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Green's Response, Responded to

Part Two

By Gary F. Zeolla

This two-part article is continued from Green's Response, Responded to - Part One.

>Regarding the remarks in the Preface of the NKJV:

(1) They did not, as promised, give strictly literal, completely equivalent, meanings to the words of the original when they changed the KJV;<

Again, each word would need to be studied one by one to verify or falsify such a claim.

>(2) They referred to sources that have no Divine origin in making some decisions, such as the Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Latin Vulgate;<

Interesting claim. In saying this, Green is assuming the Masoretic, Hebrew Text that his and most other translations are translated from is THE inspired Hebrew text. However, the doctrine of inspiration does not state that any manuscript or published text is inspired, only the originals. And the Masoretic Text is a very good reflection of the originals, but it is not inspired in itself. In other words, if other textual sources are available, they should be consulted as well in doing textual criticism.

In the case of the DSS, they most definitely should be consulted. Among other documents, the DSS contain Hebrew manuscripts of at least parts of all of the OT books except for Esther. However, Isaiah is the only complete book of the OT. Most of the texts are fragments at best. So an entire OT could not be translated from them.

However, the DSS do predate the Masoretic Text by almost 1000 years. Now, older is not necessarily better, but the evidence of such manuscripts cannot be ignored either.

OTOH, the Septuagint and the Vulgate are only translations of the Hebrew text, in Greek and Latin respectively. And translations of the original languages are of much less value in textual criticism. But still, they are a source to be considered.

That said, what the NKJV does is follow the Masoretic Text and footnote significant differences between it and the above mentioned sources. I see no problems with this practice whatsoever.

>(3) They make a flatly erroneous statement when they state that "most textual variants have no practical effect on translation".<

This is "a flatly erroneous statement" on Green's part. When one compares the 5,000 plus manuscripts of the NT, there are literally thousands of variants between them. But it must be remember what is meant by a "variant." If so much as one manuscript spells a word differently by one letter than all the other manuscripts, that is counted as a variant. And such minor spelling differences are very common.

First off, proper names are often spelled slightly differently in different manuscripts. Second, there is the case of the "moveable nu." The nu is the Greek letter "n." Greek verbs can sometimes end with a nu or sometimes not end with it. But either way, the meaning of the word stays the same. It is similar to the English words "dialog" vs. "dialogue." A slight difference in spelling, but no difference whatsoever in meaning.

And finally, there are simple misspellings that any textual critic can pick out. But whatever the cause of the minor spelling difference, the translation would be the same, or at best, a proper name might be spelled slightly different.

Another common variant seen is minor word order changes. But such differences would not affect translation as most every translation generally changes the Greek word order (such as putting the verb before the noun), to English word order (noun before the verb) anyway.

Then another class of variants has to do with putting a definite article before a proper name. Sometimes this is done in Greek for emphasis, but it is generally not translated. But if one manuscript has "the Jesus" whereas another has simply "Jesus," it would be counted as a variant. But any translation, including Green's, would translate it as simply "Jesus" either way.

Then there's variants like include a kai ("and") at the beginning of sentences. One manuscript may have a kai whereas another may not. Now this difference would show up in translation, but it is not very significant. And many other such insignificant variants would only be noticed by the most careful of readers.

Now, I am not sure of the exact percentage of total variants that would not show up in translation, but my guess is having compared just published Greek texts that the percentage that do nt show up in translation is rather high. Now what the percentage of variants that do show up in translation but are insignificant would be hard to say as it is rather subjective as to what an "insignificant" vs. a "significant" variant is. But again, I would say the percentage of "insignificant" vs. "significant" variants is again rather high.

But whatever standard is used, when the total number of variants between manuscripts are considered, the percentage that are significant would be very, very low. Anyone who has compared manuscripts, or even published Greek texts like the TR, MT, or CT would attest to the truthfulness of this statement.

Now all of this is not to say there are not significant variants between manuscripts or published Greek texts. There are some that are very significant. And I discuss such variants elsewhere on this site. But percentage-wise, the number is very low.

>(4) The NKJV often does not italicize the words they have added to the text. And they have many words which have been italicized incorrectly.<

As already mentioned, I cannot say for sure if the NKJV has mis-italicized words or not without specific examples. But again, it can be debatable when a word is considered "added" or not.

>As to the footnotes, the NKJV takes a neutral stance, recording various readings from the Nestle/Aland smorgasbord Greek text. If this is supposed to be a service to the general reader, it is a sad mistake. The average reader, being unaware of the fluctuating state of textual criticism, can only be confused by these apparent additions, and particularly subtractions from the Scriptures. There is no warning to the reader that this application of new-age textual criticism may be safely ignored, since the omissions noted in the footnotes are not omitted in the vast majority of the Greek manuscripts..<

First off, I have no idea what Green means by "new-age textual criticism." Those involved in textual criticism would be surprised to find out they are engaging in a "new age" practice. I see no reason to use this term.

That said, I discuss elsewhere why I personally have found the textual notes in the NKJV to be helpful. But I do know others find them disturbing as they give "credence" to the CT. A good argument can be made either way. All I'll say here is, if you don't like the textual notes, then ignore them.

For the ALT, when I make the conversion from the TR to the MT, I intend on footnoting the TR readings. At this time I do not plan on footnoting the CT. If there is a call for such footnotes, I would consider it.

>As to the modernization of the English, they failed in many places to help the reader to understand what God actually breathed out. For the NKJV dilutes the meaning of porneia, making it only sexual immorality instead of fornication. The Bible knows nothing of morals. God’s law governs our actions, not the opinion of people as to what is immoral.<

In this case Green is partly correct, for two reasons. First, the NKJV does use "sexual immorality" at times, but at other times it uses "fornication." Second, "sexual immorality" does seem to "water-down" the force of the Greek word. OTOH, "fornication" is not a perfect translation either. For the ALT, I am using "sexual sin." See the entry for this term in the ALT: Glossary for my reasoning.

> In John 5:17, where the NKJV has, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working." The KJV has "worketh" which is present tense. The NKJV has the wrong tense in both verbs (they are passive, indicative present verbs,) which obscures the fact that the Father works continually, without intermission, and that the God-man, Jesus, does also.<

Here Green is correct. The verbs are present tense, but the NKJV has translated them as perfects.

>They did not translate many Hebrew names or expressions, such as "the valley of Rephaim" (Valley of the Giants); "Hor-hagidgad (Hole in the Cleft); "Kibroth-hattavah" (Graves of Lust); "Meribah" (Strife); "Loruhamah" (No Mercy); "Loammi" (Not My People); "Ruhammah" (Mercy); "Ishi" (My Husband).<

This is an interesting thing to claim as a "mistake." All proper names in Hebrew (and in Greek) have some kind of meaning to them. For instance, Jesus means "Yahweh saves." John means "God is Gracious." Now, is Green suggesting that everywhere "Jesus" occurs it should be rendered "Yahweh saves," and every occurrence of "John" should be translated as "God is Gracious?" I think not. That would make for one difficult translation!

But Green is right, sometimes the meaning of a name has significant bearing on a passage. For instance, it is significant to know that "Jesus" means "Yahweh saves," especially in a verse like Matt 1:21. It is for this reason that for the ALT I started out by placing in brackets the meaning of a name the first time it occurred in a book.

However, this was making for a rather awkward text to read. So now I am planning on only doing so when the meaning of the name is significant to the passage. But it can be a judgement call as to when this is. But my point is, what I am now planning to do is similar to what the NKJV does.

The NKJV usually transliterates names (i.e. changes the Hebrew or Greek letters into their English equivalents to give the English word). But the NKJV footnotes the meaning of the name when it is significant to know.

Now Green thinks the NKJV should only give the translation and not bother with the transliteration equivalent at all. Which practice is "right?" All I can say is what I said above, my planned practice is similar to that of the NKJV, not what Green suggests.

>In the Psalms, Hebrew words in the titles are left untranslated.<

Again, a judgement call, to translate or just transliterate a title. I haven't gotten to the OT for the ALT yet so I am not sure what method I will use. But either is legitimate.

>Changes for the worse occurs many places: "sanctify" changed to hallow; "justified" changed to vindicated; "seed" (singular) changed to descendants (plural); "womb" is changed to matrix (Isa. 47:3); "ass" changed to donkey; "youth" changed to rabble; "liquor" changed to "no blended beverage" (actually it is, "no mixed drink").<

Each one of these would require a word study. But my guess would be that either of each set would be possible, with the exception of "seed" to "descendants." In other words, words can have more than one meaning. In such cases, context determines the meaning of the word. But even then, translators can disagree on what English word best translates an original word in a particular context.

>Tenses and other grammatical constructions in the original are not changed from the KJV, and this is very important in the matter of the aorist, as in Matt. 16 and 18, where "having been bound in Heaven" takes away the notion that men may bind or loose sins. Also the NKJV in 1 John, the giving of life before faith is faithfully recorded in 1 John 2:29; 5:1, etc.

NKJV: Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God
MKJV: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.,

(1 John 5:1 - see also 3:19; 4:7; 5.:18).<

Actually, the verb in the cited verses is in the perfect, not aorist tense. But that said, Green is right, the NKJV does not accurately translate the perfect in these verses. But, neither does the KJV. However, the KJV is still on Green's "approved" list of version, whereas the NKJV is not. That strikes me as a bit of inconsistency.

>Worse yet, the NKJV has put a Manichean heresy into their text:<

Here Green goes into an extended discussion of John 10:14. Again, I have no idea what he is talking about. If the reader wants to try to figure it out, then you will need to request the issue of CLW as Green's discussion is too lengthy to reproduce here. But I do want to comment on one point Green makes:

>Note that they have departed from the Received Text and used the new Nestle/Aland/UBS Greek instead.<

If by "they" Green is referring to the NASB translators, he is correct. But the NKJV follows the TR.

>Also note that they have not translated Romans 9:5 according to the Received Text, a major verse testifying to the Godhood of Christ:

Romans 9:5:
NKJV: "Of whom [are] the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ [came], who is over all, [the] eternally blessed God.
MKJV: (and the Received Text): whose [are] the fathers, and of whom [is] the Christ according to flesh, He being God over all, blessed forever. (This according to the exact order of the Greek words. The NKJV has moved the words around, and have inserted "[the] eternally blessed God" instead of "He being God over all.")<

First off, with this verse following immediately after John 10:14, and with Green's reference to the TR, it makes it sound like there is a textual variant here, and the NKJV is following the CT rather than the TR. At least that's how it read to me when I first read it. But there is no textual variant in this verse.

That said, I see nothing wrong whosoever with the NKJV translation. It might not be identical to how I would translate the verse, but it is legitimate translation. And as for Green's comment about the "exact order of the Greek words," as noted above, the MKJV and LITV, as with all other translations, regularly change the Greek word order to the English order. Now Green's versions may do this less than some others, but they most definitely do so. The text would be unreadable if they did not.

Otherwise, for an in-depth study of this verse, I refer the reader to my two-part article Romans 9:5 Research.

The rest of Green's response concerns verses I have already covered in the above mentioned correspondences or will cover in the promised follow-up article.

Green closes his response by stating:

>Any close examination should reach the verdict that the NKJV does not report God’s Word as it was God-breathed (theopneustos) by God the Spirit, the Author of every word of the Scriptures. Such changes would indicate that the NKJV is not a reliable replacement for the KJV. In many places it does not report what God wrote.


I will close this article by saying Green does make some legitimate points, but quite a few erroneous ones too. Overall, I will say his conclusion is not warranted. The NKJV does "report God’s Word as it was God-breathed."

The NKJV is not a perfect translation, no translation is. But the NKJV is a reliable translation for the average Bible reader. The fact that the NKJV is not perfect (as no translation is) is not cause to abandon the NKJV but to remember my basic recommendation: compare more than one Bible translation in Bible study.

For a discussion of Green’s list of supposed errors in the NKJV,
see Green’s NKJV Review, Reviewed.

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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