Monday, March 12, 2018

Re-Writing the Bible (Again)

On several occasions I have referred to English translations of the New Testament Scriptures that have led many Christians to misunderstand the plans, and indeed the character, of God.
I won't go over old ground with this post, just draw attention to a new translation recommended for my consideration and opinion by my beautiful granddaughter.

It doesn't take long when looking at a new translation to discover the theology or doctrines of the translator or translation team.
For example, a minister once told me he changed his preferred translation because the translation team of his new preference was more evangelical than of his previous choice. It really can be that obvious.

What did my granddaughter recommend I review?
The Passion Translation (TPT).
It reads really well and has many very helpful comments at the bottom of each page, and I have enjoyed its fresh, passionate approach. It claims to use italics to show words used to clarify the narrative that are not in the original texts, which again is very helpful.

However lack of consistency in using italics (or not using them, actually) demonstrates the translator's personal bias and beliefs. This what I call the Bible PUB test - Personal Unverified Bias or Belief.
Take, for example, two verses that are used to demonstrate God's sovereignty and God's purpose for His creation.

Here's the first - Acts 13 : 48

When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. 
(Acts 13 : 48 NIV)

When the non-Jewish people in the crowd heard these words, they were thrilled and they honored the word of the Lord. All who believed that they were destined to experience eternal life received the message.
(Acts 13 : 48 TPT)

Let's overlook the wrong use of 'eternal' in both translations, and focus on the added words in TPT that were NOT italicised.
God's sovereignty in appointing/predestining has been replaced by mankind's belief/decision to determine their own destiny. There's that free-will myth again, discussed in "The Really Good News About God" page 78ff, showing the translator's PUB.

Here's a second - Romans 11 : 32

For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. (Romans 11 : 32 NIV)

Actually, God considers all of humanity to be prisoners of their unbelief, so that he can unlock our hearts and show his tender mercies to all who come to him. (Romans 11 : 32 TPT)

Let's overlook the TPT's diluting of God's action and involvement to just considering, and focus on the added words in TPT that are NOT italicised.
We again have God's sovereign action replaced by the freewill action of those who have chosen to come to him.

TPT is dotted with "salvation by mankind's freewill action" rather than God's gracious provision through the faithfulness of Jesus - all occurrences are displayed in the same type as the main text - which leads to so much incorrect thinking and theology.

I don't mind an author (or translator) publishing a book with these personal beliefs (which I can read and agree with or not), but I don't appreciate these beliefs being inserted into the text of an English translation without proper notation.

Having a literal translation on hand, like a Young or Concordant or Rotherham, will help evaluate the Bible translations we most frequently use and will keep us on track with understanding and appreciating God's character and His plans for mankind.

Blessings, Barry


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