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Another Finn on Bible Versions

By Gary F. Zeolla


The the following e-mail exchange is a follow-up to A Finn’s View of Bible Versions. The e-mailer's comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.

Exchange #1

 >Hello Gary,

Thank you for your web site. I have read some web pages hosted by KJV-only people, and I feel offended, because they seem to claim that all CT-based Bibles must be totally corrupted and must not be called the Word of God.< 

Although I don't agree with the CT, I try to avoid "offensive" language on my site. But you are correct that KJV-only sites can get very offensive.

> However, when I check their lists of corruptions and omissions, I immediately see that the vast majority of those are very insignificant, typical example being "Jesus Christ" becoming only "Jesus."<

You are correct that most variants are insignificant, but there are some significant ones. See my variants pages for a complete list of significant or translatable variants.

> I think that MT based Bibles reflect better what was originally written by apostles. But I just cannot accept that, the 1938 Finnish translation for example, is claimed not to be a true Bible, like in www.jesus-is-lord.com, where is a list of translations which they suspect to be non-corrupt. According to that list, the only proper Finnish translation is from year 1642, which would be very difficult to read, because the ortography is very different and undeveloped.<

Probably the person who made the list doesn't even know Finnish. But then again, it doesn't seem to matter to KJV-only folks that most English readers find the KJV too difficult to read!

> (Present day orthography reflects very well the pronunciation, by the way, but the old doesn't. Language itself probably would be quite understandable.) And I am sure that the 1642 translation and later revisions aren't free of errors as well. The 1938 translation has done a lot of good for me, although not 100% correct translation, but perhaps 99,5%. So I don't like at all that some people tell me that it is to be avoided, just because of those generally few and insignificant differences between CT and MT, and some translation errors and inaccuracies. They just have hardly any effect on my faith. And I think that a faithful CT translation may reflect God's Word better than a loose MT translation.<

Probably true on the last point. The quality of translation affects every verse, while significant textual variants are relatively few.

> Those who try to claim that "CT-based Bible is corrupt", don't seem to think what this means for those who simply don't have other choice. I could read English translations, but I prefer my own mother tongue. By the way, a new translation of NT was completed last year, but it is CT-based as well, though quite good and faithful translation.

I read your e-mail exchange with Mauri. 1Thes 4:3-4 is translated in 1938 translation in this way: "It is God's will and your sanctification, that you avoid immorality, so that every one of you knows to take his wife in holiness and glory." "To take a wife" means just "to marry". In vulgar language the meaning is different, though. (You know it). The translation is practically the same in the 1999 translation. What does the original Greek text say? I cannot figure out what was Mauri's problem.

Thank you in advance,
Jussi (Another Finn)

I struggled quite a bit on the translation of this passage. What I came up with is:

4:3  For this is the will of God, your* sanctification: [for] you* yourselves to be abstaining from sexual sin,

4:4  [for] each of you* to know how to be acquiring his own vessel [fig., wife] in sanctification and honor,

Using "acquire" avoids any possible misunderstanding of "takes" (I assume you’re referring to “takes” as meaning having sex). But the important point is, most versions have this as "possess his own vessel." After extensive study of the word, I came to the conclusion it definitely means "acquire" not "possess." It only means the latter when in the perfect tense, but it's in the present tense here.

What Mari's exact problem was I'm not sure as he didn't specify and I didn't ask. Given what you relate, maybe he felt guilty that he was "taking" (i.e. having sex with) his wife in an immoral fashion. But at the time, I thought that maybe he thought this verse said you HAD to get married, so he married the "wrong" woman just to fulfill the "command."

Exchange #2

 >Thanks for your answer. I have some questions about Greek language.  Would you recommend learning NT greek? Is greek hard? How expensive are the books required? (NT texts, dictionaries)<

It is definitely worthwhile to learn Greek, but it is very difficult. You could try teaching yourself, but very few are able to learn it that way. You would be better off taking a beginner's course on Greek at a seminary somewhere. It wouldn't matter if it were a liberal seminary just for taking Greek.

But if you want to try learning on your own, I would recommend getting a "Greek Tutor" CD ROM. I believe Christian Book Distributors has a couple available.

>Can present-day Greeks read the original NT Greek directly?<

A present-day Greek would probably be able to read the Greek NT, but it would be difficult. Like any other language, Greek has changed considerably over the years.

> If not, how different they are? …


Have you ever tried reading Wyclyffe's translation? I saw a passage from it, the parable of the prodigal son. I was able to read it, but only because I knew the passage well enough to figure it out. I would assume it would be the same with modern vs. NT Greek. But I'm not really familiar with modern-day Greek, so I can't say for sure.  

Exchange #3

>Subject: Finnish Bible translation

I have written to you earlier and I told about a new CT-based NT translation. It has been produced by an association of believers, not by any official organization. It's quite good. I have contacted them and exhorted them to bring it into conformity with MT. How much work would require to bring a CT-based translation into satisfactory agreement with MT, when compared to producing entirely new translation from scratch?

Quite a bit, actually. Converting the ALT from the TR to the MT wasn't too difficult, but there are far more variants between the CT and MT. So I wouldn't hold your breathe about them converting it.

>There are some KJV/TR-advocates running a campaign against MT. What do you say to this?<

I address KJV only comments in detail in my upcoming book on Bible versions. 

> Does John 21:15 mean that Peter loves Jesus more than the other disciples do, or does it mean that Peter loves Jesus more than Peter loves other disciples?<

There are different interpretations of this verse. One good possibility is Jesus is referring to the fish, as in "Does Peter love serving Jesus more than working as a fisherman?"

> And, please, pray that the translation in question would be corrected.


I will, but I doubt it.

Exchange #4

>Thank you for your reply.

Yes, you are right. It just would sound too good to be true. I have now made a decision to switch to English bibles, like Mauri. I now try to get a NKJV into my hands. I won't even consider KJV, for even native English speakers have difficulties with it. And, I have examined ALT, and it appears to be an excellent translation. It is surprisingly readable, being a literal translation. Excellent work! <

Thank you.

> If a literal translation can be so readable, then most modern versions are nothing but rubbish.<

That has been my concerted opinion for a while. There is simply no reason to re-write the Scriptures to make them readable!

>And I can't understand why Byzantine text was abandoned if favour of those CT texts. Actually, CT means _C_orrupt _T_ext, doesn't it? :-)


Cute, real cure!

Exchange #5 

>I have succeeded in getting a NKJV. It's a quality translation, and the footnotes are very helpful. But, the footnotes don't always agree with [the] ALT variant list. In John 8:9, according to NKJV footnote, is a difference between MT and TR, but, ALT variant list doesn't agree with it here.

Apparently this is due to a difference in MT editions. How significant are these differences? And what about those variants where CT and TR agree against MT? Can I trust in MT's superiority in these cases? And, it was stated in one of your pages (I don't remember which one) that MT is MAINLY based on Byzantine textual tradition, that means not exclusively. Why?

By the way, when buying NKJV I learned that the old TR-based Finnish Bible is actually on sale! New reprints have been made, since some people are still making use of it. I read some passages from it, and it was very well readable. The language was clearly archaic, but it did not affect readability very much. But perhaps it is not the most exact translation, since "without a cause" in Mt 5:22 was translated "in a silly way".

God bless you!

See the following page on my site. It should answer your first question. My upcoming book on Bible versions will answer the rest. Meaning of Majority Text. Note especially the section at the end on "Variants." I updated this article for my upcoming book and added this section.

Note: All Scripture references from: The New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, unless otherwise indicated.

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