Getting God’s Word

It is the case that when one translates from one language to another, there is always the real problem of conveying the precise meaning of a term from one language to another. When dealing with God’s word, the issue is a critical concern.

While most Bible students are convinced that the Bible should be available in the most current, common language of the people, there are inherent dangers in becoming too accommodating. Clarence Jordan, in his idiotic Cotton Patch Version of the New Testament quotes “Happenings” (that’s Acts, for the “literalist”) 2:37-38 as “Upon hearing this they were cut to the quick, and they said to Rock and the other officers, ‘Will you please tell us, brothers, what we can do about it?’ Rock said to them, ‘Reshape your lives, and let each of you be initiated into the family of Jesus Christ so your sins can he dealt with; and you will receive the free gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Obviously, this is no translation.

It is, however, the more subtle dangers of some of our modern translations that pose the greater threat to correctly understanding God’s word. They tend to sneak up on you after you get comfortable and familiar with a version, and then it becomes hard to accept the fact that the “translation” you are using is not reliable.

I experienced this very problem years ago when a friend noticed that I was teaching a High School class with Today’s English Version (Good News Bible). I thought it was the cat’s meow, until he pointed out Genesis 6:4, “In those days, and even later, there were giants on the earth who were descendants of human women and supernatural beings.” So, Hercules was a reality? I think not! It’s tough to leave an old, familiar friend, and while I still have the Bible on my bookshelf, I haven’t opened it in years; it’s just not reliable.

I want to know what God said in the words He used, not an explanation of the meaning of what some “translator” thinks God meant. I won’t hang my soul on someone’s opinion, no matter how studied or learned. Bible’s laced with Calvinism, peppered with doctrinal discrepancies, and seeking “to state … the meaning of the original texts” (emp. JDS) are not versions, but perversions. When it comes to God’s Word, you can’t get it if you don’t get it.