ByFaith Media - ByFaith - By Faith
[  Home  About  News  Contact  Site Map  ]      [  TV  DVDs  Books  Mission  Store  ]

The Evolving English Language and Bible Translation

Changing and Evolving Language

As the years tick by, words often change their meanings. What is wicked or cool to a young person can means something completely different to someone of another generation.

Grass used to be something you mowed and pot was where you boiled your vegetables and a joint was for Sunday lunch. Being gay once meant being a happy or jolly person. Manpower is now a work force; fireman has been transformed to fire-fighter and a supervisor used to be a foreman.

Even the little old man from across the street has been elegantly titled as an elderly man and now nurses in the UK have been told not to called their patient's “Dearie.” Do you remember when: a keyboard was a piano, application was for employment? A window was something you hated to clean, a web was a spider’s home; a program was a television show? Memory was something that you lost with age; compress was something that you did with the rubbish? Hard drive was a long trip on the road, log on was adding wood to the fire and a virus was the flu?

The word chip used to only mean fried potatoes or a special bonded piece of wood and hardware was all about going to the local ironmonger for some nuts and bolts.

Linguist Andrew Lloyd James said, "A language is never in a state of fixation, but is always changing; we are not looking at a lantern-slide but at a moving picture."

It is reassuring to know that God is unchanging, just like the Holy Bible and all the truths contained within; words may have to change but God's principles are unchangeable. Obey the Scriptures and you'll get results; violate them and you'll get consequences.

Changing Societies

As languages changes and evolves then so do societies and their cultures. Adultery is called an extra-marital affair. An abortion is called a termination. Promiscuity is called love affair. Some would say that stealing from an elderly woman is stealing; shameful theft; yet to steal or take from a large corporation is acceptable, (it may be called ‘liberation’) as they make lots of profit! But theft is still theft, however large or small. ‘Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God’ and theft does not glorify God and never has done and breaks one of the Ten Commandments.

There was a time in British society that your word was your honour. What you said you did and what you promised you definitely did. There was such a thing as a gentleman’s agreement, a binding contract solely on someone’s word of honour and to break your word of honour was shameful conduct.

A nation defined by Christianity and the Bible, and the social changes to challenge this biblical heritage ‘Britain A Christian Nation.’ Go

‘The living language is like a cow-path: it is the creation of the cows themselves, who, having created it, follow it or depart from it according to their whims or their needs. From daily use, the path undergoes change. A cow is under no obligation to stay’ E.B. White, writer (1899-1985).

Confusing Language

Does bi-weekly or fortnightly, mean either two week, or every other week? Why are buildings called ‘buildings’ when they are already finished? Should they be called builts instead? If you move a meeting forward, what should it be called? How does ‘pre-pone’ an opposite of postpone sound?

In Britain and American, ‘move forward’ (and ‘move back’) have contradictory meanings among different people of both nationalities. For example, ‘move forward’ means to postpone, moving to a later date, as in, moving the meeting forward from March 16th to March 23rd. Others would ‘move the meeting forward from March 23rd to March 16th and ‘move back’ would have the reverse meanings. And how is it possible to have a civil war, what so civil about it?

The teacher wrote in my diary a note to my parents that my physics homework was outstanding. My parent were overjoyed that their son had done so well that it merited being called outstanding; but the reality was I had never handed it in and the teaching was highlighting the issue that it was outstanding!

In the medical profession to ‘call a code’ is when a patient’s heart stops and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is necessary and a medical team to try to save the patient. When the CPR is ineffective and further efforts are thought to be fruitless, they ‘call the code,’ in this case calling it off. It can make the note in the medical record mildly confusing, but generally the context enables the team to tell the two instances apart. Have you ever wondered why doctors call what they do as ‘practice?’

The Atlantic Divide

Across the divide of the Atlantic, the difference between American English and what is often referred to as Standard English can be a deep gulf. Not only in the usage of words but also in their spelling.

The English use words such as ‘crisps,’ ‘jumble sale,’ ‘football,’ ‘lift,’ ‘loo,’ and ‘vacuum flask’ whereas the American use the words ‘chips,’ ‘rummage sale,’ ‘soccer,’ ‘elevator,’ ‘toilet’ and ‘thermos bottle.’

If a British film is a ‘bomb’ it is a success whereas an American ‘bomb’ is a failure. An American lady said to the English preacher, “I like your pants.” The preacher was embarrassed and thought that his flies were undone until he realised that the American word for ‘pants’ means ‘trousers’ whereas in English it means ‘undergarment.’

Some Christians prefer to say alleluia as opposed to Halleluiah or Immanuel opposed to Emmanuel. The usage of words determines the flow of the language.

‘The English language is rather like a monster accordion, stretchable at the whim of the editor, compressible ad lib’ Robert Burchfield, lexicographer (1923-2004).

The Word ‘Wicked’

A language is a mirror of its people. As a disinterested record of the language, a dictionary serves as an accurate window to the culture. The recent history of the English words ‘wicked’ and 'sick' shows us the gradual stretching or altering of words meaning to include possibilities far beyond its original scope. Linguistics calls this ‘semantic drift’ and it can reveal a lot about society and its changing attitudes and values.

The word ‘wicked’ which used to describe only moral depravity and the practice of evil, such as a Nazi officer in charge of a concentration camp or a paedophile or murder has now drifted to such an extent that it commonly expresses the exact opposite, namely that which is good or positive, such as a good film or a talented sports personality. If you talk to someone and they use the phrase wicked then you need to discern whether or not they mean good or bad, this can often be acknowledged by the tone of their voice and the enthusiasm or disgust they express. In general if someone from the older generation uses the word ‘wicked’ is will be negative but a younger person will use it as a positive.

Lexicographer, John Ayto said, "Words are a mirror of their times. By looking at the areas in which the vocabulary of a language is expanding fastest in a given period, we can form a fairly accurate impression of the chief preoccupations of society at that time and the points at which the boundaries of human endeavour are being advanced."

Spellings through Time

Some words had their spellings altered in the course of history because someone misread, miswrote, miscopied or misprinted, and missed the ‘right’ spelling. Jeffery Chaucer a 14th century English poet and writer added words into our vocabulary via his stories, such as the noun, 'hard' became ‘difficulte’ and later transformed to 'difficulty' and ‘unconning’ became 'ignorant.' Old discarded words, from the 11th century were also reintroduced such as ‘frendli’ became 'friendly' and ‘willingli’ became ‘willingly.’

The word 'acne' began its life as 'acme.' As a result of a misreading, it took on a new spelling. 'Shamefaced' used to be ‘shamefast’ in the sense of restrained by shame. 'Buttonhole' once was ‘buttonhold,’ 'cherry' was originally ‘cherise,’ but as that seemed to be plural, people spoke of a cherry when referring to a single fruit. The same happened with ‘pease’ which was wrongly assumed to be plural and became 'pea.' The word ‘news’ did not come about because it was the plural of ‘new’ but came from the first letters of the words North, East, West and South because information was being gathered from all different directions.

The spelling of a word is merely something that has been agreed upon. Who was the unwise person who decided to spell the word ‘lisp’ with an ‘s’ in it? And who decided to come up with the complex spelling of the word dyslexia? Plans to warn drivers in Wales to “look left” were scrapped - because the sign, written in Welsh, would be wider than the road it was to be painted on!

‘It is often forgotten that dictionaries are artificial repositories, put together well after the languages they define. The roots of language are irrational and of a magical nature’ Jorge Luis Borges, writer (1899-1986).

Six Hundred Years of Words

Scholars have divided the history of the English language into three periods: Old English - from the middle of the 5th to the beginning of the 12th century, Middle English - 12th century through the 15th century, and Modern English - 16th century onwards.

Jeffery Chaucer added words into the English vocabulary via his stories. At the end of the 14th century, John Wycliffe translated the Holy Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English and introduced about one thousand Latin words into English usage. Other biblical words were invented to express terminology including: atonement, sanctified and justified, along with more theological terminology.

By the 15th century a standard form of English was needed but the problem was there were lots of different dialects and spellings. The word church was spelt six different ways in the north and eight different ways in the south. The Chancellery (civil servants) set about this task, but they made grave errors - goose singular, geese plural; mouse singular, mice plural whereas it could have been gooses and mouses but this is not correct English. By the end of the 15th century, the Gutenberg printing press was in full swing in Britain which helped standardisation in spelling for books.

By the 16th century, vowels were pronounced differently which caused different spelling for various words, which were not used in official documents. William Shakespeare through his writings introduced the words such as 'assassination' and 'bump' into the English language and is said to have quoted more from the Bible than an other writer of his time. He also used a lot of falconry phrases such as: hoodwinked, fed-up, haggard and hawking, which have leaked into English with other meanings.

In the 17th century there was a fashion for borrowing Latin and Greek words, and coining new words with Latin and Greek. As the British Empire advanced throughout the next two centuries there were borrowings from languages around the world. Due to the scientific and industrial revolution there was a wide and varied expansion within the technical vocabulary.

Comics have added to the English language giving the world original words such as goon, jeep, Heebie-jeebies and hotsy-totsy. Films have played their part as well, Forrest Gump’s favourite phrase, “Life is like a box of chocolates” has entered the language as a way of explaining that one never knows what the next experience will be. The revolution of television in the 20th century, computers and all things digital (like emails, iPads and Tablets) further added to the English vocabulary.

In the first few years of the 21st century, it became popular amongst film makers and then television programmes not to capitalise nouns on the list of credits. The word 'goodbye' is a contraction (shortened or shrunken) version of ‘God be with you.’ The word 'holiday' is contraction version of ‘Holy Day,’ as it was a day off work and a time to party, see Nehemiah 8:10-12.

For The History / Origins of the English Language - click here

Researchers from the Oxford English Dictionary noted that there were four hundred negative descriptive words for a person in their 2005 dictionary, but only forty positive ones. There were also forty descriptive words for a beautiful woman but just twenty for men.

Example of Changing Language

1. The English Prayer Book of 1549, reading from the Preface: ‘Al thinges shalbe read and song in the Englyshe tongue to thende yt the congregacion maie be thereby edified.’ Translated into modern language: ‘All things shall be read and sung in the English tongue [language] to ? ? the congregation may be thereby edified.’

2. Scottish reformer John Knox (c.1514-1581), speaking on John Calvin of Geneva: ‘…the maist perfyt schoole of Chryst that ever was in the erth since the dayis of the Apostillis.’ Translated it reads: ‘…the most perfect school of Christ that ever was in the earth since the days of the Apostles.’

3. The Church Jurisdiction Act 1567, clause 12 said in relation to Scotland’s Reformed Kirk (church): ‘Thair is na uther face of Kirk nor uther face of religion than is presentlie be the favour of God establischeit within this realme and that thair be na uther iurisdiction ecclesiasticall acknawlegeit…’ Translated it reads: ‘There is no other face of Kirk nor [any] other face of religion than (that) is present [to] be the favour of God established within this realm and that there be no other jurisdiction ecclesiastical acknowledged…’

4. An English minister from the 18th century, Edward Heath paraphrased the New Testament in the genteel language of the day. In reference to the church at Laodicea from Revelations 3:15-16, it reads: ‘Since, therefore, you are now in a state of Lukewarmness, a disagreeable medium between the two extremes, I will in no long time, eject you from my heart with fastidious contempt.’

Three types of Bible translations

1. A Literal translation. This attempt to provide an exact linguistic equivalent for each word in the original. The average reading will find this kind of translation confusing but the academic will be most pleased.

2. A Paraphrase (not a translation) converts the text into modern day language and is very easy to read. The down side is that various shades of meaning from the original text can be lost and the paraphraser’s may have misperceptions and biases.

3. A Dynamic translation it like a half-way point between the extremes of the literal and the paraphrase. It tries to stay as lose to the original text as possible but when idioms appear and old language appears it attempts to put it into a modern day setting.

150 English Translations

There are around one hundred and fifty different English translations of the Holy Bible in existence and the vast majority of them were printed at the end of the twentieth century. They range from the first Tyndale and Wycliffe (both of which included the Apocrypha), to the famous Authorised version of 1611 (which included the Apocrypha until it was removed in 1885), to the more simplified language of The Good News Bible for easy reading and the New Life Version which uses a basic vocabulary of eight hundred and fifty words which is similar to The Basic Bible.

When Ezra taught the people from the Law of Moses some of the Levites ‘Helped the people understand the law…and they gave the sense, and helped them understand the meaning’ (Nehemiah 8:5-8). With all Bible translations, unless the reader understands the meaning, then it is sad and unfortunate. Read the Bible in a language and a translation that suits your interlectual needs.

The 1611 Original

Many people who are staunchly defensive of the Authorised Bible (AV) which is also known as the King James Version are surprised to hear that when it was first published in 1611 the Apocrypha (14 books) was included in the original edition which at the time was considered canonical, that is part of Holy Scripture to which Protestant's would now greatly disagree.

The modern 1611 AV, which we know today as the ‘1611’ is based on the 1769 Baskerville Birmingham revision. The spellings have been revised and some words changed, in almost every printing done since then and extra prefatory features have been removed from almost every printing done since 1885 which was when the Apocrypha was removed and the last major revision was completed due to new discoveries in the field of Bible scholarship. Therefore, any Bible claiming to be ‘the 1611 version,’ as purchased from any bookshop today a great as translation as it is, is not a 1611 translation unless you buy an original for around £250,000 and there are only two hundred copies known to exist. However, many of these have been rebound and new leaves (pages) have been inserted to replace the old ones. The Bible measures 17 ½ inches tall by 12 inches wide by 5 ½ inches thick (including its slipcase), is terribly heavy, and was printed on rag cotton linen sheet. A facsimile in orginal dimensions would cost around £500 in 2011 or you can get a facsimile, reduced in size for less than £40 in 2011.

The elder asked the itinerant preacher, “Can you read from the original” (referring to the Authorised Version), the preacher replied “I am a Hebrew and Greek scholar, I can preach in either, but would your congregation understand?”

Whatever our personal preferences of any given Bible translation, we cannot expect language to stay still. All languages constantly evolve and rearranges itself, therefore any literature and indeed especially the Holy Bible will have to suit the society in which it is used to be able to be easily read so that they will be able to understand the meaning and apply its truths.

Changing Language

A translation of the Bible is only as good as it accurately reflects the original Hebrew and Greek whilst remaining faithful to them. New translations are necessary because language continues to change. For example in the Authorised Version or King James Version, Peter says in 1 Peter 3:1, in reference to unsaved husbands: ‘may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.’ That sounds contradictory in the 21st century but ‘conversation’ formerly meant conduct, (your lifestyle) not talking.

Also in 2 Thessalonians 2:7, Paul speaking of the restrainer, the Authorised Version (King James) reads: ‘Only he who now letteth will let.’ ‘Letteth’ from let means to allow in today’s language but when the Kings James Version was tranlated/written it meant the opposite; it meant to hinder, hence the need for new translations or revision of the old to accommodate the new generations who are unable to fully understand the ‘old’ language which is ever evolving and expanding. The word 'sanctimonious' formerly meant 'sincerely devout' but it has now come to mean 'hypocritically devout.'

‘It is as impossible to translate poetry as it is to translate music’ Voltaire, writer (1694-1778).

The Essence of Understanding

A translation is only as good as it is faithful to the original language. But a literal translation may not be able to express that which was originally intended. And a translation or words sometimes fails due to the lack of corresponding words in the vernacular. In New Caledonia, a Bible translator had to translate the ‘tent of the meeting’ as ‘hut of the meeting’ because the people with whom he was working with had no tents so the word meant nothing to them.

A Bible translator in Papa New Guinea was stumped as to what to do when the translator had to translate the ‘Lamb of God,’ as the people they were working with had never seen a lamb before. In the end, the translator’s organisation shipped over some lambs and used a word which would then identify the animal.

Often to get the real essence of understanding you have to translate and also interpret the intended gestures or meanings.

‘All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof for correction, for instruction in righteousness’ (2 Timothy 3:16). The phrase translated ‘is inspired by God’ from ‘is given by the inspiration of God,’ is but one word in the Greek, ‘theopneustos’ meaning ‘God-breathed or God inspired.’

‘Poetry is what gets lost in translation’ Robert Frost, poet (1874-1963).

The Difficulties in Translation

The Newberry Reference Bible AV, reads in its Introduction: ‘In the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures there are precisions, perfections and beauties which cannot be fully reproduced in any translation.’ This excellent edition; by use of signs indicates articles, emphatic pronouns, the participle and tenses etc., aids the fuller understanding of a text without the need to have any prior knowledge of either Hebrew or Greek.

The Hebrew-Greek Key study Bible in English identifies key words of the original language and gives a clear, precise explanation of their meaning and usage, which aids to fuller understanding.

The New International Version preface reads: ‘To achieve clarity the translators sometimes supplied words not in the original texts but required by the context.’

In many languages, if you give a literal translation of a sentence or paragraph it would not portray the true sense in which it was intended to communicate. The Italian word for tomato is ‘pomodoro’ which means golden apple but its Latin name; ‘lycoperscion esculentum’ translates as edible wolf’s peach! The French word for apple is ‘pomme’ and the French word for potato is ‘pomme de terre’ which literally means apple from the ground.

Council of Nicea

At the Council of Nicea (AD 325) the Council introduced a new kind of orthodoxy which can be found in the Creed of Nicea (to distinguish it from the Nicene Creed), which for the first time gave non-biblical terms critical importance and became entirely distinctive because of its technical language and solemn curses (anathemas).

The creed’s own form of expression was influenced by the heresy it outlawed. But between the Greek speaking Church in the East and the Latin speaking church in the West, confusion arose from the differences in the language. In the West, Latin had replaced Greek as the language of worship by the mid-fourth century and the Latin stayed alive after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, because most of the barbarian languages had not been reduced to written form.

Two Creeds

A portion of the creed of Nicea: ‘We believe in one God, the Father, Almighty, maker of all things, visible and invisible; And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, only-begotten, that is, from the substance (in the Greek - ousia) of the Father; God from God, Light from Light, Very God from Very God, begotten not made, of one substance (in the Greek-homoousis, consubstantial) with the Father…and those who say: “There was a time when he was not” …or those who pretend that the Son of God is “Of another substance (in the Greek - hypostasis) or essence" (in the Greek-ousia)…the catholic and apostolic church place under a curse.’

A Creed published in Sirmium AD 357), which theologian Hilary of Poiters from the West, labelled the ‘Blasphemy of Sirmium’ banned the use of philosophical words such as ‘ousia.’ Basil the Great bishop of Caesarea (from AD 370 to his death in 379) was the first to fix the accepted formula for the trinity: one substance (ousia) and three persons (hypostaseis) which paved the way at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381 for this accepted formula.

The first Protestant missionary to China, Dr. Robert Morrison arrived in 1807. The translation of the Bible into Chinese was very complex and the debate over what word to use for God went on for decades and was finally settled in the mid-nineteenth century!

The Gothic Bible

Philostorgius ‘History of the Church’ wrote about Ulfilas (head of the Christian community of Visigoths in Dacia), who translated the Gothic Bible in the 3rd century: 'Ulfilas took very great care of the Goths [from modern day Romania] in many ways. For instance, he reduced their language to writing [invented the Gothic alphabet] and translated all the books of the Bible into their everyday speech, except for the book of Kings. He left them out because they are merely an account of military exploits, and the Gothic tribes were particularly devoted to war. They were in more need of checks on their warlike nature than of spurs to urge them on to acts of war.'

From Latin to English

John Wycliffe was a charismatic scholar, theologian and philosopher and was fluent in Latin. His surname can be spelt in many different ways. In 1380, he started at Oxford, England, to translate the Bible from Latin into English so that all people could read and understand for themselves the Word of God. This work was unauthorised and illegal. Wycliffe and his workers worked ceaselessly writing each page by hand on a production line.

With this translation came new words into the English vocabulary such as: birthday, crime, humanity, madness, pollute and zeal. About 1,000 Latin words were also added such as: justice, angle and glory. The only problem with the translation was that, the English had been copied word for word from the Latin and was written in the Latin word order.

Wycliffe translated Luke 5:8 as: ‘Lord go from me for I am a man sinner’ whereas the Authorised Version reads: ‘Depart from me; for I am a sinful man O Lord’ which has a more useful rendering.

Latin is now perceived as a ‘dead’ language, yet it remains alive through its extensive used in science, medicine, law and also via the numerous words that the English language has borrowed and built upon. Many everyday abbreviations, such as i.e. (id est meaning ‘that is’), e.g. (exempli gratia meaning ‘for example’), NB or n.b. (nota bene meaning ‘note well’) and viz. (videlicet meaning ‘namely, that is to say’), are condensed forms of Latin expressions.

Wycliffe’s and King James

Below is a comparison of John Wycliffe’s 1388 Holy Bible (second version), of the English translation from the Latin compared to the Authorised Version or King James of 1611 from the Hebrew and Greek.

From John 17:1-4, Wycliffe’s Bible of 1388 (second version).
‘These thingis Jesus spak; and whanne he hadde cast up hise eyen into hevene, he seide: ‘Fadir the our cometh; clarifie this one, that this one clarife thee; as thou hast yovun to hym power on ech fleische, that al thing that thou hast yovun to hym, he yyve to hem everlastynge liif. And this is everlastynge liif, that thei knowe thee very God alone, and whom thou hast sent, Jesu Christ. Y have clarified thee on the erthe; Y have endid the werk that thou has yovun to me to do.’

From John 17:1-4, Authorised Version 1611 (revised 1885).
‘These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee. As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou has given Him. And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent. I have glorified Thee on earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.’

The German Bible

The translation of the Bible into German from Hebrew and Greek was started as early as 1517 by Martin Luther with the help of fellow scholars, especially Philip Melanchthon who was superior in the knowledge of Greek. As many as 14 German Bibles had already been translated from the Latin and published, the first from 1462-64 from Mentelin at Strasburg. Unauthorised translations were absolutely forbidden, under the punishment of death.

Luther strove to give the translation in the clearest and most intelligible form, the closest approach to the literal expression of the original text. Besides retaining the spirit he strove to retain the precise meaning of the inspired Word. The German language was at that time undeveloped and full of words, if not mean and undignified, yet not altogether for the close and exact expression of the Hellenistic Greek. Luther, in many cases was obliged to create new words.

Luther bestowed the utmost care even upon the most subordinate details. In every conceivable way Luther endeavoured to give accuracy and completeness to his undertakings. Even the naming of coins mentioned in the New Testament, was one of the subjects on which he sought the assistance of learned foreign scholars. Spalatin, whose knowledge of jewels had been gained by considerable experience in court life, lent valuable aid in naming the precious stones mentioned in Revelations 21:19-21.

The Bengalese Bible

William Carey, missionary to India, who arrived in 1793, had first been impressed with the absolute necessity of acquiring knowledge of Sanskrit - the root language of many of the Indian tongues and the most difficult of them all. In 1809, Carey, had completed the Bengalese translation of the Bible using Greek and Hebrew Bibles. In fact Carey with the help of his fellow colleagues and natives workers translated portions of the Bible in to forty languages or dialects. Carey was well aware that he was laying the foundations upon which others might work.

His successor Dr. Yates and Dr. Wenger entered into his labours making the versions more perfect. The latter eminent man thus refers to his own and Dr. Yates efforts upon the Bengalese Bible, “That it will be the final version I do not expect, for the language is still in a transition state, and is in a awkward medium of expressing true and Christian ideas in religion. When Dr. Carey came, he found the language scarcely so far advanced as the Greek was in the time of Homer. All the literature was of a poetical nature, and poetry not like Homer’s as to the ideals and the colouring, but like the poorest Odyssey as to versification. Dr. Carey was the first Bengalese prose writer of any note. Since then the language has made rapid strides; but when it has become thoroughly Christianised it will be something very different.”

The Jehovah’s Witnesses Bible

The Watchtower’s or Jehovah’s Witness Bible is called the New World Translation (NWT). They used to use the King James Version or Authorised Version but found that it contradicted some of their beliefs so they retranslated the Bible to suit their own theology between 1950 and 1961 with the help of Johannes Greber, (a spiritist who was in contact with demons) and others.

Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW’s) know about Greber and his dealing with demons and the occult yet still quote his work today. The NWT Bible has about 15% translation error when compared to the King James Version. There so called scholar’s have little or no understanding of the Greek or Hebrew languages; the languages of the original Scriptures.

The JW’s own inter-linear Bible contradicts their translations. ‘For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book [The book of Revelations and the entire Bible]: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life…’ (Revelations 22:18-19).

The English and Greek - ‘Love’

The English word ‘love’ is a very lose fitting word with many meanings and connotations from the love of a supporter towards his or her sports team; to the individual who loves a particular television series, others love a good game, a holiday but the ultimate love is that you would lay down you life for another, John 15:13 - ‘Greater love has no one than this, than to lay one’s life for his friends.'

There are four Greek words for love, all of which have different meanings for greater expression and depth of meaning, three of which can be found in the New Testament. Each word has a distinct meaning that seriously affects it the proper interpretation of Scripture. Perhaps this can be best seen in the passage from John 21:15-17 when Jesus after the resurrection and Peter denial asks Peter if he loves (Agape) Him more than the others, Peter responds with you know that I love you (Philia). Jesus repeats the same question and receives the same answer but the third time Jesus asks Peter do you love (Philia) Me? To which Peter responds you know that I love (Philia) you.

Greek word for ‘Love’

1. EROS: Physical love and is not found in the N/T due to its bad connotations in pagan society.

2. STORGE: Family love, the fondness that people share for their relatives. Romans 12:10. Negative form: Romans 1:31 and 2 Timothy 3:3.

3. PHILIA: Affectionate love, warm hearted spontaneous affection, liking, attractive appeal and friendship. John 5:20.

4. AGAPE: Love of choice, God commands us to love our neighbours as ourselves, and so we choose to love them, to treat them well and to win them for Christ. John 3:16 and John chapters 13-17 and 1 John 4:8.

The Hebrew word for ‘Man’

Many centuries ago the word ‘man’ in the English language was common English generic term for humanity and the species of humankind was divided into male and female. Today, the word ‘man’ means just men. In the Old Testament there are no less than six words for ‘man’ which have peculiar significances, and often throw extra light on passages of Scripture.

1. ADAM: to be red, ruddy. Often used collectively.

2. ISH: an individual, man or high degree. Often used collectively.

3. ENOSH: frail, mortal man, from ‘Ahnash,’ incurable, mortal.

4. ANASHIM, plural of ‘Enosh,’ also frequently plural of ‘Ish.’

5. GEBER: strong man, from ‘Gahbar’ to be strong.

6. METHIM: few in number, or mortal. Only used in the plural.


A national of the Netherlands who is bilingual in both Dutch and English said that the Dutch language is very limited in its expression when compared to English.

‘You can never understand one language until you understand at least two’ Ronald Searle, artist (1920-2011).

A man wrote: ‘My family includes members from several countries. At the dinner table we’d switch from one language to another depending on whom we were talking to or what language would best express what we wanted to say.’

‘The sum of human wisdom is not contained in any one language, and no single language is capable of expressing all forms and degrees of human comprehension’ Ezra Pound, poet (1885-1972).

‘It is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have learned English - up to fifty words used in correct context - no human being has been reported to have learned dolphinese’ Carl Sagan, astronomer and writer (1934-1996).

The Best Bible Translation

What is the best Bible translation? “The one my dad reads” as someone once said “he reads it all the time!”

A good translation is faithful to the vernacular and can be understood by the reader and for each reader this is different. You may have a good translation (and perhaps you think it to be the best) but it is of little use if you do not read it. If you merely read without applying it, then it’s like feeling weak because of hunger, even though the fridge which is full of fresh food but you choose not to tuck in - you will slowly starve yourself to death.

Textual Comparisons from 1611-995

Consider the following textual comparison of the earliest English translations of John 3:16, as shown in the English Hexapla Parallel New Testament - used by permission from

1st Edition King James (1611): “For God so loued the world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne: that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue euerlasting life.”

Rheims (1582): “For so God loued the vvorld, that he gaue his only-begotten sonne: that euery one that beleeueth in him, perish not, but may haue life euerlasting.”

Geneva (1560): “For God so loueth the world, that he hath geuen his only begotten Sonne: that none that beleue in him, should peryshe, but haue euerlasting lyfe.”

Great Bible (1539): “For God so loued the worlde, that he gaue his only begotten sonne, that whosoeuer beleueth in him, shulde not perisshe, but haue euerlasting lyfe.”

Tyndale (1534): “For God so loveth the worlde, that he hath geven his only sonne, that none that beleve in him, shuld perisshe: but shuld have everlastinge lyfe.”

Wycliff (1380): “for god loued so the world; that he gaf his oon bigetun sone, that eche man that bileueth in him perisch not: but haue euerlastynge liif.”

Anglo-Saxon Proto-English Manuscripts (AD 995): “God lufode middan-eard swa, dat he seade his an-cennedan sunu, dat nan ne forweorde de on hine gely ac habbe dat ece lif.”

The story of the influence of Christianity upon the world: ‘How Christianity Made the Modern World.’ Go

Recommended Links:

Timeline of Bible Translation and History of the English Bible

The History / Origins of the English Language

The History of England / Britain

The Bible - its History, Overview and Application

A Brief Overview of each Book of the Bible

Leviticus: The Mosaic Law. Sacrifices, the Feasts and Festivals; Jesus and the Law

In Search of the Exodus

Bible and Church Sitemap

Britain Sitemap

Christianity and the Development of Democracy and Human Rights (1215 - present day Britain)

The Bicentenary of the End of the Slave Trade 1807-2007 - William Wilberforce - A Christian Warrior for Justice