Sunday, December 7, 2008

Opening a Can of Worms

I am sorry this is so long.

I am printing Gary’s comment to a previous post in its entirety here, and I am starting a new post for clarity.

Not to be too long (or boring) on this subject but my conviction is based on the manuscripts used (Masoretic Text for the Old Testament and Textus Receptus for the New Testament). Also the form of translation, formal equivalency as opposed to dynamic equivalency used in the newer translations.

I'm not trying to change anybodies mind, the version of the Bible you use is between you and God, that is just my conviction. There are differences in the versions however and it makes for an interesting study.

As far as the languages go the KJV is for English speaking people. There are many ministries that are translating Bibles into other languages using the KJV and some that are going back to the 2 manuscripts I mentioned to translate into other languages.

I have seen Bible version discussions get contentious but that really just makes Christians look bad and I don't think it changes anybodies mind. Just something we all have to decide for ourselves.

Yes Gary, sadly, this debate can get contentious. It won’t here.

A few counter points.

- Not ALL modern translations use dynamic equivalency.

- MY mind WAS changed about this. I used to believe that the KJV was the best translation.

I’ve read books on both sides of the argument – Gary Zeolla’s Difference Between Bible Versions and Philip Comfort’s Essential Guide to Bible Versions.

I believe Comfort has the best and most reasoned argument for using the newer (older!) texts.

Here is an excerpt from Comfort’s book:

“The New Testament of the King James Version is slightly bigger than most modern translations of the Bible. I am not speaking of the trim size or a larger black leather cover. I am speaking of the content. The New Testament of the King James Version has fifty more verses than do most modern versions. This is because the King James Version is based on an edition of the Greek New Testament known as the Textus Receptus, which has about fifty more verses than do other modern critical editions of the Greek New Testament, such as the text of Westcott and Hort, or the Nestle-Aland text.

The way it stands today is that there are two distinctly different texts of the Greek New Testament – that printed in the Textus Receptus (followed by the KJV and the NKJV) and that printed in modern versions such as Westcott and Hort’s or the Nestle-Aland. The text of the TR has about one thousand more words than that of the Westcott and Hort, and about fifty more verses. Several of these verses have become so much a part of the biblical tradition and church liturgy that is has been excruciatingly painful for modern translators to wrench them from the text and place them in the marginal note, even when scholars have known that they were not originally in the text. The pain comes from knowing that most people expect to see these words in the Bible.

…Most contemporary scholars contend that a minority of manuscripts – primarily the earliest ones – preserve the earliest, most authentic wording of the text. Those who defend the TR and the KJV would have to prove that earlier manuscripts or the originals themselves must have had these words and that the earlier manuscripts are textually corrupt.

…The Nestle-Aland edition is a far better representation of the original text than is the TR or the Majority Text. This does not mean, however, that those who read the TR and/or the KJV are receiving a “different Gospel” or a different theology than what is found in the Nestle-Aland text. What it does mean is that they are reading a text that – for the most part – was not read in the first three centuries of the church. They are reading a text that is heavily edited with interpolations and harmonizations, and they are reading a text that is somewhat misrepresentative in Christology.

Most of the significant theological differences between the TR and modern critical editions of the Greek text pertain to issues of Christology, especially as reflected in titles or descriptions of Christ. (See Matt. 24:36, Luke 9:35, John 1:18, John 6:69, Acts 3:20, Acts 16:7, Colossians 2:2, 1 Timothy 3:16, 1 Peter 3:15, Jude 4).

Readers of the TR and KJV miss out on some significant statements about Christ: He is “the Chosen One”; “the only begotten, God”; “the Holy One of God”; the One “preordained for us”; “the mystery of God”; “the mystery of godliness”; the One whom we sanctify our hearts; and “our only Master and Lord”. There are far more examples than these, but these are enough to show that the difference between the two texts is theologically significant. I must emphasize, however, this does not mean that the TR and KJV are “wrong.” This text presents the same basic truth about the Trinity as do modern versions, which are based on better Greek texts. What is problematic about the TR and KJV is that they obscure some significant titles of Christ. “

Remember, we can disagree without getting personal.


Gary Sparrow said...


Thanks for the follow up. I know there are many books written on both side of the issue and I won't claim to have read them all or even most of them. It is interesting the point Comfort makes because I have heard a similar argument against the newer versions. That is substituting "He" or "the One" for Jesus Christ, and thus confusing or lessoning Jesus Christ's title or deity.

Joel B. said...

Can of worms? What? No one ever has any arguments over Bible versions!!! ;)

Interesting information here. It's true that there are people on all sides who make various arguments. I personally have no opinion either way, having not really looked into all this all that much.

I do see some very stark differences in some translations, and that usually sends me to a lexicon, just to see what the original word was, but I'm truly no expert when it comes to complete discernment as to the best translation(s).

John Fincher said...

Thanks for the insight. I had forgotten about that argument AGAINST modern versions. What I have read by the KJVO people can be downright disengenuous if not outright deceitful to make their point.

I don't understand the need to protect a particular translation -one that is not even in the original language!

Thanks also. I don't claim to be an expert either, but I do believe I've read enough on the subject to have at least an INFORMED opinion.

I think using several different versions is another way to get a flavor for a particular passage.

Also, I LOVED your idea of an authorized French version.

Alison Fincher said...

John, I'm not entirely sure any Bible can legitimately be said to be the Bible of the primitive church. There cannon of scripture took a long time to develop--the Church Fathers often quote from the deuterocannonical/apocraphal books which most modern Bibles don't have.

Am I wrong on this? Are we sure there is a solid, verified manuscript tradition of the Bible of the primitive church.

John Fincher said...

Short answer - yes. We have a pretty good idea of the OT - there's a longer tradition for it. One that was around at the time of Christ. Jesus himself probably used the Septuagint - a Greek translation from the original Hebrew.

As to the NT, I think there is enough manuscript evidence to say that we have a clear picture of the original reading of the letters that we now have in the modern "Bible".

If you will notice, you have the four Gospels, then Acts, then Paul's letters from longest to shortest (not chronologically), the remaining letters from longest to shortest, and then Revelation.

I'm not sure about the apocryphal letters and how to use them.

I do think some things are lost to the mists of time. But Paul tells us that we see thru a glass darkly.

That's why I think it's dangerous to think that the written word is the final word. We also have the living Word inside of us.

Alison Fincher said...

Thanks for the clarification. I knew about the OT, but I wasn't sure about the NT. Certainly the Anglo-Saxons used texts like the Gospel of Nicodemus, though admittedly more hesitantly than with the now-cannonical gospels.

I completely agree with you about the written word not being the final word. The written word is the starting place for a rich history of tradition and interpretation into which we, as Christians with Christ living within us, are invited to plunge. John 1 is so awesome, reassuring us that the Word is living and eternal.