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Transmission and Translation of the English Bible — 18 Comments

  1. Much appreciation for this article Maurice.

    I can also appreciate the considerable effort involved in researching and writing it.

  2. Yes, indeed, Maurice - your time, effort and expertise is much appreciated! Always happy when learning !

  3. Maurice, thank you for sharing your research with us. I was not aware that there were multiply people working on the KJV, I was under the impression it was Erasmus (not sure why) also I was not aware that they mainly used not the original manuscript if available but used later Hebrew and Greek texts.
    One is never too old to learn something new!

  4. What a concise and informative overview! This is a most productive piece as it naturally, without demeaning, rebuts "King James only" myopia.

    Refreshing and uplifting!

  5. Hi Maurice - Again, thank you for the work you put into composing 'Transmission and translation of the Bible'.

    Our Quarterly focuses on 'How to interpret Scripture'. The word 'interpret' or translate is used for various work related the Scriptures, but it should not be used to distort the original meaning of the Word of God. This would be due to falsification not translation!

    I am asking for your help to explain the stark difference I found to exist between various 'versions'/translations of the Bible and the King James Bible.
    I am using King James to learn, but other translations do not convey the same meaning of the text as found in the King James Bible. This came to my attention when Francis responded to one of my posts.

    Today, I answered a question posted on May 19th at 10:19PM by Francis V. Arthur Jr..You can locate it close to the end of all comments provided on last Sabbath's lesson.
    His question related to my use of the word 'pleasure' as found in King James Rev.4:11. He did not understand the meaning of my post, because his version of the Bible did not contain this word. In fact, the texts from his versions focused on something entirely different.

    Francis asked for clarification to Rev.4:11. He referenced NIV, ESV, the New King James version and another one not mentioned. Because the same text focuses on something totally different compared to the King James version, it conveys an entirely different meaning is disturbing.

    Please, if you can spare the time I would be appreciative if you can you shed some light on what happened here.
    How can translations be so different that they actually portray a totally different message?

    Thank you for your help!

    • The Textus Receptus Greek (Erasmus, Stephanus, Beza) uses the Greek word, θέλημα, transliterated to English as thelēma. This word is used in the following way in those translations bases on Textus Receptus:

      Bible Usage: desire pleasure will.

      Notes on the meaning are as follows:

      1. what one wishes or has determined shall be done
      a. of the purpose of God to bless mankind through Christ
      b. of what God wishes to be done by us

      2. commands, precepts

      3. will, choice, inclination, desire, pleasure

      [MGA: I have now checked with the Aland-Nestle Text-critical Greek and their version aligns with Textus Recptus. In other words, both Greek versions use the word θέλημά. And that leaves us with having to combine the meanings of "will" and "pleasure".]

      I think that within the context of these verses, either translation is meaningful. Part of the issue is that there is no direct equivalence between Koine Greek and English words. Luther is credited with using the interpretation "pleasure" but some commentators indicate that this is an outlier interpretation in this context and that "will" is a better interpretation.

      What is in it for us who have to rely on the interpretation of others? Personally I like to try and meld the two ideas together and try and think how the exercise of God's will can be equated with "pleasure".

      One thought that springs to mind is that at the end of each day of creation, God pronouced: "And God saw that it was good." and it reminded me of my research days that when I had been working on a particular problem and had reached its conclusion, I had a great sense of fulfilment and satisfaction. The problem that I had been working on had been resolved. "Phew!" That is about as near in human terms that I can express the meaning of this word.

      I hope that helps. Just remember I neither a Theologian of Biblical Linguist.

      • I believe you are absolutely spot on Maurice: God's will and pleasure are inseparable. If I can add some further support and elaboration to a very significant topic/concept.

        God's (inherent) will is that everything be exactly 'as it ought to be' - which is the essence of the term 'righteous/ness' - ie, rightness. The thing is 'right' when it is 'as it ought to be'.

        The reference point for righteous/ness is zoe: abundant life. Zoe refers to the quality (and quantity) of life that God has and which humans created to also share in (and therefore what Salvation is working to restore all who are willing back to). Thus, what 'ought to be' is the experiencing of abundant life.

        Because abundant life is what ought to be, God's will is for that abundant life to be experienced by His created beings (as reflected in 2 Peter 3:9 and John 3:16). To share with Him in abundant life is what and why He created them for. And, when abundant life is being experienced (or being restored), God experiences pleasure because things are as or becoming as they ought to be. Thus, God's will and pleasure are inseparably linked. (And, notably, they are the reason for and by-product of other-centered giving.)

        It is interesting in the Old Testament when it talks about 'sweet savor' or 'pleasing aroma' in connection with God. These terms are referring to the experience of God 'taking in fully through the senses and to the very core of His being' the delight of something being as it ought to be. This pleasure is always the by-product of giving to something so that the something becomes all that it was always meant to be (as per Acts 20:35) - even for God. God derives pleasure when His creation is as it ought to be - experiencing the abundant life it was designed/created to experience. Hence, what Maurice experienced when his research was finalised and turned out just like he'd hoped it would.

        What is the 'take-home' value of this? The only pleasure that truly satisfies is the pleasure that results from focusing on benefiting others. This is why living a life of (genuine) benefit to others is at the core of God's will. By comparison, self-seeking pleasure will always ultimately be hollow 'fake pleasure' (Genesis 3:6,7; Ecclesiastes 2:1) - the core of all addictions.

        • Hello Cliff -
          It appears that we were contemplating the 'experience of God's pleasure' at the same time. Thank you for delving a bit deeper to establish the connection of the Will of God to His experiencing pleasure. It helped me understand it better through the context you have placed it in.

          I still maintain, though, that our Creator places a special emphasis on desiring to experience this pleasure, that it goes beyond the experience of the inherent 'rightness' of His Creation.
          I believe that He actively desires and seeks 'pleasure'. He did so, when He established the Sabbath as His 'Rest'. He gave Himself a whole day, time set aside, exclusively to experience the effect of this Oneness of His Creation and to receive/experience it as pleasure within Himself and guarded it jealously.

          What other 'reason/need' would there be for the Sabbath if the inherent 'oneness' of His creation would have been 'sufficient' to provide its pleasure for Him?

          It has always been and still is extremely important for us to understand and observe the Sabbath rest, correctly. Especially now, at the time of the new Covenant relationship with God, because we are at liberty to engage in its observance solely based on our personal relationship with Him. Sabbath's only 'rule' is to abstain from 'work' - but for what reason?
          Sabbath was made for man to foster the love-relationship between him and His Creator.

          It is always a 'pleasure' 🙂 to read your comments. I find in them a reflection of the same fundamental understanding of our Creator God, His Being and His plan for the redemption of His creation as I have. This familiarity of thought and understanding resonates as joy in my heart.

          I feel/believe that we could foster much closeness/oneness with our God by addressing our worship and adoration as expressed by prayer, praise and melody directly to Him instead of talking about Him.
          When we come together as a church family on Sabbath, this is what we would focus on.

          So much of our 'church-service-time' is spend on 'teaching' and administration work and not enough time is spend on 'praising' the God of our Creation.

          Why not separate the official congregational time into study time and worship time? Classes would be established to teach the word of God based on interest or level of understanding during class time.
          After that time, when we all come together, we can exclusively engage in the worship of our Creator through songs of adorational praise and prayer?

      • Thank you for your explanation to answer my question, Maurice!
        I still do not see how 'will', 'power' or 'desire' can take the place of 'pleasure' in the translation, but I am not a theologian either. I am more than satisfied with what I can understand through the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit, though.

        After reflecting on 'for THOU hast created all things, and for THY PLEASURE they are and were created', it became clear to me that, just like the context reveals, it was pointing to God's completed/good Creation providing pleasure to Him - and for that matter, well deserved. 🙂

        It makes perfect sense that His Will establishes a perfect creation, which provides great 'pleasure' to Him because it is a reflection of Himself - perfect righteousness - expressed/contained in all of His Creation.

        God the Creator enjoyed a dual, joyful experience - the act of creating, expressing Himself in His Creation, and His Creation's ability to reflect back to Him His joy which was present during the creation process and then returned to Him as 'pleasure' - all things created praised Him with their 'perfectness' which was pleasurable. What can be better than that! 🙂

        (For us a job well done reflects only on the doer's work, because we did not create the material we use to do a good job with; so it is only our pride's reflection of a job well done)

        Another example of God's desire to seek 'pleasure' from His creation is related to His Sabbath. It is reflected in God's Day of Rest established for Him to enjoy/have pleasure returned to Him by His creation.
        He 'jealously' guarded His Day of Rest by going so far as to punish anyone that broke His Rest, causing Him displeasure, when violating His established Order/Will for His established Rest. Though in His Mercy and Grace He provided a remedy for the violator of his Rest.
        God's Rest-day 'recharges' His battery! 🙂

        Every time I open the Bible, I receive abundant blessings that bring joy to my heart. I am sure that this is noted by my Creator as 'pleasure'.

        • I do not have a problem with your extension of the idea of will/pleasure. One of the important things to understand about language is not just the defined meaning of the word, but the association of ideas that we bring to those words. We need to be careful because some of those associations are what we call baggage, and that hinders our appreciation.

          I appreciate your extension (and it is definitely not baggage). What you have said does not negate the intentional meaning of thelēma. What you have to say about the Sabbath is very important and should be something we bear in mind as we try to extend our idea of Sabbath rest beyond a couple of liturgical hours in church.

        • A likely element in your original question, Brigitte, that no one seems to have addressed here, is the evolution of the English language over time. With many words, such as "pleasure," there can be a subtle shift that takes place in their common connotation, that is, their meaning as understood by most people. While folks today tend to associate the word "pleasure" with good feelings or enjoyment, its older meaning seems to have more to do with what one in authority (or otherwise) is "pleased" (or wills or wishes) to do. Think of the meaning of the phrase, "if you please" (i.e. if you should so choose).

          This, I believe, is why some of the more recent translations use the word "will" as being the best modern equivalent for the older meaning of "pleasure."

          I hope this helps.

  6. From which OT text is Paul quoting?

    The TSK cross reference for 1Cor 2:9 states:
    eye: This passage is not taken from the LXX, nor is it an exact translation of the Hebrew; but it gives the general sense of Isa_64:4; supported by 1Pe_1:12

    1Co 2:9-10 KJV  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.  (10)  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

  7. Brother Maurice I was wondering where you were. Thank you for this article, I so very much appreciate your other-centered love ( PVDK ) that prompted you to provide us with this information. God bless you and your family. Shabbat shalom.

  8. I have always been fascinated by this subject of bible translations. As a SS teacher you need to be well informed to handle all aspects of bible study. Why is It that biblical explanation of Adventist doctrine relies mostly on KJV? Can we be at a point where we accept any legitimate bible translation as an accurate reflection of the Gospel?

    • The KJV (and the NKJV) treats the translation of Daniel 9 in a way that makes sense, both in terms of it being an explanation and enlargement of Daniel 8, and in terms of Jesus' own statement that "the time is fulfilled." Some of the otherwise best translations (translated since SDA doctrine was largely developed and widely disseminated) seem to do some rather strange things with Daniel 9.

      Hebrews (especially chapter 9) is another case in point. Some otherwise great translations (including the NKJV) translate "the holies" (i.e. the holy places or Sanctuary) incorrectly as the "Most Holy Place." This wreaks havoc with the meaning of that same 2,300 day prophecy from Daniel 8 & 9. The KJV is a relatively good translation regarding those sanctuary references in Hebrews. Aside from these two issues, I don't believe that SDA doctrine is particularly favoured by one translation over another. When it comes to Luke 23:43, we find it necessary to go right back to the Greek text, where the (incorrect) placement of a comma has no authority, in order to bring this verse into line with the rest of Scripture.

  9. Thank you for this excellent article and for all the careful work it represents. In your conclusion, you wrote that we can be confident in the newer translations. Would you please add information about the translations which have occurred since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and what your research has shown to be the advantages and drawbacks of the various translations. Please state, as well, if these are translations or versions or paraphrases. Looking forward to your response.

    • Thank you Robin. You have to understand that I am not a Bible Scholar and consequently don't have a great wealth of information and experience to fall back on to answer your question. I will look into it though and have a discussion with my mentors on such matters. The problem is that my mentors and I are getting old and any discussion takes a long time as I generally have to fix their computers (something I am reasonably good at) while we have the discussion. I am currently working on an article on the Apocrypha and that should appear in a few days. Then I may have more time to do some work on your question.

      Additional Note: I remembered that we already had an article written by Inge Anderson on the subject of Bible Translations. She lists it as a work under construction but don't let that deter you. It still contains lots of good information.


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