Follies of Armchair Translation – “Another translation would be…”

Marginal readings in the King James Bible are an interesting window into the translation process. Far from giving license for the reader (or preacher) to substitute words or regard “or” as a synonym for “50-50 coin flip,” they show “possible” translations that the translators ultimately regarded as incorrect for the text. It’s interesting to listen to a preacher “trade” words in the text to make his point only because the word exists in a lexicon entry (among so many others) as if the translators were unaware of the possibility. Unlike today’s armchair translators who run to Strong’s lexicon as if it were a Biblical thesaurus, 47 translators under the guidance of the Holy Ghost actually understood the languages they were working with. If an amature translator changes a word in the text to prove a point he is making, he is subjecting the word of God to his personal theology and has decided that his ability to read a lexicon trumps the learned efforts of translators who could actually speak the language– learned efforts that God has honored with over 400 years of blessing and dissemination.