Which Translation is the Most Accurate?

In this video, Dr. Robert Plummer of Southern Seminary is asked whether the KJV is the most accurate translation. In the end, Dr. Plummer says that the KJV is not the most accurate translation but offers nothing in its place except to say there are many good translations out there to choose. So, I suppose they all equally miss the mark while simultaneously hit the mark in the same way? Assuming the argument offered here at StandardSacredText.com cannot answer the above question, how then do we answer this question of which translation is the most accurate?

Accuracy implies a target or goal. Furthermore, accuracy implies an approximation to the target or goal. That is, accuracy is relative. Some X is more accurate than some Y. This again takes us back to the target or goal. Furthermore, it assumes there is some object intended to reach that goal whether an arrow to the bullseye or a soccer ball to the soccer goal or a basketball to the hoop. But who establishes that target and the aimed object? As we see it, the answer is either God or men.

Assuming the former, where would we find shape and dimensions of the target or goal. Perhaps God has defined a hockey goal or a basketball hoop and man a rugby goal. How are we to know what God has prescribed as the goal or target for our accuracy so that we could say which translation is the most accurate? Even further, how are we to know that the thing aimed is suited to meet the goal or target. Shall we include a bow and arrow as a means to score a touchdown in football or a dirt bike to score a 10 in synchronized swimming? Though such additions would certainly make things interesting, it seems the thing aimed does not fit the goal or target.

Then of course the goal and target are prescribed, they are standardized. AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, and Ford Field, the home of the Detroit Lions both have endzones. If there is a game in Dallas between these two teams the Lions cannot score touchdowns in Detroit even though there are endzones there. There are rules and standards. Both teams are expected to abide by those standards if they want to be counted among the teams of the NFL. Similarly, what are the rules and standards set up for what counts as an accurate translation and then the most accurate? Who made these rules and why do their opinions count?

Seeing our argument is largely dismissed by those who apparently know best, it seems that God has not prescribed the rules regarding the size and shape of the target, nor the object used in achieving that target, nor the rules and standards which govern both the target and the aimed object. In our day and age, in the church, in our seminaries and divinity schools, men do this work. Men tell us what the original is and where it is located. Men then determine the approximate value of formal equivalency and dynamic equivalency. Men tell us that the objected aimed is modern textual scholarship applied to the “embracement of riches” that is the manuscript tradition. Men tell us that the long ending in Mark may or may not belong in the Bible. They tell us that the story of the woman caught in adultery most certainly does not belong in the Bible. And when they say these things, they believe themselves to have hit the goal or target that they have set up for themselves.

As a result of assuming this largely transcendentless position Dr. Plummer does not give an answer to which version is the most accurate. Rather he simply states that the KJV is not the most accurate. Plummer has merely stated the party line. The fact is that for Plummer and those of his persuasion, there is no “most accurate” translation. “There are many good translations,” is the approved contemporary evangelical position. No one is truly more accurate than the other. Which of course is like saying, no shot on goal is truly more accurate than any other. For the modern evangelical textual critic, the goal is rather wide. Plummer considers the ESV, NASB, CSB and NLT to all be touchdowns. Who says? Well Dr. Plummer of course, but of course Dr. Plummer is one of the players and not the creator of football.

The players are telling us what counts as a goal or touchdown. The Creator of the game has been sidelined in the current modern evangelical text critical endeavor, only players get a say and especially the smart. The players debate about what is or is not the New Testament. There is no objective third will to adjudicate the call. We’re not allowed to ask the Creator of the game about how the game is supposed to be played. The players get to say what is out of bounds, and what is in bounds. They determine whether it’s a fourth-and-one or a first down. They determine the length of the field and who gets to play. So, of course, they are the ones to declare the touchdowns, hattricks, and hole-in-ones. They set their own standard, get close in meeting that standard, and then declare victory or simply changes the target from the Original to some other text and then change the method to the CBGM.

Finally, a most accurate translation does not exist. All that exists is good and bad translations. So, they are all equally accurate or inaccurate? They are all equally bullseyes? It’s like that part in Robin Hood where he strikes the bullseye with one arrow only to split that arrow with a second. Apparently, modern textual critics and translators have become the Robin Hood of Robin Hoods. They have shot a dozen arrows where each consecutive arrow splits the prior arrow at the bullseye. Well done! What is more likely though is that the goal is rather wide. So instead of a bullseye it is more like a soccer goal without a goalie where once the shot is taken the players stand around and declare, “Close enough is good enough. Yes, and Amen!” Certainly, if close enough is good enough for God’s word, then close enough is good enough for God. Amiright?

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