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 Translation’: a significant change of 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 Translation’: not translation at all

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 Translation’: not translation at all

Brian Simmons and his ‘Passion Translation’: what text is Victor Alexander translating from? (part 3)

The Problem Restated

The reason for my long series of posts about Brian Simmons and his so-called Passion Translation is that sincere Christian believers are reading it, believing it to be a genuine English version of the Holy Scriptures, translated from the original texts, when in fact it is fraudulent, so far as I can see. In many cases where there is an unusual rendering of a verse, Simmons says in a footnote it is translated from the Aramaic. In his FAQs he identifies his Aramaic text as the Peshitta, making it possible to compare his English text with the original from which it is said to be translated. I investigated the first ten such claims in his ‘translation’ of Galatians, and found none of them to be substantiated. What I did find however, was that in the majority of cases, he was following Victor Alexander’s so-called ‘Aramaic New Testament’ which, as its name implies, claims to be a translation of Aramaic scriptures. In these cases, Alexander’s English text, like that of Simmons, does not seem to be translated from the Peshitta.

The question then arises as to whether Alexander might be translating from some other Aramaic source text. In recent years he has consistently refused to say what his source is. He sometimes gives the impression that he may have manuscripts older than the Peshitta, with a different text. For example, as I explained in an earlier post, he has ‘Covenant of the Son of Man’ in Galatians 3.15, rather than ‘human covenant’ as in both the Greek and the Peshitta, and then says in a footnote that:

Only the Ancient Aramaic retains the correct meaning of this passage.

as if perhaps there were some text more ancient than the Peshitta which had this form of text.

More directly, he has implied that he is in possession of the oldest manuscript found, which might further suggest that it is one not known to others:

I don’t need to prove that the manuscript I’m translating from is the oldest found;

Continue reading Brian Simmons and his ‘Passion Translation’: what text is Victor Alexander translating from? (part 3)

Brian Simmons and his ‘Passion Translation’: what text is Victor Alexander translating from? (part 2)

Having discovered that the source of many of the strange perversions of holy scripture in the so-called ‘Passion Translation’ is Victor Alexander’s so-called ‘Aramaic Bible’, I am trying to find out what text Alexander is translating from. In my last post, I recapped on his unwillingness to be specific on this point, and then highlighted his claim that he is translating from ‘the manuscripts of the Ancient Church of the East’. I explained that he is referring to the Church of the East, whose first organisational centre was Seleucia-Ctesiphon, on the banks of the Tigris, just East of the Eastern border of the Roman Empire.  It became known as ‘Nestorian’ from an early date, although that may be something of a misnomer. This church expanded greatly into India, China and Japan, and then went into a rapid decline at the end of the fourteenth century, being reduced, outside of India, to a regional church in Kurdistan.

Alexander goes on to say that:

The Church of the East survived and maintained the Scriptures in the original language all through the conquests of the Mongolians (Genghis Khan) 12th Century, and the Tartars (Tamerlane) 15th Century.

He sometimes gives the impression that he is translating from a unique manuscript not known to others:

I don’t need to prove that the manuscript I’m translating from is the oldest found; archeology is not the issue.

and so on, as I quoted at greater length in my last post. But it may be that the reality of the situation is much more prosaic.

Continue reading Brian Simmons and his ‘Passion Translation’: what text is Victor Alexander translating from? (part 2)

Brian Simmons and his ‘Passion Translation’: what text is Victor Alexander translating from? (part 1)

I have shown in previous posts (here and here) Brian Simmons’ heavy dependence on Victor Alexander’s ‘Aramaic Bible’. When Simmons claims to be translating from the Aramaic text of the Peshitta, it turns out that most often he is taking his text from Alexander, at least in Galatians, which is the first and only book I have researched in detail so far. 1

Alexander’s ‘Sacred Scribal Language of the Scriptures’

I have also pointed out Alexander’s eccentric claim to be translating from what he calls the ‘Leeshana Supprayah’, or the ‘Sacred Scribal Language of the Scriptures’:

However, Leeshana Ateeqah became the Leeshana Supprayah (Scribal Language). This is the Sacred Scribal Language of the Scriptures, which the Hebrew Prophets used and the Apostles of Eashoa Msheekha used. In fact, it is the language Eashoa Msheekha read the Scriptures from in all the synagogues and temples that He visited when He came to the world. This translation has been made from the Leeshana Supprayah, the Sacred Scribal Language of the Scriptures. This is the only Bible that has been translated from scratch using this language as the source material.

In the same post I cited Alexander’s unwillingness , expressed in a short blog post dated 15 February 2014 (part way down the page), to reveal what are the source documents for his so-called translation:

Many people who have asked me to defend the authenticity of my translation’s source documents, want to see proof. However, I know that even if I were to show them a 2000 year old manuscript in my hand and do a Carbon-14 test in front of everyone’s eyes, none of them would believe it still. The truth has been denied for so long that it would literally take me forever.

On occasion, he seems to imply that he may have an ancient manuscript he is translating from, but here again, in a blog post dated a few weeks earlier (30 December 2013, part way down the page) and entitled ‘Proving the authenticity of the Scriptures’, he appears unwilling to specify what it is:

I don’t need to prove that the manuscript I’m translating from is the oldest found; archeology is not the issue. I don’t need to prove that the manuscript I’m translating from has been sanctioned by any church; doctrine is not the issue. I don’t need to prove that the manuscript I’m translating from is in the proper dialect; nationalism is not the issue. The only thing I need to prove is whether or not the manuscript I’m translating from contains the fundamental belief system of the Apostles of Eashoa, the belief system which Eashoa taught. This I’ve done, even if you take just two words: Maryah and Milta. I have a lot more and they’ll be revealed in subsequent commentaries, as I said. If I were to present archeological proof, doctrinal ideas or a chain of authority, it would take me a thousand years and more books than the whole universe could hold.

Alexander is a film-maker and promotes ‘a style of filmmaking where dreams and reality are perceived as one experience.’ It seems possible that he has a similar approach to his translation work, with his ‘Sacred Scribal Language of the Scriptures’ being a product of his imagination.

Continue reading Brian Simmons and his ‘Passion Translation’: what text is Victor Alexander translating from? (part 1)

Notes:

  1. From a preliminary examination of Ephesians, it looks like the same is true there also.

Brian Simmons and his Passion [Anti-] Translation: what is ‘the most ancient Aramaic manuscript’ of Galatians?

Galatians 3.15 reads:

Ἀδελφοί, κατὰ ἄνθρωπον λέγω· ὅμως ἀνθρώπου κεκυρωμένην διαθήκην οὐδεὶς ἀθετεῖ ἢ ἐπιδιατάσσεται. [NA 28]

A typical translation is:

‘To give a human example, brothers:even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified.’ [ESV]

Looking it up just now in BDAG, there seems to be a strong case for taking διαθήκη  to mean ‘last will and testament’ as in the RSV:

‘To give a human example, brethren: no one annuls even a man’s will, or adds to it, once it has been ratified.’ [RSV]

In the Passion Translation (so-called) Brian Simmons has it as:

‘Beloved friends, let me use an illustration that we can all understand. Technically, when a contract is signed, it can’t be changed after it has been put into effect; it’s too late to alter the agreement.’

He misses out the idea of cancelling the contract, as opposed to changing it, but apart from that, his rendering keeps the basic thought tolerably well.

In  the footnote, however, he claims that the text of the ‘most ancient Aramaic manuscript’ carries a very different meaning:

Continue reading Brian Simmons and his Passion [Anti-] Translation: what is ‘the most ancient Aramaic manuscript’ of Galatians?

Brian Simmons’ claims to be translating from the Aramaic: the ten cases in summary

I now proceed through these first ten cases from Letters from Heaven, where Simmons claims to have been translating from the Aramaic. The heading of each one is linked to the post that deals with the verse, or part of a verse, in more detail. Here I give only the Greek text and Peshitta text (BFBS/UBS with Western vowel signs from dukhrana.com), one or two translations of each, and Simmons’ rendering. For the translation from the Peshitta I am using that of J. Edward Walters (Galatians 1 is here and Galatians 2-6 is here), plus Etheridge or Murdock or Lamsa on occasion where appropriate for comparison. I mark with an asterisk where Simmons has placed the reference to the endnote where he claims that the translation is from the Aramaic.

Where it is apparent that Simmons has made use of Victor Alexander’s ‘Aramaic Bible’, I give Alexander’s rendering of the verse, or his footnotes, as relevant, and as published on his web-site.

In general it can be seen that the translations from the Peshitta are virtually the same as from the Greek text. This in itself tends to show that the differences between Simmons’ version and normal translations from the Greek are not in fact due to him having translated from the Peshitta.

Continue reading Brian Simmons’ claims to be translating from the Aramaic: the ten cases in summary

The Passion [Anti-] Translation: Is Brian Simmons really translating from the Aramaic when he claims to be?

I have been investigating whether Brian Simmons, in his so-called ‘Passion Translation’ of the holy scriptures, has really translated from the Aramaic when he says he has.

Simmons claims to be translating from the original languages. In the FAQs at the ‘Passion Translation’ website, it is stated (FAQ: ‘What process was used…’) that:

Dr. Simmons engaged a three-stage process for bringing the original languages into modern English. First, he analyzed the passage in the original biblical language to establish its meaning.

Further (FAQ: ‘What textual source materials were used…’), it is claimed that this is:

an entirely new, fresh translation from the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic documents.

Continue reading The Passion [Anti-] Translation: Is Brian Simmons really translating from the Aramaic when he claims to be?

Brian Simmons, Sid Roth, the Passion [Anti-] Translation and Ephesians 5.22: ‘submit’ or ‘be tenderly devoted’?

Brian Simmons was interviewed by Sid Roth for an edition of ‘It’s Supernatural’ broadcast on 2 February 2015. At 20.20-59 Simmons says that whereas ‘in the bibles of many men’ Ephesians 5.22 reads:

‘Wives submit yourselves unto your husband as unto the Lord.’

the Aramaic text (still according to Simmons) is:

‘Wives be tenderly devoted to your husband as the church is tenderly devoted to Christ.’

As Roth observed, this is a ‘big difference’:

This claim attracted my attention, and so I endeavoured, despite myself not knowing Syriac (the form of Aramaic that is used in the Peshitta), to test it.

Continue reading Brian Simmons, Sid Roth, the Passion [Anti-] Translation and Ephesians 5.22: ‘submit’ or ‘be tenderly devoted’?