I wrote this in response to a recent blog that condemns any other versions of The Bible besides the King James Version. I have nothing against the KJV, I grew up with that version; and although, my preference today is the NASB, I still refer to the KJV often and uphold it as one of the best translations for a Christian to use.
There are indeed many bad translations out there that have modified The Bible in horrible ways that have reduced The Bible to mockery. However, to say that the only proper translation is the KJV and everything else is Gnostic-philosophy junk is a fallacy; and in no way, can be proven. Furthermore, it undermines the changing power to Christ that many have experienced through these other great and equally accurate translations.
Casting doubt on what God actually says has been a huge strategy of Satan from the beginning; Genesis chapter 3, first of many examples. And casting doubt towards the validity of the words of The Bible would not be a far cry in this strategy of his--he loves to divide and conquer. Division is no stranger within the Christian body, and not only has division been caused over the proper version of the Bible, but in other such issues as commuinion and baptism. Sadly, though, all this division has steered us away into fighting amongst ourselves instead of fighting the real enemy.
My intention in this post is not to stir up more division, as I would be contridicting my beginning message; but rather give an explaination to why a person cannot conclusively state that one version of the Bible is the more accurate while all others are heresy trash that need to be “burned.”
Anyone translating between languages will understand one thing, it is quite an impossible feet to accurately translate between languages. The delimma for any translator is how to properly convey the original idea when wording and language identification can be different from one culture to the next; and more often than some, it is impossible to express the idea of one language in another.
Therefore, the original always supercedes the copy in accuracy; and in a sense, compromise is forced on the translation, as expression of idea is all in accordance to the personal ideas and understanding of the translator.
Many claim that the KJV (King James Version, 1611 AD) as the only true accurate Bible, asserting that the translators of the KJV were divinely inspired just as the original New Testament writers. Unfortunately, there is no conclusive evidence to support this claim (not personally claiming it wasn’t, sake of agruement). They also claim that the KJV was the only “perfect” Bible translated into English; but asserting this, does not take into account that word modification or word meaning has its cultural ties depending on the time: example below
I Thessalonians 4:15 (KJV), “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.”
I Thessalonians 4:15 (NASB), “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.”
The main difference, as I highlighted, are the words “prevent” used by the KJV translators and “precede” used by the NASB (New American Standard Version) translators. The word “prevent” changed meaning between 1611 and now; and if you did not know that, this verse in today’s English would cause some confussion.
The issue here are the words you think you know, but through time, have changed meaning; unless you are aware of such wording changes, you will definitely have problems reading the KJV. Furthermore, no hasitation from the KJV translators was given in applying their very culturally based thou’s and shalt’s words. These words do not take from the original idea; however, these words did not exist in the original Greek text. However, the issue of the best translation does not stop at translation word identification, it goes even deeper.
Two main lines of Greek texts exist, which most agree that both date back to the same time, first century AD. The text that was mostly used up until the 1800s was Textus Receptus (a.k.a: Majority or Bynzintine text) related to the Syria region. However, other Biblical manuscripts were discovered in Alexandria (Egypt-North Africa region), which many newer translations stem from; nevertheless, the question of its reliablity has been questioned for centuries.
Erasmus, Catholic Theologian, in 1525, compiled the first Greek text using manuscripts from the Textus Receptus. The Alexandrian manuscripts were available at the time, but for unknown reasons, the Alexandrian text was not used. However, in 1853, Brooke Westcott and Fenton Hort, were the first to compile a Greek New Testament, which took 28 years to complete. They, unlike Erasmus, relied heavily on the Alexandrian text; and what influenced them to go this route was that Alexandian text was written in a more polished Greek writing style, where as, the Textus Receptus seemed more paraphrased in style, which led them to question its’ reliablity.
So, which one is more reliable? Actually no one really knows; however, many studies of the two show that the texts are very must alike in both quality and quanity, agreeing 98% of the time, and that the 2% differences are so minor that they neither show up in translation nor affect understanding.
In conclusion, to assert that Alexandria text is a product of heresy, a rather interesting question can be posed, “Was the Alexandrian texts the only resource the Egyptian Christians had during the first three or four centuries?” If not, no problem; but if so (no evidence to say either way), then the conclusion would be that the Egyptian Christians only had access to this heresy version of God’s Word. But to take such a conclusion would essentially place the doctrine of preservation into a serious dilemma; and if you define preservation in terms of the Syrian Textus Receptus; you would be speaking poorly of God's sovereign care of the Christians in old Egypt.
My advice is this, we must have balance and no translation is 100% perfect, they all have their problems. This does not mean errors or inconsistencies exist in The Bible, but it is important to understand how your translation came to be, what methods were used in its creation, and what crediable Christian scholars and theologians have to say.
Nevertheless, the most important thing to consider in all of this, always seek the Holy Spirit of Christ on all questions; taking the pursuit on your own without the Spirit’s quidance can lead into crucial errors.