Category Archives: Bible Translations

KJV Only Movement? Is the King James Version the Only Bible We Should Use?

Many people have strong and serious objections to the translation methods and textual basis for the new translations and therefore take a strong stance in favor of the King James Version. Others are equally convinced that the newer translations are an improvement over the KJV in their textual basis and translation methodology. GotQuestions.org does not want to limit its ministry to those of the “KJV Only” persuasion. Nor do we want to limit ourselves to those who prefer the NIV, NAS, NKJV, etc. Note—the purpose of this article is not to argue against the use of the King James Version. Rather, the focus of this article is to contend with the idea that the King James Version is the only Bible English speakers should use.

The KJV Only movement claims its loyalty to be to the Textus Receptus, a Greek New Testament manuscript compilation completed in the 1500s. To varying degrees, KJV Only advocates argue that God guided Erasmus (the compiler of the Textus Receptus) to come up with a Greek text that is perfectly identical to what was originally written by the biblical authors. However, upon further examination, it can be seen that KJV Only advocates are not loyal to the Textus Receptus, but rather only to the KJV itself. The New Testament of the New King James Version is based on the Textus Receptus, just as the KJV is. Yet, KJV Only advocates label the NKJV just as heretical as they do the NIV, NAS, etc.

Beyond the NKJV, other attempts have been made to make minimal updates to the KJV, only “modernizing” the archaic language, while using the exact same Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. These attempts are rejected nearly as strongly as the NKJV and the other newer Bible translations. This proves that KJV Only advocates are loyal to the King James Version itself, not to the Textus Receptus. KJV Only advocates have no desire or plan to update the KJV in any way. The KJV certainly contains English that is outdated, archaic, and sometimes confusing to modern English speakers and readers. It would be fairly simple to publish an updated KJV with the archaic words and phrases updated into modern 21st century English. However, any attempt to edit the KJV in any way results in accusations from KJV Only advocates of heresy and perversion of the Word of God.

When the Bible is translated for the first time into a new language today, it is translated into the language that culture speaks and writes today, not the way they spoke and wrote 400 years ago. The same should be true in English. The Bible was written in the common, ordinary language of the people at that time. Bible translations today should be the same. That is why Bible translations must be updated and revised as languages develop and change. The KJV Only movement is very English-focused in its thinking. Why should people who read English be forced to read the Bible in outdated/archaic English, while people of all other languages can read the Bible in modern/current forms of their languages?

Our loyalties are to the original manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments, written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Only the original languages are the Word of God as He inspired it. A translation is only an attempt to take what is said in one language and communicate it in another. The modern translations are superb in taking the meaning of the original languages and communicating it in a way that we can understand in English. However, none of the modern translations are perfect. Every one contains verses that are at least somewhat mistranslated. By comparing and contrasting several different translations, it is often easier to get a good grasp on what the verse is saying than by only using one translation. Our loyalty should not be to any one English translation, but to the inspired, inerrant Word of God that is communicated by the Holy Spirit through the translations (2 Timothy 3:16–17).[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2002–2013). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Bible Translations: What Is the GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)?

 

GOD’S WORD Translation—History Completed in 1995, the GOD’S WORD Translation (GW) is an English translation of the Bible by the God’s Word to the Nations Society. GW had its beginnings with a New Testament translation titled The New Testament in the Language of Today: An American Translation, published in 1963 by Lutheran pastor and seminary professor William F. Beck (1904–1966). In 1982, work on a revision was begun by Phillip B. Giessler, a pastor from Cleveland, Ohio, and his committee. This yielded another NT translation released in 1988 and titled New Testament: God’s Word to the Nations (GWN). In 1992, earlier work was abandoned and a new translation was begun, this time based on the best Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic manuscripts currently available. In early 1994 the translation was renamed GOD’S WORD prior to being turned over to World Bible Publishers for publication in March 1995. In 2008 rights to GOD’S WORD were acquired by Baker Publishing Group.

GOD’S WORD Translation—Translation Method The GOD’S WORD Translation uses the translation method known as “closest natural equivalence” which seeks to combine dynamic equivalence (thought for thought) with finding equivalent English ways of expressing the meaning of the original text. This procedure, the translators contend, ensures that the translation is faithful to the meaning intended by the original writer. Closest natural equivalence seeks to avoid the awkwardness and inaccuracy associated with word-for-word translation, and avoids the loss of meaning and oversimplification associated with thought-for-thought translation. Another consideration for the translators was readability, so they used common English punctuation, capitalization, and nearly perfect English grammar to express the text in clear, natural English. The GOD’S WORD Translation is printed in an open, single column format that enhances readability.

GOD’S WORD Translation—Pro’s and con’s The GOD’S WORD Translation sometimes does a good job at rendering words/phrases how they would be rendered if the Bible was being translated into English for the first time today. With a 400+ year history of English Bible translations, new translations are often rendered a certain way because that is how the translators are used to reading/hearing it. The GOD’S WORD Translation seeks to avoid this, and should be commended for this effort. However, sometimes in its goal of “closest natural equivalence,” the GOD’S WORD Translation strays a little too far from the literal meaning of the text, interpreting rather than translating.

GOD’S WORD Translation—Sample verses John 1:1, 14—“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became human and lived among us. We saw his glory. It was the glory that the Father shares with his only Son, a glory full of kindness and truth.”

John 3:16—“God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.”

John 8:58—“Jesus told them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Before Abraham was ever born, I am.’ ”

Ephesians 2:8–9—“God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God. It’s not the result of anything you’ve done, so no one can brag about it.”

Titus 2:13—“At the same time we can expect what we hope for—the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Bible Translations: What is the English Standard Version (ESV)?

 

English Standard Version—History The English Standard Version (ESV) is a revision of the 1971 edition of the Revised Standard Version. The first edition was published in 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. The ESV Study Bible, also published by Crossway Bibles, was published in October 2008. It uses the ESV translation and adds extensive notes and articles based on evangelical Christian scholarship. Under noted theologian J.I. Packer, who served as general editor, the translators sought and received permission from the National Council of Churches to use the 1971 edition of the RSV as the English textual basis for the ESV. Difficult passages were translated using the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other original manuscripts.

English Standard Version—Translation Method The stated intent of the translators was to produce a readable and accurate translation that stands in the tradition of Bible translations beginning with English religious reformer William Tyndale in 1525–26 and culminating in the King James Version of 1611. Examples of other translations in this genre are the Revised Version (1881–85), the American Standard Version (1901), and the Revised Standard Version (1946–1971). In their own words, they sought to follow a literal word-for-word translation philosophy. To that end, they sought as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer, while taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages. The result is a translation that is more literal than the New International Version, but more fluent and colloquial than the New American Standard Bible.

English Standard Version—Pro’s and Con’s The English Standard Version receives complaints from both sides. Some say it is too literal. Others say it is too dynamic. Often, criticism from both sides of an argument indicates that something has achieved a good balance between the two.

English Standard Version—Sample verses John 1:1, 14—“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 3:16—“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 8:58—“Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ ”

Ephesians 2:8–9—“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Titus 2:13—“waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Bible Translations: What Is the Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)?

Easy-to-Read Version—History The Easy-to-Read Version of the Bible, published in 1989 by the World Bible Translation Center—founded in 1973 in Arlington, Texas—was initially prepared to meet the special needs of the deaf and was first published by Baker Book House as The English Version for the Deaf. The first-draft work on The English Version for the Deaf was done by WBTC’s in-house translators who are Greek and Hebrew scholars and deaf-language consultants. The Easy-to-Read Version has also recently undergone a major revision to better meet the needs of its target audience and evangelistic outreach (via ministries to prisons, the homeless, or children) as well as those with limited English. The revised text is also more suitable for oral reading, since many who understand spoken English are not literate.

Easy-to-Read Version—Translation method The revision of the English Version for the Deaf into the Easy-to-Read Version was not a translation as such, but rather a reworking of the EVD for the hearing population. The WBTC enlisted English stylists to smooth the text and an ecumenical panel of New Testament scholars to review the edited drafts and make suggestions. There were very few changes in content. Most of the changes involved a move toward more standard English style, i.e., less redundancy, and a more complex sentence structure. According to the WBTC: “Besides improving the English style, the revised Easy-to-Read Version reflects a better understanding of many passages. This has been made possible, in part, by the greatly expanded resources now available to our translators. Also, these translators have benefited from their involvement in over 30 different language projects. As they compared the drafts of these translations with the original texts, they often noted how the same passages were translated in the Easy-to-Read Version, resulting in many improvements. In addition, the Easy-to-Read Version has benefited from input from numerous outside scholars who have served as consultants in the process of evaluating WBTC’s translations.”

Easy-to-Read Version—Pro’s and Con’s The Easy-to-Read Version is very aptly named, as it is definitely easy to read. For that, the ERV is to be commended. It is a good thing to have the Bible translated so that those who struggle with English can understand it. While the Bible is very deep in what it proclaims, the wording usually does not need to be complicated. The primary weakness of the ERV would be that sometimes its renderings are so simplified that they do not fully communicate the message that was in the original languages. The ERV is definitely on the “dynamic equivalence” side of Bible translations, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It does, however, open the door for interpretation to be done instead of strict translation.

Easy-to-Read Version—Sample Verses John 1:1, 14—“Before the world began, the Word was there. The Word was there with God. The Word was God. The Word became a man and lived among us. We saw his glory—the glory that belongs to the only Son of the Father. The Word was full of grace (kindness) and truth.”

John 3:16—“Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. God gave his Son so that every person that believes in him would not be lost, but have life forever.”

John 8:58—“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth. Before Abraham was born, I AM.’ ”

Ephesians 2:8–9—“I mean that you are saved by grace. And you got that grace by believing. You did not save yourselves. It was a gift from God. No! You are not saved by the things you have done. So no person can boast {that he saved himself}.”

Titus 2:13—“We should live like that while we are waiting for the coming of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. He is our great hope, and he will come with glory.”[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Bible Translations: What Is the Douay-Rheims Version (DRV)?

 

Douay-Rheims Version—History The Douay-Rheims Version, which contains the Apocrypha, is the foundation on which nearly all English Catholic versions are still based. It was translated by Gregory Martin, an Oxford-trained scholar, working in the circle of English Catholic exiles on the Continent, under the sponsorship of William (later Cardinal) Allen. The NT appeared at Rheims in 1582; the OT at Douay in 1609. The whole Douay-Rheims Bible was revised and diligently compared with the Latin Vulgate by Bishop Richard Challoner in A.D. 1749–1752. The notes included in the text were written by Challoner. The DR Bible was photographically reproduced from the 1899 edition of the John Murphy Company, Baltimore, Maryland, by Tan Books in 1971.

Douay-Rheims Version—Translation method The Douay-Rheims Bible is a translation into English of the Latin Vulgate Bible which St. Jerome (342–420) translated into Latin from the original languages. The Vulgate quickly became the Bible universally used in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. In their preface, the translators of the 1582 DRV New Testament gave 10 reasons for using the Vulgate as their primary text, rather than the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, stating that the Latin Vulgate “is not only better than all other Latin translations, but than the Greek text itself, in those places where they disagree.”

Douay-Rheims Version—Pro’s and Con’s The Douay-Rheims Version is not a poor translation, but the problem is that it is a translation of the Latin Vulgate, not a translation of the original Hebrew and Greek. Meaning and clarity are always lost in translation from one language to another. The Douay-Rheims takes this a step further, being a translation of a translation. In addition to this fault, the Douay-Rheims translators, on occasion, allowed their Catholic theology to influence their translation choices. >br />Douay-Rheims Version—Sample Verses John 1:1, 14—“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

John 3:16—“For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.”

John 8:58—“Jesus said to them: ‘Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am.’ ”

Ephesians 2:8–9—“For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God; Not of works, that no man may glory.”

Titus 2:13—“Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ,”[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.