Psalm 89 in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘Translation’ (part 1): making interpretive decisions for the reader

Psalm 89.27 (28 in the Hebrew bible) reads:

אַף־אָ֭נִי בְּכֹ֣ור אֶתְּנֵ֑הוּ עֶ֝לְיֹ֗ון לְמַלְכֵי־אָֽרֶץ׃

Here are a few translations into English:

Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. [KJV]
I also will make him [my] first-born, The highest of the kings of the earth. ASV
And I will make him the first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth. RSV
“I also shall make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth. NASB
And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth. NIV
Also I will make him my firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth. NKJV
I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. NRSV
And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. ESV

The differences between the translations are fairly minor. The NIV has ‘appoint’ rather than ‘make’. Several have ‘my first-born’ rather than ‘the first-born’, but all of these except the NIV mark ‘my’ with italics or square brackets to show that it is not in the original text. The KJV has ‘higher than’ the kings of the earth, rather than the ‘highest of’ the kings of the earth.

In Brian Simmons’ book ‘The Psalms: Poetry on Fire’, however, this verse has been changed into something very different:

I am setting him apart, favoring him as my firstborn son. I will make him like unto me, the most high king in all the earth!

According to Simmons, God seems to describe Himself as ‘the most high king in all the earth’, and say that He will make someone (‘him’) like Himself, particularly in this aspect of being the highest king in the earth. But who is this someone, in the original, and in Simmons’ version?

Continue reading Psalm 89 in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘Translation’ (part 1): making interpretive decisions for the reader

Psalm 78.41 in the Passion ‘Translation’: did Israel wound ‘the Holy One’ as Brian Simmons pretends?

Psalm 78.41 reads:

וַיָּשׁ֣וּבוּ וַיְנַסּ֣וּ אֵ֑ל וּקְדֹ֖ושׁ יִשְׂרָאֵ֣ל הִתְווּ׃

The NASB, as an example of a normal translation, reads:

Again and again they tempted God,

And pained the Holy One of Israel.

The NKJV reads:

Yes, again and again they tempted God, 

And limited the Holy One of Israel.

with a very different meaning for הִתְווּ (hīṯwû) in the second part of the verse. We will see that there is a genuine difficulty in ascertaining the meaning of the word.

The ASV reads:

And they turned again and tempted God, 

And provoked the Holy One of Israel.

Here, the translators have rendered וַיָּשׁ֣וּבוּ (wayyāšûḇû) with ‘and they turned again’ rather than with ‘again and again’. The verb שׁוּב (šûḇ) in its Qal form as here, can mean ‘turn back’, ‘return’, but it can also mean ‘do repeatedly’, so either way of translating is within the lexical range of the word.

psalm 78.41 in the ‘passion translation’

In the ‘Passion Translation’, however, Brian Simmons has this verse as:

Again and again they limited God, preventing him from blessing them. Continually they turned back from him and wounded the Holy One!

We seem to have a new and previously unknown messianic prophecy, conjured out of thin air, so to say. Israel wounded the Holy One, according to Simmons. Is there any justification for translating the verse in this way?

Continue reading Psalm 78.41 in the Passion ‘Translation’: did Israel wound ‘the Holy One’ as Brian Simmons pretends?

Psalm 44.4 in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘translation’: ‘command deliverances for Jacob’ or ‘decree majesties for Israel’?!

In my last three posts I have looked at three cases in the Psalms where Brian Simmons, in his so-called ‘Passion Translation’, has erased all mention of Jacob. In Psalm 47.4, it is no longer Jacob whom God loves but, apparently, ‘us’, likely the Christian reader. In Psalm 147.19, Simmons has the psalmist apparently speaking of another people of God, apart from Israel. And in Psalm 14.7, he appears to replace the salvation of Israel with the rescue of the poor! Shame on him for changing the holy scripture. I do pray for him that he would realise the great harm that he is doing and repent. I happen to believe that he is sincere and means well, but has been deceived into thinking that God Himself has called him to translate the holy bible. He seems to be partially aware of his lack of scholarly capability as a bible translator, since he apparently said in response to criticism of his work on amazon.com that:

I do not claim to be a “scholar” of the original languages.

It appears that he deleted this comment ten days later, but that it was then retrieved and posted on Holly Pivec’s blog. It carries exactly the same date and time of posting:

as the record of a deleted comment that is still visible on Amazon:

Praise the Lord, who leads us into all truth, and guards His holy people from heresy.   I have nothing against Brian Simmons personally. My reason for pointing out the gross errors and distortions in his so-called translations is that sincere Christians, including young people in particular, are reading them believing them to be the true word of God, translated as accurately as possible from the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts, when in fact they are nothing of the kind. The faith and Christian life of these believers is thus being put in peril through the actions of this very foolish man.

Continue reading Psalm 44.4 in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘translation’: ‘command deliverances for Jacob’ or ‘decree majesties for Israel’?!

Psalm 14.7 in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘Translation’: who does he think he is?

Psalm 14.7 reads:

מִ֥י יִתֵּ֣ן מִצִּיֹּון֮ יְשׁוּעַ֪ת יִשְׂרָ֫אֵ֥ל בְּשׁ֣וּב יְ֭הוָה שְׁב֣וּת עַמֹּ֑ו יָגֵ֥ל יַ֝עֲקֹ֗ב יִשְׂמַ֥ח יִשְׂרָֽאֵל׃

Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores His captive people, Jacob will rejoice, Israel will be glad. [Psalm 14.7, NASB]

Alternatively, as Alexander represents it, with בְּשׁ֣וּב intransitive, as its form indicates it should be: 1

Oh may Israel's salvation (soon) come forth from Zion, in Jehovah's return to the captivity of his people! (In such a restoration) may Jacob (soon have reason to) exult and Israel (to) triumph!

What a wonderful cry from the heart that God would visit His people again, and restore them to freedom out of captivity. Personally, I see in it a Messianic hope and expectation that the Saviour would come and redeem His people. Moll speaks of ‘the Messianic hope which is active here’ 2, and Spurgeon writes on this verse: 3

Amen to that, since even if I am not personally inclined to understand Israel to represent the church here, it may do so in type and shadow I think.

Continue reading Psalm 14.7 in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘Translation’: who does he think he is?

Notes:

  1. J. A. Alexander, ‘The Psalms’, Vol. I (New York: Baker & Scribner, 1850) p. 107. Support for Alexander’s view may be deduced from its addition as a supplementary comment by Charles Briggs to C. Moll, ‘The Psalms’ (New York: Scribner et al., 1872) at p. 114.
  2. C. Moll, ‘The Psalms’ (New York: Scribner et al., 1872) p. 114
  3. C. H. Spurgeon, ‘The Treasury of David, Vol. I (London: Marshall) p. 164. Link.

Psalm 47.4 in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘Translation’: Jacob replaced by ourselves in God’s affections

Psalm 47.4 reads (BHS):

יִבְחַר־לָ֥נוּ אֶת־נַחֲלָתֵ֑נוּ אֶ֥ת גְּאֹ֨ון יַעֲקֹ֖ב אֲשֶׁר־אָהֵ֣ב סֶֽלָה׃

Let’s take this one word at a time:

יִבְחַר  (yiḇḥar) is the third person Kal imperfect of בָּחַר  (bâchar), to ‘test’, ‘select’, or ‘elect’. 1

לָ֥נוּ   is made up of the preposition לְ  (lamed) which, among many other uses, can signify the dative of advantage (Holladay, §7, p. 168), ‘indicating the person for whose … advantage an action is performed’; and נוּ  (nû) the 1st person plural pronominal suffix, ‘us’. So, ‘for us’.

Continue reading Psalm 47.4 in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘Translation’: Jacob replaced by ourselves in God’s affections

Notes:

  1. English equivalents are from William L. Holladay, ‘A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament’ (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971) unless otherwise stated.

Psalm 147.19 in Brian Simmons’ ‘Passion Bible’: Israel displaced by the Christian church

The name יַעֲקֹב  (Yaʿăqōḇ, Jacob) occurs thirty-four times in the Psalms.  Each of these occurrences is translated as Ἰακώβ in the Septuagint. 1 Each is translated as Jacob in the Clementine Vulgate. Each is translated as Jacob in the King James Version, in the New American Standard Version, in the English Standard Version, and even in Eugene Patterson’s book ‘The Message’.

In Brian Simmons’ ‘translation’ of the Psalms, however, the name Jacob occurs just seventeen times, exactly half the number of occurrences in the original text. For example, in Psalm 147.19, which reads in the original (BHS):

מַגִּ֣יד דְּבָרֹו לְיַעֲקֹ֑ב חֻקָּ֥יו וּ֝מִשְׁפָּטָ֗יו לְיִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

and in the NASB:

He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.

Brian Simmons has:

In the same way, he speaks to his people and to Israel, bringing them his life-giving words.

In the original, there is only one people in view, the people of Jacob, the people of Israel, to whom God speaks and gives His holy law. Simmons replaces ‘Jacob’ with ‘his people’, and distinguishes this people of God from Israel by inserting the conjunction ‘and’. He thus reverse engineers, so to say, the Christian church back into the Psalm, displacing Israel as God’s people. This is really outrageous and ought to be stopped, with Simmons’ book being removed from publication.

Andrew

Notes:

  1. Ἰακώβ occurs also in Psalm 97.3 (98.3) LXX, making a total of 35 occurrences in the Septuagint.

Is the Holy Spirit another ‘Savior’!? A false Aramaic etymology in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘Translation’.

In my last post I protested at Brian Simmons translating παράκλητος as ‘Savior’ in John 14.16. His first justification for doing so is that he thinks the term sums up the role of the Holy Spirit:

to protect, defend, and save us from our self and our enemies and keep us whole and healed.

What he does not say is that the Holy Spirit saves us from our sins. But this is, most of all, what we need saving from, and this is why the Lord Jesus was given His holy Name, because He would save us from our sins (Matthew 1.21).

Moreover, Simmons is not translating here. He is rewriting the Holy Bible. He seems to think that he can improve on what the Lord Jesus Himself said about the Holy Spirit!

In this post I look at Simmons’ second justification for rendering παράκλητος as ‘Savior’. He says that the Aramaic word which stands in its place, paraqlēṭā, means ‘a redeemer who ends the curse’:

I will attempt to show, I think convincingly, that on the contrary the Syriac word ܦ݁ܲܪܲܩܠܹܛܵܐ (paraqlēṭā) is a Greek loan-word, being simply a transliteration of παράκλητος, and meaning either ‘advocate’ or ‘comforter’.

Continue reading Is the Holy Spirit another ‘Savior’!? A false Aramaic etymology in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘Translation’.

John 14.16 in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘Translation’: is the Holy Spirit another Saviour?

John 14.16 reads:

16 κἀγὼ ἐρωτήσω τὸν πατέρα καὶ ἄλλον παράκλητον δώσει ὑμῖν, ἵνα μεθ’ ὑμῶν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα ᾖ, [NA 28]

‘And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;’ [KJV]

‘I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;’ [NASB]

‘And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.’ [NRSV]

‘And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever,’ [RSV]

This is the first occurrence of the word παράκλητος (paraklētos) in the New Testament. It has been variously translated as ‘Comforter’ (Tyndale, KJV, ASV), ‘Counselor’ (RSV), ‘Helper’ (NASB, ESV, GNT, NKJV), and ‘Advocate’ (NIV, Lexham, NLT, NRSV).

Brian Simmons, however, in his version of John’s Gospel, renders it here as ‘Savior’:

‘And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Savior, the Holy Spirit of Truth, who will be to you a friend just like meand he will never leave you.’

Continue reading John 14.16 in Brian Simmons’ Passion ‘Translation’: is the Holy Spirit another Saviour?

John 1.1 in Brian Simmons’ Passion [Anti-] Translation: a significant change in doctrine?

John 1.1 reads:

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. (NA 28)

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ (NASB)

But Brian Simmons, in his Passion [Anti-] Translation, has it as:

‘In the very beginning God was already there. And before his face was his Living Expression. And this “Living Expression” was with God, yet fully God.’

Note d reads:

Simmons claims that Christ:

had full participation in every attribute of deity held by God the Father.

Is this orthodox? I stand to be corrected, but I would have said that it is unorthodox to suggest that Christ has the attributes of deity only by participation, and not in His own right. In Simmons’ formulation, only the Father is said to hold the attributes of deity. Surely, the Son of God also has the attributes of deity Himself, in His own right, does He not?

It seems to me that there may be a connection between the doctrinal issue and the translation issue. I do not think that ‘Living Expression’ can stand on its own in the way that ‘Word’ can. In the first clause, just:

‘In the beginning was the Living Expression’

would be strange, it seems to me. ‘Expression of what, or of whom’, one seems bound to ask.

Again, in the second clause, Simmons replaces the article with the personal possessive pronoun to give ‘his Living Expression’ instead of ‘the Living Expression’.

And in the third clause, he adds the demonstrative pronoun ‘this’  and quotation marks, presumably because the phrase would not have stood well on its own, and needed to be referred back to ‘his Living Expression’ in the previous clause.

the first clause

Simmons’ first clause reads:

‘In the very beginning God was already there.’

Does the Almighty really want to tell us, through His holy word, that He was already there in the beginning? In Genesis 1.1, it is taken for granted that God already exists. Do we really need to be told that now, in the New Testament?

The answer is no, because this is not the real holy scripture. The true scripture reads:

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος

which can reasonably be translated:

‘In the beginning was the Word’

and this is telling us something important that we need to know, namely that the Word, the logos, is eternal. Glory be to the Most High God, and to the eternal Word, the Son of God, who took flesh and dwelt among us; who died for our sins and raised us to a new and wonderful life in Him. Let us not change the holy scriptures on a whim and a fancy.

Andrew

 

 

John 1.1 in Brian Simmons’ Passion [Anti-] Translation: why ‘his Living Expression’ instead of ‘the Word’?

John 1.1 reads:

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. (NA 28)

All thirty-six English versions at biblestudytools.com, including even ‘The Message’, translate λόγος with ‘word’. For example:

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ (NASB)

Brian Simmons, however, has ‘Living Expression’ in place of ‘Word’:

Continue reading John 1.1 in Brian Simmons’ Passion [Anti-] Translation: why ‘his Living Expression’ instead of ‘the Word’?