Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 27, 1953
NUMBER 16, PAGE 8-9a

The Original Text No. 4

George P. Estes, Maplewood, Missouri

Paul said that in Jesus "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," (Col. 2:2,3) and he called Jesus "the wisdom of God." (1 Cor. 1:24,30) Now, when we compare the personified "Wisdom" (Prov. 8:22-31) with the personal "Word" (John 1:1-18), we find a remarkable identity. Both passages speak of a person who is distinct from God, and yet His closest companion, (Prov. 8:30; John 1:1,2,18) the Son of God (Prov. 8:22,24,25; John 1:1,2,14,18), who existed before the world (Prov. 8:22-26; John 1:3,10), and who loves people. (Prov. 8:31; John 1:4,5,9,11,12,16-18)

There are some remarkable admissions by Albright, Sewer, and Irwin, three RSV translators, in regard to the identity of the "Wisdom" in Proverbs and the "Logos" in John. These admissions are found in their writings: From the Stone Age to Christianity, pp. 282-286; The Literature of the Old Testament, pp. 315,316; The Interpreters Bible, pp. 218,219; and The Old Testament: Keystone of Human Culture, pp. 123,124.

Even if we had in Proverbs only the personified Wisdom of God, it still could not be anything created; God did not create his own Wisdom. Yet the RSV translates, "The Lord created me," and so it has adopted a rendering which in the early days of the church was the argument of the Arians against the pre-existence of Christ, and for His creation in time. The RSV leads the reader to believe he has the same word here as in Genesis 1:1; but it is a different word entirely. This word is used thirteen times in Proverbs in such phrases as "get wisdom," and the RSV translates it with "get" eight times, "acquire" twice, "buy" twice, and "gain" once. Eve used the same word to say, "I have gotten by birth." (Gen. 4:1) In this passage in Proverbs (8:24,25) the personal Wisdom says twice, "I was born." The words in verse 22 do NOT mean "The Lord created me," but rather "The Lord has begotten me," and they express the eternal Sonship of Wisdom.

Micah 5:2

Micah 5:2 is a prophecy which tells us about the two origins of the Messiah. On the one hand, He would be born of a woman in Bethlehem. (vs. 3 Matt. 2:6) But on the other hand, there is another and unique origin of this Messiah, whom Micah knew (from Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6,7) to be "the God with us," "the mighty God," "the Everlasting Father," and "the Prince of Peace." Micah reflects Isaiah's great terms when he says that the Messiah will have "the strength of the Lord," and the majesty of the name of the Lord his God." "He will be great to the ends of the earth," and "He will be peace." (vs. 4,5)

Contrasted with kings who are merely descendants of David and Abraham, the Messiah has a unique origin. And here the text heaps up two phrases, each meaning from time far back beyond measure and used elsewhere for "eternity." (cf. Prov. 8:22,23,30) Only a term expressing eternity will state the full meaning of these words. The King James correctly translates, "from everlasting." But the RSV cuts this down and weakens it to, "from ancient days."

Jude 5

In Jude 5 the RSV has, "He who saved a people out of the land of Egypt." A foot-note adds, "Ancient authorities read Jesus or the Lord, or God." The foot-note does NOT state that there is no textual evidence of any kind whatever for "he," which the RSV prints in the text. It should be "Jesus" which is the best reading. The second best is "the Lord," which also means Jesus. Jude tell us that Jesus saved Israel out of Egypt, which the New Testament also declares elsewhere. (1 Cor. 10:4,9; Heb. 11:26) The text is simple; only a wish of the RSV translators not to have Jesus participating in the affairs of the Old Testament can account for the substitution of "he" for "Jesus."

Wellhausen's Conjecture

In 2 Samuel 7:19 we have, "And this is the manner of Man who is the Lord God!" and in 1 Chronicles 17:17, "And you have seen me according to the way of the man who is the Lord God on high." Both of these verses express the fact that Jesus is God. But the RSV has for both of these verses, "and hast shown me future generations, 0 Lord God!" Here it is obvious that the RSV translators have rejected the Hebrew text and have substituted a conjecture of Wellhausen in place of the Hebrew. The actual text differs in these two passages, but the translators have rendered both of them with an identical wording.

Jeremiah 23:6

Jeremiah says, "This is His name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness." (23:16) But the RSV translators pervert that to read, "This is the name by which he will be called; the Lord is our righteousness." Now, you and I could be called, "The Lord is our righteousness," just as a man could be called "John," meaning "the Lord is kind." By adding the verb "is" to the text the RSV translators have robbed the Messiah of the name "Lord."

Zechariah 12:10

"They will look at me whom they have pierced." (Zech. 12:10) The RSV translates it, "When they look on him whom they have pierced." But it is the Lord who is speaking. The Hebrew and all versions except one have "me," which makes the Lord the Messiah. But the RSV copies "him" from the late Jewish translation of Theodotion, and thus changes the meaning of the passage — a change, as are all their changes, derogatory to the Lord and belittling to His divinity.

Malachi 3:1

"Suddenly he will come to his temple; the Lord whom you are looking for and the Messenger of the covenant whom you delight in. Behold, he will come." (Mal. 3:1) But the RSV renders it, "The Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold he is coming." Now, in the text the "Lord" and the "Messenger" are one person, but the RSV has a semi-colon (like the period on Rom. 9:5), separating "the Lord" from "the messenger," and making them two separate and distinct persons.

Acts 20:28

This passage should read, "the church of God which he has bought with his own blood." The RSV translates ft, "the church of the Lord, which he obtained with his own blood." Modernists do not like the idea that God ("Jesus" has bought us with His blood. So "God" is changed to "Lord" and "bought," "purchased," or "rescued," is changed to "obtained."

This change (like many others) should be credited to the Unitarian Ezra Abbott, who, with the rise of modernism, had a strong influence on modern versions. Just as modernism stepped from theories into pulpits and controlling positions in the denominations, so the elimination of the deity of Christ has climbed first into the footnotes and then into the text. In these passages the RSV presents to us a Unitarian victory over scholarship and faith in Christ.