bible Readers Cannot Handle Theological or Technical Terminology

Exploring the Fallacy: The Underestimation of Capacity

The third fallacy claims that readers of the Bible are ill-equipped to handle theological or technical terminology. This is a convenient excuse for translations that want to simplify complex ideas, thereby straying from faithful representation of the original text. Truth Matters!

Faulty Logic: The Cost of ‘Simplifying’ Complex Terms

The inclination to simplify the text presumes that people are not up to the task of grappling with intricate theological concepts. Such a thought process is fundamentally flawed because it assumes the reader’s inability rather than their potential for understanding. Translating Truth!

Pitfalls of Erosion: The Domino Effect

When theological or technical terms are simplified or, worse, omitted, it sets off a chain reaction. Not only are key biblical concepts watered down, but the layered meanings often found in the original languages are lost. To dilute such terminology is to rob the reader of the deeper, enriching meanings intended by the human authors inspired by God. Truth Matters!

Example: Math Class with Multiple Levels

Consider a high school math class with students of varied abilities. The teacher doesn’t just teach to the lowest common denominator; instead, provisions are made to challenge the more advanced students. In the same way, the Bible contains layers of meaning that are accessible to readers at different levels of understanding. Translating Truth!

Role of the Church: An Educational Imperative

The Church should be the primary facilitator in equipping its congregation to understand complex theological terms. Educational programs and Bible studies can help nurture an understanding of these terms, negating the need to water down translations. Translating Truth!

Preserving the Integrity: A Non-negotiable Stance

When it comes to translating the original languages, maintaining the integrity of theological and technical terms is non-negotiable. Dilution of these terms serves no one and, in fact, could lead to misconceptions or incomplete understanding of biblical truths. Truth Matters!

Conclusion: Prioritize Accuracy Over Convenience

The fallacy that Bible readers can’t handle theological or technical terms is not just an underestimation of the reader but also a degradation of the text itself. Every compromise made in the translation is a step away from the original text and a leap toward human interpretation. Readers deserve a translation that offers them the full scope and depth of God’s Word without compromise. Translating Truth!

Fallacy 4: Figurative Language Is Beyond the Grasp of Bible Readers

Introduction: The Misconception Under Scrutiny

Fallacy 4 posits that Bible readers are not competent enough to comprehend figurative language found in the Scriptures. This presumption underestimates the reader’s ability to engage with the text meaningfully and is a gross disservice to the richness of the biblical message. Truth Matters!

The Roots of the Fallacy: A Fear of Confusion

This fallacy stems from the belief that figurative language can be confusing and, therefore, it’s better to provide interpretations instead. Such an approach is an affront to the intellectual capacity of the reader and dilutes the inherent richness and depth of the biblical text. Translating Truth!

Complexity Is Not an Impediment: Unpacking the Treasure

While it’s true that figurative language like metaphors, similes, and allegories can be challenging, they also bring texture to the text. Eliminating these elements in the name of simplicity is tantamount to stripping a multi-dimensional object down to a flat surface. Truth Matters!

Illustration: The Recipe Book

Think of the Bible as a complex recipe book. A skilled chef doesn’t want simplified, generic recipes; they want the exact ingredients and nuanced steps to create the perfect dish. Likewise, Bible readers deserve the intricate “ingredients” and “cooking steps” provided by the original text, including its figurative language. Translating Truth!

The Church’s Role: The Chef’s Apprenticeship

The Church has a vital role in training its congregation to be ‘chefs,’ equipped to handle the richness of the biblical text. Educational initiatives should aim to teach the churchgoers how to interpret the Scriptures, including its figurative language, not water it down for ease of consumption. Translating Truth!

Literal Translation Philosophy: The Best Chef’s Guide

Adhering to a literal translation philosophy is equivalent to following a chef’s guide that respects the original recipe. In this way, you are not just consuming a fast-food version of a classic dish but savoring the richness and depth the original chef—here, the divine Author and human authors—intended. Truth Matters!

Conclusion: Embrace the Challenge for Richer Understanding

The belief that figurative language is too challenging for readers undermines both the intelligence of the reader and the complexity of the Scriptures. Simplifying these elements does not do justice to the multifaceted wisdom enshrined in the Bible. It is vital to maintain the integrity of the original text to offer readers a chance to engage with it at the deepest levels. Translating Truth!

Fallacy 5: Modern Readers Require Short Sentences

Introduction: A Simplistic View of Complexity

The fifth fallacy suggests that modern readers demand short sentences for ease of comprehension. While brevity has its merits, this assumption is both a disservice to the intellectual capability of the reader and a distortion of the Bible’s original text. The original languages of the Bible frequently employ complex sentences to convey nuanced and layered meaning. Truth Matters!

The Problem: A Superficial Approach to Bible Reading

The idea that short sentences are easier to grasp might stem from a shallow view of Bible study. However, limiting the Bible to short sentences reduces the multi-layered messages in the Scriptures to mere sound bites. Translating Truth!

A Misplaced Focus: Clarity Over Authenticity

Advocates for short sentences argue that it makes the Bible more accessible. However, this prioritizes perceived clarity over textual accuracy, leading to the erosion of the message’s depth. The focus should be on equipping readers to tackle complex sentences, not simplifying the text. Truth Matters!

Example: The Scaffolding of a Building

Imagine if architects only used simple, straight lines in constructing buildings to make them “easier to understand.” Such structures would lack both beauty and functionality. Similarly, the Bible’s complex sentences act like the structural elements in a building, giving it depth and intricacy. Translating Truth!

The Church’s Role: Moving Beyond Baby Steps

The church should work to elevate its members’ understanding, educating them to engage with complex sentences and ideas. Just as an athlete trains to handle tougher courses or an artist masters complex techniques, Bible readers should be equipped to understand the richness of the Scriptures. Translating Truth!

Literal Translation Philosophy: The Balanced Scale

A literal translation respects both the original text and the reader’s intellectual ability, providing a balanced scale that weighs textual accuracy against readability. Shortening sentences, in this regard, is equivalent to removing one of the weights and tipping the scale unfairly. Truth Matters!

Conclusion: Complexity as a Gateway to Depth

Embracing complexity in sentences allows for a deeper, more enriching Bible study experience. The idea that modern readers require short sentences undervalues the potential for profound spiritual growth and understanding. We should aspire to meet the Bible on its terms, not reduce it to ours. Translating Truth!

Fallacy 6: Bible Readers Cannot Be Educated Beyond Their Present Level of Ability

Introduction: Setting the Stage for Stagnation

The sixth fallacy is as pernicious as it is simplistic: the notion that Bible readers are incapable of progressing beyond their current levels of understanding. This misleading assumption locks readers in an intellectual and spiritual cage. Respecting the reader’s potential for growth is critical. Truth Matters!

The Faulty Premise: Ignoring Intellectual Elasticity

The idea that readers can’t surpass their existing capabilities denies the elasticity of human intellect and spiritual discernment. It effectively puts a cap on growth, anathema to the Christian life’s core principle of progressive sanctification. Intellectual and spiritual growth is not just possible; it’s expected. Translating Truth!

Dumbing Down: The Dangers of Lowering Standards

By accepting this fallacy, translations are at risk of being ‘dumbed down’ to cater to perceived limitations. The irony is that in doing so, these versions prevent the very growth they claim to support. It’s a paradox: in making the Bible ‘easier,’ we actually stunt spiritual development. Truth Matters!

Analogy: A Growing Tree

Imagine a sapling bound tightly by ropes. If we never loosen the ropes, the tree will be stunted and never reach its full height or potential. Similarly, if we tie down the reader’s intellect with overly simplified translations, we limit their growth. Translating Truth!

The Role of the Church: Equip, Don’t Enable

The church should be in the business of equipping, not enabling. Lowering the bar doesn’t help anyone in the long run; rather, it hampers growth and maturity. The church should cultivate an environment where higher levels of understanding are not just possible but encouraged. Translating Truth!

Literal Translation Philosophy: Nourishing the Roots for Growth

A literal translation provides the solid foundation upon which to build. It’s the nutrient-rich soil in which the roots of understanding can grow deep and strong. Literally translated texts offer the complexities and nuances that foster deep study and contemplation. Truth Matters!

Conclusion: Unlocking the Chains of Intellectual Confinement

It’s time to discard the misplaced belief that readers can’t grow beyond their current level. Our focus should be on providing the richest, most accurate translations possible, which will, in turn, offer the greatest opportunity for growth. By doing so, we respect the Bible’s inherent complexity and the reader’s capacity to engage with it meaningfully. Translating Truth!

Fallacy 7: The Bible Is More Difficult for Modern Readers Than for the Original Readers

Introduction: The False Dilemma of Time and Text

The seventh fallacy in Ryken’s list posits that modern readers find the Bible more difficult to understand than the original audience did. This assertion operates on a false premise and does a disservice to the text and the reader alike. Truth Matters!

The Root Misunderstanding: Underestimating Ancient Complexity

The assumption that ancient people found the text easier to comprehend ignores the complexity of the original biblical languages and the rich cultural context within which they were written. The Bible was never a simple text meant only for scholarly elites in its time. Translating Truth!

Misconstruing Accessibility: It’s Not About Simplifying

Modern translators who fall into this fallacy believe they need to “simplify” the text for contemporary audiences. This is a grave error. We should aim for clarity, not simplicity, thereby preserving the intricate themes and theologically deep messages in the Scriptures. Truth Matters!

Analogy: Learning to Swim

When someone learns to swim, they often start in the shallow end, but the goal is to make it to the deeper waters. Similarly, readers may start with a basic understanding but should aim to delve deeper into the theological and textual ‘deep end’ of Scripture. Translating Truth!

The Role of Technology and Education: Tools for Deeper Understanding

Today’s readers have unprecedented access to tools and resources that can help deepen their understanding of the Bible. Dictionaries, commentaries, and digital resources can help to bridge the gap between ancient context and modern comprehension. In many ways, modern readers are better equipped to grasp the intricacies of the text. Translating Truth!

Literal Translation Philosophy: The Unchanging Benchmark

Maintaining a literal translation is akin to setting a high academic standard in a classroom. The goal is to lift everyone up to that level, not to lower the standard. This serves to respect both the original text and the intelligence of the reader. Truth Matters!

Historical-Grammatical Method: The Key to Original Intent

Utilizing the historical-grammatical method enables us to get as close to the original intent of the biblical authors as possible. This method does not bend to modern subjectivity but remains anchored in the objectivity of the text. It requires work, but the reward is a fuller, more accurate understanding of God’s Word. Translating Truth!

Conclusion: An Invitation to Richer Understanding

Rejecting the fallacy that the Bible is inherently more difficult for modern readers opens the door to a more profound understanding of Scripture. It respects the reader’s ability to grow in comprehension and spiritual maturity while maintaining the integrity of the original text. Translating Truth!

Fallacy 8: Readers, Not Authors, Determine Meaning

Introduction: The Confusion Over Textual Authority

The eighth and final fallacy that Ryken addresses is the belief that the readers, rather than the authors, determine the meaning of the biblical text. This notion is not only misleading but also erodes the authority and integrity of the Scriptures. Truth Matters!

Misplaced Emphasis: The Danger of Reader-Centric Interpretation

When the emphasis shifts from what the author intended to say to what the reader understands, the text’s meaning becomes fluid and subject to personal biases. This practice undermines the concept of absolute truth and makes the text a hostage to cultural trends and individual preferences. Translating Truth!

Objective Truth: The Author’s Intent Reigns Supreme

Scripture contains objective truth relayed through human authors inspired by God. The ultimate aim of reading the Bible is to understand these truths as the authors intended them. The role of the translator is to be a faithful messenger, presenting the text as accurately as possible, not to redefine its meaning. Truth Matters!

Analogy: The Blueprint of a Building

Think of the biblical text as a blueprint for constructing a building. The architect (the author) has specific plans and measurements, and the builders (the readers) should follow them precisely. If the builders decide to go off-script, the end result won’t match the architect’s design. Translating Truth!

Historical-Grammatical Method: Safeguarding Original Meaning

Using the historical-grammatical method allows us to anchor our interpretation in the original context of the text. This process respects the authority of the biblical authors and prevents the dilution of its teachings. Translating Truth!

The Role of the Church: Elevating, Not Dumbing Down

Contrary to the belief that the Bible should be simplified for modern audiences, the role of the church is to elevate its congregation to the text’s level. Educational programs and study aids should aim to bring readers up to the Bible’s 11th-12th grade level, not bring the Bible down to a lower level of complexity. Truth Matters!

The Responsibility of the Reader: A Willingness to Engage

The Bible is not meant to be passively consumed; it requires active engagement. Readers have a responsibility to delve deep into the text, availing themselves of the tools and resources available to them for a more accurate understanding. Translating Truth!

Conclusion: Affirming the Unchanging Truth of Scripture

By rejecting the fallacy that readers determine the text’s meaning, we affirm the unchanging truths contained in the Bible. This preserves the integrity of God’s Word, aligns with the historical-grammatical method of interpretation, and most importantly, honors the original intent of the inspired authors. Translating Truth!

Final Thoughts: Translating Truth, Preserving Integrity

Revisiting the Heaviest Responsibility: Faithfulness to God’s Word

The Infallible Benchmark: God’s Word as the Gold Standard

We must start by affirming that the Bible, as the inspired Word of God, holds the ultimate authority over any translation. It is the fixed and unchanging standard against which all translations must be measured. The task of translating it carries a responsibility like no other; it is the act of rendering the thoughts of the Divine into the language of mortal beings. Truth Matters!

The Detour: Interpretive Translations and Their Shortcomings

Modern translations like the NASB 2020 are setting a concerning precedent by adopting dynamic equivalence, also known as interpretive translation. This philosophy tends to incorporate the translator’s interpretation of the text, which can easily stray into the realm of commentary rather than pure translation. By doing so, it moves further away from a literal, word-for-word translation that respects the original languages. Translating Truth!

Analogy: The Physician’s Oath to “Do No Harm”

Translators should be like physicians who take an oath to “do no harm.” Their primary obligation is to faithfully render what is there in the original languages, not to inject their own interpretations or simplify complexities. It is not about making the medicine more palatable but ensuring its potency remains intact. Truth Matters!

Textual Criticism: Aiming for the Original Texts, Not a Consensus

Our philosophy in textual criticism seeks to ascertain the original words of the original texts. We reject superficial pursuits of getting back to some supposed “initial” or “earliest possible” text. Our ultimate goal is to capture, as closely as possible, the original words as they were penned by the inspired authors. Translating Truth!

The Reader’s Role: An Invitation to Higher Learning

Rather than watering down the Bible to meet readers where they assume they are, we advocate for a system where the Church equips its congregation to rise to the level of the text. Readers have the responsibility to make the time and effort to understand their Bible, its contexts, and its nuances. Truth Matters!

Conclusion: A Solemn Call to Faithfulness

As we have critically looked at the shift from the 1995 to the 2020 editions of the NASB, we must conclude that moving toward a philosophy of interpretive translation is a perilous venture. We must retain our commitment to a literal translation philosophy that seeks only to give Bible readers what God said through His human authors. The stakes are too high and the responsibility too great to settle for anything less. Translating Truth!

The Updated American Standard Version is the Future Direction for Bible Translation

Our primary purpose is to give the Bible readers what God said by way of his human authors, not what a translator thinks God meant in its place.—Truth Matters! Our primary goal is to be accurate and faithful to the original text. The meaning of a word is the responsibility of the interpreter (i.e., reader), not the translator.—Translating Truth!

Translating God’s Word from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek original languages is a task unlike any other and should never be taken lightly. It carries with it the heaviest responsibility: the translator renders God’s thoughts into a modern language. The Updated American Standard Version (UASV) is a literal translation. What does that mean?

A literal translation is certainly more than a word-for-word rendering of the original language of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The corresponding English words need to be brought over according to English grammar and syntax, but the translation at the same time must be faithful to the original word or as much as possible, for the author may have used word order to emphasize or convey some meaning. In most cases, the translator simply renders the original language word with the same corresponding English term each time it occurs. The translator has used his good judgment to select words in the English translation from the lexicon within the context of the original language text. The translator remains faithful to this literal translation philosophy unless it has been determined that the rendering will be misunderstood or misinterpreted. The translator is not tasked with making the text easy to read but rather to make it as accurately faithful to the original as possible.

Removing the Outdated

  • Passages with the Old English “thee’s” and “thou’s” etc. have been replaced with modern English.
  • Many words and phrases that were extremely ambiguous or easily misunderstood since the 1901 ASV have been updated according to the best lexicons.
  • Verses with difficult word order or vocabulary have been translated into correct English grammar and syntax, for easier reading. However, if the word order of the original conveyed meaning, it was kept.

More Accurate

  • The last 110+ years have seen the discovery of far more manuscripts, especially the papyri, with many manuscripts dating within 100 years of the originals.
  • While making more accurate translation choices, we have stayed true to the literal translation philosophy of the ASV, while other literal translations abandon the philosophy far too often.
  • The translator seeks to render the Scriptures accurately without losing what the Bible author penned by changing what the author wrote, by distorting or embellishing through imposing what the translator believes the author meant into the original text.
  • Accuracy in Bible translation is being faithful to what the original author wrote (the words that he used), as opposed to going beyond into the meaning, trying to determine what the author meant by his words. The latter is the reader’s job.
  • The translator uses the most reliable, accurate, critical texts (e.g., WH, NA, UBS, BHS) and the original language texts, versions, and other sources that will help him determine the original reading.

Why the Need for Updated Translations?

  • New manuscript discoveries
  • Changes in the language
  • A better understanding of the original languages
  • Improved insight into Bible translation

About the Author

EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 220+ books. In addition, Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).




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