MAN'S VERSIONS OF GOD'S WORD
Commentary By R. L. DeWitt
There are a few translations of the Word of God from the original documents, but regretfully many versions. Every few years someone feels a need to set forth their own way of expressing the Biblical language. They may mean well, but it does seem a dangerous thing, and in some cases are found clearly contrary to Holy Scripture.
It is most troubling and unsettling to the saints of God to have restless Christians regularly experimenting with "some new thing". One is reminded of the statement by a fellow which asserted: "If it isn't broke, don't fix it"; and the true Word of God is not broken, but tinkering with the wording is dishonoring to God, I see. Unknowingly one may cause great harm by manipulating words. One can lose the meaning and progressive unity of Scripture. Even academic study of the documents for purpose of change by men of Letters, without the leading of the Holy Spirit, is a dangerous undertaking.
There are many versions of the Bible (He Biblia - The Books). Generally, Translations refers to a study of the earliest writings or manuscripts of Old Testament (OT) and New Testament (NT), to convert them to English, whereas Versions refers to changing words in English versions to make a clearer rendering of writings ---which often deletes or minimizes essential meaning. Some writers use the words: Versions and Translations inter-changeably. The OT was in Hebrew and some Chaldee or Aramaic, and the NT was in Greek.
There is a nice listing and summary of the old manuscripts in the Concise Bible Dictionary. It is an excellent source book for all Bible studies, and I recommend it for one's library (contact Bible Truth Publishers, Addison, IL).
It appears the various writings on Scripture through the years have not always been complete renderings, and were sometimes just a grouping of some Books of the Bible. The earliest manuscripts were written in long-hand until printing was invented in AD 1452, but much circulation was not accomplished until after the Reformation was fully established in the 1600's.
The New Translation of 1871 by J. N. Darby was a comparison of various writings, as he was a linguist. He was also a Godly man and led of the Spirit, many believe. It is a good study edition along with the Authorized (King James) Version. This may be obtained from Bible Truth Publishers, P.O. Box 649, Addison, IL 60101; tel. (630) 543-1441.
It should be stated also that there are errors in every writing of the Scripture, because of failure in copying, misunderstandings, personal preferences, etc. The main argument for the KJV is that it has stood the purifying study of time, where any significant errors have been identified and corrected in the margins by scholars. It is of significance to consider that God will not hold mankind responsible for anything He has not revealed in His Word, so we must be confident of what has been preserved for us by God down through history, and such as a good quality study Bible with full commentaries included.
There are four things that persuade this writer to hold to the Authorized (King James) Version of the Word of God, and it is recommended that all translations for other languages and dialects should prayerfully be reviewed for conformity to this rendering:
1. The KJV has stood the purifying test of time by scholars ---over 300-400 years. Every Bible version has errors, and through the years the errors have been identified in this Authorized Version (and found to be minor), and have been corrected in the margins of good quality Bibles. This cannot be said of the new versions. One has noted that 16 times in one modern version the Name of the Lord Jesus as stated in originals was omitted in verses. I recommend the Old Scofield Edition of KJV for studies with the various notes and references in the margins, and not changing the main text. I don't say it is perfect, but better than many.
2. In Bible study groups it is important for all the saints to be reading the same thing, for communications and understanding, though an extra version might be consulted. One cannot follow if the renderings are different.
3. For memory work we must be clear, not approximate. We must learn what God is saying and be able to quote it, not just have a vague idea of verses. A reliable source is important.
4. Most importantly, one might be imbibing error in subtle form by reading these modern versions. Some are poor ---robbing the Lord of His glory, minimizing things that God would emphasize, missing connections between certain truths, omitting key words, etc. Satan is always working to dishonor the Lord and rob the saints.
It is significant that God has preserved this one version through many years to guide us and reveal His mind, and to glorify His Son.
- R. L. DeWitt, 1993; rev. 12/13
ADDENDUM: One will hear teaching and diverse ministry along our pathway from many sources . One should always test it by the Word of God (see John 5:39; Acts 17:11; II Tim.2:15; II Tim.3:16; Titus 1:9). Whether it is profitable often depends, too, on our state of soul. This paper is prepared with much care and prayer to be a help and honor the Lord. Comments and questions are welcome. -RLD