New great posts

I hope to continue reading the interesting blogs in my circle of blogging friends while I’m away and preparing for my Taiwan trip. I won’t have time to write my own posts but some interesting post you should be sure to read are:

1. Suzanne McCarthy at Better Bibles Blog also has a very interesting post on Ephesians 5:21-33 that teaches men like myself that we are not superior to women, but rather, we are equals. It’ll help keep me humble toward my wife and make our relationship with our own wives go a long way. 😉

2. Joe Myzia who is new to TNIV Truth has blogged on some the TNIV’s difficulties in Changing he/him/his/himself TO they/them/their/themselves.

3. Gary Zimmerli at A Friend of Christ has a great post on some of his concerns with the NLTse which still shows some of its looseness in its paraphrastic tendencies inherited from the NLT1. But he counters it with it by saying he will still by an NLTse in leather. That’s great! And his thoughts on the TNIV’s Reference edition, one of which I will purchase for myself too.

Holy Spirit is a name

Since my previous post on the depersonalization of the Holy Spirit, I found someone who supports my claim that we have depersonalized the Holy Spirit. Theologian Thomas C. Oden says: “The depersonalization of God the Spirit has occurred in the period of philosophical idealism.” He points out that: Hegel reduced the Spirit to a logic of history ; Tillich reduced the Spirit to an existential category of being itself, e.g., “dimension of depth”; Karl Barth used the expression: “mode of being”. Process theology reduced the Spirit to creative energy. Much liberation theology reduced the Spirit to political praxis. “Scriptural exegetes are therefore ill advised to consistently address the Spirit as it with the avowed intent of pointing to the Spirit’s self-effacing presence for it is precisely the free personal God who is becoming self-effacing, and the cause is not well served by calling the Spirit it,” says Oden (1). Have we have mistakenly reduced the person of the Holy Spirit to an impersonal analogy because we want the convenience of applying the Holy Spirit to our theology in order to give it more credibility? If we do not use personal language, God the Spirit will inevitably be reduced to some symbolic generalization.

I have also found other ancient sources that deal with the name of the Holy Spirit. An ancient creed used by the early church called Faith of Damasus (or Fides Damasi) states: “The proper name for Father is Father, and the proper name for the Son is Son, and the proper name for the Holy Spirit is Holy Spirit.” Basil of Caesarea (329-379 CE) stated that the titles for the Holy Spirit are called “Spirit of God,” “Spirit of truth which proceeds from the Father,” “right Spirit,” “a leading Spirit.” Its proper and peculiar title is “Holy Spirit” (De Spiritu Sancto, Ch.9). Basil also said that the Holy Spirit is not merely a quality or attribute or emanation of God but is a distinct person within the Godhead. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross loved and adored Holy Spirit and addressed the Holy Spirit as Holy Spirit. Augustine in Summa Theologica also also dealt with this issue of the Holy Spirit’s name. As a proper name of the Holy Spirit, the Vatican also states: “Holy Spirit is the proper name of the one whom we adore and glorify with the Father and the Son. The Church has received this name from the Lord and professes it in the Baptism of her new children” (Profession of Faith, 691).

When we address other people we use human names because they are very personal to the person. It helps make a connection with the person when we call them by their name. How do we expect to make a connection with the Holy Spirit if we address him as “it” like as if he was an object, an impersonal being? Is this why our churches sometimes do not seem to treat the Holy Spirit as a real person in our worship?

See also: We have depersonalized the person of Holy Spirit

1. Thomas C. Oden, Systematic Theology, Vol. 2: The Word of Life, p.20.

ASV (1901): symbolic of America’s historic spirit of independence

What is so American about the American Standard Version (ASV) and the New American Standard Bible (NASB)? The ASV was originally called the “Standard American Edition of the Revised Version” (1881). The American revisers of the Revised Version modified the name by dumping “English” and adding “American” into its name–hence, we now have American Standard Version. I may be pushing it a little far but I think of the American Standard Version as a kind of symbolic representation of America’s historic spirit of independence from England. Here is a little of its history.

The idea of translating the Revised Version or English Revised Version (ERV) (1881) was initiated by a group of Anglican-Episcopal clergy who wanted a modern translation to replace the old KJV. They decided they’d had enough of the old archaic King James English so after calling a General Assembly in Canterbury, England on May 6, 1870, they began their work on the English Revised Version. The British revisers invited Americans to join them in this joint-effort with the formation of an American committee in 1871. Both British and American committees exchanged their revisions across the rough waters of the Atlantic and worked to harmonize their differences. The British told the American members that any remaining differences would be inserted into the back of an appendix for a stipulated time of 14 years. Americans would not be allowed to make revisions to the English Revised Version (1881-85) for 14 years. The British imposed this one-sided decision on the Americans. The American revisers had their hands tied by the publisher University Presses of England (see Preface). After the English Committee finished their work on the Old Testament in 1885, there was no intention, on behalf of the British, to ever amalgamate the readings in the appendix with future English editions. It sure doesn’t sound very fair, does it? A new reason for a belated-Boston Tea Party?! But the American revisers refused to have their revisional differences remain relegated in the “dungeons” of a never-looked-at appendix. After waiting 14 years, American revisers finally got their chance to release the American Standard Version. They had been working on it even before its actual release date in 1901. What may have begun as a united English-American project was to be declared separate from its British counterparts. The ASV is a result of American’s dissatisfaction toward the British committee who left them high and dry. They used and abused the hard work of American biblical scholars on the American committee. They took what was good, and dumped the leftovers into an appendix that was never intended to be used again. (See history of the RV by Michael Marlowe at http://www.bible-researcher.com).

When the ASV first came out in 1901, it was considered the most accurate bible translation in terms of formal-equivalence. Today, many more Greek manuscripts have become available since 1901. When the ASV was being translated, there were 1500 Greek NT manuscripts available to the translators, but today, there are four times as many available. Nevertheless, it is a translation to be honored because it became the foundation of several major translations: the RSV and the NASB; plus the Recovery Version, and the Amplified Version (which is so modified that it no longer reads anything like the ASV). It is interesting that the Jehovah’s Witnesses previously used the ASV between 1944-1963 but it was later bumped by their New World Translation. The reason they approved of the ASV was because it used “Jehovah” throughout rather than “LORD” as the name of God, e.g., “And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen.2:7). I do think it sounds kind of neat with “Jehovah God”. It was definitely a radical approach back then. Whether it’s right or wrong to do so is a debatable issue.

I have never personally seen a physical copy of the ASV (1901). To find an authentic historic copy of it is rare so I did some research and was surprised to learn that brand new copies of it are still available for sale today. There is only one publisher that publishes it: Star Bible located in Texas. So if you are nostalgic enough, you can get yourself a copy of the ASV, 1901 edition. I called them up and they told me they have been printing the ASV since 1990. They sell the ASV in genuine leather, bonded leather, and hardcover ($69.96, $59.95, $24.95).

The bible in the marketplace

In the competitive marketplace of bibles, our variety of translations have given us a wide range of choices. Compared to other countries around the world today, governments and rulers control the printing, distribution, and sales of bibles. But in our free world of the free market, our freedoms and liberties have enabled us to further advance the English translations of our bibles, which have produced bountiful benefits. Just look at all the bible translations we have today. From an Old World perspective, some people may look at the wide array of bible translations out there on the market and say: “The Church has no unity, they can’t agree on anything,” “Why can’t everyone agree on just one bible?” However, I would say that this appearance of disarray is great thing because this means that there is no monopoly on the bible. Why would we even want one translation? Others might also say: “Why spend the energy on translating so many versions? Why don’t they spend their energy doing something else?” Our numerous translations have given us some tangible advantages: 1) more accurate, clear, and easier-to-understand translations; 2) textual, linguistic and stylistic improvements; 3) increasingly greater knowledge of the original languages; 4) greater choices of bible translations. When a translation team produces a bible that is of higher quality, it will draw public attention from the people. This is why we bloggers offer either negative or constructive/positive critique. Criticism given and received in a positive and constructive manner can lead to vast improvements in future editions. The newest translations like the TNIV, ESV, NLT, or HCSB have seen their share of criticism but they will likely become improved in their future editions. But bible translations like the Living Bible and the New English Bible have been almost been forgotten and never mentioned again. The Message Bible may also become a forgotten-about version in the near-distant future. It’s a poor translation or paraphrase, and a prime example of how not to translate the bible.