Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Clear Word Debate Mountain or Molehill

Whether the Clear Word book debate is a mountain or a molehill depends upon the point of view of the observer. If one agrees with the theology inserted into the so called expanded paraphrase then the controversy is simply a mole hill. If however the false information inserted into such verses as Dan. 8:14 is understood as false information then the Clear Word becomes an abomination, and that makes it a mountain. Interestingly the results of the Amazon reviewers (40 reviews) were either 1 star, the lowest review or 5 stars the highest review. There were 2 that gave 4 stars. There were no 2’s or 3’s in the reviews. It is a good example of the polar opposites that make this issue a mountain or a molehill. Philosophically there is probably also opposite views. One side believing that their traditional views paraphrased and inserted into what they think of as the Bible is a good devotional tool. The other side seeing the Bible as a tool for learning and they would like to read it for what it says to the best of their ability.

Here are some of the comments from people on about the Clear Word with a few of my comments.

5 stars: As a theology student, I regularly do exegetical research looking at the original Greek and Hebrew of the Bible. I also use paraphrase Bibles so that I can get a quick overall understanding of the passages that I'm studying...
I have compared the New Living Translation, the Message Bible, and the Clear Word. These represent different levels of paraphrasing the Bible.
The New Living Translation is the most accurate of the paraphrases. The NLT is a "thought-for-thought" translation.

The New Living Translation is a translation and not a paraphrase. Even then it’s first edition had numerous problems that they quickly corrected.

5 stars: Many have given nit-picking comments regarding this book. Consider the benefit of this book for the novice to get a clear view of the bible from 5,000 feet. It is an easy read so you won't get bogged-down with the old English language.

Now 30-40 years ago it was hard not to get bogged down in King James English but that has not been the case for quite a while. Yes from 5000 feet it looks like a Bible, the problem comes when you look closer. The same reviewer continues:

I would also offer the suggestion that while some have made comparisons of Adventist to Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses regarding a "unique bible", I may remind them that the Catholic Church has their own version of the bible and I don't see a comparison with the Catholics. Nor have I seen a Baptist carry a Catholic bible to church on Sunday morning! Is there one Koran or different interpretations? Even the King James is interpreted differently and we can see that by the many churches with their unique doctrines.

There is indeed a Catholic Bible actually a couple, they are all translations, no paraphrases and their accuracy is very good. The New Jerusalem Bible (also the previous Jerusalem Bible) and the New American Bible are two examples and of historical note the Douay-Rheims. The above person must be a real nosey person to inspect the local Baptist’s to see what version they are using, unless of course they are one of the Baptist churches which is King James Only.

1 star: A reviewer praising this book was correct in saying reading this "bible" is like reading a novel. A novel is a work of fiction, and so is this Seventh Day Adventist paraphrase of the bible.

It is unfortunate that this book is considered an SDA Bible but we have only ourselves to blame for people’s impression.

5 stars: I believe this book will be a blessing to anyone who reads it and uses there bible along with it as a study tool.

The problem here is that the item of study is referred to as a study tool. This reviewer finds the book accurate because she already believes the way Blanco does. So it is accurate to her, whereas to most Christians it will not be accurate.

5 stars: Finally, a Bible that's an easy read. Jack Blanco takes out all the "thous and thees" and uses everyday language making this Bible a pleasure to read and understand.

Blanco has introduced the concept of modern language Bibles to this person many years after they became popular.

1 star wanted 0: This is not just another translation of the Bible. It is a corruption of the Bible in that it includes extra-Biblical propaganda inserting the theories of the Seventh Day Adventist's "prophet," Ellen G. White, long ago exposed as a plagiarist.

I can’t disagree with the corruption of the Bible part. But if the problem was the use of EGW who was a plagiarist then how would we know if it was EGW or someone else that Blanco uses. Actually we know that the Blanco version is consistent with Seventh-day Adventism and the incorporation of EGW is very likely but not always definitive.

5 stars: Firstly it is called a paraphrase not a bible. If you feel uncomfortable studying from it use the King James Bible along with it.

If a person read the Clear Word and then read a real translation with it we would not have a problem. But we all know that this is rarely ever the case with devotional books and equally rare with paraphrases.

5 stars: A word to all of those negative reviews . . . they are obviously NOT inspired as they are using their own critical views to trash other people's ideas. There are millions of books that share millions of ideas, many that may not be what you believe (especially OTHER paraphrased "Bibles" which are VERY different from the Word of God!), yet we are to be focused on Jesus and share what we believe in our hearts, NOT spend all of our time trying to be critical of other's ideas! That is from Satan. If you look at the web sites on these reviews, and names of the critical reviewers, they all have a common theme - their purpose is to trash a specific belief (not a very noble "cause" I might add).

Here we have someone who refers to other paraphrased bibles as being very different from the Word of God, yet the person feels perfectly fine to declare the Clear Word version as a work from God. Actually Jesus spend a good deal of His time being critical of the religious leaders ideas.

5 stars: I have in my library six or seven versions of the Bible. Rarely before has the Scripture been authoritatively researched and assembled with such clairity and easy reading. One is fascinated with the story line rather than wondering how to unravel the details formerly in Old English. I recommend it to anyone who has had difficulty really enjoying reading Scripture.

Here is the problem in a nutshell; expectations. The Clear Word is not a Bible; it has not been authoritatively researched. It may present Blanco’s ideas clearly but they may not be the ideas that the Bible writers intended.

5 stars: Our church uses the clear word frequently to expand on biblical principles. Everyone who visits our church (Beacon Light-Richmond, CA) wants to know where they can get one.

No matter what Blanco may say in his preface those who hold the Clear Word as a Bible or as authoritative will use it as if it were what it is not. We still find people using it in their churches, scripture reading, sermons and Sabbath School classes.


Anonymous said...

I am guessing those positive reviews were from Adventists looking to stack the deck and the negative are from SDA watch dogs who stay on the trail more like blood hounds. Ther are real issues that exist with the Clear Word and being wary of it doesn't mean you have a problem with the doctrines it assumes. A large portion of our congregations really have know idea what a paraphrase is. Further more when you have a denominational parphrase there should be great emphasis on teaching what it is and what it isn't. The fact that it is advertised as an easy to read scripture is telling. Older SDAs only read the King James and many times were taught to mistrust any new translations. They just don't exist on their radar screen. What a liberation it is to now have a bible in your own language, modern English. It is read from in church, Sabbath School, and prayer meetings. I know of head elders who only carry and read the Clear Word. In bible study discussions when a difficult text comes up someone will say,"what does the Clear Word say?".
The point is that it is quite irresponsible to for the organization to sell the Clear Word without an extensive education campaign to tell people what it is and what it isn't. Secondly these people like Mark Martin need to take a deep breathe and relax. After that if they feel the need to warn people about it tell the truth. There is a difference between Jehovas Witness' and there bible and SDAs. If I'm not mistaken JWs can't use another version.
Dick Larsen

CD-Host said...

There is a difference between Jehovas Witness' and there bible and SDAs. If I'm not mistaken JWs can't use another version. I don't know if anonymous subscribed to this thread but...

The NTW is pretty good translation of the MT/NA26 considering when it was done, that does however read theology back into the text a bit. With the exception of a few issue (which admittedly are controversial) it was a very good mediating translation for the time.

Jehovah's Witnesses can use the Kingdom Interlinear Translation which has Greek (unmodified NA26), a sort of standard word for word (moderately more formal than the NASB) and the NWT. Incidentally since Kingdom Hall isn't trying to make a profit the Kingdom interlinear is freely available in electronic form. So Witnesses do have access to another bible. They have always been quite progressive on the Greek and in fact support the supported Wescott-Hort (became the UBS/NA) over the TR 2 generations before the evangelicals came around.