Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bible Translations

It isn't uncommon for critics to suggest that all Bible translations are essentially the same. While I certainly think that all major translations have some validity (I am not a KJV-only supporter), I do not believe that there aren't major differences here and there. Occasionally, some translations show real bias. While I, overall, applaud the New International Version (NIV), it certainly has some problems. Consider the following:

For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (NIV 1 Peter 4:6)

Did Jesus preach the gospel to people after they died, or before? The NIV adds the word "now" which does not exist in any Greek manuscript of this verse. Notwithstanding the volumes of information from early Christianity about posthumous preaching and salvation (see HERE), the NIV study Bible note asserts that this edition to the text was made because “it is necessary to make it clear that the preaching was done not after these people had died, but while they were still alive.” The note then dogmatically asserts, “There will be no opportunity for people to be saved after death.”

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, (NIV Philippians 2:6)

Compared to:

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God (KJV Philippians 2:6)

Did Jesus think it was reasonable to be equal with God ("thought it not robbery") or not? Was Jesus "in very nature God" (a loose translation at best!) or "in the form of God"? The NIV is clearly translating the creeds into the text.

Keep these verses in mind the next time someone criticizes the statement that "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly."


Anonymous said...

Nice post. This is an excellent example of something that is plain and precious that has been changed due to errors in translation with the errors in these cases being willful.

Doug Towers said...

It is a dilemma.

I find it impossible to get people with reading difficulties to read the Book of Mormon in ancient English. Even those reasonably educated don't find it easy to understand.

And in the KJV we have the word "let," which to us means to allow. Yet its meaning then meant to not allow.

How many understand what the word "trough" means?

If we make our own version then that discredits it. And even the New KJV has had things changed, other than just updating the language.

Andrew I. Miller said...


I am by no means opposed to using new translations. I personally like the ESV. It is a dilemma. I agree. For what it's worth, the Church will publish it's own translation of the Spanish Bible fall 2009.

I don't see that happening in English, but I could see an updated version of the footnotes with more clarifications on the meaning of archaic words.