Monday, October 10, 2016

INTERPRETING THE TRANSLATIONS

King James Only?

How did we get our Bible?

Which is the “best” translation?

Is there anything ‘wrong’ with other translations?

How do we know the Bible is God’s word to us?

These, and questions like them, are generally not in the forefront of most Christians’ thinking. In fact, I would venture to say that most folks do not ever think about these questions until someone comes along and questions what they are doing.

Generally, that questioning will come from someone who is convinced that the King James Version is the only “true’ version of the bible.

I use the KJV at this time. In fact, I bought mine from Cambridge Publishers, who still maintain the copyright in the United Kingdom. So, it contains what is known as the Epistle Dedicatory and the Translators to the Reader, which are not found in most other KJV Bibles from American publishers.

I began with the KJV. I moved to the New American Standard Bible (NASB). Then I used the New International Version (NIV) for years. When the English Standard Version (ESV) came out, I was totally taken with their study bible. I used that translation for a couple of years before coming back to the KJV.

In all that time through the various translations, God continued to speak to me through His Word. I continued to learn about who He is and also who I am in Him.

Since I understand that a deceived person does not know they are deceived, I say with complete candor, and not a little humor, that I never felt as if I was being deceived by the translations.

There has recently been a new push against modern translations for various reasons, the most notable of which is the NIV’s updates. It has gone through numerous revisions since its inception, and the newer versions continue to eliminate various verses from the text.

Of course, there are always footnotes concerning the omissions or additions; but we know full well that most will not read, care, nor understand the impact or import of the changes. That being said, I recently went through numerous verses that had been changed and found only one that could be considered significant—Acts 8:37.

The footnote from the NIV is:
Some manuscripts include here Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

I did not read all 45 verses that had been changed, nor the 65,000+ words that had been changed according to the article.

Is it serious?

Is it a conspiracy?

Is there an attempt to water down the word of God?

I don’t know.

I do know that it is ignorant at best to take the words of Rev. 22:18 and say that the new translations are “adding to the Word of God.” This shows not only a lack of serious study of the Bible, but also an ignorance of who God is.

People with just a passing acquaintance with the Bible know that the Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in
Greek. Neither portion was written in Elizabethan English, of which the KJV is a most beautiful example.

The KJV is a translation. Translations, by their very nature are interpretations. Interpretations are by their very nature subject to the biases and filters of the interpreters, regardless of their education and scholarship. There is absolutely no guarantee that the KJV is the “pure” word of God.

The ignorance of who God is shows up in the complete lack of faith in an all-powerful, omnipotent God, who is well able to protect His word.

Those who maintain the KJV is the only reliable translation are essentially saying that the Lord protected His word through the various translations and loss of manuscript evidence until the year 1611, at which time He relinquished control.

I have a hard time buying that line of reasoning.

I was listening to Chuck Swindoll on the radio as he said more than once that the NASB is the closest translation to the original we have. That may be. I have friends who swear by it, have used it for years, and have no thought of ever changing. So be it and so what?

It doesn’t matter.

At least it doesn’t matter until you begin challenging someone for their use of and/or dependence on a different translation that you may view as inferior.

Allow Romans 14:22 to be your guide in this matter—
Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemns not himself in that thing which he allows.

In the next article I will point out some of the newer translations with which I DO have a problem. I will also discuss types of translations and their benefit or lack thereof for study.


Stay tuned.

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