Wednesday, January 22, 2014

NIV: God or the devil

Hose 4:6A  My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge
Proverbs 8:10  Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold.
2 Peter 3:18  Grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Some time ago I read an article in which the writer stated that the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible was the devil's doctrine and that the King James Version (KJV) was the true word of God.  Because I was taught with the KJV as a child and have used the NIV extensively as an adult, I decided to research this statement.  In case you are wondering I value both translations as conveying the word of God.

I started my project by pulling out 5 translations that I have, in addition to the KJV and NIV.  These 5 translations included the Revised Standard (1952 ed.), the Living Bible, The Message, the Life Application Study Bible and The Complete Gospels which includes the gospels, but not the passages from Acts, Romans, and 1 John to which the writer of the article referred.

The list of Bible passages to which both myself and the original writer are referring are as follows:
  • Matthew 12:47; 17:21; 18:11; 21:44; 23:14
  • Mark 7:16; 9:44; 9:46; 11:26; 15:28; 16:9-20
  • Luke 17:36; 22:43-44; 23:17
  • John 5:4; 7:53 to 8:11
  • Acts 8:37; 15:34; 24:7; 28:29
  • Romans 16:24
  • 1 John 5:7
At this time I would like to talk a little about each of the 5 translations and how they agree or disagree with the KJV and NIV.  The original article that I read stated that the NIV was the writing of the devil because it did not include several verses that are found in the KJV.  At this time I will be addressing the verses in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts and Romans.  I will address the passage from 1 John later in this article.

I will start with the Revised Standard (1952 ed.) which is a revision of the American Standard published in 1901.  The American Standard, which I do not have, was a revision of the KJV published in 1611.  The Revised Standard (1952 ed.) agreed with the NIV on all verses except two.  Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53 to 8:11 are included as they are in the KJV.

The Living Bible generally agreed with the KJV, but in 5 instances it agreed with the NIV.  There were no explanations as to why the verses were either there or not.  Since I could not find any information about this translation or the translators, I will not go any farther as to why they included what they did or did not.

The third translation I have included is titles "The Message."  Published in 2002 and again in 2005 it was translated from the original Greek and Hebrew by Eugene H. Peterson.  His translation was checked and confirmed by 15 Old Testament scholars and 5 New Testament scholars.  The Message does not include any footnotes and agrees with the NIV in all instances except one.  Mark 16:9-20 which is included as it is in the KJV has a note that says these verses are only included in later manuscripts.  Early manuscripts do not include them.

The next translation that I looked at was the Life Application Study Bible published first in 1988 with many editions to follow.  Scholars from a great number of Divinity Schools participated in this publication.  For this translation there were 3 verses from the KJV that were included.  All other verses agreed with the NIV.  The included verses were Mark 16:9-20 with a note that said these verses are not always included, Luke 22:43-44 were included with a note that this reference is found only Luke.  The third section is a passage, John 7:53 to 8:11.  It was included but with a note that it could not be found in early manuscripts.

Finally, the fifth translation that I looked at is titled "The Complete Gospels" and was published in 1992.  It was translated by religious scholars from Harvard, Notre Dame, Wesleyan, and other universities.  I personally like this translation because it does not represent any denomination and is free of ecclesiastical and religious control.  Unfortunately, it only includes the gospels and as a result, cannot be used as a reference for the Acts, Romans, and 1 John passages.  This translation offered the most information about why they agreed with the NIV and I would like to take the time to share what they said.

Starting with the Matthew passages there are no footnotes for 12:47 and the other verses were not included.  For Matthew 17:21 they said the verse could not be found in the original text and had been included by someone from the Mark 9:29 text.  The same was true for Matthew 18:11 which they believed was brought over from Luke 19:10.  Matthew 21:44 was brought from Luke 20:18 and Matthew 23:14 from Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47.

Concerning the Mark passages: they included Mark 7:16, stating only that it was not in all translations.  They pointed out that Mark 9:44 and 9:46 are the same as Mark 9:48 and that some translators had decided to pair 9:44 with  9:43 and 9:46 with 9:45. but they decided to stay with the original language.  For Mark 11:26 and 15:28 they did not include them and said they could find nothing in the original text about these passages.  Mark 16:9-20 was not included again because there was no record of these verses in the original text.  There are; however, at least 3 theories as to why the verses were added, but I will not go into them at this time.

Luke 17:36 and 22:43-44 were also not included by these translators who stated they could not find them in original texts nor could they find any reason for the appearance of these verses.  Luke 23:17 was not included but the translators said that when it is included, it is sometimes at 23:17, but can also be found between Luke 23:19 and 23:20.

John 5:4 was not included for the same reason given before but the writers believed that the passage started being included as an explanation for what was happening in the passage.  Finally, these translators referred to John 7:53 to 8:11, which they did not include, as an orphan story.  In the editions that most of us are familiar with it is included in this spot; however, it can appear after Luke 21:30, after John 7:44, or after John 21:25; hence the name orphan story.  This story was attributed to Jesus but for some reason never got attached to a specific place.

This bring our attention the th 1 John 5-7 verses, the absence of which in the NIV seemed to be particularly upsetting to the writer of the original article.  The verse says "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."  The writer of the original article states that "This is one of the greatest verses testifying of the trinity" and that statement is completely accurate.  The problem is that it first appears in 1611AD with the publication of the KJV.  The question then becomes one of who is correct.  Were the translators of the KJV wrong in including it.  I personally do not believe so.  Does the absence of 1 John 5:7 in the NIV make those translators advocates of the devil.  Definitely not!  They were simply staying true to the original Greek.  This is why at Look and Find Jesus we believe so strongly in religious knowledge.  A personal relationship with Jesus must include feelings and knowledge.  Without feelings a relationship is cold and not satisfying, but without knowledge we may not have the relationship that we believe is there.

I would like to end this article with a few sentences about the KJV and the NIV.  To do this it becomes necessary to look at the very first English translations available.  The first was completed by William Tyndale, but was not received well.  He was accused of "willfully perverting the meaning of the Scriptures" and it was ordered that the copies of his New Testament be burned as untrue translation.  In 1536 he was publicly executed and burned at the stake.  Several more attempts at translation were made in 1535, 1537, 1539, 1568 and 1582.  All of them used Tyndale's original translation as the foundation for those that followed.

When the translators of the KJV began working on the new translation, they unfortunately, tried to take into account what the earlier translators had written.  This meant that the KJV, which was first published in 1611, was a compilation of the works of all the previous translators plus their own work,  Over the next 290 years translators were continually trying to fix the mistakes that they were aware existed.  All of this work culminated in the publication of the American Standard Version in 1901.  Problems still continued and the American Standard was revised in 1952 and again in 1989.

All of this confusion led to a meeting in Palos Heights, Illinois.  At this time it was decided that there was a need to go back to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek and start over again with a completely new translation.  This meeting began a several years long project which led to the birth of the NIV.  It was worked on by Biblical scholars from the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.  All denominations were represented by over 100 scholars who took many thousands of hours of research and discussion to arrive at what we today call the NIV.

I apologize for the length and dryness of this article, but I really felt like I was being led by God to write it.  We all believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, but we also must realize that prior to the invention of the printing press, everything was printed by hand and subject to human error; no one is perfect, not even then.  Having said all of this I still believe that it makes no difference, if you use the KJV or the NIV or both, as I do.  The Christian church has so many more pressing issues.  There are a great many professed Christians who do not live a daily life of repentance, as Jesus told us we must.  We are all sinners and make mistakes daily.  It is possible that one of our mistakes could turn someone away from Jesus.  In my opinion this is a much more serious issue than the presence or absence of a couple verses.  Remember that you actions may be the only Bible that some people see.