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Those New Bible Versions

Author: 
Ian Taylor

The KJV. England's King James I ordered a new translation of the entire Bible from the then existing Hebrew and Greek manuscripts into English. The English translators used The Bishop's Bible of 1568 plus what came to be called textus receptus or received text. This consisted of the 1550 Greek NT of the French scholar/printer Stephanus (alias Francois Estienne, 1502-1550, who introduced our familiar verse divisions) and the 1598 Beza NT Greek based upon the five Greek texts used by the Dutch scholar, Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536). The KJV team of translators produced the first edition in gothic style print in 1611. A second edition in 1617 produced the same text in Roman style type. A third edition in 1638 corrected the typos; the fourth edition of 1769 standardized the spelling.

Since 1769 some words have changed their meaning e.g. "assawged" now "subsided"; "replenished" now "fill" (especially important in Gen. 1:28); "brass" is more correctly "bronze" etc. There are some Hebrew words such as "Behemoth", "Leviathan", and "nephilim" whose meaning is still obscure. The KJV translators had certain views of the destiny of the soul that led to their use of the word "hell" where it should more correctly be "grave, death, depths, hades or sheol." The names "Jehovah" and "Easter" have pagan roots. Modern translations have largely corrected these faults. However, it is important to note that none of the words or passages in the 1769 KJV that were in error concerned the deity of Christ. There was no pattern at all to the changes that were necessary. However, there is definitely a pattern to the omissions in the modern versions when compared to the KJV.

There has never been very much debate about the OT Hebrew as preserved in the Masoretic (oldest version) and the Septuagint version (translated from ancient Hebrew into Greek in 2nd to 3rd B.C.). Almost all the scholarly arguments among Christians are concerned with the Greek NT versions; these arguments began with publication of the Revised version in 1881.

Bible versions since 1881. In 1859 the German biblical Scholar, Konstantin von Tischendorf (1815-1874) visited the monastery of St. Catharines at Mt. Sinai and watched as a 4th century manuscript was fed to the flames of the baker's oven, page by priceless page! He managed to recover most of it; just a few pages of Genesis were destroyed. The remainder consisted of the entire bible hand-printed as four columns to the page in uncial Greek thus identifying it as 3-4thcentury and the oldest version of the bible to that date. It is known as the Codex Sinaiticus and takes pride of place today in the British Museum, London. The word "Codex" means it was in the form of a book with separate pages rather than as the more ancient scroll.

History of the Codex Sinaiticus. Constantine I, called the Great, was Roman emperor from 303-337 in which year he died. He had a revelation at the battle of Milvian Bridge, Rome in 312, and became a Christian. Recognizing that there were differences among the Christians notably on whether Christ was, or was not, the Son of God he attempted to reconcile these differences by producing one ecumenical bible for all. He ordered the Palestinian theologian Eusebius of Caesarea (260-339) to produce 50 copies of the entire bible in Greek for distribution throughout Christendom. Accordingly, a school of 50 scribes labored to produce hand-written copies from a dictated translation. Two of these copies have survived, one is the Codex Sinaiticus discovered by Tischendorf and the other is the Codex Vaticanus discovered in the Vatican library. In frequent places both documents contain deleted passages that have been over-written and thus both documents differ from each other. The chequered history of the Codex Sinaiticus following its discovery, includes theft and intrigue but it finally finished in the British Museum. Bishop B.F.Westcott (1825-1901) and scholar F.J.A.Hort (1828-1892) were the best British scholars of the day and given the task of translating the Codex Sinaiticus into English. It finished as a new Greek text and as the Revised version of 1881.

WWestcott & Hort's background. The spiritualist Movement began in Hydesville, New York, in 1848. Media attention spread the interest in this phenomenon and in 1851 The Ghost Society was started among theological students at Cambridge, England. Students, Benson, Lightfoot, Westcott and Hort were its founders. This became the Psychical Society in 1860 and renamed The Society for Psychical Research in 1882; it was based in London and Westcott and Hort remained as active members. Other well-known members of Victorian society were Arthur Balfour, Lewis Carol, J. Ruskin, Sir William Crookes and A. R. Wallace. The Society for Psychical Research is still active today. This background was based partially on quotes taken from the book Life and Letters of F. J. A. Hort and we may be reminded of 1 Timothy 4:1 concerning those who give heed to "seducing spirits and doctrines of devils."

The Manuscripts Today. Scholars divide all the Greek manuscripts of the NT into The Majority and The Minority texts.

The Majority Text consist of 5366 Greek NT texts dating from the 2nd to the 16th centuries. It is sometimes referred to as the Byzantine, Syrian or Traditional text, all are fairly uniform with minor differences in spelling etc. and all support the textus receptus of the KJV.

The Minority Text consists of four Greek and one Latin MS: The Codex Sinaiticus, The Codex Vaticanus, The Codex Alexandrine, The Codex Beza and the Codex Amiatinus (latin). All these originated in Alexandria (Egypt), all differ slightly from each other and are 4-6th century. These have been pooled together to form the Critical Greek Text also known as the Nestle/Aland.

The basic difference between the Majority and Minority texts is that there are many words missing in the Minority text that are present in the Majority text. Since the Minority text is very early and until recently thought to be the earliest, the question is: Were the missing words present or absent in the original autographs? (The original autographs have never been discovered) In other words, either the words were deliberately removed in the case of the Minority Text or deliberately added by zealous believers in the case of the Majority Text. Some fragments of manuscripts dating from the second century and thus earlier than the Minority Text have recently been discovered and the missing words are present suggesting that the Majority Text may be correct. On the other hand, if words had been added these additions only occur in one or two gospels but not all. Comparison of the Majority Text with the Minority Text in terms of the KJV with any of the modern versions, a case can be made for a pattern of denial of the deity of Christ in the Minority text; this might suggest that the Minority Text is what remains of Eusebius' ecumenical bible. However, since that pattern is not consistent it can equally be argued that when the deity of Christ was being challenged, zealous Christians added words such as "Jesus" to the gospel text they had available.

Survey Comparison.
Matthew 5:19. KJV of 1769: shall break . commandments.
RSV of 1881: shall annul . commandments.

Luke 4:4 KJV: . but by every word of God
RSV: these important words are omitted.

Galatians 5:19 KJV: . adultery, fornication .
RSV: The word "adultery" is missing.

1 John 5:7 KJV: For there are three that bear .
RSV: Entire verse missing. This may just possibly have been an addition made by zealous Christians after the minority scripts were written.

History of the NASB. The Revised Standard Version (RSV) of 1881 resulted from the translation from the Codex Sinaiticus. The Critical Greek Text produced at the same time was used by a secret committee under Philip Schaff to produce the American Standard Version (ASV) in 1901. The same Greek text and the ASV were used by the Lockman Foundation to produce the New American Standard Version (NASB) in 1960. German/American scholar Philip Schaff (1819-1893) was a well-known liberal of his day and the newspapers denounced him as chosen editor of the ASV. Some noted points of difference between the KJV and the NASB are as follows:

Luke 11:2 KJV: The Lord's Prayer
NASB: Three entire lines missing.

The following scripture references deny the deity of Christ by changing the name of Jesus to "He", "Sir" etc. Matt. 4:12; 4:18; 8:3; 8:5; 8:6; 8:7; 9:12; 12:25; 13:6; 14:14; 14:22; 14:25; 15:16; 15:30; 17:11; 17:20; 18:2; 22:37; 24:2. Similarly for Mark, Luke and John.

Mark 1:1 KJV and NASB both say "Son of God" but NASB has a
footnote that casts doubt upon it.

John 9:35 KJV: "Do you believe in the Son of God?"
NASB: "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"

John 6:69 KJV: "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God."
NASB: "You are the Holy One of God."

Acts 8:37 KJV and NASB: "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."
The NASB has this part of the verse in a bracket and a footnote explains that many mss. do not contain this verse. In fact, only some of the minority texts do not contain it.

Galatians 4:7 KJV: ". if a son, then an heir through Christ."
NASB: ". if a son, then an heir through God."

Ephesians 3:14 KJV: ". the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
NASB: ". I bow my knees before the Father."

Colossians 1:2 KJV: ". God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
NASB: ". peace from God our Father."

1 Timothy 3:16 KJV: ". God was manifest in the flesh ."
NASB: ". He was revealed in the flesh ."
The Westminster Confession cites this verse as that which most strongly attests to the deity of Christ. The NASB footnote: "Some later mss. read God."

Revelation 1:11 KJV: "I am Alpha and Omega . write in a book ."
NASB: ". write in a book what you see."

Luke 24:6 NASB: "He is not here but He has risen."
NASB FOOTNOTE: "Some ancient mss. do not contain these words."
FACT: These words are in every known ancient mss. including the minority text, except the Bezae.

Luke 24:12 NASB FOOTNOTE: "Some ancient mss. do not contain this verse."
FACT: It is in every known mss. except the Bezae.

Luke 24:40 NASB: ". He showed them His hands and His feet."
NASB FOOTNOTE: "Many mss. do not contain this verse."
FACT: This verse is in every known mss. except the Bezae.

Ephesians 5:30 KJV: "For we are members of His body, of His flesh and bones."
NASB: ". because we are members of his body."
There is no footnote explanation for the omission "of His flesh and bones?" while this permits Jesus to be a phantom and allows the teaching of reincarnation. It denies the Resurrection.

Luke 25:51 KJV: "He was parted . carried up into heaven."
NASB: "He parted from them."
NASB FOOTNOTE: Some mss. add "and was carried up into heaven."
FACT: Every mss. has this except the Codex Sinaiticus.

John 3:13 KJV: ". even the Son of Man which is in heaven."
NASB: ". even the Son of Man.
NASB FOOTNOTE: `Later mss. add `who is in heaven'."

John 16:16 KJV: ". because I go to the Father."
NASB: These words are omitted without footnote.

Isaiah 14:12 NASB: Lucifer's name has been replaced by a name Jesus applies to Himself in Revelation 22:16, "Bright and morning star" thus casting doubt upon who fell from heaven.

All the new versions, including the New KJV, have removed the word "fornication" and replaced it with "sexual immorality." Thus the important distinction between "adultery" and "fornication" is lost. In the case of Matthew 19:9, the so-called "exception clause" of Jesus, the words "sexual immorality" allows a very broad interpretation to be given to permit remarriage following divorce. The word "pornea" or fornication permitted only one very special case in which the bride was found not to be a virgin. See, Deuteronomy 22:15-20.

All the new versions now use the word "age" to replace the word "world." Although this is strictly correct, it unfortunately identifies the message as "New Age." Example:
Matthew 12:32 KJV: "Neither in this world nor in the world to come."
NASB: "Neither in this age nor in the age to come."
See also: Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; Luke 20:35; Titus 2:12; Ephesians 1:21
Conclusion: A great deal of emotional literature has appeared in recent years in defense of The King James Bible and in opposition to the new translations. It has to be admitted that the KJV not perfect but the errors are generally of a random nature. In the case of the versions published since 1881, it must also be admitted that there is a partial pattern of omissions that concern the deity of Christ, particularly in the NASB. These omissions are often, though not always, Jesus' name or title, or words that could lead to doubt about His virgin birth, His death, His Resurrection or His Ascension. In their defense, it must also be said that some of the new versions, particularly the NIV, have provided valuable and necessary corrections, including deletion of words now known to have been added. The inconsistency of the omitted words plus the scholarship that has shown that some of these words were actually additions, now makes a stronger case for the possibility that most of these words were actually added after the fourth century by well-meaning believers to emphasize the deity of Christ. In either case, tampering with the text places those responsible in great peril. We might note the warning given at the very end of the Book of Books:
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. [Revelation 22:18-19 ]

Footnotes: 

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