Bible History & Translations

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BIBLE TRANSLATONS & HISTORY 

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A.      How and who compiled the Hebrew Canon (Old Testament) and can it be trusted?
B.      How and who compiled the Greek Canon (New Testament) and can it be trusted?
C.      Types of Translation methods used for different languages and the impact
D.      Different English Bibles through the Centuries and the reasons
E.      Based on the above what should be our Main Study Bible?

 

News Flash - Most Modern translations base their New Testament on Codex Sinaiticus & Vaticanus.  These source texts are not earlier manuscripts and can't be trusted - Click here for the insight into Sinaiticus audio Part 1 

Additional Viewing - A detailed history of the Church and Bible Translations - A Lamp in the Dark Documentary (3 hours)

 

 

A. How and who compiled the Hebrew Canon (Old Testament) and can it be trusted?

Tanakh or Tanach – Is the sacred book of Judaism, consisting of the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings; the Hebrew Scriptures from which the Old Testament (OT) is derived.  Testament is another word for Covenant. The old covenant God made with us.  The Tanach is also referred to as the Hebrew Canon.  Canon means “measuring stick” implying that out of all the Hebrew scrolls available these are “the inspired Word of God.”

The Hebrew Canon contains 24 Authoritative scrolls which range over 1000 years of writings.  It is divided into 3 parts as follows:

Here is the sequence of when the books of the OT were written:

Job (~1900BC); The Law - Genesis (1445BC), Exodus (1445BC), Leviticus (1445BC), Numbers (1410BC), Deuteronomy (1406BC). The Law (these first 5 books) were used to determine future prophets, men of God, this was the “measuring stick” from 1406BC onwards. Joshua (1375BC), Judges (1050-1100BC), Ruth (1050BC), 1 & 2 Samuel (722-931BC), Proverbs (950 & 720BC), Ecclesiastes (931BC), Songs of Solomon (930-970BC) To Judah: Isaiah (690-700BC), Joel (805-835BC).  To Assyria: Jonah (760BC), Nahum (612BC). To Israel: Hosea (750BC), Amos (750-760BC), Daniel (582-605BC). To Judah: Micah (696-704BC), Zephaniah (630BC), Habakkuk (600BC), To Judah: Ezekiel (573-593BC), Jeremiah (586-626BC), Lamentations (587BC), Haggai (520BC), To Edom: Obadiah (586BC), 1 & 2 Kings (538-560BC), Esther (465BC), Ezra (538-457BC), Nehemiah (423BC), Malachi (450BC), Zechariah (475-520BC), 1 & 2 Chronicles (400-425BC)

Is there an Original Script from the actual hand of the authors?

No.  Unfortunately we do not have the originals written by the authors own hand.  We only have handmade copies. As a result the available texts differ slightly from one another.  Fortunately these differences are mostly minor, so that no major doctrines are based on these differences.

What is the Hebrew Canon?  It is the library or compilation of authoritative scrolls that make up the Hebrew Bible (OT).  Canon means “measuring stick”.  The “measuring stick” to select the authoritative books which people should know is the written Word of God.  The initial Hebrew Canon was first put together between (400-200BC), and Jewish Rabbis’ translated the Canon and other traditional books into Greek called the Septuagint (285BC). The last book of the Canon was Malachi (~430BC).

The Bible has 39 OT books because Chronicles, Samuel, Kings and Ezra-Nehemiah were split into 2.  e.g. 1 Kings and 2 Kings and each of the Minor Prophets have their own book whereas the Hebrew Canon includes them as one.  So the Hebrew Canon is the same as the OT of the Bible as we know it today. 

The Canon was mostly written in Hebrew with parts in Aramaic.  Jesus spoke in Aramaic.  Aramaic is a group of Semitic languages with a 3000 year history.  Aramaic was the ordinary language of Assyrian diplomacy.  It should not be confused with Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia.  Aramaic occurs in Gen. 3:14 (2 words), 2 Kings 18:26, Is. 36:11, Jer. 10:11, Dan 2:4 to 7:28, Ezra 4:8 to 6:18, and in Ezra 7:12-16. 

What criteria did God give His people in discovering the Hebrew Canon (incl. Aramaic text)? He provided the Torah through Moses – this was the initial measuring stick used to evaluate others.  The evidence of the criteria used to determine the collection can be seen by looking at the final collection of the sacred text compared them to other text that didn’t make it in.

1.      Was the scroll written by a prophet or a man of God?  Was the writer confirmed by the acts of God, either confirmation of the things they said would come to pass or insight into the past?

2.       Did the prophets or a man of God confirm the other prophets and their writings?

3.       Does it support the “Laws of God” (Torah – 1st 5 books of Moses)? If not then definitely not included.

4.       Does it support the main theme of the “Laws of God” (Torah – 1st 5 books of Moses), the redemptive plan of God?  That is, does the message transform lives to lead them back to God?  If it did not, then the writing was not included.  Jesus said, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms about Me.” (Luke 24:44).

Only a few prophets and writings fulfilled these criteria to make up the Hebrew Canon.  Those that did were considered as Holy Scripture, inspired by God Himself.

 

The Hebrew Canon was also translated into other languages before Christ came

ANCIENT VERSIONS IN OTHER LANGUAGES


The Septuagint Version (285BC) – This was a translation of the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures into Greek.  Probably done in Alexandria (first compilation).
The Samaritan Pentateuch ~100BC) – A copy of the Hebrew “Torah” text done in Samaritan characters.

 

Samaritan Pentateuch

With the split of the Samaritans from the Jews from the 8th century BC there arose a second Hebrew revision of the Pentateuch known as the Samaritan Pentateuch. It contains the five books of Moses and is written in Paleo-Hebrew script similar to that found on the Moabite Stone, Siloam inscription.  Author Frank Cross believes the Samaritan Pentateuch branched off in the Pre-Masoretic text in the 2nd century BC.  There are differences from the Masoretic text which are trivial and orthographic.  Some of the differences were introduced by Samaritans with the interest in preserving their status.  Such as the location of the Ark.  The oldest existing manuscript is dated to the 11th century AD.
The Peshitta Old Testament (~150AD) is translated directly from the Hebrew text at that time into Aramaic (not from the Septuagint), and thus very similar to the Masoretic Text.  Therefore it is older than the Masoretic Texts we have today.

 

The Dead Sea Scrolls in the original Hebrew & Aramaic languages (150BC - 70AD)

They are the oldest known manuscripts containing portions of every OT book, including an almost complete copy of Isaiah, with the exception being the Book of Esther (although some recent work identifies several of the fragments as possibly coming from a proto- or a variant form of Esther).  They are written in the original languages of Hebrew and Aramaic.  These manuscripts date 150BC-68AD.  The Hebrew text was originally written without any indication of the vowels which were to be used.  This probably posed little problem for the original readers who were fluent in Hebrew, and who knew from custom and context the words that were being used.  Much later, from about the 6th Century AD, symbols were added to the text (called vowel points) by a group known as the Masoretes, to show what these editors thought the vowels ought to be.

 

Dead Sea Scrolls

In March 1947, in the caves of Qumran near the Dead Sea, a young Arab boy discovered jars containing several leather manuscripts dating to the time of Christ.  They belonged to the Essenes.  The Essenes were a Jewish sect that settled in the Judean desert near Qumran.  Other manuscripts were found over the next 10 years.  2 copies of the book of Isaiah were found along with books and fragments from the whole Old Testament except for the book of Esther.  The Dead Sea Scrolls are owned by the Nation of Israel.


The Septuagint or the LXX  - one of the most influential translations (285-247BC)

The LXX version is the first translation of the OT ever made.  In about 300BC, when “Alexander the Great” took over the east, the Greeks took an interest in the Jewish “God”.  The Egyptian Emperor Ptolemy Philadelphus commissioned 72 Jewish translators to translate the Hebrew Canon for them and his (285-247BC) Ptolemy was fond of books and wanted to add the Hebrew Pentateuch to his collection in Alexandria.  The LXX was the Bible of the early church.  The order of OT books is derived from the LXX through the Vulgate by Jerome. The translation varied in accuracy and substance as there wasn't a translation standard.  Thus revisions were consistently being made to it.  The addition to these 35 books was done here in the Septuagint (Greek).  It ended up totalling 53 Books (additions called "Apocryphal").  These additional books were in Hebrew, but the Jews did not accept them as the inspired word of God, therefore not in the Tarach.  The oldest existing LXX manuscript is dated 350AD.

 

The various Hebrew Manuscripts

 

How were the Hebrew Text (Masoretic Text - MT) copied through the centuries? And who did it?

Only scribes were allowed to make copies, and they had extremely strict guidelines to adhere to when they copied the original. 

  1. They had to be isolated;
  2. They needed to take ritual baths before they started;
  3. They needed to follow the ordinances of God (sacrifices and keep the festivals);
  4. They couldn’t copy it by memory they had to speak it out loud then write it down;
  5. Every time they were going to write the name of God they would wipe their pen;
  6. When they completed a scroll they counted the words and the letters to ensure they didn’t make a mistake. This system was called Massorah.

The Massorah was written in the margins of the Holy Scriptures that among other things, counted the number of times an individual letter appeared on a page of the Scriptures.  It also revealed what the exact letter, word, and sentence should be on the dead center of the page. By doing this a scribe could check his copied page and determine if he had missed even a single letter or doubled a letter or word.  This was inspired by Almighty God and it insured that the sacred texts would be error-free.  Because the texts were written on a continuous scroll made of animal skin, if they made one mistake they could not cross it out but they had to throw the skin away.  This shows how accurate they had to be to copy the original.  Every stroke had to be precise, which was later proved when comparing the Dead Sea scrolls to the earliest Hebrew writings they had which were separated by 1000 years, the only difference being the pen strokes and the introduction of vowels.

The Masoretic Text (MT) is the Hebrew text of the Tanakh approved for general use in Judaism. It is also widely used in translations of the OT of the Christian Bible.  The scribes in the 6th Century, known as the Masoretes, continued to preserve the sacred Scriptures for another 500 years known as the Masoretic Text (MT).  Babylonia, Palestine, and Tiberias were the main centers of Masoretic activity; but by the 10th century AD the Masoretes of Tiberias, led by the family of ben Asher (Aaron ben Moses ben Asher died 960AD), gained ascendancy.  His father, Moses ben Asher, is credited with writing the Cairo Codex of the Prophets (895AD); it is among the oldest existing manuscripts containing a large portion of the Hebrew Bible.  Another significant witness to the Masoretic text is the Aleppo Codex (900AD), which is thought to date earlier than the Leningrad Codex (1008AD).

 

Aleppo Codex (~900AD)

The Aleppo codex was written by Shelomo ben Baya’a, but according to its colophon it was pointed (vowel marks added) by Moses ben Asher (930AD).  It was not permitted to be copied for a long time and was reported to be destroyed in a fire in 1948; but as it turned out, only the Torah portion was lost while the other books were saved.  Aleppo Codex was smuggled from Syria to Israel. It has now been photographed and will be the basis of the New Hebrew Bible to be published by the Hebrew University, under the ben Asher family authority.

Aaron ben Asher himself added vowels and cantillation notes thereafter (e.g. Leningrad Text).  He lived and worked in the city of Tiberias on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. In the 12th Century, through subsequent editions, the ben Asher text became the only recognized form of the Hebrew Scriptures.

 

In 1516-17AD, Daniel Bomberg printed the first Rabbinic Book; followed in 1525AD by a 2nd edition prepared by Jacob ben Chayyim (ben Chayyim/ Hayyim Text) and also published by Bomberg (known as the ben Chayyim text).  The source of the text was the most reliable text of that day. Jacob ben Chayyim was a Jewish refugee who later became a Christian, and most Jews consider ben Chayyim to be “apostates” because he converted to Christianity and thus many Rabbis reject him today.  However his text was used by the Jews until the 20th century. This 2nd edition was adopted in most subsequent Hebrew Bibles, including those used by the King James translators and was also used for the first two editions of Rudolph Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica (BHK) of 1906 and 1912.  However, in 1937 Paul Kahle published a third edition of the Biblia Hebraica. This edition was based on the oldest dated manuscript of the ben Asher Leningrad Manuscript (1008AD) (BHK), which Kahle regarded as superior to that used by ben Chayyim text because it was older.  The Stuttgart edition of BIBLIA HEBRAICA (BHS) (1967-77AD) was the next edition which the modern translations use. 

 

So which one is more accurate - ben Asher (1008AD) or ben Chayyim (1525AD)?

From my research they are so close, very difficult to find any major differences.  I would lean towards Ben Chayyim based on tradition and conservation Jewish Rabbi’s choice of scripture for over 400 years.  However Ben Asher is similar to the Septuagint. The ben Asher is “said not to” agree with the ancient safeguard to the Scriptures, the Massorah, but it is the oldest and closest to the Masoretic period. It is said that there is 20,000-30,000 differences but I don’t see the impact. However ben Chayyim version was used 1525AD by all translators as the Hebrew Text – for the Rabbi and the Christians for over 400 years (1525-1937AD). Only recently changed to the ben Asher (1937AD) and most of the translations post 1964 have ben Asher as their source text for the OT.

·         The following 12 places where the Ben Chayyim and the ben Asher text differ, these directly impact the translation which will affect translations (I used the following to compare Septuagint (S), Peshitta (P) and Jerome Latin Vulgate (L):

 

 

S

P

L

ben Chayyim

2

6

6

ben Asher (closer to the Septuagint than Chayyim)

10

6

6

       

 

 

 

  1. Gen 36:39 (Hadar vs Hadad); (C (L)– A (SP))

A

A

C

 

 

 

 

  1. Much Joshua 21:36-37 is missing from both ben Chayyim and ben Asher.  But more from ben Asher, e.g. “with her suburbs, and Jahazah with her suburbs….Mephaath with her suburbs” vs. “…Jahaz…Mephaath, along with the grazing areas of each” (C (LP~S)– A ))

C

C

C

  1. 1 Sam. 10:19 And ye have said unto him, “No vs. You have said, “No..”  (C – A (SPL))

A

A

A

  1. 1 Sam. 13:1 Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel vs. Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel forty-two years. (C (SPL) – A)

C

C

C

  1. 1 Kings 19:3 And when he saw vs. And he was afraid. (C – A  (SPL))

A

A

A

  1. 1 Kings 20:38 (Ashes vs. bandage) – (C (PL) – A (S)) NKJV supports the Ben Asher here.

A

C

C

  1. 2 Chr. 20:25 On the dead bodies vs. Clothing. (C (L) – A  (S)), Peshitta is different

A

n/a

C

  1. Prov. 8:16 (all the judges of the earth. I vs. all righteous judges. I) – (C (P) – A  (L P)), here NKJV supports the Ben Asher. Peshitta has both.

A

C

A

  1. Neh. 9:17 o their bondage vs. their bondage in Egypt. (C (L~P) – A  (S))

A

~C

C

  1. Job 19:28 found in me vs found in him.  (C (~P) –A  (SL))

A

~C

A

  1. Lam. 1:16 mine eye, mine eye (twice) vs. my eye. (C -A  (SPL))

A

A

A

  1. Ezek. 11:19 “put a new spirit within you” vs.  “put a new spirit within them” – here NKJV supports the Ben Asher.  (C -A  (SP~L))

A

A

~A

 

 

 

 

 

For the OT - How to identify the Translators Source Texts quickly without going into all the details

 

When trying to find out the source text, sometimes the introduction doesn’t include them.

 

Ben Chayyim (KJV, Tyndale), Ben Asher (NET, NIV, ESV, NLT), Vulgate (Wycliffe, DRB), Peshitta (Lamsa), Septuagint (Brenton). 

 

Use 2 verses in this order (Lam. 1:16; 2 Chr. 20:25) - It is 80/20, the reason it is not 100% accurate is because some translators may add another source in and leave another out based on their personal biases criteria. But this would be a good rule of thumb.

 

 

Ben Chayyim

Latin Vulgate

Ben Asher

Septuagint

Peshitta

Lam. 1:16

my eye, my eye” (twice)

my eye

my eye

my eye

my eye

2 Chr. 20:25

[dead bodies],

 [dead bodies],

 [clothing]

 [Clothing],

none

Therefore look up (Lam. 1:16). If it includes [my eye] twice then it is ben Chayyim.  It is it is once then it is the ben Asher/BHS, Septuagint, Peshitta, Vulgate.

Then look up (2 Chr. 20:25), if it includes “dead bodies” = Latin vulgate, If it excludes “dead bodies” and has “clothing” = Septuagint. If it excludes “dead bodies” and “clothing” = Ben Asher (BHS) & Peshitta

 

Apocrypha

What is the Apocrypha and are they God inspired?

The term Apocrypha comes from the Greek apokryphos, which means “hidden away”. The term apocryphal implies pretended Sacred books. These are the books that fall outside the Canon, the Sacred books. These are supplemental books that weren’t inspired but yet some religious people read them, like Flavius Josephus 1st Century Jewish Historian. They were never supposed to be in the same class as the Hebrew Canon. There are apocrypha books during the Old Testament era (pre 30AD) and during the New Testament era (post 31AD). The Septuagint included some of these OT era books as an addendum. Therefore I will elaborate on these books because they are included in one of the most influential manuscripts – the Septuagint. Initially, when the Septuagint was translated from Hebrew & Aramaic into Greek by 72 Rabbi’s (6 from each tribe) in 285AD, they only included the laws of God (Torah and some of the Psalms) and then over the next 40 years the rest of the Sacred books were translated. So you could say the Septuagint was final only after 246BC. However, over the following 350 years other non Sacred books were added to the Septuagint but weren’t translated by the Rabbi’s into Greek as they were already in Greek, as per the Dead Sea scroll findings, nor were they available/ in existence when the other books were added. These additional books that were part of the Septuagint are known as the Apocrypha, they are:

 

Apocrapha- Tobit (written 250-180BC), Letter of Jeremiah/Baruch 6 (200BC), Prayer of Azariah “Songs of 3 Holy Children” follows after Daniel 3:23 (200-160BC), 1 Esdras (300-150BC), Prayer of Manasseh (150BC), Judith (150BC), Bel & the Dragon (Daniel 14) (150-100BC), Additions to Esther (130BC), Suzanna/Daniel 13 (100BC), 1 Maccabees (90-70BC), 2 Maccabees (50BC-100AD), Baruch (70-100AD), 2 Esdras (100AD), Ecclesiasticus/ Sirach (32BC-180AD), Wisdom of Solomon (30BC-40AD)

 

A side note – the Pseudepigrapha are falsely attributed works, texts whose claimed authorship is unfounded; a work of “a real author attributed it to a person of the past, some mighty man of God is from." E.g. Book of Enoch would be ascribed to the prophet Enoch. These are not part of the Canon.

 

Why aren’t they included in the MS Canon (OT) – 8 fundamental reasons?

Jewish Criteria

1.      The Apocrypha was not listed in any of the catalogues of the inspired books until 300+years after Christ. Then only a few were added. At the Council of Jamnia in 90AD, where the Hebrew writings were canonized, the Rabbi’s rejected that the Apocrypha were inspired by God and thus didn’t include them into the Canon the Jewish people use today.

2.      Josephus (30-100AD.), a Jewish historian, explicitly excludes the Apocrypha; numbering the books of the Old Testament as 22 neither does he quote the apocryphal books as Scripture. Josephus rejected the Apocryphal books as inspired and this reflected Jewish thought at the time of Jesus. Josephus wrote: “From Artaxerxes to our own time the complete history has been written but has not been deemed worthy of equal credit with the earlier records because of the failure of the exact succession of the prophets." ... "We have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine..."(Flavius Josephus, Against Apion 1:8). Josephus spoke concerning the canon, but his book division combined Ruth-Judges and Lamentation-Jeremiah for a total of 22 books rather than 24. “It is true, our history hath been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers;...and how firmly we have given credit to these books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add anything to them, or to make any change in them.” (Flavius Josephus Against Apion Book 1, Section 8). Josephus distinguishes between those books written before and after Artaxerxes (who was a Persian King of the Persian empire 475 to 424 B.C., who commissioned Ezra to take charge of the civil affairs of the Jewish Nation (Ezra 7:13-28)). This eliminates most of the apocrypha, including Macabbees.

3.      Not one of the writers lays any claim to inspiration (2 Maccabees 2: 24-32). The material themselves agree that there was no prophet in the land and it isn’t inspired. “And they laid up the stones in the mountain of the temple in a convenient place, till there should come a prophet, and give answer concerning them” (1 Maccabees 4:46). “And there was a great tribulation in Israel, such as was not since the day, that there was no prophet seen in Israel” (1 Maccabees 9:27). “And that the Jews, and their priests, had consented that he should be their prince, and high priest for ever, till there should arise a faithful prophet.” (1 Maccabees 14:41)

4.      Many of the Apocryphal books teach heresy, are contrary to the Torah, and at the same time have elements of truth in them. They contain statements, which contradict not only the canonical Scriptures, but themselves; as when, in the two Books of Maccabees, Antiochus Epiphanes is made to die three different deaths in as many different places. Also inculcates doctrines at variance with the Bible, such as prayers for the dead and sinless perfection. “…It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins. (2 Maccabees 12:39-46). Contradicts the law that all have fallen short and focuses more on blaming the woman. Ecclesiasticus 25:19 “Any iniquity is insignificant compared to a wife's iniquity.” Ecclesiasticus 25:24 “From a woman sin had its beginning. Because of her we all die.” Ecclesiasticus 22:3 “It is a disgrace to be the father of an undisciplined, and the birth of a daughter is a loss.” And it teaches immoral practices opposed to the Torah, such as lying, suicide, assassination and magical incantation.

 

Jesus and the early Church criteria

5.      Jesus and the New Testament writers never once quoted the Apocrypha, although there are hundreds of quotes and references to almost the entire book of the Old Testament. Some may argue that Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon are not quoted in the New Testament and yet these are still accepted as inspired. However Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther were always included in History collection and "Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon" were always included in the "poetry collection". By quoting one book from the collection, it verifies the entire collection. However some elements like tradition did come from that time which Jesus spoke against – like washing of cups etc.

6.      Many early Christian leaders spoke out against the Apocrypha---for example, Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Athanasius. Although it was occasionally quoted in early church writings, it was not accepted in any canon. Melito (170AD) and Origen rejected the Apocrypha, (Eccl. Hist. VI. 25, Eusebius).

7.      Pope Damasus (366-384AD) who authorized Jerome (340-420AD) to translate the Latin Vulgate and he rejected the Apocrypha as part of the Canon. After being persuaded the rest were added. Jerome was the first to describe the extra 7 Old Testament books as the "Apocrypha" (implying of doubtful authenticity). His Latin Vulgate initially did not include the Apocrypha (402AD), but later he included some of them in his Latin Vulgate Version (405AD); Judith, Tobit, the Additions to Esther, and the Additions to Daniel. For this reason he added it as an addendum (at the end of the Sacred Text), thus no real authority. The rest of the apocryphal books were added to the Vulgate by someone else after Jerome.

8.      Based on denominational doctrinal position and pressure by those who read the canon, they were included to drive unity. The motive was wrong. Therefore not until 1546AD in a polemical action at the counter-Reformation Council of Trent (1545-63), did the apocryphal books receive full canonical status by the Roman Catholic Church. Prior to this they weren’t.  This was in part because the Apocrypha contained material, which supported certain Catholic doctrines, such as purgatory, praying for the dead, and the treasury of merit. This happened just after Luther’s challenge on the Roman Catholic Church, i.e. forgiveness from God is not purchased with money (as the Catholics enforced during that time) but is a free gift given to those who repent and surrender to the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

 

B.   How and who compiled the Greek Canon (New Testament) and can it be trusted?

New Testament (NT) means “New Covenant” that God made with mankind through Jesus Christ and its implications.  The NT is centered on the Messiah, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  It is called the Greek Canon because the early writers wrote the books under the inspiration of Holy Spirit in Koine Greek (some believe Matthew wrote in Aramaic).  “Greek” was the universal language as “English” is today.  It was spoken from Israel to Russia and surrounding regions.  In the NT several Aramaic words and phrases occur, modified to Greek.  Jesus spoke in Aramaic and some Aramaic words still remain unchanged like “Talitha, cumi” means “Little girl, arise” (Mark 5:41).

Up until the 10th Century, Greek texts were written entirely in upper case letters - referred to as Uncials, or large hand; but from the 9th to 15th Centuries, the new lower-case writing hand of Minuscules, often called “Cursive” gradually came to replace the older style Uncials.

The Greek Canon is a Library of 27 Authoritative scrolls/codex, divided into the following parts:

Is there only one Greek text or Original written by the hand of the author? No.

The various books of the NT were written individually and copied to be circulated amongst the churches of the ancient world.  Many manuscripts have been found over the centuries in areas of the ancient Greek-speaking world, and a few, less reliable manuscripts have been discovered in Alexandria, Egypt. They are less reliable because there are contradictions in the works themselves based on the Gnostic & Heretic influence.

 

Who collected the books of the Greek Canon we have today?

The NT is a collection of authoritative books.  They were written over a period of about 55 years (40-95AD) while the actual events took place during 8-69AD.  However prophecies and messages expounded upon are from the beginning of creation to the future - eternity. 

Within the first century 50-100AD, 23 books of the 27 books of the Greek Canon we have today were already in use by the leaders in Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome and Alexandria.  The full 27 books were used by some churches as early as 170AD e.g. Peshitto which had all 27 books. The development of the NT was not a case of a council gathering who select the books but the result of what church apostles, bishops and evangelists used in preaching to the people, all the councils did were agree upon them for the “universal church”.

As mentioned, during the 1st Century there were 4 main churches; i.e. Jerusalem and Antioch known as the Eastern Church; Alexandria and Rome known as the Western Church. The church in Antioch regularly asked the other 3 churches what they used and they were mostly all using the same books. Obviously Revelations was not included then because it was written at the end of the 1st Century, in ~95AD (in the early 2nd century this book was also included). The others such as Hebrews, 2 Peter and 3 John (which were written within 1st Century) were included in the “universally” later (universal church – all churches) but many churches were already using the 27 books e.g. Asia Minor, Peshitto. Hebrews was agreed by the council for the “universal” church in 260AD+; 2 Peter and 3 John in 369AD.  So we could say that all the churches were using the 27 books we have today from 369 AD.  But many churches were already using the 27 book from 150AD.

 

What criteria did God give His Children in discovering the Greek Canon?

We don’t have their criteria but we can see the criteria based on the books that they used and which other later councils agreed upon.

The following needed to be true to be accepted in the Greek Canon:

1.      Were the writers Jesus Christ’s disciples or brothers?  Jesus recognised them as His disciples and He taught them. “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Heb. 1:1-2).

2.      Did the leadership of the first church recognise other writers as inspired by God or used their material (leadership were - James, Peter, John).  Yes, Jesus spoke with Paul on Paul’s way to Damascus and again later.  Peter under the guidance of Holy Spirit recognised the message that Jesus Christ gave Paul and told people to listen to him (2 Peter 3:15-16).  Therefore Paul’s writings were included in the writings.  The Gospel of Mark, the Papias, describes Mark as “the interpreter of Peter”.  Therefore the Gospel of Mark was included. 

Even though there were many manuscripts in the 1st to 3rd century, someone needed to compile them.  These extant manuscripts (MSS) in Greek were brought together by various editors such as Lucian (250-312AD).  These were then filtered by the Church council, building on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:20), as to which were the authoritative books (see the criteria below).  Then “Most” of the NT manuscripts as we know today were circulated throughout the early church, the Greek Canon was only established at some point during 130AD-325AD.  In 367AD the COMPLETE NT as we know it today was in circulation based on the writings from the early Church. 

The NT Apocryphal books didn’t carry any authority even back then as many of the books were written after 100 AD, neither were they written by the disciples, the brothers of Jesus nor those the Disciples acknowledged people needed to listen to like Paul. These books were written by mostly “Christians” and some by Agnostics. Thus after 367 AD they were removed.

 

Could the Gospel Writers have remembered so much of the detail so many years later?

 

1)      Jesus’ words stopped people in their tracks and His style of story telling would be hard to forget.  The Jewish people used to memorize large texts, not like today, because scrolls were very expensive to own.

2)      A few people in the concentration camps memorized the entire NT to ensure they remembered it.  There were also many who memorized all the gospels.  Today there are theater shows of people reciting word for word the accounts of the Gospels. So it is possible that they memorized Jesus’ words.

3)      Matthew was a tax collector and knew short hand.

4)      The disciples could have taken some personal notes over their years with Jesus.

5)      Holy Spirit was in them reminding them just like Jesus said He would. 

 

What's even more amazing is that the 4 gospels match 100%.  If 2 witnesses in a court of law (today or back then) are questioned and when they have the same testimony it is considered as truth. How much more 4 saying the exact same things written in different parts of the world by different people?  That’s amazing.  Also the Torah, Writings, Psalms and Prophets support the Gospels – there is not one contradiction.  This would only be possible with divine intervention - proving that the scriptures were inspired by God Himself.

If we don’t have the originals, what do we have and can it be trusted as the Word of God?

With the development of the printing press in the mid-15th century, there were many handwritten manuscripts available.  Over the next few centuries, numerous men set about collecting, combining and comparing the manuscripts in order to have one complete Greek NT text to print.  One of the earliest of these is the text we know of as the Textus Receptus or Received Text (hereafter referred to as RT).

This work has not stopped, and today scholars are continuing to collect and collate manuscripts in an effort to produce what they believe to be a better Greek text.  The most recent of these is the work, based upon the less reliable manuscripts, published through the United Bible Societies; this is commonly called the Critical Text (CT) (for a number of reasons which will be listed below in the translations section).

Total NT manuscripts: 5,300 Greek MSS + 10,000 Latin Vulgates + 9,300 others = 24,000 copies.  (Fyi - MS is an abbreviation for "manuscript" and MSS is an abbreviation for "manuscripts."  These refer to the old texts, i.e., fragments, scrolls).  According to research done by Kurt and Barbara Aland, a total of 230 manuscript portions are currently in existence which pre-date 600AD. These can be broken down into 192 Greek NT manuscripts, 5 Greek lectionaries containing scripture, and 33 translations of the Greek NT (Aland 1987:82-83). Of the 5300+ these range from small fragments containing two or three verses to nearly entire Bibles.  The ages vary from the 2nd to the 16th Century; the manuscripts end with the arrival of printing.  The early church did not have the same rigorous system of "approved copyists" used for copying the OT.  Anyone who wanted a copy would make their own, or employ a scribe to make it for him.  This is an onerous task, and it is not surprising that errors were introduced.  Most of the variations are linguistic (variations in spelling or word order), omission or inclusion of a word or clause.

The more manuscripts we have the better, i.e. the more copies we have the better we can compare between them and thus know if the document we now read corresponds with the original. It is much like a witness to an event. If we have only one witness to the event, there is the possibility that the witness's agenda or even an exaggeration of the event has crept in and we would never know the full truth. But if we have many witnesses, the probability that they all got it wrong becomes insignificant.

Heresies were already becoming a serious problem during the lifetime of the apostolic writers, and the situation deteriorated even further after the death of the Apostle John.  There was a temptation to adjust the text to suit the heretical prejudices of the copyist or his employer.  Handwritten copies of the NT would normally be used until they wore out and fell apart, but if one was recognized to be unreliable, it would not be used or would be discarded while still in good physical condition.  Bad complete copies are therefore more likely to have survived only to be discovered centuries later.  Since the 1880’s most contemporary translations of the NT have relied upon a relatively few manuscripts discovered chiefly in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.  Such translations depend primarily on two manuscripts (largest complete works), Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus (4th Century), because of their greater age.  The Greek text obtained by using these sources and the related papyri (our most ancient manuscripts) is known as the Alexandrian Text.  However, some scholars have grounds for doubting the faithfulness of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, since they often disagree with one another, and Sinaiticus exhibits excessive omission.  They are not the oldest texts but the oldest “close-to-complete” text that we have today.

 

 

OLDEST GREEK MANUSCRIPTS AND BIBLE

 

Here is a list of the earliest “Complete” (semi complete) Versions (150 – 500AD)

 

"Peshitta" (started 150AD – 5th Century), Peshito (170AD – 6th Century) and the "Curetonian Syriac" (3rd Century) are the oldest Manuscripts in existence of the NT.  The name Peshitta in Aramaic means "Straight", in other words, the original and pure NT.  The Peshitta is the only authentic and pure text which contains the books in the NT that were written in Aramaic, the Language of Mshikha (the Messiah) and His Disciples. There is a difference between Peshitta (Eastern) and Peshitto (Western), the content is very similar.  The Peshitta excludes 2Peter, 2John, 3John, Jude and Revelation (it has 22 NT books) where the Peshitto includes them (27 books).

The 2nd Century Assyrian apologist, Tatian, created a harmony of the four Peshitta Gospels to provide a complete life of Jesus. This Aramaic version is known as the “Diatessaron” (aka “Evangelion da Mehallete”) meaning “Gospel harmony”. It is generally accepted by most scholars as being published around 175 AD or earlier. The Arabic translation of the Assyrian Diatessaron heavily indicates that it stems from the Peshitta. Means the Peshitta would be around 175 AD the latest.

GREEK -  Codex Sinaiticus, Codex “a” (331AD is popular but not true, it is more likely a 1840 AD version done by Constantine Simonides, corrections made by his uncle and then others).  It contains almost all of the NT and over half of the LXX +additional books. In 1933, it was purchased from Russia by Great Britain and is now housed in the British Museum. This isn’t to be trusted as a source.

GREEK - The Codex Vaticanus (331AD is popular but not true, it only came out after the Codex Sinaiticus in order to support Sinaiticus controversy.  It was then alleged to have been in the library since 15th Century) Codex B - Contains most of the Bible (LXX and NT + additional books) – This manuscript is currently housed in the Vatican library in Rome.  It originally contained the whole Bible + additional books, but parts have been lost.

GOTHIC Version (350AD)

EGYPTIAN Versions – the 'Memphitic' (or Lower Egyptian, less properly called "Coptic"), belonging to the 4th or 5th Century; as does the 'Thebaic' (or Upper Egyptian, less properly called the "Sahidic"), belonging to the 3rd Century.

LATIN - Vulgate NT (389AD) – A Roman Catholic scholar, Jerome, was commissioned by Pope Damasus I to revise the Old Latin Text (Vetus Latina) on the four Gospels, with the best Greek Manuscripts of the day.  He completed it 384AD. Then was forced out of Rome in 385AD and settled in Bethlehem where he continued working on the rest of the NT.  It is believed that he made some changes to the rest of the NT between 385 to 389AD before he started translating the OT Hebrew text into Latin 390 to 405AD.  The entire Bible was translated into Latin 405AD.  This Bible became the standard in the Catholic church for well over 1,000 years.

 

GREEK - Codex Alexandrinus (425AD) Codex “A” – Almost the entire Bible (LXX and NT). It is currently housed in the British museum, complete except 40 leaves.

GREEK –

Codex Ephraemi (400-450AD) Codex C - Represents most of the NT except 2Thes. and 2John.

Codex Bezae (450 AD) Codex D - Contains the Four Gospels and Acts in Greek and Latin.

Codex Washingtonensis (450AD) Codex W - sometimes called Codex Freerianus. Contains the Four Gospels.

Codex Claromontanus (500’s) (Codex D(p)) Contains the Pauline Epistles.

SYRIAC “Aramaic” – The "Philoxenian" and the "Jerusalem" (both 5th Century). Copied from Peshitta & Peshitto.

ARMENIAN - (5th Century), The ETHIOPIC – (4th – 7th Century), The GEORGIAN – (6th Century)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Codex Vaticanus & Sinaiticus 331AD/1841AD (the entire Bible OT and NT, but only the NT is used in the CT)

Codex Vaticanus

It includes most of the LXX version of the OT and most of the NT.  It contains 759 leaves measuring 10 by 10.5 inches.  It was written on fine vellum (tanned animal skins) and remains in excellent condition (because it is so new). In spite of being in excellent condition, it omits Genesis 1:1 - 46:28, 2 Kings 2; Psalms 106-138, Matt. 16:2-3, the Pauline Pastoral Epistles (1 & 2 Tim), Hebrews 9:14 -13:25, Titus and all of Revelations.  These parts were left out on purpose.  Besides all that - in the Gospels alone it leaves out 237 words, 452 clauses and 748 whole sentences.

There is an effort underway to remove the book of "Revelations" in the newer Bible versions (the vaticanus does not have it) and replace it with "Shepherd of Hermas" – need anymore be said on that?

The Vaticanus also contains the Apocrypha, which are pre-NT writings that do not appear in the Hebrew OT.  The Codex Vaticanus is owned by the Roman Catholic Church and is housed in the Vatican Library, Vatican City.

 

CODEX SINAITICUS

The Considered by Catholics and the American Bible Institution to be one of the most important witnesses to the Greek text of the NT dated in the 4th Century. But this isn’t true, no proof that it is 4th Century except for the way the letters are written – this is the work of Constantine Simonides (much proof of this). The manuscript was 'found' in 1844 at St. Catherines Monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai in Egypt by a man named Constantim von Tischendorf.  It was acquired for the Czar of Russia.  Sinaiticus contains over 1/2 of the OT (LXX) and all of the NT except for Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11. It also contains the OT Apocrypha plus adds to the NT, the "Shepherd of Hermes" and the "Epistle of Barnabas."  Sinaiticus is written on 364.5 pages measuring 13.5 by 14 inches.  The material is good vellum made from antelope skins. There are corrections and revisions on nearly every page of the manuscript made by 10 different people - 23000. In 1933, it was purchased by the British government for $500,000

 

Neither Sinaiticus nor Vaticanus contain the last twelve verses of Mark (Mark 16:9-20), even though the verses are included in some earlier fragments, and in the writings of Church leaders, even ones cited by scholars as early as the second century. For perspective, out of a total of 620 Greek Manuscripts which contain the Gospel of Mark, only the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus omit these 12 verses.  

 

Alexandrian Text

GREEK - Codex Alexandrinus (425AD) also used as a basis for the Critical or Minority Text (CT) – the CT basis for NASB, NIV, ESV and most other modern-day versions.

The Alexandrian Text is mainly based on just two primary manuscripts, the Vaticanus (also known as "B") and the Sinaiticus (also known as "Aleph") & then the Alexandrinus. It's called the CT 19th century because it was developed by so called "textual critics".  This manuscript only agrees with 85% of the MT, and these CT sources (Sinaiticus, Vaticanus and Alexandrinus) disagree with each other.  The Greek text obtained by using these sources and related papyri is known as the "Alexandrian" text, which refers to the origin, not to where it was found.  We know this because Alexandria is in Egypt, in North Africa, an area notorious for the Arian heresy which undermined the full Deity of Christ. The destruction of North African Christianity by Islam (670-725AD)) ensured that African texts were unknown to Bible translators until these texts were unearthed by archaeologists from the 19th Century onwards.  The discovery of the "Alexandrian" text in the 19th Century caused a major upheaval in attitudes towards the NT, and provided ammunition for liberal theologians who sought to prove that the NT was a document of late creation, full of errors and embellishments.  These include the oldest near-complete manuscripts of the NT Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus.

Because the underlying Greek text varies widely relative to each other, the term "eclectic text" is commonly used.  Eclectic means “selecting what seems best of various styles or ideas as there isn’t one based on doctrine.”  This means that the underlying original text is formed by picking readings from different manuscripts, but the translators have not adopted a formal or systematic approach when deciding which of the various readings should be adopted based on the translator/s bias.

Dr. Brooke Foss Westcott, in “The New Testament Canon” 1855, who later was a supporter of the Alexandrian-text said that he saw “no reason to desert the opinion which has obtained the sanction of the most competent scholars that the formation of the Peshitto Syriac was to be fixed within the first half of the second century. The very obscurity which hangs over its origin is proof of its venerable age, because it shows that it grew up spontaneously among Christian congregations...Had it been a work of later date, of the 3rd or 4th century it is scarcely possible that its history should be so uncertain as it is.” But later, in “Introduction to the NT Greek” 1882, changed his view of the Peshitta, seeing how it often agreed with the Byzantine texts and against his supported Alexandrian texts. He then concluded that the Peshitta must have been a revision of the Old Syriac, many today erroneously teach this.  

 

RECEIVED TEXT / Textus Receptus

RT – 16th Century Text from Byzantine (10-12th Century) which stems back to the Byzantine (4th - 5th Century) – the basis for KJV.

NT Greek text used by Greek-speaking churches for many centuries.  These texts are sometimes called "Byzantine", since most have their origin in Europe and Asia Minor, which was dominated by the more orthodox theology championed by Byzantium.  Many consider the Roman Emperor Constantine I (reigned 306–337) to be the first Byzantine Emperor.  As might be expected, the Byzantine texts place greater emphasis on the deity of Christ than the Alexandrian. The support for the Byzantine readings from the earlier fragments suggests that the Byzantine texts better reflect the original texts based on their high level of consistency with each other.  The earliest of the Church Fathers to witness to a Byzantine text-type in their NT quotations is John Chrysostom (349 – 407AD). The earliest translation to witness to a Greek base conforming to the Byzantine text is the Syriac Peshitta.  Another which agrees is the Old Latin Vulgate (157AD) which was produced 200 years before the Minority Texts (Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus).

 

From the 5300+ Greek manuscripts; the great majority of manuscripts are in substantial agreement but yet none match 100%, the number quoted is >90% that match each other (compared to the CT >85%).  Erasmus, Stephanus, Beza and the Elzevir brothers formed the text known as Textus Receptus (RT).  The most notable editor of all was Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536AD). 

 

Today the term Textus Receptus is used generically to apply to all editions of the Greek NT which follow the printed editions of Desiderius Erasmus. He was upset with the inaccuracy that crept into the Vulgate Bible over the years (copying errors and mistranslations based on human interpretation). 

 

Because he was a Roman Catholic scholar he re-translated the NT into Latin and prepared an edition of the Greek to be printed beside his Latin version to demonstrate the text from which his Latin came (published in 1512-1513).  Out of the thousands of minuscule manuscripts now known, he used the four respected at that time in his 1st & 2nd editions, and for his consequent editions he used a few more reliable manuscripts. Here were the first 4:

This is an 11th-century codex at Basel.

Of the 12th century, and now at Mayhingen, Bayaria. This is the only manuscript Erasmus had for Revelation in his editio princeps, and being defective at the end, 22:16-21, he supplied the Greek text by retranslating from the Latin. Generally speaking, this manuscript is of high quality.
This is a fifteenth-century manuscript at Basel, and was that on which Erasmus most depended for his first edition, 1516. It reflects a good quality of text.
Some have assigned this manuscript to the 12th century, though it was probably later. It is at Basel, and was the principal text used by Erasmus in the Acts and Epistles.

 

Erasmus’ 1st Edition came in 1516 and his 3rd Edition in 1522. This is where all the English translations at that time were translated from. Luther used the 2nd Edition and later it was revised to the 3rd Edition.  Some of the notable changes - The difference between the earlier version and the later version is 1 John 5:7 known as the Comma Johanneum, which  was included in the later editions but not in his first two.

 

There are 6 Received Text but 3 that are Source texts (bold)

NT Complutensian Polyglot Greek Version (1520).
Erasmus published five editions (1516, 1519, 1522, 1527, 1535).
Robert Stephanus published four (1546, 1549, 1550, 1551).
Theodore Beza published at least four independent editions (1556, 1582, 1588-89, 1598).
The Elziver family printed two editions (1624, 1633).
Scrivener published the Greek text underlying of the 1873 King James Bible (1881)
 

What are the differences?
The differences between the various editions of the Greek Received Text are extremely slight compared to the differences found in the Critical Text sources (Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Codex D). 

According to Scrivener’s there are 252 places in which the various Receive Texts - Erasmus, Stephanus, Elzevir, Beza, and Complutensian Polyglot - disagree to affect the English translation in the New Testament.  In contrast, the Critical Text - Sinaiticus, Vaticanus and Codex D (Codex Alexandrinus) –  Vaticanus disagrees with Sinaiticus 652 times and with Codex D 1,944 times in the Gospel of Mark alone. Sinaiticus and Vaticanus disagree with one another in more than 3,000 times in the four Gospels alone.
 

Here are the important differences within the Received Text Family? See PDF

 

Which is the most accurate based on early manuscript comparisons? Beza

 

Based on earlier non-Greek manuscripts Beza is the most accurate followed by Erasmus then Stephanus – they are all very close!


What received Text does the King James (KJV) use?

KJV used mainly the Beza Received Text, followed by Erasmus and then Stephanus.  Based on the variations shared by Scrivener, seems that KJV used Beza 45%, Erasmus 32% and Stephanus 23%.

 

Which edition of the Received Text should we follow today based on respected Received Text "Scholar"?

Edward F. Hills, who had a doctorate in modern textual criticism from Harvard, made the following important statement in regard to the KJV and the Received Text:  “The King James Version is a variety of the Textus Receptus. The translators that produced the King James Version relied mainly, it seems, on the later editions of Beza's Greek New Testament, especially his 4th edition (1588-9). But also they frequently consulted the editions of Erasmus and Stephanus and the Complutensian Polyglot. According to Scrivener (1884), out of the 252 passages in which these sources differ sufficiently to affect the English rendering, the King James Version agrees with Beza against Stephanus 113 times, with Stephanus against Beza 59 times, and 80 times with Erasmus, or the Complutensian, or the Latin Vulgate against Beza and Stephanus…. This source text was published in 1881 by the Cambridge University Press under the editorship of Dr. Scrivener, and there have been eight reprints, the latest being in 1949. We ought to be grateful that in the providence of God the best form of the Textus Receptus is still available to believing Bible students” (Edward F. Hills, The King James Version Defended, 4th edition, pp. 220, 223).

 

Some English Bibles used which the different Received Text as source?

Is it Erasmus (Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthews), Stephanus – (1560 Geneva Bible), Beza – Later editions of Geneva Bible and majority of KJV.

 

Look up the following to determine the version of Receved Text you are reading (80/20):  Luke 17:36 (two men …), Hebrews 9:1 (“Tabernacle”/ blank), John 16:33 “shall have/have tribulation”

If Matt. 17:36 missing and no “tabernacle” Heb. 9:1 then it is Erasmus

If “Tabernacle" Heb 9:1 then it is an earlier Stephanus edition. 

If John 16:33 “”shall have” tribulation” then it is Beza or later

 

MAJORITY TEXT (MT) (compilation of text through the ages and compared with one another)

 

A newer group of NT scholars were persuaded that the best guide to the original Greek text is the close consensus of the majority of Greek manuscripts.  This meant taking the old manuscripts and in places where the majority of texts agreed, that word, or verse or phrase was included.  The complete Greek text obtained based on this rule is called the Majority Text, and even though it isn’t perfect it is closer to the Received Text (RT) than the Alexandrian text (Critical Text - CT).  However the 'Majority Text' (the term used today in Bibles) is actually based on only 414 manuscripts of the 5300, which is definitely not the majority.  It is based primarily on Von Soden's collection of only 414 of the over 5300+ manuscripts.  So when they say the majority, what they are in essence saying is that the 414 texts (the number is increasing) form the majority, not the 5,300+ Texts available.

 

What are your thoughts on the Peshitta or Peshitto vs. RT?

I respect both very much as well as the Vulgate by Jerome.  The Peshitta is missing a few books and the Peshitto which is complete is missing a few verses and words as compared to the RT.  But some of these words and verses can be backed up with the Latin Vulgate and some of the 2nd Century church authors.  Both the RT and the Peshitto are very close as compared to the RT and CT.  So these are my soft reasons why I would slant towards the RT vs. the Peshitta and Peshitto, but I use both of them. 

 

1)      The biggest Christian influence, the ones that transformed people's lives (most influential in the spread of the Gospel) through centuries has been the RT (and the path of the text that made up the RT) and the Latin Vulgate (Catholic church – especially in the earlier centuries) – i.e. the Western Church.

2)      Peoples lives were deeply impacted over the last 500 years with the use of the RT, where people died upholding the word of God because they believed it to be the word of God.

 

Which of the three main Texts should we use – Majority (MT), Received (RT) or Critical text (CT)? The RT.

·         The RT is based on the vast majority of the 5,309 Greek manuscripts in existence. 

·         The RT doesn’t have extensive deletions, additions and amendments, as does the CT.  Where data is missing in the CT, the Editors use the RT or MT to fill in the gaps IF THEY choose too.  This was based on the personal bias of the compilers and their doctrinal position.

·         The RT agrees with the earliest version of the Bible translations: Syriac Peshitta (150AD-5th Century).  Others that agree are the Old Latin Vulgate (157AD) and the Italic Bible (157AD), which were all produced 200 years before the Minority Texts (Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus).

·         The RT agrees more with the vast majority of the 86,000+ citations from scripture by the early church (which I will explain later).

·         The RT is used by Bible translators from the early Reformation until 1881 (the reformation was used to change lives back to God’s Word).

·         The RT recognizes that Gnostics & other heretics produced corrupted manuscripts, while the CT ignores them and also ignores MT in its compilation.

·         The CT has a higher level of Gnostic influence with Roman and Egyptian philosophy and unbelief.  For example, in the CT Jesus’ authority has diminished significantly relative to the RT based on Gnostics who believed “matter is evil and spirit is good” but do not necessarily believe that Jesus was God or Lord or the only way to Heaven and thus made changes based on their philosophy. This is evident throughout the CT where Jesus referred to as LORD is removed.  This is deliberate tampering with Holy Scripture. The RT and MT tradition best concurs with God's promise to preserve His words: Ps 12:6, 7; Matt 24:35; Luke 16:17 and upholds the Deity of Jesus Christ (explained later).

·         Aren’t the RT, MT and CT all about the same? No, only 85% of their texts agree with each other, and key Biblical pillars vary. It is believed by some scholars, based on context, that the RT agrees with the MT 99% of the time in its handling of variants and the CT agrees with the MT 98% of the time, but that is matter of opinion.

·         The primary premise of the RT is to ensure that all the scripture is included.  The Primary premise for the CT is that the Bible should be treated just like any other book and assumes Christian scribes deliberately altered "difficult" readings to help us understand the text better.

·         In the 1950’s, a valuable cache of 96 NT Manuscripts – the Papyri – were discovered.  They are valuable because they were copied in 180-220AD.  They agree with the RT.

·         In Revelations, MT and CT mostly agree but RT is more solid in context with scripture (see example below). 

 

In Conclusion

Most of Christians I have come across don't know this, even Pastors and Lecturers.  It just takes searching with a heart saying "Even if I am wrong I need to change, I seek truth not to be right." 

 

Many have debated RT vs. CT and haven't come any closer to a choice.  RT (1522 version source that ties to Aramaic & Latin versions - some translations KJV, LITV, NKJV, TM, YLT)  and CT (19 Century version source supposedly ties to 331AD version - some translations - NLT, NIV, NASB, NrIV, Message, Kingdom Interlinear - Jehovah Witness Bible). In the debates there is literally a book on each proving each position. Most authors don’t go to the foundation but rather trust a source that they were taught at Seminary because they believe Professors or a Pastor, or someone they respected in the Faith said so. Some use a certain Greek scholar because they know Greek.  This is not true, because some Greek Scholars have said Thomas (Gospel of Thomas) needed to be included in the Bible and then years later found out it was not written by Thomas.

 

The key difference between the Received Text (RT) and the Critical Text (CT) is approximately 2886 words that either the CT misses or the RT has added. For perspective, this world be like adding or removing the following books from the Bible: Ephesians, Philippians and Philemon. Neither are these 2886 words inconsequential – the meaning of the New Testament (NT) and our understanding of it is greatly influenced by the words included or excluded.

 

Therefore both texts cannot be true; either the words were added to the original (as the CT suggests about the RT) or there are pieces missing from the original (as the RT suggest about the CT). I believe Jesus’ words, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened…” (Matt. 7:7) and so I asked His help. Through prayer the Lord revealed to me the criteria required to validate which source of translation to use. He asked me the question, “Which source text would you bank your life on, RT or CT? Which one would you be willing to give your life for?” This question resulted in me of ignoring some well respected professors and minsters, and establishing some simple yet factual criteria:

 

So here are the findings:

1.      One of the earliest NT Texts are the Peshitta (Eastern Church) and the Peshito (Western Church), both written in Aramaic. Aramaic was one of the languages used by Jesus to speak to the people of His day. These manuscripts originated in the 2nd Century however the earliest copies we have today can be dated back to 5 & 6th Century A.D. These contain most of the words and passages which are missing in the CT. Coincidently they are also found in the RT, which gives more credibility to the RT.

 

2.      The Vulgate NT by Jerome (389 A.D., the Gospels he completed 5 years earlier, 384 A.D.) was translated from the Greek during the same century as the CT. The Vulgate also includes these words and passages. Keep in mind that Jerome was commissioned by the Pope to revise the Old Latin Text by using the best Greek manuscripts of that day, and had the authority to get whatever he wanted to make this happen. Jerome didn’t use the Sinaiticus or the Vaticanus upon which the CT is based, but used an older and more reliable Greek Texts of that day. Those words and passages that are missing in the CT are included in the Latin Vulgate NT.

 

3.      The early church leaders quoted and referenced these words and passages that are missing in the CT. One of the many examples is Mark 16:9-20:

·         PAPIAS (100 A.D.) refers to verse 18 (as stated by Eusebius, Hist. Ecc 3, 39).

·         JUSTIN MARTYR (151 A.D.) quotes verse 20 (Apol. I. c. 45).

·         IRENAEUS (180 A.D.) quotes and remarks on verse 19 (Adv. Hoer. lib. iii. c. x.).

·         HIPPOLYTUS (190–227 A.D.) quotes verse 17-19 (Lagarde's ed., 1858, p. 74).

·         VINCENTIUS (256 A.D.) quoted two verses at the seventh Council of Carthage, held under Cyprian.

·         The ACTA PILATI (2nd Century) quotes verse 15-18 (Tischendorf's ed., 1853, p. 243, 351).

·         The APOSTOLICAL CONSTITUTIONS: (3rd or 4th Centuries) quotes verse 16-18.

·         EUSEBIUS (325 A.D.) discusses these verses, as quoted by Marinus from a lost part of his History.

There are many other passages and words that are affected, here is a brief list of some of those passages Matthew 6:13; 12:47, 17:21; 18:11; 23:14, Mark 7:16; 9:44, 46; 11:26; 15:28; Luke 9:55–56; 17:36; 22:43-44; 23:17; John 5:3-4; 7:53-8:11; Act 8:37; 15:34; 24:6-8; 28:29; Rom 8:1; 16:24; 2 Cor. 13:14, etc.

Now the CT translators have called out that these passages are not in the earlier manuscripts - implying not to trust those words and passages, thereby causing people to unintentionally doubt the Word of God.

4.      Of all the 5300+ Greek fragments and manuscripts from 60 A.D. to 1500 years, the majority of scholars have agreed that they support the RT. But some scholars have argued that the error was passed down through the years and thus found in the RT. Those that support the RT would argue that that which is common is true, as in a court of law. And that God has kept His word consistent throughout the ages as per the RT. Although the CT was based on 4th and 5th Century Greek Text, it was only discovered and agreed to be used as the source of translations in the 19th Century.  God would not have kept people blind for 1500 years as if in the 19th Century we have some new revelation of what is in God’s Word and what is not.

 

5.      Reformationists were people who God used to get people back to trusting the Word of God. They lived by faith like the early church, believed the Word of God, and died for it. Many powerful revivals took place during the Reformation period to bring many people back to the Lord through His Word. Nearly all the Reformationists in Europe used the text that was used in the RT. They gave their life for the words contained in it.

 

Does it really matter?  YES!

 

The Bible is not just another book but the Word of God, the truth we are to bank our life upon.  We know Jesus is Lord and that He rose from the Dead because of the words contained in the Holy books that make up the Bible. Also through various books in the Bible, God gives us the warning not to add or take away from His Word (Deut 4:2; Prov 30:5, 6; Rev 22:18, 19).  Why? Because every Word of God is inspired, just like Jesus said, “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35), and “neither one jot or one tittle should be taken from the law until all is fulfilled” (Matt. 5:18).  But some translators do this so easily, without a second thought.

 

Christian scholars have taken up the task of determining the most accurate original language texts.  As a result of this further work, it has become clear that more weight should be given to the RT readings than has been given them in the earlier 20th century.

 

Here are 2 examples where the CT  

A) Omits Paragraphs & Sentences,

B) Omits Words (You tell me if these are important?)

 

A) Omits Paragraphs & Sentences,

1) Missing actual Paragraphs and Sentences in the CT (shown by the [] brackets in NASB – that sometimes are added by the translators and sometimes left out {}.  Those translators who leave it in make a point of discrediting it e.g. NASB, ESV, NIV, NLT).  The below is NOT an exhaustive list (<30%).

 

(Mat 6:13)  'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]'

(Mat 12:47) [Someone said to Him, "Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You."]

(Mat 17:21)  ["But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."]

(Mat 18:11)  ["For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.]

(Mat 23:14)  ["Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.]

(Mar 7:16)  ["If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."]

(Mar 7:19)  For it doesn't go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body."  Some translations added in their interpretation to the scripture e.g. (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)

(Mar 9:29)  And He said to them, "This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer {and fasting}."

(Mar 9:44)  [Where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.]

(Mar 9:46)  [Where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.]

(Mar 10:21) Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, [take up the cross], and follow Me."

(Mar 11:26)  ["But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions."]

(Mar 15:28)  [And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "And He was numbered with transgressors."]

(Luk 4:18)  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to [heal the brokenhearted], to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

(Luk 9:55 – 56)  But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."] And they went on to another village.

(Luk 11:2)  So He said to them, "When you pray, say: Our Father [in heaven], Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. [Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.]

 (Luk 11:4)  And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, [But deliver us from the evil one. ]"

(Luk 17:36)  ["Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left."]

(Luk 22:43-44)  [Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground]

(Luk 23:17)  [Now he was obliged to release to them at the feast one prisoner.]

(John 3:13)  "No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man, {who is in heaven}.

(John 5:3-4) In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.]

(John 7:53-8:11) [Everyone went to his home. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees *brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they *said to Him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act.”Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do you say?" They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?"  She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more."]

(John 9:38-39 NET)  [He said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him. Jesus said,] "For judgment I have come into this world, so that those

(Act 8:37)  [And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."]

(Act 15:34)  [But it seemed good to Silas to remain there.]

(Act 24:6-8) “And he even tried to desecrate the temple; and then we arrested him. [We wanted to judge him according to our own Law. "But Lysias the commander came along, and with much violence took him out of our hands, ordering his accusers to come before you.] By examining him yourself concerning all these matters you will be able to

(Act 28:29)  [When he had spoken these words, the Jews departed, having a great dispute among themselves.]

(Rom. 8:1) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, [who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit].

(Rom 16:24)  [The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.]

(1 Cor. 15:47) The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man [is the Lord] from heaven.  

(2 Cor. 13:14) [The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all]

(Gal. 4:7)  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God [through Christ].

*(Eph 3:9)  and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things [through Jesus Christ];

(Col. 1:2)  To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father [and the Lord Jesus Christ].

 (1 John 5:7)  For there are three that testify: [in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one]

 

Due to time, I will elaborate on the comments in those translations that have degraded the authenticity of those verses (e.g. Mark 16:9-20). And 1 John 5:7 which is the strongest support for the CT

 

a. Is Mark 16:9-20 in or out? 

CT is out and RT is in.  But the CT puts it in and then discredits it with footnotes.  It’s either in or out, so who is right?  This error points out many flaws with the compilers.

·         A. CT Rationale - Those who support the newer Bible versions (NIV, NASB, RSV...) will offer that the Vaticanus and Sinaicticus are the oldest COPIES of any Greek manuscripts that exist today, written in the 4th Century, 300 years after the original autographs (which are long lost) were written in 40-90AD.

·         B. RT response – No book in the Bible ends like it does at Mark 16:9, and therefore the reader should know that something is up.  Just because the two oldest Greek more complete Bibles were found, possibly 300 years after the originals doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been corrupt itself because nothing else concurs with them except their own copies. 

 

o   Firstly, it may be the oldest Greek more complete Bible but not the oldest fragments of NT, i.e. the Papyri, which were discovered in the 1950's, date back to 180-220AD which are earlier than both the Vaticanus and Sinaicticus (330AD).  The Papyri support the reading in the King James Version (from the RT) not the Vaticanus and Sinaicticus.

o   There are older manuscripts than the Greek Manuscripts which support the RT and not the CT.

§  The SYRIAC Version: The Syriac version of the NT Scriptures is the oldest in its various forms: the "Peshitta" (2nd century) and the “Curetonian Syriac” (3rd century).  Both are older than any Greek Manuscript in existence, and both contain these twelve verses. Same as the "Philoxenian" (5th Century) and the "Jerusalem" (5th Century).

§  The LATIN Versions: Jerome (382AD), who had access to Greek Manuscripts older than any that exist today, includes these twelve verses; but this Version (known as the Vulgate) was only a revision of the VETUS ITALA, which is believed to belong to the 2nd Century, and contains these verses.

§  The GOTHIC Version: (350AD) contains them.

§  The EGYPTIAN Versions: the 'Memphitic' (~"Coptic"), belonging to 4th or 5th Century, contains them; as does the 'Thebaic' (~"Sahidic"), belonging to 3rd Century.

 

o   The following were just after the Greek Manuscript to bear witness to the genuineness The ARMENIAN: (5th Century), The ETHIOPIC: (4th – 7th Century), and The GEORGIAN: (6th Century).  There are other Greek Manuscripts consisting of some 18 uncials “upper cases” (before 900AD) and some 600 cursive “lower cases” Manuscripts (those which contain the Gospel of Mark); there is not one which leaves out these twelve verses.

 

o   Early writers made reference to Mark 16:9-20, a few of them were before the Vaticanus and Sinaicticus were compiled (before 330AD).  Here are some of them.

Before Vaticanus and Sinaicticus the early Christian leaders referenced it.

·         PAPIAS: (about 100AD) refers to v. 18 (as stated by Eusebius, Hist. Ecc 3, 39).

·         JUSTIN MARTYR: (151AD) quotes v. 20 (Apol. I. c. 45).

·         IRENAEUS: (180AD) quotes and remarks on v. 19 (Adv. Hoer. lib. iii. c. x.).

·         HIPPOLYTUS: (190–227AD) quotes v. 17-19 (Lagarde's ed., 1858, p. 74).

·         VINCENTIUS: (256AD) quoted two verses at the seventh Council of Carthage, held under Cyprian.

·         The ACTA PILATI: (2nd Century) quotes v. 15, 16, 17, 18 (Tischendorf's ed., 1853, pp. 243, 351).

·         The APOSTOLICAL CONSTITUTIONS: (3rd or 4th Centuries) quotes v. 16, 17, 18.

·         EUSEBIUS: (325AD) discusses these verses, as quoted by Marinus from a lost part of his History.

At the time of Vaticanus and Sinaicticus the early Christian leaders referenced it.

·         APHRAARTES: (337AD), a Syrian bishop, quoted v. 16 -18 in his first Homily (Dr. Wright's ed., 1869, i., p. 21).

·         AMBROSE: (374 – 97AD), Archbishop of Milan, freely quotes v.15 (four times), 16, 17, 18 (three times), and v.20 (once).

·         CHRYSOSTOM: (400AD) refers to v. 9; and states that vv. 19, 20 are "the end of the Gospel".

·         JEROME: (born 331AD, died 420AD) includes these twelve verses in his Latin translation; besides quoting vv. 9 and 14 in his other writings.

·         AUGUSTINE: (395 – 430AD) more than quotes them. He discusses them as being the work of the Evangelist MARK, and says that they were publicly read in the churches.

·         NESTORIUS: (5th Century) quotes v. 20, and:

·         CYRIL of ALEXANDRIA: (430AD) accepts the quotation.

·         VICTOR of ANTIOCH: (425AD) confutes the opinion of Eusebius, by referring to very many Manuscripts which he had seen, and so had satisfied himself that the last twelve verses were recorded in them.

o   Can we find those verses elsewhere in scripture and the Bible interprets the Bible? Yes

·         In verse 11 a direct reference to Luke 24:10-11.

·         In verse 12 a direct reference to Luke 24:13-35.

·         In verse 15 a direct reference to Matthew 28:19.

·         In verse 18 a direct reference to Luke 10:19, Psalm 58:4, Psalm 140:3.

·         In verse 19 we have a Messianic prophecy spoken of in Isaiah 9:7, which Jesus Christ Himself fulfilled.

 

b) 1 John 5:7 called Comma Johanneum

– Highly debated as all the early scripts that are respected don’t have it.  In this case, based on the evidence, it adds some credit to the CT.

KJV (Complete translation on RT)

NASB (complete translation on CT)
 

7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. (KJV)

7  For there are three that testify:

8  the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement (NASB)

Erasmus added 1 John 5:7 in the 3rd Edition as his prior manuscripts didn’t have it. It was also not in the “Peshitta” 150AD-5th Century Syriac text which does add some credibility to not having it in the first place.  Also Jerome’s Vulgate doesn’t have it either.  However, it is in many later manuscripts, and also there were some early writers who had included it in their writings in reference to 1 John 5:7:

·         Before the CT, in 200AD, it was included in the original manuscripts as evidenced by the writings of one of the early Church Fathers, Cyprian, who in his work "Treatises" found in The Ante-Nicene Christian Library (5:423) included a quote from 1st John 5:7. For the verse quote Cyprian  writes: "...and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy spirit, 'And these three are one'"

·         50 years after the earliest CT, in 380AD Spain: A reference to a variant form of the Comma in Liber Apologeticus, a work attributed to either Priscillian or Bishop Instantius who were both later charged with Manichaeism.  “…as John says 'and there are three which give testimony on earth, the water, the flesh the blood, and these three are in one, and there are three which give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one in Christ Jesus." Source - Liber Apologeticus.

·         120 years after the earliest CT, in 450AD Africa: "And there are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, The Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one." Source - Contra Varimadum.

B) Missing Words - The error playing out in many CT verses.

KJV

Scripture

NIV, NASB.

The Kingdom of God

Matt 6:33

His kingdom
 

God

1 Tim 3:16

He
 

2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

Luke 11:2

2 He said to them, When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.

 

4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

 

Luke 4:4

4 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone."
 

Where is Jesus Christ in the newer versions (NIV, NASB, and RSV)?

KJV

NKJV

NIV

NASB

RSV

Eph 3:9
9 ... in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ

Eph 3:9
9 ...in God who created all things through Jesus Christ

Eph 3:9
9 ...in God, who created all things

Eph 3:9
9 ...in God, who created all things

Eph 3:9
9 ... in God who created all things

Gal 4:7
7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Gal 4:7
7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Gal 4:7
7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

Gal 4:7
7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

Gal 4:7
7 So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir.

Col 1:2
2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Col 1:2
2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Col 1:2
2 To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

Col 1:2
2 to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ {who are} at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father

Col 1:2
2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ at Colos'sae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father

1 Cor 15:47

The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.  
 

 

1 Cor 15:47

The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.

1 Cor 15:47
47 The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.

1 Cor 15:47

The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.

1 Cor 15:47

The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven.

 

 

For the NT - How to identify the Translators Source Texts quickly without going into all the details

 

Received Text (RT - KJV, LITV, TMB), Critical Text (CT - e.g. NIV, ESV, NASB, NLT, NET, etc.), Vulgate (e.g. DRB, Wycliffe), Peshitta (e.g. Lamsa) and Peshitto (e.g. Murdock). 

 

It is 80/20, the reason it is not 100% accurate is because some translators may add another source in and leave another out based on their personal biases criteria, but I have already thought through the multitude of translations that I know of and selected strategic verses. When trying to find out the source text, sometimes the introduction doesn’t include them. So I use the following verses to help navigate me – looking if it is missing will guide you. 

 

Mat 17:21  Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Matt. 6:13 …. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. 

1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 

Mark 10:25 It is easier for a Camel/Rope to go through the eye of a needle

 

If it has Matt. 17:21 (Prayer and Fasting), Matt. 6:13 (Kingdom, Power, Glory, Amen), 1 John 5:7 (Father, Word, Holy Spirit…), Mark 10:25 (Camel). 

If it has everything it is the RT,

If only Matt. 6:13 missing then it is Vulgate,

If only 1 John 5:7 missing  then it is Peshito,

If all Matt. 17:21, 6:13, 1 John 5:7 missing then it is CT,

If Mark 10:25 has rope instead of Camel then it is Peshitta. 

 

 

 

Trustworthy NT text to translate from is the RT – RT Path.

 

3 main schools during 250-400 AD: Rome, Antioch and Alexandria (CT). Of which Rome (Vulgate) and Antioch (Peshitta) manuscripts are the most similar and the most influential in bringing people to Jesus Christ through the centuries. The region where most of the initial evangelism through Paul took place was through Asia Minor (including Antioch) and Rome. Look at the rich heritage and lineage of the RT.

 

30-95AD - Original Autographs

95-150 - Greek Vulgate (Copy of Originals)

120 - The Waldensian Bible

150-170 – In Aramaic - The Peshitto (Western Church), Peshitta (Eastern Church)

150-400 - Papyrus manuscripts

157 - The Italic Bible - From the Old Latin Vulgate used in Northern Italy

157- The Old Latin Vulgate

177 - The Gallic Bible

310 - The Gothic Version of Ulfilas

350-1450------Byzantine Text Dominant (Byzantine - Eastern part of the Roman empire:  Greek - Primary base for Textus Receptus) (RT)

389------ Latin Vulgate (Rome – Western: Latin - Secondary base for the Textus Receptus) (RT)

400 – Augustine favours Byzantine Text

400 - The Armenian Bible (Translated by Mesrob)

400 - The Old Syriac

349-407 – John Chrysostom quotes from the Byzantine Text

450 - The Palestinian Syriac Version

508 - Philoxenian

616 - Harclean Syriac (Translated by Thomas of Harkel)

500-1500 - Uncial Readings of Receptus (Codices)

1100-1300 - The Latin Bible of the Waldensians (History goes back as far as the 2nd century as people of the Vaudoix Valley)

1300-1500 - The Latin Bible of the Albigenses

1382-1550 - The Latin Bible of the Lollards

1384 - The Wycliffe Bible

1516 - Erasmus's First Edition Greek New Testament

1522 - Erasmus's Third Edition Published (Textus Receptus - RT)

1522-1534 - Martin Luther's German Bible

1525 - Tyndale Version

1534 - Tyndale's Amended Version

1534 - Colinaeus' Receptus

1535 - Coverdale Version

1535 - Lefevre's French Bible

1537 - Olivetan's French Bible

1537 - Matthew's Bible (John Rogers Printer)

1539 - The Great Bible

1541 - Swedish Upsala Bible by Laurentius

1550 - Stephanus Receptus (Textus Receptus - RT)

1550 - Danish Christian III Bible

1558 - Biestken's Dutch Work

1560 - The Geneva Bible

1565 - Theodore Beza's Receptus

1568 - The Bishop's Bible

1569 - Spanish Translation by Cassiodoro de Reyna

1598 - Theodore Beza's Text (Textus Receptus – Used as the source for the KJV translation)

1602 - Czech Version

1607 - Diodati Italian Version

1611 - The King James Bible with Apocrypha between Old and New Testament

1613 - The King James Bible (Apocrypha Removed)

1769 - 4th update of the English Language in the King James Bible

 

 

Untrustworthy NT text to translate from is the CT – CT Path

30-95AD - Original Autographs

200-331 – Papyrus manuscripts

331 – ?

425 - Codex Alexandrinus

1844 – Discovered the Sinaiticus & Codex Vaticanus

1881 – Westcott and Hort text – “Vaticanus and Sinaiticus” combined (even though the text contradicted each other, and included Alexandrian Codex to fill in any gaps. The Critical Text (CT) was formed)

 1901 - English Bible – American Standard Version – American Bible Association.

 

 

 

C.    Types of Translation methods used to convert into different languages and the impact

Now that we have a format from which to translate, i.e.

·         the Old Testament in Hebrew (mainly ben Asher or ben Chayyim) and

·         the New Testament in Greek (mainly RT or MT or Critical/Alexandrian Text)

There are 4 main methods of translation:

I.                    Formal or complete equivalence (word for word translation)

II.                  Dynamic equivalence (translation focused on Interpreting verse for the reader)

III.                Paraphrase (translation on the interpretation of the context and not focused on the specifics)

IV.                Expanded (translation is expounding on the meanings of the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek words)


I. Formal or complete equivalence (word for word translation) e.g. KJV, LITV, MKJV, NASB, NKJV.

·         Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts were translated as WORD FOR WORD as much as possible.

·         Words added for clarity were italicized. To indicate to the reader they were added and not in the original.

·         Concurs with the doctrine of verbal inspiration and the commands and warnings of Scripture to not change anything (Deut 4:2; Prov 30:5, 6; Rev 22:18, 19).

·         Adhering to Jesus’ Words that the scriptures should not be broken (John 10:35) and neither one jot nor one tittle should be taken from the law until all is fulfilled (Matt. 5:18). 

·         Translate the text for the reader and let Holy Spirit do the rest.

 

Traditional translators tried, so far as it is possible, to translate on a word for word basis from one language to another.  This is a "literal" translation.  Accuracy consists of getting as close to a word for word translation as possible while keeping the tenses.  For closely related languages it works reasonably well, but significant problems arise from the use of idiom, differences in the uses of tenses, and the emphasis which arises from the use of word order.  Its main drawback is that it may not easily convey the underlying ideas which the writer is expressing.  Each language contains an embedded set of cultural assumptions, and in writing a text, a writer draws upon a series of associations which transcend the words which he employs.  But God would have known this when He inspired the writers to write this so that no matter who read it they would be able to understand by looking at the context and the culture through the other scriptures. For example, the term “thorn in the flesh”.

 


II. Dynamic equivalence (Translation focused on Interpreting verse for the reader) – NIV, Good News Bible and most other modern versions to cater to the individual personality.

·         Attempts to express the INTERPRETATION of the Hebrew or Greek Text.

·         Words often added without any indication in the translation.

·         Grammar of words and phrases were altered.

·         Tendency to interpret rather than just translate. 

·         Jesus said that the” Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:34-35).  However, with the Dynamic Equivalence way of translating, the intent is yes it can be broken to aid understanding.

·         Interpret the text for the reader.

 

By contrast, dynamic equivalent translation makes it impossible to include all the possible shades of meaning.  The dynamically translated book is useless for study.  Information in books about the original culture no longer correspond to the ideas in the text, as the concepts have been adjusted to suit the second culture (the culture of today).  Indeed a dynamically translated book probably tells the reader more about his own cultural assumptions than it does about those of the original writer.  Thus much of the book’s value, those things that tell you about ways of thinking, feeling and being that are absent from one's own culture, may have been deliberately eliminated by the dynamic equivalence principle of translation.

In fact, the NIV version has 64,098 less words than the King James Bible!  So instead of admitting that their Bibles have gross omissions, they make it look like the King James Bible added elements of Jesus Christ, God, The Trinity, salvation by faith etc.

 

III. Paraphrase (Translation on the interpretation of the context and not focused on the specifics) - Living Bible, The Message
 

·         The text is REWORDED by one author.

·         Little regard for original vocabulary, syntax, and grammar.

·         Author's theological biases can infiltrate the text.

·         Attempting to "simplify" the Bible because of people’s capacity to understand. Therefore, significant points of a verse are left out. 

 

IV. Expanded (Translation is expounding on the meanings of the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek words) - Amplified Bible, Wuest

 

·         One author attempts to bring out NUANCES of the original languages.

·         Amplifications can be questionable.

·         Personal interpretations included within text.

·         The text can be very awkward to read.
 

Which Translation Method should we accept as our study Bible? Complete Equivalent (Word for Word) or Dynamic Equivalence (Thought for Thought)?  Definitely the Complete Equivalent.

The Complete Equivalent (CE) translation focuses on translating the words and form from the original text, and where possible, translating the sequence word for word. When words are added for clarity, they are italicized to show the reader they are not in the original text.

 

The Dynamic Equivalent (DE) translation focuses on translating and specifically interpreting the words from the original text to be more relevant to the culture of the day. When words and forms are altered, added or deleted, most times there is no indication made to the reader.

 

What type of translation technique is more accurate? Complete Equivalent, as it adheres to the strict council of God’s Word. God tells us never to add or take anything away from His Word (Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:5-6; Rev. 22:18-19). As Jesus likewise said, “Neither one jot or one tittle should be taken from the law until all is fulfilled” (Matt. 5:18) because the “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). While the Complete Equivalence (CE) method sometimes results in less fluid reading, it avoids the greater risk of Dynamic Equivalency’s (DE) personal interpretation, which allows doctrinal positions, life experiences, or incomplete understanding to affect the final translation. We need to conform our understanding to God’s Word and not force God’s Word to conform to our understanding. The best DE can ever be is a commentary because it is based on the translators understanding of the scripture.

Why? These are the minimum requirements for any DE translator/s to be somewhat successful:

1.      They need to be born again, be baptised and filled by Holy Spirit. It is vital that true interpretation is by Holy Spirit of God, those born again (1 Cor. 2:11; John 3).  God says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

2.      They would need to understand what was in the heart of God and in the heart of the person writing it.

3.      They would need to know and understand the entire Bible and all prophecy.

4.      They would need a full understanding at a minimum; of the Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic languages of that time. Often the writers used terms that were originally in one of these languages.

It’s a high bar which is impossible to attain, therefore the levels of error in DE is much higher than in any CE translation.

What about the words, slang language or expressions of the time? Firstly, the translators don’t really know so it is pointless to argue whether it is slang or not, since they weren’t there nor did they meet the above criteria. If it was slang it is the Bible that interprets the Bible not intellect or some historical finding.

 

What about readability? While the overall readability of the CE is similar to the DE; there are some passages that are more difficult to understand in the CE due to interpretation. And these passages are equally difficult in the original language. The interpretation isn’t spelt out like the DE. The CE requires the reader to study the scriptures, to conform their thinking to the way God thinks, not as man thinks (Romans 12:2). God has deliberately made the Bible a mirror (James 1:23-24) so that those who choose not to love the truth may be deluded (2 Thess. 2:10-12; Ps. 18:26). God says what He means and means what He says so why add our own interpretation, but rather allow God’s Word to speak and Holy Spirit inside will illuminate the text as we study the scripture. But if it is altered based on personal interpretation as the DE does, then the obstacles to understanding are higher to overcome. Faithfulness in translation is to leave those difficult passages and ambiguities as fully presented in the second language as the original - only the CE translation achieves this.

 

What about speaking to the world in terms they understand? This is the role of commentaries and preachers, who generally base it off the translation/s. Now because the DE translation/s have been altered due to doctrine then the message from commentaries and preachers are also drastically altered. Only the CE translations ensure the God’s Word remains untouched by doctrinal positions. Thus, the use of these non-Word for Word/non-CE (such as DE) translating techniques accounts for much of the differing readings, interpretations, and understanding of scripture today.

 

One of the many doctrinal positions that are evident in the DE translations is the interpretation based on personal experience vs. Truth. Therefore the power that Christ gave the Church, His Body, is obscured by DE translations. Compare the following CE translations with the DE translations: Mark 16:16-19, John 3:13, 2 Cor. 1:20, Phil. 4:19 and Eph. 3:20. Holy Spirit wants us to know what Jesus Christ gave His Body (John 16:14-15), not to hide it as many DE translators have done.

 

If you were given the task of translating the book of Revelations, not teaching it but translating it for those who teach the book of Revelations, would you focus more on translating it based on CE (word for word technique) or DE (focus on interpreting it for the culture). Recall the warning, “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 out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18-19). Why? “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

 

 

Can you give me an example? Let’s look at 2 Cor. 12:7

 

a. Dynamic Equivalent - In the Good News Bible 2Cor. 12:7.  Paul says “But to keep me from being puffed up with pride because of the many wonderful things I saw, I was given a painful physical ailment, which acts as Satan's messenger to beat me and keep me from being proud.”

They translated the original words “Thorn in the Flesh” to “painful physical ailment” (Sickness) because they believed it to be this.  If this is a sword how much more compounded the problem becomes when looking at the sentence, paragraph, chapters and books.  The reader will never know the mysteries in the scripture because they have been removed.

 

b. Complete Equivalent – Modern King James Version 2Cor. 12:7 reads. “...and by the surpassing revelations, lest I be made haughty, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be made haughty.”

 

Dynamic interprets it as sickness where the Complete translates it as is (i.e. does not interpret it).  A person reading the dynamic would never understand the original intent of the text.  The thorn in the flesh is interpreted by Scripture as an actual person inflicting pain on Paul not sickness.  If I used today’s intellect then sickness could be seen as a Thorn but that is not the true interpretation.  We know Paul was a man of God who spent many hours studying and sharing Jesus Christ by using the OT scriptures.  Paul used the same words that God and the early Prophets used in explaining a situation (Numbers 33:55; Ezekiel 28:24). “Thorns” on people always refer to people causing pain on God’s people and therefore one thorn is one person.  “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell” (Num. 33:55), This refers to people.  “And there shall no longer be a pricking brier or a painful thorn for the house of Israel from among all who are around them, who despise them. Then they shall know that I am the Lord GOD." (Ezek. 28:24). Again this verse refers to people.  If we look at the context of the scripture from 2 Cor 10, it is the same, the thorn in the flesh is a person, a messenger of Satan (the Bible interprets the Bible).  But if we used the dynamic equivalence we would never have known this and would have always believed it was sickness. We would have lost the meaning, or used the verse as a doctrinal pillar for sickness.  What a disservice to someone who loves the LORD and wants to understand His Word. 

Another 1 Cor. 11:10

NIV – 1 Cor. 11:10 “For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have “a” “sign” of authority on “her” head.” Would you know that these “” weren’t there in the original? No. Did it change the way you interpret it? Of course. Is it the correct interpretation putting “a” “sign”? No but you won’t have known it – the translators believe it is the right in and don’t tell you. 

 

NKJV – 1 Cor. 11:10 “For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.” (Notice the translators added in the word “symbol” by indicating through italics. So it isn’t in the original but the translators added it – so don’t’ use it for a defence or a position, it doesn’t exist. The KJV uses the word “power” (meaning authority) and doesn’t add anything. Meaning the husband or father is the power/authority of the woman. The NKJV “implies” it is a cloth and tells you it implies it with the italics BUT the NIV says it is a cloth and you don’t even know it wasn’t in the original.

It fosters confusion – a person may think they understand (and yes they understand the interpretation of the translator) but they don’t understand the scripture and miss important elements.  Who cares if people understand what the translators have interpreted, I don’t care I want to know what God said and let Holy Spirit speak to my heart. A sign would automatically mean to me that the cloth was a sign on her – but it has nothing to do with hair – actual he uses hair as a comparison that is why he says “Doth not even nature” meaning he has been talking about spiritual matters until this point and now compares it to nature. 

 

CONCLUSION ON NEW TESTAMENT TRANSLATION

The Complete Equivalent translation (CE) method is translating from the Greek source text word for word. When words are added for clarity then some translators italicize those words to show the reader they were not in the original text.

The Dynamic Equivalent (DE) translates and also interprets the thought of the passage to make it more relevant for the culture of today. The focus is more on the thought of the passage versus the words themselves.

The type of translation technique that is more accurate is the Complete Equivalent as it adheres to the strict council of God’s Word. God tells us never to add or take anything away from His Word (Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:5-6; Rev. 22:18-19). As Yeshua likewise said, “Neither one jot or one tittle should be taken from the law” (Matt. 5:18) and in another place, “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). We need to conform our understanding to God’s Word and not force God’s Word to conform to our understanding.

What about the words, colloquial language or cultural expressions of the time?  If a word or a passage is a colloquial, it is the Bible that interprets the Bible therefore the text needs to be left in the original format.  For example, similar phrases such as “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7) used in the New Testament, can be found in the Old Testament (Num. 33:55; Ezek. 28:24). 

What about readability? While the overall readability of the DE is smoother than the CE, it removes the difficult to understand passages that are equally difficult to understand in the original. When the scripture is altered then the obstacles to understanding the Scripture are much greater to overcome. Faithfulness in translation is to leave those difficult passages and ambiguities as fully presented in the second language as in the original. And allowing Holy Spirit to teach and reveal those passages to individuals (1 John 2:27).  Only the CE translation tries to achieves this.

 

Is the ESV the best translation today? Absolutely not!  It is communicated as the best translation by the Bible Institute, perpetuated by some seminaries and profs. 

The NT source text ESV uses to translate from is corrupt – yes you heard right the Critical Text is corrupt.  No matter how well it is translated from the Greek, the Greek source text is corrupt therefore so is the translation.  Most modern translations fall into the same camp as they use the Critical Text as their source text.  Here are 3 key reasons:

APPROX 3000 GREEK WORDS MISSING FROM THEIR SOURCE TEXT e.g. woman caught in Adultery (John 8), most of Mark 16, and many others not so obvious.  But the translators have chosen to add SOME of them based on their bias but not all.  When they have added them they discredit them with phrases like “they are not in earlier manuscripts”. The question any lover of God’s Word should ask – was those verses/words there in the first place? How would you find out? Simple – are they in earlier manuscripts before 6th Century? Yes – Peshitta, Peshito, etc.  Are those quoted by earlier church leaders before the 5th century? Yes many!

SOURCE TEXT IS WORK OF 19th CENTURY NOT OLDER as some have perpetuated. Why? It is a compilation of 3 manuscripts - 1 is 5th Century, the other 2 are from the 19th Century but some have argued those 2 are from the 4th Century.  If you want to know more look at the news reports during the mid to late 19th century around Codex Sinaiticus (one of the 2 works).  This being a work of paleographer Constantine Simonides not a “discovered” piece.  The Vaticanus, the 3rd manuscript, was apparently found in the Vatican library during the same time but it was “believed” to be 4th Century manuscript.  Who do you think sponsored the development of the Critical Text?!

THE 3 MANUSCRIPTS THAT MAKE UP THE SOURCE TEXT CONTRADICT EACH OTHER!  The missing text weren’t missing because of ageing marks but missing because it wasn’t written in the first place. The contradictions were completely different words and phrases.  Look at the amount of corrections in the margins. 

IS IT IMPORTANT? Yes if you take the warning in Revelation 22:18-19 seriously of adding or taking away.  And Yes if you are ministering to someone of the authority of a believer today like Mark 16:17-18 and they bring up “but it isn’t in the Older Manuscripts”….

What is the best Bible translation? The KJV.  Now the KJV isn’t 100% error free but far less than any translation when the same criteria is used.  If you want error free go to the source text for a closer rendering.  The KJV thee (plural you) and the thou (single you) are helpful to know when studying the scripture. And yes the vast extent of the English language today vs. 400 years ago – so use strong’s concordance.  If you looking for one Greek Version then use Received Text by Scrivener 1881.  This matches earlier non-Greek manuscripts (Peshitto, Peshitta, Vulgate), early church leader quotes and over 5300 fragments.  The Critical Text misses the mark many times as you will discover if you did the research unbiasedly. 

 

D.   Different English Bibles through the Centuries and the reason

 
   

 

OT Basis - ben Chayyim Hebrew Text (1525AD)

 
   

OT Basis - ben Asher Hebrew Text (Leningrad 1008AD)

 
   

OT Latin Vulgate

 
   

NT Latin Vulgate

 
   

NT – Received Text

 
   

NT – Critical Text

 
   

NT – Other Text (either Vulgate, Peshitta or MT)

(The coding is meant to help the reader distinguish what is the basis for the different translation

 

In 1456, Gutenberg invented moveable type (printing press), and with it brought about the printing of the Latin version for distribution, one to each church.

 

OT

NT

Printing Press Invented – 1456

 

 

William Tyndale (1534) –William Tyndale was a priest and Greek and Hebrew scholar.  Driven from England by persecution, William Tyndale shared Wycliffe’s desire to produce a Bible that the common English speaking person could understand (going against the Catholic church – Latin only).  He completed the translation of the NT into English from Erasmus Text (TR) 1526 and completed the first 5 books, Jonah and Joshua to 2 Chronicles by 1535 when he was arrested for heresy.  He was strangled to death and then burnt 18months later.  His dying words were, "Lord, open the eyes of the King."  Ironically it was Henry VIII who broke away from the Catholic church and became known as the Protestants. Many years later the Protestants denied the books of the Apocrypha and thus removed it from the Bible.

 

 

Miles Coverdale (1535) – A friend of Tyndale, Coverdale was able to publish a complete Bible using German Bible (Luther), Latin and English (He didn’t know Hebrew and Greek).  It is generally believed Coverdale used Tyndale’s work in producing his New Testament

 

 

Matthew’s Bible (1537) – Despite the name, it is widely accepted that a friend of Tyndale, John Rogers, did most of the work on this Bible.  Based largely on Tyndale’s work and gaps were closed with Coverdale’s work.  This Bible was supported by the King and especially the Archbishop, who ensured that his bishops across England get a copy.  Less than 1 year after Tyndale’s death.

 

 

The Great Bible (1539) – This Bible takes its name from its great physical size.  Based on the Tyndale, Coverdale, and Matthew’s Bibles, it was used mainly in churches.  Often chained to a reading desk in a church, people would come to listen as a minister read from the Great Bible.

 

 

The Geneva Bible (1560) – Produced in Geneva by scholars who had fled persecution in England under Queen Mary, this Bible was based not only on the Great Bible, but also on the English translations of that day.  Though very scholarly, it was a popular Bible because of its small size.  It was the first Bible to number verses like we have today.  This was the Bible that John Calvin used and which came to America with the Pilgrims for the Common People.

 

 

The Bishop’s Bible (1568) – This was a revision of the Great Bible and Geneva Bible done under the direction of the Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of Elizabeth. Who also included sections of the Vulgate – mainly in the OT. 

 

 

Douay-Rheims Bible (1582-1610) – Douay Old Testament first published by the English College at Douay, 1609AD. Rheims New Testament first published by the English College at Rheims, 1582AD. The Whole Revised and Diligently Compared with the Latin Vulgate by Bishop Richard Challoner, 1749-1752AD.  A Revision of the Latin Vulgate, this has become the generally accepted English Version for the Roman Catholic Church.

 

 

King James Version, KJV (1611-1873) – Known as the Authorized version (AV) from which all English Bibles were compared – When King James (was James VI of Scotland and then became James I England) was on the throne there were 2 Bibles in England, Geneva (for the common people) and the Bishop (the more accurate version, there were some errors in the Geneva version).  King James wanted to replace the two with only one copy.  This was and is the most popular translation ever produced, this Bible was done during the reign and at the urging of King James I of England.  For over 300 years in England until this point many Christians were martyred under the premise that they were heretics – based on the “Catholic church doctrine”. Thus King James I of England, a devoted Christian, wanted to ensure the texts were translated as accurately as possible in order to root out any doctrinal biases, since people had been dying over this. He assigned 48 scholars (some believe it was 54), who were divided into 6 groups to work on this translation.  Many Hebrew and Greek texts were studied as well as all the other available English translations, to ensure the best results.  By choosing men of many different theological and educational backgrounds, it was hoped individual prejudices of the translators could be minimized.  After about seven years of arduous effort, the translation of the Holy Bible into English from the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic languages was completed. Printed in a handy size and in clear type, the KJV was supposed to please clergy and congregations alike.  So called “Archaic” English can leave it difficult to read for many today.

Is the KJV perfect? It is very good translation and actually the best or one of the best, but it isn’t void of mistranslation.  And KJV varies based on the year: 1611, 1769, 1768, 1769, 1772, 1777, 1783, 1784, 1787, 1788, 1791, 1792, 1795, 1798, 1799, 1800, 1803, 1804, 1810, 1813, 1819, 1821, 1823, 1828, 1829, 1830, 1835, 1838, 1840, 1847, 1850, 1853, 1857, 1859, 1865, 1868, 1870, 1876, 1880, 1885, 1890 Oxford. 

There are many versions of KJV however here are only 3 versions referenced as authorized versions.  The original KJV known as 1611, in 1613 the apocrypha were removed.  In 1769 Oxford university under the leadership editor Blayney – completed what is called the Authorized KJV (Oxford KJV).  This is more widely upheld as the KJ Authorized Version today.  However century later, 1873, Cambridge university under the leadership editor Scrivener – completed what some also call today the “Authorized KJV”. 

So what are the differences between 1611 and 1769 KJV versions e.g. Ruth 3:15 (“he/she” went into the city), Isaiah 49:13 (for “God/LORD” hath comforted his people); Ezekiel 24:7 (“pour/not poured” on the ground).  The differences between 1769 and 1873 KJV e.g. Joshua 19:2 (“BeerSheba/Beer-Sheba”), Exodus 23:23 (“the/and the Hivites”).

 
These are minor in comparison to the other versions - seriously scrapping the barrel. It is still the best translation of the reliable source text today.


Side note: Is it He or She in Ruth 3:15? Some say that the Masoretic Text (MT) preserves the 3rd person masculine singular form וַיָּבֹא (vayyavo', "then he went"), while the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate have the 3rd person feminine singular form וַתָּבֹא (vattavo', "then she went") – more evidence for “She.”  In Ezek 24:7, 1611 KJV translators seemed to have accidently omitted “not”.

n/a

 

Murdock (1851), A translation of the Peshito Syriac (150AD) New Testament into English by James Murdock. It closely resembles the RT, which has all the text which the CT has left out 200 years later.

 

 

Revised Version (1881-1885) – Designed to be a revision of the KJV, the Revised Version, had the advantage of being able to access some of the ancient manuscripts.  Although this revision was sponsored by the Church of England, many American scholars were invited to participate. It is not to be confused with the Revised Standard Version. One of the first Bibles impacted by the CT therefore not even close to the KJV.

 

 

Young's Literal Translation (1898) – By E J Young.  This is an extremely literal translation that attempts to preserve the tense and word usage as found in the original Greek and Hebrew writings.  It may however be slightly biased by some of the author's theories on the use of the Hebrew tenses, but these are explained in the introduction.  Some parts appear affected by late 19th Century theories which attempted to compromise the evolutionary theory.  There are inconsistent spellings of the same word which were corrected in the computer edition of the text.  Nevertheless, it is a very useful reference translation.

 

 

American Standard Version, ASV (1901) – This revision of the Revised Version incorporates many of the readings first suggested by the American members of the Revision committee of 1881 – 1885.

 

n/a

Jewish Publication Society JPS 1917 – The OT in English based on ben Chayyim

 

 

Revised Standard Version, RSV (1952, 1971 2nd Edition) – The National Council of Churches of Christ procured the copyright to the 1901 ASV Bible in the 1920’s.  Work began on a revision to the ASV, but was abandoned in favor of an entirely new translation.  Since many more Hebrew and Greek manuscripts were available to these scholars than were available in 1901, the RSV was considered more accurate.  A very readable translation, the RSV is used in many Protestant denominations today.  The revision committee continued to meet at regular intervals and in 1971 a new release was made of the RSV (2nd Edition).  Once considered quite a good translation (2nd edition is better than the 1st), intended as an update of ASV, it was formerly popular in Evangelical circles.  The English is now becoming rather out of date: some words and sentence constructions are unnecessarily difficult. The basis of the NT source is the CT. And like KJV focuses on word for word on RT so RSV focuses on word for word of the CT. It is one of the most literal translations of the CT, more literal than the NASB.

 

 

Modern King James Version MKJV (1962) – An update of the KJV by Jay P Green with the closest English words to the original versus the KJV (e.g. they changed Easter to Passover, replaced “God Forbid” to “Let it not be”).  The names of animals have been corrected and money left in the original language (“penny” to “Denarius”). 

 

 

Amplified Bible (1965) – This modern English Version, initially based on the KJV but alters it based on Critical Text inputs e.g. Matt. 6:33, Col. 1:2. It was sponsored by the non-profit Lockman Foundation of California.  Committees of Hebrew and Greek scholars tried to pay particular attention to the true translation of key words in the ancient texts.  By bracketing explanatory words or phrases directly in the text, they eliminated the need to look elsewhere on the page for other references.  A very popular Bible, the bracketing poses a problem for simple reading of the text, giving several interpretations of each original word and no longer a translation but a multiple choice. The impression given that you can pick and choose between the alternatives to produce your own text could cause weird mistranslations by amateur translators.  It is probably better to use an ordinary Bible with appropriate concordances and other study aids but if time is limited use it as a supplement.

 

 

Jerusalem Bible (1966) – Basically a Roman Catholic translation, this Bible was originally a multi-volume translation done in French at the Ecole Biblique et Archeologuque in Jerusalem.  Using all available sources including the Dead Sea Scrolls, this translation also included extensive scholarly notes.  In the English translation, the original documents were again used with references made to the original French translation.  The Jerusalem Bible also includes the Apocrypha.  Although the notes are strongly Roman Catholic, the translation is relatively non-sectarian.

 

 

New English Bible NEB (1970) – A committee of liberal scholars from the leading denominations of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, cooperating with the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, produced a new translation from the Hebrew and Greek.  The quality of the translation is rather uneven.  This Bible was to be used as an authoritative version along side the KJV.  Due to the NEB’s rather free use of the English language, many verses of scripture became almost paraphrases rather than translations.  The Apocrypha is included in the NEB.  Since the NEB often uses unfamiliar British expressions, this Bible has not received wide acceptance in America.  The NEB is jointly published by Cambridge and Oxford University Presses.  Produced by liberal scholars, some parts are very good, others not so good.

 

 

New American Bible NAB (1970) – This Roman Catholic translation originally came directly from the Latin Vulgate.  The Catholic Biblical Association of America compared this translation to the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts then available.  The three volumes of the OT and single volume NT were then combined into a single volume.  Although some Protestant translators helped on this project, this is still basically a Roman Catholic Bible.

 

 

New American Standard NASB (1971) – The Lockman Foundation La Habra, California (see Amplified Bible) set out to produce the “Most technically accurate translation of the Bible possible.”  Partially because of their dissatisfaction with the RSV’s revision of the 1901 American Standard version, the Lockman foundation chose to use the oldest Greek and Hebrew manuscript, not the oldest versions nor the oldest fragments and revise the ASV.  Many American scholars consider this to be the most accurate translation available for the CT with some words added based on the RT to make it complete.

 

 

Lving Bible LNB (1974) – This is the work of one man, Kenneth N. Taylor. It is not a translation in the true sense of the word. Mr. Taylor set out to produce a paraphrase of the ASV Bible using the words and terms his children could readily understand.  After founding Tyndale House Publishing, Mr. Taylor then expanded the availability of the LNB to include a study Bible and cassettes.  The current Bible entitled “The Book” is essentially the LNB version.

 

 

Today’s English Version TEV (1976) – Often referred to as the “Good News Bible,” this was a project sponsored by the American Bible Society to produce a Bible in English for people whose primary language was not English.  Mr. Robert G. Bratcher did the work on the NT, and it was published in 1966.  The Society then continued the work to include the OT.  Although particular attention was directed toward accuracy, the translators sometimes sacrificed this accuracy for readability.  Due to the TEV’s very up-to-date language and in many cases some modern pop art illustrations; it has become a popular edition for teenagers. It is a very easy to read version which is good for children, foreigners, and those who are poor readers, but the principles of translation have led to theological errors.  It is not suitable for study, except by children with parental guidance. 

 

 

Living Translation LITV (1976) – By Sir Jay P Green.  The Literal Translation of the Holy Bible (LITV) translates each and every Hebrew and Greek word without leaving any out.  The Literal Translation (LITV) also seeks to give you the very best meaning and most accurate meaning for those Hebrew and Greek words – similar to the Interlinear.

 

 

New International Version NIV (1978) – The New York Bible Society sponsored this translation of the Bible.  A committee was formed to search worldwide for Bible scholars from colleges, universities and seminaries that would represent varied backgrounds and denominations (on the liberal side).  Each book of the Bible was assigned to a different team of scholars, who then used their interpretation while translating the CT.  Some editions have remarkably incompetent errors (e.g. Hebrews 11:11) not supported by any Greek manuscripts, which undermines confidence in the competence of the rest of the translation.  Hence the quip "Nasty Inaccurate Version" has some justification.  It claims to be a literal translation but in fact is noticeably interpretive.  It tends to adopt "accepted" interpretations rather than stick to the "difficulties" of the true text.  These problems probably arose partly because the smoothing by English stylists was not rechecked by the original language translators.  It also includes theologically doubtful footnotes.  It is definitely not a good translation, but popular because it eliminates the textual difficulties.

 

 

New King James Version NKJV (1982) – Thomas Nelson Bible Publishers and the International Trust for Bible Studies co-sponsored this update of the 1611 KJV Bible.  119 scholars worked on this project to make the KJV version more accurate and readable due to the old English (more English words were now available).  The translators used the best available texts in their work RT & MT with footnotes and in some cases chose to use the texts found most often in the ancient writings. They wanted to maintain the diligence in translation that KJV used and translated it vs. interpreted.  The general style is very closely reminiscent of the Authorized Version, but modern words are used, and it has a crisp style which gets the message across.  Some have said the NKJV have used the Ben Asher as the primary source for the OT, this is not completely true, they have used about 30% (due to ancient text comparisons) the 70% primarily comes from the Ben Chayyim.

 

 

Revised English Bible REB (1989) – Under the auspices of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, a committee of leading Bible scholars revised and updated the New English Bible.  This was the first major revision of the New English Bible since its release in 1970.  Particular attention was paid to archaic words, phrases, and sentence structure.  This re-examination was done by referring to the most current manuscripts, commentaries and exegesis.  The REB provides the reader with fluent, yet dignified English while still maintaining the full intent of the original texts.

 

 

New Revised Standard Version NRSV (1989) – This Bible was released in late 1990 and culminated in 15 years of work by a special committee of scholars.  This committee was under the sponsorship of the division of Education and Ministry of the National Council of Churches.  The NRSV aimed for accuracy rather than simply paraphrasing.  It can then be considered a literal translation.  The revision committee was chaired by Professor Bruce Metzger of the Princeton Theological Seminary.  Mr. Metzger’s instructions were “introduce only changes as were warranted on the basis of accuracy, clarity, euphony and current English language usage.”  However, the revision of the RSV tried hard to eliminate "sexist" language.  It ended up being more of a dynamic version than a complete equivalent.

 

 

God’s Word GW (1995) Lowest end of the dynamic translation – focus is on thought for thought.

 

 

New Living Translation NLT (1996) – The NLT is on the lower end of the dynamic equivalence spectrum, describing itself as a “thought-for-thought”.  The NLT was intentionally translated at a junior high reading level.  Also, the NLT has avoided using theological terms, and has adopted a “gender inclusive” translation philosophy.

 

 

Third Millennium Bible (1998 – TMB) The TMB is an updating of the complete text of the nonpareil Authorized Version of the Holy Bible, first published in England in 1611AD. A somewhat shortened edition of the Authorized Version is currently referred to on the American continent as the King James Version. The Third Millennium Bible (TMB) is the direct successor of the Authorized Version of the Holy Bible - entire, word-for-word and unchanged, except for a modest updating as described hereafter.

 

 

English Standard Version ESV (2001) – By Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Using 1971 RSV as its base, using the CT and focuses on more of a Word for Word rendering of the Text.

 

 

NET Bible (2001-2006). Is a completely new translation of the Bible, not a revision or an update of a previous English version but was translated by biblical scholars who were involved in the current contemporary Bibles like NIV.  The translation is said to be between Complete and Dynamic.

n/a

 

English MT Version (EMTV) of the New Testament (2002-2003) by Paul W. Esposito.  It is based on the “so Called” MT available today (414 out of 5300 text’s available), skewed towards the CT. Meaning the CT gets more than its fair share but overall it is still close to the RT.

 

 

King James Version 3 (2005 LITV) – A true Bible must contain the words of God, all of His words, and no words added from the minds of men (such as paraphrases, synonyms, mistranslations, biases, interpretation).  This was the intent with this version using ben Chayyim and Received text.