Vol.IV No.VII Pg.4
August 1967

Story Of The Text 7

Robert F. Turner

Before going further in our study of translations and versions, we need to consider the accuracy of the original manuscripts. What is the nature of the letters of Paul, the biography of Mark, the history of Luke? Did they write with such precision as to demand translations and versions that say precisely what they said; or were their words of human choice, seeking to express a "thought" which translators may likewise "seek" to express without regard to original wording?

Jesus told His disciples, "But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." Both the "what" and the "how" of the message were to be provided by the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 10:19-20)

On the first Pentecost following the resurrection the H. S. fell upon the Apostles and they "began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2:4-f) Of this J. W. McGarvey once wrote: "It is impossible to conceive a clearer proof of divine inspiration than for a company of men to speak intelligibly and correctly in a number of languages which they have never learned. SUCH SPEAKING NECESSARILY IMPLIES THE DICTATION OF THE WORDS WHICH WERE UTTERED, whatever may be true in regard to the thoughts..... It is impossible that the WORDS could have been chosen by the speaker." And we say, Amen!!

Inspired men often did not understand the import of what they said. Peter spoke an unlimited gospel on Pentecost (Acts 2:21, 39) but later miraculous demonstrations were necessary to convince him to go preach to the Gentiles. (Acts 10:9-35) Read I Pet. 1:10-12 with care. Note the case of Caiaphas, Jn. 11:49-52. Paul clearly claimed verbal inspiration in 1 Cor. 2:12-13. "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual."

The writers of the New Testament certainly claimed verbal inspiration; and the ability to write so that the reader could "understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ." (Eph. 3:4) Peter wrote "that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance." (2 Pet.1:15) We do not believe a translator is at liberty to ignore the wording of the manuscripts under the pretext of making God's message more understandable. The problems of extremely literal translation -- of any language -- we freely acknowledge. We recognize the presence of idiomatic expressions in both Greek and Hebrew cultures, that make literal rendition difficult. But much of these problems are solved by student absorption of more Bible -- a thing they are denied by the ultra-"free" texts of today. Deny the reader the words of the Apostles and N. T. Prophets AND YOU DENY THEM ACCESS TO THE DIVINELY INSPIRED WORD OF GOD.