Do you know that there are about 18 kinds of Bibles available in the market today? Confronted with this fact, a deceitful Christian will say that all Bibles have similar message on it, so you can just pick anyone of them since they are all the same. Well guess again!
Do you think that the KJV, NIV, NAB, Good News, The Message, etc. etc. have the same message on it? Well judging by the misunderstanding of different Christian sects existing today, we can carefully figure it out that Christians have been interpreting, translating and in most cases, even writing, their holy book differently to suit their congregations’ beliefs and dogmas.
KJV vs. NIV
Well let’s just look at the war between the KJV readers vs. the NIV readers. The KJV (King James Version) and the NIV (New International Version) are the most used Bible in Christianity today. Yet a feud is building up among their loyal devotees. The NIV claim that their translation is based on the Masoratic Text in the latest edition of the Biblia Hebraica, except where the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint, and internal evidences led to corrections in the Masoratic Text. The New Testament was based upon the Critical Greek text. Well in comparison with the KJV in which was solely based on the Bishop Bible of 1568, the Tyndale, Matthew, Covendale ,Geneva and the 1516 and 1522 edition of Erasmus’ Greek Text, the NIV is more scholarly superior and up dated.
Most commentators on the KJV side insist that those scholars that help created the NIV were liars or they sometimes say that some translations were conflicting compare to the one they use (which is of course the KJV). Some see it too free a translation, quite interpretive and not textually dependable.
The Difference between KJV and NIV
Here is a small list of the differences:
1. PROV. 28:3 – “A ruler who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain….” (NIV) vs. “A poor man that oppresseth the poor” (KJV)
2. MICAH 5:2 – “…whose goings forth have been from old from everlasting”– (KJV) vs. “…whose origin is from old from ancient days” (NIV)
3. MATT. 12:40 – “For as Jonas was 3 days and 3 nights in the whale’s belly” vs. “For as Jonas was in the great fish 3 days and 3 nights” (NIV)
4. MARK 1:1 – “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ” (NIV) vs. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (KJV)
5. 1 JOHN 3:4 – “…for sin is transgression of the law” (KJV) vs. “…sin is lawbreaking or lawlessness” (NIV)
6. John 6:69 – And we believe and are sure that thou art that CHRIST THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD (KJV) vs. We believe and know that you are the HOLY ONE OF GOD. (NIV)
7. Acts 8:10 – This man is the great power of God (KJV) vs. This man is the divine power known as the Great Power (NIV)
8. GEN. 11:2 – “And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east” (KJV) vs. “…eastward or to the east” (NIV)
9. EX. 14:27 – “The Egyptians were fleeing toward it” (NIV) vs. “the Egyptians fled against it” (KJV)
10. NUM. 11:25 – “…when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease” (KJV) vs. “…and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did so no more” (NIV)
11. 1 SAM. 8:16 – “And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men…” (KJV) vs. “He will take your menservants, and maidservants, and the best of your cattle….” (NIV)
12. MARK 1:2 – “…as it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger…” (KJV) vs. “as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold I send my….” (NIV)
13. LUKE 14:5 – “Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit….” (KJV) vs. “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into….” (NIV)
14. ACTS 3:21 – “…which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (KJV) vs. “…that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old” (NIV)
15. REV. 8:13 – “and I beheld and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven” (KJV) vs. “Then I looked, and heard an eagle crying with a loud voice….” (NIV)
Most NIV critic says that the NIV weakens the divinity of Jesus Christ. It also weakens the concept of Predestination. Yet NIV defenders argue that the KJV has a lot of translation errors, unjustified additions base on the Latin text and not on the Greek text, misplaced verses and omitted words.
Catholic vs. Protestant Scriptures
The most obvious problem is the number of inspired scriptures. The Roman Catholic Church has canonized 75 books while the Protestant/Evangelicals only accepted 65 books. So which is which?
According to Christian fundamentalists, the Apocrypha were not inspired. But Apocrypha defenders says several ancient copies of Greek translations contain some of its books. It is also said that Jesus and his apostles use these books. Jude for example has quoted some passages from the apocrypha Book of Enoch. The term “apocrypha” was coined by St Jerome as biblical books contained in the Septuagint, but not included in the Hebrew Bible.
Now why are the other cannons very important to the Roman Catholics? That is because some of their church doctrines, like the existence of “purgatory” and prayers for the dead can be seen on the Apocryphal books 2 Maccabees and Tobit which the Protestants don’t believe.
Have you heard the Reformation in Europe? It’s the time when an unknown German monk lists his 95 theses to attack Roman Catholic corruption. It was also the time of Bible making in both concern parties!
Before that time, Bible making is just a Roman Catholic business. Well…until John Wycliffe entered the business. Wycliffe died two years after the completion of his Bible in 1382. In 1428, forty-four years after his death, his bones were dug up and burned after being condemned. His ashes were thrown into the River Swift in an attempt by the medieval church to stamp out his “unsavory” memory.
In the late 1400’s a new theology arises. Martin Luther has started to introduce his doctrine of salvation through faith and not through works and predestination. In Geneva, John Calvin (1509-64) has strengthened the concept of predestination which influences Presbyterianism and congregationalism, while Zwingli (1484-1531) denied substantiation. The apocryphal books were later added by the Roman Catholic Church in the Council of Trent in 1543-63 as an act to counter attacked against Protestantism.
The Protestants claim that the apocryphal books were not scripture. These books were not included in the original Jewish Bible.
Yet Martin Luther did not outright reject the books. He includes the apocrypha in the appendix on his German translation of the Bible in 1534 and said they were useful for reading but they don’t have the status of a scripture. Well, he also treats the Book of James in the New Testaments this way. For the Calvinist, they rejected these books because they have nothing to do in their unique theological position. In 1827, the British and Foreign Bible Society decided to refuse financial aid to any society that distributed Bibles which contains the apocryphal books.
So if I read the Roman Catholic Bible; am I reading a holy scripture or am I just reading a counter-reformation drive against the Protestants? How about the 65 version of the Protestants? Is that the real number of scriptures or they just wanted to be different?
It seems these books were left out because of economics and prejudice between the Roman Catholic and the Protestant reformers and has nothing to do with theological reason.
It’s all about biases
A Christian friend once told me that different Bible translation is not really a problem since all Biblical Hermeneutics are the same. Hermeneutics is a cool jargon that simply means Bible interpretation. Now is Bible interpretation the same on every Christian sect?
Bible interpretation is really about doctrinal biases. Remember that all Christian sects declare to own the “truth”. So if you belong to a Christian sect that believes in “Oneness”, then your congregation will interpret the Bible base on what the congregation believes. Sometimes, it will use a certain Bible that will back-up its doctrines. Liberal Christians who don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ can use Bibles that were written by people who don’t believe the divinity of Jesus. Bibles like Schonfield, Moffat, The Complete Bible an American Translation by Edgar Goodspeed and J. M. Powis Smith, Lamsa’s translation of the Peshita Text, New English Bible & Revised English Bible and New Testament in an Improved Version and Newcome’s New Translation are a good choice.
If you cannot find any Bible that will support your stand on the issue…well you can always write your own Bible. That’s just what the Jehovah’s Witnesses did. They have their own translation of the Scriptures in which they have taken unwarranted liberties with the Greek text called the “New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures.”
The Inspired Version was created by the Mormons. The text was published in 1867 and a “corrected edition” in 1944. If you believe that Joseph Smith was an inspired prophet, then his lack of knowledge of Greek and Hebrew would really not matter.
If you can’t print your own Bible, well you can always interpret the Bible base on your belief and doctrine. Scriptures about prophecies and apostleship is most targeted by different Christian sects.
The Iglesia ni Cristo for instance uses Isaiah 34:16 to prove the divinity of the INC Church base on prophecy. The World Wide Church of God also uses different prophesy in the Bible to give good reason for its belief that the Anglo-American people were the lost tribe of Israel.
Sometimes different Christians insert their belief in the pages of the Bible as foot notes. Finis Drake for example inserted his belief on the “gap-theory” in the pages of the Drake Bible.
Now notice the following examples of comparison from different Bibles:
1. In the New Revised Standard Version (NSRV) Genesis 2:18-18 established that animals were created after the human male. NIV erases the contradiction by using the word “had formed” to replace the NSRV “formed”.
2. The Revised English Bible, New Revised Standard Version, New American Bible and the New Jerusalem Bible agreed that it was Elhanan who killed Goliath the Gittite. The KJV says that Elhanan killed Goliath’s brother.
3. On MARK 11:26 – (“But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses”). Many modern versions–RS, LB, JB, NIV, AS, BBE, NEB, NAB, TEV, and the NWT–omit this verse.
4. 1 John 5:7 – The King James Version gives the following translation. “For there are three that bear records in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one”. Other Bibles like the NIV have a different reading, “For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood: and the three are in agreement”.
5. 1 COR. 5:5 (“…that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”). By omitting the word “Jesus,” many versions–JB, NIV, NEB, NAB, TEV, and NWT–imply Jesus is not Lord.
6. 1 COR. 10:28 (“…for the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof”). Every version omits this verse except the King James.
7. MATT. 12:47 does not exist in the RS, LB, or JB.
8. In regard to MATT. 27:35 (“And they crucified him, and parted his garments casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots”), only the KJ and ML have the underlined phrase.
9. MARK 7:16 is not in the RS, LB, NIV, AS, BBE, NEB, TEV, or NWT.
10. MARK 9:44, 46 is not in the RS, LB, JB, NIV, AS, BBE, NAB, NEB, TEV, or the NWT.
11. In MARK 10:7, “And cleave to his wife,” is not in the JB, NAB, NWT, or the NAS.
12. MARK 15:28 is omitted in the RS, JB, NIV, AS, BBE, NEB, NAB, TEV, and the NWT.
13. LUKE 17:36 is not in the RS, JB, NIV, AS, BBE, NAB, NEB, TEV, or the NWT.
14. LUKE 22:19b-20 is not in the NEB. LUKE 22:43-44 is not in the RSV.
15. LUKE 23:17 does not exist in the RS, LB, JB, NIV, AS, BBE, NEB, NAB, TEV, or the NWT.
16. LUKE 23:38 is absent from every version except the KJ and LV.
17. LUKE 24:12 and 24:40 are deleted from the RS and NEB.
18. LUKE 24:36 isn’t in the RS, LB, NEB, or the NAS.
19. JOHN 5:3b-4 is omitted from the RS, NIV, AS, BBE, NEB, TEV and NWT.
20. ACTS 8:37 is not to be found in the RS, JB, NIV, AS, BBE, NEB, TEV or the NWT.
21. ACTS 15:34 is not in the KJ, RS, LB, JB, NIV, AS, BBE, NEB, NAB, TEV, or the NWT.
22. ACTS 24:6c-8a is absent from the RS, NIV, AS, BBE, NEB, NAB, TEV, and NWT.
23. ACTS 28:29 is omitted in the RS, LB, JB, NIV, AS, BBE, NEB, NAB, TEV and the NWT.
24. ROM. 16:24 is not in the RS, LB, JB, NIV, AS, BBE, NEB, NAB, TEV, or the NWT.
25. And finally, the phrase, “and so we are,” in JOHN 3:1 is in every version except the King James.
According to Mr. Dennis McKinsey, different Bible versions occur because:
First, variations in doctrine and theology emerge because translators often can not agree on how a verse should be translated.
Second, theological deviations sometimes emerge because they can not agree on whether or not particular words, phrases, or sentences should even be in the “authentic” Bible. And third, variations in the translation of separate verses have generated textual disagreements as to facts. I may also ad that one cause is the insertion of a particular doctrine to justify it or to look like it came from the Holy Scripture.
So returning to the Christian challenge that a freethinker must read the Bible, I will return the favor. What Bible do you want me to read?
“The Christian Bible is a drug store. Its contents remain the same but the medical practice changes. For 1,800 years these changes were slight–scarcely noticeable…. The dull and ignorant physician day and night, and all the days and all the nights, drenched his patient with vast and hideous doses of the most repulsive drugs to be found in the store’s steak…. He kept him religion sick for eighteen centuries, and allowed him not a well day during all that time.” – Mark Twain and the Three R’s, Ed. by Maxwell Geismar, p. 107