Why So Many Versions?
Ma Bell did it--creating a glut of long distance companies almost as numerous as brands of deodorant. The Bible did it, too. Before the year you could read any version you wanted--as long as it was the King James Version.
But sincescores of new translations have been printed. How did the King James get dethroned? Which translation is best today? Are any of the modern translations really faithful to the original? These are some of the questions we'll be looking at in this essay. We simply want an answer to the question, "Why are there so many versions of the Bible?
First, in two British scholars published a Greek New Testament which was based on the most ancient manuscripts then available. For the most part, the Westcott-Hort text was a shorter New Testament.
That's because the older manuscripts MSS which they used did not contain passages such as the longer ending of Mark's gospel or the story of the women caught in adultery.
A new era was born in which translations of the New Testament now used the few ancient Greek MSS rather than the many later ones.
Second, since many archeological and manuscript discoveries have been made which have which have pronounced judgment on some of the renderings found in the King James. The single most important discovery was that of the Egyptian papyri.
InAdolf Deissmann published a volume, given the unassuming title, Bible Studies Bibelstudienwhich revolutionized NT scholarship. Deissmann discovered that ancient papyrus scraps, buried in Egyptian garbage dumps some 2, years ago, contained Greek which was quite similar to the Greek of the NT.
He concluded that the Greek of the NT was written in the common language of the day. It was not the dialect which only the most elite could understand. Since Deissmann's discovery, translators have endeavored to put the NT into language the average person could comprehend--just as it was originally intended.
Not only that but the papyri have helped us to understand many words--words which were only guessed at by King James translators.
Finally, there have been philosophical influences. That is, the theory of translation is being revamped today. Missionaries have made a significant contribution toward this end--because they are eager to see a particular tribe read the Bible in its own language.
These three differences--textual, informational, philosophical--have been the parents of a new generation of Bible translations. But are these translations any good? Are they any better than the King James?
For the rest of the essay, we will examine each of these influences and then, finally, try to see which translation is best. The Text of Modern Translations Where have all the verses gone? The modern translations seem to have cut out many of the most precious lines of Scripture.
They end Mark's gospel at the 8th verse of chapter 16; they omit the reference of the angel of the Lord stirring the waters at the pool of Bethesda verse 4 of John 5 ; and, most notably, they excise the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8. Besides omissions, these modern versions make significant changes in the text.
For example, in I Timothy 3: In this brief essay we cannot determine who is right. But we can make a few observations. First, the textual changes in the modern translations affect no major doctrine.
The deity of Christ, virgin birth, salvation by grace alone--and all the rest--are still intact. Though certain passages are omitted or changed, the doctrines are not. There are evangelicals who prefer the King James and there are some evangelicals who prefer the modern translations.1.
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