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Comments on Bible Versions
(2011)

 

Below are emails I received on the subject of Bible versions and Greek text types in 2011. On the latter, it should be noted there are two main Greek text types. The first is the Byzantine Greek text "family." These constitute the bulk of the Greek manuscripts available, but most are "late" deriving from the eighth century or later. The Textus Receptus (TR) Greek text that the KJV and NKJV is based on is a Byzantine type of text, as is the Majority Text (MT) which my Analytical-Literal Translation (ALT) is based on. 

The second is the "Critical Text" (CT). This is also called the "minority text" as only a handful of manuscripts reflect this textual "family." It is also called the Alexandrian text, since most of the manuscripts were discovered in that part of the Mediterranean world. But they are earlier, some fragments dating to the second century. Most modern day Bible versions, like the NIV, NASB, and NLT are based on this Greek text type. 

Although substantially similar, there are some significant differences between these two textual traditions, so it is an important issue. For much more on Bible versions and Greek text types and the differences between them, see my book Differences Between Bible Versions

The emailers comments are in black and enclosed in greater than and lesser than signs. My comments are in red.


>Subject: Many Thanks

Dear Mr. Zeolla:
 
This is a short email to express my thanks for all the work you have done with your online site and your translations. I have recently purchased your Analytical-Literal Translation, the Companion Volume, and the Differences Between Bible Versions. I have found all of them rewarding and personally helpful.
 
I think my background is somewhat unusual, as my religious affiliation before becoming a Christian I was a Buddhist. I was raised in a secular, non-religious, household by two loving and wonderful parents. When I became interested in religion I turned to Buddhism because that was what was around. I didn't reject Christianity; I just didn't know much about it. I was a very serious student of Buddhism and spent time in Korea and Japan studying the Discourses and living a monastic life. I was a committed Buddhist for over 30 years.
 
My journey to Christianity is a long and complex story. I did not experience a single momentous turning to the Lord; rather it was a slow and gradual process. It is amazing to me when I look back on it; I can see the guidance of the Lord in every step of my journey. It is too long to go into details, but suffice it to say that the grace of the Lord was with me, constantly assisting me.
 
When I began to study the Bible I am afraid I encountered textual problems that I was already familiar with from my Buddhist studies. For example, the 'Lotus Sutra' (an important East Asian Buddhist work) has been translated into English eight times using different source texts and key terms are often translated differently. So I was acquainted with different translation philosophies and how they inevitably create different results.
 
Nevertheless, I was unprepared for the great divergences in Biblical translations and I became, at times, very anxious about which translation to use. I love the KJV [King James Version], and it has historical significance, cultural significance. On the other hand, I could understand the need for an update.
 
I started out with the NRSV [New Revised Standard Version]. And at first I was pleased with it. After some time, though, I became dissatisfied with it. I was put off by the tone of some of their translation. I know that might sound like a minor point, but the overall tone of the NRSV is, at times, somewhat condescending. Having spent some time in academia I recognized the whiff of the professor. I was also put off by discovering that their 'gender neutral' translation was highly erratic. In some ways I am sympathetic with a gender neutral translation (at least I think a coherent case can be made for it), but what put me off was the inconsistency in the translation of the pronouns. One essay I read said that one of the pronouns is translated 16 different ways in the NRSV. That just can't be right, and I suspect that such carelessness must be reflected in other areas as well.
 
I moved on to the NASB, which I liked. I also tried the TMB (Third Millennium Bible; an update of the KJV). I was wandering.
 
I finally settled on the NKJV [New King James Version]; I like its consistency of tone, and I particularly like the footnote apparatus which allows me to access how other textual families treat a certain passage.
 
Your book on the different versions and translation philosophies really helped me in this journey. At times I really almost put aside my Bible reading altogether the situation seemed so confusing to me. So I really want to thank you.
 
Best wishes, 
Jim
1/21/2011<

Thanks for relating your experiences. And good to hear my writings have been of help to you. May God bless you. 

>Subject: Hi and thanks 

Hi there, 

Have really found your stuff on Textual Criticism very helpful, so much so, I wrote a parable about the two Text 'families.' Feel free to edit it, improve it, if you think it has merit.

Thanks again

 

The Parable of the Woman's Shoes

There was once a woman who required a new pair of shoes, having worn out a pair that had fitted her feet perfectly. So she ordered and received a new pair from a new shoemaker in town. They were indeed very fine looking, and the leather was so beautifully crafted, but very unfortunately, they were ill-fitting, being quite the wrong shape for her foot, and thus were immediately painful to wear.

But because they had cost so much, and looked so beautiful, the woman was loath to throw them out, and so she put them at the back of her shoe-cupboard, and ordered a new pair from her former shoemaker, asking him to use the very same pattern from which he had made her previous, perfectly-fitting, but now worn out pair.

Very, very many years later, one of her female descendants, now being the occupant of the old house, discovered in the darkest recesses of the shoe-cupboard the finely wrought shoes so long ago discarded by her ancestor as being unwearable. "Look at these lovely old shoes!" she said to herself, "And they are in such good condition too! – hardly even been worn!"  "I shall wear them!"

Now the strange thing is, they fitted her feet tolerably well, as she had suffered a disfiguring disease in her feet, and after persisting with them, (because they did look so grand!), she could wear them without too much discomfort, and rejoiced whenever an occasion presented itself to belittle her neighbors with her fine shoes.

Here, dear reader, have I laid out for you in parable, the history of New Testament textual criticism.

The two women are the NT church, ancient and modern.

The perfectly fitting shoes represent the traditional & majority Byzantine Greek texts, while the fine-looking, but very ill-fitting shoes, represent the Alexandrian texts, which so many textual critics have so loved to impress us with, and which the modern church sufferingly wears almost every day!

Allan
6/30/2011< 

Note: The point of this "parable" is, the reason early Alexandrian texts still exist is because the early church knew they were corrupt and thus did not use them, so they never wore out. While the Byzantine type of texts were so used they wore out. As such, older versions of them no longer exist.

 

 > Subject: Hello Again

Your New Testament is very accurate, too bad no plans for DV still? I would snatch that thing up in a hurry. I've checked like probably 50 or so interesting renderings in your translation, I'm very impressed. Do you know where I could get a good interlinear based on the Byzantine 2005, or even the Majority? I am looking to get one with Greek/Strongs/Parsing. I don't need word gloss, or transliteration or parallel text...Figured maybe you have one on your desktop, being the translator...Either way thanks for your work.

Sean

7/8/2011<

Glad to hear you are pleased with my NT. I would suggest you check out the BibleWorks PC program for a MT Greek text with Strong's numbers and parsings. www.BibleWorks.com 

Note: The ALT: DV [Devotional Version] is an idea I have had for some time. The idea is to produce an easier to read version of the ALT. But my poor health had prevented me from starting such a major project. But two days before Christmas (2011) I decided to start working on it. But I have no idea how it will take for me to finish it. Given my health situation, it will probably be quite a while. The "official" abbreviation for it will be ALTD, to keep with the standard convention of Bible abbreviations having three or four characters.

 

 >Subject: Modern Bible Versions

I don't buy the excuse that if Christians had only the KJB [King James Bible] they would get frustrated and give up reading the Bible altogether. Born again Christians have the author of the Holy Scripture living in them. For 300 years the KJB was THE Bible. It was used in the churches. It replaced all those that came before it. It was not considered a "version" but the very word of God. Then all that changed in the 1800's and thanks to Westcott-Hort. We now have these Modern Versions from the Alexandrian stream that don't even agree with one another. The KJB was then called just another "version" (KJV).

The NKJV isn't a revision of the KJB. It's not much different from the other Modern Versions. Nor does the NKJV conform to the Textus Receptus.

That's my 2 cents.

Craig
7/12/2011

Sorry, but I have had many people over the years tell me they tried reading the KJV, couldn't understand it, and gave up on Bible reading. It wasn't until they found an easier to read version like the NKJV that they began seriously reading the Bible.

The NKJV *is* based on the Textus Receptus. I've worked with textual variants enough to know that. There might be a SLIGHT difference in the version of the TR the NKJV is based on as compared to the Greek text of the KJV. But it is very slight. Both the KJV and NKJV agree in all cases of textual variants between the TR and the CT. And the NKJV is a very accurate version.

I detail all of this on my site and even more so in my Bible versions book. If you wish to pursue this subject further, I would suggest you check out those sources. 


 >Subject: Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament of the Holy Bible

I heard it is impossible to depict the Greek with a word-to-word translation, but your review written on the Barnes & Noble website seems to say you have done just that. I was looking for an Expanded Translation on The Majority text. I don't want to buy another Bible that says that a born again believer is not able to sin. I like the translation Mr. Kenneth S. Wuest has but I really was looking for a translation on the Majority text.

1 John 3:8:

The one who is habitually committing sin is out of the devil as a source, because from the beginning the devil has been sinning. For this purpose there was manifested the Son of God, in order that he might bring to naught the works of the devil.

Please share with me what your translation says on the Scripture, I would be interested if you think that you're sinless.

Devin
8/13/2011<

The ALT has for 1John 3:8:

The one practicing sin is from the Devil, because the Devil [has been] sinning from [the] beginning. For this [reason] the Son of God was revealed, so that He should destroy the works of the Devil.

The idea is, the saved person can commit an act of sin, but he/ she cannot live an ongoing life of sin. The Holy Spirit will convict the sinning believer and turn him/ her back to the way of righteousness. So no, I do not believe that I am sinless or that it is possible to be so in this life. But I do believe a true believer cannot continue in sin over an extended period of time without being convicted by the Holy Spirit.

 

 > Subject: Bible translations

Gary,

First of all I am no Bible scholar or anything else like that. I am most interested in discovering what GOD said in His Word versus the deficiency in all Bible translations. That being said I am very pro towards the Authorized King James translation (AKJ) because I believe it is the most accurate version that is widely available. I stumbled upon your web site and am very interested in your ALT3. Though I must admit that I am a little confused about your ALT3. For you appear to prefer the New King James Version (NKJ) over the AKJ. So I am wondering about the ALT3. Doesn't the NKJ use Nestle's Greek (or some variations of it)?  The AKJ uses the Majority Text (sometimes referred to as the Byzantine Text). Likewise I am clueless as to what the second edition of the Byzantine Majority Greek Text is. In other words, does it contain some of Nestle's Greek?

Robert

9/2/2011<

The KJV (or AKJ as you put it), is based on the Textus Receptus. That was a Byzantine type text first done in the 1500s based on about 70 manuscripts. There are several versions of the TR available, each with slight differences between them. The NKJV is based on this same Greek text as the KJV.

The Majority Text (MT) is based on the over 5000 Greek texts now available. It is very similar though not identical to the TR. The second edition simply changes the formats and updates the text based on newer manuscript study. Both the TR and the MT agree with each other against the Nestle Text (which I call the "Critical Text") in all major variants.

For a much more detailed discussion of these issues, see my Bible versions book.

 

 >Subject: modern apostles?

Dear Gary;

It seems this movement is pulling all involved in it into kingdom now theology. If so it will simply cause all the rest of Christendom to stand against it and the men in charge of it as false. Any thoughts? Sometimes I doubt any restoration of apostles and prophets seeing they always seem to lead into some type of strange deception starting with latter rain to now. How do we tell they are false?

I have recently purchased your 3rd edition of the New Testament in large print. I would love to see this textual criticism issue laid to rest by a modern authorized version. If there is evidence of 1John 5:7 in the early fathers it should be proven and endorsed. The KJ only stand is not adequate to deal with the damage and confusion Wescott and Hort and modern versions have done to the body of Christ. Unity will come only if a thoroughly proven text base is used. How many texts is the Majority text based on? I have 4 texts, Aramaic Peshitta, Jay Greens KJ3, NJKV, KJV. I reject omissions of the Critical Text but majority text omissions need more attention.

Br Lawrence
9/7/2011<

I address the question of whether there are apostles and prophets today in depth in my new Scripture Workbook, in the chapters on "The Charismata."

As for the Majority Text (MT), it does not contain 1John 5:7 as it only appears in a handful of very late manuscripts. There are some 5,000 Greek manuscripts. Not all of these have been collated, but a large number have. And as far as I know, the MT as done by Robinson and Pierpont is based on at least hundreds of these manuscripts, but I am not sure of the exact number.

 

 > Subject: Bible study

Gary,

 I just read an article of yours about Bible versions. I am an amateur Bible student to put it very mildly.

 I recently encountered in other places the things you were discussing about the reliability of the TR and the KJV based on the TR. I have a copy of the Nestle-Aland New Testament and I need to look further to find which Greek it was based on. I bought it last year before I discovered the above. At that time, I also bought the grammar textbook and helps by William Mounce.

 I don't know if it matters whose grammar I would use to learn the Greek. It seems like any author might have an interpretational (is that exegetical?) bias. However, I know next to nothing, so I don't know if this is true or worth considering.

 My question, if you're in a position to answer it, is: is there a best or better resource for accurate, authentic study of the Greek?  Do you know if the William Mounce material is reliable in this way?  Is it possible that any grammar is fine?  Can you make any recommendations for how to choose a textbook that I can study on my own?

 The fact is that this is just something I do on my own. I'm actually a middle school math/science teacher in a small town in Alaska. I just do this because I want to know the Word of God better. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

 Tom
9/17/2011<

The Nestle-Aland New Testament is a "Critical Text" type of Greek text. As for Greek grammars, any should do. I've heard of Mounce's work, and as far as I know, it is fine. At Denver Seminary, we used Hewett's New Testament Greek (a beginner's grammar), and Dana and Mantey's A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (an intermediate grammar). 

> Subject: Re: Bible study

Thank you very much. I looked online, and realized that I want to replace my Greek Bible. Trinitarian has one on Amazon for $9. I'll probably restart and use Mounce, but complement it with Croy. Thanks again. God bless you and your work. 

Tom
9/18/2011<

 

 >Subject: The New King James and Acts 19:2

Gary,
I come from a KJV-only background. I had always believed that the King James was a perfect translation of scripture and contained no errors. It was while reading A.W. Pink's book, The Sovereignty of God, (a book which had a profound impact on many areas of my theology) that I first began to question the "perfection" of the KJV.

Pink mentioned Hebrews 2:9 in regards to difficulties and objections to the doctrine of limited atonement.
He mentioned that there was no word for "man" in the original Greek, and that the text literally reads "...taste death for every."

Well, at first, I didn't believe it. But after a bit of research, I found out that Pink was right. Pink suggested that the text should be rendered "taste death for every [son]" because the following verse says "for it became him...in bringing many sons to glory..."

I wondered if any other translations rendered it as A.W. Pink had suggested and after some research I learned about Jay P. Green's "Modern King James Version." Wow! I was blown away! Here was a translation I could actually understand, and many of its renderings were actually better than the KJV!
I wanted to learn a bit more about the MKJV, so I did a web search and found your book, Differences Between Bible Versions on Amazon through that.

Wanting to learn more about Bible Translations, I purchased the book on my Kindle and began reading.
Your book was very informative, it also introduced me to the Majority Text, as well as the New King James Translation.

I've started using the New King James now, mostly because I like the textual footnotes. It lets me easily see the differences between the TR and the MT. I occasionally use the KJ3 Literal Version for in-depth study, as well.

Anyways, last week, a Bible professor from a local Bible college came and did a seminar at our church.
The professor was teaching through the missionary journeys of the apostle Paul. This professor claimed that the King James was in error when it rendered Acts 19:2 as "...He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" whereas the NKJV renders it "...Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" the difference in tense plays a role in the debate about baptism of the Holy Spirit and so on... Well, this professor is a NKJV user who prefers the Majority Text.

However, our church pastor is a staunch KJV-onlyist. This Sunday, during adult Sunday school, the pastor got up and talked about how the NKJV "ruined" the "dispensational implications" of this Acts 19:2 passage.

My question is, what does the Greek say? Which is the proper rendering? The KJV or the NKJV?

Andrew

11/27/11<

For my ALT3, I have:

he said to them, "If [or, Did] you* receive [the] Holy Spirit, having believed? [or, when you* believed?]" But they said to him, "But we did not even hear whether there is a Holy Spirit."

This is actually a difficult verse to translate since the words "having believed" are a participle. And participles have many possible usages. But most versions render it as I (and the NKJV) have. This is probably because both it and "receive" are aorist in tense, which indicates past tense. Hence, the believing and the receiving seem to be both contemporary or simultaneous past events. So "when" makes most sense.

 

 > Subject: Psalm 22:16

 Gary,

I have been going through your website and find it very informative. I do have a question about Psalm 22:16. I was listening to some Jewish material about why they do not believe in Jesus as Messiah and the above Psalm was mentioned and something that Christians changed to show Jesus in the OT. The part in the discussion was "pierced my hands and feet" as opposed to "like a lion" as the Jewish Bible would read. The NKJV footnote has it also as "like a lion" while the text says "pierced." Based on your knowledge and study, what is the correct reading in this verse?

Thanks,
Rob
11/27/2011<

I'm not real familiar with OT textual criticism. But I will say the Septuagint has "pierced My hands and feet" not "like a lion" as the Jewish Bible has it. And it was completed well before the Christian era, so there is no way it was Christians who changed it.

> Subject: Re: Psalm 22:16

Gary,

Thanks for the answer. That is some good information.

Thanks again,

Rob 
11/28/2011<

>Subject: Re: Psalm 22:16

 Gary, 

I was poking around the internet and came across this article. I thought that you might enjoy it.

Thanks,
Rob
12/3/2011<

Good article. Confirms what I said. Thanks.

 

 >Subject: I want to thank you

Gary,

Years ago I bought your New Testament, and as time has passed, I look to that volume as my referee on words and phrases. You put a lot of work into this, and I sure want you to know how much I not only appreciate it, but have come to see what a valuable irreplaceable asset this really is. I now have a leather bound Jay Green Literal Translation Bible. There are places even in Green's where the word or phrase is not the best. I use several resources to get at the true meaning, but yours is my handy guide right by my side as I study Green's. Thank you so much.

Don
12/6/11<

I'm glad my translation has been of help to you. You could do me a favor and write a short review of it on Amazon.



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