I know a couple of men whose love of God and the Messiah is simply undeniable. I have what I regard as a strong relationship to our Father YHWH ha Elohiym, but their relationships impress me as being stronger. I don’t agree with them on every element of theology, but there’s no way to deny the sincerity of their love for God.
Both are convinced that “The Bible is perfect”.
To analyze their statement (“The Bible is perfect.”), we need to first decide what is meant by “perfect”. I’m going to proceed on the assumption that a “perfect” Bible is one that precisely and accurately carries all of the word of God and only the word of God that He intended us to read and understand.
Second, we need to decide which “Bible” is perfect? According to Biblica, there are hundreds of different versions of the Bible that are published in English. Each of those versions is different to some degree from the rest.
It seems logical to suppose that there can’t be two versions of the Bible that are both significantly different from each other, and yet, both perfect. To be “perfect” would seem to be flawless and thus unique. If any one version of the Bible is “perfect,” over 99% of the remaining versions are different from the one perfect version in some respect. Thus at least 99% of all the current English versions of the Bible are not “perfect”.
If 99% are logically certain to be imperfect, what are the odds that any one version is perfect? If there is a “perfect” English version of the Bible, what version could it be?
• I doubt that any modern version of the Bible (say, American Standard, New International or Contemporary English) would dare to describe themselves as “perfect”. I doubt that any English version of the Bible published since A.D. 1900 would claim to be much more than “convenient” or “eminently readable”. If you’re looking for the only “perfect” English translation of the Bible, the only contenders would be those versions first published during the Renaissance such as the Wyclif version (circa A.D. 1409), Tyndale (A.D. 1525) Geneva (A.D. 1560), and King James Version (first published in A.D. 1611).
Over the past 600 years, the King James Version proved to be the most popular and long-lived. Insofar as anyone currently points to a “perfect” English version of the Bible, they almost always point to the King James Version.
My friends believe that the King James Version (KJV) was translated under divine guidance and is the one and only “perfect” version of the Bible that’s written in English. They avoid the other English versions as imperfect. They’ve offered no opinion on whichever versions (if any) of the Bibles written in Russian, Spanish, Ugandan, or Hopi are perfect.
While I don’t deny that God supervised the the original versions of the the books written in Hebrew or Greek that came to ultimately be part of the Bible, I find it improbable that God also supervised the later translations from original languages into English (and also Russian, Spanish, Ugandan and Hopi).
If it’s true that at least 99% of English versions of the Bible are imperfect, then it’s also apparent that God did not supervise the translations of all English versions. If He didn’t supervise all translations, what evidence is there to prove that He did supervise the translation of one version–say, the KJV?
If we presume that only one version of Bible provides a technically precise translation of the meaning God intended to convey, is it possible that other versions (although technically inaccurate) nevertheless convey some or even all of the spirit that God intended to convey?
Is a version that properly conveys the “spirit” of the Bible still imperfect if it fails to accurately convey the exact text?
Translations Are Inherently Unreliable
I’m not saying that God didn’t supervise the translation of the KJV, but I am saying that such supervision seems improbable.
I’m wary of all translations of any book because they’re always subjective. When some one or some group translates a word in one language into a word in another, there are usually ambiguities and idioms to contend with that make precise translation difficult if not impossible. How do you translate “23-Skiddoo” or “cool” from English into Russian? Slang terms or idiomatic expressions can only be approximated in another language. The choice of idiom used in the second language will always be subject to the education, intelligence and cultural background of the translator.
The problem of translation is further complicated by the fact that most words have several definitions. Even though we know exactly which word was used, which definition was intended?
For example, the Bible begins with Genesis 1:1 (“In the beginning God created the heaven and the the earth.”)
Here’s KJV version of Genesis 1:1, written in in English and with Strong’s Concordance numbers to signify the underlying Hebrew word:
“In the beginning H7225 God H430 created H1254 (H853) the heaven H8064 and the earth.H776
Note that according to Strong’s Concordance, that verse was originally written in five (maybe six) Hebrew words and translated into ten English words. Right there, you can see a potential for trouble. The fact that it takes ten English words to translate the meanings of five Hebrew words tells us that there’s no one-to-one correlation of Hebrew words to English. That means for sure that at least some of those five Hebrew words have meanings for which there is no exact equivalent word in English. The absence of one-to-one Hebrew-to-English words raises doubt about the accuracy of the translation.
More, each of the five main Hebrew words (H7225, H430, H1254, H8064 and H776) have more than one possible meaning.
For example, Strong’s Concordance defines the Hebrew word which the KJV translates as “In the beginning” as:
From the same as H7218; the first, in place, time, order or rank (specifically a firstfruit): – beginning, chief (-est), first (-fruits, part, time), principal thing.
I count seven possible meanings for H7225 (“In the beginning”)–and some of those definitions are fairly different from some of the others. I also see nine possible meanings in H430 (“God”); at least seven in H1254 (“created”); four in H8064 (“heaven”); and, ten for H776 (“earth”).
If I were to multiply the seven possible meanings for H7225 times the nine possible meanings for H430, times the the seven possible meanings in in H1254, times the four in H8064, times the ten in H776, the result would be 17,640 different ways that that the original string of just five Hebrew words might be translated into English.
I understand that most of those 17,640 possible readings of Genesis 1:1 would be nonsensical. I understand that the context of Genesis would rule out some of the other possible readings of Genesis 1:1 that were not intrinsically nonsensical. But, without evidence, I still suspect that there could be at least four or five other credible translations of the five Hebrew words in Genesis 1:1 that make just about as much sense as “In the beginning,God created the heaven and the earth.”
This multiplicity of possible meanings is a discomforting idea since it detracts from our desire to believe that the Bible’s meaning is rock solid and “perfect”. Nevertheless, the multiplicity of potential meanings appears to be true. If it is true, is raises doubt about the “absolute” character of any version of the Bible. What we read may be God’s intended meaning or it might also be largely a “tradition of men”.
The potential confusion seen in Genesis 1:1 also occurs in virtually each of the other 31,000 verses in the Bible. If each of those verses had, on average, just two different potential meanings that were plausible, there could be over 60,000 distinctly different English versions of the Bible.
The potential multiplicity of possible meanings in the Bible does not prove that the Bible, any Bible, is imperfect, but it does support that possibility.
(One other point: My analysis of the possibility of multiple meanings relies on research into the definitions of each of the words in the Bible under the direction of Dr. James Strong in the 1800’s. The result is called Strong’s Concordance. Strong’s research and resulting definitions have been generally accepted and relied on by Bible scholars for over a century.
I do not regard the authors of Strong’s Concordance to be saints or prophets. They were merely scholars who translated every Hebrew and Greek word used in the original books of the Bible into English. Strong’s definitions and their implications may be mistaken. Nevertheless, Strong is an authority that most Bible scholars appear to rely on, so his work is worth consideration.)
King JamesI’m not a Bible scholar. I don’t know if the foundation for the following statement is true or false. But I’ve heard for at least 30 years that King James reportedly ordered that translation of the sixth Commandment in the Protestant version of Decalogue be changed from the original “Thou shalt not murder” to the KJV “Thou shalt not kill“.
The difference in meanings is enormous.
You can “kill” by accident. But you can only “murder” by intent. If the King James Version (“Thou shalt not kill.”) is correct, you will have committed a mortal sin if you lose control of your car on an icy road, hit another car, and thereby cause its driver to die. Such an accident is certainly not “murder” (there was no intent), but it would constitute a “killing”.
Do you think God wants you to burn in Hell because you lost control of your car on a patch of icy road and thereby caused someone else to accidentally die? I don’t.
More, if God really commanded “Thou shalt not kill,” why did God subsequently command the Hebrews to kill all of the Canaanites–including all men, women and even children? Is God contradicting Himself? Did an unchanging God change his mind?
Or did King James order a mis-translation of the Protestant sixth Commandment?
Almost certainly, the original sixth Commandment was “Thou shalt not murder“. Perhaps, it only applied to members of the Hebrew nation and/or people of God. I.e., it was a violation of God’s law to murder members of your family, your community, your nation–but it’s not a violation of God’s law to kill foreigners and/or men not made in God’s image. Thus, God could command the Hebrews to not murder each other, but still order them to kill all the Canaanites.
More, if it’s true that:
1) God declared the Ten Commandment about 1,400 B.C.;
2) God does not change;
3) The original meaning of the 6th Commandment was “Thou shalt not murder,” then,
4) It seems probable that God, Himself, did not and could not have ordered/inspired the King James translators to substitute “Thou shalt not kill” for “Thou shalt not murder.” Such change would not seem possible for an unchanging God.
If so, if the King James Version of the Bible is imperfect in at least one critical part.
“The Synoptic Problem”
The phrase “Synoptic Problem” is used to describe a fundamental problem with the books Matthew, Mark and Luke in the New Testament. They agree on many points which describe the life and words of the Messiah. But they also appear to disagree on some of the events of the Messiah’s life and/or the words he spoke. There’s no doubt that there are apparent contradictions in these three Gospels.
Some argue that these differences are not contradictions, so much as “expanded explanations”–that, what seems to be a “contradiction” in one book is merely an addition to the total record of the Messiah’s earthly life.
But a fundamental question remains for those who believe that any Bible is divinely inspired and presumably perfect: if God inspired those parts of Matthew, Mark and Luke that agree as to the facts, who inspired the parts that seemingly disagree?
It may be that apparent contradictions within the Bible may have been “planted” by the Good LORD as devices to test and sharpen our ability to perceive and understand. It may be that these seeming contradictions aren’t really contradictions at all, but some sort of “additions” to the Gospels.
The explanations and even rationalizations for these apparent contradictions are various and debatable. But the existence of these seeming contradictions is undeniable.
I’m not going to debate or dissect the “Synoptic Problem” in this article. If you’d like to learn more, you can enter that phrase into any search engine and you’ll find hundreds of thousands of articles on that subject. I’ll only say that it’s at least odd that a Bible believed to be divinely-inspired and presumably “perfect” would contain even the illusion of contradictions. The mere existence of the Synoptic Problem casts doubt on the argument that any Bible is perfect.
• At Luke 18:18-19 (and similarly, Mark 10:17-18) we read,
“And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
“And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.”
I infer from Luke 18:19 that,if “none is good” except “God,” then it probably follows that none are truly perfect except God.
If it’s true that no one and no thing is perfect besides God, Himself, then even the Bible is not and cannot be “perfect”.
• The Ten Commandments are first seen at Exodus 20:1-17. Verses 3 through 5 read,
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
“Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;”
In broad strokes,the previous three verses appear to prohibit “idolatry“–the worship of anything other than God, Himself.
I can’t help thinking that my two friends, whose love for God seems obvious and undeniable, come dangerously close to committing idolatry when they claim that the King Jame Version (or any version) of the Bible is “perfect”. If it’s true that no one is perfect but God, Himself, then calling the Bible “perfect” is a mistake or a lie.
More, my friends’ love for the KJV sometimes seems to rival their love of God. The carry the KJV around with them as a lucky charm, a shield or even a weapon. I think that their dependence on the KJV might be dangerous if their love for the tangible book that we call the “Bible” rose to a level that could be construed as idolatry.
Those whose love of the Bible begins to constitute “worship” of the Bible may be in danger of worshiping the creation (the Bible) rather than the Creator (God). To me, that sounds like idolatry–which is prohibited by the Ten Commandments.
The New Testament contains dozens of verses that extol the power of the name of “Jesus”. For example,
Matthew 1:21—“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
Luke 10:17—“And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.”
John 14:13-14—“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”
Acts 3:16—“And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”
Acts 4:12—“ Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. ”
Philippians 2:9-11—“ Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Thus, the power and importance of the “name” of the Messiah is undeniable and critical. By the Messiah’s name,and only by his name, “must” we be saved. What could be more important than that?
From a presumed derivative of the base of G1097 (compare G3685); a “name” (literally or figuratively), (authority, character): – called, (+ sur-) name (-d).
1 Corinthians 6:11—“ And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Acts 2:38—“ Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Imagine an old costume drama about King Arthur’s Round Table. Imagine a relatively insignificant knight coming into a king’s court. Normally, that insignificant knight would not dare to speak in the court unless spoken to. But in this case, our insignificant knight boldly announces, “I come in the name of Prince John!” Our relatively insignificant knight does not mean that he’s impersonating Prince John. He means that he “comes in the authority of Prince John”. In other words, Prince John ordered the knight to convey a message to the king’s court. Because the insignificant knight speaks in the greater authority of Price John, he will be heard and respected.
The example of an insignificant knight speaking “in the name” (actually, in the”authority“) of a more powerful prince is analogous to that of relatively insignificant beings like you or I praying, being justified or being baptized in the name of “Jesus”. You and I might not be heard or respected in our own authority, but if we are allowed to speak, pray, justify or be baptized and be heard and respected so long as we act “in the name” (actually, in the “authority“) of a more powerful being.
(Today, something similar may happen if I (“Alfred Adask”) appear in court in the name of “ALFRED N ADASK”. By appearing in court “in the name of ALFRED N ADASK” I may be appearing in the authority of ALFRED N ADASK–even though that authority is much less significant and less powerful than the authority of the man made in God’s image whose proper name is “Alfred Adask”. Just as appearing “in the name” of a more powerful person can entitle you to additional respect, appearing in the name of a less powerful person, could cause you to be treated with much less respect.
Imagine our knight appearing in King Arthur’s court and announcing, “I come in the name of the Court Jester!” He’d be laughed out of court and count himself lucky to escape with his head
In whose name do you appear, when you go to court?)
My point is that the Greek word which the King James translators routinely translated as “name” is actually ambiguous in that it might mean proper name (like “Laura,” “Nathan,” Alexandra” or “Jesus”) or it might mean “in the authority of” some other being.
• This ambiguity is no small thing. For example, the true meaning of the word “name” in the following verse may be critical to your salvation:
Acts 4:12—“ Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. ”
Does that verse mean that you must be saved if you merely mention the Messiah’s proper name? Or does it mean that you must be saved if you properly invoke the Messiah’s authority?
Merely mentioning the Messiah’s proper name (“Jesus,” right?) is pretty easy. Y’ say “Jesus” and you’re in. Simple, right?
But how might we properly invoke authority of the Messiah? What is the proper formula for properly claiming to pray, speak, appear or be saved “in the authority of the Messiah”?
I don’t know. But, if Acts 4:12 only refers to the authority of the Messiah, is it even necessary to mention the Messiah’s proper name?
I.e., is it legally sufficient if our insignificant knight comes into court and declares, “I come in the name [authority] of the Prince!” Or must he specify the proper name of whichever prince he’s acting on behalf of as in, “I come in the name of Prince John Wilbur Guy Horseface Jones!”?
What’s the proper protocol?
If you pray “in the [proper] name of Jesus,” is that enough to guarantee that your prayer will be heard? Or, in English, should you expressly pray “in the authority of the Messiah”?
• It may well be that God knows what we mean, even if we don’t know how to say it properly. If you pray in the name of Jesus or if you pray in the authority of Jesus, God knows what you mean and will hear your prayer.
But if that were true, then if you prayed in any proper name but you meant the Messiah, your prayer might be heard.
For example, I’ve been thinking about publishing a new Bible (we have hundreds of versions; how could one more hurt?) and start a new church for Texans. (I could make a lot of money selling new Bibles to everyone in Texas.) See, “Jesus” may be a Mexican name, but it’s not a Texas name.
But “Billy Bob” is popular down here on Texas (and in other parts of the South, too). So I propose to publish a Texas Bible is identical to the King James Version in every respect, except that every instance of the name “Jesus” in the KJV is changed to “Billy Bob” in the new-and-even-more-perfect Texas Bible. I’ll even cause our Texas church to be called “The Church of Billy Bob”.
And when I’m preachin’ in The Church of Billy Bob, I’ll put on my best Jimmy Swaggart persona, let a few hitches and ecstatic sobs enter my voice as I say, “And Ahh pray . . . in the precious name [sob] of Billy Bob . . . .”
Whatcha think? Who’s with me?! Who’s willing to pray in the “precious name” of Billy Bob?
Because everybody knows that “Billy Bob” was not the Messiah’s proper name–right? Isn’t that what’s botherin’ you?
OK–how ’bout “Bubba”? “Bubba” is very popular name on Texas. How ’bout we pray in the precious name of “Bubba”?
Will you reject that prayer, too? Because “Bubba” wasn’t the Messiah’s proper name?
OK, OK, OK–how ’bout “Elvis”?! (You can’t deny that “Elvis is the King”; Colonel Tom Parker said so in his advertising.) So how ’bout changing every instance of “Jesus” in the Bible to “Elvis” and starting up “The Holy Church of Elvis”!
Imagine the money we could make! We’d have rock-n-roll ministers wearin’ pompadors and capes, and shakin’ their pelvis as they preached “in the precious name of Elvis”. The women in audience would swoon in ecstasy. We could forget passin’ the hat. We could charge a $100 admission. I’m tellin’ you we could be fabulously rich if we just started “The Holy Church of Elvis”.
I know, I know . . . despite all the money we could make, some of you probably still feel a little uncomfortable prayin’ “in the precious name of Elvis” because that’s not the Messiah’s true name.
Well, when you have time to see how much money we could make, you’ll probably get over that objection. But, in the meantime, let me assure you that even though we may be expressly praying in the “precious name of Elvis” (or maybe, “Billy Bob” or “Bubba”) we will at all times mean “in the authority of the Messiah”.
Darn. Are some of you antiquated mossbacks still refusing to pray in the names of “Billy Bob,” “Bubba,” or even “Elvis” just because those were not the Messiah’s actual name? Is that all that’s bugging you?
OK, tough guys–if you won’t pray in the precious name of “Elvis” (or Billy Bob, Bubba, etc.) because that was never the Messiah’s true name, why the heck do you insist on praying in the “precious name of Jesus“? After all, so far as I can tell, “Jesus” was also never the Messiah’s true name.
The Messiah’s true name wasn’t spelled “Jesus” and wasn’t pronounced “Gee-Zus”. In fact, I’ll be surprised if anyone can provide evidence that God, Mary, Joseph, the apostles, the disciples, Pontius Pilate or anyone else who ever dealt with the Messiah during his earthly life, ever called him “Jesus” (Gee-Zus).
In fact, there’s a good chance that the Messiah never even heard the word “Jesus” (“Gee-Zus”) pronounced in his lifetime–even in reference to someone else.
First, I’ve heard (but can’t prove) that the the “J-sound” as heard in the words “John,” “judge” and “Jesus” is not part of the Hebrew tongue. If that’s true, the Hebrew people could not have named the Messiah “Jesus” and could not even have pronounced “Gee-Zus”.
Second, historians tell us that the letter “J” was not even invented and added to the English alphabet until about A.D. 1,500 (about one century before the King James Version was first published). If so, the name “Jesus” could not have existed in the English language until about fifteen centuries after the Messiah was crucified.
(In fact, if you’re susceptible to “conspiracy theories,” you might even wonder if the letter “J” and the j-sound weren’t invented for the primary purpose of deceiving the church and Christian people into mispronouncing the one name by which you must be saved (Acts 4:12). Acts 4:12 appears to mean that if, when you are being judged as to whether your are or are not worthy of salvation, if you holler “Jesus!” your sins must be forgotten and you must be saved.)
However, if that one name is something other than “Jesus” (and you’re hollering “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!) then your salvation might be jeopardized. I’m not saying you won’t be saved if you mistakenly pray in the name of “Jesus”. I’m not saying that you can’t be saved if you mistakenly pray in the name of “Jesus”. I’m only raising the possibility that if you pray in the name of “Jesus,” you are not guaranteed to be saved.)
Third (still recognizing that the author of Strong’s Concordance is merely a man rather than a prophet), when we read the New Testament, the Greek word that’s translated into “Jesus” is:
Of Hebrew origin [H3091]; Jesus (that is, Jehoshua), the name of our Lord and two (three) other Israelites: – Jesus.
Note that the Greek version of the Messiah’s name has three syllables (ee-ay-sooce’) and the English version (“Jesus”) has only two. Thus, Greeks (closer to the time of the Messiah) believed the Messiah’s proper name had three syllables. Today, most people think the Messiah’s proper name has only two syllables.
It’s apparent that the King James translators translated the “sooce'” sound in the Greek name for the Messiah into “Zus” in “Jesus”. It’s also apparent that the King James translators decided to combine the first two syllables in G2424 (“ee” and “ay” in “ee-ay-sooce'”) into the single syllable “Je” in “Jesus”.
If it’s true that (as per Acts 4:12) the proper name of the Messiah is the only name by which we must be saved, the number of syllables in that name must be important. That proper name might have three syllables or it might have two syllables, but it doesn’t have both two and three syllables. If you’re betting your salvation on the mention of a two-syllable name that sounds like “Gee-zus” when the Messiah’s proper name actually contained three syllables (ee-ay-sooce’), you may be in big trouble.
Of course, if it’s only necessary to pray or be saved “in the authority of the Messiah” and without express reference to the Messiah’s proper name, it probably won’t matter much if you pray in the three syllable name of “ee-ay-sooce'” or in the two-syllable name of “Gee-zus”. But, if so, it also shouldn’t much matter if I pray “in the precious name of” Billy Bob, Buba, or Elvis. So long as we pray in any name and intend that name to mean the Messiah, we’re A-OK–right?
No. Probably, wrong. If our salvation depends on knowing and properly pronouncing the Messiah’s “one” proper name, it should critical that we discover and learn the Messiah’s proper name.
Therefore, just in case the exact proper name is important, let’s see if we can figure out whether the Messiah’s name has two or three syllables. Let’s reconsider the Strong’s definition that we usually translate as “name”:
Of Hebrew origin [H3091]; Jesus (that is, Jehoshua), the name of our Lord and two (three) other Israelites: – Jesus.
Note that there are three names in that definition:
1) “Jesus” (English–the most recent with two syllables);
2) “Iēsous” (“ee-ay-sooce”; Greek; closer in time to the Messiah’s life with three syllables); and,
3) “Jehoshua” (an English approximation of the original Hebrew name that Messiah may have actually used with four syllables: Je-ho-shu-a).
Note that the number of reported syllables has declined over time from four (Hebrew), to three (Greek) to two (English).
I don’t claim to know which of these three names (if any) is the true name of the Messiah. I wouldn’t be surprised if a more diligent search for the Messiah’s true name would turn up an original Hebrew name that had five syllables, or maybe even six.
But I can tell you this: Whatever the Messiah’s proper name really is, I’m convinced that it was not “Jesus”. And if that’s true, and if Acts 4:12 means, “Neither is there salvation in any other [proper name]: for there is none other [proper] name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,” then those of us who pray “in the precious name of Jesus” may be risking our eternal salvation just as much as those who pray “in the precious name of Billy Bob”.
• I understand that anyone who prays “in the name of Jesus” does so innocently and without any intention to offend. But Acts 4:12 seems to say that there is no other proper name “whereby we must be saved”. “No other” sounds like a very strict requirement. “Jesus,” “Iēsous,” and “Jehoushua”: if one of those names is the proper name for the Messiah,then the other two names may be worthless or even diabolical if there is truly no other proper name “whereby we must be saved”.
Again, it may well be that Acts 4:12 really means “Neither is there salvation in any other [authority]: for there is none other [authority] under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” If so, it may be irrelevant whether we pray in the name of “Jesus,” “Iēsous,” and “Jehoushua”. So long as we intend to pray in the authority of the Messiah, his proper name may not be important.
But why take the chance? Even if the Messiah’s proper name is technically unimportant, wouldn’t it be more respectful to search out his proper name and use that name in addition to his authority?
Plus, how can you properly claim to act, pray or be saved in the authority of the Messiah if you don’t even know the Messiah’s proper name?
Again, here comes our knight into King Arthur’s court and declares that he comes “in the name of Prince whats-is-face”. Is “whats-is-face” sufficient to identify the Prince in whose name the knight claims to act? If he doesn’t know or can’t recall the proper name of his own Prince, does he even have a “prince”? Or is he trying to deceive and defraud the court by claiming an authority he does not have?
Therefore, it seems incumbent on all of us to discover the Messiah’s proper name as measure of respect for the Messiah and as the basis of a stronger claim on our own salvation.
So let’s go a little deeper into Strong’s definitions.
So far as I know, there is only one word in the first Greek version of New Testament to which Strong’s Concordance assigns the name “Jesus”: G2424–which, again, reads:
Of Hebrew origin [H3091]; Jesus (that is, Jehoshua), the name of our Lord and two (three) other Israelites: – Jesus.
Note the reference to the original Hebrew word from the Old Testament coded as H3091:
From H3068 and H3467; Jehovah-saved; Jehoshua (that is, Joshua), the Jewish leader: – Jehoshua, Jehoshuah, Joshua. Compare H1954, H3442.
It appears that the the deeper and possibly original name Hebrew name that is ultimately translated as “Jesus” in modern English Bibles was “Jehoushua“.
Note that “Jehoushua” is written with a “J” and the letter “J” or its equivalent probably did not exist in the Hebrew language. That “J” in “Jehoushua” didn’t even exist in the English language until about 1500 A.D.
Note that a more accurate rendering in English of the original Hebrew word coded H3091 might be “Yehoushua”. I suspect that most people would pronounce that word in English as Yeh-hoosh-u-ah–four syllables. They may be right.
But I’m told that the “Y” in Hebrew is pronounced “ee”. and the “e” in Hebrew is pronounced “ay”. Therefore, I’m inclined to pronounce the word “Yehoushua” as “ee-ay-oo-shu-ah”. Five syllables.
I am not telling you that my pronunciation of the name “Yehoushua” is God’s truth. I’ll only say that after praying to know God’s name and the Messiah’s name for six years, that’s the name for the Messiah that I was led to. I still pray for correction if my version of the Messiah’s name is mistaken.
(Who knows? If I pray for correction for another six years, I may be able to deliver a more informed opinion in A.D. 2020.)
In the meantime, whatever the Messiah’s true name may be, I’m convinced that “Jesus” isn’t even close. More, I doubt that there’s any convincing evidence that name “Jesus” is anything more than a 500 or 600 year-old tradition of men.
• My real point in all of this discussion of the Messiah’s proper name is that I can’t see any way that anyone can rationally claim that any English translation of the Christian Bible is God-inspired and “perfect,” if that translation doesn’t even include an accurate representation of the sound of the Messiah’s name.
There appears to be no way that the Messiah’s proper name had only two syllables. That means “:bub-ba,” “El-vis” and “Je-sus” are out. (Bil-ly Bob–three syllables–is at least unlikely.) The Messiah’s true name appears to have had at least four syllables (Jehoshua) and, depending on how it’s pronounced, maybe five (“ee-ay-oo-shu-ah”).
If a version of the Christian Bible doesn’t include the Messiah’s proper name, how can it be rationally claimed to be “perfect”?
It could be a good book. It could be a great book. It could be the greatest book of all time. But it’s not a perfect book.
The Bible Isn’t Instantly Convincing
Over the years, I’ve read a lot of books. I’ve read a number of books that I’ve regarded as impressive and important, but I have no doubt that the Bible is the most important book I’ve read. More, the Bible is the only book I read repeatedly and on a regular basis and I usually find something new each time I read it. Sections of the Bible that I’ve repeatedly read and commented on in the past, routinely show me something new when I reread those sections. The ability of the Bible to teach me something new, each time I read and reread it, strikes me as mysterious and unlike any other book I’ve read. I see the Bible as powerful.
However, other people have also read the Bible (much as I might read the Koran) with interest but still come away unconvinced that the Messiah was real and Christianity is the only true faith. Some have described the Bible as nothing more than a “charming collection of Jewish fairy tales”. I disagree, but I have to admit that I did not become a Christian because I’ve read the Bible. I became a Christian because of actual events in my life that made me aware that God is real. The Bible helped to explain and clarify those events, but my “conversion” from atheist or agnostic to “believer” was not directly caused by the Bible.
I suspect that many, maybe most, perhaps virtually all, people’s personal conversion to Christianity was also based on actual events in their lives rather than reading the Bible.
My point is that however helpful the Bible may be, it’s not instantly convincing for most people.
The phenomenon of being convinced of the Christian faith by events in our lives rather than by the Bible isn’t new. Although they may have read documents that later became part of the the current Bible, not one of the Messiah’s apostles read the Bible. They died at least two centuries before the Bible was first assembled. They all came to the Christian faith based on actual events rather than reading the Bible. They didn’t need the modern Bible to be convinced of the worth of Christianity.
So far as I know, the Bible didn’t even exist until sometime after the Council of Nicaea met in A.D. 325. That means that during its first 300 years, the Christian faith grew from the status of a “cult” composed of the Messiah and 12 men into a powerful force in the western world–without the Bible. During those crucial 300 years, people converted to Christianity based on events in their lives rather than reading the Bible. Sure, they may have been reading (or more likely hearing) important parts of what eventually became the Bible, but they couldn’t have been converted to Christianity based on the modern, “complete” Bible because that book did not yet exist.
More, so far as I know, even after the Bible was first assembled by the Catholic Church in the 4th century, it was written, published, and spoken in Latin–a language known to the clergy, but largely unknown to the average Christian–until after Martin Luther published a version of the Bible in German in A.D. 1522. Thus, the church grew for at least its first 15 centuries without the vast majority of ordinary people ever reading a Bible.
All of which leads me to infer that the Bible may not be perfect. If it were perfect, could anyone ever have become a Christian without reading the Bible? It’s possible, but it does seem unlikely.
If the Bible were perfect, isn’t it at least likely that anyone reading it would be instantly “reborn” as a Christian? But they’re not.
In fact, there’s more than a little confusion to be found in the Bible and a number of ambiguities, contradictions (some say “mysteries”) that make parts of Christianity subject to debate by people who are passionate in their faith, and yet disagree about the meanings or significance of various Bible verses. These disagreements lay the foundation for a multitude of of “Christian” denominations such as Congregationalists, Methodists, Lutherans and Baptists. The Protestants and Catholics don’t even agree on the text of the Ten Commandments!
If any Bible were perfect, it seems at least likely that we would all agree to one single faith. And yet, based on various interpretations of the same Bible, we have a variety of Christian “denominations”. Each of these various denominations is honestly and passionately supported by its members. But each of these various denominations also tends to believe that their version of Christianity is the only one that’s “really true” and therefore they often carry a small contempt for the other “false” denominations of Christianity.
If the Bible is truly perfect–not merely “good” or “great,” but “perfect“–shouldn’t it be instantly convincing?
If the Bible is truly perfect, shouldn’t everyone reading it be compelled to join the same faith? Shouldn’t every “Christian” who reads a perfect Bible be compelled to believe in the identical principles of Christianity?
But they’re not.
I can’t say it’s God’s truth, but it seems to me that a perfect Bible should’ve resulted in a perfectly uniform Christian faith. But it hasn’t.
1) At least 99% of the English versions of the Bible don’t even claim to be perfect, the odds alone suggest that no English version is perfect;
2) The multiplicity of possible translations is so huge that the likelihood that any translation is “perfect” is very low;
3) King James’ changed of the 6th Commandment from “Thou shalt not murder” to “Thou shalt not kill”;
4) Many seem to worship the Bible as an act approaching idolatry rather than read and study it;
5) The true name of the Messiah appears to be missing from virtually every English translation of the Bible–including the King James Version;
6) The Bible is not instantly convincing and does not produce a single, uniform faith; then,
7) I conclude that no version of the Bible written in the past 500 years (including the KJV) is perfect.
This conclusion does not suggest that the Bible is useless or without value. I have ten versions of the Bible on my computer. I used to have seven physical Bibles but five were caught in a fire and destroyed. I now have three physical versions.
I read a Bible regularly. I think whichever one I habitually read is the most valuable book I currently possess. I’ve learned at least as much about man’s law from the Bible as I have from reading man’s laws, codes and court cases.
I’m continuously amazed by the Bible’s ability to teach me new things from chapters and verses I’ve previously read.
I have no doubt that the Bible is valuable, but I don’t believe the Bible is perfect. I read it, I study it, I write on it. But I don’t worship any Bible nor do I think it’s safe to do so. I won’t say that everyone who believes the Bible is “perfect” is an idolater, but I suspect that those who think the the Bible is perfect may be close to committing idolatry.
The Intrinsic Uncertainty of Faith
The problem with faith is that, by definition, it’s always uncertain. We act in faith because we know that we don’t know all the answers. We know that we don’t have all relevant information, but we proceed anyway, trying to do that which we believe may be right.
Our uncertainty isn’t simply an external coincidence that often appears in relation to faith. Instead, that uncertainty is an intrinsic element of faith. To have absolute knowledge is to know rather than to believe. To have absolute knowledge is to be without faith.
Without uncertainty, there is no faith. Where there’s faith, there must also be uncertainty.
Hebrews 11:1 seems to agree: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Those things that are “not seen” cannot be known in an objective sense. Such things can be hoped for and believed in, but without direct knowledge, those hopes and beliefs must be at least partially based on uncertainty.
Claims to find absolute knowledge and absolute certainty in the Bible are, to me, claims of absolute knowledge rather than faith.
I can’t help wondering if those who need the absolute certainty of “knowing” the Bible is “perfect” may actually be weak or immature in their faith and unable to face the uncertainty that’s inherent in all true faith. Those whose faith is strong don’t require or depend on the apparent certainty of absolute knowledge of the sort that we might seemingly find in a “perfect” Bible. If we can manage to find true faith, I believe that faith is in the Messiah and the God of the Bible, rather than in the Bible, itself.
Like the Apostles and the people who became “Christians” in the first 300 years after the Messiah’s resurrection, it’s possible to find that faith without the Bible.
Is the Bible useful? Absolutely.
Is the Bible a blessing? Yes.
Is the Bible perfect? I don’t think so. More, I don’t believe it needs to be. A “perfect” Bible is conducive to knowledge. An imperfect Bible is conducive to faith.