Error will slip through a crack, while
truth will stick in a doorway.
- H. W. Shaw
Paradigm Translation Dependency
The first thing that needs to be said is that out of the hundred basic
verbal language families on earth there are no two families where the "words"
consistently map to each other. Most have significant differences. For the
most fundamental translation difficulties see:
should be considered
alongside of the various other factors that apply to any translated passages:
- underlying cultural differences
- the different "zeitgeist"
- context, or flavor of the era
- a modicum of different concerns
grammars which featured some different tenses and voices
expressions and "sayings" that cannot be taken literally
- different cultural methods for indicating importance or emphasis
- loss of voice inflection or audible emphasis for quotes
- metaphors and analogies that no longer can be translated literally
- various other aspects that are different.
Cultural languages, in contrast to some pictographic examples and modern
mathematical, technical and computer languages, were developed orally, and
intended to be ORAL and audible. The following points are notable:
- Conversion of the oral languages into
writing ALWAYS came later after writing methods were developed and alphabets
- The conversion from verbal conversation, accounts, myths,
legends, stories, etc., into written text ALWAYS suffers a loss from
elimination of voice inflection and emphasis, and even from the lack of
gestures, demeanor and facial expressions.
- Sometimes these extra-lingual factors can even negate
or reverse the meaning of the actual phrase that is used.
- Sometimes the
existing verbal conventions do not come through in the text, and/or
especially in any translation to a different cultural language.
Regarding the New Testament Gospels–with which we will limit our
concern–, most of all but the briefest conversations were NOT remembered
verbatim, but were synopsized by the original person relating the account
and put into his own words. And then these accounts were passed on to
others, so that the Synoptics are collections of second, third, or even
fourth hand oral accounts that were collected and transcribed by the
compiler. Jesus and the disciples ostensibly spoke Cyriac, and most
Synoptic text was originally spoken in this language and recorded in Aramaic or Hebrew.
They have had to
be translated and recorded or written first into Koine Greek and then into
an intermediate or final language such as English and the various languages
in which the New Testament is published. In a few instances, even capitalization
and punctuation–not provided in the original Greek manuscripts–play a role
in affecting the meaning.
Agenda and paradigm differences
The three compilers of the Synoptic Gospels and the eyewitness John all
clearly have different intentions or agendas for what they produced, and they all
brought along their personal set of knowledge, beliefs, understandings and
assumptions, including the overarching paradigm that they had accepted.
However, whatever the impact of all other factors, the absolute WORST
problem for translating the material meaning of the truth that Jesus
proffered is the paradigm problem. The truth ALWAYS requires a paradigm to
contain or display it, and if you have a flawed paradigm, you CANNOT
ascertain the full truth of what was being said. Needless to say, the people
that listened to Jesus had a severely flawed paradigm of God and reality,
and Jesus tried in many ways to deal with this underlying problem. In a
profound way, he came to change our paradigm, and without this change it all
just engenders distortion at best and falsity at worst.
Paradigm Problems in New Testament Translation
It has long been known that the highest level secular
Greek scholars laugh with derision and scorn at the way the New Testament is
translated in the traditional Bibles. Modern English language Bibles are
tethered, for social, emotional, practical and marketing factors, to the King James edition,
widely recognized as a very poor translation. Besides a limited, "inbred" and misinformed lexicon, most of
the rest of the problems are introduced because of two major factors: 1) the traditional but
false paradigm of God in the Old Testament long held by the world's major
religions, and 2) the unwarranted "faith-based" assumption that the Bible is its own
best interpreter and commentator.
Personal Experience in Translation
I am not a formally trained Greek scholar, but at some point in my earlier
review of the Gospels, I became convinced that they were badly translated,
especially when I came across Green’s NT Greek English Interlinear. When I
read that, I was shocked at the ignorance of the
King James compilers and the liberties
that they took. My heart fell, and I screamed at God the question, “To know
the truth and understand, am I going to have to dig into the Greek text
myself, and retranslate?” The answer, of course, was silence, and so I went
down to the second largest book store in the world and bought 3 Greek
reference works for about $140. Of course, I now realize that even these are
somewhat contaminated by “Christian intellectual incest,” but for the most
part, they were pretty straight and helpful.
I started with a copy of the Revised Standard text, and every
place that I either didn’t understand or where I didn’t like the
concept that came through, I did an in-depth study–as thorough as
I could under the circumstances of relying on these 3 reference works. I changed many passages
according to the clearer understanding that was developing. This
initial effort took me two years. Eventually, the picture became
clearer and clearer, and I kept adjusting my new text with a better
choice of the several English phrases or words that can be staunchly defended.
Currently, I REALLY appreciate having as a friend and colleague a Greek scholar
of the highest merit, one who has the advantage of the ancient
catastrophe understanding and all that goes with it. He has read every
document and scrap of ancient Greek that he can find, and
has also been exposed to the findings and thinking of our mutual colleagues
like David Talbott, William Mullen, Dwardu Cardona, Ev Cochrane, Roger Westcott,
Rens van der Sluijs, Wallace Thornhill, et al.
Some of my most important passage changes have raised eyebrows from some of
my associates–one a rector of Loma Linda
University, another a science department head–, and they became determined to
present my text to the university Greek scholars in the
department of theology for any forthcoming challenge. I have heard back from nary a one!
When it comes to the usual translation, how bad is it? Here is just one
instance of where the translation is 180 degrees wrong in literally every
published New Testament out there. The problem appears in John 8:11, where
Jesus ostensibly says in the extant translations, "I don't
blame you either, go, and sin no more".
Foundation For Different Translation
1) When Jesus used the Mars rooted term "sin" as a noun,
which means the "miss distance" or "distance of impact from the target mark"–amartia,
literally outside of Mars the bullseye–, he primarily if not
exclusively meant it to apply to a wrong concept or understanding of God,
not a violation of the law nor bad, unethical behavior. He also primarily if
not exclusively used the verb terms "sin" (miss the mark) and "sinning"
(missing the mark) to apply to RETAINING and/or REINFORCING a misunderstanding or wrong
concept of God. See:
Sin John 15:18-27
2) If Jesus came to reveal the real character of God, change our concept of God and our
paradigm, he did not come to "pay some ransom price" or to "balance the books" or to
satisfy some larger than God justice system. Notice his frustration when
Philip came and asked him to "show us the father, and we will be
satisfied", and how he responded, "Have I been with you so long, and you still
do not understand me, Philip? He who has seen [understood and
experienced] me has seen the father. HOW can you say, 'Show us the
father'?" It is in this way that Jesus came to solve the sin problem.
course he always reflected truly in words and deeds the character of a real God
worthy of the term, and thus
"sinning" as reinforcement of wrong concepts stopped in his presence. There was no reinforcement of
these when he was around! When he came to the temple, brandishing a
whip he somewhat violently cleaned out its dreadful business. Why? The
program there was sinning to the max! It was giving the message that an
angry God was
placated by the purchase and waste of an animal sacrifice acquired under
religious extortion at an exorbitant price. That was a spiritual nadir!
3) Jesus wanted open minded followers, and he invited many
to leave their petty and poor lives behind them and to come and follow
him. If he had had his way, all would have followed and listened to him.
He did not even send Judas away, and he went so far as to invite that most unlikely
candidate, the rich young ruler, to come and follow him. He sought out
the Samaritan woman at the well, and if she had followed his
instructions, she and her lover would probably have been privileged to
have had special and private discourse with him, which discourse would
have opened the gates of understanding the "kingship of the heavens" or empowerment.
4) The Koine Greek verb, which means "to pass, to move toward or away in
relation to", can be translated in English variously as
"come" or "go" or "pass", depending on the intent of the speaker,
which can usually be inferred from the context.
The proper selection of the antithetical "come" and "go" can
ONLY be made by
understanding what the speaker meant in the context of the situation and his
The More Reasonable Translation
Thus, in the
light of the four foundation points above, the most reasonable translation
of the statement should be, "Come, and sin no more." Of course, with
this definition of sin, this could be restated as, "Come and
misunderstand no longer."
Holy Ghost versus Adequate Attitude
The Greek word pneuma usually can be translated as breath
or spirit, but more generally refers to a spirit or attitude that enlivens or animates with meaning. Unfortunately, early on in
the process of spiritually dull translations, this word got translated
as "Ghost", a superstitious and somewhat materialized concept of spirit.
The actual Greek word for "ghost" would be phantasma, and
pneuma should NOT EVER be translated this way.
So, instead of signifying the truer meaning of special, adequate, or
triumphant attitude–the God attitude–the term now falsely implies to most
people a reference to a mysterious living being that is a member of an
imaginary trinity. Further support for this unwarranted false concept
seemingly comes from Jesus
personifying the term, but he also personified other non-person aspects,
such as "wisdom". the devil, the Father, etc..
Falsely distorted "Biblical" meaning of Salvation
The Greek word soteria, translated as
salvation, has a basic meaning of simply being delivered, preserved,
rescued, or saved from death or danger, being made safe to STAY alive. Since the early
Christians, in following the influential "apostle" Paul and the
non-enlightened contingent of disciples led by Peter, ultimately did NOT experience deliverance
from danger and death, it became necessary and fashionable in the Christian
thinking and literature to accept that the Salvation offered by Jesus meant
delivered from God's judgment of sin and being made safe to be saved
literally at some LATER time
after being resurrected. This is just simply and pathetically wrong!
Since the word salvation now for almost all Christians has taken on the
meaning of eventual redemption, it has lost all of its immediate and literal
meaning! This obscuring miasma of meaning regarding this word has become strong enough to
override the plainest statements made by Jesus that his true followers
are NOT subject to real danger or dying.
Bottom line implication?
The human race is little short of insane for
clinging to these mistranslations and the old paradigm of the
center-of-power-control-god, and the
chronological-agenda-God. Insane for believing such
nonsense as it does about the Creator, the realm of unfallen
people, and salvation. These are only SOME of the good reasons to challenge
most everything that is part of a failed
paradigm and the religions based on it!