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Month 3:19, Week 3:4 (Shavu'ot/Revee), Year:Day 5940:77 AM
2Exodus 3/40, Yovel - Year 50/50
Omer Count - Day-After-7th Sabbath #11
Gregorian Calendar: Monday 20 June 2016
The RSTNE
Reasons to Be Careful

    Introduction

    The RSTNE or Restoration Scriptures True Names Edition was a messianic translation of the Bible made by Moshe Koniuchowsky which I initially got very excited about. Indeed I bought a box load of them and we used it as a study Bible in our local assembly for a period. As time wore on and we began to find more and more errors in it we began to have our doubts. It has now gone through several editions and is growing in size. More about that in a moment.

    Hebrew Words in the English Text

    Translation errors were not the only RSTNE issue we had, though. A major problem, which I have mentioned before, is that the RSTNE incorporates a lot of Hebrew words into the English text. This is not in itself a bad thing. Indeed, so long as these are the actual Hebrew words, I think they can be of great benefit. Other messianic versions do the same thing, like Goble's Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB) and Stern's Complete Jewish Bible (CJB), and for serious students of the Bible this can be a real boon. I have certainly appreciated it as an amateur Hebrew reader.

    Two Issues With Mixed Language Text

    But I have two issues with this approach:

    • 1. When does an English translation, which uses lots of Hebrew words, cease to be an English translation? The RSTNE uses so many Hebrew words that in reality it should be regarded as 'something else' (an amalgam, in fact) since you are required to repeatedly turn to a Glossary to find out the meaning of words you don't know. One thing I like about the OJB is that in the majority of cases it puts the English equivalents in (parentheses) afterwards which makes for easier reading even though this does, of course, increase the size of the Bible and potentially makes it more expensive to print. (The OJB compensates by using a smaller typeface which is a big mistake as it's hard to read). The New Testament Part of Stern's Complete Jewish Bible, when it was printed separately as the Jewish New Testament (JNT), had a little glossary of terms at the end of each page which was helpful but suffered the same problems as the OJB. The CJB sadly no longer does this;

    • 2. We found that this cumbersome Bible version was a heavy burden on investigators and children for whom the overall conceptual sense of Scripture is much more important than the details of Hebrew meaning which are of more use to advanced students.

    Wrong Use of Footnotes

    Another problem we had with the RSTNE was that the footnotes tended to be doctrinal commentaries promoting the Koniuchowsky organisation rather than explaining Hebrew or Aramaic textual nuances or variations. To be fair, the RSTNE is open about its agenda in promoting its vision of the Besorah (Gospel) which others (like the Halleuyah Scriptures) organisation is not. Moreover, interpretations tend to be filtered and pressed through a single doctrinal mindset that makes it, in my view, very narrow-minded and unhelpful. It is obsessed with Two House theology to such and extreme that it sees Two House inferences in scriptures where it is clearly not there.

    Latest RSTNE Contains the Book of Mormon

    I own copies of the Second Edition. Later ones include various revisions (which I have not studied - readers' comments are welcome), which, of course, is fine as the author seeks, presumably, to improve the accuracy of his translation. My big issue with these latest versions, and especially the last one, is that the author and his organisation (YATI - Your Arms to Israel) has taken it upon himself on the basis of a presumed apostolic office and revelation, to radically expand the Biblical Canon. I have, in principle, no problem with this concept. The problem I do have is that he has included not only books which I consider to be corrupted or uninspired (in part or in whole), like the Book of Jasher and the Book of Enoch (to name but two of the pseuepigraphical and apocryphal Talmudic writings he has sequestered) but he has gone and done something which establishes quite clearly in my mind that he is being led by false spirits: he has canonised the Book of Mormon! And coming, as I have, from a very close encounter with Mormonism (I was a member of the LDS Church for 3 years and of the RLDS Church for 4 when I was young) I know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that that book was inspired by fallen Watcher angels (nefilim) and is neither historical nor divinely inspired by Yahweh. Its errors are legion, its KJV plagiarisms blatent, its history bunkum.

    The Anti-Missionary and Luni-Solar Sabbatarian

    I find this to be a tragedy because I have long believed that Koniuchowsky, himself of Lithuanian Ashkenazi Jewish extraction, has a calling to be a witness of the simple Besorah (Gospel) to the Jewish people. I have no doubt about it. At one time he was distributing a superb book he wrote free of charge exposing the Anti-Missionaries but unfortunately, like most of his works, you now have to pay for it. I so much wish I had that book today - many of my friends could have used it. And whilst I still find the RSTNE useful, I have to say I do not believe he was called to set up the organisation that he has which has been accused (in many cases falsely) of being a cult. It was Kunichowsky, along with some others, who aided me in my conversion to the Luni-Solar Creation Calendar. Sadly, he dumped this, along with several fine articles on the subject, and got on the so-called 'Enochian' Calendar bandwaggon. His conversion to the Book of Mormon, which he 'retranslated' in his own style (and, of course, renamed it) was, without doubt, his greatest error and folly, and putting it into the RSTNE was a grave mistake, tainting it by association.

    Is the RSTNE a Translation or a Revision?

    With that background, we will take a look at some serious textual errors in the RSTNE (2nd Edition) which call into question a number of things: firstly, whether this is actually a 'translation' or (as arch-nemesis James Trimm has asserted) simply a reworking of the KJV (King James Version) text.

    The Trimm-Koniuchowsky Rivalry

    A word of warning: there is a hostile rivalry between Trimm and Koniuchowsky, both of whom have produced messianic Bible translations (Trimm's is actually quite good, not perfect, but very helpful to me in resolving a couple of doctrinal issues). If you look at the writings of Trimm, particularly in his blog, he periodically snipes at Konichowsky's organisation and paints himself as a white-clad crusader of righteousness by calling YATI a 'polygamy cult', probably because Koniuchowsky has accused Trimm of being an adulterer for divorcing his first wife without due cause (i.e. adultery) to marry another. (It should be pointed out that polygamy is a Biblical principle so the accusation that the principle itself is 'cultic' cannot stick...only its abuse [child-brides, etc.] and there is no evidence that Koniuchowsky is remotely guilty of that). The unpleasant relation between the two is certainly not a healthy one and is a bad advertisement for messianism (like that between the leading persons and organisations of the Halleluyah Scriptures (HS) and Institute for Scripture Research (ISR) versions - see Which Bible Version? Examining the Halleluyah Scriptures Part 2.

    Being Careful With Bible Versions

    I mention this because Trimm is the one who claims to have researched the RSTNE carefully and has unearthed some actual translation mistakes. That does not mean, as Trimm claims (for all his hostile bias) that the RSTNE is the very worst translation of the Bible ever made...I can think of plenty of better candidates (like the NWT and JST)! The RSTNE is worth studying but I would never recommend it as a primary text. I view it with the same care and suspicion as I do Protestant and Catholic bibles with all their translator biases. Indeed I recommend that Bible students use great care with all English versions - Messianic, Protestant, Catholic, Mormon (JST/IV) or Jehovah's Witness (NWT)! For artictles on this subject, see Bible Versions and in particular, In Search of a Bible: Which Translation Should I Use?.

    Yom Rishon or Yom Echad?

    We'll start with some of the specific errors of the RSTNE:

      "And Elohim called the Light, Daytime, and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were Yom Rishon" (Gen.1:5, RSTNE-2e).

    First Day, Day One or One Day?

    Now Yom Rishon literally translates (from English to Hebrew) "the first day" in any number of English translations (ISRV-1998e, NIV, NKJV, KJV, ESV, NRSV, HCSB, NAB, JB-1974e, NEB, LXX, GNB, NWT, LB, S&G, etc.) or "day one" (HS-2015e, CVOT). However, the Hebrew ground text never says "YOM RISHON" but always "YOM ECHAD". This is very unusual Hebrew usage and has resulted in many translations rendering this as "one day" (Trimm's HRV, ISRV-2009e, RSV, NASU, NASB, ASV, CJB, BV, Moff., etc.) which is far better than "first day" or "day one" though neither are strictly-speaking wrong.

    Leaving a Cloud of Suspicion

    For Koniuchowsky and the RSTNE, though, rendering this 'Yom Rishon' instead of 'Yom Echad' is an accute embarrassment and does indeed prove that this verse is a case of reverse translation, a bit like reverse engineering. This lays the author open to the charge that the whole RSTNE version is a 'reverse translation' though I don't think that can be proven and I can understand Koniuchowsky getting upset by the charge. Nevertheless, it leaves a cloud of suspicion over the whole RSTNE version. Are all the Hebrew words as found in the Hebrew text or did Koniuchowsky make a reverse-translation the KJV or some other English version as Trimm insists? To be generous, showing grace as we must as Christians/Messianics, we must at least upbraid the author/translator for being careless in this instance. And perhaps he has indeed corrected this oversight in his later editions of the RSTNE. So which of the two translations is correct? As Trimm points out, this is a controversy going back to Philo of Alexandria in the first century.

    Rachamim or Chesed?

    Unfortunately, this is not a 'one-off' affair because Koniuchowsky does the same thing elsewhere:

      "For I desired rachamim, and not sacrifice; and the da'at of Elohim more than offerings" (Hos.6:6, RSTNE-2e).

    When Sabbath Overrides the Sacrifices

    If you go to the RSTNE Glossary (p.XII) you will see rachamim translated as 'mercy, or mercies' which is correct. However, the Hebrew ground text does not say 'rachamim' but "chesed" which means 'mercy', 'grace', or 'undeserved loving kindness'. This is the passage Yah'shua (Jesus) quotes in support of His teaching that chesed overrides the outer Sabbath rules. To quote Trimm:

      "His argument goes like this: the Sabbath overrides the sacrifices, because the sacrifices are performed on the Sabbath (despite the fact that they involve activities that are normally prohibited on Sabbath) and CHESED overrides the sacrifices (based on Hosea 6:6) therefore CHESED overrides the Sabbath. This verse (Hosea 6:6) and the use of the Hebrew word CHESED here, becomes a profound key to understanding many other passages" [1].

    Why the Correct Word Matters

    Why is the distinction between chesed and rachamim important even though the two words mean similar things? Because chesed establishes Yah'shua's (Jesus') positive, affirmative connection to Torah in all His works and sayings. The Pharisees were constantly trying to trip Him up and accuse Him of being a Torah-breaker which, had such indeed ever been established, would have made Him a sinner and therefore not the sinless Eternal Sacrifice on which our salvation hangs. Just as Yah'shua (Jesus) was deed-perfect, so the Torah was, and had to be, word-perfect. The difference between the meaning of rachamim and chesed may seem trivial to us but in terms of the Divine Perspective, which is immaculate, it is vital:

      "Keep me from deceitful ways;
      be gracious to me through your Torah (Law).
      I have chosen the derech (way) of emunah (faith) [2];
      I have set my heart on your ordinances.
      I hold fast to your statutes, O Yahweh;
      do not let me be put to shame.
      I run in the path of your mitzvot (commands),
      for you have set my heart free"

      (Ps 119:29-32, NIV),

    Mistaking Emunah for Rachamim in the Masoretic Text?

    Trimm's assertion that Koniuchowsky has used the English KJV as his ground text, translating English words into Hebrew, may possibly have some merit since the KJV alone makes the emunah/emet error, but I can't be certain. Why would Koniouchowsky have rendered the KJV "truth" (emet) as rachamim? All that can be definitely said is that had he been translating from Hebrew and Aramaic he would have used the word emunah and not rachamim. Koniuchowsky says:

      "...we used the Masoretic Text as our foundational text for the First Covenant Tanach. We then proceeded to correct the anti-Yahshua redactions, shamefully tampered with by the Masoretic editors, Moreover, we inserted the true Name back into this foundational source" [3].

    The Textus Receptus

    So did Koniuchowsky use the Hebrew Masoretic Text or an English translation (like the KJV) of the Hebrew Masoretic Text?. He goes on to say:

      "For the Renewed Covenant (New Testament), we have used the greatly appreciated and widely accepted Textus Receptus, or Received Text in the Greek. After prayerful consideration and scholarship, we have heartily used other key sources such as the Aramaic Peshitta, Matthew Shem Tov, Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Septuagint, along with consulting many other legitimate sources. Most often these sources were Semitic, since we believe the Renewed Covenant was inspired in the Semitic languages of Aramaic and Hebrew" [4].

    Did the RSTNE Use the KJV as a Ground Text?

    The KJV, as we know, used the New Testament Textus Receptus (TR) which for reasons I explain in my article, King-James Only: Revisiting a Bible Version issue, is not always reliable. Since the KJV used the Masoretic Text for its Tanakh (Old Testament), and since Koniuchowsky admits to using the TR for his Messianic Scriptures (New Testament) portion of the RSTNE, then it is a safe bet he used the KJV for the whole RSTNE along with the other sources mentioned in his Preface. (Other modern versions that use the TR and NKJV (1982), Green's (1985), Third Millennium Bible (1998), Analytical Literal Translation (1999), AV7 or New Authorised Version in Present Day English, MEV or Modern English Version (MEV) (2014) and the 2016 KJV. Of these only the NKJV can be said to be mainstream).

    What is the RSTNE a Paraphrase Of?

    Did Koniuchowsky translate directly from Hebrew and Aramaic or did he reconstruct the Hebrew from an English translation like the KJV? Reading the rest of his Preface it is not clear. He admits the RSTNE is a paraphrase [5], but of what - the Hebrew and Aramaic Masoretic text or of a reverse translated (for the Hebrew words) KJV? He speaks about "base texts" that he uses but we are none the wiser as to whether he paraphrased the English KJV or made a fresh translation from the Semitic tongues. No doubt he would have gone to the Semitic when certain phrases or sentences demanded such attention but I see no evidence that the RSTNE is an entirely fresh translation from the Hebrew and Aramaic as, for example, the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) which footnotes all the textual variants encountered, something the RSTNE does not do.

    The RSTNE Seems to Be a Revision

    There is, of course, nothing wrong in revising a pre-existing English translation and using various texts to aid that process provided one states clearly that that is what one is doing. Trimm and Stern both openly admit in their Bible Prefaces they rewrote parts of the 1917 Jewish Publication Society (JPS) English translation of the Tanakh/Old Testament (which is in the public domain) and incorporated it into their own translations - the HRV (Hebraic Roots Version) and CJB (Complete Jewish Bible), respectively. This is why I respect Trimm and Stern more than I do Koniuchowsky because with the RSTNE we are left guessing as to how the 'translation' was actually done. The evidence, it would seem to me, shows that the RSTNE is a revision rather than a translation whilst giving the impression it is a translation.

    The RSTNE as a YATI Targum

    Like I said, there is a lot about the RSTNE I like...as a revision...but a lot I don't like as well. I've noticed it uses various Tanakh (Old Testament) Targums or Jewish paraphrases directly in the text giving the impression that it was the original (in his case) Masoretic text. I love using targums, especially the Isaiah Targum [6] but they are not original, base, foundational text. So I view the RSTNE as Moshe Koniuchowsky's personal 'targum', the way he thinks the Bible should look. And that is why I am very careful about it. To me it is not Scripture - the Bible - but a modern targum with some useful commentary - a YATI Targum, if you will.

    Teams vs. Solo Translators

    Both Koniuchowsky (YATI) and Trimm (SANJ), who are messianic rivals of one another (as well as unfortunately being kabbalists incidentally) have formed their organisations around their particular Bible translations/revisions (RSTNE and HRV, respectively). Interestingly, there was a time when Trimm once promoted the Book of Mormon just as Koniuchowsky does now. Dangerous waters indeed which says a lot about their discernment. Both claim their translations to be uniquely correct, which is a great pity, because both are highly talented writers and teachers but have, in my view, been led by false spirits into false doctrines. I still think the HRV is one of the best translations around, the author's proclivities not withstanding, and I would use it ahead of the RSTNE any day. But when it comes to serious scholarship I will always go to translation teams rather than to solitary authors, because teams of translations can ensure more accountability and careful review. At the same time, it sometimes takes a solo translator to break cherished traditions and taboos, so there is value in both teams and single authors.

    Serious Scholarship Teams Preferred

    I owe Koniuchowsky and Trimm a debt in many areas of theological enlightenment but I would never follow them as ministers nor would I ever recommend their Bible translations/revelations as a standard text for congregations. I access them regularly but prefer on balance the serious scholarship of an NRSV or ESV. Goodness knows we need messianic translations - badly, in fact - but as yet none, in my view, meets up to the standards to be found in reputable Protestant versions, even though there are one or two good scholars like Gabriel Roth who has produced the very good Aramaic English New Testament (AENT). But even he is tainted by occultic kabbalism and has some odd doctrinal beliefs. Too many messianic authors are still the prisoners of apostate Judaism.

    Conclusion

    So by all means get an RSTNE if you wish but be exceedingly careful. It isn't necessarily what it makes itself out to be. And when Bible versions are tied to a particular denomination, there is cause to be extra careful...even with the ESV (modern conservative Evangelical), the NRSV (modern liberal) or the KJV (17th century Anglican).

    Endnotes

    [1] James Trimm, Nazarene Space Blog (22 June 2016)
    [2] The KJV wrongly translates the Hebrew word emunah here as "truth" (Heb. emet), demonstrating it is not, as claimed by some, an infallible translation - the NASB renders this correctly as "faithful way" and the NRSV and ESV (as good representatives of sound modern translation work) as "faithfulness". How could the KJV translators make such a major blunder? I suspect it was purposeful so as not to contradict the anti-Torah, 'faith-only' position of Anglican Protestantism, since clearly the derech emunah or Torah is not at odds with the emunah (faith) of the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament). The response to true emunah (faith) is the derech emunah or "way of faith" which is Torah-obedience
    [3] Moshe Koniuchowsky, Restoration Scriptures True Name Edition Study Bible, Updated Second Edition (Your Arms to Israel Publishing, North Miami Beach, Florida: 2005), p.vii
    [4] Ibid., p.vii
    [5] Ibid., p.viii
    [6] Which proves conclusively that the first century Judahites believed the Messiah they were expecting would be Divine, i.e. He would be Elohim (God), which modern Jews, who tampered with the original ground text of the Tanakh to create the corrupt 'Masoretic Text' that forms the basis of almost all English translations of the Old Testament, do not. See Eliyahu ben David (Steve Butt), Targum Isaiah in English With Parallel Jewish and Christian Texts (Zarach Publishers, College Station, TX: 2012)


    Appendix on Yom Echad

    I have avoided going into a discission on why Genesis 1:5 uses Yom Echad and not the 'expected' Yom Rishon. This is a very large and important subject that requires more time to delve into deeply. Suffice to say that Echad contains all the other yammim or days, just as Pesach (Passover) contains all the other annual festivals and as Adam contained Eve...and with her the whole human race.

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