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It Is Written, But Is It Really?
by Wayne Blank
Since beginning this online Daily Bible Study in 1998, I have used, in succession, 3 different translations of the Holy Scriptures; first, the New International Version (NIV) for the first year or so, then the Revised Standard Version (RSV), which is based on the American Standard Version, until a few months ago (the autumn of 2003) and now the King James Version (while some have commented that the NIV to RSV to KJV seems to indicate that I've become more "conservative," that isn't the case - everything that I have written has been consistent from the start to the present, no contradictions, no "flip-flops," no changes of "doctrine" - if you can find any study in the over 2,500 that I have written where I have contradicted myself, show me; I can be reached at email@example.com). However, regardless of which I used, or use, there were, and are, always people writing to point out the "errors" found in that particular translation of God's Word - and most who write were, and are, right. No translation of God's perfect Word is perfect.
Although I personally regard the RSV as the best overall English-language Bible ever produced in terms of accuracy, I stopped using it, for the online Daily Bible Study (I still use it as my primary study Bible) only because I was not willing to subject myself and this ministry to their copyright restrictions - their loss, not mine, or yours. The public-domain (copyright in Canada and the US lasts for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years e.g. everything that I have written for Daily Bible Study will be public domain 70 years after the day I die - but which I now rarely do anything to enforce, except when it has been altered, or used for commercial purposes) King James Version of 1611 that I now use is however an excellent alternative, and is in no way inferior to any other version for teaching purposes. Wherever problems exist in it, rather than routinely quoting another translation, I usually go to the actual original Hebrew or Greek words that the King James was translated from.
Examples of "It Is Written, But Is It Really"?
The purpose of this study is to help to make those who are not already mindful of it aware that Bible translations of the original Hebrew and Greek are sometimes inaccurate or inappropriate, either because the translator was honestly mistaken, or because the translator honestly, or dishonestly, had a doctrinal "agenda" for his translation. These inaccuracies are not a reason to be discouraged or distrustful of the Bible; quite the contrary, once you are aware, and beware, of what to watch out for, you can be far more confident that what you are basing your beliefs on is God's Truth, not man's truth. Truth doesn't just make you free, it makes you stronger.
Some examples of Biblical "booby traps":
Where Does The Comma Go?
In the case of English translations, there is a matter of added punctuation which did not exist in the original languages. Most often the punctuation isn't a problem, but sometimes the punctuation can be used, deliberately or innocently, to make the actual original Hebrew or Greek Scriptures appear to say something that they never said.
For example, consider the vastly different meaning in these two translated versions of Luke 23:43 (the actual original Greek, that had no punctuation, is also shown) - the translated words are exactly the same, only the placement of the comma is different:
1 John 5:7
1 John 5:7, as some Bible translations have rendered it, is regarded as perhaps the most important "proof" of the Trinity doctrine.
"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one" (1 John 5:7 KJV)
The only problem with "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one" is that it does not exist in the Holy Scriptures as they were actually written; that line was added by the King James translators, by their own authority, to what was actually there. Carefully consider, line by line, 1 John 5:6-8 as it was translated by the King James Version (where the line in red was added by the translators' own "authority") and as it was translated by the Revised Standard Version (and most other translations, including the American Standard and even the NIV) where the non-existent verse was not added:
King James Version:
While some regard that other translations have "left out" what the King James has, the truth is that the King James translators added something that they had no right to do. The line highlighted in red above did not exist in the actual Holy Scriptures.
Passover, Not Easter
The Easter of Acts 12:4 in the King James Version should have been translated as Passover (as most other translations do, see below), since that is the word, and the intended observance, that was originally written in the Scriptures.
"And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people." (King James Version)
Fact Finder: Which Bible did Jesus Christ use?