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Amplified Bible, A Review of

The job of any translation is to accurately translate the text of the original writers.  Translators may change sentence structure to conform with modern sentence structure and archaic words into words that convey the original meaning.  The key is to be true to the text one is translating from.  One Bible that I have in my library is the "Amplified Bible."  In looking up the history of the Amplified Bible I found the following:

The Amplified Bible (AMP) is an English translation of the Bible produced jointly by The Zondervan Corporation and The Lockman Foundation. The first edition was published in 1965. It is largely a revision of the American Standard Version of 1901, with reference made to various texts in the original languages. It is designed to "amplify" the text by using a system of punctuation and other typographical features to bring out all shades of meaning present in the original texts. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amplified_Bible

A key word in the above paragraph is "amplified" which means to make larger or greater; to expand in stating or describing, as by details or illustrations.  The Amplified Bible is not a translation as much as a commentary on the Bible.  Words and phrases are used that are not included in the original text.  A casual viewing of the Amplified Bible reveals words in brackets [ ] to show that the word is not in the original source.  One will find words in italics and  quotations " " to show that they were added for readability purposes.  In all fairness, most translations add words to make the sentences flow better. 

In reading the Preface of the Amplified Bible, I found the following explanation about its origin.  Frances E. Siewert "has spent the major portion of a long life in humble, thorough preparation for such hallowed endeavor as this represents, memorizing chapter after chapter of the Greek text-- translating, collating and correlating in an amazing display of ability and accomplishment."  One only has to contrast the Amplified Bible with one major translator with the King James Bible and 47 translators in 6 teams translating and then checking each other's words for reliability.  In the "Introduction" section it says, "As a basis we have used the original New Testament Greek text edited by outstanding authorities, leaving it only where clarity has demanded it, but amplifying the key words, as they individually require to get their full equivalent in English.  This, or course, of necessity prevents the resulting translation from being exact or literal in form."  This raises some questions such as, who are the "outstanding authorities" and who decided the "key words"? 

Some of the verses in the Amplified Bible may be close to the original intent while others are pure speculation and/or commentary on the verse itself.  For instance, Acts 2.38 reads in the New King James, " Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."  Now the Amplified Bible reads, "And Peter answered them, Repent -- change your views, and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it -- and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."  Did you notice the phrase right after the word "Repent" the --change your views, and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it?  Such seeks to define the word repent, but the definition is not in the text.  The definition may or may not be accurate but it should not be contained in the body of the Bible since it is not in the text. 

Another illustration is James 3.18, "Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (NKJV).  In the Amplified Bible one will read, "And the harvest of righteousness (of conformity to God's will in thought and deed) is [the fruit of the seed] sown in peace by those who work for and make peace -- in themselves and in others, [that is] that peace which means concord (agreements, harmony) between individuals, with undisturbedness, in a peaceful mind free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts."  This is just a confusing verse with a phrase defining peace which is very doubtful.  What does the word "undisturbedness" mean? There is no such word.  James 3.8 is not supposed to be that difficult to understand. 

There are some things about the Amplified Bible that I find interesting and perhaps helpful.  When referring to the new agreement one will find [testament, covenant; this is an attempt to define what the phrase "new agreement" means.  I wonder why they just did not use the word covenant to start with.  Some of their definitions can be helpful and some of their comments may be helpful.  However, a person not familiar with the Bible will think those comments and definitions are in the original text.  If I want to read a commentary then I will do so but not as part of the Bible. -- Dennis Tucker  



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