Dear Brothers in Christ,
Greetings in the name our Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is worthy of praise, glory and honor. O that all nations would praise His glorious name.
I want to thank you for your comments concerning the update of the Gdańsk Bible they are greatly appreciated. I hope to clarify some things in this post as well as answer some of your questions.
First of all, this project is not a new translation. I realize that technically speaking the word to translate can mean, “To put into simpler terms.” However, when dealing with the topic of Bible versions the word to translate is understood by most people to mean, “To render in another language.” We are by no means translating anything. It may be just semantics I know, but there is an important difference. The AV was updated (modernized) at least four times and is still known as the AV 1611 (See The Authorized Edition of the Bible (1611), its Subsequent Reprints and Modern Representatives by F.H. A. Scrivener). No one squawks about it except for a few rabid anti-KJV Onlyists. However, the New King James Version was not just a modernization of archaic language but rather a completely new translation – translated from another language. Just as the Warsaw Version is today – a new translation, translated from a different text. We prefer the word update as the Project Team is not translating from another language. The word update is both the correct and honest term to use.
We agree wholeheartedly with you that the grammar of the Gdańsk Bible is “outdated and difficult to understand”, “completely outdated”, and “absolutely foreign to Poles today that often, they cannot make out what it is saying, except with great effort”. For all of the above reasons plus others, this project was undertaken. We faced the same problems that you encountered when trying to teach Poles the word of God from the Gdańsk Bible. Our options were the same:
1. We could learn archaic & modern Polish well enough so that we could teach Poles from the Gdańsk Bible. Hoping that someday someone would produce an updated version of the Gdańsk Bible.
2. We could preach in English using the AV and translate as we go.
3. We could use a combination of the Trinitarian Polish NT and the Gdańsk Bible.
4. We could use the Warsaw Bible.
5. We could use the Roman Catholic Bible.
We chose option number one. We preached from the Gdańsk Bible from the very beginning. We shrugged off the sneers, snickers and mocking of the “old language” because we had heard all of those excuses before in English and Spanish. After years of people taking our Gdańsk Bibles out of our hands thinking that we couldn’t read Polish we finally conceded that an updating needed to be done - now. Believe me, it was never our intention to get involved with an updating project. We are street preachers, Evangelists, whose intentions are to see the church of God built up in Poland. If we weren’t convinced, that this project is needed and in the will of God we would drop it in a heart beat. You will never know the amount of work that is involved in such a project. With all of Poland already under-evangelized and in need of gospel preaching street preachers such a project is not our will but His that called us.
I can understand your frustrations and motivations for converting to the Warsaw Bible. Personally, the Warsaw Bible was never a real option for me. I did give real consideration to using the Catholic Bible. It has recognizable authority for the Polish Catholics that we are trying to reach. It would certainly have avoided that which you so greatly fear: “Being labeled a sect”. Although I don’t know how anyone who is not a Roman Catholic can avoid being labeled “a sect” in Poland. “Sect” is apparently the greatest verbal argument that Polish Roman Catholics can muster for the defense of their religion. If you carry a Bible (any Bible, even a Roman Catholic Bible) anywhere – “You are a sect!” If you invite someone to your church meeting – “You are a sect!” If you pass out a gospel tract with just Bible quotations (without commentary) in it – “You are a sect!” If you speak Polish with an accent and want to talk about God – “You are a sect!” If you knock on doors trying to evangelize – “You are a sect!” or “You are ‘Jechowi’!” And if you dare preach the gospel on the streets in obedience to our Lord’s command then by all means – “You are a sect!” What unbelieving Roman Catholics have to say about this project in my opinion is a non-factor.
Your concern or obstacles to overcome – “Unbelievers not dismissing it immediately as ‘sect’ material” in my opinion is inconsistent and an invalid argument. If that is the criteria that you demand of our Project Team, I can only wonder if you put the same demands upon yourself. Do you not pass out gospel tracts? Isn’t that considered “sect material” by devout Roman Catholics? Do you not give away Warsaw Bibles? Isn’t that considered “sect material” by devout Roman Catholics? Brother, no matter what any Gospel preacher passes out in Poland it is going to be considered “sect material” by Roman Catholic Poles. They have no other defense for their false faith, but to label servants of the Lord Jesus Christ as a sect. See Acts 28:22, Jer. 1:8, Mt 5:11, etc.
This project is not something that Joe and I ever anticipated being a part of. Yes, we are the motivators. However, we are not doing the brunt of the work nor could we. Bible Believing Poles are doing the work, not Americans. That is, this project is being done by born again Bible believing saints who hold sound doctrine. All of the project members believe the Bible to be the word of God. They all believe in salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, baptism by immersion for believers only, eternal security of the believer, the Lord’s supper (without alcoholic wine), etc. They would certainly be classified much more conservative than Wiktor Niemcyzk, Jan Szeruda, Andrzej Wantura and Karol Wolfraw the translators of the Warsaw Bible - all of whom were modern day Lutherans. None of the translators of the Warsaw Bible were Baptists. Why, now that I think of it, none of the translators of the Warsaw Bible were even baptistic! The compilers of the Greek Text from which the Warsaw Bible was translated from were hardly conservative or baptistic - Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, and Allen Wikgren and Carlo M. Martini – the last being a Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. I only point out these facts because it seems that demands are being made upon our Project Team that have never been made on any translating team in history. Or did we all forget that the none of the translators of our beloved and God blessed AV Bible were Baptists? It wouldn’t surprise me a bit, if half of the translators of the AV Bible weren’t even saved.
As to “causing confusion” among Poles, may I answer you with your own words? You stated, “Few Polish people know common things about the Bible.” You are correct, there is an over abundance of ignorance in Poland concerning the Bible which does cause confusion. Poles have a complete lack of understanding of the Bible issue. Very few Poles have ever read the entire Bible – that includes believers! Ignorance always causes confusion. It is our job as Gospel preachers to explain Spiritual things, including the Bible issue, to those who sit in darkness. After a careful explanation, what sincere Polish believer would have a hard time understanding that this is an update of the archaic grammar as found in the Gdańsk Bible? I haven’t found any. They may not agree that it is needed, but they will certainly understand the issue at hand.
The Gdańsk Bible was used exclusively in Poland by the Church of God from 1632 – 1975. Up until that time, there were only two Bibles in Poland – The “Protestant Gdańsk Bible” and the “Roman Catholic Bible”. The Gdańsk Bible was the recognized authority for the Polish churches during that time. I would say that makes the Gdańsk Bible “universally accepted by believers through the centuries”! That is just as long a time as the AV held universal acceptance in English. It was after 1975 that the market was flooded with new Bibles – Trinitarian (?), Warszawska (1975), Tysiąclecia (1980), Nowego Świata (1994), Warszawsko-Praska (1998), Ekumeniczny (2001), Brzeska (2004), etc. The Gdańsk Bible is a Reformation Text Bible. None of the above versions, with exception of the Trinitarian NT and the Brzeska (a reprint much like the Thomson Nelson reprint of the AV 1611), qualify as such. I quote you: “I believe that this battle [over the text] was won, and the proper text won the battle. It is this Bible that was the text of the Middle Ages, and the Bible of the Reformation.” I agree with you here. Hence, if we want to stick with the text of the Reformation we must either continue to use the archaic Gdańsk Bible, or update it. In my opinion, there is no other option. I find it amazing that you surmise that the Gdańsk Bible was only “used because there were no other options” and then “quickly forgotten” after the Warsaw Bible was published. I strongly disagree with you here. First of all, Polish believers switched over to the Warsaw Bible not because of textual issues but for the very same reason that you did: “The Gdańsk Bible is outdated and too difficult to understand”. They preferred an easy to read Bible over a textually pure Bible (or as you stated “the proper text which won out”). Most Polish believers that I have spoken with falsely assume that the only difference between Gdańsk Bible and the Warsaw Bible is grammar and vocabulary. They are blissfully ignorant of the false doctrines (John 1:18) and subtle doctrinal changes (1Timothy 3:16, 1John 5:7, Rev. 1:11, etc.) made in the Warsaw Bible. Those who do know about these changes use the Warsaw out of expedience, but correct it with the Gdańsk Bible! Isn’t that amazing? I have preached in every major city in Poland and many smaller cities as well. I have not found one Polish believer who criticizes the Gdańsk Bible on textual grounds (Bro. X might be an exception – he doesn’t like the “translation” of 1Cor 16:32). I haven’t found anyone that “has forgotten the Gdańsk Bible”. All of the criticism of the Gdańsk Bible has to do with archaisms. I have found plenty of critics of the Warsaw Bible even amongst those who “use it”!
I agree with you that it would be foolish to “try to force my own version of the Bible upon Polish believers”. Yet, at the same time we all “force the gospel” upon Poles. We all “force our version of the church” upon Poles. Wasn’t there already a “Baptist” Church down there in your city before you and Brother B showed up? Aren’t your actions a “little insensitive to Polish understanding and culture”? Why the thought of Americans coming to Poland as “missionaries”! The very thought is highly “insensitive” to Poles “whether he be a devout Catholic, non-committed Catholic (atheist or otherwise) or Protestant.” All of us came to Poland because we recognized that the Polish Church was NOT DOING her job! They were not preaching the gospel as they should! They were not filling Poland with sound doctrine! Now it appears to me that none of you fellows came here to help the Polish Church. You certainly didn’t come to help the Polish “Baptist” Churches for you ignored their sensitivities and plunged right ahead and started your own version of a “Baptist” church. A church started with the “initiative of only a few Americans”. Frankly, I don’t expect most Polish Churches to accept this update any more than you expect most Polish “Baptists” to accept your version of Baptist distinctives. In fact, I expect most of them to reject it. There will be some churches that will accept it when it is FINISHED - not now! I think it inappropriate to “try and force” the issue now. At this point I don’t think the question, “Could this Bible replace your current Bible?” should even be asked. What I do hope will happen is that the Polish Church will grow and new Polish believers will recognize the validity of this update. Of course, our prayer is that God will use this update as a blessing to all Polish believers, not just a few. At the very worst, I expect this update to be a “valuable resource” for Polish believers and I believe that “God is able to use, and use powerfully, even a poor translation.”
“A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” This saying is true. I doubt any American missionary such as you will ever accept this work on its own merits simply because you all know Joe and I. Familiarity breeds contempt. That is a fact of life that we all recognize. It is much easier to accept a version translated by unknown non-baptistic Lutherans than is to accept and submit to a version put out by known baptistic brothers in Christ. Personally, I think this update if allowed to be judged on merits alone, without prejudice, will be received well. We’ve received good comments from Poles about this update so far.
In conclusion, let me say: This is a POLISH PROJECT. Yes, Americans are helping, but the Poles are doing the work! It is not “one or two Americans” doing this. It is a local church working together to get this needed project done. I personally feel that the work done so far is of “very good quality”. All of the work done so far has been done with the sincerest of motives and in all honesty.
What we believe:
We believe that the Bible is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice.
We believe in
salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We believe in PREACHING the gospel publicly - on the streets, in homes, everywhere.
We are not denominationalists. We are not inter-denominational, nor are we non-denominational (that having become a denomination in itself). We are basically "un-denominational".
We are anti-charismatic and anti-"tongue" talking "Pentecostals" (even though many of us speak more than one language fluently).
We believe and preach sound doctrine.
Goals and Guidelines
1. Our primary goal is to update the archaic grammar and vocabulary of the Gdańsk Polish Bible of 1632 to modern Polish grammar and vocabulary.
2. Our secondary goal is to standardize the verse numbering with other Bibles based on the Received Text (AV English Bible, Reina Valera Spanish Bible, German, Russian, etc.) with rare standardization of word choices where that standardization does not change the underlying meaning of the text of the Gdańsk Bible - Ex. Luke 2:33 father à Joseph (These rare occurrences will have the original Gdańsk Bible word in the margin).
1. The basic underlying text of the Gdańsk Bible is our highest authority.
a. We will attempt to allow the Gdańsk Bible to interpret itself by diligently comparing the use of the same word (or phrase) in the entire Gdańsk Bible.
b. We have access to old Polish dictionaries as well.
2. Received Text Bibles (English, Spanish, German, Russian, Greek, etc.) are our 2nd most important authority when trying to understand an archaic word, phrase or grammar structure.
a. When we don’t understand a given word, phrase or grammar structure, Received Text Bibles will be our first recourse in helping us make the correct word selection.
i. We also have recourse to quality Bible commentaries – Gill, Matthew Henry, Young, Brown, Calvin, Luther, Robertson, Schofield, Spurgeon, etc.
ii. We have access to unlimited recourses through the internet and the Polish National
b. When there is a conflict between Received Text Bibles, the Gdańsk Bible will be given preference.
3. Modern Polish versions (Warszawa, Tysiąclecia, Warszawsko-Praska, Ekumeniczny, Nowego Świata, as well as the Brzeska, Wujek and Trinitarian N.T.) are our third recourse in trying to understand an archaic word, phrase or grammar structure.
a. Modern Polish versions provide us with hints as to linguistic correctness.
i. When the Gdańsk Bible uses archaic vocabulary and Modern Polish Bibles use modern vocabulary that agree with Received Text Bibles, then the choice of the agreeing Modern Polish Bibles will be used.
ii. When the Gdańsk Bible uses archaic grammar structures and Modern Polish Bibles use
modern grammar structures that agree with Received Text Bibles, the choice of the agreeing Modern Polish Bibles will be used.
b. The basic underlying text of Modern Polish Bibles (non-Received Text Bibles) has no authority over the basic underlying text of the Gdańsk Bible.
4. Meaning is more important than style (form).
a. If a verb precedes a noun, “saith Jesus”, we change it to the modern form of noun + verb, “Jesus says”.
b. The Gdańsk Bible often uses archaic phrases such as “rejoice with joy”. If replacing this phrase with one word doesn’t change the meaning we simplify.
c. The Gdańsk Bible uses phrases like “sought to kill him”. These phrases are made up of understandable words but which together make up an archaic phrase, needing completion. In such cases, we use the guidelines outlined above to make the best word selection.
d. We will retain common phrases used by Jesus: Ex. “Verily, verily…”
5. When the above guidelines do not help us come to an agreement as to the meaning of the text, then the text of the Gdańsk Bible will be retained. Ex. John 1:16 “grace for grace”.
Basic order of work:
Hope this helps answer your questions! If not, please let me know.
In Jesus’ Name,
Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.