Concerning Translation of the Bible
The material on this page was written in the 1970s to respond to the criticisms of Walter Martin, founder of the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and the original “Bible Answer Man.” CRI has since withdrawn those criticisms and reversed its earlier conclusions (see “A Brief History of the Relationship between the Local Churches and the Christian Research Institute”). The text of this article is published here for the historical record, for the important points of truth it addresses, and because CRI’s criticisms, although withdrawn, are still repeated by others.
From: Answers to the Bible Answer Man – Appendix
Witness Lee & the Local Churches Reply to the “Bible Answer Man”
The Bible Answer Man has charged Witness Lee and the local churches with altering and adding to the text of Scripture in our Recovery Version of the Bible. We have asked him to point out one word that has been altered or added, and he attempted a reply when this matter was brought to his attention in his radio broadcast October 15th. However, he skirted a direct reply to the question asked concerning inaccuracies in the text, and launched instead into a criticism of a footnote appended to the text. Thus he has not yet been able to support his charge.
Concerning the footnote, he said that we “changed the meaning of the words and passed it off to the people as being what the text says.” However, we did nothing of the kind. In the first place, a translator has the liberty to add a commentary on the text, just as in many other translations. These do not form part of the text. Secondly, in his criticism of the footnote the Bible Answer Man has totally missed the mark. The lexicons he mentioned rather tend to support the conclusion in our footnote instead of saying the “direct opposite” as he claims. Moreover, the best method to obtain the proper meaning of the scriptural words is to discern their usage in the Scripture itself. The Bible Answer Man objects to our definition in the footnote of the two Greek words translated by the single English word “know.” The Greek words are ginosko, signifying the outward, objective knowledge, and oida, referring to the inward, subjective consciousness. John 8:55 and Hebrews 8:11 are verses which use both Greek words in the same verse. A study of the usage of these words in both verses fully substantiates our definition. We need to interpret Scripture with Scripture.
John Nelson Darby in his New Translation of the Bible gives a revealing and authoritative definition of the two Greek words, ginosko and oida. Darby was one of the original leaders of the so-called Brethren assemblies in the last century and, we may say, their foremost spokesman. He was a giant in the Scriptures and a greatly-used servant of the Lord, having translated the Bible directly from the Greek and Hebrew languages into English, French, and German. In addition, he wrote numerous commentaries, among which his Synopsis of the Bible is a highly honored work. He has this to say in his footnote on 1 Corinthians 8:1:
Two Greek words are used for “to know” in the New Testament—ginosko and oida. The former signifies objective knowledge, what a man has learned or acquired. The English expression “being acquainted with” perhaps conveys the meaning. Oida conveys the thought of what is inward, the inward consciousness in the mind, intuitive knowledge not immediately derived from what is external. The difference between the two words is illustrated in John 8:55, “Ye know (ginosko) him not; but I know (oida) him” … and in Hebrews 8:11, They shall not teach “saying, Know (ginosko) the Lord; because all shall know (oida) Me.”
Darby’s definition of these two words exactly matches and confirms ours.
It is not insignificant that the Bible Answer Man has called into question these particular words, the one referring to outward objective knowledge, and the other to the inward subjective consciousness, for Christianity today is almost totally in the realm of the objective knowledge of Christ in doctrine, knowing practically nothing of the inward knowledge of Christ as life. With the burden that the Lord’s people may be turned from mere outward knowledge to seek the knowledge of Him as life, we are stirred to use the media of the newspaper and any means at our disposal to get the truth out.
We welcome the Bible Answer Man’s comments on our footnotes, but we still challenge him to point out any alteration or addition to the text, or to retract his statement.
This is the second of five articles in this Reply to the “Bible Answer Man”