Dr. Moffatt’s New Translation of the New Translation

It is high time that a word of warning should be given as to this translation.

First of all the attempt to present the inspired Word of God in colloquial language is not a happy one. It robs the sacred volume of its dignity and beauty, and its effect is to lower the Scriptures to the level of what is ordinary and human. It is approaching blasphemy to put colloquial English into the mouth of the blessed Lord, instead of literally translating the inspired words of God into their equivalent in the English language.

Two or three verses only would we allude to. Where we read in the Authorized Version: “Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6), Dr. Moffatt translates as follows, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the real and living way; no man comes to the Father except by means of Me’.” What right has Dr. Moffatt to emasculate the words, “I am the way, the truth and the life,” and turn, “I am the truth and I am the life,” which is the extension of the passage, into two adjectives elaborating “I am the way”? Dr. Moffatt’s translation robs us of the truth in a very serious way.

For easy comparison we put John 1:1 in two columns, the first containing the Authorized Version, the second Dr. Moffatt’s.

  • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
  • “The Logos existed in the very beginning, the Logos was with God, the Logos was divine.”

Why should Dr. Moffatt, setting himself out to bring the language of the Bible down to colloquial style, use a pure Greek word? What is the old woman in a cottage to make out of the word—Logos? And, further, why should Dr. Moffatt translate the word theos—as God in the words, “The Logos was with God,” and divine in the words, “The Logos was divine”?

Is this not a lamentable weakening of the truth? In Modernistic language today the word divine is used in an inferior sense to the word Deity or God. Dr. Moffatt is here poisoning the spring at its fountain head.

Does the reader think this is too strong a charge? It is ever the aim of Satan to wrap up evil so that it is imbibed before its seriousness is discovered. The following shows clearly where Dr. Moffatt’s translation is leading to.

The well-known pastor of the City Temple, London, addressed a meeting of the United Free Churches at the Brunswick Wesleyan Church, Newcastle-on-Tyne, at the beginning of the year. He took for his text Ephesians 4:21, using Dr. Moffatt’s translation. The part of the verse in question is hereby contrasted, the first column being the Authorized Version, the second Dr. Moffatts:—

  • “As the truth is in Jesus.”
  • “The real Christ who is in Jesus.”

Dr. Norwood then preached bold, blatant Modernism from this text, as reported in the Daily Press. He gave utterance to what sounds very like the Christian Science blasphemy.

Let us put Mrs Eddy’s statements and Dr. Norwood’s side by side, the latter as reported in the Daily Press, it will be seen what a close resemblance there is between them. Mrs. Eddy’s words we will place in the first column, Dr. Norwood’s in the second:—

  • “Jesus demonstrated Christ; He proved that Christ is the divine idea of Health” “Science and Health” (p. 332).
  • “Just catch this thought, that there is a Christ who is greater than the Jesus of history.”

 

  • “The word Christ is not properly a synonym for Jesus, though it is commonly so used. The advent of Jesus of Nazareth marked the first century of the Christian era, but the Christ is without beginning of years or end of days.” “Science and Health” (p. 333).
  • “Without losing our hold on the man Jesus, we believe the real Christ transcends Jesus.”

Dr. Norwood could not have extracted such thoughts from the Authorized Version, but he used Dr. Moffatt’s translation as authority for expressing views which completely undermine and shatter Christianity. No wonder the newspaper heading is “NEW CONCEPTIONS OF CHRIST.”

Scripture nowhere differentiates between Jesus and Christ as not being one and the same blessed Person, and He is our Lord and God. The meaning of the name Jesus is Jehovah-Saviour. Jesus was and is the Jehovah of the Old Testament, a name of God denoting His covenant blessing for man His name, too, given by prophecy was Emmanuel, which means God with us, and that signifies God in all His fulness and blessedness.

Enough has been said to point out the Modernistic taint of Dr. Moffatt’s translation. It is well for the Christian to be familiar with the grand dignified pure text of the Authorized Version and not vitiate his mind by imbibing Dr. Moffatt’s undignified colloquialisms, and especially refuse to use this translation, in which, as we have seen, deadly error is woven.

Dr. Moffatt, in his introduction to his translation of the Scriptures, clearly states his modernistic views. He says, “Once the translation of the New Testament is freed from the influence of the theory of verbal inspiration these difficulties [i.e., those which confront a translator] cease to be formidable.” In view of this can any sound Christian have any pleasure or confidence in such a translator who does not believe in the verbal inspiration of Scripture? The Son of God believed in verbal inspiration when He said, “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot [the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet] or one tittle [the mark or horn used to distinguish one letter from another, which closely resemble each other] shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt. 5:18). If this is not a claim to verbal inspiration, when even the very smallest letter used in building up the word is inviolate, what is it?