In a display of what queer routes my brain takes when it’s not being fed, I stumbled through recollections of various funny TV shows through the Colbert Report’s upstaging of a U.S. congressman who couldn’t remember all the Ten Commandments to considerations of the various translations of the bible, thinking how in English it’s “love thy neighbor”, whereas in German it’s “liebe deinen Nächsten”, which I consider to be close, but not quite the same thing.
Anyway, I was wondering if any church makes any claims that their everyday use translations of the original Biblical texts are also divinely inspired?
I seem to recall that the Septuagint was considered divinely inspired, on the grounds that all seventy-two translators, working independently, miraculously came up with the same translation of the Old Testament into Greek.
Few churches are sola-scripture (that the Bible contains everything God wants us to know totally and completely), many believe in spiritual gifts that are talked about in scripture as real and active today, so that would exclude a great many of the churches from the OP.
There is the King James Only ‘movement’ which I don’t think it really related to a ‘single’ church, but they believe that the KJV (also called the Authorized Version) is the only english version that is divinely inspired or at least the most accurate translation.
Many modern fundamentalist groups consider something close to that. Basically their position is that the “original” is a verbal plenary (dictated and complete) God-inspired text. They then extend that position to the “Authorized King James Version.” Their theological argument is essentially that God wrote the original Scripture; God wanted man to have Scripture, and that the mechanism of getting this Scripture to English-speaking peoples is the Authorized King James.
I’m sure some group somewhere has extended this concept to an insistence that the Authorized King James was as specifically inspired as the original texts, but this is less common. Part of the practical reason for that is that every group needs wiggle room to explain away texts that are difficult for them. An example might be explaining why “wine” is actually non-alcoholic grape juice in Jesus’s first recorded miracle, for instance.
“Furthermore, we believe that the King James Version of the Bible is God’s preserved word in English and therefore, it shall be the official and only translation of the Holy Scriptures used by this Church and all of its ministries.” —Doctrinal Statement. 2/2007"
“We believe in THE HOLY SCRIPTURE: accepting the writings of the Old and New Testaments as the very Word of God, verbally inspired in all parts and, therefore wholly without error and altogether sufficient in themselves as our only infallible and authoritative rule of faith and practice. We believe that God has preserved His Word for the English-speaking peoples in the King James Version.”
In my opinion these groups tend to have very limited scholarship around the available texts, their hundreds of translations through the ages (including the Septuagint) and the incompleteness or absence of actual original texts. Their scholarship tends to start with the Authorized King James, and in that sense they functionally believe it to be the original Word of God. Its accuracy is taken on faith and not developed by scholarship.
The ones I know about don’t believe translations are inspired by the word of God. During classes they will drill into your head that your version is the accurate one, and the one other’s use is the wrong one. They tell you this happens because men have translated the text through the centuries. There will always be a case of extremes, and there always has to be a group that would hang you for doubting that God translated.
I had what passed for a theological discussion once with a fellow of some Fundamentalist Christian sect who made this very claim. I can’t recall which bit of verse we were talking about, but I put forth the argument that a fuller understanding of the text’s underlying meaning required an examination of the Aramaic/Hebrew/Greek idiom chosen by the author. The gentleman vehemently disagreed with this approach, stating emphatically that the English translation found in the King James Version was “divinely inspired”. Clinging to this line of reasoning, he swept away any and all points of linguistic complexity, cultural context, and literary analysis, declaring that any biblical text prior to the KJV was flawed, erroneous, and irrelevant. Extrapolating further, he come to the “obvious” conclusion that God had turned His back on the unholy heathen Joos, idolatrous papists, and all them other furners who didn’t speak the King’s English. :dubious:
I found myself quite enlightened by this conversation, but not quite in the way the other fellow imagined.
On the negative side, many Christians who believe that the Bible itself is divinely inspired specifically deny that any one particular translation is divinely inspired. From the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy:
I’m curious about Bible translations in general: how can something written 2000 years ago be translated in an error-free manner? It seems to me that the ancients had different expressions: take the (greek) word “pneuma”-does it mean breath, spirit, or wind? Is it meant to express the essence of the soul?
Just wondering if all the subtleties of an ancient language can be faithfully captured.
You laugh, but I’ve seen people make this point. There are people who believe English is the language spoken in heaven, that it is the divine language, and that it is the language Jesus spoke. Somehow, the people around him heard something else, but that was part of the miracle. He spoke English. And, of course, the KJV is the literal, inspired, infallible Word Of God.
I’m not saying it terribly common, but some people (more than just one) do believe this.
For a very interesting book about the problems of translating scripture, I heartily recommend Bart Ehrman’s book, Misquoting Jesus. He describes how the earliest manuscripts of the bible date to hundreds of years after the “original” texts they purport to convey, and how every hand-made copy of every text inevitably contained numerous changes, most accidental, but some intentional. Scribes changed the scriptures for political reasons, to correct what they believed were previous errors, and for many other reasons.
Over the course of his career in textual criticism, Ehrman has come to the conclusion that it’s nearly impossible to know what the “original text” of the bible was. Over time, he also changed from a fervent fundamentalist to an agnostic.
AFAIK, you will not find these views among any denomination of Judaism or Islam, both of which stress the importance of learning the original languages, so as to be better able to understand God’s true meaning.
That’s it! I’ve been trying to remember the book since this thread started.
He attended Moody Bible Institute where the “fact” that the KJV was divinely inspired was dogma. It took him quite a while to realize that it didn’t make any sense given the sources and knowledge of the time.
So, such denominations really are out there. (In more ways than one.)
I Guess the problem I have with the NT, is the differing accounts of the life of Jesus in the Gospels. The firts three (the “Synoptic” Gospels) agree fairly closely, but John is totaly different. The rest of the NT is mostly works by Paul, who never knew Jesus. Can these texts be reconciled? I wonder if we could find ancient enough versions (in Greek), would they tend to agree more?