Vol.VI No.III Pg.5
May 1969

Ignoring Inspiration

Robert F. Turner

Preface to the Revised Standard Version (NT, 1946) says, "We cannot be content with the Versions of 1881 and 1901 for two main reasons. One is that these are mechanically exact, literal, word-for-word translations, which follow the order of the Greek words, so far as this is possible..". "Introduction" to the New English Bible follows suit: "The older translators, on the whole, considered that fidelity to the original demanded that they should reproduce, as far as possible, characteristic features of the language in which it was written...". This is bad???

Are we to understand that the K.J. and A.S. translators did not know how sentence structure differs in various languages, necessitating a restructure of the Greek sentence in order to "make sense" in English? A casual comparison with an interlinear text will show they knew and practiced this.

Then what is this "different theory and practice of translation" which makes these modern versions so superior (?) to others? While discussing the problem of translating idioms of speech, Dr. James Moffatt (one of the RSV translators) "tells it like it is". He says, "But once the translator of the New Testament is freed from the influence of the theory of verbal inspiration, these difficulties cease to be so formidable" (Revision or New Translation, by Allis.).

N.E.B. "Introduction" says "But if paraphrase means taking the liberty of introducing into a passage something which is not there, to elucidate the meaning which is there, it can be said that we have taken this liberty only with extreme caution, and in a very few passages.." (I counted nine changes in 12 verses. rt).

Frenstence (sic) — 1CO.7:14 literally: "has been sanctified for the husband unbelieving by the wife." (Marshall). The K.J. restructures this to read: "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife,- " but the N.E.B. translates (?): "For the heathen husband now belongs to God through his Christian wife, —." The Greek clearly says "a-pistos" not-faith, or unbelieving; why say "heathen" (for which the Greeks used a different word). We readily agree that the wife under consideration is a "Christian" but this is a contextual comment, not translation of something inspired of God. As for "belongs to God" — the N.E.B. has supplied an object for "set apart", and misleads the reader. The marriage is the thing "sanctified" "else were your children unclean; but now are they holy."

It is my contention that neither I nor the N.E.B. translators (?) have the right to place our comment in the text of God's words. If and when we do so, the result is a paraphrase — a type of commentary — and should be labeled as such. The R.S.V., N.E.B., and the American Bible Society's "Today's English Version" are examples of so-called translations by men who are "freed from the influence of the theory of verbal inspiration". We deny the demands of verbal inspiration, and endanger the faith of the unsuspecting, when we encourage people to treat these works as "God's words".