By Rabon Vincent
I first began thinking about a new version of the Bible as a child when my dad pointed out several errors in the King James Version. I asked him “Why doesn’t someone just fix the mistakes?” He replied “Because no two people can agree as to what the mistakes are.” This simple answer was probably the beginning of my religious understanding.
My dad preferred the KJV but would never allow himself to be constricted by believing that all other translations or versions were less than adequate in every verse. Therefore, although my first Bible (at the age of five) was the King James Version, one of my most cherished Bibles was my second. When I was nine years old my dad gave me a Revised Standard Version Bible. I was astonished at how easy it was to read from this Bible. While I will always be a fan of the Elizabethan English of Shakespeare and the KJV, it cannot be denied that an easy to read, easy to understand Bible is a treasure indeed.
As I grew older, I began to realize that many people who were instructors for thousands knew little of the Bible. Little, that is, of what it really says. I became aware that part of the reason for this is the ability to extract a meaning from a part of the Bible that was easy to understand in several different contexts without the ability to combine it with more difficult areas of the Bible. The modern diversity of the English language seemed to be getting in the way of understanding the most wide-spread English language translation. Because of this, I believed that we needed a translation which was easy to read and understand, had continuity and was as free of secular errors as possible.
These were the same reasons that men like William Tyndale began translating the Bible into English. The only reward ever offered him was death, like so many others. I sought no reward. I always planned to offer a new version as a free translation not seeking royalties or profit of any kind. I did not want my name to be on the Bible. This is not to say that I would not be proud of the work. I simply don’t feel that my name needs to be on a Bible.
So, for nearly twenty years I had wanted to produce a Bible that could easily be read from cover to cover and more honestly arouse some of the emotions that the original Hebrew and Greek intended. I am not a linguist. For this reason I had been deterred from even attempting to do this by the sheer fact that most theologians would scoff at a version that was produced by someone who only speaks one language. However, I came to realize that this is exactly the kind of person who might produce a useful, contemporary English Bible. For example, if a writer were to write the following line in chapter one of a book:
John lived in a beautiful, spacious home with an empty bed.
the meaning becomes one of two (or more) things depending on whether a line in chapter two reads:
Neither John nor his wife could find any cure for their insomnia.
John had finally found the bride for which he had so long sought.
Since the majority of translations were translated by more than one individual, it becomes quite obvious that it is not easy for the flow of the Bible to be maintained. A single translator struggling through the entire Bible can (theoretically) more easily see the errors of translation he is introducing and, hopefully, correct them. That is not to say that a translator who cannot read the original languages is better than one who can. I am simply stating that in this age of computers, great linguistic skill is not absolutely required.
How did I, or how does anyone approach translating when they can’t read the original language(s)? Fortunately, we live in an age which allows the use of many tools that have never before been available. By using computerized lexicons, dictionaries, commentaries, etc., I was able to access an immediate database of information and make a decision based on the needs of a particular passage as I was translating. By using this method, I was not hindered by preconceived notions about how a passage should look or what it should say. I did it line by line, often not knowing whether or not an entire passage was ‘fitting together’ as it should.
An example of this was the book of Romans. Paul was so intelligent that his writing is very difficult to translate. After working my way through this epistle, I was almost ready to give up on translating because I felt that I had utterly failed to maintain the flow through even a small portion of the New Testament written by just one man! However, for the first time, I decided to go back and read the epistle I had just finished. I was uplifted by this version of Romans (as I always had been with other translations of this epistle) and realized that maybe I wasn’t doing such a bad job.
It would be very difficult to explain every step of the process that I used in producing this version without giving an example. Therefore, I have decided to show, step by step, exactly how the third epistle of John was produced for The Holy Scriptures.
The KJV reads:
1The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. 2Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 3For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 5Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; 6Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: 7Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. 8We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth. 9I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. 11Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. 12Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true. 13I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: 14But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.
Step one was modernizing the Elizabethan language into modern English (i.e. thy to your, thee to you, hath to has, etc.). This was done by computer using the find and replace feature of Microsoft Word and produced 30 differences between the two versions.
Reading after step one:
1The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. 2Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers. 3For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, even as you walk in the truth. 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 5Beloved, you do faithfully whatsoever you do to the brethren, and to strangers; 6Which have borne witness of your charity before the church: whom if you bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, you shall do well: 7Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. 8We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth. 9I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, receives us not. 10Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither does he himself receive the brethren, and forbids them that would, and casts them out of the church. 11Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that does good is of God: but he that does evil has not seen God. 12Demetrius has good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yes, and we also bear record; and you know that our record is true. 13I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto you: 14But I trust I shall shortly see you, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to you. Our friends salute you. Greet the friends by name.
Step two involved reading line by line and arranging the structure of the sentences into a structure that is more contemporary as well as attempting to provide correct punctuation. In order to accomplish this I had to utilize simultaneous lexical aids so that I could modernize more complex words that cannot be universally changed by the find and replace technique. For example: wellbeloved is the KJV translation of the Greek word agapetos, or agapetos in its anglicised spelling. This word means beloved, dear, favorite, etc. and can legitimately be translated as beloved instead of wellbeloved. I called this step three even though it was combined with step two.
For the Third Epistle of John this produced 32 differences between the two versions.
Reading after steps two and three:
1The elder, to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. 2Beloved, I pray always that you may prosper and be in health, even as your heart prospers.
3For I rejoiced greatly, when the brothers came and testified of the truth that is in you, even as you walk in the truth. 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 5Beloved, you do faithfully, whatever you do for the brothers, and for strangers; 6Which have testified of your brotherly love in front of the church: whom if you bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, you will do well: 7Because that for his name’s sake they went out, taking nothing from the heathen. 8Therefore we ought to receive such, that we might be fellow helpers to the truth.
9I wrote to the church: but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, did not receive us. 10Therefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he does, falsely accusing us with malicious words: and not content with that, neither does he himself receive the brothers, and hinders those who would, and casts them out of the church. 11Beloved, do not follow that which is evil, but that which is good. He who does good is of God: but he who does evil has not seen God.
12Demetrius has good reputation with all men, and of the truth itself: yes, and we also testify; and you know that our testimony is true. 13I had many things to write, but I will not write to you with ink and pen: 14But I trust I will see you soon, and we will speak face to face. Peace be to you. Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.
Step four involved the adding or deleting of italicized words. These are words which are not in the original language and were added only for clarity. The only change was the removal of the be in the last verse. It is not necessary in modern English.
Step five involved three members of my family individually reading the version and checking for clarity as well as spelling and grammatical errors. This was followed by a repeat of steps two, three and four if necessary.
Step six involved the help of additional proofreaders. The manuscripts were sent out in groups, read and then returned by the proofreaders with correction marks. This again meant that steps two, three and four might need to be repeated. In this case it did not.
As you can see, this single small book of the Bible has 64 differences that distinguish it from the KJV. I do not believe that they destroy the meaning of the book. I do believe that the book flows a little better but I’ll let the reader be the judge of that. As to the rest of The Holy Scriptures, I have calculated that there are between 175,000 and 250,000 of these differences, hopefully all of which will make the inspired writings an even greater pleasure to read.
I hope that this has helped some readers to understand that my intentions were not to cloud or shade the meaning of the Bible but, on the contrary, if God has been willing, to clarify its meaning.
The Holy Scriptures Bible Version Should Be Helpful
Which Bible translation is best? That question is frequently debated, but rarely can every Bible-believer in a room agree on an answer. That is because it is simply impossible to make a perfect translation from one language to another. A translator must decide between trying to be as literal as possible— word for word translating—or trying to convey the meaning of words.
Consider this statement:
The words “hand out” are used three different times with three different meanings. We could also say: “...give the man with his hand extended the papers on when to give people money or food.” But the repetition of the original “hand out” is lost. Someone trying to translate this sentence into another language would have the same trouble. There is no one word in the other language that means all three of those things. So the translator must choose between using a different word to replace each use of “handout” or use the same foreign word and realize that his readers probably will not understand the meaning. It is far more complex with 2000-year old languages and no dictionaries from those times. As a real example, the Greek cheirotoneo literally means “to select by stretching out the hand”. Some writings of the B.C. era show that it meant “select by a hand vote”, while later writings claim it meant to “select by laying on hands”. What did the Bible writers mean?
Invariably, any Bible translation will be partly a reflection of what its translators think the Bible means. When there is a passage that could possibly be understood more than one way, there is a great tendency for a translator to write what matches his belief.
I have spent several days helping Rabon Vincent with his version of the Bible, The Holy Scriptures, and I think it will be a very useful version for general Bible reading. (It is a version of the KJV, not a new translation from the Hebrew and Greek.) I think it would be especially good for first-time Bible readers. He did not try to go and put his doctrinal views into the Bible, but concentrated on fixing the places where the King James translators put their views into it.
The Holy Scriptures is not a study Bible—it does not contain any notes or possible alternate readings. Anyone doing a detailed study on the specific meaning of a passage should consult multiple translations and Bible helps.
While this version is good, it is also intended to be an ongoing work. If anyone would like to make clear suggestions for improvements, they may be sent to Rabon Vincent or Servants’ News.
How You Can Get One
We will be making The Holy Scriptures available in several ways. As this issue is being mailed, the Bible will be going to the publisher. Servants’ News will begin taking orders immediately for hardbound copies. We will mail them as soon as they are available. Computer versions will be available on mini-CD directly from Rabon Vincent and from our web site, www.servantsnews.com.
These will be distributed free of charge—Rabon is bearing the cost of printing and Servants’ News the cost of mailing. Contact Servants’ News at the address on page 2. Rabon Vincent may be reached at PO Box 756, Avilla, Indiana 46710; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org — Norm Edwards