Thursday, March 8, 2018

John Guedel introduced an idea to radio called “People Are Funny” on April 10, 1942.  Art Baker was the first host of the program.  On October 1, 1943 he was replaced by Art Linkletter.  The show moved from radio to CBS TV in 1951 to 1954.  It transferred to NBC TV that year and continued until it closed out in 1960.  My generation will remember the show.  Despite its closing, people haven’t changed and continue to be funny!

Recently on an Internet Bible forum several were condemning The Message, The Living Bible, and the New Living Bible for their translation of Romans 16:16.  The KJV, ASV, NASV, RSV, NRSV, NIV, ESV, and IEB render it as “greet . . . with a holy kiss.”  The Message has, “Holy embraces all around.”  The Living Bible offers, “Shake hands warmly with each other.”  The New Living Bible renders it, “Greet each other in Christian love.”  The complaint was that those three translations changed the wording.  Yes they did.  But, people are funny, and it would be laughable if it wasn’t so inconsistent!

None on that forum that charged those three translations with heresy, practice the holy kiss!  How do they greet one another?  1) With a holy embrace (The Message), or 2) shake hands warmly, (TLB), or 3) greet each other (NLB).  It doesn’t bother them that they refuse to greet one another with a holy kiss but are willing to condemn those translations for rendering Romans 16:16 with their practice!  They refuse to recognize that inconsistency.  If it is sinful to change the words, wouldn’t it also be sinful to practice one of those three actions the versions have switched to?  Aren’t they rewriting Romans 16:16 with their practices?

What is interesting is that The Message, The Living Bible, and the New Living Bible have taken their lead from the 1611 King James Version!  In the early seventeenth century King James authorized a committee to translate both the Old and New Testaments.  The results was called The King James Version.  King James and committee were Anglicans.  Anglicans believed in and practiced sprinkling.  When the committee came to the Greek word baptizo, they refused to translate it as “immersion,” since that invalidated their practice.  So, they spelled out the Greek letters into the English word “baptism.”  The definition for “baptism” became sprinkling, pouring, and immersion.  The KJV developed the route which The Message, TLB, and the NLB were following.  All four translated the actions that people practiced, rather than rendering it as God spoke it.  Due to the KJV following that path, most of the English translations which followed, walked in their footprints.  To condemn these modern translations for doing what the KJV did, is to label all with the epitaph, “heresy.”  Yet, time has a way of smoothing out the rough spots and centuries of practice acclimated future generations to accept as biblical what long ago was introduced by change agents.   People are funny, and it would be laughable if there wasn’t a serious note to consider!

Before we start feeling aloof and believe we haven’t been touched by this condition, we need to stop and do an examination.  Could we be practitioners ourselves, just ignoring the fact?

In the first century slavery was practiced throughout the Roman Empire.  Slavery was found prior to Acts 2 and continued after it.  God did not condemn it, He simply regulated it.  The King James Version does not use the word “slave” but consistently substitutes the word “servant.”  One may be a servant without being a slave!  It is not until 1963 with the publishing of the NASV that the word “slave” is introduced.  Today, when referring to passages like Ephesians 6:5-9 and Colossians 3:22-4:1, we substitute employee and employer for “servant/slave” and “master.”  We modernize the words and relationships just like those three translations did with Romans 16:16!  We substitute our cultural practices in the place of the culture and teaching of the New Testament passages.  God condemned slavery only when the master abused his slave, or when the slave did not serve his master correctly.  People are funny, and it would be laughable if we weren’t guilty of condemning what we ourselves practice.