Why We Revise the Bible

The King James translators speak of “oft amending” the Scriptures, and offer a reason why. The fact they bring up is verified by the plethora of English Bibles over the centuries. Consider this list of translators and translations:

Wycliffe (1388 from the Latin Vulgate)

Tyndale (1526, from Erasmus and Luther)

Coverdale (1535, from Erasmus and Luther)

Matthew’s (1537, Erasmus, the Vulgate, Luther)

Great (1539, Roman Catholic)

Geneva (1557, from Textus Receptus)

Bishops (1568, from Textus Receptus)

King James Version (1611, 1769, from Textus Receptus)

The study of the Textus Receptus is a fascinating one. Some King James “Only” people will gladly concede that though not every person on the planet can own, much less read, a KJV Bible, as long as the text is based on the Textus Receptus, all is well.

Then what was wrong with the Geneva Bible, or the Bishops, based on that text? And what was wrong with the 1611 KJV? And other versions of the KJV… ?

Why so many translations? Why over two centuries’ worth of revising and correcting and perfecting? Simple:

  1. Bible and Language Scholars have arisen who add more information because of manuscript research and discovery.
  2. The language continues to evolve. The KJV was simply not written in the same English as Wycliffe spoke!

But “KJV Only” advocates would have us believe that all scholarship was to be cut off from the year 1611. Or is it 1769? Or any number of KJV editions, with and without the apocrypha, books of doubtful origin disdained by evangelicals today?

So, we are not to question the scholarship of these 17th (or 18th) century researchers and writers? They are to have the last word, and anyone who dares come against them is anathema, and their works will be discarded and even burned in public?

Foolishness! And an anathema to such teaching!

As early as 1885 Charles Spurgeon was praising the work of the creators of the Revised Version, based not on the Textus Receptus at all, but on the Westcott-Hort Greek New testament!

Spurgeon: “Concerning the fact of difference between the Revised and the Authorized Versions, I would say that no Baptist should ever fear any honest attempt to produce the correct text, and an accurate interpretation of the Old and New Testaments… [W]e have nothing but the Bible; and we would have that as pure as ever we can get it. By the best and most honest scholarship that can be found we desire that the common version may be purged of every blunder of transcribers, or addition of human ignorance, or human knowledge, that so the word of God may come to us as it came from his own hand.” (Emphases added)

Refreshing wisdom from the Prince of preachers!

The Bible parade continued. In the twentieth century came

The American Standard, in 1901.

The Revised Standard, in 1952.

The New American Standard in 1971.

The New International in 1978.

The New King James in 1982.

And in this century, a major translation:

The English Standard Version in 2001.

Bible scholar and pastor John Macarthur is supervising work on a revision of the NASB.

And there will be more.

True, some Bibles will be openly defiant of Christian tradition, trying to make their point. The New World Translation, for example, clearly denying the Deity of Christ. Or, Bibles with gender emphases, or other cultural objectives, will appear and should be avoided by God’s people. Bibles claiming a new “inspiration”, as the Passion Translation, must also be consigned to the back shelf of Christian book collections, if purchased at all.

But hidden amongst the perversions, are the works of dedicated men of God whose only desire is to have a more and more exact replica of those original autographs, as did the KJV men. These men must be found, praised, and honored among us.

We just want to know what God said!