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Vol. 4, No. 10
Oct., 1995

“The Christian Bible”


Greek, English, Common Sense, The Bible, & Christianity

by Glenn Conjurske

Some time ago the editor of one Baptist periodical sent me a copy of an article from another Baptist periodical, entitled “Which Bible Translation is Best?” This article highly commended what is called the “Christian Bible” (Christian Bible Society, Mammoth Spring, Ark.)----praising it as a literal translation, and setting forth especially what is supposed to be its chief virtue, namely, its consistency, rendering every Greek word consistently by the same English word, and using each English word consistently to represent only one Greek word. I knew----as anyone must know who knows both Greek and English----that it is an absolute impossibility to produce a good translation upon that plan, but I was nevertheless curious to see how they had fared in the application of such a principle. I at length secured the book, and began to look it over, the result of which was that I was very shortly persuaded that this is THE VERY WORST BIBLE VERSION I HAVE EVER SEEN IN ENGLISH----though that is really an understatement. The fact is, it is VERY MUCH WORSE than any other version I have seen.

It is somewhat similar to the New American Standard Version, and the Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation, in that it is pedantic, mechanical, and artificial, but it is VERY MUCH WORSE than either of them. It bears some resemblance to all of the modern versions in their tendency to paraphrase, but it is VERY MUCH WORSE than any of them. It resembles the modern versions also in their mistranslation of the Greek verb tenses, but it is VERY MUCH WORSE than any of the rest of them. It is not content (for example) to wrest the present tense from its characteristic force, and make its force continuous, but must also continually add the word “continually,” to strengthen that false force. So in Matthew 12:30, “Whoever isn't continually with Me, is against me; and whoever isn't continually gathering with me, is scattering.” (And why not “continually against me,” and “continually scattering”?----for the word belongs in those clauses as much as it does in the others.)

But further, the version much resembles the NASV and the NIV in their frequent abandonment of the old landmarks, but again, it is VERY MUCH WORSE than either of them, going nearly as far in that direction as it is possible to go. But more on that anon.

I must say that to look over this book has been an altogether different thing than looking over the NIV, the NKJV, or the NASV. Those versions are, frankly, boring. Their English is insipid, their language tame and forceless, and their renditions often predictable. But there is nothing boring about the “Christian Bible,” though we could heartily wish that there were. But no, there is something to surprise or shock us in almost every sentence. Upon our first looking into the book we found it amusing, but as we further examined it our feelings quickly changed, and we could only view it as pathetic. As we continued to look it over, our feelings changed once more, this time to disgust. Let a sober minister of the word of God attempt to read this version in the solemn assembly of the saints, and he will probably be met with bursts of laughter----or cries of “Enough! Enough!” Open to any page at random, read any paragraph at random, and you will find nothing to edify, and everything to surprise, to shock, and to disgust. A few examples must suffice:

Matthew 6:11----“Give us today our biscuit for the coming day!”

John 6:41----“I am the Biscuit that descended out of heaven.”

Matthew 10:38-39----“Whoever isn't taking his stake and continually following after Me, isn't worthy of Me. Whoever finds his sentient being [his life], will destroy it [in the Destruction] and whoever destroys his sentient being on My account, will find it [alive in the Last Age].”

Luke 7:40----“Now he affirmed, `Teacher, say it!”'

Mark 12:42----“Then one poor widow came and threw in two #001-Jewish-coins (which are equal to a #002-Roman-coin).”

Acts 9:8----“Now Saul [Paul] was raised up from the earth, yet when he opened his eyes, he wasn't observing anything.”

Acts 19:15----“I know Yesu, and I have expertise with Paul, yet who are you?”

Luke 20:9----“A human planted a vineyard and leased it to farmers.”

John 5:14----“After these things Yesu found him in the sacred place, and said to him, `Notice, you have become healthy. You must, by no means, be doing things that are wrong any longer, so that nothing worse might occur to you!”'

And this is called “a translation into true everyday English.” I wonder if it ever occurred to them that “occur to you” does not mean “happen to you” in “everyday English”----or that no one says in “everyday English” that “a human planted a vineyard”----or that we do not affirm imperatives, but facts----or that people do not speak in “true everyday English” of “#002-Roman-coins.” Examples of this sort might be multiplied almost without end. The version is utterly devoid of common sense.

My first thought was that the book was unworthy of a serious review----for it is really impossible to imagine that anyone with a grain of either common sense or spirituality could ever approve or use such a version. Yet when I see the very high claims which the producers of the book make for it, the fact that the editors of Baptist papers can recommend it, and the fact that it is in its second edition after only four years in print, I suppose there may be some occasion for my remarks. But I must also affirm that the fact that there could be any occasion at all to review such a book is another sad proof of how low the modern church has sunk, both spiritually and intellectually. Fifty years ago the church had not sunk so low as to be capable of producing such a Bible, nor would anyone have given it any countenance if it had been produced. The utter incompetence of the translators, both spiritually and intellectually, is evident in almost every sentence, yet (as is usual) their incompetence is more than equalled by their pride, for they tell us in the first sentence of their introduction, “This Bible is the most accurate and literal translation of the `New Testament' into plain English in over 450 years.” We shall have more to say about their apparent pride before we finish. They further affirm (page vii),

“This Bible may seem quite revolutionary and radical because of its many improvements over the KJV and the other Bible translations; and yet, when these numerous improvements are taken individually, they each have substantial acceptance among reliable Greek Scholars who have thoroughly researched these individual items. While there are `experts' who will hold to their traditions from the `Dark Ages,' and who would disagree with some of these improvements, none of these improvements are far-out ideas that have been dreamed up by a group of misguided scatterbrains.”

So they have fortified themselves in advance against the testimony of such as I am----for I confess without shame that I do indeed hold to certain “traditions from the Dark Ages,” such as the doctrine of the Trinity, the eternity of hell fire, and that the husband is head of the wife----all of which doctrines this version sets aside.

But to proceed. Though I must affirm that “misguided scatterbrains” is doubtless a very apt description of the translators of this work, yet there is altogether too much truth in their assertion that they are not the ones who have “dreamed up” its follies. This has been the work of misguided, unspiritual, modern scholarship, by which these misfortunate translators have been “misguided” indeed. For it is a plain fact that many of the follies of this book have not originated with the producers of it, but with the heady and incompetent scholarship of the modern church. Their continual mistranslation of the Greek tenses is one example. Another is, “the Word was face to face with God,” in John 1:1. I have heard that folly preached from Christian pulpits ever since I have been a Christian, and so long ago as 1934 A. T. Robertson (large Grammar, page 623) called it “the literal idea” of John 1:1----but it is false for all that. v means “with,” pure and simple, and not “face to face with.” Nor would any of these “reliable Greek scholars” dare to so translate it elsewhere. Fancy this:

Matthew 13:56----And his sisters, are they not all face to face with us?

Luke 9:41----How long shall I be face to face with you, and suffer you?

Luke 18:11----The Pharisee stood and prayed thus face to face with himself.

II Thes. 3:1----...that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is face to face with you.

Heb. 10:16----This is the covenant that I will make face to face with them.

But I turn to one of the worst features of a book which is altogether bad, namely, its almost complete obliteration of the old landmarks of Christianity. The second sentence of the introduction boasts that the version “does NOT contain any of the following words: Jesus, Christ, lord, church, ...pastor, ...apostle, ...disciple, ...saint, ...sinner, ...baptize, ...Hell, Hades, Devil, sin, evil, holy, soul, angel, archangel, forever, eternal, ...crucify, cross, gospel, ...grace, ...repent,” etc., etc. The list also includes many such gems as “archbishop, cardinal, clergy, layman, christen, Lent, Easter, Christmas, sacrament,” and “absolution.” With such we need not concern ourselves. They do not belong in the Bible, and most of them have never been in any Bible countenanced by the true church of God. But the list of words in bold type (and the bold type is theirs) are all the old landmarks of Christianity. They contain all of the heart of Christianity. They are the terms which have possessed the warm heart associations of English-speaking Christians for centuries, and to throw all of this away, and replace it with terms which are some pedantic, some inaccurate, some impure, some ridiculous----and all of them cold and strange----this is to create a Bible which is a travesty upon Christianity. Whatever the book is, it is not a “Christian Bible.” Almost everything which is dear and familiar to Christians is upset and thrown away.

“The apostles” become “the dispatched envoys.” Why?

“Commandment” is “Direction.” Why? They certainly cannot pretend any gain in accuracy in this.

“Disciples” are “students.”

“Tithing” becomes “taking a tenth.” Taking a tenth? I had always thought it was giving a tenth.

“Baptize” is now “immerse.” Can it be that the version receives the countenance of Baptists for this reason? If so, they are very short-sighted. It is always foolish to judge anything or anybody on the basis of one issue.

“The church” must now be “the group of Called Ones.”

“The New Testament” must now be “the New Contract.”

“Jesus” is now “Yesu,” for reasons purely pedantic, and foolish enough.

“Christ” is now “the Anointed One.”

“The cross” is altered to “the stake.” Thus do they sacrifice everything precious to a puerile----and usually mistaken----pedantry.

To salute becomes to hug, or to want to hug, with such ridiculous and impious results as this: “Hug for me Tryphena and Tryphosa, [two women] who are continually laboring in their service to the Master! Hug for me Persis [a woman], the dearly loved one, . . . Hug for me Philalogos and [his wife] Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympus and all the Pure Ones with them! Hug one another for me with a pure kiss! Wanting to hug you are all the Anointed One's groups of Called Ones.” (Romans 16:12-16). And I may notice here the constant use of exclamation points as one of the smallest faults of the version----a fault, alas, which it shares with much of the shallow evangelical literature of our day. All of these exclamation points destroy the atmosphere of Scripture----take us, as it were, out of the sanctuary, and conduct us to a pep rally.

“Lord” must now be “Master,” for “Lord” (the introduction tells us) was the name of the pagan god of Anglo-Saxon mythology. Perhaps it was, though these folks would not know the word “lord” if they saw it in Anglo-Saxon, for it was then spelled “hlaford,” and evolved through “hlavord,” “hlauerd,” “lauerd,” and various other forms, to our present “lord.” But supposing “lord” (or “hlaford”) was used to designate the pagan god of the Anglo-Saxons, what of it? The Bible itself tells us that “there be gods many, and lords many,” but for all that it balks not at the fact which it immediately adds, that “to us there is but one God, the Father, . . . and one Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Cor. 8:5-6). For the same reason for which they reject the word “Lord,” they ought to reject “God” also, and for that same reason Paul and the other “dispatched envoys” ought to have rejected both terms.

But all of this switching of the old, loved, and time-honored terms for that which is novel and strange (and not a whit nigher the truth) convicts these translators of a deep deficiency of spiritual sense. They attach no value to those things which are most precious to spiritual minds, but toss them away as though they were trash. And there is a great deal of pride at the bottom of this. It is pride which says, The whole English church has been astray for more than a thousand years in one of the most elementary points of Christianity, in referring the word “Lord” to the Lord (pardon me). Far be it from me to hold to that which is traditional merely because it is old, but truth was not born yesterday, and wisdom was not born with us. Far be it from any of us to reject light, merely because we never saw it before, but these folks have no light to offer, but only heady pedantry and technical folly. It is true enough that in much of this they have but followed the lead of the unspiritual scholarship of the modern church, but they have outstripped their leaders.

So much for the terminology of the book, which is certainly not Christian. Nor are the doctrines of the book Christian, but altogether cultish. Those doctrines plainly appear in the bracketed notes which are thickly scattered through the book. The translators and publishers conceal their identity, but whoever they may be, they are not orthodox Christians. In the Lord's prayer we find, “Our Father who is in the heavens, Your name [`Yesu'] must be held pure!” and at Matt. 28:19 we are explicitly told that “Yesu” is the Father's name, the Son's name, and the Spirit's name. This is not Christian, but cultish. The account of the rich man and Lazarus contains numerous notes, giving a running exposition, which is cultish altogether. The rich man is “symbolic of Judaism,” and the poor man of “the pagans.” The rich man's death is “Judaism died, the Law was no longer in power.” And upon the words “then in the grave, ...while existing in tortures,” the note informs us that “the Jews no longer had spiritual favors over the pagans.” (And this is “existing in tortures”?) The quondam “great gulf fixed” is now “solidly established a great canyon,” which the note tells us is “between faith in Yesu and Judaism.” This is all cultish. Salvation must be “salvation [from Destruction]” (Jude 3, etc.), while death must be “Death [in the Fiery Destruction],” (Rom. 6:23, 7:5, etc.), and we read in I Cor. 1:28 of those who “vanish [in the Fiery Destruction of the Second Death].” There are numerous such notes in the version, which have nothing to do with clarifying the translation, but are purely doctrinal. Such notes, be they sound or unsound, have no business whatever in the text of the Bible. But they are not sound, but cultish.

As for the boasted literalness of the version, it is a fiction. Even many of its renderings which fairly represent the meaning of the original are very periphrastic, and there is paraphrasing enough also. Anyone who can contend that “sentient being” is a literal translation for “soul,” or “face to face with” for “with,” knows nothing of the meaning of the word “literal.” “Increased in wisdom and stature” (Luke 2:52) is literal, but their “kept progressing in wisdom and towards His maximum development” is a bold paraphrase----and “towards” is added with no warrant from the Greek. “All things are lawful” (I Cor. 19:23) is perfectly literal, but this they turn into “A person is allowed to do all kinds of things”----a bold paraphrase, which changes the subject of the sentence from “all” to “a person,” which is not in the Greek at all. “Fellowship” is no doubt too old fashioned for them, and they must have “sharing,” but in speaking of the Lord's supper they say, “The biscuit that we are continually breaking, isn't it the symbol of our sharing in the Anointed One's body?” There is no authority whatever in the Greek for the introduction of the word “symbol,” and “continually breaking” is foolishness. This is rewriting the Bible, not translating it. So again in

I Cor. 11:4, “praying” is turned into “leading a prayer”----a paraphrase, not a translation. “Brother” is turned into “brother and sister,” after the manner of modern liberals, who cannot say “he” without they say “he/she.” Words are added everywhere, with no warrant from the Greek, after the manner of certain modern “expanded” versions. “Continually” is continually added, and also “permanently,” “definitely,” “judicially,” etc. These additions (and none of them in italics) disqualify the version as a literal translation.

Again, “All the brethren greet you” (I Cor. 16:20) is literal, but this is altered to “Wanting to hug you are all the brothers and sisters.” “Hug” is certainly not the meaning here, but they must use it, and since hugging cannot be done except in person, they must turn it into “Wanting to hug.” But this is absolutely unwarranted. There is nothing about wanting in the original. Whatever the word means, the brethren were doing it, not merely wanting to. The addition of “and sisters” is of course unwarranted also.

As for the boasted consistency of the version, which is supposed to be its grand virtue, this is another fiction. The publishers of the version have devised a test (printed in their introduction) by which the consistency of Bible versions may be tested, but the test is rigged. They of course include in the test only the words which they have translated consistently. But there are many words which this version does not translate consistently, including some which it easily could have. The Greek [ they will not render “man,” but must have “human.” This leads them to many absurdities, but there is a certain degree of absurdity which even they cannot bear, and therefore they must alter the rendering sometimes to “humanity.” “Man” they reserve for j v , but they cannot translate that consistently either, for it must be sometimes “man,” and sometimes “husband.” This is a simple necessity. So also of ', which must be sometimes “earth,” and sometimes “land.” And j they render sometimes “lap,” sometimes “chest,” and once “bay.” They could have been more consistent with some of these words if they had kept the old renderings.

Thus, j v is “rub” in Mark 16:1, “rub with oil” in Matthew 6:17, and in James 5:14 “Anointing him with oil” is turned into “after they have massaged the person's body with oil [that contains aromatic and/or other herb oils].” And here, observe, the simple j v (“him”) is turned into “the person's body,” while they boast of their literal translation. “Anoint” they use for another Greek word, and so----for the sake of consistency----will not use it for j v . But by this they have obviously gained nothing in the direction of consistency, though they have sacrificed sense and decency and accuracy to do it.

Again, v , which means to see, they must translate “gaze,” which involves them often in manifest absurdities, such as, in John 10:12, “Yet the hired man, who isn't a shepherd and the owner of the sheep, gazes at the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and runs away.” We wonder how long he gazed before he found his legs. Common sense, to say nothing of “everyday English,” requires that we should say he “sees” the wolf coming, and this is the rendering of almost every version under the sun, excepting only the pedantic RV, ASV, and NASV, which use “behold.” But what if the Greek word means to gaze? To this we need only say, it certainly does not, for regardless altogether of etymology and pedantry, the meaning of words is determined by their usage. But this version pays no attention to that, and seeks only for the English word which it can use most consistently, without making absolute nonsense everywhere. And “see,” you see, they could not use for v , for they had reserved it for another Greek word. Well----almost. They could not altogether reserve it for the other Greek word, for in some places even their uncommon sense simply required them to use “see” for v , as in John 4:19, where we read, “I see that you are a prophet.” “Gaze” would have been manifest nonsense here.

And this brings us back to the plain fact that it is a false principle to suppose that we ought to translate one Greek word always by the same English word. It is a simple impossibility. It makes nonsense of the word of God. These translators have attempted it, and made nonsense enough, and yet were forced continually to abandon their own principle. And where they stick by their principle, they must continually add explanatory notes in brackets, to explain the nonsense to which their principle forces them. The common words for “sick” and “sickness” they must render “weak” and “weakness”----and then immediately add “sick” or “sickness” in brackets. So in Matthew 24:38 (and elsewhere), “For during those days before the flood, they were chewing [eating] and drinking,” etc. But if the word means “eating,” why do they translate it “chewing”? And if the word means “chewing,” why do they tell us it means “eating”? Their renderings have little to do with the actual meaning of the words. They used “eat” for some other word, and so it must be “chew” for this one, but the truth is, this one as much means “eat” as the other one, and should have been so translated.

Moreover, it is false also to suppose (as they do) that literal translation consists of consistent translation. They use many paraphrases in this version, and because they use them consistently, expect us to believe that this is a literal translation. On the other hand, we may translate half a dozen Greek words by a single English word, such as “see,” and all of them be literal. If half a dozen Greek words mean to see, then “see” is a literal translation of all of them.

But enough. The version is a constant stream of blunders and perversions, from one end to the other. Look on any page, and you will see little else. The book is open before me at John 4, from which I have just quoted. I glance at the page, and see, “The woman responded and said, `I don't have a husband.' Yesu said to her, `You have said ideally, “I don't have a husband.””' “Ideally”? Can they be serious? This is neither accurate, nor literal, nor sense, nor English----much less “everyday English.” It is simply sacrificing everything to a false principle, carried out by ignorant and unspiritual blunderers. I glance at the page again, and read, “You are continually worshiping that of which you are not aware; we are continually worshiping that of which we are aware.” This is more of the same----and the consistency of which they boast should have required “You are continually worshiping that of which you continually are not aware; we are continually worshiping that of which we are continually aware.” And look on every page, in every paragraph, and we find nothing but more, and more, and more, and more of the same. Here is the worst version I have ever seen in English, and yet making the highest claims for itself of any English version. This is as we would expect it, for the most ignorant and incompetent have always the most confidence in themselves.


The Qualifications of an Interpreter of Scripture

by Glenn Conjurske

It is an undeniable fact that every possible shade of doctrine, from the purest truth to the most palpable error, is taught out of the Bible. Every kind of error under the sun claims to be based upon the Scriptures----so much so that many despair of ever finding the truth in the Bible. With a thousand different men teaching a thousand different systems of doctrine, and all of them professing to derive it from the Bible, who can say what the truth is? Who can say that it is possible to learn the truth from the Bible?

But the problem lies not in the Book, but in the interpreters of it. Most of those who set their hands to interpret the Bible lack all of the qualifications requisite to do so----and no wonder if they come forth with error instead of truth. There are a number of qualifications which are indispensable to a proper understanding of the Scriptures. Those qualifications are not primarily intellectual, much less educational, but spiritual. A good mind is a very great advantage, but a good mind, in the absence of the requisite spiritual qualifications, only equips a man the better to do evil. Ingenuity is much more often employed to circumvent the truth, than to discover it. Education may be a help also, if by education is meant the acquisition of the right kind of knowledge. If by education is meant the knowledge of grammar, and of the original tongues of Scripture, the knowledge of the history of doctrine, and of doctrinal controversies, the knowledge of the lives and writings of the men of God who have graced the history of the church, the knowledge of the great works of God in history----well. But if by education is meant the acquisition of the spirit, philosophies, and subject matter which are usually imparted in the schools (including the Christian schools), such education is more likely to be a detriment than an advantage, and the spirit of the schools is very likely to dry up and destroy those spiritual qualifications which are indispensably necessary to understand the Scriptures.

And it should be understood that by interpreting the Scriptures, we mean nothing other than understanding them. If this were understood, we might see less of the wresting and twisting and turning and hacking and hewing which usually go under the name of interpretation. The common ideas of interpretation seem to just reverse the places of the Scriptures and the interpreter of them. The interpreter sits as the potter over the clay, to make what he can of it, whereas he ought to sit as the clay, to be formed by the Scriptures. The business of the interpreter is not to make the Scriptures say anything, but to understand what they do say.

What, then, are the qualifications of an interpreter?

At the head of the list we place a single eye. A single eye is a simple or unmixed eye. It knows no mixture of motives, or conflict of interests. It has but one object before it, and that is to be right, whatever it may cost. It refuses to be influenced by any partiality to a favorite sect or teacher, any bias toward a particular system of doctrine, any desire to please man, any inclination to spare the flesh, any cravings to save its dear indulgences, any grasping after place or position or possession. Every such inclination will serve effectually to blind the eyes to the real truth of God. But “if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” (Matt. 6:22).

The opposite of a single eye is an evil eye. The evil eye has a wrong object before it----an ulterior object, an unworthy object. It professes indeed to be endeavoring only to understand the will of the Lord, but some other object really controls it. The eye is set upon its place of prestige or influence in a church or school, or upon the salary which that place brings in. The eye is set to please a wife or husband----or to take vengeance upon a faithful pastor who has exposed its sin. There are a thousand objects which may control an evil eye, and every one of them blinds it from seeing the truth. “If thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.” (Matt. 6:23).

But while the evil eye may have a thousand objects, the single eye may have but one. It looks to one thing only, which is to please God, to be acceptable to him, to be right in his sight, to do his will, whatever the cost. The man with the single eye has the promise that he shall be full of light. Of him the Scripture says, “If any man is willing to do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or I speak from myself.” (John 7:17). To be willing to do the will of God of course means to be willing to do it whatever it is, however difficult it may be, and whatever reproach it may bring----in short, whatever the cost. This is a single eye, and the man who lacks it has no ability to understand the Scriptures. The man who is not willing thus to do the will of God, has little ability to understand what the will of God is. The judge who is in love with the defendant cannot find her guilty, though the facts are plain enough to others. The man who is not willing to part with his television looks through a fog and mist at those Bible principles which would require it of him. He cannot judge impartially or objectively.

The man who lacks a single eye will certainly miss his way in the Scriptures. And what business has he with the Scriptures at all? He cannot delve into them to learn the will of God, for that is not his purpose. To him they are at best an intellectual plaything, but more probably a little tonic with which to salve his conscience, or a tool with which to justify his own doctrines or ways.

Nearly allied to a single eye is honesty. By this I mean that simple intellectual honesty, which deals fairly with the Scriptures, seeking sincerely to understand them, and allow them to mean what they say. An ungodly man who possesses this honesty will fare much better in the interpretation of Scripture than a godly man who uses the Scriptures only to find support for his own system of doctrine. An unspiritual man, who seeks honestly to understand the actual meaning of the text, will write a much better commentary than a more spiritual man who has a doctrinal hobby horse to ride. I certainly do not regard Henry Alford as one of the most spiritual of men, and yet I regard his commentary as among the best I have seen, owing simply to the honesty with which he handles the text. His views of inspiration are weak and insufficient, and yet he deals more honestly with the text than many who have more satisfactory views of its inspiration. Alford's principle of honesty is manifest in his well known comment on the two resurrections in Revelation 20. He says, “If, in a passage where two resurrections are mentioned, where certain souls lived at the first, and the rest of the dead lived only at the end of a specified period after that first,----if in such a passage the first resurrection may be understood to mean spiritual rising with Christ, while the second means literal rising from the grave;----then there is an end of all significance of language, and Scripture is wiped out as a definite testimony to anything. If the first resurrection is spiritual, then so is the second, which I suppose none will be hardy enough to maintain: but if the second is literal, then so is the first.”

This is simple honesty. But it is just here that most men disqualify themselves as interpreters of Scripture. The foolish vagaries and palpable falsehoods which they put forth as the alleged meaning of the text can only elicit the response, “If that can mean that, then anything can mean anything.” I recall that when I was a student at Bible school I had some difficulty with Paul's expression, “if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead”----for the theology of all of us made our participation in that resurrection a certainty, not a matter of contingency. I went to one of the instructors with my difficulty, who told me, “What Paul is speaking of here is the resurrection quality of life”----in the present time, of course. I went away unsatisfied, and must feel instinctively that if that can mean that, then anything can mean anything. Such interpretation is dishonest. No man would dare to interpret any other document under the sun in such a manner. No honest man would dare to interpret his uncle's will, or the statutes of his state, or Constitution of the country, in the same manner in which they interpret the Bible. His conscience would not allow it. But conscience seems to be thrown to the winds when men open the Bible, and everything is wrested from its plain and obvious sense, in order to make it square with doctrines already held, or practices with which they are not willing to part. Their lack of honesty in dealing with particular texts is but the reflection of their insincerity in dealing with Scripture as a whole. Some ulterior motive governs them, and not a sincere determination to know the truth.

And understand, when I speak of dealing honestly with the Scriptures, I speak of so dealing with all of them. No man has any difficulty to deal honestly with those scriptures which evidently make for his own doctrine or his own cause, but only let him touch a scripture which makes against him, and he begins to twist and contort and hack and hew. And thus his lack of honesty becomes the more manifest. His honest dealing with some scriptures leaves him without excuse for his dishonest dealing with others. When he handles those texts which support any of his doctrines, he puts forth the clearest streams of pure reason and forceful cogency----thus proving that he knows how to handle the Scriptures aright----but as soon as he touches a text which makes against any doctrine which he holds, he gives us nothing but miserable sophistry. He immediately begins to move the foundation stones in order to endeavor to support some wing or turret of his own building. This is not honest, and it does a great deal more damage than merely to remove a few foundation stones out of their proper places, for it establishes a way of thinking which regards it as acceptable to so deal with the foundation, and thus the way is left open for men to wrest the Scriptures as they please.

But there is a deeper problem which lies beneath this lack of honesty. That dishonesty is the result of unbelief. This leads us naturally, then, to speak of the next qualification for interpreting the Scriptures, which is faith. Those who trust the Scriptures are content to let those Scriptures stand as they are, and as God gave them. They are content to let them mean what they say, rather than wresting them to make them mean something else. All Christians, of course, profess to trust the Scriptures, but the plain fact is, there are many who have a good deal more of actual confidence in John Calvin, or John Wesley, or John Darby, than they do in Holy Scripture. If they actually trust the Scriptures, how is it that we see them so often wresting them, in order to support the doctrines of Lewis Sperry Chafer, or Andrew Murray, or Luther or Augustine? Some high tower of their doctrinal system stands where there is precious little scriptural foundation for it, and they must set to work to rebuild the foundation, in order to lend a little support to their tottering turret. If their faith were actually in the foundation----in the Scriptures, that is----they would let the foundation alone, and let their turret fall.

Faith stands solid on Holy Scripture, believing it to be of God, and worthy of God. Faith believes that the book is given of God to enlighten us, not to confuse and mislead us. It believes that God is every bit as capable of expressing himself clearly and forthrightly as sinful man is. It believes therefore that Scripture----all Scripture----is to be taken at face value, in its plain, natural, and obvious sense, and that, so taken, it can never lead us to anything but the truth. If I have held as truth any doctrine which the Scriptures, so taken, will not sustain, then faith holds fast to the Scriptures, and lets the doctrine go. It is unbelief which holds rather to the doctrine, and wrests and reworks the plain sense of Scripture, in order to sustain the doctrine. If we have actual faith in the Bible, then it becomes our first principle that Holy Scripture must be maintained in its integrity, though I must give up every doctrine and practice which I have held, though I must stand alone against all the world, and though I die at the stake for it.

The next qualification of which I have to speak is humility. Pride is one of the most fruitful sources of false interpretation of the Scriptures. In the first place, it is pride which makes men rash. They hold fast to every hair-brained idea which comes into their head, or out of it, especially if it is different from the doctrine which everyone else holds. Self-confidence makes them always rash, and rashness is always their undoing. They have little of that diffidence which humility would give them. They adopt their notions with too little study, too little prayer, too little meditation, and likely with no consultation with their brethren. If they have hammered it upon their own anvil, it must be true, and what need have they to ask counsel of another? They trust themselves, and lean upon their own understanding. They think to sit down with a concordance, or read once through some portion of Scripture, and in one week or one month come to an understanding of some theme which better men than themselves have wrestled with for centuries. This does not trouble them, for they seem to suppose that they have more wisdom than anyone else who has ever studied the subject. The greater their ignorance, the more confidence they have in themselves, and yet if they have pride enough to speak with authority, they shall have plenty of followers, though their interpretations consist of nothing but foolish technicalities and childish misapprehensions. All of this is the fruit of pride.

The proud and the rash must have an opinion, though they have no ability to acquire a true opinion. Humility enables a man to acknowledge his ignorance, and so to take the time which is necessary to gain understanding. He may have to acknowledge his ignorance for many years----yea, to the day of his death, for we all know in part. A beautiful example of that humility is seen in Gipsy Smith, a great man, and a great preacher. In preaching on “What Must I Do to Be Saved?” he said, “I want to say to those who are preachers and evangelists that I wanted to preach from these words fifteen years before I dared. For fifteen years these words were simmering in my mind.” He read all the sermons and commentaries he could find on them, and asked other preachers to preach from the text so that he could hear their views. And yet for fifteen years he dared not to speak on the text himself, though he was a fruitful evangelist during all of that time. The proud and the rash cannot endure such a process. Have an opinion they must, and teach it they will, though it set at defiance the wisdom of the centuries, and do violence to half the Scriptures.

But it is sometimes incumbent upon us not only to admit that we are ignorant, but also to admit that we are wrong----for who has not been? And here again it is humility which we need. At some time or other most men will begin to perceive that certain scriptures evidently make against certain doctrines which they hold. At this point the humble man will allow the Scriptures to speak----allow them to mean what they say----allow them to overturn the doctrines which he holds, and frankly acknowledge that he has been wrong. But this is too much for the proud. They will rather hold to their opinion, and do violence to the Scriptures to maintain it. Those scriptures which make against them will be twisted and tortured and explained away. They will resort to the most unworthy sophistry in dealing with Scripture, so they may but maintain their opinion----and their pride. Thus does pride incapacitate men for a sound interpretation of Scripture.

Especially is this true if they have publicly taught their erroneous opinions, or engaged in any controversy over them. “By pride cometh contention,” and men who are determined only to score a victory over their opponents are really incapable of objective judgement concerning the true sense of Scripture. They will drive home what seems to make for their cause, and twist and wrest what does not.

To all of the above I add common sense. That which cuts across the grain of common sense cannot be true----and for all its apparent naive simplicity, “It is obvious” is after all a very telling argument. And it should be observed that that which is obvious is obvious to all. This constant cutting across the grain of common sense in the interpretation of Scripture is therefore a very damaging operation, for it serves to bring both the Bible and Christianity into contempt with the unbelieving, who nevertheless have heads on their shoulders.

But some people seem to be constitutionally lacking in common sense. They seem always to miss the obvious, while they pounce upon every vagary which crosses their path. They have a penchant for the strange and the unusual. Their thinking seems always to exclude the simple and the natural, while they dwell in the realm of whimsical notions, pedantic technicalities, airy niceties, and eccentric quirks. Now if their lack of common sense is an incurable, constitutional disability, they had best leave the interpretation of Scripture to others, but I suspect that it is rather generally the offspring of pride. Common sense really is common among the race of men, but the pride of some keeps them always out of the beaten path, and while they affect superior wisdom, they manifest only folly and absurdity.

As for common sense in the interpretation of Scripture, I have observed times without number, in hearing some interpretation of a text of Scripture, that common sense alone would keep men from such interpretation. One famous example of this comes to us from the history of the church. Speaking of the bread of the Lord's supper, the Lord said, “This is my body.” Many have insisted that this requires us to believe that that bread is the actual body of Christ. It may look like bread, smell like bread, and taste like bread, but it is in fact the actual flesh, blood, and bones of Christ. This cannot be true, for it is against reason. When Christ spoke the words, “This is my body,” he was then present in his own body of flesh and blood, and did he then have two bodies?

But again, Scripture says, “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord,” but I have heard a grave Baptist minister, with an earned doctor's degree, quote this text as “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord in your life.” It is evident enough that it was doctrinal bias which kept him from the true sense of the text, but common sense ought to have kept him from his interpretation. It is false because it is far-fetched, and it needs no other refutation. The language of Scripture is simple and natural. Common sense will keep us true in its pages, where learned technicalities will lead us astray. I hardly need say that I value true learning, but learned technicalities which set aside common sense are not true learning. The unlearned man who uses the common sense with which God has endowed him will cut a much straighter path through the Scriptures than the man who uses Greek and Hebrew to set aside common sense.

The etymology of Greek words, or even their spelling, is often paraded before the unlearned in such a way as is precisely calculated to overturn their actual meaning, as well as common sense. Scripture tells us that “God loveth a cheerful giver,” but learned folly often informs us that “cheerful” is hilaros in the Greek, so that what the text is actually saying is that the Lord loves a hilarious giver. But common sense knows of no such creature. The two words (“hilarious” and “giver”) do not belong together, do not fit together, any more than “nimble haystack,” “grateful staircase,” or “deep moon.” We need no Greek to figure this out.

And here I may observe that most extreme interpretations, which press the words to the limit of their technical meaning, are guilty of setting aside common sense. Scripture says, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God,” and this is used to prove that the natural man cannot think a right thought of spiritual things, or understand a word of Scripture. This is foolishness. He can understand “Thou shalt not steal,” or “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found,” or “The wicked shall be turned into hell,” as well as any spiritual man. He may not like it as well, but he understands it.

So again, “Without me ye can do nothing” is brought to prove that we can do literally nothing at all, but all must be done in us by the grace of God. Common sense, however, perceives that this cannot be, for Scripture uses the words “without me ye can do nothing” as the basis of an exhortation to abide in Christ. Now if we can literally do nothing at all, then we can no more abide in Christ than we can bear fruit without abiding in him. The exhortation is evidently addressed to the wrong persons, admonishing us to abide in Christ, when we cannot do so, nor do anything at all towards it. The exhortation ought to be addressed rather to Christ, who alone can do anything about the matter.

“Who gave himself a ransom for all,” we are told, means “all the elect”----that is, a very small fraction of the human race. “All,” we are told, need not mean every single individual. I grant that, and yet affirm that “all” cannot mean a small fraction of the whole. It must mean at least the greatest part of the whole, and to make it mean anything less is to set common sense at defiance. If “all” may mean eight souls out of the old world, three souls out of Sodom and the cities of the plain, and one of a hundred in the world today, then anything may mean anything, and common sense may take its flight back to the God who gave it, and leave the human race to grope in the darkness.

Similarly we are told that “the world” which God loved, and for which Christ died, means “the elect world,” and we are again informed that “the world” need not mean every individual in it. And again, I grant that, while I affirm that “the world” cannot mean a very small portion of the world. At the very least, it must mean all men in general, the great bulk of the world. It may mean more than that, but cannot mean less. But the fact is, Calvinistic interpretations quite generally cast common sense to the winds, and many there are who actually glory in the loss, speaking contemptuously of sound reasoning and common sense, as “carnal reason.” But such, I am bold to say, will never know the truth until they repent of this folly. Common sense and reason are of God, and it is as wrong to violate them as it is to deny the Scriptures.

Nor is it any way necessary to violate common sense or reason to understand the Scriptures, but just the contrary. The deeper we dig into Scripture, the more carefully we examine its technical points, and the more true we are to its general tenor, the more thoroughly we shall establish the reign of common sense. If common sense had but kept its place in the interpretation of Scripture, many of the doctrines and interpretations which are now afloat in the church would never have existed.

To all of this we must yet add spirituality. The Bible is a spiritual book, and it requires a spiritual man to understand it. By this I do not mean that a carnal man cannot understand any of it. No. There are numerous statements of fact, principles, and commandments in the Bible which the carnal can understand as well as the spiritual. But Paul distinguishes between milk and meat. Besides that which any man can understand, the Bible also contains “the deep things of God.” None but the spiritual can understand such things. By “spiritual” I mean spiritually mature, spiritually-minded, spiritually experienced. To become so takes time----for I absolutely repudiate the doctrine that we may be carnal one moment, spiritual the next, and carnal again the next. According to the doctrine of the apostle Paul, a babe in Christ is carnal----and so not spiritual. “I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” (I Cor. 3:1). A babe in Christ simply does not have the capacity to understand the deep things of God. His only safety is in recognizing his own incapacity----but how many can do that? One great reason why there is so much false interpretation of the Bible in the church of God, is that we have spiritual babes in the pulpit, spiritual babes editing magazines, and spiritual babes flooding the evangelical presses with their books.

The spiritual man has a capacity for understanding the Scriptures which no other man can have. Length and depth of spiritual experience, coupled with years of meditation in the deep things of God, make the Bible as it were his own element, so that he understands the whole of it, and naturally lights upon the proper sense and application of its various details. “He that is spiritual discerneth all things.” (I Cor. 2:15, Geneva Bible). Other men, of course, must interpret the Bible also, but they have no business to form schemes of prophetic interpretation or systematic theology. They have a work nearer home, which is to cultivate their own heart and spirit and character, and to know God and to walk with him. If they are diligent and faithful in that business over a few decades of time, they may gain a capacity for the other.


by Glenn Conjurske

“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.”

Observe, first, who it was who made these coats. These were nothing which Adam and Eve devised for themselves, as their aprons had been. It was “the Lord God” who made them. If Adam and Eve had made the coats for themselves, we had need pay no regard to them, any more than we need regard their aprons. But it was God who made them, and the acts of God, in establishing man's estate upon the earth, come to us with the force of commandments. What God did was not merely for the present moment, nor merely for Adam and Eve, but was to set a precedent for all men for all time. This I take to be an axiom, which needs no proof.

Further, the evident purpose of these coats was to cover their nakedness. This is transparent upon the face of the scriptural account. God gave them no commandment to cover their nakedness, but his act in covering them had the force of law. Though he never commanded Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness, yet if they had cast away their coats the day after God had clothed them, this would certainly have been the equivalent of casting away the authority of God. So also, if they had done it a week or a year after God had clothed them. And so also if men lay aside their clothing today. God's act has the force of law, and he has never rescinded it.

Observe, next, what it was which God made for them. He made them coats. It has been often observed----and very rightly----that God was not satisfied with their fig leaves, but made them coats of skins. But it seems to be generally overlooked----though it is equally true----that God was not satisfied with their aprons, but made them coats. If the only thing we are to learn from this account is that their fig leaves were not good enough, but that they must have garments of skins, procured only by the death of the animals, then God might as well have made them aprons of skins. But he made them no aprons----nor shirts, nor shorts, nor skirts, nor tank tops, nor swimming suits, nor vests, nor jackets----but coats. He made them, that is, a garment which actually covered their nakedness. He made no hats, nor veils, nor socks, nor gloves, but left them to do as they pleased about heads and faces and hands and feet, for the nakedness of those parts he evidently did not regard----but as for the rest of their nakedness, he made them a garment which covered it.

But what was it which the Lord actually made? What were these “coats”? The Hebrew lexicons give us but little help here, being more occupied with learned conjectures than with common sense. Most of them which I have consulted tell me that the tn#T)K% is a garment worn next to the skin. So then, what the Lord actually made them was leather underwear! Well, no doubt Adam and Eve wore these coats next to their skin, for I suppose they were the only garments they had, but then it is equally plain that these were their outer garments, in which they appeared clothed from day to day. Moreover, Scripture uses the term everywhere else of outer garments, and there is not a single place where there is any likelihood that it refers to an undergarment.

The word is used most commonly of the priests' garments, but also of Joseph's “coat of many colours.” And in II Sam. 15:32, “Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his head.” Men did not rend their underwear, but their outer garments.

The same word is used again in II Sam. 13:18, where it says of Tamar, “And she had a garment of divers colours upon her: for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins apparelled.” This is plainly her outer garment, and it is here equated with a robe, for it was not a jacket, but a long coat----a coat, that is, which covered and clothed its wearer. The purpose for which God made these coats for Adam and Eve, be it remembered, was to cover their nakedness, and the coats which he made were certainly such that they fulfilled their purpose.

And again I insist, this act of God has the force of a commandment to us. It is wrong to go unclothed, and it is equally wrong to go partially clothed. God made them coats, not aprons, and we have every bit as much right to go unclothed as we have to go half clothed. I very much like the following account, which appeared in a secular book nearly a century ago. Jennie Manley was a country girl who went to Detroit to visit her aunt and uncle, who tried to introduce her into “fashionable society.” The author had met her, and knew her aunt, and says, “Mrs. Standfaord told me that while the ladies were together that evening one remarked to Jennie `why do you not wear low cut dresses Miss Manley, you have such a lovely form?'

“Jennie looked her square in the face and says, `Why do you wear any dress at all?' This society lady says in reply, `Oh, that would be indecent.' Jennie Manley remarked to this butterfly of fashion, `that is exactly why I do not wear low cut dresses.”'

But we live in a different generation----a generation distinguished from former generations by its more thorough disregard for the bands and cords of the Lord----and it would be an idle dream to imagine that the church has not been influenced by that disregard. Certain “Bible camps”----with more of “camp” than “Bible,”----require the women to wear modest swimming suits. They require them, that is, to go no more than about half unclothed. But I very much doubt that a modest swimming suit has ever existed----at least not since the advent of the twentieth century. The same book from which I have just quoted contains a drawing of a beach scene, where the women are clad in their swimming suits. This book, recall, was published in 1902. The swimming suits of the ladies contain full skirts down to the knee, and are in fact little different from the dresses which some Christian women wear today, especially those of the younger generation. Yet the author, whom I have no reason to think was godly, captions the picture, “`MODESTY, WHERE ART THOU?' A sight where modesty is not seen, and where virtue nears the abyss of shame.” Yet Christian women today will wear swimming suits which contain less than half the material in those----and much too tight also----and yet call them modest.

But they must know very well that they are not modest. There is a “Bible camp” ten miles from where I sit, where the women are required to wear modest swimming suits, and wear robes over them to go to and from the beach----and so disrobe before the onlookers on the beach. But why the robes, if the swimming suits are modest? For all the delinquency of the modern church, the scripture remains, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats..., and clothed them,” and it is hard to tell how the presence of a lake gives anyone license to ignore this. An independent Baptist preacher spoke well enough when he said, “Yes, I believe in mixed bathing. Put on your overcoats, and dive in.” But if you cannot go near a lake without going half naked, you had better leave the lake to the fishes. The act of God in clothing mankind teaches us to be covered. Within my memory the same “Bible camp” required the men to wear shirts to swim----but I suppose they had to abandon that, when they realized that the men were dressed more modestly than the women.

Yet the text says, “Unto ADAM also and to his wife the Lord God made coats.” He did not make a coat for Eve, and a pair of pants for Adam----nor a coat for Eve, and a shirt and shorts for Adam. He made coats for both of them. He covered the nakedness of both of them. The man has no more right to go half clothed than the woman. God clothed them both with the same kind of garment, covered them equally. I would grant----yea, contend----that it is much more harmful for a woman to go half clad than it is for a man. A man may go half clothed and do little damage by it, whereas the moment a woman exposes herself but a little, she becomes a fiery dart to work havoc in the hearts of men. But we are not to be governed merely by consequences, but by principle. The fact is, God clothed Adam as much as he did Eve. He thereby taught us that it is wrong to go naked----wrong for the woman, and wrong for the man. And mark, he did this at a time when there was no damage to be done by the nakedness of either Eve or Adam. They two walked alone upon all the wide earth, and they two were man and wife. Are we to suppose the beasts were to be stumbled by their nakedness? The act of God did not regard consequences, but principle. If any contend their nakedness might have stumbled the angels, I suppose there are as many angels today as there were then, and at any rate he clothed both of them alike. But we need not trouble ourselves about the reasons of the Almighty. The fact is, he clothed them both with coats----equally covered them both----and this he surely did to establish the standard for the dress of the human race. No man has a right to apply this standard to women, and exempt himself, for God made no distinction at all between them.

But the apostle Peter went fishing “naked” (John 21:7)----which surely no woman would have done. But understand, Peter was not stark naked, but had only laid aside his outer garment. So Liddell and Scott: “in common language v meant lightly clad, i.e. in the tunic or under-garment only.” Abbott-Smith: “scantily or poorly clad.” Thayer: “clad in the undergarment only.” And so all lexicons. Peter was not stark naked, but only without his outer garment. He was doubtless wearing more than many Christian men----and women----often wear today, yet it is plain that he was ashamed to meet the Lord in that condition----for it is not for nothing that Scripture relates so small a matter as his putting on his coat. As soon as he heard “It is the Lord,” he immediately put on his coat, and dove into the sea to swim, to go to the Lord. If he must remove his coat to work, how much more to swim, yet he was ashamed to meet the Lord thus clad.

The Ballade which Anne
Askewe made and sange, whan
she was in Newgate.

[Ann Askew was burned in Smithfield in July of 1546. Newgate is the prison which she occupied before her martyrdom. This poem appears in a sixteenth-century (undated) print of The Examinations of Anne Askewe, published by John Bale. It will help the reader to read the poem as poetry, to know that a few words with suffixes, which we pronounce as one (or two) syllable should be pronounced as two (or three). I have prefixed a raised 2 to these words.----editor.]

Lyke as the 2armed knight
Appointed to the feeld,
With this world wyll J fight
And fayth shalbe my shielde.

Fayth is that weapon strong
Which wyl not fayle at nede,
My foes therfore amonge
Ther with wil J procede.

As it is had in strengthe
And force of 2Christes way,
Jt will preuaile at length
Though al the deuylsA say nay.

Fayth in the fathers olde
2Obtayned rightwisenesse,
Which make me very bolde
To feare no worldes destresse.

J nowe reioyce in hart
And hope byd me do so,
For Chryst wyl take my part
And ease me of my wo.

Thou saiest lord, who so knocke
To them wilt thou attende.
Undo therfore the locke
And thy strong power sende.

More enmyesB nowe J haue
Then hearesC vpon my head.
Let them not me depraue
But fyght thou in my stead.

A devils B enemies C hairs

On thee my care J cast
For all their cruel spyght,D
J set not byE their haste
For thou art my delyght.

J am not she that lyst
My ankerF to let fall,
For euery dryslyng myst
My shippe substancyal.

Not oft vse J to wryght
In prose nor yet in ryme,
Yet wyl J shew one syght
That J sawe in my tyme.

J sawe a roiall troneG
Where Iustyce shuld haue syt
But in her stede was one
Of modyeH cruel wyt.

Absorpt was rightwisenesse
As of the raging floude.
Sathan in his excesse
SucteI vp the giltelesse bloud.

Then thought J, Jesus Lord
Whan thou shalt iudge vs al,
Harde is it to recorde
On these men what wyl fall,

Yet Lord J theJ desyre
For that they do to me,
Let them not tastK the hire
Of their eniquitie.L


D spite E To set by is to regard. F anchor G throne H moody

I sucked J thee K taste L iniquity

Ï Stray Notes on the English Bible Ï
by the Editor

Jesus and Joshua

The name of “Joshua” does not appear in the New Testament at all in the common English Version. Joshua the son of Nun is twice referred to, in Acts 7:45 and Heb. 4:8, but both times his name appears as “Jesus.” There is a reason for this, though it is not a very good reason. The reason is that Jesus and Joshua are in fact the same name in Greek, Jesus being the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua. Thus in the Greek Bible of the early church, consisting of the Septuagint of the Old Testament and the apostolic writings of the New, there was no distinction in name between Joshua the son of Nun, and Jesus the Son of God. Joshua in the Septuagint is always * ' , which is the “Jesus” of the New Testament. When the angel required Joseph and Mary to name the child “Jesus,” the name was actually the “Joshua” of the Old Testament.

None of this, however, affords any good enough reason not to distinguish the names in English. To use the name “Jesus” where the person who is meant is Joshua, can serve no purpose----no purpose, at any rate, which is sufficient to compensate for the confusion caused by it.

Now as a matter of fact, the names formerly were distinguished in the English Bible, and that from the earliest times. The Anglo-Saxon Scriptures (following the Latin Vulgate) have “Iosue” for the Old Testament Joshua, and “Hælend” for Jesus. “Hælend” is “healer”----that is, “savior,” the word “health” being commonly used for salvation in older English.

The Wycliffe Bible, also after the Vulgate, has “Josue” in the Old Testament, and “Jhesu,” or “Jhesus,” in the New. The Wycliffe Bible, however, fails to distinguish Joshua from Jesus in the two New Testament references to Joshua, having “Jhesu” in both places. The difficulty which this presented was felt, however, and some manuscripts have a marginal note saying, “êat is, Josue.”

Tyndale's New Testament was capricious in spelling, and for “Jesus” he varies from “Ihesus” to “Iesus” to “Iesu,” but from all of these he clearly distinguishes the son of Nun, having “Iosue” in both places.

Coverdale has “Iosue” in Acts, and “Iosua” in Hebrews (having “Iesus” for Christ). He maintains the distinction also in his Latin-English New Testament (though the Vulgate does not), and in the Great Bible. It is maintained also by Matthew and Taverner.

But for some reason which cannot be divined, the Geneva Bible was to spoil the good record of the earlier English Bibles. The Geneva New Testament of 1557 retained “if Iosue had geuen them rest” in Heb. 4:8, but in Acts 7:45 it has the tabernacle “broght in with Iesus into the possession of the Gentiles.” Three years later the Geneva Bible retained this confusion, and added to it by introducing at Hebrews 4:8, “if Iesus had giuen them rest.” The confusion is at least partially dispelled, however, by a note in the margin, which says, “Meaning Ioshua.”

The Bishops' Bible followed all of this exactly, having “Iesus” in Acts 7:45, without note or comment, and the same in Heb. 4:8, with a note in the margin which says, “By Iesus, is meant Iosua.”

The King James Version follows suit, having “Iesus” without comment in Acts, and the same in Hebrews, with a note saying, “That is, Iosuah.” That note, of course, will give no help in Acts 7:45, where it is equally needed, nor does it give enough information to clarify the matter to the common reader, nor is it likely to give any help at all in our day, for most of the later printings of the King James Version have dropped the original marginal notes, or replaced them with others.

The revised version corrects both places to read “Joshua,” and informs us in the margin at both places that the Greek is “Jesus.” But what is this, but to transfer the confusion from the text to the margin?----for such information can only confuse the unlearned reader, if he is not given some explanation as to why “Jesus” should be translated “Joshua.” Yet the New American Standard Version does exactly the same in Acts 7:45. In Hebrews 4:8, however, it has “Joshua” in the text without comment, as does the New King James Version in both places. This was the way of Tyndale and his early successors, and there is some wisdom in it, yet I see no reason why they could not have given us a marginal note to explain that “Jesus” is the Greek form of the Hebrew “Joshua.” There is certainly some value in knowing that “Jesus” and “Joshua” are in fact the same name. The name of Jesus was chosen by God, and brought to Joseph and Mary from heaven by an angel. Of the myriad of names which he could have given to his beloved Son, God chose the name of “Joshua,” assigning as the reason, “because he shall save his people from their sins.” The name is defined to mean “whose salvation is Jehovah,” or “Jehovah is salvation.” There is food for the soul in this, but in this column I do no more than relate the facts.


The Conversion of Mary, and Her Earrings

[The following account is extracted from a description and defense of Methodist Revivals, in History of Wesleyan Methodism, by George Smith; London: Charles H. Kelly, Fifth Edition, n.d., Vol. II, pp. 624-626.]

A strong, vigorous, and tolerably intelligent young woman was working at a mine in Cornwall. In company with many others, she was employed in breaking the copper ores with a hammer on an iron anvil. Mary----for that was her name----had heard of the revival in the neighbourhood, and turned all she had been told into ridicule, making herself and her companions exceedingly merry with the subject. She, however, had never attended any meeting, and consequently lacked the information necessary to give point and completeness to her profane jesting. This defect she resolved to remedy by going to the revival meeting in the evening, watching closely all that took place, and treasuring it up in her memory. She promised her companions to repeat all that was said, and mimic all the noises made, for their amusement the following day.

She went to the meeting, and for some time most carefully adhered to her plan, and enjoyed in anticipation the effect with which she should parody the scene on the morrow. But an arrow of deep conviction entered Mary's soul; she trembled; she felt the depth of her depravity and the magnitude of her transgressions; humbly and urgently she cried for mercy. She continued in earnest prayer until just after midnight, when her mourning was turned into joy, and she was taken to her dwelling unspeakably happy in God.

In the morning, she repaired to her place at the mine, and commenced her labour; but how changed! Hoarse with recent crying, she could scarcely speak. Full of heavenly peace and love, she wanted no communication with her companions. She took her seat in silence, and nothing fell from her lips but a scarcely audible whisper, as she occasionally lifted her heart in thanksgiving to God. This mighty change attracted attention, and the girls about her soon guessed the cause. “Mary is converted,” was whispered abroad. The strange intelligence passed to other houses, where women were similarly occupied; others came and looked on her; and, as they saw her sit in silence, with a heavenly smile on her lips and joy beaming in her eye, they retired, saying, “Yes; Mary is converted.” At length, one young woman who had been intimate with Mary, and well knew her passionate fondness for finery, came, and looking on her said, “No; she is not converted: look at those fine large earrings in her ears still! If she had been converted, she would not continue to wear them.” These words gave to poor Mary the first idea of the earrings, since the change had come over her mind. Without a word, she laid down her hammer, took the earrings from her ears, and placed them on the anvil. Resuming her work, she pounded them to atoms, and swept them away with the pulverized ore, humming the while,----

“Neither passion nor pride His cross can abide,
They melt in the fountain that flows from His side;”

then looking up, and saying, “Praise the Lord, they are gone.” The effect on the spectators was irresistible; the most incredulous withdrew their objections, and all agreed that “Mary was converted.”

Chats from my Library
By Glenn Conjurske

Paul Rader

Paul Rader was one of the most remarkable men of a former generation of Fundamentalists. As is the case with many of the worthies of Fundamentalism, too little is known about him, and there are doubtless few left in the land of the living who could tell us anything. His life has not been written in full, but much of his early life is told in The Redemption of Paul Rader, by W. Leon Tucker, a book of 200 pages, with many photographs, published in 1918. This book tells the very moving story of the son of a Methodist preacher, who was converted at the age of nine, began to preach with great success at the age of sixteen, afterwards had his faith undermined at college, and became a modernist, but was remarkably restored, and became one of the great preachers of Fundamentalism. R. A. Torrey is quoted as having called him “perhaps the greatest preacher among us today.” For some years I diligently sought information concerning him, but came up with very little. It is known that he succeeded A. B. Simpson as the head of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, but he apparently held that position for only a couple of years. He became pastor of the Moody Church in Chicago in 1915, and subsequently of the great gospel tabernacles built for his use in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Fort Wayne. From these tabernacles came the “Tabernacle” hymnals, which were widely used a generation or two ago. Rader is not listed as the editor of these, but he signed the preface to the first two numbers. He wrote a number of hymns himself.

Of his later history I know little, except that he died in 1938. He appears to be a man of great capabilities, but with more sail than ballast, and not very stable. Years ago I spoke of him to an old preacher by the name of Ambrose Bandow in Madison, Wis., and was told, “Rader was all right till he got mixed up with Aimee Semple McPherson.” But of that I know nothing further. Aimee Semple McPherson was a leading Pentecostal. That Rader should be drawn into her net is not surprising. The “fourfold” gospel of A. B. Simpson and the Christian and Missionary Alliance is nigh of kin to Aimee Semple's “foursquare gospel,” and Simpson himself certainly had Pentecostal tendencies. Henry W. Frost tells us that Simpson “did indeed tolerate seeking for the receiving and exercising of the gift of tongues, during a series of `waiting meetings' at the New York Tabernacle. But this was only for a comparatively short time, for spiritual abuses developed and he brought the meetings to an end.” On this I remark in passing that it is hardly excusable that Frost did not tell us what was the nature of those “spiritual abuses.” Men who know facts of such historical importance must have some obligation to record them for the benefit of posterity, but they too often conceal them to protect the reputations of men. Bible history is not written after this fashion. At any rate, Simpson also held regular healing meetings, and Rader's connection with him may have naturally inclined him towards Pentecostalism. Rader also appears to have been lacking in due reverence, a lack which would have made it possible for him to feel at home in Pentecostal circles. This would have been impossible for R. A. Torrey or A. C. Gaebelein.

Further details of Rader's life may be found in his books, Life's Greatest Adventure and Round the Round World.

A number of his sermons have been published. Titles are Paul Rader's Sermons, Beating Baal and Other Sermons, God's Blessed Man, How To Win and Other Victory Messages, and Harnessing God. His apparent lack of reverence may be seen in some of his titles, as also in other ways, such as his signing a preface, “Yours in El Shaddai.” Yet he says much that is good, and says it well.

He also wrote some fiction. Let Go and Let God is a book of short stories, some of which might be worth something if they were true, and Big Bug a large novel. His fiction is perhaps of the better sort, but I do not admire it.

The Man of Mercy is on healing, and sets forth the doctrine of A. B. Simpson and the Christian and Missionary Alliance. The main thrust of the book is that it is God's will to heal.

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