Thursday 8 January 2009

Fred's Historical Landmark, Part 2

Fred Coulter's effort at Bible translation is at the very least different from most other offerings. Fred picked up his knowledge of Greek at Ambassador College (under the "private tutelage" of Charles Dorothy), and his views on the canon - in large part - from an AC professor, the larger-than-life figure of Ernest L. Martin. In putting together his New Testament "in its original order" he follows the views of Martin in his book Restoring the Original Bible. Strangely enough, in his bibliography to the New Testament edition (2003), Fred forgets to even mention Restoring the Original Bible, though he refers to it within his lengthy introductory chapters.

Where did Fred learn Hebrew? Well, apparently he didn't. Fred can correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand he bought somebody else's revision of the KJV Old Testament, fiddled around with the text a bit, then bunged it together with his 2003 New Testament to produce a complete 66 book edition.

Around the time Fred left WCG he tried out his translation skills by producing a paraphrased Harmony of the Gospels in modern English. To be honest, it was probably a good deal better than the stilted KJV-like third edition which has replaced it.

So what do the reviewers think? The BAR ad addresses this issue:

Reviewer Dan Becker of Bible Editions and Versions (June 2005) writes of this Faithful Version of the New Testament: "It [is] an excellent translation for those desiring a literal one."

And so he did, but if memory serves me, he also compared it to a telephone directory. In fact, the review as a whole could be said to have damned with faint praise. Has anybody else - a recognized journal in the field of Biblical studies for example (or even the BAR) - positively reviewed Fred's magum opus? Apparently not.

Fred translated the NT from what he regards as the most accurate Greek text, the Stephens of - wait for it - 1550! Fred is entitled to his opinion of course, but he'd be hard pressed to find a genuine scholar to agree with him. Stephens is probably the worst choice imaginable. More on this in part 3.

Then there's the issue of original order. The Old Testament isn't an issue: Fred apparently follows the order of the Hebrew Bible as set out in Jewish translations. That's not only legitimate, but perhaps even commendable, though it's stretching credulity to make the kind of grandiose claims about it that he does. There are two ancient traditions, one of which the church adopted (following the precedent of the Septuagint), the other of which the synagogue adopted, both of which have a respectable pedigree.

But what about the claim regarding the New Testament? Here's Fred's shuffled index:

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts (no change, though there probably should be!)
James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude (Fred is kidding, right?)
Romans, 1 Cor., 2 Cor., Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thes., 2 Thes., Hebrews, 1 Tim., 2 Tim., Titus, Philemon (Fred is one of the last translators to imagine that Paul wrote Hebrews)

With all due respect to the labors of Doc Martin, this is completely out of kilter with reality. More on this later.

A copy of the Fred Bible could set you back $150, but Fred will sell you a copy direct - a special low price for BAR readers - for $89.95 plus postage and packing.

Funnily enough, you can get the same "low" price from Amazon.

To be continued.


Anonymous said...

I would suggest beginning with Paul's accepted writings as Paul lived, wrote and died before the literalized story of Jesus, in the snoptic gospels, of which Paul knew nothing, arose.

It's the genuine Pauline Epistles, the Gospels in various orders (I like Mark,Matthew,Luke and John but could go for John, Mark, Matthew and Luke too depending) and the rest somehow and sometime.

The original Jesus was not literalized at first. It was only decades later, we start to have a Jesus who "really existed" and the controversey in I John over those who were saying Jesus had not come in the flesh being accursed. For the NT to contain such a controversey so soon should tell us something.

The new school literalizers of Jesus were headbashing with the Gnostic Christ cults of old.

However, reading what the problems were pestering the early literal church is like listening to one side of phone call. You never really hear what the other side was saying. Lots of people get cursed by Paul who said "I curse not" for teaching things that are never quite defined for us. Everyone but the reader seems to know what Paul is talking about.

The other Gospel, TO ME, that Paul was upset about getting into his churches was the Jewish Church under James, Peter and John. You know, the guys who are said to have actually known Jesus in the flesh!

Paul knew nothing of Virgin Births, Wisemen, or Angels Harking.

Then we can put the Gospels in beginning with Mark, Matthew, Luke and John.

If we want to play a bit, argument can be made that John should come after Paul's writings as John is the most Gnostic and like Paul's writings with much ongoing anti Peter rhetoric which was still an issue early in the game.

John also has little prophecy as John's community may still have felt the "time is short" mantra to be true.

The Synoptic Gospels have the most prophecy,sense of a delayed return of Jesus and the parables encouraging folks to hang in there since they no doubt weren't doing all that well.

The Non-authentic Pauline Epistles also have this delayed theme to deal with. His original writings are much more time is still short literally. Only in Paul's less than handwritten Epistles does doubt creep in big time.

Acts was written to bridge the gapt between Paul and the Gospels and make the players all look more cooperative with each other and in love with each other in Jesus than they really were.

John also has the long Passover/Eurcharistic passages of Jesus which would fit with Paul's revelation of the Eucharist from the Jesus in his head. Who would have recorded Jesus supper dialogues in such detail and kept them for 60 more years in a pot? Paul received the Eucharist from Jesus in vision and perhaps John fleshes out the teachings with these vast dialogues we read every Passover to show a Jesus whose body we eat and whose blood we drink.

Paul's Jesus is first and foremost cosmic and not any Jesus Paul knew in real life though he was supposed to live in Jerusalem as a Pharisee right there with Jesus, tormenting him with questions. He was probably on a Sabbatical that year Jeus preached.

Paul's original seven accepted writings are I Thessalonians, I and II Corinthians, Galatians, Phillipians, Philemon and finally Romans. The other six Pauline Epistles were written by those of the Pauline School of thought but probably not by Paul himself. Hebrews was not written by Paul either.

1 and 11 Timothy contain themes on church practices that probably would not have come about so early in Paul's life.

The New Testament is mostly about Paul as told by Paul himself or by Luke about Paul.

Paul is the author and founder of Christianity as we know it. Jesus of the Gospels and Revelation came along later and got to go along for the ride.

Paul never quotes Jesus, tells a story about Jesus, repeats a miracle or healing of Jesus or even admonishes us to remember "the Lord's Prayer" when we don't know how to pray.

Paul never heard of that Jesus and never met him.

Wonder if Fred knows this?

We might also expect that the writings closest to the time of a Jesus, Paul's original writings and perhaps John, reflect a more accurate understanding of Jesus before he was brought down from heaven and put on two colts at the same time :)

Chronologically, Revelation probably belongs right in the Middle just prior to the destruction of the Temple, as a failed prophetic rant by Jewish Christians against Pauline ideas and the heavy hand of Rome on Jerusalem which turned into two feet on September 8th, 70AD.

Other than that, I think Mr. C has it spot on.....:)

No just kidding. Most of his books contain way too much harmonization where none exists and typical WCG commentary on how it all is.

He's a hard worker though and i don't doubt his intent and sincerity one bit. (Sorry too long..I like this topic)

Anonymous said...

Beware of Fred R. Coulter!

Coulter's effort at Bible translation is at best an attempt to get money and gain tithe slaves. Nothing more. And ya know what Gavin? Some fools here will support the old coot!

Corky said...

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts (no change, though there probably should be!)
James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude (Fred is kidding, right?)
Romans, 1 Cor., 2 Cor., Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thes., 2 Thes., Hebrews, 1 Tim., 2 Tim., Titus, Philemon (Fred is one of the last translators to imagine that Paul wrote Hebrews)

The more correct order would be; 1 Thessalonians., 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, Titus, Romans. (Then after the death of all the apostles); Hebrews, 1 Peter, Jude, 1 & 2 & 3 John, 2 Peter, 1 & 2 Timothy, 2 Thessalonians, Mark, Matthew, Luke, The Acts, John, Revelation.

Anonymous said...

PS I do realize the currently accepted order is so that one may read the NT as first of all:

The life of Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels

The Book of Acts that explains where Paul comes from and a bit about early church events (mostly fiction in my gut feeling)

Paul's writings to explain the deep meaning of Jesus (Why didn't the disciples do that?)

Church Epistles to show various issues with instructions for the church and leadership

Revelation to bring it all to a conclusion.

This order gives the impression that the literal Jesus came first and then the spiritual Christ, as well as the disciples first, and then Paul, when in fact, chronologically it was the opposite.

Paul never mentions the disciples save to say they added nothing to his Gospel and he learned nothing from them (Galatians) and , of course, the Gospels never mention Paul. It is only in Acts we learn what a great Pharisee Paul was, but he makes no appearance to persecute Jesus in the Gospels.

One can assign various meanings or intentions to that.

Anonymous said...

If phrenologist Coulter had any biblical training he would know that it is a common understanding that Mark was written before Matthew. But God forbid if an Armstrongite cult leader EVER used scholarship in his writings.

Anonymous said...

I'd arrange the NT books alphabetically, because it would make it so much easier to keep up during a sermon :-)

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, all of this Coulter discussion is moot to LCG members, who are forbidden from reading the work of a disfellowshipped and marked man. At least they have blogs like this they can read... or do they? LCG's latest commentary seems to be taking the old RCG position on the evils of blogging. Is their attack against blogging a veiled attack against their own Dr. Bob Thiel and Mr. Wally Smith?

Anonymous said...

Herbert Armstrong taught that the Bible is a coded book. If true, then what difference does it make what order any of the books of the Bible are arranged in as the code would still not be interrupted?

Why is the Coulter Bible arrangement of any significance or importance?


Anonymous said...

Help me! I keep seeing a tooth molar instead of Angels Wings on the ad next to the posting. I just thought it important to bring this up. :)

Mickey said...

Someone may have already mentioned this, but this is very reminicent of the attempt by the JWs to produce a tome to support their own agendas.

Questeruk said...

I am picking up Dennis’s point from Part 1

Dennis said….

“A classic example is Matthew's messing up Zechariah 9:9 by saying in Matthew 21:1-7 after sending the disciples out to find two animals,

"They brought the donkey AND the colt and put their coats on THEM, and he sat upon THEM."

Zechariah defines one animal as a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey, and never had two in mind. Matthew has Jesus putting coats on both and Jesus riding both...Kinda like a rodeo star I guess.”

Dennis, this is only a problem if you want to make it a problem. It would indeed be embarrassing if the writer actually thought Christ was riding both animals at the same time, but really I think we should credit the author with a little intelligence, and not brand him a complete idiot. I am sure you do actually know that Mathew didn’t have this in mind.

There is only a contradiction if you want to invent one. Luke and Mark do not mention the mother of the foal, because it’s not a major detail. The colt that had never been ridden was the important aspect of the story.

If you just read the accounts, and take it that all the authors are being honest, writing about an incident that actually happened, its clear that the disciples brought the two animals with them, maybe they even ‘saddled’ both, not being sure which Jesus wanted to ride. Come to that maybe He did even ride them in turn, who knows – but He would actually have ridden into Jerusalem on the colt, to fulfil the prophecy.

If the other gospel writers had said that there was ONLY one donkey, then we maybe would have a contradiction, but as it stands we just have extra details given by Mathew, showing that the disciples brought both animals to Jesus. The other gospel writers just pick up the main point that Christ rode into Jerusalem on the young colt donkey.

What is the problem in that?

Anonymous said...

Is it just me? I have extreme difficulty taking anything seriously that has come from Armstrongites past, present, or future. Fruit from the proverbial poisoned tree. Logic and objectivity simply demand that I look elsewhere for knowledge and spiritual guidance. It would be very risky and irresponsible to base eternal salvation on people whom you cannot trust.


Anonymous said...

I lost all respect over a recent incident when I emailed him asking where his Canadian Feast site was since there was no toll free number to call. He responded that if I was too cheap to pay for a phone call...too bad. Some response. Later he said he didnt know where the site was. What a leader.

larry said...

BB said,
"It would be very risky and irresponsible to base eternal salvation on people whom you cannot trust."

I agree completely. Fortunately, salvation is not dependent upon "people", trustworthy or otherwise. God's love, power, capabilities, and concern for our welfare are often drastically underestimated.

You will be just fine.

Anonymous said...

"What is the problem in that?"

The problem is that you are in denial over a very well understood error that Matthew perpetuated in his misunderstanding of Zechariah. I have not made this up. Many scholars see Matthews mistake as grevious and indicative of his ignorance of the text.

Questeruk said...

Dennis said...
“The problem is that you are in denial over a very well understood error that Matthew perpetuated in his misunderstanding of Zechariah. I have not made this up. Many scholars see Matthews mistake as grevious and indicative of his ignorance of the text”.

Dennis - I was never suggesting that this was an original thought from you. I am well aware that that ‘many scholars’ see this as a mistake. You can also say that ‘other scholars’ don’t see this as a mistake.

The main problem with the usual argument is that the critics often take the view that the whole thing is fiction anyway, and the author of Mathew is trying to say two donkeys are required, and the other authors understand just one.

My point is that instead approaching it by looking for holes in a made up story – just try reading the accounts as different people’s narrative of an actual event.

I agree that Zechariah is requiring one donkey. I agree that Mark, Luke and John require one donkey. The ‘many scholars’ line is that Mathew is saying that TWO donkeys are required. I don’t believe that this is the case.

What is true is that Mathew quotes Jesus telling His disciples to bring the two, the mother and its colt. Picking up the animals is obviously something Jesus has arranged in advance, as He gives a message of what to say if challenged.

Why would he say bring both? Most likely because it was going to be a lot easier that’s why! This was a young donkey, probably never left its mother. The disciples would have had a task on their hands bringing the colt on its own. Donkeys can be extremely stubborn. But bring it’s more mature mother along as well, and it will come along happily, without a struggle all the way.

This is something that often happens in life. I have known horse racing stables where a racehorse HAS to have a companion goat come with it to the racecourse, otherwise it will play up, and never have a chance of racing properly! If the stables want it to race well – they bring the goat along too.

It’s a real world we are talking about. The mother wasn’t required for the prophecy, but it made the whole exercise easier bringing them both. The fact Christ said to bring both shows He was aware of this – maybe the owner had previously suggested it to Him. It made getting required ONE colt for the entry into Jerusalem easier to achieve.

Mathew gives this detail – maybe indeed the other writers did feel it better to leave this out – perhaps they even felt it could lead to confusion! If so they were not wrong.

I am not in any form of denial – I am just saying – forget trying to work in all the agendas that you feel the writers had, take it as an actual event, and see if the accounts stand up.

Try thinking of it as a real event, not something invented to fit in with different writers ideas of a prophecy.

Anonymous said...

I can think of one or two ex-COGgers here in NZ who will think that the "new" translation by Fred is the best thing since sliced bread.( rhyme intended).

Some muvvers do 'ave em!!

This following I know is out of sync...I was rather hoping that dear old Ronnie Weinland would have stuck his head above the parapet again,as this fits more into his list of songs.

The ongoing Gaza fracas has produced a rash of phone calls to our Newstalk ZB network(broadcast nationwide)from the usual bunch of Nutters,No-alls and Nescients. The latest revelation, and that from a "prophetess",too,is that Christ's coming will be in 2038 CE,some 29 years hence.His coming,according to this lady,will be preceded by a period of peace.

Ronnie,methinks is going to have to revise his timetable.

In retrospect,it would be most fitting if Ronnie was upstaged by a woman.


Anonymous said...

sorry Dennis, but it's only an error for those that want it to be.

Anonymous said...

I sense a new ACOG brewing: The Two Donkeys Church of God.

To get in you have to acknowledge that two donkeys, rather than one, were brought to Jesus. This becomes the key to understanding prophecy, Koine Greek, and the times of the end. Anyone who does not acknowledge the truth of the two donkeys will be given over to a reprobate mind and will doubtless suffer the worst indignities of the tribulation!


Anonymous said...

Heresy! BB is hereby disfellowshipped. All members of the One Ass Church of God rally to my cry: "One ass is enough!" Our longer slogan: two asses is one too many, half-assed is God's Way!

Anonymous said...

Questeruk said: "Try thinking of it as a real event, not something invented to fit in with different writers ideas of a prophecy."

That is the biggest problem with bible fundamentalists...They keep thinking of everything in the bible as a 'real' event. I strongly urge you to read the bible from beginning to end without playing hopscotch through the scriptures and read it as though everything 'really' happened. Then tell me whether you still want anything to do with armstrongism or literalist religions in general.

Anonymous said...

But of course! The two donkeys represent the two Testaments, Old and New! That's why Jesus had them both brought along -- so He could ride the new one, but acknowledge the old! See? Already the 2D's are opening our eyes to incredible Bible understanding!

I'm pleased to report that our Apostle, Bob the Byker, is using this discovery to leap forward in understanding as never before! Mr. Bob has already revealed that, like King Midas, the Two Witnesses will have donkeys' ears! And over the next few days, he will be revealing to us, finally, once and for all, the proper understanding of that burning question: Should Christians ride hogs?

This is all PROOF that the TDCOG really is the Last End-Time Philadelphia Remnant of God's Church!

Meanwhile, sadly and of course, the Man of Sin (a.k.a. Ned Flanders) continues to follow his stubborn path of heresy! The leader of the OACOG, like the horse and the mule of Psalm 32:9, will have to be BRIDLED by Christ upon his return, rather than being part of the BRIDE of Christ!

As Proverbs 26:3 says, there will be a ROD for his back! Yes, dear brethren, Bible Prophecy (um, or maybe that's Bible Wisdom) reveals that Ned Flanders is in cahoots and cabal with Rod Meredith of LCG! How asinine can you get?

That's why we so desperately need your tithes and offerings, brethren! LCG has nearly 8,000 members -- practically a Leviathan in comparison to our 47 people! But with the Almighty's help, we will be able to BRIDLE that Leviathan as Job never could!

In deep love,


(Is it an ad hominem attack to call Ned Flanders the Man of Sin?)

Questeruk said...

I am afraid that I can’t go with either the TDCOG or the OAGOD, as they both fall into opposite ditches of extremism.

I will need to go with the more moderate, middle course TDBOOWRCOG (Two Donkeys but only one was required COG). This I feel represents a more balanced approach.

Historically the reality is that this has been the view of most conservative theologians for centuries.

It’s only these ‘modern upstart’ critics that Dennis and Charlie admire that have departed from the views of the TDBOOWRCOG.

Anonymous said...

We believe the doctrine of the two donkeys is an acid test for true Philadelphians! Jesus not only loves humans, but also animals. Any psychologist will tell you that when someone shows disdain for animals, they also have disdain for humans. All mass murderers get their start by being cruel to animals.

So, by showing love for the donkeys, and not wishing to put them through the heartache of mother and colt being separated, Jesus defined what the Philadelphia era of the church is all about! The one donkey theory is probably an Armstrongite plot to downplay this love and revert to Old Testament legalism.

Brethren, this is important new truth which has not been taught in over 2,000 years! I'd like for all who recognize this as truth to donate your tithes to your local zoo for the coming year! Pray for a genuine end time miracle, like another Balaam's mule to be raised up to teach all of the ACOGs the real truth, since ACOG splinter ministers haven't got a clue!


camfinch said...

My old buddy, Byker Bob, has indeed shown me the truth! I will make my contribution to the North Carolina Zoo, located in my native Randolph County, NC. (It really is a world-class place, one of the first true open-habitat zoos ever established.)

Balaam's ass is truly speaking through me...!

Confitebor said...

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Romans, 1 Cor., 2 Cor., Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thes., 2 Thes., Hebrews, 1 Tim., 2 Tim., Titus, Philemon, Revelation

So Mr. Coulter claims to have restored the New Testament books to their true order. In fact all he has done is opt for the Eastern order over the Western one. Coulter's restored order is identical to that found in the Westcott-Hort New Testament in the Original Greek from 1881. This is just another bit of Armstrongist esoterica: many of us perhaps recall those lists of biblical books we were given, grouping the Old and New Testaments into a total of SEVEN sections: Law, Prophets, Writings, Gospels, Acts, Epistles, Revelation. Those lists adopted the Masoretic arrangement of the Old Testament (as opposed to that found in Christian Bibles, derived from the Septuagint's four-part arrangement of Law, History, Poetry, and Prophecy) and joined it to the Eastern order of New Testament books. In the East, the Catholic Epistles come first, followed by the Pauline Epistles (with Hebrews placed between St. Paul's letters to churches and his pastoral epistles), but in the West St. Paul's epistle to the Hebrews is classed as a Catholic Epistle. The preeminence of the Roman Church is signified by placing St. Paul's epistles right after Acts: those epistles commence with Romans, and Acts ends with St. Paul in Rome. At the end of the Pauline epistles and the beginning of the Catholics epistles is Hebrews, as it were existing in a sort of canonical limbo.

So Mr. Coulter isn't doing anything but carrying on this old Armstrongist doctrine. He's only posing as a Bible scholar, of course. The real point of this "restored order" rubbish is to kneejerkishly eschew and abhor the Western New Testament order: not because that order is "wrong," but chiefly because it is simply the standard practice of The Churches of This World, and because it, like all Christian Bibles, bears the telltale marks of the evil Catholic Church without whom the Bible would never have been preserved, edited, and arranged.