Jonathan Welton Interview

Jonathan Welton Interview

 Jonathan Welton recently interviewed Brian Simmons about The Passion Translation. The interview runs for just under an hour. I picked out some interesting quotes from the interview (with time stamps). Sometimes it can be difficult to understand what Brian means, but you can listen to the full interview online here.

Brian Simmons reflects on his own language skills: 

Jonathan Welton: “When you started this project were you, had you already had training in Greek and Hebrew? Or was this something you had to jump into again?”

Brian Simmons: “I had minimal background in biblical languages, so yeah it was something, honestly, it was something the Lord has really helped me with.” (14:52)

Brian Simmons reflects on Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek:

Brian argues that ‘true scholarship’ must value the Aramaic manuscripts more highly than the Greek and Hebrew biblical manuscripts. Brian understands that the Hebrew and Greek languages have changed over the past two thousand years, but claims that Aramaic remains the same. In fact, according to Brian, this is one of the reasons ISIS is attacking the Kurds:

“Biblical Aramaic is being spoken by a few speakers even in 2017. … They would be in Iraq and this is what some of the ISIS warfare is all about. They’re trying to eliminate in the spirit realm, they’re really coming against the language of Jesus. Atleast that’s one of the reasons they come against Aramaic speakers, the Kurds.” (22:25)

“Koine Greek is not contemporary Greek today. … Hebrew that is spoken in Israel is not Biblical Hebrew at all. Both Biblical Greek and Biblical Hebrew are dead languages. We’ve got to learn them from books not from native speakers.” (23:13)

“It’s very interesting for me to sit in church meetings and hear somebody begin to teach what the bible says from the Greek or Hebrew and know that they borrowed it somewhere and it’s been passed on a little bit as a myth more than a true etymological meaning of the word.” (25:19)

Brian Simmons reflects on other English translations of the Aramaic texts:

[George] Lamsa was the ground-breaker, he was the pioneer, but scholars know that his work still he tried his best to stay close to the King James, so in doing that it somewhat diminishes what he did but we’re all thankful for him. I’ve got, Roth has an Aramaic English New Testament. I think his website may be ‘aent’ – something like that – ‘aramaic english new testament’ and he has a wonderful translation that I refer to.

And then there’s all kinds of new ones coming out. That’s actually an aramaic speaker who put out – his name’s Victor Alexander – very hard to get and expensive – but I have a copy of that in my library that I refer to. And then another book by [Bauscher]. (27:52)

Brian Simmons on how he uses Aramaic texts:

They kind of ‘poo poo’ the idea that I’m incorporating Aramaic into the text of The Passion Translation. It’s not an Aramaic translation, it is a Greek translation but I’m using the Aramaic manuscripts side by side and when there’s something fascinating from the Aramaic I put it in there. Here’s one example. The Greek text says that “Wives – Ephesians 5:22 – submit to your own husbands as to the Lord” and that’s pretty daunting. The Aramaic is “Wives be tenderly devoted to your husbands as you are tenderly devoted to the lord.” So it’s just a completely different nuance. (24:25)

It is interesting to compare Brian’s rendering of Ephesians 5:22 with other English Translations of the Aramaic: 1

Etheridge: Wives, be subject to your husbands as to our Lord.

Murdock: Wives, be ye submissive to your husbands, as to our Lord.

Lamsa: Wives submit yourselves to your husbands as to our LORD.

It seems that other translators of the Aramaic find the same meaning in Ephesians 5:22 as the standard English translations of the Greek. Even Andrew Gabriel Roth (who Brian Simmons says has a “wonderful translation”) renders Ephesians 5:22:

Roth: “Wives, be submissive to your husbands as to our Master (Y’shua).”

So how does Brian reach a different conclusion? Andrew Chapman makes a compelling argument that Brian Simmon’s ‘translation’ of Ephesians 5:22 is borrowed from the Victor Alexander Bible: 2

Victor Alexander Bible: “Women, be devoted to your husbands as to our Maryah. [Lord]” 3

For Chapman’s detailed analysis of Ephesians 5:22, including his thoughts on the very unusual Victor Alexander Bible, please read this post on his River of Life website. Chapman concludes that:

“there is a possibility that the manuscript that [Victor] Alexander claims to be translating from does not actually exist. If this is true then it looks like Simmons’ rendering of Ephesians 5.22 has no basis in reality.”

For a summary guide to Andrew Chapman’s analysis read our post: The Victor Alexander Aramaic Bible. For more general information about Aramaic texts, translations and their relationship with Greek and Hebrew please read: What’s with the Aramaic texts?

Brian Simmons on the relationship between the Bible and the Holy Spirit:

“We’ve got to end biblical illiteracy. We are in a movement or people filled with the Spirit but not always filled with the light of the Word of God. (26:51)

“The Word of God is the spouse of the Spirit. They’re married. They’ll never file for divorce. They’ll never separate. They always come in a package. We need Spirit and Word don’t we?” (27:01)

If The Passion Translation is not an accurate translation of the scriptures, what are the implications for the NAR leaders who endorse the TPT and claim that this translation project has been commissioned directly by God?

One Reply to “Jonathan Welton Interview”

  1. If I could make a comment here on George Athas’s review – but making reference to this post too – I am so glad that a bible college teacher has finally come forward and said this is complete rubbish. But I think we should stop calling it a translation. Having spent a long time convincing myself that Brian Simmons doesn’t know any Aramaic – even though he claims to be translating from it – it dawned on me that he doesn’t know Hebrew or Greek either. Anyone who knows Greek or Hebrew – I read NT Greek with a moderate degree of fluency, but am no expert – will I think be able to see from Brian’s footnotes that he doesn’t know even the most basic Greek. So he’s actually looking at different English translations, and looking up some Hebrew and Greek and Aramaic words, and then just composing a text of his own from a mishmash of the above. So it was interesting to see that he admits to ‘minimal background’ in biblical languages – and he doesn’t actually claim to have learned them, although someone might suppose that that’s what he means when he says that this is ‘something the Lord has really helped me with’. I think he may just mean that he thinks the Lord has helped him to get around the difficulty of ‘translating’ without knowing the source language.

    Andrew

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