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Various Biblical Misconceptions

In the following e-mail exchange, the e-mailer's comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.


Exchange #1

> I see that in the original text God is referred to as an anagram.<

Huh? I have no idea what you are referring to. Maybe you are thinking of the Tetragrammaton. This word refers to the four letters in the Hebrew name for God: YHWH. That fact that there are no vowels is insignificant as NO words in the original Hebrew had vowels. The vowel points were added latter.

The word has traditionally been pronounced Jehovah; but this came about through a combing of two different words for God. The more probable pronunciation is Yahweh.

In any case, the important point is, the Tetragrammaton is the proper name for the God of the Bible, as opposed to the word elohim, which is the general name for God or gods in the OT. Kind of like "Gary" is my proper name, but "human" is the general term for the type of being I am.

> This was one of the things I was most concerned about because of my study of other religions mainly non western texts. Does this indicate that God is not an object or person but a concept that has a name as with these religions?<

Not at all. As indicated about, Yahweh is the proper name of God. Proper names are given to specific people, places, or things. In this case it is the former: the God of the Bible is a Person as the Bible makes abundantly clear.

> If it does than it follows that the world was not created by God but is a manifestation of this concept, also the son of God theory and the whole New Testament.<

The Bible is as clear as it can be, from the first verse on, that the personal God of the Bible created the world.

> I have been contemplating this for a while now and it irks me to find out some of the ways and reasons for the Bible being changed over the years. Especially by Justinian who took out the doctrine of reincarnation because his wife did not like it. Could you elaborate on some if not all of these points?.<

There is absolutely, positively no proof whatsoever for this claim. To utter this nonsense shows a complete lack of knowledge of textual criticism. From the first century onward, numerous manuscripts of the NT were copied and scattered throughout the entire area of the former Roman Empire. It would have been impossible for any person or organization to have systematically altered ALL of these manuscripts.

Moreover, there is NO, repeat, NO manuscript evidence that such a tampering occurred. In other words, NO manuscripts have very been found that have traces of reincarnation teaching in them that are absent from the thousands of other manuscripts of the NT that we have.

Furthermore, some of the manuscripts that have been found date to the second century. And these were untouched since that time. So if such a tampering had occurred, the person or group doing the tampering would not have known about nor been able to alter these "hidden" manuscripts. But none of these include the supposed "missing" teaching or reincarnation.

Similarly for the OT, the Dead Sea Scrolls were hid away in 68 AD and left untouched until they were discovered in the 1940's. Yet they do not have reincarnation teachings in them that are "missing" from later manuscripts.

In addition, the teaching of reincarnation conflicts with and is incompatible with the doctrine of resurrection. Yet, the latter clearly taught, repeatedly, in the Bible, OT and NT.

So please, before you continue to repeat this unsubstantiated rumor, please take the time to study the science of textual criticism. When you do, you will learn how absurd this idea is. You could start with my article An Introduction to Textual Criticism posted on my site.

> Also if the doctrine of reincarnation will be kept in the new translation.<

If you are referring to my Analytical Literal Translation, absolutely not! As I said, the teaching of reincarnation was never IN the Bible to begin with So to speak of it being "kept" in the Bible is nonsense. Furthermore, I am currently following the Textus Receptus but eventually will switch to the Majority Text. If you do not know what these terms refer to, again, you need to do some studying of textual criticism.

> As for a name for the book if you have not found one yet, I would not call it anything new or newest as it will deter people into thinking that you are adding doctrines.<

If I included the teaching of reincarnation in my "translation" then I WOULD be adding to the Bible. As for books making such claims, I have seen them. They are not worth the paper they are printed on.

> I would be more specific and try such as Bible: most literal translation. That way maybe even a Catholic or two will read it.

Thank you for you time in advance,
Jeremy
6/4/1999<

My apologies if I come across as a little "harsh" in my comments above. But it really irks me when people repeat completely nonsensical ideas. Again, anyone with any actual knowledge of textual criticism would never be duped by such claims. But since most people have never studied textual criticism, people making such claims are able to make money selling such books to the uniformed. They in turn repeat it as if it is true. But again, a simple research into the actual facts will quickly dispel such notions.


Exchange #2

> I would love to have time to do some more research I just don’t have the time. This is a six week elective class I am taking but it has really sparked interest for me. What I am really interested in is the truth. I know no one will ever be able to give us an exact translation into English because some interpretation will always have be done.<

That is only partially true. With the more "free" type of translation principle used in many translations today the possibility of the insertion of interpretation is somewhat greater. But in a literal or "formal equivalence" translation the possibility is much less. It still exists but only at a minor level. And the more literal a translation is, the less the risk.

IMHO, the most literal, modern-day version currently available is J.P. Green's Literal Translation of the Bible (LITV). It is available from Christian Literature World. I have a link to their site from mine on the following page: Christian Books and Software.

But if you want to be sure there is no "personal interpretation" inserted into the LITV. Then it would help to compare it with another literal version. If the two versions are basically the same then you can be sure there is not. If they are significantly different, then a little more study would be needed to see why. It most likely is because there is more than one legitimate way to translate the passage, and not because of interpretation.

Now, my own translation is also a very literal version. In fact, I am designing for someone like you: who wants to get as close to the original Hebrew and Greek as possible. But it is still in progress and only the NT is currently available at all. Moreover, only the books indicated as being at "stage two" are really close to what the finished product will be like. But I do think it is still worth checking out : )

Another fairly literal version that I always recommend is the New King James Version (NKJV). And there are others. But these three would be a good start.

> What I would like is to find a copy of the original Old Testament before anyone had a chance to copy it revise it add or delete any ideas or make mistakes in translating in making a guess to what they personally feel something that could mean 10 different things really means.<

The OT was originally written in Hebrew--with a few small sections in Aramaic. So unless you know Hebrew you would have a hard time reading the Hebrew text!

Now, the Hebrew text used to translation Bible versions from is generally the Masoretic Text. It is so named because the manuscripts were copied by Masoretic, Jewish monks. The oldest manuscripts of the Masoretic Text date to about 1000 AD. This is considerably after the last OT book was written (I.e. Malachi, c.400 BC).

However, I mentioned in my previous e-mail about the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS). These are Hebrew manuscripts written by the Quram community (outside of Jerusalem). They are dated from about 200 BC to when they were hidden in 68 AD. They contain manuscripts specific to the community, along with at least parts of every book of the OT except for Esther.

So the manuscripts of the OT in the DSS date to about 1000 years earlier than the Masoretic Text. And in this 1000 year period, how much did the text change? Very little; upon comparison the texts were shown to be about 95% identical. And the 5% that is different is mostly minor spelling differences, word order changes, and the like. In other words, differences so minor they wouldn't even show up in translation.

Now there were some significant differences. But most modern-day translations will footnote these differences. The NKJV for instance, has such footnote. The NKJV also footnotes differences between the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint (a Greek Translation of the OT from about 200 BC), the Vulgate (a Latin translation from c. 400 AD), and other Hebrew manuscripts and ancient translations.

But in reading the NKJV, you will see that such footnotes are few and far between, In other words, when comparing all of these sources, in the vast majority of the text, there simply are no significant variants. So as I mentioned before, there is no basis whatsoever for believing the text of the OT has been alter for theological or any reasons. Minor scribal errors are mostly what are seen in the manuscripts.

So when you read a version like the NKJV, you can be sure what your are reading is an accurate translation of a reliable Hebrew text.

> I understand you are very passionate about your work and I can see why you responded in this way. But all the different denominations of Christianity are just different interpretations of the same Bible aren't they. And in order to get these translations a humans personal thoughts had to be incorporated in the translations.<

You are partially correct that different Christian denominations exist due to difference interpretation of the Bible. But there are other reason for the different denominations also, such as their historical or ethic backgrounds, church splits over personality differences, differences in music styles wanted, and a variety of other non-theological reasons.

But that said, for the most part, denominations do not arise due to using a different Bible. Again, all Bible versions are translated from the same Hebrew text. Now for the NT there are basically three different Greek texts that can be used for translation: the Textus Receptus, the Majority Text, and the Critical Text.

But again, these Greek texts are about 95% identical. The 5% of differences are mostly minor. And again, translations like the NKJV will footnote textual differences. Of the three, I believe the MT is the most accurate, the TR second, and the CT last. I discuss the differences between these texts and the reason for my preferences in detail on my site.

Now, you are correct, there can be significant differences between Bible versions. I even wrote a small book by this name a while back. It is no longer in print but all of the chapters from it are posted as articles on my site.

However, these differences are mainly due to translation differences not due to the underlying Hebrew or Greek texts. More specifically, there are differences between how literally the texts are translated. Again, as I detail on my site, I believe a literal or formal equivalence translation principle is the best way to go. And versions like the NKJV, LITV, and my ALT, fit this category.

The bottom line of all of the above, if you read a version like the ones I am recommending then you can be sure you are reading an accurate translation of reliable original language texts. And by comparing two or more translations, and checking the textual footnotes in a version like the NKJV, you can pick up any minor translation or textual differences.

With such a simple practice there is no reason to have any lack of confidence whatsoever that what you are reading is an accurate representation of the originals. For more details on all of the above, see the articles listed at: Bible Versions Controversy.

> The Bible I would like to have would be the oldest version known, or at least the one that Christ taught out of, which would have had to be written B.C. obviously.<

Again, in order to read such a version you would have to know Hebrew. If you do great; get a copy of the Masoretic Text or the DSS. But assuming that you don't know Hebrew, then a literal translation thereof will get you as close as you can.

> And then try to get a copy of only the original words spoken by Jesus.<

The words spoken by Jesus are found in the four Gospels in the NT. If you have any doubts that the Gospels accurately record what Jesus said, well, I have several articles on my site addressing such claims. See the following page for such articles, along with articles discussing the reliability of the Bible in general: The Bible.

> From these two, a translation like what you are doing would be ideal. Then I could draw my own conclusions about how I should believe. If you have any ideas on how I can get these things please re-contact me.<

I believe I have explained as best as I can in the above. But you are correct, my translation is intended for someone like you, who wants to get as close to the original languages the Bible was written in but (I assume) doesn't know Hebrew and Greek.

> I just want to try to be on the right path to God and get the right information and then pray to God to show me the correct way.

Thank you for your time in advance,
Jeremy
6/7/1999<

May God be with you in your search. I hope the above will give you the confidence that you can read one of the Bible versions I refer to and trust that what you are reading is an accurate representation of what God inspired the original writers to write.

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