Galatians 2.10 in Brian Simmons’ Passion [Anti-] Translation: why ‘be devoted to’ rather than ‘remember’?

I continue my investigation of Brian Simmons’ claims to be translating from the Aramaic in certain verses of his so-called ‘Passion Translation’ of the Holy Bible. Please see my previous posts (here and here) for rationale and procedure. To avoid selectivity on my part I am taking these claims in order as they appear in ‘Letters from Heaven’.

Galatians 2.10

μόνον τῶν πτωχῶν ἵνα μνημονεύωμεν, ὃ καὶ ἐσπούδασα αὐτὸ τοῦτο ποιῆσαι. (NA 28)

Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. (ESV)

Simmons:

From the position of the footnote, it would appear that Simmons is appealing to the Aramaic for writing ‘poor and needy’ rather than simply ‘poor’. He may also be claiming that the more substantive change from ‘remember’ to ‘be devoted to’ also derives from the Aramaic, although this is less certain. I will take these one at a time. The Aramaic, and translations from the Aramaic, read:

ܕܠܡܣܟܢܐ is translated with ‘the poor’ by Etheridge and Lamsa, and with ‘the needy’ by Murdock. Jennings’ definition for the lexeme ܡܣܟܢܐ is simply ‘a poor person’:

but J. Payne Smith has both ‘poor’ and ‘needy’ (see the second Syriac word for the same form):

‘Poor and needy’ would therefore be an acceptable translation of the Aramaic, I think. It should be noted however that it would probably also be an acceptable translation of the original Greek word πτωχός, whose first formal equivalent in BDAG is ‘dependent on others for support’, as also in BAGD:

That said, there is no reason to doubt that Simmons has translated his ‘the poor and needy’ from the Aramaic as he claims.

‘be devoted to’

Turning now to Simmons’ ‘be devoted to’, this is certainly not a meaning of the Greek μνημονεύω which means ‘remember, keep in mind, think of’ [BDAG]. We turn therefore to the Aramaic, and the word is ܥܗܕܝܢܢ, lexeme ܥܗܕ. Jennings gives the meaning as ‘was mindful of, remembered’:

and the definitions in Payne Smith and the CAL are similar, with nothing related to devotion.

This part of Simmons’ version, therefore, has no basis in either the Greek or the Aramaic.

Andrew

 

Brian Simmons, Bill Johnson, and The Passion [Anti-] Translation of the holy scriptures

At church on Sunday, a dear sister in Christ bounded up to me and warmed to her theme of the excellence of Brian Simmons and his supposed translation of the holy scriptures, which he is calling ‘The Passion Translation’. Not having heard previously either of the man or this work, I found to my horror that it cannot properly be termed a translation at all, because of the discrepancy between its content and that of the originals. Worse still, I discovered that it is being promoted by Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding California, whose ministry is very popular with many young Christians here in the UK. Here, for example, Johnson uses it to give a brief word of exhortation and encouragement before the start of a service on 18 September 2016. At 0.11 of the video he says:

‘We’re going to read some scriptures as we get the day started. So good to see you, my goodness. Psalms 25 in the Passion Translation.’

Thus he affirms the Passion Translation as scripture. He continues (00.30):

‘You are about to be so blessed. What I am going to read is going to bless you so much. You should be getting happy in advance just because of what is coming your way. This is so good. Alright are you ready? Have you got your happy gear on? Alright.’

Then (00.50) he reads verse 12 of ‘Psalm 25′ from Simmons’ book, ‘Psalms: Poetry on Fire’:

Johnson (1.03) then asks the congregation for a show of hands as to who has this question that Simmons has asked:

‘How many of you have that question? How do I live in a way that’s absolutely pleasing to You, that’s the question.’

But this is not the question that the bible asks. The Hebrew text begins:

 מִיזֶה הָאִישׁ, יְרֵא יְהוָה   

There are only 5 words (or 4 if you count מִי-זֶה, joined by a maqqef, as one).

  1. מִי  (mî) meaning ‘who’
  2. זֶה (zeh) meaning ‘this
  3. הָאִישׁ  (hā·’îš) meaning ‘the man’
  4. יְרֵא (yə·rê) a verbal adjective, or participle, meaning ‘fearful’ or ‘fearing’, from the root  יָרֵא meaning ‘to fear’

  5. יְהוָה Yahweh, Yehovah, the LORD

Perhaps Young’s Literal Translation is the most accurate:

Who [is] this — the man fearing Jehovah?

so that it might be as if David was seeing a man who was fearing the LORD, and asking who this man was. But also acceptable are the NASB and the ESV, which both have:

Who is the man who fears the LORD?

and the RSV and the NKJV, for example, are almost identical:

Who is the man that fears the LORD?

This is perhaps a question that a preacher could ask of his congregation, and it is one that would tend to provoke reflection and self-examination. One might tentatively raise one’s hand a little and say yes, Lord, I do fear you, yet not as I ought to do, loving Father, help me to fear you more.

Indeed – and I found this after I had written the above – Spurgeon writes:

Verse 12What man is he that feareth the Lord? Let the question provoke self examination. Gospel privileges are not for every pretender. Art thou of the seed royal or no?’

In the Psalms, as written by David under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we are asked a question, effectively by the Lord, as to whether we truly fear Him as we should. Simmons has the question being asked by the reader, presumably of the Lord, and so our hearts are not searched in the same way. There is nothing gained, and much is lost.

Andrew

An assault on the gospel

It came to my attention that an anointed brother was being hindered in exercising his ministry simply because he had been leading a congregation of the saints in confession of sins, with the purpose of releasing the forgiveness, healing and deliverance of the Lord. Hallelujah for the promise of 1 John 1:9 that if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But some dear sisters had been misled by the teaching of Joseph Prince to believe that the confession of sins by believers is an aberration from ‘the gospel of grace’, which he understands in a very immature way, reasoning that since Jesus paid the price for all sins, past, present and future, our sins have already been forgiven, and there is no need to confess them. Much the same reasoning could be employed to demonstrate that all people are saved, whether believers or not! Instead of submitting his reason to the word of God, Prince claims that the first chapter of 1 John is written to ‘Gnostics’, and not to believers. The simplest way to refute this bizarre theory is to point out that John writes ‘If we confess..’ rather than ‘If you confess..’, including himself amongst those who have need of this wonderful provision of the grace of God.

Hallelujah also for the ministry of the Holy Spirit in convicting us of our sins and of the sin in our hearts, even as we are being transformed into the image of Christ, from glory to glory, by the Lord the Spirit. Hallelujah for His mighty grace too, which teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age. How can it be that Christians today can reduce the deep and subtle interplay of God’s initiative and our response, of free grace and human responsibility, of God’s mercy, love and kindness and His severity and rebuke, which have been expounded for many centuries by men of wisdom and learning who have meditated for many years on the truths of scripture before they have dared to add their modest contribution to the accumulated store of biblical and spiritual teaching in the body of Christ, to a simple-minded formula which denies essential doctrines and offers a life of apparent ease and success in exchange for the narrow path of holiness and sacrifice which alone leads to eternal life?

Joseph Prince’s most extraordinary aberration from sound doctrine is his relegation of the Lord Jesus Christ’s own teaching to the ‘old covenant’, to be ignored and even mocked as absurd when it challenges us to the depth of our being, and does its own work of destroying the soul that our lives may be saved on the day of judgement. How can it be that this assault on the Lord Jesus’s teaching should be being promulgated all over the world on television channels which bear His holy Name? Have we become so slow of mind that we can not see the lies and deception and the plain errors of Prince’s teaching, or is that the power of mammon has taken hold of these media to the degree that a blind eye and a deaf ear is being turned to them, and the warnings of godly men are being ignored?

Let us rise up and fight the good fight of the faith, and oppose heresy and the doctrines of demons wherever they rear their ugly head. A good shepherd protects his flock from wolves that come in to steal and devour. Let us not suppose that false teachings will die of their own accord, any more than do sinful habits or lustful tendencies or wordly ambitions. Let us put to death, as the apostle Paul wrote, our members which are upon the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, passion, evil desire and covetousness, which is idolatry. Let us put on the new man, who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created us. Hold fast the pattern of sound words that Paul taught, and in humility correct those who are in opposition, lest their false teaching spread like cancer, and in the hope that God may grant them repentance and set them free from the devil’s snare (2 Timothy 1:13, 2:25-26). Hallelujah, the Lord loves Joseph Prince deeply, and I pray for his correction and eternal salvation, in Jesus’ Name.

I have written a short paper, which can be found here, to expose the fact that Joseph Prince, at least in principle, rejects all the teaching of the Lord Jesus which is contained in the gospels as no longer applicable to Christian believers. Heresy is too weak a word for this departure from the faith once delivered to the saints, since it tears the very heart out of the Christian faith and life. No believer can remain in Jesus and in His love without obeying His holy and gracious and life-giving commandments, which preserve us from the sinful tendencies of our fleshly nature, and separate us from the world and its passions.

Revival in the North-East of England

Hallelujah. Dawn is breaking over the North-East of England as revivalists converge on the city of Newcastle in its darkest hour. A crescendo of angelic voices cry ‘Holy, holy, holy to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords’ as we await the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ the Son of God into His church to assume His rightful place as Master of the house and Ruler of His people.

Continue reading Revival in the North-East of England

Almost persuaded

The apostle Paul tells King Agrippa (Acts 26) of his conversion and of his ministry to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the king declares himself ‘almost persuaded’ to become a Christian. However sound our arguments and powerful our testimony it is only God who can save. This is a matter of God’s election for sure but also of our choice and of the prayers of the saints, who are commanded to pray for all men – for God desires all men to be saved.

Continue reading Almost persuaded

The glory of the gospel

God is not abstract nor a concept created by our minds. God is love, He emptied Himself and took the form of a servant, He revealed Himself as a man the LORD Jesus Christ. We love Him and give Him honour and glory because He first loved us. The Greeks knew nothing of this until Paul answered the call of the man from Macedonia who pleaded ‘help us’.

Continue reading The glory of the gospel