Bible Translations and Texts

Author: Andrew Harrison

Introduction

English translations of the Bible have become an object of great debate which shows no sign of abating. There are many issues involved, and though I wish it weresimplyblack and white, I’m sorry to say it is not. The problems in fact arise when we oversimplify or overcomplicate the facts.

Some would say the King James version is the primary version for today, others would say that the more variety of translations the better. I believe and hope to show in this article why both these views are too extreme. However, God may be using the two extremes to keep His balance for the future.

On Translations

There are various organisations that attempt to discredit such versions as the NIV, NKJV and NRSV, these include, Monarch Standard, Bournemouth and E.Barkhuizen, E.Sussex. These are often exaggerated and misleading, but are not without their strengths. To stoop to moral judgements on individual translators, though, to disprove the accuracy of a translation, is verging on the ridiculous at times. Having said that, it is normal that a translation committee is predominantly made up of committed evangelical Christians. Hence, Bishop Ellicott chairing the Revised Version (RV) in the late 1800’s, and Bruce Metzger chairing the more recent New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) was in their favour. Bear in mind the fact that we have no way of assessing the morality or spirituality of the King James Version (KJV – 1611) translators!

E.Barkhuizen states in his leaflet, Which Bible Version?, concerning the Revised Version:

“Yet, the Revision Committee, beguiled by Westcott and Hort’s Greek New Testament, savaged the Greek…. The result was the Revised Version.” (1)

 

Presumably he has not read of the voting system of the RV committee clearly outlined in A History of the Revised Version of the New Testament, by Samuel Hemphill (an opponent of the RV).

“After prayer…any proposals as to change, first textual, and afterwards translational…. After full discussion, the vote of the Company was taken…, a two-thirds’ majority to make it final.”(2)

 

The great Christian scholars that E.Barkhuizen supports, he obviously considers to be gullible and easily led. I doubt they would appreciate such a suggestion. Mr. Hemphill does his utmost to write quotations of the scholars on the committee to show arrogance from Westcott and Hort who suggested changes to the traditional text, and disapproval from some of the other scholars, to no avail.

Paraphrases

Throughout my ministry I have witnessed an increasing dependence upon paraphrased Bibles for both devotion and teaching. For many people they have replaced the full word of God. As a result of attempting to bring simplicity of reading, some have taken out a lot of content and are often little more than a long sermon with opinions of interpretation thrown in – this is especially true of the popular, The Message. For example, in Romans 2:1-2 we are told, ‘Every time you criticise someone, you condemn yourself’ and, ‘Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes.’ Am I condemned for writing this article?

I am not saying that God will not use these versions for His glory – I have no doubt He will; but there are too many. You may be tempted to ask, ‘Who got it wrong?’ or, ‘Did anyone get it wrong?’ But this is between God and the translator, or even the publisher.

JOHN 3:16

There are no problems with this verse regarding the original Greek, but it will serve well, as one of the most popular and well known verses in the world, for exploring the faithfulness and accuracy of translation between the versions.

I have studied twenty translations of this verse. You may initially be surprised to learn that all these differ from one another, but this is acceptable as there are usually several meanings to each Greek word, and the grammar of Greek can be represented in various ways in English. In fact, a word for word translation keeping to the exact word order will make it difficult for the Bible to be understood in English.

Two important Greek words for doctrine in this verse are, monogene and apollumi. Looking at various N.T. Greek lexicons (3), the meaning of monogene is – ‘only-begotten/only-born.’ It is also an expression of the deepest affection, or uniqueness.

KJV, RV, ASV, Ampl, NAS, NKJV have ‘only-begotten’ Son, but this can be translated (albeit not so literally) ‘only’ Son, as many versions do, namely, RSV, JB, TLB, NEB, GNB, NJB, NRSV, REB, ICB/NCV, CEV, NLT. Equally accurately, it can be translated, ‘one and only’, as in NIV, The Message, NIrV (4).

Some may argue against such versions as NRSV, REB and the even more recent ICB/NCV, CEV, NLT, stating that ‘only’ Son does not fully express the fact that Jesus is the only true eternally begotten child of the Father. Perhaps it should be translated more literally. But it may be pointed out that in other passages (such as Luke 7:12), even the KJV does not translate the word so literally.

It is clear from the context of Luke 7:12 that it is the only child by natural birth, but a similar argument of clarity can be applied to John 3:16, since the Bible elsewhere refers to either humans or angels as being sons of God. So to call Jesus the ONLY Son demonstrates His uniqueness and true sonship (as opposed to adopted, created or reborn). This uniqueness is further emphasised in the translation, ‘one and only’ Son.

Granted, ‘only’ and ‘one and only’ do not necessarily express the begetting, but what are we saying by the term ‘only-begotten Son’? We are not saying He was conceived by two human beings (as in Luke 7:12). If it is a reference to His natural birth through Mary after His conception nine months earlier, then the translators could be accused of denying Jesus’ pre-existence. If it is expressive of His state as an eternally begotten Son, then that is also expressed by ‘only’ Son or ‘one and only’ Son to the same extent. None specifically refer to Jesus’ pre-existence.

Jesus’ pre-existence is borne out by 1 John 4:9 where it states that God SENT His only Son into the world. Only Jesus is the ‘only Son’ of God, and His sonship predates His conception in the womb of Mary. Moule says:

“The begetting is not an event of time, however remote, but a fact irrespective of time… “

Vine says,

“The expression also suggests the thought of the deepest affection…” (5)

 

and goes on to say John 1:18 expresses both the ‘eternal union’ and the ‘ineffable intimacy’ between the Father and the Son. As far as John 3:16 is concerned, Vine says it…

“must not be taken to mean that Christ became the Only Begotten Son by Incarnation…His Sonship was not the effect of His being given…In 1 John 4:9 the statement ‘God hath sent His Only Begotten Son into the world’ does not mean that God sent out…one who at His birth in Bethlehem had become his Son. Cp the parallel statement, ‘God sent forth the Spirit of His Son,’ Gal. 4:6, R.V., which could not mean that God sent forth One who became His Spirit when He sent Him.” (5)

What is best? Ideally, we should have a proper English word to translate monogene, but we do not. All these translations are acceptable. You could say it is a blessing that we have at least three translations so that those with no knowledge of Greek can gain a full picture. As far as the Jews were concerned, Jesus referring to God as His Father, was enough on its own for them to attempt to kill Him, because He was “making Himself equal with God” (John 5:17-18).

This to me is a classic example of how seemingly strong arguments fired against certain translations can recoil with an equally strong defence. It is right to analyse and point out these issues, but not to the extent where one is branded ‘demonic’. Of course, every translation has its imperfections. A similar ‘swings and roundabouts’ debate can be (and is) at work regarding which church denomination is the most biblically based. Again, this can be done healthily, or it can bring division between genuine children of God if we are not careful.

The other Greek word, apollumi, demonstrates not so much inaccuracy of translation, but rather the need for caution over the quantity of paraphrased Bibles available in this country.

Apollumi means to ‘perish, be destroyed, be put to death, be lost’. Souter has ‘to be perishing’ (6), and this rightly expresses the opposite of ‘eternal life’. The word ‘destroy’ can be misinterpreted as a reference to annihilation. ‘Death’ can reduce the meaning to the end of ones physical life. ‘Lost’ can be taken to refer to your present earthly state. ‘Perish’ includes all these meanings and more. Since apollumi represents all of these, then we ought to use the word nearest to the full interpretation, or at least in agreement with the context. In fact, all these alternatives can, to a certain extent, portray the full sense of the word: for example, Jesus says a Christian will never die, in reference to eternal life (see John 6:50 and 11:26).

All criticism must be constructive, and not an excuse to accuse someone of deliberately toning down the force of a verse for personal or heretical reasons, or even by demonic inspiration. E.Barkhuizen says:

“Various heretical theologians over the centuries have mutilated the pure Greek text…to mould it to their own doctrinal leanings – as indicated in the verses examined above.”

 

Here refers to Luke 2:33 and John 9:35 in NIV, GNB and RSV etc. compared with the KJV (7). This is an exaggeration.

The Amplified Bible, which is translated primarily from the NA/UBS tradition (characteristic of modern versions), emphasises every aspect of John 3:16 very well with its amplified text:

“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only-begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish – come to destruction, be lost – but have eternal (everlasting) life.”

This is hardly a heretical translation.

‘Perish’ is used by the most literal translations, and others besides: KJV, RV, ASV, RSV, Ampl. TLB, NAS, NIV, NKJV, NJB, NRSV, REB, NLT.

Those that have one of the other alternatives: JB, NEB, GNB, ICB/NCV, The Message, CEV, NIrV. Most of the paraphrases fit into the second category for this verse.

Further Considerations

The main problems regarding the debate between the KJV and the modern versions are to do with the original New Testament Greek text, and the fact that some manuscripts have various phrases ‘missing’ from the Greek text. I will deal with this shortly. In regard to the NKJV and the KJV the translation and English style of these two versions is picked at by some. So I must refer to the debates over the differences between the KJV (1611) and the NKJV (1982) even though both New Testaments are based on exactly the same Greek text.

Many arguments are presented by the Trinitarian Bible Society against the NKJV in an attempt to exalt the KJV, and I find that for the most part they are very one-sided and misleading. For example, under the heading, ‘Sheol, Gehenna and Hades’, a TBS pamphlet treats us to ‘swings and roundabouts’. The first paragraph says that Sheol occurs 65 times in the Old Testament, translated,’grave, hell or pit’. It goes on to say:

“The N.K.J.V. changes grave to sheol 4 times, grave to hell once, hell to sheol 13 times, and pit to sheol once.” (8)

 

The most accurate translation of sheol is sheol, so long as you know it means ‘the place of the departed’. As one Hebrew lexicon says, it can be translated: ‘grave’ or ‘place of the departed souls’, deriving from the word’s character which is – hollowness, or devouring and ever craving. (9)

Gesenius says that Sheol is a:

“subterranean place, full of thick darkness…in which the shades of the dead are gathered together.” (10)

To someone who knows nothing of Hebrew, the tone of the pamphlet emphasises. ‘The N.K.J.V. Changes(8). This can very easily be understood as referring to an error. Sheol can be translated in various ways depending on the context. The NIV is careful here because it mentions in a footnote when it is the word sheol being translated.

Until now the TBS pamphlet has constantly criticised the NKJV with no reference to any weaknesses in the KJV. What comes across to the new reader is a belief that a whole catalogue of errors are in the NKJV, and that it is far inferior to the KJV. This is not the true picture.

The TBS pamphlet on the KJV on the other hand is never once critical of the KJV, yet continues to discredit the modern versions. For example:

“Thus one finds modern versions that include the worship of Mary, the idea…that repentance is not necessary for salvation.” (11)

 

But it gives no evidence to back up this claim. The pamphlet speaks of  (11) “enemies of the Authorised Version…” and likens any critical comment of the KJV to be from the Devil:

“God has richly blessed this translation of the inspired texts for nearly four hundred years, …the attacks against it…are not mere arguments from scholarly men but attacks…from the enemy himself.” (11)

 

This would explain why they mention no single drawback of exclusively using the KJV.

Since I am not aware of an organisation supporting the modern versions in a similar way, I will choose my own example in an attempt to redress the balance so that we can appreciate that there are strengths and weaknesses on both sides.

The phrase me genoito (Romans 6:2,15, etc.), literally means ‘let it not be’ and is translated ‘God forbid’ in the KJV. Perhaps in the seventeenth century this translation (albeit not literal) was the best way to convey Paul’s feelings. This is fine, but you can see how many of the criticisms levelled at some of the modern versions can apply just as easily to the KJV. If so desired, supporters of the translation work of modern versions could complain that:

a) ‘God forbid’ sounds more like a form of swearing or curse and therefore is not appropriate here.

b) Paul may have been horrified at the use of God’s name this way.

c) KJV adherents who oppose the NKJV need to take note that the NKJV translates it more literally than the KJV, which translates it idiomatically. As Vine says:

“The phrase me genoito, lit., ‘let it not be’…is idiomatically translated ‘God forbid’.” (12)

 

NKJV and Old English

Since the NKJV uses the same Greek text as the KJV, yet translates it into modern English, does that not far outweigh the benefits of the KJV for day to day living and instruction in the twentieth century, not to mention the beginning of the twenty first? To say otherwise is saying God does not want us to understand the full word of God.

Let me use the Preface to the RSV to illustrate this. In this Preface are outlined some of the many English words of the KJV which have changed their meanings. For example:

“The King James Version uses the word ‘let’ in the sense of ‘hinder’, ‘prevent’ to mean ‘precede’…’communicate’ for ‘share’, ‘conversation’ for ‘conduct’, ‘comprehend’ for ‘overcome’, ‘ghost’ for ‘spirit’, ‘wealth’ for ‘well-being’, ‘allege’ for ‘prove’, ‘demand’ for ‘ask’…”

The Preface also says:

“These words were once accurate translations of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures; but now, having changed in meaning, they have become misleading. They no longer say what the King James translators meant them to say.”

 

Surely God does not want to deny us the Bible in our own language – modern English. It was in the everyday language of the people that the New Testament was originally written. As H.P.V. Nunn said:

“The New Testament was written in the ordinary Greek in common use…perfectly intelligible to any person of average education in the countries to which the Gospel first penetrated.” (13)

 

Tribute to the King James Version

After all is said and done, let me at this stage share that I believe the KJV is the greatest English version of all time and I would in no way discredit it or condemn its use today. Its use by God throughout the Reformation period and revivals is unsurpassed, and its influence upon our culture and the English language is phenomenal.

Even B.F. Westcott said:

“Not withstanding all adverse circumstances, the Authorised Version [1611] overpowered both its rivals, the Geneva Bible [1560] and the Bishop’s Bible [1568], by the force of its superior merit.” (14)

 

It does not surprise me that people experience a sense of God’s anointing as they read the KJV because of its superiority and influence, but this experience is not the only function of the word of God. Is it not to affect our lives, our hearts, our minds? If we are not careful we can be in danger of giving worship to a literary masterpiece or a spiritual relic of the past, as was the case with Moses’ serpent and Gideon’s ephod (see 2 Kings 18:4 and Judges 8:27).

On the Greek Text

The New Testament was originally written in Greek, and all twenty seven of the books were completed by about 100 A.D. We have thousands of Greek manuscripts dating from before the days of printing (fifteenth century). After this date the whole Greek New Testament was produced for translation work, the most well known one being by Erasmus in 1516. All the Greek manuscripts before this date were hand written copies and are still used as much as possible for what we call textual criticism.

This textual work is basically a matter of sorting through the manuscripts which have spelling and grammatical differences. Some do not have certain phrases that exist in most of the others. There is no clear evidence of contradiction of doctrine or deliberate tampering with the text amongst the manuscripts used for deciding what should be in the main Greek text of the New Testament for translation work. An editor of the RSV said:

“…out of the thousands of variant readings in the manuscripts, none has turned up thus far that requires a revision of Christian doctrine.” (15)

The Printed Greek Texts Used For Translation Today

The two main printed Greek texts in this debate are:

1) Textus Receptus (Received Text – TR for short) by Erasmus and Stephanus amongst others. Printed in the sixteenth century.

2) Alexandrian Text (Nestle – Aland/United Bible Societies Text – NA/UBS for short). Developed over the years to the present day since the nineteenth century.

The NA/UBS is the shorter of two. This begs a question, can the presence of a phrase be considered just as much corruption as the absence of another one? There are obvious cases where a line has been accidentally missed out during copying, or spelling differences by writing from dictation, but in other cases the evidence is not clear either way and so those on one side of the argument should not be quick to discredit the other.

There are countless arguments in favour of both texts and no one can claim to know for certain which is the most ‘precise’. How do we know for certain that the original authors themselves did not adapt them by addition or omission for different readers and both equally inspired? There is no doctrinal reason why both texts should not be accepted as the whole truth of the word of God. Both the TR and the NA/UBS have their translations in use to promote the Gospel all over the whole world.

The problem with the main text of the NA/UBS Greek New Testament is the absence of many phrases present in the TR. For a list of these see the pamphlet by the Trinitarian Bible Society, A Textual Key To The New Testament by GW and DE Anderson. This is an excellent resource albeit very pro KJV to the exclusion of modern translations.

The problem with the TR involves such passages as Acts 9:6 where the phrase, ‘And he trembling…unto him’ has no existing Greek manuscript support to our knowledge (16). Yet in the Trinitarian Bible Society pamphlet, it is listed as an ‘omission from the Traditional Text’ (17). If it was not there in the first place, how can it be an omission? There is also a section on 1 John 5:7-8 without any significant Greek manuscript support. F.F.Bruce says:

“Apart from these four late manuscripts, no Greek manuscript is known to exhibit the passage.”

 

And that these:

“represent a translation from the Latin.” (18)

 

Some pro-KJV organisations which are anti Roman Catholic should take note that for this verse they are agreeing with Pope Leo the thirteenth who rightly said:

“The Latin manuscripts may have preserved the true text.” (18).

 

Some of these kinds of problems arose as a consequence of Erasmus translating the Latin Bible into Greek, even though he was unable to find sufficient manuscripts. There were parts of the Book of Revelation where Erasmus had no Greek manuscript to translate from at all.

Historical Considerations

God did not neglect England when our Bible was predominantly in Latin for centuries. F.F.Bruce says that the Latin Bible was dominant…

“…for centuries in Western European Christianity. It was from the Latin version that the first knowledge of the Bible came to the British Isles. It was from the Latin version, too, that the first English Bible was translated.” (19)

These Latin Bibles did not fully represent the text of the the Greek New Testament behind the KJV either. Even from the earliest time the Latin New Testament was of a so-called ‘Western Text’ type rather than the ‘Byzantine’ (ancestor of the Greek text behind the KJV and NKJV). F.F.Bruce says:

“The earliest Old Latin version, which is Western in character, cannot be much later than AD150.” (19)

 

Neither can we assume that the Greek Orthodox Church adheres perfectly to biblical doctrine because it has always had the same strain of Greek New Testament text as the KJV. In regard to the Greek lectionaries (characteristic of the Greek Orthodox tradition), which K and B Aland consider to have started in the seventh to eighth centuries, it is said:

“The text we find in the Greek lectionaries is almost identical with the Byzantine Imperial text.” (20)

 

To further illustrate this point, we can look at Jesus who quoted the Greek Old Testament as well as the Hebrew (as the disciples did in the New Testament writings). The Good News Bible states under the heading, ‘Septuagint Readings’:

“The writers of the New Testament generally quoted or paraphrased the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, commonly known as the Septuagint Version (LXX)…In a number of instances this version differs significantly in meaning from the Masoretic Hebrew text.”

 

This Greek Old Testament was a translation from the Hebrew by the Jews performed between 300 and 200 B.C. As J.W.Wenham says:

“The Old Testament was translated into Greek (the so-called Septuagint version comes probably from the second and third centuries BC).” (21)

 

Some examples where the Greek Old Testament is used in the New Testament:

Genesis 47:31 in Hebrews 11:21

Isaiah 40:3 in Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; John 1:23

Habakkuk 1:5 in Acts 13:41

Habakkuk 2:3-4 in Hebrews 10:37-38. (22)

The very fact that we have both variants in scripture shows God’s acceptance of the validity of both. The differences never conflict doctrinally, but instead produce a wealth of doctrine, revealing the fullest picture. Likewise, the variants in the New Testament should not be considered to be uninspired.

An example of the beauty this situation can be found in a phrase Habakkuk 2:4 with Hebrews 10:38.

The Septuagint (LXX-OT) has: ‘The just shall live by my faith (or faith in me)’ (23)

NA/UBS (NT) has: ‘My righteous one will live by faith’ (NRSV) (24)

M and TR (NT) have: ‘The just shall live by faith’ (NKJV) (24)

Greek manuscript D and a few others (NT) have the same as LXX. (24)

Hebrew (OT) has: ‘But the righteous will live by his faith’ (NIV) (25)

NA/UBS, M and TR show that the Christian should do all things through faith, and that eternal life is by faith (as opposed to works). The Hebrew points out that we need to exercise our faith in Jesus. As Jesus would say, ‘Your faith has saved you’. The LXX with some New Testament manuscripts has ‘my faith’ or ‘faith in me’, which reminds me of Hebrews 12:2 where it says that Jesus is the ‘author and perfector of our faith’ (NIV). Ultimately, in all things, He is the source of our faith in Him. Also read Bruce M.Metzger’s comments on this passage in A Textual Commentary On The Greek New Testament.

Useful Footnotes

The New King James Version, as with the King James Version, represents the Textus Receptus but has the advantage of footnotes comparing the TR of the main English text of the NA/UBS. It also compares these with what is called the Majority Text (M). This is a very useful tool for serious Bible study whether you can read New Testament Greek or not.

The NIV and the NRSV are good representatives of the NA/UBS text and most of the major ‘additions’ of the TR are listed in a footnote. The NKJV has most of the major ‘omissions’ of the NA/UBS listed in a footnote.

The Nestle – Aland Greek New Testament (NA) basically has every scrap of available evidence and variants listed in its footnotes for you to make your own decisions, so it could be said to be the most thorough New Testament. However, in interlinear editions, the footnotes are missed out, meaning that the Greek text of some of the TR ‘additions’ are omitted.

An Overview of M, NA/UBS and TR

The Majority Text

At one time the TR could boldly claim to be the Majority Text because the vast amount of Greek manuscripts from the fifth to the fifteenth centuries supported it. However, this century has seen a more likely Majority Text (M) (26), basing its strength on the claim that it represents the majority of manuscripts in every detail as much as can be ascertained at present. At the back of ‘Livng Water – The Gospel Of John – Logos 21, a translation from the Majority Text, it says this about the modern versions:

“Most modern versions are based on a text heavily influenced by scholars who have largely disregarded or discounted the majority of Greek manuscripts. Logos 21 represents the vast bulk of existing Greek manuscripts.”

 

And:

“Heavy reliance on the few older manuscripts, mostly from Egypt (the region dry enough to preserve ancient papyrus) seems unwarranted to us.”

 

Further information can be obtained from: The Executive Secretary, The Majority Text Society, Box 141289, Dallas, TX 75214-1289, U.S.A.

But the Majority Text has its weaknesses too:

1) You are to assume that the majority is always right.

2) It is very difficult to discover the majority reading at times as not all the surviving manuscripts around the world can be gathered for thorough study.

However, we have no reason to assume that it does not in itself represent the majority better than the TR, and it has as much chance as the other two Greek texts of being identical to the original writings.

The Received Text

You could say that the proof of Erasmus’ inspiration in producing the forerunner of the TR from a handful of manuscripts is proved by the fact that the thousands of manuscripts gathered later strongly supported the text. The fact of its prominence throughout the Reformation period is often put forward as evidence that it surpasses the NA/UBS. G.W. and D.E.Anderson say:

“As the Authorised Version [KJV] has fallen out of favour, so seemingly has the whole concept of God- sent revival.” (27)

 

But the significance was surely due to the Bible’s access to more people through their common language, combined with God’s timing and mankind’s response. Similarly, the fact that the results of the labours of the NA/UBS has produced translations into many languages of people till then unreached, is commendable, but not evidence of any superiority of the NA/UBS above the TR.

The Nestle-Aland/United Bible Societies Text

You could say the proof of the inspiration of the joint decisions of the Revised Version translators in spearheading what is now the NA/UBS is proved by the fact that they were strongly supported by the oldest manuscripts (second to fourth century) discovered later.

Summary

There is no way of proving one to be more accurate than another in spite of many theories put forward on all sides.

The TR is supported by the majority of manuscripts after the fourth century
The NA/UBS is supported by the majority of manuscripts before the fourth century
The M is supported by the majority of manuscripts.

How can we possibly know which is the most accurate? Discussion is good, but arguments will only lead to divisions between Christians. If doctrine was clearly affected or compromised it would be a different matter and I would be quick off the mark. Those who claim doctrine has been affected are clutching at straws and playing a dangerous game with the Word of God. There is no justification at present for one Text to discard another. All three should coexist.

Only God knows why there is equally strong support for all three Greek texts, and he may well have ordained it so. We are entitled to our convictions, but we must not be guilty of slandering each other (Galatians 5:15). There are evangelical Christians on all sides of equal intellect, spirituality and morality.

So which Bible should we use?

You must make your own decisions based on what you know and how the Lord leads you. As far as my choice and leading goes:

I have a strong familiarity with the KJV, NKJV, NRSV, NIV, GNB and Amplified Bible amongst others. I also have an understanding of the Greek and Hebrew texts. Presently I use the NIV for day-to-day use as a Missionary, and the NKJV and NRSV as my most literal and authoritative versions for reference. I also consult the Greek and Hebrew.

STUDY OF THE TEXTUAL VARIANTS IN REVELATION CHS. 21 AND 22 USING THE NKJV

As previously mentioned, the NKJV has helpful footnotes in many of its editions, comparing the Majority Text (M), Nestle-Aland/United Bible Societies (abbreviated by NU) and the Received Text (which is the origin of its main text).

We will look at twenty five areas of variant reading. This is typical of the situation for the New Testament in some chapters, but not typical of the balance between the three Texts since M and TR are usually closer to one another than NU. Out of twenty five variants:

NU agrees with M against TR in omitting a word or two 5 times, although in one case the true majority is not certain

NU agrees with M against TR in omitting ‘of those who are saved’ from 21:24

In 21:6, M alone omits ‘It is done!’ against NU and TR

In 21:8, M alone adds ‘sinners’ against NU and TR

In 21:23, M alone adds ‘very’ [glory] against NU and TR

In 21:26, M alone adds ‘that they may enter in’ against NU and TR

In 21:7, instead of the NU and TR ‘He who overcomes shall inherit all things’, M has, ‘I shall give him all things’

In 21:9, instead of the NU and TR ‘I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife’, M has ‘I will show you the woman, the Lamb’s bride’

In 22:18, NU and TR read ‘God will add’, whereas M has, ‘May God add’

In 22:19, NU and TR read ‘God shall take away’ whereas M has ‘May God take away’

In 21:24, instead of the TR ‘their glory and honour into it’, M has ‘the glory and honour of the nations to him’, and the NU has ‘their glory into it’ [not mentioned in the footnotes]

On 1 further occasion, all three Texts have a slightly different phrase to each other

In 21:14, M and NU add the word ‘twelve’ [names] against TR

On 5 more occasions phrases in M and NU agree against TR

In 21:10, TR reads ‘the great city, the holy Jerusalem’, whereas M and NU read ‘the holy city, Jerusalem’

In 22:19, TR reads ‘book of life’ whereas M and NU read ‘tree of life’

In 22:14, M and TR read ‘do his commandments’ whereas NU reads ‘wash their robes’

Observations

NU agrees with M against TR 14 times

NU agrees with TR against M 8 times

M agrees with TR against NU 1 time

All three differ 2 times

They are all in agreement the rest of the time.

Take a copy of the New King James Version and examine for yourself whether you think doctrine is compromised. Also try accepting each on equal authority taking all as inspired by Lord. When I do this it opens more complete picture what God saying which enhances rather than contradicts Scripture.

Footnotes

(1) ‘Which Bible Version?’ E.Barkhuizen … return to text

(2) ‘A History Of The Revised Version Of The New Testament’ Samuel Hemphill … return to text

(3) ‘The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised’ Harold K.Moulton; Manual Greek Lexicon Of The New Testament’ Abbott – Smith; ‘Expository Dictionary Of New Testament Words’ W.E.Vine … return to text

(4) KJV – King James Version; NKJV – New King James Version; RV – Revised Version; NJB – New Jerusalem Bible; ASV – American Standard Version; NRSV – New Revised Standard Version; RSV – Revised Standard Version; REB – Revised English Bible; Ampl. – The Amplified Bible; ICB – International Children’s Bible; JB – Jerusalem Bible; NCV – New Century Version; TLB – The Living Bible; The Message; NAS – New American Standard; CEV – Contemporary English Version; NEB – New English Bible NIrV – New International Readers Version; NIV – New International Version; NLT – New Living Translation; GNB – Good News Bible … return to text

(5) Quotations are taken from the ‘Expository Dictionary Of New Testament Words’ W.E.Vine … return to text

(6) ‘A Pocket Lexicon To The Greek New Testament’ Alexander Souter … return to text

(7) ‘Which Bible Version?’ E.Barkhuizen … return to text

(8) ‘The Holy Bible New King James Version’ Trinitarian Bible Society … return to text

(9) See ‘Analytical Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon’ B.Davidson … return to text

(10) ‘Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon To The Old Testament’ … return to text

(11) ‘The Authorised Version’ G.W. And D.E.Anderson. Trinitarian Bible Society … return to text

(12) ‘Expository Dictionary Of New Testament Words’ W.E.Vine … return to text

(13) ‘A Short Syntax Of New Testament Greek’ Rev. H.P.V.Nunn … return to text

(14) ‘The Authorised Version’ G.W. And D.E.Anderson. Trinitarian Bible Society … return to text

(15) Quoted by F.F.Bruce in ‘The Books And The Parchments’ from ‘An Introduction To The Revised Standard Version Of The New Testament’ F.C.Grant … return to text

(16) ‘A Textual Commentary On The Greek New Testament’ Bruce M.Metzger … return to text

(17) ‘A Textual Key To The New Testament’ G.W. And D.E.Anderson. Trinitarian Bible Society … return to text

(18)’The Books And The Parchments’ F.F.Bruce … return to text

(19) Ibid … return to text

(20) ‘The Text Of The New Testament’ K and B Aland … return to text

(21) ‘The Elements Of New Testament Greek’ J.W.Wenham … return to text

(22) From the ‘Index Of Quotations’ in ‘The Greek New Testament’ United Bible Societies … return to text

(23) ‘The Septuagint With Apocrypha: Greek And English’ Sir Lancelot C.L.Brenton … return to text

(24) Critical Apparatus of ‘Novum Testamentum Graeca’ Nestle-Aland … return to text

(25) ‘The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-Greek-English’ Jay P.Green … return to text

(26) ‘The Greek New Testament According To The Majority Text’ Zane C.Hodges/Arthur L.Farstad … return to text

(27) ‘The Authorised Version’ G.W. and D.E.Anderson Trinitarian Bible Society … return to text

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