Bible and Bible Study: September 2002 Archives

More on Bible Translations


In the comments below Mr. Kairos says:

But how accurate are TMB and KJ21? The big problem with KJV was not its poetry but its accuracy: have they removed the horns from Moses coming down the mountain?

I have read the KJV for most of my life and have never come across this "inaccuracy." If you are referring to the Statue of Moses by Michaelangelo with the "horns" those, as I understand it, were a result of an imperfection in the marble that did not allow Michaelangelo to complete the halo that they were to represent. He left the horns in place to try to hint at the halo. Please feel free to check my accuracy by looking at this site. Perhaps I have missed this, and if so, I tender my sincere apologies for overlooking it.

I figure a version of the Bible that guided Christians for nearly four centuries (into the 20th century) without serious errors regarding most "mere Christianity" doctrinal points is probably sufficient to guide us in the 21st century. It may not be accurate enough for the most careful philological studies. However, I use this Bible as a devotional tool. A devotional tool is most effective if it is carefully and frequently read. There is almost no other Bible that I WANT to read daily. The supposedly highly accurate NASB is nearly incoherent in its accuracy. From what I'm hearing of the NAB there are some serious questions I have regarding the sudden "inclusiveness" of language. For example, in this entry from 16 September Mass readings, I know of no other translation that includes the first line below:

Brothers and sisters:
In giving this instruction, I do not praise the fact
that your meetings are doing more harm than good.
First of all, I hear that when you meet as a Church
there are divisions among you,
and to a degree I believe it;

Even if this is merely a carry-over from a previous verse to indicate that we are reading a letter addressed to people, I find it implausible that Paul, in his time, would have used such an address.

Compare it with the same passage from King James:

Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that you come together not for the better, but for the worse...

This second passage is clearly a rebuke. The NAB sounds like the beginning of a paean of praise. "I do not praise..." is a phrase that always invites the reader to listen for the "However", which never comes.

Also, I noted in Sunday's Gospel passage:

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
"Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive?
As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.

The phrase translated here as "seventy-seven times", in nearly every other translation of the Bible I have read has been translated "seven time seventy times." I cannot reproduce for you the Greek characters here (I suppose I could, but I just don't feel like coding it) but it reads "seven times seventy times." Now this certainly can be a result of variant texts, but then, the question of variant texts is always with us.

The question of accuracy has much to do with your purposes--obviously you don't want blatant error, but I prefer the translation of the verse in Isaiah to say, "A virgin shall be with child" as opposed to "A young woman," in the second instance there is certainly nothing notable or remarkable. The King James version did have some inaccuracies, but none, that I am aware of central to faith or to the mystery of Jesus Christ, Word Incarnate. And in many cases the language is far more accurate and precise than the substitutions we have allowed to creep in all but unacknowledged. Often translations substitute "Justice" for "judgment" in reference to God's "judgment." The two are not equivalent.

Moreover, I once had a very devout, very Holy Jesuit recommend that everyone read, for devotional purposes, The Good News Bible. So, my very long answer to Mr. Kairos is--the degree of accuracy necessary depends much upon the purpose to which you are putting the text. As a devotional text, that is most useful which you most often read. If you want the very best for close study purposes, I am told that the RSV serves that purpose well and manages to preserve some of the majestic language and beauty present in the KJV.

I hope the above is not too strident, but I'm always a little disturbed by these charges of inaccuracy. Many biblical scholars will tell you that passages are still hazy, that variant texts make things very difficult to decipher. Finally, I think it does a disservice to the translators of the King James Version who worked their very best with the materials at hand. Perhaps there are inaccuracies, but the beauty of the language and the mysterious workings of the Holy Spirit who accompanies us in prayer and in the understanding of Scripture, along with the firm guidance of the teaching Magisterium of the Holy Catholic Church would keep us from serious error.

Bookmark and Share

Still Searching


My search continued, and in so doing, I stumbled across the first chapter of a book on the Psalms by Rowland E. Protheroe. This passage spoke to me:

from The Psalms in Human Life, Chapter 1 Rowland E. Protheroe Above the couch of David, according to Rabbinical tradition, there hung a harp. The midnight breeze, as it rippled over the strings, made such music that the poet-king was constrained to rise from his bed, and, till the dawn flushed the eastern skies, he wedded words to the strains. The poetry of that tradition is condensed in the saying that the Book of Psalms contains the whole music of the heart of man, swept by the hand of his Maker. In it are gathered the lyrical burst of his tenderness, the moan of his penitence, the pathos of his sorrow, the triumph of his victory, the despair of his defeat, the firmness of his confidence, the rapture of his assured hope. In it is presented the anatomy of all parts of the human soul ; in it, as Heine says are collected `sunrise and sunset, birth and death promise and fulfilment-the whole drama of humanity'.
Bookmark and Share



About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Bible and Bible Study category from September 2002.

Bible and Bible Study: August 2002 is the previous archive.

Bible and Bible Study: October 2002 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll