We Baptists have always emphasized our faith as based solely on Scripture. Yet, do I cherry pick a translation in various places to support my preconceived belief, or do I use caution with translations to know why I pick a particular rendering on a passage. Let me illustrate with a modern hot-button issue using Exodus 21:22.
The New American Standard Bible (NASB), 1977 Edition reads:
"And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is not further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide."
The NASB 1995 Edition reads:
“if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges [decide.]”
Why did the NASB change within 18 years? Was something new found in manuscripts? Or, was it dictated by human tradition? So what is it, a "miscarriage" or "gives birth prematurely"? All my life, the words of the KJV, "her fruit depart", seen in the context of violence was a miscarriage and not a premature birth. Why is it important? Because the penalty for this in the passage is a fine, not capital punishment. If the "fruit" were a human being existing as body and soul and was killed, the pentalty would have been death. In studying these type questions, in recent years I realized we have two main types of Bible translations.
Modern Sadducee translations that are basically anti-supernaturalists who render this as a miscarriage:
RSV, NEB, NRSV, REB, CEV, etc.
Modern Pharisee translations that try to support biblical tradition but often add to it, yet they are supernaturalists who render this a premature birth:
NASB95, NIV, NKJV, NLT, etc.
I dropped my translation idolatry years ago when I saw Jesus quote out of the Septuagint that differs from the KJV, Matthew 19:5 where the Sept. adds "twain" to the Hebrew. How can I decide the correct meaning of the point in questions above, Ex. 21:22? To me, the context of violence gives me a natural rendering of a "miscarriage", but what has the church thought in the past? Even the Roman Catholic Douay version renders this: "she miscarry indeed". I give two comments on this point:
John Trapp, 17th century Puritan in England:
"There is a time, then, when the embryo is not alive; therefore the soul is not begotten, but infused after a time by God. Infundendo creatur, et creando infnnditur, saith Augustine, who at first doubted, till overcome by Jerome’s arguments."
Adam Clarke, 19th century Methodist commentator:
"But if mischief followed, that is, if the child had been fully formed, and was killed by this means, or the woman lost her life in consequence, then the punishment was as in other cases of murder-the person was put to death"
While these two men I quote are not Baptists, Charles H. Spurgeon spoke highly of their value as Bible scholars. Now as to the point when a human being exists, I take it from Scripture as I understand it, not today's medical science for science cannot detect the spirit which is required for the flesh to be human. My point is that I sometimes understand a Sadducee translation as more accurate, but sometimes the Pharisee version seems closer to the true meaning. I pray that this stimulates thinking as the Holy Spirit leads. Check "traducianism" and "creationism" regarding the origin of the soul theories.
May God's peace and blessings be on you all!