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Month 8:08, Week 1:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5937:215 AM
Gregorian Calendar: Sunday 10 November 2013
In Search of a Bible
Which Translation Should I Use?

    Introduction

    Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el and may the grace of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) be with us all. I hope that you have had a blessed and fruitful week.

    Our Search for a Bible Version

    For years Messianic Evangelicals have been searching for a Bible translation for use in our assemblies so that we have a standard text with which everyone is familiar and which is the most accurate rendition of the original scriptural autographs. We have been searching for the last 20 years and during that time have recommended various translations. There was even a time when we had entertained the possibility of producing our own version, which we dubbed the New Covenant Version (NCV). We had set 2000 as a goal to have it prepared but as you all know nothing ever came of it. In a way I am relieved we never attempted it for not only did we lack the scholarship to do a good job but we had neither the time nor the resources. There was just simply too much to do at the time. Nevertheless is is conceivable that someone else might want to resurrect it, or something like it.

    New Translations

    Over the years as various new versions have presented themselves, there has been that initial excitement followed by disappointment. Every new translation has, however, brought something good and, in a way, paved the road for other ones. With few exceptions, every fresh translation has brought new insights, inspired dynamic equivalencies and important revisions based on fresh scholarship. I have learned from every single one of them and appreciated the hard work of the translators, even crooked ones (more about that in a moment).

    Hegemony of the King James Version

    For four centuries the King James Version (KJV) ruled in the English-speaking world and I suppose because it remained around so long people began to assume that it was infallible. It is certainly a very beautiful translation and as English literature ranks as amongst the best. It is understandably an institution and is deeply rooted in British history as part of our culture. It's sayings have passed into the common usage of our language. It was the version I was raised on and as such, then, many of the verses I learned and still recall are in that version. Indeed, has any version ever improved upon the KJV's 23rd Psalm? The KJV was the Bible that was used to spread the Gospel around the world. For me, at any rate, it will always be much loved, but for young people not raised in it, its language is anachronistic and hard to understand. And someone perishing from drugs on the streets or dying on a battlefield isn't going to want to consult a dictionary.

    Errors and Biases of the KJV

    It was not, however, a perfect translation and the translators disclaimed any notion that it was infallible. They advised believers to use many versions, as do we. Indeed, as we know, it was not only revised over the centuries but also tampered with by the very king it was named after, James, in order to strengthen his own position as a monarch with divine prerogatives and also the Anglican Church which he ran as a dictator. As such, then, it was biased and, like most other traslations, had a denominational agenda. And its greatest weakness - and the weakness of all modern translations coming out of the Protestant tradition - is its anti-Hebraic bias. You can read the KJV and never know the true Name of Elohim (God) or of Messiah (Christ) and walk away convinced that Paul was a Protestant (as the English Monarch, and all subsequent Protestants, have of course desired [1]), unicorns (mythical one-horned horses) ran around the Israelite countryside, and that pagan Easter was celebrated by the first believers.

    The Rise of Messianic Versions

    This Protestant bias ended with the translation of the first Jewish New Testament (JNT) by David Stern (though there were earlier ones, but less well known) which restored the sense and flavour of the original writers and their environment. I remember how initially excited I was when this version came out and a brother brought along a copy to our headquarters. We learned so much new emet (truth) - actually, old emet (truth) being re-revealed - as we read the Introduction alone. It wasn't long before we bought several copies and started studying it intensely. Indeed it made a very positive contribution to our ministry. We saw things we had never seen before. A new Tanakh (Old Testament) translation has since been added to the JNT to create the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB). But like the Protestant versions it, too, was biased, leaving one with the impression that the first Christians were all Jews in the modern sense in which that word is used, even naming one of the books ('Messianic Jews') after them ('Messianic Hebrews' or 'Messianic Israelites' would have been more accurate). Jewish culture has changed a lot in 2,000 years. The translator admitted that his JNT was a 'cosmetic' version to make it more meaningful to 20th century Jews.

    Tragedy of the Jewish New Testament

    The tragedy of the JNT was, in my estimation, two-fold: firstly, it helped foster the erection of a new wall of partition between Messianic Jews and Christians that Yah'shua (Jesus) tore down (Eph.2:14) It's reappearance has caused the emergence of a racist, apartheid theology which claims there are two sorts of believers - Jews and Gentiles - and that the Jews are, by implication, the 'Master Race' because of the influences of ultra-Orthodoxy. Secondly - and in many ways this was the worst tragedy of all - many Jews who were converted to Messianic Judaism using this translation, which exalts Jewish culture, to then convert back to Judaism; and even some 'gentiles' became Jews! The Rabbi of one of our former asssociate congregations in Nigeria, which had always used the Stern translation and materials, wrote to me about a few years ago bewailing the fact that so many of his people were converting to anti-Messianic Judaism! They were becoming regular Orthodox Jews because they fell in love with the culture! Though I had warned him to be careful of this translation and commentaries I was not heeded.

    A Pathfinder and an Obstacle

    And yet the Jewish New Testament (JNT) definitely pointed us in the right direction and was, in many ways, the flag-bearer of all subsequent modern messianic versions. So we do owe it an enormous debt. It's mistake was in encouraging Jews to retain their contemporary culture and identity and to enshrine that as the 'ideal' for all Jews (Messianic as well as non-Messianic), forgetting that Jewish culture has evolved a great deal in 2,000 years and that Yah'shua (Jesus) came to create a new culture devoid of the 'cult' aspect. Indeed, the Jewish culture of Yah'shua's (Jesus') day was already corrupt, having been influenced adversely by the captivity in Babylon and by later Greek influence. It's what bred the corrupt anti-messianic Talmud and Yah'shua-haters. The world - and not a small amount of pagan religion - had rubbed off on those exiles and they brought it back with them to Judea, including the new occult-influenced block script that replaced the original Paleo-Hebrew one.

    From Jewish New Testament to Hebraic-Roots Version

    Finally, the JNT is based on the Greek Nestlée text and not on the Hebrew or Aramaic ones that led to one of the most accurate (though by no means perfect) modern New Testament translation, the Hebraic-Roots Version (HRV). The latter is to be credited for correcting many of the Greek translators' errors that have been used to justify (for example) Roman Catholicism's priestly celibacy and in opening up the emet (truth) that the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) is female and not male [2] or a neutral force. A downside of the HRV is that its English is colourless, and its grammar poor making for very heavy reading and sometimes difficult-to-understand passages. It's more of a technical, scholarly word-for-word reference tool than anything else. It lacks the literary greatness of, say, the King James Version (KLV), New English Bible (NEB) or Jerusalem Bible (JB) and a close runner-up, the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

    Jewish New Testament Agendas

    So the JNT 'rose' with us briefly as we became Torah-obedient, and was used alongside other versions for a while, before we saw its unfortunate fruits. We began to distance ourselves from it at around the same time as we started discovering false Jewish traditions being unquestiongly carried over into Messianic Judaism and Messianic Israelitism. As the author admitted in his book, the Messianic Jewish Manifesto [3], one of its goals was to make the Besorah (Gospel) more palitable to Jews by telling them (in a roundabout sort of way) that they could bring much of their Talmudic tradition with them (including their calendar), a device similarly used by the early Roman Catholics to attract heathens who retained Roman pagan traditions and dressed them up with new 'Christian' names (like Christmas). Herein we see the dangers of muddied Bible translations because of their different agendas.

    In Search of the Best Hebraic Version

    Our disappointment with the JNT (CJB) left us with an urgent need for a Hebraic version, committed as we were in particular to finding a translation which acknowledged the Semitic roots of the New Testament that was more than mere cosmetic surgery, and without showing modern Jewish cultural bias. We ended up with seven versions, in order of preference, all of which are very good, each of which has its strengths and weaknesses. We recommend all our Pastors to get hold of these if they can afford them - some are not cheap because they are not produced in large numbers. These are:

    • 1. The Hebraic-Roots Version - New Testament Edition [4] (HRV) of the Scriptures by James Scott Trimm ¶ ¦ ª (§) [USA];
    • 2. The Scriptures, Instititute for Scripture Research (ISRV) [5] ¬ [South Africa]
    • 3. The Orthodox Jewish Bible (OB) by Phillip E. Goble ¶ ¬ º [USA];
    • 4. The Restoration Scriptures, True Name edition (RSTNE) by Moshe Koniuchowsky ¶ º § [USA]
    • 5. The Halleluyah Scriptures (Restored Paleo-Hebrew Name Scriptures) (HS) [5], an ISRV look-alike ¦ ¬ [USA];
    • 6. The Complete Jewish Bible/Jewish New Testament (CJB/JNT) by David Stern ¶ ¬ ª [USA/Israel]; and
    • 7. The Aleph-Tav Old Testament (ATOT) by Gregory T.Riether [USA].

      Key to Symbols

    • one-man work not produced or necessarily reviewed by committees
    • ¦ owners accused of dishonest economic practices and/or violation of copyright
    • ¬ has the disadvantage of having its New Testament based on Greek texts and not on Hebraic (Aramaic, Syriac or Hebrew) texts
    • ª either has an excellent commentary (Jewish New Testament Commentary: 1992) packed with useful information or has one under construction (HRV)
    • § contains various apocryphal and pseudepigraphical books (e.g. Jasher/Yashar, Jubilees, 1 Enoch) recognised only by some of the eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches but by almost no Protestant Churches and by few Messianic groups. These extra-biblical works are included, for amongst other reasons, to support some pet doctrine (like the Enochian Calendar) or to emphasise exclusive authority as the final 'one and only true church/restoration' which believers must join for the best possible salvation
    • (§) not found in the current (2013 or earlier) editions but planned for future ones
    • º contains a lot of Hebrew (and Yiddish - OJB) words in the text requiring the use of a large glossary at the back of the book for those not conversant in the language

    Other Messianic/Hebrew Name Bibles

    A number of other 'messianic' versions exist which are basically extant Protestant versions with Sacred Names substituted in which I do not feel merit serious consideration. It is simpler and cheaper to use a Protestant version and mentally substitute in the names yourself in that case.

    Which Messianic Version Do You Recommend?

    If you can afford it, get a copy of each of the ones listed. I recommend a minimum of two in which case you should go for the HRV New Testament and ISRV - definitely start with the HRV-NT. Obviously the author is trying to market his whole Bible so that might in the end be easier to get. Whatever you do, don't get it directly from the author's websites. The best source is the ISRV organision, which has high standards of professional integrity, where you can buy both the ISRV and HR where you won't get ripped off by various 'donation' scams [6][7]. The OJB is sometimes available at Amazon or at the author's website [8] and is also downloadable as a free, though somewhat bulky, text file [9]. Finally, the Aleph-Tav Old Testament (ATOT) is the only Tanakh (Old Testament) version containing every instance of the Alef-Taw showing every reference to Yah'shua's (Jesus') Name in the OT.

    Problems With Non-Messianic Protestant (and Catholic) Versions

    Because no Messianic version is perfect, we do recommend that you use some non-Messianic Greek-based New Testament versions alongside them for a number of reasons; for in spite of the translation agendas and the ubiquitous use of Greek ground texts for the New Testament in these Protestant works, there are a number of very good versions and they are available cheaply for the most part. In some countries like Kenya, the only versions you can get locally in English are the NKJV, RSV and GNB, and the version mostly commonly used to translate into native languages is the NKJV. Therefore those requiring non-English versions are forced to use what's available - messianic versions are so far only being published in Spanish and perhaps one or two other European languages, so you're stuck unless your pastors and members can speak English (which is highly recommended) and know where to get other translations at an affordable price abroad.

    Attempting to Revise the New International Version

    It was for this reason that years ago we began producing a revised New International Version (NIV) text but were eventually forced to abandon the project because of time constraints and because there were simply too many errors to fix. The NIV, though very readable (as well as popular), is not an accurate translation (being a thought-for-thought rather than a word-for-word version), and gets worse and more New Agey with each new revision. It's important to realise that many of the publishing houses that produce popular modern English versions are no longer under the control of those whose motive is to preserve the true Davar Elohim (Word of God) but have as their purpose to either make mammon or to continue the devil's work distributing corrupt Bibles. The NIV is in particular a victim of this malady. You can expect the situation to get worse as these publishing houses come progressively more and more under the control of New World Order (NWO) and One World Religion (OWR) advocates.

    So Many Protestant Versions

    When it comes to Protestant versions, there are literally dozens to choose from, and they keep on appearing. In each choice we face a different (though sometimes similar) set of problems to overcome. Making a short list is therefore virtually an impossible task. Ministers in particular must be conversant with many versions especially if they are invited to preach (for example) at KJV-only congregations. No matter what version is used, you do need to know what their chief errors and limitations are so that if you do use them - in order to be able to reach those schooled in one particular version - you need to know what the ground text actually says. Since millions have been saved using these versions, we must accord them our due respect nonetheless. Not every poor translation is an act of conspiracy and most are simply the byproduct of ignorance and generations of ingrained tradition.

    Problems With Protestant Bibles

    The problems start when you need to go beyond 'simple salvation' and into a Torah-obedient lifestyle of the born-again talmid (disciple) because all orthodox Christian versions have been engineered with a bias against that. Were a simple salvation all that mattered, we would not need to be concerned or picky - however, we are most definitely called to "go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of emunah (faith) toward Elohim (God), of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment" (Heb.6:1-2, NKJV) which is as far as Protestantism goes. There is so much more and Yahweh does not want us to remain babes. We have to mature or starve and become spiritually retarded. So we must be realistic as to what we can expect of Protestant Bible translations which scuttle anything beyond these milky principles of the Besorah (Gospel).

    Recommended Protestant and Catholic Bibles

    I intially began with a list of only three versions but was forced to expand it with due consideration for congregations coming to us who may have already invested a lot of money in a particular version not on my list. In this instance I have made two lists - a primary one (showing my personal preferences) and a secondary one containing others with various claims to usability in the Messianic Evangelical Community that I do actually use from time to time but much less frequently than those in the first list:

    Primary List

    • 1. The New King James Version (NKJV);
    • 2. The Concordant Literal New Testament (CLNT);
    • 3. The Amplified Version (AmpV);
    • 4. The Jerusalem Bible (JB);
    • 5. The Septuagint or Greek Tanakh (Old Testament) with parallel English text (LXX).

    Secondary List

    • 6. The King James Version/Authorised Version (KJV/AV);
    • 7. The New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    • 8. The New English Bible (NEB)
    • 9. The English Standard Version (ESV)
    • 10. The Revised Standard Version (RSV)
    • 11. The New International Version (NIV)
    • 12. The Contemporary English Version (CEV) or similar paraphrases like
      • 12a. The Good News Bible (GNB); and
      • 12b. The Living Bible (LB).

    Reasons for Preferences
    The New King James and King James Versions

    The reason I now use the NKJV is because it is a literal word-for-word (as opposed to a thought-for-thought dyanamic equivalent) version which most closely resembles the esteemed KJV but in contemporary (but not too modern) English. It is far from perfect for the reasons I have already given. Most of my quotations are taken from it with modifications when necessary and using Messianic terminology. It is a version likely to be accepted by most non-KJV-only Christian groups without much difficulty. I retain the old KJV only because of the militant, ultra-conservative KJV-only people who exist in large numbers. There is a Messianic KJV available and some might prefer using that though I think personally this is unnecessary. Apart from less than a dozen instances where "Yah-Yahweh", "El" instead of "Elohim" (or 'God') and just "Yah" appear in the text, it's a relatively simple task to transliterate all the KJV instances of "God" and "LORD" into the corresponding Hebrew terms. I very much doubt a Messianic NKJV will come into being because of copyright problems.

    The Concordant Literal New Testament and Septuagint

    The Concordant Literal New Testament (CLNT) is an essential tool for the minister working with the Greek texts. It is a 100% literal translation and so totally unsuitable for devotionals or worship but an indispensible study aid covering important doctrinal areas that even messianic versions neglect (such as the meaning of 'eternal' or 'age-long'). Let it not be said that Greek studies are profitless to the minister who believes in Hebrew textual primacy. Indeed, that is why we strongly recommend possessing a copy of the Septuagint (LXX) [10] or Greek Tanakh (Old Testament) too. The reason the latter is particularly important is because it tells us how the Greeks translated Hebrew into Greek, it was the version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) used by Yah'shua (Jesus) and the apostles amongst Greek-speaking Jews and Gentiles, and because of its earlier provenance, it exposes many of the corruptions of the Jewish Masoretes whose corrupted Hebrew Tanakh (Old Testament) version is the ground text for nearly all modern English Versions of the Scriptures. Knowing how the Tanakh (Old Testament) was rendered into Greek sheds light on how the B'rit Chadashah Scriptures (New Testament) were likewise translated into Greek.

    The Amplified Version

    Though far from being error free, the advantage of the Amplified Version (AmpV) of the Bible is that as a word-for-word translation it includes multiple shades of meaning for single words. It thus fills in a gap left by both Messianic and Protestant versions which, unless they have copious footnots and commentaries (most don't) tend only to give one shade of meaning. Like all Protestant versions, it does lend itself to the susceptibility of translator bias. As far as the Torah is concerned, it tends to fudge the actual meaning that Messianic versions bring out more clearly. It is also highly readable and very popular and is endorsed by many evangelists.

    The Jerusalem Bible and New English Bible

    It suprises many that I include the Catholic Jerusalem Bible (JB) on my main list. I do this for three reasons. First, it is the only Protestant or Catholic version of the Bible which uses the proper Divine Name of the Creator (Yahweh) throughout the Tanakh (Old Testament). Second, it includes the Apocrypha. And third, its English is superb and reminiscent of the KJV. And though the New English Bible (NEB) does not use the Divine Name it too is written in masterful English and its rendition of the Song of Solomon is probably the best of any version, Messianic or orthodox. The weakness of both versions is that they are thought-for-thought or dynamic equivalent translations and have biased doctrinal agendas. Do not confuse the Jerusalem Bible (JB) with the later New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) which is much more liberal and gender neutral and should be avoided.

    The New American Standard Bible and Revised Standard Version

    Like the New King James Version (NKJV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and Revised Standard Version (RSV), which appear on my Secondary List, are valid alternatives and in the same league as the King James Version (KJV), though more modern. They have the usual Protestant doctrinal biases. The RSV is a little dated now and less used than is was and has been followed by a much more modern (and unfortunately liberal) version, the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) which is the darling of the apostate National Council of Churches in the UK. So stay away from the NRSV! So if you use the NASB, it is a good equivalent of the NKJV, especially in America where it is more commonly used.

    The New International Version and Contemporary English Version

    The New International Version (NIV) and Contemporary English Version (CEV) are similar to one another as dynamic equivalent (or 'thought-for-thought') versions with the CEV tending to slowly replace the NIV. They both flow well, are very readable, but not always reliable doctrinally. Since their use is widespread they need to be recognised. I do not personally quote from them very much any more.

    The Paraphrases

    The paraphrase versions are appalling as far as doctrinal reliability is concerned but are very readable. I let my small children read them to give them a 'feel' of the Scriptures before they graduate to 'better things'. The Good News Bible (GNB), also known as Today's English Version (TEV), and the Living Bible (LB) are a little dated now and have tended to be replaced by the slightly better (doctrinally-speaking) Contemporary English Version (CEV). I never recommend paraphrases for any but the very young and perhaps slightly illiterate because they entirely serve a purely evangelical Christian agenda. I rarely quote them but sometimes use them for those gaining their first footholds in Biblical thought. There is also great advantage for chidlren to see that Bible translations don't agree, to get them to ask questions, and to so encourage them to dig deeply for themselves when they're older. The transition from a Western-type of thinking to a mid-Eastern one is never an easy thing. Since comprehension (understanding) is the 'name of the game' it never hurts to be gentle in easing moderns into what is for them, an 'alien' mode of seeing and being.

    Don't Overwhelm with Torah

    One of the things I must fault some Messianics with is their tendency sometimes to throw new believers or investigators into Hebraic texts which are simply overwhelming for novices. There was a time we did that using the RSTNE and new people were bewildered - it was too much to take in and they soon lost the Ruach (Spirit). The dry, arid and spiritless approach of the Jewish schul's (theological schools) that Messianic converts often bring with them from Judaism is contrary to the way of the Ruach (Spirit) which Evangelical Christians tend to understand better. We must never forget that our witness is "not of the letter but of the Ruach (Spirit); for the letter kills, but the Ruach (Spirit) gives chayim (life)" (2 Cor.3:6, NKJV) which is alone in Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus). The Bible is hard enough in plain English for new believers coming out of a non-Hebraic culture and like the first believers in the days of the apostles must be gradually introduced to Torah and to Hebrew ways. Cultivating the new life of the Ruach (Spirit) is the first priority. That will always work in any culture initially - only later, as discipling gets underway, does the new convert begin to understand that he is actually moving into a totally different way of life and cannot remain where he is. Immersion in the Hebraic setting of the Scriptures brings about that gradual change as new practices (like observing the festivals and using the Divine Names) gets underway.

    We Must Be Flexible

    The Besorah (Gospel) is first of all about the Living Davar (Word) not the dead "letter". That is why we must not imitate Judaism, be it (sometimes) Messianic Judaism or the Judaism of the unsaved. We dare not quench the Ruach (Spirit) for without the Ruach (Spirit) we are nothing, and the written Davar (Word) is dead to our souls. The Torah is, after all, a living thing. As Paul adapted himself to reach the Gentiles, so we too much be willing to adapt ourselves to those who are not familiar with Hebraic ways by from time to time using Gentile translations of the Bible.

      "Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the [Talmudic] Jews I became like a [Talmudic] Jew, to win the [Talmudic] Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law [11]. To those not having the Torah (Law) I became like one not having the Torah (Law) (though I am not free from Elohim's (God’s) Torah (Law) but am under Messiah’s Torah (Law)), so as to win those not having the Torah (Law). To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the Besorah (Gospel), that I may share in its blessings" (1 Cor.9:19-23, NKJV).

    So I will happily engage a King James-er using his own version - there's enough emet (truth) even in a gentile version to convict of error and bring souls to Messiah or into deeper discipleship.

    Other Versions

    There are many other worthy though less known versions of the Bible that I could have mentioned and which I use occasionally - the Moffat Version (Moff.), the Douay, the Geneva Bible, Smith & Godspeed (S&G), J.B.Phillip's New Testament (JBP), Knox, and numerous others whose translators were touched by the Ruach (Spirit) many times, through which souls have been won to the milk Besorah (Gospel). Other versions like Jacob O. Meyer's Messianic The Sacred Scriptures (Bethel Edition) is just a Sacred Name reworking of the American Standard Version (ASV). Today's New International Version (TNIV) is a completely new translation and unlike the NIV is a liberal, gender-neutral version that engages in a lot of scripture-twisting. The Message is an ultra-paraphrase (so much so that's it's more a reinterpretation than a 'translation') and could best be described as a 'modern street version' because of its use of pithy language. Interestingly its first edition used 'Yahweh' in the Psalms but has since reverted to 'God'. The conservative Sothern Baptist Convention Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) is not one I am familiar with but I believe it uses 'Yahweh' sometimes and I am told it is quite a good one that might be worth looking into. Others that need examining are Heinz Cassirer's God's New Covenant: A New Testament Translation (GNC) and The Shared Heritage Bible (SHB) consisting of the 1917 Jewish Publication Society (JPS) translation of the Tanakh (also used by the HRV) and the Tree of Life Version (TLV) [12]. Finally, I need to review Andrew Gabriel Roth's Aramaic English New Testament published by Netsari Press.

    Versions to Avoid Like the Plague

    The only two versions I wouldn't touch are the Jehovah's Witness New World Translation (NWT) (which was made by amateurs, who knew no Greek or Hebrew, seeking only to fit the Scriptures into a doctrinal agenda) and the Mormons' Joseph Smith Translation (JST) also known as the Inspired Version (IV) which is just a mangled version of the KJV without any authority from original manuscripts (MSS) whatsoever. Doubtless there are some other reprobate ones made by New Agers, feminists (wanting Elohim/God neutralised or feminised) but we shall not concern ourselves with those other little known ones here. Theirs is a secular or occultic agenda.

    Norwegian, Swedish and German Translations

    For those of you who are not English-speakers and who must use other language editions, I must apologise in advance as I know you do not have the luxury of choosing from as many versions as we do in the English-language. It's also beyond the scope if this study. For our Norwegian speakers, we recommend the 1988 Lutheran Version, and for our Swedish brethren we think highly of Åkerssons version. For German brethren, the three most commonly used are the standard Luther Version, the Elberfelder Version (the most accurate), and the more modern Schlachter Version. There is little in the way of Messianic versions in these countries though the odd Gospel has been translated into Norwegian.

    Our 1984 and 2013 Collections Compared

    At the end of the day which versions we study or use is a personal decision. In the absence of a single version which we can present to the world as "the best", we are still after 30 years no closer to our goal of 'one Bible version' than we were in 1984 when the call was first given to begin this work. Back then we used the KJV, RSV and NIV. Today a better array of versions is available so we are actually a lot closer to a purer Davar (Word) than in 1984. Public worship - specially the public study of the Bible - does require a common version and with the resumption of congregation-planting ministries we do have to soon come to a decision with the understanding that whatever version we plump for will still require our issuing corrections based on the best translations available from other versions and contemporary scholarship.

    My Imaginary Four-Columned Parallel Bible

    Were I able to cobble together a parallel Bible with what's currently available I would probably have four columns. In the first, I would put the New King James Version (NKJV). In the second, the Aleph-Tav Old Testament (ATOT) together with the Hebraic-Roots Version - 'New Testament' (HRV-'NT'). In the third, the Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB). And in the fourth, either the Institute for Scripture Research Version (ISRV), the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB), or the Amplified Version (AmpV). And if forced to limit myself to two columns...? A nightmarish choice, but perhaps the NKJV in the left and ATOT/HRV-NT in the right. Spoiled as I have been for choice for so long now I would in truth still like to retain all the versions I use.

    Conclusion

    Each member must choose what they privately study and worship with, but so that we can have uniformity throughout the New Covenant Assemblies of Yahweh, we recommend for now the two versions most easily and inexpensively acquired and the least controversial - one Protestant and the other Messianic - namely, the New King James Version (NKJV) and the Institute for Scripture Research Version (ISRV), even if I am not entirely happy with the latter and would still prefer using the ATOT/HRV-NT.

    Endnotes

    [1] See series of articles, King James Version Only?, that debunks the myth that the 1611 edition of the KJV is the only true translation of the Bible in English
    [2] The translator stopped short of refering to the Ruach (Spirit) as a female Person and simply made his readers aware of the Peshitta teaching that the Ruach (Spirit) is grammatically female. For a full exposition of the female personhood of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), see The Deity of the Holy Spirit and Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) and His Place in the Elohimhead (Godhead)
    [3] David H. Stern, Messianic Jewish Manifesto (Jewish New Testament Publications, Jerusalem: 1988)
    [4] The Tanakh (Old Testament) part is not an original translation but a rehash of the 1917 Jewish Publication Society (JPS) Version with a few modifications, and is not that useful - the really excellent part of the HRV is its original New Testament (NT) portion (though there was a controversy that this had plagiarised another translation David Bausher of the Way International known as The Aramaic-English Interlinear New Testament - this was subject to an inconclusive court hearing). Both the original NT and the whole Bible editions contain an excellent Introduction to the HRV which is also available online
    [5] Go to the ISRV Homepage or Eliyah.com ISRV and HS versions are available free online though the latter is quite a business downloading
    [6] A controversy erupted over the claim that 'donations' were to his ministry and not for his actual Bible when the author was unable to supply copies of his Bible to those who had paid for it in advance because he had under-estimated the costs of printing in India. This act of dishonest gain was never made right with those who lost their orders (ourselves included) that has left a big question mark as to the author's financial integrity. Having said this, the translation is still important and we can only hope that the author will make right with those whom he defrauded and so end the cycle of continuous economic difficulties his ministry has encountered endoubtedly because of it
    [7] Order the HRV on the ISRV Website
    [8] Artists for Israel International
    [9] Free download of the OJB
    [10] LXX is the Roman representation of the number 70, used to designate this translation because it was effected by by 70 (Septuagint) Greek-speaking Hebrew scholars
    [11] Ergo noumu ('under the law'), meaning "legalistic observance of Torah commands", and upo nomon , meaning "in subjection to the system which results from perverting the Torah into legalism" (CJB/JNT). In other words, those legalistic Jews under the bondage of Talmudic traditions (taboos, man-made commandments), not true believers obeying the Torah (Law) out of love for Yahweh and His Messiah. It's passages like this which suffer the most under the hands of Protestant translators and where Messianic versions become essential
    [12] The Tree of Life Bible

    Further Reading

    [1] Bible Versions

    Comments from Readers

    [1] "Thank you so much for the extensive teaching on Translations of the Bible. I love this so much. Yawheh bless the work of your hands!" (Pastor Dackson Agoi, Kenya, 8 November 2013)

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