Thursday, December 15, 2016
In the 80’s there were two main views on which version was the correct one. One opinion taught that the KJV and ASV were the only reliable translations. The NASV, RSV, and NIV were considered dangerous and must not be read in classes or from the pulpit. The other opinion accepted the KJV, ASV, NASV, RSV, and the NIV as the Word of God. This group recognized that each translation had its weaknesses and strengths. The other view was rejected as man made law. Toward the end of the eighties most began to recognize this restriction as human rather than divine.
Previously, the standard for judging all other versions, apart from the ASV, was the King James Version. It was assumed that the KJV was translated word for word from the Greek and Hebrew text. In reviewing one of the “unauthorized” translations, the error in it was determined by how different it was from the KJV on selected passages.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John will often cover the same event where Jesus’ words are given in red in the KJV. If other versions must follow the KJV word for word, why wouldn’t this be true of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? They were inspired by the same Spirit. They have some of the same stories, yet they are not alike. Same story, different words! If Jesus used 96 words to tell a parable in one account, shouldn’t the other writers also contain the same and be word for word? There should be no differences between the four gospel writers in how they tell the same story. Notice the following parable.
“Behold, a sower went forth to sow; . . ..” (Matthew 13:3 KJV).
“Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: . . .” (Mark 4:3-8 KJV).
“A sower went out to sow his seed: . . .” (Luke 8:5-8 KJV).
Mark is the shortest book of the three, but he puts more words in Jesus’ mouth than the other two. None of them begin the story alike. Matthew begins with the word “Behold,” Mark begins with “Hearken,” and Luke uses neither! Luke doesn’t mention the thirty or sixty-fold at the end. Luke doesn’t mention the sun. Luke mentions the seeds being “trodden down,” but not Matthew or Mark. These are just a few of the differences. Same story, different words. Which one is guilty of adding or subtracting?
The KJV gives this parable in 3 different forms. If inspired writers could tell the same story, but not in an identical way (word for word), then translators may follow their lead by telling the same story, but using different English words that mean the same thing. In fact, that is what we find in the different English translations such as the KJV to the NIV. A Greek or Hebrew word may be faithfully translated with more than one descriptive English word. Since the KJV translators did this, so may translations that followed.
Some KJV owners today have no problem accepting the New King James Version. However, it was published in 1989 after this controversy had started cooling off. If published earlier, the same arguments used to criticize the NASV, RSV, and NIV would have been leveled against it. Compare the KJV side by side with the NKJV and notice the differences!
The ASV is closer to the Greek than either the KJV or NKJV. There are differences between it and the KJV and NKJV. Despite those differences, all three are accepted as the Word of God. Doesn’t that “acceptance” teach us that the differences do not negate a translation’s worth? The standard for judging the value of a translation is not the KJV, it is the original Hebrew and Greek text of the Old and New Testaments!
In the New Testament, Jesus and the inspired writers quoted from the Greek Old Testament 340 times, but only in 33 places from the Hebrew text. Yet, the Hebrew text is more accurate than the Greek scriptures! Jesus nor the apostles rejected the Greek text on the basis that it did not follow the Hebrew text word for word! If our rules on translations had existed in Jesus’ time, he would have used only the Hebrew text and questioned anyone’s soundness who read or quoted from the Greek. That never happened! Jesus and the writers of the second covenant left us an apostolic example that we should not have missed in the sixties and seventies!