THE BEST TRANSLATION
T. Pierce Brown
In recent years there has been a proliferation of articles, books and discussions about which is the best translation. One of the reasons is that most of the so-called translations are not really translations at all, but slanted commentaries revealing the theological bias of those who prepared them. We want to bring an end to the controversy by giving you a definite answer to the question of what is the best. With Solomonic wisdom and the humility of a little child, I pronounce with pontifical assurance that the best translation is that which translates the truths and principles of the Hebrew and Greek texts from words on paper to actions in life. This is very close to what Paul meant when he said, “Ye are our epistle — known and read of all men” (2 Cor. 3:2). It is even closer the principle John expressed when he said, “Let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John3:18).
It really matters little what version we use, unless we get our listeners to translate those words into actions. This in no sense implies that it matters little what version we use, for most of the versions would give us the wrong words to translate into life. We cannot believe false doctrine and live true lives. The converse, however, is not true. We can accept the truth of a doctrine, using the safest and best versions available (such as King James or American Standard), or even read from the original text and make our own translation, and still fail to translate that truth into action.
After 50 years of trying to teach, and trying to train teachers to teach more effectively, I am convinced that one of our greatest failures is in the area of using proper methods to get the students to make a practical application of the lesson truths to their daily lives. Some literature and some teachers will occasionally give an admonition to the effect that we should practice what we learn. But there are few of which I have heard that actually design a lesson in such a way that the student is helped to do it. A verbal application of a principle in a hypothetical situation is better than no application at all. But it is a long way from an actual application in real life. My workbook, THE MIND OF CHRIST, is designed to help the student do that, but we need to understand how to do it with almost any lesson.
Here are some steps every teacher should take with each lesson taught. 1. Try to find something in the lesson relevant to daily living. 2. State that principle, or better yet, get some class member to state it in a simple way so all can understand it. 3. Make an assignment to a specific class member to make a specific application of that principle and report back to the class the next session concerning what he did and the results of it. You may suggest that every member do likewise, but you will not have time for reports from all of them.
As an illustration of how it can be done, suppose you are studying the story of the Prodigal Son. Instead of simply asking a group of questions about how he got to be where he was, and what he did about it, you might make the following kinds of assignments: “Tom, bring us a report next week of not over 3 minutes of ONE occasion in your life when you realized you were wrong, tell how and why you came to yourself, and the results.” “Dick, find a person who is away from the Father’s house. Try to get him to come to himself and report on results.” “Harry, think of any situation in your life when you were tempted to be a prodigal (be sure you know what “a prodigal” is), or to act like the elder brother. Report on your response, and the results.”
We can guarantee you some positive results. Not only will your mental and spiritual powers be stimulated as you strive to make every lesson worth while, things will happen in and out of your class that you never had happen before! If we can ever get all our teachers to do on purpose what we have tried to do accidentally, we would have a kind of revival of which few of us have seen.