Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Holy Bible: a Purified Translation

The Holy Bible: a Purified Translation. The New Testament. Glenside, PA: The Lorine L. Reynolds Foundation, 2000

I received this New Testament free in the mail several years ago – wondered what it was, kind of glanced at it and then stuck it away on a shelf. It probably was sent out to pastors or churches on a list the Foundation had (though I’m not sure why they would have had my name).[i] Out of curiosity I have recently pulled it out and started looking at it. It is particularly the work of Stephen Mills Reynolds and Charles Butler, and possibly others. (Reynolds served on the New International Version translation committee, but I’m not sure of his role.) This “Purified” translation, which might be looked at as more of an interpretation and commentary, is peculiarly focused on promoting teetotalism. The reviewer at International Society of Bible Collectors writes, “Dr. Reynolds goes to extraordinary lengths to support his convictions regarding the use of alcohol.” Here’s an excerpt from John 2.

John 2:3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”19
John 2:9 When the master of the feast tasted the water that had become grape juice,…25
John 2:10 And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good beverage,…26

19. Oinos, the Greek word for wine, is neutral as to alcoholic content. Here the context indicates it was alcoholic…
25. Oinos (Gr.) here is grape juice. Jesus surely obeyed Proverbs 23:31 and did not create alcoholic wine.
26. The master of the feast uses oinos in its neutral sense, speaking of the good quality of the beverage. Whether it was alcoholic or nonalcoholic is not in view.

In the three verses above, oinos is translated “wine,” “grape juice” and “beverage,” according to Reynolds’s ideas concerning alcohol consumption. In footnote 19 Reynolds also explains the wedding situation with Mary the mother of Jesus serving as the caterer of the wedding – that after Joseph died Mary may have started a catering business to support her family, and that she may have felt obligated to furnish alcoholic wine as part of her obligation to her customers.[ii]

Andrew Wakefield of Campbell University Divinity School “said the Greek word translated as ‘wine’ in John 2 usually means fermented wine.” While disagreeing with inserting one’s viewpoint of alcohol into the translation of related words, Wakefield said that the initial translation of the Gospel of John is “otherwise is not a bad translation.”[iii]

This translation also has an interesting peculiarity of abandoning “the archaic ‘thou’, etc.” while distinguishing between second person singular and plural with a mark. “A (`) in this translation indicates the second person singular. The plural remains unmarked.”[iv]

The Holy Bible: a Purified Translation is clearly a niche Bible that will satisfy readers who hold the “two-wine theory” and want it inserted in their Bibles.

[i] According to Baptist Press “About 40,000 copies of the gospel [of John] were mailed May 17-18 [1999] mostly to Southern Baptists, with foundation officials citing Baptists’ opposition to alcohol.”
[ii] A Purified Translation, The New Testament; pages 197-199
[iii] Baptist Press, cited above.
[iv] A Purified Translation, The New Testament; page 3, footnote 9


Leland Bryant Ross said...

The Blessing of the Wine that I was taught, Boruch atah Adonai Elohenu, Melekh ha-Olam, borey p'ri ha-gafen, appears to me to be neutral as to alcoholic content. Indeed, it is neutral as to liquidity. "...who hast created the fruit of the vine." Thus it is a blessing related to the grape (and perhaps the blackberry etc.) rather than to the nature of the derivative product, if any. Alcohol is useful in getting drunk, but it is also useful as a preservative. In the absence of trustworthy means of refrigeration, making wine is a good way to extend the useful shelf life of the grape harvest. Then, having made it, one can decide whether to sip it, drink it in moderation, or get blotto. Proverbs seems to me to be aiming at the blotto application more than the wine per se.

What I wonder is why bother with imputing liquor sales to the Mother of God when you could just either (a) say she, too, meant grape juice, or (b) just say «"oinos"» is neutral and be done with the issue? Is the guy anti-Marian as much as teetotalitarian?

R. L. Vaughn said...

Leland, not sure how you are using the term “anti-Marian,” but I would think he does not intend to be (at least not any more so than any Protestant might be so considered). Here is a little fuller statement of what he wrote in that footnote, which might help you judge what you are thinking about:

“It is probable that Joseph had died, perhaps rather shortly after he and Mary had taken the young Jesus to the Temple; and Mary, in order to support her family, had become the head of a catering business. If so, she may have been employed to provide food and drink for the wedding at Cana. Although she may herself have been a teetotaler, obeying Proverbs 23:31-5, she may have felt that her occupation made it necessary to provide alcoholic wine for customers—possibly the majority—who demanded it. As a good business woman, she may have provided enough for a normal wedding; but at this one the guests may have been exceptionally heavy drinkers, and her supply of beverage was exhausted. She therefore appealed to her divine Son. It was not strange that a woman in antiquity owned and operated a business. Lydia did so (Acts 16:14), and the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31:10-31 purchased a field, planted a vineyard, and sold merchandise, all independently of her husband and while he was still living.” (pp. 197-198)