Monday, July 28, 2014

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Is the King James the Only "True" Bible?

Dear Lenny,

I am sending this to ask someone to do a serious comparison of the NIV and the KJV. It is very clear that the NIV is changing the Words of GOD and just blatantly leaving out verses entirely. Then they at time put a footnote in to say some versions have verse 38 and the NIV will just skip from 37 to 39. If you are truly concerned in GOD's Word as I know you are, you will be certain to talk about this and research it, only then will you discover that the NIV is really a bad, bad version. It is so bad infact it can be called the New International perVersion. I will be more than happy to forward a book that is excellent and does a comparison. One look into this and you will never use the NIV again. The NIV has changed the Word of GOD just as people have preached about the world changing the Word and work of God.

Thanks for listening,

Chris

Hi Chris,

Thank you for taking the time to write. I am glad that you are concerned with the reliability of the Bible and I pray that you continue to study. However, careful consideration and attention has been given to the relationship and translation of the NIV and KJV bibles. Allow me to outline a couple of points for you.

Whenever some group wishes to translate any ancient document (be it the Bible, a Greek play or a Latin proclamation from Rome) there are several difficulties that come into play. Because no one has the original documents written by the authors of the Bible, scholars must rely on copies or copies of copies (called manuscripts) and translations and their copies. Much like the game of telephone children play, those copies can end up being quite different from the original document written. It is the responsibility of the scholars to "weed out" all the added text and also decide which rendering would be true to the original work. We call this process textual criticism, and it is quite difficult. Luckily, there are a very large number of New Testament documents that we can compare against each other to find out what belongs and what was added.

The King James Version was originally written from 1607 to 1610, with a group of 54 Biblical scholars from only Great Britain.(1) These were dived into six groups with three working on a rendering of the Old Testament and the other three working on the New Testament. One of the rules in translating the KJV was the committees were to follow an older translation known as the Bishops' Bible (written in 1568) "and as little altered as the Truth of the Original will permit." Even most of that translation was based on the Geneva Bible and the Great Bible which were revisions of the Tynedale Bible which was published in 1533(2). All in all, the KJV has only 39% of its language which is unique to itself, and over 90% of the New Testament can be found word for word in the Tyndale NT which was published in 1525. This means that much of the 1611 version was nearly a hundred years old when it was first published!

What makes all of this significant is that England didn't have any ancient Greek manuscripts until 1628.(3) Therefore, the translators were at a definite disadvantage when trying to decide which passages were in the texts originally, and which were added later by someone who was copying or translating another copy or translation. Contrarily, the NIV committee consisted of over a hundred scholars from five countries who had much older versions (so they were more true to the originals) and a much better grasp on ancient Hebrew.

The verse to which you allude falls into a problem category. It doesn't appear in copies that are closer to the time when the originals were written, and much like the telephone game, the farther you get from the originator, the more stuff gets in your message that doesn't belong. Other such verses are Matthew 17:21, Matt. 18:11; Luke24:40; John 7:53-8:11; parts of 1 John 5:8; etc. These verses are not being blatantly left out, nor is the Bible being changed. Because we have better information now, the newer translations are just trying to correct some mistakes in the older translations. Remember, only the original copy is considered the Inspired Word of God. This does not mean that we have to worry, though. With all the new evidence, it is estimated that we know over 99% of our Bible is true to the original text, and those that are in grey areas do not affect any major Biblical doctrine.

Now, another problem that comes about in translation is how to make the new version read as closely to the original as possible, but still get the author's idea across. Let me demonstrate. If I were to translate "I got in by the skin of my teeth" into Russian and send it to a business associate there, I would have them totally baffled. They know there is no skin on teeth, and how could you use that as payment for entry, anyway?? So, a translator can either stick to the words that translate directly across to the new language, or he may opt to translate the idea (I got in with no time to spare) into the other language, thus making the sentence understandable. No translation can be exactly word for word and be understood. Even the King James English has these problems. In Matthew 19:14 the KJV reads "But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven" which can be very confusing to a modern reader.)

The translators of the KJV, along with the New American Standard and some others tried to keep the word order as close as they could. The translators of the NIV were developing a reading Bible, though, and they tried to make a thought by thought translation. This conveys the essence and meanings of the original documents, but becomes much more natural and conversational to the modern ear.

I hope I have given you a little more information concerning this issue. Before I end, though, I do wish to ask you to consider one more thing. If the KJV is the only one which can be relied upon, what do all the people do across the globe who don't speak English? They need a translation in their own language, and the problems are the same as those I've outlined above. If you'd like more information on this issue, I recommend James White's book "The King James Only Controversy" published by Bethany House.

Thank you again for your time, and may God bless you as you continue to seek His Word.

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