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The transmission of the Bible

10 September 2018

The transmission of the Bible

THEBIBLEThe Canon

The word ‘canon’ literally means ‘a straight rod’, or ‘a ruler’ and when it is applied to the Scriptures, it means the list of divinely inspired books which are the only basis for faith and practice in the life of the Church.

In the days of Jesus the canon of the Old Testament was already confirmed (Jesus referred to this collection of inspired writings as ‘the Scripture’ [John 10:35] or ‘the law of Moses, the prophets and the psalms’ [Luke 24:44]), but not so for the New Testament, because the books which form the New Testament were written one at a time during the course of the first century. The canon of the New Testament was fixed in 397 after Christ by the Council of Cartage, which identified the sacred books by name; they were 27 and the list was the same list we posses now. However, it must be said that that list was just an official statement of what the universal Church had already accepted as canonical Scripture. In other words, the Church just declared officially which books were inspired and which books were not inspired. It is important to realize that a book did not become inspired by being included in the canon. Inclusion in the Canon was merely recognition of the authority the book already possessed. On the other hand, it must be said that the Council of Carthage added the books of the Apocrypha (Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Book of Wisdom, Book of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus, and the Book of Baruch, and some additions to the book of Esther and to the book of Daniel) to the canon of the Old Testament, even though those writings (which were written in the intertestamental period) are not inspired. Therefore, that Council made a mistake in adding those books to the canon, which books are considered canonical by the Roman Catholic Church (which officially included them in the canon in the sixteenth century). However, the Christians of the first centuries after Christ did not regard the Apocrypha as inspired books for the following reasons: 1) They contain contradictions, false doctrines and fanciful stories; 2) Neither Jesus Christ nor the apostles mentioned them; 3) They were not, and still are not, in the Hebrew canon.

Since I have just mentioned the Hebrew Canon, let me say also that it consists of 24 books, but these books are the same as the 39 books we possess in the Old Testament of our Bible. Therefore the only difference is the way the Jews count the Old Testament books. Here is how they count them:

Law (Torah): 1. Genesis; 2. Exodus; 3. Leviticus; 4. Numbers; 5. Deuteronomy.

Prophets (Nevi’im): 6. Joshua; 7. Judges; 8. Samuel (1st + 2nd); 9. Kings (1st + 2nd); 10. Isaiah; 11. Jeremiah; 12. Ezekiel; 13. The 12 ‘Minor’ Prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi).

Writings (Ketuvim): 14. Psalms; 15. Proverbs; 16. Job; 17. Song of Songs; 18. Ruth; 19. Lamentations; 20. Ecclesiastes; 21. Esther; 22. Daniel; 23. Ezra + Nehemiah; 24. Chronicles (1st + 2nd).

Transmission of the Old Testament

The original books of the Old Testament were written by various men, for instance the first five books of it (called Pentateuch) were written by the prophet Moses; many Psalms were written by David, the book of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs were written by king Solomon, the book of Isaiah by the prophet Isaiah, and so on. All the writers of these books were Jews by birth, so they belonged to the people of Israel.

The Old Testament books were written at various times over a period of approximately 1400 years (from around the fourteenth century to the first century before Christ) and the language in which they were written was Hebrew (except a few passages which are in the book of Daniel and the book of Ezra, which were written in Aramaic). They were written on parchments. In the days of the apostles (the first century after Christ) there were copies of those inspired books; those copies were written on parchments and they were read in the synagogues of the Jews who lived in Israel and of the Jews scattered among the nations.

Those Jews who had the job of writing copies of those books were called scribes (in Hebrew ‘soferim’) and in writing the holy books they had to observe very strict rules. By the sixth century after Christ the scribes were succeeded by a group known as the Masoretes (from the Hebrew massorah which means ‘tradition’), who continued to preserve the Sacred Scriptures for another five hundred years in a form known as the Masoretic Text. Babylonian, Palestine, and Tiberias were the main centers of Masoretic activity; but by the tenth century the Tiberian Masoretes, led by the family of Ben Asher, gained the ascendancy. Through subsequent editions, the ben Asher text became in the twelfth century the only recognized form of the Hebrew Scriptures. The oldest dated manuscript of the Ben Asher Text is the Leningrad Manuscript B19a (1008 after Christ). The third edition of Biblia Hebraica, published by Paul Kahle in 1937, was based on the manuscript of the Ben Asher Text. This is the Text on which is based the Hebrew Bible as well as the Old Testament of the NKJV, NASV and NIV. As for the Old Testament of the KJV, it is based on the Ben Chayyim Masoretic Text, which is the Masoretic Text used for the Hebrew Bibles for approximately 400 years prior to the 1937 edition of the Biblia Hebraica.

Today, among the Jews, there are still scribes who have the important job to copy the scroll of the Law. They observe strict rules (which are very old) when they write the books of Moses. I would like you to know some of these rules.

1. The Pentateuch must be written on the skin (parchment) of a clean animal. The parchment must be prepared specially for use as a scroll, with gallnut and lime and other chemicals that help to render it durable.

2. The ink must be black, durable, but not indelible. It is prepared according to a special recipe.

3. The number of lines on each column cannot be less than 48 nor more than 60. However, at the present day the forty-two-lined column is the generally accepted style of the scroll. Every line should be long enough to contain thirty letters.

4. The scribe must have before him a correct copy; he cannot write even a single word from memory; and he must pronounce every word before writing it. This is to prevent any duplications, or omissions of words.

5. Before writing the name of God, the scribe must say, ‘I am writing the name of God for the holiness of His name’. When the scribe has begun to write the name of God, he must not be interrupted until he has finished it.

6. Strict rules govern the forms of the letters, the spaces between the letters, the words, the lines, the portions, and the space between each of the Pentateutichal books.

7. If an error is found in the scroll, it must be corrected and re-examined by a competent person within thirty days; if 3 or 4 errors are found on one page the scroll must be discarded. A mistake in the writing of any of the names of God cannot be corrected since the name of God may not be erased, and the whole sheet must be replaced and the defective sheet discarded.

The scrupulous care which the Jewish scribes take in writing the five books of the law leads us to think that the copies of the original documents have been handed down with substantial correctness for about 2000 years. Obviously, the copyists who copied the books of the Law and the other books of the Old Testament made some mistakes, – only the authors of the original books did not make any mistakes because they were inspired by God – that’s why the old manuscripts of the Old Testament sometimes differ from one another; however, it must be said that the differences don’t affect the doctrines of the Bible. What I have stated is confirmed by the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947, which are generally dated from about 200 to 50 before Christ. They include fragments, often minute, of every book in the Old Testament except Esther, one complete scroll of Isaiah and another of which approximately half has been lost, and a commentary on the first two chapters of Habakkuk containing most of their text. All these agree essentially with the ‘received text’ (the Masoretic Text) of the Old Testament except for orthographic variations or occasional variant readings hardly affecting the sense. Fragments, however, of Samuel and one of Jeremiah have a shortened form of the text like that of the Septuagint in these books. Since I have just mentioned the Septuagint, let me say something about it. The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Old Testament made in Egypt in the third and second centuries before Christ. This Greek version of the Old Testament is called ‘Septuagint’ (from the Latin ‘septuaginta’ which means ‘seventy’) because it is said that was translated by seventy-two elders, six from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The Pentateuch is reasonably well translated, but the rest of the books, especially the poetical books, are often very poorly done and even contain sheer absurdities (taken from the Jewish Midrash). Errors apart, this translation is now literal, now paraphrastic and now interpretative. It contains the Apocrypha, which are not inspired. Furthermore, the underlying Hebrew text differed in many places from the Masoretic text; so, for instance, the Septuagint represents a shortened form of the text of 1 and 2 Samuel and has the chapters of Jeremiah in an entirely different order. Yet, even though the Greek text itself is frequently corrupt, it is very often useful for recovering the original Hebrew text, if used with caution and skill. At first, the Jews welcomed this translation, however, two things rendered the Septuagint unwelcome in the long run to the Jews. Its divergence from the accepted text (afterward called the Masoretic text) was too evident; and it therefore could not serve as a basis for theological discussion or for homiletic interpretation. In addition to this, it had been adopted as Sacred Scriptures by the Christians, and this fact disturbed very much the Jews. Therefore, according to the Jews, a revision in the sense of the canonical Jewish text was necessary. This revision was made by a proselyte, Aquila, who lived during the reign of Hadrian (117-138). His translation is pedantic, and its Greek is uncouth. A second revision of the Septuagint was made toward the end of the second century by one Theodotion; his Greek gives a readable text. A third revision (perhaps dated to 170 after Christ) was made by Symmachus, a Samaritan convert to Judaism; its Greek is good.

Transmission of the New Testament

The books of the New Testament were written one at a time within the span of a century (the first century after Christ).

They were written in Greek by various men whose names were these: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James, and Jude. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews is unknown; some say it was Paul who wrote it, some others say its author is Apollos, and others say Barnabas.

As soon as each book of the New Testament appeared, it started to be read among the churches, and to be copied by believers. By the end of the first century all the Gospels and all the epistles and the book of Revelation were written (the first epistles of Paul, along with perhaps the epistle of James, were written between 48 and 60 after Christ, and the Gospels and other books between 60 and 100).

Therefore, the period of transmission of the New Testament covers 1400 years from the time of composition (1st century) to the invention of the printing machine (15th century). The history is divided into three periods: (1) Papyrus period (1st -4th century), (2) Uncial period (4th-9th century), and (3) Minuscule period (9th – 15th century).

Papyrus period

At the time of the New Testament, and even long time before, papyrus was used for writing. It must be said, however, that at the time of the New Testament parchment also was used for writing, for Paul said to Timothy: “Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come – and the books, especially the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13 – NKJV). Papyrus was found in Egypt and it came from a large water plant by that name. The soft tissue-strips within the stem were used to make papyrus sheets. A papyrus sheet had two layers consisting of the horizontal and vertical strips. Writing was done on the smoother side where the grain was horizontal. The length of a papyrus scroll depended on the length of the book of the New Testament written on it. However, it was impossible on papyrus to have a complete scroll of the New Testament (it would have taken a 60 meters – about 200 feet – scroll to contain the entire New Testament). Besides scroll-type papyrus manuscripts, there are also codices which are book-type papyrus manuscripts. There are a total of about one hundred papyri.

Uncial period

Uncial manuscripts are Greek manuscripts written in capital (majuscule) letters on vellum or parchment. There are about 300 extant uncial manuscripts. The more well-known ones are these:

1. Codex Sinaiticus. It was discovered by Tiscendorf in St Catherine’s monastery (which is at the foot of Mount Sinai) in 1844. There are 4 columns per page. Contains the complete New Testament (but it doesn’t contain passages such as Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11) and has much of the Old Testament in Greek. It also contains the Epistle of Barnabas and most of the Shepherd of Ermas (early Christian writings which were widely used in teaching). Dated to about 350 after Christ.

2. Codex Alexandrinus. It is stored in the British Museum and is dated to about 400-450 after Christ. It is the longest and best known uncial manuscript. It contains the whole New Testament except for most of Matthew (from 1:1 through 25:6) and some parts of John (from 6:50 through 8:52) and 2 Corinthians (from 4:13 through 12:6). At the end are added some early Christian writings which were commonly used in teaching: the first Epistle of Clement, and the second Epistle of Clement up to 12:4. There are two columns per page.

3. Codex Vaticanus. It is kept in the Vatican library. It was found in 1481 and is dated to about 350 after Christ. There are 3 columns per page. Contains both Old Testament and New Testament, and Apocrypha. But almost the whole of Genesis, many Psalms (105:27-137:6), some passages of the Gospels (such as Mark 16:9-20; Luke 22:43; 23:34; John 7:53-8:11), Hebrews 9:14 to the end, the Pastoral Epistles, the epistle to Philemon and the Book of Revelation are missing.

4. Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus. ‘Rescriptus’ means ‘to write again’. It was a biblical manuscript which had been erased and Ephraem – one of the so called Church Fathers who lived during the 4th century – wrote a sermon on the recycled parchment. It contains parts of the New Testament except 2 Thessalonians and 2 John which are missing. It is dated to about 450 after Christ.

5. Codex Bezae. It is located in the Cambridge University Library. It is dated to the 6th century. It contains the Gospels and Acts in Greek and Latin, with some gaps from loss and mutilation of its pages. The Greek text is quite peculiar, with many interpolations found nowhere else, a few remarkable omissions and a capricious tendency to rephrase sentences.

Minuscule Period

The minuscules appeared a little later than the uncials. The letters are smaller, and in formal running hand.

The Greek Text of the New Testament

As far as the New Testament is concerned, it is a well known fact that there are many differences between the New Testament of the King James Version and the New Testament of the New International Version, which are two of the most popular Bible Translations in the English-speaking countries.

Obviously, the first difference that can be clearly seen is the language, for the English of the King James Version is an archaic English since the translation was made several centuries ago. But there are other differences, such as omissions of words and phrases, word order, and tense. I will dwell a little upon the reason of these last differences I have just mentioned.

They exist because the King James Version is based on the ‘Received Text’ while the New International Version is based on the ‘Critical Text’ (which are two different Greek Texts of the New Testament since they are based on different manuscripts). These things can be said also about the New Testament differences existing between the Italian Bible Diodati Version, which dates back to the seventeenth century like the King James Version, and the Riveduta Version.

The Received Text or Textus Receptus

As I said before, during the first century (after Christ) God inspired some men to write the books of the New Testament, and they wrote exactly what the Holy Spirit moved them to write. So those books were free from error of any kind. However, it came to pass, during the centuries that followed, that scribes and printers made both unintentional changes (from faulty eyesight or by careless inspection of the original, from likeness of pronunciation or by incorrect spelling, from errors of memory or anticipation, by incorporations of marginal notes wrongly taken as corrections) and intentional changes (to make the meaning more plain, to harmonize related passages, to remove difficulties, to emphasize or safeguard important teachings) in the Greek text as they copied it. As a result, the manuscript copies of the New Testament we possess nowadays differ among themselves in numerous details.

Many attempts have been made to sort through the manuscripts of the New Testament and weed out the errors and mistakes of copyists, in order to restore the text to its original apostolic form. Those who have made such attempts have differed one from another in the resources at their disposal, their own personal abilities as text editors, and the principles followed in trying to restore the original text of the New Testament.

The two most famous attempts at restoring the original text of the New Testament are the Textus Receptus or Received Text, dating from the Reformation and post-Reformation era, and the Greek Text of B.F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, called ‘Critical Text’, first published in 1881. These two texts were based on differing collections of manuscripts, following different textual principles, at different stages in the on-going process of the discovery and evaluation of surviving New Testament manuscripts, and, not surprisingly, with often differing results.

The ‘Received Text’ is not a single text. It is a tradition of printed texts published during the time of the Protestant Reformation, that is, the 1500’s and early 1600’s. It includes the editions of Erasmus (5 editions: 1516, 1519, 1522, 1527, 1535) who was a Roman Catholic priest who opposed Luther and the Reformation; Robert Estienne – called also Stephens or Stephanus – (4 editions: 1546, 1549, 1550, 1551); Theodore de Beza (9 editions between 1565 and 1604); and the Elzevirs (3 editions: 1624, 1633, 1641). All these Greek texts show a close general uniformity because they are more or less reprints of the text (s) edited by Erasmus, with only minor variations. All these Received Text editions are based upon a small number of late medieval manuscripts. The King James Version (and the Italian Bible Diodati Version as well) is based upon the Received Text.

At this point, I need to speak about the Majority Text (also known as the Byzantine or Syriac text), which is derived from the plurality of all existing Greek manuscripts; since most of these manuscripts are late medieval manuscripts, there is family resemblance between the Received Text and the Majority Text. Therefore they are not the same thing. I say this because I know that the terms Textus Receptus and Majority Text are frequently used as though they were synonymous. Some scholars have estimated that the Majority Text differs from the Textus Receptus in over 1000 places. Therefore if we add this fact to the fact that the various editions of the Received Text differ from one another, we must recognize that the matter is quite difficult and complicated, it is not so simple as many depict it.

The Critical Text

In 1881 was published the Greek New Testament edited by Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1901) and Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828-1892), which is probably the most famous of the so-called critical texts. Their Greek New Testament deliberately and substantially departed from the textus receptus on the basis of manuscript evidence. Even though the Westcott-Hort text was the ‘standard’ critical text for a generation or two, it is no longer considered such by anyone, and has not been for many years. Today, the ‘standard’ text or texts are the Nestle or Nestle-Aland text (1st edition, 1898; 27th edition, 1993) and/or the various editions of The Greek New Testament published by the United Bible Societies. However, it must be said that the Westcott-Hort text is part of the heritage of both the Nestle texts and the UBS texts – which are called ‘new textus receptus’ – for they do not differ a whole lot from the text produced by Westcott-Hort in 1881; as a result many modern versions are still influenced one way or another, much or less, by the Westcott-Hort critical text. One of these Bible versions is the New International Version (in the preface of this Bible we read that ‘the Greek text used in translating the New Testament was an eclectic one ….’, but Kenneth Barker, General editor of the NIV, said that the eclectic text is the UBSGNT and NA).

Westcott and Hort compiled their text by employing the two oldest then-known manuscripts, Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, as their text base. For according to them, the concurrence of these two manuscripts are very strong, and cannot be far from the original text. These two manuscripts are called ‘the earliest and most reliable manuscripts’ or ‘the oldest and best manuscripts’ (even though some important passages are missing, such as John 7:53-8:11 and Mark 16:9-20, and many mistakes are in them). Since their day, a good number of manuscripts as old and in some cases a century or more older than these two manuscripts have been discovered. With a general uniformity, these early manuscripts have supported the text type known as the Alexandrian text (because of its origin in Egypt) which the Westcott-Hort text presents. Of the early versions, the Westcott-Hort text has strong support in the various Coptic versions of the third and later centuries, plus frequent support in the Old Latin versions and the oldest forms of the Syriac, in particular the Sinaitic and Curetonian manuscripts whose text form dates to the second or third century. Jerome’s revision of the Old Latin, the Vulgate made about 400 after Christ, also gives frequent support to the Alexandrian text.

Which text shall we choose as superior?

To answer this question I quote some words written by Douglas Kutilek in one of his articles titled ‘Westcott & Hort vs. Textus receptus: Which is Superior?’, taken from http://www.bible-researcher.com/, because I agree with them.

What shall we say then? Which text shall we choose as superior? We shall choose neither the Westcott-Hort text (or its modern kinsmen) nor the textus receptus (or the majority text) as our standard text, our text of last appeal. All these printed texts are compiled or edited texts, formed on the basis of the informed (or not-so-well-informed) opinions of fallible editors. Neither Erasmus nor Westcott and Hort (nor, need we say, any other text editor or group of editors) is omniscient or perfect in reasoning and judgment. Therefore, we refuse to be enslaved to the textual criticism opinions of either Erasmus or Westcott and Hort or for that matter any other scholars, whether Nestle, Aland, Metzger, Burgon, Hodges and Farstad, or anyone else. Rather, it is better to evaluate all variants in the text of the Greek New Testament on a reading by reading basis, that is, in those places where there are divergences in the manuscripts and between printed texts, the evidence for and against each reading should be thoroughly and carefully examined and weighed, and the arguments of the various schools of thought considered, and only then a judgment made. We do, or should do, this very thing in reading commentaries and theology books. We hear the evidence, consider the arguments, weigh the options, and then arrive at what we believe to be the honest truth. Can one be faulted for doing the same regarding the variants in the Greek New Testament? Our aim is to know precisely what the Apostles originally did write, this and nothing more, this and nothing else. And, frankly, just as there are times when we must honestly say, “I simply do not know for certain what this Bible verse or passage means,” there will be (and are) places in the Greek New Testament where the evidence is not clear cut,(1) and the arguments of the various schools of thought do not distinctly favor one reading over another. This means there will at times be a measure of uncertainty in defining precisely the exact wording of the Greek New Testament (just as there is in the interpretation of specific verses and passages), but this does not mean that there is uncertainty in the theology of the New Testament. Baptist theologian J. L. Dagg has well-stated the theological limits of the manuscript variations in the New Testament. Although the Scriptures were originally penned under the unerring guidance of the Holy Spirit, it does not follow, that a continued miracle has been wrought to preserve them from all error in transcribing. On the contrary, we know that manuscripts differ from each other; and where readings are various, but one of them can be correct. A miracle was needed in the original production of the Scriptures; and, accordingly, a miracle was wrought; but the preservation of the inspired word, in as much perfection as was necessary to answer the purpose for which it was given, did not require a miracle, and accordingly it was committed to the providence of God. Yet the providence which has preserved the divine oracles, has been special and remarkable….The consequence is, that, although the various readings found in the existing manuscripts, are numerous, we are able, in every case, to determine the correct reading, so far as is necessary for the establishment of our faith, or the direction of our practice in every important particular. So little, after all, do the copies differ from each other, that these minute differences, when viewed in contrast with their general agreement, render the fact of that agreement the more impressive, and may be said to serve, practically, rather to increase, than impair our confidence in their general correctness. Their utmost deviations do not change the direction of the line of truth; and if it seems in some points to widen the line a very little, the path that lies between their widest boundaries, is too narrow to permit us to stray (2). To this may be added the testimony of Sir Frederic G. Kenyon, the pre-eminent British authority on New Testament manuscripts at the turn of the twentieth century. In discussing the differences between the traditional and the Alexandrian text-types, in the light of God’s providential preservation of His word, he writes, We may indeed believe that He would not allow His Word to be seriously corrupted, or any part of it essential to man’s salvation to be lost or obscured; but the differences between the rival types of text is not one of doctrine. No fundamental point of doctrine rests upon a disputed reading: and the truths of Christianity are as certainly expressed in the text of Westcott and Hort as in that of Stephanus (3).

Notes

1. Even following rigidly the textual theory that “the majority rules” leaves a fair measure of doubt in a number of passages (especially in Revelation) where there is no numerical majority reading, the manuscripts exhibiting three or more variants, with none represented by 50% plus one (or more) of surviving witnesses. See the apparatus of Hodges & Farstad. And fleeing to the position, “I’ll just stick to the textus receptus,” doesn’t settle the matter, since the various t.r. editions differ widely among themselves — the Complutensian text — the first printed Greek New Testament — differing from the first Elzevir edition in 2,777 places, by Scrivener’s count (A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, first edition, p. 293), and in more than 2,300 from Stephanus’ 1550 edition (p. 300); Stephanus’ 1550 edition in turn differs from the Elzevir 1633 edition (these two have long been considered the standard textus receptus editions) in 286 places (p. 304).

2. J. L. Dagg, A Manual of Theology (Harrisonburg, Va.: Gano, 1982 reprint of 1857 edition), pp. 24, 25.

3. Frederic G. Kenyon, Handbook of the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (London: Macmillan and Co., 1901), p. 271.

The King James–New International Version controversy

The King James Version was published in 1611 in England, under the reign of King James I. The work of translation began in 1607 and was completed in 1610. It was made by 54 scholars, of whom only 48 were recorded since some passed away before the completion of the project. The Old Testament was based on the same Masoretic text as the previous versions, while the New Testament was based on the received text. However, it must be said that the translators of the King James Version did not follow exclusively any single printed edition of the New Testament in Greek; the edition most closely followed by them was Beza’s edition of 1598, but they departed from this edition for the reading in some other published Greek text at least 170 times, and in at least 60 places, the King James version translators abandoned all then-existing printed editions of the Greek New Testament, choosing instead to follow precisely the reading in the Latin Vulgate Version. Furthermore, it must be remembered that the original KJV of 1611 contained the Apocrypha, which are not inspired books, and that the KJV of 1611 was revised several times; the last revision was made in 1769 (the KJV used today is the 1769 edition).

After the King James Version many other English Bibles have appeared. One of the most popular and used English Bibles today is the New International Version, which was published in 1978. It was made by over a hundred scholars. For the Old Testament the standard Hebrew Text, the Masoretic text as published in the latest editions of Biblia Hebraica, was used throughout. The translators consulted the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the more important early versions – the Septuagint, Symmachus and Theodotion; the Vulgate, The Syriach Peshitta, the Targums, and for the Psalms the Juxta Hebraica of Jerome. As far as the New Testament is concerned, as I said before, the Greek text used was an eclectic one, which is the UBSGNT and NA. Therefore, since the Greek Text of the New Testament on which the translators of the NIV based their translation is not the Received Text, there are many differences between the New Testament of the KJV and the one of the NIV.

Now, there are some supporters-defenders of the King James Version who criticize very harshly those who use the New International Version (as well as those who use other modern Bible versions) because – according to them – the readers of the NIV use a Bible which is not the Word of God since it is not based on the Received Text. To these King James Version supporters, the New International Version is a Bible that must be avoided, because it is not a true Bible, is a false Bible, and thus it is not the Word of God; the NIV is so much corrupt – because the Greek Text of the New Testament from which it has been translated into English is corrupt and thus a untrustworthy text – that those believers who read and study it are part of the apostate Church! Some call it even ‘A New Age Bible Version’ because according to them it upholds and confirms the doctrines of the New Age movement! In other words, the NIV is a Bible used by the devil to deceive believers into believing many heresies!! Therefore, the aim of these King James Version supporters is to turn as many believers as possible to the use of the King James Version, which is the ONLY Word of God!

I have examined carefully the position of ‘the King James only’ people and the position of those who use the New International Version (as well as the position of those who use other Bible Versions); I have studied the matters concerning this controversy, and these are the conclusions I have come to.

Omissions or additions?

Are we so sure that all the passages and words which are missing in the Critical Text were in the original text? I think that this is an important question that must be answered before going on. My answer is this: in my opinion, some of the passages and words which are not in the Critical Text but are in the Received Text actually were in the original documents, while there are some passages which are in the Received Text which were added to the original documents. However, there are other passages and words about which – I have to admit – I am not sure whether they were in the original documents or not.

The differences don’t affect the doctrines of Christianity

I am persuaded that all the differences existing in the New International Version, are not able to deceive those believers who read the NIV and to cause them to fall away, that is, to stray from the truth and deny the Lord Jesus Christ. Why? Because they don’t affect the doctrines of the Bible. The Trinity, the divinity of Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, His blameless life, His atoning death and His resurrection, and His ascension to heaven, and His return from heaven; the divinity and personality of the Holy Spirit; salvation by grace only through faith in Jesus Christ, the purpose of God according to election, the possibility of falling away, repentance and faith, the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of life after death, of resurrection of the dead, of eternal judgement, and many other doctrines, are not set aside by the numerous differences. For all these doctrines are plainly taught by the New international Version and every believer who knows the Holy Scriptures and rightly divide them can prove these doctrines through the NIV. Therefore the Gospel of the grace of God can be preached using the New International Version as well, and not only using the King James Version, and people can be saved through that preaching. And the sound doctrine can be taught to the believers through the New International Version as well, and not only through the King James Version. So, if I had only the New International Version, I would preach and teach the same things I preach and teach using both the King James Version and the New King James Version (However, I urge those believers who use the NIV to consult the King James Version and the NKJV).

These things cannot be said about the Bible Versions of certain sects, such as the Bible of the Jehovah Witnesses, or the so called Inspired Version made by Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, which is used by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and some other Bibles, which contain many serious errors which affect many doctrines of Christianity; with regard to these Bibles, therefore, we must say that they have been twisted and manipulated by perverse people who deliberately decided to twist them in order to support and confirm their heresies. These kinds of Bibles are to be rejected.

But the NIV has been made by people who did not want to twist the Holy Scriptures to support heresies. The NIV has, of course, some defects, I recognize this, but it is trustworthy because it is doctrinally orthodox like the King James Version. The differences are due to the different Greek manuscripts on which the translators based their translation; however, both the Received Text (s) and the Critical Text (s) are doctrinally sound. Please, let us bear in mind that according to most Bible scholars the New Testament text is 99% pure whether we use the Received Text or the Critical text. Therefore, we can affirm that the great bulk of the New Testament has been transmitted to us almost without any variations, and so the sacred text is exact and valid and no article of faith and no moral precept in it has been distorted or lost. That’s amazing to me. And we must thank and glorify God for this. Not only this, we should emphasize the very many points of agreement between the Two Greek Texts rather than emphasize the differences. We can and should, of course, speak about the various differences, but in speaking about them we must be wise and impartial.

Both the KJV and the NIV have defects

Both the KJV and the NIV are not perfect translations, here are some of their defects.

KING JAMES VERSION

The following passages were mistranslated by the translators of the KJV.

1. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47); the correct translation is this: “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (NKJV). Even though the Scripture teaches that salvation depends of the will of God, it must be said that this passage was mistranslated in the KJV.

2. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19); the correct translation is this: “Repent therefore, and turn to God, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”. Even though, according to the Scriptures, man is converted by the Lord, in this passage Peter exhorted the Jews to turn to God. Furthermore, sins are blotted out at once, they will not be blotted out when the times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord. This mistranslated passage of the KJV is quoted by the Mormons to support their false doctrine about remission of sins, according to which repentance and faith in Jesus are not always followed immediately by forgiveness, for the forgiveness of certain sins will be received when Jesus comes back!!

3. “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40); the correct translation is this: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (NKJV). The Greek does not say that the fish in whose belly Jonah was for three days and three nights was a whale.

4. “For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26); the right translation is: “He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (NKJV). The end of the world has not yet come (for Peter says that “the end of all things is at hand” 1 Peter 4:7 – NKJV) while the end of the ages has already come.

5. “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:38); the correct translation is this: “But my righteous one [or But the righteous] will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him” (NIV). Both in the first part of the verse and in the second part, God is speaking about the righteous, that is, the man who has been justified by his faith in Jesus Christ.

6. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God …. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:16,26). The pronoun ‘Itself’, referring to the Holy Spirit, may induce the readers to believe that the Spirit is something (a force, an energy etc.) and not somebody (the third Divine Person of the Trinity), therefore ‘itself’ must be replaced by ‘Himself. Therefore the NKJV and the NIV are correct since they have “the Spirit himself”.

7. “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10); it is not true that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil because there are other roots of all kinds of evil, therefore the right translation is as follows: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil ….” (NKJV and NIV).

8. “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). According to this translation, we are looking for the appearing of both the Father and the Son, while the truth is that we are looking for the appearing of only one person, that is, Jesus Christ the Son of the Father (furthermore, according to this translation Jesus Christ is our Saviour but not our great God, so it obscures the deity of Jesus Christ). The NKJV reads: “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ”, and the NIV: “While we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ”. The same mistake is found in 2 Peter 1:1.

9. “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” – Hebrews 10:23. The right translation is this: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (NKJV).

10. In the following passages Romans 3:4,6,31; 6:2, 15, the expression “God forbid!” is a mistranslation since in the Greek there is not the word ‘God’. The correct meaning of that Greek expression used by Paul is ‘may it never be’ or ‘certainly not’ or ‘absolutely not’. The NKJV has corrected these mistakes, for in all these passages we read “Certainly not!”.

11. “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree” (Acts 5:30; see also Acts 10:39). That’s not correct, because according to the original Greek language that passage must be translated: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree” (NKJV). This mistranslated passage in the KJV makes the Bible say that Jesus was killed first and then his dead body was hung on a cross, while Jesus, according to the Bible, was killed by crucifixion, that is to say, He was hung on a cross and while on the cross He died.

12. “For in many things we offend all” (James 3:2). The correct translation is “For we all stumble in many things” (NKJV).

13. “Charity …. Is not easily provoked” (1 Corinthians 13:5). The correct translation is this: “Love …. Is not provoked” (NKJV).

14. The expression “the angel of the Lord” in Matthew 1:20; 28:2; Luke 2:9; Acts 5:19; 8:26; 12:7,23 is a mistranslation, for the correct translation is “an angel of the Lord” (NKJV).

15. In Matthew 10:8, Mark 16:17, Luke 8:2, 1 Corinthians 10:20, 1 Timothy 4:1 and other places, the KJV speaks of demons as “devils”. However, the underlying Greek word is not diabolos, the term for the devil (Satan), but daimonion which is rightly rendered as “demons” in the NKJV and NIV. I realize that ‘devils’ in the KJV means ‘demons’, however the Greek daimonion should be translated as ‘demons’, for this is the proper word.

16. The KJV translates both Hades and Gehenna, which are two different Greek words which refer to two different places of torment for the wicked, as ‘hell’ [for instance in Luke 16:23 (Hades) and Matthew 10:28 (Gehenna)]. This translation creates confusion, for Hades is the temporary place of torment for the departed wicked (prior to the resurrection of Christ, Hades consisted of two compartments: one – called “Abraham’s bosom” was a place of comfort and rest for the souls of the departed righteous, which has been vacant since Jesus led the righteous within it to heaven after His resurrection, the other was – and still is – a place of torment for the souls of the departed wicked), while Gehenna is the eternal place of torment (called also “the lake of fire” Revelation 20:15) into which the wicked will be cast after their resurrection in their resurrected bodies (thus with their body and soul) and where they will remain in torment for all eternity (it is presently uninhabited). There is no doubt that Hades can be translated as ‘hell’ (when Hades refers to the temporary place of torment where the souls of sinners go after death), just as Gehenna also can be translated as ‘hell,’ if by the term ‘hell’ is meant the eternal place of torment for the wicked, but in order not to create confusion in the minds of the readers the best thing to do is to leave these two Greek words in their untranslated Greek form. Another solution is to leave Hades in its untranslated Greek form and to translate Gehenna as ‘everlasting fire’ or ‘hell’. For instance the NKJV in Luke 16:23 leaves Hades in its untranslated Greek form, and in Matthew 10:28 it translates Gehenna as ‘hell’. Still another solution is to translate Hades as ‘hell’ and Gehenna as ‘everlasting fire.’

Since the King James Version was made several centuries ago, its English is archaic and there are certain words and expressions which are a big problem since through the years they have become ambiguous or misleading, so that today we can’t understand them without help. So I recommend the use of modern Bible Versions, such as the NKJV and the NIV, in order to understand those words and those expressions since in these modern Bible Versions those words and those expressions are updated.

There are certain passages in the King James Version which seem to have been added to the original Greek documents.

NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION

These passages were mistranslated.

1. John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”. The correct translation is this: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (KJV).

2. John 2:4: “Dear woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied”. Jesus, according to the original Greek, on that occasion did not call her mother ‘dear woman’ but simply “woman” (KJV).

3. John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. The correct translation is this: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (KJV).

4. Acts 13:33: “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”. The correct translation is this: “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee” (KJV).

5. Acts 19:2: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” The correct translation is: “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” (KJV).

6. Ephesians 1:13: “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit”. According to this translation, we were included in Christ when we heard the Gospel, but that’s not true because we were included in Christ when we believed. In other words, we heard the Gospel first and then by faith in the Gospel we were included in Christ; there is a great difference between hearing the Gospel and believing the Gospel. The KJV reads: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise”, that’s the correct translation.

7. Romans 1:17: “For in the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith”. The correct translation is this: “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (NKJV).

8. 1 Corinthians 13:7: “It [love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”. That’s not correct because the original Greek says: “Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (KJV).

9. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2: “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come”. The correct translation is this: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.”

10. In the Old Testament the word Sheol is translated as ‘grave’ in Psalm 9:17 and Isaiah 14:9. Sheol in these two passages refers to the place of torment where the souls of the wicked go after death, and not to the grave. So the KJV and the NKJV are correct, for they both have ‘hell’.

As for the New Testament, the word Hades (the Greek word equivalent to Sheol) is translated ‘the depths’ in Matthew 11:23 and Luke 10:15. In these two passages Hades refers to the place of torment for the departed wicked, so if it is translated it should be translated as ‘hell’, as in the KJV.

There are words and passages not included in it which were in the original documents.

There are some passages that have been watered down because they were not translated literally as in the KJV and the NKJV.

The so called attacks on vital doctrines of the Christian faith are not systematic attacks

Now, the King James supporters claim that some ‘omissions’ of passages and some renderings of passages in the NIV attack some vital doctrines of the Christian faith. Bear in mind that the differences I’m about to mention depend on the Greek Text of the New Testament used by the translators of the NIV; they just translated what they found in that Text, which differs – as we have seen – from the Received Text used by the translators of the KJV.

First of all, let’s take the passage of 1 Timothy 3:16, which in the King James Version reads: “God was manifest in the flesh” while in the NIV: “He appeared in a body,” and which could be rendered: ‘He who was manifested in the flesh’ according to the ‘Critical Text’. Let us assume that the King James Version passage is correct and the passage in the NIV is wrong, do you think that this passage will make a believer reject the divinity of Jesus Christ just because in the NIV we read ‘He appeared in a body’? No, because there are many other passages in the NIV that plainly confirm the divinity of Jesus, such as John 1:1,14; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9. Therefore, even if this passage were wrong, the NIV would lead you to believe that Jesus is God. Furthermore, it is evident that the authors of the Greek Text on which the NIV is based did not want to attack the divinity of Jesus Christ because they did not alter all the passages in the whole Bible that confirm the divinity of Christ. If they had wished to attack the deity of Christ and nullify it, they would have had to twist or to remove many passages of the Scriptures. For instance, since the translators of the New World Translation of the Jehovah Witnesses had decided to nullify the deity of Jesus, they twisted almost all the passages which state one way or another that Jesus Christ is God. That was a systematic attack on the deity of Christ. Furthermore, it is evident that since the ‘Critical Text’ has ‘He who was manifested in the flesh’ that means that the One who was manifested in the flesh had to be a superhuman being before, don’t you think so? Could he be an angel? Of course not, so He had to be God. Besides, remember that the Scripture says that the “Word was made flesh” (John 1:14) and the Word was God. One more thing, the fact that Jesus is called by Paul ‘He who was manifested in the flesh’ should not surprise us, for Paul calls Jesus “Him who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21 – NKJV), and John calls Jesus: “Him who is from the beginning” (1 John 2:14 – NKJV).

Second, let’s look at the so called attack on the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. In the KJV we read: “And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him” (Luke 2:33), while the NIV reads: “The child’s father and mother marvelled at what was said about him”. Now, let us assume that the KJV is correct and the NIV wrong, how can we say that the authors of the Greek Text of the New Testament on which the NIV is based attacked the virgin birth of Jesus when the accounts of His birth according to Matthew and to Luke are substantially the same as those written in the Received Text? Don’t you think that if they had wished to attack the virgin birth of Jesus they would have had to twist many more passages? Anyway, I would like you to notice that if it is true that the NIV has ‘the child’s father’ it is true also that the KJV also calls Joseph ‘the father of Jesus’. Here are the words that Mary, the mother of Jesus, said to Jesus in the temple when He was about twelve years old: “Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing” (Luke 2:48). Please, could you explain to me why Mary called her husband ‘the father of Jesus’ even though she knew that Joseph had not begotten Jesus? I ask you another question: ‘Why does the Scripture call Joseph and Mary ‘the parents of Jesus’? What does the expression ”his parents” (Luke 2:41) mean? It means that Joseph and Mary were the parents of Jesus, doesn’t it? Therefore, the fact that Joseph is called the father of Jesus doesn’t attack the virgin birth of Jesus. The reason why Joseph is called the father of Jesus is found in this passage of the Gospel according to Luke: “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli” (Luke 3:23).

Third, let’s examine the so called attack on the atonement. The supporters of the King James Version point out that in the NIV the following words “through his blood” (Colossians 1:14) are missing. Can you see an attack against the atonement made by Jesus Christ? As far as I am concerned, I don’t see it. The Critical Text on which is based the NIV is full of passages which confirm the atonement made by Jesus through His blood. I will quote just two of them. Paul says to the Ephesians: “In him we have redemption through his blood ….” (Ephesians 1:7 – NIV) and to the Colossians: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:19-10 – NIV).

I think that I have proved that even if these passages in the NIV were altered (I am inclined to think that in the original they were like we read them in the Critical Text rather than in the Received Text), we could prove the deity of Christ and the virgin birth of Christ and the atonement made by Christ through His blood even through the NIV. And I could give you many more examples like these. You see, the Bible is not a book like all the other books, it was the Holy Spirit who inspired the authors of the books of the Bible to write and the Holy Spirit is a wise Spirit. Every doctrine of the Christian faith is confirmed in different ways and in different places of the Bible. If a passage has been mistranslated or twisted, intentionally or unintentionally, or even omitted, there will be for sure some other passages that will confirm the doctrine which has been attacked. I want to make it clear that I don’t justify intentional mistakes, I just want to demonstrate how the doctrines of the Christian faith are not nullified by the Critical Text underlying the NIV.

Therefore, even though I consider the King James Version a good and accurate version in most places, I am persuaded that those believers who use the NIV have not strayed from the truth, and if they stand firm in the faith, pray, live a holy and godly life, have their delight in the Scriptures and divide rightly the Word of God, they don’t run the risk of straying from the truth.

Even by using the King James Version believers can accept false doctrines

The King James Version only people say that by using the NIV believers will accept strange doctrines, that’s why they don’t recommend this Bible Version. One of these KJV supporters has stated: ‘The whole result of a translation based upon the Oldest and Best Manuscripts, is deceit and departure from the faith ‘as it was once delivered to the saints. The inevitable result is apostasy’.

However, I would like to point out that the acceptance of strange doctrines does not depend on reading the NIV – which is a trustworthy Bible – for there are many believers who use the King James Version who believe strange doctrines, such as baptismal regeneration, the so called doctrine ‘once saved always saved’, the so called soul sleep, to mention only some of the false doctrines which are not taught by the Holy Scriptures. On the contrary, there are believers who use the New International Version who don’t accept these false teachings. What do I mean by that? I mean that you could have the best Bible Translation in your hands, but if you don’t divide the word of truth rightly you will accept strange doctrines. Remember that in the days of the apostles, even though there were the original autographs of their epistles and trustworthy copies of them, among some churches there were some who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, and some others who said that the resurrection was already past. And what shall we say about the fact that there were some others who had fallen from grace for they were trying to be justified by the law of Moses, and many who lived a sinful life, even though they had in their church the original epistles of the apostles? Is this not the evidence that even if we had the original epistles written by the hands of the apostles, we could forsake the Lord and go into perdition? Do you understand what I mean? Therefore, no matter whether you use the King James Version or not, if you don’t watch and pray, you will begin to live a sinful life and give heed to false teachings. And is this not what many of the King James Version movement do? They praise the KJV and criticize those who use the NIV and in the meantime they live a life which is not worthy of the Gospel and believe strange doctrines, which are not taught by the Holy Scriptures, because they don’t watch and pray. They are like the Pharisees, who had the writings of Moses and the prophets (and I challenge you to demonstrate that they did not have a reliable version of the Old Testament!), but they lived a sinful life (not a holy life as commanded by the law) and therefore they were rebuked by Jesus. They are like the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, even though in the book of the prophet Daniel as well as in the book of the prophet Isaiah it was written that one day God will raise the dead. These people have forgotten that we Christians must defend the sound doctrine and not a particular Bible Version or Translation, that we must fight against the devil and not against those who don’t use the same Bible Version we use. We must hold to the sound doctrines which are taught by the Bible (and I can assure you that they are taught also by the NIV), and we must defend them from the attack of the enemies of the cross.

The most important thing is to keep the Word of God; on the contrary, some of you who defend the King James Version and say that it is the ONLY word of God don’t keep the Word of God because you live a sinful life; holiness is unknown to you. Therefore, just as Paul rebuked some believing Jews saying to them: “You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?” (Romans 2:23 – NKJV), so I rebuke you saying: ‘You who make your boast in the Word of God, which according to you is the King James Version alone, you dishonor God through breaking the Word of God?’ You speak evil of those believers who use the NIV, is this the way to conduct as children of God? Did not Jesus command us to love one another? Listen, the sectarianism you show is a shame, and a scandal. Repent, and become humble.’

Even Bibles which are based on the Received Text differ from one another

Many believers when they hear about the received text think that there is only one Received Text, but that’s not true, because as we saw before, there are various editions of the received text which differ from one another. Therefore, for example, if the translators of a Bible base their translation of the New Testament exclusively on the Received Text of Stephen (1550 edition) while the translators of another Bible base their translation exclusively on the Received Text of Elzevir (1633 edition) their New Testaments will have many differences, because Stephen’s 1550 edition differs from the Elzevir 1633 edition in 286 places!! At this point, since there are these differences between the various editions of the Received Text, which is the preserved and infallible Text? The Text on which we can rely 100%? My answer is this: I don’t know, rather I think that no one of them is the infallible text. But there is another question to be answered. How can the term Received Text be referred to the pure Greek Text of the New Testament handed down? My answer is as follows: we can’t apply the word Received Text to the pure Greek New Testament because even the various editions of the Received Text differ from one another.

Now, as I said before, the KJV translators did not follow only one edition of the Textus Receptus but various editions of the Received Text and in some places they followed even the Vulgate, therefore the underlying Greek text of the King James Bible is a Received Text which doesn’t conform exactly to any of the historic texts dating from the Reformation period and known collectively as the Textus Receptus. Giovanni Diodati (1576-1649) also, who translated the New Testament in Italian from the Received Text, did not follow exclusively one particular edition of the Textus Receptus. Now I will show you some of the differences existing between the New Testament of the King James Version and the New Testament of the Italian Bible Diodati Version (which was first published in 1607).

The KJV has: “And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished ….” (Luke 2:22), while the Diodati has: “E quando I giorni della loro purificazione furono compiuti secondo la legge di Mosè…” (And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished). Diodati followed the Stephen’s edition 1550, while the KJV translators the Beza’s edition of 1598 which has ‘her’ instead of ‘their’.

The KJV has: “Who by the mouth of thy servant David has said” (Acts 4:25) while the Diodati has: “Che hai, per lo Spirito Santo, detto per la bocca di Davide, tuo servitore” (Who spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant David). All of Beza’s editions (except 1565) have the words ‘The Holy Spirit’, while the KJV translators followed Stephen’s 1550 edition in omitting these words.

The KJV has: “And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation” (2 Corinthians 1:6) while the Diodati has: “Ora, sia che siamo afflitti, ciò è per la vostra consolazione e salute; sia che altresì siamo consolati, ciò è per la vostra consolazione, la quale opera efficacemente nel vostro sostenere le medesime sofferenze, le quali ancora noi patiamo” (And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation – ‘and salvation’ is missing). Diodati followed Beza’s edition 1598 which omits ‘and salvation’.

The KJV has: “And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon” (Matthew 21:7), while the Diodati has: “E menarono l’asina, ed il puledro; e misero sopra quelli le lor veste, e Gesù montò sopra il puledro” (And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and Jesus sat on the colt). Diodati followed the reading of Stephen’s 1550 TR reading ‘he sat’, and rejected the reading of Beza’s 1589 and 1598 editions ‘they set’.

The KJV has: “This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not” (John 8:6), while the Diodati has: “Or dicevano questo, tentandolo, per poterlo accusare. Ma Gesù chinatosi in giù, scriveva col dito in terra (This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground)”. Diodati followed the Beza’s 1589 and 1598 editions, and Stephen’s of 1550, which omit the words ‘as though he heard them not’, while the KJV translators followed the Complutensian, and Stephen’s 1546 and 1549. The words ‘as though he heard them not’ were not placed in italics until 1769.

The KJV has: “After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not” (Acts 16:7), while the Diodati has: “Vennero in Misia, e tentavano d’andare in Bitinia, ma lo Spirito di Gesù nol permise loro (After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not)”. Diodati followed the Beza’s editions (except 1565) which add ‘of Jesus’ after ‘the Spirit’, while the KJV followed Erasmus, the Complutensian, and Stephen in the omission.

The KJV has: “And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus” (Revelation 16:5), while the Diodati has: “Ed io udii l’angelo delle acque, che diceva: Tu sei giusto, o Signore, che sei, che eri, che sei il Santo, d’aver fatti questi giudicii (And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, who art the Holy One, because thou hast judged thus). Diodati followed Stephen who has ‘the Holy One’, while the KJV followed Beza’s last three editions which have ‘and shalt be’.

The reason why I have made this comparison is to show how even those who translated the New Testament from the Received Text (in the same period of time) followed different readings in some places, and as a result the translations are not the same, they are similar but not identical. Therefore, since the KJV supporters claim that the King James Version contains the preserved text of the New Testament, and the New Testament of this Italian Bible does not agree totally with the King James Version, the conclusion to which they should come is that even such a New Testament, translated from the Received Text, is not the preserved Text of the New Testament and as a result it is not the Word of God!! At this point I ask: why should I prefer the King James Version to the Diodati? Why shouldn’t I prefer the Received Text underlying the Diodati to the Received Text underlying the King James Version? Who is able to show me that the KJV translators were correct in all their decisions while Giovanni Diodati did some mistakes? I tell you the truth, if I were a fanatic and blind supporter of the Diodati Version, saying that the Diodati is the best Bible in the world and the only word of God, I would reject the King James Version because of the above mentioned differences; but thank God I am not blind nor devoid of understanding, for God has given me His wisdom; therefore I accept the Diodati Version as the Word of God, just as I accept the KJV, even though it differs from the KJV in some places.

I think this is the conclusion each believer should come to with regard to the NIV also, even though its New Testament is not based on the Received Text and consequently contains many more differences (because the differences existing between the Received Text editions and the Critical Text are many more than the differences existing between the various editions of the Received Text). I believe this is a right conclusion.

Which Bible Version should we use then?

At this point, someone may ask: ‘Which Bible Version should I use then?’ Well, in my opinion, the New King James Version is a good modern-language update of the KJV. So you may use it. However, I want to make it clear that I don’t regard it as a perfect translation, for it also has its own defects.

The following passages in the NKJV contain mistranslated words or phrases.

1. Matthew 7:14: “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it”. The way which leads to life is not difficult but narrow, as we read in the KJV: “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

2. Matthew 11:3 (Luke 7:19): “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”. The disciples of John did not ask Jesus if He was the Coming One, but if He was “He that should come” (KJV)

3. Matthew 21:32: “For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him”. Jesus did not say to the chief priests and the elders of the people: ‘You did not afterward relent …’ but “ye repented not afterward …” (KJV).

4. Matthew 27:3: “Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders”. Matthew did not write that Judas was remorseful, but that he “repented himself” (KJV).

John 14:16: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever”. The Greek word parakletos, translated as ‘Helper,’ means ‘Comforter’ or ‘Intercessor’, so the KJV is correct.

5. Acts 11:17: “If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” Peter did not say that, for God gave the gift of the Spirit to the apostles as well as to the other disciples of the Lord on the day of Pentecost, that is to say, after they had believed. The correct translation is this: “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?” (KJV)

6. Acts 17:29: “Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising’. The KJV reads “the Godhead” instead of ‘the Divine Nature’, for that is the meaning of the Greek word theios used by Paul. Theios can translated also as ‘the Divine’ or ‘the Divinity’, but not as ‘the Divine Nature’.

7. Acts 19:2: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” The baptism with the Holy Spirit is received after one has believed in the Lord, that’s why Paul could not have asked that question to those disciples in Ephesus. The underlying Greek of this passage supports the translation in the KJV which reads: “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?”.

8. Romans 11:29: “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable”. The correct translation is this: “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance”.

9. 1 Corinthians 6:9: “homosexuals’ should be replaced with “effeminate” (KJV).

10. 2 Thessalonians 2:2: “… as though the day of Christ had come”. Paul told the Thessalonians another thing, that is, “…..as that the day of Christ is at hand”.

11. Hebrews 10:38: “Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him”. The correct translation is this: “But my righteous one [or But the righteous] will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him” (NIV). The one who may draw back is the just.

Giacinto Butindaro

From: http://www.the-new-way.org/

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