an earnest Bible student, desiring to understand the word of God, I discovered
that practically all solid progress in the recovery of truth during the last century
had come through the use of the concordance. I found that those of my friends
who based their study on a concordance made the surest and speediest advance in
their knowledge of God. Hence I also began to test and correct my ideas as to
the meaning of Bible words by tracing them through all their occurrences. The
immense profit and pleasure of this plan awoke in me a strong desire to do all
in my power to assist others in this safe and satisfactory method of assuring
themselves of the real revelation which God has given.
I found that even keen students of exceptional intelligence were not able to derive
much benefit from concordances based on English translations. Only those who used
concordances based on the original languages received real help. And even they
were harassed by using a version which continually counteracted the benefits of
their concordant study. So it gradually dawned on me that it was foolish to fill
my mind with a discordant version if I hoped to advance in the knowledge of God.
It would be just as save to tangle up a ball of twine before trying to use it.
Thus it was that the idea of a concordant version suggested
itself to my mind. Instead of correcting current translations occasionally by
a concordance, why not make a version which is already concordant, so that the
simple reading of it will give all the benefits otherwise won by prolonged and
arduous study? Indeed, such a version might do far more to bring the unschooled
reader into accord with the truth than would be possible by the patient and prolonged
study of a concordance. For instance, it would be easy to explain what the soul
is if our translators had never rendered it life. It would be an impossible
task to correct all the mistranslatings in the minds of Bible readers. Why not
make a version in which psuchê is always soul, and zôê
A REVERENT METHOD
No one could honestly object
to this method, for it is not based on human scholarship but on a worshipful
recognition of the divine Author's ability to make Himself understood.
Most versions always render zôê life, so that no one
is at a loss to know the significance of the word. But how few know what
soul means! That is because it is not uniformly translated. In
the Hebrew Scriptures it is rendered by over forty different expressions,
such as appetite, beast, body, breath, creature, ghost, heart, lust,
man, mind, pleasure, but especially by life. The Greek word
is rendered mind, heart, and life (more than thirty
times) besides soul.
to the sanctified common sense of the saints, "the spirit of a sound mind"
(2Ti.1:7). If the holy spirit intended us to understand life in so many places
where the original has soul, why was not the word for life used? I came to the
definite conclusion, which has been strengthened by tests extending over a quarter
century of study, that wherever possible, each word in the original should
be represented in translation by only one English word. Then the English reader,
seeing this English word in all of the correct contexts, subconsciously acquires
its exact signification and force and color.
principle I found to be of just as great importance. The same illustration will
serve. Even the word life has lost its distinct meaning by being used for soul.
No one would tolerate such a translation as : The first man Adam was made a living
life." Why, then translate "Take no thought for your life"? (Lu.
12:22). Why not "Do not worry about the soul"? No English word should
do duty for more than one word of the original. This is quite as necessary
as using only one English word for each Greek or Hebrew expression. Between the
two we have the best possible safety device for insuring purity, clarity, and
accuracy in the translation of God's holy word.
SIMPLE SHORT CUT
VERSION is not another burden
for the student to bear, but an easy, simple, short cut to knowledge which
would cost him more than a lifetime of study by any other method. Instead
of giving him a puzzle to solve, it gives him the solution. He does not
need to study a concordance of the original to find out the exact meaning
of any word. First, he is assured that he has the nearest English equivalent.
Second, he knows that when he sees it he may depend upon it that the light
of the context is true and not a false beacon to lead him astray.
benefit will come, not to the student as such, but to the humble reader who will
simply use the version and allow the contexts to color each word and define
its force for him. He will be a constant attendant in the school of God, quite
independent of human learning or scholarship.
A MODERN VERSION
CONCORDANT is not a "modern" version. Neither
is it archaic. The method is such that little regard could be paid to the outward
embellishment of thought. All appearances are subordinated to truth. Yet
truth is itself so desirable and beautiful that only the superficial and unbelieving
will prefer error because it is arrayed in robes rich and venerable. The living
Word was not clothed in sumptuous garb to entice the eye. He had no form or comeliness.
There was no beauty, that they should desire Him. So is the written word. The
desire to dress it up is of the world and not of God. Those who despise its meanness
ally themselves with the throng who crucified the Lord of glory.
are warned that, in the latter eras, religious men will want their ears tickled
rather than their hearts aroused (2Ti.4:3). They will prefer the musical to the
true. Familiar, finely phrased error will appeal to their ears rather than inspired
facts to their minds. But truth has a spiritual harmony and sweet accord which
no dissonance can mar, and which is unutterably more pleasing to the anointed
ear than all the music of mere sound.
ON THE ORIGINAL
method of studying the scriptures uses a concordance to discover the meaning of
a word, not in any version, but in the original. It is based on its occurrences
in the Hebrew, Chaldee, or Greek, however it may be translated into English. The
aim is to discover the usage and fix its signification by its inspired associations.
It is in line with the linguistic law that the meaning of a word is decided by
its usage. In this version the efficiency and value of this method has been greatly
multiplied by extending it to the elements of which words are composed and by
combining with it the vocabulary method, which deals with each word as a definite
province of the realm of thought which must be carefully kept within its own boundaries.
for the exact force of a given expression is multiplied many times if we separate
it into its elements. Take one of the two words which are usually rendered "foundation".
Its elements are DOWN-CAST, and the Greek has found its
way into English in the word catabolism. The element DOWN
brings in two hundred witnesses, while CAST commands over
fifty, These we may call its near relatives. They arouse a suspicion in our minds
that DOWN-CASTing is a strange and unlikely word for "foundation".
It does not suggest building up but casting down. By testing this
new thought in all the contexts we discover that DOWN-CASTing
means disruption, not foundation.
only does the separation of the Greek vocabulary into its elements help in fixing
its true meaning, but it enables us to build up an artificial English-Greek for
use in the Sublinear which brings the two languages together in a most interesting
and profitable way. The reader who knows no Greek is easily able to follow and
grasp the idiom of the original, and to enjoy God's revelation in the very mold
in which He cast it. There is the same relation between His thoughts and words,
and between the words themselves that exists in the inspired autographs.
an English-Greek translation is by far the best instrument for making a version
in which the thoughts, rather than the identical symbols of thought, must be used.
The human mind at its best is limited. The keenest intellect needs this assistance.
The mathematician might be able to count without the use of figures. But how far
could the science of mathematics go if it had no numerals? So the Elements used
in this version help to convey the precise values of the Greek into the English.
Such a word as repentance in far more colorful when we find that, in Greek,
it is called "after-MIND".
is the gain in the grammatical elements. Take the word usually rendered Who
hath abolished (2Ti. 1:10). Now we know that death has not been abolished
yet. From the ending of the word we see that its grammatical elements associate
it with indefinite verbals, which do not state the time of the action.
Hundreds of other passages, where this form is used, focus their light on this,
and we are practically compelled to render it Who abolishes. The great
value of this change is instantly evident, for we can literally believe it, though
we could not believe that death has been abolished.
unhesitatingly make two tremendous claims for concordant uniformity in transferring
the grammatical elements into English. The probability of such renderings being
correct is increased many fold, for all the evidence is continually before us,
and subject to scrutiny. Moreover, even if a standard should be wrong, or, what
is more likely, is not a perfect equivalent, the very fact that it occurs in all
the divine contexts will tend to modify and correct it. Uniformity in rendering
Greek grammatical elements into English is even more important than present exactness,
for it is the only way to eventual exactitude.
have taken the Greek grammatical elements and given to each a corresponding English
form. Any one can see what confusion will result if we should not always translate
a past by a past, a future by a future, and a present by a present. We must
fort out our equivalents in this way or truth is turned into pious error. The
very fact that there is a special form of the past proves that the indefinite
is not a past. If the past can be rendered I wrote, the indefinite must
be different. The existence of the present incomplete form, I am writing,
bars the indefinite from this rendering. If we assign all available English forms
except the Greek indefinite and have nothing but the English indefinite left,
that alone goes far to prove the correctness of I write. No other method
can be so save of satisfactory.
method has been used in a fragmentary way for a century. So far as we know, the
CONCORDANT VERSION is the first
attempt to employ it systematically and exhaustively by applying it to the complete
vocabulary of the sacred text. From this has sprung the complementary "vocabulary"
method. It insists, not on uniformity, but the opposite. If PLACE-CARE
means foundation, and its elements and contexts clearly agree with that
meaning, then DOWN-CASTing, which our versions so translate,
does not mean foundation. In some languages we may not always have enough
words to cover all cases, but English certainly ought to furnish sufficient. In
this extreme example, the words are totally unlike in elements, association and
contexts. One means foundation, the other disruption.
meaning or usage of one word is necessarily distinct from that of all other words.
If we have placed all the words in the vocabulary of the Greek scriptures but
one, we have a vast fund of information as to what it does not mean. This, of
course, is not necessary with many words, but it is of the utmost value in dealing
with words of similar or related meaning. Let any on study a passage in our accepted
versions in which a number of synonyms are used together and he will find that
our translators were forced to better work by the presence of words of nearly
the same signification. What a pity they did not use such renderings elsewhere!
Let us take an example from the so called Authorized Version.
It translates twenty-one words depart. We will give the CONCORDANT
standard of each and a passage, if possible, where they agree:
they render led up (Mt.4:1) and departed (Ac.28:10).
is both return (Lu.12:36) and depart (Phil.1:23).
meaning retire, they render departed (Mt.2:12).
meaning clear, is departed (Ac.19:12).
meaning pass away (Re.21:4) is depart (Mt.8:18).
meaning release (Mt.27:26) or dismiss (Ac.15:30) is sometimes depart
FROM-SPACE is always correctly
depart (Mt.7:23 Lu.9:39 Ac.13:13) as also in the CONCORDANT
they have tried to distinguish on one occasion by adding asunder (Ac.15:39),
but in its other occurrences departed (Re.6:14). It means recoil.
withdraw (1Ti.6:5) is usually rendered departed (Lu.2:37)
sever, they make depart also (Lu.9:33)
pass through (Lu.4:30) is once depart (Ac.13:14).
be off, is twice depart (Ac.17:15).
come out, (Mt.5:26) is depart (Mt.9:31) a few times.
go out, is depart (Mt. 20:29).
come down (Lu.4:31) is once depart (Ac.13:4).
proceed, is usually depart.
withdraw, is also depart (Mt.13:53).
pass by (Mk.2:14) is once departed (Mt.9:27).
(Mt.2:8) is occasionally varied to depart (Mt.2:9).
go away (Jn.14:28) is rendered depart (Mk.6:33).
separate (Ro.8:35) they have, on good grounds, rendered depart when
it refers to a place (Ac.1:4; 18:1,2), and the English seems to have no nearer
term, and the Greek word differs but slightly from FROM-SPACE.
it not very evident that the translation of twenty words depart, when English
has an abundant supply of synonyms, is in itself a departure from the dictates
of reason and real reverence? How is it possible for the English reader to grasp
twenty-one different ideas through the medium of one word? But the confusion is
worse confounded by the fact that twenty different sets of contexts are throwing
a false flood of light upon the word, and the light is darkness.
vocabulary method, used in the CONCORDANT VERSION,
insists that each of these distinct ideas be distinguished from each other by
a special symbol, if that is possible. It will be seen that, in most cases, the
Authorized Version itself uses the proper word on some occasions. No plea for
pious or venerable diction will convince the honest truth seeker that their erratic
renderings are justified.
In the trying task of transcribing
the thoughts of another mind, which far transcends that of the translator, the
ordinary methods of turning a human composition from one language into another
are entirely inadequate. What a man has written a man can comprehend. The most
effective course is to seize the foreign author's thought and express it afresh
in a different tongue.
But once we acknowledge that
God, and not man, is the Author of the revelation which we will call the Sacred
Scriptures, we are face to face with a spiritual problem akin to that which the
scientist encounters in the sphere of nature. He can apprehend some, but never
comprehend all. It has been demonstrated mathematically that the distance
from one branch to another of a very common weed cannot be measured by any human
scale. It is in a ratio whose solution demands a square root which is incommensurable.
Now if a mere weed baffles the human intellect, what shall we say of His highest
and greatest work? The Scriptures are for our apprehension, but very far beyond
The ideal way of producing a perfect
translation would be to find a man who could understand it all, fully and perfectly,
and then have him turn it into English. But where is he? The staff of the CONCORDANT
VERSION makes no claim whatever to such necessary
knowledge and spiritual skill. On the contrary, the method employed is an admission
on their part that such a task is entirely beyond the sphere of human attainment.
The vital differences between the greatest of theologians make manifest the fact
that no man or company of men can fully grasp divine revelation.
the past decade an average of one new translation has appeared annually, yet all
differ in numberless details. That there can be such variety in results shows
that the translations partake largely of the mind which acted as a medium. The
differences are not in the text.
Unless science had
reduced its scattered facts into a system so that the human intellect could deal
with its phenomena as the expression of law, it would still be groping in the
dark domains of medieval philosophy. It would still be teaching that the heavier
a stone, the faster it will fall. One single experiment would have demolished
that dogma, but, in those days, "truth" rested on tradition and authority,
not on fact. Science has made enormous strides ever since, despite the hindrance
offered by unfounded theories. It resorts to experiment and founds truth on the
regular recurrence of facts, that is, on law.
theology is still largely dominated by tradition and dependent on authority. The
extent to which translations agree with such tradition and authority rather than
with the inspired autographs is the measure of infidelity to fact and distance
A true transcript of a divine revelation
must be based on the laws of language rather than on the bias of theologians.
What are these laws? How can they be applied? We will briefly consider them in
this connection. We must remember, however, that English is not a pure language.
It is a conglomeration of fragments from several languages. Sacred Greek, on the
contrary, is one of the most perfect and law-abiding of all tongues. In English
the same letters and sounds have a dozen distinct meanings. Each thought has a
variety of close synonyms. Such difficulties are practically absent from the first
Everything in nature and revelation
is known to us by its relation to other objects. We know nothing absolutely, only
relatively. The same is true of the symbols, spoken or written, which we use to
represent ideas. Hence, in studying words and their meanings, we are not so much
concerned with the sign for a word, as with the relation this sustains to other
signs. The meaning of a word depends on its usage, that is the other words
with which it is used; on its etymology, that is, the family from which
it springs; and on the whole vocabulary of which it forms a part.
simple and common-sense laws have been discovered and confirmed which are of the
greatest help to the linguist, the infraction of which is fraught with the most
confusing consequences. One is,
No word is the exact
equivalent of any other word.
a language, like English, is made up of several tongues, this rule seems to be
contradicted. But such is the vitality of this law that such a condition refuses
to be permanent. Many words once exactly alike, from the French and Anglo-Saxon,
have gradually drifted apart, so that now no good writer will confuse them.
Pork en pig were once the very same. Now the pig is in
the pen and the pork is on the table. One is a living animal, the other, the flesh
of a dead one.
In the languages of inspiration such
confusion is practically unknown. The few foreign words fill a vacant place. Each
word stands for a definite idea. When, for instance, the divine Author wished
to speak of life, what valid reason could be given if, occasionally, He
should substitute the word soul? If He meant soul, why did He not
use the symbols that expressed it? We are satisfied that He did not mean
life when He used the symbols for soul.
LAW OF LOCATION
Every word in the original should have its
own English equivalent.
no two words are precisely alike in meaning in the original, it should not be
necessary to prove that accuracy demands that each Greek word be supplied with
a distinct English equivalent. This, however, cannot be successfully done without
a comprehensive system. It is not sufficient that we have the same number of different
words in each vocabulary. Each English word should be the one which comes nearest
to covering the same domain of thought as the original, and, more particularly,
sustains the same relation to the other words of the language.
make this clearer, we will compare the world of thought to the surface of the
earth, and the words to the geographical and political divisions. There is, indeed,
a signal instance - the ancient province of Asia - which shows how confusing its
is to use geographical names in English which do not correspond with those in
the Greek. Asia now includes a vast continent, and the English reader, unless
warned, must get the idea that the entire territory of Asiatic Russia, China,
Japan, Korea, Siam, India, Persia, Arabia, Palestine, and Asia Minor are included.
So we have translated it "the province of Asia", for only a small part
of the present Asia Minor is meant. In precisely the same way it is misleading
to translate a general term for one that is specific.
out our figure, we will call this the Law of Location. If the geographer
must not confound England with New Zealand, the lexicographer should not confuse
yea and nay (A.V., 1Co.4:3;6:8), or pour out and fill
(A.V., Rev 14:10;18:6).
But such accidents are rare
and easily avoided. It is when two words are similar in meaning that the danger
is greatest. Great Britain covers three countries but there are times when it
is most important to distinguish between England, Scotland and Wales. Similarly,
though all are sin, it is of the highest value to discriminate between injustice
and transgression and offense.
is practically impossible when one of them, offense, is rendered sin (Eph.1:7),
trespass (Eph.2:1), which is practically the same as transgression,
as well as the usual word offense. The translators were restrained from
rendering it sin in the first verse of the second of Ephesians by the immediate
presence of the real word sin. In the vocabulary method of the CONCORDANT
VERSION this restraint is always present, and debars
it from following their example and lapse in to sin in the fifth verse.
only practical safeguard in apportioning to each Greek expression its most fitting
English equivalent is to arrange the whole vocabulary in alphabetical order, so
that any duplicates will immediately become apparent. If, for instance, we wish
to translate FROM-LOOSing redemption, as it is ordinarily
rendered, we will be confronted by the fact that this term is already appropriated
by LOOSing. We then find that we need, not merely another
word, but one which will register the difference indicated by the prefix FROM-.
The word deliverance admirably performs this function.
vocabulary used by a translator should be such that, when superimposed on the
vocabulary of the original, it will not only coincide as far as possible, but
clearly define the boundaries between the words and their relation to one another.
Such a task is necessarily imperfect in its results, due to radical differences
in the idioms of language and also to the usage of words. The question arises
whether these imperfections can be removed and, if so, how it is to be done.
It is not enough, that each word should harmonize with
its contexts. If a single English word seems to suit different sets of contexts,
in which the original uses two expressions, that is evidence that we have failed
to grasp the finer phases of concord. The difference is there, though we may not
be aware of it. The vocabulary method is the only means of discovering what our
dull senses otherwise overlook. We must find a word for each set of contexts which
will fit that and no other. We must compare it with the whole vocabulary and so
prove that there is not a better word for the place it fills.
leads us to consider the greatest and most powerful of all the laws of language.
LAW OF RECIPROCATION
Every thought symbol, the moment that
it is placed is connection with others, both influences the meaning of its neighbors
and is itself modified by them.
antagonistic to each other will not associate. We never read of hot ice.
If we did the word hot would gradually become chilled and lose its present
meaning. If we did not know the meaning of cold, its close company with
ice would soon assure us of its signification.
get their color from their contexts. Without any dictionary whatever, it is possible
to determine the meaning of almost any word if it is seen in a dozen sentences.
From this we may deduce the notable conclusion that the actual and understood
meaning of an English word in the Bible is not necessarily its current of dictionary
meaning, but that which it absorbs from the passages in which it is found. A dictionary
simply records the usage of words as employed by careful writers.
find, then, that we have discovered a law which will practically adjust the minor
differences which exist between Greek and English equivalents. An English word
will expand or contract, color or blanch, become purified or tainted, to conform
to the thought environments which surround it in the Scriptures. If an English
word is not an exact counterpart of the Greek, the contexts in which it consistently
occurs will correct its inaccuracies. It will take on a special scriptural signification.
This is why the uniform renderings of the CONCORDANT VERSION
are the most valuable yet simple means of transferring the truth into English.
PENALTY OF LAWLESSNESS
like all law, its benefits depend on its unvarying observance, and a penalty follows
its infringement. If we inject into one English word all the virus of five false
contexts, it will not only fail to furnish us with the truth, but it will reflect
a false light when used in its proper place. A version which mixes its renderings
subconsciously confuses its readers.
One example will
suffice. The ecclesiastical meaning of "ordinance" is a religious rite
Five different Greek words are
translated ordinance in the Authorized Version.
of them means decree (Lu.2:1 Ac.16:4;17:7 Eph. 2:15 Col.2:14). In the first
three passages they so render it. Why not in the last two?
is mandate (Ac.7:53 Ro.13:2). In the first they translate it disposition.
Another is statute (Heb.9:1,10).
is always translated creation or creature elsewhere (1Pt.2:13)
Another is uniformity tradition except in 1Co.11:2.
no case does it mean a religious rite. Yet it injects this meaning into almost
every passage. If the translators had used some of their own renderings consistently,
or even a synonym, we should have been saved untold confusion. It is a flagrant
violation of the laws of language to render five different words by one word,
and, in each case, to translate these words by other terms as well. The truth
is lost in such a maze.
So valuable and vital is the
law of reciprocation that we believe its observance puts the CONCORDANT
VERSION in a class by itself. We urge all who are
sincerely desirous of knowing God to test this matter fully. The continuous use
of a version which obeys this law bridges the gulf between God's thoughts and
human apprehension; the constant use of a lawless version puts an impassable chasm
between us and God. One is clear concord; the other is subconscious confusion.
from CONCORDANT GREEK TEXT
© 1975 Concordant Publishing
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