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Green's Response, Responded to

Part One

By Gary F. Zeolla

I forwarded the e-mail from "Chris" seen in the E-mail Exchange Jay P. Green Only Position to Jay P. Green, Sr. [the translator of The Literal Translation of the Bible (LITV) and The Modern King James Version of the Bible (MKJV)]. I then added the following comments:

The above is the second such e-mail I have received in the past couple of weeks. I warned you a long time ago that if you trashed every Bible version available, except your two, you would come across as just trying to promote your own versions. Unfortunately, that is now exactly what is happening.

Your "Green only position" is already turning people off of your ministry and your versions. This is very disheartening. Please reconsider before you loose credibility.

Green responded to these comments with a three page article in the latest issue of his magazine Christian Literature World (Vol. IX, No.2). His response is basically taken from the introduction to Green’s Extensive Review of the New King James Version. This is the list of "errors" in the NKJV that Green has been circulating and which is referred to in the above mentioned e-mail exchange and in Correspondence with the Editor of the MKJV and LITV.

In this two-part article, I will respond to Green’s response as it appeared in CLW. Then in a follow-up article I will address verses from his NKJV review. In this response I will not be reproducing the entirety of Green’s response. For the full article, the reader can request the issue of CLW and/ or Green’s NKJV review from Christian Literature World.

Green's comments are in black and enclosed in "great than" and "lesser than signs." My responses are in red.

>"An E-mail to a friend: "Green views himself as the only person capable of making a trustworthy TR translation. This is sheer arrogance, and a slap in the face of the godly scholars who labored translations like the NKJV and the NASB."<

The "friend" referred to her is yours truly. And yes, I do consider Green to be a friend. Although I have never met him personally, we have been corresponding for almost ten years via mail and now e-mail. So this "debate" is being carried in the friendliness of terms possible.

Moreover, Green and I have much in common. We both ascribe to a "Reformed-Baptist perspective" of the Christian faith. And, as regards this discussion, we are in agreement about the main points in regards to what constitutes an appropriate translation of the Scriptures.

Specifically, we agree a translation should: 1. be based on the Textus Receptus or Majority Text, as opposed to the Critical Text. 2. follow a "literal" or formal equivalence translation principle, as opposed to a dynamic equivalence or paraphrase style. 3. utilize modern-day English.

However, disagreement comes in in regards to point 2. What Green often considers a less than literal translation, I do not. This will be seen in the following discussion.

>Answer: A trustworthy translation is one that reports to the reader what God actually wrote. It is expressly forbidden to anyone to add to the words God wrote. The NKJV adds hundreds of words without italicizing the added words. The NASB a lot more.<

Usually it is obvious when a version has added words that have no basis in the Hebrew or Greek texts. But sometimes there can be disagreements as to what constitutes an "added" word. For instance, in his NKJV Review, Green includes the following:

NKJV: Matt. 3:14, John tried to prevent Him (tried to not in the Greek, not italicized)]
MKJV: John restrained Him

But are the words "tried to" really added? The Greek verb is an imperfect. As I discuss in detail in Part One of the Grammatical Renderings section of the Companion Volume to the ALT, a specific usage of the imperfect is the "contative" (or "tendential") imperfect. This refers to attempted action. And "tried to" is a perfect way to express such attempted action.

So in this writer's opinion, as backed up by the Greek authorities quoted in the above article, not only are the words "tried to" NOT added, but such a translation is superior to that of the MKJV. The NKJV expresses the details of the grammar of the text better than the MKJV does.

> Further, a version that puts an age-old heresy in the Scriptures is not trustworthy. Both the NKJV and NASB have put a Manichean heresy into John 10:14,15.<

I refer to this verse in the above mentioned correspondence. And I will simply repeat what is said, there, I have no idea what Green is referring to.

> Ignoring God’s grammar makes a version untrustworthy,<

Agreed. That is why I wrote the eight-part Grammatical Renderings section in my book as background to my translation, The Analytical-Literal Translation (ALT). In that section I compare the ALT with how verses are rendered in the NKJV and NASB. In many cases I detail why I believe the translations of these versions can be improved upon.

However, if one were to compare the MKJV or LITV with my ALT, it would also be seen places where I believe these versions are not as accurate as they could be. So rather than producing my own list of "errors" in Green's versions, I will simply refer the reader to the article.

But one point should be clear by now, there is not always agreement as to what constitutes the "best" rendering of a specific grammatical point. That is why even literal versions differ and why I always recommend comparing more than one version of the Bible in Bible study.

> both put a plural "descendants" for the singular "seed" in several places,<

This point is discussed in the above mentioned e-mail exchange. Again, I do agree that the more literal "seed" should be included in the text, rather than relegated to a footnote. But I don't consider this one point to be sufficient to right off a version. And it is really the only major "error" that I see in the NKJV.

>What is it all about? I deny the charge of arrogance.<

Whether Green is arrogant or not, I will leave it up to God to decide. I will simply say, in reading his writings and in our correspondences, he is definitely very bold in what he says.

> There are plenty of "scholars" who are academically equipped to make a trustworthy version. Then why do they not do it? It is simply their unwillingness to let God say what He originally wrote.<

In the case of dynamic equivalence versions, I agree with Green totally here. They do not translate what God "originally wrote." But in the case of the NKJV and NASB, the differences between the MKJV/ LITV versus the NKJV and NASB can often be due to honest disagreements as to what constitutes the "best" way to translate a passage, as the example of Matt 3:14 above shows.

> The "godly scholars" who produced the NASB have planted no less than 22 direct contradictions within their version.<

In this comment, Green is referring mainly to supposed contradictions caused by the NASB being based on the CT rather than the TR or MT. And in this we are in agreement. There are some problems with the CT, as I discuss elsewhere on this site. But unlike Green, I do believe the NASB is a very good translation of the CT.

> The "scholars" of the NKJV have made Jesus to "taste death for everyone" which contradicts numerous Scriptures which limit His atonement to His elect, His sheep, etc.<

Heb 2:9 is discussed in the above mentioned correspondence. I will simply repeat that I agree the NKJV should not have added "one" to "every." It is not in the Greek text. But by the same token, I disagree with Green adding "son" to his versions, even if in brackets. In both cases, it is leaning the text towards a particular theological viewpoint. Hence why in the ALT I use simply "all" and leave the text ambiguous, as it is in the Greek.

>This is what the "Green translations" aim to accomplish: (1) to produce translations that are literally word-for-word what God has written. In the MKJV there is a limitation, for it tries to produce an improved version that can be preached to people who are holding the KJV in the pew. Still it is far, far superior to any other extant translations when compared with the original languages. In the LITV there is no limitation other than to find the English translation of each word that is closest to what was written in Hebrew and Greek.<

A very commendable goal. And the NKJV, NASB, and my own translation have the same goal. It is simply disagreements over how to accomplish this goal that leads to differences in translation.

>(2) To produce a translation that is true to the doctrines of the Bible. The NASB miserably fails in this. The NKJV generally succeeds, but not in the two places cited above.<

This comment I find troublesome. A translator's opinion as to the "doctrines" taught in the Bible should not affect his translation. A passage should be translated on the basis of Greek grammar, words studies, and the like. Not one's theology.

But Green's attempt to be "true to the doctrines of the Bible" can be seen in the above mentioned Heb 2:9, as well as in his added "of us" in brackets in 2Peter 3:9. In both cases, the reason for the added words are so the reader interprets the verses in accordance with the doctrine of limited atonement.

Now, I agree with this doctrine. But I do not believe a translator should be, or even needs to be, adding words, even in brackets, to aid the reader in coming to the "correct" interpretation. So Green's philosophy here can be problematic in some cases.

>(3) To produce a translation that tries to adhere strictly to the grammatical forms of the original languages. All present versions fail in this, if we can trust the lexicons.<

Again, agreed. The grammar of the original text should be adhered to strictly. But this is one place where I believe the MKJV and LITV could be improved upon, especially in regards to the translation of tenses. Specifically, the MKJV and LITV do not show the distinction between the imperfect (ongoing action in past time) and the aorist (simple past). Again, the Grammatical Renderings section of my book for details and examples of this point.

>(4) To produce a translation that can be free of the interpretations that present-day "scholars" are putting into their versions.<

Again, agreed. A translator should not insert this own interpretations into the translation. But again, why does Green do so in the cases of Heb 2:9 and 2Peter 3:9?

>(5) To provide a version open to improvement from everyone. Anyone who tries to submit a suggestion for a better translation to the already established version will be ignored. The only versions being improved in every edition due to the suggestions of readers are the MKJV and LITV versions. Every edition is closer to what God wrote.<

This is one point in favor of the MKJV and LITV version which I mention elsewhere on this site: readers of these versions can send in suggestions for improvements. And this writer has done so on more than one occasion.

And it was in following Green's lead that I decided to post the ALT on the Web even though it is still very much in a "rough draft" state. I posted it so people could send in suggestions.

However, it should also be noted that Green's versions, and my own translation, are basically "one-person" translations. Suggestions are taken, but Green and I respectively have the last say as to what is included in the translations. On the other hand, the NKJV and NASB were committee translations. So by their very design, there was input from many persons in the translations.

Which is better, a one person or committee translation can be a matter of debate. I discuss the pros and cons of each method in a question on this subject on the ALT: FAQ page.

>My friend writes: "Your Green only position" is already turning people off of your ministry and your versions. This is very disheartening. Please reconsider before you lose credibility."<

Again, the "friend here is me.


(1) I am not taking a "Green only position." I am taking a position of taking a stand against putting words in God’s mouth that He never wrote.<

But when the only versions that qualify are "Green versions" it does come across as a "Green only position."

>(2) What? Can’t a man insist upon having Bibles that accurately report God’s words without addition or subtraction, without contradictions, without violating God’s choice of grammar, etc. without losing credibility? Then I choose to lose "credibility" with people who object to such a translation.<

I have no objections to such a translation. The disagreement is, does the NKJV meet such criteria? IMO, it does.

>(3) The fact that a translation is of the Received Text matters not if it is not literally what God wrote.<


>(4) I rest my case with God, who will judge whether I am in His will in regard to these translations.<

But in the meantime, Green is causing much stir among his fellow Christians.

>As for the NKJV, just a cursory review yields the following comparisons: The New King James Version, a committee (Nashville: Nelson) many bindings, many page lengths, many prices...

Using the Modern King James Version for comparison, we will point out some of their choices of what to change, and what not to change.

The preface of the New King James Version states that "Where new translation has been necessary in the NKJV, the most complete representation of the original has been rendered." Here is a brief collection to demonstrate that they have failed to achieve their expressed purpose in thousands and thousands of places where they did not change the wording of the KJV, and they should have, because the NKJV rendering does not at all meet the original words. OR they have changed the words, but have not met the original language in doing so.<

"thousands and thousands of places?" Green is making some very bold claims here. And a few isolated examples does not amount to "thousands and thousands." Moreover, every one of these claimed "thousands" of errors would have to be studied one by one.

I have gone over Green's list of supposed errors in the NKJV. It contains about a hundred verse comparisons. But in most cases, Green has not provided an explanation; he has just given the NKJV and then the MKJV and the reader is to assume the MKJV is more accurate. This approach is simply not good enough.

So, as mentioned above, I will follow-up this article with a review of Green’s NKJV review. In the meantime, I will say here, looking over his list, some of the time Green is correct: the MKJV is more accurate than the NKJV. Other times, IMO, the NKJV is more accurate than the MKJV. And other times, it could go either way. Plus, there are also times when I believe the best possible translation is not given in either version.

This two-part article is concluded at Green's Response, Responded to - Part Two.

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

The above article was posted on this Web site September 9, 1999.

Bible Versions Controversy: MKJV & LITV
Bible Versions Controversy

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