How does the Living Bible measure up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
As we go through Jeff Johnson’s *cough* work *cough* we need to get something clear about translation. All translations to some extent are interpretations. If this blog was translated into another language, the person would have to think of the right language to use to translate it and that will likely entail certain meanings.
Some translations go with a word for word where you try to find the word in the corresponding language that matches the word in the manuscript. This can be hard as sometimes words really don’t have an equivalent in another language. (The Greeks have four words for love and we use one for all of them.) Some words are hapax legomena meaning they show up one time in the text and sometimes these words are extremely hard to find anywhere else if they can be found at all.
Some translations go with more of what is called a dynamic equivalence and the idea is to get the meaning out even if it isn’t word-for-word. Paraphrases are extremely like this. Paraphrases are meant more for devotional reading of a text. They are not meant for serious academic study.
But I suspect none of this matters to Johnson. He might not even know about it. At any rate, here’s the source material again.
KJV: “AND THE SONS OF AARON SHALL SPRINKLE THE BLOOD THEREOF UPON THE ALTAR ROUND ABOUT.”
LB: “The priest shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar.”
One can say the paraphrase doesn’t get to the main emphasis of how this was done, but that is not the point of a paraphrase. I don’t think throw is the best term, but again, the Living Bible is not meant for academic study.
KJV: “PHINEHAS … HATH TURNED MY WRATH AWAY FROM THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL.”
LB: “Phinehas has turned away my anger for he was as angry as I.”
COMMENT: How can someone be as angry as God?
Brace yourself, Mr. Johnson. In the time that this was written, the translators, (rightly or wrongly) would have believed in impassibility which means they would not believe God could literally be angry. However, even if I did not hold to that position, I would still be able to recognize hyperbolic language, which is common to Jews.
KJV: “AND THEY CRIED, THE SWORD OF THE LORD AND OF GIDEON.”
LB: “All yelling for the Lord and for Gideon.”
Comment: The two verses are not even close!
But if you look at what’s going on in the context, then they are close.
KJV: “AND HIS CONCUBINE PLAYED THE WHORE AGAINST HIM.”
LB: “But she became angry with him and ran away.”
Comment: Are PLAYING THE WHORE and running away the same?
In this case, I do think that the KJV has it better. That’s called being fair in translation and interpretation.
I Sam. 20:30
KJV: “THOU SON OF A PERVERSE REBELLIOUS WOMAN.”
LB: “You son of a bitch.”
Comment: Some ‘modern’ versions, like the LB, actually contain vulgarity. Notice this verse. Also, take a look in an NIV ‘bible’ in Ezekiel 23:20.
So let’s put up what Ezekiel 23:20 says in the NIV.
There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.
Profanity is honestly more of a social sin than anything else. Nowhere in Scripture is something said like “You shall not say these words.” I don’t say them, but I don’t fault Christians who sometimes do. If you look at these verses and your biggest problem is they use words that you don’t like in some translations, you have a bigger problem.
II Sam. 16:4b
KJV: “AND ZIBA SAID, I HUMBLY BESEECH THEE THAT I MAY FIND GRACE IN THY SIGHT, MY LORD, O KING.”
LB: “Thank you, thank you, sir, Ziba replied.”
Comment: There is NO similarity between these two verses.
Unless you, I don’t know, actually read the story.
I Kings 18:27
KJV: “CRY ALOUD: FOR HE IS A GOD: EITHER HE IS TALKING, OR HE IS PURSUING.”
LB: “Perhaps he is talking to someone or else is out sitting on the toilet.”
Comment: Sitting on a toilet ???
This is the only time the word translated “pursuing” is used in Scripture, but again, what’s the big deal? Oh my gosh! He said a pagan god could be sitting on a toilet and thus not answering! I suppose Elijah should realize he can mock Baal all he wants as long as he doesn’t say words that might be deemed offensive.
II Kings 21:6b
KJV: “HE WROUGHT MUCH WICKEDNESS IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD, TO PROVOKE HIM TO ANGER.”
LB: “So the Lord was very angry, for Manasseh was an evil man in God’s opinion.”
COMMENT: In God’s opinion?
This is another case where I do think the KJV is better.
II Chr. 26:4
KJV: “AND HE DID THAT WHICH WAS RIGHT IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD ACCORDING TO ALL THAT HIS FATHER AMAZIAH DID.”
LB: “He followed in the footsteps of his father Amaziah and was in general a good king as far as the Lord’s opinion of him was concerned.”
COMMENT: Again, God does NOT have opinions. Men have opinions.
And again, the same.
Okay. No need to overwhelm the reader. We will continue another time.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)