The New English Bible: What Modernism and Ecumenism Do to the Word of God
by Carl McIntire
What Modernism and Ecumenism Do to the Word of God
March 14, 1961 was the publication day of The New English Bible (NEB) Mr. Richard C. Wald of the New York Herald Tribune bureau, writing from London, England, March 13, said, "There are now 1,000,000 copies in print and on the shelves of bookstores from London to Melbourne, and churchmen in Britain who conceived the idea and helped it through to completion of the first stage are more excited about it than any other publishing venture in this century."
In the United States, because of careful advance arrangement, the religious editors of newspapers around the country, at the given signal, featured their lengthy stories. They all say this Bible does not follow the King James Version (KJV).
It has had the finest kind of public relations' promotion on radio and television, so much so that the New York Times, four days later, announced that it was being listed a best seller. It is 'being likened in many ways to the Revised Standard Version (RSV) published in 1952 and copyrighted by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. The promotion relates the book to the 350th anniversary of the King James Version. A spokesman of the Cambridge and Oxford University Presses which are handling the book said, "We know it [date of publication] was in the spring, just before Easter. But if we did know exactly, we would have published our version on the same date. We think it is that important."
The NEB is offered on the same basis as the RSV: (1) The need for a modern translation, the removal of archaic language. (2) The advantage of more recent manuscripts.
However, the basic question which must be asked and answered for God's people is whether modernism, which is so destructive of the Scriptures, and ecumenism which has as its program the building of the one-world church, have in any way influenced the new translation; and whether the changes are helpful to these two destructive forces which are so dominant in the Protestant world. Great Britain herself has been tragically blighted by the modernist attack upon the Word of God.
"Removal of archaic language" must never be a cover for the changing of basic doctrines or teaching of the Word of God, and the so-called recent manuscripts have added very, very little not already known!
The NEB has been widely heralded in news reports, just as the RSV was promoted, as destined to replace the King James Version.
There is no more beloved verse than John 3:16.
The KJV reads:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
The NEB reads:
"'God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, that everyone who has faith in him may not die but have eternal life."
(1) "Begotten" has been removed from its relationship to the "only Son," as it testifies to the deity of Christ. (2) "Has faith in him" takes the place of "believeth in him" and represents a basic shift in the translation and emphasis upon belief. (3) "May not die" replaces "should not perish." The word 11 may" does not give full assurance but leaves considerable doubt. The Bible does not teach this. "Perish," too, is the fuller word.
A major alteration in the Scripture as it relates to the deity of Christ is seen also in this third chapter. of John as it concerns the omnipresence of Christ.
The KJV, John 3:13, reads:
"And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven."
The NEB reads:
"'No one ever went up into heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Son of Man whose home is in heaven."
This destroys the presence of Christ on earth and in heaven at the very same instant as He spoke, and removes any evidence of His deity manifesting itself at this point.
One of the clearest and strongest passages in the New Testament affirming the deity of Jesus Christ is Romans 9:5.
The KJV reads:
"Whose a" the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen."
The NEB reads:
"Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them, in natural descent, sprang the Messiah. May God, supreme above all, be blessed for ever! Amen."
A footnote gives the following, "Or sprang the Messiah, supreme above all, God blessed forever." The text, however, completely removes any reference to the Messiah as being God, which is a perfectly proper translation, and so recognized in the King James Version.
One of the key texts in support of the teaching that all Scripture is inspired is 2 Timothy 3:16.
The KJV reads:
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for Correction, for instruction in righteousness."
The NEB reads:
"Every inspired scripture has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error."
The implication is clearly there that some Scripture is not inspired but those that are may be used for teaching the truth. Who, then, is going to make the distinction between the uninspired and inspired Scriptures? This weakens in a decisive manner the testimony of the Scriptures to their own verbal inspiration. God also is left out.
Another text contributing to such is Hebrews 1:1. In the KJV it reads:
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets."
The NEB reads:
"When in former times God spoke to our fore fathers, he spoke in fragmentary and varied fashion through the prophets."
An entirely new thought is introduced which leaves the reader with the impression that much of what has been presented in the past, in the Old Testament, is "fragmentary," and this, of course, contributes to the whole modern, higher critical reconstruction of the Old Testament, and undermines the doctrine of the plenary, verbal inspiration of the Scriptures.
The first chapter of Hebrews. also has another modification so far as evil is concerned.
Hebrews 1:9 in the KJV reads:
"Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."
The NEB translates the same:
"'Thou hast loved right and hated wrong; Therefore, 0 God, thy God has set thee above thy fellows."
"Iniquity" is a correct word and much stronger.
An addition to the text which introduces confusion is seen in Hebrews 4:14.
The KJV reads:
"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession."
The NEB reads:
"Since therefore we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to the religion we profess."
The NEB adds the phrase, "to the religion we," .which is not in the text in any way, and obviously introduces the current reference to waht we call "religion" as it is being described in English, life.
Another text which reflects upon the matter of inspiration has had a significant alteration. It is 2 Peter 1:21.
The KJV reads:
"For the prophecy tame not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
The NEB says:
"For it was not through any human whim that men prophesied of old; men they were, but, impelled by the Holy Spirit, they spoke the words of God."
Here a complete rearranging of the text has occurred. "Holy men of God" is eliminated, and, in order to complete the sense in the rearrangement, the translators have here had to add, "the words of God." There is no effort to recognize verbal inspiration by such adjustments of the Scriptures. They have rewritten the text their way!
The first indication that major changes would occur in the translation affecting doctrine was in the advance release of one page of the First Letter of John.
The KJV of 1 John 2:2 reads:
"And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
The NEB reads:
"He is himself the remedy for the defilement of our sins, not our sins only but the sins of all the world."
The word "propitiation" is removed; in fact, it is removed from the entire New Testament-in 1 John 4:10; Romans 3:25. The words "to propitiate" mean to appease divine justice. The word "propitiation" has been especially offensive to the modernists of the twentieth century. Much controversy has raged around the idea of propitiation; even though God Himself provided the sacrifice to satisfy His divine justice, which is indeed appeasing the holy God. Now this is all removed from the New Testament and we have in general "the remedy for the defilement of our sins." But what is that remedy? The only answer is the clear answer of the Greek "propitiation." Moreover, with this elimination from the New Testament there are too many unsettled questions in regard to the wrath of God which is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness. How is God to be satisfied and man reconciled? The answer is, Christ is the propitiation. But in the NEB, modernism's destroying knife cuts deep into Calvary here!
An arbitrary decision, seen especially in the Gospels of the NEB, is the way in which the name "Jesus Christ" or "Christ" is treated; in fact, "Christ" is virtually eliminated from the Gospels.
The KJV reads:
".Vow the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise."
The NEB reports it:
"This is the story of the birth or the Messiah."
"Christos" in the Greek, which is Christ, means "Messiah." And yet the New English Bible begins, "A table of the descent of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham." In this instance the translators did not translate the name "Jesus Christ" by the word "Messiah." In other words, the translators have used their own discretion in the interchange of this word. The same can be seen in Peter's confession at Caesarea Philippi.
The KJV reads:
"Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." The NEB reads:
" 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."' If the Church is to follow the lead of the NEB on this matter throughout the Gospels, the people will refer to Jesus Christ in the future simply as "the Messiah." Why the church should not go on calling Jesus Christ "Christ" as it always has is nowhere explained. Why the translators should seek to change the terminology of the church in referring to Jesus Christ is a question. Certainly it will develop confusion and even uncertainty. This change is purely "editorial," and is unjustifiable.
A passage whose translation in the NEB is most inexcusable is Matthew 16:18. It not only confirms, the position of the Roman 'Catholic Church in its struggle with- the Protestants on a most vital point, concerning Peter and the keys, but it also prepares the way for the acceptance on the part of Protestants of an essential change if there is to be an ultimate accommodation with the Roman Catholic Church to build the ecumenical movement.
In the KJV Matthew 16:18 reads:
"And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
The NEB reads:
"'And I say this to you: You are Peter, the Rock; and on this rock I will build my church, and the forces of death shall never overpower it."
Peter is here made "the Rock," which is the interpretation of the Roman Catholic Church, even though the Douay And Confraternity Versions read the same as the KJV. The teaching of Rome is that the keys were given to Peter, and he has transmitted them from pope to pope through the centuries. Rome, thou art vindicated 1 The Protestant view has always -)eei that the rock was not Peter, but the rock was the confession of the deity of Christ. At this all-important and pivotal point Protestants have finally been delivered into the lap of the Vatican! The Pope could be bead of the World Council of Churches and finally head of the one-world church! And all of this parallels the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury to Pope John XXIII.
The KJV reads:
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith."
The NEB translates as follows:
"For I am not ashamed of the Gospel. It is the saving power of God for everyone who has faith the Jew first, but the Greek also - because here is revealed God's way of righting wrong, a way that starts from faith and ends in faith; as Scripture says, 'he shall gain life who is justified through faith."'
Not only is "of Christ" eliminated and "the just shall live by. faith" changed, but the emphasis upon "to every one that believeth" has been changed for "everyone who has faith."
John 20:29 makes a similar change.
In the confession of doubting Thomas, the KJV reads:
"Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."
The NEB reads:
"Jesus said, 'Because you have seen me you have found faith. Happy are they who never saw me and yet have found faith."'
The constant changing of the word "believe" to some other phrase, running throughout the NEB, cannot but have its effect upon the reader. The emphasis of the King James Version upon "believe," "believe," has been most significant in the whole evangelistic ministry of the church.
"Jesus said unto her, I am 'the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"
The NEB reads:
"Jesus said, 'I am the resurrection and I am life. If a man has faith in me, even though he die, he shall come to life; and no one who is alive and has faith shall ever die. Do you believe this?"'
This twists things around and does not give the teaching of Scripture. If a man has "faith in me," that is, if he believes, and even though he die - the Scripture does not teach be shall come to life. The life that Christ is talking about here is something a person receives at the time he believes and before he dies, not something he comes into after he dies. So this twist is unfaithful to the teaching of the Bible on the matter of belief and everlasting life.
The King James Version universally uses "thee" and "thou" whether these pronouns apply to God or to man. In the case of the Revised Standard Version, the translators arbitrarily used "thee" in referring to deity and "you" and "yours." in referring to others.
In the NEB, apparently, the same procedure has been followed, and this produces great confusion. Christ is addressed as "you," stripping Him of His deity. In John 17, the Son addresses the Father "thou." Elsewhere the Father addresses the Son "you." Should not Jesus Christ receive the same honor? The NEB translators have not lived up to their own Bible, for in John 5:23 the NEB reads, "It is his will [ the Father's] that all should pay the same honour to the Son as to the Father."
The New English Bible introduces quotation marks (single quotation marks) throughout, and since these are not employed in the Greek, nor are they used in the King James Version, the introduction of these marks involves considerable editorial judgment on the part of the translators, especially in indicating where quotations begin and where they end.
"All scholars" do not agree on quotation marks.
In the case of the Revised Standard Version, which also introduced quotation marks in John, Chapter 3, the quotation marks end with John 3:15 and exclude John 3:16 as a statement from Jesus Christ. However, in the NEB the quotation continues and does not end until the conclusion of verse 21. So Jesus Christ is here represented as giving a much longer speech and including John 3:16!
One of the most serious flaws in the production of this whole work is that words which have been added by the translators are in no way distinguished or differentiated from the words which are a part of the original text.
In the case of the King James Version, this has always been indicated by italics. One knows this and recognizes the same when he reads, but in this New English Bible there is no way of ascertaining what is a part of the text and what has been added by the translators in the interest of what they consider to be clarity or the proper meaning. The translators therefore assume a far greater responsibility in this work than the translators of the King James Version did, and their editorial contributions (for such they are in certain places) put them on the level with the Word of God in the reader's mind.
In the introduction it is said, "But if the best commentary is a good translation, it is also true that every intelligent translation is in a sense a paraphrase. But if paraphrase means taking the liberty of introducing into a passage something which is not there, to elucidate the meaning which is there, it can be said that we have taken this liberty only with extreme caution, and in a very few passages, where without it we can see no way to attain our aim of making the meaning as clear as it could be made." The translators recognize what they have done when they add, "Taken as a whole, our version claims to be a translation, free, it may be, rather than literal, but a faithful translation nevertheless, so far as we could compass it." And it is just at this point that the mind, the judgments, the conclusions of the translators do become a part of the New English Bible and account for major decisions. The decision not to use the word "miracle," and to use the word "Messiah" instead of Christ, are editorial decisions.
Time and time again there are instances where the Scriptures are toned down in the impact and the demand which they make. In the great separationist passage, 2 Corinthians 6:14 to 7:1, the KJV phrase, "perfecting holiness in the fear of God," is changed simply to "complete our consecration."
Hebrews 1:3 in the KJV says that Re, Christ, "by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." But in the NEB it reads: "When he had brought about the purgation of sins, he took his seat at the right hand of Majesty on high." In Revelation 17:4, "bedizened" takes the place of the words "decked" with. gold and precious stones and pearls.
There are instances, however, where the translators have contributed a freshness to the text, and these illustrate that the translation in places corrects archaic language. If this could have been done without all the additional modifications and changes which affect the standards of righteousness, the deity of Christ, the Roman Catholic doctrine, and the ecumenical movement, it would be a different story. But we cannot accept this!
One instance in particular is 1 Timothy 4. Those who depart from the faith are said to give their minds "to subversive -doctrines inspired by devils." True! We are told, "Have nothing to do with those godless myths, fit only for old women." How appropriate this is in an hour when Bishop James A. Pike of the Episcopal Diocese of California has pronounced the ,virgin birth of Christ a myth, and Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, stated clerk of the United Presbyterian !Church, has called upon the churches to unite "Reformed" and "Catholic" traditions by abandoning "sola scriptura," giving greater prominence to tradition.
One of the most amazing developments in the New English Bible is its treatment of the cross.
1 Peter 2:24 reads, "In his own person he carried our sins to the gallows." According to the Scriptures, Old and New, Christ was not hanged. He was crucified. No one knew this any better than Peter. The use of the term "tree," or "cross," as this has been translated by others, would be better; but "gallows" is a contradiction. Why? Why must the faithful argue over this?
Again, in Acts 10:39, Peter is reported as explaining to Cornelius that Jesus "was put to death by hanging on a gibbet." But what is a gibbet? The basic difficulty here is that the translators obviously did not consider the unity of the Scriptures as one of the undergirding elements in conveying the original meaning of the apostles. "Scholarship" apparently has detached itself from that which even the Scripture itself requires that men believe concerning it - its unity, its plenary, verbal inspiration. Scholarship which does violence in this way to the Scriptures is not Biblical and it indeed gives to Satan the advantage which he desires in introducing conflicts, contradictions, and confusion into the Word of God.
Translators of the Holy Scriptures should always be men who are born again, men of faith. They must recognize that the original writers, holy men of God who spake by the Holy Spirit, produced autographs which were indeed the infallible Word of God. To ignore these realities and presuppositions is to produce a book which could not possibly be considered the Word of God. God does not explain that His Son died on a cross in one place and then that He died on a gallows in another place. Surely there is something seriously wrong with the board of translators at this point. But if such reveals itself here, the same underlying difficulties attend the entire translation. Were the "autographs" infallible? Or were they not? We believe, and the Protestant Churches have always believed they were! The translators apparently do not believe they were.
The final commission of our Saviour to His disciples, Matthew 28:19, has always been a benediction to the missionaries and to the church. A major difficulty is now introduced into the whole missionary program by the new translation, "Go forth therefore and make all nations my disciples; baptize men everywhere. . . ." This raises basic questions concerning the relationship of the church to the state and indiscriminate baptism, and would change drastically the program of missions.
With the changes which we have noted in the New English Bible, however, it should not be accepted by the churches or have acceptance by the people of God.
One of the most basic changes, which employs the language of the social gospel and definitely plays into the hands of the Communist propagandists, is I John 1:7. The KJV reads, "If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another." The NEB reads, "If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, then we share together a common life."
The word "fellowship" is translated in this manner in other places also. Acts 2:42 is translated, "They met constantly to hear the apostles teach, and to share the common life."
"Fellowship of the Spirit" in Philippians 2:1 becomes "sharing of the Spirit."
This gives an entirely different understanding of the meaning of the word "fellowship," making it refer only to human relationships. The divine aspect is eliminated.
Dr. J. Carter Swaim, executive director of the Department of English Bible of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., also has raised important questions concerning the NEB. This is the Dr. Swaim who, in San Francisco, December 3, 1960, in an address before the Christian Education Assembly of the Triennial General Assembly of the National Council of Churches, said, "There is a sense in which the Bible is still an open-ended book." "New chapters," he insisted, "are even being written today in the acts of the Holy Spirit. These, however, have not yet been added to the New Testament canon."
Swaim, in his article in The Christian Century, March 15, 1961, obviously feels the competition the NEB will hurt the RSV. He regrets that "the Revised Version and the American Standard Version did not win the acceptance which their scholarship merited." The RSV and NEB, he thinks, should have that acceptance.
"Even more puzzling is the almost complete disappearance of the word Christ from the Gospels. 'The Christ,' which occurs 48 times in the K.J.V., the Revised Version, and R.S.V., occurs in N.E.B. only in John 20:31. Once it is rendered Christ and once God's Anointed. The other 45 times it is rendered 'The Messiah.' In a translation designed for readers in the 20th century A.D., this seems a strange harking back to pre-New Testament terminology.
Distressing too is the almost complete disappearance of the word "saints" from the Epistles. Forty-two out of 60 occurrences of the Greek word are rendered 'God's people,' with a variety of terms used in the other 18 places."
"The introduction to the New English Bible assures us that 'every intelligent translation is' in a sense a paraphrase.' The committee has therefore felt free to alter the persons and tenses of verbs and to define nouns. The impersonal third-person imperative 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear' is changed to the second person: 'If you have ears to hear, then hear' (Mark 4:9)."
At times it seems that even the NEB is too liberal and too radical for the defenders of the Revised Standard Version!
In May, 1946, three months after the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament was published, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland passed a resolution, "We are compelled to recognize that the authorized version is becoming unable to fulfill the function it was created to serve." Obviously, the British were determined to do their own work, and Swaim credits this.
Day Thorpe, book critic for The Evening Star, Washington, D. C., in his lengthy review of the NEB, March 13, 1961, is severe in his criticisms. Especially he does not like the reference to Mary and Joseph in the account of the birth of Jesus Christ. "Nice Nelly wanders in and out of NEB. Joseph has ,no intercourse with [Mary] until after her son was born' Matt. 1, 25, rather than 'he knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son.' KJV. . . . ' Suffer the little children to Come unto me, and forbid them not,' Mark 10, 14, KJV, is turned into a petulant 'Let the children come to me; do not try to stop them.' NEB." Then he declares:
"The pity of it all is that such a Bible as the NEB robs a whole generation of one of its 'greatest heritages - one of the few that we older people should be able to assure to the younger. I have no objection to new translations of the Bible - the time I spend reading them is witness of that. But the last authorized version, the RSV, a translation similar to and little better than NEB, has sold 20,000 pulpit Bibles in nine years. That means that 20,000 congregations are being brought up on flat, no-nonsense, unliterate writing that certainly will do much to ruin their ears for appreciating the splendors of the English language. It seems inevitable that NEB, sanctioned as it is by so many heedless churches, will be no less a strong weapon in the degradation of American culture. KJV is not sacrosanct and never should become so, but it is good, and it is a heritage we should not deny our children who in later years, when they have experience and individual opinion, can choose for themselves."
Then he concludes:
"Would it not be wise for the churches who are attempting to supplant KJV in pew, pulpit and home with one or another translation designed to appeal to the most casual and unquestioning reader or listener, to sponsor instead a new KJV, supplied with footnotes on the hard words? Then, at least the churches could take pride in following divine precept -'Cleave to that which is good' Romans 12, 9, KJV. It might be worth consideration, for otherwise, I am afraid, the salt is going to lose its saltness before we know it."
Louis Cassels, in his report for the United Press International, given wide distribution, likes the New English Bible. He says,"It is vastly more readable and more effective in communicating the Biblical message to modern man." He writes that it is even better than the Revised Standard Version, but indicates "it [the RSV] has never come close to supplanting the King James in popular affection." This is a welcome conclusion, for it indicates that the opposition raised to the RSV on the basis of its attack upon the deity of Christ, the removal of the virgin birth from Isaiah 7:14, and the like, has had its effect, especially in the United States of America.
The Old Testament section of the New English Bible, we are told, will not be ready for possibly six years. It will indeed be interesting to see if. Isaiah 7:14 and such passages are treated in the same way that they were by the RSV of the Bible.
NEB is the official work of churches in Great Britain. These churches, however, are the leading and constant exponents of the ecumenical movement in the British Isles, and this will be heralded as an 11 ecumenical endeavor." There are The Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland, The Church of England, The 'Church of Scotland, The Congregational Union of England and Wales, The Methodist Church of Great Britain, The Presbyterian Church of England, The Council of Churches for Wales, The London Yearly Meeting Society of Friends, and the United Council of Christian Churches and Religious Communions in Ireland which are not listed as constituent bodies of the World Council of Churches, but they are directly related to the ecumenical movement in Great Britain.
The two Bible Societies - British and Foreign, and the National Bible Society of Scotland - also are related to the United Bible Society which is working in close collaboration with the ecumenical movement.
The general sweep with which the ecumenical movement has captured the British Isles is testimony to the widespread inclusivism and apostasy which has occurred in twentieth century Protestantism.
Why, we must ask, is there this emphasis upon new translations? They have come from the liberals, the modernists, and under the cover of offering new information and better translations, and always there is an attack upon precious and essential doctrines of the Christian faith. Always there is a modification and a softening of the impact and teaching of the Bible. The fact is that before real progress can be made by the ecumenical leaders and the modern figures in the church, a different book must be placed in the hands of the common man. The changes which they desire to take place, the softening of the stand of the church in regard to doctrine, so that there can be a union, a reunion, and a one-world ecumenical church, they anticipate will come over a longer period of time. And when the present generation passes on, a younger generation, with the new Bibles, will not share their deep and uncompromising convictions.
As a matter of fact, the format of this Bible makes it difficult to locate passages, and it is most difficult to memorize the verses, for they are not clear. One is not sure when he reads where a verse starts or where a verse stops. God told His people to hide His Word in their hearts and it was with such an end in mind that the present divisions and numberings of the Scriptures developed in the sixteenth century. Such contributed to an easy location of references and to a more detailed analysis and understanding of the Bible, verse by verse, and especially the memorizing of the Scriptures. This, in itself, will do the church great injury. This book is designed like any other book of man, to be handled as a newspaper, even in a cursory fashion!
The secular press, however, has its questions. The Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 17, has as its leading editorial, "Words Without Music." After quoting the Lord's Prayer from the King James Version and from the New English Bible, the raising of Lazarus, and St. Paul in I Corinthians 13:1, the editor says: "It will be recognized at once that the new translation, however accurate and precise, lacks the musical rhythms of the English version of 1611. The latest translation also eliminates many old and familiar phrases which have entered into the consciousness of past and present generations." And he concludes, "It leaves us about as cold as Murmansk in the middle of January."
A significant development also is the attitude of the new evangelicals toward the New English Bible. The first advertisements which appeared in the public press and religious magazines carried a sweeping endorsement by Dr. Harold-John Ockenga, leader of the National Association of Evangelicals and "father of the new evangelicalism."
Dr. Ockenga writes: "A translation which enthuses me . . '. chaste, expressive, accurate and without governing theological presuppositions." In view of the accumulated evidence which we have presented above, one could hardly call it "accurate." There is too much paraphrasing and there are certain "governing theological presuppositions," a rejection of the verbal and plenary inspiration of the Scriptures and the infallibility of the autographs. Dr. Ockenga further said, "There will be little debate on the outstanding merits of the work resulting from such scholarly application of the latest methods of historical criticism." There will be little debate in the circles in which Dr. Ockenga. moves with his "new evangelicalism" and his fellowship ship with the ecumenical leaders. Somehow, it seems that the ecumenical dreamers and those who fellowship with them do a great deal of "commending one another" in holding "persons in admiration."
The recognized leader of "ecumenical co-operation" in the production of the NEB is Dr. Charles H. Dodd. Dr. Dodd has been the director of the project, a representative from the Congregational Union of England and Wales. His picture has appeared with the reports around the world. He corresponds to Dr. Luther A. Weigle of the Revised Standard Version in the U.S.A. Both men are leaders in the ecumenical movement.
Dr. Weigle was chairman of the committee that brought about the unification of the various interdenominational agencies in the National Council of Churches in 1950. Dr. Dodd has been a leader in the Faith and Order movement and a member of the Commission of the World Council of Churches that has to do with building the one-world church. There is a striking parallel.
When leaders such as these are so deeply involved in the promotion of the ecumenical cause, and at the same time are working as scholars in the production of new Bibles, one can see that there is a connection. Men cannot separate- themselves from what they are.
Dr. F. F. Bruce, professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis of the University of Manchester, England, in his discussion of the NEB questioned the elimination of the word "propitiation," as pointed out earlier. Concerning the current controversy over the word "propitiation" and its meaning and place in the New Testament, Bruce writes, "In this discussion Prof. Dodd himself has played an outstanding part." But he played an "outstanding part," too, in having it completely removed from the New Testament.
The Trinitarian Bible Society, London, England, on March 14, 1961 released a lengthy appraisal of the NEB. Excerpts from that appraisal follow:
"The translators appear to have overlooked the -fact that the A.V. has been in use long enough to fix many expressions permanently in the language of the people without regard to their Scriptural context. 'Pearls before swine' has become proverbial and is not improved by alteration to 'pearls to pigs.' 'Tombs covered with whitewash' will not displace 'whited sepulchres.' Paul's 'thorn in the flesh' now becomes 'a sharp pain in my body.' These changes are absurd, annoying, and pointless.
"Other beautiful expressions which have enriched our language and are now to be discarded are 'his unspeakable gift' (2 Cor. 9.5) ; 'the royal law' (Jas. 2.8) ; and 'inasmuch' (Matt. 25.40).
"Many of the words used in the A.V. with reference to vital doctrines of the faith are also lost. The reader will no longer find the words elect, justify, impute, redemption, regeneration or book of life in the New Testament. These are replaced by other terms which weaken the force of the truth revealed.
We lose also 'in whom I am well pleased and receive in exchange 'on whom my favour rests.' We find safe' for 'saved'; 'bad characters' for 'sinners'; .true self' for 'soul.' It is probable that few readers will see the point of 'incorporate in' for the simple *in' of the AN. in Eph. 1.1; or 'triumphal procession' for 'triumph' in 2 Corinthians 2.14 (borrowed from Weymouth). In these and many other respects the candid reader will be constrained to admit that the old is better. The men of 1611 would have been incapable of passing the strange rendering of Titus 1.5, 'set in order what was left over,' and they might also wonder at Rev. 19.16 'on his robe and on his leg.'
"Inconsistencies and Anachronisms
"The translators have carefully avoided Easter in Acts 12.4 where they have correctly used the word 'Passover,' but surprisingly they have introduced 'Whitsuntide' for 'Pentecost' in 1 Cor. 16.8, while preserving 'Pentecost' in Acts 2.1. The use of 'Friday' in Lu. 23.4 and 'Sunday' in Lu. 24.1, is also a quaint anachronism which does nothing to illuminate the reader. The introduction of 'hymns' into 1 Cor. 14.15, 26, where the Greek - is more closely akin to our 'psalms', is unwarranted and misleading.
"Matt. 5.20 'Except your righteousness exceed' becomes 'unless you show yourselves far better men. This no longer leads the reader to Christ 'who is made unto us wisdom and righteousness'; or reminds one of the blessedness of -the man unto whom 'the Lord imputeth righteousness without works'; or of Paul's contempt for the righteousness of the law. The sinner merely has to show himself to be a better man than the Pharisee. The vital doctrine is also obscured by the consistent suppression of the word 'imputed.'
"The Scriptures reveal the Son of God calling sinners to repentance. Repentance is revealed as the gift of God. The calling and the gift are associated with justification. In the new version He merely 'invites' sinners to repent, (Matt. 9.13).
"Faith is declared to be the gift of God.' The new version: speaks of faith being 'awakened,' suggesting that All- men have some kind of dormant faith which merely needs to be roused to active life (Acts 3.16 and Ro. 10.17). The truth that all men are by nature 'dead in trespasses and sins' is thus obscured. To believe now becomes 'to yield allegiance' John 1. 12, suggesting that the sinner makes a concession, while the Scriptures really affirm that he receives a gift.
"For obvious dogmatic reasons, the word 'receive' is carefully suppressed in favour of 'accept' (Lu. 18.17, John 10.38, 12.48, 14.11, Acts 2.36, 41, 8.14, 11.1, 2 Cor. 11.4, Jas. 1.21). The new terminology portrays the sinner having his inherent faith awakened accepting the evidence, quietly accepting the message, yielding allegiance to Christ, exerting himself to clinch God's choice and calling (2 Peter 1.10), letting himself be built into God's house (I Peter 2.5), and exhorted not to miss his chance of entering into rest (Heb. 4.1). The sinner is now assumed to be able to undertake a large share in the work of his salvation, and is apparently less in need of election, justification, redemption, imputed righteousness, regeneration, and the mercy seat. All of these are therefore quietly eliminated.
"The Book has not merely been retranslated. It has been largely rewritten. The reader may feel entitled to enquire whether 'scholarly qualities alone' are sufficient equipment for the solemn and responsible task of translating the Divine Revelation..
"No Acknowledgment of Divine Inspiration
"The Translators' Preface to the Authorized Version of 1611 reverently acknowledges the Divine Inspiration and authority of the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God, a gift from Heaven. One seeks in vain for any such testimony in the new version. The preface and the long statement issued by the sponsors at the time of publication are silent on this subject. It does not therefore occasion any surprise that 2 Timothy 3.16 has again been reduced to an assertion of partial rather than plenary inspiration.
"We have read this translation through completely, comparing several hundred passages with the latest critical edition of the Greek and with the Authorised Version and eight modern versions. Our conviction is that if any have been hindered in their approach to the truth by the alleged 'barriers of language,' more are likely to be hindered in their apprehension of the truth by the numerous and serious deficiencies of the new version.
"This translation will be a great embarrassment to those professedly evangelical societies and literature distribution organisations which have committed themselves in advance to accept and circulate a version so utterly alien to the faith of our fathers and unacceptable to those who still cherish some respect for the old paths."
0. L. Clark, Ph.D., Toronto Baptist Seminary, Toronto, Canada, writing on "General Observations Concerning the New English Bible," in The Gospel Witness and Protestant Advocate of March 23, 1961, concluded: "It is not trustworthy, for it has the effect of lowering the standard of the Scriptures, of failure to reverence the Father, and refusal to honour God the Son. It conforms to the spirit of this age of secularization. . . . Nor will it be accepted by those who remain true to the faith once delivered to the saints."
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