The Problem with the English Bible.

Discussion in 'Bible Study' started by Limey, Aug 9, 2017.

  1. #1 Limey, Aug 9, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 10, 2017
    The problem with the English Bible is the English language. If you seek for a Hebrew or Greek Testament you have at most two choices. If you look for an English Bible you have a multitude of choices, Why? The answer lies in English history. In 1066 Edward the Confessor king of the Anglo-Saxons died. There were three claimants for the throne. 1. The Danish king who ruled the north under Dane law. 2. The Anglo-Saxon Earls chose Harold, Goodwin's son. 3. William, Duke of Normandy. The Danish King raised an army and marched south. Harold raised an army and in the battle the Danish king was killed and his army scattered. Harold received news that William had arrived on the south coast. Harold met William just outside Hastings, Harold was killed and his army dispersed. William rode up to London and built a castle by the Thames, known as the White Tower of the Tower of London. Then his nobles rode out and built their own castles. In the north old Norse was spoken, in the south Anglo-Saxon, and in the castles Norman French. Mix these all together, throw in some Hebrew, Greek and Latin words and you have English at the time of Wycliff. When Wycliff translated Jerome's fifth century Latin Bible into English, he had no dictionaries or word studies, just his memory of things taught at Oxford University. When he translated a word he reached into his memory for the meaning. If a week later he came across the same word he reached into his memory and came up with a synonym it was OK for all knew they meant the same. Unfortunately 800 years later we don't. Take the Greek word Hagiosmos, translated 5 times by the Anglo-Saxon word "holiness" and 5 times by the Norman French word "sanctification."
    We are told Hebrew and Greek are expressive languages, but in fact English is the expressive language we have so many synonyms. If you look at Strong's Dictionary, you find listed all the English words used to translate that one Hebrew or Greek word.
    People ask which is the best Bible translation and the the answer is the one you modify yourself. The Greek word pistis is always translated by the Norman French word "faith." The Greek verb pisteuo is nearly always translated by the Anglo-Saxon word "believe." In the Greek we would see that these words are from the same root, but not in English. To conclude in Kittel we have "chairo (to rejoice), Chara (joy), synchairo (to rejoice with), charis ((grace), charizomai (to give freely), charitoo (to bestow favor, bless), acharistos (ungrateful), charisma (gift), eucharisteo (to show favor, give thanks), eucharistia (gratitude, thanksgiving), eucharistos (grateful, thankful). In the Greek all from the same root, but in English they have no connection. In my Bible I have made them variations of joy.
    Here is a brief list of some of the synonyms. A-S righteousness, NF justification. A-S hope ON trust. A-S servant OF minister. A-S thanks OF joy. A-S take NF receive.
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  2. Hello Limey;

    I enjoyed reading your thread as you shared your brief comparison of the Hebrew, Greek and English translations of the Bible, mixed with history.

    Years ago I studied Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart's "How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth" and in one chapter discussed the acceptable translations in three categories:

    The Formal Equivalence, or literal, for example the KJV's translation being as close to the Hebrew or Greek words and grammar with a very careful translation into English.

    The Functional Equivalence, or dynamic, for example the New Living Translation attempts to keep the meaning of the Hebrew or Greek but the words and idioms translates into saying the same thing in English.

    The Free Translation, for example, The Message or the Living Bible, both are acceptable translations but the English can also take on the form of a paraphrase, separating more from the original Hebrew and Greek.

    Point is, the more emphasis on the English takes away from the original Hebrew and Greek text. In church we teach this method as simple as we can to our new Bible study readers, and encourage our new Bible readers to choose the translation best for their personal devotional reading. Some who study the King James were able to grasp the old English, if you will, while others were able to understand the Message. Most important, their Bible became a solid tool for witnessing and being prepared what to say or give an answer when witnessing to others.

    Our church Bible used during Worship service is the ESV, or formal equivalence.

    I personally haven't taken Greek or Hebrew at seminary, yet, and when I took Hebrew I had to drop the course after two weeks because I couldn't handle the study combined with my other subjects. They're both very challenging to me but at some point I'm required to take these in order to graduate with my mDiv. My plan is to take each class, it's own semester, separately so I can focus more.

    Thank you, Limey, for the history and the formulas for each translation. God bless you and your family.
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  3. I use software (which is free) and many Greek and Hebrew dictionaries (which also have issues). For instance, heis sabbaton, Mat 28:1. Literally, "first Sabbath," which is mistranslated "first [day] of the week" without the word day in the original. Then Mark 16:2 repeats the same error with heis sabbaton translated as in Matthew. Then Mark 16:9 says protos sabbaton, the predominant Sabbath, but again mistranslated "first [day] of the week". Next Luke 24:1 says mia ton sabbaton, meaning one/first [of] the Sabbath, which is repeated in John 20:1 and again in John 20:19. If you ask a Jew, "What is the first Sabbath?" They would answer you Lev 23:15:

    Leviticus 23:15 (KJV)
    And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:​

    When is this event? The first Sabbath (mia ton sabbaton) after the Passover. The Sheaf Wave Offering is the day after Passover. Oh my... that means we celebrate the Resurrection on the wrong day! That'll be a hard pill to swallow now won't it. In fact, the word week in Greek (hehehe) is evdomáda, which does not appear in the bible at all.
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  4. Yes, the difference in vocabulary between ancient Hebrew and modern English (or any modern language) is that our vocabulary allows us to be quite specific (when we choose, and are careful) when the old language used much fewer words, reusing them for closely related concepts, and there may be no Current word that exactly matches a given ancient meaning.

    Beyond that there are also cultural issues that are often misunderstood by modern man, AND even that is not enough. Our very thought processes are so different that even if we use a word correctly and mean something similar, our ways of thought are different enough to occlude the precise meaning.

    For example. in the modern world we have the concept of the miraculous, which for us generally means something that is done by God beyond natural processes. We feel the wind blowing in our face and think about the weather, and how the wind blows harder at the top of the hill because of 'natural' processes, we do not really find it miraculous in the same way as we view the resurrection (or our promised resurrection). To the ancients, there was no division between acts of God, and nature. To the ancients EVERYTHING that was not an act of a man was an act of God. Even the results of mankind's acts were as He wills. The wind blows because He caused it to blow. It blows harder at the top of the hill because that pleases Him. Miracles were when He took special notice of man.

    Our cultural programming causes us to look at scripture in modern terms, even when we know the words and are aware of ancient cultural context.
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