Thursday, September 8, 2011

Jacques More, "Serious Mistranslations of the Bible" - first thoughts.

A friend of mine has asked me to review Jacques More's book Serious Mistranslations of the Bible (2011, Jarom Books) for him, and I have agreed. A book with a title like Serious Mistranslations of the Bible is setting out to be controversial. After all, at least by implication More is saying that at least the vast majority of English Bible translations contain "serious mistranslations'.

But Jacques More is not the sort of man to shy away from controversy. A former motor-mechanic turned theologian, he began his career as a Christian author with Will There be Non-Christians in Heaven? in which he argued that there are those among non-Christians who are already born-again (See here). His second book argues that Church leadership should not be exclusively male, and his third book was an anti-Calvinist tract called So You Think You're Chosen? In many ways Serious Mistranslations is a sequel to these books, or perhaps a re-issuing of some of the material in these books in an expanded form. Thus it begins with a discussion of the Greek word eklektos, translated 'Elect' in many passages. More argues that it has been persistently mistranslated since the time of Augustine, and that its primary meaning should refer to quality rather than choice.

A quick check of every major committee-written English translation that I possess (KJV, RV, RSV, NASB, REB, ESV, NKJV and NIV), shows that none of them favour More's translation. Left to itself this would be an argument from authority and therefore possibly fallacious, but rather it should be a pause for thought. More is not a Greek scholar, he is a student of New Testament Greek. His book is worryingly lacking in footnotes for a volume that throws doubt on the truthfulness of all English Bible versions. This worries me. I have only begun to read it, but it seems that More's method of dealing with passages that he disagrees with is to claim that they are mistranslated by practically everyone else.

Perhaps it is the format of the book, but it certainly gives the impression that More deals with words alone, and without due attention to context, perhaps as a result of his education. I have a great deal of experience of godly people adopting word-study fallacies where they obtain the meaning of a word in one place from its meaning in another, rather than seeking the meaning of a word in its immediate context. I am no expert in Greek - but neither is More.

The man on his own may be right, but he needs to offer compelling arguments. In the interests of full disclosure, may I add that I am somewhat biassed against books like this one that are self-published, since they have not had to pass an editorial pen.

1 comment:

Jacques More said...

Since you wrote this having only just begun to read it has your view changed? In particular as regards the source and back up information provided in the book for the claims made?