The Cross at Sunset

Living the Gospel

2 Timothy 2:15 ~ Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.


King James Version vs. Modern Translations

The Received Text vs. the Critical Text


In 2011 we celebrated the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible, thus making it not only one of the most popular, but also the most longstanding translation. Yet in recent times many other new and popular versions have appeared on the scene. Are there any significant differences between these Bibles? Is it necessary to understand these differences before you chose a Bible version? The answer is YES, and it is essential that Christians start to understand this issue. If Christians do not take responsibility for the Word of God, who will?

Many Christians are completely ignorant that there is a debate going on. Often a Christian will join a church and begin using their Bible without any further consideration. In discussions with other Christians, the most common reason for picking a modern translation is to get rid of those hard to understand thee and thous of the King James Version (KJV).

If the Grammar of the KJV were the only issue, we would not need this paper. I cannot think of the words necessary to stress how important it is for the Church to understand the differences between manuscripts.

Before we start, let us define the Received Text (RT) as the Greek manuscript that was translated into the King James Version. The Received Text is the New Testament that the church has passed down from generation to generation.

In recent years, publishers have produced many modern translations of the Bible. With the exception of the New King James Version, translators base their modern versions almost exclusively on a modern Greek manuscript called the Critical Text. The Critical Texts are modern Greek manuscripts edited by scholars (who believe that the KJV comes from a corrupt manuscript) who using the art of Higher Critisism think that they have recovered the Gospel.

This study is not an attack on those who prefer the Critical Text

While trying to show that the Received Text is pure, I am not accusing scholars who prefer the Critical Text of any conspiratorial motivation. The goal is only to show how this movement to replace the Received Text has undermined the authority of the Word of God.

Attacks on the Word of God should not surprise us. They started before the apostles finished writing the epistles. Peter notes:

2 Peter 3:15-17 ~ And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

For Christians to be ignorant of this wicked tampering, as Peter warned, is to do so to our own harm.

Read this paper entirely before you make up your mind. It may be the shortest work to deal with the differences between the manuscripts in a thorough mannor. If you study to show yourself approved, God may use you as a guardian of His Word. The Word that He said would outlast heaven and earth.

The two opposing schools of thought

First school: The Received Text is the most accurate manuscript.

As you may have guessed, this is the position supported by this study. The church has kept the Word of God through the centuries. The Church has always believed that it had the inerrant Word of God. This Word was passed down to us in what are now known as the Majority Text, called this for obvious reasons. In the 16th century, a scholar named Erasmus compiled a complete manuscript of the New Testament using the Majority Texts (also called Byzantine text-types); today we know this manuscript as the Received Text or for the scholars reading this Textus Receptus. The Received Text was the principal manuscript used in the 17th century to translate the King James Version. In a sentence, these scholars translating the KJV used manuscripts the church had passed down through the ages as the New Testament.

Jesus said:

Matthew 5:18 ~ For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.


Matthew 24:35 ~ Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away

Second school: The Critical Text is the most accurate manuscript.

Let me quote Dr. Bruce Metzger who was on three committees that edited the United Bible Societies Greek New Testament (UBS2, UBS3, UBS4). In referring to how the church passed down the scriptures:

"Other divergences in wording arose from deliberate attempts to smooth out grammatical or stylistic harshness, or to eliminate real or imagined obscurities of meaning in the text. Sometimes a copyist would substitute or would add what seemed to him to be a more appropriate word or form, perhaps derived from a parallel passage (called harmonization or assimilation). Thus, during the years immediately following the composition of the several documents that eventually were collected to form the New Testament, hundreds if not thousands of variant readings arose. …

"The chief characteristic of Western readings is fondness for paraphrase. Words, clauses, and even whole sentences are freely changed, omitted, or inserted. Sometimes the motive appears to have been harmonization, while at other times it was the enrichment of the narrative by the inclusion of traditional or apocryphal material. Some readings involve quite trivial alterations for which no special reason can be assigned. …" (A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament)

As Dr Metzger stated, through the centuries, scribes regularly and freely edited their manuscripts, therefore the Received Text has been slowly accumulating errors until it is an inferior manuscript. The oldest copy of the RT is relatively new, dating to the 16th century.

The RT varies considerably with two ancient and nearly complete manuscripts discovered in the 1800’s. Both of these manuscripts originated in Alexandra Egypt, so naturally we call them the Alexandrian Manuscripts. To be specific they found the codex Sinaiticus in a monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai and the codex Vatacanus in the Vatican library. Many scholars and translators of modern versions believe that these manuscripts, dating to the mid 4th century, are the most accurate because of their age.

Starting with these ancient manuscripts as their major source of inspiration and using the process of textual criticism, scholars have been able to remove many of their errors and produce a manuscript that closely resembles the original autographs.

There are 3,000 differences between the manuscripts

While most of the 3,000 difference are insignificant, such as spelling or the movable v (pronounced Nu on some verb endings), there are some important disparities. While opinions may vary, I have picked the ones I thought were most important. To compare, I will quote from the KJV (Textus Receptus). Where the words are struck through in the following verses, they are missing from the New International version (NIV) and most other modern translations (the Critical Text). The underlined words in blue are in the NIV but not found in the KJV (Received Text). So put your KJV and NIV (or your favorite translation) side by side, and let's start.


Matthew 5:44

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Matthew 6:13

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Matthew 6:27

Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature one hour of life?

Matthew 9:13

But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. [Repentance is also missing in Mark 2:17]

Matthew 11:19

The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children works.

Matthew 16:3

And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

Matthew 17:21

Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Matthew 18:11

For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

Matthew 19:9

And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Matthew 20:7

They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

Matthew 20:1

So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

Matthew 20:22

But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.

Matthew 23:14

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

Matthew 25:13

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. [The hour of what?]

Matthew 27:35

And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

Mark 1:31

And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.

Mark 6:11

And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

Mark 7:8

For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.

Mark 7:16

If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.

Mark 9:24

And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

Mark 10:21

Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

Mark 10:24

And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!

Mark 11:26

But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

Mark 13:14

But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: [Jesus said: "let him that readeth understand" What were we suppose to read?]

Mark 13:33

Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

Mark 15:28

And the Scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.

Mark 16:8

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

Most modern Bibles add the resurrection account in The Gospel of Mark though it is missing from both of the Alexandrian manuscripts. Yet, it must have be a controversial issue for some translators since they add the disclaimer "The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20". (Footnote in NIV for vs. 8)

It appears that some scholars dont think the resurection of Jesus was important enough for Mark to record and that the good news of Mark should have ended with verse eight: "Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid."


Luke 2:33

And Joseph his father and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him.

Luke 4:4

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Luke 4:8

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Luke 6:48

He is like a man which built a house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock well built.

Luke 9:55-56

But he turned, and rebuked them and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

Luke 11:2

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

Luke 17:36

Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Luke 22:64

And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?

Luke 23:42

And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

John 3:15

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

John 5:3-4

In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. [If you look at verse 7, you will see that it is meaningless without verse 4]

John 6:47

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

John 7:53-8:1 Again (like Mark 16:9-20) the NIV prefaces this passage with the words "The earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53-8:11." If this is so, why is this passage in their Bible?

And every man went unto his own house. Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.


John 17:12

While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

Acts 7:37

This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.

Acts 8:37

And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Acts 9:5-6

And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

Acts 10:6

He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

Acts 15:18

Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

Acts 23:9

And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.

Acts 24:6-8

Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law. But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands, Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him.

Acts 28:29

And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.

Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. [See also Galatians 3:17 & 4:7 & 6:15]

Romans 1:29

Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

Romans 8:1

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Romans 9:28

For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.

Romans 10:15

And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Romans 11:6

And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Romans 13:9

For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Romans 14:21

It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

Romans 15:29

And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.

Romans 16:24

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

1st Cor 5:7

Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

1st Cor 6:20

For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

1st Cor 7:39

The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

1st Cor 10:28

But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that showed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof:

1st Cor 15:47

The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.

1st Cor 16:22

If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.

Galatians 3:1

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

Galatians 4:7

Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Galatians 6:15

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

Ephesians 3:9

And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

Philippians 3:16

Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

Colossians 1:14

In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Colossians 2:11

In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh sinful nature by the circumcision of Christ:

Colossians 3:6

For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:

1st Thess 1:1

Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 1:17

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

1 Timothy 3:16

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God he was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

1 Timothy 4:12

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

1 Timothy 6:5

Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

2 Timothy 4:22

The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.

Philemon 1:12

Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels:

Hebrews 1:3

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Hebrews 2:7

Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:

Hebrews 7:21

(For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord swore and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek:)

Hebrews 10:34

For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.

1 Peter 1:22

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

1 Peter 4:1

Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;

1 Peter 4:14

If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

1 Peter 5:11

To him be glory and dominion power forever and ever. Amen.

2 Peter 2:17

These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest: to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever.

1 John 4:3

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

1 John 4:19

We love him, because he first loved us.

1 John 5:7

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. [Verses 6 and 8 are also modified]

1 John 5:13

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Jude 1:25

To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Revelation 2:13

I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

Revelation 5:14

And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth forever and ever.

Revelation 11:17

Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.

Revelation 12:12

Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

Revelation 14:5

And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.

Revelation 16:17

And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.

Revelation 20:9

And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

Revelation 21:24

And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it.

Revelation 22:14

Blessed are they that do his commandments wash their robes, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Question: Are these differences just accidental errors? Or, were they deliberate alterations to manuscripts? The Bible warns us.

Deuteronomy 4:2 ~ Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.


Proverbs 30:5-6 ~ Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.


Revelation 22:18-19 ~ For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

In spite of all these warnings, we know that some Bible manuscripts were being tampered with before the New Testament was even finished. The apostle Peter said.

2 Peter 3:16 ~ As also in all his [Paul's] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction.

While some differences may seem trivial, yet, in every single instance that there is a significant difference in doctrine; it is the Textus Receptus or King James Version that:

Since all of the significant differences lean in one direction, we have a choice:

  1. Either, those who believe these doctrines edited these changes into the Bible.
  2. Or, those who did not believe these doctrines removed them from their Bible.

So, what is the chaff to the wheat? Those who love the Word of God will take His warnings seriously. Those who believe the Scripture know that any improvements to the Sacred Scripture are done at the scribes own peril. If you understand this and still prefer the Critical Text, you must believe that in spite of God’s warnings, the church regularly (hundreds of times) changed the Word, either to improve its harmony, smooth out harshness, eliminate obscurities, or for any other reason.

Why do some believe that it is okay to edit the Bible now when Peter condemned those who edited it then? If the church regularly edited the Bible, the Bible ceases to be the final authority. If God cannot, or did not, protect the Bible from tampering, it is no longer a divine revelation. When we allow the Bible to be edited, are not the editors (rather than the Bible), the final authority. Who should decide which are the words of God? And what are the doctrines of men?

Matthew 15:9 ~ But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

We will see in a moment how the proponents of the Critical Text do not believe their manuscript is inerrant. Nor do they agree with each other on what were the actual words of Jesus. If you understand the underlying issues and still believe the Critical Text is the best manuscript, you must believe that at least some of Jesus words have passed away. This poses some questions:

If you do not believe the Bible is the Word of God, then you must be wondering about all the fuss. However if the Bible is the Word of God, it gives guidelines on salvation and warnings to those who reject them.

This is not about the in inerrancy of different Bible translations

There are many problems in translating the Bible. Though Bible translations spread the gospel through the whole world, their translations are not without errors. Summing up some of the problems, the director of the Baptist Bible Translator Institute, Rex Cob wrote:

"Translation is not a quick task. In spite of modem technology, it is still going to take the very best years of his life, in theory, computers should speed up the process, but computers cannot heal sick babies, disciple baby Christians, build airstrips and church buildings, home school the children, and a hundred other things that demand the translator’s time.

"The translator must master the meaning of a bunch of strange sounds and put them in a usable alphabet. He must also crack the culture code and decipher the thinking of the people. Before he begins to translate Scripture, he practices on fairly easy materials such as folk stories, books about health or agriculture, and simple Bible stories. During this time, he is training himself and his native translation helpers. He is also showing the people that their language can indeed be written.

"Now the work begins! Even though he has learned thousands of words, the translator hasn’t learned many Bible terms. Take Mark 1:4 for instance. How does he say, "baptize’?" They don’t baptize people, and if they do, it is a pagan baptism. Can he use the pagan word? What about the word "preach?" The missionary knows the words for "talk," and maybe "teach," but not "preach." And how can someone "preach baptism?" What is repentance? And what is "the remission of sins?" Before the translation session, the translator must study and find out for sure what every word means in his own language. Then he must explain these strange new concepts to the native helper, and together they decide how to say those things.

"The temptation is to explain instead of translate, thus producing a commentary instead of a translation—we must not do that. In Mark 1:5 the translator might need to clarify to the helper that the "land of Judea" did not really go anywhere; it was the people of the land that did. Verse six mentions the camel, and there may be no word for it if none live in the region. Should the translator transliterate a word from the trade language? Or should he say, "a big animal like a horse with humps?" Because he could not find a word for donkey, one missionary said that Jesus came into Jerusalem on a large animal with long ears. The only animal the people knew with long ears was a rabbit, and they envisioned Jesus riding on an enormous rabbit. That was the first Easter Bunny!

"And on it goes. Nearly every verse presents a challenge. It can be done, but it is never easy. The initial translation is time consuming, but the checking and editing takes even longer. The translator or the helper must read a passage to others who have no knowledge of the Bible and ask them what it means. If their understanding doesn’t match the Bible, then it’s back to the drawing board.

"We attempt to translate literally, but sometimes a very literal translation of a verse will be a bad translation because the translator has matched words, but not meanings. In English we say, "We are going to support a missionary." If we translate literally into Spanish, using the equivalent word for support and say, "We are going to soportar a missionary," we actually say we are going to "tolerate" or "put up with" him. Translation is moving words, along with the correct meaning, from one language to another. We moved words, but by being too literal we failed to translate." (The Baptist Bible Translator Institute, November 2007 Newsletter) [emphasis mine]

Rex Cob was talking about the problems in making a good translation. It is also true that over time words change meaning and spelling, in addition, punctuation also changes. For these and other reasons there are going to be problems with any translation. Finally, we know some translations of the Bible propagate their translators doctrinal errors.

However, none of this has any bearing on God’s ability to keep and pass down his word through to the end of time. If I were an attorney, my statement of faith might be worded something like this; The Bible is the word of God and it is inerrant in the Koine Greek, its original tongue, as passed down to us through time in the Majority of the Greek manuscripts.

Do not the Majority Texts also disagree with each other?

Again, this is not the problem. Supposing a manuscript had a misspelling or misplaced word or even a misplaced paragraph. These errors standout when compared to the rest of the majority manuscripts. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls show just how possible it is to keep the word of God intact.

The real problem is that the Critical text is significantly different to the majority text in doctrine that cannot be attributed to spelling or to the accidental mistakes of a scribe.

A critical look at the making of the 'Critical Text'

Evidence of tampering in early Alexandrian manuscripts

The major sources of inspiration for the Critical Text are two Alexandrian manuscripts: the codex Vatacanus and the codex Sinaiticus. These were chosen because they are the oldest complete manuscripts.

As mentioned earlier, the goal is not to pass blame on those scholars who prefer the Critical Text. However, here is a serious question for those who push it on the Christian community. Do you know there is obvious tampering with your Alexandrian manuscripts?

In the early 1900’s the theory of evolution received a big boost from the discovery of the Piltdown Man. Hundreds if not thousands of students earned their degrees in biology and anthropology writing papers on man's evolution using the Piltdown Man as their main exhibit. Finally, in 1953 scientists exposed the Piltdown Man as an elaborate hoax. Yet this fraud lasted for over 40 years because very few people were able to examine the actual skull and jaw bone fragments.

Since the Critical Text cannot be better than the original manuscripts from which it was translated, it is important to examine these first.

The following information was cut and pasted from the website

"In his book "Let's Weigh the Evidence", Barry Burton writes of Codex Sinaiticus:

"On many occasions 10, 20, 30, 40 words are dropped through very carelessness. Letters, words or even whole sentences are frequently written twice over, or begun and immediately cancelled; while that gross blunder, whereby a clause is omitted because it happens to end in the same words as the clause preceding, occurs no less than 115 times in the New Testament.


"On nearly every page of the manuscript there are corrections and revisions, done by 10 different people. Some of these corrections were made about the same time that it was copied, but most of them were made in the 6th and 7th century.

"...Phillip Mauro, a brilliant lawyer who was admitted to the bar of the US Supreme Court in April 1892, wrote a book called "Which Version" in the early 1900s. He writes concerning the Siniaticus... 'From these facts, therefore, we declare: first that the impurity of the Codex Siniaticus, in every part of it, was fully recognized by those who were best acquainted with it, and that from the very beginning until the time when it was finally cast aside as worthless for any practical purpose.' "

In his excellent book An Understandable History of the Bible

"Rev. Samuel Gipp writes of Codex Siniaticus:

"One of the MSS is called Siniaticus and is represented by the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph. This MS from all outward appearances looks very beautiful. It is written in book form (codex) on vellum. It contains 1471/2 leaves. The pages are 15" by 13 1/2" with four columns of 48 lines per page. It contains many spurious books such as the 'Shepherd of Hermes,' the 'Epistle of Barnabas' and even the Didache.

"Codex is covered with such alterations... brought in by at least ten different revisers, some of them systematically spread over every page, others occasional or limited to separated portions of the Ms, many of these being contemporaneous with the first writer, but the greater part belonging to the sixth or seventh century. ' "

"Of Codex Vaticanus Samuel Gipp writes:

"This codex omits many portions of Scripture vital to Christian doctrine. Vaticanus omits Genesis 1.1 through Genesis 46:28; Psalms 106 through 138; Matthew 16:2,3; Romans 16:24; the Pauline Pastoral Epistles; Revelation; and everything in Hebrews after 9:14.

"It seems suspicious indeed that a MS possessed by the Roman Catholic Church omits the portion of the book of Hebrews which exposes the 'mass' as totally useless (Please read Hebrews 10: 10-12). The 'mass' in conjunction with the false doctrine of purgatory go hand-in-hand to form a perpetual money making machine for Rome. Without one or the other, the Roman Catholic Church would go broke!

"It also omits portions of the Scripture telling of the creation (Genesis), the prophetic details of the crucifixion (Psalm 22), and; of course, the portion which prophesies of the destruction of Babylon (Rome), the great whore of Revelation chapter 17.

"Vaticanus, though intact physically, is found to be in poor literary quality. Dr Martin declares, 'B' exhibits numerous places where the scribe has written the same word or phrase twice in succession. Dr J Smythe states, 'From one end to the other, the whole manuscript has been traveled over by the pen of some ...scribe of about the tenth century.' If Vaticanus was considered a trustworthy text originally, the mass of corrections and scribal changes obviously render its testimony highly suspicious and questionable."

"The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible has this to say about
Codex Vaticanus (B) on page 624 under the article Versions.

"It should be noted, however, that there is no prominent Biblical MS. in which there occur such gross cases of misspelling, faulty grammar, and omission, as in B."

I do not believe that there is any controversy the about actual tampering, and there are other sources available if you are interested in pursuing the quality of the original manuscripts. One proponent of the Alexandrian Manuscripts said. "We know where the tampering is so it does not affect the codex accuracy." Another scholar calls these edits, "Corrections". So are these changes 'tampering' or 'corrections'? Your opinion will decide what you will do with these verses. Yes, you can now become the final authority of God's Word!

No doubt, like the Piltdown Man, if more students were able to see the actual documents, and the physical evidence of tampering, it would have a major effect on the credibility of the Alexandrian manuscripts.

The methods used in editing the modern Critical Text

In 1831, Karl Lachmann the first major editor to break from the Received Text, tried applying the criteria that he used in editing other classics to remove what he perceived as errors in the New Testament. This was the first Critical Text. There have been many versions since.

In 1881 using the codex Vatacanus and codex Sinaiticus B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort's came out with The New Testament in the Original Greek. Westcott and Hort called thier manuscript "the neutral text".

At this point, some critics will expect an attack on the character of Westcott and Hort. However, the purpose of this writing is not to attack anybody. If you want to study Westcott and Hort, you can read the Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott, the Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort, or go to a pro-Westcott and Hort website where you can find more of their writings. With a little study, you can answer for yourself what they believed and taught.

At any rate, all modern translations except the New King James Version use Westcott and Hort’s New Testament as their basis. You may assume thereby that most modern scholars consider it the most faithful in preserving the original autographs.

So starting with the Alexandrian manuscripts, what was the procedure that the editors used to create a modern critical text?

All the quotes in this section are blue and underlined and come from the Introduction to A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 1971 by Bruce M. Metzger. [Words in brackets are my emphasis].

Dr. Metzger was on the committee that created the United Bible Societies third edition of the Greek New Testament (UBS3). The purpose of his commentary was to be a companion to their Greek New Testament. Since he was on the committee Dr. Metzger would be qualified to describe the guidelines they used to edit their manuscripts. You can read all his quotes in their original context, without my comments.

What are the criteria used in editing the critical text?

According to Dr. Metzger, we must decide what are the words of God and what are the words of men.

These considerations depend, it will be seen, upon probabilities, and sometimes the textual critic must weigh one set of probabilities against another

Did the committee have any rules to determine what would be probable?

The range and complexity of textual data are so great that no neatly arranged or mechanically contrived set of rules can be applied with mathematical precision.

If there were no neat set of rules and they based their considerations on probabilities, who then decided what was probable?

It is inevitable that in some cases different scholars will come to different evaluations of the significance of the evidence

What Dr. Metzger is saying is that there was not an agreement among scholars on what evidence was most significant. However, while there were no rules, there were guidelines.

The first guideline: The more difficult reading is to be preferred.

In general, the more difficult reading is to be preferred, particularly when the sense appears on the surface to be erroneous but on more mature consideration proves itself to be correct. (Here "more difficult" means "more difficult to the scribe," who would be tempted to make an emendation. The characteristic of most scribal emendations is their superficiality, often combining "the appearance of improvement with the absence of its reality." Obviously the category "more difficult reading" is relative, and sometimes a point is reached when a reading must be judged to be so difficult that it can have arisen only by accident in transcription.)

The second guideline: The shorter reading is to be preferred.

In general the shorter reading is to be preferred, except where… The scribe may have omitted material which he deemed to be (i) superfluous, (ii) harsh, or (iii) contrary to pious belief, liturgical usage, or as ascetical practice.

However, as we saw when we compared the differences, the Critical Text does omit material scribes "deemed to be superfluous, harsh, or contrary to pious belief, liturgical usage, or as ascetical practice". This single guideline, preferring the shorter text, is a completely arbitrary guideline.

For these reasons I would assume that the longer reading is more faithful to the original manuscript. The committee introduced many errors by arbitrarily preferring the shorter version. This guideline is worse than arbitrary and explains why so many passages have been removed from the Critical Text and our modern Bibles.

The third guideline: The reading with verbal dissidence is to be preferred.

Since scribes would frequently bring divergent passages into harmony with one another, in parallel passages (whether quotations from the Old Testament or different accounts in the Gospels of the same event or narrative) that reading which involves verbal dissidence is usually to be preferred to one which is verbally concordant.

It seems highly unlikely that "scribes would frequently bring divergent passages into harmony" for several reasons, the main one being the verses in the Bible that curse those who do so. The only people who deliberately add or remove passages from the Word of God are those who have no fear of God and as Peter said, they are doing it to their own destruction.

If an apostle is unable to quote Scripture, why should young Christians believe the Word of God? Is it not an assumption that later scribes would have had access to the documents they were quoting while the Apostles did not? Imagine trying to write a letter in which you are quoting a scripture passage. Imagine for a moment that God used you to write one of the epistles that would later become the Bible. Do you suppose that your original letter would be more harmonious or dissident than later copies? Could not a scribe with an agenda cause a "dissident" passage? For these reasons, having a guideline like choosing "that reading which involves verbal dissidence is usually to be preferred" is worse than arbitrary.

The fourth guideline: What was the author more likely to have written?

Intrinsic Probabilities depend upon considerations of what the author was more likely to have written. The textual critic takes into account (1.) In general: The style and vocabulary of the author throughout the book, the immediate context; and Harmony with the usage of the author elsewhere; and, (2) In the gospels: The Aramaic background of the teaching of Jesus; The priority of the Gospel according to Mark; and the influence of the Christian community upon the formulation and transmission of the passage in question.

When you decide, "what the author was more likely to have written", it is your opinion that becomes the final authority. This is plainly using doctrine to edit the Bible. It should be the other way aroundl Use the Bible to edit your doctrine! As Dr. Metzger pointed out, using this guideline it is not possible for all scholars to agree.

The fifth guideline: The textual critic knows when to give consideration of one kind of evidence over another.

It is obvious that not all of these criteria are applicable in every case. The textual critic must know when it is appropriate to give greater consideration to one kind of evidence and less to another. Since textual criticism is an art as well as a science, it is inevitable that in some cases different scholars will come to different evaluations of the significance of the evidence. This divergence is almost inevitable when, as sometimes happens, the evidence is so divided that, for example, the more difficult reading is found only in the later witnesses, or the longer reading is found only in the earlier witnesses.

This guideline is very confusing. If "The textual critic [knows] when it is appropriate to give greater consideration to one kind of evidence and less to another"; how come "different scholars will come to different evaluations"?

What does "textual criticism is an art as well as a science" imply? As artists, are they creative? Perhaps this is it a gentle way of saying textual criticism is not always accurate?

The sixth guideline: Numerical support counts for nothing.

Let us not forgot to mention one guideline that might prove useful. The guideline should read something like; The committee took into consideration what the verse looked like in the vast majority of ancient manuscripts. Well incredibly,

Witnesses are to be weighed rather than counted.

For example, if in a given sentence reading x is supported by twenty manuscripts and reading y by only one manuscript, the relative numerical support favoring x counts for nothing if all twenty manuscripts should be discovered to be copies made from a single manuscript, no longer extant, whose scribe first introduced that particular variant reading. The comparison, in that case, ought to be made between the one manuscript containing reading y and the single ancestor of the twenty manuscripts containing reading x.

Saying that the vast majority of ancient manuscripts come from a "single manuscript no longer extant" is obvious. Actually, all of the manuscripts, every single scrap, are copies of the single and original manuscript that no longer exists.

Even so, instead of giving the words in the vast majority of manuscripts any consideration the committee chose one of the previous guidelines to decide what our Bibles will now contain.

Dr. Metzger is right, though he may not have meant to imply this; the ancient manuscripts (including things like letters that quote Scripture or torn pages) support the Received Text over the Alexandrian versions at a ratio of about 20 to 1. Therefore, scholars, while preferring them, call ancient manuscripts that support the Alexandrian version the Minority Text and all the ancient manuscripts that support the Received Text they call the Majority Text.

Being constrained by their six guidelines, could a God fearing person really create an accurate reproduction of the apostle's manuscripts? Who created these guidelines? Prominent Christians serving on this committee give it credibility. Believers should refuse the honor of working on a committee when it is hamstrung with such rules.

Do the committee members agree?

There is another place where Dr. Metzger’s Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament is useful in learning about the committee. It shows how they concurred in their final manuscript. In his own words:

"In order to indicate the relative degree of certainty in the mind of the Committee for the reading adopted as the text, an identifying letter is included within braces at the beginning of each set of textual variants. The letter {A} signifies that the text is virtually certain, while {B} indicates that there is some degree of doubt concerning the reading selected for the text. The letter, {C} means that there is a considerable degree of doubt whether the text or the apparatus contains the superior reading, while {D} shows that there is a very high degree of doubt concerning the reading selected for the text. In fact, among the {D} decisions sometimes none of the variant readings commended itself as original, and therefore the only recourse was to print the least unsatisfactory reading.

"None of the variant readings commended itself as original", how could a sentence make it clearer that this committee does not believe in the inerrancy of scripture?

So how in agreement are the scholars? Let us look at the epistles of James and 1st Johnl. Two books picked at random. On the Epistle of James, Dr. Metzger comments on nineteen verses edited by the committee. Only one verse got an {A}, "the text is virtually certain". Seven verses got a {B}, "some degree of doubt". Eight verses received a {C}, "there is a considerable degree of doubt." Finally three verses received a {D}, "the only recourse was to print the least unsatisfactory reading."

The 1st Epistle of John did not fare much better. Three verses got an {A}, "the text is virtually certain". Eleven verses got a {B}, "some degree of doubt". Eight verses received a {C}, "there is a considerable degree of doubt." Again three verses received a {D}, "the only recourse was to print the least unsatisfactory reading".

Since the scholars themselves were virtually certain in only 7% of their editing, why should the church have more confidence in the manuscript?

Assumptions, techniques and results

Though these scholars may be well meaning, none of their assumptions, techniques or results are impressive.




Why would any Christian change the Received Text for a modern version?

John 5:39a ~ Jesus said: Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life.

When eternal life is at stake, you should prayerfully consider which Greek manuscript you believe to be the Word of God.

Two Final Considerations

Corporate ownership of modern translations

Let us also look at the question of ownership as we compare the KJV to modern versions. In switching over to modern translations, the church has turned over the guardianship of the Sacred Scriptures to big business. Is it not the church's responsibility to translate the Scriptures and spread the Gospel?

When you buy a modern translation, you are paying for a license to read the book, not quote from it. You own the paper and leather cover, however you do not own the words. Most publishers allow you to make partial quotes, however you may not quote an entire book without their prior written consent.

Here are some examples of copyright permissions for different Bible versions.

Bible Version Total number of verses that you may quote Percentage of a book in the Bible that may be quoted The quotation may not exceed this percentage of your work
Amplified Bible

You may not quote this Bible
without the publisher's prior written consent.

English Standard Version

1000 verses

Less than a
whole book

50% of work

New King James Version

1000 verses

50% of a book

50% of work

New American Standard

500 verses

Less than a
whole book

25% of work

New International Version

500 verses

Less than a
whole book

25% of work

And if you do quote from one of the modern translations do not forget that you must put their copyright notice at the bottom of your page. For the New International Version it reads: "Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of Biblica."

The bottom line is this, if you are using a modern version you are not free to go out and proclaim the whole Gospel. If you know your history, like William Tyndale, who was burned at the stake for giving us a Bible in English, are we being wise in turning over the stewardship of God’s Word of to commercial publishers?

The old English Thee, Thou and thine are too hard to read

Another argument in favor of modern versions says that the KJV English is too hard to read or understand. However, is the easy way the best way? It is long past time that the church grow up.

Hebrews 5:12 ~ For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

It may take a few readings to get used to; my own seven children started reading the KJV by five or six years of age, and they were reasonably fluent by age seven. With a little practice, very few adults should not be able to do the same thing.

It is easier for children to follow along in a Bible study using one translation, even if it is the KJV, than where several different modern versions are used. It is much easier for them to memorize scripture when they use one and only one version of the Bible. The KJV’s English is unique, this also makes it easier to memorize.

Finally, and most important, the archaic thee, thou and thine are one of the treasures of the King James Version and give it an interesting advantage. The thee, thou and thine are singular, while all the ye, you and yours are in the plural, sort of like "you all". These singular and plural distinctions in the Greek are missing in modern translations.

Matthew 3:14 ~ But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, [singular] and comest thou [singular] to me?


Matthew 4:19 ~ And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you [plural] fishers of men.


Do not misunderstand; the Word of God will last to the end of the world.

Isaiah 55:11 ~ So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

I only grieve as I see Christians, whose faith has gone shipwreck, sometimes the result of a Bible college, and always as they come to doubt the authority of God's Word.

Go back and learn how the Critical Text came into existence. See for yourself if what I am saying is true. If it is, learn how to defend the Received Text.

It is time to recognize what is at stake. It is time for the Church (if you are a Christian this means you) to take back the stewardship of the Scriptures. The Bible is reliable; we can trust God to keep His Word. However, to be used of God or to remain willfully ignorant, is up to us.

May God bless us as we seek His will.
Written by Jeff Barnes.


P.S As the attack on God's word continues, no doubt my next version of this study will look at the gender neutral bible.