July 1, 2013
This fourth article in this series is about the Bible translations issue. Is the King James Bible really the best, or is it just one of several good translations? There is one statement I would like for you to keep in mind as you read this: “Things that are different are not the same.”
Another important principle to keep in mind is that if you translate from a corrupt text it doesn’t matter how good of a job you do in translating you will finish with a corrupt Bible. There are basically two families of texts from which New Testament versions are translated. There is the Received Text, and there is the Alexandrian text. The Received text is the text that was used through the centuries by the faithful Bible believing Christians and agrees with some 95% of all of the existing Greek manuscripts. The Alexandrian text is the text used by the two branches of the Catholic Church, Roman and Greek and agrees with no more than 5% of the existing Greek manuscripts.
The text from Alexandria was corrupted by a man named Origen. He didn’t believe in the deity of Christ and took the liberty of changing the passages he didn’t agree with. There are enough portions of the New Testament left out of this text to equal the amount of words in First and Second Peter. All but one of the modern translations are translated from this text. The one that is not is the so-called New King James, and it has its own problems.
In an article like this I don’t have the time or the space to deal with all the issues. I will only deal with typical problems that show the type of problems found in the new translations.
One of the most important passages that is left out of most modern translations is 1 John 5:7. Those that don’t leave this verse out usually have marginal notes that say it doesn’t belong there.
This verse says, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”
This verse is the clearest verse in the Bible on the Trinity. I think you can see why Origen removed this verse from the Alexandrian text.
Let me show you how the modern translations deal with this missing verse. In order to see what they do we will have to look at verses 6-8. I will use the English Standard Version (ESV) since it is one of the most popular versions among students at Bob Jones University. This is the school where the man who said that the KJB is just one of several good translations.
1 John 5:6-8 KJV “(6) This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. (7) For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. (8) And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”
1 John 5:6-8 ESV “(6) This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. (7) For there are three that testify: (8) the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.”
The first thing that should strike your eye is how much shorter the ESV is than the KJV. The second thing you will see is that the ESV leaves out verse 7 and divides verse 8 into two verses to hid the fact that verse 7 is missing. I find this to be deceitful. A few of the modern translations are honest enough to just leave it out and go from verse 6 to verse 8.
Of course we must ask whether or not the verse belongs there in the first place. It is just as possible for those who believe in the Trinity to have added is it is for those who don’t to have removed it.
There is a way to tell. English does not match genders in the articles, adjectives and nouns as many other languages, including Greek, do. For example, if I say “a green car” (une voiture verte) in French You will notice that the article “a” is “une” and the adjective “green” is “verte”. On the other hand, if I say “a green tree” (un arbre vert), the article “a” is “un” and the adjective green is “vert”. The reason for this is that a car is feminine and requires a feminine articleand adjective. A tree, on the other hand, is masculine and requires a masculine article and adjective. This is true in Greek also and when you leave the verse out in the Greek the genders don’t match. When the verse is included they do.
Dr. Edward F. Hills in his book “The King James Version Defended” said the following on pages 211-212:
“…the omission of the Johannine comma involves a grammatical difficulty. The words spirit, water, and blood are neuter in gender, but in I John 5:8 they are treated as masculine. If the Johannine comma is rejected, it is hard to explain this irregularity. It is usually said that in I John 5:8 the spirit, the water, and the blood are personalized and that this is the reason for the adoption of the masculine gender. But it is hard to see how such personalization would involve the change from the neuter to the masculine. FOR IN VERSE 6 THE WORD SPIRIT PLAINLY REFERS TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE THIRD PERSON OF THE TRINITY. SURELY IN THIS VERSE THE WORD SPIRIT IS “PERSONALIZED,” AND YET THE NEUTER GENDER IS USED. Therefore, since personalization DID NOT bring about a change of gender in verse 6, it cannot fairly be pleaded as the reason for such a change in verse 8. If, however, the Johannine Comma is retained, as reason for placing the neuter nouns spirit, water, and blood in the masculine gender becomes readily apparent. IT WAS DUE TO THE INFLUENCE OF THE NOUNS FATHER AND WORD, WHICH ARE MASCULINE. Thus the hypothesis that the Johannine comma is an interpolation is full of difficulties.” (Emphasis mine.)
Here is another passage where the ESV and most other new translations weaken the doctrine of the deity of Christ:
Philippians 2:6 KJV “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:”
Philippians 2:6 ESV “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped”
This verse is the same in both the Alexandrian and the Received Greek texts. The KJV follows the Greek in saying that Jesus did not think it was robbery, or stealing something from God, to be equal with God. The ESV says that Jesus did not think that equality with God was something to be taken a hold of (grasped). I hope you understand the difference. If Jesus is God then He is stealing nothing from God to be equal with God. On the other hand, if Jesus is not God, then it is certain that equality with God something that should be grasped.
You tell me why the translators would change the meaning of this verse to say exactly the opposite of what the Greek says unless they don’t believe in the deity of Christ.
Rather than try to list all of the places where the modern Bibles change the text and, in so doing, change doctrine, let me just give you a link to a website that has already done this: http://av1611.com/kjbp/articles/freeman-doctrines1.html
The main reason most people advance for the new translations is that they are easier to read. First let me say that my wife is French and English is her second language. She has never had a lesson in English and she has no problem reading the King James Bible. Actually, because of reading the KJB, she speaks better English.
That part of KJB English that the new translators want to get rid of has meaning, and if you eliminate it you lose something important. Let me use one passage to illustrate my point.
John 3:7 “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”
Notice that there are two words used where we would us “you”. They are “thee” and “ye”. They do not mean the same thing. Thee is an object and is singular. Ye is a subject and is plural. If we use “you” in both places the verse say “I am telling you, Nicodemus, that you, Nicodemus, must be born again”. With thee and ye it says, “I am telling you, Nicodemus, that you, all of you or every one of you, must be born again”
“You”, as we use it today, can be either singular or plural and an object or a subject. Remembering this as you read and study your Bible will increase your understanding of many passages.
English is a very powerful language and if we don’t use it properly we lose. Instead of bringing the Scriptures down to the level of modern English speakers why don’t we bring the English speakers up to the level of the Scriptures?
Remember what I said in the beginning of this article. Things that are different are not the same. I also said that no matter how good of a job you do in translating a text, if the text is corrupt the translation will be corrupt.
Copyright 2017 Pierre Coovert, All rights reserved