Sunday, December 23, 2007

What's the most accurate bible translation, who is Dr. Jason BeDuhn, and why Alex Trebek?

Good day,

Well, the old blog gets more hits than this one still, and it is simply because of Alex Trebek and Jason BeDuhn.

Let me explain.

A half of a year back I had posted on the Jeopardy question involving which bible translation was the best, why the supposed best translation is not the best, and what Jason BeDuhn said in his book "Truth in Translation." So, I've decided to rehash this subject for those of you out there still trying to find answers to these questions. The reason being is this, I believe that if the truth is found in more places, more people will find it.

Did Alex Trebek really ask “What is the most accurate bible translation?” on Jeopardy?

No, he did not. I can find no evidence anywhere that this ever happened, and anyone who stops to think about it for a few minutes would conclude that long before seeking any evidence. There is no YouTube evidence, there is little anecdotal aside from Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I cannot be sure about this, but I have found hints of some sort of message from the people at Jeopardy that this question never was asked. The assertion is simply ridiculous. Why would a secular game show tackle such a hotly debated religious issue? Simply mind boggling how anyone could come up with such a ludicrous idea.

Did Dr. Jason BeDuhn really write that the New World Translation was the best translation?

There is some truth to this one. However, as is usual in Jehovah’s Witnesses publications, selective quoting and misquoting are employed here (I have read the magazine this was published in) to make the NWT receive a more glowing review than it actually received. You see, it turns out that BeDuhn actually liked two versions of the Bible, one being the Jehovah’s Witness version, much debated, and the other being a Catholic version, which is also somewhat debated. So did he do this to sell books? Perhaps, but I will not make that accusation at this time. If you know Jehovah’s Witnesses, they don’t like Catholics a lot, so they conveniently leave that detail out of the magazine. What they also leave out is that BeDuhn has some pretty harsh criticism toward their use of the name “Jehovah” in the New Testament, something they are particularly proud of.

This is from Wikipedia:

“Dr. BeDuhn (Truth in Translation pg. 170) wrote of the mainstream practice of making the Old Testament conform to the New in its use of "Lord" and of the NWT practice of making the New Testament conform to the Old in it use of "Jehovah": "Both practices violate accuracy in favor of denominationally preferred expressions for God."”

The big question to me is why anyone would listen to Jason BeDuhn anyway. His Masters degree requires only an intermediate level of competence in Greek. His PhD from the University of Indiana is in Comparative Religious Studies, not in any Biblical languages. He is not recognized in the scholarly community as an expert in Biblical Greek. His other book is an analysis of religions as goal-oriented systems of practice rationalized within particular models of reality. I stress here GOAL ORIENTATED systems. Is your faith a “goal orientated system”? This guy has no business commenting on religious issues whatsoever, much less bible translations.

Finally, is the New World Translation the best translation? Or, for those search engines out there: What is the best bible translation?

Absofreakinglutely not. The guys who wrote the book are the following: Frederick William Franz, George Gangas, Karl Klein, Nathan Knorr, Albert Schroeder, and Milton Henschel. Each and every one of these guys was a Jehovah’s Witness, and all high up Witnesses as well. How is it possible that a group of human beings, who all substantially agree on a particular position not publish a book agreeing with that position and not be biased as the Witnesses claim they were not. I would expect a group of hippies to be in favor of legalizing marijuana and a group of oil tycoons to be in favor of refinery subsidies, wouldn’t you? Therefore, I expect a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses to be for their own translation no matter what kind of bias there was or wasn’t, because they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

From Wikipedia.

“It has been argued that the NWT translators were insufficiently qualified to translate the Bible, with only Franz having formal education in Biblical languages. It has also been argued that the size of the translation committee was very small compared to the number of translators involved in producing most other English translations. These criticisms are disputed by Witnesses, who state that the translation should be examined on its own merits, not on the speculated credentials of its translators.”

Let me ask you this. If I hired Ed and his buddies, all teenage McDonalds employees to build me a house, should I be happy with the end result because it is the right color, or should I take a closer look to make sure they actually did all the framing, electrical, and plumbing to code? Chances are, people who have little experience or education in what they are doing will do a poor job, regardless of what the end result *looks like*. So it is no surprise that when one examines the NWT on its own merits, we find that the hot water valve is on the right side of the sink and when you flip the light switch in the living room, the dish washer comes on.

The NIV I hear, was written by a group of several dozens of people, all whose credentials we know. It contained men and women, from a variety of backgrounds, and I’ve even heard there were one or two atheists and homosexuals among them. It was revised over a period of years by many people of similarly varying backgrounds. It would seem to me that people who disagree would, in the end, come to a more unbiased conclusion than people who agree. Don’t you agree?

Thinking people would agree ;-)



JohnOneOne said...

Regarding the question:

Did Alex Trebek really ask “What is the most accurate bible translation?” on Jeopardy?

The answer would have to be a no. And this is simply because, on Jeopardy, Alex Trebek never asks questions, he gives answers - it's the players who ask the questions.

Secondly, regarding the question:

Did Dr. Jason BeDuhn really write that the New World Translation was the best translation?

The answer to this is also a no. Of the ones he compared and the criterias he used, he concluded that it was "one of the most accurate." Concerning those criteria, he doesn't simply rest on any credentials to establish credibility for his conclusions; he considers literal meaning, grammatical syntax, immediate context and cultural background.

Furthermroe, when the "Watchtower" (12/1/2004, p. 30) drew attention to BeDuhn's study, at the beginning they explained that BeDuhn was also, "critical of some of [the New World Translation] translation choices."

Perhaps, as opposed to bashing his credentials and/or conclusions, that is, simply because he had some favorable things to say about Jehovah's Witnesses' "New World Translation," it might be better to examine how he drew his conclusion from within the book itself, and then decide whether his criteria is valid and his conclusions correct.

Apart from the fact that many libraries have a copy, before the end of the year, if orderd directly from the publishers, they are offering a discount.^DB/CATALOG.db&eqSKUdata=0761825568

Agape, Alan.

WiredForStereo said...

Of course Alex didn't ask the question, there are no questions, why didn't I think of that one? I guess I just went from a critical thinking point of view instead of using the simple logic of a game show I rarely watch.

Witnesses are quick to point out exactly what their literature says exactly and precisely. Thats why their problem with misquoting is such an important one. It goes so far beyond what is actually said, it is far deeper, into the whole psychological construct that the Watchtower brings to the table. I doubt the magazine would have actually said that BeDuhn disagrees with one of the basic tenets of their faith, it just wouldn't work to tell mind controlled people that their sources disagree with them.

And as far as bashing credentials, I was doing no such thing. His credentials stand as they are. I am in school to become a civil engineer, you would not expect me to write a book on Picasso, as you wouldn't ask an art major to design a bridge. Do what you know. You see, I did weigh the NWT and BeDuhn's conclusions, and have found them wanting, not only because of their inherent bias and errors, but because the writers of both the NWT and Truth in Translation were wildly unqualified to write those kinds of books.

As a matter of fact, I won't be buying the book, I am quite familiar with his arguments, having read many of them and various responses for and against them. I have much better things to spend my money on, like toilet paper.

It still surprises me how Witnesses can read so many heavy books, miss truth all over the place and pick and choose only the things they already believe.

JustMe said...

Was this question posed on Jeopardy? (shrug)
I haven't found any evidence either way, so this may well be an urban legend.

Did Dr. BeDuhn write that the New World Translation was the best translation?

He wrote that it was, "the most accurate of the translations compared."

(Phew!) Calling it the "the MOST accurate translation", would imply that he'd read and compared every translation available. As it is, he compared eight. (I say Bravo!)

You write:
"Be assured before I offer any evidence that the JWV is NOT the most accurate translation or version of the Bible."

So,... you HAVE read and compared them all?

You write:
"The big question to me is why anyone would listen to Jason BeDuhn anyway. His Masters degree requires only an intermediate level of competence in Greek. "

Especially, why listen if you disagree with his findings?

Perhaps, his impartiality? (No preconceived notions of what he wanted his conclusions to be.)

Quoted from Truth in Translation: Introduction: (Jason BeDuhn's book)
",...But just as importantly, I have an attitude that puts me at a distinct advantage to write a book such as this. I am a committed historian dedicated to discovering what Christians said and did two thousand years ago. . . . If you are looking for my bias, I guess you could say that I have a bias in favor of historical truth, the accurate reconstruction and comprehension of the past."

You write:
"Now, I'd love to go into just how many issues I have with the New World Translation of the Bible, otherwise known as the "Jehovah's Witness Version" or JWV as I'll be calling it,..."

,...alrighty. The beauty of Jason BeDuhn's work was his objectivity, LACK of bias.

You write:
"Many WELL EDUCATED SCHOLARS have called it, (the NWT), a poor translation, a woeful mistranslation, and a few other choice words I'll not mention here."

So,... THOSE scholars are "well educated".
(You'd have to be, be a scholar,...right?)


You write:
" Some others, very minor controversial scholars have praised it kinda. For instance, an Arizonan professor, Dr. Jason BeDuhn,..."

Those (what?),...uneducated (?)scholars who have praised the NWT(JWV), ('kinda'), you call not only 'controversial', and 'minor' but 'VERY minor controversial scholars'.
I sense,...animosity.

You vehemently, passionately argue against statements made by Dr. BeDuhn, ...without ever having read the book. (?)

Without having considered each example of original language text, literal meanings and how the Bible translations differed in their renderings.

After reading your comments, I'm confident, that your objectivity has been,.... compromised?

It's an excellent idea to compare Bible Translations, unless you can read the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Most of us do not posses even the "intermediate level of competence in Greek." of Dr. BeDuhn.

I personally use the NWT along with many others versions and translations. On occasions when the NWT(JWV) has differed in any substantial or confusing way it's helpful, (and intellectually honest and unbiased), to pull out a "Strong's Bible Concordance" and/or "Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words".
(Those scholars,.. also well educated.)

Do a word study.

Referring back to the literal meaning of the original language words can go a long way, IF you're interested in an accurate understanding of what the Bible writers actually put down on paper, (actually papyrus), to begin with.

In my own experience, the NWT has been vindicated time and time again by this method of study. It's uncanny. However, I CONTINUE to check when verses differ in any material way.

We are each individually responsible for "trying the spirits", or "testing the inspired expressions" to see whether or not they originate from God.
(1John 4:1)

No one should take my word for it, of course. I'm not a scholar. Instead, take the time. See for yourself.


"I want the truth!"
"You can't handle the truth!"

Sure you can!
There's no time better spent.

WiredForStereo said...

Okay, you got me, I'm not unbiased, but after all this, who could be?

This is relatively simple, yes, the NWT often gets some words right. SOME words. However, the book as been proven over and over again to change words to further a certain view, that of the WS.

The most glaring example of this is by ADDING the word Jehovah in the text of the New Testament where it is never shown in any ever known manuscript simply because the translators thought it should be there. The effect of this in nearly every one of the over two hundred instances, is that the divinity of Jesus is silenced and the god Jehovah is given his place.

The reason why I get so upset with BeDuhn's stuff is that JW's quote it to me all the time as if it means something, and the simple facts are that literally thousands of scholars much more educated in the subject matter than he, vehemently disagree with him.

Also, he disagrees with one of JW's fundamental tenets, the insertion of Jehovah in to the NT.

But the JW's don't mention any of the real facts, they're just elated to have SOMEONE to agree with them.

JustMe said...

I believe they're elated to have someone who is not a JW, (and therefore not labeled and discounted as 'brainwashed'), speak positively about the NWT.

I read on another of your postings that you felt any JW should NOT be listened to, BECAUSE they were a JW. (You were speaking about someone named 'Rolf').

I've looked him up and 'Rolf' is well respected by his colleagues, but I suppose they don't realize he's been corrupted.

I'm confident that the "Jeopardy!" story is bogus.

By the way,...
Do you know what the name "Jesus", (Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name "Joshua"), means?

You may want to look that up.
Vines? Strong's?

: )

WiredForStereo said...

I don't understand why looking up the meaning of someones name really has anything to do with anything. Like JW's are the only ones to use concordances. My name means peacemaker, so what, Jesus means "Yahweh saves." That's great, that's what his whole mission was, but so?

Other than that, you didn't really ask any questions or make any assertions for me to evaluate, is there something you're trying to get to?

And to answer all the stuff about the NWT and the other stuff, no, I haven't read the WHOLE thing. But how much do I have to read? I only need one verse, if it's the right verse, to decide for me if a Bible is worth the paper it's printed on. If something smells funny, don't buy it.

Linz said...

I have a question for you WiredForStereo, Do you believe that the dead sea scrolls hold any value? In your post, you mention the most accurate bible to you would be the earliest, right? So would the dead sea scrolls qualify?

WiredForStereo said...

Yes, the Dead Sea Scrolls have value, they are another piece of evidence in the greater body of evidence. However, they are not the oldest. Nor do they contain the New Testament. Nor do they completely agree 100% with other versions of the manuscripts. They do most substantially support the scripture that exists to us.

They are a good source, but they are no more accurate than any other copy of the original.

Is that what you were looking for?

NuttyRiv3r said...

Wow, thanks brother. I've had issue with, specifically, the NWT's translation of John 1:1-3, and have been looking into it. I was speaking with a JW earlier today and they brought up this Jeopardy argument when I showed them that 12 other translations clearly equate the Word to being equal to God. In addition it shows that the Word wasn't created but pre-existed along with God (or as God), whereas they suggest Jesus was the first creation. Then all things were created through him. Anyway, it's interesting to see, thanks to your post, how people are so determined to abstract away obvious truth into total nothingness to publicly display their hopes of living in delusion and death. May the Lord call them out of Babylon! Bless them...for they need to know the Truth.

Anonymous said...

Wikipedia is not an accurate and realiable source and its use is widley discouraged in schools and other educational environments.

Anonymous said...

In response to this blog and you claiming that one needs to be unbiased in translating the bible accurately. Let's look at who God used to write the bible. HIS SERVANTS. We're any of them ATHIESTS or HOMOS? NO! But they did have Gods Holy Spirit active upon them. And they were BIASED, on the side of God and of Truth. Similarly, one who translates has to be of that same mindset. How can an atheist have Gods Holy Spirit? Would you, if you were God, give your Spirit to one who mocks you and slanders your existence? Or could a Homosexual, a practice that God himself condemns, have or receive Gods spirit to translate or even write the bible? While living their life in such a manner? How's that for a thinking person?

Anonymous said...

Of all who claim to be Christian. Being a Witness of God, Jehovah, is the only thing that is Blibical. Look it up in any Bible. Isaiah 43:10, Hebrews ch. 11 (A long list of Gods servants), Hebrews 12:1 (Refers to all of them as a great CLOUD of WITNESSES), Revelation 1:4,5 (Jesus, The Faithful Witness,) Revelation 3:4, (The Faithful and a true Witness).

Anonymous said...

Actually God's name Jehovah was and is found in the original New Testament manuscripts. In the Gospel accounts when Satan tried to tempt Jesus. In his responses to Satan, Jesus quoted from the Old Testament. Those scriptures that Jesus quoted from, all three contained the Tetragammatan, the Divine name. The Jewish Religious leaders of Jesus would only not speak God's divine name. Leave it to so called 'good christian people' like King James, (who had his wife executed under false pretenses), to remove God's name completely. Next step is to just go ahead and re-write the Bible altogether. Ask yourself. In the sight of God who bears greater blame? The ones who remove His name from His written word? Or the ones who go to great lengths to restore His name to it's original place?