INTRODUCING THE CONCORDANT LITERAL NEW TESTAMENT
The Concordant Method of Translation
TABLE OF CONTENTS: Translating God’s Word, The Scriptures are Inspired, The Concordant Method, Weymouth’s Resultant Greek Testament, Diction, How to Use this Translation, Developing the Concordant Greek Text, Alexandrinus and Vaticanus, Sinaiticus
TRANSLATING GOD’S 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’s Word direct to the common people so that they may come into close contact with God’s 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’s great gift nearer to earth’s 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’s 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’s 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’s living creatures surpass the inventions of man. The Word of God is living; man’s 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’S 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 Weymouth’s 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. Weymouth’s 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 Weymouth’s 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 Weymouth’s, 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.
The AUTHORIZED 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 value.
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 the world."
HOW TO USE THIS TRANSLATION
The CONCORDANT 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:
CODEX 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 Matthew’s 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, Paul’s 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.
CODEX 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.
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