Explanations for criticized words and phrases appearing multiple times in various verses in the Reina-Valera

Búfalo

In the Latin Vulgate in Psalms 92:10 the underlying Hebrew word was translated as unicornis. Gesenius’s Hebrew Lexicon concludes the following regarding the mysterious animal represented by the underlying Hebrew word: “The animal meant is doubtful; I have no hesitation in agreeing with Alb. Schultens, Job loc. cit. and de Wette on Psalm 22:22; in understanding it to be the buffalo.”

Caridad

Caridad is the Spanish equivalent of “charity.” I do not object to the use of caridad in the Spanish Bible; although the word amor in my opinion is better, because it does not carry with it any Catholic connotation. I personally did not approve of the use of caridad in the RVG only because during the rough draft stage the reviser stated to me in correspondence that he would not use the term caridad because even though it wasn’t wrong, in Spanish he felt it was closely related to Catholicism. He also added that this was evidence that he was not making a Spanish translation “taylor-made for the Americans.” If he had not said this I would not have objected to it, just as I have not objected to caridad being used going back to Reina and Valera, although I believe amor is simply better.

Cubierta

Cubierta (covering) was used in some Spanish Bibles until 1960, when it was changed to propiciatorio. It has been alleged that cubierta does not mean “mercy seat.” This is how the KJV translated the underlying Hebrew word. As I will demonstrate, the short and simple definition of the underlying Hebrew word is “lid” or “covering.” The KJV translated it with a deeper meaning, taking into consideration the extended definition with reference to the covering of the Ark of the Covenant on which blood was sprinkled on the Day of Atonement by which God was appeased (which constitutes propitiation). But this does not mean that all foreign Bible have to have a deeper-meaning definition. The underlying Hebrew word is defined as follows by Strong’s Concordance:

H3727

כּפּרת

kappôreth

kap-po’-reth

From H3722; a lid (used only of the cover of the sacred Ark): – mercy seat.

Also the Greek word underlying “mercy seat” in the KJV New Testament include “lid” in its definition:

G2435

ἱλαστήριον

hilastērion

hil-as-tay’-ree-on

Neuter of a derivative of G2433; an expiatory (place or thing), that is, (concretely) an atoning victim, or (specifically) the lid of the Ark (in the Temple): – mercyseat, propitiation.

In reality the KJV translates the underlying Greek and Hebrew word in a less literal fashion than the Spanish Bible. “Mercy seat” in the KJV is a descriptive term instead of a strict and literal translation, although since the description and resulting word picture in the KJV is accurate, it should not be considered to be an error.

Día de reposo

“Day of rest” instead of “sabbath.” See Strong’s Concordance:

G4521

σάββατον

sabbaton

sab’-bat-on

Of Hebrew origin [H7676]; the Sabbath (that is, Shabbath), or day of weekly repose from secular avocations (also the observance or institution itself); by extension a se’nnight, that is, the interval between two Sabbaths; likewise the plural in all the above applications: – sabbath (day), week.

Doncella

The Vox New College Spanish & English Dictionary (1995 printing) has “virgin” as the first word in the definition list for the Spanish word doncella. As far as derivatives of the term, doncellería is defined in this same dictionary first as “virginity,” and doncel “virgin man.” The English word “virgin” is defined in Spanish as virgen, doncella. Doncella is simply a lesser-known synonym primarily meaning “female virgin.” The reason some have complained about this word being in the Spanish Bible is that deep down the list of possible definitions for the word doncella in a typical large dictionary, terms appear that may imply virginity, but do not guarantee it. In case any reader is still concerned about the utilization of doncella in the Spanish Bible, it should be noted that every time the virgin birth of Christ is involved, only the Spanish word virgen is used in the Reina-Valera.

Esclavo

Some have expressed their dislike for the use of esclavo (slave) in the Spanish Bible, especially when referring to a Christian. Some have not liked the use of esclavo in 1 Cor. 7:22, where the English Bible has “servant.” It should be noted that the underlying Greek word in 1 Cor. 7:22 (doulos) was translated “bondman” in Rev. 6:15 in the English Bible. The context should also be noted, where the following verse (1 Cor. 7:23) assures us: “Ye are bought with a price.” 1 Cor. 6:20 repeats this, and reminds us that we are not our own; we belong to God. In that sense of the word, we are His “slave” because we have been bought. But we are not just any slave. As a child of the King, we will have an eternal inheritance. It is a paradox of sorts. This is well illustrated in Gal. 4:7: “Wherefore thou art no more a servant [siervo in Spanish Bible], but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Notice Strong’s Concordance definition for the underlying Greek word:

G1401

δοῦλος

doulos

doo’-los

From G1210; a slave (literally or figuratively, involuntarily or voluntarily; frequently therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviency): – bond (-man), servant.

Hades

See Why the word hell appears less often in the common Spanish Bible compared to the KJV.

Justicia

As for justicia, it is a perfectly legitimate translation. You can look at any English-Spanish dictionary and you will see justicia under the definition for “righteousness.” There is one other Spanish term that signifies righteousness: Rectitud. Rectitud is used 26 times in the Reina-Valera 1960, along with its derivative recto (76 times), and rectos (44 times).

Some may argue that the English word “justice” doesn’t carry the same meaning as “righteousness.” But justicia is a Spanish word, and just because it sounds like the English “justice,” and is spelled similar, it doesn’t mean it carries the exact same definition and connotations as it would in English. There are a lot of words in Spanish that sound like an English word, but the meaning in Spanish may be very distant. The Spanish word molestar is a case in point. A lot of people learning Spanish suppose it means “to molest,” but in Spanish it simply means “to bother.” Many who are learning Spanish think that soportar means “to support,” but it really means to endure (when referring to people—when referring to objects it can mean “to hold up”).

Mi mujer

Based on the phrase mi mujer in the Spanish Bible, one writer promoting the RVG made the sensational claim: “All Spanish Bibles (1602, 1865, 1909, 1960) degrade marriage.” He made this provocative statement because often the phrase mi mujer (literally “my woman”) is used as “wife” in the Spanish Bible. This may sound strange to English speakers, but in the Spanish language and culture (at least in most areas) mi mujer is a proper and common expression for “my wife.” I grew up in South America speaking Spanish since I was two years old, and the expression mi mujer for “wife” does not come across as strange to me in Spanish, as I was used to hearing it while growing up, even among Christians. The respected dictionary of the Real Academia Española includes “casada, con relación al marido” (married, in relation to her husband) in its definition of mujer. Although mi mujer for wife may seem awkward to Americans, we have no right to straighten out their language, any more than Spanish-speakers have no right to straighten out our language. Missionaries are not on the mission field to Americanize people nor change their customs and language (when they are not sinful).

The same writer who stated that all Spanish Bible degrade marriage, asked his English-speaking readers in his article how they would feel if he introduced his wife in a church as “my woman.” The only problem with that rhetorical question is that “my woman” in English is not a common designation for “wife” in America. Yet, as demonstrated in the previous paragraph, mujer can often mean wife in Spanish depending on the context according to the dictionary, and it is in common use in Latin America even among Christians.

Ojalá

There are three reasons that I believe the use of ojalá is proper:

1. Ojalá is an established Spanish word. The primary concern should be its Spanish definition. The Real Academia Española (RAE) dictionary defines it as follows: “Denota vivo deseo de que suceda algo.” As defined in the dictionary and as commonly used in the Spanish culture, it is a secular word with no religious undertones.

2. When law šá lláh is translated from Arabic to Spanish, it is si Dios quiere according to RAE. Allah is not even mentioned when translated. It is my understanding that Allah in Arabic can mean any god, whether Mohammed or the god of any other religion (please correct me if I’m wrong—I don’t want to inadvertently spread false information).

3. It has been considered a legitimate translation in Spanish Bibles for hundreds of years. Either oxalá (old spelling) or ojalá has appeared in the 1553 Ferrara Old Testament, Reina’s 1569, Valera’s 1602, 1865, 1909, etc. (I wasn’t able to verify Juan Perez de Pineda’s 1556 NT).

Although in the mind of most Arabics Allah is Mohammed, the term Allah is not of pagan origin. In the Scofield notes, under Genesis 1:1, it states the following:

Elohim, (sometimes El or Elah), English form “God,” the first of the three primary names of Diety, is a uni-plural noun formed from El – strength; or the strong one, and Alah, to swear, to bind oneself by an oath, so implying faithfulness…

Seol

See Why the word hell appears less often in the common Spanish Bible compared to the KJV.

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