Tuesday, April 06, 2010

What version should I use? Part - 1

So there are a lot of different Bibles out there, but which one should you use? There are four REALLY good translations: KJV, NKJV, NIV, and NASB, but even then which of those is the "best"?

There is a movement out there called the King James Version Only Movement. The JKVO people believe that the KJV is the only Bible people should use. They say it is the only version without errors. They even say that it was God-inspired. Let investigate some of these claims...

Without Errors:
The KJV was written in A.D. 1611. You do realize that the Dead Sea Scrolls were only discovered in 1947? I'm not saying that the KJV is full of corruption, but over the centuries many, older, more accurate texts have been found to base our translations off of. KJVO advocates also stated that if any man truely wants to understand God, he must use the KJV -- as in, if you are a Russian, you HAVE to speak English so that you can read the REAL KJV. According to their theology: if you do not have the JKV you do not have the Bible. (Follow my logic now...) Therefore, before the JKV was written no one had the Word of God. If you do not understand English, you do not have the Word of God. KJVO advocates also believe that the KJV is superior to the Greek and Hebrew texts that it was based off of... You do realized that the Bible was originally written IN Greek and Hebrew...

Let's get technical... The KJV was based on what's called the "Textus Receptus". The Textus Receptus was part of a group of manuscripts called the "Byzantine Family" (another group of texts was called the "Alexandrian Family" but we'll get into that later.) What do I mean by group?

When Paul and the disciples sent their letters out to the new church they always added "and share these with everyone." Anyone and everyone would hand copy the letters any way they could and distribute them. Some of the copiests were actual scribes and copied well, while others were just shy of illiterate. Years later we have THOUSANDS of copies of the Bible with little bits and pieces that have been changed due to mistakes during copying (these are called "textual variances"). These were divided into the Byzantine and Alexandrian Families.

*Example Time !!!" A Professor decided to teach his class a lesson at a college. The task was to give 30 students a copy of a 12 page essay and to hand copy it themselves. After this the original text was put away and the students had to reproduce the original text through the hand-written copies. None of the hand-written copies came out the same; however, after much comparing, the students handed in their final copy. Although none of their copies of the text had come out the same, the students had reproduced the original text with 100% accuracy with the exception of one word... "too" and "also". The professor has tried this exercise many times on his students and the results are always the same. What does this tell us? SINCE we have thousands of copies of the Bible, by comparing the documents to each other we can discern what the original text said (with the exception of words such as "too" and "also"). We have NO DOUBT that we have the real Bible, because none of the textual variances affect the message the Bible is trying to convey: Christ's Deity and Humanity, God's Sovereignty, salvation by grace, the reality of Heaven and Hell... All Bible versions (when I say "versions" I'm talking about KJV, NKJV, NASB, and NIV) and translations are 98% identical. IDENTICAL!!!! There is only a 2% variance at all!!!!!!!

To Be Continued... Part - 1, Part - 2, Part - 3


Kwame E. said...

To be sure, you draw a better analogy with the story of the students handcopying an autograph vs. the inapt and misapplied telephone analogy that people tend to mention.

In the telephone game, as it were, what causes a deviation from the original message is something other than what causes textual variance. With telephone, you’re dealing with matters of human physiology, psychology, and language inventory.

Specifically, a person speaks the message to you, you don’t quite recall every word that was said because your short-term memory is not sufficiently trained for the task, but you think you understand the gist of what was spoken to you. So you repeat the message to someone else though using some different words to do so. Meanwhile, it so happens that many words in a given language tend to have different meanings per context (e.g., “too”) and sometimes the meaning of a given word in a given context--or even a given sentence--is not always immediately known with certainty to the hearer, hence the common practice of our asking our conversants to repeat or explain what they have just said. So between the memory problem and problem of language ambiguity, this is how information is lost in the would-be game of telephone.

But this is not the case when people sit down to copy written messages, as you mention. Memory is not as much of a problem: after all, the text is sitting right there before your eyes and isn’t going anywhere. And ambiguity is a problem only inasmuch as bad penmanship and blurred graphemes can sometimes make an “l” look like a “1,” or make an “O” look like a “0,” etc. But such problems are also easily overcome since context usually suffices to demonstrate which grapheme the autograph really contained.

Christine Ericson said...

Thank-you. Another problem with copying is that sometimes you don't copy everything word-for-word. As a writer, sometimes I'll read a passage and copy what I think it said. I'll get really close, but I'll still mis-spell things.