Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What is the best Bible?

I was talking to my husband about this the other day. We've both grown up using a variety of Bibles from the Living Bible to the KJV. Of all the different Bibles I've used , probably my favorite right now is the English Standard Version. While its a new version, its a very solid one and is faithful to the original texts. We've also used the NIV, KJV, NASB, Young's Literal and even the Living Bible. I've been really enjoying using my Reformation Study ESV as my primary Bible although I'm still doing my reading through the Bible in a year in an old NIV I have.

What makes me sad is something that I had never experienced before being on the web - the idea that the King James version (the KJV) is the only perfect Bible for the English speaking world - even going so far as to say that the KJV was double inspired meaning inspired in the originals AND in the translation. There are many who have made a cult of the belief and have therefore deny that God continues to work in the world today and His being able to preserve His Word through further translation into the common language. . Even the translators of the KJV stated clearly that it is of utmost importance to have a translation in the common language. (Interestingly enough, many cults accept the KJV as the only right Bible and refute the other versions.)

Fortunately, I'm not alone in my feelings about this. The Fundamental Baptist Fellowship said in their news bulletin for July/August, 1984 "We reject as heretical the concept that any translation of the Bible is given by inspiration, which has in our generation fostered a cult. We believe firmly that inspiration ceased upon the closure of the canon of Scripture in the original autographs. We likewise reject the practice of exalting any version or translation to the position held uniquely by the original writings." I say "Amen" to them.

Peter Ruckman, a man who is one of the most vocal KJVO supporters wrote a book, THE ALEXANDRIAN CULT. In it he says, "Every recognized church historian and Christian scholar is a member of the cult. This cult is the Alexandrian Cult of North Africa, and its tentacles stretch from Origen (184-254 AD) to John R. Rice and the faculty members of every recognized school in the world." By "Alexandrian Cult" he meant those who recommend using other versions besides the King James. How foolish is that? To declare all historians and scholars from the second century to Dr. John R. Rice and the faculty of godly schools as "cultists"?

The texts that the KJV is based on is what is known as the "Textus Receptus" or the "Received Text". Erasmus prepared the Greek text that later became known as the TR, yet there are many errors in his translation. He had very few manuscripts to work from and even used the Latin Vulgate to translate some of his Greek text. The Stephanus text was then a revision of the Erasmus text and it is what the KJV is actually based on. However, the Stephanus text differs from the TR in 287 places! So the KJV is supposed to be perfect because it was translated from the TR, yet it differs from it in 287 places! Regarding the majority of manuscript evidence, it differs 1838 places!

The historic Fundamental stand on the Bible is not that the KJV is the only infallible translation and all others are in error. To say so is to build on a doctrine where there is no historical or Scriptural support. Even the KJV translators themselves would not defend this stand (as is seen in their writing in the beginning of the KJV). .The KJV is a wonderful version and one worthy of being respected and used but to raise it to the level of inerrant and doubly inspired, is what is considered a heresy in the history of the church.

As my pastor said, would you rather get a prescription that's 100 years old or get a prescription that is current according to the research that's been done in the last 100 years. There is no "conspiracy" looking to take the deity of Christ out of the Bible in the "modern versions". There is no "agenda" that they had to make the Scriptures say what they say. There are slight errors in all the versions - because a langage that's different than ours cannot be perfectly translated into the current langage without changing some things.

Here are some good resources:

http://www.kjvonly.org/index.html
http://www.bible-researcher.com/kutilek1.html

Here is the KJV translator's notes to the reader: http://www.kjvonly.org/robert/joyner_appendix_a.html

What is the bottom line?

Sir Frederic G. Kenyon, the pre-eminent British authority on New Testament manuscripts at the turn of the twentieth century said, "We may indeed believe that He would not allow His Word to be seriously corrupted, or any part of it essential to man's salvation to be lost or obscured; but the differences between the rival types of text is not one of doctrine. No fundamental point of doctrine rests upon a disputed reading: and the truths of Christianity are as certainly expressed in the text of Westcott and Hort as in that of Stephanus." (Frederic G. Kenyon, Handbook of the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (London: Macmillan and Co., 1901), p.271.)

Praise God that even with the textual differences and many, many years of interpretation and translation, God has preserved His Word to us. While it is not the exact words that were penned thousands of years ago, we know without a doubt that God has preserved the doctrine and theology that is encased between the covers of the book that we know as the Bible. So I reject the idea that the KJV is the only perfect Word of God for the English speaking world. That is wrong doctrine and one that is to be rejected by all true believers.

So, what is the best Bible? The best Bible is the one you read. :)

3 comments:

Prairiehomemaker said...

Excellent!

~Quasimodo~ said...

Sheesh, seriously....there have been so many manuscripts found AFTER the KJV was written, and they contribute to the "well-roundedness" of the scripture versions we have seen released through the ages. Check em against eachother, they jive.

Get serious people, God is bigger than the KJV and is capable of speaking through His well-preserved Word.

Beth said...

You are absolutely right (although if you read a comment I made on another blog you might not think I agreed with you...didn't check the source before comment). I enjoy the KJV on occasion but I much prefer NKJV or NASB. I enjoy them so much more because I can understand them and because language changes. My understanding of the words in the KJV aren't the same as the original readers' of it because words can change their meanings over time. THAT's what's more likely to make a Bible translation more or less reliable.