KJV vs. NIV Questions - 03/09/2009
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
I just read throught the article by Mr. Rast regarding the ongoing controversy involving Biblical translations and I had just a few questions.
1. I have always been taught that these early documents of scripture are only found now because they were not used (accepted) by the early church and subsequently not destroyed (out of respect for the scriptures) when they became worn? Your contention is that they are more valid since they are dated to an earlier time. What is the truth?
2. If these discrepencies are not detrimental to the idea that both translations are dependable, how do we present this thought to those who see conflict between the two - especially the lost? Can both be right? They seem to contradict each other.
3. I have always been taught that the underlying trust that we have in the KJV is due to the idea of preservation and that is why we have always had "the line" of that version. How does this tought process apply to the NIV seeing that it is relatively new? Again, are they exclusive?
4. I just had a seventh grade student tell me that she does not know what to believe now after finding out that the NIV and KJV have different versus (NIV does not have Matt 17:21)? How can we say that we have the perfect, entire Word of God if we have different versus omitted or expanded?
5. Lastly, I know that he mentioned several times that it is only a 1% difference, but how much is too much when we think of the Bible as infallible and without blemish.
I would like it if the author could address my points. I really enjoyed the article and would like further dialog if possible.
CONTENDER MINISTRIES RESPONSE:
Jim, thanks for taking the time to write with your questions and
concerns. Unfortunately, the King James Only
controversy has been an extremely and needlessly divisive issue with
Christian Church lately, and it needs to be dealt with honestly and
fact, rather than emotion. The KJV
translators, based on their preface to the AV 1611, would no doubt
agree. I’m happy to try and help you work out
issues. I’ll address them in the order
in which you raised them:
1. The reason so many older Biblical manuscripts
have been discovered in the last few centuries is due to an increased
of the issue, an increase in Biblical archeology and search for ancient
manuscripts. Most of the oldest manuscripts
on papyrus, which is not nearly as sturdy or expensive as the vellum
on. Therefore, the earliest extant manuscripts
are quite fragile. If they were not
considered Scripture by those who had custody of these documents, there
be nothing to inhibit the custodians from destroying them whether they
worn out or not. The fact that many
still exist intact is testimony to the importance people had placed on
them. Also, many have been found through
archaeological expeditions which were not the norm hundreds of years
ago. For instance, in the mid 1800’s,
von Tischendorf went to the Middle East
specifically on a hunt for ancient Biblical manuscripts.
While visiting the monastery of St. Catherine
on Mount Sinai, he found some ancient
manuscripts that seems quite old to him.
The monks didn’t fully recognize the importance of what they
were. It took him a while to gain possession,
he finally did, giving us Codex Sinaiticus – one of the oldest Biblical
ever found. Other important ancient
manuscripts (such as Papyrus 46 and Papyrus 66, for example), have been
buried in the earth or stored away in libraries.
manuscripts ARE quite important to understanding what the writers of
wrote. Given the short time frame
between when the Scripture was written and when the manuscript was
there’s less chance for corruption. If
you think of the children’s game “telephone”, you can see that a copy
within just a few generations of the original is likely to be more
than a document copied from manuscripts that are a dozen or more
removed from the originals. But while age
is important, it is not the sole consideration.
Biblical scholars use age as one factor in weighing its
reliability. Other factors are
considered as well though, such as its support among other manuscripts
2. There is no discrepancy; therefore there
should be no difficulty in sharing this information with others. The idea that the oldest documents are
inherently unreliable is simply false.
Once again, I use the analogy of the game of telephone, where a
gets more and more distorted the more stages through which it is
also add to that the fact that age is never the sole determining factor
3. In my experience in dealing with people who
are KJO, I have found the biggest source of their trust in the KJV is
familiarity. It’s the translation they
grew up with, the translation their pastor and parents used, it’s the
they memorized from, and therefore it simply must be
the standard. This
is not a new phenomenon in the history of Biblical translations. The early Christians used primarily the
Septuagint (LXX) as their version of Scripture.
When Jerome set out to translate the Old Testament into Latin,
translated from the Hebrew version of the Old Testament rather than
LXX. As a result, it differed a little
in content and style from LXX. When
Jerome’s translation hit North Africa,
Christians there and their Bishop, Augustine, were peeved to say the
least. They viewed it much the way KJO
people view the NIV or NASB. Why?
Because it was different than what they had
grown used to. And since it was new, it
must be wrong. When Desiderius Erasmus
decided to make the first printed edition of the Greek New Testament in
entirety (the first of what would become known as the Textus Receptus),
upset a lot of people. The Latin Vulgate
had become the Bible everyone used, and they were not interested in
new. The KJV was not the first English
translation of the Bible, and it faced skepticism and criticism when it
out. The KJV translators drafted a
preface to try and assuage the fears of the public. Yet
now it is that translation that is
considered the “standard” by KJOs. The
NIV and NASB face the same criticism from KJOs that new translations
throughout history. In time, the NIV may
become the accepted standard. If it
does, I sincerely hope there’s not an equally destructive NIV Only
movement. Familiarity breeds acceptance,
and in the case of KJOs, devotion to one particular translation. There’s nothing in the history, textual basis,
or translation of the KJV that can reasonably support the undue
to the KJV.
4. Your seventh-grade student shared a valid
concern which is easy to clear up and assuage with an appeal to facts
reasoning. It is true that the KJV has
some words and verses that aren’t present in the NIV or NASB. It’s also true that the KJV lacks some words
that are present in the newer translations.
As you know, this is due to the KJV’s reliance upon later
inferior translation, and even some verses found only in the Latin
opposed to ancient Greek manuscripts.
Christians are pretty unanimous in accepting that the Word of
infallible in its teachings and in the original writings.
Yet this infallibility does not extend to
translations. If it did, there would be
no variants at all. Yet these
differences should not be a source of concern.
Why? First, because most of the
differences do not affect the meaning of verses. Most
of the textual variants among the
ancient manuscripts are due to misspellings or word order that are
identified and reconciled. In Greek,
word order in a sentence does not impact the meaning like it does in
English. So in one verse, you may have
several variants among the manuscripts, but the meaning is the same. Second, the number of variants that can’t be
so easily reconciled are actually less
than 1%, and none of these affect a key doctrine of Scripture. That is to say that where a verse isn’t found
in a particular translation, there is no doctrine or teaching in that
that can’t be found elsewhere in the Bible.
Because of this, we can be confident that whether you use the
or NASB, you possess the inspired Word of God, complete in its
doctrine. The KJV translators understood
this. In their preface, they wrote
“Therefore as S.Augustine saith, that variety of translations
profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures…” I use a
of translations, including the KJV – its errors notwithstanding. But even if I didn’t, I could be sure that
the Bible I use is divinely inspired Scripture, infallible in its
5. This question was answered above. We
don’t need to reach the question of
setting a cut-off line. Scribes and
translators are human and weren’t divinely inspired like the writers of
Scripture were. The fact that there are
so few irreconcilable textual variants, and that no key doctrine is in
because of them, assures us that the KJV, NIV, and NASB are doctrinally
and remarkably preserved books of Scripture.
hope this has answered your questions. A
source I highly recommend for you is The
King James Only Controversy,
Dr. James R. White. This book is
heartily endorsed not only by us here at Contender Ministries, but also
noted pastors and scholars such as Dr. John MacArthur, Dr. Bruce
D.A. Carson, Hank Hanegraaff, Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon, Dr.
Archer, and others. Let me know if I can
be of any further assistance. God bless.