The Sacred Scriptures, Bethel Edition made its public appearance in 1981. The copyright of this book is held by The Assemblies of Yahweh in Bethel, Pennsylvania. The Assemblies of Yahweh is one of the largest and one of the most cohesive Sacred name groups.
The title page of SSBE makes no attribution as to translator/revisor. However, the preface gives Jacob O. Meyer as editor of this work. Meyer is the founder and head of the Assemblies of Yahweh. There can be little doubt that The Sacred Scriptures, Bethel Edition is his work. Meyer considers this revision of the Scriptures to be the best translation available in the world today. This has proven to be merely a very large boast. Likely it is believed only by the editor and those who are uniquely his followers.
The Holy Name Bible and The Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible were published from behind a facade of Bible research associations. Jacob Meyer saw no need for such a pretense. His work is published directly by his church. Meyer would not use the word church. He prefers instead, assembly.
The Sacred Scriptures, Bethel Edition is simply and only a reworking of the 1901 American Standard Version of the Bible. Meyer points out in his preface that the American Standard was probably the most accurate work of Bible translation ever put into print.
In using the American Standard Version, Meyer followed the trail blazed for him by Sacred Name Movement pioneer L. D. Snow. Snow had avoided the use of the King James Version when he reworked J. B. Rotherham’s translation The Emphasized Bible and called it The Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible.
Rotherham’s translation put Yahweh for the tetragrammaton in the Old Testament. Snow changed it to Yahvah. The American Standard Version has Jehovah. Meyer changed it to Yahweh.
The two previous Sacred Name bible revisers, the afore mentioned Snow and Angelo B. Traina, were pioneers in the Sacred Name Movement. Jacob Meyer is not. He reportedly was ordained into the Sacred Name ministry at a feast of Tabernacles celebration in Nevada, Missouri in 1965. What he lacked in experience, he made up in zeal, energy, and ability.
Meyer is independent, a prolific writer, an able business administrator, and a dominant leader.
His independence manifested itself when he observed the hallmark of the small Sacred Name groups. They were very "fragmented on doctrine." He left this confusion found within the Sacred Name Movement to begin his own organization. Over the years, a number of his followers, including even some of his own children, have left his organization because of his "my way or the highway" dominant leadership style.
This dominance of leadership imposes itself on every facet of the existence of the Assemblies of Yahweh. He oversees everything from the construction of buildings to the publication of doctrinal magazines. Meyer refers to himself as the editor of the publications, but he seems to be the only writer of any import whose words are published by the Assemblies of Yahweh. While he writes numerous articles for publication, it should be taken into account that many of his articles are transcripts of sermons and reworked repetitions of former articles.
Meyer is a very exclusive Sacred Name leader who insists that salvation is withheld from those outside the Assemblies of Yahweh. It is quite apparent that he believes himself anointed by Yahweh to be head of the people in this organization. It could very easily be concluded from reading his writings that he believes all who do not come under his authority are ultimately to be lost. He believes and emphatically states that his assemblies make up the only religious body in the world today preaching and practicing Yahweh's pure doctrinal truth.
Beyond the personal aspects of the editor's work, it is certainly no surprise that SSBE puts Yahweh for the tetragrammaton in the Old Testament. It puts Yahshua for IhsouV in the New Testament. At a quick perusal, we find Yahweh consistently in New Testament quotations from the Old Testament. This is what nearly all Sacred Name bibles do. It is why they are Sacred Name bibles. A number of very scholarly works have put Yahweh for the tetragrammaton in the Old Testament. These are not Sacred Name bibles.
When SSBE interpolates the tetragrammaton into the New Testament, it forsakes the way of good research, followers the pseudo scholarship of all Sacred Name teachers, and marks itself as just another Sacred Name bible. The tetragrammaton was never in the New Testament. There exists not even a single manuscript of that document having the tetragrammaton.
Without explanation in preface or footnote, SSBE puts Yahweh for God (Greek, QeoV ) and Lord (Greek, KurioV ) in New Testament references to the Father. Where KurioV is used of the Son, SSBE has Sovereign, as in Sovereign Yahshua the Messiah. Sometimes Elohim (Hebrew for God), and sometimes Yahweh is put where the text of the New Testament has QeoV /God.
These major distinctions of editing are made without so much as a wisp of elucidation. The poor reader is left at the starting blocks concerning the reasons these differentiations were made. Perhaps, and more likely so, it was not expected that the readers for whom this book was intended should be concerned with such things. One thing is sure, it was not expected that these readers should or would question the actions and motives of their editor/leader.
However, there are those of us who are a bit more discerning in our thinking and the editor is not our leader. We question his work, the results, and certainly we question his motives.
In this work, Meyer proves himself to be not unlike other Sacred Name teachers in at least one regard, he has a banned word list. It is revealed to us in the glossary of terms under the heading of A Pure Religious Vocabulary that many words are too pagan to be spoken by true worshippers.
The name Jesus, of course, is at the apex of this list and its use should be "studiously avoided." God is on it, as is Lord. Church is high on the list. Church is much too Christian a word for Meyer that he should put it into his bible as a translation of the Greek word ekklhsia / ekklesia. The word Christ is banned as being linked with the Hindu idol Krishna. Meyer also tells us hymn is of pagan derivation and its use to be avoided by the true worshipper. All these words are in the New Testament, but none of them are in SSBE.
All this brings us to the word cross. SSBE rejects both the word and the item indicated by the word. According to SSBE, our Savior was not put on a cross. The word cross is banned as a pagan and even a phallic symbol used centuries before the time of the Messiah. It seems a bit illogical to conclude that Jesus could not have been put on a cross because pagans had used it as a phallic symbol in prior centuries.
In this area, SSBE puts itself on the front row with other SN bibles. The editor cannot refrain from putting his own doctrinal biases into the scriptural text. SSBE teaches that the Savior was impaled on a stake. For cross SSBE has torture stake. For crucify it has impale.
The cross on which Jesus died may or may not have been the T shaped implement usually thought of by most Christians. However, what was done to him there is another matter. An impalement, by its very definition, is carried out by thrusting a sharpened pole into, perhaps even through, the body of a person. One may also be impaled by being thrust down over a sharpened stake that has already been set in the ground. One may be horizontally impaled by thrusting the stake through the mid section of the body. Another form of impalement is accomplished when the pole is thrust into the lower abdomen or crotch and up through the bowel and stomach area, vertically impaling the victim.
Either form of impalement precludes the use of nails. However, according to the account by John the apostle, our Savior was fastened to the cross with one or more nails. At least the print of a nail was in each of his hands. This would make for a very strange impalement, the like of which has never been seen. If he were impaled, there would have been no need for fastening his hands with nails. If he were fastened to the stake with nails, he would not have been impaled.
In addition, there is the problem of Jesus hanging on the tree. If he were hanging, he was not impaled. If he were impaled, he was not hanging. Impaled is the wrong word for what was done to our Messiah. SSBE has erred.
However, SSBE's editor has bought into the teaching, propagated by the Watch Tower Bible and Track Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses), that the Messiah was impaled on a sharpened stake. Nothing will deter the editor from inserting this pet doctrine into his bible. Since it is his bible, he can do what he wants. That is the Sacred Name bible reviser's way.
The SSBE presents us with few surprises. We expect a Sacred Name bible to put whatever rendering of the tetragrammaton is favored by the reviser into the OT. SSBE prefers Yahweh. We expect a Sacred Name bible to replace Jesus with some real or imagined Hebrew name. SSBE uses the more accepted Yahshua. We expect a Sacred Name bible to replace Lord in New Testament quotes from the Old Testament. SSBE is faithful to the cause. We have come to expect a Sacred Name bible to avoid certain banned words. This too, SSBE accomplishes.
It is no surprise when a Sacred Name bible stoops to twisting the text of Scripture and mistranslating words in order to conform to a much favored doctrine or two. SSBE surely lives up to our expectations here.
Our observations about Sacred Name bibles are confirmed by The Sacred Scriptures, Bethel Edition. The purpose of a Sacred Name bible is to get the name of Jesus out of the Bible, to put into it whatever rendering of the tetragrammaton is favored by the revisor/editor, and interpolate into the text a doctrine or two that is unique to the SN teacher doing the revision.
Regarding this travesty that the editor dares call a Bible being the best translation of the Scriptures available today, let it be clearly stated that it is garbage. Meyer took a reasonably good translation of the Scriptures and ruined it with the injection of his own ideas and ideas learned from others.
While The Sacred Scriptures, Bethel Edition is absolutely not the best translation of the Scriptures available today, it is not the worst translation by a Sacred Name bible reviser. That honor is reserved for another book and another review.
1. Jacob O. Meyer, ed, The Sacred Scriptures, Bethel Edition, (The Assemblies of Yahweh, Bethel, Pa. 1981.) preface, text, and glossary
2. Richard Nickles, Origin and History of the Sacred Name Movement, (self published, n/d)
3. Jacob O. Meyer, "Back to Our Roots, Part 5." in The Sacred Name Broadcaster, (August, 1998)
4. Jacob O. Meyer, "Sitting Ducks," in The Sacred Name Broadcaster , (June, 1999)