Tag Archives: translation

Influence of One Bible Translation

The Influence of the Good News for Modern Man translation on other translations of Acts 9:25

The longer I have been observing textual variants in the Greek New Testament, the more I am convinced that the cause of some corruptions in the Greek text, was back-flow from the early important translations into other languages, and from the writings and commentaries of the Fathers.  Because if you lived in a region where the Greek text was not your native language, and the New Testament text you were familiar with was in another language, (Syriac, Coptic, Latin, etc.) but you were charged with re-copying or reproducing the foundational Greek text your church had received, when you did produce it, you would be highly influenced by the memories in your mind of your native language text, which is what you heard repeated all the time, and not the Greek text.  Much of this back-flow could happen unconsciously and not deliberately.  However, some of this could have happened deliberately, for the sake of uniformity of the text among all your churches.

I have a current-day example of this, not of back-editing of the Greek text, but of the influence of one important English translation onto many new translations into other languages.  The principle is the same.  The translators and editors were conscious of the fact that they were deliberately departing from their main source text, in order to effect uniformity of the NT text among all the regional churches.

My example occurred in Papua New Guinea, where I was born and raised.  I discovered this while translating the Acts of the Apostles from Greek to English.  I found that an alarmingly high number of English translations in Acts 9:25 add words to the text that are not in the Greek, any Greek source text; they are not in the Textus Receptus, not in the Nestle-Aland text, and not in the Majority Text, not in any Greek manuscript.  They add the words “an opening in.”  That is, “they lowered him down through “an opening in” the wall.”

The Greek text is straight-forward.  The enemies of Saul were watching the city gates day and night in order to capture Saul and kill him.  So, λαβόντες δὲ αὐτὸν οἱ μαθηταὶ νυκτὸς διὰ τοῦ τείχους καθῆκαν αὐτὸν χαλάσαντες ἐν σπυρίδι.  So, “the disciples took him at night by way of the wall instead.  They lowered him down in a basket.”

It is not hard to understand.  The gates were not an option, therefore they used the wall to escape.  It says nothing about a hole in the wall, or a window in the wall.  The point was simply that they did not use the gates, but used the wall.  They lowered him down from it in a basket.  The preposition δια here means “by way of”  or “by means of.”  They took him out of the city by way of the wall.  It does not even say they lowered him by means of the wall as some of the translations say.  The verb involved is λαβόντες, they TOOK him by way of the wall.  They lowered him by means of a basket.

I called my father Tom Palmer to find out how he rendered Acts 9:25 in his translation into the Hamtai language of Papua New Guinea.  He said they went with the same addition I mentioned, something about letting Saul down through a window in the wall.  I asked him why in the world the Hamtai translation says a window, when that is not in the Greek, and that is not in the King James Version?  His answer is what I am talking about: back-flow from one very important, early, influential translation used in Papua New Guinea: the Good News for Modern Man.  You see, the country of Papua New Guinea has 700 different languages; not dialects, but 700 languages, with different dialects among those.  But the official language of Papua New Guinea is English, since it was at first a British colony then an Australian colony (though the NE part where I was born was a German colony prior to WW1.)  Many New Guineans therefore can speak some English.  So pretty much all churches in Papua New Guinea, whether Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, SDA, etc., they all were influenced by the same Bible, the Good News for Modern Man, which was produced by the United Bible Societies (UBS).

When I was a child growing up in Papua New Guinea, I read mainly the King James Bible, but for more modern English, I also read the Berkeley version, and the Good News for Modern Man.  The latter was produced by the United Bible Societies, and quickly became the most influential modern English translation in the entire world, including in Papua New Guinea.

So also, for all the indigenous Christians in New Guinea, no matter what denomination, their church was highly influenced by this Bratcher/UBS work, which says in Acts 9:25 there was a hole or opening or window in the wall of the city of Damascus.  So, when my father, or any other translator, was producing a translation into one of the tribal languages there, they had to keep this in mind, that the Bible which the people already had, and had always had in the history of their church, no matter what denomination, was this UBS-produced Good News Bible.  Therefore, for the sake of uniformity, and not disturbing the people too much with too large a departure from what they were familiar with, the wording of the Good News for Modern Man was retained.  Including this corruption of there being a hole in the wall of the city of Damascus.  (Though the Tok Pisin Bible, the translation done by the UBS into the Pidgin English spoken in New Guinea, reads “Tasol ol disaipel bilong Sol i kisim em long nait na ol i bringim em i go antap long bikpela banis i raunim taun. Na ol i tokim em long sindaun long wanpela bikpela basket, na ol i slekim basket i go daun long ausait bilong taun.”  This does not add the words about an opening or window.)

One of the acknowledged causes of corruption in the text of the Greek New Testament is the phenomenon of “harmonization to the familiar.”  This goes hand in hand with the example I gave, but some translations of Acts 9:25 may also be influenced by the account of Rahab helping the spies escape in Joshua 2:15: “Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the side of the wall, and she dwelt upon the wall.”

Textus Receptus New Bible

Announcing a new English Bible translation translated from the Textus Receptus Greek text, into English.

By David Robert Palmer

I recognize and accept, that many of my brethren in the Christian body of Christ believe that the Textus Receptus is the correct Greek text for a New Testament translation from Greek.  Therefore, I have uploaded a new edition of my translation of the Holy Bible that is based on the Textus Receptus.  You can download the Textus Receptus version here, or on my translations page.

The Textus Receptus, also known as the TR for short, is a term used to refer to any of the Greek New Testament editions compiled in the reformation era, by men such as Erasmus, Beza, Elzevir, Stephens, Colinaeus, Aldus, and and later, Scrivener.  The King James Version is the most famous Bible translation made from the Textus Receptus, though all other reformation-era translations were made from it as well.  The King James did not follow the TR in every instance.  Mr. F. H. A. Scrivener made an edition of the TR in 1894 that more closely would resemble the text from which the King James Version was translated.

I have also uploaded TR editions of individual books with the Textus Receptus Greek and English text alternating.  Those are: James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John3 John and Jude.

Please share this post about my new Textus Receptus Bible by means of the buttons below.

Epistle of James

Translation of the book of James completed.

I have uploaded two pdf files of my translation of the Epistle of James. (See a few excerpts below.) This letter, part of the Bible, was written by the Apostle James, and it almost did not make it into the Bible, into what is called the “canon of scripture.” This is because many thought that its teachings on works contradicted the New Testament’s teachings on grace.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed translating this letter. Many people consider it disjointed, with no discernible outline or organization. I disagree. I like what Shepherd said. He called the letter of James “a series of eight homiletic-didactic discourses” with each discourse developing a principal theme linked together by “skillful use of word-links and thematic recapitulations.” (D. Edmond Hebert quoting Shepherd).

I would venture to say, that those who consider this book of the Bible to be disjointed, possibly have that opinion because of reading a poor translation of it, one which does not translate the Greek transition or segue cues correctly, or whose translators did not understand those cues in the Greek. Not everyone is good at Discourse Analysis.

One theme I noticed in this Epistle is selfishness.
“Vaunting your own selves with your presumptuous words.” Killing, envying, jealousy. epistle-of-james

Excerpts from my new translation of the Letter of James:

“See how a small flame sets ablaze such a large forest. The tongue also is a flame, a world of damage.”

“The fully operating prayer of a righteous person is able to achieve much. ¹⁷Elijah was a human being with emotional weaknesses like we are. And he prayed the prayer for it not to rain, and no rain fell on the land for a period of three years and six months. ¹⁸And he prayed again, and the sky gave rain, and the land sprouted up its fruit.”

⁵Or do you think the scripture says for no reason, “The Spirit whom God made to dwell in us craves possession of us, approaching jealousy”?

Here is the link to download my new translation, the pdf of the one interlinear with the Greek text. Here is the link for the Epistle of James without the Greek text.

Or to read James online this link.

More resources on the General Epistle of James may be found at this link.

Please share the Epistle of James

Hamtai Gospel Recording

My father, Tom Palmer, made this recording in the year 1961 of a Hamtai man named Ätisä telling the story of Noah and the flood. He then gave it to Gospel Recordings. The Hamtai tribe is in Papua New Guinea, the tribe among which I was born and raised. My Father and his co-worker Geraldine Fitzgerald translated the New Testament into their language, and he is currently working on a revision of their New Testament.

A gold miner, or Australian government patrol officer, I can’t remember which, when he heard the Hamtai language, called it the “Kukukuku” language, because he said their speech sounded like when you pour out a CocaCola bottle onto the ground. I guess “Kukukuku” was his onomapoieic of the sound of a Coke bottle being poured.

Here is a picture of a Hamtai man that my Dad took with his Pentax Spotmatic and Kodachrome film (I don’t have one of Ätisä:

Hamtai Gospel Recording

Here is a video of a re-enactment of the Hamtai / Kukukuku initiation into manhood:

http://www.ethnologue.com/language/hmt

Hamtai History

The Joshua Project