Posted by Pastoral Musings on June 26th, 2009
Have you ever seen the charts that compare the King James Version with the newer translations? You can check out one here. The charts present to us things that are “added to” or “left out of” the modern translations of the Bible. They are very convincing to those who are not aware of the arguments on both sides of the translation issue.
There is a fundamental problem, however. That problem is that the King James Version is upheld as THE BIBLE. It is THE STANDARD. In other words, there is truly no Bible other than the King James Version. It is perfect in every way. Now, I am fully convinced of the inerrancy of Scripture. I am fully convinced of the perfection of God’s Word. I am not fully convinced of the absolute perfection of translations, though. In fact, God has not promised to us that we would have an absolutely perfect translation. He did promise that His Word would endure through all ages, but that is to be distinguished from perfection in translation. The King James Version, as good as it is, is not a perfect translation.
There is a reason that newer versions differ from the King James Version. That reason is due to the fact that the translators of the newer versions are doing the same thing that the translators of the King James Version did; they are translating “out of the original tongues” (from the frontispiece of the Oxford AV), because the Bible was originally given to us in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The English Version authorized by King James is not the standard. The original languages are the standard.
A great Bible commentator of old stated it in this manner:
“..to the Bible, in its original languages, is every translation to be brought, and by it to be examined, tried and judged, and to be corrected and amended: and if this was not the case, we should have no certain and infallible rule to go by; for it must be either all the translations together, or some one of them; not all of them, because they agree not in all things: not one; for then the contest would be between one nation and another which it should be, whether English, Dutch, French, &c. and could one be agreed upon, it could not be read and understood by all: so the papists, they plead for their Vulgate Latin version; which has been decreed authentic by the council of Trent; though it abounds with innumerable errors and mistakes; nay, so far do they carry this affair, that they even assert that the Scriptures, in their originals, ought to submit to, and be corrected by their version; which is absurd and ridiculous. Let not now any be uneasy in their minds about translations on this account, because they are not upon an equality with the original text, and especially about our own; for as it has been the will of God, and appears absolutely necessary that so it should be, that the Bible should be translated into different languages, that all may read it, and some particularly may receive benefit by it; he has taken care, in his providence, to raise up men capable of such a performance, in various nations, and particularly in ours; for whenever a set of men have been engaged in this work, as were in our nation, men well skilled in the languages, and partakers of the grace of God; of sound principles, and of integrity and faithfulness, having the fear of God before their eyes; they have never failed of producing a translation worthy of acceptation; and in which, though they have mistook some words and phrases, and erred in some lesser and lighter matters; yet not so as to affect any momentous article of faith or practice; and therefore such translations as ours may be regarded as the rule of faith. And if any scruple should remain on the minds of any on this account, it will be sufficient to remove it, when it is observed, that the Scriptures, in our English translation, have been blessed of God, either by reading them in it, or by explaining them according to it, for the conversion, comfort, and edification of thousands and thousands. And the same may be said of all others, so far as they agree with the original, that they are the rule of faith and practice, and alike useful.
Here I cannot but observe the amazing ignorance and stupidity of some persons, who take it into their heads to decry learning and learned men; for what would they have done for a Bible, had it not been for them as instruments? and if they had it, so as to have been capable of reading it, God must have wrought a miracle for them; and continued that miracle in every nation, in every age, and to every individual; I mean the gift of tongues, in a supernatural way, as was bestowed upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost; which there is no reason in the world ever to have expected. Bless God, therefore, and be thankful that God has, in his providence, raised up such men to translate the Bible into the mother tongue of every nation, and particularly into ours; and that he still continues to raise up such who are able to defend the translation made, against erroneous persons, and enemies of the truth; and to correct and amend it in lesser matters, in which it may have failed, and clear and illustrate it by their learned notes upon it.”
It is for this reason that one cannot trust those neat looking, convincing charts. They are based upon the wrong standard.