June 19, 2007
Dear Brothers in Christt,
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is worthy of glory, honor and praise. Praise Him therefore all ye people, praise Him all ye lands. O that all of Poland would praise our Savior’s name!
I thought it might be prudent to follow up our phone conversations with this letter. In it I hope to outline my reasoning for the Polish Bible Project, explain our principles, layout the positive and negative comments given by others and lastly, give my summary and conclusion so that you will be fully informed of the status and reasoning behind our Bible Project.
Years ago when we first confronted opposition to this Bible Project from good brothers I replied:
We agree whole heartedly with you that the grammar of the Gdańsk Bible is “outdated and difficult to understand,” “completely outdated”, and “absolutely foreign to Poles today that often, they cannot make out what it is saying, except with great effort.”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.
I am even more persuaded today, than five years ago, that this Bible Project is needed, is in the will of God and should be completed now! Personally, I cannot in good conscience let opposition - even opposition from good, honest and sincere brothers - stop this project. Of course, I am arguing from my perspective, position and personal responsibility before the Lord Jesus Christ. I understand the dilemma you all face -trying to make a decision to support this work from afar is extremely difficult. Therefore, you would be remiss in not listening to all the arguments being presented by those who are opposed to this project in one form or another. Some of them are brothers, whom, we both love and highly respect and their opinions should be taken into consideration - both their old arguments and the new ones. For this reason I feel the responsibility to present to you all of the arguments both for and against this project. Good men need facts and information in order to make right decisions according to the dictates of their own conscience. I’ll do my best to present all the facts and information so that you can make the right decision.
I have never considered myself a professional translator and certainly would not compare my linguistic ability to the linguistic ability of the AV translators in English or even Daniel Mikołajewski the translator of the Gdańsk Bible. Even though I am semi-fluent in three languages – English, Spanish and Polish – I do not consider myself an expert. Bro. Joe West, on the other hand, has an obvious gift at mastering languages, even difficult languages such as Polish. Martin Luther expressed my sentiments exactly when he said:
I have undertaken to translate the Bible into German. This was good for me;
otherwise I might have died in the mistaken notion that I was a learned fellow.
However, my experiences in facing the Bible issue in the United States, Mexico and Poland give me unique insights into the problems involved in translational issues and especially in the Textual Debate. Having been forced to read extensively the arguments on both sides of textual debate I am intimately aware of all the arguments both pro and con. I am also familiar with the infighting among the “KJV Only” camps – English Only, Majority Text, Received Text, etc. I have personally seen the debacle of trying to have Americans translate the English Authorized Version into Spanish – I was in Mexico during the McVey fiasco. See Bill Kincaid’s, my old co-worker’s, comments in the Bible Believer’s Banner August 1989. (Please read the attached McVey Fiasco document).
I am a Bible believer that understands the problems related to the word of God in foreign languages and have confronted these problems by practical experience. Although I recognize textual corruption in Modern Bibles I’m not for burning Bibles, any Bible. I’ve been around too many people that have never had any Bible to resort to such extremes. Neither am I for mocking modern version users and name calling of those who disagree with me. I understand perfectly the struggles that led to the choice that Bro. A and Bro. B made when they abandoned the Gdańsk Bible and went with the Polish Warsaw Bible (mixed Nestle’s Text). I couldn’t go that route myself, but I do understand why they did.
Joe and I never anticipated being a part of this Bible project. We were confronted with a very difficult problem: what to do with the Polish Bible which all parties agree is hopelessly archaic? There is no doubt that everyone agrees that the Gdańsk Bible needs to be updated. This is not something that Americans can force upon the Polish Church nor is it something that Americans can do themselves. It was obvious to us that the Polish Church recognized and wanted this update to be done. However, five years ago no one was rushing to do the work, so Joe and I became motivators of this Bible Project. Since then, various other Polish groups from around Poland have begun trying to update the Gdańsk Bible. Foreigners, Poles or otherwise, are rarely impressed by many of the English Only arguments presented by some “KJV Only” groups in the States. Frankly, neither am I. Of course this puts me in direct conflict with some good brothers who are AV Bible Believers. If I thought I could back out of this project and still be in the will of God I would do so in a heart beat. It is taxing work, it provokes heated debate and brings up conflicts with brothers whom I deeply love and respect. I have done my best to live by the word of God which says:
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men Ro 12:18.
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord Heb 12:14.
The foreseen conflict was one of the reasons I hesitated in getting involved in this project in the first place. Faced with the grave responsibility of updating the Gdańsk Bible and at the same time having no previous experience in such a task, I had to ask myself: How do I proceed? Knowing that conflict was coming forced me to examine what the Scriptures say about translating and translations. I found ample examples of translations within the Scriptures themselves, but, frankly, I couldn’t find any Scriptures to clearly guide me as to how to update or translate. Obviously, if the Scriptures spoke plainly on this topic good men would not be fighting over the Bible issue. Speaking dogmatically on these matters is not wise and those that do so are often times more emotionally involved than prudence dictates. Without clear Scripture as to how the word of God is to be translated we would do well to tread lightly when condemning translational choices. The Bible debate has been over the text and only on a small scale over translational choices. Synonyms are common through out the Scriptures. The AV translators did not bind themselves to a rigid consistent use of the same words and they felt that a variety of translation is both needed and good, I concur.
So, what principles should guide us? The Scriptural examples of translation found in the Scriptures would be one source, of course. As would the precedence set by the Reformers and earlier Translators. Their thoughts and works on Bible translation would be valuable aids in guiding us in our work. Obviously all Bible believers want to preserve the text even though we argue over the form (translation). Here are the principles that have guided me.
I. Languages – “Original Only” (Hebrew and Greek), “English Only” – I don’t see one language only as God’s intent and therefore disagree with both Original Language Only and English Only proponents. God didn’t inspire languages he inspired words within languages. I hope you can see the difference, I do. I don’t see much difference between the false presumption that original languages (supposedly Hebrew and Greek) trump other languages and the false presumption that English today trumps all other languages – it is the same error in my mind. My reasoning is as follows:
A. Babel - Man’s ungodly intentions were aided by one universal language, but were thwarted by God’s division of languages. God said: Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. God deliberately confounded their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech (Ge 11:5-9) so that man would have to do thing’s God’s way and not according his own imagination – man’s way. God has made men “to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us” (Acts 17:25-26). The bounds of their habitation determines the language people speak. God set the bounds so that they might seek the Lord according to God’s way and not man’s way. God was the author of diverse languages and confounded the languages deliberately so that man might seek the Lord. This is a Scriptural principle that leads me to believe that “one language only-ism” is wrong.
B. Gift of tongues (languages) – Acts 2:5-11 - When God poured out His Spirit upon the disciples so that they might fulfill the great commission – Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature – he gave them the gift of tongues (languages). That would not have been necessary if God’s plan was to preserve and keep His word in the original Hebrew. Nor would it have been necessary if God’s plan was to preserve and keep His word in the original Greek so that the Church of God might have one universal language as the standard. This leads me to believe that it is within God’s will to translate the word of God into the languages of the people of various nations. Look at the nations listed - every nation under heaven. Not just Hebrew and Greek – not just English. God’s intent was never original languages only any more than it was His intent to preserve and keep His word in English only! Now, every nation under heaven heard the word of God in THEIR language. They all heard “the wonderful works of God” in their “own tongue”! Men heard the word of God, not in some “Bible language”, but in their own language - every man heard them speak in his own language. And later - how hear we every man in our own tongue. To me, this shows us God’s intent since the resurrection was to have his word put into the language (tongue – notice the Scriptural use of synonyms!) of every nation. In Acts 2 God gave the gift of tongues, not the gift of interpretation! Had God intended for his word to be in understood by all from one language it seems to me that the Apostles would have all preached in Hebrew and the listeners would have been given the gift of interpretation. That was not the case. Thus, I am fully convinced that missionaries in foreign countries should not preach in English, but in the language of the people. That goes for translations as well. The word of God should be translated into the language of the people. A genuine translation from the Received Text once received by the Church of God as the Scriptures in their language becomes and is the word of God for that people (language group) – their final authority.
C. Clarity, understandable, common language – 1Cor 14 – Paul addresses “languages” directly throughout this chapter. Granted, Paul was dealing with the abuse of the gift of tongues and not translation directly, but I do see some principles concerning the use of languages in the Church of God. You can decide if my reasoning is correct.
1Cor 14:4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself…
I see a principle: Those who think the word of God is only in their language (their gift of tongues) only edify themselves. In other words they are self-centered. God’s intent was to use the gift of languages to edify others – all nations, not just ourselves.
1Cor 14:6 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you…
Paul said clearly that if I don’t speak to you in a language that you readily understand then I am no profit to you. That is a PRINCIPLE laid out in Scripture. Remember we don’t have any one verse that tells us to translate, how to translate or who should translate. We are guided by principles alone. I’m trying to show you the principles that I have seen when faced with our particular dilemma. Our update should profit the most people possible not just our small groups – who can “figure it out.” A translation must be profitable to all.
1Cor 14:8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
Now, Paul hammers it home. It isn’t good enough to have “distinct instruments” making “different” sounds, but each instrument must be played properly. I can play the trumpet – which means I can make the trumpet make a sound. But no one would know what in the world I’m playing. I can play, but certainly not well enough for people to recognize that I’m sounding out the battle cry. Every instrument (language) has its OWN sound, but it must also be tuned and played according to scale. I take that to mean, as applied to our present situation, that the word of God should be written in the language of the people with proper grammar so that they can RECOGNIZE the song (message) being played. This is where I strongly disagree with the arguments I’ve heard so far: “Well, just change the endings of the verbs and a few of the old words.” What we will end up with is notes scattered all over the place without melody, rhythm and scale. Someone says, “well, we can figure it out.” Yah, like if you listen to me playing the trumpet long enough you might occasionally hear something that is recognizable – like Mary had a Little Lamb – but by that time, the enemy will have come and destroyed you! It isn’t good enough in my book to say: Well, they can figure it out, or they can find the meaning. It must be CLEARLY understood! People can understand my poor Polish. Should I be content? Would it not be better if I spoke proper Polish? What is being suggested is: We should be content with just a few changes because we can figure it out. I agree of course that people can figure it out with minimal changes, but I would also say they can “figure it out” with NO CHANGES whatsoever. They have! But I don’t think that that was God’s plan. I believe that the nominal changes suggested will still be an hindrance both to the understanding of the Gospel and to the growth of the Church. I think that God’s plan is to have His word spoken CLEARLY in the language of the people – not archaic, not difficult to understand, but CLEARLY recognizable - in tune, not out of tune.
1Cor 14:9 So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.
That is the proper principle. So that the average plowboy (farmer) can understand the word of God!!! That was what Tyndale said. What did he mean? So that the lowliest farmer without formal education could understand the word of God. College graduates in Poland have a very difficult time with the Gdańsk in its current state and would still have problems with the suggested “minimal changes”. Where that leaves the Polish plowboy (farmer) is anyone’s guess. Therefore, when updating we should do it completely and properly – not a half of a job – so that the words can be “easy to understand” by the common man.
1Cor 14:10-11 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.
To keep a familiar archaic word and neglect the meaning of the word would be an error. Words change meanings over time. Of course words are important, but so are their MEANINGS! Balance! Not just words, nor just meaning, but BOTH!!! Don’t get so hung up on words that you forget the MEANING, don’t get so hung up on meaning that you forget the words! BALANCE! An old English saying: Say what you mean, mean what you say. These are proper principles to guide us in translating and updating.
1Cor 14:12 seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
Not for just those in our local church who can grasp the old through constant use, but the entire church! Sure, our Polish brothers can get along quite well with the Gdańsk in its current form – but only after 10 years of teaching and even now they still demonstrate a misunderstanding of words, phrases and grammar structures in the Gdańsk Bible.
1Cor 14:15-17 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
Here is where I see the short sightedness of some of the brethren. Sure, they can figure it out with a few changes, but what about the unlearned? We can’t think of just ourselves and our local church. Of course our people can figure it out because we have been hammering on them with the Gdańsk for so long they have figured it out by brute force. They somehow have forgotten the shock and bewilderment they had when they first began reading the Gdańsk Bible. I don’t think God is pleased by us keeping His word in the most difficult form. After all – we can all figure out even the Greek with enough study and reading,– eventually! Americans can eventually figure out the Wycliffe English Bible with enough patience and reading – but God allowed His word in English to be updated more than once – so that Americans can read His word easily! To me this is an historical precedent. God gave the gift of tongues (my analogy) so that His word might be written and spoken clearly, so that even the unlearned can say: Amen! That’s right! There is nothing special or spiritual about archaic words, word structure and grammar. We must make the meaning clear so that the word of God in Polish might edify. “Nie mam zielonego pojęcia” translated literally word-for-word would be: “I don’t have the greenest idea”. This is an exact word-for-word translation of the above Polish expression and the translation has all understandable English words, but it really means: I don’t have the foggiest idea. The Polish words make perfect sense to a Pole, but translated word-for-word exactly into English, make no sense to an English speaker even though he might be able to figure it out with some effort. It would be a wrong translational principle to try to “preserve exact words” in such cases – showing that MEANING is very important and not just preservation of words. “I don’t have the foggiest idea” is the correct translation and “I don’t have the greenest idea” would be the wrong translation even though it is word-for-word and people could eventually “figure it out”. Preservation of exact words in cases like this would be an error. As I said, meaning is very important. The common understanding of the word or phrase is essential and must be considered in any translational choice.
1Cor 14:18-19 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.
Better five CLEAR words than 10 thousand UNCLEAR words! Better one sentence written in accordance with proper grammar and vocabulary than 10 thousand sentences out of sync with correct grammar structure. That’s why we decided to go as far as we have – we want this Bible to be in tune with proper Polish grammar. Giving a distinct sound that all Poles may understand. We want to make a good Bible better! Better in what way? By tuning it up, tightening and replacing the warn out strings, putting it into scale. Making sure the words play a clear recognizable sound. It takes a lot of work – and isn’t a mater of clipping off the long guitar strings. We would do a disservice to the Polish people by presenting them a hodge-podge of corrections throughout the Gdańsk Bible without including proper Polish grammar and structure. Our English Bible, and no doubt the Gdańsk Bible, were translated into the best possible English and Polish of that time. Our work must not only preserve the text it must be in clear and good form so that all might clearly understand its words and grammar.
II. Examples of translation, copying, and updating in the Scriptures – my observations:
A. The Ten Commandments –
· Was it “no other gods” (Exodus 20:3) or “none other gods” (Deut. 5:7)?
· Is it italicized or not? “any graven image, or any likeness” (no italics Ex 20:4) or “any graven image, or any likeness” (with italics Deut. 5:8)?
· Was it “beneath the earth” (Ex. 20:4) or “under the earth” (Deut. 5:8)?
· Was it “not bow down thyself unto them” (Ex. 20:5) or “not bow down thyself to them”? (Deut 5:9)?
· Comma or not? “love me, and keep” (with the comma Ex. 20:6) or “love me and keep” (without the comma Deut 5:10)
· Is it “remember the sabbath day” (Ex. 20:8) or “keep the sabbath day” (Deut. 5:12)?
· Is it “to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8) or “to sanctify it” (Deut 5:12)?
· Did God really say: “as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee” (Deut. 5:12 but not in the Exodus account) or did Moses add this for emphasis?
· Is the order of words: “shalt thou labour” (Ex. 20:9) or “thou shalt labour” (Deut 5:13)?
· What is the difference between: “nor thy cattle” (Ex 20:10) and “nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle” (Deut 5:14)? Did one version add words? Or was there a deletion?
· What is the significance of “neither”: “Thou shalt not steal” (Ex. 22:15) and “Neither shalt thou steal” (Deut. 5:19)?
· There is so much difference in the order of words in the 10th commandment that Roman Catholics have divided it into two separate commandments. (Ex. 20:17 vs Deut. 5:21).
Observations: Do both versions of the Ten Commandments preserve the text? Yes, of course. Do both versions have the same form - translated exactly the same, using the same word choices, order and grammar structure? No, of course not. Form can change and still preserve the text.
B. Translations in the Bible – word for word is desired, but not always needed.
· Jn 1:38 Rabbi, which is to say, being interpreted, Master
Word-for-word. One word in the place of one word.
· Mk 5:41 Talitha kumi which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.
Two words turn into six words? Was “I say unto thee” added in the translation because the form of the word “arise” required it? Of course one can look up the individual words in a dictionary and see that “talitha kumi” has nothing to do with “I say unto thee”. Helping the reader? Clarifying? Emphasis?
· Mk 15:34 Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
One word is translated (interpreted) into two words – “Eloi” to “My God”! Four words are translated (interpreted) into nine words!
· Mk 15:22 Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.
Again, one word turns into five words in translation.
Observations: Exact word-for-word translating is not needed in order to preserve the text.
C. Old Testament scriptures as found translated in the New Testament
· Mt 4:4 compared with Deut. 8:3 It is written! Where? Not word for word.
Tense changes: “shall not live” (Mt 4:4) verses “doth not live” (Deut. 8:3)
Word changes: “by bread alone” (Mt 4:4) verses “by bread only” (Deut. 8:3)
Italic changes: “by every word” (Mt 4:4) verses “by every word” (Deut. 8:3)
Synonyms: “mouth of God” (Mt 4:4) verses “mouth of the LORD” (Deut. 8:3)
Deletions: “doth man live” is lacking in Mt 4:4
· Mt 4:7 compared with Deut 6:16 It is written! Where? Not word for word.
Singular to plural: “Thou shalt not” verses “Ye shall not”
Archaic to Modern: “thou shalt not” verses “thou shall not”
Elevated prose to Common prose: “the Lord thy God” verses “the LORD your God”
Capitalization: “the Lord thy God” verses “the LORD your God”
· Mk 11:17 compared with Isaiah 56:7 It is written? Where exactly? Not word for word.
Archaic to Modern: “my house” verses “mine house” (This usage is archaic)
Word order that changes meaning (nuance): “shall be called of all nations the house of prayer” verses “mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people” Will all nations call it the house of prayer or is it an house of prayer for all nations?
Change of articles: “the house of prayer” vs “an house of prayer”
Word changes: “of all nations” verses “for all people”
· Lk 4:8 compared with Deut. 6:13 or Deut 10:20 It is written! But where is it exactly written?
Word changes: “Thou shalt worship” verses “Thou shalt fear”
Capitalization: “the Lord thy God” verse “the LORD thy God”
Word additions: “him only shalt thou serve” verses “him shalt thou serve”
· Gal. 4:27 compared with Is. 54:1. It is written! But where exactly word-for-word?
Word changes: “Rejoice” verses “Sing”.
Italic changes: “thou barren that bearest not” verses “thou that didst not bear
Word order and amplification:
“thou barren” verses “O barren, thou”
“that bearest not” verses “that didst not bear”
Deletion and addition:
“break forth and cry” verses “break forth into singing, and cry aloud”
“thou that travailest not” verses “thou that didst not travail with child”
Synonyms, word order, word changes:
“for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband” verses
“for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife”
Note: “the children of the desolate” becomes “the desolate…she”
“the married wife” becomes “she which hath an husband”
Observations: Translation of the exact tense, word order, word count and every nuance of the
original is not needed in order to preserve the text.
D. Copy, translational or version differences in the Gospels – It is written!
· Mt 4:4 compared with Lk 4:4
Word additions: “It is written, Man” verses “It is written, that man
Word deletions: “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God ” verses “every word of God”
· Mt 21:13 compared with Mk 11:17 and Lk 19:46 – It is written!
Tense changes: “shall be called” verses “is the house of prayer”
Word additions: “of all nations” is in Mark, but not in Matthew or Luke
· Genitive verses possessive and word choice changes: Mt 8:14 “Peter’s house”, Mk 1:29 “house of Simon”, Lk 4:28 “Simon’s house”
E. Synonyms -
· John 21:15-17 - Note how the Scriptures define different words as the same!
1st Time: Jesus: Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (Greek - agapao) thou me more than these?
Peter: Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (Greek - phileo) thee.
2nd Time: Jesus: Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (Greek - agapao) thou me?
Peter: Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (Greek – phileo) thee.
3rd Time: Jesus: Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (Greek – phileo) thou me?
Peter: Thou knowest that I love (Greek – phileo) thee.
Jesus repeated himself three times saying the same thing even though he used different words! This is a demonstration that all languages use synonyms – different words, with different nuances, but they mean the same. It also demonstrates that variety of words can be used to express the same meaning even if all the nuances of a given word aren’t carried over into the receptor language.
· Acts 2:5-11
“every man heard them speak in his own language” verses “hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?”
Observations: The text can be preserved using different words. Synonyms are a Biblical principle.
III. Translational differences – Greek to English, earlier English versions to the AV and AV revisions:
A. Greek to English - Where AV translations appear to go against the TR Greek, Spanish and
Polish Bibles and has the reading of “Modern Bibles”. (see attachment RV Bibles)
· Mk 3:21 “his friends” verses “those belonging to him”
· Mk 12:37 “common people” verses “great crowd”
· Mt 5:9 “children of God” verses “sons of God”
· Mt 5:16 “heaven” verses “heavens”
· Mt 5:34 “God’s throne” verses “throne of God”
· Mt 3:16 “lighting upon him” verses “coming upon him”
· Mt 11:14 “this is” verses “he is”
· Mt 25:26 “the dogs” verses “the little dogs”
· Mt 26:18 “at thy house” verses ‘with thee”
· Acts 19:20 “word of God” verses “word of the Lord”
· Rev 7:2 “from the east” verses “from the rising of the sun”
· Note: One English word for one Greek word, multiple English words for one Greek word, un-translated Greek words, change of tenses, plural to singular, etc.
Observations: The AV doesn’t always follow the TR exactly. AV translations match Modern Version translations in places. These facts in no way discredit the AV. It demonstrates that the same text can be translated in various ways correctly and be approved by God.
B. Earlier English versions to AV -
· Mt 2:6 “a captain” (Bishop’s, Tyndale) verses “Governor”
· Lk 2:41 “feast of Easter” (Tyndale) verses “feast of Passover”
· Lk 12:47 “his masters will” (Bishop’s, Tyndale, Geneva) verses “his lord's will”
· Jn 3:3 “born anew” (Tyndale) verses “born again”.
· Acts 12:4 “after the Passover” (Geneva) verses “after Easter”
· 1Cor 16:14 “done in love” (Tyndale, Bishop’s) verses “done with charity”
· Eph 2:22 “in the spirit” (Tyndale) “by the Spirit” (Geneva) verses “through the Spirit”
· 1Tm 3:6 “the evil speaker” (Tyndale) vs “the devil”
Observations: Exact word-for-word preservation has never been achieved in any language. Again, the form changes over time, but the text remains the same. The text can be translated in a variety of ways and still be correct.
C. Changes in the AV – (see attachment Changes in AV updated)
· Gender Changes:
“her lord” to “his lord” Gen 39:16
“there is he” to “there is she” Job 39:30
“children of Netophah” to “men of Netophah” Ezra 2:22
· Singular/plural changes:
“the fenced cities” to “the fenced city” 2Ki 18:8
· Emphasis, words added:
“keep --- my commandments” verses “keep all my commandments” Deut 5:29
”then --- Solomon” verses “then king Solomon” 1Ki 9:11
· Changes of punctuation:
“helps in governments” to “helps, governments” 1Cor 12:28
“unto God, My rock” to “unto God my rock” Ps 49:2
· Word changes:
“seek good” to “seek God” Ps 49:32
“there is no man good, but one” to “there is none good, but one” Mk 10:18
· Tense changes: “the face thereof was” to “the face thereof is” Jer 1:13
· Words deleted: “Jesus answered them ---“ to “Jesus answered them, and said” Jn 7:16
Observations: Revision involves changes – adding, deleting, expansion, emphasis, etc. Revisions should improve the form of the text. “In the form that God wants us to have” Bro. Peter S. Ruckman.
IV. Quotes concerning foreign language Bibles, translational issue, etc., from wise men:
A. Foreign language Bibles are the word of God – not just Hebrew, Greek or English –
· Not just the English:
1. “Where was the word of God before 1611? All over the ever-lovin’ blue eyed world!” He lists French Bibles Lefevre (1530), Italain Diodati (1607), Valera (1602), Visoly Polish Bible (1590)? Biblical Scholarship, 1999 Reprint, Peter S. Ruckman, pg 150.
2. “Where was the Bible before 1611? All over the cotton pickin’ continent!” He lists Luther,
Holland (1523), Denmark (1524), Iceland (1540), Yugoslavia (1584) Croatia (1562), Poland
(1551) [John Seklucyan, a personal friend of Luther, NT only], Finland (1548), Ibid pg 149
· Not just the Original languages:
1. Separate, but equal authority
“A university man met Bunyan on the road near Cambridge. Said he to Bunyan, “How dare you preach, not having the original Scriptures?” “Do you have them – the copies written by the apostles and prophets?” asked Bunyan. “No,” replied the scholar. “But I have what I believe to be a true copy of the original.” “And I,” said Bunyan, “believe the English Bible to be a true copy, too.”
John Bunyan The Immortal Dreamer, by W. Burgess McCreary, 1928, pg. 38.
2. The TR Text was translated – albeit differently, yet all are the word of God
“The Textus Receptus, from which it [AV] came, was being read in more than four hundred languages before the ASV of 1901 came out, and it stood through the Philadelphia church period (1500-1900) pointing more than forty million Europeans, Africans, Americans, and Asiatics to Jesus Christ:”
The Scholarhsip Only Controversy, 1996, Dr. Peter S. Ruckman, pg. 72
3. The TR text is the issue not the form (translation)
“…he simply avoided every verse in the New Testament that dealt with the real debate. The
following checklist gives the essential verses…the debatable issues are found in the following
verses: Mt 1:25, 5:22, 6:13, 12:6, 12:42, Mk 9:46, Lk 2:33, 23:42, Mk 9:46, Lk 2:33, 23:42,
24:51-52, John 1:18, 3:13, 8:9, 9:35, Acts 1:3, 4:27, 20:28, Romans 1:18, 1:25, 8:1, 9:5, 1Cor
5:7, 2Cor 2:17, Gal 3:1, Eph 1:6, Col 1:14, 1Tim 3:16, 6:5, 6:10, 6:20, 2Tim 2:15, 2 Tim 3:3,
Rev 22:14. Now that is the checklist by which any child with a grade school education can
judge the ‘Biblical Scholarship’ of any degree in any century.”
Biblical Scholarship, 1999 Reprint, Peter S. Ruckman, pg 87.
“What do you suppose will happen with a switch of Biblical texts, after one thousand years of old Jerome’s African Vulgate from Alexandria in Egypt? Every nation that adopted the Receptus translations and obeyed the missionary commission given therein rose to the top of the pile, and every nation that stuck with the Jerome’s African ‘Bible’ from Alexandria ‘hit the skids’.” Talking about the Textus Receptus printed in various editions Colinaeus 1534, Erasmus 1516-1527, Stephanus 1546, Beza 1598, Elzevir 1633
Biblical Scholarship, 1999 Reprint, Peter S. Ruckman, pg 141
“It is the God-honored Greek text preserved through Erasmus, Colineaus, Beza, Elzevir and Stephanus, and the God-honored English text as found in Tyndale (1525), the Geneva Bible (1562), and in the King James 1611 Authorized Version.”
The History of the New Testament Church, Volume 1, Dr. Peter S. Ruckman, pg 40.
4. In the form that God wants us to have
“Now, we would not think of defending the Authorized Version (any edition) as the word of God, containing the words God wants us to have…”
Biblical Scholarship, 1999 Reprint, Peter S. Ruckman, pg 43.
“We refer to the AV as The Holy Bible, inerrant and infallible, preserved by the grace of God in our language, with the words that God wants us to have. That is our position…When we point out that word-for-word preservation is not necessary, they will cry ‘heresy!’ and in the same breath admit that no translation can be ‘word-for-word.”
Pastoral Epistles, 1989, Peter S. Ruckman, pg 270-271
Notice: Bro. Ruckman isn’t saying “all the original words are preserved”, but rather “the words God wants us to have” are preserved. This is a constant refrain of Ruckman’s. “the words that God wants us to have”. It isn’t a preservation of exact words, exact word order, exact sentence structure, nor exact grammar – but rather the recognition of what God gave us (English speakers) or gave Polish, Spanish, Russian, German, etc. speakers.
· For the Common Man - Plain clear, understandable
“How shall men meditate in that, which they cannot understand? How shall they understand that which is kept close in an unknown tongue?”
Translators to the Reader, the Preface to the Authorized Version (1611)
“…get the word of God out to the common man which was the motive of the AV translators…” The Bible Babel, Peter S. Ruckman, Revised 1981, pg. 9
“In order to know what God required, it was necessary to have the Word of God in the language a person could understand. Because of this Wyclif determined that the Scriptures had to be translated into the English language.”
1. Scriptures should be plainly written, understandable
“I had perceaved by experyence how that it was impossible to stablysh the laye people in any truth, excepte the scripture were playnly layde before their eyes in their mother tongue.” —William Tyndale.
“An other things we think good to admonish thee of (gentle Reader) that we have not tied ourselves to an uniformity of phrasing, or to an identity of words, as some peradventure would wish that we had done, because they observe, that some learned men somewhere, have been as exact as they could that way. Truly, that we might not vary from the sense of that which we had translated before, if the word signified that same in both places (for there be some words that be not the same sense everywhere) we were especially careful, and made a conscience, according to our duty. But, that we should express the same notion in the same particular word; as for example, if we translate the Hebrew or Greek word once by PURPOSE, never to call it INTENT; if one where JOURNEYING, never TRAVELLING; if one where THINK, never SUPPOSE; if one where PAIN, never ACHE; if one where JOY, never GLADNESS, &c. Thus to mince the matter, we thought to savour more of curiosity than wisdom, and that rather it would breed scorn in the Atheist, than bring profit to the godly Reader. For is the kingdom of God to become words or syllables? why should we be in bondage to them if we may be free, use one precisely when we may use another no less fit, as commodiously? … also that we cannot follow a better pattern for elocution than God himself; therefore he using divers words, in his holy writ, and indifferently for one thing in nature: (see Euseb. li.12. ex Platon.) we, if we will not be superstitious, may use the same liberty in our English versions out of Hebrew and Greek, for that copy or store that he hath given us. Lastly, we have on the one side avoided the scrupulosity of the Puritans, who leave the old Ecclesiastical words, and betake them to other, as when they put WASHING for BAPTISM, and CONGREGATION instead of CHURCH: as also on the other side we have shunned the obscurity of the Papists, in their AZIMES, TUNIKE, RATIONAL, HOLOCAUSTS, PRAEPUCE, PASCHE, and a number of such like, whereof their late Translation is full, and that of purpose to darken the sense, that since they must needs translate the Bible, yet by the language thereof, it may be kept from being understood. But we desire that the Scripture may speak like itself, as in the language of Canaan, that it may be understood even of the very vulgar.”
Translators to the Reader, the Preface to the Authorized Version (1611)
“It is difficult, amid the proliferation; to comprehend a time when translating the Scriptures into English could be fatal. Such was the case for William Tyndale (ca. 1494-1536), English reformer, Catholic priest, and scholar. Professing the desire to "cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scriptures" than the poorly educated clergy, he defied the church and put the Bible into everyday English. His achievement was twofold: He translated from the original Greek, bypassing the church-sanctioned Latin Vulgate. And he printed his Bibles pocket-sized so that they would be less expensive and more widely available. Arrested and imprisoned outside of Brussels in 1535, he was executed as a heretic in 1536.” http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1252/is_n7_v124/ai_19455388
“Now, beloved, unless we understand what we read we have not read it; the heart of the reading is absent. We commonly condemn the Romanists for keeping the daily service in the Latin tongue; yet it might as well be in the Latin language as in any other tongue if it be not understood by the people. Some comfort themselves with the idea that they have done a good action when they have read a chapter, into the meaning of which they have not entered at all; but does not nature herself reject this as a mere superstition? If you had turned the book upside down, and spent the same times in looking at the characters in that direction, you would have gained as much good from it as you will in reading it in the regular way without understanding it. If you had a New Testament in Greek it would be very Greek to some of you, but it would do you as much good to look at that as it does to look at the English New Testament unless you read with understanding heart. It is not the letter which saves the soul; the letter killeth many senses, and never can it give life. If you harp on the letter alone you may be tempted to use it as a weapon against the truth, as the Pharisees did of old, and your knowledge of the letter may breed pride in you to your destruction. It is the spirit, the real inner meaning, that is sucked into the soul, by which we are blessed and sanctified. We become saturated with the Word of God, like Gideon’s fleece, which was wet with the dew of heaven; and this can only come to pass by our receiving it into our minds and hearts, accepting it as God’s truth, and so far understanding it as to delight in it. We must understand it, then, or else we have not read it aright.”
Charles Spurgeon, How to read the Bible, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/sermons25.iv.html
2. It should be in good Polish (or whatever language it is translated into)
“Roland Bainton has rightly said that nearly every German will own up to the fact the translation by Luther is good German because ‘that is the way in which any German would speak,’ when the truth of the matter is that nearly every German – Catholics included – has been reared on Luther’s German version of the Bible. They speak the way they speak because their language was given to them by Martin Luther. ‘Hoch Deutsch’ is the German of Martin Luther, and he put into his Bible by rambling around the fishing docks, the market places, the street corners, and the shops, picking up the expressions of his own people. When he was criticized for being so course and common in his approach, one of his followers told the Catholics that they were a bunch of subtle fools for not knowing that wives, maidens, maids, students, handworkers, tailors, bakers, shoemakers, and knights were getting to know the Bible better than all the professors in the Catholic schools of Paris and Cologne and all of the Papists in the world.”
The History of The New Testament Church Volume I, Peter S. Ruckman, 1982, pg 360.
“For you and our people, however, I shall show why I used the [German equivalent of the] word sola — even though in Romans 3 it was not [the equivalent of] sola I used but solum or tantum. That is how closely those donkeys have looked at my text! Nevertheless I have used sola fides elsewhere; I want to use both solum and sola. I have always tried to translate in a pure and clear German. It has often happened that for three or four weeks we have searched and inquired about a single word, and sometimes we have not found it even then. In translating the book of Job, Master Philip, Aurogallus and I have taken such pains that we have sometimes scarcely translated three lines in four days. Now that it has been translated into German and completed, all can read and criticize it. The reader can now run his eyes over three or four pages without stumbling once, never knowing what rocks and clods had once lain where he now travels as over a smoothly-planed board. We had to sweat and toil there before we got those boulders and clods out of the way, so that one could go along so nicely. The plowing goes well in a field that has been cleared. But nobody wants the task of digging out the rocks and stumps [Ed. AMEN!]. There is no such thing as earning the world's thanks. Even God himself cannot earn thanks, not with the sun, nor with heaven and earth, nor even the death of his Son. The world simply is and remains as it is, in the devil's name, because it will not be anything else.
I know very well that in Romans 3 the word solum is not in the Greek or Latin text — the papists did not have to teach me that. It is fact that the letters s-o-l-a are not there. And these blockheads stare at them like cows at a new gate, while at the same time they do not recognize that it conveys the sense of the text -- if the translation is to be clear and vigorous [klar und gewaltiglich], it belongs there. I wanted to speak German, not Latin or Greek, since it was German I had set about to speak in the translation. But it is the nature of our language that in speaking about two things, one which is affirmed, the other denied, we use the word allein [only] along with the word nicht [not] or kein [no]. For example, we say "the farmer brings allein grain and kein money"; or "No, I really have nicht money, but allein grain"; I have allein eaten and nicht yet drunk"; "Did you write it allein and nicht read it over?" There are countless cases like this in daily usage.”
Principles of translation/updating summarized:
Our work when concluded should preserve the underlying text of the Gdańsk Bible. We must preserve the sense of the text where exact literalness is not possible. It’s form (translation) should be in the best possible Polish meeting the highest standards. It should be made so that the common man can read it easily – not in gutter language, nor in scholastic language – but in a language that the average Pole can understand effortlessly. Not too easy for the scholar and not too hard for the farmer. It should be clear, recognizable and read without difficulty. It should be good Polish in the form that Poles would speak using common familiar expressions while retaining the underlying text. We should not get bogged down over choices of words when several different words fit commodiously. Not every word change will carry over all the nuances of the old word, but the word choices should have the same principle meaning of the original word. Changes in tense, word order, use of plurals/singulars, punctuation changes, italics, synonyms, adding and deleting of words were all used by genuine translations and updates throughout history. Of course we should not carelessly make any of these types of changes just for change sake. At the same time we should not allow the fear of these types of changes prevent us for presenting the word of God in the best possible Polish. Doing the best we can with the abilities that God gave us at this time in history we take to heart the words of the AV translators:
“As the King’s speech, which he utters in Parliament, being translated into French, Dutch, Italian, and Latin, is still the King’s speech, though it be not interpreted by every Translator with the like grace, nor peradventure so fitly for phrase, nor so expressly for sense, everywhere. For it is confessed, that things are to take their denomination of the greater part; and a natural man could say, Verum ubi multa nitent in carmine, non ego paucis offendor maculis, &c. (horace.) A man may be counted a virtuous man, though he have made many slips in his life, (else, there were none virtuous, for in many things we offend all) (#Jas 3:2) also a comely man and lovely, though he have some warts upon his hand, yea, not only freckles upon his face, but also scars. No cause therefore why the word translated should be denied to be the word, or forbidden to be current, notwithstanding that some imperfections and blemishes may be noted in the setting forth of it.”
As way of example - We have had many brothers and sisters translate for visiting American pastors and speakers. Every translator translated the words and messages correctly – but not every translation was done “with like grace”. Obviously, some translators had a better command of the Polish and English languages than their counterparts. All the translations were genuine, valid and correct – not to be disputed against. And so it is with our update. We may not reach the beauty and grace of the German and English translations, but this work will none-the-less be the word of God. We do the best we can and commit our cause into the hands of God.
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 Library.
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”.
Observations: These goals and guidelines were clearly stated and sent to everyone when we first encountered opposition to this project. The Gospel of John/Romans contains a brief statement concerning these guidelines. Guidelines are just that – guidelines. We do our best to follow them, but there will always be exceptions – What to do when TR Bibles are split down the middle? What to do when all Bibles everywhere have something different? What happens when archaic words combined together make up a common phrase? When do we standardize word choices and when don’t we? What happens when there are different interpretations of a verse (word, phrase) and word choice will force one interpretation or another? Tough decisions have to be made. Not everyone is going to be happy no matter what choice we make.
Positive Comments about the Bible Project:
Negative Comments and Objections:
Summary and comments:
There is consensus among all the disputing parties – Americans and Poles – that the Gdańsk Bible is hopelessly outdated. No one is for giving up on the project altogether. The dispute is how to move forward (or backward depending on one’s viewpoint).
Let it also be understood that none of the complaints raised against our work change the text of Textus Receptus base of the Gdańsk Bible. That is, in the 200 places listed in Jasper James Ray’s God Wrote Only One Book, our update has no differences! (See chart enclosed). None of the changes about word choices actually change the meaning of the text! The complaints are over translational choices. Remember, the principle complaint is that we have changed words or phrases that “don’t need to be changed”. I’ll give a few examples here:
I. Types of complaints against the particulars of the update
You can only imagine the number of “leaves” these types of changes add to the tree. Of course, all of the archaic forms and grammar structures can “be understood” today. On the other hand, none of our changes change the meaning and it is proper Polish. Remember our stated primary goal was to update the archaic grammar and vocabulary of the Gdańsk Polish Bible of 1632 to modern Polish grammar and vocabulary. The most complicated of the problems listed above is what to do when “archaic grammar structures” are now commonly used because of religious tradition – the Model Prayer (Lord’s Prayer) is such a case. Every Roman Catholic today prays: “Father our” instead of “Our Father”. The modern Roman Catholic and Protestant Bibles all keep the word order (Father our) at the beginning of the prayer but later make word order changes in the same prayer! Like I said, this becomes a complicated problem. Saying: “Father our” would be within in our guidelines as an exception to the rule. A rare exception. Note once again that this is not a “textual problem” it is a translational problem. The meaning has not changed!
II. The next order of complaints are once again translational problems and not textual. Notice:
Again these types of changes are not textual, but rather translational. The meaning has not changed. Some of these types of changes are required because the previous verb requires a certain noun, some of the above types of changes are just the way Poles say it “inaczej jak tylko” for example. In the above types of changes most Poles will say the Gdańsk has to be changed, but trying to get them to all agree exactly how or to what word choices should be is very problematic. We listened to various opinions and made the best choice we could, based on the arguments and suggestions given.
III. The next category of complaints are more American English Only type problems. Notice:
I personally understand how American King James Only brothers, who have fought off Textual Critics claiming that the AV is in error because it uses words such as “devils”, “charity”, “Easter” etc. could be taken aback by a Polish version that uses “demons”, “love” and “Passover”. These words are synonyms in English and are not wrong as Textual Critics wrongly claim, they may be archaic, but they are not wrong. In Polish, various problems arise, for example, the plural for “devil” – “devils” does not necessarily mean more than one devil. It means many times “devilish”, “hell”, “gangbusters”. In other words the word “diabli” (devils) in Polish presents unforeseen problems. The fact that other TR foreign language Bibles such as the Spanish Reina Valera 1909 use the word “demons” showed us that there was no point in fighting over these types of changes. These types of changes were in accordance with our stated goals. And once again, the changes do not change the meaning. I know some American brothers who have gone to great lengths in trying to defend the English word Easter in Acts 12:4. They have argued over the etymology, a Latin quote by the English monk Bede in the eighth century or even conjectured that Easter is advanced revelation for English speakers. Although some of their arguments are interesting they carry little to no weight in Polish. Frankly, in my opinion, Easter is an old word that means Passover. But that is neither here nor there. “Wielkanoc” means Easter but literally translated would be “Great Night” and as such has direct etymology back to Passover and not to Ishtar and Eostre. Once again, other TR foreign language Bibles such as the Spanish Reina Valera 1909 have the word “Passover”. How to convince Poles that “wielkanoc” should be changed to “passover” in every place except in Acts 12:4 is impossible and in my opinion based on mistaken presumptions about the English word Easter. It must be remembered that the language of the Gdańsk Bible falls somewhere in between the Wycliffe and Tyndale English Bibles. With that in mind many of the above problems should be resolved.
IV. The complaints about italics fall into the following categories:
· You are adding to the word of God, because in the future believers are going to take those words as the very word of God
· You are inserting your opinion into the text of the word of God
· You are helping the reader too much
· They are not needed
Let it first be noted that many complaints were easily explained by the fact that the original typeset Gdańsk Bible of 1632 already had italics! In other words, the later typesetters failed to keep the italics, therefore, we either deleted those words or italicized them as needed. Let it also be noted that our working printed edition (not completed as of yet) was printed by Joe in a hurry and did not have any italics at all thus provoking some accusations of “adding to the word of God”. Once these matters were clarified it severely dampened the accusation that we have “added to the word of God”. We are open to any suggestions and have made corrections where needed concerning italics. But to assert that adding italics is adding to the word of God is absurd in light of the fact that all translations use italics including the AV. Our rules for italics have been clearly spelled out and they are in line with all genuine translating principles. That is not to say that in any given place an italicized word or words is not needed. That was the purpose of printing out the working copy so that we could get valid suggestions. We have already made changes in places where needed and will continue to do so as best we can. Examples:
This is a fair representation of the types of italicized words that we have added or subtracted. They all fall within our stated goals and guidelines. The last two places are obvious places that we seek various opinions from everyone. There is no way that we are going to please every one and we surely aren’t adding words just to be adding words.
V. The last category of complaints are probably the most problematic for everyone involved including our team. Notice:
VI. General Objections –
Answer: That would apply to any word change in any translation in history including the AV. Going from Greek to English you lose cross-references. Going from Wycliffe-Tyndale-Bishop’s-AV you lose cross-references. In each revision of the AV itself you lose cross-references. The argument has no basis. By the way, the argument can be flipped on its head: You gain cross-references!
Answer: Granted the Bible does explain God’s word, but it is not a dictionary. If we want to know what God has to say about faith, for example, we can read the Bible and the Bible will define God’s opinion about faith and its importance despite a given dictionary definition. However, the Bible is not a self-defining dictionary. If it defines itself there would never be a need to translate or update any word, ever. There are innumerable places in the Scriptures where a word is used only once – how does the Bible define itself in those places? If the Bible defines itself as suggested why does everyone agree that “archaic words” need to be updated? Why should the Greek and Hebrew be translated into other languages if the Bible is a self-defining dictionary? If the Bible really defines itself as implied, we’ll leave the archaic “bears cubs” in place of “scorpions”. Ah, but archaic words need to be updated – Why, I ask, if the Bible defines itself and we shouldn’t change the words?
Answer: Why translate at all? Put a dictionary in the back. Why update at all? Put a dictionary in the back. For that matter put an explanation of archaic grammar structures in the back. If you have the words to define a word then you have the words to use. The AV translators used multiple words to translate one Greek word. And their work isn’t accused of being an “Amplified Bible”. If you can define it in a dictionary you can define it with words in the text. Marginal notes will help of course, as well as a dictionary, but neither should be used as an excuse to avoid difficult translational decisions. [Not sure why anyone would suggest this after arguing “the Bible defines itself” – but that’s the way the wind blows I guess.]
1) The author meant to say: The word of God in English is the final authority for the last times. I disagree with both statements. First, languages are never God’s authority. Not the Hebrew language, not the Greek language and definitely not the English language. Secondly, God’s word is the final authority no matter what language it is in. The King’s speech is still the King’s speech even when it is not translated with like grace into different languages. See my statements earlier. There is absolutely no Scriptural support for such a statement: a given language is God’s final authority. By the way, we were not commissioned to translate the English AV into Polish, but rather to update the archaic words and grammar structures in the Gdańsk Bible putting them into modern understandable Polish.
2) If “English is God’s final authority” no matter what the Bible Project Team does it will never be “quite up to the English” – so, what is the point? If only the English is “God’s preserved and perfect word” then one can use our updated Gdańsk Bible just as easily as one can use the old archaic Gdańsk Bible – in fact our update will be easier to use for both English speakers and Polish speakers. I know this presents a dilemma for some English Only and AV Bible believers: Why the thought of using a Bible they don’t believe!
3) Please excuse me while I make a very important translator’s point. In the statement: The English is God’s final authority for the last times; the phrase “the English” in context is correctly translated (interpreted): The word of God in English… depending on the context. Adding the words word of God in would not be an addition to the text, but it would be a change in the form (translation). Depending on the context, neither would changing the word order and adding the word language (as in The English language…) be an addition to the text. It would be a change in the form (translation), but not the text. We are trying to preserve the text – not the form of the Gdańsk Bible. The form (translation, grammar, vocabulary) is archaic and is misunderstood. Changing any word would change the form. REMEMBER: The Bible debate is principally over the text not the form and only in rare cases over form (translation). “Young woman” in place of “virgin” would be an example of the latter. See points under The Real Debate later.
Answer: That really sounds like a great idea until one faces the practical aspect of trying to apply this rule to updating or translating. The suggestion is fraught with difficulties! Who decides what are Bible words? Are those all the words in the Bible? How does that work then? Are they idioms found in the Bible and used by the populace? What happens when the idioms have completely different meanings to the populace – some quite derogatory? What is the criteria to make such a judgment? Does the author mean: Ecclesiastic words such as Church, Baptism, Bishops, etc.? Is the idea: Keep the Polish “Father our” instead of “Our Father”? Does the author mean Polish Bible words and idioms or did he mean retain American “Bible words”? I suspect the latter.
Answer: I sure hope not and pray to God that it isn’t so! May God have mercy upon us if somehow we do. However, let it be noted that the accusation is based on a false premise that word count differences between original documents and a translation constitute adding and deleting from the word of God. Or that word count is the exclusive criteria in determining if something has been added or deleted from the word of God.
1) Moses did not add unto nor take away from the word of God when he gave us two DIFFERENT versions of the Ten Commandments – containing additions and deletions. Israel had the finger written copy of the Ten Commandments written by God Himself and could make diligent comparison of God’s original finger written copy with Moses’ copy/translation and note differences – deletions and additions. There must have been differences for the two extant accounts we have are not the same. Did the Prophets add to the word of God when they gave us Isaiah through Malachi? After all, the people of God only had the law of Moses up to that time. Did the Apostles add the Gospels and New Testament to the word of God – the Old Testament at that time? Did John take away from the word of God because he didn’t include all the information that Matthew, Mark and Luke had in their Gospels? All of these examples prove that the accusation is false and groundless. God allows genuine additions and deletions of His written word. Defining “genuine” will not be made in this answer, but needless to say it is NOT based on comparison of originals drafts with copies, nor copies with translations or word counts, etc. If that were the criteria, all of the above people would be guilty of adding and taking away from the word of God.
2) No sincere translator in history gives a word-for-word translation. There are always additions and deletions based exclusively on word count. I can compare and count Greek words and note that the AV translators added and deleted words. This does not mean that they added or took away from the word of God.
3) Those making such accusations never apply the same criteria to the Bible that they believe is the word God. How did their Bible get to this present time in history without some type of adding and deleting? They never explain. Some additions and deletions are valid and some are not! The TEXTUAL DEBATE is over recognition of validity of translations not over word counts – despite some Original Only and English Only groups objections to the contrary.
“Now get this straight. No class of intellectual ‘think tanks’ is able to decide the canon of the New Testament, the authorship of the New Testament, or the correct ‘readings’ in the New Testament. In the New Testament, God left those matters up to the Body of Christ: every member of which is a ‘PRIEST.’ If the Body decided that the King James Bible was ‘the Scripture’ in English, to be believed (not just ‘used’), their word would settle the matter.” The Scholarship Only Controversy, Dr. Peter S. Ruckman, 1996, pg. 142-143.
“You are to believe that these genuine marks of genuine revision, which the Third Person of the Godhead allowed to take place, and then honored the revision without a letup through 300 years, are to be compared with the ghastly perversions of the text done in 1884...”, Differences in the King James Version Editions, reprint 1994, pg. 10, Dr. Peter S. Ruckman
The same applies in Poland: If the body of priests in the Polish Church of God decide that this update is the “the Scripture” in Polish, to be believed (not just “used”), their word would settle the matter – despite accusations of adding and deleting.
Answer: If I understand the objection correctly, the idea is: If the believers in the local churches can understand the grammar and vocabulary of the Bible then that is sufficient. The general populace (the world) doesn’t need to understand the grammar and vocabulary because the word of God was given to believers not to unbelievers. Hence, if we can figure it out – we are the church – the world doesn’t need to figure it out because it wasn’t given to them.
1) The word of God was indeed given to the Church of God as a whole and the Church is given the task of recognizing the Canon and genuine translations as the Standard for the Church.
“That the man of God may be perfect” 1Tm 3:17
2) The word of God is given to the world (populace) so that they might know Christ – therefore they need to be able to understand the words and grammar structures. The Reformers and early Bible Translators all recognized this.
“The holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation” 1Tm 3:15
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” Ro 10:17
The Parable of the sower demonstrates that the word of God is given (sown) unto the world
so that they may receive it and believe it. Archaisms and outdated grammar structures should
not be the impediment of unbelievers understanding the word of God.
Answer: Sure He does in historical context. How is that the word “seer” is only used in Samuel, Chronicles and Amos, but NOT in Kings, never in the books leading up to Samuel and Chronicles and only in Amos after the Chronicles? The plural form, “seers”, is used only once in 2 Kings, twice in 2 Chronicles and Isaiah and once in Micah. That is some form of the archaic word “seer” was used only 26 times in the entire Scriptures – and that only at a given time in history (historical setting). Were the other writers out of sync with God’s preservation of “archaic words”? I trow not. If anything, this demonstrates why archaic words need to be updated and modern equivalents are not wrong – after all the word prophet and prophets was used 454 times throughout the entire Bible. Is the point that we should use archaic words 7% of the time in 1 Samuel to 2 Chronicles, but never in the New Testament? Of course not. If anything, God was showing us that the use of synonyms is CORRECT and that the meaning of words change over time!
Answer: When reading KJV Only literature one would do well to Prove all things; hold fast that which is good 1Th 5:21. In my opinion, many KJV Only writers misinterpret Ps 12:6 - they think that God’s word (words) gradually got “purer” over time until they finally became absolutely “pure” in the English AV 1611. You will see this in various ways in their literature: 1. Original Hebrew 2. Original Aramaic 3. Original Greek 4. Old Syriac 5. Old Latin 6. Luther’s German 7. English AV. Sometimes you will see some English order of “purification”: 1. Wycliffe 2. Tyndale 3. Coverdale 4. Matthew 5. Bishop 6. Geneva 7. AV. As if the original Hebrew wasn’t completely “pure”, but had to be purified until it finally came out “perfect” in 1611 (but not quite because the AV was revised itself several times). These guys (including Bro. Ruckman) are nuts on this point. “I say that reverently and with much charity of course!” The word of God by its very nature IS PURE! It is as pure as silver tried 7 times! How pure is the word of God? Why it is AS pure as silver tried seven times. The word of God isn’t “purified seven times” it is PURE by definition - Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him Pr 30:5. The words of the LORD are pure they don’t become pure.
Answer: We are not changing God’s word. We are putting the word of God into modern form. The text remains the same. If what we are doing is changing God’s word – then what was the above point about “purifying God’s word”? Wasn’t the purifying going on in the above example from 1-7 making changes? How does one get from the word of God in Hebrew (that generation) to the word of God in English (our generation) without making changes? How does the pure word of God make the jump from Hebrew through Aramaic, Greek, Syriac, Latin and German to English without changing exact words, word order, and nuances of words? The fact that one is in the Hebrew language and the other is the English language demonstrates a change – the language changed! So, the word of God wasn’t preserved in form (language/translation) it was preserved in the text! People that make these types of accusations are blissfully or willfully ignorant of ALL THE CHANGES made from Hebrew to English, ALL THE CHANGES made from the Wycliffe to the AV and ALL THE CHANGES in the AV itself over time. Where was the preserved word of God before 1611? According to Ps 12:6 it must be preserved from this generation for ever . “All over the ever-lovin’ blue eyed world!” was Bro. Ruckman’s response. If that be the case the AV translators “must have changed the word of God” because I can’t find one Bible listed as the word of God in English, or in a foreign language, that doesn’t have differences - changes. Remember: God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets – the form changes (divers manners), but the text (God spoke) remains the same. I have given more than enough examples to prove this point.
Answer: I should ignore this as an emotional response in the heat of debate, but I suppose this objection must be answered as well. The accusation is based on the fact that this update matches words, phrases and sentences as found in Modern Polish Versions. This supposedly proves plagiarism. It is also based on the fact that the girls on the team “cut and paste” words, phrases and sentences as found in other Polish Versions (and dictionaries I might add!) and placed it into their work.
1) No one is claiming original authorship of “the word of God” – this is an update of the word of God.
2) I have read that the AV is 75% Tyndale – word for word. Does that prove plagiarism? Were the AV translators plagiarists? No, of course not. Granted they didn’t “cut and paste” they “dipped and copied” due to lack of computers. Their work where it matches the Tyndale and the Bishop’s Bible – “must be plagiarism”. Wow – the AV matches the Geneva in places as well as the NIV! What to do? Accuse the translators of plagiarism?
3) Do the accusers really believe that a work such as this can be done without reference to other works? If the accusers are really worried about credit given to those who deserve it – we take no credit whatsoever! Let God get all the credit. Secondly, we noted in our guidelines that we would make reference to ALL WORKS available. Our accusers don’t really begrudge our workers for saving time by cutting and pasting from dictionaries, encyclopedias or even other Bibles if those are the words, phrases or sentences that we are going to use, do they? Wow, we copied the entire Gdansk Bible into computer format “cutting and pasting” along the way – is that plagiarism? Of course not.
Answer: Emotions do fly in the heat of battle don’t they. I’ll let God decide that at the judgment.
VII. The Real Debate
In my opinion the Bible debate has gotten so hot and furious that proponents on both sides have lost sight of the real debate and are now more interested in humbling their opponents than actually understanding and working out the real problem. The real debate is over the text and not over the form (translation). Before 1881 with the advent of Wescott and Hort’s Greek Text and translation of the English Revised Version one could travel the world over and find two types of Bibles – a Protestant Reformation type Bible (based on the Received Text) and a Roman Catholic Bible (based on the Latin Vulgate). Missionaries were not traveling around the world correcting Protestant Reformation Bibles (Received Text) with the English. Every Church residing in the bounds of their habitation (Acts 17:26) recognized their God given Standard in the form that God wanted them to have (Ruckman). Differences in Received Text Bibles were recognized as legitimate variations of the correct text. Just as there are variations in the Gospel accounts, variations in the two lists of the Ten Commandments and variations in New Testament quotes of the Old Testament. These variations constituted differences in form (translation, word count, word order, synonyms, etc.) not in text and were not considered errors, nor adding/deleting from the text.
“To these men, “variations” constitute contradiction and error, except where they are recommending corrupt translations that vary from the right line [text] of Bibles in more than 36,000 places”.
Differences in the King James Version Editions, reprint 1994, pg.11, Dr. Peter S. Ruckman
“Further, these incredible oafs have tried to make the believer think that genuine improvements in an established text in a translation (that the Holy Spirit never ceased to HONOR once it was in print) justify the alteration of 36,000 words in that translation to match the RSV and NRSV...”
Differences in the King James Version Editions, reprint 1994, pg. 1, Dr. Peter S. Ruckman
“You are to believe that these genuine marks of genuine revision, which the Third Person of the Godhead allowed to take place, and then honored the revision without a letup through 300 years, are to be compared with the ghastly perversions of the text done in 1884...”,
Differences in the King James Version Editions, reprint 1994, pg. 10, Dr. Peter S. Ruckman
“...we have before us genuine updating and genuine revision, in line with the Holy Spirit’s purpose of preserving and giving to us the words he intends for us to have.
Differences in the King James Version Editions, reprint 1994, pg. 19, Dr. Peter S. Ruckman
On the other hand Bible believers have recognized that the Wescott and Hort Greek Text (and by extension the Neste’s Greek Text) and the English Revised Version of 1885 (and by extension all Modern Versions) were not genuine revisions, but an unabashed rejection of the Received Text.
After 1885 the Church of God was DIVIDED, not by those holding to the Received Text – manifested in various forms - English, Spanish, German, Polish, etc. - but by those who deliberately chose to divorce, desert and supplant [their words!] the Received Text.
It was the Textual Critics who preferred to maintain an independent spirit (choosing to break away from the consensus!) and question the authority of the Received Text. These innovators considered the word of God - the Received Text - to be vile and corrupt. Because of this they schemed day and night to demolish the unworthy and pedantic reverence for the Received Text. They deliberately and viciously worked to overthrow God's word - the Received Text. When their manufactured Greek Text was rejected they pushed forward. When their English Revised Version 1881 was REJECTED they pushed onward. When the American Standard Version 1901 was rejected they ventured forward. They fought on, scheming, supplanting and overthrowing little by little. Not content with an attack on the English Authorized Version they moved out into other countries undermining the faith in God's word - the Received Text - in every language group their scheming hands could touch! Alas, today the Church is divided on every side. The schemers were so effective in their efforts to divorce themselves from God's word - the Received Text - that they stand in a house divided against themselves! They cannot even get a consensus among themselves anymore.
Now, if you think the above paragraph too harsh, let the reader peruse The Text of the New Testament its Transmission Corruption, and Restoration, by Bruce M. Metzger. pages 95 -146 and see for himself the hateful attitude Textual Critics have had toward God's word - the Received Text - for the past 200 years!
Brent Riggs in an E-mail debate with Textual Critics attacking Received Text Bibles.
“The right Greek text (the Receptus)”
Differences in the King James Version Editions, reprint 1994, pg. 6, Dr. Peter S. Ruckman
This righteous debate over the God given text has turned into a Friday night Big Time Wrestling match with everyone from every quarter zealously affected, but not well. Failure to recognize legitimate variations (differences) has added fuel to an already raging debate. “Things different are not the same” is the battle cry of these new zealots. Off they go to battle comparing the current edition of the English Authorized Version (1769) with any and all versions (valid or invalid) meticulously noting differences – word count, word order, spelling, etc. Ah, they exclaim “Savior” is an error because it must be “Saviour”, “God’s word” cannot be “word of God”, “no” cannot be “none”, “all nations” cannot be “all people”, “heaven” cannot be “heavens”, “charity” cannot be “love”; after all, Jesus said: Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Blissfully ignorant of the fact that the two lists of the Ten Commandments have differences, the Gospel accounts have differences, and quotes of the Old Testament as found in the New Testament have differences. But on they charge mocking: “her” cannot be “his”, “he” cannot be “she” “children” cannot be “men” and “no man” cannot be “none good”, after all, God has promised to preserve his word from this generation for ever. Blissfully unaware of the fact that earlier versions of the AV had differences. Not to be deterred they march on slaying everything in their path: “a captain” cannot be “a Governor”, “anew” cannot be “again”, “in the spirit” cannot be “through the Spirit”, “Easter” cannot be “Passover”, and one cannot ever “add and delete” words, after all, God said, Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. Oblivious to the fact that the good line of Bibles (TR) had differences - having changed, added and deleted words. These zealots have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge and are so very much unlike the wise AV translators who said:
“Do we condemn the ancient? In no case: but after the endeavours of them that were before us, we take the best pains we can in the house of God. As if he said, Being provoked by the example of the learned men that lived before my time, I have thought it my duty, to assay whether my talent in the knowledge of the tongues, may be profitable in any measure to God’s Church, lest I should seem to laboured in them in vain, and lest I should be thought to glory in men, (although ancient,) above that which was in them…And to the same effect say we, that we are so far off from condemning any of their labours that travailed before us in this kind, either in this land or beyond sea, either in King Henry’s time, or King Edward’s (if there were any translation, or correction of a translation in his time) or Queen Elizabeth’s of ever renowned memory, that we acknowledge them to have been raised up of God, for the building and furnishing of his Church, and that they deserve to be had of us and of posterity in everlasting remembrance…Therefore let no man’s eye be evil, because his Majesty’s is good; neither let any be grieved, that we have a Prince that seeks the increase of the spiritual wealth of Israel (let Sanballats and Tobiahs do so, which therefore do bear their just reproof) but let us rather bless God from the ground of our heart, for working this religious care in him, to have the translations of the Bible maturely considered of and examined. For by this means it comes to pass, that whatsoever is sound already (and all is sound for substance, in one or other of our editions, and the worst of ours far better than their authentic vulgar) the same will shine as gold more brightly, being rubbed and polished; also, if anything be halting, or superfluous, or not so agreeable to the original, the same may be corrected, and the truth set in place…Now to the latter we answer; that we do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession, (for we have seen none of theirs of the whole Bible as yet) contains the word of God, nay, is the word of God. As the King’s speech, which he utters in Parliament, being translated into French, Dutch, Italian, and Latin, is still the King’s speech, though it be not interpreted by every Translator with the like grace, nor peradventure so fitly for phrase, nor so expressly for sense, everywhere…But it is high time to leave them, and to show in brief what we proposed to ourselves, and what course we held in this our perusal and survey of the Bible. Truly (good Christian Reader) we never thought from the beginning, that we should need to make a new Translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one, (for then the imputation of Sixtus had been true in some sort, that our people had been fed with gall of Dragons instead of wine, with whey instead of milk:) but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principal good one, not justly to be excepted against; that hath been our endeavour, that our mark.”
The AV translators did not condemn TR Bibles written before their time despite differences. Neither did they condemn former TR English Bibles nor TR Bibles in foreign languages, nay, they used them to make a good one better and out of many good ones, one principal good one (read Standard in English)! They did denounce the corrupt Romanist versions - the worst of ours far better than their authentic vulgar – recognizing a difference in text and the real debate.
“Things different are not the same” does not mean that all differences are wrong, nor does it mean that all difference are correct or valid. How to recognize the difference between legitimate differences (variations) and illegitimate differences (changes of text) can be problematic. Note:
Amazing complexity for scholars equals remarkable simplicity for believers. Yes, it is true, that defining a standard has it's difficulties. That doesn't mean it is impossible, or even hard to define. In the classes I have taught I ask students to define off the top of their heads the difference between a lake and a river. You might be surprised at how difficult that is. Is a lake "fatter" than a river? Is it deeper? Is its water standing still? No, no and no. At what point does a river become a lake? One definition will surely differ from another. Nevertheless, we all know the difference, and some lakes we immediately recognize when we see them.
By the same token, an authoritative standard Bible is not easy to define, but is immediately recognizable. If it is not recognizable, it simple doesn't qualify (assuming the attempting recognizer accepts the concept of a standard in the first place). The difficulties presented in the other thread concerning different languages are well made, and well taken, but even in these cases it isn't impossible to come to a firm conclusion. However, understand a field is not achieved by studying its most confusing concepts, but rather by mastering its simple ones. You don't explain to a small child what a lake is by pointing out the technical difficulties in defining it.
The fact is that most languages do not have a standard Bible that can claim authority (onlyism). However, some do, including Greek and Hebrew. Presenting the marginal difficulties in first generation translations into non-commercial languages is misleading, much like the pro-abortion tactic of focusing on cases of rape, incest and conflicting health of mother and child, in order to justify abortion ON DEMAND. Yes, there are difficult situations, but not irresolvable ones. First, however, we have to address the high-order problems, and work our way to the peripheral ones.
Bill Kincaid in and E-mail Debate with Textual Critics attacking God’s Standard in various languages.
We now have Bible believers fighting over which printing house prints “the perfect, pure, preserved word of God” – Cambridge or Oxford, the Trinitarian Bible Society or Bearing Precious Seed. We have Bible believers divided into English Only, Majority Text, Received Text, and Byzantine Text, swinging their swords at each other. I can understand Eleazar’s reluctance, or inability to let go of his sword – after all, he stood defying and slaying the Philistines so much his hand clave to his sword. But Eleazar wasn’t defying and slaying his fellow soldiers in arms – Adino, the Eznite, and Shammah the son of Agee, the Hararite – who also had God given swords to slay the Philistines. God given swords that were no doubt different in exact detail – never-the-less God given. If this infighting isn’t checked soon, the raging debate that has so bitterly divided the Church of God in the USA is going to spill over into foreign countries as well – I’m afraid it already has.
In my opinion, failure to recognize the real debate and the real problem has caused unneeded wrangling among Bible believers in America and now here in Poland. I have no illusions that my objections are going to stop all the internal strife among Bible believers in the USA as I’m just a small voice sitting in a speck of a country on the wrong side of the pond. What I can do is stand up and explain my position and pray to God that someone listens so that this Polish Bible Project can reach fruition. I fear, however, that what is so clear to me is a thick fog to others. Let it not be said that I didn’t try!
I apologize for the longevity of this letter. I may have gotten off on some tangents, but wanted to present to you the reasoning behind this Polish Bible Project, the objections and arguments by those who oppose the project and give you an idea of my position. As it stands there are two of six Americans in our church planting team who are decidedly against the current form of the project. They feel the basic fundamental guidelines are flawed and thus produce an overabundant amount of leaves (words) that need to be plucked (corrected). Their opinion is that we should start the project anew and make only minimal changes such as verb endings and occasional archaic words. The other four members of the team believe the fundamental guidelines are sound and we only need to make corrections to the current form of our working copy. As there is no consensus between the parties involved, and all of them are good, sincere and honest brothers who have heartfelt differences of opinion we do not want to endanger the current works in Łódź and Warsaw by causing a split in the churches or teams over this matter. My opinion is that we allow the current churches and workers to continue to use the Gdańsk Bible in their respective churches. As I said before, we may be expecting too much from all the brothers to accept changes in their Old Sword. I doubt that all the believers and local churches immediately “converted” from the Geneva to the AV overnight. I sincerely doubt that in the first generation after the translation of the AV Bible, Geneva Bible believers and local Churches were all fully persuaded that the AV was going to be God’s new Standard in English. They were within their rights to stick with the Old Standard until God convinced the entire English Church of His approval of the New Authorized Version. The same applies to our situation. I conclude, therefore, that we proceed with the update making the needed changes to our current working copy under our present guidelines without going backwards. If God approves of our update it will become self-evident to future works and generations.
Any new guidelines that we lay down are eventually going to face extreme difficulties when they are applied practically. Those not directly involved in the work of updating/translating cannot always see these things. If the guidelines are: Change “only archaic words” who defines archaic? The dictionary? Which dictionary? What if dictionaries disagree? Ok, let the team members decide. Which team members? What if they disagree? What happens if we layout new guidelines and follow those guidelines as best we can and then we have three Americans disagreeing in the end with the new changes? What then? Layout new guidelines again? As you can see, very difficult decisions have to be made, and someone has to make them. Once decisions are made it will be impossible to please everyone in every place. There will always be objections – even from good brothers.
Frankly, we have already been to the place where these brothers want us to go: Minimal changes – just change the verb endings, old spellings and a few archaic words. When we got there years ago it was not a pretty sight to see! Poles complained that we had a hodge-podge of words - partly modern, partly archaic. It is my opinion that QUALITY is important. I believe the AV translators translated to the best of the their ability to give the English speaking Church the best fruits of their labors. As did Luther and all the Reformers. The AV not only has the right text it is great English literature, Luther’s Bible not only had the right text it was good German. The Reformers weren’t hung up with keeping archaic words, exact word counts, etc. Read what Luther said about translating into German. He was right on in my book. The AV was written in good English. Luther’s Bible was good German. The Gdańsk Bible was good Polish. Without literary QUALITY the right text will be neglected. Without good literary quality (readability) any work, no matter how good the textual base will sink into oblivion. This is self-evident. We must have BOTH – the right text and good quality Polish.
The number one complaint about all Protestant Bibles in Poland is not the text, but the Polish grammar and vocabulary. These things should not be so, but it is a fact of life. Even the Warsaw Bible is already out of date because the translators tried to retain the “archaisms” of the Gdańsk Bible. A failure to recognize this is a grave error in my opinion. Whatever accusations of “dummying down the language” exist has to be taken in the light of the fact that we live in a different generation. Our English speaking forefathers knew Latin and Greek - none of us do today. We have all been “dumbed down”. Languages change over time. We must recognize this or face grave danger in allowing modern language Bibles with the wrong textual base to over take our churches.
While we squabble over synonyms - “him” vs “whom”, “well” vs “fountain”, and “demons” vs “devils”. Poland is being infiltrated with Polish Bibles with the wrong textual base. Textus Receptus readings are being neglected and overlooked while we fight over “Father our” and “Our Father”. Vital doctrinal verses are being neglected such as 1Tm 3:16, Jn 1:18, Jn 3:13 where the real debate lies, to quote Bro. Ruckman. False sects, and false doctrines are making inroads because of real textual changes in Modern Bibles. Everyone knows by practical experience that a Gospel tract without good form (translating, title, looks, etc.) will not be received in Poland no matter how good the text is. Poles criticize our Gospel posters because we have a comma in the wrong place or we misspelled a word. If we try to give them the word of God in bad form (archaic, old grammar, etc.) it will be rejected. That is the stark reality of the situation. This should be confirmed in everyone’s mind by the fact that even good brothers such as D and J and other American KJV Bible believers have relented and begun using the Warsaw Bible (Nestle’s Text) for grammatical and vocabulary reasons.
As far as this current project goes: What are the realistic expectations of American brothers? Is anything that Joe and I do, no matter what the guidelines, really going to be received as “the perfect, inerrant, preserved word of God in Polish on par with the AV Bible in English”? No matter what we do someone is going to find fault. I stated previously and it is worth repeating:
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 will ever accept this work on its own merits simply because they 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.
We are never going to please all the Americans. They have a war of their own to worry about as they find themselves splintered in various groups – even among AV Bible believers. Those who hold that English Bible is God’s final authority for all language groups are never going to accept any Polish Bible as the final authority in Poland no matter what Joe and I do.
I find it ironic that some American KJV Bible believers will praise, extol and print Luther’s German Bible, the Reina Valera Spanish Bible and the old Russian Bible yet have qualms about our Polish Bible update. I know for a fact that the Spanish and Russian Bibles have far greater differences (when compared to the AV) than even our current unfinished working copy!
I never imagined that this update would be received immediately by every Pole. I anticipated opposition by some Poles – even good brothers. I do have realistic hopes that this Bible will eventually be received by the Polish Church as a whole and become the recognized Standard. The current conditions in Poland demonstrate this to me. As it stands the Gdańsk Bible is no longer being printed and as I found out recently the Warsaw Bible will also no longer be printed by the Warsaw Bible Society. Various groups around Poland are demanding an update of both the Gdańsk Bible and the Warsaw Bible. The time is NOW! We need to take advantage of the time that God has given us. Those groups outside of our local churches have given good reports about our work. Professional grammarians recognize the quality of Polish being written. Despite the opposition of four leading brothers in our church in Warsaw, other members in the congregation give glowing reports and are happy that they can now read entire chapters without having to stop at the end of every verse and think about what they just read.
Considering the current conditions of Poland I am for proceeding and trying to get this New Testament printed this year. I know there is opposition, I understand. But I cannot in good conscience let this vital work be impeded by opposition – even from good brothers whom I love in the Lord. As I stated from the very beginning Poland lacks good Christian literature and at the very least this NT Bible with its cross-references will be treated as a good commentary – even if it isn’t received as the new Standard in Poland. That decision is up to God’s moving. We have done this work with a clear conscience trying to do the will of God. It would have been great to have 20 Polish men working on this project, God didn’t give us that. It would have been great to have had the finances and resources to hire the best grammarians and experts in the Polish language in Poland to oversee our work, God didn’t give us that. We have used all the abilities and resources that God has given to us and must trust God to take care of the rest. If this work is not God’s will, He will sink it in His time. Until then, I’m pressing on the best I can. It was clear five years ago that this project must be done and is the will of God. Nothing has changed my opinion since then. I’m convinced that our guidelines are correct and that we need to press on.
I will continue to work with the brethren to work out some practical compromise, but I must continue the work to its completion. As Martin Luther once said: Here I stand.
In Jesus’ Name,