By Dallas James
Writers Club Press. iUniverse.com. Inc.
5220 S. 16th, Ste. 200, Lincoln, NE 68512.
2001. Vol.1. 395 pp. $23.95; Vol 2. 344 pp. $25.95; Vol. 3, 376 pp. $25.95; Vol 4. 465 pp. $30.95; Vol 5. 491 pp. $27.95; ISBN 0-595-17279-2, 0-595-17809-X, 0-595-17880-4, 0-595-18664-5, 0-595-17662-3 respectively.
This version is named after the object kept in the breastplate of the High Priest of Israel which was the means by which the God of Israel communicated with His people. This translator doesn't miss the opportunity to make a judgment of other translators in the third sentence of his Preface when he says, “The Holy Bible therefore had its origin in part through this type of communication that has long been forgotten by the scores of scholars attempting to translate for us a perfect Bible” though virtually none of the translators did, in fact, make any claim of perfection. By this unfortunate charge, James has already tipped off the reader to the severely biased judgments that he/she will find in this version.
James proceeds to say that his translation uses the time honored KJV as its “base text” in presenting to the public a restored Bible that accurately reflects the original Scriptures. Yet he qualifies this by saying that “each verse has been Hand Crafted (sic) in the style of many of the old Bibles that history has forgotten.” All the archaic words in the UTV - presumably he means from the KJV - have been replaced with modern equivalents in the UTV. But he says, “more importantly, all the original Hebrew and Greek words have been checked over and replaced with words reflecting those definitions,” but he never clarifies what definitions he is speaking of. He cites the example of the UTV rendering the KJV’s “tabernacle of the congregation” with “Tabernacle at the Appointed Place (sic).”
In the first paragraph of this version’s Preface the reader encounters, whether in lack of clarity or in his use of capitalization, the confusion that pervades this work. He justifies his translation method by not restricting himself to one method over another but rather using “whatever method it takes to obtain the desired result of showing what the original words are conveying” and he leaves the reader in no doubt that he knows what that is! Where the underlying meaning is unclear he has substituted his own rendering or has used Young’s Literal Translation in its place, as though Young has the last word if James does not.
He has kept the OT books in their Jewish Bible order of Law, Prophets and Writings and has retained the same verse numbering as found in the KJV. He declares “All effort is made to show the word of G-d (sic) in this version and nothing else.” He further says “We…have chosen to use YHWH and substituting the ‘W’ with what should be a ‘V’ rendering” yet throughout the translation only YHWH is used.
Let me give some samplings of his renderings: Where the NRSV says in Gen. 1:10, “And God saw that it was good” James renders the phrase “and Elohim inspected and it was valuable in estimation.” He has no consistent use of quotation marks. Whereas the NRSV translates in Gen. 4:26b “At that time people began to invoke the name of the Lord.” James renders it “Then was a desecration made when they invoked The Name of YHWH.” The NRSV says “After Noah was five hundred years old, Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth” but the UTV translates it “And Noah was 500 years old when Noah gave birth to Shem, Ham, and Japheth” as though these sons were not only triplets but were born of the father! This version comes close to deserving the title “A Comedy of Errors” and it seems unnecessary to multiply examples.
The translator was born in 1950 in California but has lived most of his life in Seattle, Washington. The book jacket says, “He is a Christian who has spent over thirty years studying and comparing Bible translations.” I will not comment on his claim to be a Christian but I seriously question his competence in Bible study and translation. For a cost of well over one hundred dollars, these volumes do not deserve attention unless one is bent upon collecting maverick translations!