Christian book publisher says Bible Gateway gave 'no explanation' for removing Passion Translation

Brian Simmons talks about the Passionate Life Bible study series in a video uploaded to The PassionTranslation website.
Brian Simmons talks about the Passionate Life Bible study series in a video uploaded to The PassionTranslation website. | YouTube/BroadStreet Publishing

The Christian book publisher behind The Passion Translation said Bible Gateway "provided no explanation" for its decision to pull the translation from its platform. 

Earlier this month, Bible Gateway removed TPT from its website. The translation has raised concerns among many who believe it's too much of a paraphrase to be considered a valid translation of the Bible. 

Brian Simmons, founder and producer of the original TPT version, expressed his extreme disappointment with the decision to discontinue the translation. 

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“So cancel culture is alive in the church world. Bible Gateway just removed TPT from their platform,” Simmons announced on social media, which was first reported by Church Watch Central

The Passion Translation website states that it's a translation that “uses Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic manuscripts to express God’s fiery heart of love to this generation, merging the emotion and life-changing truth of God’s Word.” 

According to the website, TPT wanted “to trigger inside every reader an overwhelming response to the truth of the Bible and reveal the deep mysteries of the Scriptures in the love language of God, the language of the heart.” 

The website notes that Simmons was the lead translator for the TPT, having previously helped with a Central American indigenous translation of the New Testament. 

Simmons did not respond to The Christian Post’s request for comment regarding his views on TPT being dropped from Bible Gateway.

However, in a statement emailed to CP, BroadStreet Publishing Group, the Christian book publisher behind this translation and other Bible study materials, said: “Bible Gateway expressed no concerns and provided no explanation” for why it removed TPT. 

BroadStreet Publishing also confirmed that its group was notified in early January that TPT would be pulled on Feb. 2.

“While no explanation was given, BroadStreet Publishing accepts that Bible Gateway has the right to make decisions as they see fit with the platforms they manage,” it said, adding that many people have messaged their staff expressing disappointment with the decision. 

“Bible Gateway has not made available to BroadStreet Publishing a full scope of complaints or criticism they have received about the text. As the publisher, we review all feedback regarding the translation. Our team of theologians and industry professionals will continue to address concerns, as has been our approach to date.” 

John Harris, a Bible translation consultant with Bible Society Australia, told Eternity News that in order for a Bible translation to be considered a paraphrase it would have to “expand or add to the original words in order to enhance their meaning.” At times “a Bible translation requires more than one word to make the meaning clear.”

“When the ‘grace of God’ is sometimes translated these days as ‘the undeserved kindness of God’ in a modern translation like the Good News Bible, some people may strictly speaking say this is a paraphrase. But in fact, it is not,” Harris said. 

“It is a translation of the Greek word Charis in an era when the single word ‘grace’ is no longer understood by the average person and is therefore insufficient to express what charis means, especially to people outside the church.”  

For example, Harris told Eternity News, The Message version authored by theologian Eugene Peterson adds words with an aim to expand the text. However, Harris said that Peterson did not claim The Message was the Bible, but rather Peterson said that it's a “‘free form’” that has the goal of aiding people in their ability to understand Scripture.   

Paraphrases can take things a bit too far, according to Harris, because he said the task of a Bible translator differs from that of someone who is writing a paraphrase. He said, there are issues that Bible translators must avoid, that are often found in paraphrases. 

“The first temptation is to add too much to the original text. This is the kind of thing The Message sometimes does, but Peterson does not claim that what he has written is the Word of God,” continued Harris. 

“The second temptation is to add things which were never there in the first place, to put explanations in the text itself. Here lies the real danger because there is always the temptation to add words which push the text towards a particular theological position.”  

Harris said the TPT version falls into these temptations by displaying additional words in its text which could be seen in a 2019 TPT translation in the first chapter in the book of Philippians.  

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