Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Time for a Lutheran Translation of the Bible


“Can We Trust Modern Versions?” by Professor John T. Mueller in the April, 1948 Concordia Theological Monthly, published by The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and edited by the faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, said:

“The objection that we Lutherans should not use a Bible translation different from others no longer holds, since the various churches are divided in the use of various translations. Would, it then, not make for unity, rather than disunity to have a reliable Lutheran Bible translation?”

Mueller is the Editor of the 800 page Concordia New Testament with Notes published by Concordia Publishing House in 1942. His Christian Dogmatics, published by CPH in 1934, is a one volume epitome of Francis Pieper’s 3 volume “Christliche Dogmatik.” J.T. Mueller is the author of many books and hundreds of articles. In 1957 he asked his student, Herman Otten, to inform the top officials of the LCMS about what various liberals were teaching at Concordia Seminary. These reports led to the Concordia Seminary vs. Otten case. Mueller encouraged Otten to become a journalist and then supported Christian News.

Since 1948 many more new translations of both the New Testament and the entire Bible have been published. Scores of them have been reviewed in Christian News during the last 50 years. Christian News has published hundreds of articles showing that Beck’s AAT, while not perfect, is by far the most accurate and reliable modern translation of the Bible in the language of today and closer to Luther’s translation than any other translation. Beck noted that his translation was closer to Luther’s than any other not because he followed Luther, but because both he and Luther followed the Hebrew and Greek text. Some of the many articles Christian News has published on Bible translation are in the Christian News Encyclopedia and Christian Handbook on Vital Issues. The pages of CN have been open to anyone who tried to show Beck’s AAT was not accurate and in the language of today. Defenders of the RSV and ESV have declined to debate the ESV vs. the AAT.

The Cross

Both Luther’s and Beck’s translations more clearly than any other, particularly in their translation of key messianic prophecies, show that Jesus Christ is at the heart and center of both the Old and New Testament.

When Christian News published Beck’s AAT in 1975, CN placed this symbol on the cover CN included this explanation by Beck on p. iii:

This is the word for “cross” in papyrus 75, our oldest manuscript of Luke. It is found in this special form at Luke 9:23; 14:27; 24:7.

If you spell out this Greek word, it is stauron. But the letters au are omitted and their omission is indicated by the line above the word. Then r, which in Greek has the form of a p, is superimposed on the t so that we have a head suggesting a body on a cross.

“Cross” is the only word in the manuscript selected for such a special design. The Savior, crucified for us, is the reason why the Bible was written – and why it is here translated.

x x x

Beck was excited when more than 50 years ago he first showed CN this word for cross in papyrus 75. Beck was the LCMS’s leading textual scholar and combined Greek and Hebrew translator. He could read these languages as fast as he could read English. As the author of Bible Stories in Pictures, regularly mailed to thousands of Sunday schools, Beck used the language of today. When William Arndt died, Beck taught Arndt’s classes in textual criticism. “The Staurogram – Earliest Depiction of Jesus’ Crucifixion” by Larry W. Hurtado, in the March/April, 2013, Biblical Archaeological Review, the “World’s Largest Circulation Biblical Archaeological Magazine” confirmed what Beck wrote about stauron.

Acquainting Congregations With AATA Christian News reader in Minnesota recently wrote to Christian News:

“We spoke two weeks ago, at which time I inquired about the availability of an inexpensive AAT New Testament. I am enclosing a couple of examples of the N.T.s we are currently distributing for your examination. The ESV is available for $1.00 each in case lots; the little shirt-pocket NIV is approximately $1.75 each (both prices include shipping). I seem to recall that the NIV N.T.s were available in the past without the Psalms & Proverbs for about $1.00 each. An AAT version would be a valuable outreach tool, as well as an inexpensive means of acquainting a congregation with this translation.

As soon as funds permit, CN plans to publish an inexpensive paperback editor of the Lutheran translation of the New Testament plus Psalms based on William Beck’s An American Translation of the Bible.

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s Concordia Publishing House in 1963 published Beck’s AAT. An LCMS convention asked CPH to publish the entire AAT. CPH first said it would. Then CPH announced that a market survey showed that CPH would not make much money publishing the AAT. Liberals in the LCMS also wanted the LCMS to use the Revised Standard Version of the National Council of Churches. If the LCMS published its own translation of the Bible, liberals feared it would keep the LCMS out of the ecumenical movement. Christian News then published the AAT which CPH had intended to publish after CPH spent many thousands of dollars editing Becks’ AAT. Such confessional Lutheran editors as Rudolf Norden, Erich Allwardt, Reinhold Stallmann, and Elmer Foelber worked hundreds of hours at CPH on the translation. Once CPH declined to publish the AAT, they urged CN to publish the translation they had prepared for publication. Their advice was: Publish the AAT now and then invite others to submit revision. CN included in the first editor of the AAT various suggestions made by the LCMS’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations.

In 1975 CN sent a free copy of the AAT to every LCMS congregation. The editor’s preface concluded: “No translation is perfect. Suggestions for any future printing will be gratefully accepted and considered.”

LCMS President Attacks Beck and AATBeck’s AAT was well received in the LCMS. Some 250,000 copies were mailed from New Haven, Missouri. LCMS President Jacob Preus did not appreciate an independent press. He ordered Christian News to cease publication. He feared the AAT was putting “a feather in Otten’s hat.” When CPH published Beck’s New Testament, Preus registered no concerns about Beck and the AAT. After CN published Beck’s entire AAT, Preus went on a vicious campaign vs. Beck and the AAT. One of his public letters to Otten was 19 pages in length. Preus insisted Beck did not defend the scriptural doctrine of justification in his New Testament translation. Christian News published articles by confessional Lutheran scholars defending Beck.

Revision Committee
Christian News formed a revision committee of leading confessional Lutheran theologians and laymen for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. They met at Camp Trinity, New Haven, Missouri and evaluated the many suggestions Christian News had received for improvement. A good number of changes were made.

In preparation for the fourth edition of the AAT, CN asked Dr. John Drickamer, a qualified translator of Hebrew and Greek and an expert in the English language to go through the entire AAT, smoothing out some of the English and incorporating any valid textual changes that had been suggested by various scholars throughout the years. Dr. Robert Preus – former president of Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Indiana and one of the scholars thanked in former AAT editions for translation contributions, highly recommended Dr. Drickamer as a well-informed scholar.

John DrickamerDr. Drickamer wrote in 1999 in an article titled: “What Do You Want in a Bible?” “The beauty of the AAT is its simplicity. No other modern Bible translation can compare to it for combing in clarity and accuracy. Some are fairly clear but not very accurate. Some are fairly accurate but not very clear. Among modern translations only AAT is very clear and very accurate.”

Drickamer included in the Fourth Edition of the AAT valid improvements of Beck’s work made I The New Testament – God’s Word to the Nations edited by Phil Giessler and other confessional Lutherans.

Louis Brighton of the LCMSFew knew William Beck better than Louis Brighton, now a retired professor at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. He is the author of CPH’s scholarly commentary on Revelation. When Beck died in 1966 Brighton wrote:

“Of all the learned essays and pronouncements and the thousands of words in print from the official offices and theological professional gatherings so little of it means anything at all or has any significant influence in the life of the Church. But the work and words and spirit of this man, William F. Beck, will long speak to the heart and needs of people.”

Henry Koch of the WELS
Henry Koch of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, who taught for some years at the LCMS’s Concordia College, Bronxville, New York, earned his PH.D. at the University of Leipzig at a time when this university was at its height. Koch wrote when CN published the AAT: Dr. Beck “was a Christian scholar and I cherish his translation much more that nanny other, because he is at the same time a truly Lutheran and Christian scholar. For many other scientific renown means more than anything else. I want scholarly and truly Christian fidelity to the text. Dr. Beck serves this cause in every respect.

Dr. Koch wrote in an article titled “Why Lutherans Should Use the AAT – An Evaluation of the AAT and NIV Bible Translations” (The Christian News Encyclopedia, I. 111-3): “I heartily endorse the truly Lutheran translation of Dr. Beck together with the added improvements mentioned above, but I cannot endorse the NIV for reasons of conscience bound by Scriptures and mentioned in my evaluation. Here we have a chance of obtaining a Lutheran translation of our own minting. I hope that we can work together for an even better translation and edition whenever necessary. To me it seems as though our dear Lord of the Church is showing us a way of reaching the noble goal of a truly Lutheran translation of the Bible in these later days.”

Rudolph Honsey of the ELSRudolph Honsey is a retired professor of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod’s Bethany College. He was a member of the AAT revision committee and the author of the WELS’s Northwestern Publishing Houses’ The People’s Bible Commentary on Job. While the fine People’s Bible Commentary promoted by Christian News uses the NIV, it often points out the weaknesses of the NIV. Commenting on Job 19:23-27, Honsey writes:

“The NIV, in which the text for this book is given, translates the verb in the first line of verse 26 ‘has been destroyed.’ Most English versions translate it similarly. The King James Version adds the word ‘worms’: ‘Worms destroy this body.’ As the italics in the KJV indicate, that word is not in the Hebrew text. The translation ‘has been destroyed,’ as in the NIV, is surely a possible translation.

“Although most versions translate the verb with the meaning of ‘destroy,’ it can be translated differently. In his German Bible Martin Luther translates that word with the German expression ‘umgeben warden,’ which means be surrounded.” William F. Beck also translates it in that manner in his American Translation. That translation has support from two early translations of the Old Testament: the Greek translation known as the Septuagint, a few centuries before Christ, and the Latin translation known as the Vulgate, about A.D. 400” (132-133).

* * *

“The authors of one of our Lutheran confessions, The Formula of Concord, also understood that verb to mean ‘surround’ rather than ‘destroy.’ In his Popular Commentary of the Bible, Old Testament, Volume II, P. E. Kretzmann interprets that word to mean ‘surround’ rather than ‘destroy.’

‘The author of this volume of The People’s Bible also prefers the translation ‘surround.’ While it is certainly true that our bodies will decay and our skin will be destroyed in death, it is equally true that each of us will be raised up with the same body and one’s own skin, but in a glorified condition.

It appears to this w1iter that the entire verse (26) speaks of the resurrection” (133).

Jack CascioneJack Cascione, who worked on revision of the AAT, wrote in “Unique Features of Beck’s Old Testament” (Christian News, August 22, 2001):

“First and foremost Dr. William Beck was an Old Testament scholar. His goal was to have readers gain a deeper understanding of the Biblical text in his An American Translation. Beck’s translation of Micah 1:8-16 is an example of his attempt to translate the meaning of a text rather than present a strictly literal translation. One of the arts of translation is to decide when God is intending a literal meaning versus a figurative or metaphoric meaning.”

“Beck is clearly an innovator. His insights into the Old Testament have no equal in 20th Century English translations, which is why the NIV and others of the borrowed his innovations and incorporated them into their own translations. His daring translation is partly due to the fact that he is more certain of his theology than other translators. We have yet to find a translator who captures the rhythm of the text and intended meaning of the Minor Prophets more than Beck.”

DiathekeMatthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20 1 Corinthians 11:25 AAT, Fourth Edition, KJV: “This is My blood of the New Testament” ESV, NIV, NASB, NKJV: “This is My blood of the covenant.”

Baptists, Pentecostals, and nearly all Reformed denominations say the word should be “covenant” instead of “testament.” One new translation of the Bible after another show the legalistic, law-loving, I-gave-my-life-to-Jesus Baptist/Reformed bias, by using the word “covenant.” “Is it ‘New Testament’ or ‘New Covenant’: What does Luther Say” by Jack Cascione, Luther Today – What Would He do or Say, pp. 92, 97: “We have to ask why Concordia Publishing House doesn’t publish a Bible that agrees with Luther on the Lord’s Supper? (Why Does Rev. Paul McCain and CPH now promote the ESV rather than the AAT?),” Jack Cascione. Note what the “New Testament – God’s Word to the Nations” (GWN) says about Diatheke, pp. 531-540.

Scott Meyer, Retired Attorney and President of the Concordia Historical Institute“•As a confessional and orthodox Lutheran layman, I confess the authority, inerrancy, efficacy, and sufficiency of the Bible, and that Scripture interprets Scripture. Hebrews 2:9 clearly teaches that the preceding verses 6-8 which it cited from Psalm 8:4-6, refer to Jesus. Therefore, the confessional and orthodox Lutheran interpretation of Psalm 8, as in Luther and AAT, must be that it teaches of Christ the “son of man,” rather than “man.”

“• The foregoing interpretation of Psalm 8 is consistent with the Confessions of the Lutheran Church, as seen from the Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article VIII, “Person of Christ,” The Book of Concord, Kolb/Wengert, p. 621. It is also consistent with the Missouri Synod’s leading dogmatician, F. Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol. 11, The Doctrine of Christ,” at pp. 158-159, “Communicated Omnipotence” and p. 329, “Christ’s Session at God’s Right Hand.” According to David P. Scaer, Christology, pp.105-106, in Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics, Vol. VI, Pieper is in agreement with what the ‘older Lutheran teachers-Martin Chemnitz, John Gerhard, John Quenstadt, David Hollaz’ -- have written on this issue. In summary, Christian News has it right.”

Ed. The LCMS’s CTCR and the ESV promoted through CPH in most LCMS churches disagrees with Luther and says Psalm 8 does not refer to Jesus Christ. It’s time for a Lutheran Translation of the Bible which uses Beck’s AAT as a start.
(Christian News, September 16, 2013)

A Comparison of Some Bible Translations
Genesis 4:1AAT: “She said, ‘I have gotten a man, the Lord.”

ESV, RSV, NASB, NIV (New International Version, New American Standard Bible, KJV) “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.”

Luther: Ich have den Mann, den Herrn.”
Eve was mistaken that she was to be the mother of the Messiah but she correctly understood that Genesis 3:15 referred to Jesus, the coming Messiah.

Genesis 49:10AAT: “The scepter will not pass away from Judah or a rule between his feet Till SHILOH (Man of Rest) comes whom the nations will obey.”

ESV, RSV, NIV: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him and to him shall be the obedience of the people.”

Psalm 8:5AAT: “You make Him do without God for a little while: then crown Him with glory and honor.”

ESV, RSV, NASB, NIV: “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.”

Luther insisted that Psalm 8:5 referred to Jesus Christ. The LCMS’s CTCR in it’s The Creator’s Tapestry, supports the ESV and disagrees with Luther and says it refers to a human man and not Jesus Christ, (Christian News, April 26, 2010).

Proverbs 8:22AAT: “The LORD became My Father at the beginning of His way. . .”
ESV, RSV, NIV, NASB: “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work. . .”

Jeremiah 23:6
AAT: “This is the name that He will be called: The Lord-Our-Righteousness.”
ESV, RSV: “And this is the name by which he will be called: The LORD is our righteousness.”

Micah 5:2AAT: “From you (Bethlehem) there will come out for Me, One who is to rule Israel Who comes from eternity.”
ESV, RSV, NIV: “From you (Bethlehem) there comes out for Me, One who is to be ruler of Israel, whose origin is of old, from ancient days.”

(We speak of the “ancient Egyptians” but they are not from eternity)

Hebrews 5:8AAT: “Although Jesus is the Son, He learned from what He suffered what it means to obey.”
ESV, RSV, NIV, NASB: “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.”

Philippians 2:5,6AAT: “Think just as Christ Jesus thought: Although He was God: He did not consider His being equal with God as a prize to be displayed. . .”

ESV, RSV, NIV, NASB: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.”

These translations make “equality with God” something that Jesus did not have; it is “a thing to be grasped” in the future. There is no future in the text, which clearly states that Jesus is equal with God without reaching for such equality.

Craig, one the RSV translators, reports that all nine translators of the New Testament agreed on this rendering without a discussion, and he comments on this passage, “ ‘Jesus is Lord’ – not God.” William Beck, We Need A Good Bible, Christian News, December 1, 1975.

John 1:3AAT: “Everything was made by Him.”

ESV, RSV, NIV, NKJV (New King James Version) “All things were made through Him.”

“By” or “through” (Greek: dia) – While the Bible sometimes speaks of Jesus as the agent “through” whom the Father acts, it also presents Jesus as an independent Creator, Redeemer, and Judge. But in all the statements where Jesus is the Creator (John 1:3, 10; 1 Cor.8:6; Col. 1:16) the RSV has changed “by” as it is in the KJV to “through.” “Through” is incorrect as well as awkward language. “By” is correct and idiomatic. Other passages in which Jesus is the original cause but which the RSV translates with “through” are: Rom. 1:5; 5:17, 21; 8:37; 2 Cor. 1:20; Gal. 1:1.
The RSV translates this preposition when it is used with “prophet” and with “Jesus” as follows:

“by” “through”
Prophet 21 1
Jesus 8 46

Here the RSV clearly shows its bias. It uses “by” with ‘’prophet” in all cases except one in order to make the prophets independent, uninspired writers, as far as that can be done by a preposition. It uses “by” with Jesus only eight times and “through” forty-six times: This presents Jesus as far as possible as a dependent agent of God. (The RSV always uses “by” with angels.)

The ESV follows the RSV and similarly translates dia with “through” in John 1:3, John 1, 10; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1,16.

ESV also translates dia with “through” in Romans 1,5; Romans 5,17; Romans 5,21; Romans 8:37; 2 Cor. 1,20; Gal. 1:1.

The NIV translates dia with “through” in John 1:3; John 1:10; 1 Cor. 8:6; Romans 1:5; Romans 5:17; Romans 5:21; Romans 8:37; 2 Cor. 1:20.

The New King James Version translates dia with “through” in John 1:3; John 1:10; 1 Cor. 8:6; and Col. 1:16.
King James Version translates dia with “by” in John 1:3; John 1:10; 1 Corinthians 8:6; and Col. 1:16.

I sent Jack Cascione Beck’s “We Need A Good Bible” and asked him to use his computer skills to check how the various translations translate dia. He came up with 18 pages. Enclosed is a summary of his significant findings. They show that Beck’s criticism about the RSV translation of dia were valid and also apply to the NIV and other translations. How is it possible for the WELS to now promote the NIV?

Direct – Rectilinear Messianic Prophecy
Matthew 2:15“I called My Son from Egypt.”

The AAT and NKJV mention that this passage refers to Numbers 24:8 and Hosea 11:1. The NIV, ESV, NASB only list Hosea 11:1. This passage is often cited by those like Paul McCain of CPH who ridicule defenders of direct messianic prophecy and observe that the context in Hosea 11 indicates that Hosea 11:1 refers to the nation Israel. However, as such ancient church fathers as Eusebius and Cyprian noted, the passage refers to Numbers 24:8. The fourth edition of the AAT at Numbers 24:8 cites Matthew 2:15. See “A Solution to a “Problem Prophecy” An Examination of Matthew 2:15” Christian News, March 23, 1992, Christian News Encyclopedia, p. 3321.

The Language of TodayThe preface to the Revised Standard Version of the National Council of Churches Says that “The Revised Standard Version is not a new translation in the language of today” (p. IX). The ESV uses the same archaic language as the RSV. A review of the ESV in the April 2005 Concordia Journal of our St. Louis seminary said that the “archaic English” of the ESV is not helpful and that “the AAT provides a more readable and understandable translation.” The Fall 2006 Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly said that the language of the ESV is “very archaic and hard to understand like the King James” and “In many places sounds quite stilted.” Mark L. Strauss of Bethel Seminary, San Diego, who has been a consultant for several Bible translations, says that the ESV “is not suitable as a standard Bible for the church. This is because the ESV too often fails the rest of ‘standard English’.” A survey (Christian News, August 24, 2009, pp. 16, 17) comparing the AAT and ESV showed that some 90% who responded preferred the language and doctrinal accuracy of the AAT over the ESV.” CN suggested that both the LCMS and WELS publish such a survey in their official publications to find out what more pastors and laymen in the WELS and LCMS say. Neither the LCMS nor WELS were interested. No leaders of the LCMS and CPH (Concordia Publishing House) or leaders of the WELS or NPH (Northwestern Publishing House) were interested in hearing the case for a Lutheran translation based on Beck’s AAT and why the AAT is far superior to both the ESV and NIV or any other modern translation. The LCMS leaders are pushing the ESV down the throat of the LCMS and the majority of the WELS leaders continue to promote the Reformed NIV.

With the approach of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation the time has come for The Lutheran Bible Translation even if the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod have refused to support such a translation and prefer the translations of non-Lutherans whose theology is reflected in the ESV, NIV and other translations.

7 comments:

  1. The KJV is all we ever needed but because of pride of place at the highest levels of academia we have men of God hating the KJB. Pride. Pride. Pride. It's such a small world among Lutheran leaders that for anyone of them to extoll the KJB is just like denying the faith.

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  2. I hope that there will be qualified scholars who can help you with this worthy project. The "eclectic" approach adopted by the WELS at its last convention would not stop any interested individuals in WELS from assisting, and perhaps others outside WELS will emerge as well. I hope you can also put out electronic versions of the translation, with versions on Kindle, Logos Bible Software (I personally use Kindle and Logos, and I have several other Bible apps on my phone and computer as well) and elsewhere. I know that you don't think that much of that computer-related stuff, but nevertheless that is where the trend is for reading, especially among youth. I have had a "smart" phone for a little over a year, and I use it for reading. I regularly read CN on my smart phone. The "YouVersion" Bible app is also very popular. Here is a link to a news story that I just found out about. Try to get AAT on YouVersion if you can.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/53065572#53061684

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. When the girls were little, they would read through their "Christian translation services" while we were
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  5. Has there been any news on updating the AAT?

    Rich Shields, President of American Lutheran Theological Seminary

    ReplyDelete