The Bible and Authority WhyProphets.com
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Which Bible
translation?
All Bibles are not the same
Introduction

see also Heresies

Recently, a lady asked me about some passages in the Bible. She told me they contradicted what my church taught. So I looked them up, but I couldn't see any problems. Then I looked at her Bible, and it was entirely different! No wonder we disagree, if our Bibles say entirely different things. I use the KJV, NIV, JB, and Greek and Hebrew Bibles. She used the NLT. I decided to find out what I could about Bible translations. What I found was surprising and disturbing. On this page I will tend to compare the NLT with the KJV, but the same general principles apply to all different translations.

Glossary of terms


Does "the Bible" really exist?

We sometimes talk as if "the Bible" is just that - "the Bible." It is fixed, permanent, not in doubt. And the only thing we need to do is either follow it or not follow it. But that view relies on a great many assumptions. My friend with the NBB was told to just read a passage and ask, "There! Is the Bible right or not?" But which Bible?

The different kinds of Bible

"Bible" just means "books." The Christian Bible just means the Christian books. Which books are those?

Hence we have numerous different Bibles, all claiming to be the original and reliable truth. And to add to the confusion, many Bibles include notes to explain what the translator thinks the text means! Naturally, these notes will depend on which church published the Bible. Let us have a look at some of these notes...

Beware of notes!

Some Bibles include helpful notes. Sometimes they really are helpful, and point out similar scriptures or alternative translations. But sometimes they try to tell you what to believe, and then alarm bells start ringing. Take for example the NBB When I first saw the NBB, I was very impressed. It looks attractive, it is easy to read, and the notes all seemed to be sensible and uplifting. Bu then I started looking more closely at the notes. Take for example the advice on page A27:

"1. What to look for in a Church. You should look for church that has the qualities and characteristics of the first century church (see Acts 2:42, 44-47, p.925)."

This is excellent advice. But I wondered why they said Acts 2:42,44-47. Why did they not say just Acts 2:42-47? Why did they say to miss out verse 43? So I looked at the passage on page 925. Look what it says:

So the Bible text promotes the LDS Church. Yet the notes miss out prophets, and temples. And the people who gave my friend this Bible had also attacked the church because (they said) it takes away people from other churches, and it asks for money. Yet these are the two other signs of the true church!


What others say about these new Bibles

See also: A fundamentalist attack on the NLT:: http://wayoflife.org/~dcloud/fbns/fbns267.html
Comments on texts in general: http://www.whidbey.net/~dcloud/fbns/versfbns.htm
About modern evangelical translations: http://www.whidbey.net/~dcloud/fbns/newevangelicalism.htm
Doctrines affected by modern translations: http://wayoflife.org/~dcloud/articles/doctrine.htm

See what the Fundamental Baptist Information Service says about the NLT. (an edited summary). Note that the same could be said of many modern translations.

"THE TRANSLATORS

The list of names for the NLT Bible translation team includes many well-known evangelical scholars and authors … It would require a book to document the theological heresies which are rampant on the campuses of these schools."

"THE HEBREW AND GREEK TEXT UNDERLYING THE NEW LIVING TRANSLATION

There are two standards whereby a Bible translation should be judged for its faithfulness: One, the purity of its text. Two, the accuracy of its translation. The New Living Translation (NLT) fails miserably on both counts. It is based upon the undependable Westcott-Hort type text. It is an inaccurate paraphrase even of this corrupt text."

"A FEW OF THE SERIOUS TEXTUAL OMISSIONS IN THE NLT

This is only a small sampling of the textual corruptions evident in the New Living Translation."

"THE TRANSLATION ITSELF

"The NLT claims to be more than a paraphrase. It claims to be a faithful translation of the Word of God. It is a "dynamic equivalency" or "thought-for-thought" translation which professes to "produce in the receptor language the closest natural equivalent of the message expressed by the original-language text." … it does not simply translate what God's Word says in the original languages. It renders, rather, what the translator thinks God intended to say. …this new methodology cannot possibly result in accuracy. It is far too subjective for that."

Examples:

"ROMANS 11:6

"KJV: 'And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.'

"NLT: 'And if they are saved by God's kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God's wonderful kindness would not be what it really is--free and undeserved.'

"This powerful, momentous passage has been horribly mutilated in the New Living Translation. Translating the Greek word "charis" in reference to salvation as "God's kindness" is weak and inaccurate. The grace offered in Jesus Christ to the needy sinner is much more than God's kindness. It is, as Webster so wisely defined it, the "unmerited love and favor of God" which is given to us because of the atonement purchased by the blood and death of Jesus Christ."

"JAMES 1:16

"KJV: 'Do not err, my beloved brethren.'

"NLT: 'So don't be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.'

"In the last half of the verse "brethren" suddenly becomes "brothers and sisters." This is an example of the NLT translators' desire to be politically correct. … the translation committee claims that the Bible "was originally written in a male-oriented culture." This would make one think they do not believe in the inerrant inspiration of Scripture."
(Note also that erring means YOU make a mistake. Being misled means SOMEONE ELSE is to blame.)

Thee and Thou and Ye

"These terms are not used in the KJV merely because it is an old Bible, but because it seeks to make a crucial distinction in English between the singular and plural of the second person pronoun, a distinction made in the Hebrew and Greek, but not made in the modern English versions. Consider Matthew 26:64, for example -- "Jesus saith unto him, Thou [singular] hast said: nevertheless I say unto you [plural], Hereafter shall ye [plural] see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." This pronominal accuracy is lost in the modern English versions because they have cast aside the older, more precise form of English which gives such a distinction."

But these are small, unimportant changes?

On first glance, the differences between the Bibles are very small. But it is on small details that great doctrines rest. For example, the small changes illustrated on this page change how we look at:

And so on. Every important question is put in doubt by these new translations.


Some NLT verses used in attacking the church

Some of these changes may not sound important. But often a vital truth can depend on the tiniest difference. The following NLT scriptures were given to my friend as proof that the "Mormon" church could not be true:

Romans 8:11

New Living Translation: The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you.
This seems to suggest that the Holy Spirit raised Jesus. But is that what the Bible really says?
Simple English Translation: And, if the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from death lives in you,
King James: But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you,
New King James But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,.
American Standard: But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you,
New International: And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you,
Revised Standard: If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,

Note: it is true that many of these translations are actually revisions of the KJV. But in each case, experienced teams of translators have gone through every verse extremely carefully, then checked it again, and made thousands of changes in the light of new discoveries and new understanding, to make sure that it accurately reflects the Greek text. These translations have been accepted by Christian, both scholars and "evangelicals." throughout the world. Note also the inclusion of the Simple English Translation. This is another loose translation, like the NLT, that sloe tries to get the meaning rather than the exact words. Yet it often disagrees with the NLT.

Colossians 1:16-18

New Living Translation: "Christ is the one through whom God created everything in heaven and earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see--kings, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities. Everything has been created through him and for him. He existed before everything else began, and he holds all creation together. Christ is the head of the church, which is his body. He is the first of all who will rise from the dead, so he is first in everything."

The person who showed this to my friend, made it sound like Christ was alone before the creation. But Paul is only talking about all creation. Christ was present before all this, and so was our Heavenly Father. Obviously our Heavenly Father is not part of creation, so this is not saying that Jesus existed before, or instead of, his Father.

Christ did something. God did the same thing. Does that mean that Christ is his own Father?

The previous reference from Colossians illustrates another important principle: the principle of authority. Christ created everything. But God commanded him, so really God created everything. God worked through Christ. In the same way, Paul wrote Colossians. But God commanded him, so really God wrote Colossians. God worked through Paul. That is the whole point of authority. When we do good, it is really God doing good. God works through us. Modern day scripture says this very clearly: "By mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same" (Doctrine and Covenants 1:38)

But the notes in the NBB do not emphasize this at all. Thus, if Christ is said to do something, and His Father is said to do the same thing, many Christians assume that Christ is his own Father! By the same logic, we would have to worship Paul, since God wrote Colossians, yet Paul wrote Colossians. The fundamental issue of authority is completely ignored.

Hebrews 10:3

New Living Translation (verses 1-3): If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But just the opposite happened. Those yearly sacrifices reminded them of their sins year after year.

This verse was apparently used because many Christians think that Mormons believe in salvation by works. That is not true. We believe that we are saved by grace, after we have shown our faith by our works just as the New Testament teaches. So that issue does not need answering. But this passage does illustrate the issue of unauthorized changes. Look again at verse 3.

New Living Translation (verse 3) But just the opposite happened. Those yearly sacrifices reminded them of their sins year after year.
Simple English: But every year, when the sacrifices were made, the people remembered their sins.
King James: But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
New King James But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.
American Standard: But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance made of sins year by year.
New International: But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins,
Revised Standard: But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year.
The phrase "just the opposite happened" simply was not in the original Greek. It has been added in order to change the meaning of the verse. It suggests that God’s Old Testament methods were flawed, that they did not work as he intended. As if God made a mistake!

Ephesians 1:1

New Living Translation: This letter is from Paul, chosen by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.
Paul was chosen by Jesus Christ, on the road to Damascus. Yet here it says that Paul was chosen by God. This was a very personal appearance, so if it appeared that this was the Father and not the Son, it would be strong evidence for the trinity theory. But did the Bible actually say that? No, the Bible says that Paul as chosen by Jesus Christ, and that this was simply the will of God.
King James: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God
New King James Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,
American Standard: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God
New International: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
Revised Standard: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

Incidentally, this again shows that the true church has living apostles. Paul was chosen as an apostle long after Christ died, just as Joseph Smith was.


Is the KJV any better?

This may sound like I am saying the KJV is the best possible Bible. I am not saying that, although I do believe it is better than many modern translations. It certainly avoids many of the problems identified above, but cannot avoid all of them.

The theory that God would not allow errors

The usual answer to the problem of the test is that God would not allow the scriptures to become corrupted. This is true to an extent - it would be unfair to say "read the scriptures" and then give us scriptures that would lead us to hell. But how far can we push this fact?

God has always given us sufficient scriptures to point us to the true church. For example, it is obvious that the real authority lies with the apostles, not the written text (see the page on "the word of God"). But beyond that, he has given us the freedom to corrupt the scriptures if we wish. We can see this happening before our eyes! Bibles like the NLT are changing essential truths, and being accepted as if they were the original text!

If it can happen today, there is no reason to suppose that it did not happen in earlier times as well.

The role of the Holy Spirit

The second answer to this problem, is that God's Holy Spirit will tell us what the scriptures really mean. That is true. But how does the Holy Spirit work? Think about it. The notes in the NBB, for example, almost all teach good things. Naturally the spirit would approve these things. But the danger is in that they miss out. For example, the NBB teaches that true church requires sacrifice, but it misses out the fact that the true church is led by apostles and believes in temples. So the honest believer will read the NBB, and go and join a church that has some of the truth and not all of it.

Another problem is that we only have the Holy Spirit as long as we are keeping the commandments. At other times we may think we have the Holy Spirit, but we do not. See the page on "are you saved?" for references.

Conclusion

Today the Bible is in more danger than ever It is being changed and corrupted in front of our eyes! The solution is not an impossible quest to be the world's greatest scholar, to understand and recreate a culture and original texts that have long disappeared. The solution is far simpler, and was given in the New Testament itself: The clearest and simplest teaching of all the Bible is that the word of God comes from the living apostles!

 

The bottom line:

A different translation means a different interpretation.
Only the apostles can interpret with authority.

 

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