Skip to comments.Why Does My Bible Read That Way?
Posted on 01/23/2012 3:27:12 PM PST by count-your-change
Why Does My Bible Read that Way?
This question may have come to mind while you were reading and particularly so if you read and compare different translations of the Bible.
The differences can be quite minor, word order and choice of words that carry much the same the thought or of a rather substantial nature that will affect our understanding of the Scriptures as a whole.
John 1:18 serves as a good example since much has been written about it with experts offering quite opposite opinions.
Here The New American Standard Version reads' "No one has seen God at any time, the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, he has explained him".
The American Standard Version reads,
"No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."
The New World Translation reads,
"No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is in the bosom [position] with the Father is the one that has explained him."
The New American Bible;
"No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father's side, has revealed him."
The New Revised Standard Version,
"No one has ever seen God. It is God, the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known."
Some of the above have foot notes explaining that the most ancient manuscripts available , p66 and p75, from about 200 A.D. or before, support the reading, 'only begotten god/God.'
Part of the controversy that goes with translating John 1:18 arises from how one thinks of the Greek word, "monogenes" or only born, sole child.
However it's evident that other translators see a meaning in "monogenes" of "unique, one of a kind". The NIV reads,
"No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. "
Clearly the text used by the translators and the manuscripts it is based upon will determine or influence how your translation of the Bible reads.
Does it matter? "Only begotten God" or "only begotten Son"?
Certainly it should to a translator who is attempting to produce as accurate a translation as possible.
And reasonably it would to the student of the Scriptures who believes his studies will lead to a better understanding of his Creator, gaining that 'accurate knowledge and full discernment' that marks the spiritually mature.
It’s fortunate that virtually all of these manuscript differences (and I appreciate bible translations that note them as footnotes on the same page as the main text used) either amount to synonyms or equivalencies that are known from other scriptures to be true, or arguably omitted words that are still acceptable from other scriptures. Probably the difference that brings up the most practical controversy is the set of “snake handling” verses at the end of the Textus Receptus of Mark. And many of those who accept it do not think it would apply commonly in modern times, if at all — it is talking about exceptional witnesses, and probably by apostles.
Anyhow, a bible with these footnotes is very helpful when listening to a preacher preach from them. If the preacher becomes dogmatic about a certain disputed reading, there should be a good reason for it.
I don’t remember the exact verse, but there’s also one where the King James says “shall be born of a virgin”, and the other ones say “born of a young woman”, or something like that. That’s enough reason for me to stick with the King James!
Anyhow, a bible with these footnotes is very helpful when listening to a preacher preach from them
(I mean, from passages which are affected in this manner).
It’s rather interesting to note that of all the biblical books, the one that has the most dire warning in it about alterations (i.e. Revelation) also has virtually no variant manuscripts, though there is still dispute about the meaning of certain passages. Perhaps scribes respected that over other books.
This is the Hebrew term “alma” which actually means both or either depending on the context in which it is found. She would be, normally, a young never married woman who is a virgin and preparing to be married.
One problem with most King James versions is that they never note the existing manuscript variants even as footnotes. They stick dogmatically to the Textus Receptus.
I agree with you. I don't find King James' version of the English language that difficult to understand. What I do find difficult to understand is "today's" version of the language that you'll find in text messages and the like. While I understand the desire to be brief, I find it more important to be understood.
Beware of false certitudes, however — not noting existence of historically significant manuscripts doesn’t mean they did not exist.
(The example of “alma” isn’t a manuscript problem. The New American Standard, and the following revisions which dropped the pious thees and thous where God is addressed, take the orthodox meaning of this passage, and still note the variant manuscripts in other places.)
Here is a book I found to be both very useful and readable on this subject:
U dnt wnt a Bbl n Txtese? :-)
Prior to the KJV
I like the New King James version. Fixes the mistakes of the old one.
Although I’m a Catholic, I’m also a student of English literature. I usually prefer to quote the King James Version. If there’s a problem with any particular verse, I would make note of it.
I also like the Revised Standard Version, but it has largely been replaced by the New Revised Standard Version, another politically correct mistranslation like most of the rest.
Certainly the Douay-Rheims version was far better than the NAB which is currently being used by the Church.
“Certainly the Douay-Rheims version was far better than the NAB which is currently being used by the Church.”
Why do you say the DR is better than the NAB?
My translation says: “Nobody has seen God. The only-begotten God who is close to the Father’s heart has told us about Him.”
Or this from NIV. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
IPad Bible apps are nice.
The NAB, “the only Son, God...” has attempted to perform some redefinition of the term “begotten” in order to justify it’s translation.
I guess the translators just couldn’t leave the DR.