OceanSide church of Christ

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Versions of the Bible
by: Dalton Gilreath

I.                Introduction

A.    First of all, are translations of the Bible acceptable?

                                                    i.     Of course we know that they are, but can we prove it Biblically?

                                                   ii.     Yes, in fact, we see translations in the Bible

1.     Ezra “gave the sense” as he read the Law of Moses (Neh 8:8-9)

2.     Some were translating the Hebrew into Chaldean for the exiles of Babylon to be able to understand the reading

3.     Also, Jesus quoted from the Septuagint (Luke 4:17-19)

4.     Notice He calls it scripture (Luke 4:21)

                                                 iii.     The language of the Bible is irrelevant as long as the message is the same

B.    Secondly, before we get into versions, consider study Bibles for a moment

                                                    i.     Study Bibles come in several different forms

1.     Some are general like a normal commentary

2.     Some focus on groups like men, women, or children

3.     Others target specific doctrines that we would not agree with

                                                   ii.     Overall, they are dangerous to use or give to others

1.     People tend think anything inside the Bible is inspired and may forget the commentary is not

2.     Most, if not all of them, are written by denominations

a.     Therefore, the commentary is littered with false doctrine

b.     Pick up a study Bible and notice the commentary on baptism (Acts 2:38, 1 Pet 3:21, Acts 22:16, Mark 16:16, etc)

II.              King James Version

A.    Many, like myself, use and love the King James Bible

                                                    i.     However, the KJV is not the only reliable translation

                                                   ii.     Some go too far and say it is the only real inspired version

B.     We must remember that the KJV had lots of errors in 1611

                                                    i.     Revisions started as early as 1612

                                                   ii.     Cambridge University revised it in 1629

                                                 iii.     Another revision occurred in 1638

                                                 iv.     Scholars believed there were still over 20,000 errors in 1650

                                                  v.     King’s printer fixed thousands of errors in 1727

                                                 vi.     Cambridge did another revision in 1762

                                               vii.     Finally, Oxford revised it in 1769 and this version is pretty much what we use today

C.    Furthermore, the KJV has archaic language

                                                    i.     Languages change and so it is fair to assume translations should as well

                                                   ii.     The KJV uses English we do not still use today

                                                 iii.     If one is not familiar with the language the KJV may not be the best version overall

1.     Mansions in the KJV means “dwelling place” (John 14:2)

2.     Targets means “shields” (1 Kings 10:16)

3.     Suffer means “allow” (Luke 22:51)

4.     Concupiscence means “lust” (1 Thess 4:5)

5.     Bowel movement means emotional love (SoS 5:4)

6.     Many words do not make sense without a proper understanding of the old English style

III.            There are three things to strongly consider, besides the language, when deciding which translations are reliable

A.    The underlying text

                                                    i.     We need to know what manuscripts the translators chose to translate from

1.     Some used the critical text, like the NIV (New International Version), which only takes two manuscripts of thousands

2.     Others used the received text, or textus receptus, like the KJV and NKJV which accounts for the majority of the manuscripts, like the majority text

                                                   ii.     Unfortunately, versions like the ESV (English Standard Version), NIV, RSV (revised standard version), and even the ASV (American Standard of 1901), and NASB (New American Standard) used the critical text

1.     However, the ASV, and NASB at least had some influence from the KJV which hindered them from leaving many passages and fragments out like the NIV and ESV (***See the attached chart to better understand the process***)


2.     Thankfully, the ESV and RSV do have some influence from the ASV giving them a slight advantage over the NIV here

3.     Frankly, the NIV, NLT, The Message, God’s Word, and many others use solely the critical text method

                                                 iii.     So, at this point, the KJV and NKJV are best fitting for this point followed closely by the NASB and ASV

B.    The translator’s theology

                                                    i.     This is short and simple: Either the translators believed God’s word to be inspired and was not to be tampered with or they didn’t

                                                   ii.     Some translators were more liberal than others

1.     For example, the RSV had 9 liberal scholars who translated that version

2.     The good news is that about five translations, the KJV, NKJV, NASB, ASV, and ESV, all pass this test

C.    The translator’s philosophy

                                                    i.     This final consideration is what separates the pack more severely

                                                   ii.     Basically, each translation is placed on a chart (as seen below) from being a literal translation (word for word) or being a paraphrase (thought for thought)

Types of Bible Translations - graphic by Dan Dowd

1.     Formal Equivalence is the philosophy using more of a word for word philosophy

2.     Dynamic Equivalence is the philosophy using more of a thought for thought philosophy

                                                 iii.     Notice, on the chart, that those in the green section pass the test while those in the yellow, and especially the red, fail miserably

1.     Those passing this test include the NASB (the first red arrow), the ESV (second arrow), the KJV (third), and the NKJV (fourth)

2.     The fifth arrow is the NIV and the sixth is the NLT (New Living Translation)

3.     While the ASV is not on this chart, it would be located alongside the NASB passing with flying colors

IV.            Conclusion

A.    There are certainly some Bibles you should never buy (Cotton Patch Version, Reader’s Digest Version, etc)

                                                    i.     However, the translation you use is up to you

                                                   ii.     Just be wary of translations that do not pass these three tests

1.     It may be wise to use multiple translations in study to ensure the quality in every verse

2.     Overall, the KJV and NKJV would receive the highest score, but the NASB, ASV, and ESV would follow closely behind

B.    Always remember that every translation has its flaws, even the KJV and NKJV

                                                    i.     However, not every version teaches false doctrine

                                                   ii.     Take the NIV for example

1.     It teaches total depravity (Psalm 51:5)

2.     It teaches man’s sinful nature (Rom 7:18)

3.     It teaches premillennialism (2 Pet 3:10)

C.    Choose the translation that is best for you, but hopefully this helps you decide which translations are most reliable