Clear Word "Bible"

A letter from David Newman, Editor of _Ministry_magazine. (1994)

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_