Sunday, March 7, 2010

New Translations and the Authorised Version

I suppose that the most popular of all the proposals at the present moment is to have a new translation of the Bible... The argument is that people are not reading the Bible any longer because they do not understand its language - particularly the archaic terms - what does your modern man... know about justification, sanctification, and all the Biblical terms? And so we are told the one thing that is necessary is to have a translation that Tom, Dick, and Harry will understand. I began to feel about six months ago that we had almost reached the stage in which the Authorised Version was being dismissed, to be thrown into the limbo of things forgotten, no longer of any value. Need I apologise for saying a word in favour of the Authorised Version in this gathering?...

It is a basic proposition laid down by the Protestant Reformers, that we must have a Bible "understanded by the people." That is common sense... We must never be obscurantists. We must never approach the Bible in a mere antiquarian spirit... but it does seem to me that there is a very grave danger incipient in so much of the argument that is being presented today for these new translations. There is a danger, I say, of our surrendering something that is vital and essential...

Take this argument that the modern man does not understand such terms as justification, sanctification, and so on. I want to ask you a question. When did an ordinary man ever understand those terms?... Did the colliers to whom John Wesley and George Whitfield preached in the 18th century understand? They had not even been to day school... they could not read, they could not write. Yet these were the terms that were used. This was the version that was used - the Authorised Version. The common people have never understood these terms... We are concerned here with something that is spiritual; something that does not belong to this world at all; which, as the apostle Paul reminds us, the princes of this world do not know. Human wisdom is of no value here - it is a spiritual truth. This is truth about God primarily, and because of that it is a mystery.

Yet we are told - it must be put in such simple terms and language that anybody taking it up and reading it is going to understand all about it. My friends, this is sheer nonsense. What we must do is to educate the masses of the people up to the Bible, not bring the Bible down to their level. One of the greatest troubles today is that everything is being brought down to the same level; everything is cheapened. The common man is made the standard of authority; he decides everything, and everything has to be brought down to him...

Are we to do that with the Word of God? I say No! What has happened in the past has been this. Ignorant, illiterate people, in this country and in foreign countries, coming into salvation have been educated up to the Book and have begun to understand it, to glory in it, and to praise God for it, and I say that we need to do the same in this present time. What we need is therefore, not to replace the Authorised Version... we need rather to reach and train people up to the standard and the language, the dignity and the glory of the old Authorised Version.

Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones - 1961

1 comment:

  1. Amen! They won't understand until they are Regenerated, sorry another one of those HARD WORDS, but 1 Cor 2:14 explains it completely. The problem is not the Book, but Preachers who are ashamed to preach the unadulterated Word of God, as Whitfield, Wesley, Moody, etc