CG7: No Bible Translation is Flawless


In the latest issue of its The Bible Advocate, CG7-Denver has the following question and the is answer from its former President, Elder Calvin Burrell:

How does one avoid the possible mistranslation errors of English Bibles? How reliable is The Message translation and other study Bibles by individuals?

No translation or current version of Scripture is flawless. This is true, in part, because of the different manuscripts from which our Bibles are translated. Differences among the many manuscript copies in existence are mostly minor and seldom affect doctrine. Taken together, however, those minor differences yield versions that are not quite identical with the original Bible manuscripts, which no longer exist. Another reason we have no perfect versions of the Bible is that translation itself is not an exact science.

Even if every word in Hebrew and Greek had its perfect counterpart in English (it does not!), still sentence structure, grammatical nuance, syntax, and other linguistic factors assure that the task of translation is much more complex than the mere choice of words. Although it’s not possible to avoid all errors in Bible versions, we can 1) be confident that the basic, essential message of Scripture is preserved in most versions and 2) use good judgment and follow good counsel to select versions that more accurately and understandably render the Bible’s message in its entirety.

CG7’s position on this is similar to my position as well as the Living Church of God.  Normally, most versions of the Bible give a reasonable translation (though not always). As a general rule, we tend to use the New King James Version (NKJV) as it is a modern and normally accurate translation (though there are several passages where I find the KJV better in some places and the NIV better in others).

Because many current and former Catholics come to the COGwriter website, I tend to quote the Douay-Rheims on certain matters that Catholics may be more sensitive too, and sometimes the New Jerusalem Bible.  The New Jerusalem Bible, like the NKJV, is intended as a direct translation of the Hebrew and Greek scriptures into English, it is most widely used by Catholics outside the USA.  A concern about the Douay-Rheims is that it is a translation of Hebrew into Greek into Latin into English for the Old Testament and a translation of Greek into Latin into English for the New Testament, hence it has more opportunity for biases and translation errors than the more direct translations.  The Douay-Rheims is widely used by American Catholics, and is also used outside of North America.

I own and/or have immediate access to well over a dozen translations.  On more controversial matters (especially when the biases of the translations are apparent), the use of multiple translations can help assist the reader to determine the meaning.  Since “scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35), if a translation appears to contradict other clearer portions of scripture, this is usually an indication of translation error, and hence suggests looking at one or more other translations in order to get the proper meaning of the verse.

The Bible is true, but humans have their issues (cf. Romans 3:4).

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

The Bible: Fact or Fiction? This is a booklet written by Douglas Winnail that answers if the Bible is just a collection of myths and legends or the inspired word of God.
Read the Bible Christians should read and study the Bible. This article gives some rationale for regular bible reading.
What is the Appropriate Form of Biblical Interpretation? Should the Bible be literally understood? What do the writings of the Bible, Origen, Herbert W. Armstrong, and Augustine show?
Bible and Historical Resources on the Internet Electronic bibles, Two Babylons, early Christian literature, photos, and even links to old Herbert W. Armstrong materials.
Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings Are traditions on equal par with scripture? Many believe that is what Peter, John, and Paul taught. But did they?
The Old Testament Canon This article shows from Catholic accepted writings, that the Old Testament used by non-Roman Catholics and non-Orthodox churches is the correct version.
The New Testament Canon – From the Bible Itself This article, shows from the Bible and supporting sources, why the early Church knew which books were part of the Bible and which ones were not.
Church of God, Seventh Day: History and Teachings Nearly all COG’s I am aware of trace their history through this group. Whaid Rose is the president of the largest CG7 group (Denver). Do you know much about them?

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