M.R. Dehaan on Bible Versions


"CONFUSION OF TONGUES IS PROBABLY THE BEST WAY TO DESCRIBE THE LATEST BIBLE GAME, IN WHICH HUNDREDS OF COMPETITORS PLAY FAST AND LOOSE WITH THE HOLY SCRIPTURES IN ISSUING BY THE SCORES, NEW AND DUBIOUS TRANSLATIONS, VERSIONS, 'PERVERSIONS,' AND REVISIONS OF OUR ENGLISH BIBLE. One of the reasons given for the need of a new translation is the need of a Bible in modern English. ... But from some of the more recent attempts at giving us a Bible in modern English, it becomes apparent the real purpose was to sell us on a modernistic Bible not a modern one. It appears from two recent so- called translations (the Revised Standard Version and The New English Bible) that the real purpose is to DESTROY the Bible as the Word of God. Leading up to this climax of infamy are a long line of lesser versions" (pp. 6,7).

"It was in 1611 that the best-known and time-tested translation of the English Bible was published, meeting a crying need for an authentic translation. It was written in the most impressive and dignified English and has after 350 years remained the one English translation which meets the requirements of a necessary, Holy Spirit-guided translation. Since then, numerous (several hundred) attempts at improvement upon this authorized translation have been tried. A veritable flood of versions, revisions and translations have been issued. With a few exceptions they have all become obsolete and forgotten, discarded and happily buried (may they rest in peace and never be resurrected again). Less than fifty of these translations have lasted beyond a single generation" (p. 9).

"... we look with alarm upon the abuse of this trend into a growing evil. THE INFLUENCE OF ALL OF THEM TOGETHER IS DEFINITELY BAD, AND HAS RESULTED IN CONFUSION, FRUSTRATION AND DOUBT AMONG SINCERE SEARCHERS, and has given occasion to doubters to ask, `Who is right?' Moreover, it has given ammunition to the enemy to say that nobody knows what is correct" (p. 10).

"I am keenly aware of the fact that I am dealing with a very delicate and touchy subject on which many sincere folks differ. I also realize that by discussing this subject and stating my honest, irrepressible convictions I shall invoke and provoke the untempered condemnation of some who violently disagree; but I have no choice in the matter, for I AM OVERWHELMINGLY CONVINCED THAT THIS OBSESSION, THIS CRAZE FOR ISSUING NEW VERSIONS OF THE BIBLE CONTAINS POTENTIALITIES FOR EVIL WHICH MUST BE EXPOSED" (p. 11).

"I resent the accusation that I am a scriptural crank, and a hair-splitting critic of the numerous so-called new translations, versions and revisions of the Bible. Neither am I riding a hobby or developing a translation phobia or getting into a rut on a pet subject. ... I WANT TO CLEAR MY CONSCIENCE IN THE DEEP CONVICTION THAT I MUST ISSUE THIS WARNING AND ALARM CONCERNING THE PRESENT TREND OF TRANSLATIONS INTO MODERN ENGLISH" (pp. 12,13).

"There are times in one's life when silence is not a virtue, and failure to speak out against an evil becomes a sin. When one is convinced of something which is having an evil effect upon men, and neglects to sound a warning and an alarm, he becomes an accessory to the crime. This has somewhat been my position. For a long time I have watched with alarm and increasing misgivings the rash of new versions, translations, and editions of the Bible being dumped on the market and recommended to the unsuspecting Christian public as a great step forward, and an almost indispensable aid to the correct understanding of the Scriptures. I had hoped that this epidemic might subside, but instead it has increased until I can no longer keep silence; I must speak out against what to me has become a most dangerous trend, and threatens the sanctity, the authority and the power of the Word of God itself. I am speaking of the veritable rash of new Bible translations (so called), versions and interpretations. ... This trend has finally blossomed forth in two of the most infamous efforts to discredit the Word of God ever tried in all history. The publication of two recent translations (the Revised Standard Version and The New English Bible), one in this country and the other overseas, has so convicted and disturbed me that to keep silence would be a betrayal of my trust. The gravity of the danger lurking in this growing evil will not let me rest until I have unburdened my heart on this babel of the versions and translations. Let the chips fall where they may, I dare not betray the Book any longer by keeping silent when it is being threatened. I have carefully examined a good number of the new translations which have been published recently ... We have no quarrel with some of these versions of earlier years which should be considered as helpful commentaries, but should not be designated or elevated to a place equal with the Bible" (pp. 18,19).

"We want to make ourselves definitely clear, and so we repeat. What we have said, does not imply that there is no merit at all in any of the so-called translations. We admit that they can be exceedingly helpful to the student for personal study, and for critical examination, but most of them should be considered as commentaries rather than translations. Used as reference books for study, some of them have their value; but for the public ministry and pulpit use, they only add to confusion and frustration for the average believer. It is the end result of this irresponsible handling of the Scriptures which we fear the most. We sometimes wonder if all of this is not laying the groundwork for the Devil's own end-time translation and version, when the Antichrist, the false christ, the Devil-man appears on earth. ... In the October 18, 1960, edition of the Springfield, Massachusetts, Union, we read the following alarming bit of news: 'Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish scholars working as a team have begun a new translation of the Scriptures...' Can this be a sign of the times, getting ready for the final translation of the Scriptures by the one who offered Eve the first revised version?" (pp. 24,25).

"... of the many dozens currently in print, one translation still outsells them all: the miscalled but greatly loved King James or Authorized Version of the English Bible, now celebrating its 350th anniversary. Incomparable in its faithfulness, majestic in its language, and inexhaustible in its spiritual fruitfulness, this time-honored version continues to reveal to millions the matchless grace of Him whose name is THE WORD OF GOD, and who is crowned with glory and honor" (p. 25).

"Thousands of people go 'daffy' about some modern translation, who have never even read half of their father's Bible through. Well, but we can hear some of you say, The new version is so much clearer and easier to understand. I would like to ask you, How do you know that it is easier and clearer, when you haven't even read your old Bible? ... TO AVOID CONFUSION, THE CHURCH SHOULD BE UNITED ON ONE DEPENDABLE TRANSLATION. WE DO NOT NEED MORE NEW TRANSLATIONS, BUT A MORE THOROUGH KNOWLEDGE OF THE ONE WHICH WE ALREADY HAVE" (p. 26).

"When there is poison in a cake, one does not spend time praising the good fruit and other ingredients which the cake contains; rather one warns against the poison and rightly so! The perversions of some of these newer translations which we have pointed out are more dangerous to your soul than poison to your body. TURN FROM THOSE WHICH ARE THE PRODUCTION OF AN AGE OF DOUBT, AND TURN TO THE AUTHORIZED VERSION WHICH IS THE PRODUCTION OF AN AGE OF FAITH. THE AUTHORIZED VERSION IS RELIABLE BECAUSE IT TELLS US AS ACCURATELY AS POSSIBLE WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS, and not what some galaxy of scholars (who, however learned, are but mortals like ourselves) think it ought to say" (p. 26).

"The argument that the language of the Authorized Version is archaic and outdated might carry some weight if the new translations were really an improvement in clarity and easier to understand. However the very opposite is the case in most instances" (p. 27).

"For public use in worship one version should be made the standard and all the rest of the worthwhile ones used only for reference. If this could be done, there is no question about the uniform choice of the acknowledged Authorized Version. ... No other translation can approach its accuracy, dignity, and clarity. Let the evangelicals take as the Bible of orthodoxy the Authorized Version; let the modernists and the liberals have the Revised Standard Version, and The New English Bible ... Most evangelicals think of the Authorized Version as the Bible of the English-speaking Church. We have been taught from it from childhood, and, recognizing the need of `hiding the Word in our heart,' we have memorized all the Scriptures we know from this version" (pp. 30,31).

"We shall never all agree perfectly here below in every detail, but when men threaten the honor and purity of the Scriptures, we simply cannot agree. If we must take one of two positions, I for one would rather be guilty of overzealousness in defense of the Book, than to condone violence to the Scriptures and to countenance unchallenged those who handle the Word of God `deceitfully' (II Corinthians 4:2) all under the guise of tolerance and charity. I WOULD MUCH RATHER BE GUILTY OF BEING OVERAMBITIOUS IN EARNESTLY 'CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH' (JUDE 3) THAN TO BE GUILTY OF COMPROMISE FOR FEAR OF OFFENDING OTHERS" (p. 31).