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Exposing Adventism - SDA Clear Word Bible Review by David Newman

A letter from David Newman, Editor of Ministry Magazine.

July 28, 1994

Now for my personal reactions and you are free to quote me if you wish. Understand that this is my personal opinion and does not represent any official stance of the SDA Church.

Dr. Jack Blanco, chair of the religion department at Southern College and the author of the Clear Word Bible is trying to make the Bible clearer which is most commendable. He has done an outstanding job except for the problems I cite below.

He makes it clear in the first paragraph of his Preface that "This is not a new translation but a paraphrase of the Scriptures. It is not intended for in-depth study or for public reading in churches." Unfortunately most people do not read prefaces so this very important information will be lost. Already I am hearing reports of it being used in the pulpit and as a textbook in teaching religion.

Second the author misunderstands the meaning of the word "paraphrase." A paraphrase is not a loose rendering of someone elses' words with added commentary. A paraphrase whether you use the dictionary definition or the definition used in active listening simply means restating the words of another in your own words without adding to or subtracting from the original meaning.

A cursory examination of the Clear Word Bible reveals the prolific addition of many ideas not found in Scripture.

Thirdly, where Scripture is ambiguous the author removes the ambiguities. One is left not having to make hardly any interpretations for him or herself. The author has done it for you. God evidently intended that each reader struggle with the text and decide personally how to resolve these ambiguities and tensions. Two quick examples come to mind. In 1 Cor. 15:29 we find the difficult phrase baptized for the dead. The author resolves the difficulty by telling us that being baptized in the hope of seeing dead loved ones is meaningless if you do not believe in the resurrection. Revelation 1:10 no longer has us puzzling over which day of the week the Lord's day is. The author tells us that it is the Sabbath.

Fourthly, the author has intertwined so much of Ellen White into his commentary that the general effect has been to canonize Ellen White. The author adds to Scripture in Genesis 2:25 by following Ellen White and saying that Adam and Eve were clothed with a garment of light. Daniel 8:14 is now clear that the judgment began after 2300 prophetic years.

Fifthly, the title chosen for this work is most unfortunate. This is not a Bible. It is a personal commentary on Scripture but it is not the Bible. Yet the title clearly identifies it as a Bible. It is really a specialized commentary on the Bible.

Sixthly, while the author says it is a paraphrase the format inside is not that of a paraphrase but that of the King James Bible. While most modern versions format by paragraph this "Bible" is formatted verse by verse so that it clearly looks like a traditional bible.

Seventh, I fear what our critics will say when they find how much Ellen White has contributed to this "bible" without any credit being given to her at all. It would be interesting to find out what percentage of this work owes itself to Ellen White.

In summary. While I believe that the intentions of the author were honorable and while I am sure he has been greatly blessed I fear that this commentary will eventually confuse people more than it will help people. Already one person has brought it to my Sabbath School class and read from it. People will begin memorizing it and quoting it as Scripture. I know that this was not the intent of the author but that is what the practical effects will be.

I am sure that the author does not believe that the words of Revelation 22:18 "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book." apply to this version. But since it is called a Bible some might draw the opposite conclusions. He should have made it far clearer on the conver and in the formatting that this is not another Bible but a personal commentary on Scripture. I hope that the author would withdraw or at the very least drastically revise this book.

Yours for the uplifting of God's true Word,

J. David Newman

Editor, Ministry

 
Our Observation

Here is an abbreviated list of the problems with the SDA Clear Word Bible.

Problems with the SDA Clear Word Bible

  1. Dr. Jack Blanco, chair of the religion department at Southern College and the author of the Clear Word Bible, makes it clear in the first paragraph of his Preface that "This is not a new translation but a paraphrase of the Scriptures. It is not intended for in-depth study or for public reading in churches." Unfortunately most people do not read prefaces so this very important information will be lost. It is often used in the pulpit and as a textbook in teaching religion.

  2. The author misunderstands the meaning of the word "paraphrase." A paraphrase is not a loose rendering of someone elses' words with added commentary. A paraphrase whether you use the dictionary definition or the definition used in active listening simply means restating the words of another in your own words without adding to or subtracting from the original meaning. A cursory examination of the Clear Word Bible reveals the prolific addition of many ideas not found in Scripture.

  3. Where Scripture is intentionally ambiguous the author removes the ambiguities. One is left not having to make hardly any interpretations for him or herself. The author has done it for you. God evidently intended that each reader struggle with the text and decide personally how to resolve these ambiguities and tensions. Two quick examples come to mind. In 1 Cor. 15:29 we find the difficult phrase baptized for the dead. The author resolves the difficulty by telling us that being baptized in the hope of seeing dead loved ones is meaningless if you do not believe in the resurrection. Revelation 1:10 no longer has us puzzling over which day of the week the Lord's day is. The author tells us that it is the Sabbath.

  4. The author has intertwined so much of Ellen White into his commentary that the general effect has been to canonize Ellen White. The author adds to Scripture in Genesis 2:25 by following Ellen White and saying that Adam and Eve were clothed with a garment of light. Daniel 8:14 is now clear that the judgment began after 2300 prophetic years.

  5. The title chosen for this work is most unfortunate. This is not a Bible. It is a personal commentary on Scripture but it is not the Bible. Yet the title clearly identifies it as a Bible. It is really a specialized commentary on the Bible.

  6. While the author says it is a paraphrase the format inside is not that of a paraphrase but that of the King James Bible. While most modern versions format by paragraph this "Bible" is formatted verse by verse so that it clearly looks like a traditional bible.

  7. What will critics say when they find how much Ellen White has contributed to this "bible" without any credit being given to her at all. It would be interesting to find out what percentage of this work owes itself to Ellen White.

Adventist scholar Dr. Sakae Kubo say’s, "I am concerned about how our membership regard and use Blanco’s Clear Word. Behind my remarks is a history of Bibles of this sort that have a terrible bias. The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation is an obvious example—the divinity of Christ is removed and His createdness is brought out along with other tendential characteristics. The very obvious and serious danger is that our own people will be confused as to what the Bible really says. Interpretation has been so mixed in with the text that our people will think that the interpretation is part of the Word of God." (Adventist Review, April 1995, p.15)


"I do not think anyone should trust The Clear Word as a reliable translation of the Bible, or even as a useful paraphrase. It repeatedly distorts the teaching of the Bible. It removes significant content that is in the original Hebrew or Greek, and adds new ideas that are not found in the original texts. Verse after verse has been changed simply to support unusual Seventh-day Adventist doctrines, but these changes are not supported by reliable translations such as the KJV, NKJV, ESV, NASB, RSV, or NIV, or even by dynamic equivalence translations such as the New Living Translation or free paraphrases such as The Message. I was deeply troubled as I read various verses because it was clear that these verses were no longer the words of God only, but the words of God mixed in with many words of man, and ordinary readers of The Clear Word will not be able to tell the difference." Wayne Grudem, Theologian and Author of Systematic Theology


 
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Public Comments

Jdpascal - Posted on Thursday,June 5, 2008:

We have a (Scott's) Parable Christian book store in Alberta. I have checked their shelves for this distorted book and they have none in stock. Their website uses the same internet store front as the U.S. parent company and I did send this correction to the description from the buy now page.

Published by the Review & Herald Publishing Association, this is the Seventh-day Adventist equivalent to the New World translation published by the Watchtower Society. The clear focus they refer to is supplied by the teachings of their Prophet, Ellen White. These changes are substantial, especially if you compare the books of Daniel and Revelation to any of the standard translations accepted by orthodox Christian belief. For this reason, I highly recommend that you remove your offering of this book from your listings. I doubt that you will miss many sales of this book to SDA's as they are heavily marketed by the denomination's book store system. At best, you will save someone from the subtle deceptions within SDA unorthodox teachings.

For further information and references, please feel free to contact me by return e-mail.

Thankyou

We'll see if they have a response.....
 
 
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