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Readers' Bible Versions Experiences - 1999

I present My Bible Versions Experiences on this site. In the following e-mails which I received in 1999, readers are expressing their experiences in this matter. The e-mailers' comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.


>Gary,

I thank God for you and your website and the well balanced information you provide on the King James Bible.

I've been a King James/ New King James fan for some time after developing a distaste for the NIV, which the church I was attending (Presbyterian USA) uses as it's "default" Bible. I had no technical reasons for not liking it, but felt that the language used degraded the magnificence presented in the KJV and lessened the majesty of God.

We get a newsletter from "Watchman on the Wall" ministries, and although sometimes a bit sensationalistic, they promote the King James Only view. I purchased a book by Gail Riplinger from them, and was very disappointed at the garbage this book contained. Instead of a sound foundation on why KJV is best, the book is full of strange reasons and resorts to personal attacks on others.

I listen to Hank Hannegraph (wrong spelling) on the Bible Answer Man program, and he relates that while the KJV is good, it does not use the best of the manuscript evidence. He states that essentially much more evidence has been collected since the time of King James, and that the newer texts take advantage of these.

So, I was swaying back a little bit, but wasn't really sure where I stood. Then, I got another mailing from Watchman on the Wall which spoke about the Septuagint, and that perhaps it never really existed at all. This got me curious again, so I began my research anew. We have Geisler's Introduction to the Bible which has tons of background material. I searched the web and found quite a few pro and con KJV Only sites. Most of these sites, however, did not seem very authoritative with their reasoning (on both sides).

Then I found your site, which has been the best so far. You present both sides of the arguments, you don't resort to name calling, and you present the case for KJV "best" very well. I have now swung back to NKJV again. By the way, my wife uses NKJV almost exclusively, and was just asking me why that version never seems to be recommended. She was happy to hear of your recommendations!

I agree with your assessment of the situation. I don't think the King James Version is the "inspired English version" as some "onlys" proclaim. In fact, I suspect that God may have prevented the written Word from being preserved 100% to avoid man worshiping the written word rather than the living Word. He has preserved his word, as you have noted, with an almost 100% accuracy, but without the true original texts we must rely on Him.

I still have lots of work to do. I don't quite have the picture all in my head in regards to the apocrypha and the development of the canon and so forth, but the information on your site has been refreshing.

Thanks again, and may God bless your efforts.
Doug
11/29/1999<

Thank you for the very kind comments. I am thankful my site was helpful. May God be with you in your continued studies.


>Dear Mr. Zeolla,

I was just checking out your web sight on Bible translations and I must say that I am very impressed. I have been reading the New King James Version of the Bible for a couple of years now and the further I get into Bible study the more I have questioned whether or not I am reading the most accurate translation (it hasn't helped that I have been attacked for my reverence to this version by KJV advocates either).

In my desire to please God and make sure that I have what I need to study his word accurately I have been led to your page in my quest for knowledge on this subject. Your pages have taken a load off my mind about this controversy and I just wanted to thank you. I was considering purchasing several different translations in order to try and find the truth but your concise well documented articles concerning this have made up my mind and I am going to stick to what I have and love, the NKJV.

I would however like more information on the LITV because I have yet to see this version in any Christian bookstore I have been in. Is this a special order Bible? I am very interested in seeing it as I do not study Hebrew or Greek but would like to read from a very literal version. Basically I just want what is as accurate as possible.

Thank you again for your wonderful web sight and if you don't mind I am going to share it with many others who find themselves in the same situation wondering what's the best. It like you have done all the work for me.

Sincerely,
Melissa
10/14/1999<

Thank you for the kind comments, and I am thankful I could be of help in re-assuring you of the accuracy of the Bible you are using (and yes, the KJV-only folks can be pretty disconcerting!).

As for the LITV, it is available from Books-A-Million.


I wanted to thank you for creating your web site. I was starting to think that the whole "Christian" world was either apathetic to the accuracy of Scripture translation or militantly KJV-only and willing to rip your entrails out for suggesting otherwise.

I was saved in 1994 after listening to the radio ministries of Chuck Smith (Calvary Chapel), Greg Laurie, and Chuck Missler. I immediately went out and purchased an NIV Bible on the advice of a friend and devoured it along with a number of commentaries. I didn't know anything about version differences and quite frankly wouldn't have cared at that point since I knew I had a lot to learn about Christianity.

After about a year of researching and studying the Bible, I was standing in the Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa bookstore staring at a book display of G.A Riplinger's New Age Bible Versions and a man approached me. He said something to the effect that I should buy that book and it would enlighten me about the version controversy. So I did, thinking that maybe God wanted me to read it.

I have to admit, the writing style wasn't very good and it read more like a conspiracy thesis written by someone with a chip on their shoulder. But I compared the tables listed in the book with my NIV and after reading everything through, came to the conclusion that, even if the author wasn't playing with a full deck, the point was made. The NIV ended up in the trash and I purchased a KJV study bible (even had Chuck Missler dedicate it to me when he was speaking one night since he was definitely an instrument in my coming to Christ).

Unfortunately, I don't particularly care for the flow of the KJV, not that it's too hard to read, only that it doesn't readily gel with today's English language. I really longed for a contemporary English version that was faithful to the original texts so I had to go back to the drawing board and see how the different version stacked up in accuracy. I read all I could on translation techniques, manuscript versions, and related topics. I acquired a software program that let me compare the KJV, NKJV, NASB, and NIV together and started reading. I found that what was printed in the Riplinger book about the new bible versions really didn't apply to the NKJV. The more I looked the more I liked the NKJV which has since become the primary version I use and give to other believers.

I frequently research this topic on the Internet to stay current and have to say yours is the first web site I've come across that says anything good about the NKJV. In fact, a few days ago I found a site with the sole purpose of attacking the NKJV. I'm betting you've been the recipient of some particularly nasty correspondence from the "brethren." Well, hang in there. I'm glad you've taken the time to create the site and I wish you well in future endeavors. In my opinion, you're on the right track.

Glenn
9/5/1999


> Hello, I have just finished reading your Translations experiences article. I would like to relay my experience briefly. I have a grade 8 education and when I was saved I started using the NIV which I found understandable and easy to read. Then I became aware of the KJV only controversy. So I went out and bought a KJV. I couldn't read it. So then I went out and got a copy of Green's Interlinear and a NKJV. I tried for a couple of years to read the NKJV but I found the way the sentences were worded hard to read in devotions. It didn't flow for me. I found myself not doing daily devotions for quite awhile. Finally I went back to the NIV and daily Bible reading. I have other versions, NKJV, Green's 2 versions and Interlinear, which I use sometimes for comparison. I would be happy to switch to a more reliable Bible if someone would put out a translation that was as readable as the NIV. I have yet to find one that isn't even more unreliable that is as readable.

You mentioned that while the translation debate rages NIVs and other modern version sales have skyrocketed. I think it's for the same reason that I have given in and chose the NIV. It's either that or not reading Scripture. Until there is a good alternative I think that the NIV’s sales will continue to soar.

I just want to mention that I hate the places that the NIV puts "this portion is not in the most reliable manuscripts", or something to that effect. Either they should have left the passage out or at least footnoted the comments.

Thanks,
Dawn
4/6/1999<

Thank you for relating your experience. To comment, your situation is somewhat "unique." I would say most people in the USA have completed at least High School. Although, it is true many who have are probably not any better readers than you. In fact, from the style of your writing, I'd say you are much more literate than many others who e-mail me. You should see the poor quality of writing in some of the e-mails I get. But still, I would contend the popularity of a Bible version has more to do with advertising and marketing than to its readability or accuracy.

That said, yes, there are people who due to their reading level would find the NKJV difficult to read. I have seen charts assigning a "reading grade level" to Bible versions. Generally, the NIV is about one "grade" lower than the NKJV, usually about seventh grade versus eight grade. One grade level is not generally that significant; but for someone like yourself it can make the difference. I will say, however, our of all of the e-mails I have received, you are only the third person to tell me they found the NKJV too difficult to read.

All that said, you are correct: it would be better to read the NIV than not to read the Bible at all. And I am glad you have said you do compare the NKJV and Green's versions on occasion. That would be one recommendation I would have for a person like yourself: use an easier to read version but be sure to compare it with a more literal version. Be especially sure to compare the NIV with the other versions before basing any doctrine or life decision on a particular reading in the NIV.

Moreover, as my site points out, I much prefer the Textus Receptus or even better, Majority text over the Critical Text the NT is based on. Which, means in regards to the textual notes in the NIV, generally speaking I would probably have preferred they left the note out and the text in. In other words, what they are calling "the most reliable manuscripts" are a handful of texts that I would not consider to be reliable. Meanwhile, the reading is in the vast majority of manuscripts. This point is more complicated; but I cover it in detail throughout my site.

That said, I believe it is possible to produce a version that is more literal than the NIV but just as readable. I can think of one such versions off-hand. However, it is not, as far as I know available in hardcopy.

It is the World English Bible (WEB). It is similar to the NKJV; but is somewhat less literal but also somewhat more readable. Personally I prefer a more literal translation; but it just might be at the level you would need. To me, it seems as readable as the NIV. But you would have to decide that for yourself.

Furthermore, the WEB is based on the Majority text. So being based on what I believe is the best published Greek text is a big plus in the WEB's favor.

The WEB is available on the Internet. It is also currently available in the freeware Bible Search Utility (BSU). I have links to the WEB's main site and to where the BSU can be downloaded from on the following page on my site: Online Bibles. Since the BSU is a freeware program you can check out the WEB free of charge.

One final point, part of the reason you find the NKJV difficult might be because you started with the NIV. You got used to the way it is worded, so the NKJV, or any other Bible version, seems "weird" in comparison. I know I am so used to the NKJV and LITV that I often find any versions sounding weird simply because it differs from these versions.

For this reason, I would still recommend a new Bible reader start with the NKJV, even if he or she does not have a HS education. If they get used to it initially they just might be able to handle it. But I would also tell them if they find it too difficult to try the WEB.

To conclude, thank you for your e-mail. I do understand your situation. But I still believe the average person can handle a version like the NKJV without any great difficulty. The accuracy of the NKJV over the NIV is just too great to immediately recommend a version like the NIV. And again, for the rare person who does find the NKJV too difficult to read, there is now the WEB as an alternative.

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