Problem #1. New Age Bibles take the wrong approach to "Translating".

Previously, we looked at the different approaches to translation. We saw that it was possible (even necessary) to vary the approach depending on what was being translated. In the case of a simple story, such as translating a fairy story for children, it would make sense to simplify the story to make it more relevant, and to remove terminology that would be confusing or unknown to young readers.

In the case of a classic Greek story, the Greek culture and names that form part of the story are what the story is all about, and readers would want to know this (that is, after all, why they are reading it!), and therefore we would want to keep as much detail as possible. We might want to add footnotes or a glossary for the words or names that don't have an exact equivalent in English.

In the case of a modern newspaper story about an event in Greek politics, it is important to be as accurate as possible in the translation, otherwise we will completely misrepresent the facts.

In the case of a contract of employment, we want the accuracy to be perfect. We don't want to make a mistake or create a misunderstanding, because the consequences could be so serious. But whereas we can ask an employer if the translated contract is correct, we can't ask God if He approves of a translation.

In the case of a technical reference book or a medical book, clearly it would be important (even critical) to be as precise and accurate as possible, even if the English did not read as smoothly as we would like. It might even be necessary NOT to translate some Greek words or terminology, if they had no exact equivalent in English.

Now, you might be wondering what all this has to do with the Bible, and New Age Bibles in particular. Well, we have looked at a number of examples of something being translated into English, and we have seen that different approaches are necessary depending on what is being translated.

So in the case of the Bible, which of the above approaches would be the "best" approach in order to have a "good" translation? Should we go for a simple translation which smoothes over the words and is easy to understand, or should we go for the most precise and accurate translation possible, even at the expense of an easy read? What should we do if we find words and terminology which do not have an exact equivalent in English? Should we just change them to something else for ease of understanding, or should we leave those words untranslated, or should we perhaps have a footnote?

For the Bible specifically, as opposed to a children's fairy story, or a story in Greek mythology, or a newspaper article, or a contract of employment, or a technical reference book, which approach is the best?

Now, many people will immediately know where this question is going. In discussing translations of the Bible, there is a debate about which approach to translation is the best - either a "literal, word for word" translation, or a "dynamic equivalence" translation. For those who haven't heard the debate before, the modern consensus is that "literal, word for word" translations are bad translations, and "dynamic equivalence" translations are good.

Supposedly, a literal, word-for-word translation is bad because it results in poor English, it needs you to understand the cultural background, it is difficult to read, and so on. Supposedly a dynamic equivalence translation is good because it results in a nice, crisp, clear translation which is easy to read and understand.

The difference is that literal translations find the best possible equivalent for each word in the original, then do the smallest possible amount of word re-ordering to make the final sentence sound better. Dynamic equivalence translations, on the other hand, don't care too much about the individual words. Instead, they look at the text a whole sentence at a time, or even a whole paragraph at a time, they think about how best to express the meaning of the entire sentence or paragraph into English, then go ahead and translate it.

Now, if this was an abstract discussion about translation theory in general, then it may be interesting to discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two approaches in general - literal vs. dynamic equivalence. But this is not an abstract discussion in general. Specifically, we want to translate the Bible in the most appropriate way.

As we saw earlier, our approach to translation needs to change depending on what we are translating. And in the case of the Bible, the Bible is the inspired Word of God. It is God-breathed. It is therefore the most important text of all. It is critical to understand it exactly and precisely. We don't want any misunderstandings at all. Our eternal salvation depends on understanding it completely and correctly. The way we live our entire life will depend on how we understand the Bible.

The Bible is not a trivial text such as a children's fairy story. Therefore, unlike a fairy story, we are not free to change the details to make it simpler and easier to read. That would be disrespectful, misleading, probably blasphemous, and inevitably disastrous.

The Bible is also not a classic story of Greek mythology, but nevertheless, just like a classic story in a foreign language and a foreign culture, we would want to understand it fully. We want to understand the culture behind the Bible - that is why we are reading it in the first place. Therefore, a translation of the Bible needs to remain true to the original Biblical cultural roots - otherwise it will have lost its moorings and will be floating adrift at sea.

The Bible is not a political story from a newspaper either, but nevertheless, just like a translation of a newspaper story, we would want to remain as true as possible to what actually happened, otherwise we will be misrepresenting the facts and what the Bible actually says.

Equally, the Bible is not a contract of employment either, but nevertheless, it does have elements that are just as important as a contract. The Old and New Testaments, for example, are Covenants - they are what God expects from us, they are what God wants from us, and what promises he gives to us in return. Surely we would want to understand these covenants precisely and accurately. Surely we would not want to have any misunderstandings. If a bad Bible translation says the covenant or promise is one thing, and actually the original texts of the Bible say something else entirely, then that is a very serious problem indeed.

The Bible is not a technical textbook either, but nevertheless, there are certainly parts of it that are very technical and complicated. Those parts are very important. They are there for a purpose. They need to be understood. But if they are translated badly by someone who simplifies the technical detail, they will be mis-understood, rather than understood. If we start simplifying the Bible text to make it easy, we will misunderstand it and misrepresent it.

So when you ask yourself about Bible translations - which Bible translation is the "best" or which one is a "good" Bible translation - ask yourself what your purpose in seeking a translation is. If you just want an easy, fun read that means you don't need to think, then you will gravitate towards translations based on the dynamic equivalence approach. A modern New Age Bible will mislead you, but that is what you will choose.

But if you love the Word of God, if you seek to please God, if you believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, then you will gravitate towards translations which are as precise and accurate as possible, even if that is at the expense of a smooth and easy read. You will want to understand the Bible fully, to make sure you haven't mis-understood it, and you won't mind if you need to think through some passages more than others.

Of course, if you really, really love God, and you want to understand His Word fully and completely, then you will dispense with a translation altogether, and seek to understand the original Bible manuscripts for yourself. Then you will not be mislead by a Bible translation at all, ever.

In other words, are you reading the Bible because you genuinely want to understand it, or are you reading the Bible because you just want something to read which is based loosely on the Bible?

Unfortunately, there is a very big problem with most modern "New Age" Bibles. New Age Bibles all take the same approach - they go for the "dynamic equivalence" approach to translation. They end up with a translation which may well be very easy and simple to read, but the translation is at the opposite end of the spectrum from precise and accurate.

New Age Bibles may give you a fair idea of what the Bible says, but you will never know whether that is what the Bible really says, whether that is what the Bible really means, or whether the translation has just glossed over, simplified, or mis-represented some critically important points, to make the translation easy.

Now, if that was ALL that was wrong with New Age Bibles, it would be bad enough. But there are other (even worse) problems, as we shall see. New Age Bibles don't stop at just creating a simplified, easy-to-read translation. They also simplify the Bible further by "helping" you with what they think is the meaning of the Bible. They inject their own understandings into their Bible translation in order to make the translation even easier and even "better".

With a so-called "literal" or "word-for-word" translation, the translation just translates what the Bible says, and leaves it at that. There is little or no scope for injecting the beliefs of the translator. You are left to interpret the Bible yourself, and sometimes that will be difficult.

Unfortunately, New Age Bibles go a step further and "help" you by smoothing out and interpreting the text for you, which means you are open to the mercy of what the translators believed, what they think the Bible text "must" mean. You must suffer the slings and arrows of their beliefs. You are their victim. You are their slave. You are in their control. You will never know if that is what the Bible says, or what the translators believed. You will just never know. You belong to them.

And so, New Age Bible versions start off with a completely wrong approach to translation. Their approach may be fine for some texts like a children's fairy story. But that approach is a mistake when we come to the Bible. New Age Bible versions choose the worst possible thing to do with the Bible - to translate it in a way that is totally inappropriate - to treat the Bible as if it was a children's fairy story which can be changed around and simplified according to their whims and beliefs, rather than giving the most accurate and precise representation of the Bible for those who cannot read the original Bible languages.

So New Age Bibles start off on the wrong foot. They inject their own understanding into a translation that is already inappropriate, and the end result is simple, beguiling and easy to read. But things get worse, much worse. Not only is the translation itself open to interpretation, but New Age Bibles are "flexible" over what they are actually translating. Sometimes they are "translating" something which exists only in their own imagination, as we shall soon see. Actually, it's frightening. It's dishonest, deceitful, and disrespectful to the Bible as the inspired Word of God.

New Age Bibles seek to conform the Bible to their own beliefs, rather than conform their own beliefs to the Bible. If the Bible doesn't reflect their beliefs, they believe the Bible should change. Just like George Orwell's famous book, 1984, an ongoing process is in place to revise the Bible systematically, to change historical texts of the Bible, to modify it over time and make it conform to the will and beliefs of the New World Order that is rapidly approaching.

New Age Bibles are how the New World Order conditions the people to carry out their will, to make sure that people do not read the original manuscripts of the Bible, do not use accurate and historically reliable translations of the Bible, and ideally do not read the Bible at all...