The Accuracies of Bible Translations

By Paul Shunamon

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When you read Psalm 19:9-12 in a Majority Text version, the Spirit points out clearly that one cannot detect errors in the ordinances of God (because there simply are none). Yet, when the NRSV interpreters get through with it, the rendering implies that indeed there are some errors, and we are in turn challenged to find them! And guess what? If you are using their intentional distortion you will actually find some, for the translators have placed errors strategically throughout the entire Scriptures! When entering a debate with them, their apologists quickly flood the conversation with a number of these.

Let it be pointed out that the only support for the dating of Sinaiticus is paleography (the science of writing styles in relation to time periods). The concern and request for more accurate dating is justified because forgers can be of such quality that it can escape notice (especially if this were forged in the 7th or 6th century being so far away in time from us). Despite continued efforts to allow a couple of small clippings to be date tested by C-14 dating or ESR (Electron Spin Resonance), the liberal guard possessing the direction of these manuscripts has repeatedly denied this process. This makes me very suspect because of their insistence on dating other, earlier fragments of Papyrus and items of interest like the Shroud of Turin.

Missing Passages

As for deletions, I guess it is dependent on who you speak to or study (I would suggest if you do a study read as many as you can from differing perspectives and then decide for yourself because in different cases different groups clearly make the best case). For example regarding John 5:4, which Sinaiticus omits entirely and thus so do the products like the NIV, the RSV, the AMP, NASV, NEB, and NWT, as well as others, as time has passed we have discovered that the passage is quoted directly or inferenced by Justin Martyr (of the Palestinian/Jerusalem school), Clement of Alexandria (who represents the Markan tradition after Peter and Paul), Athenagoras (Greek after Pauline tradition), Theophilus of Antioch (where Peter was Bishop and many of John's disciples, like Ignatius, taught and resided), and others.

As for Matthew 6:13*, Bible scholar par excellance Reginald Fuller (who Fuller Theological Seminary is named after) points out that over 500 relevant Greek manuscripts include this passage. Others have discovered some church fathers who use the entire line others who only say "for yours is the power and glory," and we have early fragmentary examples that include the words and some that do not. So the controversy on this one will continue. This is like the controversy over Mark 16's longer ending (found in the KJV and Geneva Bibles).

Mark 16:9-20**, perhaps along with the Pericope Adulterae, is the most reasonably questioned even though Aland himself (of Nestle/Aland fame), who omitted the long ending of Mark (according to Sinaiticus and Vaticanus), admits that "It is true that the longer ending of Mark 16:9-20 is found in 99 percent of the Greek manuscripts as well as the rest of the tradition, enjoying over a period of centuries practically an official ecclesiastical sanction as a genuine part of the gospel of Mark." Now a few things that made me curious about this matter is that:

a) It is omitted in Sinaiticus;

b) There is a blank space in Vaticanus where it would have gone but was not written, and;

c) It is included fully in the only slightly younger Alexandrinus which was from the very area that Mark brought his original to, and;

d) Verse 9 is quoted by Irenaeus (from France) in "Against Heresies"; Irenaeus was taught by Polycarp of Smyra who was appointed Bishop there by John the Apostle.

So I suppose there will be no end to the questions that arise until we go home or meet the Lord in the air (whichever comes first), but of this I am sure: the remaining questionable passages in no wise affect the historical facts or any of the doctrinal positions held in the history of our tradition. Therefore, whatever versions you attain and compare in your studies, if you approach them with a sincere and prayerful heart before the Lord, He will lead you into all truth necessary for your salvation. This is the most important thing. All versions critical or otherwise will lead you to realize you have sinned and the soul that sins is destined to eternal spiritual death unless one has received the God planned redemption (a gift of grace because He loves us all), and the remission of sins, only obtainable through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah, and our faith in that efficacious work.

The KJV ONLY position is not a solid one, though the translation is sound based on the best they had at that time, and, yes, many of the modern versions are distorted (sad but supportable), so trust God through the Holy Spirit to be your teacher, and do not fall into the arguable framework of any one or another's denomination's apologetic. Let Him lead you and guide you as you study the whole council of God on any doctrinal point and you will do fine. Be blessed in His name!

* The ending of the Lord's Prayer; many translations exclude "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."

* After the crucifixion, Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene and the two disciples and then gives the Great Commission; Matthew includes the Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20; Luke 24:13-35 expands on Jesus' meeting with the two disciples; and John 20:11-18 includes Jesus meeting Mary Magdalene. So whether the accounts are original to Mark 16 or not, the events are scriptural.

Image Credit: George Redgrave; "A Gospel fragment"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Controversial-Issues  | History-Apologetics

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Published 8-9-2016