Bible versions

Discussion in 'Sacred Scripture' started by Rexlion, Apr 3, 2022.

  1. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I'm starting this new thread to lay out some thoughts, sparked by the following comment which Tiffy made in another thread.
    No, I wouldn't use the NWT, either! :laugh: I do have a copy on my shelf for research/witnessing purposes, though.

    Let me start by saying that we will never find total perfection, this side of heaven, in anything in which man has had his fingers. :) That said, I do have a strong preference for Bible versions that descend from the Byzantine texts, and an aversion toward versions (no pun intended) that spring from the more modern work of Westcott, Hort, Nestle, and Aland.

    I would not characterize these latter individuals as having an agenda of their own, necessarily. But we know that Satan and his fallen angels have a broad agenda to kill, steal, and destroy. This includes destroying people's chances of salvation if possible, as well as stealing the truth. While the adversary cannot totally eliminate the Bible, he certainly is capable of working through the minds of weaker-in-faith Christians (who sometimes happen to be erudite and scholarly in the fields of manuscripts and languages) to make small, incremental changes in the word of God. These changes might seem insignificant when taken one at a time, but in the aggregate they can begin to affect some people's doctrinal beliefs. And that suits the enemy.

    Some examples could prove instructive.

    1Co 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (KJV)
    1Co 6:20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (ESV)
    The underlined portion is not present in ESV, NASB, NWT, AMP, and a slew of other 'modern' versions.

    Act 8:36-37 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (KJV)
    Act 8:36-37 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” (ESV)
    Again, the underlined portion is not present in ESV, NASB, NWT, AMP, etc, etc. The same applies to all the rest of the examples I'll present here.

    Col 1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (KJV)
    Col 1:14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (ESV)

    Rom 11:6 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. (KJV)
    Rom 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. (ESV)

    Mat 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (KJV)
    Mat 9:13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (ESV)

    Mat 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (KJV)
    Mat 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (ESV)

    Mat 18:11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. (KJV)
    Mat 18:11 -no such verse- (ESV, AMP, GNB, JB, NASB, MOF, NWT, RSV, etc.)

    This is but a small sampling.

    Have you ever heard the term, "death by a thousand cuts"? I think the devil would like to do that to the written word of God. Bits and pieces of the Bible, as the church has known it for centuries, have been removed in the past couple hundred years in the name of "new scholarship."

    When we start 'second-guessing' what the church has held all along to be canonical scripture, and when that 'second-guessing' results in the deletion of thousands of words, the possibility exists that the adversary has been working behind the scenes to adversely affect the Bible.
     
  2. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    What you consider 'missing' in the RSV and other versions of this passage, is in fact what a majority of Biblical scholars concluded is probably an interpolation in the ancient manuscripts where the 'missing words' appear. What you are reading in the RSV is simply the text as it actually appears in a number of ancient copies of Acts. What you are reading in the KJV is simply the text as it appears in a number of ancient copies of Acts. The 'missing' text or perhaps 'additional' text is either an 'omission' in some copies of Acts or an 'insertion' in the others. The extra words or the missing words have to be either an ommision in copying or an addition during copying. They can't be anything else. Both versions therefore are an attempt to guess what the original contained. What complicates the business is the fact that Biblical Inerrantists and Literal Fundamentalists cannot cope with the fact that the copies of the ancient manuscripts do not all agree with one another because additions may have been made by copyists and copyists may also have mistakenly missed out some words in copying. Since we do not have the first original of ANY Biblical material, it is difficult to say specifically in some cases where it happens, which text is wrong, - The omission or the insertion. Insisting that there ARE no omissions or insertions in the entire Bible does not help at all in deciding whether the original contained a certain phrase or not. Insisting that all possible insertions must necessarily be the inspired original text simply means that a person making such a claim is doing so simply because they personally believe it to be true. That is no way to establish what is actually the truth though, I think you must agree.

    So the fact that certain words do not appear in some or even most modern translations of the ancient texts which make up the Bible is not necessarily due to The Devil messing with the truth. It could even be God ensuring that we get nearer the truth penned for us by the originally inspired writers of the originals.

    Modern translators have had access to far more copies of the ancient texts than did those who produced more ancient translations, even if those were accepted by the church at the time as being faithful copies of the originals. The less copies there were available, the more likely additions, omissions and copying errors could go undetected for long periods of church history. Just because something has been in place for long periods of time, does not necessarily mean it truthfully deserves to for ever remain there in a revised translation.
    .
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2022
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  3. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Well-Known Member

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    But you (Rexlion) should tell us if the longer ending to Mark (16; 8-19) is kosher as it is probably missing in some translations. Also the Johannine comma.

    I doubt the devil is subtly changing the bible. If he was it would ruin the devils best effort to cast discredit on the Bible namely The Skeptics Annotated Bible. (https://skepticsannotatedbible.com/) This skeptics version includes the bits you say he wants to leave out, well two of the two examples I checked but I suspect the rest are there, as the Devil seems to use the KJV.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2022
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  4. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    If one looks at the Byzantine/Syrian manuscripts, one finds a great consistency with a low number of variations.

    If one looks at the Egyptian manuscripts, one finds a much higher rate of variations. Words left out, words changed, and sometimes words added. Already by the early 200s there were significant problems with them, as noted by Origen when he wrote of the gospel Mss in Alexandria: "...the differences among the manuscripts have become great, either through the negligence of some copyists or through the perverse audacity of others; they either neglect to check over what they have transcribed or, in the process of checking, they lengthen or shorten as they please." Codex Alexandrinus came from this area, obviously.

    I can't find the exact data right now, but I've read somewhere that something like 90% of the extant Mss are Byzantine text types and close to 10 % are Egyptian text types, but the latter ten percent of Mss account for 80% of the textual variations (copyist changes or errors) among all Mss. I want to reiterate, those numbers are not exact (just from my best recollection), but the proportion is roughly indicative of the actual situation.

    Westcott and Hort, in their efforts during the 1800s to produce a new, Revised Bible version, used a general rule of thumb that was biased: "All distinctively Syrian (Byzantine) readings must be at once rejected.” In a letter, Hort described the Textus Receptus as "vile" and "villainous." These two men relied heavily on Alexandrinus and Vaticanus, despite the fact that those two Codexes disagree with each other, within the four Gospels alone (to say nothing of the Epistles) in more than 3,000 instances. Moreover, Westcott and Hort were far from orthodox in many of their beliefs; the pair went so far as to establish at least two occult societies (the Hermes Club and the Ghostly Guild).
     
  5. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Not in the best of ancient manuscripts, and almost certainly an interpolation, and in reality adds nothing of significance to the text.

    Not in the best of ancient manuscripts, and almost certainly an interpolation, and in reality adds nothing of significance to the text.

    There is a very good reason why a very large number of scholars look to other translations. This is not to decry the KJV which represent huge steps forward in terms of scolarship in its day, however in our day we have some considerable abvances in Archaeology and have recovered fragments and texts that were previously unknown. There is a huge range of siscipline in this area, in order to be true and authintically render the text in English. The KJV does have a sense of beauty in language, and contemporary English can seem like a poor cousin in terms of quality of language.
     
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  6. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I quoted from the KJV since it is the most widely read among the Byzantine-based versions available today and because it is easy for me to access for copying/pasting, but I will readily agree that the verbiage is in some places outdated. I personally prefer the MEV (Modern English Version), another Byzantine-based version.

    Please take note, I'm not trying to make a big deal of any one (or two) passages by quoting them; they are (as I stated) merely examples of the type of changes which have been made on a wholesale basis throughout most modern versions (which spring from the work of Hort, Westcott, Nestle, Aland, and a few other recent notables). So of course, saying they "in reality add nothing of significance to the text" misses the broad point.

    If we were to go back and forth on the merits/demerits of just a few dozen specific deletions, we would be at this for a very long time indeed. I'm trying to focus on the overall picture.

    Which of the ancient Mss do you consider "the best"? Surely not the Alexandrian ones?
     
  7. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Well, I wasn't going to get into specific passages, but Mark 16's ending is a particularly good example, so thank you for bringing it up. Alexandrinus and Vaticanus do not contain the longer ending. But we may observe that the longer ending of Mark's gospel was present in the late 2nd Century (long before Sinaiticus and Vaticanus were scribed). How do we know this? We know this because Irenaeus quoted from Mark 16:19 in Against Heresies, iii.10.6: Also, towards the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says: “So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God;” confirming what had been spoken by the prophet: “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thy foes Thy footstool.” Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, along with the modern English Bible translations which delete or question it, are thus proved deficient in this regard.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2022
  8. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    As long as the 'overall picture' does not develop into a 'conspiracy theory' the debate is worthwhile.
    All ancient manuscripts, if genuinely ancient, are valuable as far as trying to discover what may have actually comprised the original text. The fact of the matter is, at this moment in time all the manuscripts we have are the only ones available to us in order to make a judgment concerning what may or may not have been in the originals.

    Thus to say that what is in or not in one translation, as opposed to what is in or not in another translation is the 'Inerrant Word of God' right down to the inclusion of every single syllable of every single word in the translation is stretching the point just a bit.

    None of these differences probably actually constitute a Satanic attack upon The Bible. I'm sure that Satan would stand a far better chance of success by just stopping ANY Bible Translations from being read and understood by anyone. Which seems to have been his main plan of attack, (if indeed he has one), ever since the first Bible was published, no matter how inaccurate a translation it might have since proven to be, as the number of copies of ancient scriptural documents discovered, continues to grow.
    .
     
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  9. ZachT

    ZachT Well-Known Member

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    I remember I used to stress a lot about biblical gloss and interpolation (there are still some verses which give me cause for pause). The first thing I would say is for a casual student of this sort of scholarship who might be concerned about entire verses being added or subtracted from the bible, especially for a lurker who might be stumbling upon this from a Google search - is that Matthew has a pretty soothing take on this:

    The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
    ~ Matthew 6.22-23
    Whether it ought to be read that we should glorify our body, and our body belongs to God or just read we should glorify our body - remember that the most important thing is the spiritual state we are in when we read the words, and not the specific words themselves. Of course the words are important, there's plenty of versus telling us that as well, but know that if you've got God in your heart He will guide you when reading scripture even if man has smudged a little bit of the message in the given translation you're exposed to. You'll take from both translations what you need, the Holy Spirit will make sure you're not left hungry.

    Now that I've clarified that, the specific verses flagged in the OP are, in my mind, examples of the purity of more modern translations. I usually like to check with the three oldest (mostly) complete codices - Codex Vaticanus, Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus. Those three because it saves having to scour older fragments and worry about stuff that was there but has gone missing due to destruction. Those three codicies are mostly identical, mostly complete, fully legible and in the case of 2/3 completely free to view yourself online. They date from ~330AD - 380AD, several centuries earlier than the Byzantine source texts. In all three we find this original translation:

    1 Cor 6.19 (the second part is not acknowledged as its own verse yet):
    Or know you not that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God, and you are not your own? for you were bought with a price: now, then, glorify God in your body.
    Aligns with modern translations

    Act 8.36 (Just 8.36. Chapter 8 Verse 37 does not exist in any extant manuscripts by this time period yet):
    And as they went along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch says: Behold, water: what hinders me from being baptized?
    Aligns with modern translations

    Col 1.14:
    in whom we have redemption, the remission of sins,
    Aligns with modern translations

    Rom 11.6:
    now if by grace, no longer of works, since grace no longer becomes grace.
    Aligns (mostly) with modern translations

    Mat 9.13:
    But go and learn what "I desire mercy and not sacrifice" means. For I came not to call righteous men, but sinners.
    Aligns with modern translations

    Mat 6.13:
    and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
    Aligns (mostly) with modern translations

    Mat 18.11:
    Does not exist in the oldest complete codices.
    Aligns (mostly) with modern translations
    So we know that in the oldest copies of scripture we have found they are all missing the verses that tend to be excluded by modern translations. Does that mean the modern translations, which are closer to the texts the church fathers used when building the scaffold on which our faith is based, are unambiguously superior? Well, maybe not. There's also an argument to be made that nothing that is not of God lasts for long. The KJV has lasted a very long time, and has been responsible for an incredible spread of Christian faith. There's a lot to commend it there, and who is to say that the interpolations - if we accept they were all later additions - were not also God's will? That God wanted those additional verses to be added to the Canon?

    I mean it's up for you to decide. The bible teaches us to neither take or to add to God's word. Are the interpolations the additions of man that must be cut, or are they additions of God that must not be touched? One can take either approach, but the exercise of ensuring translations that represent the bible of Augustine and Ambrose so we can have that debate is surely a good thing.
     
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  10. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    I've more or less decided that they would be equally 'inspired', even if not originally written by the originating authors. Right up to when the canon of Holy Scripture, was closed. I'm also inclined to think though that some works of the church, that were produced by believers after the canon of scripture was closed, were also 'inspired' and therefore capable of edifying and educating those who read and understand them.
    .
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2022
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  11. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    deleted, wrong thread.
     
  12. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I am curious. Do you suppose that Satan and the demons are lying around on beaches, twiddling their thumbs until Jesus comes?

    Do you think that a fallen angel who had designs on God's job would have no organizational skills, no critical thinking ability, and no desire to wreak as much havoc upon mankind as he possibly can, in any way he can?

    Or do you figure that Satan and the demons are little more than allegorical figures, i.e., literary devices?
     
  13. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I’m not especially absorbed with the subject one way or the other. On the whole, I tend to regard them (i.e., Satan/demons) as characters or literary devices. I don’t think it’s necessary to take them literally. As C.S. Lewis pointed out, in no creed is belief in Satan presented as an article of faith.
     
  14. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Wow.
    And yet, Lewis did believe in the existence of Satan. “What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could "be like gods […] And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy. The reason why it can never succeed is this. God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine.” (from Mere Christianity)
     
  15. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    But he did not believe it was necessary to do so in order to be a sincere Christian. He not only tolerated a difference of opinion, he believed there was a traditional basis for doing so.

    Much of the traditional, popular-level presentation of Satan is idolatrous anyway. Satan is not the ruler of hell, nor would any such creature have the power to read minds or directly control another’s will. Those are divine prerogatives. It’s not even clear from the main biblical text containing an account of Satan - Job 1-2 - that Satan is an adversary of God at all. He is presented in that book as a member of the heavenly court, executing the function that was assigned to him. It seems how one reinterprets the character in the light of later biblical writings appears to be directly related to the strength of the interpreter’s imaginative abilities.

    There is also no such thing as ‘substantial’ evil in Christian theology: all evil is a privation, i.e., a lack of being, rather than a thing-in-itself. Much popular level talk about Satan gives the opposite impression, however, and tends toward dualism away from monotheism.

    Either way, I don’t see it as a core part of the Faith. If someone wants to believe in a personal devil, that’s their business. Likewise if they do not.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2022
  16. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    You might want to reconsider the inclusion of Sinaiticus in your 'top 3'. Sinaiticus is missing all but 4 chapters of Genesis, all of Exodus, all but 3 chapters of Leviticus, all but 12 chapters of Numbers, all but 5 chapters of Deuteronomy, most of Joshua and Judges, all of Ruth & 1 Samuel & 2 Samuel & 1st & 2nd Kings... but it does have parts of 1 Chronicles twice. In one particular spot of Sinaiticus, the copying of 1 Chronicles actually leaves off at Chapter 19, verse 17... then the very next words on the parchment are from Ezra 9:9 (in the middle of a sentence!) and it continues the remainder of Ezra as if nothing were amiss.

    Sinaiticus is a hot mess. See the photo I posted in 2020 of a page from that codex.

    IIRC, the Peshitta and the Vaudois' Old Latin NT date from the middle of the 2nd. Century (predating the codices you cite by about 200 years), and they are a strong match with the later Byzantine Mss that we still have, much more so than those three codices. The earliest and best evidence favors the Byzantine Mss, and they also comprise the vast bulk of extant Mss despite their use in a more humid climate which was rougher on all written documents; the latter fact of numerical superiority suggests the possibility of their greater acceptance by the early church as accurate copies and, consequently, a more widespread use.

    Frankly, I think most people who have believed those three codices are the oldest and best, believed it because Westcott & Hort did a great job of selling the idea. And those two gentlemen had an anti-Byzantine bias (for whatever reason).
     
  17. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Per Ockham’s Razor, we do not need to posit a malevolent, supernatural, and conscious entity to explain the current state of the manuscript evidence. We would fully expect, on naturalistic grounds alone, that the bulk of the manuscript evidence available to us today would come from the second millennium rather than the first. So the fact that the Majority Text agrees most with those manuscripts belonging to the Byzantine text type does not tell us anything about whether the apparent insertions in those later texts should be considered canonical. All it tells us is that those texts were copied more than the older texts since discovered, after a certain point in time. I think it’s important that we have a theology of scriptural preservation that coheres with the known facts, but that’s different from defending debunked KJV Onlyism.
     
  18. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Why do you jump on "KJV Onlyism" when no one else here in this thread has advocated that? What is the problem?

    I'm suggesting that Bible versions favoring the Byzantine texts are in general better than those favoring Alexandrian texts because the Byzantine texts were copied more faithfully. I intend to offer more evidence to support that, but it may take me a few days (or weeks) to post everything. (My wrist is bothering me, for one thing, making it difficult to type large amounts).
     
  19. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    KJV Onlyism is the logical result of a position that eschews the older textual traditions and the translations based upon them. Of course that’s what’s being advocated in this thread. The inferences are obvious; to object to the one who merely points this out is just theological gaslighting.

    Furthermore, what about those passages which are in the TR and/or MT but are not supported by earlier Byzantine sources? For example, the story of the Woman Caught in Adultery (John 7:53-8:11): St. John Chrysostom knew nothing of it, and it is not part of the ancient Byzantine lectionary. In that instance the Byzantine tradition agrees with the more ancient manuscripts and modern scholars rather than with the TR/MT and the KJV.
    https://web.archive.org/web/20070708212055/http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/phronema/review_osb.aspx
     
  20. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Balderdash (to put it mildly). Since I (the OP) personally think the MEV is preferable to the KJV, any claim that "KJV Onlyism" is "being advocated in this thread" is patently false. Some people have trouble being intellectually honest.

    But what can we expect from anyone who doesn't even believe that Satan, whom Jesus spoke of as an individual (John 8:44) and conversed with (Matt. 4:1-11) is merely a literary device? Disbelievers of Jesus' words and of the plain language contained in the Bible are not qualified to discuss the subject matter of this thread IMO due to their inherent anti-supernatural bias.