So here’s a mind-blowing question for everyone. Can you even entertain it? Can you play, “What if…”? Are you capable of this? I’m going to guess that you are not — especially if you are an extremely religious person, but we’ll see.
Now remember, this is just a “What if…” mental exercise.
OK: The Setup
Most of the people I grew up with believe that the Bible, especially the New Testament, is the literal word of God and that it is a code by which we should all live our lives if we desire to be followers of Christ.
So, what if... What if the translators of the original Greek texts got the translation wrong, significantly wrong.
What if a vast repository of literally tons of manuscripts written in the actual language of the original biblical Greek texts were found that clearly proved that numerous important words in the Bible were incorrectly translated throughout the entire Bible in ways that substantially altered the original meaning of the teachings of the New Testament.
What if there was irrefutable evidence that the church, for the past 2,000 years, has been misinformed and is not doing exactly what the Christ of the New Testament actually wanted his followers to do?
IF this were true, how would the people of the Christian church today respond?
For centuries the Christian church has acknowledged that no documents in the day-to-day Greek language of the time of Christ have survived to the modern era. This, of course, is the language in which the Bible is written — Koine Greek. Therefore, for centuries, scholars have painstakingly and methodically worked to piece together the very best translations they could using very meticulous methodology to derive the best understanding of the illusive ancient texts.
According to Michael Wood, literally tons of ancient manuscripts have been unearthed in the Egyptian desert over the past 120 years, manuscripts that are written in Koine Greek — the language of the Bible which was in fact the common language in which wills, deeds, and private letters of the day were written. These manuscripts reveal the exact meaning of the language the biblical manuscripts were written in. So, no more need for trying to ascertain the meaning of the words. This enormous collection of manuscripts clearly reveals the meaning of the words.
Hold your horses! Not so fast. According to Michael Wood, the Christian church has some rethinking to do.
Hundreds of passages have been translated incorrectly — so incorrectly that the meaning is significantly altered. Michael goes on to say that while numerous Biblical scholars applaud the fact that we now, for the first time, can accurately understand the actual language in which the Bible was written, the church downplays this and continues to produce the same old Bibles it has always printed — utterly bereft of the benefit of the accurate translations.
He presents a few of these mis-translated and thereby misunderstood Biblical teachings in his short book, The Jesus Secret.
Now, I’m the first to admit that I have little knowledge and zero expertise in this area. I don’t know if what he has written is factual or not. But he makes some compelling revelations that, for me anyway, have the ring of truth and really add a sensible level of historical and ideological perspective that perfectly resonates with the context of Jesus as I understand it.
What I do know is that the Christian church has a compelling reason not to change the 2,000 year old status quo; so, I wouldn’t trust much of what their scholarship would have to say on this matter. They have too large of a vested interest in a specific outcome. Some unintentionally, others very deliberately, would be inaccurately swayed in their thinking by the weight of this 2,000 year old veil of thinking.
Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future scholars with no dog in this fight will weigh in on what the facts are in this very interesting and very important debate. In the meantime, I recommend you read Michael’s book. It’s certainly thought provoking. (This all has the makings of another great Dan Brown-style book and movie!)[In my humble opinion, the title is a bit misleading. There are no secrets about Jesus, only new insights into the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament.]
An Interesting semi-related article:
- Mike Lux: How Do Christians Become Conservative? (huffingtonpost.com)