TRANSLATING GODS WORD
GOD has given mankind a written
record of His words and ways, His purpose and plans. It is the supreme privilege and
imperative duty of all who love God to become closely acquainted with His revelation, to
support and promote every effort which seeks to make it manifest, and especially any
undertaking which brings God Word direct to the common people so that they may come
into close contact with God written words without the mediation of priest or
preacher, church or creed. Is it not one of the finest and most fruitful works in the
world to bring God great gift nearer to earth peoples in its original purity,
preciousness, and power, and to seek methods of making their access to this boon as easy
and practicable as possible? Yet every human undertaking, and every translation of the
Scriptures, falls short of perfection. Our finite understanding, our faulty opinions as to
the meaning of words in the ancient languages of inspiration cannot be fully evaded. To
reduce this baneful influence to a minimum should be our earnest endeavor. No mortal can
fully comprehend or even sound the depths of God marvelous message to mankind. We
never reach the point where we cannot find new light and fresh treasures in divine
revelation. Since men can carry over the truth into another language only so far as they
grasp it themselves, no translation can be fully satisfactory.
The compiler of the CONCORDANT
VERSION, the late A. E. Knoch, was painfully aware of his shortcomings in
this regard. He therefore sought to emphasize the necessity of shielding himself against
his personal views, his inherited tendencies and traditional errors. Consequently he and
his assistants labored strenuously to avoid these by using a special system, which is
explained in this booklet. It has pleased God to give us His revelation in languages not
our own. He chose the tongues of the ancients, which He refined, to suit them for this
purpose. We therefore deem it a vitally important task to convey to the people of today
the impression produced on the native reader of that day by the Hebrew, the Chaldee and
the Greek Original. In this work we strive to solve the problem of reproducing the
Scriptures in a scientific way, so that the divine elements may be preserved and the
intrusion of human opinion largely avoided.
THE SCRIPTURES ARE INSPIRED
The only possible apology for such a
method of translating the Scriptures is the profound conviction that they are the very
words of God. It is a fact that considerable portions record the thoughts of God
enemies, and are not His sayings or declarations. But, while these are not themselves
divine, the record of them is, for they serve as a foil for the positive
revelations from the mouth of the Deity.
All Scripture is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16).
Since the SPIRIT imparts life, we understand that the
Sacred Writings are superior to other literature in the same way that God living
creatures surpass the inventions of man. The Word of God is living; man writings are
dead. As, in nature, God alone can bridge the gulf between the organic and inorganic or
living and nonliving, so He has given us His words, which are spirit and are life, and
which alone can impart life to dead humanity. No other book has the vitality and vivifying
power of the Book of books.
The CONCORDANT VERSION
acknowledges the inspiration or vitality of the Sacred Scriptures by using a method of
translation based on the denial of human ability to sound its depths or scale its heights,
and by insisting on its superhuman perfection even to the minutest detail. It is not the
reiteration of any formula of verbal inspiration which counts with God, but
the actual attitude of the heart, which confesses its own inability to transcribe His
thoughts. An intelligent appreciation of His words requires consideration of every element
and listens to every letter.
THE CONCORDANT METHOD
As an earnest Bible student, desiring
to understand the Word of God, the compiler discovered that practically all solid progress
in the recovery of truth during the last century had come through use of concordances. He
found that those of his friends who based their study on a concordance made the surest and
speediest advance in their knowledge of God. Hence he also began to test and correct his
ideas as to the meaning of Bible words by tracing them through all their occurrences. The
immense profit and pleasure of this plan awoke in him a strong desire to do all in his
power to assist others in this safe and satisfactory method of assuring themselves of the
real revelation which God has given.
Thus it was that the idea of a Concordant Version
suggested itself to his mind. Instead of occasionally making current translations more
harmonious with the Original by using a concordance, why not make a version which is
already concordant? Indeed, such a version might do far more to bring the reader into
accord with the facts than would be possible by the patient and prolonged study of a
concordance. The greatest benefit would come, not only to the serious student, but also to
the humble reader who would prayerfully use the Version and allow the contexts to
color each word and define its force for him. The concordant method of studying the
Scriptures uses a concordance to discover the meaning of a word. This is done by tracing
the occurrences of the words in the Original, and not according to the various
vocabularies found in English versions. The aim is to discover the usage and fix its
signification by its inspired associations. It is in line with the linguistic law that the
meaning of a word is decided by its usage. In this Version the efficiency and value of
this method has been greatly multiplied by extending it to the elements of which the Greek
words are composed, and by combining with it the vocabulary method, which deals with each
word as having a definite province of thought which must be carefully kept within its own
etymological and contextual boundaries.
The CONCORDANT LITERAL NEW
TESTAMENT is not a modern version. Neither is it archaic. The method is
such that little regard could be paid to the outward embellishment of thought. All
appearances are subordinated to accuracy. Truth is itself both desirable and beautiful.
The living Word was not clothed in sumptuous garb to entice the eye. He had no form nor
comeliness. There was no beauty, that they should desire Him. The written Word needs no
ornamentation. Familiar, finely phrased error will appeal to the ears, but inspired,
precisely translated truth should be the pattern accepted into the sound mind. The
concordant method seeks to convey the truth of the Word, not to adorn it for appeal.
WEYMOUTH RESULTANT GREEK TEXT
Before a version of the Scriptures can
be made we must have a settled Greek text. The three most ancient and almost complete
manuscripts are Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus, generally referred to as A, B,
and the Hebrew letter Aleph (which we designate as s). They
agree in the main, yet there are many minor variations. Opinions may vary as to which is
the original reading.
Several years of research resulted in compiling a Greek
text which gives all of the readings of these three most ancient codices, and all
the readings from other sources which we feel are important. As it would be impossible to
collate all the hundreds of later manuscripts, we decided to base our comparisons on
Weymouths RESULTANT GREEK TESTAMENT. Richard
Francis Weymouth based his text on the greatest editors of the nineteenth century:
Lachmann, Tregelles, Tischendorf, Lightfoot, Weiss, Alford, Ellicott, Stockmeyer &
Riggenbach, the Revisers, and Westcott & Hort. Weymouths apparatus was also
consulted which gives the results of Stunica, Erasmus, Stephens, Elziver and Scrivener.
The work was done as follows: Photographic facsimiles of
each of the ancient manuscripts were carefully compared with a copy of the text of THE RESULTANT GREEK TESTAMENT, and every variation was noted
in it. Then another copy of Weymouths text was cut up and pasted, line for line on
large sheets which were bound into a book. Much space was left between each line, so that
all the variations could be entered in place, above the words. If another reading was
preferred instead of Weymouths, the notation above the line was changed accordingly.
The principles on which this text was constructed are explained in the Introduction to the
CONCORDANT GREEK TEXT. This volume of the Concordant
Library contains every word and letter of A, B, s,
Codex Vaticanus 2066 (046) for the Apocalypse, and some recently discovered fragments of
Papyri. Differences between manuscripts are shown in the superlinear. A uniform, literal
word-for-word sublinear translation is given below the Greek text, which is printed in the
ancient uncial letters as we find them in the most ancient manuscripts. The manuscripts
used by us, A, B, s, were evidently written by professional
scribes, with comparative accuracy, and carefully corrected, having been designed for
monastaries, libraries or public use. There were doubtless many copies in circulation in
those days, especially of parts of the Scriptures, made by amateurs for private use, on
cheaper material, and often full of errors. Fragments of such copies are being found, some
of which are even older than the manuscripts we use, but they are not always completely
reliable, though certainly of interest.
VERSION has, in some of its most popular passages, introduced into English many
Greek and Hebrew forms of expression. Today they are no longer looked upon as foreign. On
the contrary, these very phrases, which were once uncouth, are now considered especially
fine and forceful. We have gone even further in this direction. We try to follow the
Original as closely as possible, with the hope that, in time, this will be found to be a
style worthy of an English Bible. For example, one of the features of the original tongues
is to start a sentence often with the word on which particular stress is to be laid. Even
in English we can say, Fulfilled is the era, and near is the kingdom of God!
(Mark 1:15). Once our attention is directed to this order of words, and we become
accustomed to it, we find it reveals the point of the passage, and this is of inestimable
The most discouraging feature of our method is that it is
not always possible to use expressions which please our ears, or those which have become
endeared to us by long usage and tender associations. We are compelled to be consistent
and exact rather than fluent and euphonious. We trust that all who really wish to know
what God has said will not take undue offense at the sound so long as the sense is
correct. Tickling the hearing is condemned in the Scriptures (2 Timothy 4:3), and
should not be the determining factor in the transmission of a divine revelation. Yet we
assure our friends that words and sentences which may offend at first, soon lose their
strangeness. When once accustomed to them we no longer find them odd. When we use them
often they become indispensable as the means of expressing precious truth. For instance,
God so loved the world (John 3:16) has such a tender place in our hearts that
we deplore the slightest change. But when we learn that so does not denote the extent
but the kind of love, and loved is not a past action, but a timeless
fact, we soon find ourselves reveling in the new rendering, Thus God loves
HOW TO USE THIS TRANSLATION
LITERAL NEW TESTAMENT can be used in two basic ways.
First, of course, it may be read devotionally. In this
case the reader may disregard all the various signs and symbols and abbreviations. Even
when used in this way, the reader gains a distinct advantage over those using less
accurate translations, because all of the basic theological terms are rendered uniformly
in the CONCORDANT VERSION, so he sees them in all
of their inspired contexts and only in these contexts. He has the satisfaction of
knowing that he is reading a version that uses a pattern of sound words
(2 Timothy 1:13).
Second, the CONCORDANT
VERSION may be studied microscopically. When used in this way, the reader should
familiarize himself with the Instructions for Use, accompanying the Version. He
should also consult the Abbreviation Key which is provided.
DEVELOPING THE CONCORDANT GREEK TEXT
In order to understand why it was
necessary to form a special Greek text for this Version, the following facts must be
clear. The actual Originals have not been preserved. In ancient times books
were copied by hand. In the course of time thousands of copies were made, but they
differed slightly among themselves. Early English translators did not have access to the
earliest and best of these manuscripts. The latest Greek texts are almost all based upon
the judgment of those who compiled them. We desire to present the actual evidence of the
most ancient texts, so that our readers may be able to use their own judgment if they
wish. Hence the CONCORDANT GREEK TEXT (which has been
published as a companion volume to this Version) gives every letter of three of the most
ancient manuscripts, either in or above the line. These three manuscripts are:
ALEXANDRINUS (A) was presented to Charles I of England by the Partriarch
of Alexandria in 1628. It is now in the British Museum, in London. It was probably written
in the fifth century. Each page has two columns of text, as shown on the illustration
herewith. It came too late to be used in the making of the AUTHORIZED
(King James) VERSION. Until the middle of the nineteenth century it was
the only ancient text accessible to Protestant scholars. It is incomplete in some places.
The greater part of Matthews account is missing.
CODEX VATICANUS (B)
seems to have been in the Vatican Library at Rome as far back as is known. It seems to be
older than Alexandrinus, and is supposed to be especially exact. The close of Hebrews,
Pauls personal epistles and the Apocalypse are lacking. For the last two we
substitute Codex Vaticanus 2066 (046) (b) which was probably
written in the eighth century, so is not nearly as reliable as the rest. The text seems to
agree better than any other manuscript with Codex Sinaiticus. It is written on very fine
vellum, nearly square in shape, about 10 by 10 inches in size. The accents and other marks
have been added by a much later hand. The subscription to Galatians shows how these were
added. The oval stamp between the last few lines of the second and third columns is the
stamp of the Vatican Library at Rome. It reads Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana. It
will be noted that this manuscript has three columns to the page, while Alexandrinus has
two, and Sinaiticus four. It has no initials and practically no indications of words,
sentences or paragraphs.
SINAITICUS (s) was discovered in 1859 by Constantin von
Tischendorf. In 1844, while seeking ancient manuscripts, he visited the monastery of St.
Catherine at Mt. Sinai, and found a few very ancient sheets of vellum, older than any he
had seen before. They proved to be pages of the Septuagint, a translation of the Hebrew
(Old Testament) Scriptures into Greek. The monks seemed to have no idea of the value of
these sheets and were using them in place of firewood! Tischendorf managed to get the
monks to give him some pages, but his joy was so great that they became suspicious, and
refused to part with any more. No one seemed to know anything of the rest of the volume,
whence these pages had come. But the monks at least did not burn any more manuscripts.
Tischendorf determined to get the rest of this manuscript if he could, but it was not
until he went there the third time that he found the treasure he was after. In the name of
the Czar, the head of the Greek Orthodox Catholic Church, he took it to St. Petersburg,
where it remained until it was bought by the British Museum at a cost of one hundred
thousand pounds (£100,000), and brought to London.
During the work of comparing Sinaiticus with the other
manuscripts we were much impressed by the notations of one of the so-called
correctors of this text, whom we designated by the sign S2.
A critical study of his changes convinced us that he was really a reviser. It is
probable that he compared it with other, more ancient manuscripts, for he did not merely
correct errors, but revised the text according to other evidence. This revised
Sinaiticus seems to us to be the best of all the ancient texts, hence it is given special
weight in forming the CONCORDANT GREEK TEXT.
The original of this famous manuscript was written on thin
vellum, each page being now about 13 by 15 inches in size. This allows the letters to be
quite large and clear. This page contains two notable corrections by the later editor we
have spoken of S2. In the upper right-hand corner
will be seen the reading: Not according to flesh are they walking, but according to
spirit (Rom.8:1). In the space between the last two columns, a little over an inch
from the top, are the words Yet grace, which answer the question at the end of
the seventh chapter of Romans (Rom.7:24). In the first line on the page there are three
abbreviations. These are indicated by horizontal strokes over the words. The first two
letters stand for Christ. The second two are the first and last letters of Jesus.
The next two are the article the. The seventh and eighth letters stand for Master
or Lord. The title God is abbreviated in the fifth line from the bottom of
the third column, the fifth and sixth letters from the end of the line.
None of these codices nor any other of the older
manuscripts contains the incident of the adulterous woman (John 7:53-8:11). It is also
absent in some of the Old Latin Versions and not mentioned by some of the prominent
Fathers. So the Version puts these verses in brackets.
Part Two of The Concordant Method of
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