QUESTION: Aren't there archaic
words in the Bible, and don't we need a modern translation to eliminate
ANSWER: Yes and No. Yes there are archaic
words in the Bible but No, we do not need a modem translation to eliminate
EXPLANATION: That there are archaic
words in the Bible is very true. An archaic word is a word which is
no longer used in every day speech and has been replaced by another.
A good example of an archaic word is found in I Corinthians 10:25.
"Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking
no question for conscience sake:"
The word "shambles" is archaic. It has been
replaced in common speech with the word "market place", Indeed
we can be certain that "shambles" was a much more accurate
description of the ancient market place (and many around the world today).
It has none the less passed from common use.
Well then, shouldn't we publish a new translation which
removes " shambles" and inserts the more common "market
No, what we should do is turn to the
Bible, our final authority in all matters of faith
and practice and see what the Bible practice
is concerning archaic words. For surely we believers in a perfect Bible
will want to follow the Bible's practice concerning
In searching the Scripture we find the Bible practice
for handling archaic words in I Samuel chapter 9:1-11. "Now
there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish, the son of Zeror,
the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite,a mighty man of
2 And he had a son whose name was Saul, a choice
young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel
a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher
than any of the people.
3 And the asses of Kish Saul's father were lost.
And Kish said to Saul his son, Take now one of the servants with thee,
and arise, go seek the asses.
4 And he passed through mount Ephraim, and passed
through the land of Shalisha, but they found them not: then they passed
through the land of Shalim, and there they were not: and he passed through
the land of the Benjamites, but they found them not.
5 And when they were come to the land of Zuph,
Saul said to his servant that was with him, Come, and let us return;
lest my father leave caring for the asses, and take thought for us.
6 And he said unto him, Behold now, there is
in this city a man of God, and he is an honourable man; all that he
saith cometh surely to pass: now let us go thither; peradventure he
can shew us our way that we should go.
7 Then said Saul to his servant, But, behold,
if we go, what shall we bring the man? for the bread is spent in our
vessels, and there is not a present to bring to the man of God: what
8 And the servant answered Saul again, and said,
Behold, I have here at hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver: that
will I give to the man of God, to tell us our way.
9 (Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to inquire
of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that
is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.)
10 Then said Saul to his servant, Well said;
come let us go. So they went unto the city where the man of God was.
11 And as they went up the hill to the city,
they found young maidens going out to draw water, and said unto them,
Is the seer here?"
Here, in the first eleven verses of I Samuel 9 we are
not only confronted with an archaic word, but with the Bible practice
for handling it.
We find Saul and one of his father's servants searching
for the asses that had run off (I Samuel 9:1-5).They decide to go to
see Samuel the seer and enlist his help in finding the asses (verses
In verse 11 we are going to run into an archaic word.
But, before we do, God puts a parenthesis in the narrative (verse 9)
to tell us about it. Notice that verse 9 states that "he that is
now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer".Thus
we see that, between the time that this event took place and the time
that the incident was divinely recorded the word " Seer" had
passed from common use to be replaced with "Prophet". "Seer"
was now archaic.
BUT, look carefully at verse
11 where the archaic word appeared.
"And as they went up the hill to the city, they found
young maidens going out to draw water, and said unto them, Is the seer
Please note that the verse retains the
outdated word "seer". It does not say "Is
the prophet here?".
Thus we see that God Himself through
the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit used verse
9 to explain the upcoming archaic word but did
not change the holy text!
So we see that, the Bible practice for
handling situations such as we find in I Corinthians 10:25 when preaching
is to tell the congregation something to the effect that "What
beforetime was called 'shambles' is now called 'market place"'.
But we should leave the archaic word in the text. This is what
God did! Surely we sinners are not going to come up with a
better method for handling archaic words than God has.
So, the answer to the question is, "Yes, there are
archaic words in the Bible but No we do not need a
modem translation to eliminate them. God didn't change
His Book, He certainly does not want us doing it.