By William E. Paul
(Bible Editions & Versions – July/Sept. 2004)
Most efforts at translating the Scriptures are done by people with a profound respect for the unique role held by the scribes of the original documents. The apostles and those on whom they placed their hands to impart some special, supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit, were certainly “inspired” in the best sense of that word (II Peter 1:20-21). It is clear from the Scriptures that the original writings of these men were the direct result of a miraculous intervention of God’s Holy Spirit, thus insuring the accuracy of those autographs.
But there have been a few “translators” over the years who have made the additional claim that, not only were the Scriptures inspired when originally given, but that they themselves, too, in the process of producing a translation into English (or some other language) were also given some supernatural guidance, thus guaranteeing the accuracy of their translation. To he sure, some make the claim with greater emphasis, and in stronger language, than others, but any such claim would, in effect, make their translation doubly protected from error, and that by God Himself! Their contention would require that inspiration applied to both the original language form and then also to its translation into a modern vernacular.
Of course, those making such an assertion in modern times fall far short of being able to confirm the validity of their claim to some special, miraculous power with attesting “signs,” as was done in New Testament times (Mark 16:17-20: Acts 2:43: Acts 5:12; II Cor. 12:12). A mere claim that they were “inspired.” or “guided by the Holy Spirit” in producing their “translation” is frequently stated in the Preface or Introduction of their work. This is supposed to convince the reader that their “translation” is trustworthy, reliable and accurate.
But reader beware! Not every person claiming some special power to speak directly from God is truly being guided by God (Matthew 7:21-23). Over-inflated egos or zealous self-delusion are usually responsible for such claims. And translations made by those making such assertions are often found to he woefully lacking in accuracy when judged by a consensus of competent scholarship.
God certainly did provide inspiration to those who gave us the original Scriptures, but then expected godly, studious, and prayerful people to consult the best manuscripts extant and to exercise the most skilled scholarship available in order to produce reliable translations of those inspired documents.
The “translations” listed below are some that claim accuracy based on a special, sometimes supernatural, guidance from God. Included are authoritative quotes verifying that the authors of such works did, indeed, make a claim to some form of inspiration.
So when trying to determine the meaning of any given Scripture passage, such works should not he relied upon for arriving at “truth,” under any circumstance. A word of caution is certainly in order.
1764 — A New and Literal Translation of All the Books of the Old and New Testament (by Anthony Purver, London, 1764).
“…on arriving at a difficult passage, he would shut himself up for two or three days and nights, waiting for inspiration” (The Dictionary of National Biography).
1861 — The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as Revised and Corrected by The Spirits, by Leonard Thorn (Published by the Proprietors, New York City, 1861).
“I, Jesus, came in spirit bodily, and revised and corrected the first four hooks of the new testament, namely, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and also the Revelations…Paul came personally in the spirit and corrected the Acts of the Apostles, and all of the other books in this testament which are called Paul’s writings…James, Peter, John, Jude, all came in the spirit personally, and revised and corrected their own books.” (Introductory Remarks. page 3).
1867 — The Holy Scriptures, Containing the Old and New Testaments, An Inspired Revision of the Authorized Version, by Joseph Smith. Junior, (The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints, 1967, A New Corrected Edition. 1944)
“This work is given to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and to the public in pursuance of the commandment of’ God. As concerning the manner of translation and correction, it is evident, from the manuscripts and the testimony of those who were conversant with the facts, that it was done by direct revelation from God... It is declared in the Book of Mormon that ‘many plain and precious parts’ have been taken away from the Bible: ‘For behold they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb, many parts which are plain and most precious... that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord...” (Preface to First Edition)
“…And in a day when the children of men shall esteem my words as naught, and take many of them from the book which thou [Moses] shalt write, behold I will raise up another like unto thee [Joscph Smith], and they shall he had again among the children of men, among even as many as shall believe.” (A revelation given to Joseph the Seer, June,
1904 - The New Testament Revised and Translated, by A. S. Worrell (American Baptist Publication Society. 1904)
“...the writer, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (as he believes), undertook the immensely responsible task of furnishing to the public, a correct and literal translation of
these Scriptures, put up in good style, with brief notes designed to help the ordinary Christian, who has no knowledge of the original Greek.” (Preface. page i).
1929 — The Christian’s Bible New Testament: The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus, time Christ…It is not Simply a Translation of Words, but Under the Guidance of the Holy Ghost, His Thoughts, as Recorded in Greek by His Specially inspired Writers, are made Known unto us, by George N. LeFevre (Strasburg, PA, Published, 1929).
“The peculiar feature, and hence justification, of this translation, is that, in dependence wholly upon the guidance of’ the Holy Ghost, and without any regard to worldly, religious or denominational considerations, we aim to give — not simply a translation of’ Greek words into English words, but what is of’ much greater importance — expression in English of the thoughts of the Holy Ghost which were recorded by the inspired writers in Greek…Therefore, the most perfect and exact translation can he secured only through the guidance of the Holy Ghost (Preface).
1937 — The New Testament. A New Translation Based on the Oldest Manuscripts, by Johannes Greber, (Johannes Greber Memorial Foundation, 139 Hillside Ave., Teaneck, NJ 07666, 1937).
“Whoever, then, seeks to know what is true and what is untrue in the bible as we have it today, can find out only in the way in which all God-fearing people in the past have sought truth, namely by communicating with God’s spirit-world...I availed myself of this contact with the source of truth to seek enlightenment above all in regard to the text of the Bible as we know it today: for on the occasion of my first experience with the world of divine spirits my attention had been called to the fact that the books of’ both the Old and the New Testament contained a great deal of spurious matter which had given rise to the many erroneous ideas prevailine in the Christian churches of our day...In the rare instances in which a text pronounced correct by the divine spirits can he found in none of the manuscripts available today, I have used the text as it was given to me by those spirits. But in my Explanation I have always been careful to indicate which passages are derived from this source.” (Introduction. page 15).
1939 — The Book of Life, Volume One, Home Library: the Interwoven Gospels, The Acts, Revelation, The Epistles, and Gems from Proverbs, by Zed Hopeful Copp (The John C. Winston Company, Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto.,1939).
“The BOOK OF LIFE is not a translation, but an inspired, interpolated transcription of the New Testament, free from ancient language locks… The Editor wrote only as a pencil in time hand of God, under authority of John 16:13, reinforced by I John 2:27. To claim less would he to exalt the ego and dishonor the Son; to deny it would he to postulate the withdrawal of the Holy Spirit from men, or that Jesus no longer had a disciple on earth humble enough through whom he could speak and act. Both would he absurd.” (Introduction. page v).
1942 — Gospel of God: The Four Gospels in One Gospel of Light: Superet Translation of Jesus Christ’s Words; Key to the Bible, by Josephine Trust. (Superet Press, 2516 West 3rdrd Street, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., 1942).
“This edition of Jesus Christ’s holy words of the Four Gospels is given here word for word in the Superet Translation: and is now published after thirty years of tremendous and great work in studying only Jesus Christ’s holy Words so as to translate scientifically the meanings of His Words by vibrations of Light — as Light is made only by vibrations. Please pay attention as this is the Key to the Bible.” (Preface. page 7). “This Book with the Bible to study [sic] every Word of Jesus, is the most necessary study of [sic] every Christian to understand Jesus’ meanings and motives…(Preface, page 8). “This Key to the Bible, Gospel of God, the Four Gospels in one Gospel of Light, the Superet Translation of Jesus Christ’s Words, all Christians and churches must study to understand, feel, see, to become connected positively and consciously with Jesus Christ’s holy Light words: as this will open all Bible mysteries to one Brotherhood of’ Light in one Christianity, in one Jesus’ Light.” (page 557).
1951 — The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: The Authentic Version, by Claire B. Pershall (Brotherhood Authentic Bible Society. Rte.3, Plattshurg, Missouri, 1951)
“II Pet 1:20-21”… the scripture or word of’ God written in the Hebrew or Greek could not he privately interpreted or translated only by God’s Holy Spirit. I conclude, that it takes the Spirit of God to translate His word from the Greek to the English or any other language…Believing that I have been given authority through the Holy Spirit to bring the true translation of the original Greek text, and that which has been given me through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I have diligently and carefully compared the original Greek text by the use of the best Greek dictionaries and former translations…and find that what the Spirit has given me is according to the original Greek...Many words, even whole lines, and sometimes several verses are omitted. Again there has [sic] been words added which are in the original manuscript which have been overlooked by others... I set forth this work, not as of my own ability, but alone through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit… Having been shown by divine revelation different truths, not in the existing translations, which was [sic] brought out by the original Greek. I was led by the Holy Spirit, as the servant of God, that I might he used by his Spirit to accomplish the work set before me… the Authentic Version, which I believe to he the best that can he produced and I invite any and all critics to compare it with other translations and the original Greek manuscripts, for I believe that what God does, He does right.” (Preface)
1993 — The New Covenant: The New Testament: Sinaitic Version in Greek and English, by Dalmer R. Ford (Vantage Press. 1993)
“God inspired me throughout the preparation and the work, but He seldom if ever inspires a man beyond his own knowledge, ability and culture.” (Preface, page xvi).
It behooves every Bible reader to take careful note of’ the attitude of’ the “translator” toward his work. Grandiose claims of being guided by the Lord in some exceptional way that insures the absolute, inerrant accuracy of every rendering should raise a flag of suspicion and signal the rejection of such a work as totally unreliable.