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Bible Versions Books Reviewed

Below are reviews of books which evaluate different versions of the Bible. When available, the title links are direct links to where the book can be purchased from Books-A-Million

For details on my book Differences Between Bible Versions mentioned in these reviews, see Differences Between Bible Versions Preview. It is also available from Books-a-Million .

For details on the Analytical-Literal Translation mentioned in these reviews, see Analytical-Literal Translation Preview. It is also available from Books-A-Million in hardcover and paperback formats.

New Age Bible Versions
By Gail Riplinger

This book was sent to me by an Internet friend who got disgusted with its harsh language. This harshness should be obvious just from the title of the book. To claim that ALL new versions are “new age” is to really throw down the gauntlet.

And Riplinger doesn’t stop there. She attributes all new versions to the work of Satan. Now let me say from the start, I do have serious concerns with many, but by no means all, new versions. But there is no reason to use such disparaging language as Riplinger does.

That said, Riplinger’s pattern in this book is about the same as seen throughout KJV onlyist literature. She will cite a passage or word from the KJV and then one from “new age versions.” She then just assumes the KJV is correct and the new versions are incorrect. She never appeals to the Hebrew and Greek texts and standard lexicons to demonstrate the KJV reading is in fact superior. But without recourse to the original languages, this is just circular reasoning.

But the fact remains is, there are passages in the KJV that are not translated as accurately as they could be. And in many of these cases, new versions, such as the NKJV, translate these passages correctly. I detail many such instances in my book Differences Between Bible Versions. But unlike Riplinger’s book, in my book I refer constantly to Hebrew and Greek lexicons, documenting very carefully where the KJV is accurate and where it is not so accurate.

Second, Riplinger makes the very interesting claim that the KJV is somehow easier to read than modern versions. She tries to support this claim by appealing to a computer program that supposedly showed the KJV is easier to read than modern versions and by claiming the KJV uses “easier” words than modern versions.

But both of these claims can be easily explained. Take for instance the KJV word “ere” (Exod 1:19). This is a very “easy” word by Riplinger’s standards. It only has three letters and one syllable, but most readers today wouldn’t even know what it means. The modern-day equivalent is “before,” which a computer would consider to be a more difficult word since it has six letters and two syllables. But most readers would find “before” to be much easier than “ere.”

Next Riplinger makes her case against the modern-day “Critical Text” (UBS, Nestle-Aland text). Now I do agree with her that the Critical Text (CT) is less accurate than the Textus Receptus (TR) or Majority Text (MT). However, when discussing on this subject I would never use the disparaging language that Riplinger does.

Moreover, Riplinger confuses the MT and the TR. The TR is the text the KJV is based on, but the MT is a more recent text developed from the many more manuscripts that have been discovered since the time the KJV was translated.

Now these two texts are very similar, much more similar than either is to the CT. However, there are some significant differences between them. And in these cases, there is overwhelming manuscript support in favor of the reading of the MT but very little in support of the TR’s reading.

But the important point here is, most of Riplinger’s arguments would only be applicable to the MT, not the TR. So her arguments are not really supporting the KJV. If she really believed the MT is the most accurate Greek text, then Riplinger should use a version based on it. There are two such versions available: the World English Bible and my own Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament.

In my Bible versions book I detail very carefully the differences between these three texts and present in a straightforward not disparaging manner why I prefer the MT to the CT and even the TR.

So overall, I cannot recommend Riplinger’s book. The harsh language is simply unnecessary and there is too much faulty logic, circular reasoning, and confusion of issues.

For a much more balanced approach to the Bible versions controversy, see my book Differences Between Bible Versions. It has an entire section (100 pages) demonstrating the problems seen in KJV only literature like Riplinger’s. But it also details the many problems seen in many modern day versions.

I advocate the use of the MT or TR and a literal or formal equivalence method of translating. And simply put, if Riplinger wasn’t being so dogmatic, she would agree with this standard. And rather than telling people they must use the KJV or they are “new age” she would also recommend versions like the New King James Version , the Literal Translation of the Bible , or my own Analytical-Literal Translation.


The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism
By D. A. Carson

This is one of the first books I read on the Bible versions controversy. And its arguments did make sense initially. But then I did much additional study and came to different conclusions that Carson presents. But let me say up front, this conclusion was not “KJV onlyism.”

This book deals with two main subjects: Greek text types and translation principles. In regards to former, Carson compares the Textus Receptus (TR; which the KJV is based on) to the new “Critical Text” (CT, UBS/ Nestle-Aland text). However, he does not discuss the Majority Text (MT). Now this understandable given that the MT was first published after this book came out. But it should be noted that some of Carson’s arguments would only apply to the TR but not to the MT.

Otherwise, a short review is not the place to evaluate Carson’s arguments for the CT. However, I do have a detailed defense of the MT in my book Differences Between Bible Versions. And I do quote from Carson’s book and from many others by CT advocates in my book.

As for translation principle, Carson appears to advocate dynamic equivalence (like seen in the NIV, NLT). He disagrees with a literal or formal equivalence method because he believes, “it is possible to be too literal.” He says doing so in the NASB causes it to have “awkward English or unnecessarily stylized English.”

I take objection to this view as I produced the Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament (ALT). And my translation is even more literal than the NASB. But a common comment I have received in regards to my translation is that it is surprisingly easy to read.

Granted, my ALT might not be as easy to read as say the NIV, but versions like the NKJV are easy enough to read for most readers. And one thing is certain, versions like the NKJV, the LITV, or my ALT far more accurately present what God actually SAID while versions like the NIV very often only give what they think God MEANT by what He said. IOW, such versions actually interpret rather than translate passages.

In my book I give many examples of where versions like the NIV adds words without any indication they have done so, omit words from the text they are supposed to be translating, alter the grammatical forms of words, insert ideas foreign to the Scriptures into them, and interpret rather than translation. Given the many Scripture warnings against adding to, subtracting from, and altering God’s Words, such practices are highly suspect.

So go ahead and get Carson’s book for the pro-CT, pro-dynamic equivalence viewpoint. But before making a decision on this important issue, get a book like mine for a pro-MT/ TR, literal/ formal equivalence view. Both books disagree with KJV onlyism, but there are many KJV onlyist books and Web sites available. I deal with arguments from such sources in my book.


Is My Bible the Inspired Word of God
By Edward W. Goodrick

In this book, Goodrick claims that the original autographs of the Bible are inspired, that all copies (i.e. manuscripts) of the autographs are inspired, and that all translations of the Bible are inspired.

The first claim I agree with, but there are so many problems with the other two claims I really don’t know where to begin. But let’s begin with a few facts.

Some manuscripts have “God” at the beginning of 1Timonthy 3:16, some have “who,” and a couple have “which.” So the question is, which of these readings is inspired? They are inherently contradictory. But most of all, all textual critics agree that the last reading is an obvious mistake. So did God inspired a scribe to make a mistake?

As for translations being inspired, there are so many differences between them its hard to see how anyone could claim they are all inspired. For instance, in 1Corinthians 7:1, some versions have Paul writing, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman,” some have “not to get married,” others have “not to have sexual relations with a woman,” along with a variety of other readings, like “have nothing to do with women.” Again, these readings are very clearly different.

So how does Goodrick defend his ideas of inspiration of manuscripts and versions? Answer: by his doctrine of inspiration. Goodrick believes in “conceptual inspiration” while specifically disavowing verbal inspiration (p.78). IOW, Goodrick believes the meaning of the Scriptures is inspired but not their very words. So God inspired the thoughts of the Biblical writers but not their very words.

And if God only inspired the thoughts of the Biblical writers then a translation should strive to translate their thoughts rather than their words. This would lead to a dynamic equivalency method of translation, which a is thought for thought method. This method is opposed to literal or formal methods, which are word for methods.

So it would be logical for a person who believes in verbal inspiration to believe that a literal or formal equivalence method is the best for translating the Bible. And conversely, a person who believes in conceptual inspiration would logically favor dynamic equivalence. However, most people today who advocate a dynamic equivalence method say they believe in verbal inspiration, and thus are rather inconsistent. But at least Goodrick is consistent in this regard.

So the questions then becomes, did God only inspire the thoughts of the Biblical writers, or did He inspire their very words and even the grammatical forms of the words they wrote?

The following quote is taken from my book Differences Between Bible Versions (p.16):
That the Biblical authors believed in verbal inspiration is evident. Jesus appealed to the tense of a verb for proof of resurrection and the exact wording of a Psalm to demonstrate His Lordship (Matt 22:31,32, 41-45). Paul pointed out that a word was singular, not plural, to show a prophecy applied to Christ (Gal 3:16; see also Deut 4:2; 1Kings 8:56; Josh 21:43-45; 23:14; Prov 30:5,6; Jer 26:2; John 6:63).

To look at one of these examples, Paul stated in Galatians 3:16 that since the word “Seed” in Genesis 12:3 is singular, the prophecy was referring to one Person, Christ. But what is notable is that most dynamic equivalency versions have the plural “decedents” rather than the singular “Seed” in Gen 12:3. So if one were only reading such a version, you would think Paul was a liar.

The point is, when a translation tries to render only the supposed “thoughts” of the Bible then important points can and are missed. Moreover, it is not always clear what the intended thoughts or the author’s actual words were. For instance, in 1Cor 7:1 above, a comparison of different versions will show that the opinions of the translators as to what Paul was thinking when he wrote “not to touch a woman” vary considerably. I discuss the differences between these versions in much greater detail in my book.

Moreover, the meaning of a passage can change due to textual variants. When Paul wrote 1Tim 3:16, was he thinking of Christ’s deity or not? With the reading of “God” he was, but with the reading of “who” he was not. So one of these class of manuscripts do not capture the “thought” of what Paul originally wrote.”

The fact remains is, there are very real and clear differences between manuscripts and between Bible versions. And these differences are not just a difference of words but of thoughts and meanings. I give many specific verses of where the meaning changes between manuscripts and versions in my book Differences Between Bible Versions (hence the name). So it simply is not and cannot be true that all manuscripts and versions are inspired, even if one ascribes to conceptual inspiration.

To go along with his idea of conceptual inspiration, Goodrick writes, “It is impossible to translate the Bible word for word” (p.71). Since I produced the Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament, I know first hand that a word for word translation IS possible. Now Goodrick claims such a translation would not be readable, but a common comment I have received in regards to my translation is that it is surprisingly easy to read. And in my book on Bible versions go into details why this is so.

Given these very serious problems, I would not recommend Goodrick’s book. It advocates a very faulty theory of inspiration and Bible translation.


Logical Criticisms of Textual Criticism
By Gordon H. Clark

Gordon Clark’s books are all very excellent. Since he was a professor of logic, his books always deal with the logical fallacies seen in the arguments of others. In this book, he exposes the fallacies seen in the reasoning of Critical Text (CT) advocates.

The CT is the Greek text most modern versions are based on. Meanwhile, the KJV is based on the Textus Receptus (TR). But it should be noted that Clark is not a KJV onlyist. He speaks approvingly of the NKJV and the Majority Text (MT). The MT is similar to the TR, while both differ from the CT.

Clark deals with the textual question by looking at select verses from the NT, along with a couple from the OT. Along with showing the logical fallacies in the reasoning of CT advocates, he cites the manuscript evidence and shows how the CT reading is based on a minority of the evidence.

He also occasionally looks at the proper translation of passages. For these he explains that many modern versions mistranslate passages. The problem is, most modern versions follow a dynamic equivalence method of translation while Clark agrees with the formal equivalence method seen in the KVJ and NKJV.

So Clark’s position is pro-TR/ MT, pro-formal equivalence. And with both of these I whole-heartedly agree. In fact, I present the same positions in my book Differences Between Bible Versions. Clark’s booklet is a good place to start in studying these issues, and my book will provide much more detail.


Unholy Hands on the Bible: Volume II
A Comparison Between Six Major Bible Versions
By Jay P. Green, Sr. 

In this book Green looks in depth at six versions: the NASB, NIV, REB, NRSV, GNB, NAB. For each version he reviews dozens of verses.

He first discusses the issue of textual variants. All of these versions are based on the Critical Text, while versions like the KJV, NKJV, and Green’s own Literal Translation of the Bible are based on the Textus Receptus (TR) and my Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament is based on the Majority (MT).

The MT and TR are very similar, but there are some significant differences between, but there are far more significant differences between either of these and the CT. And Green and I both believe either the TR or the MT more accurately reflect the original autographs than the CT.

He then looks at the issue of translation principle. Each of these versions (except the NASB) follows a dynamic equivalence method, which is much less accurate than a literal or formal equivalence principle that Green advocates. Green shows how each of these versions omit and add words without indicating they have done so. Green gives the number of omitted and added words after each verse, along with a short discussion on the importance of the differences.

EVERYTHING God said is important, and that is why it is wrong to omit words in a translation. And adding words without offsetting them in some way leaves the reader with no way of knowing when they are reading the words of God and when they are reader the added words of the translators. And worse off all, these additions can tend towards interpretation rather than translation.

However, a couple of points should be noted. First Green’s numbers of omitted and added words are a little exaggerated since Green sometimes finds problems where there are none, but overall his evaluations do demonstrate who truly unreliable most modern versions are.

Second, that Green’s writings tend to be on the harsh side. He is so passionate about the subject that he occasionally makes rather strong statements of disapproval about various versions or even their translators.

But even with these caveats, his writings on the subject are still very helpful.

So I do agree with Green’s basic positions on Greek text type and on translation principles. In fact, I present the same positions in my book Differences Between Bible Versions. But there are a couple of differences between Green’s writings and mine. I completely avoid using the type of harsh language that Green uses at times, and I am meticulous about being as accurate and fair as I can in my evaluations of versions.


Gnostics, New Versions, and the Deity of Christ
By Jay P. Green, Sr.

In this book, Green shows that many new Bible versions eliminate or weaken many proof-texts for the deity of Christ. They do so because of either the Greek text they are following or the translation principle they are utilizing, and Green evaluates the versions on both of these subjects.

As for the former, the versions Green evaluates are mostly based on the Critical Text, while versions like the KJV, NKJV, and Green’s own Literal Translation of the Bible (LITV) are based on the Textus Receptus (TR) and my Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament (ALT) is based on the Majority (MT).

The MT and TR are very similar, but there are some significant differences between, but there are far more significant differences between either of these and the CT. And Green and I both believe either the TR or the MT more accurately reflect the original autographs than the CT.

As for the latter, Green advocates a word-for-word translation method (literal or formal equivalence) while most modern versions follow a thought for thought method (dynamic equivalence). The problem with a thought for thought method is it can leave out important details of the text, such as proofs for the deity of Christ.

So between being based on the CT and by using dynamic equivalence translation method, there are less proofs for the deity of Christ in many modern versions than in TR/ MT based--literal/ formal equivalence versions like the KJV, Green’s LITV, or my ALT. There are still plenty of verses left supporting the deity of Christ of Christ in the former kind of versions, but the loss is significant.

However, it needs to be noted that Green exaggerates this loss in his book. Sometimes he claims a version mistranslates a verse when in fact it has not. Green seems to think that there is only one correct way to translate a passage and any deviation from this is a problem. But very often there is more than one legitimate way to translate a passage.

Also, Green tends to be rather harsh in his comments on versions and disparaging towards their translators. But such language is really unnecessary.

But even with these problems, this book is helpful. It shows there are real and important differences between the CT and the TR/ MT and between a dynamic equivalence translation method and a literal/ formal equivalence. And I agree with the general positions Green advocates for both of these.

In fact, I discuss both of these issues with the same stance as Green in my book Differences Between Bible Versions. However, I do not use harsh language like Green does, and I try to be as accurate and fair as I can in my evaluations of versions.

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

The above reviews were posted on this Web site July 20, 2001

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