Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Discerning what is a “Holy Bible”, regardless of the language in which it is written (Part 1).

In this article I will be dealing with Bibles translated from the Original Languages into what has come to be known as the English Language.  I refer to English in that manner, because the language that we have come to know as English is not that dissimilar to modern multicultural society, in that it is made-up primarily from words that have migrated into it from other Languages.  In actual fact, several translations of the Original Manuscripts into what is purported to be English precede the publishing of the First English Dictionary by in some cases several hundred years.  Which raises the “Elephant in the Room” question: How is it possible to accurately translate the Original Manuscripts into words of another language that has yet to be defined?  The first monolingual English Dictionary was Robert Cawdrey’s “Table Alphabeticall” published in 1604, which was little more than a list of synonyms of around 2,500 words. The English language has grown exponentially since then to have exceeded 1,000,000 words by the end of the second millennium AD.

Does that mean that the most recent translations of the Original Manuscripts are more accurate and credible than older translations because translators of today have a richer and more diverse quantity of words to use? My short answer to that question is absolutely not!  Also, should word order (phrasing) be changed or manipulated so-as to reflect changes in our manner of speech?  Again my answer would be absolutely not, if by doing so one changes the mood, tone or context of the original text.  E.g. Shakespeare doesn’t sound like Shakespeare when rewritten and then read in Modern English.  Does it matter which text (MT/TR/CT/LXX, etc.), what method of translation, how many translators or when it was done, have a bearing on whether we can discern if a Bible translation is accurate and therefore Holy and “The Word of God” and not those of another?  Once again, my answer is absolutely not. Finally, do we need to learn the ancient languages of the Original Manuscripts and have access to them to know God’s Truth and “The Word of God”?  It should come as no surprise by now, that my answer is again, ABSOLUTELY NOT!  Most critically, should one have Faith in the integrity of a Bible purportedly being “The Truth” wherein the cited words of the author contradict themselves, thereby making the integrity of the whole book questionable?  You guessed it, ABSOLUTELY NOT!  I think it is now time for me to establish with you all, WHY NOT.

Sorting the wheat (Truth) from the chaff (untrue) when it comes to Bibles requires little more of an education than that required for the winnowing of grain.  I can almost hear the so-called experts and professors of enchant languages choking on their popcorn and mocking me already.  Well mock me if you feel you must and read on if you dare.

The first thing I wish to establish is that when I refer to a Bible, I am referring to a book that contains both the Old and the New Testaments, with no particular relevance to the language it has been translated into or particular number of books contained within it.  As a bare minimum, it would need to contain the 5 books of Moses (often referred to as God’s Law) and also the 4 Gospels named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (who cite the words spoken by Jesus Christ with narrations for context).  The focus on these books is that the books of Moses give us “the knowledge of good and evil” (Godliness and ungodliness) and through the life and words of Jesus Christ as retold by 4 witnesses “wisdom, understanding, Godliness and Love just to name a few” (The way of Life with a Promise of Salvation).  Please don’t get me wrong here, the other books have their place in the Bible also as there are Conditional Promises of Salvation made by God to His chosen people “The Jews” in the entirety of the Old Testament, whereas the New Testament delivers God’s Conditional Promise of Salvation to anyone whether they be Jews or not.  The books of Moses are written by a Messenger chosen by God to the 12 tribes of Israel and the 4 Gospels detail the Life and doctrines of Jesus Christ the Messenger sent by God to all people of the world.  The integrity of any Bible can be discerned by examining the contents of these 9 books.

Okay…So what are we actually looking for within those particular books of the Bible in order to determine if it is “The Truth” and indeed the “Word of God”?  In a word, consistency.  I.e. A total absence of any contradiction whatsoever.  Without that, it is impossible to have absolute Faith in the validity of that which is contained within it.  The reason I digress quite often is not for the benefit of those born of understanding, but rather for the benefit of those who are not.  To those that are born of understanding, unless your understanding is total and complete, then I suggest you persevere and read-on and the clarity that I am purposed to deliver may become apparent to all.  I think a fair analogy of my point could be given as follows: Many people say the sky is Blue, which is difficult to deny until you look to the sky at night, so the statement is untrue.  Conversely, many people say that the night sky is Black, which is difficult to deny until you look at the sky during the day, so that is untrue also.  If neither statement is true, then we are left with the question WHY (doubt and uncertainty)?  If however we change our point of view from a worldly view to a heavenly view (from outer-space) then we truly see with clarity that the sky is in fact (truth) clear.  Similarly, a Bible read from a worldly view may seem full of contradictions, yet when it is read from the view of God it all becomes clear.  If something is written in the “third-person” it will most certainly not read true unless it is read accordingly.  And if something is written from a certain view-point, it must be read from the same point of view.

Absolute Truth remains true regardless of the passing of time.  I.e. What was True in the beginning is just as true today and will also be true in a thousand years. E.g. “Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away”.  It is written that in the beginning God created Man is His image and in His likeness.  This statement alone has the greatest bearing on determining if a Bible has been translated with integrity or not.  If we are created with the same “Likes” and “dislikes” as our Creator, then those can be used by us in our assessment of the Bible.  Further to that, God states what He expects us not to be or do in the Ten Commandments.  One should also pick-up on another thing I.e. God never tells Man what to do, only what not to do.  What we ultimately do is entirely up to us, however God has foretold of the consequences we shall face if indeed we err.  To those with an ear to hear, God does give directions, however it is up to us whether we act accordingly or not.
So, are we really of the same “likeness” as God?  Let us compare our likes and dislikes with the Ten Commandments of God.  The head of any house expects to be respected by those within it, which is not dissimilar to “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other gods before me”.  They also loathe being set as inferior to others within their house (disrespected) and competing for the respect that is rightfully theirs (unrequited jealousness), which is not that dissimilar to “for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God”.  They dislike their name being besmirched or cursed, which is not all that dissimilar to “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain”.  I don’t know of anyone who likes working 7 days a week, so having a day off work every week seems universally acceptable.  The head of a house expect their children to be respectful and honour them, so we should respect and honour the head(s) of the house in which we were raised, which is not that dissimilar to “Honour thy father and thy mother”.  Even killers would not like to be killed, so we shouldn’t kill.  If one can be harmed/punished for committing adultery and a couple who are married are considered one flesh and one cannot commit adultery with oneself, then they should be married.  Even thieves don’t like their goods to be stolen from them, so we shouldn’t steal.  Likewise, liars don’t like to be lied to, so we shouldn’t lie.  Nobody likes anyone having an insatiable desire for what belongs to them, so we shouldn’t covet what belongs to another whether it be spouse or possessions.  I think that establishes the soundness of the Ten Commandments.
(c) Copyright 2014 by Christopher John Petersen.