WHICH TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE SHOULD I USE?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions with which we are faced. Many of these questions arise from visitors who note that we use these translations: THE TANAKH, as published by the Jewish Publication Society, THE SCRIPTURES, published by INSTITUTE FOR SCRIPTURE RESEARCH, P.O. BOX 1830 NORTHRIDING, 2162, SOUTH AFRICA, www.isr-messianic.org; and THE COMPLETE JEWISH BIBLE, by David Stern in our readings. We have come to prefer THE SCRIPTURES as having a higher degree of accuracy.
We use those translations because they speak to the cultural identity with which we are associated.
We use them because they, at least in our opinion, more accurately portray some of the idioms, figures of speech, and nuances of the culture in which both the Tanakh, (frequently called the Old Testament) and the Brit Chadasha, (frequently called the New Testament) were transmitted to mankind.
We also recommend and use those translations because they are remarkably free of some of the latent anti-Semitism that has been injected into or left in other translations by either the ignorance or bias of the translators.
We realize that the last statement we made might be considered controversial or provocative by many readers.
It brings all kinds of emotional reactions. Some people consider any implication that their beloved or favorite translation might have inaccuracies as almost blasphemous.
Some consider such an implication to be an attack on the foundations of their faith, and therefore an attack upon their eternal salvation.
Our claim that there are inaccuracies in many of the common English translations of the Bible are often particularly offensive to a class of people who believe that the King James, or Authorized Translation, is an "Inspired" translation.
We have met people who believe the KJV is somehow imbued with either some kind of an inherent infallibility or such a high degree of accuracy that anything they read in it is the final word for doctrine or belief.
If that assumption is true, then the King James Translation can surely stand up under a fair examination. It is such an examination which we propose to make in this study.
In a careful examination of the Textus Receptus, the Koine Greek text from which the KJV was translated, we can find that the name IAKABOS is always translated "James." A direct translation of that name into English would be either "Jacob" or "Yakov."
In most translations into languages other than English, IAKABOS is translated into some recognizable form of the name Jacob. Why was it translated "James"? It follows a tradition seen in the Wycliffe Bible of 1385 which was continued in the Bishops Bible of 1568. We have not been able to find any definitive explanation of why this word was so translated.
One suspicion comes from an observation of the general manner in which names were translated in early England. When Bible translators encountered the names of "good" people, they were translated into the GENTILE English form of that name.
Thus the man who functioned as the earthly father of Messiah was translated "Joseph," rather than by the Jewish form, Yousef. Miriam became Mary.
"Bad" peoples names were translated into Jewish forms.
Many names, such as Mary and Joseph, had both Jewish and Gentile forms. During much of early English history, a Jew who attempted to name his child a Gentile name, or even a Gentile form of a name which had both forms, was subject to severe penalties at law. Gentiles were forbidden to use the Jewish forms.
This was one of the many sources of tension between the Puritans and the authorities. The Puritans were fond of, and insisted on using, the Jewish forms of names found in their "Old Testaments."
So, we see, in this one name, what appears to us to be an example of anti-Semitism which is incorporated into the translation.
Why would we, in seeking to present Yeshua as the Jewish Messiah, use an anti-semitic error born out of hatred for our ancestors? This same error is continually perpetuated by either indifference or the fear of a translator that his work will be rejected if he were to render what he knows to be an accurate account of the Koine Text.
We might be accurately charged with being ultra-sensitive or too picky IF the above-mentioned example were the only argument we could use as an example to point to an anti-semitic bias in the field of Bible Translation. Sadly, it is not. Most English translations, including the King James, have a great number of them.
The King James Version of Act 12:4 Makes this statement - "And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. The Koine Greek word translated "Easter" is PASCHA, which should have been translated as either PESACH or Passover. Why, other than to validate the substitution of the Holy Day of the Almighty with a Pagan replacement, was this done?
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