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Comments on Bible Versions

Below are assorted, short e-mails I have been receiving in 1998 on the items listed at Bible Versions Controversy. The e-mailers’ comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.

>Dear Gary,

Love all the info you have on the web.<

Thank you.

> I have a comment and a question or two. When I was saved in 1979, I had the most marvelous experience with God supernaturally unfolding the scriptures before me, and this using the KJV. A time later I backslid and when I finally did start to come back around I acquired an NIV, which I still have. In my time with the NIV, I find that I am always hearing in my spirit the KJV as I read the NIV. I then recall those days when I was so enlightened', and It makes me think of the possibility of the KJV only' crowd being on target. It seemed that the word itself became Rhema, and embedded itself into my being during this glorious revelation of God's word.

Now the questions: Do you know of instances similar to this using other versions?<

Yes, with me and the NKJV and LITV. I am so used to them that anytime I read another versions, like the NIV, it doesn't seem "right."

>Does this, in your opinion, validate at all the claim of the KJV being 'THE' Word of God?<

Not at all. First off, I would never base my opinion on the best Bible version on an experience. Secondly, as I said, I have had the same experience, only with the NKJV/ LITV.

>And finally, I am looking to get a good study bible, and I want one that gives some helps, but without all the commentaries. I am looking at the Dickson Analytical Study Bible. It expounds in brackets the KJV text (similar to Scofields) but without commentary. Any info that you know on this Bible would be helpful. If you have any other recommendations, feel free to comment.<

I haven't heard of the particular study Bible you mention. My favorite is the New Geneva Study Bible: NKJV. But it does have rather extensive study notes. It's about the same size as the NIV Study Bible. So it might have more "commentary" than you want.

Otherwise, The Believer's Study Bible is pretty good. Also in the NKJV. The notes are nowhere as extensive as the NGSB.

You might want to check out the Open Bible. It doesn't have notes at the bottom of each page like most study Bible do. It has articles on separate pages, with cross-references and other study aids. It's available in several different versions.

>Keep up the good work. I, like you, see the direction we seem to be headed in that we take the avenue of least resistance, which will do little to build our character, especially when we are speaking of God's Word.

God bless,

Thank you again.

>Other than the Apocrypha, what are the differences of the Catholic Bible of today and the King James Version?


It would depend on what you mean by the "Catholic Bible." There are several versions of the Bible which have been "approved" by the Catholic church. But to answer generally, some earlier Catholic Bible version, such as Douay-Rheims Bible, were translated from the Latin Vulgate rather than the Hebrew and Greek texts which the KJV used.

Also, for a Bible version to be "approved" by the Catholic church it must include Catholic approved "study notes."

Otherwise, most Catholic approved Bible versions suffer from some of the same problems as many "Protestant" Bible versions of today. The KJV, along with the NKJV and a handful of other Bible versions, are based on the Textus Receptus Greek NT (TR) and are translated with a "formal equivalence" translation principle (basically word for word).

However, many Bible versions, like the NIV and the Catholic approved New American Bible, are based on the "Critical Text" (CT). This Greek text differs somewhat form the TR. Moreover, they utilize a "dynamic equivalence" translation principle (basically thought for thought rather than word for word).

IMO, CT-dynamic equivalence versions are inferior to TR-formal equivalence type of versions, be the former "Catholic approved or not.

I discuss these latter matters in detail in the articles listed on the following page of my site: Bible Versions Controversy.

>I read somewhere that the first printing of the NWT [New World Translation] was in 1950. What Bible if any, did the JW'S [Jehovah's Witnesses] use before that time?


They used the American Standard Version of 1901. They did so mainly because the ASV uses "Jehovah" for the proper name of God in the Old Testament rather than the traditional "LORD."

>Do we have the word of God today? Do I have to buy 4 or 5 versions to get the word of God? We all know they all differ in hundreds if not thousands of places. So they can't all be the word of God. After reading through many websites on the issue, I see there is more confusion than anything else!



Yes there is a lot of confusion on this subject. I try my best to clear up some of it on my Web site. To answer your question, yes we have the Word of God. But, IMO, the Word of God most specifically resides in the Hebrew and Greek texts, not in any English translation.

Christian doctrine, preaching, and teaching should be based on the Hebrew and Greek. Hence any theologian or preacher should know at least Greek if not Hebrew and Greek.

That said, the purpose of a translation is so a non-Hebrew/ Greek reader can read for themselves what God said. So a translation should adhere as closer as possible to the original texts. For ones that do, namely ones that follow a formal equivalence (FE) translation principle, the differences are generally minor.

Where great differences occur is when a version uses a "dynamic equivalence" (DE) principle. Then, rather than presenting what God SAID, the translator/ interpreter tries to present what God MEANT by what He said. As such, such versions can differ greatly between themselves and from FE ones.

I recommend comparing two or more FE versions. That way, when they are the same or basically the same you can be sure you have a accurate representation of what God said. When they do differ significantly, then further study wold be needed before basing any doctrine, practice, or life decision on a passage. Study Bibles, dictionaries, commentaries, and the like can provide such assistance as they are generally written by people who know Hebrew and Greek.

Not a simple answer I know. But as I said, I do discuss this subject further on my site. More specifically I discuss the differences between versions and which ones fall into which category of translation type.

I am currently working one my own translation. It will be called the Analytical-Literal Translation (ALT). I hope to post the first draft on my site in the first quarter of next year. The purpose of the ALT will be to try to "analyze" in detail what God said in the original languages and to express that as closely as possible in English. There will be an announcement on the "What's New" page when the first draft has been posted.

>Who is Eramus? I've found some references to the Greek and Renaissance Europe but still very little about the man himself. Have you any suggestions where I can look - so far I've spent over an hour on the net but not much info.

Thanks for your time.


You should be able to find an article on Erasmus in any kind of "Who's who" book on Church History. Erasmus was a Catholic scholar of the 15-1600's. He is noted for two main things:

1. Before him, the Bible generally in use was the Latin Vulgate. In fact, Wycliffe did his translation of the Bible from the Vulgate. But Erasmus gathered together a handful of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament and compared them to be the first of his time to come out with a published Greek NT.

It was Erasmus' Greek NT that was the basis of Luther's translation of the Bible into German and Tyndale's into English. And with some modifications by Stephanus and others, Erasmus' Greek NT became the Textus Receptus, the basis for the KJV and many other English translations.

2. Erasmus initially wrote much about the need for reform in the Roman Catholic church. But when Luther split from Rome, Erasmus became one of the most important defenders of the Catholic church against Luther and the other Reformer's His most notable book was The Freedom of the Will to which Luther responded with The Bondage of the Will.

So, somewhat ironically, it was Erasmus' Greek NT and other writings which helped fueled the Reformation; but he himself never could take the step of breaking from Rome; but instead, became an ardent defender of Rome against the Reformation.

I hope the above helps.

>In your web site you list KJV/NKJV Parallel Reference Bible (Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 1991) as a reference. Do you have any ideas where I can get a copy of this Bible. I can't find a KJV/NKJV anywhere!!

Your help will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance. God bless you.


It might be out or print. You could try Amazon.com. If it is out of print they will do a "Search" for it to see if they can find a copy for you. They are doing the same for me for a book right now.

Otherwise, you could try the book companies listed on the following page of my site: Christian Book and Software Sites.

> God bless and thank you for your web page site. I have been looking for just a site as yours. I once was an ardent reader of the NASB until I read some books by Jay Green (editor of the LITV & MKJV), John xBurgon and others. I must thank Jay Green for his material and ministry in this regard.<

Yes, Green has done quite a bit of useful work in this regard. His writings, among others, helped to bring me to my current position.

> The facts are so overwhelming that an untrained layman such as I could not but see the truth. The KJV-Only crowd was just about all I could find on the internet until I ran across your site. I plan to join the Majority Text Society, thanks to the information you provide on your web site.

Keep up the good work.
Once again, thanks and God bless.

Thank you for the kind comments. And God bless you too.

Notes: Books by Green, Burgon, and others on the topic of textual criticism are available from Books-A-Million. For direct links to such items, see Bible Versions Controversy Books: Books-A-Million Recommendations.

The address for the Majority Text Society can be reached at: The Majority Text Society ~ PO Box 141289 ~ Dallas, TX 75214-1289.

>The articles on your site seem to be completely objective. I have been having a real struggle with the NIV and some of the other modern translations such as the NCV and NLT. This site really blessed me. God had been leading me to the NKJV but because of long time experiences with the KJV I was hesitant to try it.

Now I know that it's the Bible I need to use as my primary Bible.

Thanks again,

Thank you for the kind comments. I am glad I could be of help. Not to confuse you, but you also might be interested in the World English Bible (WEB). Just this week a reader of my Web site pointed it out to me. I have been reading quite of bit of it and it looks very good.

The WEB appears to be as accurate and readable as the NKJV. But it has the advantages of being based on the Majority Greek Text rather than the Textus Receptus (they are very similar but not identical) and the WEB is being produced copyright free.

However, the WEB is not yet finished. But they are posting the books of the Bible on the Web as they go through seven levels of revisions/ editing. If you're interested in checking it out, the WEB home page is here.

>I recently came across your website regarding the 'Bible Versions Controversy' and I commend you for doing an excellent job covering as much as you have on the subject.<

Thank you.

>I agree with you that in general, the NKJV is an excellent translation, and that is the one I am using at this time. I have reservations about the NKJV regarding its use of the TR, and I've come to the conclusion that the MT itself is a more reliable text. Do you know of any good English translations of the MT using complete equivalence?

Thanks for any help you can provide.

Sincerely, in Christ,

Currently, the only English translation available of the MT is the interlinear reading in Farstad's and Hodges' The NKJV Greek-English Interlinear New Testament (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1994).

However, the Majority Text Society is currently working on a version that is based on the MT, Hodges and Farstad’s text to be more exact. It will be called Logos 21 Version. They sent me a copy of the Gospel of John from it and it looks excellent. They hope to have the entire New Testament translated by the year 2000.

In the meantime, just be sure to note the footnotes in your NKJV. Just in case you didn't know, the "M" note indicates differences between the TR and the Majority Text.

You might want to contact the society and request their information packet: The Majority Text Society ~ PO Box 141289 ~ Dallas, TX 75214-1289. The NKJV Interlinear and other worthwhile books are available from the society.

I hope the above helps.

> Hi Gary, I bought the New Geneva Study Bible as per your recommendation at your site. It's good, but do you know what might be better? The Concordia Self-Study Bible - NIV published by Concordia Publishing. It's a Lutheran edition of The NIV Study Bible. Are you familiar with it? Unfortunately it only comes with the NIV text, but the notes are very good, I think perhaps better than the New Geneva Study Bible. I also just bought the Ryrie Study Bible Expanded Edition - NASB but it doesn't seem to measure up to the previous two.


I read through The NIV Study Bible over ten years ago. And yes, the notes and other helps in it are excellent. I especially liked the way it would present different possible interpretations of passages. I still have it and do refer to on occasion. I have seen the Concordia Self-Study Bible. And yes, it also looked like a very good modification of the The NIV Study Bible.

However, as you indicate, both are based on the NIV. As such, I cannot fully recommend either of them. The New Geneva Study Bible, OTOH, is based on the NKJV. And I do believe its notes are just as good the notes in The NIV Study Bible. So I use it much more. In fact, the Bible cover I had on The NIV Study Bible I put on my NGSB instead!

As for Ryrie's Study Bible, I also read though it a number of years ago in the NASB edition. And, again as you indicate, it's notes are alright but not as good as the others.

Another study Bible I read through a while ago is The Believer's Study Bible. It has the advantage of being based on the NKJV. Its notes reflect a Baptist perspective which I also appreciate. But still, it is not as good as the NGSB.

Hi, Just a short note to say "thank you" for your web site. I found it reasonable and sensible in regard to Bible versions (I've been around the block too quite a bit on Bible versions). I also have started using the NKJV, as I don't trust or like the NIV and simply can't read the KJV.


Thanks for the kind remarks.

>Dear Gary, I thank God that I found your website at a time when I was all confused by the Bible versions controversy. I have read several booklets published by KJV-only advocates that highlight errors in many modern versions. They are right in a way but the problem is that they shoot down every modern version leaving the readers no alternative to the archaic and difficult to understand KJV Bible. By doing this they are not helping to sow the Word of God instead they turn away many truth seekers who simply have no sentiment for old English.

I do not doubt the authenticity of the KJV but to insist on KJV-only is putting a language barrier to the laymen reminicent of the dark old days when the Bible was strictly Latin only. So much effort are put in to defend the KJV, I sincerely hope these fellow Christians will instead pool their resources to finance a language update project for KJV that is acceptable and endorsed by them....

May God continue to bless your ministry and lead more seekers to your website.
Regards, K.W.; Singapore

Thank you for the kind comments. I am glad my Web site was of help to you. As for your final comment, all I can say is Amen! Let the KJV only people put their money where there mouth is. But I wouldn't hold your breath. It is a lot easier to rant and rave than to actually produce a Bible translation.

>Gary, I have been spending a lot of time lately reading the Bible Versions section of your web site. You have a wealth of information there. This is a subject that I have really become interested in lately. There are a lot of things I haven't made up my mind yet about this issue.

I have been using the New Living Translation for about a year now. I also read to the CEV from time to time. I don't want to argue with you about these because the articles on your web site make it very clear what your position is on many of these newer translations, and I think your arguments are well reasoned.

I didn't even know about the existence of the MKJV and LITV translations until I read about them on your web site. These sound like they are good versions, and I am trying to get copies now. I think that they would be extremely valuable for study and comparison. I just wish that they were more readily available and that one or both came in a paperback version.

I have heard people say that the KJV is easy enough to understand, and that we don't need anything else. Now, there are exceptions, but it seems to me that a lot of the people who make that argument don't actually read the Bible. It seems that too often the Bible has becomes a prop, to be put on a shelf during the week, and brought out for display purposes on Sunday. I have been guilty of that myself, but I'm getting better about it.

One of the most unusual arguments I ever heard about this was at my first job, which was about ten years ago. It stuck with me, and I guess it's one of the reasons I'm so interested in this subject. In my late teens I worked at a small AM radio station, and one of the things I did there was put on radio preachers. There was a guy who said that the KJV was the only Bible there is, and not just any KJV, it had to be a reprint of the original 1611 KVJ. He said that the KJV we commonly use is corrupt. He always had one that he preached out of. Now, I had never heard anything like that before. A few days ago I was in a Christian book store, and they actually had a 1611 reprint. I took a look at it, and I can't imagine somebody using it for reading and study, much less preaching. The spellings are so odd. For example, John is spelled Iohn. I would actually like to have one of these, but more for curiosity than anything.

I attend a very old and very small country Baptist church, and it's more common than uncommon to hear King James English in prayers. I guess I this shouldn't bother me, they are just trying to show reverence to God. But, you know, the great thing about Jesus is that he makes God accessible to us. We don't have to use strange language, secret codes, or rituals to talk to God. Jesus breaks down the barriers for us.

As I said before, there are a lot of things about the Bible translation issue that I am trying to sort out in my mind. It might take a little while for me to reach my own conclusions, but I appreciate the fact that you have set up your web site and included so much information about this from your perspective.


Thanks for the comments. Just one quick reply, if you are seriously interested in getting a reprint of the 1611 KJV, I believe it can be purchased from Great Christian Books.

>Dear Gary: I was directed to your page by Rick Norris [author of KJV Only Book Reviews]. I just wanted to thank you for a clear, simple, irenic, and fair presentation of the facts. Although I don't concur with your choice of text-types (I went from Majority text to Critical text), I feel that is a very small minor detail. I appreciate the meek spirit in which your arguments were presented. I too, much prefer the formal equivalence to dynamic equivalence method of translating. I hope that you will encouraged that there of those out there who would rather light a candle than "damn the darkness." Keep up the good work for the Lord.

Dr. James D. Price was my Hebrew professor in seminary and he was the OT editor of the NKJV, which I feel is a very fine version….

Again, keep up the good work!
Kevin W. Woodruff, M.Div.

Thank you for the kind comments. I would agree that of the two main issues in Bible translation, translation principles and Greek text-types, the former is the more important. The principle one uses in translating the Scriptures affects every verse; whereas the differences between Greek text types are few in comparison. Although, I do not agree that the difference between the MT and CT is "a very small minor detail." It is important as there are some significant textual variants.

>Hi Gary: I find your site such a personal tool for growth that I will be using your info on a regular basis. Gary, could you tell me why the LITV translates the sacred name of God as Jehovah as in the 23rd psalm, and I should say I have only viewed the sample pages and I don’t have a working knowledge of any biblical languages.

Regards, W.T.

Glad my site is of help to you.

The LITV uses "Jehovah" to translate the Hebrew Tetragrammaton (YHWH). This word is generally rendered as "LORD" (using small caps) in most versions. This is to distinguish it from "Adonai" which is rendered "Lord" in the LITV and most other versions.

Most scholars today believe the Tetragrammaton is better rendered as "Yahweh" rather than "Jehovah" but Green (the editor of the LITV) prefers the more traditional Jehovah.

>I agree with your advice on Bible versions. I use to be NIV only, but was then introduced to the KJV only arguments. At first I was fully taken by them, but soon began to realize it was an over zealous viewpoint. I now prefer the NKJV as my primary study Bible for theology. However, I prefer the New Living Translation for devotional time and spiritual growth (Knowledge puffs up but love builds up).

What are your thoughts on the New Living Translation as a devotional Bible? For young Christians?


The NLT appears to be a little better than the Living Bible it is updating. The latter is a paraphrase whereas the former uses a "dynamic equivalence" type of translation. Dynamic equivalence is a little closer to the original than a paraphrase; but that's not saying much. I much prefer a more literal or "formal equivalence" method.

In any case, using the NLT as a secondary Bible for comparison purposes, or for "devotional" reading might have some place. But recognize that such versions are really not much different than a commentary. They might help shed some light on some passages; but they are still one person's (or at best a committee's) opinion on what God MEANT by what He SAID.

If you find it personal beneficial, I would not say not to use it; but be sure you have your NKJV nearby so you can compare verses and see what God actually SAID.

But personally, I wouldn't bother with it. I find reading what God said to be devotional enough. If I want a commentary on God’s Word I will read a real commentary. And devotional commentaries do have a place.

For instance, right now I am reading Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Holy Bible. But it has a real Bible (the KJV) right in the text, with Henry’s comments afterwards. So I can read what God said, then Henry’s devotional style comments. Henry’s comments help what God said to really sink in.

>Thank you thank you thank you for putting this material up on a web site: My Bible Versions Experiences and Significant Textual Variants.<

You’re welcome.

>Just last week I e-mailed the author of the Online Bible to ask if he would put up some version material, to help me settle-down on what version and manuscript to use for memorization and study. I'll suggest he put in a link to your site (oops, I guess I better check your doctrines section to be sure you're not a heretic first :) )

A former pastor of mine (… who also attended Denver [Seminary]) had told me a tiny bit of this material, but it was only enough to tell me that I didn't know enough to make any decisions. Your material on several of your pages has been an immense help, and in addition to giving me clear guidance on which manuscripts are right, has somehow settled my faith a little, too.<

Thank you for the kind comments. Glad I could be of help.

>I really like the accuracy (overall) of NASB, and college-level vocabulary/sentence structure better than NKJV, and so would really like to see (or make) a "corrected NASB", which would correct the CT contamination, and even enhance it with the (few?) places where other versions do a better job of translating. Of course, the Lockman Foundation would never allow that willingly, but there may be some way to make a software module of changes a person could use with an computer version of NASB.<

Since I am not a computer programmer, I cannot comment on whether one could adapt the NASB into a TR/ MT based version. But the second best idea would simply be to compare the NASB and NKJV. Using the NKJV’s footnotes will indicate where to expect a significant difference between manuscript traditions.

>May God bless you as you build up His church though His Holy Spirit (meaning His word)!

In Christ our Lord,

Thank you. And God bless you too.

>Yeah! Hallelujah! Finally a site that has educated rational studies of the different translations of the Bible!!<

Thank you for your enthusiasm.

>I've become interested in this mainly because I play in a Christian Band.<

I will check out your site.

>I have heard many bible verses quoted that imply that certain songs are wrong, or types of music, or even certain musical chords. I Certainly want to follow Christ and live by his words, but in studying I found that many of the quotes were different. These differences made a great deal of difference w/ respect to context.

So where to turn? I really wanted to find information on the various translations and original texts, but instead I've found tons of worthless stuff from militant "King James is the only inspired word of God" sites.<

"KJV Only" sites really do seem to dominate the Web, unfortunately.

>Yours is one of the few sites that makes any realistic sense. I now have a solid (albeit beginning) understanding of where all of these translations come from. And I can pass this knowledge on to my brothers and sisters in Sunday School, Bible Study, Choir and Band. I truly believe God led me to your site. Thanks!!


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Bible Versions Controversy

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