Good News for Everyone VII: Latinizations
- When Good News for Modern Man was published, some readers said they were shocked not to find the word "propitiation" in 1 John 2:2. Was it possible that the translator did not believe in the "propitiation for sins"? What these persons did not sense waas their own misunderstanding of the meaning of "propitiation" which really refers to the process of "making someone favourably inclined toward another."
- The English term "propitiation" might be described as a highbrow way of talking about arm-twisting, but there is no need for arm-twisting to get God on man's side. It was God who was in Christ reconciling the world to himself; Christ did not have to reconcile God to the world.
The Greek noun hilasmos and the related verb hilaskomai never occur in the New Tesament with God as the object, and in 1 John 2:2 it is not the propitiation of sin but the expiation of sin which is spoken of. For many readers, however, the term "expiation" would be even more difficult than "propitiation." In fact, both "expiation" and "propitiation" like "justification," "sanctification," and "predestination" are not much more than anglicized Latin. The words exist in dictionaries, but they are only very rarely heard in speech.
Hence, even if the phrase "expiation of sins" is to be understood, it is much better rendered in 1 John 2:2 as "An Christ himself is the means by which our sins are forgiven." With this wording the vital message of this important verse becomes crystal clear.
- Chapter 7, page 73
- "Jhesu Crist, and he is the foryyuenes for oure synnes; and not oneli for oure synnes, but also for the synnes of al the world." Wycliffe 1395
"And he it is that obteyneth grace for oure synnes: not for oure synnes only: but also for the synnes of all the worlde." Tyndale 1525
"And he is ye attonement for our sinnes: not for our sinnes only, but also for the sinnes of all the worlde." Bishops Bible 1568
"And he is the reconciliation for our sinnes: and not for ours onely, but also for the sinnes of the whole world." Geneva Bible 1587
"And he is the propitiation for our sinnes: and not for ours onely, but also for the sinnes of the whole world." King James Version 1611
"He is the the victim that has expiated our sins: and not ours only, but likewise the sins of the whole world." Mace Bible 1729
"And He is an atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." Weymouth 1903
"He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." TNIV 2001
If you are translating the Bible into a language that has never had the Bible before, you are going to need to find a way to communicate this thought without resorting to borrowings to create new technical terms. You actually have to come to grips with what a word means.
English is unusual, but not unique, in its ability to encorporate words from other languages into its lexicon. From 1066 to 1362, approximately, the French language occupied a dominant position in England. Later, in the 15th and 16th centuries, French became a major source of new vocabulary for English. Because of the constant influence of French, the English language developed strategies for encorporating words from Latin and other languages directly into its vocabulary.
This is not a universal characteristic of language. In many ways I have found that the German Bible presents the situation that is more likely to be found in Bible translation. One actually has to find a word that exists already in that language and make use of it. You simply are not allowed to borrow in a new Latin term whenever you feel like it. The early English Bibles also come closer to this than the King James.