|"You forgot the Surfer Dude Paraphrase - |
The Glory Has Departed
Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence
Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
The Wisconsin Synod had a minor stir for a few years, over the New NIV translation, which some clergy or laity were resisting. One district president dared to speak against it at the earlier convention, but he retired into silence. As expected, various strategies were used to defuse and neutralize the opposition. Although Synod President Mark Schroeder was rumored to be completely against the NIV, no opposition was mentioned at the second convention, which passed an all-encompassing, all-loving, non-judgmental, uncritical embrace of every single translation. Nevertheless, no one should expect WELS to use any form of the King James Version, including many modern KJV editions.
The Southern Baptists were not so warm and mellow about the NIV. One article describes what most people knew about this enhancement of the original NIV.
At their annual summer convention, the Southern Baptists passed a resolution expressing "profound disappointment with Biblica and Zondervan Publishing House" for publishing the 2011 New International Version, concluding that "we cannot commend the 2011 NIV to Southern Baptists or the larger Christian community." (Battle for the Bible Translation, Christianity Today, September, 2011)
Apparently, the convention did not want the New NIV in their bookstores, not even on display. Ironically, some WELS pastors took a group selfie of them attending a Southern Baptist Convention – not that it gave them any enlightenment.
The battle concerns precision translation compared to the dynamic equivalency advocated by Eugene A. Nida. The issue is not word-for-word translating, which is awkward and difficult to follow. A general word-for-word translation example can be found in an inter-lineal Bible, where the original text has a translation of each word directly above the main text. Since the grammatical rules are different, this only helps the poorly trained language student stay at their low level of translating. The language of the interlinear is out of order and quite wooden. As one brilliant Latin teacher said, “If I see the English version above or on the next page, I read that instead. Laziness makes our eyes drift to the easy way to read.”
Nida, now dead, is the single most important influence over translations today, given his dominant role in the American and United Bible Societies. He constantly advocated his new idiomatic style of translating, which spawned Good News for Modern Man (TEV), the NIV, and The Message. The foundational problem with this approach is the anything goes attitude. The translator becomes someone who paraphrases the text, putting the original thought, as he imagines it, into his own words, regardless of the text. The ultimate end of this approach is The Message, also known as The Surfer Dude Version.
Preparing the synod for the change from the King James Version to the NIV, years ago, Mequon made sure the new WELS pastors despised the KJV, spreading their prejudice to congregations. How many Lutherans found this attitude ironic and deeply disturbing, given the history of the King James Version of the Bible.
William Tyndale (1493-1536) is the forgotten martyr behind the King James Version,
William Tyndale could speak seven languages and was proficient in ancient Hebrew and Greek. He was a priest whose intellectual gifts and disciplined life could have taken him a long way in the church—had he not had one compulsion: to teach English men and women the good news of justification by faith.
Tyndale had discovered this doctrine when he read Erasmus's Greek edition of the New Testament. What better way to share this message with his countrymen than to put an English version of the New Testament into their hands? This, in fact, became Tyndale's life passion, aptly summed up in the words of his mentor, Erasmus: "Christ desires his mysteries to be published abroad as widely as possible. I would that [the Gospels and the epistles of Paul] were translated into all languages, of all Christian people, and that they might be read and known."
(William Tyndale, The First Translator of the Bible, Christianity Today, March, 2016)
Justification by faith, as taught by the Word, was so important to Tyndale that he poured out his life and savings into the effort of giving this doctrine to the English. He offered to translate the New Testament into English, but his bishop did not appreciate the offer.
Tyndale had to look for a safe place to work and eventually settled in Antwerp. Various historical accounts place Tyndale with Luther and Melanchthon, perhaps learning Hebrew there. He definitely started his New Testament translation at Wittenberg, a momentous and inspiring event for the Reformation scholars. Given his unique abilities and Melanchthon’s attraction to England, Tyndale’s connection with the Lutheran Reformation should be far more authoritative than the Murdoch money machine at Zondervan (Reformed) Press.
We take religious freedom for granted in America, even as we see the First Amendment being whittled away by schools and government authorities. Just the opposite was true in Tyndale’s era, when no place was really safe from agents of the Pope, or King of England, or others. A false friend betrayed Tyndale, who was captured and killed, then burned at the stake. His prayer, “Open the King of England’s eyes,” was answered when King James I of England authorized the English Bible commonly named after him, KJV, or his approval – the Authorized Version.
Tyndale spent time in various German cities, and he doubtless knew German from an early age. The influence of the Reformation scholars on Tyndale should be especially significant to Lutherans - and all Protestants. English is a Germanic language layered upon the vocabulary and grammar of Greek and Latin. Tyndale was the pioneer scorned, persecuted, and skilled, but his translation endured by being copied by others putting together their English Bibles.
Truly, no modern translation of the Bible is a wholly original work. Tyndale’s is the exception to this rule. The genealogy of the English Bible always begins with Tyndale. Miles Coverdale, an Austin friar, published the first printed English translation of the entire Bible. The New Testament was essentially Tyndale, slightly revised by Coverdale after comparing it to Luther’s New Testament. The Pentateuch is also largely Tyndale’s translation, published by him in 1530.
The next Bible in the line is the “Matthew’s Bible”, published in Antwerp in 1537, authorized by King Henry VIII of England. John Rogers, the translator, also used Tyndale’s New Testament, Pentateuch, and the previously unpublished translations Tyndale made of Joshua through Second Chronicles. The apocrypha and other books were largely based on Coverdale’s Bible. This Bible bears the large, ornamental initials “W.T.” between the Testaments, thus solidifying the tacit acknowledgement of Tyndale’s presence. This Bible was also known as the Great Bible because of its size – 16 x 11 inches!
On the heels of this great work came the Taverner’s Bible, a revision of the Great Bible by Thomas Cromwell’s protg, Richard Taverner. Work on all English translations stopped abruptly on July 6th, 1555 when Bloody Mary took the throne, and all advances for reformation in England were laid low. As Protestants fled the country, God used this horrible time to bring some of the best expatriate scholars together to produce an enduring monument to Puritan scholarship in 1560 – the Geneva Bible.
The Geneva Bible bears the distinction of being the first Bible to be divided into verses. This Bible was less expensive and smaller than the Great Bible, and it soon became the choice of the commoners on the entire island. It was also the Bible used by the Puritans when they migrated to the New World. It was the Bible of Shakespeare and Milton and went through 150 editions before being suppressed in the seventeenth century. This Bible is also called the Breeches Bible because of its translation of Gen 3:7—“They sewed fig tree leaves together and made themselves breeches.”
The clergy of England were a bit miffed over the popularity of the Geneva Bible, so the Archbishop of Canterbury commissioned a revision of the Great Bible, completed in 1568. This revision was four years in the making, and retained in large part the readings of the Great Bible, which was (as I stated earlier) for the most part Tyndale’s translation. It is a historical irony to note that those same clergy who heartily approved of Tyndale’s execution and labeled his translation as “heretical” gave their stamp of approval to essentially the same work just 30 years later.
The next Bible in the line is, without a doubt, the most loved, enduring, and best- selling translation in history. Until the 1990s it outsold every other translation, and still ranks as THE Bible with most Christians today. This Bible is the King James (KJV), or Authorized Version (AV). A brief history of this great work is in order before examining the influence Tyndale’s translation had on it.
(William Tyndale – A Lasting Influence, retrieved from https://bible.org/article/william-tyndale-%E2%80%94-lasting-influence)
The abandonment of the King James family of translations – there are many related to the KJV – is one of many signs of apostasy within the ranks of the Lutheran Church. The German Bible is still described as “after Luther” in many different modernized versions, since vocabulary and grammar have changed over the centuries. But the Lutheran Bibles are all “after Nida” as if the KJV never existed, as if they never used the KJV for centuries in America, whenever English was the language of the worship service and school. Deserting the KJV has accelerated the downward spiral of Lutheran worship, education, and memory work. Once many translations are far better than the one established, unified voice of the English language, remembering the wording in the Babel of many versions and paraphrases is impossible.
“But all Bibles are God’s Bibles, just as all truths are God’s truths” – as the pothead Zen Christian would say. The effect of these poor translations, these Nida open living paraphrases, can be demonstrated verse by verse in the New NIV, which is a best-seller and displaces the classic (less evil) NIV of 1984. By the way, the first NIV took off because they wisely included leaders of every single denomination, so they had built-in, paid cheerleaders to pave the way for a best seller, a real money-maker for Rupert Murdoch and Zondervan.
Posted by Gregory Jackson at 8:51 PM