When looking at any Bible translation, it always helps to understand where the translators are coming from. With most any English translation, for example, "baptizo" is transliterated (letter equivalents) instead of translated as "immerse." The TNIV (New Gelded Version) tends to obscure the gender of important pronouns due to its "evangelical feminist" bent, a pattern duplicated in many translations commissioned by liberal, mainline denominations for the same reason.
Last weekend, I noted a very interesting translation in the KJV; look at Matthew 28:18-20, and note that it instructs the apostles to "teach all nations", a pattern repeated in parallel verses. In contrast, all modern translations with which I'm familiar translate this as "make disciples of all nations". I'm told that the Greek translates far better to "make disciples".
Now it's not a completely unforgiveable difference; the root word in Greek is the same for both "teach" and "disciple." Moreover, it is possible that these societies would have understood "teach" in the mode of a master-apprentice relationship, which is in many ways close to Biblical discipleship.
On the other hand, it's also a fact that at this time, the clergy were of a distinct economic and political class from those in the pews--you had to be upper class, or sponsored by the same, to go to the universities, after all. In this light, it is somewhat harder to imagine this being a master-apprentice relationship, but rather the translators (who were predominantly university trained Anglicans, after all) were understanding such a relationship in the light of their experience; professor-student, or clergy-laity.
Whichever is the case, we certainly understand the word "teach" today as professor-lecture hall, pastor--auditorium, and so on--not as the intimate interaction Christ had with the apostles. This suggests a question; if indeed the KJV (purposefully or otherwise) obscures the real nature of discipleship by using a translation that doesn't communicate this to today's people, would we not assume that churches which exclusively use the KJV may have some difficulty making disciples? Would we not assume that they would tend towards an episcopal-style rule of the pastor, and spiritual immaturity of the congregants?
Whether or not this is the cause, it is certainly the effect I've seen where the pastor calls the shots, and congregants are more interested in whether their friends are using the KJV than in real understanding of Biblical doctrines. In short, while reading and handing out Chick tracts about the (imagined and real) faults of the Catholic Church, they are.....duplicating, in many ways, the imagined and real faults they decry.
If one wonders why a literary education--the kind that will allow a pastor or congregant to investigate translation biases and meanings in the original languages--is important, this is an excellent example.
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