Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mistranslation of Words in The Bible

Many words are poorly translated in the Bible because of the lens the translators look through. Pretty well all of them look through an institutional or authoritative lens (concerning men). I think it is fine to say, "This word was translated wrong. It does not mean what the authors intended." Just because we see a word in the Bible does not mean it is the right word, a good word, or a word to defend. I don't think Christianeze is helpful especially when the original words in the text were common words of the times and not special, exclusive, religious, or spiritual words.

Most words that you'd only hear in church are translated wrong and are common words and should be translated as such. The Spirit will teach truth but the Bible warns so much about false teaching because lies told as truth blind you to the real truth. That is a fact and millions have been deceived. I never intend to fight about words but to expose the truth. Improper word usage can leave you confused (usually unknowingly) and even lead to poor choices and beliefs.

The King James Version translators had a rule from King James and Anglican Archbishop Richard Bancroft to "use The Old Ecclesiastical Words," that "the Word Church is not to be translated Congregation etc." They wanted the words used by the organized church to be used in the translation to validate themselves to the people who will now have the Bible available to read. Before this "authorized version" came about several people who translated scripture into English were murdered for doing so. Interesting that one of them, William Tyndale, used "congregation" instead of "church" in his translation.

Most translations follow the KJV in one degree or another and because institutional churches still stand today we get the same ecclesiastical words in our new translations. Protestants retranslated the words "bishop" and "presbytery" which are found in the KJV because those words don't apply to protestantism, they aren't protestant "positions of authority" so there was no need for them to use these words to back themselves up for having those positions. Of course they still retained the words pastor & deacon in their scriptures because their lens supports their non-biblical hierarchical authority system that displaces Christ.

Most words in scripture, are regular words defined by context. English translators took these common, neutral words and chose to translate them into special words that existed in the church systems of their era. Some mistranslations are intentional or started out that way and some remain because of ignorance. Be assured that the translators do know the real meanings of these words but their bias or lens keeps them from translating them properly.

One outrageous example of translators bias is how the Greek word behind "preach" means "proclaim" or "announce." It has been translated as the special word "preach" when referring to Jesus or the apostles but when "common men" who were healed by Jesus "preach" the translators chose to use the word "proclaim." They should use proclaim or announce in every case but they decided, because of their authoritative lens, to only use the word "preach" when referring to the "special" men and not with the "common" men. There is no justification for this distinction. It is simply the biased lens they look through. From what I've seen intentional or unintentional lies make it much much harder to trust God because they hide His trustworthiness.

A doctrine is "a teaching." I wouldn't need a doctrine about my wife because I just have a relationship with her. Since God is invisible and relates to many people teachings about Him are useful. Doctor is an old religious word for "teacher" so doctrine is a religious word for "teaching." I'd rather not use the word "doctrine" because it conjures up the idea of overly intellectual academic facts or beliefs that don't really affect how we live (even if they should) that are meant to be argued about. Some view the word "doctrine" as spiritual, official, established, and true but it only means "a teaching," one that can be true, false, or mixed.


The only flip-flop translation I can think of is minister. Today we think of minister as a leader but the Greek word it was translated from simply means "servant" which is the opposite! Someone grows up in a church & hears the word minister being used only for leaders so when they go to read the Bible and see the word minister they think of the leader guy at the church building and not a servant. I don't think God is the author of such confusion.

Common Mistranslations, etc.
Faith - Trust
Believe - To Trust
Forgive - Remove A Burden, Take Away, Set Free
Forgiveness - Freedom, Removal
Grace - Favor, Loving Favorable Opinion
Gospel - Good News
Fear - Revere, Respect, Worship
Confess (in 1 Jn 1:9) - Agree, Say the Same Thing As Another
Repent - Change your mind
Repentance - Change of mind
Convict - Convince
Righteous - Right With Relationally, Guiltless
Justified - Made Right With, Made Blameless

Minister - Servant (not an authoritative position)
Pastor - Shepherd (not an authoritative position)
Elder - Older Person (not an authoritative position)
Deacon - Servant (not an authoritative position)
Bishop - Overseer, Guardian (not an authoritative position)
Evangelist - One who proclaims good news
Apostle - Delegate, One Sent on Behalf of another
Prophet - Spokesman
Ministry - Service
Church - Assembly
Ordain - Recognize
Doctrine - A Teaching
Preach - Proclaim or Announce
Sanctuary, Altar - Not Found in the New Testament
Sermon, Pulpit, Surrender, Revival, Rededicate - Do not Appear in the Bible

Devil - Adversary
Angel - Messenger
Prophecy - Message from God
Prophesy - Speak from God
Baptize - Immerse
Believer - One who Trusts
Faithful - Trustworthy
Hypocrite - Actor, Pretender
Heresy - Sect
Scripture - A Writing
Holy - Pure
Saint - Holy person, Pure person
Sanctify - Purify
Sanctification - Purification

Related Posts
The Problem with Mistranslations
How "Preach" is Used with Bias in Translating the Bible
All Posts on Mistranslations

1 comment:

  1. thank you michael! many false doctrines and practices hide behind these mistranslations. i am glad you also cover transliterations when there are perfectly equivalent english word to the greek word (angel, apostle, hypocrite, etc.) may i add the word baptize to that list?

    in the greek (g907) this has the perfect equivalent word in english: immerse, submerge. no special religious meaning. as a picture of death to sin and rising to a new life, the greek "baptizo," the immersion of the whole body of a believer is the perfect picture, not sprinkling or pouring of water over him/her.