THE DANGER OF MODERN BIBLE TRANSLATIONS
BY M. L. WALLS
The advice given by Paul to his son in the gospel, Timothy, was very wise and needed by our generation as well. With today’s modern computer programs that can call up a passage in a split second, as well as other
materials which are available to the modern minister, where is the need, let alone the desire, to study?
And what about rightly dividing the Word? That may seem like a simple question, but really it is not in light of the many versions and translations that are available to the modern minister. Which version
or translation do we rightly divide? Does it really matter which translation or version is used in today’s pulpit?
Our generation has witnessed an invasion of new versions and translations seeking to replace the trusted King James Version that has been studied and used by ministers since its birth in 1611. Is this a positive trend for today’s church?
The Bible is unique, to say the least. The first copies of the Old Testament were probably written on papyrus. The responsibility of writing and preserving the Word of God was entrusted to the people of
Abraham. Paul informs us of this unique responsibility of the Jewish people when he wrote: “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:1-2).
Every writer of both the Old and New Testaments were Jews, except possibly Luke, whom some feel was the lone Gentile among this illustrious group of men ordained to pen the divine words of God.
Until the time of the invention of the printing press, all copies of the Word of God were made by hand. The fact that the text could remain true to the original given by God to the writer who wrote it is a miracle in itself. This would seem to verify that the Book is indeed God-ordained.
The King James Version has weathered many storms brought against it by the critics since it was introduced to the public. The common people were being deprived of the richness of God’s Word because the Church of Rome, that held such strong influence over the religious world for so long, refused to allow the common people to possess the Bible.
From Halley’s Bible Handbook we learn the following: “Wycliffe’s Bible (A.D. 1382). First English Bible. Translated from the Vulgate. Not widely circulated, but reached the people, and was one of the main
factors in paving the way for the Reformation. “Tyndale’s Bible (1525). Translated from the original Greek and Hebrew. More accurate than Wycliffe’s. “Coverdale’s Bible (1535). From Dutch and Latin sources.
This was followed by Roger’s Bible (1537), which was almost wholly copied from Tyndale’s. And by `The Great Bible’ (1539), which was a compilation from Tyndale, Rogers and Coverdale. “Geneva Bible (1560).
Followed by the `Bishop’s Bible’ (1586), authorized for the Church of England. “King James’ Version (1611). Ordered by King James. For 300 years it has been the household Bible of the English-speaking world.”
The fifteenth century A.D. proved to be a vitally important period of time for the Bible. The printing press was invented, and the first book to be printed was the Bible. The King James Version did not come about
without a lot of sacrifice and dedication. Indeed, it was not with the blessings of the Church of Rome that the King James Bible came into existence.
Fifty-four of the most learned men in the land were chosen for the tremendous task of producing the King James Version of the Bible. By the time the work began, some had died and others had withdrawn, until
in the end there were 47 men who completed this tremendous work which has stood for centuries. These scholars of Hebrew and Greek were divided into six companies. A portion was then assigned to each group.
Individuals in each group translated a portion of Scripture before meeting with others in the group to compare results and then agree on final results. Each group would then present its work to the other
groups for their consideration. A select committee then went over the complete work. Finally, two of their number was responsible for the final checking of the work.
McClure, in his The Translators Revived, wrote: “It is confidently expected that the reader of these pages will yield to the conviction that all the colleges of Great Britain and America, even in this proud day of boastings, could not bring together the same number of divines equally qualified by learning and piety for the great undertaking. Few indeed are the living names worthy to be enrolled with those mighty men. It would be impossible to convene out of any one Christian denomination, or out of all, a body of translators on whom the whole Christ-community would bestow such confidence as is reposed upon that illustrious company or who would prove themselves as deserving of such confidence. Very many self-style `improved versions’ of the Bible, or parts of it, have been paraded before the world, but the religious public has doomed them all without exception to utter neglect. “Robert Dick Wilson, one of the translators of the King James Version, wrote: “After I had learned the necessary languages I set about the investigation of every consonant in the Hebrew Old Testament.
There are about a million and a quarter of these; and it took me many years to achieve my task. I had to read the Old Testament through and look at every consonant in it; I had also to observe the variations of the text, as far as they were to be found in the manuscripts, or in the notes of the Massoretes (the Massoretes were a body of Jewish scholars who made it their business to hand down what they believed to be the true text of the Old Testament) or in the various versions, or in the parallel passages, or in the conjectural emendations of critics; and then I had to classify the results. I prize this form of textual research very highly; for my plan has been to reduce the Old Testament criticism to an absolutely objective science; something which is based on evidence, and not on opinion. I scarcely ever make a statement which
rests merely on my own subjective belief.
“In order to be a textual expert of this kind it is necessary to be a master of paleography (the science which deals with ancient writings) and of philology; to have an exact knowledge of a dozen languages at least, so that every word may be thoroughly sifted. To ascertain the true text of the Old Testament is fundamental to everything concerning Bible history and Bible doctrine.
“The result of those thirty years’ study which I have given to the text has been this: I can affirm that there is not a page of the Old Testament concerning which we need have any doubt. We can be absolutely certain that substantially we have the text of the Old Testament that Christ and the Apostles had, and which was in existence from the beginning.”
No one can study the lives of those men who gave us the King James Bible without being impressed with their profound and varied learning.
OUT OF STEP
While I may be out of step with the modem concept of Bible usage and thinking, I choose to stick with the King James Version of the Bible. The newer versions may be good to use in comparing Scriptures, but I
refuse to go any farther than that!
The subtle changes which were made by the more modem versions do not appeal to me in my desire to stay as close to the original as possible. And I believe the King James Version is closer to the original than
anything that has been offered to the public in our generation. While some may not have any problem with the seemingly minor changes which were made in the recent versions, I have a problem with any change that would take away, even a little bit, from the message of the original text.
TAKE NOTE OF SOME COMPARISONS
In Philippians 3:3, we are admonished by Paul to worship God. The NIV and other versions changed it to simply read “worship.” No big deal, you say? Well, I want to know Who I am to worship. Just the term
“worship” could apply to any god or anything else!
John 10:29 in the King James says “my Father.” The NIV and other translations say “the Father.” Galatians 1:3 states “Our Lord.” The NIV and others state “The Lord.” Insignificant changes, you say? Well, maybe so; but I prefer to feel that it is enough to make me want to stick with my KJV My God is personal. My relationship with God is personal.
In verses such as Luke 12:5, we have “Him” in the KJV, and in Matthew 13:37 and John 6:46, we have “He.” However, the NIV and others say “the one” in each of the places. The word in the Greek texts is always masculine, not neuter.
In Acts 17:29 the KJV says the “Godhead,” while the NIV and others have “the divine being.” Other changes that are worthy of our consideration include: The NIV, etc.: “A gospel”; KJV, “The Gospel”. The NIV, etc.:
“A message”; KJV, “The Words”. The NIV, etc.: “A God”; KJV, “The God”. The NIV, etc.: “A son”; KJV, “The Son”. The NIV, etc.: “A savior “KJV, “the Savior”.
In Psalms 8:5, the KJV reads: “For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” The NIV and others read: “Yet thou hast made him a little lower than God.”
Little changes? Yes! But little changes can change the meaning of what the Lord is saying to us.
Another reason for sticking with the King James Version is the continuity of studying and speaking to congregations wherever we go. It is somewhat confusing to listen to someone read from some other
translation while you are holding the King James Version open in your hands.
Furthermore, one of the things which Apostolic people have prided themselves in is their ability to memorize the Word of God. When someone says, “Quote Acts 3:19,” everyone present should be able to
identify with the speaker.
R. Chandler, in Understanding the New Age, wrote: “New age metaphysical groups often co-opt the language and trappings of the traditional Christian church, thereby making newcomers feel more comfortable in their translation to alternate forms of belief or practice.” Is it our responsibility to make people “feel comfortable” when ministering to them the Word of God? Is it not more important that we make sure that what they are hearing is indeed the Word of God?
Note these comments from New Age Versions: “The Living Bible, NASB, NAB and Jehovah Witness Bible remove the highly critical word `now’ from John 18:36,… now is my kingdom not from hence.’ It is in all Greek manuscripts. Sounding clearly New Age, new versions read, `My kingdom is not of this realm.’
“The Amplified Bible spiritualizes Amos 9:11, a verse clearly indicating the restoration of David’s kingdom under the Messiah. It also alters I Thessalonians 2:16 in this regard.
“The NIV and NASB spiritualizes Revelation 11:15, omitting the plural in `The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord.’
“The NASB’s rendition of Luke 17:21, `The kingdom of God is in your midst,’ presents a visible `Kingdom Now’ theology not seen in the KJV’s `the kingdom of God is within you.’
“Christians will no doubt be killed for `treason’ during the tribulation for not worshipping the `emperor’ in a visible kingdom but seeking the kingdom `within’. NIV Committee leader Edwin Palmer cites a dozen instances in which he changed the word `judgment’ to `justice’ because he saw the need for social action now, not judgment later.
“Revelation 1:6 in the NASB reads, `He has made us to be `a kingdom’ rather than `made us kings.’
“New versions render Matthew 24:22, Revelation 15:3 and scores of other verses in the past tense. This is typical of the post and amillennial denial of the coming tribulation. Numerous new version verses, such as
I John 2:18, Revelation 11:18 and several others in Revelation, give the amillennial and postmillennial impression that judgment and tribulation are over and pertained to the destruction of Rome (e.g., new versions say, `The day of the Lord has come’ rather than `The day of Christ is at hand’, II Thessalonians 2:2). They also say, `unless those days had been cut short no life would have been saved,’ instead
of `except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved’ (Matthew 24:22).
“Luciferian David Spangler’s book, Revelation: Birth of a New Age, says Christ’s appearing is past tense. Agreeing with him are the NIV, NASB and the Jehovah Witness Bible, all based on the 1% corrupt Greek texts. Note, for example, II Timothy 4:8 which new versions render as `have loved his appearing’ instead of `love his appearing’.” The NIV has the statement in 2 Timothy read: “All who have longed for his appearing.”
DOES IT REALLY MATTER?
The importance by the minister of God today to present the Word of God as clearly and concisely as possible to those to whom he ministers should be a priority. While some may feel comfortable preaching from and studying from some of the more modern versions, I for one cannot.
While I will not fall out with you if you persist in using the more modern versions, at the same time do not be offended with me if I refuse to go along with you. I love the uniqueness of the King James Version. I am going to stick with the tried and faithful. I do think it matters!
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY THE APOSTOLIC WITNESS, SEPTEMBER,
2004, PAGES 18-21. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR
STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.