Bible Translation

"World Without End"?

imageReprinted with permission from As I See It. AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.

The Anatomy of an Odd Biblical Phrase

The other day I heard a pastor reading from the latter part of Ephesians 3 in the King James Version, and I was struck with the quaintness of a phrase found at the end of verse 21: “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end (emphasis added). Quaint and, frankly, obscure in meaning. Certainly not contemporary English. I decided to trace the origin of this peculiar English phrasing to satisfy my own curiosity.

I could not with Strong’s concordance locate this phrase anywhere else in the KJV, though I did discover through other sources that this is the translation found at Ephesians 3:21 in three English versions preceding the KJV, namely the Great Bible (1540 edition; also known as “Cranmer’s Bible,” though Miles Coverdale was the chief laborer in this revision of Matthew’s Bible), the Bishops’ Bible of 1568 (1602 edition) and the Roman Catholic Rheims NT of 1582, so the KJV’s rendering is neither unprecedented nor unparalleled.

Other early English versions read as follows (wording in question in italics):

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"profit may be prompting more translations than readability concerns demand"

Good News Glut - Common English Bible joins the crowd.

Phoenix Seminary professor Paul Wegner identified nearly 100 English versions by 1950. He estimates there are twice as many now, although only a handful controls a dominant share of the market.

CEB Official site

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Let the Minutiae Speak

The place of genealogies, numbers, and parallel passages in the King James only debate

“Things that are different are not the same.” So says the title of Mickey Carter’s book advocating the exclusive use of the King James Bible. This sentiment is a fair summary of the mindset of most King James only (KJO) advocates. The differences between Bible versions demand a judgment. Which Bible is right?

Troubled by differing Bible versions, many sincere Christians seek for answers. One side affirms that no doctrine is affected by the relatively minor differences between Bible versions. The message is the same, but finer points and particular details may be slightly different. A typical KJO position jumps in and says this can’t be right. Verbal inspiration is useless without the preservation of those very words of God. In fact, we need to know each and every word, in order to live (Matt. 4:4). All differences, even word order and spelling differences, matter (Matt. 5:18). Differing versions cannot both claim to be translations of the perfect, inspired Word of God.

On the face of it, the KJO argument makes sense. When we’re speaking about the Bible, shouldn’t every little difference matter? Some respond with manuscript evidence that calls into question the choice of the King James Bible as a perfect standard. Others have shown that the various proof texts for word perfect preservation don’t actually promise a single, identifiable, word-perfect copy of the Bible. And prior to 1611, where was such a copy to be found, anyway?

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The Perspicuity of Scripture as Applied to Bible Translation, Part 3

Read Part 1 and Part 2.

All things being accounted for, the Scriptures are understandable! It is in those terms that we attempted previously (Briefings, August 2009 and December 2009) to state the doctrine of perspicuity or clarity of the Scriptures as applied to Bible translation.

In examining the Scriptures, one soon discovers many aspects that may render them difficult to be understood: linguistic complexities in the process of translating; particular twists of styles; antiquated literary genres; abbreviated language; unexplained historical and geographical inferences; differing cultural practices; unrevealed meaning of names, things, places, events, and concepts; and more. These difficulties can be compounded by the limitations of the reader who may be unsaved, or limited in knowledge of Biblical facts, or lacking in his investment of time and effort to the study of the Scriptures.

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Preservation: How and What? Part 4

Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Biblical doctrine is teaching derived from Scripture. While we may possess many strong convictions based on our experiences, on our understanding of history, or on the opinions of experts, these do not rise to the level of biblical doctrine or tests of orthodoxy.

The case of Bible preservation is no exception. Any position we identify as “the doctrine of preservation” must be taught in Scripture. In this series I’ve argued that while Scripture does give us a doctrine of preservation, that doctrine does not include all the particulars some attach to it. God assures us that His Word will endure forever and will not pass away. He assures us that believers will have sufficient access to His Word until all is fulfilled.

But some insist that the true doctrine of preservation must also include all of the following:

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Book Review - Understanding English Bible Translation: The Case for an Essentially Literal Approach

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As I am writing this, Tyndale House is sponsoring a contest to promote the sale of their New Living Translation (NLT). Among the giveaways are several iPads, an iPod, a Kindle and a trip to Hawaii! This “Bible Contest and Giveaway” is called “Breakthrough to Clarity.” Of course, I entered. I may not be a fan of the NLT, but I am of Apple and Hawaii.

To various degrees marketing influences us all. How healthy an impact it has had on modern society is not for this discussion. However, marketing does enter into our consideration of the history of Bible translation. Marketing puts the emphasis on the consumer. It makes the audience supreme. It was this attention to the audience that led to the great divide between translation theories.

Next year, the King James Version (KJV) will celebrate its 400th birthday. For over 360 years the KJV reigned unrivaled. This changed in 1978 with the debut of the New International Version (NIV). The NIV quickly became a best seller. Leland Ryken, in his book Understanding English Bible Translation suggests the “NIV cornered the market because (a) it was the only viable alternative to the obsolete King James Bible, and (b) marketing and advertising made it irresistibly attractive to the masses” (p. 65).

The Committee on Bible Translation for the NIV had the audience in mind from the outset:

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