FACT CHECK: BIBLE TRANSLATIONS
By J.R. Ensey
Articles about Bible translations are once again making the rounds in magazines and on social media that are going into the homes of our laymen. That is not all bad unless they contain misleading and unsupportable statements denouncing all translations of the Bible except the King James Version. They usually begin by stating: “Here are some facts:….” These “facts” are usually about the NIV Bible and how corrupt it is. The NIV folks can fork their own broncs. I am not promoting it or any particular version, but for Apostolics to be repeating false and misleading statements is without justification. Since the statements usually attack the NIV specifically, let’s use it and see if their 18 “facts” are really fiction.
1. “In the NT alone, 17 entire verses have been excised.” [In a more recent account it was 45 verses. In yet another, it was 33. Which “fact” is a fact?]
Truth: Excised from what? No verses from the Greek NT have been left out. The Erasmus/Stephanus/Beza Greek texts of the 16th century used by the KJV translators were “expansive” texts, containing words/phrases/verses imported from the Latin Vulgate and some late Greek manuscripts. Contemporary versions do not lean on an obsolete text based on readings from only seven late manuscripts and the Latin Vulgate.
Obviously they mean “excised” from the KJV, but is the KJV “the” Bible that John and Paul and Peter personally wrote? The English language wasn’t around then. “The” Bible consists of the original Hebrew and Greek autographs. We don’t have those. We only have copies of copies, many of which have variant readings. However, the truth is that significant variants (differences between the Textus Receptus [TR] and more current Greek texts) are relatively few and do not alter or change any doctrine.
Unexplained statements are left unexplained to create the greatest question in the minds of uninformed readers. Because the copies don’t all agree for one reason or another, the science of textual criticism was developed. That enables scholars like paleontologists, papyriologists, and ancient and contemporary language experts to gather all of the fragments, codices, uncials, minuscules, papyri, lectionaries, etc., and compare them, setting standards for credibility where there are differences in the readings.
Do you wonder why they rarely mention I John 5:7 when speaking of omitting words from the Bible? Or Revelation 16:5? Or Romans 1:4, et al.? Did the KJV include the spurious phrase about the “three heavenly witnesses” to support the Trinity doctrine when they were fully aware of its doubtful place in the Scriptures? That phrase was found in no Greek biblical manuscript before the sixteenth century. But the KJV completely omitted words and phrases in others verses that were in both the TR and the Critical Text used today. Why does Revelation 16:5 read “and shall be” rather than “the holy One”? Why does the KJV not have Jesus Christ our Lord in Romans 1:4? Why does the KJV have “the book of life” rather than “the tree of life” in Revelation 22:19? Dear reader, please understand that simply because claims are published in pamphlets or on the Net does not mean they are legitimate. As the Bereans, I urge to do your own research to see if these things be so.
2. “It demotes Jesus in numerous places…the name of Jesus is removed in 34 New Testament passages.”
Truth: Wild statements without explanation don’t deserve our time, but let’s respond first by asking—has the name of Jesus been removed when it is clearly there in the Greek text (which is the real NT)? Sometimes the KJV inserts “Jesus” when it is not in either the TR or CT Greek text, but was added by scribes or the KJV translators (e.g., Romans 1:3). Actually, the NIV has the name of Jesus 368 more times in the New Testament than the KJV. Does that mean that the KJV has “removed” the name of Jesus in 368 verses? What is a fact is that Romans 1:4 is an example where both the TR and the CT Greek texts have the phrase Jesus Christ our Lord but the KJV did not include it. It was in the Wycliffe Bible, the Tyndale Bible, the Cranmer Bible, the Bishops’ Bible, the Rheims Bible…but not in the KJV. Now who is really “demoting Jesus” by leaving out the name of the Lord?
3. “Worship is taken from Jesus Matthew 8:2; 9:18, and 20:20.”
Truth: The claim is false. No worship of Jesus has been removed. The Greek word translated “worship” (or form thereof) is proskuneo, which literally means “to kiss toward.” Vines says it indicates “an act of homage and reverence.” The contemporary versions usually use “bowed himself,” or “knelt before Him.” That is what the man did. He didn’t do a worship dance like we sometimes see in our more robust services. Does the use of “bowed himself” or “knelt before Him” “take worship away from Jesus”? Of course not, but without explanation, one is invited to believe a falsehood.
4. “[Jesus] is changed from being God’s child (incarnation) to God’s servant in Acts 3:13 and 3:26.”
Truth: If the KJV translators got it wrong in those places, should contemporary versions also render it incorrectly? Both the TR and the CT Greek texts have paida (servant), not huios (Son) in those verses. If the Lord had inspired Luke to mean Son in those verses, he would have written huios. Virtually all of contemporary scholarship comes down on the side of “servant,” including Mounce and Vines. The KJV translators unilaterally chose to use “Son” since Wycliffe and other English Bibles picked it up from the Latin Vulgate. So who really “changed” the Word? The KJV itself prophetically calls Jesus a “servant” in Isaiah 42:1. He is presented in the “passion chapters of Isaiah” as the Suffering Servant (49:6; 53:11), doing the bidding of Father for the redemption of mankind. In the Septuagint Jesus is referred in that verse to as the “Servant of the Lord” (pais Kurios). Paul explained that Jesus took upon him “the form of a servant” in Philippians 2:7 (KJV). Christ, the Son of God, was also the Servant of the Father in accepting the role of Redeemer (Luke 22:42; John 5:30; Hebrews 10:7,9). The Acts references are rendered correctly in the contemporary versions. There is no issue here except the one created because of a word that is rendered correctly but different from that which is in the KJV. Regrettably, partisans insist that the King James Version has got to be presented as “perfect” and “flawless” else their whole theory of superiority falls apart.
5. “The doctrine of the virgin birth and Jesus’ incarnation is attacked in Matthew 1:25 [by removal of the word ‘firstborn’].”
Truth: There is some manuscript support for inclusion and some for the exclusion of the word. However, the liturgical history of the word in Luke 2:7 (where all the contemporary versions have “firstborn”) and the later dates of manuscripts where the word prototokos appears in manuscripts, leads textual analysts to conclude that it is there because of “parallel influence” of the Luke reference—a practice of scribes to include a word or phrase because of its appearance elsewhere. If there was a conspiracy to take out the meaning of “firstborn,” they would have removed it from Luke 2:7 also where it enjoys manuscript support. At Matthew 1:25 most Bibles use “her first son” or “a son.” Vines does not even mention Matthew 1:25 as a place for “only begotten” to be rendered.
It is difficult to see how this rendering “attacks” the virgin birth, especially since all versions have it in Luke 2:7 where there are no manuscript issues. No one I have ever heard or read after holds the view that it suggests otherwise. The entire story in the NIV substantiates the virgin birth (see Luke 1:27; Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14). Why select this particular rendering to represent the entire record of the NIV and virtually all other Bibles? It does not seem to “attack” the incarnation of Christ at all. Does anyone actually know of any objective Christian translators—or anyone—who oppose the virgin birth and who use this verse to attack that doctrine and/or the incarnation of Christ? Again, an issue is raised where there is none.
6. “I Timothy 3:16 changes the fact that God was manifest in the flesh to the generic ‘He’ was manifest in the flesh.”
Truth:Some contemporary versions do say “He” or “Who” because of manuscript variants. Some mss have Theos, but the earliest Old Latin, one of the first versions translated during the second century, has “which.” The Mounce Greek text has “who.” Scholars that study manuscripts doubt that scribes would have replaced The?s with os, but given their generally high Christology, they would have easily replaced os with Theos. Their sense is that the Theos reading was not original but came into the text during the second century. There is no absolute manuscript consensus for either term, but Paul seems to be speaking explicitly of God, who is mentioned twice in the preceding verse. (Remember, there were no “verses” in the original text.) While the likely antecedent of “God” is removed slightly from the pronoun, there is no difficulty in understanding exactly to whom Paul is referring. Read the context for yourself. I know of no one who posits that God is not the one Paul is saying was manifest in the flesh. The KJV advocates simply try to make a point where there really is none. Can they suggest who the other versions were referring to if not God? One extremist says, “’He’ appeared in a body. So what? Everyone has ‘appeared in a body,’” as though just anyone living could have been the Paul’s meaning. Really? How scholarly is that?
Most contemporary versions capitalize the pronoun (NIV/ESV/HCSB/NASB/ NET/RSV) to further express their understanding that it is God who is the subject. Keep in mind that textual critics today have a great advantage with many older manuscripts to consult than either Erasmus or the KJV translators had. Nothing is changed whether the texts say “God” or “He” or “Who.”
7. “Luke 2:33 says that Joseph is Jesus’ father.”
Truth: So does Mary, His mother, in v. 48 in the KJV. She knew who the real father was. But the truth about v. 33 is that the Greek Textus Receptus was tweaked/changed between 1516 and 1550 to read “Joseph and his mother.” Erasmus had it exactly like the contemporary versions of today. It was the Textus Receptus that changed the Greek text. The KJV translators chose to follow the Stephanus 1550 text, which was corrupted at this verse.
The truth is that Jesus’ acquaintances in His physical life knew Him as Joseph’s son (Luke 4:22). Mary even called Him that. The real problem has been caused by those who changed the Byzantine text, from which the KJV was translated. Their motives might have been pure but their changes corrupted the text. Contemporary versions choose not to follow the error. Do you ever wonder why they don’t quote v. 48 when they are complaining about v. 33?
Folks, do you see a pattern here?
8. “The command to take up the cross is removed from Mark 10:21.”
Truth: The reality is that the manuscript support for that part of the verse is late. The oldest and best manuscripts do not have it suggesting that it was inserted at some point. There are four verses that speak of taking up the cross. Three others are in the contemporary versions as well as the KJV. If there were a conspiracy afoot to remove the concept, the conspirators would have removed the others as well. But the KJV advocates will never mention that. Does having only three references to taking up the cross instead of four eliminate the command from the Bible? Of course not. Again, a word or line might be removed from the KJV but not from the Bible itself.
9."The doctrine of holiness is attacked." [The reason given for this charge is that the word “holy” does not appear in some verses such as Matthew 25:31, and does not appear before some references containing brethren, prophets, apostles, and ghost.]
Truth: The word “attacked” is a little overworked by this time. The word “holy” in Matthew 25:31 is not in the older manuscripts but inserted in later ones to match its use elsewhere. This claim represents more “word games.” The KJV has added “holy” in places where the word does not appear in the Greek manuscripts (such as I Thessalonians 5:27 and Revelation 22:6) and has also taken the word away in places when it was in the Greek manuscripts, substituting “sanctified” or “saints.” Since the word “holy” is not consistently used in the KJV, why should the contemporary versions follow it? Is the concept of holiness bound up only in the use of the word “holy”?
If one is concerned about true holiness being represented and expressed in Bible translations, he should match the holiness lifestyle scriptures in the KJV with the NIV (or the ESV or NASB) and see which is clearer and stronger. The KJV is inconsistent in the translation of certain Greek words dealing with this topic and others because they desired “variety” in their renderings (see the KJV Preface).
10. “It removes the phrase “through His blood” in Colossians 1:14.”
Truth: That phrase does not appear in most modern versions and that fact is heralded by the KJVOs as proof of a conspiracy to remove the blood of Christ from the process of redemption. Two points need to be considered here: First, if there was a conspiracy to omit the blood from Scripture, the conspirators must be inept because they failed to remove scores of other biblical references to the blood of Christ, especially the one just five verses later (Colossians 1:20) where Paul said, “by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (NIV), “having made peace through the blood of his cross” (NASB), “he made peace…by his blood on the cross” (NLT), “peace by the blood of his cross” (ESV). Please note that KJV advocates never mention the 39 other references that mention the blood, as though Colossians 1:14 was the only place in Scripture the blood was cast as the redemptive element. Second, the phrase “through his blood” in v. 14 is a likely a late insertion, showing up in only a few late manuscripts, beginning in the ninth century. It is missing in the majority of Greek manuscripts, including the majority of Byzantine manuscripts. It was likely a conflation arising from Ephesians 1:7: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (NIV). Contemporary versions use this or a similar phrase referring to blood redemption about 39 times in the same places the KJV has them. This one reference, according to textual critics, is due the harmonization with Ephesians 1:7. One phrase out of forty is “removing” the blood of Jesus from the Bible? How absurd.
11. “It strongly promotes the new age movement by its renderings of Ephesians 4:6, 4:24, Revelation 21:24 and John 4:24
Truth: There is absolutely no evidence that these verses were rendered to accommodate some weird theory. These charges are trumped up by Gail Riplinger to try to accuse the contemporary versions of some false claim to make the KJV look better. “Spirit” in John 4:24 is anarthrous in the Greek. In Ephesians 4:6 there is no “you” at “in all,” even in the TR. It was simply added by the KJV translators who did not italicize it. To take it away makes the original Bible to promote the New Age? Ridiculous. In Ephesians 4:24, the Greek word anthropon is variously translated depending on context. It comes from anthropos, meaning a human being. Man as distinct from women is aner. Paul is speaking of the inner being, not the external.
As James Reetzke says, “Most translators translate the Greek for ‘the old man,’ ton palaion anthropon, as ‘old nature’(Barclay, Moffatt, TCNT) or ‘old self’ (Goodspeed, Knox, Phillips, NIV, NASB, Weymouth). Alford uses the ‘former unconverted self’ or ‘former self before new birth’; Barclay, ‘the person (of) pre-Christian days’; Weymouth, ‘original evil nature’; and Meyer (Ephesians, 234), ‘unser alter Ich’ (‘our old ego’).” The rendering of “self” in Ephesians 4:24 was used decades before the term “New Age” was even thought of.
The use of “old order” in Revelation 21:4 also appears in NABRE and EXB. Some use “first things” (GNV, NASB, ISV, NRSV), “old things” (WE), “things of the past” (CEV), “previous things” (HCSB). “How things were in dispensations of the past is not the way they will be in God’s future” is the message. “Old order” is just another way of saying it. Because some modern cultists have hijacked the term “new world order” to present their concept of life in the future, it does not follow that it suggests the same thing here.
12. “The NIV perverts Mark 1:2,3 into a LIE!”
Truth: The KJV reads “it is written in the prophets,” and extremists think that is a better rendering than “in Isaiah the prophet.” Why this variant?
The following is adapted from the translators’ notes in the NET Bible:
“Instead of ‘in Isaiah the prophet’ the majority of mss (Byzantine) read ‘in the prophets’ (A W Ë13 Ï Irlat). Except for Irenaeus (2nd century), the earliest evidence for this is thus from the 5th (or possibly late 4th) century (W A). The difficulty of Irenaeus is that he wrote in Greek but it has been preserved largely in Latin. His Greek remains have ‘in Isaiah the prophet.’ Only the later Latin translation has ‘in the prophets.’ The KJV reading is thus in harmony with the majority of late mss. On the other hand, the witnesses for ‘in Isaiah the prophet’ (either with the article before Isaiah or not) are early and geographically widespread: Aleph B D L Ë1 33 565 700 892 1241 2427 al syp co Ir, et. al. This evidence runs deep into the 2nd century, is widespread, and is found in the most important Alexandrian, Western, and Caesarean witnesses. The ‘Isaiah’ reading has a better external pedigree in every way. It has the support of the earliest and best witnesses from multiple text-types. Moreover it is the harder reading, since the quotation in the first part of the verse appears to be from Exodus 23:20 and Malachi 3:1 with the quotation from Isaiah 40:3 coming in the next verse. The reading of the later mss seems motivated by a desire to resolve this difficulty.”
Textual critic Bruce Metzger adds this: “The quotation in verses 2 and 3 is composite, the first part being from Malachi 3:1 and the second part from Isaiah 10:3. It is easy to see, therefore, why copyists would have altered the words ‘in Isaiah the prophet’ (a reading found in the earliest representatives of the Alexandrian, the Western, and the Caesarean types of text) to the more comprehensive introductory formula ‘in the prophets.’”
13. “The NIV again openly LIES in II Samuel 21:19.” The accuser adds this: “What 8-year old doesn’t know that David killed Goliath?”
Truth: No real scholar/minister/researcher makes such statements as though the NIV just flatly misleads on the David and Goliath story. No one denies that David killed Goliath. The problem is with a seeming contradiction that must be reckoned with. But the accuser just leaves it right there as that is the only verse that deals with the story, and that there is no issue with the Hebrew manuscripts. There are reasons for conflicting statements in the “who killed Goliath” renderings. We can be confident that David killed him; however, we still have to deal with I Chronicle 20:5 and II Samuel 21:19. Someone has to harmonize these passages. It is truly a task for textual critics—knowledgeable men with objective motives.
Let me suggest a view I read recently that may assist in putting the issue in perspective. It was called “Clash of the Manuscripts.” Go to: http://www.biblestudymagazine.com/extras-1/2014/10/31/clash-of-the-manuscripts-goliath-the-hebrew-text-of-the-old-testament. You may also find the information at the following website helpful: https://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=752
When there is a seeming contradiction, identify the problem and seek a solution before using brash, condemnatory language. Paul and Peter did use strong language, but they had inspiration on their side. We can’t claim that. We should defer to one another when we are wrong. I have been wrong, but surely I am not alone. If I am wrong on any position taken in this document, I invite correction.
14. “Zondervan, the publisher of the NIV is owned by HarperCollins, who also owns publishers who print some sleazy books.”
Truth: Zondervan is owned by HarperCollins, and KJV advocates make that sound like the NIV is in some bad company and therefore should not be trusted. Zondervan has been owned by HarperCollins for 27 years. HarperCollins is owned by Rupert Murdoch who also owns FoxNews. HarperCollins is a conglomerate publishing firm with a number of publishing houses, including Zondervan, in their stable of publishing firms. One of them is Avon Publishing that in 1969 published The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey who died in 1997. He was an occult nutcase in California. It was not a “Bible” but simply a collection of essays about his experiences and teaching in his cult of Satanism. He merely named his book The Satanic Bible. But reading the FB post one would think that it was a Bible-like book inspired by Satan. Simply because a company that owns the firm that published LaVey’s book, all books by the parent company should be considered corrupt. It is a classic example of guilt by association.
Four years ago, HarperCollins also bought Thomas Nelson Publishers in Nashville. Both Zondervan and Thomas Nelson publish KJV Bibles. By the accuser’s logic, all KJV Bibles published by them should be considered tarnished since their printer is owned by HarperCollins.
15. “Unlike the NIV, the KJV has no copyright.”
Truth: It is almost unbelievable that extremists are still making this statement. It has been proven wrong, but they continue to say it. The KJV has always been copyrighted in Great Britain from the beginning. As Doug Kutilek points out: “Requiring the copyrighting of books in Britain was a firmly established practice long before the publication of the KJV in 1611. Therefore, it is no surprise that the title page of the New Testament of the original edition of the KJV reads, at the bottom, Cum Privilegio, Latin words which literally mean ‘with privilege’ or ‘right’; that is, with the right of reproduction retained, or, in a word, ‘copyrighted.’”
Because of the copyright, Americans could not publish the KJV Bible here until they declared their independence from Great Britain. Because that country would not release their copyright, or patent, the first Bible printed in America was not the KJV but a Bible translated into the dialect of the Algonquin Indian tribe. It was 1782 before the first KJV could be printed in the U.S. The KJV is still copyrighted in the U.K. but not in the U.S. (See “Copyright Status” under “King James Version” in Wikipedia.)
The following is posted on the www.cambridge.org/bibles/about/rights website: “Rights in The Authorized Version of the Bible (King James Bible) in the United Kingdom are vested in the Crown and administered by the Crown’s patentee, Cambridge University Press. The reproduction by any means of the text of the King James Version is permitted to a maximum of five hundred (500) verses for liturgical and non-commercial educational use, provided that the verses quoted neither amount to a complete book of the Bible nor represent 25 per cent or more of the total text of the work in which they are quoted, subject to the following acknowledgement being included: Scripture quotations from The Authorized (King James) Version. Rights in the Authorized Version in the United Kingdom are vested in the Crown. Reproduced by permission of the Crown’s patentee, Cambridge University Press.”
That reads pretty much like the title page of any contemporary Bible version.
16. “The NIV perverts Jesus Christ into Lucifer.”
Truth: Does anyone believe that the NIV would have attained the record as the best-selling Bible for years among Evangelicals if it tried to cast Jesus as Satan?
“Lucifer” means “shining one.” The KJV translates it “son of the morning” (Isaiah 14:12). Others translate it as “morning star.” KJV uses “day star” in II Peter 1:19. Others use “morning star.” It does not appear that Revelation 22:16 in the NIV is saying that “Satan is Jesus” because of these renderings. Someone is applying a “spin” here to try to make a case.
Permit me to quote from scholar/author James White on this point:
“The term “Lucifer,” which came into the biblical tradition through the translation of Jerome’s [Latin] Vulgate, has become so entrenched (even though it does not come from the original authors of Scripture) that if one dares to translate the Hebrew by another term, such as “star of the morning” or “morning star” (both of which are perfectly acceptable translations of the Hebrew word), one will be accused of “removing Lucifer” from the Bible! Such a “change” surely “preaches” well, and this example is often used as the “capper” to prove the true intention of the “devilish modern versions.” Yet, a person who stops for a moment of calm reflection might ask, “Why should I believe Jerome was inspired to insert this term at this point? Do I have a good reason for believing this?” Given that Jerome’s translation is certainly not inerrant itself, one would do well to take a second look and discover that the very translations being accused of “hiding Lucifer’s name” refer to Satan, the accuser, the “old serpent,” the devil, each and every time the terms appear in Scripture. Again, the inconsistency of the argument is striking.
“But,” someone is sure to retort, “isn’t Jesus the ‘morning star’ at Revelation 22:16?” Yes, He certainly is. One commentator responded: “So doesn’t translating Isaiah 14:12 with ‘morning star’ identify Jesus with Lucifer? Aren’t the modern translations trying to connect Jesus with the devil?” Only if one does not read things in context very well. The person under discussion in Isaiah 14 is obviously not the Lord Jesus Christ, and how anyone could possibly confuse the person who is obviously under the wrath of God in that passage (note verse 15) with the Lord Jesus is hard to imagine. Further, aren’t the terms being used in Isaiah 14 sarcastic in nature? Didn’t this person claim lofty titles that were proven to be misapplied? Doesn’t the Scripture speak of his “pomp” (v. 11) and his inward boasting (v. 13)? Should we not recognize that the terms that are applied to him in verse 12 are meant to be taunts rather than actual descriptions of his person? And doesn’t this differ dramatically from the personal description that Jesus applies to Himself in Revelation 22? All of these considerations make it obvious that there is no logical reason to take offense at the proper translation of Isaiah 14:12 in the NIV or NASB.”
The problem is not within the contemporary versions but in the KJV itself. The translators did not know how to translate the word lucifer, so they did not translate it at all but left it in Latin, capitalized it, and made it into a proper name, which it is not. It has been adopted as a name for the devil, but it is the KJV that caused the confusion, not the current Bibles. I ask all truth seekers to visit the website below for another objective, scholarly explanation by Dr. Daniel Wallace of how “Lucifer” got into the KJV and caused the confusion.
17. “The NIV perverts the Lord’s Prayer into the devil’s prayer.”
Truth: : Here again it is not the contemporary versions that are the problem but the way the prayer is presented in the KJV. The two versions of the prayer appear in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4.
The Matthew version (KJV):
9 “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”
The Luke version is in Luke 11:2-4 and reads:
2 “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
3 Give us day by day our daily bread.
4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.”
The Luke version is shorter, in part because the “expansive” KJV added some words to the prayer that was likely brought into the text from liturgical use. The words are the “doxology” at the end—“For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever.” Only one Greek manuscript before the 7th century has that (W). If the KJV translators had been aware of three very late manuscripts minuscules (157 225 418, Byzantine MSS from 12th to 14th centuries) they would probably have appended it further with the Trinitarian ascription, ‘for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit forever. Amen.’ That was obviously an addition used in liturgy that became a scribal emendation to these three Greek manuscripts.
The reason many of the contemporary Bibles do not have “but deliver us from evil” is because that line does not appear in the earliest manuscripts. Textual analysts can usually determine when a word or line first appears in a manuscript, often brought sin as a gloss from the margin, or from a liturgical reading. When that document is then copied, it has an emendation that will then be transferred to other manuscripts. It isn’t that the line is removed from the Bible by contemporary version, just removed from the KJV. One extremist shouts from a website that without the “deliver us...” line then “our Father” does not deliver from evil,” thus making it “the devil’s prayer.” More great objective scholarship, eh? Does he also want the Trinitarian ending to be included in the next edition of the KJV?
18. “The KJ Bible is by far the easiest to read.” [The accuser quotes the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level research study that someone used to judge the KJV and the NIV as to readability and understanding.]
Truth: No one can truthfully say that the KJV is easier to read and comprehend than the NIV. This is why when you see the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level research study quoted, they usually give as a reference Gail Riplinger’s book New Age Bible Versions because they don’t want to stand by those statistics themselves. Every legitimate test will invariably show that the KJV is at or near the top in difficulty to read and comprehend.
So how does the Flesch-Kincaid study come up with different stats? This test “report” exposes the deception typical in many KJV partisan writings. A number of their websites tout the finding of the F-K analysis for the KJV as having a reading grade level of 5.8, less than the NIV (8.4), ESV, NASB (6.1), and lower than almost all others. The sites quote Gail Riplinger’s book, New Age Bible Versions, which itself provides no reference or citation. I wondered why it did not provide a reference. Riplinger’s book is proven to contain half-truths, countless errors, sloppy scholarship, and gross misrepresentations. Riplinger merely quotes the formula, then says the formula was applied (without revealing by whom) to only four chapters (first and last chapters in the Old and New Testaments) and 63 verses from the epistles, carefully selected, I am sure. The F-K analysis merely determines the average length of sentences in words, and the average number of syllables per word, and this is supposed to provide a scientific reading grade level. Several KJV only sites post Riplinger’s results as accurate and authentic. After diligently searching the Internet for some time, I was finally able to find where a study loosely based on F-K was actually done, not surprisingly by D. A. Waite, Jr., one of the most extreme and misleading KJV advocates. His work is called “The Comparative Readability of the Authorized Version.”
The F-K formula he used takes the number of words per selected sentence, multiplied by .39 plus the average number of syllables per word, multiplied by 11.8, minus 15.59. (This is from Riplinger’s book so we would cite the same formula she or Waite purportedly used.) The sum of this equation is supposed to equal the grade level. One important flaw they conveniently fail to mention: all complete sentences and phrases, whether terminating with a period, colon, or semi-colon, and all incomplete phrases ending in a period, were calculated as “sentences.” As you know, unlike modern English prose, the punctuation in the KJV is filled with colons and semi-colons breaking up the sentences that sometimes run to multiple verses (e.g., Ephesians 3:1-7 is one sentence without a period, having 12 colons, semicolons, or commas, plus a parenthetical phrase). Take a look at Matthew 1, which was one of the chapters chosen. The NIV rated 16.4 and the KJV a mere 6.7, but where the NIV has commas (grammatically correct) between every grouping of father and son in the genealogy of Jesus, the KJV has semi-colons, counted as periods in the F-K study. The KJV has 45 colons and semi-colons in the 25 verses of Matthew 1 alone. Each was considered to make a complete sentence. Someone taking the report at face value would be deceived, but deception is typical of Riplinger and Waite’s works.
The F-K study by Waite does not address the fact that it is the vocabulary that contributes to its comprehension difficulty. The F-K test ignores vocabulary and concentrates on sentence length and syllables. Obsolete and unused words, along with terms that mean the opposite of what they did in 1611, do not figure into the test. This is no doubt because it was never intended to evaluate the readability by modern children of documents written in archaic language.
Another observer of Waite’s “study,” J. Ng, comments: “First, utter dependence on F-K analysis ignores other scales and criteria. F-K is based on the number of syllables per word coupled with the number of words per sentence to come up with an approximate assessment of readability. Other scales employ different parameters, such as letters per word and sentences per 100 words. There are also computer-powered programs that count for word frequency or flag unfamiliar vocabulary. One 1995 study of style among Bible versions initially contemplated the inclusion of KJV alongside modern Bibles. KJV had to be set aside eventually because its vocabulary, checked under the Unix ‘spell’ command, proved to have too many more ‘noncore’ word forms than modern versions to be of useful comparison. The core words are words that most literate people can read, and the list of words is saved in the computer program to be checked against any piece of writing. More important, however, is to look beyond these number-crunching corpus tools to determine whether and why people find a version more readable than another. Gail Linam's 1993 doctoral study, for example, comparing the readability of KJV, NIV, and the New Century Version (NCV) as applied on older children, shows that KJV emerges least readable, followed by NIV and then NCV. Selected passages were given to the children, who were afterward tested with passages and story retelling. It is not surprising that their reactions contradict the results of the computerized F-K analysis. F-K's two formulaic parameters cannot account for the awkwardness of Jacobean (King James’) English grammar and vocabulary, whereas live children will easily sense the difficulty and say so. …Despite its pretensions to readability, this application of F-K grading is ultimately meaningless and worthless.”
Thomas Nelson publishers sponsored a grading test done by Dr. N. McAlser of Rollins College, Florida. Dr. McAlser utilized the Dale-Chall, Fry, Raygor, and Spache formulas to six selections of narrative, instruction, and poetry from the OT and NT. The grade reading level score was: ICV - 3, CEV - 5.4, NCV - 5.6, TEV - 7.3, NIV - 7.8, NKJV - 8, NRSV - 8.1, LB - 8.3, NASB - 11, KJV – 12.1 Any study that lists the KJV lower in readability and comprehension than the NIV is biased and flawed.
Perhaps a simpler way to determine reading level and comprehension of Scripture would be to take a class of thirty students, five from grades 3-6, ten from grades 7-9, and fifteen from grades 10-12 and let them read in a parallel Bible (NIV and KJV) an entire chapter (the number of which to be drawn from a hat) from Genesis, Leviticus, Judges, Proverbs, Isaiah, Matthew, Acts, I Corinthians, Ephesians, Hebrews and II Peter. That would be a fair cross-section of the Bible. Then let each student grade on a sliding scale the clarity (ease of comprehension) and readability of each version. I dare you, Mr. Waite and Ms. Riplinger..
1 This result can be viewed at http://www.seekingtruth.co.uk/bible_origin.pdf
One must understand that there is more to Bible translations than how the English text reads. When there is a difference, try to seek an answer for it rather than rail against the translators. Perhaps the one who is making the charge of “perversion of the Bible” does not like the Acts rendering of “servant,” or the “holy one” in Revelations 16:5, or other accurate renderings of the Greek, but he will need to confront the Lord and the apostles and the early copyists with his thoughts. To flatly call any alternative rendering “lies...perversions,” saying “the God of Titus 1:2 cannot be the God of Mark 1:2,3” is farcical. Perhaps he who composes such material unknowingly speaks of his own writings.
Truth seekers are encouraged to do their own research into the translation issue and not take at face value wild claims about conspiracies. KJV advocates have extremists among them who will not rest until they have convinced us all that the KJV is perfect and every word therein is just as God spoke it through the apostles in the autographs. That has been proven to be a false and unsupportable claim.
If someone prefers the KJV, fine. No problem. But we should not tell things about it, or about the contemporary versions, that are not true or are misleading. God is not the author of confusion. Apostolics are truth-seekers. This discussion is posted here only because these claims have been made publicly and in print. Facebook and other social media outlets are not the best forum for such a topic. Can we not cease the divisive language and wild claims, then sit down together and get at the true facts and leave the fiction to those with no commitment to truth
“The word of the Lord is right, and all his works are done in truth” (Psalm 33:4).