Sunday, March 29, 2015

Is The King James Version Perfect?

     There  is a relatively large segment  of  religious "fundamentalism" that believes
in what is called KJV onlyism. King James onlyism is the belief that the King James
Version is the only acceptable English translation of the scriptures. Within  this
movement is another group that believes the King James Version is perfect, that is,
free  of  any  kind  of  errors. And  within  the  latter group are men who believe the
translators of the King James Version were directly or supernaturally guided by the
Holy Spirit in their work of translating.

     Congregations of Christ have their share of people who also espouse the concept
that the King James Version is the only translation acceptable for preaching from
the  pulpit  and  use  in  Bible  classes. A  congregation  in  Missouri  published  a
bulletin for years, and on the masthead, the following statement was found, "King
James Version required for pulpit, classrooms, & scripture reading." To their credit,
the statement on the masthead has been changed and now reads, "King James
Version requested for pulpit, classrooms, and scripture reading."

     One brother wrote in June 2009, that in an effort to test the reliability of the "new"
translations, he "began to compare some of these new translations to the time tested
and proven standard of the King James Version." The fact that he compared "new
translations" to another translation in order to determine reliability is striking to
say the least! It  seems to imply  that  the  KJV  is  the  standard, and that being the
standard; it is perfect. The implications of the brother's statement are astonishing.
How can comparison of one translation to another translation be the proper means
to determine accuracy and reliability. A stream of water can be no better than its
source! Therefore, it is imperative that we ask, "Is the King James Version Perfect?"

     There are grammatical, doctrinal, and lexical errors in the King James Version
of the scriptures. This statement is not intended to bash the KJV; it is simply to
state the facts. Many people are quick to point out the errors in the ASV, RSV, NASB,
NIV, NRSV, and ESV, but they often overlook or explain away the errors found in
the KJV. Error is error wherever it's found, whether in the RSV or KJV. And honesty
demands that a person address the error without partiality.

     I. Examples of grammatical errors in the KJV.

     "Repent  ye  therefore,  and  be  converted,  that  your  sins may be blotted out..."
(Acts 3:19) The  phrase "be  converted" in  the KJV leaves the impression that it is
something that is done to a person, rather than something they are capable of doing;
thereby making the person passive in God's plan of salvation. But in the Greek text,
the verb (epistrepsate) is an imperative aorist active. The person is commanded to do
something; to turn !  Translations such as the ASV-1901; NASB, RSV, ESV, NRSV,
and NIV get it right.

     "For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife."
(Mark 6:18) The word Mark uses is not indicating a simple past perfect as the KJV's
translation "had said" implies. The Greek uses the word (elegen) which is imperfect
indicative active. The text says "John had been saying..." Repetitive action in the past
is implied in this context. The NASB, NRSV, ESV and NIV get it right.

     II. Examples of doctrinal errors in the KJV.

     "And the Lord added to the church such as should be saved." (Acts 2:47) The
phrase "such as should be saved" is not what the Greek testament says. It says, "the
ones being saved." The KJV's translation of the phrase is influenced by the Calvinism
of the translators. This is an instance of the KJV teaching error because it says
something the Holy Spirit did not say. Doctrine is teaching and in this place, the KJV
does not teach the truth.

     " For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these
are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would."
(Galatians 5:17) The text does not say one "cannot do the things that ye would."
The text says, "that you may not do..." Impossibility is not expressed in this passage.
The KJV's translation of the phrase reflects the Calvinism of the translators. The ASV
and NASB get it right.

     III. Examples of lexical errors in the KJV.

     "His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of
unicorns..." (Deuteronomy 33:17) The Hebrew word (reem) means "wild ox."
The ASV, RSV, NASB, NIV, and  NRSV get it right. "Though  thou  hast  sore
broken us in the place of dragons..." (Psalm 44:19) The Hebrew word (tan) means
"jackal." The ASV, RSV, NASB, NIV, ESV and NRSV get it right. "And the sucking
child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the
cockatrice' den." (Isaiah 11:8) The Hebrew word (peten) means "cobra, serpent." The
ASV, RSV, NASB, NIV, and NRSV get it right. The unicorn, dragon, and cockatrice
are mythical creatures!

     The fact is, the KJV is not a perfect translation. It is a useful translation like most
others, but it has grammatical, doctrinal, and lexical errors. No translation of the
scriptures is perfect, and no translator or group of translators is supernaturally guided
by the Holy Spirit in their work of translating. If they were we would have "inspired"
errors. Who can believe it?

                                                                                                                         R. Daly
Copyright 2015


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Translating Matthew 1:18-25

     In this article I will  translate  Matthew  chapter  1, verses 18-25. I will produce
two  kinds  of  translations. The  first  will  be modified-literal, and the second will
be   idiomatic.  The   purpose  is  to illustrate the benefits of both literal and idiomatic
translations. The literal translation will be  as  close  to  the  Greek  as  possible, except
for  changes  in  word  order where  necessary in order  to  attain  some  degree  of
readability. The idiomatic translation will be reflect modern English meaning and style.

Modified-literal translation of Matthew 1:18-25.

     "Now the birth of Jesus Messiah was thusly. The mother of him, Mary, having
been engaged to the Joseph, before they came together, was found in stomach
through the Holy Spirit. But Joseph the man of her, being righteous and not wishing
to expose her publicly, planned privately to release her. But while he, having reflected
these things, behold a messenger of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying,
Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary, the woman of you; for the in her
having been conceived is through the Holy Spirit. And she will give birth to a son,
and you will call the name of him Jesus, for he himself will deliver the people of
him from the sins of them. Now this all has become in order that might be fulfilled
the word having been spoken by Lord through the prophet saying, Behold the virgin
in stomach will have and will give birth to son, and they will call the name of him
Emmanuel, which is being translated with us the God. But the Joseph having been
raised from the sleep did as he was commanded by the messenger of the Lord, and
he took the woman of him. And he did not know her until which she bore a son; and
he called the name of him Jesus."  

Idiomatic Translation of Matthew 1:18-25.

"Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. His mother Mary was
engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant
through the Holy Spirit. Now her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not
desiring to publicly shame her, decided to divorce her secretly. Now while he was
thinking about these things, behold, and angel of the Lord appeared to him in a
dream and said, Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife,
for the child that has been conceived in her is through the Holy Spirit. And she will
give birth to a Son, and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people
from their sins. Now all this happened in order that what had been spoken by the
Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, Behold, the virgin will be pregnant and
she will give birth to a son, and they will name him Emmanuel, which means, God is
with us. When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded
him and he took her as his wife. And he did not have sexual relations with her until
she gave birth to a son , and he named him Jesus."

     The modified-literal translation  has some  awkward  phrasing  and it is difficult,
though not impossible to read. It is good for study purposes because of its closeness
to the Greek text.  The idiomatic translation is designed to convey the meaning of
the Greek text without adding unnecessary words or becoming a paraphrase. The
former reflects form; the latter reflects meaning and form to a lesser degree. Which
is accurate? Both are accurate in the way they are designed to be. One in form, the
other in meaning.
                                                                                                                      R. Daly
Copyright 2015 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bible Version Preferences

     I  am  frequently  asked,  which  version  of  the Bible  do I  prefer for general
reading, and sermon or  Bible  class  preparation? Actually,  no  single version is
"perfect" for each of  these  categories.  It is often the case that a translation that
reads smoothly is not  the  best text for "technical"  study. It is likewise true that
a translation that is good for study may not read smoothly.

     I  do  have some 'Bible version preferences," and I will briefly indicate what
they are and give the reasons for my choices.

     For  general  reading  I  prefer  the  2011  edition  of  the New International
Version. It is second to none with regard to readability. It strikes a good balance
between readability and overall accuracy. It is not a paraphrase as some of its
critics often allege! It strives to be an idiomatic version, that is, it tries to say in
modern  English, what  is  stated  in  the  Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. It
succeeds most of the time. There are times that the NIV-2011, like all other
translations, uses paraphrase, but it is not a paraphrase. The 1984 edition of the
NIV is good, but it is no longer widely available. I believe, based on my own
research, that the 2011 edition is as readable as the 1984 edition and that it has
a good degree of overall accuracy.

     For study purposes  I  prefer  the  1901  American  Standard Version. I am
aware that it often uses  archaic  English, but  I  mentally  or orally update the
language as I work through it . I am also aware that it is very "literal" and often
reflects the "form" of the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. But that is what
I expect when I  am  studying  an  English translation. And that is what I love
about the old ASV. It isn't without its faults, but I am convinced that it is the
best English version for study purposes. Star Bible in Fort Worth, Texas has
recently begun republishing the ASV. It would, in my judgment, be worth the
investment to obtain a copy at least to compare it to the version you currently
use. Charles Spurgeon's assessment of the ASV New Testament still holds true,
"Strong  in  Greek,  weak  in  English."   Many  of   the   modern   exegetical
commentaries still use it as a point of reference. The New American Standard
Bible is also useful though it is not as modified-literal nor as accurate as the

     There are a few versions that stand between the NIV-2011 and the ASV.
I call them "mediating" versions.  They  tend  to  be  good  for  both general
reading and study. The Revised Standard Version,  New Revised Standard
Version,  and  the  English Standard Version are in this category. The "best"
of the three is the ESV. The ESV is generally an excellent translation. The
NRSV finds greater acceptance in academic circles. Many of the translation
choices made by the NRSV are outstanding. The main problem with the
NRSV is its tendency to butcher English in order to avoid masculine oriented
language. It is an "inclusive" version, and this sometimes leads to inaccurate
translation choices. The NIV-2011 does a far better job with gender accurate

     Based on my personal research, I am currently convinced that the NIV-2011
is, generally speaking, a good idiomatic version, and the ASV is a very accurate
modified-literal  version. They  approach  translation  method  from  different
perspectives, and this is what makes them great companion texts. I also believe 
the ESV is an accurate version in part because it is based on the RSV, which
was not nearly as bad as many allege. The NRSV is also worthy of study and
the translators used excellent Hebrew and Greek texts for their work. The
student of the scriptures can learn Yahweh's will by using any of the versions
I have mentioned, if they will diligently think through the text and obey it. 
                                                                                                      R. Daly
Copyright 2015


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Common Misconception of Bible Translation

     One  of  the  most  common  misconceptions  about  the  process  of  Bible
translation  is  the  opinion  that  the  only faithful method to translate the
Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts is  "word for word". People who
believe  this  fail  to  understand  that this is  not how languages function. Their
approach to translating the sacred writings is nonsensical and impractical. What
they demand is not achieved by any existing English translation of the word of
the living God. They require what God does not require, and as a result, they
make a law God has not made! (cf. James 4:12)

     The  best  attempt  at  "word for word"  translation (in somewhat readable
English)  is  likely the  American Standard Version published in 1901, and
even  it is not strictly "word for word" as a close examination of the text of the
ASV and its footnotes will show. No English translation including the KJV,
NKJV, NASB, RSV, ESV,HCSB, NRSV, and NIV is always strictly
"word for word;" neither can they be and retain a considerable degree of
readable English. I will try to illustrate this with a few examples from the
Hebrew and Greek texts.

     A "word for word" translation of Genesis 1:1, following the Hebrew word
order, reads like this, "In  beginning  he  created  God  the  heavens  and the
earth." Genesis 2:24, "For this he will leave man father of him  and mother of
him and he will unite to (in) wife of him and they will be as flesh one."
Genesis 6:14, "Make for you of ark of woods of cypress nests you make in the
ark and you cover her on inside and outside with the tar (resin)."

     Now a "word for word" translation  of  a  few  verses  in  the  Greek text,
following the Greek word order.  Matthew 1:23, "Behold (see) the virgin in
belly  will  have  and  will  give  birth  son  and  they  will  call  the  name
of him Emmanuel which is being translated with us the God." John 1:1,"In
beginning was (being) the word and the word was (being) with (toward) the
God, and God was (being) the word." Acts 2:47, "Praising the God and having
favor toward all of the people and the Lord was adding to the ones being saved
by day on (to) the same (group)."

     The examples from both the Hebrew and Greek texts demonstrate the
fact, that though many people believe "word for word" translation is the only
legitimate way to translate, it is often the case that one word in Hebrew and
Greek must be translated into English with a phrase. Other adjustments must
also be made such as a change of word order so that we may have God's
word in understandable English.

Copyright 2014
                                                                                                      R. Daly



Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Perfect Translation of the English Bible

     Many people are so wedded to the awkward and archaic language of the King
James Version of the Bible, that any deviation from it is considered treason. The King
James Version is "good," but it is not perfect. There are words in the KJV that have
changed their meaning since it was published  more  than  400 years ago. There  are
words  and  phrases  that  are  not  correctly translated in the KJV, and there is a
definite Calvinistic influence in certain passages. Nevertheless, many people believe
the KJV is a perfect translation. The fact is, there is no perfect translation of the
scriptures. Translators are not supernaturally guided by the Holy Spirit in their work.
They do their work based on their academic training and theological presuppositions.
To some extent, all translations reflect the training and theology of the translators. This
is unavoidable because all translation involves interpretation. Translators must determine
what words mean in order to choose the most accurate words or phrases in the receptor
language to represent the words or phrases in the source language.  

     All translations of the Bible have problems. Some, like the KJV are influenced by
Calvinism. (Acts 2:47; Acts 3:19; Acts 13:48). Others, like the New King James Version
are monuments to tradition. The use of such words as "baptize," "church," "saint," and
"bishop" reflect loyalty to tradition rather than accuracy.  The English Standard Version
contains several passages that display loyalty  to  tradition  instead  of  linguistic
accuracy.  "Propitiation" (1 John 2:2), "hell"  (Matthew 16:18), "brothers" (Romans 1:13).
The New American Standard Bible, though generally a  modified  literal  version,  reflects
a  premillennial   bias   in   several  passages.  "As"  (Isaiah 2:2;  Micah 4:1),  "will  reign"
(Revelation 5:10), and "they came to life" (Revelation 20:4). The 1984 edition of The New
International Version, and to a lesser extent the 2011 edition, suffers   from  the  tendency
to  leave  important  "connectives"  and  "inferential  particles" untranslated because of its
emphasis on readability and English style. (cf. John chapters 6-8)

     Many  instances  of  translation  shortcomings  can  be  multiplied  from all
translations, including  the  American  Standard  Version,  Revised  Standard  Version,
New Revised Standard Version, etc. But  we  must ask, "Does  the  fact  that  a
translation  has  'errors' and  other weaknesses disqualify the whole?" If so, no 
translation is worthy of use!

     A person can learn God's plan of salvation from the KJV, NKJV, ASV, RSV,
NASB, NIV (1984 and 2011 editions), NRSV and the ESV if he diligently studies
them. There is no "perfect" translation of the scriptures. Jesus and the apostles
quoted the Septuagint, which is a translation of the Hebrew and Aramaic scriptures
even though it likewise is imperfect.

Copyright 2014
                                                                                                                       R Daly


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tradition and Political Correctness in Bible Translations

     All English translations of the Bible have critics. Some of the critics are informed,
but most are uninformed, and appear to be agenda oriented. The NIV-2011 has its share
of  critics  like  all  other  modern  versions  of   the  Bible. One  of  the  insults  hurled
against the NIV-2011 that will not die is the allegation, "The publication of the NIV-2011
was motivated by political correctness." I  believe  most  English  translations, including
those the critics of the NIV-2011 prefer, display elements of political correctness. What
is "political correctness?" To put it in "plow boy" terms, political correctness is catering
to a "crowd;" seeking to please a "constituency."

     The King James Version contains politically correct renderings. One example will
suffice. Does  anyone  believe  the  KJV  scholars  who  were  on  the  New  Testament
translation committee were not aware that the Greek verb baptizo means to "immerse,
submerge, plunge, dip?" Then  why  did  they   use  the  word  "baptize"  to "translate"
baptizo ? As I have noted elsewhere, "baptize" is not a translation of baptizo. Baptizo
does not mean to "baptize." That's like saying, "Baptizo means baptizo." Baptize is a
transliteration of the Greek word. The "o" was dropped and the "e" added. Hence, from
"baptizo"  to  "baptize."  The   KJV  translators  used  "baptize"  to   represent baptizo
because one of the "general directions" that was given for the preparation of the KJV
was, "The old ecclesiastical words are to be kept..." (A General View of the History
of the English Bible, B.F. Westcott, page 115)  Baptize is an old ecclesiastical word.
Tradition and political correctness have kept it in the text of most English versions. 

     The  American  Standard  Version  contains  politically correct renderings. The
translators of the N.T. committee  were  Greek  scholars. They knew ekklesia means
"congregation, assembly, or community." Yet they used "church" to translate the word
ninety nine percent of the time. Why? One of the original directives given to the KJV
translators stated, "The old ecclesiastical words to be kept, viz. the word Church not
to be translated Congregation, &c." (A General View of the History of the English
Bible, B.F. Westcott, page 115) The ASV is not free from the influence of tradition
and political correctness.

     The English Standard Version contains politically correct renderings. One of the
most glaring is the way it translates "adelphoi." The ESV incorrectly uses the word
"brothers" to translate adelphoi in  places  where  a  congregation is being addressed.
When congregations are addressed, adelphoi means "brothers and sisters." Why?
Because it refers to the siblings in God's spiritual family! The footnotes in the ESV
acknowledge this fact. (Cf. ESV footnote in 1 Corinthians 1:10; et al) Why would a
group of translators acknowledge the truth in a footnote, and not place the correct
translation in the text? The ESV is not free from the influence of tradition and political

     The New American Standard Bible contains politically correct renderings. The
NASB translates the Greek adjective monogenes as "only begotten." The translators are
aware that the word means, "unique, only one of its kind," as indicated in the footnotes.
(Cf. John 1:14; 3:16, etc.) Monogenes has been traditionally rendered "only begotten,"
but that it not its meaning. The NASB also includes "Textus Receptus" readings in its
text, albeit in brackets, even though the oldest manuscripts do not contain them. (Cf.
Matthew 6:13;  17:21;  18:11;  Acts 8:37; etc. )  The  inclusion  of  Textus  Receptus
readings within the text of the NASB accomplishes at least two things: (1) it gives
a  degree  of  comfort  to  the KJV readers, (2) it (through the footnotes), informs the
readers  about the textual problems with the readings. The NASB is not free from the
influence of tradition and political correctness.

     Mere accusations of "political correctness" are not the proper basis to determine the
accuracy, validity, and usefulness of a version of the scriptures. It must be decided on
linguistic grounds.
                                                                                                                      R. Daly
Copyright, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

"Such As Should Be Saved"

     In the King James Version of the New Testament, Acts 2:47 says, "Praising God,
and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such
as should be saved." Our attention will be focused on the words, "such as should be

     The Greek text underlying the King James Version New Testament is the Textus
Receptus, sometimes called the Received Text. Theodore Beza published four folio
editions of the Stephens Greek text, and this included some changes of his own. The
1598 edition of Beza's text and the last  two editions of  Robert Stephens, were the
main sources used for the English  Authorized  Version  of  1611. Bonaventure and
Abraham Elzevir published  editions of  the  Greek  text  in 1624, 1633, and 1641,
following editions of Beza's 1565 edition. The Elzevir text became known as the
Textus Receptus or Received Text throughout Europe.

     The words "such  as  should be saved" do  not  accurately  translate the Greek
phrase as it stands in the Textus Receptus. It says, "prosetithei tous sozomenous."
The Majority Text, Westcott and Hort, and Nestle-Aland read exactly the same
as the Textus Receptus. There  is  no  variation  between  them. So, the intriguing
question is, "Why does the King James Version translate the phrase 'such as should
be saved,' when all modern versions  (ASV, RSV, NASB, NKJV, NIV, NRSV,
and the ESV) read differently. They say  something  like, "those  who  were  being

     The answer lies  in  the  fact  that most, if  not all, of the translators of the King
James  Version  New  Testament  were  Calvinists. And  the  likely culprit as to
the   mistranslation   of   the  Greek  phrase  "prosetithei  tous  sozomenous"  in
Acts 2 :47 is the Calvinistic doctrine of salvation, that is, certain individuals were
predestined to be saved. There is not the slightest hint of this doctrine in the Greek
phrase. The word sozomenous is a present participle and should be translated
"those who were being saved."  The modern versions are correct in the way they
translate the phrase.
                                                                                                       R. Daly

Copyright 2013