Scripture Inspired by God
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In translating the Bible, the translators try to express what the original writers have said so that the readers in the receptor languages can understand the messages. They take various approaches from word-for-word to meaning-for-meaning. Whatever approach is used has both strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes, in the process, variations in meaning from one version to another will occur. Such is the case in the translation of 2 Timothy 3: 16.

In this study, sixty-five versions have been examined. Thirty-one of them are illustrated here. The others are similar to these. It is principally the first part of the verse that is of interest. The versions are divided into three categories: Indefinite, Conclusive, and Restrictive. These terms are explained below in the definitions. Each category is sub-divided into three classes: "scripture" with Lower Case initial, "scripture" with Upper Case initial, and Other words replacing "scripture."

First, we shall check two definitions in Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of the English Language:

  1. scripture: the sacred writings of any people; originally, anything written, as a document, book, or inscription, or its contents; a writing.
  2. Scripture: the books of the Old and New Testaments, including often the Apocrypha; specially the Bible: usually plural; a text or passage from the Bible.

Following the scripture quotations of each category is a list of the other versions that exhibit the same pattern. Finally, there is a summary of the findings, including some questions for the reader.


Versions Compared

 

AB Amplified Bible
ANT The Authentic New Testament
BNT Barclay New Testament
CEV Contemporary English Version
CNT Cassirer New Testament
CTNT Centenary Translation of the New Testament
DHB Darby Holy Bible
DRB Douay-Rheims Bible
EDW The Emphatic Diaglott
EVD English Version for the Deaf
GW God's Word
HBME The Holy Bible in Modern English
IB Interlinear Bible
IV Inspired Version
KJV King James Version
KLNT Kleist-Lilly New Testament
KTC Knox Translation
LB Living Bible
LBP Lamsa Bible
MCT McCord's New Testament Translation
NEB New English Bible
NLV New Life Version
NNT Noli New Testament
PRS Phillips Revised Student Edition
REB Revised English Bible
SGAT An American Translation (Smith-Goodspeed)
TCNT The Twentieth Century New Testament
TM The Message
WAS Worrell New Testament
WTNT William Tindale Newe Testament
YLR Young's Literal Translation, Revised Edition

 

Other Versions Used

 

AAT An American Translation (Beck)
AIV An Inclusive Version
CENT Common English New Testament
CJB Complete Jewish Bible
CLNT Concordant Literal New Testament
EBR The Emphasized Bible
HBRV Holy Bible, Revised Version
MNT Moffat New Translation
MRB Modern Reader's Bible
MSNT The Modern Speech New Testament
NAB New American Bible
NAS New American Standard Version
NBV New Berkeley Version
NCV New Century Version
NET New Evangelical Translation
NIV New International Version
NJB New Jerusalem Bible
NKJ New King James Version
NLT New Living Translation
NRS New Revised Standard Version
NSNT Norlie's Simplified New Testament
NWT New World Translation
RNT Riverside New Testament
RSV Revised Standard Version
SARV Standard American Edition, Revised Version
SNB Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible
SSBE The Sacred Scriptures, Bethel Edition
TBR The Bible Reader
TDB The Dartmouth Bible
TEV Today's English Version
TJB The Jerusalem Bible
WET Wuest Expanded Translation
WNT Williams New Testament


Definitions

Indefinite:
In this category, the word "is" has been added and indicated by italics or brackets. It is indefinite because the reader does not know if the word "is" had been omitted in the past by design or by error. The translators seem to feel that it should be included for completion of thought, but are not absolutely sure that it should be there. If they had felt sure either way, the versions in this category would have been in one of the other two.

Conclusive:
In this category, the word "is" or another verb of certainty follows the word "Scripture." It is conclusive because of the affirmed statements that the Scriptures were inspired by Yahweh. The translators have taken a definite stand.

Restrictive:
In this category, the verb "is" does not appear immediately following the word "Scripture." It is restrictive because the statement refers only to Scriptures that have been inspired by Yahweh. It suggests that there are Scriptures that have not been inspired by Him. It also suggests that Yahweh can instruct other servants throughout later times to write. Again, the translators have taken a stand, whether or not they accept the implication.

Lower Case:
In checking the dictionary definition above, the use of a lower case initial "s" broadens the scope of the term. Thus, such writings as The Adigranth, The Analect of Confucius, The Book of Enoch, The Book of Mormon, The Gospel of Thomas, Jaina Sutras, The Koran, Nihongi, Popul Vuh, Tao-Teh-King, Teachings of Baha'u'llah, Tripitaka, The Upanishads, and The Zendavesta, can be included. Despite how Christians feel about these writings, they are (or were) Scriptural to many people. These are upper case writings to those whose accept them as Scripture.

Upper Case:
In checking the dictionary definition above, the use of an upper case initial "s" limits the scope of the term. To those of Judaism, this means The Tanakh. To those of Christianity, this means the Old Testament, The New Testament, and possibly The Apocrypha. It also means that, outside of the Bible, Yahweh cannot, or will not, direct His servants to write further Scripture.

Other Words:
"Writing" can be a synonym of "Scripture," and is probably used here in that sense. However, it does have broader meanings. "Document" is like "Writing." However, in the case used above, it stands for "holy Scriptures" in the previous sentence. Further, it refers to each writing within the known Scriptures of the day. The use of "Bible" in this context is what translators call an anachronism. Many feel that such should be avoided. The Bible, as we know it, was not in existence. Even our Old Testament was not canonized until after A.D. 70, even though the writings had long been in existence. Some of the New Testament had not been written when Paul made this statement to Timothy. The New Testament as such did not exist until late in the fourth century A.D.


2 Timothy 3: 16

Indefinite

Lower Case:
DHB Every scripture [is] divinely inspired, and profitable for teaching, ... .
KJV All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
others: EBR
Upper Case:
AB Every Scripture is God-breathed -- given by His inspiration -- and profitable for instruction, ... .
IB Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, ... .
others: NKJ
Other Words:
YLR ...; every Writing is God-breathed, and profitable for teaching.
others: (none)


Conclusive

Lower Case:
CNT As for scripture, it is divinely inspired, being serviceable for teaching, ... .
KTC Everything in the scripture has been divinely inspired, and has its uses: to instruct us, to expose our errors, to correct our faults, to educate us in holy living; ... .
MCT Every scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, ... .
PRS All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error.
others: CLNT, MNT, NAB, NJB, NRS, RSV, TBR, TJB, WET
Upper Case:
CEV Everything in the Scriptures is God's Word. All of it is useful for teaching ... .
CTNT Every Scripture, seeing that it is God-breathed, is also profitable for teaching,... .
EVD All Scripture is given by God. And all Scripture is useful for teaching.
GW Every Scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful for teaching, ... .
KLNT All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, ... .
NNT All our Holy Scriptures are inspired by God. They are useful in many ways.
SGAT All Scripture is divinely inspired, and useful in teaching in uprightness.
TM Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, ... .
others: AAT, AIV, CENT, CJB, MSNT, NAS, NBV, NCV, NET, NIV, NLT, NSNT, NWT, RNT, SNB, TDB, TEV, WNT
Other Words:
ANT ... and that from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which have power to make you wise for salvation by faith that is in Christ Jesus. Each document is divinely inspired, and consequently advantageous for instruction, reproof, reclamation and moral discipline, ... .
LB The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration of God and is useful to teach us what is true ... .
NLV All the Holy Writings are God-given and are God-given and are made alive by Him. Man is helped when he is taught God's Word.
others: (none)


Restrictive

Lower Case:
BNT Every divinely inspired scripture is also useful for teaching the truth, for the refutation of error, for moral correction, and for training in the good life.
DRB All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, ... .
LBP All scripture written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is profitable for doctrine, ... .
NEB Every inspired scripture has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, ... .
REB All inspired scripture has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, ... .
WTNT For all scripture given by inspiration of God, is profitable to teach, ... .
others: HBRV, MRB, SARV, SSBE
Upper Case:
EDW All Scripture, divinely inspired, is indeed profitable for Teaching, ... .
IV And all Scripture given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, ... .
WAS Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, ... .
others: (none)
Other Words:
HBME Every Divinely inspired and useful writing was intended for teaching, attestation, and education in righteousness, ... .
TCNT Everything that is written under divine inspiration is helpful for teaching, ... .
others: (none)


Commentary

 

Use of the conclusive category seems to be a dogmatic stand. It may be safe to say that the writers of the various books of the Bible were inspired by Yahweh to write. In some places, the specific words of Yahweh have been quoted. There are scholars who believe that these words were created by the writers since there was a time element from the actual event to the writing. There are those who believe that, even though the writers were inspired of God, they were allowed to use their own style of writing. Scholars of today have noted the styles of the various writers. To say that Yahweh dictated the words of the whole Bible would indicate that there is a lack of understanding of the writing process of the Scriptures.

Is the Bible the Word of God, or does it contain the Word of God? Let us look at a few examples. In Job 1: 9-11 are the words of Satan. Again, in Matthew 4: 3, 6, and 9, the words of Satan are quoted. In parts of 1 Corinthians 7, Paul states that some of what he says is from the Lord, but some of it is not from the Lord. In Song of Solomon 6: 8, 9, there seems to be no repentance at breaking the seventh commandment that was given through Moses. This is a concern, based on what Christians see as the underlining meaning of this book, for example, God and the Church being represented. Are any of these the Words of Yahweh, even though they appear in the Bible? Did He inspire both the speaker and the writer to use these words? Although there are many more illustrations of the conclusive category with upper case "s," it does not necessarily follow that this is the correct translation.

The term God-breathed is virtually the same as inspired by God. However, the first term also has the connotation of being spoken or dictated directly. This is a concept that many Christians have today in regard to the origin of the books of the Bible. The second term expresses more the transmission through the mind of the recipient. This allows for the writer to have used his own style as he wrote.

The writers interpreted what they were inspired to write. Memory of events was also involved. Copyists wrote what they saw as they read or what they heard as the Scriptures were dictated. Translators brought the Scriptures from one language and culture to another. Credit is due to all who were involved in the process of bringing the texts of the ancient writings to us today. However, it is obvious that changes and errors have occurred.

I leave the reader to examine the various ways in which 2 Timothy 3: 16 has been translated and to determine what Paul really meant. Was he referring to the accepted Scriptures in existence? Was he referring also to those that were written in his day and later canonized? Was he referring to future writings that would be inspired by God for the benefit of various peoples? His specific instruction to Timothy involved what we might consider as Old Testament writings. However, was he also speaking to the future in verses 16 and 17? Is it possible that Yahweh might send forth more Scripture than what has been included in the Bible? If yes, are we able to discern what is and what is not of Yahweh? If no, do we really understand the Bible, or are we limiting Scripture?