By Stephen Mills Reynolds
Lorine L. Reynolds Foundation. 2000. 568 pp. $12.00
The above-named Dr. Reynolds is the primary translator of this version. He was aided by a longtime associate and fellow faculty member at Faith Theological Seminary, Dr. Charles Butler. Dr. Reynolds, now 92, has served as professor of Old Testament, Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic in a number of universities over the years. He was also one of the translators of the New Internationa1 Version, (NIV).
Stephanie Reynolds, Secretary/Treasurer of the Lorine L. Reynolds Foundation, says that Dr. Reynolds is “dedicated to his sense of calling to God to correct mistranslations in other Bibles, particularly those that could lead to grave consequences such as the beverage use of alcohol.”
Dr. Reynolds goes to extraordinary lengths to support his convictions regarding the use of alcohol. He asserts, for example, that the Greek word for wine, “oinos,” is neutral with respect to its alcoholic content. He grants that the use of this word in John 2 is in an alcoholic context. However, he extrapolates the meaning of the passage by saying that Mary was the caterer of the wedding; that this role meant that she had power to command the servants; that she was not a member of either family involved in the wedding; and that she was not an invited guest as Jesus and his disciples were. He further proposes that Joseph had died and that Mary, in order to support her family, had begun a catering business!
Although Mary may have been a teetotaler, in obedience to Proverbs 23:31-35, (which, not incidentally, is repeatedly referenced here, and is a primary factor in this translator’s “crusade”) he speculates that she felt it was her obligation to provide alcoholic wine for customers who requested it. As a business woman, with such a personal conviction, he claims that she provided only a modest amount of alcoholic beverage. However, at this wedding, the guests were apparently “exceptionally heavy drinkers.” Consequently, she had appealed to her divine Son for a way out of her predicament.
In the midst of considerable further commentary on this incident, Reynolds, says in a footnote, after the master of the feast had tasted of the miraculous supply, that “oinos here is grape juice.” His footnotes to all the other references to wine give a similar interpretation. I feel that this interpretation is dangerously specious and it challenges my confidence in this translator’s further conclusions. For example, while he, along with your reviewer, acknowledges that there is much value in the King James Version, the New International Version and the New Revised Standard Version, he yet finds faults with them. He says there are “grave reasons to reject parts of this (KJV) translation”, and that the NIV has “serious flaws,” and he calls on “true Bible-believing Christians (to) … reject the whole NRSV.” And all of this due to what Reynolds believes is their inconsistencies in the renderings of Isa 7:14 and Mat 1:23.
In the Preface, the translator declares that he believes he had a genuine call from God to produce this version and he cites Prov. 23:31-35 as proof that “with the help of the Holy Spirit we have translated…(this) more accurately than others.” He cites the grammatical form of the second verb in v. 31 as being crucial to his argument, yet this passage is part of the NT. He encourages his readers to read his footnote to this passage, yet it is not provided nor is there any clue as to where to find it!
Reynolds denies the charge that he represents a one-issue group that is so concerned with fighting the evil of alcohol that they are not concerned with teaching the whole counsel of God. He refutes this accusation by explaining his role in the exposure and correction of errors on matters of human conscience, on the doctrine of sanctification, on feminism and its bearing on conjugal love, on abortion, and on strengthening the Biblical argument for keeping the sabbath on the first day of the week. He acknowledges his part in translating the NIV and said that even though he worked harmoniously with Dr. Meredith G. Kline and the others, he adds that “None of the errors mentioned above can be attributed to us or our work.”