Translators & ‘the lying pen of the scribes…’ Pt.2

A couple days ago I posted the first in this occasional series…

Today, we follow up with another example of clear translator bias that leads to false theology or wrong understanding of Scripture.

Let’s look at Acts 7:38.

This is the one who was in the [a]congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you.

As you found in the previous post, if you hit the footnote, copied directly from BibleGateway.com, (another good ‘tool’ for the Bible student) you can ‘see’ what I am talking about.  This is the same note that would be in the chain-reference notes of an NASB Study Bible.

The Greek word in question is: ἐκκλησία  or transliterated as ekklēsia.

In the NASB, the Greek word is translated 114 times, breaking down as follows:

  • Assembly  (3)
  • Church (74)
  • Churches (35)
  • Congregation (2)

So, let’s look at the oddball uses and see how/why…

Assembly: All three occurrences are in Acts 19:32-41 and rightly use the word ‘assembly’ as it speaks of a rabble who are gathered to riot in favor of Dianna and against the teachings of Rav Sha’ul (Paul) to the Ephesians.  Clearly, ‘church’ would not fit.  Good translating.

Congregation: Two occurrences in the NASB: Acts 7:38 and Hebrews 2:12.

This is the one who was in the [a]congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you.

saying,  “I will proclaim Your name to My brethren,
In the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.” (Quoting Psalm 22:22)

Interesting coinky-dink!  Both passages are clear connections with the ‘old’ Testament, the first a clear reference to the Children of Israel at Sinai and the second a veiled prophecy of Messiah among His brethren.  Interesting.

Before pursuing this thread farther, let’s see how other translations treat ἐκκλησία in Acts 7:38, as this is the real verse in question:  (Using the translations available in my e-sword)

(ABP+)  ThisG3778 isG1510.2.3 the oneG3588 beingG1096 amongG1722 theG3588 assemblyG1577 inG1722 theG3588 wildernessG2048 withG3326 theG3588 angel,G32 the oneG3588 speakingG2980 to himG1473 onG1722 G3588 mountG3735 Sinai,G* andG2532 of the onesG3588 of our fathers;G3962 G1473 whoG3739 receivedG1209 [2oraclesG3051 1living]G2198 to giveG1325 to us;G1473

(Bishops)  This is he that was in the Churche in ye wyldernesse with the angel, which spake to hym in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers: This man receaued the worde of lyfe to geue vnto vs.

(Geneva)  This is he that was in the Congregation, in the wildernes with the Angell, which spake to him in mount Sina, and with our fathers, who receiued the liuely oracles to giue vnto vs.

( KJV-1611)  This is he that was in ye Church in the wildernesse with the Angel, which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who receiued the liuely oracles, to giue vnto vs.

(KJV)  This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:

(LBLA)  Este es el que estaba en la congregación en el desierto junto con el ángel que le hablaba en el monte Sinaí, y con nuestros padres, y el que recibió palabras de vida para transmitirlas a vosotros;

(NBLH)  “Este es el que estaba en la congregación en el desierto junto con el ángel que le hablaba en el Monte Sinaí, y con nuestros padres, y el que recibió palabras de vida (oráculos divinos) para transmitirlas a ustedes,

(KJVA)  This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:

(WoY)  This is he, that was in the assembly in the wilderness with the angel which spoke to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:

(The Scriptures 1998+)  “This is he who was in the assembly in the wilderness with the Messenger who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, who received the living Words to give to us,

(NET)  This is the man who was in the congregation104 in the wilderness105 with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors,106 and he107 received living oracles108 to give to you.109

(ISV)  This Moses is the one who was in the assembly in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai and to our ancestors. He received living truths to give to us,

(ASV)  This is he that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel that spake to him in the Mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received living oracles to give unto us:

(ESV)  This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us.

(YLT)  `This is he who was in the assembly in the wilderness, with the messenger who is speaking to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers who did receive the living oracles to give to us;

(LBP)  It was he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him and to our fathers in Mount Sinai: He is the one who received the living words to give to us.

(ANT)  This is The [Man] Becoming in the congregation in the [one] deserted with the messenger the [one] speaking [to] him in the mountain {of} sinai and the fathers [of] us Who receives words living to give [to] us

(EMTV)  This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us,

The Spanish translations may be a bit vague, from the perspective that some dialects use the word ‘congregation’ with similar frequency to ‘iglesia’ to refer to ‘church.’  Still, we note that the Spanish translators chose ‘congregacion’ over ‘iglesia.’

So, what was the Jewish view of the ‘congregation’ at Mt. Sinai in terms of the Greek language?  Easy.  What word did they use in the LXX?  (‘LXX’ is shorthand for the Septuagint, meaning ’70,’ referring to the 70+/- Rabbinic Scholars who translated the Hebrew Tanakh into Koine Greek, thus the Roman numerals for ’70’.)

Surprise, when referring to the Body of Believers at Mt. Sinai or who can enter in to worship YHWH, one term used, about 77 times is….  ἐκκλησία, generally translated as ‘assembly’ in the NASB.  Interesting to note, is that a preferred term in the LXX is ‘συναγωγηνwhich yields a direct reference to the previous piece on this topic and validates the claim I now make.

While there are a few examples in the older translations above quoted that translate ‘ekklesia’ as ‘church,’ the majority of more modern translations attempt to draw a line of distinction between the ‘assembly’ in the wilderness, and ‘church’ in the Book of Acts, while the speaker and martyr of Acts 7:38, Stephen, sees none. Neither do the authors of the ‘new(er)’ Testament (literally, renewed covenant) as they consistently use the term ‘ἐκκλησία’ and occasionally, συναγωγην (synagogue), as we saw two days ago, to refer to the Body of Believers.

So, as we asked the other day, ‘what’s the big deal?’

Simple.  By changing terms for the ‘Body of Messiah’ in the back of the Book (the new Testament), those who seek to maintain a wall of separation between Jew and Gentile now have the convenient, albeit, non-existent, cover of some ‘new entity’ based on translational equivocation.  Now we can be ‘the church’ and not, *gasp* members of the commonwealth of Israel.

Now, please understand, I am NOT advocating a replacement of Israel, rather, I advocate throughout this blog, a right understanding of what it means to be grafted in and the expectations that come with joining/being joined to the Olive Tree and therefore, Israel..

When Rav Sha’ul speaks to the largely Gentile congregation of Corinth, he calls them ‘brethren’ and speaks to them of ‘our fathers’ in the wilderness.  He considers them spiritual heirs and descendants who need to learn a lesson from ‘our fathers.’  He does not say, ‘my’ and ‘you/your,’ rather it is a noticeable ‘our’ and ‘us.’  Let’s see:

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was [a]Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.

Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them [b]did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them [c]did, and were destroyed by the serpents. 10 Nor grumble, as some of them [d]did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Rav Sha’ul does not see the distinction that the translators impose on the text through changing terms.  As we saw in the previous post, translators change the Word of YHWH through error…  whether accidental or willful.  YHWH’s answer is,

How can you say, ‘We are wise,
And the Torah of the Lord is with us’?
But behold, the lying pen of the scribes
Has made it into a lie.

Study for yourself!  Dig deeply into the Word and learn to use tools that assist you in getting to the depth instead of accepting spoon-fed fallacies from some pulpit.

Much more can be written, but the basis for further study is here…

Next: A glaring fallacy that has been used to substantiate error for 1700+ years.  This error is one that Torah dictates as being punishable by death and a sign of being in covenant or not…

YHWH bless you, and keep you;

YHWH make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;

YHWH lift up His countenance on you,

And give you peace.

Shalom.

About Pete Rambo

Details in 'About' page @ natsab.wordpress.com Basically, husband of one, father of four. Pastor x 11 years, former business and military background. Micro-farmer. Messianic believer in Yeshua haMashiach!
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6 Responses to Translators & ‘the lying pen of the scribes…’ Pt.2

  1. C says:

    Like this. Got any more? One that made an impact for me was when I realized the true meaning of/difference between Torah and law/legalism. There can be no doubt about it when one learns that Father’s Torah is His Instruction/Teaching to help us learn to walk in a righteous manner/not sin. To lead us into Life/not death. Not put us into some kind of horrible bondage. How we must grieve YHWH when we denigrate His Word with all these awful descriptions about His Torah. Yeshua said it plainly and it was still twisted. Ps. 119 says it all.

    Like

    • Sarah Miller says:

      I agree!! This information is so important. I have been studying the Torah/Tanakh for 7 years now. It is such a shame that the churches call it ‘blasphemy’. For an even more detailed study, check out blessyahowah.com – simply amazing.

      Like

  2. Pingback: The (Not So) Quotable Church Fathers: Doctrines and Theologies | natsab

  3. Ro says:

    Good insight, Pete. One of the most distressing things the people in my classes discover is that the translators insert their bias into the translations. But even with all this, God reveals the truth to those who earnestly desire it.

    Like

    • Pete Rambo says:

      Amein!

      I get asked all of the time, ‘What’s the best translation?’

      Well, there is not one! All translations have bias, even if/when they desperately try to avoid it. Even reading the Scriptures in the original languages can be filtered through our own bias and perspectives… The key is to seek the Father and use as many tools as necessary to dig, dig, dig!!

      Shalom and keep up the good work!!

      Like

  4. Sarah Miller says:

    Isn’t that the truth! Translators replace many words, instead of translating them; then they transliterate where they should translate, and translate where they should transliterate (such as names), all to separate us from the Torah. Terrific amplified translation of sections of the Torah can be found at yadayahweh.com and also at blessyahowah.com (where there is also the archives of ‘Shattering Myths’ radio talk)
    Shalom

    Like

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