Bible Matters #20

A Hell of a Lot of Confusion

By Gary Amirault

I do a lot of comparing Bible translations. It never ceases to amaze me much one translation can vary from one another. But what amazes me most is that the average Christian and church leader seem to be almost oblivious to the differences between the major translations which often relates to a major doctrines held by the traditional church. It gets even more bizarre than this. Even within different editions of the same Bible translation, there are major differences. Again, the average Bible reader is clueless to this. But they SHOULD be made aware.

We stumbled into an example of this when an internet rider read one of our articles at the Tentmaker Ministries Internet Site. She wrote to us:

“In your article, ‘Hell is Leaving the Bible ‘Forever’’, you had listed the New American Bible of 1970 as having no mention of ‘hell’ in it’s text, which came as great news to me as a new convert to Christian universalism, because I happen to own a New American Bible from back in my Catholic days, which I now use as my primary Bible due to its avoidance of the word ‘hell’.

“However, the other day I was reading James 3, and believe it or not in verse 6 it mentions ‘hell’! It says: ‘The tongue is such a flame. It exists among our members as a whole universe of malice. The tongue defiles the entire body. Its flames encircle our course from birth, and its fire is kindled by hell.’ But that’s just in my hardcopy edition of the NAB, (which is a Catholic edition, reproduced by license of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, DC, the owner of the copyright, 1970 -books from 1 Sam through 2 Maccabees copyrighted 1969). I then looked up James 3:6 online at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ site (, and that one reads, ‘The tongue is also a fire. It exists among our members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire, itself set on fire by Gehenna.’

“So in case you were not yet aware, there seems to be more than one version of the NAB floating around or something, because one version says ‘hell’ in at least that one spot, while another gives the more accurate rendering of ‘Gehenna’ in that same spot....” Endquote.

Obviously, the version which contains the word “Gehenna” is the more accurate one. Bible translators or editors make these kind of changes often without footnoting or informing the reader of the changes they made. The original Weymouth’s New Testament, for example, did not contain the word Hell in it at all. After he died, a couple of ministers republished Weymouth’s New Testament in Modern Speech Translation, put the words “Hell” back into it and didn’t inform the reader that they had changed the original translator’s work to conform to their Dark Age tradition rather than leaving it as it was correctly translated.

Dear fellow Christian, it would behoove you to spend much more time comparing Bible translations and asking the Holy Spirit what is going on in this field. Spend your talents and time wisely. The days are short.

A good place to start is the chart in the article “Hell is Leaving the Bible Forever.” Look up all the Hell references in the translations listed. THAT would be time well spent. It would give the reader information with which they can help set their neighbors free from “traditions of men which make the word of God of no effect.” (Matt. 15:6-9)

Link to “Hell is Leaving the Bible Forever article”:

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Gary Amirault

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Hermann, MO 65041


--"I am oftentimes driven to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I have nowhere else to go!"--Abraham Lincoln

--"Courage is fear that has said its prayers."
--"Snowflakes are frail, but if enough of them get together, they can stop traffic."--Vance Havner
--"God creates out of nothing. Therefore, until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him."--Martin Luther
--As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand. -Josh Billings

--The common excuse for those bringing misfortune on others is that they desire their good: Luc de Clapiers de Vauvenargues 1717-1747
--A man's most valuable trait is a judicious sense of what not to believe. - Euripides 485-406 B.C.
--Men hate those to whom they have to lie. - Victor Hugo 1802-1885

Link to "Hell is Leaving the Bible Forever article":

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