The Holy Bible in Modern English was translated by Ferrar Fenton. For the Old Testament, he translated directly from the Hebrew and Chaldee. His work was first published in 1903.
He is critical of the translation of numerous passages in the King James Version and the Revised Version of 1885 – which he names – as well as other translations in existence at the time. He has numerous footnotes in which he states his differences. These include passages which he feels have been incorrectly translated and others which he feels are additions by ancient editors to the original text.
This essay lists a number of these footnotes. When I felt that the text should be included, particularly where the translator has noted discrepancies, I have shown the comparisons. Only the five books of Moses (the Pentateuch or Torah) are considered in this study. I have used the spelling as it appears in each version. My reader may agree with some of the translator’s comments, while he may be skeptical of others. Check these references in the version (or versions) which you use.
- GW – God’s Word
- HBME – The Holy Bible in Modern English
- HBRV – Holy Bible, Revised Version
- KJV – King James Version
- SGAT – An American Translation (Smith-Goodspeed)
Genesis 1: 1
HBME – By Periods God created that which produced the Solar Systems; then that which produced the earth.
Footnote: [Periods] Literally “By Headships.” It is curious that all translators from the Septuagint have rendered this word, B’RESHITH, into the singular, although it is plural in the Hebrew. So I render it accurately.
GW – In the beginning God created heaven and earth.
HBRV – In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
KJV – In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
SGAT – When God began to create the heavens and the earth, … .
Genesis 8: 4
HBME – The Ark then rested on the seventeenth day of the seventh month upon the Peaks of the High Hills; … .
Footnote: I translate the compound Hebrew word “Ararat,” as by leaving it in the Hebrew as the current versions do, it misleads the reader to fancy Ararat in Armenia is meant, but the real resting place of the Ark, as the Sacred Record clearly proves, was upon the Peaks of the Hymalayah Mountains in the Hindoo Koosh in the region of Kashgar, or Northern Affghanistan.
GW – On the seventeenth day of the seventh month, the ship came to rest in the mountains of Ararat.
HBRV – And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.
KJV – And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month upon the mountains of Ararat.
SGAT – …, so that on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark grounded on the mountains of Ararat.
Genesis 10: 25
HBME – Footnote: “Peleg” means “split” in Hebrew. “Joktan” means in the Hebrew “Lessened,” probably referring to the “lessening” of the original continent by the “splitting” away of the American continents. See Prof. C. A. L. Totten’s works upon this great geological convulsion. If we take a map of the two Americas, in Mercator’s projection, and cut out the Atlantic, the indentations of the Eastern Americas and Western Europe and Africa fit into each other.
Genesis 22: 14
HBME – Abraham therefore called the name of that place Jehovah-Irah.
Footnote: [The Revealing Lord] The words, “It is said to this day, In the Hill of the LORD it can be seen,” are a note of an old copyist, not part of the text of Moses.
GW – Abraham named the place The LORD Will Provide. It is still said today, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
HBRV – And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireth: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.
KJV – And Abraham called the name of the place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.
SGAT – Then Abraham called the name of that sanctuary, Yahweh-jireh, which is today interpreted as “At the hill of the LORD provision is made.”
Genesis 23: 19
HBME – …; and after that Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah, opposite Mamre, in the land of Canaan; … .
Footnote: The words, “That is now Hebron,” are the note of an ancient editor, not part of the original text, for Hebron had not attained its name in the days of Moses.
GW – After this Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah, east of Mamre (that is, Hebron).
HBRV – And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre (the same is Hebron), in the land of Canaan.
KJV – And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.
SGAT – Following that Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre (that is Hebron), in the land of Canaan.
Genesis 35: 20
HBME – Footnote: “This pillar at Rachel’s grave still exists.” Editorial note by an old Hebrew editor.
Genesis 36: 31-39
HBME – Footnote: The verses Ch. xxxvi:31-39 are not a part of the text of Moses, but a note of an ancient editor. From internal evidence Professor the Rev. A. H. Sayce, D.D., of Oxford, suggests to me that this note was made after David’s conquest of Edom, and not by Ezra. The number of Kings named show ten generations of Monarchy, which came after the Tribal Government under Chiefs, and as the Kings were clearly elective, the certainty of long wars between each election would extend the time too much for the Tribal Commonwealth and the succeeding Monarchial period to be contained in the epoch between the death of Esau and the conquests of Moses east of the river Jordan, during which he wrote Genesis.
Genesis 48: 12
HBME – Then Joseph brought them for his blessing and they bowed before his face, earthward.
Footnote: A learned Jewish gentleman hearing of my work sent to ask how rendered the 12th verse of the 48th of Genesis – “for,” he said, “it is translated totally wrong in both the Authorized and Revised Versions, and all others.” I copied out from my MSS. my translation as above, and my enquirer declared I was correct, as well as in another passage of which he had asked my translation.
GW – Joseph took them off his father’s lap and bowed with his face touching the ground.
HBRV – And Joseph brought them out from between his knees; and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.
KJV – And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.
SGAT – Then Joseph removed them from his knees, and bowed his face to the ground.
Genesis 50: 10
HBME – All these marched to Goren-Hatar which is over the Jordan, … .
Footnote: This means on the West of the Jordan, and is an internal proof that Genesis was written upon the Eastern side, and by Moses, during the Exodus. If it were a forgery of some unknown scribe of Jerusalem of a few centuries before Christ, he would have made “beyond the Jordan” lie in the east.
GW – When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is on the east side of the Jordan River, … .
HBRV – And they came to the threshingfloor of Atad, which is beyond Jordan, … .
KJV – And they came to the threshingfloor of Atad, which is beyond Jordan, … .
SGAT – Arriving at Goren-Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, … .
Smith’s Bible Dictionary:
The threshing-floor of Atad, called also Abel-mizraim, Gen. 50:10, afterwards called Beth-hogla, and known to have lain between the Jordan and Jericho, therefore on the west side of Jordan.
The Bible Almanac:
The campsite near Hebron used by Joseph and his brothers as they prepared to take Jacob’s body back to Canaan (Gen. 50:11).
Exodus 6: 14-25
HBME – Footnote: The verses from 14 to 25 are clearly inserted here by mistake of an old transcriber, or were a note by some editor. I therefore append them at the foot of the page.
Exodus 18: 12
HBME – Footnote: It is evident from this record that the exile of Moses in Arabia had been a period of spiritual education under Jethro and that the Arabs had preserved the Faith of Abraham in greater purity than the Egyptised Hebrews.
Exodus 28: 30
HBME – Footnote: [Urim and Thummim] “Light and Truth” is the meaning when translated, the lesson of which I need not dwell upon.
GW – Footnote: The Urim and Thummim were used by the chief priest to determine God’s answer to questions.
Exodus 34: 29
HBME – …, Moses did not know that blinding rays of light from his face, prevented their speaking to him!
Footnote: [Rays of light] Literally “Horns of Light.”
GW – … . His face was shining from speaking with the LORD, but he didn’t know it.
HBRV – …, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone by reason of his speaking with him.
KJV – …, when he came down fro the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with them.
SGAT – When Moses descended from Mount Sinai (the two tablets of the decrees being in Moses’ hand as he descended from the mountain), Moses himself did not know that the skin of his face was in a glow after conversing with God; … .
Leviticus 11: 6
HBME – …; And the Leaper, for it chews its cud, but has not divided the hoof; – it is unclean to you; … .
Footnote: In Hebrew “Arnabeth” means a Leaper usually rendered “hare,” but more probably the Kangaroo.
GW – You must never eat rabbits. (Rabbits are unclean because they chew their cud but do not have divided hoofs.)
HBRV – And the hare, because she cheweth the cud but parteth not the hoof, she is unclean unto you.
KJV – And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
SGAT – …; the hare, because, though chewing the cud, it does not have the hoof cloven – it is unclean for you; ….
Smith’s Bible Dictionary:
Hare occurs only in Leviticus 11:6 and Deut.14:7 amongst the animals disallowed as food by the Mosaic law. The hare is at this day called arnel by the Arabs in Palestine and Syria. It was erroneously thought by the ancient Jews to have chewed its cud. They were no doubt misled, as is the case of the shâphân (hyrax), by the habit these animals have of moving the jaw about.
Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary:
[Hyrax] A small harelike ungulate mammal of Africa and SW Asia; the cony of the Bible.
Leviticus 14: 39
HBME – But the priest shall re-visit it on the seventh day and examine it again, and if the infection has spread in the drains of the house; … .
Footnote: [Drains] Literally “ditch” or “runnings,” in root, to run towards, improperly translated walls in the current versions.
GW – On the seventh day the priest will go back and examine it again. If the mildew in the walls of the house has spread, … .
HBRV – And the priest shall come again the seventh day, and shall look: and, behold, if the plague be spread in the walls of the house; … .
KJV – And the priest shall come again the seventh day, and shall look: and, behold, if the plague be spread in the walls of the house; … .
SGAT – On the seventh day, the priest shall come back, and look at it, and if he finds that the affection has spread on the walls of the house, … .
Leviticus 26: 10
HBME – And feed till your rest in quiet, And sleep and rise refreshed.
Footnote: Alternative reading, “And you shall eat the old (or sleeping) store; and bring out the old from the face of the new.” But this rendering does not carry the Oriental idea of sleep as the highest blessing, and to my view to translate the word as “old” is a violation of the Hebrew word “Yashen”,” to sleep”, although A. V. and R. V. adopt it.
GW – You will clear out old food supplies to make room for new ones.
HBRV – And ye shall eat old store long kept, and ye shall bring forth the old because of the new.
KJV – And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new.
SGAT – You shall have so much of the old stores to eat, that you shall cast out the old to make way for the new.
Numbers 11: 7-9
HBME – Footnote: Verses 7 to 9 are evidently the note of an old transcriber, so I place them at the foot, as not being part of the original text.
Numbers 13: 22
HBME – Footnote: The parenthesis, v. 22, is apparently an editorial note, not part of the text of Moses. (Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Mitzer –.)
Numbers 14: 25
HBME – Footnote: Red Sea: literally “The Sea of Weeds.” Not the main sea, but only the shallows at the head of the Gulf of Suez, as the whole history seems to indicate.
Numbers 21: 17-20
HBME – Spring up Well and refresh us; —
Dug by rejoicing princes;
By the People’s Chiefs and Ruler; —
A refreshing gift in the Desert!
And a gift from the rivers of GOD,
From the rivers of GOD in the hills.
From the Heights it passed to the valley;
To Moab’s plain from the Rock of Pisgah,
And clothed the face of the waste!
Footnote: Part of v. 18 and all of verses 19, 20 are in the A.V. and R. V., translated as a description of marches, not as I do, as a part of the “Song of the Well.” But to take those verses as geographical names is a clear contradiction to the context, which states that the Israelite army was on the borders of Moab and the Amorites, waiting for permission to pass over, not five marches –100 miles – from there; as five marches in Oriental reckoning would have been. Therefore I read them as a part of the song of thanksgiving for finding the well after the long waterless marches. However, I here add the usual version of the verses as translated in a jargon of Hebrew and English, for those who prefer it.
To further prove that the verses 18 to 20 are a part of the Song of he Well, and not a series of geographical names, consult Ch xxxiii, vv 47-50, where in the Way-book of the Marchings no mention is made of any such places or journeys, as all former translators make the verses above seem to be.
GW – Sing to the well,
the well dug by princes,
dug out by the nobles of the people
with their scepters and staffs.
From the desert they went to Mattanah, and from Mattanah to Nahaliel, and from Nahaliel to Bamoth, and from Bamoth to the valley in Moab where Mount Pisgah overlooks Jeshimon.
HBRV – …: Spring up, O well; sing ye to it;
The well, which the princes digged, which the nobles of the people delved, with the sceptre, and with their staves. And from the wilderness they journeyed to Mattanah:
And from Mattanah to Nahaliel: and from Nahaliel to Bamoth:
And from Bamoth to the valley that is in the field of Moab, to the top of Pisgah, which looketh down upon the desert.
KJV – Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it:
The princes digged the well, the nobles of the people digged it, by the direction of the lawgiver, with their staves. And from the wilderness they went to Mattanah:
And from Mattanah to Nahaliel: and from Nahaliel to Bamoth:
And from Bamoth in the valley, that is in the country of Moab, to the top of Pisgah, which looketh toward Jeshimon.
Footnote: [Country] Or field.
Footnote: [Pisgah] That is, A Well.
Footnote: [Jeshimon] That is, Waste or Desert.
SGAT – …:
“Spring up, O well! Sing to it;
The well which the princes dug,
Which the nobles of the people sunk,
With the scepters, with their staffs.”
From the desert they proceeded to Mattanah, from Mattanah to Nahaliel, from Nahaliel to Bamoth, and from Bamoth to the valley which is in the country of Moab, at the headland of Pisgah, which overlooks Jeshimon.
Deuteronomy 1: 2
HBME – Footnote: Verse 2, in parentheses, is an explanatory note of an old Hebrew editor.
Deuteronomy 2: 10-12
HBME – Footnote: Vv. 10 to 12 are an ancient editor’s note, not a part of the text of Moses. It was probably added by Ezra, when he edited the Pentateuch, after the return from Babylon, as all the other notes which I consequently transfer to the foot of the page.
Deuteronomy 3: 9
HBME – Footnote: The parenthesis is a note of an ancient commentator, probably Ezra’s, not part of the original text.
Deuteronomy 3: 11
HBME – Footnote: V. 11, in parentheses, is an ancient editor’s note, probably Ezra’s, not a part of the speech of Moses.
Deuteronomy 4: 44-49
HBME – Footnote: Vv. 44 to 48 are also a note of an ancient editor, probably Ezra, as the remark of Moses was on the Eastern side of Jordan indicates the commentator as looking from the Western side – say, Jerusalem. All these are internal proofs of the authenticity of the main text.
Deuteronomy 10: 6-9
HBME – Footnote: Vv. 6 to 9 are a note of an ancient editor not a part of the speech of Moses. They are probably a note of Ezra’s, made after the return from Babylon, but have been by a transcriber widely misplaced, for they have not the least connection with the subject of the text.
Deuteronomy 12: 14-16
HBME – Footnote: This introduction is clearly from the pen of Aliazar the Priest, who edited these Orations of Moses, and is another internal proof of the authenticity of these speeches of Moses.
Deuteronomy 29: 27
HBME – Footnote: End of verse 27 “as it is now,” is a Masoretic note, not a part of the text.
[In KJV and GW, it is verse 28.]
Deuteronomy 31: 7, 9
HBME – Footnote: Vv. 7 and 9 are original introductory notes to the last addresses of Moses, probably by Aliazar.
Deuteronomy 34: 2, 3
HBME – Footnote: These verses are not a part of the original text, but the note of an ancient editor, probably Ezra, when he edited the Books of Moses after the return from the Babylonian Captivity, as the geographical indications are clearly from the standpoint of Jerusalem, not like the rest of the chapter, from the Plain of Moab, east of the Jordan.
Deuteronomy 34: 10-12
HBME – Footnote: These lines are a note of Ezra probably, or some ancient editor of his period, and do not form a part of the original text. … .
A Note on Ezra
In several of the footnotes, there is reference to the fact that the additions were made by ancient editors, most notably Ezra.
Irenaeus states that when the Jews returned home in the time of Artaxerxes, God inspired Ezra the priest to compose anew all the discourses of the ancient prophets, and to restore to the peoples the laws of Moses. One of the principal works of Ezra was the settling of the canon of Scripture and restoring, correcting, and editing the whole sacred volume.