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