Produced by TheMediaDesk, ©2021 and 2020
Posted on CCPC's website 2022
The study Index page.
"...you would have me decide which of them agree with the Greek original. The labour is one of love.”
- Erasmus (see below)
The Bible is the Word of God.
Jesus Christ is called the Living Word.
The Good News of the Gospel is The Word.
The Gospel of John opens using “the Word” multiple times.
Everybody knows all this, but exactly what do they know about it?
In the New Testament, the word 'word' in its various forms is used over 3000 times.
Just the 'word' from John 1, Logos, is also rendered as “saying” in John 4 : 37 and the same form in Greek is translated “statement / conversation” in Matthew 5 : 37 and as “story / saying” in 28 : 15 in other versions.
While the translators did consider the context in these passages, and these passages make sense, when the original term is used with a larger or deeper meaning, the English can be limiting. However, the passage being translated has to be readable as a coherent thought, which can be seen when you try to read something like the Amplified Bible, which tries to convey the different levels of meaning of different terms all at once.
It could be that given the general tone of our current study one takes the terms used in the English text too literally, but we can all see that in the wild in the real world with some of the sermons of those who “only use the King James” and take the most narrow meaning of the text and run with it. Most likely, they've never actually read the original 1611 text.
But all of that is a “logos” (topic) for another time.
We see a Old Testament example in Genesis 15 with the Hebrew term “de bar”. Again, to keep the story flowing the singular English term is used when it is evident that it would be better to say “a Message from God came to Abram in a Vision”. There are 1700 other occurrences, and its meaning depends directly on context, you can see it used to mean everything from 'command' to 'matter' to 'tasks' and 'things' just in the KJV. An example of this is 1 Samuel 10 : 16 where it is “the matter” and 15 : 10, 13 and 23 where it means everything else.
The same can be seen in books like Psalms, such as 119 where it is used in verse 42 and 43 and then in 89 with a very different meanings, and then the famous phrase in 105 that describes it another way. But with over 40 uses in 176 verses, that might be expected.
nbsp; In most cases, a reasonable reader will be able to discern the meaning that underlies the English word, and many readers will know that in Greek (and Hebrew, and Aramaic, and Latin, etc) certain words carry extra meaning that they may not in English. A good example is the English word 'set'. The Merriam-Webster dictionary has 25 definitions as a verb, 24 as a noun, and another handful as an adjective, and then another two pages of possible meanings in specific contexts for that one three letter word, and those do not include the card game by that name that is trademarked in all capital letters (see links below).
Having said all that, now we have to insert another Three Letter Word.
“But one thing the facts cry out, and it can be clear, as they say, even to a blind man, that often through the translator’s clumsiness or inattention the Greek has been wrongly rendered; often the true and genuine reading has been corrupted by ignorant scribes, which we see happen every day, or altered by scribes who are half-taught and half-asleep.”In 1500 (or so) the Latin Vulgate had already been used for a thousand years. It was the source for the Catholic Mass, as well as many of the primary services in several Eastern, as well as many Protestant, Denominations. The fact that it had been mostly translated from the original language by Saint Jerome (342 - 420) makes the Vulgate even more sacred in the minds of the church fathers of the time.
Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466 - 1526)
Ahh, yes, a question....
“Does it matter that something was translated 'word' instead of 'conversation'?”
Yes, to a point, and in some ways, No. And we will explain that.
Erasmus's, and in some respects, Martin Luther's, William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale's, and de Reina's goals were to bring an accurate translation of Scripture from the Greek, to the people through wider, and cheaper, publication. Erasmus worked in Latin, which could be read everywhere, but not by everybody, Luther's book was in German (1522), and the others in English (1535) and Spanish (1569).
Earlier translations into at least English and German were made, Wycliffe into English in 1380, and some unknown scholars into German around the same time, but they had used the Vulgate as their source, so any error Jerome made was perpetuated.
One of the oldest debates in all religions, and we have touched on it in this study, is what is to be taken literally, and what is symbolic or figurative.
An example, Jesus has been called “the Lord of Parables”, and He is. It could well be that there was a widow who lost a coin, a shepherd who had a sheep wander off, perhaps there really was a son who left home and then returned, and there are those who believe that there were. But most likely, they were illustrative stories, as is stated in Matthew 13.
Part of the problem with having a passage of scripture that is poorly translated, or even mistranslated, whether intentionally or not, is that some will take it literally. And, as we saw in the case of 'penance' in the Catholic church, they take it, and run with it for centuries, even when it has been proven wrong.
We will not here go into the 'argument from silence' some use to justify their personal beliefs, we are instead focusing on what the Scripture actually Says in the Original Language as best we can understand it.
The issues arise when the text isn't clear on a topic that allows Humans to insert their own wishes and ideas. We as people are bad enough at things when the Scripture clearly has a “Thus Sayeth The Lord” on a specific topic. When there is any ambiguity at all, it gets worse. Overall, our species combined ability to fulfill 2 Timothy 2 : 15 is pretty dismal.
“You urge me to revise the old Latin version, and, as it were, to sit in judgment on the copies of the Scriptures which are now scattered throughout the whole world; and, inasmuch as they differ from one another, you would have me decide which of them agree with the Greek original. The labour is one of love...” St. Jerome's Preface to the Vulgate Version of the New TestamentJohn chapter 1, Greek and English word by word translation: Hebrew also available through the menu at : https://biblehub.com/interlinear/john/1.htm
Greek without translations: https://sacred-texts.com/bib/gnt/joh001.htm#001
Hebrew without translation from the beginning: https://sacred-texts.com/bib/tan/gen001.htm#015
“Set” at www.merriam-webster.com
“SET” game https://www.playmonster.com/brands/set
The New Testament of Erasmus (1516)
“Both a major upheaval and a publishing success, Erasmus’s New Testament prompted reactions of great hostility and strong enthusiasm... The situation grew dangerous for him during the years 1521-1524, as zealous Catholics made a heretic of him, seeing him as the inspirer of Luther.”
500th Anniversary of Erasmus’ Greek text, the Foundation for Reformation:
Houston Baptist University
https://hbu.edu/museums/dunham-bible-museum/tour-of-the-museum/past-exhibits/erasmus-an-the-renaissance-of-the-bible/ Desiderius Erasmus extensive biography at New Advent https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05510b.htm
500 Years of Erasmus's New Testament!
The "Original" Tyndale Biblehttps://accordancebible.com/tyndale-bible/
The Martin Luther Bible Translation https://www.christian-history.org/martin-luther-bible.html
A Note from the Word Project about translations:
And a page about the Spanish translation https://www.wordproject.org/bibles/resources/reina-valera/index.htm
Sources used throughout entire study:
Bible Hub Interlinear pages: https://biblehub.com/interlinear/revelation/1.htm
the Geneva Bible downloadable https://archive.org/details/TheGenevaBible1560
The study Index page.
the 1611 KJV https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/1611-Bible/
NOTE: The Bible Study Lesson presented above is posted as a reference document to begin a conversation of the topic. And that's it. Please accept it at such.
With the assistance and cooperation of The Media Desk.