Review of Passion Translation of Song of Songs (Solomon): “Truly Awful” |

TBC Staff

The first few sentences of this review of the Song of Songs (aka, the Song of Solomon) in the Passion Translation (the one that is enthusiastically promoted by NAR apostles) says it all:

This translation of the Song of Songs is truly awful. As professor of biblical studies who works with the original languages, I can assure you that this translation does not reflect either the words or the meaning of Song of Songs, contrary to what it claims. It’s not that the translation is careless—rather, it’s eisegesis. It is imposing pre-conceived ideas onto the text and then claiming that the change is due to the translation strategy. It’s terrible!

I’m honestly stunned at how off the mark this translation is. It claims to be bringing out the real meaning of Song of Songs, but it’s really just thrusting someone’s own wishful ideas about it onto the readership. If you want to understand Song of Songs, then please, avoid this translation.

The review was written by George Athas, a scholar well known to using Hebrew Bible and Semitics. He is Director of Postgraduate Studies at Moore Theological College and Lectures in Old Testament, Hebrew and Church History.

Ordinarily, this sort of review would have me in stitches. But I’m not laughing. As I’ve blogged previously, the Passion Translation is the work of Brian Simmons, who claimed that Jesus himself told him to produce it.

As I noted earlier, the description of Simmons from the translation’s own website doesn’t provide any indication that Simmons has the skills to produce a translation from the original texts….

Another misleading aspect to all this is the way Simmons’ credentials are promoted — to create the impression he’s an original languages expert and knows what he’s doing in translation. Simmons has doctorate, but not in biblical languages. It’s in “apostolic leadership,”whatever that means. It’s from Wagner University, named after its founder C. Peter Wagner, a highly-influential figure in the NAR. Here arethecore courses for this doctorate, from the Wagner University website:

Apostolic Leadership
Dominion Theology and Kingdom Mandate
Kingdom Finances and the Great Transfer of Wealth
New Church Planting and Governance
Marketplace Ministry and BAM Movement
Revival, Reformation and Societal Transformation
World Evangelism and Cross-Cultural Missions

Here are the electives:

Activating Your Five-Fold Destiny
Apostolic Centers
Activating the Apostolic
Growth Dynamics of New Apostolic Churches
Apostolic Breakthrough

Sounds positively grueling. But more to the point, haven’t found any evidence at all that Simmons has ever taken a Greek or Hebrew course. Maybe he has, but it’s not easy to find out. But as noted above, if you’re doing translation work in new tribes and their languages, you don’t need one. You just need a good primary language translation and a procedural knowledge of the grammar of that language,semantics, and of course the target language. I think it likely,especially after Athas’ comments, is that Simmons’ began with an English translation and then went about the task of reading his charismatic theology into the text. That’s even more likely given the way Simmons described his own knowledge of the biblical languages in an interview:

[Interviewer] Jonathan Welton: “When you started this project were you, had you already had training in Greek and Hebrew? Or was this something you had to jump into again?”

Brian Simmons: “I had minimal background in biblical languages, so yeah it was something, honestly, it was something the Lord has really helped me with.” (14:52)