Bible Study Guide- February 1999 (Week 6)
Bible Study Guide- February 1999 (Week 6)
"The LORD Our God Spake Unto Us"
I dreamed that the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and I arose amid cries and prayers, and said: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me. I feel urged to say to you that you must commence to work individually for yourselves. You are looking to God and desiring Him to do the work for you
which He has left for you to do. If you will do the work for yourselves which you know that you ought to do, then God will help you when you need help. You have left undone the very things which God has left for you to do. You have been calling upon God to do your work. Had you followed the light which He has given you, then He would cause more light to shine upon you; but while you neglect the counsels, warnings, and reproofs that have been given, how can you expect God to give you more light and blessings to neglect and despise? God is not as man; He will not be trifled with.
I took the precious Bible and surrounded it with the several Testimonies for the Church, given for the people of God. Here, said I, the cases of nearly all are met. The sins they are to shun are pointed out. The counsel that they desire can be found here, given for other cases situated similarly to themselves. God has been pleased to give you line upon line and precept upon precept. But there are not many of you that really know what is contained in the Testimonies. You are not familiar with the Scriptures. If you had made God’s word your study, with a desire to reach the Bible standard and attain to Christian perfection, you would not have needed the Testimonies. It is because you have neglected to acquaint yourselves with God’s inspired Book that He has sought to reach you by simple, direct testimonies, calling your attention to the words of inspiration which you had neglected to obey, and urging you to fashion your lives in accordance with its pure and elevated teachings.
The Lord designs to warn you, to reprove, to counsel, through the testimonies given, and to impress your minds with the importance of the truth of His word. The written testimonies are not to give new light, but to impress vividly upon the heart the truths of inspiration already revealed. Man’s duty to God and to his fellow man has been distinctly specified in God’s Word; yet but few of you are obedient to the light given. Additional truth is not brought out; but God has through the Testimonies simplified the great truths already given and in His own chosen way brought them before the people to awaken and impress the mind with them, that all may be left without excuse.
Pride, self-love, selfishness, hatred, envy, and jealousy have beclouded the perceptive powers, and the truth, which would make you wise unto salvation, has lost its power to charm and control the mind. The very essential principles of godliness are not understood because there is not a hungering and thirsting for Bible knowledge, purity of heart, and holiness of life. The Testimonies are not to belittle the Word of God, but to exalt it and attract minds to it, that the beautiful simplicity of truth may impress all.
I said further: As the Word of God is walled in with these books and pamphlets, so has God walled you in with reproofs, counsel, warnings, and encouragements. Here you are crying before God, in the anguish of your souls, for more light. I am authorized from God to tell you that not another ray of light through the Testimonies will shine upon your pathway until you make a practical use of the light already given. The Lord has walled you about with light; but you have not appreciated the light; you have trampled upon it. While some have despised the light, others have neglected it, or followed it but indifferently. A few have set their hearts to obey the light which God has been pleased to give them.
Some that have received special warnings through testimony have forgotten in a few weeks the reproof given. The Testimonies to some have been several times repeated, but they have not thought them of sufficient importance to be carefully heeded. They have been to them like idle tales. Had they regarded the light given they would have avoided losses and trials which they think are hard and severe. They have only themselves to censure. They have placed upon their own necks a yoke which they find grievous to be borne. It is not the yoke which Christ has bound upon them. God’s care and love were exercised in their behalf; but their selfish, evil, unbelieving souls could not discern His goodness and mercy. They rush on in their own wisdom until, overwhelmed with trials and confused with perplexity, they are ensnared by Satan. When you gather up the rays of light which God has given in the past, then will He give an increase of light. Testimonies, Volume 2, pages 604 - 606.
THE LANGUAGES AND TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE.
This Lesson edited by John J. Grosboll
MEMORY VERSE: "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." Revelation 22: 18 –19.
INTRODUCTION: During the last several decades there has been a proliferation of new English
translations and paraphrases of the Bible. In Ellen White’s day, this work was already beginning. The English Revised Version appeared in 1885 and the American Standard Version followed in 1901. Neither gained any great popularity among Christians. Ellen White’s son, William, wrote: "When the first version [the English Revised Version] was published, I purchased a good copy for Mother. She referred to it occasionally but never used it in preaching. Later on as manuscripts were being prepared for new books and for revised editions of books already in print, Sister White’s attention was called from time to time by myself and Sister Marion Davis to the fact that she was using texts which were much more clearly translated in the RV. Sister White studied each one carefully and in some cases instructed us to use the RV." Problems in Translation, page 72.
THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGES OF THE BIBLE AND THE EARLIEST TRANSLATIONS
1. In which languages was the Bible originally written?
The greater part of the Old Testament is written in Hebrew. A few passages were written in Aramaic, especially several passages in Ezra and Daniel. Though Aramaic appears to have been the language of Jesus and the people of Judea and Galilee, the New Testament books are written in the common colloquial [koine] Greek spoken throughout the Roman empire. This dialect was, until recently, only known in the New Testament writings. Since the 1880s, however, large numbers of letters and other ordinary documents from the time of Christ, written in this form of Greek, have been discovered.
2. Into which languages was the Bible first translated?
After the captivity in Babylon, Aramaic became increasingly the language of the general population. In Nehemiah 8: 1 – 8, when Ezra read the book of the law aloud, it would appear from verse 8, that the book had to be translated so that the people unable to speak Hebrew could understand. In the third and second centuries BC, the Alexandrian Jews made a translation of the Old Testament into Greek. This translation became known as the Septuagint, from the tradition that it was produced by seventy-two elders. This was the Bible in popular use in New Testament times and the Old Testament quotations by the New Testament writers are often taken from this version.
3. What evidence do we have that the Old Testament Scriptures have been accurately preserved?
Until the last fifty years, the oldest Hebrew manuscripts available were no more than 1000 years old. (This was because of the custom of making new copies of old manuscripts that were dilapidated through use and then destroying the old manuscripts by burning.) Sceptical scholars argued that it was unlikely that the surviving manuscripts represented a reliable version of the Old Testament Scriptures, since they dated 1400 years after the final old Testament books were written. The discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls in 1947, a number of which were Bible books or commentaries on Old Testament passages, written no later than the second century A.D.(see SDA Bible Commentary, Volume 8, 786), revealed that most differences were of such a minor nature as not even to show up in translation. (e.g. spelling variations) It is clear that the scribes who copied the Old Testament Scriptures were meticulous in their work, even counting the number of individual letters to ensure accuracy. Imperfect copies were destroyed as a matter of course.
THE EARLIEST ENGLISH BIBLES
4. When was the Bible first translated into English?
Parts of the Bible, including the gospels and psalms, were translated into Old English over 1000 years ago. But, as Roman Christianity became dominant and knowledge of the Bible was discouraged, no complete translation of the Bible into English was made until the time of Wycliffe in the 14th century. "Wycliffe’s Bible had been translated from the Latin text [the Vulgate of Jerome], which contained many errors. It had never been printed, and the cost of manuscript copies was so great that few but wealthy men or nobles could procure it; and, furthermore, being strictly proscribed by the church, it had had a comparatively narrow circulation." Great Controversy, 245. "The Waldenses were among the first of the peoples of Europe to obtain a translation of the Holy Scriptures. Hundreds of years before the Reformation they possessed the Bible in manuscript in their native tongue. They had the truth unadulterated, and this rendered them the special objects of hatred and persecution." Great Controversy, 65. But this Waldensian Bible had never been translated into English.
5. When did the English people first receive an accurate translation of the Scriptures?
See Great Controversy, 245.
THE KING JAMES BIBLE AND ITS ORIGINS
6. How was the King James Bible produced?
Several English Bible translations or revisions were made after Tyndale’s translation. Examples of these are the "Great Bible," the "Bishop’s Bible," and the "Geneva Bible." Notes in the margins of these Bibles explain who the antichrist was, etc. During this time countries were ruled by kings who believed in the "divine right" of the kings. King James wanted to eliminate Bibles containing explanatory notes. To do this he had a new translation made which he called the The Authorized Version. It was his purpose to prohibit all other versions from being read in church. Just as Constantine did in the fourth century so King James in the seventeenth century attempted to bring a forced uniformity into religion. But in spite of these motives the Lord overruled it for ood—at this time the English language had reached a high point of development. The King James Bible has exercised a profound effect on the English language and culture ever since. Much of the language of the King James Bible is actually a revision of Tyndale’s translation. The King James Version of the Bible, published in 1611, was translated by 47 of the most learned men in the land. They were divided into six companies and a portion was assigned to each group. Everyone in each company translated the whole portion before they met to compare their results and agree upon the final form. They then transmitted their draft to each of the other companies for their comment and consent. A select committee then went carefully through the whole work again, and at last, two of the members were responsible for the final checking. Advocates of modern versions often assume that they are the product of scholarship far superior to that of the translators of the King James Version of 1611, but this assumption is not supported by the facts. The learned men who laboured on the King James Version of the Bible were men of exceptional ability and they approached the task with a reverent regard for the Divine inspiration, authority and inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures. To them it was "God’s sacred Truth" and demanded the exercise of their utmost care and fidelity in its translation.
7. Is the translation of the King James Bible inspired?
"Some…have been so bold as to assert that the King James Version of the Scripture is a divinely inspired translation. Such a claim must be doubtful. Every evidence we have indicates that, though the King James Version is an excellent translation, it is not a perfect translation, which presumably is what an inspired translation would be. Yet we do not doubt the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the work of these translators." Modern Bible Translations Unmasked, Standish and Standish, 24.
THE WORK OF REVISION
8. Why was it felt necessary to revise the King James Version?
The King James Version was periodically revised during the 17th and 18th centuries to modernize the spelling, and correct misprints. This work of periodic updating appears to have ceased in 1769. In 1870 a committee was appointed to again consider the passages of the King James Bible that required amendment.
9. What men were involved in this revision?
The leading influences in the work of revision were two Cambridge professors, Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Hort. These two men had produced a radically different Greek version of the New Testament, based on two recently published manuscripts which showed marked variations from the vast majority of existing Greek manuscripts and differed even more widely from each other. One, Codex Vaticanus, had been known at the time of the translation of the King James Bible but had been rejected as worthless. The other, Codex Sinaiaticus, had been retrieved from the rubbish bin at St Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt by a visiting German scholar. This second manuscript had also long been recognized as worthless, since the incomplete manuscript, now in the British Museum, contains 14,800 corrections by nine separate early correctors in its 389.5 pages or approximately 38 corrections per page! These two manuscripts resemble the discredited Latin Vulgate version, which was the standard text of the Catholic Church. Westcott and Hort were concerned to promote their new version of the New Testament. While the Revisers made few significant changes to the Old Testament, the New Testament was extensively altered. Westcott and Hort’s new version of the Greek New Testament forms the basis of nearly every modern version.
10.Were Westcott and Hort Protestant Reformers?
Both were followers of the "Higher Criticism" and were skeptical about much Christian doctrine, including the atonement and the authority of the Bible. Westcott denied the historicity of the opening chapters of Genesis. Hort was a believer in Darwinism and both men were devotees of Mary. They were Anglo-Catholics, believing that Protestantism was ‘only parenthetical and temporary.’ They both were deeply involved in the occult from nearly thirty years before the
Revision was published. In 1851 they founded the "Ghostly Guild" [now known as the Society for Psychical Research], the year Westcott was ordained as an Anglican priest. In the following year, Westcott spoke of being ‘most anxious to replace’ the traditional Greek text of the New Testament. Both expressed a deep hatred for the Received Text of the New Testament.
TWO TYPES OF PROBLEMS
11.What kinds of problems arise from the use of Bible versions based on the work of Westcott and Hort?
In setting aside the testimony of more than 5000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament and accepting as authoritative the Vaticanus and Sinaiaticus manuscripts, the modern versions present a significantly different New Testament. It has been estimated that 36,000 changes were made in the Revised Version. The most common and noticeable of the changes in versions based on these two corrupt manuscripts are passages, verses, phrases and words omitted or questioned. These may be omitted entirely or attract footnotes seriously questioning their authenticity. Examples of passages thus treated include: Mark 16: 9 – 20 and John 7: 53 – 8: 11. Examples of verses omitted or questioned include: Matthew 17: 21, 18: 11, 21: 44, 23: 14, Mark 7: 16, 9: 44 and 46, 11: 26, 15: 28, Luke 17: 36, 22: 43 – 44, 23; 17, 23: 34, 24; 12 and 40, John 5: 4, Acts 8: 37, 15: 34, 24: 6 –8, 28: 29, Romans 16: 24.
12.What further problem has arisen since the appearance of the Revised Version?
"The King James translators were committed to producing an English Bible that would be a precise translation and by no means a paraphrase or a broadly approximate rendering. On the one hand, the scholars were almost as familiar with the original languages of the Bible as with their native English. On the other hand, their reverence for the divine Author and His Word assured a translation of the Scriptures in which only a principle of utmost accuracy could be accepted." New King James Bible, Preface. Perhaps the greatest problem with modern versions is their extreme laxity in rendering faithfully the sense of even their own Greek original. The King James translators, when supplying words required by the sense, placed such words in italics. Such scruples are notably absent from most more recent versions. Their translation principle, called "Dynamic Equivalence," does not require a faithful rendering of the original words but an attempt to convey what the translator thinks the writer meant.
13. Do these changes make any difference to the teaching of the Bible?
Those who have attempted to use modern versions to teach the 70 weeks of Daniel 9 have found it impossible. Versions like the NIV, the Living Bible, the New English Bible, the Revised Standard Version and the Good News have the Messiah appearing only 7 prophetic weeks into the prophecy and then being killed 62 prophetic weeks later. Several of these versions, which were written by those believing in the appearance of the antichrist after the secret rapture, transfer the work of Christ in Daniel 9: 27 to the antichrist! They fail to distinguish between the work of the Messiah and the destruction wrought by the Romans, "the people of the prince that shall come." It has not proved possible for these people to provide a sound historical fulfillment of these alternative versions of the prophecy and they tend instead to cast doubt on the accuracy of the prophecy itself! It is not without significance that the RSV, NIV, Good News et al. omit the reference to Daniel the prophet in Mark 13: 14, where Christ applies this prophecy to the destruction of Jerusalem. The diligent reader will discover similar tampering with the longer time prophecy of Daniel 8: 14, of which the 70 weeks is a part.
14.How are Bible teachings affected by the readings of modern Bible versions?
The inferior Egyptian manustripts (Sinaiaticus and Vaticanus) as explained already contain significant omissions and varient readings from the vast majority of extant Greek manuscripts of the New Testement. It was argued that these Egyptian manuscripts were older but as Professor Hodges (one of the leading New Testament scholars today) has pointed out, "The text which results from dependence on such manuscripts as these may fairly be described as Egyptian . . . . In contrast to this kind of text stands the form of text found in the vast majority of remaining documents. This text is recognizably different from the Egyptian Text and has been appropriately designated the Majority Text. It is true that the documents that contain it are on the whole substantially later than the earliest Egyptian witnesses. But this is hardly surpising. Egypt almost alone, offers climactic conditions highly favorable to the preservation of very ancient manuscripts. On the other hand, the witnesses to the majority text come from all over the ancient world. Their very number suggests that they represent a long and wide-spread chain of manuscript tradition. It is necessary therefore to postulate that the surviving documents are decended from non-extant ancestral documents of the highest antiquity. These must have been in their own time as old or older than the surviving witnesses from Egypt.
"It follows from this that the majority text deserves the attention of the Christian world. When all the issues are properly weighed it has a higher claim to represent the original text than does the Egyptian type. The latter is probably a local text which never had any significant currency except in that part of the ancient world. By contrast the majority of manuscripts were widely diffused and their ancestral roots must reach back to the autographs themselves." Introduction to the Greek New Testement According to the Majority Text, Second Edition.
Versions which are translated from the Egyptian text can actually cast doubt on the divinity of Christ—one of the most central doctrines of the Christian faith. For example, in the Egyptian Text the word "God" is left out in 1Timothy 3:16, which is one of the plainest texts In the New Testement testifying to the divinity of Christ. In addition, obedience to the Commandments being a requirement to enter the Holy City is changed to simply being "forgiven" in the Egyptian Text. See Revelation 22:14. So the faulty Egyptian manuscripts are the cause of faulty teachings appearing in translations coming from them. But there is a second type of problem that is much more serious than this. This is the manipulation of the translation so that the Bible can be used to teach doctrines contrary to what the writer wrote. An example of this is when some modern translations change the phrase in Daniel 7:25 which indicates that the antichrist will think to change times and laws and make it read that the antichrist power will simply change the time of the feast days. This is a total prevarication and prostitution of the Hebrew Text.
15.What is Satan’s unceasing attitude to God’s Word?
See Early Writings, page 214.
Endnote: "Now that Satan can no longer keep the world under his control by withholding the Scriptures, he resorts to other means to accomplish the same object. To destroy faith in the Bible serves his purpose as well as to destroy the Bible itself." Great Controversy, 586. Satan’s hatred of the Bible is no less than it ever was. The fact that he has changed his tactics to destroy God’s Word should not blind God’s people. Since man is to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, Christians should be careful to ensure that those words are not being tampered with or corrupted by those who, "having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof," "received not the love of the truth that they might be saved." Not all Bibles are equal in value and the diligent lover of truth will seek to ensure that his Bible is the uncorrupted Word of God. The New Testament portion of the King James Version, we know today, was translated from a superior Greek text (a Byzantine text). And most modern translations are translated from the inferior Egyptian manuscripts. Versions available today in which the New Testament is translated from the Received Text include: the King James Version, the King James II Version, and the New King James Version.
January 1999 Table of Contents