Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Translation Review: The Contemporary English Version of the Bible

Several months ago, I found a package on the front stoop of the church building, from the American Bible Society. It contained two copies of their new Contemporary English Version of the Bible.

This version purports to be a TRANSLATION. Following are a few excerpts from the statement page:

“But the translators of the Contemporary English Version of the Bible have diligently sought to capture the spirit of the King James Version by following certain principles set forth by its translators in the document ‘The Translators to the Reader,’ which was printed in the earliest editions.

“Accuracy, beauty, clarity, and dignity — all of these can and must be achieved in the translation of the Bible. After all, as the translators of the King James Version stated, ‘This is the Word of God, which we translate.’

“Every attempt has been made to produce a text that is faithful to the meaning of the original. In order to assure the accuracy of the Contemporary English Version, the Old Testament was translated directly from the Hebrew and Aramaic texts published by the United Bible Societies (Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, fourth edition corrected). And the New Testament was translated directly from the Greek text published by the United Bible Societies (third edition corrected and compared with the fourth revised edition).

The drafts in their earliest stages were sent for review and comment to a number of biblical schoolars, theologians, and educators representing a wide variety of church traditions. In addition, drafts were sent for review and comment to all English-speaking Bible Societies and to more than forty United Bible Societies translation consultants around the world. Final approval of the text was given by the American Bible Society Board of Trustees on the recommendation of its Translations Subcommittee.”

Their stated intent was to make a translation in the modern day English language that could be easily read and spoken.
The problem with the translation is that is not careful, not even a translation, but rather a commentary on what the “translators” think the Bible should say. Below are a few excerpts which should illustrate the truthfulness of this contention.

Acts 2:1, “On the day of Pentecost all the Lord’s followers were together in one place.”

Acts 20:17, “From Miletus, Paul sent a message for the church leaders at Ephesus to come and meet with him.”

Romans 14:1, “Welcome all the Lord’s followers, even those who faith is weak. Don’t criticize them for having beliefs that are different from yours.”

1 Corinthians 7:15, “If your husband or wife isn’t a follower of the Lord and decides to divorce you, then you should agree to it. You are no longer bound to that person. After all, God chose you and wants you to live at peace.”

1 Corinthians 11:25, “After the meal, Jesus took a cup of wine in his hands and said, ‘This is my blood, and with it God makes his new agreement with you. Drink this and remember me.'”

Colossians 2:14, “God wiped out the charges that were against us for disobeying the Law of Moses. He took them away and nailed them to the cross.”

1 Timothy 3:1-2, “It is true that anyone who desires to be a church official wants to be something worthwhile. That’s why officials must have a good reputation and be faithful in marriage. They must be self-controlled, sensible, well-behaved, friendly to strangers and able to teach.”

1 Timothy 3:8, “Church officers should be serious. They must not be liars, heavy drinkers, or greedy for money.”

You will note that often words are used which assume what must be proven (i.e. – “they” = “all the Lord’s followers”; “depart” = “divorce”, etc.)

Also, as in the case of elders and deacons, all references to gender or age are removed, although they are intrinsic in the words.

Overview: Its interesting that although these translations are very damaging and misleading, it is still impossible for the “translators” in many cases to mask the truth. The scriptural teaching concerning the creation account, the virgin birth, the necessity of baptism, the establishment of the church, the possibility of apostasy, the removal of the old covenant, Jesus’ teaching on Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage, etc. all comes through intact.