I was lying in bed under a mosquito net in a hotel in Port Moresby when I first memorized the verses (James 1:2-8) that I want to mention. I was there because I had suffered pain for sometime in my kidney area and was concerned about the cause. But this was the first chance I had to come to the capital city—I was on a government linguistic assignment.
The end result was that there was no problem in my kidney and I learned some years later when a Mayo Clinic research team came to PNG and examined my blood (among others) that I had had hepatitis A. That was certainly not uncommon and it turned out that Joice had had hepatitis B from blood transfusions that she received, both at the Goroka and Lae hospitals.
The verses are as follows:
2-8 When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God—who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty—and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him. But he must ask in sincere faith without secret doubts as to whether he really wants God’s help or not. The man who trusts God, but with inward reservations, is like a wave of the sea, carried forward by the wind one moment and driven back the next. That sort of man cannot hope to receive anything from God, and the life of a man of divided loyalty will reveal instability at every turn.
Recently I have been trying to re-memorize some of the Scripture that I knew so well in the KJV of the Bible. In fact I knew them so well that I seldom reflected on them. However, when I went back to the J. B. Phillips translation, the promises of James were again forcibly brought to my attention.
Why was that? Why didn’t the KJV have the same result? (I’m sure that it does for many, perhaps most, people.) One reason is that I had to help translate it into Kewa and think through the words and phrases carefully. Another reason is best put forth by C.S. Lewis when he wrote the Introduction to J.B. Phillips’ Letters to Young Churches, published in 1947.
Lewis mentions three reasons why people may not be attracted to Phillips’ translation. The first, he claims, is probably the kind of objections that people had to the first English translation. They were so used to the Latin Vulgate that English sounded “barbarous”. However, “When we expect that it [the Phillips’ translation] should have come before the World in all the beauty that we now feel in the Authorized Version we are as wide of the mark as the Jews were in expecting that the Messiah would come as a great earthly King”. The second reason Lewis gives is that the Authorized Version (the KJV) “has ceased to be a good (that is, a clear) translation”. The language has changed and needs to be ‘re-clothed’”. His final reason is that “we must sometimes get away from the Authorized Version, if for no other reason, simply because it is so beautiful and so solemn.” For, as he says, “Beauty exalts, but beauty also lulls”.
Of course the Phillips’ translation is not used much today—the Living Bible, first, and most recently, The Message, have taken its place. And both versions are an improvement over being lulled into a passive state by the KJV.
Contrary to popular belief, the KJV was not an original translation , in that the majority of its text was taken directly from Tyndale, who, from what I have read, was an outstanding translator.
I like to read my Contemporary Parallel New Testament: KJV, New ASB, New Century Version, CEV, NIV, NLT, NKJV and the Message. I compare the way different verses were translated and use my Tok Pisin and Kewa NTs as well. What a feast! No sleeping there.