Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
-Psalm 138:2, KJV

Can a translation be inspired?

Related articles: Inspiration and Translation; Two Lies, The

The following is from Sam Gipp's The Answer Book.

QUESTION: Can a translation be inspired?

ANSWER: Yes, God has inspired several.

EXPLANATION: In the Book of Genesis, chapters 42-45, we have the record of Joseph's reunion with his brethren. That Joseph spoke Egyptian instead of Hebrew is evident by Genesis 42:23.

"And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter."

It is, of course, an accepted fact that no translation can be "word perfect." Therefore we know that the Hebrew translation of Joseph's Egyptian statements as found in the Old Testament manuscripts cannot be an exact word for word copy. We are left with quite a dilemma. WHOM did God inspire? Did He inspire Joseph's Egyptian statements, the Egyptian interpreter's verbal translation, or Moses' written translation as found in the Hebrew of the Old Testament?

If God inspired Joseph, was his "original" statement marred by his Egyptian interpreter, or by Moses' translation? Or did God inspire Moses to pen an "inspired translation" which would fly in the face of many fundamentalists' charges of "progressive inspiration?"

This same question arises in Exodus chapters 4-14 in Moses' contest with Pharaoh. Moses, though speaking for God to an Egyptian king in the king's native Egyptian tongue, translates both his and Pharaoh's statements into Hebrew when he records the account in writing. Which did God inspire? The verbal statements made in Egyptian, a copy of which NO ONE ON EARTH HAS? Or did He inspire Moses' Hebrew translation?

The problem of inspired translations refuses to go away.

In Acts 22 Paul speaks to his Jewish tormentors in the Hebrew language (Acts 21:40; 22:2). The testimony found in verses 1 through 21 is all given orally in Hebrew. Yet there is NO manuscript extant of Acts 22 which records Paul's statement in Hebrew. Luke wrote it all out in Greek. Which did God inspire? Paul's verbal statement or Luke's "progressive inspiration"?

The answer is simple and is found in II Timothy 3:16.

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."

The word "scripture" by its very root, "script," is a term for written words. Therefore, we can rest assured that the various translations (there are more than the few that I have pointed out) we have in our Bible are the inspired words of God. If a fundamentalist chooses not to believe in inspired translations, he will have to do it contrary to the Bible practice.

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