Over the past several months I have been collecting the comments and questions that have been posted in response to my “Which Bible” entries. I hope I am clear when I say that I am not attacking anyone for their translation preference. I think we can agree that all of us, if not, then the greater majority of us, do not live our lives submerged in Hebrew and Greek language and culture (I see you, Short. Welcome! ). Most of us reading these posts are probably English speaking people with little or no knowledge of the original languages of the Scriptures. Our comparison then must be between English versions. Do they agree? If not, where do they differ, and WHY do they differ? Which Bible, if any, will be my final authority??? What is my doctrine based on? The following is an attempt to answer some of the questions that you have asked:
“Do you believe that King James in 1611 was ‘a holy man, moved of God’ to write the Scripture, in which case you would consider the KJV itself superior to the originals?”
No. King James was not “a holy man, moved of God”, not in the same sense that the men were to whom God gave the original words of the scriptures. But he was moved of God to authorize the preservation of God’s Word in English.
And no, the KJB is not better than (but it is as good as) the actual original manuscripts, but it IS better than many of the copies that were made, and from which later versions were translated. Case in point: see my post on “EASTER OR PASSOVER”, in which I explained why “Easter” is the correct word in Acts 12:4, regardless of the fact that most of the Greek manuscripts use the word pascha, translated “Passover” in all of the modern Bible translations.
“Are you of the position that in order for someone from a different language to read God's Word they must first learn English?”
No, God’s Word is NOT found only in the English language. I believe God’s Word has been PRESERVED perfectly in English in the KJB. And you will have to decide too, which English version is God's Word. Or else decide that we don't have God's Word anywhere.
There is a prevalent misunderstanding among those who oppose me on this issue. That is, they think I am saying that King James I, or his men who did the translating, were inspired by God in writing a new English version, just as Moses, Daniel, Paul, Peter, etc, were “inspired” when they wrote the original manuscripts. No. THIS IS NOT AN ISSUE OF INSPIRATION. (Capitals for emphasis only -- I am not yelling.) Neither King James I nor the translators of the KJB were inspired by God to write scripture. In fact, the original writers were not inspired, either! It is the WORDS which were God-breathed, not the men who wrote them (2 Timothy 3:16). The scriptures (the words) were GIVEN by inspiration, and PRESERVED by God, through men, sinners all, who wrote down those God-given words. I think I have already given Bible verses that promise the preservation of God’s words in previous “Which Bible” posts. There are several of them, not the least of which is Psalm 12:6,7.
“Noah, Job, Moses, and other patriarchs believed, had faith and had a heart for God … whatever did they do without the KJB?”
Noah, Job, Moses, and the other patriarchs had the very words of God as they were spoken, and later, written. While I sometimes think it would be nice to have God speak to me personally, too, and give me wisdom or direction like he did these men, God does not now appear to his children giving us revelation in addition to what he has already given to us in his Word. Here we have the promise of God that this prophecy which we can hold in our hands is now more sure than a voice from heaven:
1 Peter 2:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty
17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
“What do you think of the NKJV?”
It really doesn't matter what I think of it... is it really a new and improved version of the KJB? How does it compare to what we already know is true? One of the reasons why the publishers make changes in the Bible is to get a copyright ($). In order to get a copyright, the text has to be substantially changed from the original work. The thousands of word changes in the NKJV are subtler than in some of the other versions. The translators claim that the NKJV comes from the same set of manuscripts that the KJB does, and that the changes are all for the purpose of easier readability, but that is not true. The Hebrew text is different -- you can Google that if you want to.
Here are some examples of changes (why are we such suckers for something "new"?):
“Repent” is omitted 44 times.
“Blood” is omitted 23 times.
“Hell” is omitted 22 times.
“Damnation” is omitted entirely.
"God" is dropped 66 times.
Here are some other changes:
Genesis 22:8: (One of the greatest verses in the Bible proclaiming that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh.) "God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering:" The NKJV adds the little word "for”: "God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” I wrote a previous post on the miracle that God promised here, providing HIMSELF, the Lord Jesus Christ, the LAMB OF GOD, as the offering for our sins. The NKJV has removed this promise of a Saviour.
Matthew 7:14 changes “narrow is the way” to "difficult is the way”. There's nothing "difficult" about the salvation of Jesus Christ! 2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” Now there’s a contradiction.
1 Timothy 6:10: The NKJV changes "For the love of money is the root of all evil:” to "For the love of money is a root of ALL KINDS OF evil”. The words "KINDS OF” are found in NO Greek text in the world! Where did they get them? Straight from the NIV, NASV, NRSV.
1 John 5:13: The NKJV reads: "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may CONTINUE TO believe in the name of the Son of God." They add "CONTINUE TO" without any Greek text whatsoever. Not even the other modern versions go that far. This is a subtle attack on the believer's eternal security. This passage tells us that we may KNOW, now, this moment, in the present, that we have eternal life, not temporary life that depends on what we do with Christ after we are saved.
The NKJV is NOT new. All of these changes (except that last one), and many many more, are already in the NIV, NASV, NRSV, or RSV.
“Most people fail to understand the meanings of words that have changed since the KJV was first written, so they get a very distorted view of what was originally expressed.”
That can easily be fixed by using a good dictionary, such as Noah Webster’s 1828 edition. If it too pricey for you, use the free, online version. This is no different than your pastor getting up and telling you what the “original” word was in Greek/Hebrew, except that you and I probably don’t speak or read Greek, and we don’t know which manuscript he is using as proof. He may not even know Greek -- it is simple to give a Greek lesson using a lexicon. If someone is telling you that YOU can't really know what God meant, but that HE could show you, since he knows the "originals", don't believe him. That is popery. The world was kept in spiritual darkness for centuries by men who insisted the common man could not know God's Word. If you don't know what a word means, look it up, just like you would do with any other book.
Peter and John were seen by the intellectuals of their day as “ignorant and unlearned” men, but they had been with Jesus, who is the Word of God, himself. Which is of more value – knowing about God, or intimacy with God? If you are intimate with God, spending time in his Word, you will know him. And if you aren't intimate with him, you can't know him; you can only know about him. I don’t doubt the sincerity of pastors who study Greek/Hebrew to better understand the Bible, but they don’t need to. We have wrongly elevated scholarship and education. People spend a lot more time in books that are written ABOUT the Bible than they do in the Bible! If English is your first (or only!) language, stick with the English, and dig deeper. You will be amazed at the buried treasure you will unearth.
(Written with help from various sources. )