The Clear Word Bible

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The Clear Word Bible is an Adventist production of the quality of the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

However, while the Jehovah’s Witnesses regard the NWT as a true Bible, Adventism does not formally regard the Clear Word as a Bible translation.  It is called a paraphrase, and I still have a few problems with that – the Good News Bible is a paraphrase, yet faithful to the real thing.  Perhaps it should rather be called an inline commentary?

In a letter posted on SDANet, David Newman expresses legitimate concerns:

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.

That is my experience of many people using the text.

He goes on:

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.

As I said above.

A cursory examination of the Clear Word Bible reveals the prolific addition of many ideas not found in Scripture.

This is a key statement.  A prime example is this:

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.

The phrase “The Lord’s Day” is not used in the Bible or in early Christian writings to refer to the Sabbath.  It usually means Sunday, but in this case it most likely should be interpreted in an eschatalogical sense – not in the sense of weekdays.

In closing, Newman says:

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.

I believe the title has been changed, with the word “Bible” removed, but I am not aware of other significant changes to correct this problem.

For more information, see “The Clear Word Bible: Is It the Word of God?” by Dale Ratzlaff and Verle Streifling, and Deliberate Distortions in SDA’s “Clear Word Bible” by Dr. V. Streifling.

Adventist comments on the Clear Word Bible include:

A few links on SDANet, including previous General Conference President Robert Folkenberg’s endorsement … and caveat

Those who read it prayerfully should receive a blessing from it, just as they do from other paraphrases of the Bible. This Bible should in no way be considered an official Seventh-day Adventist Bible, nor did Dr. Blanco intend for it to be considered as such. [Red emphasis mine.]

Unfortunately, he still refers to it as a Bible.

Clear Word Bible: exceptional, but…

This includes an unfortunate comment from a student to which the writer of this article lent a copy:

After reading The Clear Word, reading any other translation is like reading a text book.

The real thing is so bad??

And the important caveat:

The Clear Word is the Bible plus. And that plus is a very big minus. There is no way when reading it to know which portions of it are the Bible, and which portions have been added by the author.

The Clear Word Bible is not a Bible, it is not a paraphrase, and it is not faithful to the teachings of the Bible.  Fortunately, the first two “nots” are recognised by Adventism – however, many Adventists – including some I have experience with – treat it as if it were a Bible.

I feel the General Conference should formally clarify this issue in a way that the message reaches all Adventists.

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