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Slave or Servant
by Lynton Lynn Hanson

The King James Bible and its pretenders.

The King James bible is arguably the most read book in publication. King James of England convened a meeting at Hampton Court in January, 1604 with the purpose to resolve bitter differences between Puritans and the Anglican church of England. It was at the Hampton Court Conference that a Puritan delegate proposed a new translation of the Christian Bible. There were several bibles being published at that time. The Bishop of London objected, but was overruled by James.

James was aware of the schism between churches, although he may not have appreciated the depth of the bitterness, and ordered that ‘special pains be taken for a uniform translation, which should be done by the best learned in both universities, then reviewed by the Bishop.’ It was to be presented to the ‘Privy Council, and ratified by royal authority, to be read in the whole church, and no other.’ It was to be the only bible used in England.

Forty-six scholars undertook the task, relying heavily on earlier Hebrew to English translations of a bible by Wycliff and Tyndale. The work took seven years to complete, from 1604 to 1611, when the King James Bible became the officia Biblel.

The King James Bible had an immediate and lasting effect on Christian and non-Christian alike. Christians believe that the KJ Bible is divine scripture. But its not an easy book to read, and to assist the laity many paraphrased versions have been published

To paraphrase is to write a restatement of text or a passage giving the meaning in another form. A paraphrased bible is not intended to change meaning, but to make the scripture easier to read and so understand. This must be done very carefully. To paraphrase scripture correctly it must be done with the cold heart of a scribe. If one changes a few adjectives or a noun or two the meaning of the original statement changes and becomes something entirely different.

A good paraphrase is to change KJ Exodus 19:1 from; ‘In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Si’-nai.’ to the paraphrased version: ‘Three months after the children of Israel had left Egypt they entered the wilderness of the Si’-nai.’

A bad paraphrase changes the meaning or inflection of a phrase as to leave the reader with an altered understanding and insight. This can be intentional or not. The result is that the reader would have no choice but to come to a different conclusion then the author of the original work intended. Be wary of paraphrased work.
A bad paraphrase is to change KJ Exodus 21:2 from: ‘If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.’ Paraphrased version: ‘If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve only six years and shall be freed in the seventh year, and pay nothing to regain his freedom.’ Besides adding unnecessary words this paraphrase changed the word servant to slave.

A servant has a contract with the employer and has rights under that contract, while a slave has no rights and is considered no more then a piece of property. These two words do not have the same meaning and can not be transposed. Why was servant, a perfectly good word, transposed to slave? Does the writer have a hidden agenda, or was just plain clumsy in their work, or did they let their emotion write for them?

Another example is Jesus speaking to his disciples in: KJ, Mark 10:33 ‘Saying, Behold we go to Jerusalem: and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and ...........’ Paraphrased version: ‘When we get there,’ he told them, ‘I, the Messiah, will be arrested and taken before the chief priests, and ......’

The word ‘Son’ in the KJ version has a definition as the second person of the Trinity. Messiah has the meaning of 1) Jesus and 2) the expected king and deliverer of the Jews. In the paraphrased version did Jesus identify himself to his disciples as the Messiah? I believe that the Oxford scholars had it right. This is an example of a poor paraphrase.

Paraphrased bibles are intended to replace the KJ Bible. Others use these bibles to assist them in the study of the KJ Bible. The examples of the words ‘servant’ being replaced with ‘slave’, and ‘Son of man’ being replaced with ‘Messiah’ were taken from a paraphrased bible. Many paraphrased bibles don’t clarify the original work, but change, and confuse it.

Many study the Bible very seriously, and structure their personal life on the scriptures’ instructions. Interpretation of scripture has consequences. One should take the time to compare, and use good judgement when using paraphrased versions of the King James Bible. Its your life.


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