Bible Versions: Be aware and compare.

This is a controversial subject among all faiths and many scholars. The reasons are complex and we make decisions based on what other “scholars” write and say. This makes it difficult to come to conclusions first hand. The issue becomes who to trust and who is right?

The basis of discussion is that we have no original manuscripts (hand written copies of scripture). We only have copies from many time periods and geographical locations.

To oversimplify, there are two camps of thought and translation today. One is a very large camp of manuscripts that number around 64,000. These are everything from a small scrap of paper, to whole books, and entire copies of the Bible. These are from all over the world, and from many different centuries.

The other camp is relatively small and represents only a few manuscripts from very few locations. These are dated around 100 years earlier so are considered more authentic by “modern” scholars. This is one of the hotly contested issues.

Most manuscripts are well worn from being copied many times until they virtually wear out. These “earlier or older” manuscripts are in excellent condition. The critics say this is because they are faulty, hence they were not used but were discarded.

This smaller group is referred to as the minority text, while the larger camp of 64k manuscripts is generally referred to as the majority text.

The King James Version is translated from the majority text group from a specific group of manuscripts sometimes called the Textus Receptus, abbreviated TR.

Virtually all other modern versions since the King James Version are based on the minority text.

There are somewhere around 60,000 plus differences between the KJV and the modern versions. When there is a difference it is called a textual variant.

Some of these differences are small and hard to notice while others are glaring and disturbing. The minority text omits some verses that are traditionally important to Pentecostal people.

Here are a few examples of verses that are omitted: Mark 16.9-16 (These signs shall follow, etc), Matthew 17.21 (this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting), Acts 8.37, 1 John 5.7, et al.

Other times the verses are changed such as in 1 Timothy 3.16 where God was manifest in the flesh is changed to He was revealed in the flesh.

Many times the words Jesus or Christ or Lord are omitted in the modern translations from verses. Another example is in John chapter 8 where the woman taken in adultery calls Jesus Lord in the KJV. Minority texts usually translate Lord as Sir.

These are the issues that cause debate and emotions to ride high among Pentecostals.

I have adopted the position that The King James Version holds the preeminent place for me. I personally trust the majority text more than the minority text. I still use the KJV in church exclusively. We are simply more used to it and more familiar with it. It also provides us with a uniform Bible text for our public worship service.

Having said that, I use, and encourage, the reading of other versions. I have adopted the phrase “Be aware and compare”. Be aware there are differences and always compare against each other to get the most complete reading.

Nothing will ever take the place of the KJV in my life, but I will be aware and compare as I continue my “life walk” through the Word by reading other versions also.

God bless you, thanks for reading today.