There are way too many English Bible translations and way too many people claiming – as in this case – to have the very best guide to its interpretation.
These are the stars that I sail by when I evaluate a Bible version or guide.
Fortunately, one new publication, The Pure Word – New Testament (TPW), has made my job very simple: the TPW, far from helping the Bible student, in fact takes the reader farther away from the plain sense of Scripture. This is why my thoughts in this article will seem brusque and more black-and-white than usual.
Part One: What is “The Pure Word”?
What they claim to do and what they have actually done are two different things. They claim to have (at long last!) gone back to the original Greek to produce the perfect and pure paraphrase of the King James Version, one which they imply will cause the misunderstandings in the Christian church to evaporate! [see their video on their page] So Arminians and Calvinists, Baptists and Pentecostals will finally be able to see the light and shake hands all around!
Let the buyer beware of claims that a new key has finally, after 2000 years, unlocked the true hidden meaning of the Bible. That is why my stomach clenched when the first thing I saw was “The Pure Word is an unprecedented New Testament resource, over 20-years in the making, that reveals the original Koine-Greek depths-of-meaning from the time of Christ…[allowing the reader to] experience deeper scriptural meaning that has never before been achievable in English.” Oh, and their claim that all, 100%, of Bible translations are “riddled with inaccuracies that never referenced the original Greek scriptures” and “incredibly rarely did they ever go back and look at even of the few original Greek words. Never mind this project which took over 20 years and a major scholarly group looking at every single word in the Greek.”
This last statement is either incredible hubris or simply a complete lack of awareness of what English Bible translators have been doing in the original languages for the past 500 years! People who go around making such claims about their Bibles or Bible guides are on the fast track to Cultsville.
They also claim that Jesus taught in Koine Greek, for which there is scanty evidence; their interpretive guide falls apart if, as almost all experts agree, the Lord taught in Aramaic.
The work is “unprecedented” for a very good reason: because authentic Greek scholars and translators would never do what the editors of TPW have done. The TPW site uses pseudo-technical jargon to discredit all previous Bible translations: Monadic hermeneutics based translation is a new method that finally allows people to translate the NT. They claim that they can do this because if the Bible is inspired and not open to private interpretation, then therefore – and here is the leap of logic – every single word must have one clear God-given meaning.
Despite their claim to have “patented” their process (for their loose definition of the concept of a “patent”, see below), “monadic” translation is not exactly new; it is a nutty idea that sounds beautiful, but it falls apart after about 15 minutes, explaining why you have, one imagines, never met a Monadic Translator.
A random English example: What would you say is the “one basic meaning” of the English word “dog”? Answer: Man’s best friend, right? At least that’s the one I would start with. But the Oxford Dictionary reminds me that it also means a contemptible man, a thing of poor quality, a fortunate man (You lucky dog, you!), an unattractive woman, a grip with a mechanical device (see picture below). So, if you are going to interpret “dog,” tell me, what is the one perfect meaning that covers all possible uses? Well, the same phenomenon is at play with the Bible languages.
Their quest for a single, pure meaning of the word in Greek is bound to be fruitless, and it betrays a lack of understanding of Greek, or any language for that matter. For example, they insist that the Greek word kosmos, to give one example, means “Satan’s world”.
So, comparing John 3:16 –
King James Version:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The Pure Word:
“Because, God has Loved in such a manner the satan’s world, so that He Gave His Son, the Only Begotten Risen Christ, in order that whoever is Continuously by his choice Committing for the Result and Purpose of Him, should not perish, but definitely should, by his choice, be Continuously Having Eternal Life.”
Sort of the Amplified version on amphetamines. The Pure Word here is utter mishmash; kosmos does not “mean” Satan’s world; “believe” does not mean “Continuously by his choice committing for the result and purpose of him”…whatever that is supposed to symbolize!
English is an imprecise language that can easily cause misunderstanding. In contrast, one of the most complete languages that clarifies intent is Koine Greek, so it’s no surprise that this the language chosen in the first century to record the books of the New Testament.
Actually, this is dead wrong. English can, in fact, be more precise than Koine, often much more so. If someone tells you that Greek boasts four whole words to express four different shades of “love,” just quote back to them these English synonyms: “affinity, partiality, bias, liking, affection, fondness, care for, delight, keen on, dig, value, cherish, treasure, prize; enjoy, relish, savor, altruism, goodwill, charity, be stuck on, etc. etc., oh, and love,” many thanks to the good people at Rodale. The Greek phrase “en Christo” (εν Χριστω) can be ambiguous in the Greek; in English an author would have been clearer, perhaps with “in Christ” or “by Christ” or some other meaning. Again, no one who has studied the actual Greek language could label it a Super Language.
The TPW presumes that all the thousands of highly-trained scholars who have worked, for example, on the KJV or the NASB or the ESV or the NIV or the Louis Segond in French or the Reina-Valera in Spanish and so on had no idea how to represent the Greek text in their language, but that two men with a very little bit of knowledge have finally achieved that breakthrough!
Another claim: they are working from “an original collection of manuscripts,” a statement that I am pretty sure is smoke and mirrors.
Part Two: Who wrote “The Pure Word”?
The two editors of TPW are named on the website as Dr. Brent Sr. and Brent Miller Jr. It does not say who they are, nor what qualifications they have to produce a guide of New Testament Greek. Now, when it comes to Bible versions and guides, it is practically obligatory to list the translators and to spell out their qualifications: take a look at the detailed page for the NASB. In fact, we evangelicals pile on the Jehovah’s Witnesses for their refusal to name the translators of the New World Translation and to give their academic qualifications.
Brent Sr. says he is a “Dr.”, but that does not mean much unless someone says which degree and from where; I have evidence that he has no degrees at all. In another place he claims to be a marvelous engineer with 30 miraculous patents to his name. I have reached out to them for more information and will update this post when I receive it [Update: years have now passed, and not a word from the Millers. If any reader knows them, why not ask them how come them have not refuted me?]. However, just by looking at what the say, I cannot imagine that if you presented them a random page of Greek text, that the Millers could translate it or even begin to read it aloud. [Here is a random page of Greek! “Greek Brainteaser“]
Back to our quest: it took me some hours to track down who are the Millers. Brent Miller Senior now lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Millers are father and son. Brent Junior is a screenwriter and producer, while Brent Senior is the “theologian” of the family. And it turns that Brent Senior was the same Brent Miller who found great fame years ago, hawking a DVD that showed how there would be a catastrophic “pole reversal” in 2012; I believe he started this crusade around 2005, but much of his material has been taken down, not surprisingly. This was the same “prediction” that some connected with the prophecy of the Mayan calendar. He wouldn’t give his proof publicly, but made you buy the DVD. Brent Miller at that time had a website called The Horizon Project, which he took down even before his doomsayings went awry. One might note that he ran in the company of one “Ed Dames”, yet another person who haunts late-night radio. In 2005 he claimed to be able to find a serial killer – and his victims – at a distance. Also that “The Seattle/Tachoma earthquake is close. Sometime in 2006. The Space Needle was tilted when they viewed it. If you live or work in downtown Seattle you should move.” He also claimed to know where gold could be found in Nevada.
[UPDATE: a reader sent me some more information, which I was able to cross-reference with google. Says he: “In the video, Brent Miller endorses Mother Shipton, Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, ancient Mayan and Incan prophets, human evolution, Darwinism, implies there are advanced civilizations buried in arctic ice or on the ocean floor that may be as old as one million years. He even mentions Bible prophecy a few times — mostly toward the end of the video. He has numerous New Age thinkers in the video, and there is a lot of pseudo-scientific jargon.” Gary: in fact, you can hear his 2007 presentation on the Coast-to-Coast-AM show with two princes of paranoid theories, Jerome Corsi and interviewer George Noury. In between UFO and Bigfoot alerts.]
There are a lot of people online who have been looking to collect Brett Sr.’s scalp since the poles failed to shift! Here is a whole page dedicated to “What Happened to Brent Miller from Horizon Project?” Some of his former disciples left me a nice clue, asking, Well, I found A man named Brent Miller, but this guy is hawking Bible prophecy DVDs. So, surely he isn’t the same individual, right?
But yes, I found that there is only one Brent Miller (Sr) and that the Pole Shift Miller and the Pure Word Miller are one and the same guy.
Here is my proof:
Brent Miller in 2015, dated after the 2012 Great Disappointment, but coming back once again to a prediction of a “crustal pole shift” and a change in the earth’s orbit; this time he sets no date, but says the event is “upcoming”. Here’s a capture from the video:
Here he is again in 2016, showing that he has finally, after 2000 years, cracked the code of Bible prophecy. Still the same guy, obviously.
And the very same Brent Sr. selling his “The Pure Word” in this 2018 video:
He changed ties each time, but this is one and the same person! He also has the same verbal tic of “This was 20 years in the making!” for more than one of his products.
(By the way, “Prophecy Watchers”, like many of such programs, is “infotainment” and not a serious source of information. We have to say this, because, naturally, one would think that if they allowed a guy to appear on TV, then he must be an authority. Not so! These shows have many hours of airtime to try to fill, and they will put on pretty much anyone who has a story to tell, without checking on his veracity).
In olden times, if you sold fake patent medicine, and things got hot, well, you could just pick up your business and move along to the next town and you would be a fresh face. The internet, by contrast, never forgets.
And from 2012, several of the guys who posted on “What Happened to Brent Miller from Horizon Project?” claimed they had been bilked out of thousands. But I know nothing about that, either way.
We sometimes run across people with this type of grandiose personality. The mega-fake Bible archaeologist Ron Wyatt, “The Real Indiana Jones”, sadly, was one. An oddly high proportion of self-anointed Bible experts proclaim themselves to be former NASA engineers. In the case of Dr. Miller, I would be willing to bet that when he claims to have 30 patents of marvelous inventions, and to have been CEO of many powerful companies, and to have been an amazing engineer before he got into Bible study, that this résumé too is heavily padded.
Until then: Dr. Miller is as much a Bible translator as the guy who writes you is a Nigerian prince; he is no more a Bible translator than the guy who keeps calling to say the warrantee on my 2004 Toyota is about to expire. To put it another way, he is no more a Bible translator than he is an expert on the geomagnetic field. Reply to my email, or translate some basic koine Greek, and prove me wrong, Dr. Miller!
The value of a thing cannot be gauged by how sincere or dogged (Aha! Yet another meaning!) are its makers, but whether they knew what they were doing when they set about doing it. For that reason, although I think I grasp a few basics of nuclear fission, please do not hire me to build a reactor; it matters not that I promise to invest 20 years on the job. It matters not that I “meant well”.
Instead of laying out $85 for the TPW leather-bound version – Miller claims it is a $119.95 value – just pick up the ESV or NKJV (Amazon for $1.99) or NIV or any reputable translation and read it in its context. Or read them free on Bible Gateway; do this once and you will already be miles ahead of the reader of The Pure Word.
PS – 2/14/22 Update: Note, that this is the first time I have run a legal background check, for felonies, on a Bible salesman. I did this out of curiosity. I won’t go into the grim details that it yielded.
“Beware ‘The Pure Word’ New Testament!” by Gary S. Shogren, Professor of New Testament, Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica