Modern Bible Translations (& Ellen G. White) Apr17

Modern Bible Translations (& Ellen G. White)

by Tanner Martin   In the course of researching Bible translations, I’ve frequently been confronted by the claim that two men, Brook Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort, produced a critical Greek New Testament that was designed to discredit the Textus Receptus and the King James Version (KJV), as well as to corrupt all subsequent translations. My research into this subject thus far has led to nothing definitive to confirm this claim; on the contrary, the evidence compels me to write a few words in response. Though there’s legitimate reason to be cautious of many newer translations, the sweeping charges sometimes brought against Westcott and Hort seem (often) to be borrowed from Protestant groups without properly accounting for the Spirit of Prophecy example. Hence, I believe there’s need for Adventists to reflect carefully upon the example of Mrs. White before condemning wholesale any Bible simply because it is associated with Westcott and Hort. W. C. White testified that his mother, Ellen G. White, owned and read widely from the translations available up until her death in 1915.[i] Indeed, she made extensive use of new translations in her writings; for example, following the publication of the complete English Revised Version (RV) in 1885, the RV was widely quoted in her writings.[ii] What many Adventists are overlooking is the fact that the RV was the first of the modern critical translations published following the publication of Westcott’s and Hort’s The New Testament in the Original Greek in 1881. The RV was translated by a committee of scholars who, rather than relying upon the Textus Receptus used by the KJV, chose to consult widely from the then-available Greek manuscripts and critical New Testament texts.[iii] They didn’t rely upon any single text, but rather discussed discrepancies in the manuscripts as they came up and voted corporately upon which text to follow in each case.[iv] Both Westcott and Hort were members of the NT translation committee that produced the RV.[v] Their participation in the project, along with their experience in textual criticism, was heralded in a republished article in the Adventist publication Review and Herald.[vi] Early manuscripts of their critical NT were circulated among the RV committee members for consultation during the translation process.[vii] The RV committee certainly didn’t base their translation of the NT upon the text of Westcott and Hort alone; the decisions were corporately made after general discussion,[viii] and not a few of the other committee members, though respectful of the NT produced by Westcott and Hort, disagreed with it on numerous points.[ix] However, the text and recommendations of Westcott and Hort,[x]  along with critical text of Samuel Prideaux Tregelles,[xi] are generally considered to be central to the translation of the RV. Mrs. White received her first copy of the Revised Version as a gift from her son W. C. White, and she began to use the new Bible in her writings.[xii] The RV is quoted throughout the Testimonies, the Conflict of the Ages series, Steps to Christ, and countless other classic Spirit of Prophecy works. W. C. White wrote, “I do not know of anything in the E. G. White writings, nor can I remember of anything in Sister White’s conversations, that would intimate that she felt that there was any evil in the use of the Revised Version. . .”[xiii] The American Revised Version (ARV) was similarly accepted. Published in 1901, the ARV differed only subtly from the RV; in general it follows the textual form of the RV, albeit with occasional alterations. Westcott and Hort did not serve on the ARV committee, but the ARV was based upon the same critical texts as the RV with only minor variations.[xiv]  Mrs. White quoted the ARV in preference to the old KJV no fewer than 55 times in the book Ministry of Healing alone. Again W. C. White affirmed that he could not recall his mother ever speaking ill of the ARV.[xv] In the book Education, Mrs. White used a quotation from the 1902 Rotherham’s Emphasized...

Women’s Ordination: The Underlying Issue Feb28

Women’s Ordination: The Underlying Issue...

  By Sikhu. A leader in ministry and speaker at GYC shares her thoughts on Women’s Ordination, and the underlying issue at stake. “So, what are your thoughts on the whole Women’s Ordination (W.O.) debate as a graduate of a top women’s college who is currently enrolled at the top Adventist Seminary?”   In spite of everything, I actually thought I could navigate my way past the whole W.O. debate and avoid the conversation altogether. But just a few short weeks into my studies, I was forced to confront it when one of my classes required me to write a paper analyzing the arguments posited at the July, 2013 meeting of the Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC). Thankful it was not a position paper, and quite honestly, intimidated by the enormity of the task, I painstakingly took up the task with a keen awareness of its personal significance. My conclusion after that project, much reflection and countless conversations with students, professors, men and women in ministry of various persuasions, is that we are not even having the right conversation. How is it possible, that different individuals approaching the same text, come out with diametrically opposite conclusions? Read the papers for yourself and see what I mean! Now, when I have brought this up, some have been very quick to affirm that “both sides” of the debate have a high respect for Scripture. By the way, as the conversation stands, there are more sides than just two on this. But it is a useful simplification to say there is the camp in support of W.O. and those opposed to it although each camp has a spectrum of positions. With all the theological conversation about hermeneutics, beginning in particular with the Symposium on Biblical Hermeneutics...

Biblical Inspiration: Culture or Revelation? Feb14

Biblical Inspiration: Culture or Revelation?...

by Jay Gallimore Adventists have always believed that more and more truth will burst from the Bible. In our search for truth, loving-kindness toward each other must always prevail. So in a spirit of charity toward all I address this sensitive issue.  The World Church, in its General Conference (GC), has voted twice not to allow the ordination of women to the office of elder/minister. This was not because the GC saw women and men as created unequal, but because of divine order assigning different roles to the genders. Once again the issue is being urged. So the GC has invited all of its divisions to give input on the matter. Just for the record: the Michigan Conference policy on ordination supports the voted policy of the GC. So this article is not about ordination or its pros and cons!1 Yet this topic has recently brought a larger matter to the forefront that will affect a lot of issues as you will see. That matter is “the methods of Bible study” often called hermeneutics. Since the methods of Bible study affect everything we believe, it would be perilous to ignore them! For instance, have you ever shared the Sabbath with someone only to have them say, “Well, that is your interpretation?” Using the Bible’s own methods to study the Bible is what gave birth to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They are as critical to the search for truth now as they were then! At the North American Division’s (NAD) 2013 Year-End meeting, the NAD Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC) gave its report. Most of the members of the committee favored the ordination of women. They based their support on a “principle–based-historical-cultural” hermeneutic. Some other divisions’ TOSC’s have reached the opposite conclusion based on the historical understanding...

Atrocious Hermeneutics in the Pulpit Nov08

Atrocious Hermeneutics in the Pulpit

YES, it’s been pretty bad of late. Recently, there’s been growing concern by many over the inaccurate interpretation of Scripture by various Adventist ministries and popular speakers.  This isn’t to say these blunders are done with the intent to mislead or that they will lead listeners towards damnation. Nevertheless, something needs to be said because many sincere Adventists are modeling their interpretive techniques after such speakers, and this isn’t a good thing.  Let’s keep in mind that incorrect interpretation, in part, led the Jews to reject Jesus, and at the end of time many sincere Christians may be led astray because of their failure to interpret prophecy accurately. Moreover, these hermeneutical blunders aren’t just taking place with “liberals,” but I would argue it’s just as rampant with conservatives. As you’ll see, objectionable interpretations are often made by the best of us. I’ll point out a few of them now.   Hermeneutical Blunders   1. “Feeling it” doesn’t necessarily mean anything.  Just because you’re in the “zone” when studying Scripture doesn’t necessarily mean what’s being revealed is absolute truth.  I had one of my best, most intense Bible studies when I inadvertently drank a caffeinated beverage.  The Bible study lasted until 3am, which was around the time I became suspicious of the “inspiration” I was feeling.  I recognized that the source of my vibrancy wasn’t from God!  Likewise, just because you’re having strong (dare I say, holy) feelings associated with your Bible study doesn’t necessarily mean your interpretation is originating from God.  It could be the figment of your imagination.  Ellen White makes the point in this way.  “Impressions alone are not a safe guide. . . The enemy often persuades men to believe that it is God who is guiding them, when in reality they are following only human impulse” (AA 287).   2. Common mistakes using Strong’s Concordance.  Many Bible students look up various words (i.e., sanctification, love, etc.) using their concordance and subconsciously place an equal sign between every instance that word is used in the Bible.  Then they assume some obscure usage of the color “red” in the book of Genesis is somehow connected to the color “red” in the book of Revelation.  This is a fatal error.  Furthermore, just because it’s the same English word in the Strong’s Concordance doesn’t mean it’s the same Greek or Hebrew word used in the original.  So, to make an interpretive connection when it’s not even the same original word is a mistake!  Finally, the KJV is not more original, or more accurate than the original manuscripts.  It’s a translation.  So don’t arbitrarily connect words in the KJV that aren’t the same words in the original languages.   3. Just because it’s truth, doesn’t mean it’s true.  The health message, or one’s more “Adventist” view on the nature of Christ, the nature of sin, etc. is not, I repeat, NOT found in every verse of Scripture.  I’ve seen people weave the health message into verses that have nothing to do with the health message.  Let the Scriptures speak for themselves (exegesis).  Don’t impose a meaning on Scripture that isn’t there (eisegesis).  Let the passages that deal explicitly with the health message speak to the issue of health.  Let’s not get mystical and allegorical in how we interpret Scripture.  Don’t go looking for truths you’ve discovered in the Spirit of Prophecy and make out that every verse of the Bible is stating that truth!  That’s just irresponsible.   4. How you feel about a biblical event or symbol isn’t how the ancients would’ve felt it, necessarily.  Don’t read into Scripture how you as an American living in the 21st century would understand any given situation or symbol of the Bible.  The very first step in interpreting Scripture accurately is to establish what a given book would have meant to its original audience.  Keep in mind that Scripture is first and foremost composed of historical books that took...

Reading Historical Context into Scripture Nov08

Reading Historical Context into Scripture...

By Tanner Martin. INTRODUCTION In an age dominated by Historical Criticism, one of the most challenging tasks facing modern expositors of Scripture is that of properly using historical data in Biblical Hermeneutics. Excessive emphasis upon historical context is being used by some scholars to undercut the inspiration of Scripture, leading to the position that the Scriptures were created simply as a product of Israel’s experience and surroundings. This critical view is known as Historicism, and it represents a sizable threat to Christianity today. It is therefore crucial that expositors of Scripture avoid this pitfall by finding a balanced use of historical information in hermeneutics. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the value of historical context and evaluate the role that it should play in Scriptural interpretation, with a special emphasis upon refuting the position of Historicism. For the bulk of the history of the Christian church, comparatively little attention was paid to the subject of historical context in hermeneutics. In the early centuries of the church, a number of Alexandrian scholars, including Origen and Clement, popularized a method of interpreting Scripture in a fanciful, allegorical manner with, at most, minimal regard to the literal historical context of Scripture.1 This methodology evolved into a four-part interpretive system that became the primary hermeneutical vehicle of the Roman Catholic Church for a millennium.² While allegorizing may have sufficed for Catholic theologians, such methodology was entirely repugnant to the Protestant reformers. They developed the concept of the Collegia Biblica, or a compendium of proof-texts that supported the various Protestant doctrines.3 This systematization of theology, in which Scriptures were ripped from their historical context and listed categorically to prove doctrine, became the mainstay of Protestant Christian theology until the dawn of the Enlightenment. With the rise of Rationalism...

A CLOSE LOOK AT THE ADVENTIST MIND Oct27

A CLOSE LOOK AT THE ADVENTIST MIND

It is always important to consider the roots of our thinking. Fernando Canale Early in the 21st century, Adventism faces deep and entrenched doctrinal divisions. Gradually, scholars, theologians, religious leaders, and believers have come to experience Adventism as a cultural/religious rather than a theological phenomenon. Imperceptibly, church leaders accommodate Adventist life and mission to the evolving theologies, liturgies, and ministerial paradigms of American evangelical culture. Consequently, evangelical theologies and practices are increasingly shaping Adventist thinking. Is the apparent “Protestantization” of Adventism real? If so, how did it come to exist? Should Adventists be concerned about it? Do church leaders recognize its existence? Should we affirm and promote this long-held Adventist tradition, or should we deconstruct and overcome it? What is the role of theologians, pastors, and professors preparing new generations of leaders in Adventist seminaries and universities around the world? Adventist leadership is experiencing a conflict of self-understanding. Officially, Adventist leaders continue to affirm biblical doctrines with their brains, while evangelical theologies and practices progressively shape their hearts and actions. This growing ambiguity represents a stark turnabout from the experience of early Adventist pioneers who, dissatisfied with traditional Protestant theologies, decided to follow their own understanding of scriptural truth and abandoned their evangelical denominations to become the remnant church. A Working Definition of Protestantism In this article, the word Protestantism is used to describe the theological system and ministerial paradigm of the segment of Christianity that in the 16th century broke away for the Roman Catholic Church on the doctrine of justification by faith based on the sola scriptura, sola gratia, and sola fide principles. Protestantism centers on the doctrine of justification by faith, the article on which the church stands or falls. The way in which Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Jacobus Arminius understood these principles and theological center produced a worldview that differs slightly from that of Roman Catholicism. Yet, as Catholic leadership predicted, the Protestant system of theology spun a multiplicity of incompatible theological projects (Denominationalism). Within this general context, I use the word Evangelicalism to refer to the coalition of American denominations that in spite of their doctrinal differences agree on the principles and center of the Magisterial Reformation, and with the Roman Catholic interpretation of the ontological and metaphysical conditions of the principle of theological hermeneutics. Protestantization of Adventism and Theological Method The Protestantization of Adventism is a phenomenon that springs from the theological methodology used by Adventist leaders. Theology seeks the “understanding of God.” Theological method is the process through which one seeks to understand God. Method requires a material to work with, a pattern to process the material, and an end to provide it with direction and purpose. In theological parlance, the material condition of method corresponds with the issue of revelation-inspiration. The formal condition of method corresponds with hermeneutics. And the final condition of method corresponds with the subject matter of theology. The material condition refers to the revealed sources of theology. The material principle of Protestant and American evangelical theological methodology (classical, modernist, and postmodern) is not the sola, tota, and prima scripturaprinciple, but the principle of multiple revealed sources that they received uncritically from the Roman Catholic theological system. Emerging from the profound dissatisfaction of American believers with the conflicting doctrines of traditional Protestant denominations, Seventh-day Adventist pioneers adopted the sola, tota, and prima scriptura principle as the material principle of their theological methodology. Consequently, they were critical of tradition (deconstruction) and thought doctrine from scriptural foundations. We should notice that they inherited this belief (Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental Belief 1) not from the Magisterial Reformers but from the English Connection. In theological methodology, the formal condition stands next to and depends upon the material condition. The formal condition consists of the macro-hermeneutical principles necessary to interpret Scripture and to construct the system of Christian theology (ontology, cosmology, and metaphysics). Evangelicals have never used Scripture to define their macro-hermeneutical principles. Instead, they have implicitly assumed the philosophical principles of Plato and Aristotle as retrieved by Augustine...