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Apostle Brian Simmons and the ‘Secret Knowledge’ Tactic

Brian Simmons headshotBackground: The following post features the fifth and final part of an exchange between me and Apostle Brian Simmons, the translator of a “New Apostolic Reformation” Bible called “The Passion Translation.” See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

The exchange occurred after I wrote a critical review of his translation at Amazon.com (see the discussion thread here and notice that he has since deleted his response to me). I feature our exchange here because it shows the types of illogical argumentation, deception, and poor scholarship that characterize many of the written works produced by leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement.

I want to highlight another tactic used by Apostle Brian Simmons to get people to buy his new Bible, The Passion Translation. I call this tactic “secret knowledge.”

This tactic–used frequently by apostles and prophets in the NAR movement–is the attempt to gain followers by claiming that they possess important spiritual information they alone are privy to.

Simmons  implies he has secret knowledge when he claims he used Aramaic manuscripts to produce his translation, yet does not identify those manuscripts. Nor does he identify the discoveries that supposedly show that the manuscripts he used are the earliest manuscripts. Thus–by appealing to obscure, unnamed manuscripts–he is essentially claiming that he alone has knowledge of what the earliest manuscripts of the Bible said.

Yet, interestingly–when I challenged him on the soundness of using Aramaic manuscripts–he initially downplayed his dependence on the Aramaic. But he didn’t downplay it for long. Notice how he quickly turned around and continued to argue for the Aramaic.

Here’s what I said that started our exchange.

In the introduction to this book, Simmons admits that much of his translation is based on Aramaic manuscripts of the New Testament rather than Greek manuscripts. The problem with basing a translation on Aramaic manuscripts is that the earliest Aramaic manuscripts are from the fifth century. Thus, he has not based his translation on the earliest and most reliable manuscripts, which date centuries earlier. In contrast to Simmons’ translation of the New Testament, the standard English translations are based on much earlier and more reliable Greek manuscripts.

And here’s how Simmons responded.

Brian Simmons Response 5 resized

 

 

 

And here’s what I said.

Simmons appears to back pedal on comments he made in his “Translators Note” at the beginning of Letters From Heaven by the Apostle Paul. In this note, he said, “When there is a vast difference in meaning, many times I have resorted to using the Aramaic alternative.”

He also indicated that new discoveries are showing that the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic, not Greek. He said:

“Many new discoveries are being made regarding the original documents and manuscripts that have been compiled to form our Bible, especially the Aramaic manuscripts of the New Testament. … For centuries, it has been believed that the New Testament was first written in Greek. … Some scholars now lean increasingly towards the thought that Aramaic and Hebrew texts of the New Testament are the original manuscripts, and that many of the Greek texts are copies, and a second generation from the originals! This is radically changing translation concepts, and will result in many new translations of the New Testament based on Aramaic.”

I find it very curious that after making so much of the Aramaic manuscripts in his introduction, Simmons then downplayed his dependence on the Aramaic manuscripts in his response to my review.

I also feel the need to comment on Simmons’ statement that “Jesus spoke Aramaic and every one of his teachings have been translated into the Greek.” This statement seems to reflect a confusion on his part about how the New Testament was produced. While Jesus may well have spoken Aramaic, the manuscript evidence indicates that all the New Testament books–including Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels–were originally written in Greek. Thus, the relevant question is not what language Jesus spoke, but what language the New Testament was written in.

In short, it seems–from his back pedaling–that Simmons recognizes the weakness of the Aramaic manuscripts. But he is unwilling to give up defending them because they are the source he appeals to for the “secret knowledge” that gives his translation the edge.

– By Holly Pivec

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12 Responses to “Apostle Brian Simmons and the ‘Secret Knowledge’ Tactic”

  1. ali Says:

    Reading ”new revelation” or “secret knowledge”  should alert all discerning to falsehood and error.

    As Solomon said:  What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

    As God said:  Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish [ought] from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

  2. M. K. Says:

    gnosis, secret knowledge. The attitude is “I know something you don’t, and it gives me power.”

    Of course the next part is “pay me admission to this upcoming conference and for that entry fee I will SHARE this secret with you.”

    In this case it’s this guys “translation”.

    The more things change the more they stay the same.

    Critical Issues Commentary by Bob DeWaay has a 3 part set of articles on gnostic heresy in the Colossian church in Issues 69, 70 and 71 in which he is discussing the particulars of how Rick Joyner and others like him fit right into the Colossian heresy.

    Bob draws a great deal from Clinton Arnold’s book The Colossian Syncretism.

  3. Austin Hellier Says:

    Holly,
    Brian Simmons presents as ‘the grandfather that you never had’ and so there’s a natural appeal to believe him – he portrays a smiling and trustworthy ‘father figure’ and so many young people will simply follow his lead, based on a natural appeal, and not on actually being a ‘Berean’. 

    I have studied Bible translations enough to satisfy myself as to the authenticity of the Received Text, the Masoretic and the Majority Texts, which have been used for hundreds of years in Western translation works, from Wycliffe down to the Wesley’s and beyond.

    A popular paraphrase amongst the younger yuppies in churches Downunder today, is “The Message” (which I have dubbed “The Massage” as it tends to massage one’s ego, without actually bringing much in the way of conviction or confirmation.)

    I believe that anyone who introduces a new translation without a proper need or a right motive, could be doing it for similar reasons to some of the cults – change the ‘Bible’ – change the perception of God – change the basic foundational beliefs and you’ve got a whole new movement that depends on YOU for a correct interpretation of the new book, so that they can’t be guided by the Holy Spirit in their personal study. Very cunning!

    Austin Hellier
    Downunder

  4. Drue Mc Laughlin Says:

    Never heard of nar until recently and found amoung many this website.Holly your efforts are appreciated! I have a close friend who is head first into a  Bethel church in Victoria and have been auddeny awakened to the apostacy afoot amougst the evengelical\charismatic churches via these teachings and doctrine.The more I dig the more alarm I see for our biblical and orthodox future! When do your books appear?
            I thought I would check out this guys translation of the bible ,being a lover of the truth!  what a wacker! I actually expected better ..and read his intro on amazon to Galations..Apart from the obvious paraphrasing(it makes the NLT look like a direct translation) he has footnotes in Galations to Aramaic…what a clown! one may seek to argue that a gospel was written in Aramaic, which is historical idiocy! but to use an aramaic translation as reference for the origonal greek of Pauls letters! He must be writing for the brain dead!The JW bible is doctrinally faulty(Heretical) but this garbage is in another league,strait into new age claptrap, he has Paul saying,”I pray over you a release of the blessings of God” how skewed is that! To the Lord he will unveil the idiocy and deceitfullness of these wretched people and their false doctrines..I thought the Tod Bently fiasco would have tempered these people but their shame shows no end!

  5. Tim T. D. Says:

    If God told you to translate the old Bible to a New Passion Bible. It must be free for me to download, why selling it???? since God wants everyone to read it.

  6. ernie Says:

    Let both grow together until the harvest:

  7. Chaim BENTORAH Says:

    I so appreciate your study on the Passion Bible. I have spent forty years studying and teaching Hebrew and Aramaic. It is not true that scholars are leaning toward a belief that the New Testament was written in Aramaic.  The evidence is only getting stronger it was written in Greek. We do have some Aramaic fragments dating to 150 AD but these are not reliable.  Our only really reliable source of the New Testament in Aramaic is the Pershitta which is really a translation from the Greek. 

    I do value a study of the Aramaic in the New Testament to assist in understanding the cultural and historical context of the New Testament as well as to add an emotional context, but as I told one pastor today, the Greek text will always trump the Aramaic text.  My kid brother is the director of the Pacific region for Wycliffe Bible Translators and a linguistical consultant and former  instructor in linguistics at Moody Bible Insititue.  He has shown me the need to follow sound linguistic procedures in any Bible translation and unless Apostle Simmons has a trained linguist watching his back I would put little value in the accuracy of any translation.  I also studied under Dr. Kalland while he was on the executive committee for the translation of the NIV who introduced me to the inner workings of the translation process and I can honestly say I would not trust any translation that did not have a team of scholars from a cross section of Christianity as well as a team of trained lingusts.  Translation work from ancient dead languages is far more complex than most people realize. 

    All Apostle Simmons can hope to accomplish is what I do on my blog and that is use the original languages to sermonize and write cute little studies and I challenge him to admit what I admit, I am just one person who has had a personal experience with Jesus and that experience is strongly reflected in my personal translations and should never be used for more than a launching pad to meditate on the Word of God.  Although I have academic creditals including a PhD in Biblical Archeaology I would never dare admit that my translation of a passage is superior to any other translation.  No matter how hard I try, I still read my own personal bias and prejudice in a translation and I need to have anything I write subjected to peer evaluation and criticism.

  8. Judith Desjardins Says:

    Brian Simmons is not qualified to translate the Bible. his assistants are his wife and another person, not scholars, at all. I was a member of his church. I know him. when I heard Brian say in a meeting that scholars are turning to the Aramaic, it didn’t sound right. I researched on the internet and found Holly’s Blog. Thank you Chaim for setting the record straight.

  9. Robert Says:

    Glory to God most High
    My wife & I were invited by a lady who said she is a minister & obvious follower helping to promote Brian Simmonds Passion book, as the meeting started in worship my wife & called Holy Spirit to show us what type of meeting this is & what involved ,shortly after they started to what they call (prophecy)over people. As I stayed in the spirit as she spoke & oviously had no Bible knowledge of scripture immediiatly Holy Spirit told me apostesy,but hold on now two nights before, 3am awakened   as Holy Spirit told me to come & pray/worship Him in the spirit & in the truth did so & @ the end of an hour & a bit He gave me two words {false prophets} I had no idea who or where accepted what was told to me in obedience & went back to bed. Now back to this meeting, if you do not know what it ito quench the Holy Spirit it is a most aweful feeling (smomach turns,cramping)ect. withheld our offering & soon told my wife I’m when you are as we both heard enough.

  10. Felicia Says:

    so what about the King James Version where many original reference’s were changed and re-worded especially regarding The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit moves the way He wants and moves whom he wants absolutely no one could translate about she love of God and His Son unless empowered by the Holy Spirit of the living God. Have you ever stopped to think the message is still the same except it for a different audience the here and now… Really He who is without sin cast the 1st stone. I have every translation of the Bible I put the on the table and as I am reading scripture I compare each verse with the other Translations and the message is the same. I ma seeing a lot of Sadducee’s and Pharisees  amongst others that was against Christ’s teachings they did not want to receive anything new.

  11. Andrew Chapman Says:

    It is not only that Simmons sometimes claims to be translating from the Aramaic rather than the Greek, which is strange enough, most starkly in the case of Paul’s letters to Greek-speaking churches.

    It is also that, very often, when he says he is translating from the Aramaic, he is not actually doing so, as I am detailing in a series of blogs. Notably, on the Sid Roth show on 2 February 2015, he said that the ‘Aramaic text’ of Ephesians 5.22 is:

    ‘Wives be tenderly devoted to your husbands…’ rather than ‘Wives submit yourselves unto your husband’

    But this isn’t true. The Aramaic text says the same as the Greek, as one can easily confirm from the Peshitta Tool at durkhana dot com.

    So where does Simmons get this? The answer appears to be that he uses Vic Alexander’s so-called Aramaic Bible, which is translated not from the Peshitta necessarily, but from a manuscript which Alexander claims to be written in the ‘Sacred Scribal Language of the Scriptures’. Alexander is also a film-maker who promotes ‘Felliniesque’ film-making, ‘where dreams and reality are perceived as one experience’.

    It seems highly likely, therefore, that parts of the Passion Translation (so-called) have their source in Alexander’s imagination.

    Andrew

  12. Felicia Says:

    First of all the holy spirit will lead us to discern certain things how do you or anyone actually you know in which form what was written. Brian Simmons is bringing a lot of people to reading the Bible many of us and to be technical even the King James version have deleted original words. Truth be told it is all still in the same context you were not born and raised 2000 years ago nor any of us that there is the holy spirit’s leading and there is something wrong with you that you keep attacking this man Georgy not or you will be judged in that same manner I could see if his Works were false and hypocrisy but they are not they are worded differently just like there are new words added to the dictionary almost daily I am now unsubscribing to your site

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