(Which Translation of the Bible Is Authorized By God?) Bible Question.
“For the last month or so, I have watched a TV evangelist for the church of Christ claim that all versions of the Bible (except for the King James) are perversions. He is particularly hard on the New International Version. Please share your thoughts on the various Bible versions.”
Thanks for your question. All translations are produced by people, and that includes the King James Version. Each version is only as good as the people who produce it, and as only as good as their scholarship and integrity. If people do not have the scholarship to translate from Hebrew and Greek, the version will not be reliable. If they do not have the integrity to translate what the Hebrew and Greek actually say, the version will not be reliable. Based on that, I consider only those versions done by committees of many scholars to be reliable. That would include the King James, the American Standard and others so produced.
The King James Version has been a great version for 400 years. But to claim that every other version a perversion is ridiculous. What did people read before 1611 (when the KJV was first produced)? What of people who can’t read English? If only the KJV could lead people to salvation and produce the church of Christ, then no one could have been saved before 1611 and the church could not have existed, for the word is “the seed of the kingdom” (Luke 8:11). That whole idea is, of course, ridiculous.
There is no translation that is “authorized” by God, nor the church. The truth is that there are many good versions. The American Standard Version is generally considered as one of the most accurate English versions, but its style is somewhat stilted. The KJV was produced to give the people of the early seventeenth century a Bible in their own language (common English), which would be easily understood. It filled that need wonderfully.
But it hardly fills that need anymore. The English language has changed considerably since the 1600s. Thus, there is a need for a translation (or translations) in “our common language” of today. That is why such versions as the New American Standard, New International, and New King James have been produced. All three are committee-produced. And I consider all three to be reliable versions.
Each version has some advantages and each has some shortcomings. Personally, I use all three of these translations regularly (NASB, NIV, NKJV) and I have five additional translations that I use in my studies. But I am not authorized to choose a version (translation) that everyone else must use. And neither is anyone else!
As to the New International Version – it is by far the most popular version today, based on sales. I really think that if we are interested in reaching people with the word of God, we must become familiar with that version. It is the one we most likely will find in people’s homes when we call on them and try to reach them. It has some shortcomings and even some obvious mistakes. But so does KJV and probably every other version.
We just need to study it, find its shortcomings and learn to teach people God’s truth with it. That is exactly what we have had to do with the King James Version for hundreds of years! Check out other comments I’ve made on this topic in the posts listed below.
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