The FBFI and the Text and Translation Debate

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TylerR's picture

Editor

I won't make any comment on the substance of the piece yet. I do want to make a remark about two English versions briefly mentioned in the article:

  • I used and preached from the RSV for two years, and I think it's a lovely and accurate translation.
  • I have the NEB, and it's a very beautiful, colloquial translation. It engages in emendation, particularly in how it deals with some of the Psalms and some other places. But, for readability, it's very beautiful. I read most of the OT apocrypha from the NEB, and it's beautifully done. It's an excellent translation to consult if you do any translation of passages. It captures the colloquial feel of Greek very well, and I've always found it really helpful. It's like the 1960s version of the NLT!

Postscript: Yet again, a serial "disliker" has disliked a comment I've made on this issue. This wasn't even a controversial post! Seek help, my friend. I considered making this comment in a separate post, to give you the opportunity to dislike that one, too. But, I felt it'd be more amusing to take that ability away from you. My apologies.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jim's picture

Issues Fundamentalism has faced ... that have taken years to resolved (and some not fully resolved):

  • Fundy taboos (eg "don't play cards but UNO ok")
  • Legalistic sanctification (rules based sanctification)
  • Gothardism (blog reflection on)
  • Easy-believism
  • Finney-revivalism (overlap w above)
  • Isolationism (eg the Fundamentalist Deadzone article)
  • Prosperity gospel (not so much in fundamentalism)
  • KJVOnlyism
  • Over-emphasis on prophecy with rampant speculation
  • Over-emphasis on dispensationalism​​​​​​​
TylerR's picture

Editor

I appreciate this article's historical take on the FBFIs position on the issue, and his summary at the end. Bro. Schmate did a good job at summarizing a venerable institution's take on a contentious issue. I suppose I won't need to send him that surplus ballistic vest for protection, after all ...

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Darrell Post's picture

I agree with the caution against 'rampant speculation.' I was recently reading from Irenaeus (130-202), specifically his work Against Heresies. He warned against attempting to speculate on the identity of the Antichrist based on the numeral 666 from Revelation 13. He seems to suggest that this is for that future generation to figure out when the time of Antichrist comes based on the developing conditions. Here is the full quote:

“But knowing the sure number declared by Scripture, that is six hundred sixty and six, let them await, in the first place, the division of the kingdom into ten; then, in the next place, when these kings are reigning, and beginning to set their affairs in order, and advance their kingdom, [let them learn] to acknowledge that he who shall come claiming the kingdom for himself, and shall terrify those men of whom we have been speaking, have a name containing the aforesaid number, is truly the abomination of desolation.”   

However, I would not go so far as to say "Over-emphasis on prophecy" as the New Testament itself might be guilty of this charge. Read through the entire NT and mark with a yellow highlighter every time there is either direct teaching on future events or allusions to Christ's appearing, heaven, the end of the age, and so on. 

Furthermore, it appears the church at Thessalonica received instruction on end times from Paul as part of the church planting efforts, and when Paul responded to their questions in his two letters to them, he answered their concerns and wrote to ensure they had correct understanding. He did not brush them aside saying they had an over-emphasis on prophecy. 

Finally, the book of Revelation twice promises a blessing to those who read this book of prophecy. If someone with no knowledge of the NT at all was to sit down and read it through, they would come away with the idea that the early church was a future-looking group anticipating the appearing of Christ and the culmination of human history. 

So yes, its true that some fundamentalists have been guilty of rampant speculation, but its also true that some non-fundamentalists could be guilty of under-emphasis on prophecy.

 

WallyMorris's picture

Concerning the RSV: Dr. Stewart Custer, who liked the NAS and used it, had strong criticisms of the RSV. He published several booklets on various topics, including translations. Sadly, they are not available any longer.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

TylerR's picture

Editor

I'm genuinely sorry they're not available. I tried to find some good criticisms of the RSV, but most of it was in print and didn't seem to make the leap to electronic. I did read a bad review by Unger from the mid-1950s, but that's about it. The RSV retains the formal elegance of the KJV, but updates enough of the language to be perfectly stately and elegant and readable for a contemporary audience.

The ESV is largely the RSV in new dress; not much of it has changed. I did read Song of Solomon this morning before work (I know, weird choice perhaps, but whatever ...) and I was surprised to see the ESV put headings in the text to indicate who was speaking, which was a pleasant surprise! The RSV didn't have them.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jay's picture

Concerning the RSV: Dr. Stewart Custer, who liked the NAS and used it, had strong criticisms of the RSV. He published several booklets on various topics, including translations. Sadly, they are not available any longer.

If BJU or BJUP held the copyright, they could probably sell them digitally via the bookstore or BJUP's website.  I think that shouldn't be too hard to do.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

I appreciate how they note that what needs to be done is to specify the bounds of legitimate debate regarding these issues.  My take for the past few years is that though I love the "newfangled" 1611 KJV (and even the 1769) almost as much as a truly historical version (the 1599 Geneva), those who would compel the use of a specific revision of the TR and associated Hebrew texts not only fall into evidential error, but since there is no actual evidence that anyone corrupted any family of texts deliberately, they necessarily engage in some rather atrocious personal attacks.

There's a good start on a definition of "divisiveness", no?

The article is also good where it notes, though perhaps not in so many words, that some translations cross a "not so fine line" between legitimate translation techniques and either putting words in God's mouth, or taking significant concepts out that effect the meaning of the text.  Clearer discussion on where that line lies can be helpful. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

I believe that the RSV is mostly faithful, but has drawn the ire of evangelicals and fundamentalists for how it treats passages like Isaiah 7:14, where it translates the Hebrew as "young woman" instead of "virgin".  Technically correct, but misses the point of the passage.  It was said to be a pattern of undermining the supernatural import of some passages.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Whatever. That's my scholarly reaction.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

TylerR's picture

Editor

That's the bad review article by Unger I remember reading! 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Ron Bean's picture

I was just a youth in the 50's but I recall the furor raised in my IFB church over the RSV. I seem to recall that it may have been the first English translation based on the critical text.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Bert Perry's picture

My dad remembers the same furor over the RSV.  Regarding the article, I admit I missed a lot of the content, but given that a lot of it is guilt by association, like pointing out theological liberalism on the part of the translation committee, I'm not feeling particularly guilty about forgetting that part.  :^)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

AndyE's picture

Ron Bean wrote:

I seem to recall that it may have been the first English translation based on the critical text.

Probably the first major English version based on the CT was the English Revised Version (1881 NT, 1885 OT).  This version was the basis for the American Standard Version published in 1901.  The Revised Standard Version (RSV) came out in 1946 (NT) and then 1952 (OT).  It was the publishing of the OT portion that sent up red flags among conservatives because of its translation of Isaiah 7:14 and other passages.  The Bible Researcher site has some additional details on the RSV and it's rejection by conservatives. 

C. D. Cauthorne Jr.'s picture

By using sarcasm when referring to independent Baptist brethren such as Clarence Sexton and Paul Chappell in his address to the FBFI's annual meeting, Mark Ward has forced the FBFI to answer David Shumate's question, "What constitutes divisiveness over the issue?"

Yet, Ward's speech demands that the FBFI clarify even more.  By speaking positively of D. A. Carson in his speech at the FBFI's annual meeting (in contrast to how he spoke of Sexton and Chappell), does that mean Carson's Trinity International University (a new evangelical institution) is a better place to send college-age kids than Crown College or West Coast Baptist College (independent Baptist institutions)?  Does the FBFI now more closely identify with The Gospel Coalition (Carson and Kevin DeYoung) and Desiring God (John Piper and John Frame) than with institutions like Crown College and West Coast Baptist College?  What about Ambassador Baptist College and the Bill Rice Ranch?  Are conservative evangelicals more in tune with today's FBFI than certain mainstream fundamentalist brethren?

Shumate's suggested clarifications weren't necessary three months ago, but now they are.  However, I'm beginning to think that all this might be exactly what the FBFI Board wanted to happen in the first place.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

CD,

It would be really easy if all theological issues were on a single line from conservative to liberal, but that is just not the case.  There are far too many variables.  It's quite easy to be closer to TGC on some issues, while being closer to Crown on others.  It's just not as easy as saying one is completely right and one is completely wrong, though we might wish it were.  Fundamentalists need to stop thinking in terms of things like distance from a fundamentalist group over one or more issues meaning rejection of all of fundamentalism and acceptance of all of new evangelicalism.  It's that type of thinking that causes many to think fundamentalism is NOT worth saving.

Dave Barnhart

Mike Harding's picture

D.A. Carson has written an excellent book on the KJVO controversy.  No problem referencing Carson in relation to this subject.  Such a reference does not in any way endorse TEDS.  Mark's choice to submit an article to the GC was totally his, and he did so on his own months after the annual meeting.  Crown and West Coast are both KJVO.  However, I don't think their positions/reasoning/dispositions are identical.  West Coast use to be more militant on the KJV. Perhaps they are changing.  I am reasonably sure that Clarence Sexton was comfortable working with Non-KJVO pastors and organizations.  One has to approach each ministry individually to examine their position, reasons for holding it, disposition toward Non-KJVO churches and organizations, and whether they see the KJV as a test of orthodoxy or fellowship.

Pastor Mike Harding

Ron Bean's picture

All in favor of Jim Peet being the new face of the FBFI, say AMEN!

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Don Johnson's picture

Mine is in the mail... Canada Post has this unique storage system.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

TOvermiller's picture

I think NYC mail is a little slow for whatever reason, although USPS *does* deliver packages on Sunday here and Amazon Prime *does* provide same-day delivery here, also. Hmm. Go figure.

Thomas Overmiller
Pastor | www.studygodsword.com
Blog & Podcast | www.shepherdthoughts.com

Mark_Smith's picture

1- Nice suspenders!

2- Smile, bro Smile