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Seventh Day Adventist
Chapter XI ... The Clear Word Bible

The Clear Word Bible is not a Bible but a paraphrase and a personal commentary on Scripture. the words of the Bible are restated in a way that supports Adventist theology.

Carol Brooks
Edited by Vicki Narlee

Index To All Chapters


Note: All emphasis in the quotes from Ellen G. White Writings (both the underlining and the occasional bolded text), has been added. Also, unless otherwise stated, Bible quotations are from the NASB with all emphasis added)

The Clear Word - Bible or Paraphrase
The Clear Word Bible is not a Bible but a paraphrase and a personal commentary on Scripture.
Dr. Jack Blanco, who produced the paraphrase, restated the words of the Bible in a way that backed up Adventist theology.

The Sabbath in The Clear Word Bible.

Death and Hell

The Clear Word Bible, a paraphrase that includes the teachings of Ellen G. White, is widely used within the Seventh-day Adventist churches.

William G. Johnsson, a Seventh-day Adventist author and editor of the Adventist Review from 1982 to 2006, once wrote an article entitled "So Many Versions". In it he said

     1. For close adherence to the original text, select from translations rather than paraphrases. The latter seek to convey the meaning of the text in modern idiom, but take more liberties with it. Generally, paraphrases read better but are less accurate.

    3. The most popular paraphrases are The Message, The Clear Word, and The Living Bible. They succeed in making the Bible come alive to modern men and women. But use these versions for devotional purposes only, not for teaching doctrines. For example, The Message translates "The Lord's day" (Rev. 1:10) as "Sunday." The Clear Word is an "Adventist" paraphrase, incorporating insights from Ellen White. [01]

Note: Regarding the Clear Word Bible, SDAnet declares: (All Emphasis Added)

    ''Out of his personal devotional life and study of the Scriptures Dr. Jack Blanco, chairman of the religion department at Southern College of Seventh-day Adventists in Tennessee, produced his own paraphrase of the New Testament. He undertook this project at his own initiative and was not commissioned to do so by any committee or administrator of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Though it was printed by the Review and Herald Publishing Association the issue of officially endorsing it has never come up in any church council. As such, it represents the effort of an individual Seventh-day Adventist to make the Scriptures more readable for himself and for those who choose to read it. As a paraphrase it is appropriate for ones personal devotional study. For detailed doctrinal Bible study the serious student will choose to use a more literal translation of the original languages.

    The Seventh-day Adventist Church does not limit the various meaningful avenues through which its members study the Scriptures and we would hope that Dr. Blanco's significant personal effort would contribute to this purpose as well. Those who read it prayerfully should receive a blessing from it, just as they do from other paraphrases of the Bible. This Bible should in no way be considered an official Seventh-day Adventist Bible, nor did Dr. Blanco intend for it to be considered as such.'' [02]

However, another statement on the same site shows the Clear Word Bible is widely used within the Seventh-day Adventist churches:

    The introduction (preface) suggests that it is not for public reading in churches, etc., but what we are hearing suggests that it is already getting a fairly wide usage for that purpose, Sabbath School lessons, church school Bible classes, etc. It has been advertised at least twice with a full-color full-page advertisement on the back of the Adventist Review, which includes endorsements from the General Conference president, Richard Davisson of Andrews University, and others. (These endorsements also appear on the back jacket of the book). [03]

Additionally, SDAnet also includes a letter from David Newman, editor of Ministry magazine (an SDA publication), citing his reservations regarding the Clear Word Bible (All Emphasis Added)

    He makes it clear in the first paragraph of his Preface that "This is not a new translation but a paraphrase of the Scriptures. It is not intended for in-depth study or for public reading in churches." Unfortunately most people do not read prefaces so this very important information will be lost. Already I am hearing reports of it being used in the pulpit and as a textbook in teaching religion.

    Second the author misunderstands the meaning of the word "paraphrase." A paraphrase is not a loose rendering of someone else's words with added commentary. Whether you use the dictionary definition or the definition used in active listening, a paraphrase simply means restating the words of another in your own words without adding to or subtracting from the original meaning

    A cursory examination of the Clear Word Bible reveals the prolific addition of many ideas not found in Scripture.

    Thirdly, where Scripture is ambiguous the author removes the ambiguities. One is left not having to make hardly any interpretations for him or herself. The author has done it for you. God evidently intended that each reader struggle with the text and decide personally how to resolve these ambiguities and tensions. Two quick examples come to mind. In 1 Cor. 15:29 we find the difficult phrase baptized for the dead. The author resolves the difficulty by telling us that being baptized in the hope of seeing dead loved ones is meaningless if you do not believe in the resurrection. Revelation 1:10 no longer has us puzzling over which day of the week the Lord's day is. The author tells us that it is the Sabbath.

    Fourthly, the author has intertwined so much of Ellen White into his commentary that the general effect has been to canonize Ellen White. The author adds to Scripture in Genesis 2:25 by following Ellen White and saying that Adam and Eve were clothed with a garment of light. Daniel 8:14 is now clear that the judgment began after 2300 prophetic years.

    Fifthly, the title chosen for this work is most unfortunate. This is not a Bible. It is a personal commentary on Scripture but it is not the Bible. Yet the title clearly identifies it as a Bible. It is really a specialized commentary on the Bible.

    Sixthly, while the author says it is a paraphrase the format inside is not that of a paraphrase but that of the King James Bible. While most modern versions format by paragraph this "Bible" is formatted verse by verse so that it clearly looks like a traditional bible.

    Seventh, I fear what our critics will say when they find how much Ellen White has contributed to this ''bible'' without any credit being given to her at all. It would be interesting to find out what percentage of this work owes itself to Ellen White. [04].

    Unfortunately, Dr. Jack Blanco restating the words of the Bible in a way that backed up Adventist theology. Take the Sabbath for example...

The Sabbath in The Clear Word Bible.
The Old Testament very clearly says the sons of Israel would observe the Sabbath. However, on several occasions, the Clear Word Bible replaces "sons of Israel" with "the people", "my people" etc. (All Emphasis added)

Exodus 5:5.
Moses and Aaron asked the Pharaoh to let them go a three days' journey into the wilderness that they might may sacrifice to the Lord

    NASB:- Again Pharaoh said, "Look, the people of the land are now many, and you would have them cease from their labors!" 

    CW: You've created enough problems by making them rest every week on your Sabbath. That's a lot of lost labor. Have them get back to work.

 Exodus 16:5

    NASB:- "On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily."  

    CW: On the sixth day they should gather twice as much as on the other days so as to have enough for the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, the day I set aside for worship and rest.

Exodus 31:12-16

    NASB:- The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, (13) "But as for you, speak to the sons (Heb bn) of Israel (Heb. yisr'l) saying, 'You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. (14) 'Therefore you are to observe the Sabbath, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. (15) 'For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the LORD; whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall surely be put to death.  (16)  'So the sons (Heb bn) of Israel (Heb. yisr'l) shall observe the Sabbath, to celebrate the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.'

    CW: (12) The Lord continued, (13) "say to the people, 'Most importantly, remember to keep the Sabbath holy because it is a special day for me, and it's a day of rest for you. It's a sign between you and me for all time to show that you are the people whom I have chosen and set apart (14) The Sabbath is holy and anyone who desecrates it by working on that day will  be put to death. To break the Sabbath is an act of treason against a divine government. (15) There are six days in which you should do your work to earn a livelihood but the seventh day is the day set apart for me. Anyone doing unnecessary work on that day is to be put to death. (16) My people are to keep the Sabbath, celebrating it forever as a sign that they belong to me.

Note: "To break the Sabbath is an act of treason against a divine government" is an addition to the text.

Leviticus 26:46

    NASB:- These are the statutes and ordinances and laws which the Lord established between Himself and the sons (Heb bn) of Israel (Heb. yisr'l) through Moses at Mount Sinai.  (Leviticus 26:46 NASB).

    CW: These are the instructions, the statutes and laws that the Lord gave Moses on Mount Sinai for the good of His people.

Yet, although Leviticus 27:34 uses exactly the same Hebrew words for "sons of Israel", the Clear Word Bible translates it as "children of Israel".

    These are the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses for the sons (Heb bn) of Israel (Heb. yisr'l) at Mount Sinai.  (Leviticus 27:34 NASB)

     These are the instructions the Lord gave Moses on Mount Sinai to give to the children of Israel (Leviticus 27:34 CW)

Revelation 1:10

    NASB: - I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,  (Revelation 1:10 )

    CW: On the Sabbath of the Lord I went down to the island's rocky shore to worship.

Death and Hell
There is little question that the Adventists are absolutely and Biblically correct in their belief that hell, as a literal fiery place of eternal punishment, does not exist. However, some verses in the Clear Word Bible have been changed to reflect this. For example the word "hell', so common in other versions of the New Testament, has largely been done away with. For example,

Matthew 10:28

    NASB: - "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Gk. Gehenna).

    Clear Word: Don't fear that you may be killed. They may kill your body, but they cannot take away your eternal life. God is the only One who has power over eternal life and death.

 Matthew 18:9

    NASB: - "If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell (Gk. Gehenna).  

    Clear Word: If, for example, your eye causes you to sin, be willing to lose your eye if necessary rather than to lose out on heaven. If you must make a choice, it's better to forego greatness in this life than to be consumed by the fire of God's judgment

Many Christians have jumped on the absence of the word hell in the CW. However, what many may not realize is that the word "hell" does not exist in any Biblical manuscript.

What is exceptionally disturbing is that several separate and distinctive words (Sheol in Hebrew - Hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus in Greek), were usually translated into the single English word 'hell'. In reality, the four original words are proper names and should have been left untranslated.

Let me repeat that.

We have taken several different proper names from two different languages, decided that, in many instances, they have to mean hell that we associate with the place of eternal torture, and then translated them as such, without a single care as to what the original words meant, how they were used, and what the differences between them were.

And, if I may remind the reader, copies and translations of the Scriptures made through the ages do not have the same authority as the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts that were inspired and inerrant. Therefore, it is imperative that we know what impression the Biblical authors intended to convey when they used the specific word they wrote, not the word the translators substituted.

Therefore, if the King James, or any other translation, says "hell", but the original Hebrew says Sheol, it is Sheol that the original authors wrote, and it is Sheol, not hell, that we have to carefully examine. When Jesus used the proper name Gehenna, not only did we have absolutely no right to change it, but it is the place Gehenna and its role in Jewish history that we have to examine.

Unfortunately, the belief that Hell is a place of unending torment has been so strongly held throughout the history of Christianity that those who have dared to challenge it have usually been labeled cultists. However, the deeper one delves into the subject - the less persuasive the argument in favor of the traditional view becomes. [See What and Where is Hell?]


End Notes PART XI ... Clear Word Bible

[01] William G. Johnsson. So Many Versions http://archives.adventistreview.org/issue.php?issue=2006-1508&page=5

[02] Clear Word "Bible". Endorsement by Pastor Robert Folkenberg. http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/clearword/folkenberg_endorsment.htm

[03] Clear Word Bible. http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/clearword/clearword.html

[04] A Letter From David Newman, Editor of Ministry Magazine at SDAnet. http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/clearword/reservations.htm


    The Sabbath