101 Bible Secrets
Bible Secret Number 101 

Political Bible Translations

Audio read by Tom Parks -  MP3
The Byte Show Interview - MP3

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What is the most critical problem involving Bible translations and versions today (or at any time)?

The last part of the Bible was written just about 1900 years ago. When the original Hebrew and then the Greek scriptures came into existence, they conveyed messages that would have been generally understood by people at the time. But over the past 1900 years there have been many political systems which have come and gone, but some of their remnants are still with us to this day. As far as Christianity is concerned, no major society was governed by what the New Testament said about it until the time of Constantine the Great in the early part of the fourth century. At that time, the Roman Empire married itself to what was then known as Christendom. This required some urgent interpretations to be given to the people and to the government because there was nothing specifically in the Old or the New Testaments that gave specific information on how Constantine’s Empire was to be governed under a Christian auspices. It was at this time that political interpretations began to blossom.

In Bible translations from this time on we find ecclesiastical terms beginning to be used regarding the meanings of words, especially those concerning doctrinal practices in the New Testament period. This is when words began to take on different meanings than what were intended by the original writers. Words like baptism which originally meant to put under water, now began to take on ecclesiastical meanings like "pouring" or "sprinkling," etc. Other words also assumed "church" interpretations.

By the time of King James, when the version most people still buy more of today than any other called the King James Version came into existence, the western world had been subjected to "church teaching" for well over 1500 years and a "church vocabulary" of words in the Old and New Testaments had become sacrosanct. Take the word "church" for example. The original Greek word was ekklesia which meant "assembly" or "congregation" or "group." In the New Testament it never was the name of a building or a church hierarchy of priests and popes. But in the time of King James, the word "church" had come to the various meanings we have for it today. Let me give you an example how the one word "church" in its various grammatical forms can be used today. Notice a simple sentence in which the word "church" is used differently.

"The church ordered the church to attend church at the church so that after church the church could go out and church other people by getting them to come to church and obey the dictates of the church."

The first usage of "church" in the sentence means the hierarchy of the denomination, the second usage is the proper New Testament one (and the only one the Bible uses) which means the assembly of people who make up the congregation, the third means the building, the fourth is the service, the fifth is a verb form meaning "to enroll people in the group," the fifth is again the service (or the building) and the sixth is again the hierarchy.

Now, because King James saw in the earlier English translations (notably the Geneva and Bishop’s versions) that they commonly translated the Greek ekklesia correctly by rendering it "congregation," this made King James feel that this rendering took away his authority and that of his bishops and put the power in the hands of the people. So he ordered all 47 of the translators of his King James Version to use "church" rather than as the Greek actually meant. This was a political move on his part to keep people obedient to him and the church hierarchy. He also ordered that all ecclesiastical terms for various words in the New Testament be retained, and this included using the word baptize rather than render it as it was in the original which meant to immerse in water. And to this day it is common to see the word "church" and "baptize" among scores of other ecclesiastical words that are as far as one can get from the original meanings.

Indeed, even earlier than King James there was a clear political insertion in the text (that is in the King James Version to this day). It was manufactured to support the doctrine of the Trinity which could not be found with clarity in any other texts of the Bible. The insertion is found in I John 5:7,8 and it represents all the italicized words.

"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one."

These italicized words were first seen in the margin of some late Latin manuscripts, and they were never found in any Greek manuscript before the sixteenth century. When the great textual critic Erasmus was making his Greek text for the theologians to follow in the early sixteenth century, he decided to leave these italicized words out because he realized they were an insertion in some of the Latin texts. But some wanted him to put them in. He thus challenged anyone that if they could find them in any Greek text, he would put them in. Low and behold, there were two very late Greek copies that had the words, so in order to keep his word, he put them into his version knowing full well they did not belong there. The King James scholars carried on with the same nonsense and kept them in the text. Thankfully, no modern translation would put these added words in their versions, and they should be kept out of the Bible.

As a closing observation, it should be obvious that all of us have our own theological beliefs that govern our lives, and we are all prone (whether consciously or unconsciously) to translate words of the Scripture that tend to agree with our own beliefs. I have tried not to do this in this book, but I would be foolish to say that I have been 100% successful. I hope, however, that I have pointed out numerous scriptures throughout the Bible where scholars and others ought to seriously look at again, because in some of them the actual text shows that people today are believing the exact opposite of what the original writers intended.

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