Ok, I’m all for modern English translations as long as the new translation makes the text easy to understand. But in the beginning of chapter 8 we have, what is to me, an excellent example of why we need to keep the older translations around.
At the beginning of chapter 8, God tells Isaiah to “Take a large piece of writing material and write on it in large letters: “Quick Loot, Fast Plunder.” Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t immediately grasp the meaning of that. What exactly is a large piece of writing material, and what is the meaning of “Quick Loot, Fast Plunder”?
In the King James Version, he is told, “Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man’s pen concerning Maher–shalal–hash–baz.”. Now, other than Maher–shalal–hash–baz, doesn’t that make more sense? I’ll explain Maher–shalal–hash–baz in a moment. But you probably easily understood the instruction to “Take thee a great roll.” What did they write on in those times? Scrolls. The modern translation could have easily said, “Get a large book and write on it.” In my opinion, that would have been much better.
(As a side note, a few years back I actually started writing my own modern language translation of the Bible, but life got in the way.)
And did you notice something in the King James Version I just read to you that was not in the Good News Translation? Let me read them to you again. First the KJV: Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man’s pen concerning Maher–shalal–hash–baz. And now, the GNT: Take a large piece of writing material and write on it in large letters: ‘Quick Loot, Fast Plunder.’
Did you hear the missing element? In the KJV Isaiah is told to write with a man’s pen. There is nothing at all about what to write with in the GNT. Why is this point important? I like the way the Jamieson, Fausset, Brown commentary explains it: (Isaiah was to write it) in ordinary characters, which the humblest can read. Not in hieroglyphics. The object was that, after the event, *all* might see that it had been predicted by Isaiah.”
This was God telling Isaiah that He wanted everyone, from the most noble to the most humble, to know what God told Isaiah would take place. It was not to be only for the aristocracy.
Now for Maher–shalal–hash–baz. Again, the KJV says: Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man’s pen concerning Maher–shalal–hash–baz.
The GNT says: Take a large piece of writing material and write on it in large letters: ‘Quick Loot, Fast Plunder.’
Maher–shalal–hash–baz means, “Make speed to the spoil, hasten to the prey.” Don’t you think that is actually more clear than “Quick Loot, Fast Plunder.” Quick Loot, Fast Plunder sounds like a fast food slogan or something.
The message here is that the Assyrian army will come upon them with great speed and make great spoil. They’re coming in quickly, and they will bring a great deal of destruction upon them.
So there’s a short lesson on one way to get more meaning from the reading of scripture. Use more than one version. Compare translations. Don’t just let things go by that you’re not clear on.