Between the Lines: New Bible Versions

Between the Lines: New Bible Versions
By Eddie Eads

When I attended the UPCI Youth Convention in August ’07 I noticed a trend, that many of the most sought-after, national Apostolic speakers are now using the New International Version, the Living Bible, the Revised Standard Version, or any one of the many new versions of the Bible that proliferate year after year. Many wonder what version of the Bible is best, or whether it’s alright to use the new versions as a study aid.

The overwhelming majority of Apostolics have always used the King James Version, at least until more recent times. Some readers of the King James Bible complain that its Shakespearean English is too difficult to understand, and so a translation of the Word into modern language could be beneficial to children, teens, new converts, and many others, right? Let’s look into it to find the truth of the matter. Just as we examine what is in the foods we eat and give to our children, and I would say we’re often more conscious of that, we should look closely at what we are feeding our spiritual selves.

I had never thought much about the subject of new translations of the Bible until I ran across a book in a secondhand store, “New Age Bible Versions: An Exhaustive Documentation Exposing the Message, Men and Manuscripts Moving Mankind to the Antichrist’s One World Religion: The New Case Against the NIV, NASB, NKJV, NRSV, REB, RSV, CEV, TEV(Good News Bible), Living, Phillips, New Jerusalem, and New Century, the Latest Research Supporting the authorized King James Version.” What a title! And it is exhaustively researched, authored by G.A. Riplinger, B.A., M.A., and M.F.A. But while I highly recommend Mr. Riplinger’s book, my purpose is not to sell you his book, or even to get you read it. My purpose, plain and simple, is to warn you that, as Jude says, “there are certain men crept in unawares…ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 4). Do not misunderstand; I am not speaking of our Apostolic people, but of those who have created these books and of what they want to do to the Word of God.

First, let’s look at the people involved in the making of the modern Bible translations. Although there have been many revision committees, most of the new versions of the Bible have been based on the work of B.F. Westcott and F.J.A. Hort, two late nineteenth century English liberals and skeptics. Both held high religious positions, one becoming a religious studies professor at Cambridge University, and the other an Anglican bishop. Their life’s work was the rewriting of the Greek text of the New Testament and translating it into English. Note that they did not simply restate the King James Version’s old English in modern terms, they rewrote the foundation of the gospel, the Greek text itself.

Both of these men, along with many of their colleagues, were Spiritualists, who believed in communing with the dead, holding seances and “channeling” evil spirits. (G.A. Riplinger, New Age Bible Versions Ararat, VA: A.V. Publications Corp. 1993 pp405-7). F.J.A. Hort wrote a letter in which he described his “Ghostly Guild”, which was a group that investigated stories about encounters with “ghosts” or other evil spirits. This club was started at about the same time as his work on the Bible revision, and it was in this same letter that he described the KJV as “villainous”. (The Life and Letters of F.J.A.Hort as cited in New Age Bible Versions p 405). Westcott wrote his book “Religious Thought in the West” between 1866-1883, years in which he was helping to shape the revised version of the Bible. He showcased Plato, Aeschylus, Euripides, Dionysius, and Origen, among others. He stated that by philosophy one can “learn as perhaps he can in no other way what the apostolic message is.” (Religious Thought in the West as cited in New Age Bible Versions p524). His fellow neoplatonist Hort also believed that “Greek philosophy… seems full of precious truths”. (Life of Hort, vol.1 p449). Neither man seems to have read Colossians 2:8, which warns “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” The book “Ancient Empires of the New Age” says of these men, “Once the elite had closed their minds to Biblical revelation, they almost immediately began to fall for every spiritual con game and fringe teaching around.” (Paul de Parrie and Mary Pride, Ancient Empires of the New Age, Westchester IL: Crossway Books 1989 p182).

Other committee members who created further revisions of the Bible based on the Greek text of Westcott and Hort include J.B. Phillips of the “New Testament in Modern English”, a man involved in conjuring the dead, and the NIV’s Virginia Mollenkott. Mollenkott wrote “Sensuous Spirituality”, which lists a “Variety of Methods of Hearing the Spirit”, among them automatic writing through a spirit guide, and divination with Tarot cards. (New Age Bible Versions p442). A Spring 1994 Christianity Today magazine article was titled “The Heart of the Beast”, which described a feminist conference where Mollenkott and other lesbians worshipped their own revised image of God.

The committee list of the NASB was a closely guarded secret because of the number of liberal theologians on it, for fear that the list would tip off the Christian public to what kind of product they could expect from such people. (New Age Bible Versions p491). Similarly, Westcott and Hort, the original revisionists, employed this tactic, keeping their names and their work secret for nearly thirty years before publishing their text. Hort wrote to Westcott, “a text issued by men already known for what will undoubtedly be treated as dangerous heresy will have great difficulties in finding its way to regions which it might otherwise hope to reach and whence it would not be easily banished by subsequent alarms…” (Life of Hort vol.1 pp 445,421). NIV editor Edwin Palmer made the astounding statement that there are “few clear and decisive texts that declare that Jesus is God.” (Kenneth Barker, The NIV: The Making of a Contemporary Translation Grand Rapids MI, Zondervan Publishing House 1984). Few people have shown the integrity to renounce their work on these revisions like Dr. Frank Logsdon has, who now confesses, “I may be in trouble with God.” (New Age Bible Versions p491).

The research on which the revised versions are based comes from a small amount of manuscripts, a fraction of one per cent of those extant. Unlike the manuscripts which make up the Majority Text on which the KJV is based, which have only minor variations, the remaining handful used in the revised text disagree both with the KJV and with each other. These papyri include Vaticanus (B), Sinaiticus (Aleph), Bezae (D), and Papyrus 75. These manuscripts came from one geographical location, Alexandria, Egypt. Vaticanus (B) is a shining example of a papyrus that was doctored by scholars of Greek philosophy like that of Philo and Origen, according to Wilbur Pickering, TH.M. in Greek Exegesis from Dallas Theological Seminary and M.A. Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Toronto.

Of the changes made to the Bible text, Hort wrote: “I do not think the significance of their existence is generally understood…It is quite impossible to judge of the value of what appears to be trifling alterations merely by reading them one after another. Taken together, they have often important bearings which few would think of at first. So far the angry objectors have reason for their astonishment.” (Life of Hort, vol.II pp 102,138-9). Some of the changes made include the excising of 64,098 words in the case of the NIV, including key parts of the Lord’s Prayer, which are also removed from most other modern versions. Some changes would be funny if the subject were not so serious. In the New World translation Jesus is “impaled” rather than crucified, and in I John 5:20. instead of giving us “an understanding”, God has given us the “intellectual capacity” to know Christ. In I Timothy 4:1 when “the Spirit speaketh expressly”, in the New World Bible “the inspired utterance says definitely that in later periods of time some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons.” Note that the words of God and the devil are both referred to as “inspired utterances” When Paul wishes that “they were even cut off which trouble you”, the new versions have Paul wishing they were “emasculated”, or in the Jerusalem Bible, saying “I would like to see the knife slip.” (Galatians 5:12). The TEV, or Good News Bible also shows the corruption of the Old Testament when it begins Genesis 1:1 as “Once upon a time.”

Why would such changes be made? E.W. Colwell, past president of the University of Chicago and the premier North American New Testament Greek scholar, authored “Studies in Methodology in Textual Criticism of the New Testament”. He stated “Scholars now believe that most errors were made deliberately…The variant readings in the New Testament were created for the theological or dogmatic reasons. Most of the manuals now in print (including mine!) will tell you these variations were the fruit of careless treatment. The reverse is the case. (E.W. Colwell, “What is the Best New Testament?” Chicago: The Univ. of Chicago Press 1952 p.53, 49). Calvin Linton of the NIV committee says “the translators’ own interpretation may color the text or even misrepresent it.” (New Age Bible Versions p.394). Lewis Foster of both the NIV and NKJV Committees states that “each person has his own beliefs. These are bound to influence his judgment to some degree. If a person claims to be entirely unbiased, he is either fooling himself or trying to fool others.” (“Selecting a Translation of the Bible” pp18,21,77,78,48). The NIV concordance’s editor observes that “translations do evidence the theological convictions of other translators…It is complex because of individuals who favor one Bible over another for theological reasons, and publishers who promote one version over another at least partly for economic reasons.” (Words About the Word” pp.54,74 John Kohlenberger Grand Rapids, MI Zondervan Publishing House 1987). Many publishers of such revisions like Zondervan are owned by secular companies like HarperCollins, which have profit, not truth, as their aim.

What about claims that the KJV is too hard to read? Even our UPC Sunday School book, Youth Teacher’s manual Spring ’08, which uses the NLT and NKJV, says “understanding and subsequent discussion may also benefit from reading the verse from a translation more modern than the KJV, such as the AMP (Amplified Bible), or the NKJV”. (p53). The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Indicator shows the KJV is easier to read in 23 of 26 comparisons. Comparing Genesis 1, Malachi 1, matthew 1, and Revelation 1, the KJV had a 5.8 grade level average, compared to 8.4 for the NIV, 7.2 TEV (Good News), and 6.9 for the NKJV. (Grade level = (.39 x avg. number of words per sentence) plus (11.8 x avg. number of syllables per word) – (15.59). Memorization, the key to hiding the Word in your heart, is easier with the KJV than with the modern versions, which use more syllables and harder words.

In conclusion, I fervently hope that the use of the revisions would stop among those who are called by the name of Christ. This is a root of ungodliness crept in unbeknownst to many Christians. The introduction to the Catholic version of the Living Bible says succinctly: “This translation cannot be used as a basis for doctrinal or traditional disputes… People from various doctrinal traditions may be chagrined at the particular translation found within this volume.” (“Words About the Word” p89). It’s time to examine what we are feeding our souls and those for whom we are responsible. Is it the bread from heaven or a manmade concoction? For more information and deeper research, read “New Age Bible Versions” and “Blind Guides”, both by G.A. Riplinger, “Final Authority” by William P. Grady, and “Defending the King James Bible” by D.A.Waite.

From, Eddie Eads Personal Blog,

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