2001-07-25 - Bible Versions
2 Peter 1:20, 21 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
"Recently I became aware of a controversy that I hope maybe you could shed some light on. It is the deletion and mis-quotation of "newer" versions of the Bible (NIV etc...) vs. the King James version of 1611. Could you address this and tell me what you know about these claims?"
I wanted to deal with this question even though we have dealt with this issue before. The reason is that I wonder if the fear of a particular version or the belief that one version is superior to all others keeps people from reading, studying and meditating on God's Word. If it does, this is tragic. Nothing should keep us from God's Word.
I'm not sure what is meant by "deletion and misquotation" in the question, but let's clear something up from the get go.If the newer versions like the mentioned NIV had deletions and misquotations, there are enough Bible skeptics, agnostics, and people trying to prove Christianity wrong, that the most-used translation (NIV) would have been debunked a long time ago. There are detractors of every version to be sure, but if there was a clear attempt to lead Christians into error, it would be commonly known and the version would be out of print.
There are a lot of versions out there. The 90's were, for Bibles, the greatest introduction of new versions and targeted Bibles of any decade by far. I'm still waiting for the "Left-handed Woman's Devotional Bible for the Visually-Impaired Aspiring Professional Baseball Player." It almost has become that bad.It is, however, much more simple than the marketers would have us believe.
If you are pushing one version to the exclusion of all others, STOP. If you are hearing someone do this and considering their advice, STOP, and think for a moment. Generally someone who has a single, obscure, and defining cause that identifies them should give us pause. There is no perfect Bible. The 1611 KJV is a great version. The English is a bit dated, but it was a real masterpiece when it came out.There is nothing wrong with using it. However, there is also nothing wrong with using the NIV, NASB, RSV, or NKJV. All have their positives and negatives when it comes to the rendering of the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic.
There is really only one version to push -- the original autograph as it is called in academic circles. The original version is the original letter that Paul wrote to the church of the Galatians and all other original manuscripts. Scholars think that currently we have no original autographs. So we cannot push for this version. But these letters and books were copied and widely circulated. Scholars have been able to develop a text that seems to be highly accurate. Some questions on various passages remain, but for the bulk of the Bible there is little dispute. There is almost no dispute among passages that influence doctrine, even among those who don't agree on the doctrines the passage is touching on.
Since we can't have the "autograph," we are left with the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic sections that the scholars have been able to produce for us. They have done the best job possible in providing us with the most accurate text. So anyone who is pushing a text should not be pushing an English version. Do you think Jesus spoke English? Was it a Texan or Bostonian accent? The point is that the Bible was not written in English. If you are going to push an English version, then go back to your studies and learn some ancient languages.
Most of us are left with English versions. My recommendation is to pick one that works for you and stick with it. It might be easy to pick the translation your church uses. Even better, find someone who has studied the languages and ask them what version they use. You will find that they probably use several.
There is no perfect version, but there are a few I would suggest be avoided. Translations that take a lot of liberty with the language are not the best, in my opinion. There are translations that have been done from the perspective that things have been male dominated for so long that it is time to "make God a woman." God becomes a she even though God is clearly used in a masculine tense in the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. These versions that change the text because of an ideological perspective are probably not the best versions to be using.
The key is where we began. Let nothing stand in the way of your study of the Bible. Spurgeon says that "Bible study is the metal that makes a Christian." This is very true and which version is the best should be the least hindrance to your interaction with God's Word through the Holy Spirit.
Soli Deo Gloria,