"AS I SEE IT" 

Volume 12, Number 4, April 2009

 

“I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know.

For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me;

Inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.

I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply.

I will show partiality to no one.  Nor will I flatter any man.”

Job 32:17-21

 

“That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.”

Earl of Kent

Shakespeare’s King Lear

Act I, scene iv, ll. 32-34

 

[“As I See It” is a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek.  Its purpose is to address important issues of the day and to draw attention to worthwhile Christian and other literature in order to aid believers in Jesus Christ, especially pastors, missionaries and Bible college and seminary students to more effectively study and teach the Word of God.  The editor’s perspective is that of an independent Baptist of fundamentalist theological persuasion.

 

AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at: DKUTILEK@juno.com.  You can be removed from the mailing list at the same address.  Back issues sent on request.  All back issues may be accessed at http://www.KJVOnly.org]

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Rabbinic Advice on Timely Repentance

 

“ ‘Rabbi Eliezer said, ‘Repent on the day before thou diest.’  His disciples asked him: ‘Can a man know the hour of his death?’  He replied, ‘Therefore let him repent today, lest haply he die on the morrow.’ “

 

Babylonian Talmud, tractate Shabbat 152a; quoted in

Sketches of Jewish Social Life in the Days of Christ by Alfred Edersheim. 

Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970 reprint of 1876 edition p. 180

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A “Mansion” over the Hilltop?

 

“In my Father’s house are many mansions.” So reads the first clause of John 14:2 in the archaic KJV (italics added).  In modern American English, “mansions” means only one thing: large stately houses on substantial acreages, reminiscent of “Tara” and “Twelve Oaks” in Gone with the Wind.  And that is exactly how multitudes (including the author of the Gospel song “Mansion over the Hilltop”) misunderstand the obsolete language of the KJV here.  (“Mansion” occurs nowhere else in the KJV).

 

At the very least, anyone who assumes “mansions” here has its modern sense should logically be moved to ask--“How can there be Tara-esque mansions in the Father’s house?”  And raising such a rational question should instruct the thinking reader that somehow something is awry here.  And indeed something is.

 

Why is “mansions” used here?  What does it mean, or did it mean, in the early 17th century when the KJV was made?  Was that different than its present meaning?  And what of the original Greek that it ostensibly represents?  What does it mean?  First the Greek.

 

The Greek word here (without variation in printed Greek texts) is monai, the plural of mone.  This word is found elsewhere in the NT (in the singular) only in v. 23 of John 14, where the KJV inconsistently translates it “abode.”  Outside the NT, the word is not rare, occurring commonly in classical Greek authors, the apocrypha, Philo, Josephus and elsewhere.  It is related to the very common verbal root meno, which means “to stay, remain, last, persist, continue.”  It comes as no surprise then that Greek dictionaries give “staying, abiding” and “dwelling-place, room, abode” as definitions of mone in its various uses.  Nothing here to conjure up images of opulent houses in plantation settings.

 

Tracing how this word was translated in ancient and Reformation era Bible versions will enable us to discover how “mansions” found its way into the KJV here.

 

The earliest Latin version--or versions, since they are multiple and diverse--of the NT is today designated as the Old Latin.  These were made in the very late 2nd through the 4th centuries A. D.  Of extant manuscripts of the Old Latin version(s), I have access to two in John 14.  Both read mansiones in v. 2 (at v. 23, one is defective; the other reads habitaculum =”habitation, room”).  Mansiones is the plural of mansio, meaning “a remaining, stay, sojourn; station, halting place.”  I suspect that the other Old Latin manuscripts read the same. 

 

In the late 4th century (ca. 385 A.D.) the diversity of Old Latin versions led to Jerome’s attempt to standardize the Latin text in what is today called the Latin Vulgate (the Vulgate  is unquestionably the most influential translation of the NT ever made, dominating the Middle Ages in Europe and strongly influencing every Reformation-era translation there.  See “The Latin Vulgate Bible Translation in Historical Perspective” part I, As I See It, 5:4, April 2002; and part II, As I See It, 5:5, May 2002).  In the Gospels, the Vulgate is a cursory revision and standardization by Jerome of the Old Latin versions.  Not surprisingly, it reads here the same as the Old Latin, namely: mansiones. 

 

It doesn’t take a Ph. D. in Greek or Latin to recognize that the KJV’s use of “mansions” at John 14:2 is a direct transfer into English of the word employed by the Old Latin and Latin Vulgate versions.  That the KJV was heavily influenced by the Latin Vulgate in its text and translation may come as a surprise to some, but it is acknowledged by all who are familiar with the facts of the case.  In truth, every page of the KJV NT has vocabulary borrowed directly from the Latin Vulgate; “mansions” in John 14:2 is but one example among thousands (see “Is the King James Version a ‘Roman Catholic Bible’?” in As I See It 6:2, February 2003).

 

Among English translations, the Anglo-Saxon version (made from the Vulgate before 1000 A.D.)  translates (rather than borrows) the Latin mansiones by eardung-stowa (=”tabernacle, habitation”) both times.  My Anglo-Saxon dictionary does not list mansio at all, so it apparently did not pass from Latin into Anglo-Saxon as a loanword.

 

Wycliffe’s version of circa 1385, also made from the Vulgate, reads “dwellings” (v. 23, “dwell”).  Tyndale’s version, based on the third edition of Erasmus’ Greek text, in consultation with the Vulgate, Erasmus’ own Latin version, and Luther’s German version, has “mansions” (v. 23, “dwell”) in all editions (1526, 1534, 1535, 1536).  “Mansion” is also found in Tyndale’s version at 2 Corinthians 5:1, to describe the human body--the Greek literally is “house”--as the dwelling-place of the spirit (the Vulgate has domus, “house” cf. “domicile”).  Cranmer’s (1539), also known as the Great Bible, reproduces Tyndale in both places in John 14, and alone of 16th century English versions, at 2 Corinthians 5:1 as well.

 

The Geneva NT (1557, 1560, 1602 editions), similar to Wycliffe (but not directly influenced by him), has “dwelling places” (v. 23, “dwell”).  The Bishops’ Bible (1568), the base text for the KJV revision, reads “dwelling places” (v. 23, “dwelling”).

 

The Roman Catholic Rheims NT (1582), made from the Latin Vulgate rather than the Greek text, not surprisingly borrows the Vulgate word “mansions” (but in v. 23 has “abode,” a translation not found in any previous English version).

 

Then there is the KJV of 1611.  It abandons the reading “dwelling places” found in the Bishops’ Bible (of which the KJV was an official revision) and in the Geneva Bible (the English Bible most influential in the making of the KJV).  Instead, it reads precisely as the Roman Catholic Rheims: “mansions” (“abode,” in v. 23).  That the KJV follows the lead of the Rheims in v. 23 is certain, in as much as no other English version before 1611 so translated the word there.  This makes highly likely that the KJV was also imitating the Rheims (rather than reverting to Tyndale / Cranmer) in v. 2.

 

Other Reformation era versions are not germane to our present discussion.  Luther’s German version (1534, 1545) has “Wohnungen”=”dwelling places, habitations, rooms, abodes” (v. 23, “Wohnung,” the singular of the same word), and so this did not influence directly Tyndale and Cranmer, though it may have influenced the Geneva and Bishops’ versions. 

 

The Reina Spanish version of 1569 (and also the Valera revision of 1602) has “moradas” (v. 23, “morada,” singular), which means “stayings, remainings; habitations, abodes.”  It is somewhat surprising to me that mansiones was not borrowed from the Vulgate since a related word, “mansion” exists in Spanish, and the Reina-Valera commonly borrows Vulgate vocabulary in its translation. 

 

I do not possess Reformation-era versions in other Romance languages (French, Italian) so am not able to investigate how they rendered the word, though post-Reformation versions in French, Italian, Portuguese, and of course Romanian, do not use any word cognate with “mansions” here.  Nor do I have access to Calvin’s Latin or French versions here (Calvin’s versions and commentaries did often influence the Geneva English version, and sometimes the KJV).  Beza’s influential Latin version reads habitationes (“dwelling-places” / “habitations”).

 

Thus far the translations.  We must now briefly consider the history of the use of the word “mansion” in English, and for this we turn inevitably to the Oxford English Dictionary, almost always the “last word” in such matters.

 

The OED gives seven separate uses of this word over time, as follows (with the date of the earliest attested usage; I summarize, paraphrase and occasionally supplement rather than quote directly):

1. the act of remaining (1340);

2. a place where one stops or dwells; place of abode (1386).  This includes a separate dwelling place, such as an apartment in a large house (1400).  Tyndale’s usage in John 14:2 and an earlier one in a religious document (1340) are placed here.  “Mansions” is also used of abodes in hell (by Milton; 1629.  Perhaps we need a song for the unconverted “I’ve got a mansion, far beneath the hilltop”!);

3. a structure serving as a dwelling place (1340), including the chief residence of a landed aristocrat (synonym of “manor”), specifically, a stately residence (1512).  The word also has been used to describe a large building divided up into separate apartments (1860);

4. a halting place on a journey; the distance between two rest stops (1382);

5. an astrological term for the 28 monthly stages of the moon (1386); “house” is now commonly used for this (think “Age of Aquarius” by the Fifth Dimension--“When the moon is in the seventh house . . .”)

6. a parcel of land (1450)

7. as an adjective (1618)

 

Most of these usages are labeled as “obsolete.”  The Concise Oxford English Dictionary, an abridgment and up-dating of the original OED, lists only two current usages, that of a large stately house, and of an apartment building.

 

The words “manor” (as in “manor-house” and “lord of the manor”) and “manse” (in British English a synonym of “parsonage”) are etymologically related to “mansion” though not derived from it, and are obviously similar in usage.

 

So then, sorting through the historic usages of “mansion” as reported in OED, it is clear that the OED correctly classifies Tyndale’s (and subsequently the KJV’s) use of “mansion” in John 14:2 under the meaning an apartment in a large house.  We might say a guest chamber for an honored visitor.  I think of the special room prepared by the Shunamite woman and her husband for the prophet Elisha, 2 Kings 4:10; and Samuel Johnson’s visit to the Thrales’ estate, where he more or less remained continuously for 20 years!  In the Father’s house, we are honored guests, with our own well-furnished apartment, and we never have to leave, because we are home.

 

While “mansions” adequately and accurately represented in English the meaning of the Greek word monai in 1611, it certainly does not do so today, because of four centuries of extensive change in the English language.  As a consequence, the KJV is at this point now obsolete, archaic, and misleading, and therefore inadequate (and this is but one of many hundreds of such places where the KJV does not conform to modern English usage, and therefore fails to communicate accurately to the modern reader.  This is why I do not recommend the KJV to anyone, if they are seriously interested in knowing what the Bible teaches; indeed, I recommend that people not read it because of its frequently archaic language, recommending instead a modern English version or two).

 

How do modern conservative English versions treat John 14:2?  The NIV has “rooms” (v. 23, “home”); the NASB “dwelling places” (v. 23, “abode”); the NKJB “mansions” (with footnote, “literally, dwellings”; v. 23 “home”); the ESV “rooms” (v. 23, “home”); HCSB “dwelling places” (v. 23, “home”).  All of these are suitable (if you ignore the NKJB’s text, and follow its footnote) and adequately convey the sense and meaning of the original to the modern reader, in a way that “mansions” certainly does not.  Not only will these modern translations be understood, they will not be misunderstood.  With so many better options for English readers, not only here but throughout the Old and New Testaments, how can anyone justify continuing to use--and imposing on church members--a translation which they are guaranteed to misunderstand repeatedly?  Exactly what is the point of that?

---Doug Kutilek

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Reagan’s Economic Wisdom

 

"In Washington, people don't realize that you can't drink yourself sober or spend yourself rich; that you can't prime the pump without pumping the prime."

 

Ronald Reagan

The Uncommon Wisdom of Ronald Reagan, p. 117

edited by Bill Adler (Little, Brown, and Co., 1996)

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Spanish Bible Versions: a Great Heritage, part V

“Other Twentieth Century Versions”

Copyrighted by author, 2009

 

[Note: this study is appearing in multiple parts]

 

One common characteristic of the latter half of the 20th century was the production of “echo” translations in non-English languages.  By that I mean, whenever a major new version appeared in English, based on a particular text or theory of translation, it was not long before closely similar versions began to appear in Spanish, French, German, and other tongues.  The English Good News Bible, the Living Bible, the New International Version, the New American Standard Version, the New World Translation and more were “echoed” in other languages by new translations or paraphrases, usually sponsored by the very Bible publisher that produced the original English version.

 

The Living Bible” in Spanish

 

There is in Spanish, as there are in several other languages, an “equivalent” of Kenneth Taylor’s popular but often-criticized “Living Bible” paraphrase.  Taylor sought to simplify and restate in plainer language (for the sake of his own children) the literal wording of the 1901 American Standard Version.  Appearing in various installments beginning in 1962, the complete English Living Bible paraphrase was published in 1971.  The Spanish equivalent, called La Biblia al Dia, was published in 1979 by the International Bible Society, the same organization that sponsored the English New International Version (NIV) and the Spanish Nueva Version Internacional (NVI).  While I have made little use of La Biblia al Dia myself, a brief examination reveals that it follows closely, though not quite literally, the paraphrasing of the English edition (a “literal” translation of a “paraphrase” strikes me as a little odd).  As a consequence, it will partake of both the strengths and weaknesses of the English exemplar--simplicity in language and ease of reading, simplification of complex sentence structure, explanatory paraphrases of difficult passages, and adherence to a form of the modern so-called “critical text” in the NT; but also a strong dose of the paraphraser’s own interpretation and explanation of what the text means, rather than presenting what it actually says (Taylor was a theological conservative, which mitigates somewhat this weakness).  This paraphrase, apparently not widely known or used (as far as I am able to discover), may prove useful for those with limited Spanish knowledge--native peoples of Latin America for whom Spanish is their second language, and those who are studying Spanish in school--and as a sort of “running commentary” on the text.  While useful for consultation, it would likely prove inadequate as a primary Bible

 

In May, 2007, Tyndale House Publishers, in partnership with the Luis Palau Association, announced a project already in progress to provide a Spanish equivalent of the New Living Translation (1996), their popular up-dated version of the old Living Bible.   The New Living Translation, all the publisher’s protests to the contrary not withstanding, is still very much a paraphrase like the original Living Bible (though somewhat less so) rather than a translation, and in some places contains some highly dubious interpretations of the text.  The Spanish equivalent of the New Living Translation will be called Nueva Traduccion Viviente, and is scheduled to appear in 2009.

 

 

 

“The Good News Bible” in Spanish

 

In 1966, the American Bible Society issued a new “translation” of the New Testament called Good News for Modern Man; the complete Bible in this version, called both The Good News Bible (GNB) and Today’s English Version (TEV), was completed in 1976.  Conservative scholars criticized this English version on two grounds: first, it was a very free paraphrase that took considerable liberties with the text, and often “simplified“ it to the point of misrepresenting what the text actually said; and second, it was theologically corrupted by the translator (a liberal theologian), and deliberately so, so as to down-play and almost remove the doctrine of blood atonement, and subvert other fundamental truths.  Though heavily promoted by denominational agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention (then in the hands of theological liberals, but now no longer so), it never became popular or in wide use among English-speaking conservative Christians. 

 

Just as “equivalents” of this paraphrase have been made in French and German (and probably other languages as well), so there is also a Spanish edition, Dios Habla Hoy (DHH).  While whole Bible editions must exist, I personally have access only to the NT portion of this version, as part of a parallel four-version Spanish NT.  Reading this edition through all of Acts (Los Hechos) and other portions of the NT, I found DHH to be regularly paraphrastic, rather than literal (which sometimes helped me to understand the meaning of words in the other three versions, without having to consult a dictionary), and often interpretative, sometimes to the point of corrupting the theology of the passage.  For example, dikaioo, the Greek word for “justify,” that is, “declare or proclaim righteous,” is regularly rendered “hacer justo,” that is, “to make right.”  This is to confuse “justification” with final “sanctification” or “glorification.” Biblically, we are accounted, credited, judged “righteous” by God when we exercise faith in Christ, but we are not “made righteous” until we are removed from the presence of sin at death or at the Second Coming of Christ.  “To declare righteous” is the Biblical and Reformation doctrine of salvation; “to make righteous” is the Roman Catholic perversion of the doctrine.

 

I found that in a rare few places, DHH actually gave the best and most accurate rendering of the Greek, in comparison with the RV 1960, LBLA and NVI.  And DHH, unlike the RV 1960, uses “Usted” instead of “tu,” which is a plus for the person studying modern Spanish, since “Usted” is the polite form of address current today.

 

For someone learning Spanish, or with limited Spanish skills, DHH may serve temporarily as a language-learning tool, but I cannot recommend it as the ultimate or primary version.  It is simply not reliable enough for that.

 

 

 

 

Nueva Version Internacional

 

The New York Bible Society, later re-named the International Bible Society and relocated to Colorado, was the sponsoring organization of the New International Version (NIV) published in the 1970s.  The NIV is based on the “dynamic equivalence” or “functional equivalence” theory of translation, rather than the “formal equivalence” / literal theory.  It aims at being both intelligible and readable, as well as faithful to the original text, though from my own extensive use of it (it was my regular reading Bible for about 20 years) I would say that there are times when it is maddeningly and unnecessarily a bit too paraphrastic.  It is translated in the NT from a form of the “critical” text favored by most scholars.  In a relatively short time after its introduction, it became the most popular and widely-used modern English translation of the Bible, and out-sold the long-used KJV. 

 

And, naturally enough, there are several “NIV equivalents” in languages other than English, including one in Spanish, the Nueva Version Internacional (NVI).  As the International Bible Society had sponsored the original NIV, so it also sponsored and distributes the NVI.  The NVI is very much like the NIV, and often reproduces in Spanish the NIV’s English paraphrases (see, as but one example, I Thessalonians 1:3).  Like DHH, and in contrast to RV 1960 and LBLA, the NIV uses the polite “Usted” in translating the second person, rather than the more informal “tu.”  The NVI seems to follow more consistently the same Greek base text as the NIV, than does the LBLA as compared to its English equivalent, the NASB.  As I recommend the English NIV as one of several worthwhile English versions, so I do the same for the Spanish NVI.

 

La Biblia de Las Americas

 

The Lockman Foundation of La Habra, California in the 1960s and 1970s sponsored what became known as The New American Standard Bible (NASB), a revision and up-dating of the American Standard Version of 1901.  Since its initial publication, the NASB has become recognized as the most literal contemporary English version of the Bible, sometimes indeed a bit too literal, at the expense of ease of reading (in my seminary days, it was a common joke in Hebrew class that the student for his recitation could translate the OT passage anyway he wished, as long as it came close to the NASB rendering!).  In the decades of the 1980s and 1990s, the Lockman Foundation sponsored a Spanish-language “equivalent” of the NASB, namely La Biblia de Las Americas (LBLA).  It follows the NASB practice of literally translating the original language texts (and is apparently a revision of some form of the RV version, the words often corresponding closely), and therefore is of great help in knowing precisely what the Biblical text actually says. 

 

The NASB is based in the NT on the Nestle text, a revised Greek text which conforms to the accepted current state of knowledge of the original text of the NT, rather than clinging to the very limited state of knowledge of 400 years ago, as is the case in general with the RV 1960.  For reasons not stated, LBLA often does not follow the Greek text behind the NASB.  For example: Acts 8:37, absent from the vast majority of Greek manuscripts and excluded from the NT as non-original by virtually all scholars, is printed in brackets with an accompanying note in the NASB; in LBLA, there are no brackets and no note.  Similarly, at I John 5:7, the NASB consigns this verse to a note in the margin, since it is universally recognized as not being an original part of John’s letter, but was inserted by a scribe centuries later; LBLA prints this insertion as part of the text, and provides no note (though there are notes in the previous chapter on variant manuscript readings).  This situation is paralleled in numerous other passages.  Had LBLA more closely followed the form of the Greek text behind the NASB (and NIV / NVI), it would have been a better version.  Even so, because of its literalness, it is strongly recommended to the Spanish reader.

 

King James-based Translations

 

Under the influence of the absurd “King James Only” cult that sprang up and flourished in the last 4 decades of the 20th century among some zealous but remarkably uninformed American Christians, several misguided attempts have been made to translate the King James English version into Spanish.

 

The propagators of this view among Spanish-speaking Christians have done a gross disservice to them, by undermining their confidence in their Spanish Bible versions, some of which are at least as good and in several cases better, even much better and more accurate than the King James Version (though I am not a native speaker of Spanish, if I had to choose between the KJV and the Reina-Valera 1960--or even the 1602 Reina-Valera,--I would immediately and without delay choose either of these Spanish versions because of their superior accuracy and faithfulness to the original language texts, in comparison to the KJV).

In some extreme cases, KJV-only zealots have led Spanish-speaking Bible college students to desecrate and destroy their 1960 Reina-Valera Bibles as though they were “the devil’s Bibles”; such attacks on Reina-Valera versions were common in the past, but it was Catholic priests who sought to suppress and destroy them; today, it is self-professed conservative, “fundamentalist” Christians who do so.  It is a strange era we live in. 

 

Of these “King James equivalent” translations that I have been able to examine (and so far, all such projects are incomplete, and several have been abandoned), all are very poorly done with gross inaccuracies and even absurd mistranslations based on the translators’ inability to understand the KJV’s English (See my extended review of one of these, “KJVO-ism Gone to Seed: The ‘Rey Jaime’ Version” in As I See It, 4:5, April 2001)

 

Jehovah’s Witness Version

 

Of course, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Brooklyn, New York, otherwise known as the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” has produced its own badly corrupted Spanish translation, Traduccion del Nuevo Mundo de las Santas Escrituras, which, the title page informs us, was “traducidas de la version en ingles de 1961, pero consultando fielment los antiguos textos hebreo y griego” (“translated from the English version of 1961, but faithfully consulting the ancient Hebrew and Greek texts”).  The translation is dated 1967, and the backside of the title page of my copy claims that as of 1979, some 6 million copies had been printed.  No doubt that figure is much higher today.  My copy is bound in the same green color familiar from English editions of this translation.  Of course, since it was made from the Watchtower’s English version of 1961, this Spanish edition partakes of all the defects of the English edition--it is often a very stiff and wooden translation, but especially blameworthy is its plain dishonesty in deliberately mistranslating passages, especially those that teach the Deity of Christ, including John 1:1; Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1; etc. (though they failed in Spanish, as in their English version, to conceal the Deity of Christ in Hebrews 1:6--compare Revelation 22:9--where God the Father commands all the angels to worship the Son).  Because this translation is unreliable and dishonest, with a deliberate design to conceal and corrupt the teaching of the Bible, it cannot be recommended and should not be used.

 

Seventh-day Adventist Version

 

In 2000, another translation was issued, namely, Nueva Reina-Valera 2000.  The publisher was the Sociedad Biblia Emanuel of Doral, Florida.  This version is the work of the Seventh-day Adventists though it is not at all up front about it (typical of Adventist literature).  You have to "discern" the Adventist origin from certain renderings or from the doctrinal appendix, "La Fe de Jesus" [“The faith of Jesus”], particularly the section "Lo que la Biblia ensena del dia de reposo" [“That  which the Bible teaches concerning the day of rest/ Sabbath”], where even the Virgin Mary is appealed to as having kept the Sabbath.  Of course, this version cannot be recommended.  (A thank you to Dr. Maurice Robinson of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary for the information regarding this version).

 

Other Versions

 

There were numerous other minor Spanish versions which appeared in the late 20th and on into the 21st century.  Some are by Protestants, others the work of Catholics; some were produced by individuals and some by committees.  It is not possible to here even mention them all.  Those interested can learn something about some of these more recent versions by consulting the volume edited by J. D. Douglas mentioned in the bibliography. 

 

Among those that I have seen but not examined in detail is Biblia en Lenguaje Sencillo (“The Bible in simple language”), issued in 2000 by the United Bible Societies.  Whether it has an English version in its lineage or not, I do not know. 

 

The most recent Spanish Bible version I have seen reference to (in just the past week, in fact) is la Nueva Biblia Latinoamericana de Hoy (“The New Latin-American Bible for Today”); it was formerly known as Nueva Biblia de los Hispanos (“New Bible of the Hispanics”) and appeared in May 2008.  It is advertised as less literal and more readable than the LBLA on which it is based (the Spanish “NASB”); it employs “Ustedes” instead of “Vosotros” in rendering the second person plural, in accordance with modern spoken Spanish.  I have seen but not studied a copy of this version.

 

No doubt there are or soon will be other Spanish Bible translations and editions.

 

For my own part, I have found a four-version Spanish NT, El Nuevo Testamento en Cuatro Versiones, namely RV 1960, DHH, LBLA, and NVI, published by Editorial Vida of Miami, Florida (1995), to be exceptionally helpful to me.  Of these versions, three are decidedly conservative theologically (RV, LBLA, and NVI); two are formal equivalence / literal versions (RV, LBLA), which also happen to use “tu,” while the others use “Usted.”  One is a good “functional equivalence” version, designed for readability (NVI).  And one is a paraphrase, which helps me as a learner of Spanish, but is too “free” to be considered a reliable, primary version.  When I read the Spanish NT, I read out of this edition, reading successively all four versions, with great benefit.

 

I have seen available a parallel RV 1960 / NVI Bible as well.  This also would prove very convenient and helpful to a Spanish reader, presenting two reliable but differing approaches to translating the Scriptures.

 

And then there is a bilingual parallel NIV / NVI which could be of considerable benefit to a person who knows (or is learning) both languages. 

 

Summary

 

The heritage of the translation of the Bible into Spanish is long and admirable, at certain times and periods richer than that of the Bible in English.  Reformation-era translators of the Spanish NT and later of the whole Bible were as zealous and capable in their work as those famous in English Bible translation--Tyndale, Coverdale, and others, and they paid an equally high price in exile, suffering and persecution.

 

The Spanish-speaking world today is richly endowed with a number of excellent translations that are well-able to make the faithful reader “wise regarding salvation by faith in Jesus Christ,” and anyone who would surrender his RV 1960 or his NVI for a KJV or a Spanish translation based on the KJV would certainly be trading the better for the worse.  As I said before, if I had decide between them, I would immediately choose an RV 1960, or the original 1602 edition, over the KJV, because these Spanish versions exceed that English one in overall accuracy and excellence.

 

But possessing one or many Spanish versions will do the owner no good unless he, like the faithful Bereans, “searches the Scriptures daily” so that he may know God and Jesus Christ whom He sent.  Become a thorough student of the Bible.

---Doug Kutilek

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Additional information

 

Since the last issue, we have discovered additional information about the Reina-Valera 1995.  This revision was originally prepared for Spanish speakers in Latin America.  The revision committee consisted of Juan Diaz of Mexico, N. E. Spinoza (Chile), Alfonso Lloreda (Venezuela) Alfonso Rodriguez (Cuba) and H. Parra (Colombia).

 

[Note: because of the length of this section of our study of Spanish versions, we have held the bibliography over until the next issue of “As I See It.”]

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BOOK REVIEW

 

The Yale Edition of the Works of Samuel Johnson, Volume XIV: Sermons, edited by Jean Hagstrum and James Gray.  New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1978.  354 pp., hardback.

 

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), scholar, essayist, moralist, lexicographer, conversationalist and quintessential curmudgeon, was not a clergyman and never personally preached to a church audience, though he was a committed member of the Church of England; his attendance at religious services over the years may be characterized as erratic.  Nevertheless, Johnson authored by his own admission as many as forty or so sermons over a period of more than thirty years, though almost always for others (he also authored a series of lectures on English law for Sir Robert Chambers, the Oxford professor who succeeded the famous William Blackstone, though he, Johnson, was not formally trained as a barrister nor ever practiced law; Johnson’s areas of interest and expertise were far-reaching and diffuse).

 

In the 18th century--as in centuries before and since, and currently--the presentation by clergymen of sermons not of their own composition was a commonplace.  Because Johnson was a man of rare perception and eloquence, he was frequently asked by close friends among the clergy to compose for them sermons for special occasions.  He obliged them, writing out the sermons in long-hand, which they then paid him for, took possession of and re-copied in their own hand.  The original was then destroyed and all claim by Johnson to them was released.

 

Twenty eight of the forty or so sermons definitely by Johnson are extant, most from an 18th century two-volume set of sermons “left for publication” by John Taylor, LL.D., for whom Johnson wrote them.  In truth, rather than “sermons” in the popular sense of the term, these are theological essays, which were to be read to an audience.  The language is often florid, and the syntax highly complex, making them really unsuitable for oral delivery, especially if the ready grasp of their contents by a lay audience was the aim (though they represent the “ideal,” I suppose, of a sermon in the Anglican tradition; in bold contrast are the clear, plain and direct discourses by George Whitefield and John Wesley, as models of effective oral communication).  Johnson’s sermons are chiefly on ethical and moral subjects, rather than doctrinal and theological ones.  They are products of a day in which the form and style of a sermon was more valued than its direct and immediate effect of the hearers, and its effectiveness in communicating. 

 

Though most of the sermons were not published under Johnson’s name originally, they characteristically have readily detectible similarities to Johnson’s known published essays and writings, a great aid in definitely identifying them as his.  With only twenty-eight of approximately forty such sermons discovered to date, it is theoretically possible that there are additional Johnsonian sermons extant that were printed in the 18th century under someone else’s name, or are still in manuscript that have not yet been credited to him.

 

Theologically, Johnson reveals Arminian tendencies, denying that one can with certainty know his eternal destiny in this life, an expressed fear of losing salvation by defective obedience, and a confusion of repentance with subsequent personal reformation.  Yet in most areas he is clearly doctrinally orthodox.

 

Johnson did not compose his discourses out of thin air, but was an extensive reader of sermonic literature; his favorite clerics from the 17th century were Robert Sanderson, John Tillotson, Richard Hooker, Jeremy Taylor, Richard Baxter, Robert South and Henry Hammond.  His sermons often reflect ideas, phraseology and imagery from the published sermons of these men.  They also often echo ideas or phraseology from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.

 

The volume has a lengthy introduction, and several informative appendices, as well as a good index.

---Doug Kutilek

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