Tuesday 26 December 2006

A COG Bible?

One of the scariest things I've heard of in recent days is Fred Coulter's plans to produce a “translation” of the whole Bible. Coulter, as you probably know, abandoned the ministry of the WCG in the late 70s to establish the Biblical Church of God which swiftly sank without trace. Fred then founded the Christian Biblical Church of God.

Fred's telephone directory-sized New Testament is already with us, it came out a couple of years ago, built around the text of his revised Harmony of the Gospels (to his credit, Fred at least knows how to read Greek, based on his time at AC.) His “Faithful Version” reads like a slightly updated and rather dull KJV, nothing like the first edition of his Harmony which was then in contemporary English (he's since moved to adopt a severely literal translation approach.) Most notable in his New Testament are the copious and rambling essays and explanations that have blown out the book to 880 pages. By my estimate at least 50% is made up of commentary. A hardback copy of Fred's Faithful New Testament (full title: The New Testament in its Original Order: A Faithful Version with Commentary) will set you back around $50 on Amazon, exclusive of postage.

Individual translators, as opposed to committees, have often produced colorful and stirring versions. James Moffatt, J.B. Phillips, Eugene Peterson (The Message) and John Henson (Good As New) spring to mind (Fred wastes 3 ½ pages attacking Henson in his NT preface, and 2 more attacking Peterson, but Fred simply isn't in this league.) What is remarkable though is his reliance on a corrupt Greek text - “the Stephens text of 1550” (which, of course, he passionately defends at tedious length as the most accurate!) The Stephens in question is “Stephanus” (Robert Etienne), a French printer who produced a revision of Erasmus' Greek text. This is part of the "Textus Receptus" tradition out of which the KJV came. But there are problems.

“No translation can be better than the text on which it is based... those were the days before the art of serious textual criticism had begun. They were able to use only those manuscripts that had been available to Erasmus (which he recognized to be defective) and to the Parisian printer Stephanus... These manuscripts were mostly of the Byzantine (or Koine) family of texts, which subsequent research has demonstrated to be amongst the least trustworthy.” (Robinson, The Thoughtful Guide to the Bible, 2004, p. 269-270.)

“When the AV/KJV was translated, the oldest and best Greek manuscripts had not then been discovered. The earliest used by Erasmus for his 1516 edition of the Greek NT dates back no further than the tenth century.” (Dewey, Which Bible? A Guide to English Translations, 2004, p. 195.)

Now Fred is “doing” the Old Testament. But wait, does Fred actually know any Hebrew? Not that I'm aware of.

The strategy seems to be to revise an already obscure translation called the Modern King James Version to produce an even more obscure one. Fred has paid out $20,000 for this privilege (courtesy, one assumes, of his tithe-paying supporters.) Troublesome verses are being duly “COGified”, so Genesis 1:1-2 will now read “ In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth became without form and void...” The inspired marginal notations are migrating into the text itself!

In essence this doesn't seem much different from Joseph Smith's rewrite of the KJV to produce the “Inspired Version” (still published, last I heard, by Herald House in Independence, MO.)

Fred has also decided to structure his Bible version “in its original order.” Original order? Certainly there's precedent for reordering the books of the Bible, but this one (which owes a good deal to Ernest Martin) has little to recommend it.

There is the consolation of knowing that the Coulter Bible, when it arrives, will be little noticed, as with his existing – and widely ignored – New Testament. This is largely because no other COG is about to give a rival the satisfaction of citing his Bible version in their own publications. Unless you are a collector of uncommon or abstruse Bibles, you may want to give this one a miss.


Anonymous said...

That anyone gives this many any credibility is beyond comprehension. HWA kicked him out of WCG years ago for his crazy beliefs. Coulter then got wrapped up in phrenology, where he told people the problems that were going on in their lives from the bumps on their heads!

The craziest part was reading Bob Thiel today where he admits he quotes Fred's Bible frequently. This just goes to show how theologically and scripturally ignorant Thiel truly is. Thiel just proves once again that he has no credibility. Lap poodles are always friendly when they start out,, then eventually the crap on their owners. Meredith should get ready for major embarrassment from the so called 'Dr.'

Anonymous said...

Correction above:

That any one gives this man........

Anonymous said...

Fred is losing it real bad lately, look at the Carl Franklin fiasco. Maybe he needs to read the bumps on his own head.
As Fred is not very good with the Hebrew, as anyone who listened to his 4 or 5 tape series on the Hebrew calendar can attest.
The Stephens Text as quoted by Dr. Thiel as using some times goes hand in hand with Spanky quoting it often. Thiel may just be kissing Spanky's butt, but then again Thiel has always been scriptually and theologically ignorant and has no credibility outside his circle of pinheads.
But i doubt Spanky can be embarrassed by anyone as he has his head so far up ole Herbs dead butt , he would not know what embarrasament is.

jorgheinz said...


I believe a COG Bible is a good idea.It might keep our disgust fresh of days of yore.

And now, another matter.

Lengthy and painstaking research has revealed that the celebration of HOGMANAY was borrowed from the HAMITIC peoples,which fact alone might reinforce a Scottish descent from Egypt.

I imagine Christian Settipani will be enthralled by this major revelation.

'Appy New Yer.


jorgheinz said...


Everyone must be still partaking of pagan treats,and too busy to post comments on your blog.

Perhaps they are also busy reading Fred's Bible.If it lacks scholarship, it could be called FRED-BARE.

We hope, at least, they are reading the comments,nevertheless.

HWA used to say, that at Xmas time they noticed a drop-off in tithes, and hence encouraged members to send in their normal tithe, PLUS a generous " seasonal??" offering.

Well, Herb ain't around anymore.

And don't send your tithe to your favourite evangelist...he will only waste it. Treat yourself some more, instead. Charity begins at home.

To all those fathers-to-be within the next week or two, have a


Gavin said...

You're perfectly right, mein alte freund, most people have better things to do at the moment, though I doubt many of them are reading Fred... ;-)

The next post on AW will probably be a series of prognostications (should that be COGnostications) on what the new year might hold for the various groups. I know you'll think of a few I've missed!


Anonymous said...

Fred has exalted himself to think he knows more than the scriptures themselves. He is making translation changes based not on (original) text alone but on his own heart-felt theories. The man is widely known for developing a theory and presenting it as such. But watch out, before long the "theory" becomes doctrine and he states it as if it's a Biblical fact. He has gotten to the point of thinking he can do no wrong!

I wonder if his followers were told he paid $20,000 for the rights to a translation? I bet they weren't!

Unknown said...

Hi, I wanted to let anonymous know he has lost the bet. Fred told us some time ago what he was paying for the translation. You need to check up on what you write as fact. CBCG freely gives away books, tapes, booklets and papers to anyone who asks. Fred sends out a financial statement every year, it lists all the income and expenses broken down, it also includes how much he is paid. One year when money was tight, he took a pay cut. He does not borrow money. There is no hierarchy in CBCG. If anyone has a question or concern, you can call the office or e-mail via the website. Fred does not hide information from the brethren. Before you write gossip, please check for the facts. I have been attending with CBCG for several years now. I was in LCG for 10 yrs. There is no comparison. I can call Fred personally and he takes the time to talk with me. He has done this on a number of ocassions. I am a housewife and mom, I have no income of my own to tithe on, so money is not his motive to return my call. Please, before you speak or write against someone, check the facts. Call him, he will tell you exactly how much and why he is doing what he is doing. The reasons he left WCG, you should also contact him and ask. He has two tapes that address his resignation.

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen,

It really sounds like you are really into Fred. I understand that. Just because a physical hierarchy doesn't mean a spiritual one does not exist. Just an observation for thought. One fact though that should be states as fact: Fred ignores the biblical principle of: Mat 10:8, "...freely ye have received, freely give..."

Fred charges "outsiders" for bibles and other books he's written. If these were made available from tithe and offering money in the first place, they were paid for once. There is no biblical justification (regardless of spin) to charge for "the truth". Making outsiders pay for these materials is a biblical breach with no way around it.

The fact that Fred makes himself readily available is to be commended.I bet there are many church leaders who won't even do this.

Fred's past does not concern me. Self exultation in the present is the concern.

Shirley said...

Please, can someone tell me what the fiasco with Carl Franklin was or is all about.

Anonymous said...

I once again recognize the vanity and puffed-up attitudes of people who look on from the outside and judge without facts.
No man is perfect and Fred has his faults, but he tirelessly works to teach and share his knowledge of the scriptures. I have be in several groups, and no one has the depth of understanding, due to his intense love of the Truth. The other groups are also heirarchies, full of vanity and abuse the brethren.
Fred usually sticks to study, teaching and writing. You may say he is vain and puffed up, but it may be that he has to have a tough skin to deal with all the hateful, malicious attacks.
I would like the see someone take one of his sermons and prove it wrong. He is the closest to the truth of any group that I have seen and I have been in the church since 1972.
Armstrong, Meredith, Flurry, Pack, Holiday, and so many others have been put on pedestals and worshipped. God is trying to teach us to be as the Bereans and prove all things.
From the comments I have read, most of the opinionated people have agendas, not much spiritual understanding, and are very judgmental and unloving. When will God's people learn that we need to stick to proving all things, growing in Godly Character, and loving the brethren, and be willing to stand up for the truth, even when NO ONE ELSE does. In every church situation I have seen there are few to none who stand up for God's Truth. There are some hard times ahead and we need to pick the right battles, and stop attacking people who are sincerely trying to teach and help the brethren.

Anonymous said...

Take one of his sermons and prove him wrong? That isn't hard to do now. I started listening to him several years ago, and then he seemed to be sincere, and truthful. He seemed to be sticking to the Bible. But a lot of other people started listening also and it didn't take long for Fred to get puffed up. People (including me) told him that they never heard the truth before hearing him, the words coming from his mouth were pure gold! Now he makes the Bible say what he wants it to say. He spins and twists the scriptures. Just go into his web and look at the number of tapes he has on tithing. It is over 20 hours of his nonsense. Tithing is one of the easiest things for the peons like me to prove is not scriptural today.
Research proves that the calculated Hebrew calendar came from Babylon, but Fred defends it in his sermons. God says He gave the sun and the moon for times and seasons. Yet Fred denies this. I could go on and on about his false sermons, but I won't. Frankly, I think he is more dangerous than any other false minister, because he is so clever. And he sounds so gooood!