Our Contributing Editor Pohorlak's article in our June issue, "A Translator's Translation Trials," has been criticised in the September issue of "Unsearchable Riches."
It is now claimed that the article suggested that the Greek word aphormE, rendered in the Concordant Version uniformly as "incentive," and in the King James version and in the Latin Vulgate as "occasion," "should be rendered kindle, operational base, bridgehead, footing, and starting point. This is quite erroneous. Here, On the contrary is what our Brother Pohorlak did write: "The ideal would be to find one key word in English to fit the wards of the lock of the Greek aphormE. So far no one word seems to be able to carry the load we wish to put upon it." He then suggested that "we need a word (or words) which will convey the idea of operational base," etc.
We hope the false charge will be honourably withdrawn. Brother Pohorlak was not condemning the Concordant Version, but putting forth a suggestion which might possibly lead to a better rendering of the Greek word. Such suggestions, we are told, are welcome. He himself even suggested the word "incentive" in one place.
The critic claims that the proper Greek word for the noun "base" is hedraiOma, as found at 1. Tim. 3:15, and thus the expression ",operational base" must be ruled out as a suggestion. But an operational base is never a human being. In 1. Tim. 3:15, a grossly misunderstood verse, Paul is telling how in God's house (which, indeed an Ecclesia of God Living is), a pillar and base of the truth must conduct himself. Timothy was one such pillar and base. So are all those who get down to the plain truth of Scripture, and do not corrupt it.
The Element of the Greek word under discussion is given in the C.V. as RUSH. An effort is made to shew that this thought comes into those words which contain this Element. Thus the word for mooring a ship (pros-ormizO) is given the Elements TOWARD-RUSH. All the ship mooring I have ever witnessed has been done very cautiously and slowly. It cannot be rushed. In Mark 6:53 the action is passive, "they are moored," not active. We cannot connect the Greek words for "moor" and for "rush." Would it be at all concordant to say that an incentive moors one? I should say it moves one, whereas mooring is the opposite of rushing.
In present day Greek, which in many respects has changed but little since Paul's days, aphormE is said to mean occasion, cause, motive, reason, pretext, excuse, pretence. The simple verb hormO is given the meaning rush or start. HormEtErion is a starting-point or stronghold, which is very like an operational base. On the other hand, hormos means a road stead, anchorage, moorings.
Perhaps it would be as well to arrive at the original meaning of the word incentive. Weekley's Dictionary gives as the root the Latin word incentivus, "setting the tune," from incinere, to strike up, from canere, to sing. Dr. Latham's edition of Johnson's Dictionary defines as "That which kindles, provokes, encourages; incitement; motive; spur, whether to good or ill." Annandale's Dictionary states that the Latin word meant what "strikes up or leads a melody," and that incentive "has its English sense from the incitement of martial or dance music."
While I do not object to the use of the word incentive, strictly its use ought to be connected with the effects of music, as stirring one up in spirit.
Our Contributing Editor, who on all sides is reported to be accomplishing a magnificent labour on behalf of Christ and wearing himself out in the process, is not repudiating "the whole Concordant method." Nor is he seeking to "undermine and discredit" what twenty years ago I described as "the only version, which, by its system, adequately recognizes the Scriptures as God-breathed (Unsearchable Riches, 1935, page 382). I have always praised the system, but I do not praise the Concordant Version when its system is abandoned, as happened at Rev. 12:11. The original C. V. (1925) read correctly, "And they conquer him because of the blood of the Lambkin, and because of the word of their testimony. .." Here the Greek preposition DIA, which occurs twice, is followed by an objective case, and therefore signifies "because of," or "on account of." But when followed by a genitive case, the meaning is "through," or "by means of." This rule is indisputable, and it is the concordant rule on page 344 of the Concordant Version Concordance. Yet in the 1930 edition of the C.V., this reading was altered to "through the blood. . ." and "because of the word of their testimony." Once more this was changed, and in the 1944 C.V. we find the word "through" both times, while the word "because" has disappeared altogether.
The statement "through the blood" would answer a question, "HOW did they conquer?" While the words "because of the blood" would answer a question, "WHY did they conquer?"
A friend of mine who was a good Greek scholar put this matter before one of the "compilers" of the Concordant Version, as I had been asked, in the year 1937, to "ferret out" all possible blunders in this Version, and I had been told there was no other person so well equipped for this task as myself.
Here is the answer my friend received, sixteen years ago: "I have tried to analyse my antipathy to 'because of the blood,' which dates back to my first reading of the Revision. It is one of the many places where they have made the Bible more uniform at the expense of agreeable English. I would hardly use because in connection with blood except in a bad sense. I would say, 'He fainted because of the blood.' Yet it could be used in a good sense. The real reason in this passage is probably as follows:—this particular part of this sublime proclamation is of the greatest dignity and elevation, fit for frequent quotation, hence should not be in Uneven rhythm. The word 'because' creates confusion because three light syllables are brought together and interrupt the swing of the metre thus: conquer him because. One who has an ear for rhythm will find this repellent in such an august manifesto. See how much smoother it sounds with a single syllable: 'They conquer him through the blood.' It would be better still if we had a word with two syllables, with the emphasis on the first. So because is a misfit because of its accent. It makes three light syllables before and leaves only one after it. Ordinarily, this would not be worth much consideration. But such vital and victorious utterances should have a measured utterance. They should be metrical enough to set to music, as indeed, they ought to be. So it is probably in the higher realms of literary art that we find our ground for our instructive choice in this case. Few may be able to feel and follow, but just in this domain, beyond mere idiom, far beyond the demands of faithfulness, lies the possibility of rendering God's revelation in a manner becoming its high estate. My record seems to shew that I had translated it 'correctly' 'because of the blood,' in the first place, but lapsed into 'error' in later printings. Now that I am able to ease my conscience by putting a small b before the through to shew that it is 'wrong,' I shall probably render this through not only here, but also in the next occurrence in the same context. I have tried hard to define the difference between 'through the blood' and 'because of the blood' but have given it up as a hopeless task. I would stake my chance of conquering on either one without discrimination. My conscience is so hardened that I should have no qualms even if I 'deceived' people by rendering it through in place of because for I know that no one would know the difference, because there is none in the context, and the context alone can make it, for the word is the same."
Apparently Rev. 12:11, instead of being strictly concordantly rendered, was set to music, which music became an incentive to work. Undoubtedly, as someone put it, "Music hath charms that soothe the savage beast." But if anyone wants to "strike up a melody" by using Rev. 12:11, let him make thoroughly certain that he is humbly expressing God's thoughts and mind, and not corrupting the text. I might ask, are the Scriptures to be translated in order to shew rhythm or "measured utterances," or to be set to music? What is the connection between the exactitude of the Greek text and fine-sounding English? I had thought that we were once told we ought to hearken to every word that came out of the mouth of God, "even if He spoke in broken English." I humbly hope that the serious wrong done to God's Word will be acknowledged and atoned for. I am sure our Contributing Editor would never be guilty of such a heinous wrong as thus corrupting God's revelation.
The fact is, some notable exceptions apart, modern academic Bible teaching has smacked far too much of second hand thinking, whilst the exigencies of examination work leave the student crammed with ill-digested information largely derived from one-way lectures and textbooks, as officially recommended. Men and Women have been leaving the colleges bewildered with superficial criticisms of the Christian verities, a non-committal tongue in their head—in a word, starting the work of life broken-winded, The 'positive enrichment' hitherto loudly acclaimed for modern teaching of the Bible, has meant, in fact, an obvious impoverishment. And who is ultimately responsible? It is useless to deny such facts, for denial would immediately call forth abundant evidence from students of the past decade as to the utter worthlessness of much modern divinity teaching. It is a case of like teachers, like students.
But what theological teachers are unable to do in the solving of faith's wreckage, the Bible does. It reclaims, repairs, and empowers the victims of shattered faith and divided mind. Touched by Light and Truth Divine, they find in Scripture the Word of God. It may mean a hard swim against the current of superficiality, the fashionable but transient thought-forms of the hour, but once they reach the rock of Holy Scripture, rising supreme in its time-honoured claims to absolute authority, they behold a monument which stands the most searching study, one whose revealed message is found, on closer examination, to flash light to the furthest corners of human life. When they inspect it, examine it, explore its contents to the last preposition, following the recognized rules of Biblical hermeneutics, what do they find? That its words, its history, its prophecy, its law, its entire records, including the genealogies, are Christocentric.
Yes! The light of these ancient and sacred pages is found to be the Light of the World; and because this is so, the Old Testament is as much the fascination and delight of the Christian scholar as in the New Testament. Sciolists* there are who write as if the stories, the battles, the migrations and vicissitudes of the Israelites are of no real concern to those who claim to have found Him of Whom Moses and the Prophets did write. Have they indeed, who thus argue, found Him in all the fullness of His truth and grace? Not fully, as their peevish and factious utterances freely show. Rather do we urge them to launch forth into the depths of the Old Testament, to master first of all the Hebrew language, or at any rate, to operate a Hebrew lexicon; secondly to correct mere grammatical and lexicographical interpretation by a free use of the Concordance; and thirdly, to study each one of the Mosaic, prophetical and historical books in detail with this in view, viz.: to perceive how Revelation shines forth, close-knit and divinely ordered in all its parts, an irrefragable unity. (From The Vital Challenge of Biblical Certitude, by Rev. C. W. Hale Amos, D.D., 1934). * those with superficial knowledge. Last updated 5.2.2006