Clear Word Bible:exceptional, but...


As a piece of literature, the Clear World is probably the best English Bible published this century. And what makes this noteworthy for Seventh-day Adventists, is that it is translated by a Seventh-day Adventist.

It has been about 100 years (when "Desire of Ages" and "Ministry of Healing" were release) since the denomination published any major work written this well.

The quality of The Clear Word was demonstrated to me when I lent my copy of it to a University student for two weeks. When he returned it, he went back to reading his own Bibles. He later told me, "After reading The Clear Word, reading any other translation is like reading a text book."

Exceptional printing

Not only is The Clear Word incredibly well written, the layout of its typesetting is also exceptionally good. A century ago Richard Moulton, the father of modern literary study of the Bible said,

It has taken 100 years and an Adventist publishing house to at last print the Bible in a way that is extremely pleasing to the eye.

The simple secret of the layout has been to print the verse numbers in bold type. Those small sections of bold visually break up what would otherwise be a page of unattractive typeface. This makes the page more appealing to the eye. It makes a person feel more like reading it. And this increases the amount of Bible reading people do.

Indeed, if all Bibles had been written and printed as well as The Clear Word, far more of the world today would be Christian.

What is The Clear Word like? It is a paraphrase, rather than a translation. However, the sections of it which are paraphrases are particularly perceptive. Those sections are far less interpretive and with far less personal opinion than virtually any other paraphrase.

A major handicap

With all of these advantages, why isn't The Clear Word the world's largest selling English translation? Why do so few Christian bookshops sell it? Why do so few Christians know it exists? And why hasn't it single-handledly transformed its Adventist publisher into one of the world's largest Christian publishers?

The reason is that it has a major handicap -- a very major handicap.

Its handicap is not that it is published by a denomination about which other Christians have unfair prejudices. Its handicap is not that its publisher is so small, or that its publisher has no established distribution to most Christian bookshops.

It's handicap is that The Clear Word says more than the Bible itself says.

The Clear Word's title page calls itself "an expanded paraphrase." And it is this "expanded" nature which is its biggest hurdle to brilliant international sales success.

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.

In the sample chapter below, an incredible 25% of the words in The Clear Word are not found in the original language.

Check it for yourself here in story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).

The left-hand column below has the story from The Clear Word's third edition. The right-hand column has the same Clear Word passage with the extra wording removed. (It also has a few words added which were not translated from the original Greek.)

The gaps in the right-hand column make it obvious just how much has been added.

Read one of the columns below in a devotional frame of mind. It is a long quote, so you may be tempted to skip it and continue reading this article after scrolling past the passage. Yet by reading it, you may find it draws you more to God than reading the same passage in any other translation.

Original

Revised


   11 He continued: "A certain man had 
two sons.
   12 The younger of the two was 
restless and wanted to leave home. One 
day he said to his father, `Father, I 
would like to have my inheritance while 
I'm still young and can enjoy it.' The 
father reluctantly divided the 
inheritance between his two boys and 
gave the younger his share of the 
money.
   13 After a few days, the younger 
son got his things together and left. 
He went to another country and there 
spent all his money on riotous living, 
throwing big parties and having a 
good time.
   14 When all his money was 
gone, a famine hit that country, and 
he was in need but couldn't get a job 
anywhere.
   15  Finally, a man hired him to 
watch his pigs. The desperate young 
man went to take care of the pigs, a 
most insulting task for a Hebrew.
   16 He was so hungry that even 
what the pigs ate looked tempting to 
him. No one offered to help him.
   17 He finally came to his senses 
and said, What am I doing here? 
Just think how many people my father 
has working for him all well paid 
and well fed. In fact, there's usually 
so much food left over that they have 
to throw some of it away! And here 
I sit among pigs!
   18 I'm going home! I'm going to 
say to my father, "Father, please 
forgive me for sinning against God 
and against you.
   19 I'm not fit to be called 
your son, but please give me a job as 
one of your workers."'
   20 As weak as he was, he got up 
and made his way home. But while he 
was still a long way off, his father, 
who had been watching the distant 
road, spotted him. His heart went 
out to his son with great compassion 
and love. He got up and ran to his 
son, threw his arms around him 
and kissed him.
   21 When the boy regained 
control of his emotions, he said, 
`Father, please forgive me. I've 
sinned against God and against you. 
I'm not fit to be called your son....'
   22 But before he could finish, 
his father turned to the servants who 
had also come out and said to them,  
'Run back to the house and bring my 
best robe for my son; bring my ring 
for his finger and sandals for his 
feet.
   23 Then go out and find one of 
the best calves we have, slaughter it 
and prepare a feast! We're going to 
celebrate!
   24 This is my son who was lost! 
I thought he was dead, but he's home!' 
The servants did what the father 
asked them to, and everyone 
began to celebrate!
   25 The older son had been working 
out in the field when all this 
happened. When he came near the 
house, he heard music and saw 
everyone dancing for joy.
   26 So he called one of the servants 
and asked him what this was all about.
   27 The servant said, 'Your 
brother has come home! Your father 
asked us to slaughter one of the 
prize calves and prepare a feast 
to celebrate his safe return.
   28 Then the older son became 
angry and refused to join in the 
celebration. So his father went 
looking for him. When he found 
him, he begged him to come see 
his brother and take part in the 
festivities.
   29 But he said to his father, 
'All these years while my brother was 
gone I've worked hard for you to 
build up the farm, and whatever you 
asked me to do, I did. Yet you 
never slaughtered even a goat for 
me and my friends so we could 
have a party like this.
   30 But as soon as this son of 
yours comes home from wasting the 
family fortune on prostitutes and 
riotous living, you throw a party for 
him!'
   31 Then the father said, 'Son, the
farm and everything I have belongs 
to you; but your brother has 
nothing but us.
   32 So it's right to celebrate his 
homecoming and be glad he's back. 
You see, I really thought he was 
dead, but he's alive. Don't you 
think that's reason enough to 
celebrate?'"

   11 He continued: "A certain man had 
two sons.
   12 The younger of the two said 
to his father, `Father, I would like to 
have my inheritance now.' So the 
father divided the inheritance 
between his two boys.




13 After a few days, the younger son got his things together and left. He went to another country and there spent all his money on riotous living.

14 When all his money was gone, a famine hit that country, and he was in need.
15 Finally, a man hired him to watch his pigs.

16 He was so hungry that even what the pigs ate looked tempting to him. No one offered to help him. 17 He came to his senses and said, 'Just think how many people my father has working for him. All of them are well fed. But I'm dying of hunger.



18 I'm going home! I'm going to say to my father, "Father, I've sinned against God and against you.
19 I'm not fit to be called your son, but please give me a job as one of your workers."' 20 He got up and made his way home. But while he was still a long way off, his father spotted him. His heart went out to his son. He ran to him, threw his arms around him and kissed him.


21 The boy said, `Father, I've sinned against God and against you. I'm not fit to be called your son....'

22 But his father said to the servants, 'Quick! Bring my best robe for my son; bring my ring for his finger and sandals for his feet.


23 Then find one of the best calves we have, slaughter it and prepare a feast! We're going to celebrate!
24 This is my son who was lost! I thought he was dead, but he's home!' And everyone began to celebrate!

25 The older son had been working out in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and saw everyone dancing.
26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what this was all about. 27 The servant said, 'Your brother has come home! Your father asked us to slaughter one of the prize calves to celebrate his safe return.
28 Then the older son became angry and refused to join in the celebration. So his father came out and begged him to come in.


29 But he said to his father, 'All these years I've worked hard for you. Whatever you asked me to do, I did. Yet you never slaughtered even a goat for me and my friends so we could have a party like this.

30 But as soon as this son of yours comes home from wasting the family fortune on prostitutes, you throw a party for him!'
31 Then the father said, 'Son, everything I have belongs to you; and I am always here for you.
32 But it's right to celebrate and be glad he's back. You see, I really thought he was dead, but he's alive. He was lost and I've found him again!'"

Unequaled by any other

As you can see from reading it, the Clear Word is exceptional. There is no Bible currently available which could equal the rendering in the right-hand column above. Unfortunately, the right-hand version is not the published version.

Imagine what could happen if The Clear Word was edited with all these non-Biblical comments removed! It would be one of the greatest gifts the Seventh-day Adventist Church could give to Christianity as a whole!

The sales of this book could be more than all other Adventist books combined. It would bring extremely large profits to its publishers. And it would raise the status of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in all Christian circles.

The Clear Word is exceptional, make no mistake about it. All involved in its publication have done an exceptional job. However, it has achieved only one percent of its potential.

It is time to prepare another edition without the added extras. This would make it the greatest gift Adventists ever give to the rest of Christianity.

The Clear Word is available from your nearest English language Adventist Book Center.


The present author, Phil Ward, advises that he followed the guidelines in Matthew 19:15-17 before writing this article. He corresponded with The Clear Word's translator trying to persuade him to prepare a "slimmed down version." He then raised the matter with the publishers. Only after doing that has he taken the matter to the church via this article.