The Amplified New Testament A26

A remarkable feature of the second half of the twentieth century has been the frequent appearance of new English versions of the New Testament and of the whole Bible. These new versions have been accompanied by the assurances of the translators that they have followed the best text, adopted the conclusions of the best scholars, secured the highest degree of accuracy, and set forth the fruit of all this in the best English of the present day. A careful examination of thirty or more modern versions soon reveals that their translators are often in disagreement regarding the underlying Greek text, and as often at variance over what the Greek text means and how it should be expressed in modern English. Where the modern versions differ radically from each other in these respects, they obviously cannot all be right, and the possessor of several different specimens turns from them with justifiable perplexity.

The aim of the translators

This perplexity is reflected in much of the correspondence received at the office of the Trinitarian Bible Society, and we are often asked to write a brief appraisal of one or other of the modern versions. Recently there have been several such requests for an article on the Amplified New Testament. According to the Preface, the Editorial Committee ‘have peaceful confidence that the merits of the Amplified N. T. are sufficient justification for its existence’. They sent it forth with an expression of their desire that it might be ‘for the glory of God and the good of man’, and they did not hesitate to affirm that they regarded the New Testament as ‘the Word of our blessed Lord, the Word of divine wisdom…the Word of everlasting life.’ They made it quite clear that they were not attempting a translation ‘exact or literal in form’, but rather to bring out each word's original, often hidden, meaning in all the fulness that its particular setting calls for, in the deep conviction that the whole Word of God was originally verbally inspired and infallible.

The earnestness and sincerity of these affirmations is not to be doubted, and indeed one could wish that such were to be found in the preface of every modern version. Nevertheless, while readily acknowledging such merits and usefulness as may be found in this version, one cannot be blind to its faults, some of which are briefly stated in the paragraphs which follow.

Deficiencies of the underlying Greek text

The Preface states that the Greek Text of Westcott and Hort was pursued with meticulous care and that the translators kept four objects in view, namely—That the translation should be true to the original Greek, grammatically correct, understandable, and ‘that it should give the Lord Jesus Christ His proper place, the place that the Word gives Him’.

Several of these statements are incompatible with each other. The translators’ conviction that the whole Word of God was verbally inspired and infallible is not honoured by the Greek Text which they adopted as their basis. Westcott and Hort's edition of the Greek does not present the reader with ‘the whole Word of God’. However devout the intentions of those two scholars may have been, their textual theories led them to make many omissions, transpositions and alterations, on the very slender authority of a small group of ancient but unreliable manuscripts—The Codex Vaticanus and its allies. For the same reason it is not possible to reconcile the adoption of Westcott and Hort's Greek text with the translators’ aim that their version should be ‘true to the original Greek’. The WH text is not synonymous with ‘the original Greek’, but on the contrary it reproduces a corrupted form of the Greek Text which enjoyed a limited popularity in the middle of the 4th century and was cast aside for about fifteen centuries, until the textual critics of the last century, and some of their predecessors, imagined that they had found in this rejected and mutilated text the purest representative of ‘the original Greek’. The translators of the Amplified Version unwisely adopted as the basis of their labour the Greek text largely reconstructed to accord with the testimony of the Codex Vaticanus.

Doubts cast upon many authentic passages

The Preface says, ‘The Truth is here—authoritative, authentic and accurate, but in a new garb’, but in fact the authority and authenticity of a very large number of passages are called into question. This is effected by printing in italics ‘certain familiar words or passages found in the King James Version but generally omitted now because they are not adequately supported by more recent scholarship’. These disputed passages are included in the printed text, but the reader is told that they are not to be regarded as part of the authentic text of Holy Scripture because ‘recent scholarship’ rejects them. A separate list of passages in the first three Gospels affected in this way is given at the end of this article.

Testimonies to the Saviour's Deity are affected

One of the avowed aims of the version is ‘that it should give the Lord Jesus Christ His proper place, the place which the Word gives Him’. Again, the adoption of Westcott & Hort's Greek text stands in the way of accomplishing this object. For instance, the declaration of our Saviour's Deity in Mark 1.1 ‘the Son of God’ is given in italics to indicate that its authenticity is ‘not adequately supported by more recent scholarship’. A similar testimony is overshadowed with doubt in John 6.47, where our Lord says, ‘He that believeth ON ME hath everlasting life’. His words mean that to believe on Him is to believe in God ‘whom to know is life eternal’. The Amplified Version puts ‘on Me’ in italics, so that the reader is told in effect that the authentic Text does not in this place call for belief in Christ, but for belief in God. The whole of Acts 8.37 containing the Ethiopian's testimony that ‘Jesus Christ is the Son of God’ is treated in the same way, and the same element of doubt is applied to the declaration in I Corinthians 15.47 that ‘the second Man is the Lord from heaven’. These important testimonies inspired by the Holy Spirit, which ‘give the Lord Jesus Christ His proper place’, are all declared to be of doubtful authority.

Other important changes

Many other changes made in the translation can be traced to the deficiencies of the Greek source adopted by the translators. These are not indicated by italics and can only be identified by comparing the version line by line with one based on a more reliable text. Some of these changes also have a bearing on the testimony of Holy Scripture to the Deity of Christ. For example, in Romans 14.10, the Apostle wrote, ‘We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ’. This shows that the Son is one with the Father in judgment, and endorses the words spoken of Himself by the Saviour— ’The Father…hath committed all judgment to the Son’. In the Amplified Version Romans 14.10 says, ‘For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God’, and this rendering does not ‘give the Lord Jesus Christ His proper place’.

Those who make use of this version would be well advised not to regard it as a reliable guide to the original text. The version is partly translation, partly paraphrase, and partly commentary, and the translators themselves acknowledge that it is not exact or literal.

How the First three Gospels are affected

The passages in the first three Gospels which the Amplified Version classifies as of doubtful authenticity and as lacking the support of more recent scholarship are as follows:

Matthew 1.25 - Her firstborn; 6.13 - For Thine is the kingdom…Amen; 6.18 - openly; 6.25 - or what ye shall drink; 8.29 - Jesus; 9.14 - oft; 11.19 - her children; 12.47 - whole verse; 15.5 - or his mother; 15.8 - draweth nigh unto me with their mouth and; 16.2,3 - When it is evening…signs of the times; 16.20 - Jesus; 17.21, 18.11 - whole verses; 18.35 - their trespasses; 19.9 - and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery; 19.20 from my youth up; 20.7 - and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive; 20.16 - for many be called, but few chosen; 20.22 - and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? 21.44, 23.14 whole verses; 25.13 - wherein the Son of Man cometh; 25.31 - holy; 26.17 - unto him; 27.24 - just; 27.35 - that it might be fulfilled cast lots; 28.9 - And as they went to tell His disciples; 28.20 - Amen

Mark 1.1 - the Son of God; 1.14 - of the kingdom; 2.17 - to repentance; 2.22 - but new wine is to be put into new bottles; 3.15 heal sicknesses and; 4.24 - that hear; 5.12 - the devils; 5.40 - lying; 6.11 - Verily I say unto you…for that city; 7.16 - verse; 7.24 - and Sidon; 8.26 - nor tell it to any in the town; 9.24 - with tears; 9.29 and fasting; 10.7 - and cleave to his wife; 10.24 - for them that trust in riches; 11.10 - in the name of the Lord; 11.26 - verse; 12.29 - of all the commandments; 12.30 - this is the first commandment; 13.8 and troubles; 13.11 - neither do ye premeditate; 13.14 - spoken of by Daniel the prophet; 13.15 - into the house, 14.27 - this night; 14.45 - Master (once); 14.68 - and the cock crew; 14.70 - and thy speech agreeth thereto; 15.28 - verse; 16.9 - 20 - a note states that these are not in the two earliest manuscripts.

Luke 1.28 - Blessed art thou among women; 1.35 - of thee; 2.40 in spirit; 4 4 - but by every word of God; 4.5 - into an high mountain; 4.8 - Get thee behind me, Satan; 6.10 - as the other; 8.43 - which had spent…physicians; 9.1 - disciples; 9.55 - 56 - and said…to save them; 11.2 - Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth; 11.4 - but deliver us from evil; 11.11 - bread…will ye give him a stone, or if he ask; 12.27 - they grow; 17.36, 23.17 - whole verses; 23.38 - in letters of Greek and Latin and Hebrew; 23.42 - Lord; 24.53 - praising - Amen.

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