Thursday, September 18, 2008


This was originally done around 1966 as a booklet; revised May, 2000. I intended to give these out at the Ohio Valley Lectures held at Zanesville that year. I set the type on a Linotype and ran them off on a handpress.

I had been given a copy of "Alexander Campbell and His New Version" (Bethany history series) by Cecil K Thomas (Author) by my good friend Doward Anguish. wrote: Alexander Campbell (1788-1866) was a leader of the "restoration movement" which gave rise to the Disciples of Christ and the Church of Christ. He produced this version of the New Testament for his early followers, before he had broken with the Baptists. As the title shows, it is not a new version, but a revision of versions of portions of the New Testament previously published by Scottish scholars. The Gospels are from a translation by George Campbell (Edinburgh, 1778), the Epistles from James MacKnight (London, 1795), and the Acts and Revelation from Philip Doddridge's New Testament (London, 1765). In 1818 a London publisher had reprinted these versions together in one volume, and it was this 1818 edition which Campbell slightly revised to produce his own edition in 1826. He is said to have spent less than a year in this work. Campbell himself was not so much a scholar as a controversialist.

Yet in the years before the Civil War this Living Oracles Version had a profound effect on reaching out with the "Search For The Ancient Order" as Campbell called it. Finally opposition from the denominations prompted a return to the KJV.

We should not speak of the "King James Bible," the "American Standard Bible," the"Revised Standard Bible," and so on as though they were each different Bibles! There is only ONE Bible! This one Bible has been put into many languages and dialects, but it is still the same Bible!
We believe the Holy Spirit of God So guided the writers of both the Old and New Testaments that each word they recorded was exactly as God would have it to be. This being true, it must follow that God watches over the Translators to see that the glory of His message is not dimmed. William Luff words it this way:

It is the Spirit's Bible!
Copyright every word!
Only His thoughts are uttered,
Only His voice is heard!

This must be true, since God's word cannot pass away!

When the work was begun on the Canterbury Revision in 1870, sixty-five scholars were selected to do the work. A year later an American committee of thirty four was chosen to cooperate in this project. These scholars made many changes in the interest of clarity (because words had changed their meanings, etc.). But, it is worthwhile to notice that although they had in their hands no less than 2000 manuscripts of the Old Testament and 3000 manuscripts of the New Testament, they did not find changes necessary which would alter a single historical fact or essential doctrine of Christianity! In other words, the Hand of God has been active down through the ages, working through devoted men, to transmit to our age the Word in an unchanged form!

The Bible was given to people, not to scholars! It was not written in Old - fashioned, High - sounding words, nor in cherished theological terms. It was written in the living language of the people, words that a common man could understand. It is for this reason that fresh translations are necessary from time to time - to again put the Bible into the language of the common people! As we shall consider next, this is God's will!

The principle of TRANSLATION is a Scriptural one! The Holy Spirit Himself did this on Pentecost. Through His power the words were translated, and the people asked, "How hear we every man in our own tongue wherein we were born?" (Acts 2:8). Since that day the Bible has been put into many thousands of tongues or languages. Dedicated followers of God have made His voice understandable to the nations of the world by translating it into their languages! God has watched over the translators down through the age, to preserve His message! We cannot believe God Almighty would permit anyone to distort His word. Therefore each standard translation is the word of God!

TERMS Let us define some of the terms which are used in connection with the Bible. It will help us understand questions that arise from time to time.

AUTOGRAPH The original manuscript of the inspired writer. These original writings no longer exist, but are preserved in the many copies which were made from them.

MANUSCRIPT. - This is a copy of the original writings in the original languages. Copies had to be made for each to have access to the Bible. There are many thousands of manuscripts from early centuries still in existence. The last thirty years has seen a great increase in the discovery of manuscripts, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls. This increases our knowledge.

VERSION This is another name for a "translation." It is the process of transferring thought from one language to another. Many versions were made in the first century so that each could read in his own language - Latin, Syriac, etc.

TRANSLATION This is another name for "version."

PARAPHRASE This is a "free translation." It seeks to reproduce the meaning of a passage, without necessarily being literal. All translations are, of necessity, paraphrases to some extent, since it is not possible to simply substitute words of one language for another and produce understandable sentences. For example: a computer was programmed to translate English into Russian. When the phrase: "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak," was put into it, it came out: "The liquor is good but the food is lousy.".

Campbell said "The literal translation does not always give the correct meaning, especially with such languages as Hebrew. The Psalmist is quoted in Acts 2:25 as saying: "I foresaw the Lord always before my face." The meaning is, "I fixed my mind upon the Lord." The Sacred Scriptures, 1826 A. Campbell.

REVISION This is not a new translation, but the reworking of an old one. Thus the King James Version was not a new translation, but a revision of the work of Tyndale (1525) by way of the "Bishop's Bible." Further revisions are the "Revised Version" of 1880, the "American Standard Version" of 1901, and more recently the "Revised Standard Version" of 1952. [in 1966]

To "Interpret" is to give the meaning of what someone has said. Paul speaks of "unknown tongues" not being profitable unless intepreted (1 Cor. 14).

To "Interpolate" is to "read into" a passage something which has not been stated: It may or may not be accurate, but, in the field of Bible study, it has no authority. We use the word in a bad sense, but we are doing this ourselves when we speculate on the meaning of certain verse. Technically, every word in the King James Version which appears in italics is an interpolation, since it does not appear in the original language. It has been added by the translators because they felt it necessary to complete the meaning.


"A living language is continually changing. Like the fashions and customs in apparel, words and phrases, at one time current and fashionable, in a century or two, come to have a signification very different from that which was once attached to them: nay, some are known to convey ideas not only different from, but contrary to, their first signification. And were it not for books and parchments, which preserve from one generation to another, the language of the dead; and transmit from father to son the words and sentences of past times; it is not improbable that, in one generation, a living language would undergo as many mutations, and admit of as many innovations as it now does in two or three hundred years."

"We have, in writing, all the Hebrew and Greek that is necessary to perpetuate to the end of time, all the ideas which the Spirit of God has communicated to the world; and these languages, being dead, have long since ceased to change. The meaning of the words used by the sacred penman, is fixed and immutable; which it could not have been, had these languages continued to have been spoken."

"But this constant mutation in a living language will probably render new translations, or corrections of old translations, necessary every two or three hundred years. For although the English tongue may have changed less during the last two hundred years than it ever did in the same lapse of time; yet the changes which have taken place since the reign of James I do now render a new translation necessary. For if the King's translators had given a translation every way faithful and correct, in the language then spoken in Britain, the changes in the English language which have since been introduced, would render that translation in many instances incorrect." The Sacred Writings, 1826, A. Campbell


Because we still use many of the same words, (but with new and very different meanings) it is difficult to realize that as early as 1770, Benjamin Franklin said that people had ceased to read the Bible (the King James Version) because they could not understand it. (The reason being that while the words were the same, the meanings were different.)

J. W. McGarvey made this statement at the "Missouri Christian Lectures" (1883) concerning the (English) "Revised Version" of 1880 [which we have as the American Standard Version] : "The Canterbury Revision of the New Testament should now totally supplant the King James Version, not only because it is a great improvement as a version, but because it is the only representative in English of the corrected Greek text. A man is not safe in venturing upon the exegesis of a single passage by the aid of the old version until he shall have compared it with the new; and rather than be continually making these comparisons, it is better to at once adopt the new into exclusive use."

EXAMPLES -Here is the "Lord's Prayer" (Luke 11:2-4) as it appeared in some different translations. I have preserved the original spelling.

"Fadir, halewid be thi name, Thi kyngdom come to. Give to vs to day oure eche dayes breed. And forgyue to vs oure synnes, as and we forgyuen to ech owynge to vs. And leed not vs in to temptacioun."

"Oure father which arte in heve, halowed be thy name. Lett thy kingdo come. Thy will be fulfillet, even in erth as it is in heven. Oure daily breed geve us this day. And forgeve vs oure synnes: For even we forgeve every man that traspaseth vs; and ledde vs not into temptacio, Butt deliver vs from evyll Amen."

"Father, sanctified be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Our daily bread guie vs this day, and forgiue vs our sinnes, for because our selues also doe forgiue euery one that is in debt to vs. And lead vs not into temptation."

KING JAMES VERSION of 1611 (original spelling)
Our Father which art in heauen, Halowed be thy Name, Thy kingdome come, Thy will be done as in heauen, so in earth. Giue vs day by day our dayly bread. And forgiue vs our sinnes: for we also forgiue euery one that is indebted to vs. And lead vs not into temptation, but deliuer vs from euill."

"Father, May your name be kept holy, May your Kingdom come. Give us day by day the food we need. Forgive us our sins, for we forgive everyone who has done us wrong. And do not bring us to the hard testing."

"Jedus tell um say, 'Wen oona pray, mus say, We Papa een heaben, leh ebrybody hona you nyame cause you da holy. We pray dat soon you gwine rule oba all ob we. Wasoneba ting you da want, leh um be een dis wol, same like e be dey een heaben.'"

This is a real language, spoken by several millions of people in the Islands of the Pacific. It is now called Neo-Melanesian. This shows something of the work of the translators.

"Papa, nem bilong yu em i mas i stap holi, Kingdom bilong yu em i mas i kam. Kaikai bilong mipela inap long de, em yu givim mipela long olgeta de. Lusim sin bilong mipela. Mipela tu i lusim sin bilong olgeta man i ben mekim rong long mipela. Yu no bringim mipela long samting bilong traim mipela.

God is working out His PLAN! He has given us His Word -which is AT ONCE the infallible guide, and yet allows men to either accept or reject its message. It is truly a "two-edged sword," for it CUTS both ways! It is either life eternal or death - depending upon what we do with it. Make sure you DO understand it! Use several translations. Compare carefully. Open your mind. Let God's light shine upon you. Have the spirit of Christ in you!

The Devil attacks God. First he attacks the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:24). Next he attacks Jesus
(1 John 2:22-23). The Devil has always tried to replace God with idols.

Even though "trinity" is not a Bible word, our fathers in the faith strongly believed in God Who Is A Trinity. Campbell could say: "Jehovah the Father, Jehovah the Son, Jehovah the Holy Spirit." This should not be thought of as a conundrum, since each one of us is: body-soul-spirit (1 Thess. 5:23).

Rather than trying to solve the mystery of GOD, we need to refocus. The Triune Living God helps us understand and deal with crucial practical issues facing all who seek to live in The Spirit of Christ in both church and world today. In the encounter with GOD we are invited to share in divine life and grace through Jesus Christ by the power of The Holy Spirit. At the same time we are called to live in a new relationship with one-another, as we are gathered by The Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ (note Eph. 2:19-22).

The doctrine of The Trinity, then, explores the mysteries of love, relationship, person-hood and communion (sharing - note 1 Cor. 10:16-17) within the framework of God’s self-revelation in the person of Christ Jesus and the activity of The Holy Spirit. 2 Cor. 13:13-14

Here is a comparison between the King James Version, Campbell's Version (The Living Oracles), and the New King James Version. It demonstrates the changes words have made, and shows why new translations must be made from time to time. Some recent Bible Bowls have been based on the New King James Version which is much like the Revised Standard Version in word choice and accuracy.

Matt. 1:18 KJV on this wise CAMPBELL thus NKJV was as follows
6:25 KJV take thought CAMPBELL be anxious NKJV do not worry
9:10 KJV sat at meat CAMPBELL being at table NKJV sat at the table
13:20 KJV anon CAMPBELLat first NKJV immediately
13:21 KJV by and by CAMPBELL instantly NKJV Immediately
25:27 KJV exchangers CAMPBELL bankers NKJV bankers
Mark 9:6 KJV wist not CAMPBELL knew not NKJV did not know
Luke 10:41 KJV careful CAMPBELL anxious NKJV worried and troubled
14:10 KJV have worship CAMPBELL do thee honor NKJV will have glory
John 13:26 KJV sop CAMPBELL morsel NKJV piece of bread
Acts 18:7 KJV deputy CAMPBELL proconsul NKJV proconsul
17:23 KJV devotions CAMPBELL objects of worship NKJV objects of your worship
17:30 KJV wink at CAMPBELL overlook NKJV overlooked
26:14 KJV pricks CAMPBELL goads NKJV goads
27:30 KJV under color as CAMPBELL under pretense of NKJV under pretense of
28:13 KJV fetched a compass CAMPBELL coasted round NKJV circled round
Romans 1:13 KJV let hitherto CAMPBELL hindered NKJV was hindered
3:4 KJV God forbid CAMPBELL by no means NKJV certainly not
1 Cor. 13:1 KJV charity CAMPBELL love NKJV love
2 Cor. 8:1 KJV do you to wit CAMPBELL make known to you NKJV make known to you
1 Thess.4:15 KJV prevent CAMPBELL anticipate NKJV precede
5:14 KJV feebleminded CAMPBELL faint-hearted NKJV fainthearted
1 Tim. 4:12 KJV conversation CAMPBELL behavior NKJV conduct

1 comment:

Stoned-Campbell Disciple said...

Just found your blog. Enjoyed reading your thoughts on Campbell and the Living Oracles.