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Anti-Charismatic Bias in the Chinese Union Version of the Bible

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In this article, Robert Menzies asserts that the translators of the Chinese Union Version of the New Testament deviated from their guiding principles when they translated the verb "to prophesy" (πρoητεω). They did not translate the verb consistently nor did they render it literally. The Union Version translators generally translate references to predictive prophecy with the phrase yu yan ("to prophesy") or shuo yu yan ("to utter a prophecy"). Yet they translate references to prophetic utterances in the early church, particularly those texts in 1 Corinthians 12-14 that might have a bearing on the practice of the contemporary church, with phrases associated with preaching, such as zuo xian zhi jiang dao ("to preach prophetically"). Menzies argues that this tendency to identify prophecy with preaching is reductionistic and misleading. It arbitrarily dismisses predicative prophecy as a valid dimension of πρoητεω in several instances and it incorrectly narrows the semantic range of the verb, which normally denotes spontaneous, Spirit-inspired utterances, to the exposition of Scripture. Menzies concludes that the translators of the Union Version have unconsciously foisted Calvin's view of prophecy as preaching onto the biblical text.

Affiliations: 1: A scholar residing in Southwest China 2-402, 8 Dong, Chun Fang Li, Chun Yuan Xiao Qu, Kunming, Yunnan 650118, P.R. of China


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