To call a Bible a ‘Passion Translation’ would have been unthinkable until recent times. It would be like having a ‘Greed Translation,’ or a ‘Lust Translation’. Meanings change, of course, and today ‘passion’ just means a strong emotion. And yet, while there is nothing wrong with strong emotion per se, there is everything wrong with putting it at the heart of the ‘quest to experience God’s presence’. Simmons aims for ‘an overwhelming response to the truth of the Bible’, but does it by generating emotion that is foreign to Scripture and using it to whip us up into a response that is not shaped by the word.
5.2. The Method: Double Translation
It might seem intuitively true that when a Hebrew word does not have a precise English equivalent, what is needed is to use more than one English word. But TPT demonstrates just how wrong this can be. The whole point of meaning-based translation is that a sentence is more translatable than a word. It is context that adds the required precision of meaning, not double translation, which only serves to distance the reader from the original. When the Septuagint translators encountered a phrase they could not easily replicate in Greek, they often ensured that their paraphrase had the same number of words as the Hebrew – what scholars today call ‘quantitative literalism.’ The point is that every unnecessary word in a translation takes it one step further from accuracy. Simmons has produced a text so far removed from the original that it no longer counts as the Bible.14
And this is even before we remember TPT’s lack of interest in textual and linguistic accuracy. So frequently does TPT misrepresent or ignore the original text that one is forced to conclude that its author had little interest in representing the meaning of the original as preserved in the manuscript tradition. Instead he abuses ancient witnesses, pressing them into the service of his own novel ideas about what the text ought to say. In Nida’s words, this is not a linguistic translation; it is a cultural translation, and hence it is not a legitimate Bible.
TPT is not just a new translation; it is a new text, and its authority derives solely from its creator. Like Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon, Brian Simmons has created a new scripture with the potential to rule as canon over a new sect. Judging from The Psalms alone, I would say that it would be a Christian sect, and that unlike the Mormon cult its scriptures will point its adherents to saving faith in God the Son, the crucified and risen Lord Jesus. But TPT is not a Bible, and any church that treats it as such and receives it as canon will, by that very action, turn itself into an unorthodox sect. If the translation had been packaged as a commentary on Scripture I would not have needed to write this review; but to package it as Scripture is an offence against God. Every believer who is taught to treat it as the enscripturated words of God is in spiritual danger, not least because of the sentimentalised portrait of God that TPT Psalms sets out to paint. Simmons’s caricature of God as ‘the King who likes and enjoys you’ (‘Introduction’, p. 5) eliminates all but one facet of God’s feelings about us, and then gets that one wrong.
One of the accusations Catholic apologists brought https://hookupdate.net/de/upforit-review/ against early Bible translators was that they added words to the text in support of their Protestant heresies, just as the Arians and Pelagians had done before them (all the Arians had to do was change one word in Prov 8:22)
This 500th anniversary of the Reformation is a time to remember how urgent and contested the question of Bible translation was, back when almost no one in the world had the Scriptures in their heart language. This was a dangerous charge, and William Fulke’s defence of 1583 is a good place to end this review.