Chapter 9: Translational Considerations
[Footnotes are in red and placed in brackets]
“‘Tis written: ‘In the beginning was the Word!’
Here now I’m balked! Who’ll put me in accord?
It is impossible, the Word so high to prize,
I must translate it otherwise”
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Faust (1808)
Shortly after the Authorized Version was first published in 1611 it came under fire. In 1612 Hebrew scholar Hugh Broughton wrote a thesis entitled, A Censure of the Late Translation for Our Churches, in which he expostulated the new translation. Broughton had been considered for a position as one of the translators but was overlooked. Therefore, his reproach for the King James Version may have been a result of not being placed on the committee. Nevertheless, it does establish that very early this beloved version was condemned by some. Time has not changed such condemnation. In fact, there has been a revival of criticism as contemporary versions have found their way into the mainstream of the Bible reading public.
Such criticism is usually unwarranted and frequently demonstrates the lack of perspective offered by the one who is disparaging the translation. An anecdote involving one of the KJV translators, Dr. Richard Kilby, provides for us a wonderful example of this very thing. Kilby, who had headed the Old Testament group at Oxford, was in the congregation of a young minister who found fault with a certain way a phrase was translated in the KJV. The minister, who did not realize that Kilby was in his congregation, offered his own translation as the correct one and questioned why it had not been considered. After the service, Kilby took the parson aside and addressed the issue noting that the translators had indeed considered the parson’s reading as well as thirteen other readings. However, because of the Hebrew syntax, they had settled on the reading found in the KJV. [Gustavus S. Paine, The Men Behind the King James Version (1959; reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982), 137-138. David Otis Fuller, Which Bible? (Grand Rapids: International Publications, 1975), 17.]
Hebrew and Greek words can be translated in more than one way. Those familiar with Biblical languages know that many phrases have several meanings. Therefore, it is a risky thing to suggest the translators have erred. In most cases such objections reflect the shortsightedness of the critics, or else his or her lack of understanding either the original or host languages. It is one thing to offer another possible translation and another to state that a translation is in error. More times than not, the one who is mistaken is the critic.
“For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.”
It is suggested that the phrase observed him is incorrect and should be translated kept him safe. [James R. White, The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations? (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1995), 224-225.] The problem is not with the translation, but with the lack of comprehending the English language. According to Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, the word observe comes from the Latin word observare, which means to watch, guard, and observe. [Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, ed. Philip Babcock Gove (Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1981), 1558.] This agrees with Dr. John C. Traupman’s Latin Dictionary which defines observare as “to watch, watch out for, take careful note of; to guard; to observe, keep, obey, comply with; to pay attention to, pay respect to.” [John C. Traupman, Latin Dictionary (New York: Amsco School Publications, 1966), 200.] Further, the Oxford English Dictionary offers the definition of observe as, “To regard with attention; to watch; to watch over, look after.” [The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, eds. J.A. Simpson and E.S.C. Weiner (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 1196 (compact edition).]
For the most part, we think of the word observe as meaning to watch, study, or take notice of. However, it also means to keep, protect, or preserve. For example, we speak of observing the speed limit. We do not mean that we are watching how fast we travel down the road; we mean we are obeying or keeping the law of the land. Some observe the Sabbath or a religious holiday. Again, this means they keep or respect the day. When the Coast Guard speaks of observing our shores, they are protecting them. So it is with forest rangers who set up observation posts for the purpose of watching and protecting the wilderness. Both observe and preserve mean to keep something. This is why the same Greek word is used in Luke 2:19 and is translated as kept: “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”
The Greek word is suntereo. In The Analytical Greek Lexicon this word is defined as “to observe strictly, or to secure from harm, protect.” [Harold K. Moulton, The Analytical Greek Lexicon (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 392.] James H. Moulton and George Milligan note that one of the uses of this word in ancient non-literary writings was when “a veteran claims that in view of his long military service, exemption from public burdens ought to be ‘strictly observed’ in his case.” [James H. Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary Of The Greek Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949), 614.] Clearly either observe or kept safe are proper translations.
“And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.”
This passage, along with some others, is considered an error by some because the Greek word rhematos (word) is translated in the plural instead of the singular. On the surface, and to those who only have a general understanding of the Greek language, the complaint seems legitimate. The Greek word does stand in the singular and most certainly can be translated as a word. Most modern versions translate it as saying, thus using the singular instead of the plural. The KJV and NKJV translate it as words.
Both renderings are correct. The Greek word rhematos (or rhema) can refer to a word. It also can refer to a group of words gathered together in a single discourse, speech, or clause. That is how it is used in this verse. The saying (rhematos) that proceeds this verse is the famous phrase from Christ regarding our duty to both God and government. Christ states, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s” (Luke 20:25). This was the saying at which they marveled. As with all sayings, it does not consist of a single word but exists as several words. A saying, speech, or discourse contains words. Therefore, it is proper to translate the singular (which is in reference to the clause) in the plural (which is likewise in reference to the clause). As with idioms, they can be translated literally but are better translated colloquially. Consider the following example: “I would like to have a word with you.” While the singular is used in this idiom it is not to be understood literally. Instead, it is understood in the plural. Likewise is the use of rhematos in Luke 2:26. While the singular is used, referring to a clause, the plural is understood.
Still, this verse serves to illustrate a point regarding translations. A literal translation need not be strictly word-for-word in every instance. To do so would render a translation that would be wooden and extremely difficult to read. When we have idioms and expressions used in the original languages that would allow the reader to take the words in a less than literal fashion, it is proper to render them in like manner in the translation. The Greek reader of Luke 2:26 would never understand this to mean that Christ only spoke one singular word. The reader would understand that several words were spoken and that the reference concerns the discourse itself. This is something we find throughout the New Testament with other Greek words and phrases. To think of these as translational errors reveals the quality of comprehension lacking in the denouncement.
“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
There are really two problems here, although only one appears on the surface. Should the proper translation be “only begotten Son” or should it be as the New American Standard Version renders it, “only begotten God”? This particular problem is not translational but textual because there is a difference in the Greek texts underlining these two translations. However, there is another problem that has to do with the Greek word monogenes. Both the King James and the New American Standard correctly translate it as only begotten. There is a growing movement to understand this word as unique, one of a kind, or simply only. We will deal with this difference first.
Many of the current handbooks on Greek syntax state that monogenes should not be translated as only begotten. [See Newman and Nida, A Translator’s Handbook on the Gospel of John (New York: United Bible Societies, 1980), 24. Also, Moulton and Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1930), 416-417. However, others recognize that monogenesmeans only begotten. See Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Milford, MI: Mott Media, 1977 ed.), 417-418. Moulton, The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978 ed.), 272. And, Prestige, God in Patristic Thought (London: SPCK, 1952) 37-51, 135-141, 151-156.] Instead, they take the word to mean only or unique. If this were true, the translation of the KJV would not be alone in its “error” for this is the translation of the New American Standard Version, the New King James Version, and several other translations of the twentieth century.
The problem here is a misunderstanding of the Greek language (both Koine and Modern). The word monogenesdoes means one or unique in the sense that an only child is the only one of his parents. It does not mean unique, as in special, such as in the phrase, “his work is very unique.” Here the Greek would be monadikos, not monogenes. As we examine the New Testament we find the word monogenes used eight times (not counting its usage here in John 1:18). In every case it is used to describe a relationship between a parent and child (Luke 7:12; 8:42; 9:38; John 1:14; 3:16, 18; Hebrews 11:17; 1 John 4:9). Since this is how the Holy Spirit uses the word in the New Testament, we must accept this definition when reading John 1:18. It has further been established that the word monogeneshas as its root word genos. Again, some have suggested that this root word means kind or type. This is true, but in the sense that those who are born of a given parentage are a certain type or kind. The Greek word genos appears twenty-one times in the New Testament. It is translated as kind, nation, stock (of Abraham), nation, offspring, kindred, generation, and country in the KJV, demonstrating the word has to do with descendents. The New International Version translates it as born in Mark 7:26, and the New American Standard Versiontranslates it as birth in Acts 4:36.
The evidence establishes that Jesus Christ, although God (John 1:1), is also the only begotten Son of God. No other can claim hold to this title. Those who accept Christ as their personal Savior are spiritually born of God and are called his sons (John 1:12). But no human can lay claim to the title of only begotten Son. This phrase has not only to do with Christ’s virgin birth, but also his eternal place within the Trinity.
Having established this point, we are now faced with the question of the word following monogenes. Should it be heios (Son) or theos (God)? The oldest known Greek manuscripts that contain John 1:18, P66 and P75, read only begotten God. However, these manuscripts all come from the Alexandrian line and smack of ancient Gnosticism. The Gnostics taught that Christ was a begotten god, created by God the Father, whom they called the unbegotten God.
When those who had been tainted with Gnosticism cite John 1:18, they cite it as only begotten God. Such is true of Tatian (second century), Valentinus (second century), Clement of Alexandria (215 AD), and Arius (336 AD). On the other hand, we find many of the orthodox fathers who opposed Gnosticism quoting John 1:18 as only begotten Son (Irenaeus, Tertullian, Basil, Gregory Nazianzus, and Chrysostom).
Even some that served on the textual committee for the UBS-4recognized that the proper reading of John 1:18 is only begotten Son. Dr. Allen Wilkgren, who served on the committee, writes, “It is doubtful that the author [i.e., John] would have written monogenes theos, which may be a primitive, transcriptional error in the Alexandrian tradition.” [Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary On The Greek New Testament (New York: United Bible Societies, 2nd ed.), 170.] Additionally, Professor Bart Ehrman of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has noted that he believes the original reading is monogenes heiosand not monogenes theos. [Bart D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption Of Scripture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 78-82.] Although Professor Ehrman did not serve on the UBS-4 committee, he is a recognized scholar in the field of Biblical textual criticism. Thus, not all scholars agree as to the original reading in this regard.
The majority of orthodox church fathers support the reading monogenes heios, as do the majority of existing Greek cursive manuscripts. The reading contained in the majority of uncials (such as A, C3, K, W, Q, Y, D, P, X, and 063), Old Latin, Latin Vulgate, and the Old Syrian also support the reading monogenes heios.
Since we know the Greek word monogenes concerns the parent/child relationship, and that God is never called monogenes (except for Christ in his relationship to the Father), it is clear that monogenes heios is the correct reading.
“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.”
Some scholars object to the phrase, “whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.” They argue that the correct rendering is “whom you killed by hanging on a tree” and that the conjunctive and in the KJV misleadingly suggests that the Jews first killed Christ and then hanged his body on the cross. [White, 225-226.] This suggestion is faulty in that it misconstrues the text of the Authorized Version, making the text say “whom ye slew and THEN hanged on a tree.”
In English, the word and does not usually mean a period of time, as is suggested with the addition of the word then. The text is not saying that the Jews murdered Christ and then placed him on the cross. The word and is a conjunction which simply links two thoughts together. As such, it is used as the word further. We understand the text to mean that the Jews were responsible for killing their Messiah. Further, they were responsible for having him placed on the cross. This is a proper use of English. When one assumes that the text is stating that the Jews murdered the Lord and then crucified him, they are reading their own thoughts into the text. The translation “whom ye slew and hanged on a tree” is just as correct as the translation “whom you killed by hanging on the tree.”
“And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.”
The Greek word pascha is translated as Passover in the KJV with this one exception where it is translated as Easter. Therefore, some point to this passage as a translation error on the KJV’s part. However, earlier English translations such as Tyndale’s NT, the Great Bible, and the Bishops’ Bible also translated pascha as Easter in this verse, showing that the understanding here dealt with something other than the Jewish Passover. Also, the translation of pascha as Passover in Acts 12:4 was known to the king’s translators since this is the reading of the Geneva Bible.
The use of the word pascha in early Christian writings dealt with the celebration of Easter, and not just the Jewish Passover. [Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament And Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1957), 633.] Dr. G. W. H. Lampe has correctly stated that pascha came to mean Easter in the early Church. The ancient Christians did not keep the Jewish Passover. Instead they kept as holy a day to celebrate the resurrection of Christ near the time of both Passover and the pagan festival celebrating the goddess Ostara. Dr. Lampe lists several rules and observances by Christians in celebration of their pascha or Easter. Lampe also points to various Greek words such as paschazo and paschaluathat came to mean celebrate Easter and Eastertide. [G. W. H. Lampe, A Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961), 1048-1049.] Likewise, Dr. Gerhard Kittel notes that pascha came to be called Easter in the celebration of the resurrection within the primitive Church. [Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 901-904.]
It should be noted that the English word Easter originally carried a meaning that would encompass the Jewish Passover. The Oxford English Dictionary states that Easter also means “the Jewish passover” and cites examples dating to 971 A.D. Likewise, the Coverdale Bible often used the word Easter instead of Passover in its translation because the two had the same meaning to the English mind. Further, the Homilies of the Church of England (1563) refers to “Easter, a great, and solemn feast among the Jewes.” [Oxford English Dictionary, 492.] Therefore, we see by definition, that the word Easter is correct in the understanding of the English language.
There is also a connection between the Christian Easter as we have it and the pagan celebration of Ostara. Early Christians in Rome could not openly celebrate the resurrection of Christ, so they held their celebration at the same time as the pagans. Dr. William C. Martin writes:
“Modern observance of Easter represents a convergence of three traditions: (1) The Hebrew Passover, celebrated during Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew lunar calendar; (2) The Christian commemoration of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, which took place at the feast of the Passover; and (3) the Norse Ostara or Eostra (from which the name “Easter” is derived), a pagan festival of spring which fell at the vernal equinox, March 21. Prominent symbols in this celebration of the resurrection of nature after the winter were rabbits, signifying fecundity, and eggs, colored like the ray of the returning sun and the northern lights, or aurora borealis.” [William C. Martin, The Layman’s Bible Encyclopedia (Nashville: The Southwestern Company, 1964), 209.]
It seems that pascha can mean more than the Jewish holy day of Passover. In fact, Greeks today who wish to send the greeting Happy Easter say, kalee pascha. Literally it means good Passover. However it has come to mean good or happy Easter.
Additionally, there is a possible problem if we understand this verse to mean the Jewish Passover. Verse three of this chapter states that Peter was taken during, “the days of unleavened bread.” The next verse then speaks of Easter in the KJV. If the word is translated as Passover we have the Days of Unleavened Bread coming before the Passover. In the Biblical use of the term, Passover came before the Days of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:1-8, 15, 19; 13:7; Leviticus 2:11; and Deuteronomy 16:4). Contextually, it would seem that this pascha that followed the Days of Unleavened Bread was not the pascha that preceded the capture of Peter. Instead, it is likely to refer to the Roman celebration of Ostara, hence called Easter.
“He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.”
Some have claimed the KJV is in error in its use of the word since and suggest the passage should be rendered “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed.” The Greek phrase Ei pneuma agion elabete pisteusantes is literally translated as, “[The] Spirit/Ghost Holy did ye receive having believed?”
This phrase stands in the Greek aorist and refers to past time; thus, we have the past tense with the words received and believed. This would establish the translation when you believed as correct as it relates to the Greek itself. However, the English word since also reflects past tense and is correct as it relates to the Greek text. H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, noted Greek grammarians, address the use of the aorist. They write, “The fundamental significance of the aorist is to denote action simply as occurring, without reference to its progress.” [H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (Toronto: Macmillan, 1927), 193.] Therefore, the words since or when both reflect the proper use of the aorist. In reference to what is called the Culminative Aorist, Dana and Mantey add:
“The aorist is employed in this meaning when it is wished to view an event in its entirety, but to regard it from the viewpoint of its existing results. Here we usually find verbs which signify effort or process, the aorist denoting the attainment of the end of such effort or process.” [Ibid., 196-197.]
In this regard, the word since is proper as it relates to the aorist tense. It can indicate a past action, but one that was attained through a process. Dr. George Ladd recognized this and stated of this passage, “The Greek participle is having believed, and it is capable of being translated either since ye believed (Authorized Version) or when you believed (Revised Standard Version).” [George Ladd, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Nashville: The Southwest Company, 1962), 1160.] Therefore, both translations are correct and neither are in error.
2 Corinthians 2:17
“For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”
The majority of modern versions render this as “peddle” or “sell the word of God for profit” instead of “corrupt the word of God.” The Greek word kapeleuontes does carry the meaning of a peddler or retailer. However, it connotes one who sells with deceit, a corrupter. Dr. Walter Bauer states that the word came to mean “to adulterate.” [Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament And Other Early Christian Literature, 403.] Dr. Joseph Thayer agrees, noting, “But as peddlers were in the habit of adulterating their commodities for the sake of gain . . . [the word] was also used as synonymous with to corrupt, to adulterate.” [Joseph Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book, 1977 edition), 324-325.] Likewise, Dr. Gerhard Kittel states that kapeleuontes, “also means 2. to falsify the word (as the kapelos purchases pure wine and then adulterates it with water) by making additions . . . This refers to the false Gospel of the Judaizers.”
The early church fathers understood the verse to refer to those who corrupt God’s word. Athanasius (373 AD) wrote, “Let them therefore be anathema to you, because they have ‘corrupted the word of truth’.” [Kittel, vol. 3., 605.]Gregory of Nazianzus (390 AD) alludes to 2 Corinthians 2:17, Isaiah 1:22 and Psalm 54:15, using the word “corrupt”:
“And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as the many, able to corrupt the word of truth, and mix the wine, which maketh glad the heart of man, with water, mix, that is, our doctrine with what is common and cheap, and debased, and stale, and tasteless, in order to turn the adulteration to our profit . . .” [Gregory Nazianzus, Oratition 2 (“In Defence Of His Flight To Pontus”), 46.]
Both translations are possible. But in light of its historical and contextual usage, the word corrupt is much more likely. Regardless, it is clearly not a translational error. Dr. James R. White, noted Christian apologist and author, makes an interesting claim concerning this verse. He writes, “Surely if the KJV translators were alive today they would gladly admit that ‘peddle’ is a better translation than ‘corrupt, ‘ and would adopt it themselves.” [White, 114.] If this is true, how would one explain the notes of Dr. John Bois, one of the translators of the KJV? In his notes on 2 Corinthians 2:17, Dr. Bois writes, “Ibid. v. 17. kapeleuontes ] [being a retail dealer, playing tricks, corrupting] i.e., notheuonetes [adultering]. kapelos is derived apo tou kallunein ton pelon [from glossing over lees] by corrupting and adultering wine.” [John Bois, Translating For King James, trans. Ward Allen (Vanderbilt University Press, 1969), 51.] Apparently, the translators of the KJV were aware of the meaning of this word.
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;”
Modern versions such as the NIV render this as, “While we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” It is argued that the KJV incorrectly translated this passage and violated the Granville Sharpe Rule of Greek grammar. [White, 267-270.] Basically this rule states that the two nouns (God and Savior) refer to the same Person, Jesus Christ. They are correct in their understanding of this grammatical rule. They are incorrect in stating the Authorized Version has violated it.
The problem is not with the KJV, but rather a lack of understanding English grammar. In English, when two nouns are separated by the phrase and our, the context determines if the nouns refer to two persons or to two aspects of the same person. Consider the following sentence, “He was a great hero and our first president, General George Washington.” This statement is not referring to two persons but two aspects of the same person. Washington was a great hero by anyone’s standards, but he was not everyone’s president. He was our president.
The same is true of the phrase in Titus 2:13. When Christ returns he is coming as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). He is returning as the great God (Titus 2:13; Revelation 19:17). Therefore, he will return as everyone’s King, everyone’s Lord, as the great God over all. But he is not everyone’s Savior. He is only the Savior of those who have placed faith in Him. When he returns he is coming as the great God but he is also returning as our Savior, two aspects of the same Person.
This is illustrated elsewhere in Scripture. Consider the following two passages in the New Testament. In both cases two nouns are separated by the phrase and our. However, it is also clear that the two nouns refer to the same Person: God, who is our Father. In Galatians 1:4 we read, “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” Likewise, in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 we read, “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.” In both passages we know that God and Father are the same Person. They are separated by and our to convey the truth that the Eternal God over all is also our Father, thereby personalizing our relationship with Him.
The King James translation of Titus 2:13 is also consistent. In the Book of Titus we find the Greek phrase soteros emon (Savior of us) used six times (1:3, 4; 2:10, 13; 3:4, 6). Each time the Authorized Version consistently translates it as our Saviour. In the final analysis, we see that the KJV is harmonious in its use of Greek as well as in its proclamation of the deity of Christ.
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)”
The common word for faith is the Greek word pistis. However, the word used here is elpidos (a form of the word elpis),usually translated as hope. This does not mean the translation of elpidos or elpis as faith is a mistranslation. In fact, the King James translators stated that they were not bound by strict word counts, and that sometimes the context demands that the same Greek word be translated differently.
The English words faith and hope carry the idea of trust, assurance that what has been told will occur. The word hope means confidence, faith, reliance, trust, belief, and assurance. There is within Scripture a clear connection between faith and hope. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1). The Scriptures state, “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). And in reference to Abraham, the word of God says, “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb” (Romans 4:18-19). We are saved by hope (Romans 8:24) and yet we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). We are told to place our faith and hope in God (1 Peter 1:21).
The context of Hebrews chapter ten informs us that we are to have full assurance of faith (verse twenty-two) and the One we are trusting is “faithful” (verse twenty-three). The context of the Greek word elpis in this verse can be expressed by the English words faith, hope, or trust. Dr. Gerhard Kittel notes the comparison of faith and hope when defining the Greek word elpis (hope). He even notes that in the Greek Septuagint (LXX) there is an “interrelating” of the two Greek words for faith and hope. [Kittel, vol. 2, 531.]
Faith, trust, and hope are used interchangeably. A related word to elpis (hope) is elpizo. It is translated as hope in places such as Luke 6:34 and Romans 8:25. However, it is mostly translated as trust in places such as Matthew 12:21 and Romans 15:24. A related word to pistis (faith) is pistio. It is translated as believe in places such as Matthew 8:13 and John 3:16. However, it is also translated as trust in 1 Timothy 1:11 (as is another form of it in 1 Thessalonians 2:4 which is translated as trust). The context of Hebrews chapter ten and eleven permits this type of trust be translated as faith instead of its normal translation hope.
1 Peter 3:1
“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;”
This verse, along with a handful of others, is questioned because of the word conversation. The objection is that today conversation means talk, but the verses in question refer to lifestyle or behavior. The Authorized Version translates the Greek word anastrephw (or anastrophe) as conversation fifteen times in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 1:12; Galatians 1:13; Ephesians 2:3; 4:22; 1 Timothy 4:12; Hebrews 13:7; James 3:13; 1 Peter 1:15, 18; 2:12; 3:1, 2, 16; 2 Peter 2:7; 3:11).
The majority of good quality English dictionaries will note that the word conversation means the life style or character of an individual in addition to its common context of conversing. The English word conversation comes from the Latin conversatio which concerns social conduct in public life, which is exactly how the word is used in the context of the Authorized Version. The Greek word anastrephw is also translated as “behave” (1 Timothy 3:15) and “live” (Hebrews 10:33; 2 Peter 2:18) within the text of the KJV, revealing that the word has to do with how one behaves or lives their life before others. Even today we speak of those who have been changed in both word and deed (Romans 15:17-19) as converts. One may accuse the word of being somewhat antiquated, but to call it a mistranslation only reveals the limited awareness of the accuser.
2 Peter 1:1
“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:“
The Authorized Version has been accused of inconsistency in its translation of 2 Peter 1:1 when compared with its translation of 2 Peter 1:11. In the later passage we read, “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.“In making such an accusation, some have provided the following comparison between 2 Peter 1:1 and 2 Peter 1:11.
1:1: tou theou emon kai soteros Iesou Christou
1:11: tou kuriou emon kai soteros Iesou Christou
It is then noted that the only difference between the two verses is the substitution of kuriou (Lord) in verse eleven instead of theou (God) as found in verse one. Therefore, according to the Greek, verse one must be translated as “our God and Savior” in order to be consistent. [White, 268.] Since the KJV does not do this, it is looked upon as mistranslating this passage.
The point is well taken, and would be correct if the Greek text that underlies theKJV read as presented. However, it does not. The Greek text used by the King Jamestranslators was Beza’s text of 1589 and 1598. There we find an additional emon (our) at 2 Peter 1:1 that is not provided by those who call this a mistranslation. The two are compared below with Beza’s text presented first.
Tou theou emon kai soteros emon Iesou Christou
Tou theou emon kai soteros Iesou Christou
The translation of Beza’s text is correct in the Authorized Version, and is consistent since the additional emon appears in 2 Peter 1:1 and not 2 Peter 1:11.
The question exists why Beza provided the additional emon at 2 Peter 1:1 that is not found in other Greek texts. Dr. Bruce Metzger may supply the answer. Although not discussing this passage, Dr. Metzger does note the following concerning Beza:
“Accompanied by annotations and his own Latin version, as well as Jerome’s Latin Vulgate, these editions [of Beza’s text from 1565, 1582, 1589, and 1598] contained a certain amount of textual information drawn from several Greek manuscripts which Beza had collated himself, as well as the Greek manuscripts collated by Henry Stephanus, son of Robert Stephanus.” [Bruce M. Metzger, The Text Of The New Testament, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 105.]
Since the Greek text of Robert Stephanus did not contain the addition, and the Greek text of Beza does, it is logical to assume that Beza added the emon at 2 Peter 1:1 based on the various manuscripts that he possessed (or the ones possessed by Henry Stephanus). We would be mistaken to presume that all existing manuscripts used in the sixteenth century are still in existence today. Some have undoubtedly passed away over time. Regardless, the inclusion of the extra emon in this passage provides evidence of its preservation. It is certainly not a mistranslation on the part of the KJV.
We have seen in these few examples how some express a certain amount of disdain for the Authorized Version with meaningless objections. They do not like this or that reading and therefore seek to find a flaw in this literary masterpiece. It is easy to find fault, especially if one does not like a certain rendering. However, upon closer examination it usually can be shown that the difference has more to do with the manner of how words or phrases are understood and not the correctness of the translation itself. To disparage the word translated is to disparage the word. We would do well to take note and exercise caution when seeking to correct what we perceive is a mistranslation. It just may be that the one in error is the one passing judgment.
There is even more information in the book, including extended footnotes and three appendixes.
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