Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Was Jesus Mistaken About Angels

 

Was Jesus mistaken about angels?

 B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, December 2, 2020

Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire. (Psalm 104:4)

Perhaps another “nail in the coffin” to the fallen angels view came from Christ Himself. Upon the resurrection, Jesus makes a statement about the nature of spirits.  Luke 24 says: 

33  So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,

34  saying, "The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!"

35  And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.

36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you."

37  But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.

38  And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?

39  "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."

40  When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 

Jesus appeared in a room with the disciples but they were terrified and thought they had seen a spirit. They recognized it was Jesus, but they didn’t think it was Jesus in bodily form. They seemed to think it was Jesus’ spirit and that was it—no body. In their minds, it was like the spirits that some of them had encountered at the transfiguration for instance. 

Jesus then says something profound to dispel this idea that it was just His spirit. He says that a spirit doesn’t have flesh and bones as He had.  Jesus did this as proof of the bodily resurrection.    

But it is fascinating that he who knows all things (Colossians 2:3) made it clear that spirits do not have flesh and bones as Christ’s body had. Why is this so significant? Angels are ministering spirits per the book of Hebrews.  Hebrews 1 says: 

13  But to which of the angels has He ever said: "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool"? 14  Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? 

Angels then do not have flesh and bones as Christ did. They are spirits. So how can a spirit breed physically with a woman? This would be impossible without the power of God! 

One friend who recognized this could be the death kneel of his fallen angel view made the argument that what Jesus meant here is “ghost” and not spirit. In other words when the disciples saw this ghost in the room they were terrified.  My friend defended this by arguing that the Greek word [pneuma] could also mean “ghost” and so it doesn’t necessary refer to “spirits” like angels which could then presumably still materialize when they want to.   

But this explanation falls tragically short and presents a problem. First why didn’t the text use the common word for ghost (phantasma)? Why did Jesus use the word pneuma or spirit as in Holy “Spirit” or God is “Spirit” (John 4:24) or angels are ministering “spirits”, etc. Was Jesus just being inaccurate? 

Phantasma is where we get our modern word “phantom”, which means “ghost” or “apparition”. It was used when Jesus was walking on water: 

Matthew 14:26  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost (phantasma)!" And they cried out for fear.

Mark 6:49  And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost (phantasma), and cried out; 

In the distance from the boat the disciples saw something and the use of phantasma gives us a clue as to what they meant. It appeared in the distance as an apparition, phantom, or ghost.  They couldn’t quite make out what it was. The disciples weren’t even sure what it was because they could not discern it very well. This is why they were troubled. That is until Christ called out to them and they recognized who it was. Then they realize their error. 

The difference of context of being in the room with Christ when He appeared to the disciples is simple.  They saw Christ immediately, and knew it was Christ. But they simply thought it was the spirit of Christ, not him in bodily form (again think of the spiritual transfiguration with Elijah and Moses). It wasn’t a question of identification of Jesus from a distance (not knowing what they saw) but a question of the nature of Jesus after the resurrection. So using the word pneuma was indeed significant. It meant that Christ did not mean ghost at all—but truly did mean spirit.  Otherwise, it destroys the very meaning of why Christ responded the way he did distinguishing his bodily resurrection.  

But let’s analyze this further. If pneuma really meant, “ghost” instead of “spirit” in Luke 24:39, then it still doesn’t help the case anyway! The reason is simple, if pneuma really meant ghost, then when pneuma is used in Hebrews 1:14 where angels are ministering spirits or “ghosts”, the pneuma could just as easily be ghost there too and so we are right back to the problem of angels not having flesh and bones as Christ had regardless of the terminology! This really is a death kneel argument for the fallen angels view. 

This is a situation where someone has a belief about something and they are willing to try to play  games of strange semantics to reinterpret the plain meaning of Scripture. 

Implications 

Let’s consider for a moment the implications of this idea that fallen angels can materialize when they want to and do things (like marry women) when they want to. How can those who hold to this view consistently argue that it was not a fallen angel that faked the resurrection? If they could materialize whenever they want to in an effort to deceive people, then how can one know? If one responds, well the Bible says so. The Bible also says angels are spirits that don’t marry (Mark 12:25)… So this is problematic either way for a fallen angels view. 

The fact is that never once in Scripture is there even one instance where fallen angels materialized. Not one. This is why Christ’s proof of the bodily resurrection is so powerful when presented to the disciples by the Word of God. Spirits do not have flesh and bones as the resurrected Christ has. 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Earliest View

 

Weren’t the Earliest Views of “Sons of God” Almost Always Leaning to Angels?

B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, November 12, 2020

It is often pointed out that the earliest records about the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 by the Jews  were viewed as angels (predominantly but not exclusively). The earliest we have is about 250-200 B.C. as shown in the deviations in the LXX Jewish translation from Hebrew into Greek.  

Nevertheless, Jews writing in the Apocrypha, though not Scripture, also yielded “sons of God” as people/men from 400 B.C. to the opening pages of Matthew. So even the earliest Jewish thought on this was actually split.  

One thing needs to be noted up front. All the recorded views of the “sons of God” originated long after the original events took place by nearly 1500 years. So if one were to argue that the true account is the one view that showed up slightly earlier than another, this would be fallacious.  Consider:

The first one to plead his cause seems right, Until his neighbor comes and examines him. Proverbs 18:17  NKJV

Think of it this way: we are disconnected from Christ’s earthly ministry by about 2,000 years. Imagine if someone today published that Jesus had orange ears and began promoting that idea. And a few others buy into it too. Since no one else commented on His ears up to this point and this would essentially be the first reference, does this mean this is the truth—that Jesus had orange ears? By no means. 

The earliest we have been able to determine anyone’s viewpoint on the Genesis “sons of God” was with some copies of the LXX that was originally translated about 200-250 B.C. This is about 2,250 years after the Flood (where the original issue of the “sons of God” was well before the Flood). Even from Moses's record of it in Genesis, it is still very disconnected. 

Also, consider that it has been well over 1400 years since Moses penned these words in Genesis 6 as well. To make things worse, the Jews, in their history had walked away from the Lord on numerous occasions and in one grossly negligent instance, even had to find a copy of the Scriptures (in 2 Kings 22:8-13) because no one knew God’s Word anymore! Furthermore, the Jews had been conquered and put into captivity and the Old Temple had been destroyed with many precious documents and items that were carried away.

For the Lord was not pleased with the Jews for quite some time now. And the Lord sent them no prophet for 400 years and the LXX translation occurred in the midst of this time and therefore, was not overseen by a prophet. Don’t get me wrong, the LXX is very useful, but not inerrant and not without its problems. 

The Jews, if they would have understood the Old Testament better, should have been expecting Jesus Christ—for the whole Old Testament points to Him. But due to many errant theologies among the Jews of that day, be it Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, or others, most missed Jesus Christ when He stood amongst them and had it preached by apostles.

So how good has the Jewish record and transmission of events, theology, people, and angels been in the translation of the LXX and their traditions? It is not the best. Even Jesus disputed with them over their traditions and defended the Word of God that had been distorted by traditions (Matthew 15:1-6, Mark 7:1-13). But due to the translation of “sons” as angels in the LXX in some copies, this influenced many reading Greek to follow suit with this poor translation, simply because they didn’t know better.

But take note that some copies of the LXX did retain “sons of God”, not “angels of God.” It is possible that the original retained the “sons of God” and later this change was made due to the fallen angel theology during copying. The earliest copies we have of the LXX is around the 4th century A.D. So somewhere in these 600 years or so of Greek copies of the LXX, we find that some had the change of “sons” to “angels” or vice versa where someone had corrected it in accordance with the Hebrew text.   

So why did some Jews feel the need to change “sons” to “angels”? Though we may never know for certain, one possible reason is that a “son” carries the weight of the father. For example, when Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, the Jews wanted to stone Him for claiming equality with God (e.g., John 10:29-39).

A “son” of God would be near blasphemy to many Jews during this intertestamental period (because of some deviant theology).  So rendering “sons” as metaphorical for “angels” was more acceptable in their theology. If this were the case, why didn’t the LXX do this with the “sons of God” in Job? This would become a Jewish theology that is elevated in stature to a position above the plain meaning of the Word of God.

Why the shift from fallen angels? 

Beginning about A.D 400, we find a major shift in theology from the fallen angels view to fallen men views? This view persisted through the Reformation and until modern times. But why?  

Consider that many LXX copies translated “sons” as “angels” in Genesis 6:4 from about 200 B.C. until about A.D. 400. So the average reader, without consulting the Hebrew text, would have naturally thought this to be angels because the common trade language that dominated the area was Greek during much of this time. 

However, Koine Greek was rapidly becoming obsolete by about A.D. 400. Most readers were already utilizing translations that were in Latin, the common vulgar tongue (pre-Latin Vulgate translations) throughout the Roman Empire. But there existed no standardized translation yet. Then Jerome, the famous scholar, was commissioned to translate the Bible into Latin for an official translation. 

Jerome began translating the Bible from original language texts but still consulting translations like the LXX (OT: Hebrew and some Aramaic and NT: Koine Greek) into Latin. This was completed about A.D. 400. In it, Jerome translated the “sons” properly as “sons”, instead of as “angels” in Genesis 6:4. 

So the translational bias was now removed. Naturally, people were not reading into the text that angels bred with women anymore. And the context of godly men given in the lineage immediately prior to Genesis 6 was now read naturally. 

Few Christians felt the need to take the Jewish myth that had persisted for so long. Hence, the fallen angel view died a quick death with a more accurate translation. Even influential theologians of the time (e.g., Augustine) began promoting the view that “sons of God” were just as they were in most of the Scripture, godly men. 

But this a lesson to learn. An errant theology, imposed on Scripture in translation can cause false belief to linger for a long time if not checked. The error of the firmament has persisted much longer because Jerome also took the Greek view of the heavens being solid and put it into the Latin Vulgate (firmamentum) which was the dominant translation that influenced early English translations which made the same error (firmament).  Only in recent times have people really gone back to the Hebrew for raqia to arrive at expanse, which deviates from the Greek view of the heavens to a better understanding of the sky.   

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Why Do People Believe "Sons of God" Mean "Godly Men"?

 

Why do some people think “sons of God” mean humans (godly men)?

B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, November 1, 2020

Obviously, not everyone agrees with the arguments presented for “angels” being the proper interpretation of “sons of God”. So, what is the biblical case for interpreting “sons of God” as humans or specifically godly men

What about other instances of “sons of God” in the Bible? 

Did you know that the Bible talks extensively about the “sons of God”—not just the passages in Job? Why are so many of these passages ignored? 

If there was a verse or phrase within a verse that was difficult to understand, the place to go was elsewhere in Scripture—including the New Testament. The whole counsel of Scripture should not be ignored. Use clear Scriptures to interpret unclear Scriptures. That should settle the issue. 

If one wants to know how to interpret “sons of God”, then look to the whole of Scripture to gather a better understanding. In doing this, we are not limiting an interpretation to one metaphorical use in Job 38 while ignoring other passages.  

Table of Scriptures to interpret “sons of God” in Genesis 6 

 

Sons of God used

Style

Meaning

1

Exodus 4:22-23 (God’s son Israel)

Historical Narrative

Godly men (Israelites)

2

Deuteronomy 14:1 (the children of the LORD your God)[1]

Historical Narrative

Godly men (Israelites)

3

Job 1:6[2] (sons of God)

Historical Narrative

Disputed (godly men, or godly angels)

4

Job 2:1[3] (sons of God)

Historical Narrative

Disputed (godly men, or godly angels)

5

Job 38:7[4] (sons of God)

Poetic/Metaphorical

Godly angels, luminaries

6

Psalm 2:7 (My Son)

Poetic/Metaphorical

Kingly men of Israel; prophetic of Christ per Acts 13:33

7

Psalms 82:6 (sons/children of the Most High)[5]

Poetic/Metaphorical

Godly men (Israelites)

8

Hosea 1:10 (sons of the Living God)[6]

Prophetic

Godly men (Israelites)

9

Hosea 11:1 (God’s son)

Prophetic

Godly men (Israelites)

10

Luke 3:38 (son of God)[7]

Historical Narrative

Godly man/Adam (who afterward sinned)[8]

11

Luke 6:35 (sons of the Most High)[9]

Historical Narrative

Godly men

 

Luke 20:36 (sons of God/sons of the resurrection)

Historical Narrative

Godly men

12

Matthew 5:9[10] (sons of God)

Teaching Sermon by Christ

Godly men (peacemakers)

13

Matthew 5:45 (sons of your Father in heaven)

Teaching Sermon by Christ

Godly men

14

Romans 8:14[11]

Epistle/Teaching

Godly men (those led by the Spirit)

15

Romans 8:19[12]

Epistle/Teaching

Godly men (those who are saved)

16

Galatians 3:26[13]

Epistle/Teaching

Godly men (those who are saved)

17

Only begotten Son of God (Numerous)

Gospels, Epistles

Fully man and Fully God—Jesus Christ


To argue that “sons of the Most High”, “children (Hebrew:  ben or bene—“sons”) of the LORD your God”, “sons of the Living God”, etc. should be excluded for discussion would be to argue that God is referring to someone other than the true God (e.g., a false god). But they clearly refer to the true God and should be used.  

Children of God

Furthermore, in the New Testament, there are multiple uses of “children of God” and they all refer to godly men/mankind.[14]  In one case, there is the use of “children of the devil” (1 John 3:10) and even these are in reference to human too, but ungodly ones! See the list[15] (NKJV): 

·         John 1:12  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

·         John 11:52  and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.

·         Romans 8:16  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

·         Romans 8:21  because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

·         Romans 9:8  That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.

·         Philippians 2:15  that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

·         1 John 3:1  Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

·         1 John 3:2  Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

·         1 John 3:10  In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.

·         1 John 5:2  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 

What can we learn from all of this? 

1.      Nowhere does “sons of God” [or varieties of it] refer to the ungodly. So why interpret sons of God in Genesis 6 as ungodly [angels]?2.       The vast majority are in reference to godly men, so the rendering of Genesis 6’s “sons of God” should not ignore godly men. 

3.      The only one that definitely means “angels” is based on a passage that interprets it as angels in a poetic/metaphorical context. Why take a metaphorical meaning of a phrase and use it to interpret a passage that is historical narrative?

4.      One should not miss that one man in the Old Testament, who lived prior to Genesis 6, was directly called a “son of God” (not to be misconstrued as the only begotten Son of God), and he happen to be a man and the father of us all—Adam (Luke 3:38). 

5.      The New Testament passages exclusively use “sons of God” as godly people, so this should settle the issue. The New Testament is not “off limits” regarding this issue of theology in the Old Testament. Imagine if someone said Jesus and Peter’s comments about the Flood in Noah’s day were “off limits” when discussing Genesis 6-8 because they used the Greek word (kataklusmos), and not the Hebrew word (mabbuwl)? This would be fallacious. 

What else can we learn about the “sons and children of God”? 

Reading the context of who has the right to be called “sons of God” are those who are led by the Spirit, receive and are faithful to Christ, practices righteousness, love God and keep His commandments, loving your enemies, and doing good, peacemakers, etc. 

For an obvious reason, rebellious fallen angels who join the ranks to fight against God, doing evil, and so on are not the marks of one who can be counted among the “sons of God”. But godly men do fit these requirements and many godly men have fallen from their positions of good grace due to sin throughout their lives (e.g., Saul, Solomon, and many others)—hence the fallen man position.  

Consider that Adam was called a “son of God” in Luke. This connects that “sons of God” are those godly men continuing to call upon the name of the Lord continuing with Seth (Genesis 4:26). Interestingly, this is the immediate context preceding Genesis 6. No doubt this line had godly men—Enoch, for example, walked with God and He took Enoch without death (Genesis 5:24, Hebrews 11:5). 

Few would dispute that Lamech (Noah’s father) and Methuselah (Noah’s grandfather) were godly. Methuselah was raised by extremely godly father Enoch after all. But were Lamech’s and Methuselah’s wives godly? I ask this question sincerely—as both Lamech and Methuselah had children and other descendants that died in the Flood (e.g., Genesis 5:26 and Genesis 5:30) that were not among the eight on the Ark unless three of them were Shem, Ham, or Japheth’s wives. Were these pre-Flood patriarch’s wives among the “daughters of men”—ungodly wives who led most of their children astray to fall from God’s grace and be judged in the Flood? It is something to ponder indeed. 

There are many cases in Scripture where children “of men” (e.g., similar to “daughters of men”) were seen as ungodly. Passages such as 1 Samuel 26:19, Psalm 14:1-2, Psalm 89:47-48, and Lamentations 3:31-35 do not give a good light to the title of one being the “children of men”, so why assume “daughters of men” are not ungodly in Genesis 6?  

I find it fascinating that the fallen angels position, that I was once part of, held that the title “sons of God” in Genesis 6 were those who were ungodly and the “daughters of men” were the godly! This is back-to-front when looking consistently at the rest of Scripture. 


[1] "You are the children of the LORD your God; you shall not cut yourselves nor shave the front of your head for the dead.

[2] Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.

[3] Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.

[4] When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?

[5] I said, "You are gods, And all of you are children (“sons”) of the Most High.

[6] "Yet the number of the children of Israel Shall be as the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ There it shall be said to them, ‘You are sons of the living God.’

[7] the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

[8] Yes Adam sinned, but who hasn’t. It should be safe to say Adam was saved, he only had one sin on record and we knew the prophecy to look forward to Christ (seed of a woman), Eve clearly knew it and looked forward to it. The knowledge of God was clearly passed along from Adam to Seth (Genesis 4:25) to people like Enoch (Genesis 5:24). The Lord did offer a sacrifice to cover Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21).

[9] "But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.

[10] Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.

[11] For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

[12] For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

[13] For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

 

[15] There is one use of “children of God” in the apocryphal book of Wisdom (verse 5:5) as well. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Bible Versions

 

Bible Translation Dates/Translation Basics

 

B. Hodge, Biblical Authority Ministries, October 28, 2020

 

Translations basics 

There are basically two ways to translate from one language into another: 

1.     Word-for-word (Sometimes called a literal translation or formal equivalence)

2.     Thought-for-thought (sometimes called dynamic equivalence) 

Word-for-word is accurate to the word but can sometimes fail to get the point across if it is figurative language.  For example, if I say in English “let’s hit the sack”, this means “to go to bed” but translating that into Spanish word-for-word would be to “literally” hit a sack, and not go to bed. So the thought wouldn’t get across.  

Therefore, sometimes you need to use a thought-for-thought translation on particular verses.  However, doing a thought-for-thought can lead to adding the translators own ideas to the translation and avoid what the text actually says if the translator goes too far. So, one shouldn’t go completely thought-for-thought either. There needs to be a balance.  

The NASB, KJV, ESV, and NKJV and so on are known as word-for-word translations though not entirely word-for-word.  

The older NIV is a mixture of word-for-word in some cases and thought-for-thought in other cases. Again, a word of caution needs to be stated when deviating too far into the thought-for-thought translations since one may end up with the translator’s interpretation of the verse rather than the verse itself.   

In light of this, it is be better to err on the side of literal or formal equivalence as opposed to dynamic equivalence.  This is why scholarly respect is given to translations that are closer to word-for-word such as the KJV, NKJV, ESV, NASB, AMP, and so on). They use word-for-word but also some dynamic equivalence when necessary, some more than others. 

Do we have the originals texts to translate from? 

The original writings by the original authors are the inspired text.  But as such, not one has survived to this date that we know of. Copies were encouraged (Deuteronomy 17:18). This precedent was followed in the New Testament so that the reading of various epistles could be accomplished by different churches (e.g., Colossians 4:16, 2 Corinthians 3:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:27). This shows the value in the inherent text, not the original penned version. 

The logical question that follows is “how do we know what the original text said?” Within Christianity, there are two primary arguments and both stem from Psalms 12:6-7 and other passages (e.g., Matthew 5:18 and Matthew 24:35) which states that the Word of God would be preserved and will not pass away. 

This brings us to the question of “preservation,” which is distinct from inerrancy (which applied to the original autographs). Knowing that God revealed that He would preserve His Word (Psalm 12:6–7), there are two views on how this preservation has taken place: 

1. One preserved inerrant copy of a copy of a copy (etc.) has been passed down (some claim one per language).

2. Preservation has occurred by the very fact that numerous copies exist which allow us to observe the original via textual analysis. 

Evaluating the first view, and strictly looking at the Old Testament, the Masoretic text (MT) is easily the best collection of Hebrew manuscripts (where our earliest extant copy is about AD 900); however, we need to keep in mind that it, too, is a copy of a copy of a copy, etc. And copyists were never given the privilege of prophetic inerrancy, unlike the prophets or apostles whose God-given authority allowed for an inspired text. Although the MT may be the best, we need to be careful about in-depth studies of words and phrases without consulting other ancient texts. 

Consider that Jesus quoted from the Old Testament about 64 times in the Gospels. More than half of His quotes agree with the precision of wording in both the LXX (Septuagint – a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures done about 200-250 years before Christ but out earliest copies are about AD 400) and the MT. In 12 instances, Jesus’ quotes differ from both the LXX and the MT. In 7 instances, His quotations side with the LXX over the MT. And in another 12 instances, Jesus’ phraseology agrees with the MT over the LXX. 

So if we make a case that other ancient texts such as the LXX, Samaritan Pentateuch (an ancient Hebrew copy of the first five books of the Bible done in Samaria) should never be used instead of the MT, then Jesus would be in error as He clearly didn’t draw explicitly from what we know today as the MT (which existed far after Jesus earthly life anyway).[1] 

Throughout the history of the church, the second view has been dominant. Jerome, who translated the Latin Vulgate around A.D. 400 relied on multiple Greek texts when he translated the New Testament and went to Bethlehem to gain access to multiple Hebrew texts of the Old Testament. 

With English translations, for example, from Tyndale forward, each translator made use of textually criticized texts (looking at several texts to make sure you are using accurate Greek text for the New Testament) and often consulted variant texts when doing translations. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. The idea that one inerrant copy lineage has been passed along is a relatively new idea that, sadly, doesn’t take into account the past.[2] 

Early English translators relied heavily on the various Textus Receptus (TR) editions, published copies of the Greek New Testament, as well as a few other sources, whether English, Latin, or other. Dutch Catholic Erasmus in 1516 did textual criticism of a handful of variant copies (three primary copies and three others) of the Greek New Testament to arrive at this standard text.[3] He even used quotations by church fathers for comparison and back-translated excerpts of Revelation from the Latin Vulgate that did not appear in any versions of his Greek copies. 

Erasmus issued three editions of his Greek New Testament, the latter editions correcting earlier errors as he got a hold of more Greek texts. His first edition, some say, was rushed for competition with another family of texts that was used for the Roman Catholic Polyglot Bible, and it became the dominant text used throughout Europe.[4] 

Others, such Stephanus, Beza, and the Elzevir brothers, further edited Erasmus’s TR for subsequent printings when they gained access to other Greek texts. So early English translations such as Tyndale’s, the Geneva Bible, Luther’s Bible, and other New Testaments generally came from this text family because this was what was available. But even then, popular versions such as the King James New Testament differs from the TR nearly 170 times and over 60 times agreed with the Latin Vulgate over any Greek text, including the TR.[5] 

Since the time of Erasmus, nearly 5,300 Greek texts and fragments have been documented.[6] So why remain confined to Erasmus’s small library that didn’t even have a complete version of Revelation in Greek? There have been many attempts to utilize these other texts instead of ignore them. Among the most popular was Westcott and Hort’s text. But as far as we know, no modern translation uses the Westcott and Hort text except the poorly translated New World Translation.[7] 

There has been further study and textual criticism to arrive at standard texts. Today, the latest editions are used when translating the Bible, whether Old Testament or New Testament. 

But just for the reader’s sake, there are very few discrepancies (mostly spellings and slightly varied words from generation to generation) between something like the TR and modern texts – nothing that would any major theology would hinge on. It shows the competence of copyists throughout the ages. With the Old Testament, the Lord has preserved other texts besides the MT so that we’re able to compare various texts – consider the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient texts (Peshitta, Samaritan Pentateuch, etc.). The point is that God has preserved His Word, just as He said He would. 

Some popular English translations and a few the different editions of them: 

Wycliffe or WYC 1382-1395 translation from the Latin Vulgate

Tyndale or TYN 1525 (William Tyndale’s Version) (NT only)

TYN or TRC 1535 (NT and OT) (Tyndale’s version with Myles Coverdale to finish it as Tyndale was martyred)

Great Bible 1540 revised and updated Tyndale Bible by Myles Coverdale sometimes known as the Cromwell Bible since he directed the publication; Authorized by King Henry VII

Bishop’s Bible 1568 authorized by the Church of England

Bishop’s Bible 1572 update

Geneva or GSB 1560 (Geneva Study Bible) included apocrypha

Geneva or GSB 1599 (Very archaic spellings, no apocrypha)

GSB 2006 (Updated version with modern spellings)

KJV 1611 (King James Version), includes Apocrypha, authorized by King James

KJV 1613 revision of the 1611

KJV 1629 another revision

KJV 1638 another revision

KJV 1762 Cambridge (Modernized for the time using J instead of I, etc.)

KJV 1779 Oxford (Modernized for the time, this is one of the standard KJVs common today)

WEB 1833 (Noah Webster’s Version from the famous American dictionary creator)

YLT 1862 (Young’s Literal Translation) extreme literal in translation form; that is, formal equivalence, thus making it difficult to understand in places

KJV 1873 (Oxford Parallel, also common today)

KJV 21st Century 1994 (Basically an easier to read KJV – same grammar, sentence structure, but changing some words)

ERV (English Revised Version) Updated KJV in 1881; Authorized, but the first time King James’ name was not used

ASV 1901 (American Standard Version) American rendition of the ERV, which was an update of the KJV; the RSV 1946 and 1971 as well as the NASB 1971 and 1995 are newer styles of this older one

RSV 1946 (Revised Standard Version) update of the ASV

RSV 1971 update

NRSV 1989-90 (New Revised Standard Version) Update of the RSV

NASB 1971 (New American Standard Bible) New translation based on the ASV 1901

NASB 1995 (Revision of the 1971)

NKJV 1979 (New King James Version) (NT only)

NKJV 1982 (NT and OT)

NKJV 1984 (Revision of the 1982)

AMP 1958 (Amplified Version) (NT only)

AMP 1964 (NT and OT)

AMP 1987 updated

NIV 1978 (New International Version) (NT only)

NIV 1984 (Revision of the 1978 NT and has OT)

NLT 1996 Much dynamic equivalence which leads to getting some of the translator’s thoughts.  Sometimes gender neutral and thus not as accurate to the original language – this is not to be confused with the Living Bible, which is a paraphrase 

ESV 2001 (English Standard Version)

HCSB 2003 (Holman Christian Standard Bible) Southern Baptist translation

CSB 2017 (Update of the Holman Christian Standard Bible)

NET 2005 (New English Translation) 

Some versions to really watch out for: 

NWT  (New World Translation) (Jehovah’s Witnesses have many changes to adhere to their theology, e.g., Jesus is demoted to being a “created god”, that is not really “a god” at all and but is seen as an the angel Michael) 

KJV 1833 (“Inspired Version” by Mormons that change over 3,410 verses)

JST 1978 (Joseph Smith Translation) (Latest title of the KJV 1833)

NAB 1970 (New American Bible) Catholic American rendition – it has the added apocrypha

NAB 1995 (New American Bible) Catholic American rendition updated – it has the added apocrypha and changed the Ten Commandments to allow for graven images of God – in fact, with any modern Romanist based Bible you need to look out for things like this.

TNIV (2002 NT, 2005) Gender neutral rejects far too much Greek and Hebrew wording so we would stay away from using it as it does change meanings in some instances

NIV (2011) Gender neutral and hence not accurate to the original texts – now replaces older NIV translations

Living Bible 1962 NT – paraphrase version of the NT, not based on original languages

Living Bible 1971 NT and OT– paraphrase version of the Bible, not based on original languages

Message Bible 1993 NT 2002 NT and OT – paraphrase version of the Bible, not based on original languages

CEB 2009-2011 – liberal translation that is often inaccurate to the Greek and Hebrew. Also includes the Apocrypha



[1] G. Miller, “Septuagint,” A Christian Thinktank, http://www.christian-thinktank.com/alxx.html, January 30, 1995.

[2] For a more detailed history of the Bible in English please see Donald Brake, A Visual History of the English Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2008).

[3] “Erasmus 1516,” Bibliography of Textual Criticism, http://www.bible-researcher.com/bib-e.html, accessed December 15, 2008.

[5] Douglas Kutilek, “Westcott and Hort vs. Textus Receptus: Which is Superior?” May 24, 1996, reprinted at http://www.bible-researcher.com/kutilek1.html, accessed December 15, 2008.

[6] J. McDowell, A Ready Defense (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993), p. 43.

[7] New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Revised) (Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania and the International Bible Students Association, 1984), p. 5; http://www.bible-researcher.com/metzger.jw.html

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