Bible Versions: A Position Paper
By Brian K. Kautz
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find [it]. Amos 8:11-12
The discussion over bible versions is an emotionally charged issue. It can raise walls faster than they fell at Jericho. This paper is not an attempt to raise any walls, but to explain why I feel as I do on this issue. There is no malicious intent. I do not question the sincerity of those who disagree, although I believe that they are incorrect. I am also not calling into question anyone's salvation or spirituality, those are personal matters between the reader and the one, true God. It should be noted that throughout most of this paper the Hebrew manuscripts are not mentioned as much as the Greek. This is because the major point of difference is in the Greek Texts.
A phenomenon began in the 1960's. By the 1970's the centuries old standard of truth was "taking it on the chin" by newcomers. The great bible version wars had begun. The rash of new, "modern" English versions began around 1880 with Westcott and Hort's new Greek text and the Revised Version Committee of which they were prominent members. Acceptance was low and only occasional skirmishes prevailed in the United States until this time. Suddenly advertisements began touting the "more accurate" versions for the "serious student." The more liberal churches seemed to join the new crowd the fastest. Eventually the fundamental groups also accepted newer texts. Conservative Baptists, particularly independent Baptists, were some of the last to move. Few churches, independent or denominational, remain that adhere exclusively to the old standard. Proponents of the KJV only position are viewed as pariahs. What should we make of all of this? Is it significant? I endeavor to explore this and more. The intent of this paper is not to present the many hundreds of altered verses, or list their kind and category. This work has already been done by many others, who are much more able than I. What I do intend to present are my thoughts regarding the data already presented so well by others.
Doctrine or Conviction
This is an important issue. Is the version of the Bible you read a doctrinal issue or one of conviction? If it is doctrinal, then there is a right and a wrong side and the matter applies to the whole body. If it is a conviction, it is the way the Holy Spirit has personally impressed an individual, but it may not apply to the body as a whole. The Holy Spirit may indeed impress certain individuals to behave in a certain manner, and for them it would be sin not to ("...for whatsoever [is] not of faith is sin." Romans 14:23c). That is a conviction.
The Bible Version debate centers around the Word of God. What is and what is not the Word of God? Since "...faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17), knowing what is, and is not, His Word is extremely important. It is a matter of spiritual life and death. Psalm 12 tells us that the "words of the Lord are pure words" and that God will "preserve them from this generation for ever". I believe this is literal truth. I believe that God inspired the scripture writers and that the exact words of the Lord were preserved for all generations from the recording of the same, until this day. Nothing has been hidden, nothing will be uncovered because God divinely, as he promised, preserved his Word for all generations because he is willing that none perish (2 Peter 3:9). God is also no respecter of persons (Col 3:25). To allow some generations only corrupted or incomplete scriptures would be a form of cruelty, affecting their ability to have faith through hearing the Word of God.
I believe the following discourse will show that the bible version debate is a doctrinal issue, because the propagators of the new versions deny God's supernatural preservation of the scriptures. In his book attacking fundamentalism, James Barr says: "Once the unique primacy of the Authorized Version has gone, the implication is that there can be many translations. Less and less can any English form of words be taken as a direct transcript of the mind of God. More and more must the question be put, what can we know of the mind of the author that can decide the questions of interpretation? For, once the idea has been lost that the Authorized Version is the direct transcript of the mind of God, it will be found that even the Greek or Hebrew text cannot be taken as the direct transcript of the mind of God either. Thus the change of attitude to the English translations in the last decade or so may typify and be proleptic of a yet greater shift of emphasis in conservative faith." (Fundamentalism, 1978, James Barr, Page 212 - emphasis mine)
A Little Background
Most people are told that modern versions are merely the Holy Bible in updated English. People assume that they are basically the KJV with out the thee's, thou's, ye's and yea's. But there is more, and most people don't know it.
All new bible versions are based on the foundational work (although not all are based on their actual Greek Text) of two men, Wescott and Hort. These men were clergy in the Church of England and sought to reconstruct a Greek text to the Bible. They believed that the KJV was flawed and they directly sought to change it. They produced a New Greek Text, which became the foundational work for all new bible versions, including the misnamed New King James bible.
What they constructed was really nothing new. Since the time of Paul, people were corrupting scriptures (II Cor 2:17). The chief enemies of the scriptures were the gnostics in Alexandria, Egypt. In a very rough and much paraphrased form, it can be said that soon there were two basic sets of manuscripts. Out of Antioch came what was to become the Textus Receptus. (The term Textus Receptus, or Received Text, comes from the 1633 edition of the Greek Text which says in Latin "The text which is now received by all" without either alteration or corruption. The term is now generally applied to the Greek texts underlying the KJV and the earliest printed editions of the Greek texts - [History of the Bible in English, 1978, F.F. Bruce, Pages 127-128]) Out of Alexandria, and on to Rome, came the Roman Catholic manuscripts.
From day one the Catholic hierarchy sought to destroy the followers of any text but their own. Groups throughout history, and well before the Protestant Reformation, defied the Papal system and studied what they believed were the preserved words of God. For this they were persecuted, tortured and killed in manners which will not be discussed in this forum.
When the Reformation came, each and every group that left the Catholic Church (of which I am aware) turned immediately to the Textus Receptus and threw away their Catholic bibles. Did all of the reformers act out of spite? Or was there a spiritual reason for this move? I believe it was spiritual.
Catholicism was and is the avowed enemy of any Bible based on the Textus Receptus. It was placed on their forbidden book list and remains there, as far as I know. Ironically, the Textus Receptus, was compiled from the Antiochian manuscripts by a Catholic named Erasmus. It was first published as such in 1516. This compilation was unique only in that it pulled together in one place all of the manuscripts already being used by bible believing Christians. Erasmus believed that the Bible was God's Word.
Like the Roman Catholic Church, Westcott and Hort did not like the Textus Receptus. When they went to reconstruct a new Greek text, the two biggest documents that affected their changes to the TR were the Vaticanus and Sinaticus - two Roman Catholic documents. These manuscripts contain thousands of variant readings from the TR. Unfortunately, for the revisers, they hardly agree with each other. Nonetheless, our "biblical scholars" picked and chose the readings they would use in their new text. Writing about the Revised Version Committee and Westcott and Hort's New Greek Text, F.F. Bruce says:
"...Westcott and Hort ... ardently espoused the claims of the two great uncial manuscripts, the Vatican and Sinatic codices, to reproduce the original text in as pure a state as could be attained."
"... the text of the two great codices did not seem to them (Westcott and Hort) to stray from what they believed to be the norm ..."
They (Westcott and Hort) placed their critical work (New Greek Text) at the disposal of their colleagues on the revision company, and to a very large degree their findings on the text were approved by the majority ..." (All three quotes from History of the Bible in English, pp.139). Many of the thousands of additions, deletions and changes exist in only one or a handful of extant manuscripts. These men decided which were most reliable for their new manuscript. Out of this, the New Greek Text was born. Its research has been used to change your bible.
Spiritual or Spiritualist
But what of these bold men who would uncover the truth of God's Holy Word. They were clergy of the Church of England. Well learned men of the best schooling and upon this they rested their ability to reconstruct God's Word for us, since it was not accurately in English print. Westcott and Hort were not holy men. They were spiritualists. While they were working on their text of a lifetime, a text that would change English and American Protestantism, they were busy conjuring spirits. Westcott and Hort were college buddies who founded the Ghostly Guild. This group studied paranormal phenomena. A favorite pastime was to talk to dead spirits. They never left this "hobby." Westcott and Hort both retained ties throughout their lives with spiritualist groups. Some of the groups they founded grew to become the foundation for our modern "New Age" movement. Hence the calling of the new bible versions, by some, as New Age Versions. Westcott and Hort, two men you would never, ever let into your pulpit now lurk in the recesses of your bible.
Creationism vs. Intellectualism
Much has been written and said of the Christians who accept evolutionary theory, in spite of God's obvious Word on creation. It is said that they have bowed down to the intellectuals. Scientists intimidate them with "finds" and the Christians who are intimidated cower and twist the scriptures to fit new teachings. Until Darwin's theory was published, no one thought the seven days of creation were ages, eons, or allegorical. All Jews and Christians accepted the words as they were: six days of literal creation and one day of rest. God used this for an example in Exodus when instituting the Sabbath (Exodus 20:11). The Holy Spirit apparently never whispered to anyone in the thousands of previous years that true meaning was ages, eons, or etc.
Clearly God meant what He said. Clearly those who say otherwise are doctrinally in error. They weaken the faith by casting doubt upon God's Word and caving in to the intellectuals of the world. The same case can be made against modern versionists. They have been duped into believing that these new versions are updates of language only, but they are not. They are alterations to God's Word. Modern versionists have placed their faith in linguists with PhD's who have dubious spiritual backgrounds. These "experts", starting with Westcott and Hort, take the work of the Holy Spirit into their own hands. They believe that the bible has not been accurately preserved. Hence they search out the latest scrap of paper, looking for older and older manuscripts with which they may alter their new Greek texts.
The state of modern Greek texts is in flux. Ever since Westcott and Hort's groundbreaking work the text has been altered. New "oldest" manuscripts are found (much like the "new" discoveries scientists make to confirm evolution) year after year and "experts" sift and discuss their relevance. They determine if the new information changes the text. God no longer preserves His Word. A band of men must do the work for our weak God. The popular NIV bible is already hopelessly outdated, based on its own underlying new Greek text (Nestle/Aland). In fact many variant readings in the text underlying the NIV have reverted back to the KJV rendering since its publication. F.F. Bruce points out that "at the present time (1978)" scholars agree with the underlying Greek text to the NIV, but, as this wishy-washy quote implies, it will (and did) change. (History of the Bible in English, p 266)
Standard or Moving Target
The Holy Bible is no longer a standard, it is a moving target. New modern versions are being created all of the time. Each are sold as the "most accurate" based on the newest Greek text available from the scholars of the day. Unfortunately, the Greek texts keep changing.
Once upon a time, lost and saved knew where to turn for the true Word of God. I read in a book about the great evangelists in the 1800's and how everyone revered the Word. Even the tough characters that wanted nothing to do with God, at least knew where to find him if they wanted. Today, even our ministers don't know. Polls show that shockingly many protestant preachers no longer believe in the infallibility of God's Word. How can they, when modern seminaries teach them that the new versions are "more accurate", which is a statement that presumes that the KJV is "less accurate". If it is not 100% accurate, then God never bothered to preserve His complete Word anywhere in English, in fact He did not even bother to preserve it in the original tongues.
Bruce M. Metzger sums it all up for the new versionists in the title of his 1964 work, "The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration". In the preface to his book he defends the practice of textual criticism (whereby scholars look at manuscripts and decide what stays, goes or is added to the ever-changing new Greek Texts) by stating: "The necessity of applying textual criticism to the books of the New Testament arises from two circumstances: (a) none of the original documents is extant, and (b) the existing copies differ from one another." Professor Metzger is correct in his two statements - no original documents exist and some manuscripts do differ. The reviser's response to this truth is different from mine though. The revisers see this "evidence" and claim that they must reconstruct the original by scholarly means. I propose that God, through the Holy Spirit, miraculously preserved His Word. Professor Metzger also fails to state that the differing manuscripts are far in the minority. They obviously result from corruption in Paul's time and later as mentioned earlier.
Why would God preserve His Word in English in 1611? Isn't it the English of Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth? No. The Bible dedicated to Queen Elizabeth and used by the playwright was the Geneva Bible. Both famous individuals where dead in 1611. God choose the time when the English language had matured. By this time English was a mature and relatively stable language. The written word of 1611 could be understood by English speaking peoples from then until the end of time.
The language of 1611 was precise. It holds its precision even unto this very day. The same things that many people say are reasons for having modern bibles, are the very reasons they should retain the KJV. The cliche of all objections is the thee's and ye's. With a little effort and study, a bible student will find the value in these over the general word you. If I said "I say unto you, you must be born again", to whom am I referring? Perhaps to a crowd of people, perhaps to one. The KJV English would read, "I say unto thee, ye must be born again." The word thee is singular. We know that the sentence is directed to the person to whom he is speaking. But the latter part of the sentence starts with ye, which is plural. Now we know that not just one person must be born again. It is directed to all of us, plural. Modern English is not so precise.
Doctors and Lawyers all have their own special language subsets to ensure precision and accuracy. The Holy Spirit has done the same in the English language. In actuality very few archaic words exist in the KJV.
And the few that do can be easily found in a dictionary. Isn't it worth a minute in a dictionary now and then to hear what the Holy Spirit has to say?
Reverend D. A. Waite, ThD, PhD and Director of the Bible for Today Incorporated, went to the trouble of examining the 1611 KJV version with our current edition of the KJV. His fascinating facts are as follows: In comparing the versions phonetically (looking for sound differences, not spelling differences), from Genesis to Revelation, he found a total of 421 phonetic changes out of 791,328 words. Only 136 of those 421 were substantial changes involving different words. The remaining 285 were minor changes of word formation. That is a total of 136 substantial word changes out of 791,328 words in almost 400 years. Now that is a standard! Up until the mid-twentieth century, the KJV was almost universal in American Protestantism. At the same time the church and society were much more godly than today. Massive groups of people were not calling out for new English versions. The new versions were foisted upon us by intellectuals. They created the market for their wares, the market did not create the wares. Somehow, the masses were able to understand the KJV - suddenly they are not.
Translation vs. Interpretation
We now know that the new versions are not just English updates. That is a matter of fact. New versions are based on new (and ever changing) Greek texts. The KJV is based on the time honored Textus Receptus and its underlying manuscripts. But what about translation techniques? The word translation means "to bring over". In other words, when one translates he is bringing the words of one language into the words of another. Interpretation, on the other hand, conveys the thought.
Interpretation is higher level of translating. In the case of the bible, a translator would get a Greek word and bring it over as closely as possible. An interpreter would try to bring over the thought - not necessarily the words. The KJV was translated by the finest assortment of men ever assembled for such a task. I encourage all to read about it. The methodology used and the number of fully competent translators used has never been duplicated. Most modern version work is done in secret, many times by secret committees. Some versions have never released the names of their translators (NASB is one). The work on the KJV was public and the men behind it were known. Why new versions must work in secret is unknown.
The NIV makes a big deal about its large team which encompasses many denominations. Other versions have used this approach as well. But in the end, generally only one or a handful of men actually do the work. The rest are editors, not translators. Compare this approach to the meticulous methods employed by the KJV. All new versions are really interpretations of the bible and not translations. They are not as concerned with actual words as they are with the thoughts. If you read the preface to the NIV you will see that stated boldly. It says they were after the thoughts. Bible interpretation is the work of saints, and it can be accepted or rejected. But God's Words are pure and holy. They may not be rejected. I may agree or disagree with an interpretation of a given scripture, but I dare not deny God's Words. The new versions admit to having built in interpretations, if this is so then it contains man's words with God's.
A Mingled Seed
God commanded His people not to sow a mingled seed (Leviticus 19:19). Since scholars are telling us that we can not trust the purity of God's Word, then God's Word must include some of man's word in it. And with interpretation substituting for translation, even more of man's word is in God's Word. How can we keep from sowing a mingled seed? Can God confirm a mingled seed?
Our Precious Lord Jesus Christ
Nothing is more precious than the deity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If He was not God, then we are yet in our sins and we will all go to Hell. For some reason, all of these new and "more accurate" versions attack the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. The words Lord and Christ are removed over and over. John Anwyll of Lemoyne, PA counted over 100 instances where the lordship or the deity of Jesus Christ is reduced or removed. Why does the move toward "accuracy" always diminish our Lord?
The deceptively named New King James Version Greek text) "translates" the exact same Greek word as son and servant (and it can mean either). When dealing with Jesus it translates the word as servant of God (with a footnote saying that it may be son), but when dealing with a man, he has a son, not a servant (and no footnote saying it may be servant). This is a blatant attack upon our Lord. Either translate the word consistently or footnote consistently. We must contend earnestly for the faith, but the enemy must destroy Jesus. The one world church which will be built and will usher in the antichrist, will only be able to be formed on a Christ-less bible, a bible that ravages the deity of Jesus.
In keeping with the stated purpose of this paper, I will not list examples of the many cases where our Lord is attacked. I refer all readers to other fine works on the subject which would present the verses much better than I.
If all versions are God's Word, then we would expect to find them in agreement. They should just use more modern "hip" language while conveying the same message. Let's look at a few scriptures side by side. I will compare the KJV to the NIV since it seems to be the most popular and most promoted new version.
2nd Peter 1:20 "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation" (KJV).
2nd Peter 1:20 "Above all you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation" (NIV).
Here we change what some interperate as a blanket prohibition against private interpretation of the Scriptures and turn it into a statement about the prophet's mind set and motivation exclusively. There is no prohibition on private interpretations. These verses say two different things. Does God or does He not prohibit private interpretations of scripture? It depends what version you read.
Galatians 5:12 "I would they were even cut off which trouble you" (KJV)
Galatians 5:12 "As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!" (NIV)
Is this the same? In the KJV, Paul says that the legalistic trouble makers should be cut off. This is an easy phrase for any non-scholar to understand, it is used often, and means that they should be disassociated. The NIV rendering has Paul cursing the legalists and wishing they would cut off their genitals. Is this a thought from Christ through Paul? Is this a Christ-like example? These verses say two different things. Would Paul wish for the legalists to mutilate themselves, or that they were separated from the believers until they changed their minds? It depends what version you read.
Colossians 1:14 "In whom we have redemption through His blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins" (KJV)
Colossians 1:14 "in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (NIV)
Unfortunately modern English readers don't understand that nasty word blood, so we will just strike it out of the text. It is not important anyway, is it? In the defense of the NIV they do retain most references to the word blood, but why not here in such an important context? I examined all New Testament blood references in the KJV to the Today's English Version (TEV) and found all relating to Christ's redemptive blood were missing. In other contexts the word was ok, but not when dealing with His sacrifice. I may be out of touch with modern reality, but doesn't everyone know what the word blood means?
Luke 23:42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. (KJV)
Luke 23:42 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." (NIV)
In both versions this is followed by Christ assuring the thief that he would be in Paradise that day with Him. But wait! Where is the thief's profession of faith in the NIV? It does not exist. In the NIV this particular thief gets a free ride. Why should he go to be with the Lord and not the other thief? What is going on? If you look at the KJV the issue is clear, the thief called upon the name of the Lord and was saved. He called Jesus his Lord. He recognized Him as Lord and Savior.
I have mentioned this verse to Mormons and Catholics in defense of our position that one need not be baptized in water to go to heaven. The Mormon said the thief was baptized in his death and the Catholic said this guy did not go to heaven - he went to paradise and stayed there. Without the word Lord, we are defenseless and can not say why this thief should go to heaven. Without the word Lord, this verse could help prove universal salvation.
1st John 5:7-8 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. (KJV)
1st John 5:7-8 For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in
In the KJV, we find one of the clearest evidences of the Trinity in the scriptures. It is torn from the pages of the NIV and suggested in the footnotes that it was added to the scriptures in the 1500s. (F.F. Bruce says the verse was added by the Spaniard Priscillian before his execution for heresy [by the Catholic Church] in 385 A.D. - History of the Bible in English, p 141) These verses are drastically different. Clearly one is wrong and the other is correct. If the NIV is correct, then the KJV is in error and should be discarded as corrupted. If the KJV is correct, then the NIV is guilty of removing parts of God's Word - a serious offense.
Which is the True Word of God?
I will only expound on one more of many possible examples. This one is near and dear to me because it cemented my opinion on this entire subject. When I found this difference during my personal study time, I was angered at what they had done to the scriptures. There is a very good and beautiful portion of scripture which clearly illustrates the steps to salvation in a nut shell. I have read them to people before to demonstrate what I believe. I am referring to Phillip and the Eunuch. In Acts 8:26-40 the conversion of the eunuch is related. Phillip is led by the Spirit and approaches a man reading Isaiah in his chariot. Phillip explains the message of the Gospel to the man. He immediately asks: Why shouldn't I be baptized? (NIV). In the NIV the chariot is stopped at once and the eunuch baptized. Missing in the account is verse 37 (KJV) where it is stated: And Phillip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
This powerful profession of faith is no longer needed (in the new versions) for one to be baptized. Baptism itself leads to salvation. Why should this verse be stripped from my bible? Did generations of English reading believers err in their reading and interpretation of this encounter? F.F. Bruce says, "This (Acts 8:37) represents an attempt to bring the Ethiopian's baptism into line with what soon became regular church procedure ..." (History of the Bible in English p 195 - emphasis mine). Again the two bibles are not the same. They convey different meanings. Either God is double minded or one of them is wrong. The one that is wrong is not the whole and complete Word of God.
Footnotes, Footnotes, Footnotes
The new versions are filled with impressive footnotes referencing manuscript evidence and the ever popular "ancient witnesses" (who are never named). What are the footnotes for, what do they accomplish? Plain and simple, they call into question the Word of God. When a scholar blocks off a portion of Scripture or footnotes it with "Some late Manuscripts", "some manuscripts", et cetera, he is placing doubt on that scripture. How am I, a simple believer, to interpret John 7:53-8:11? In the NIV and most new versions it is bracketed off, caged like some evil wild animal with a warning posted on the bars:
"The earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53-8:11"
What does that mean? Are these scholars telling me it is or is not scripture? Should I believe it? Should I throw it out? Should my Pastor be allowed to preach from these sections of scripture? Clearly this type of handling of the Scriptures promotes disharmony and disbelief.
Mark 16:9-20 has a similar warning plastered before it:
"The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20."
I ask the same questions again. And, if these scholars who compiled these new versions believe that only unreliable early manuscripts and late manuscripts contain these verses, then why are they
maintained? Are they afraid of the uproar if they just blatantly remove them? Probably so. The bible revisers follow a cowardly path of casting doubt in one version, footnoting in another, and then
removing without notation. In future, more accurate, modern bibles, you will find many of these sections missing.
[It should be noted that Irenaeus quoted from the these late, corrupted verses of Mark in about 150 AD, the "superior", "most reliable" manuscripts date from 350 to 375 AD. What time machine did Irenaeus use to discover the corruptions 150 years in advance?]
The rallying cry against the KJV proponents is that they disrupt unity. This is foolishness. There was unity in churches before the version controversy. People were not begging for new versions to understand the bible better. Scholars wanted to build a better bible based on their scholarly studies, and then foisted them upon the public as updated English versions.
I remember, fondly, as a child the congregational readings directly from the Word of God. It was a powerful way to impart the Word to the whole congregation. It ensured that their thoughts were with the Pastor as all eyes scanned the word and read them in unison. Try it today and the result would be a mess. Everyone has their own version, each with its own interpretation of the scriptures. I sat in a bible study once where the leader was teaching from the KJV (although a proponent of new versions). We got to Romans 8:1. He read the verse half way and asked for whom there is no condemnation. The answer was the second half of the verse, those who walk after the Spirit. He stressed that the second half of the verse was vital to understanding the whole verse. In subsequent examination, I found that the NIV eliminates the second half of the verse. If I was an NIV reader, what should I have made of that
leader's statement? He must have been wrong, because that last part of the verse is no longer considered part of God's Word.
The first deception in this world came about because Satan questioned God's Word. In Genesis 3:1 he said, "Yea. Hath God said...". Hey Eve, did God really say what you thought He said? Eve, I've got some archeological research that says ...
Unity is not enhanced by modern versions and KJV proponents are not the cause of disharmony. The cause is the agent of change and that agent of change was and is the new versions which are being constantly created and updated. New versions have created disharmony and confusion in the church.
A Spiritual Book
The Holy Bible is God's Word. It is a spiritual book. God intends for it to be understood. If we read it prayerfully, seeking God's wisdom and the Holy Spirit's divine guidance, we will understand it. God has preserved His Word in understandable, intelligible English. He has preserved it in the language of the Holy Spirit in English in the KJV. English speaking peoples around the globe can understand it easily, especially with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Reading the bible is not like reading a how-to-manual. A common book is the word of man. It does not come with its own spiritual interpreter and helper. The true Holy Bible does. People will cry, but I know of people who have been saved through new versions! They must be ok. Well people have been saved through many mediums: television, tracts, pamphlets, etc. Just because something contains the Word of God, it does not mean that it is entirely the Word of God. I believe new versions do contain the Word of God, but in a mingled state.
Many are fond to point out that one can be saved out of the Jehovah's Witnesses by their own bible (NWT). This is true, but who would recommend that they continue to learn from it? In fact the NIV is more closely related to the New World Translation (NWT) than the KJV. Just because something has enough true scripture in it to save, it is not a reason to continue using it for study. If I was saved from a Chick tract, should I use it as my bible henceforth? It is interesting to note that three of the largest "Christian" opposes of the KJV are the Mormons, Roman Catholics, and Jehovah's Witnesses. Most bible-based believers will admit that these three groups do not preach salvation solely through the completed work of Jesus Christ. Since the Bible is a spiritual book it will, by the Holy Spirit, convict people of doctrinal errors. The Catholics have long since followed the Alexandrian manuscripts to avoid this conviction. The Jehovah's Witnesses are famous for their NIV-like New World Translation, which raises the ire of fundamentalists even though they use the NIV, NASB, NRSV, NKJV, etc.
But the Mormons always stumped me. Everyone (including themselves) says they use the KJV. It did not add up to me, how could they use this spiritual book and not have more Mormons falling away from the false faith by the power of the Holy Spirit? As it turns out, the Mormons use a kind of KJV called the "Inspired Revision of the Authorized Version (By Joseph Smith, Junior) A New Corrected Edition, 1944". Mormon history says that when Smith received his magic glasses and the Book of Mormon gold plates, he also received corrections to the KJV (A.K.A. the Authorized Version). The Book of Mormon says, "For behold, they have taken away, from the gospel of the Lamb, many parts which are plain and most precious." Joseph Smith was to correct this. For some reason Smith kept his revision secret. He died in 1844 and his wife finally gave it to the Mormon organization which published it in 1866. Unfortunately Smith's new "divine" additions had some problems and the new "Inspired Revision" came out in 1944. When you set out to change God's Word, it seems you just can't stop.
After writing the first version of this paper, I decided that it was time to give the other side a chance. To be honest, all of the books I had read on the subject of versions were written by KJV proponents. I set out to find a scholarly book by a new versionist. I found "The Bible In The Making" by Geddes MacGregor, a Scottish clergyman who worked in some capacity with the RSV committee. He is a theologian with a Doctor of Divinity and a writer of at least 10 books on religious/theological subjects. His book traced the making of the bible throughout the centuries, highlighting important works and the people behind them. He spent about four chapters on the background and efforts of the King James Version. He confirmed many of the facts related in the pro-KJV books about the quality of the KJV translation. Although he lauded their work, MacGregor admitted that it needed replaced because of the corrupt manuscripts upon which the KJV was based.
"Their [Westcott and Hort] Greek text varied from the 'received text' in nearly six thousand instances. This text was of great importance to the revisers. The King James translators had had nothing better than Beza's Greek text, which had been printed in 1598 and, being largely based on the text of Erasmus, was fairly good in its way, yet dependent on late and corrupt medieval manuscripts." (Page 210, emphasis mine) F.F. Bruce confirms this opinion as well, "The principle defect of the AV is one for which the translators cannot be held responsible.
In the New Testament especially, the text which they used was an inferior one." (History of the Bible in English, p127)
Furthermore, I have read numerous quotes in pro-KJV books that show the reviser's distain for fundamental Christianity. At the end of the book, MacGregor goes into a tirade against those who oppose his views of the bible. The quote is long, but worthwhile. It seems that the revisers are truly of one heart. "A word should be said here on the subject of what is still called in America-very misleadingly-"fundamentalism." By this is usually meant literalism in the reading of the Bible; that is, the practice of attempting or claiming to attempt to read the Bible as though it contained no figurative language. Since the language of religion is in the nature of the case even more figurative than are most other kinds of language, though all language is figurative to some extent at least, such a claim is absurd. It also betokens a peculiarly non-religious frame of mind. It is true that some people are more literalistic in their thinking than are others: imagination and intelligence are not universal endowments. But to say that a person's thinking is literalistic is to really imply that he has a
block against religious thought, a barrier, indeed against even the beginnings of a religious attitude.
The so-called "fundamentalist" is therefore the most irreligious of men. Not only is the "fundamentalist's" arrogance stupid: it is fundamentally opposed to the indispensable condition required for beginning to understand what religion is all about. All religious men in every age have been in some sense poets, though they have been also much else besides. To undertake to read the Bible literalistically is to make certain of wasting one's time. To read the Bible one need not be
learned, so long as one is humble enough and earnest enough to make use of the helps the learned have so abundantly provided, often out of a profound love of the Scriptures they have studied with unremitting care." (Pages 309-310, emphasis mine)
Let's see, the Bible can not be read literalistically (note the error he makes saying that fundamentalists say there is no figurative writing in the Bible) and anyone who does so is stupid and irreligious. We are also wasting our time! But even more dangerous than this man's name calling is his real view of the Bible. Notice how it is to be read by us "commoners". We must be humble enough to realize that we can not understand the Bible without the helps of more learned men. This is dangerous heresy! We are no longer priests (I Peter 2:5), can no longer hear from the Holy Spirit himself. We less-learned must rely on the interpretations of the intellectual. Where have I heard that before?
In fact, MacGregor writes in his book that the Roman Catholics were correct in their hearts, if not their actions, in their efforts to restrict good Catholics' access to the scriptures. They were only trying to ensure that they received proper interpretation. Notably absent in MacGregor's book was any mention of the work of the Holy Spirit; how can you write about the Word of God and ignore the Holy Spirit? He never speaks of Jesus Christ as his Lord, either. Have you noticed that in new bible versions the word lord, when used for Jesus, is being replaced more and more by Master? The reader may note that Judas is never recorded as calling Jesus his Lord, but he did refer to him as Master (I Corinthians 12:3 - "... no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost."). "The Bible in the Making" was written during the 1950's. During my research for version 3.0 of this paper, I stumbled across a much newer work (1979) by Geddes MacGreggor. Curiously it was titled "Gnosis" and was about Gnostics. In the inner leaf, the publisher's name was given as The Theosophical Society of America - an occult book publisher! MacGreggor is now pushing Gnostic thought, and accusing the early church, particularly Iraneaus, of error in stopping the movement. He is enthralled by the Alexandrian cults and believes that Jesus can only be understood within His Gnostic setting. He calls for a twentieth century reformation of the church along Alexandrian lines. This is not surprising. In majority, the texts used to "correct" the Received Text are Alexandrian in origin. If we accept their perverted versions of the Word, why not emulate them further?
It is my opinion that the reliance on new versions will lead to apostasy. I am not saying that all churches which adopt new versions will be instantly propelled to the gates of Hell. I am saying that in the long term these versions will muddy the purity of the scriptures. Since the versions themselves are sometimes contradictory and since new Greek texts (and bibles based upon them) are continually being churned out, believers will slowly turn to some man-made authority to interpret the scriptures for them. Eventually, this will usher in a new-age, one world, one faith religion. Satan can not deal with the Word of God. He must destroy it to prevail.
The book "New Age Bible Interpretation" by the New Age Press says, "The keys to the deepest mysteries of the Bible have been lost to the warders of popular Christianity since the early centuries of our era. In this new cycle of power and illumination they must be restored to the many. A new phase of Christianity is due for unfoldment." (Vol. IV, Introduction). Amazingly similar to the beliefs of all Bible revisors, who believe that the scriptures were corrupted and that now they are reconstructing it.
A recent article in the Harrisburg Patriot News (Harrisburg, PA) entitled, "Scholar's Radical views may lead to new Bible", discussed how new findings show that only about 20% of the Gospels sayings of Jesus are true. They also have discovered that most of Jesus' healings were of "psychosomatic illnesses." They wish to use their newly found facts to form a council to make a "modern version" of the bible.
Reverend Bill Nelson (Editor of The Fourth, a publication of the Jesus Seminar - the group forming the council and also Adjunct Professor at the Pacific School of Religion) said, "It is a tragic fact that many people worship their Bible rather than God. Their presumed perfection of the Bible's contents forms an idolatry focused on the book rather than the reality of the book." (emphasis mine) The article also states that the group probably will include the Gospel of Thomas in its version because it predates any of the other Gospel accounts. So this is where we are heading. God's Word is arbitrated by man. The book is no longer perfect and preserved as promised in the scriptures themselves. The new versions of the past and the present are only stepping stones to the godless world bible soon to be created.
Of course any "fundamental" Christian who likes new versions scoffs at this point. He thinks, " I would never use such a gross perversion." Well, look back about a hundred years and see the torrents that arose surrounding the new Greek texts of those spiritualists Westcott and Hort. Bible believers of the day said the same thing when they saw how the scriptures were perverted with changes, additions and deletions. But, after enough time and the saturation of our seminaries, new versions finally emerged triumphant. The readers of the bible have been weakened by the new versions and soon they will be ready for the next step. Perhaps the Jesus Seminar's work will be it. If not, it will be something similar. Once you allow man to tamper with God's Word, how can you tell him where to stop? Can you say ok, take out the verse 37 of Acts 8 but retain John 3:16? Can you say go ahead and remove the Lord's encounter with the adulteress, but retain His resurrection? Where do you draw the line?
I urge each and every concerned believer to study this topic, to review the literature and studies of others. But most of all, look at the scriptures. They do differ. Many are similar, but there are many differences (omissions, deletions, changes). Is God a double minded God? If not then only one of the versions can be correct. I urge all readers to seek out that correct text, to study it with the leading of the Holy Spirit, and to hold it dear. God gave us the scriptures so that through them we might be close to Him. The scriptures are God's direct revelation to each and every man.
The scriptures are by their very nature a spiritually divisive entity (Hebrews 4:12). It must be noted that under no circumstance can an individual claim that both new versions and the KJV are the Word of God. All revisers claim that the underlying texts to the KJV are flawed and corrupted, it is their basic premise for using new Greek Texts. If one feels that the new versions are accurate representations of God's Word, then they are compelled to reject the KJV. On the other hand, if one accepts the KJV as the Word of God, then they are compelled to reject the new versions. The two stand on different foundations. The only way one can take the middle ground and say that all versions are the Word of God is to take the position that no underlying Greek text is accurate, and therefore one inaccurate, unpreserved, kind-of, sort-of Word of God is as good as the next.
Any version that detracts from the Sonship, Lordship, Godliness, perfection, or primacy of our one and only Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - I want no part of it. Grace, through faith, in Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. God's Word points us to Christ. It is vitally important.
A Brief Example of 1611 KJV and our Current KJV
The following example is from "The Bible in the Making". It was used by the author to show how most of the changes were to spelling. Remember, MacGregor is a new versionist and I am using his example - so I did not intentionally pull a rare example to prove my case only. The comparison can be found on page 316 of his book.
King James Version 1611 - Hebrews 1:1-4
1 God who at sundry times, and in diuers manners, spake in time past vnto the Fathers by the Prophets,
2 Hath in these last dayes spoken vnto vs by [his] Sonne, whom he hath appointed heire of all things, by whom also he made the worlds,
3 Who being the brightnesse of his glory, and the expresse image of his person, and vpholding all things by the word of his power, when hee had by himselfe purged our sinnes, sate down on ye right hand of the Maiestie on high,
4 Being made so much better then the Angels, as hee hath by nheritance obtained a more excellent Name then they.
King James Version (Present day wording)
1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3 Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995 by Brian K. Kautz
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