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Comments on Bible Versions

Below are assorted, short e-mails I received in 2000 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:

I was comparing Gen 3:16 in the NKJV with the NAS 77 and had a question about the differences in the translations.

(NAS) "I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth,

(NKJV) "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception

In my OT Interlinear is shown:

16 'El-  haa'ishaah 'aamar   Harbaah        'arbeh
    413   802        559      7235           7235
 Unto  the woman  he said, I will greatly multiply

 `itsbowneek w™heeroneek         b™`etseb
     6093        2032     6089
 thy sorrow  and thy conception; in sorrow … (Interlinear Transliterated Bible. Copyright (c) 1994 by Biblesoft).

The word "conception" coming from Strong's #2032:

herown (hay-rone'); or herayown (hay-raw-yone'); from OT:2029; pregnancy (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.) 

From what I can make of the NKJV translation, it is word-for-word closer to the original, but it makes less sense in the translation reading to my mind. It sounds like "sorrow" and "conception" are being multiplied.  I can understand the "sorrow" increasing, but how is a "conception" (pregnancy) be increased?  In the NAS only the pain (sorrow) of childbirth is being multiplied but this translation seems more distant from the original.

I have become more and more an advocate of the MT over time.  I disagree strongly with the textual transmission canons of the CT.  For example, to automatically prefer a shorter reading as more accurate simply because of assumed conflation is not only not acceptable, but I find it outrageous!  A homoeoteleuton mistake seems much more probable and makes much more sense. I think the textual transmission canons of John W. Burgeon make much more since.  I do believe that there are some (very few) portions of Scripture in the TR that do not belong there (such as part of Act. 9:6) but I do think the TR is closer to the MT than the CT.  But I digress.  My point is that I find the textual notes in the NKJV to be helpful (although not exhaustive) by showing the variant readings of all three major Greek manuscripts, but the translation is sometimes clumsy as in Gen 3:16.

Any help you can give me or direct me too with regard to Gen 3:16 would be greatly appreciated.

Grace & Peace,

The translation "and your conception" is correct. I would interpret it this way: Adam and Eve (and their descendants) would have been immortal if they had not sinned. If this were the case, then it would not have taken that many conceptions for the earth to be "filled." But with people dying, both in and out of the womb, then each woman would now have to get pregnant much more often to "replace" the people who die. 

I hope that helps! 

Note: “homoeoteleuton” refers to a scribe “missing” a phrase because the preceding word or letters are the same as the end of the phrase. For example, if two phrases ended with theos (God) the scribe would look away from the manuscript to copy the first phrase, then look back and see the second theos and start from there, missing the phrase in-between.

>I have thoroughly enjoyed your web site and go to it constantly. I have been struggling with the Bible versions controversy for some time now and continue to struggle with it but your web site has helped tremendously. I just want to find the Bible that comes closest to the original manuscripts. I thank you for your articles on the subject. I currently use both the NKJV and the NASB. I have the MKJV though I am not happy with all of the printing errors in it. I also have the interlinear Bible with the LITV and go to it constantly.


>Good morning, Gary,

I was wondering if you could enlighten me with what ever information you might have on the Reader's Digest Bible. Thank you every much, and may the Lord continue to bless you and your work.


I've seen it but haven't look too much at it. Basically, Reader's Digest does the same for the Bible as it does for other books: "condense" it. So their Bible is much shorter than a real Bible. 

As an introduction to the Bible for someone who's never read it, it might not be a bad idea. But needless to say, it not for any kind of serious Bible study.  

>As of March this year (2000), we were told there are now 1000 versions of the Bible.  Can you confirm this. True, False or have you heard.

Brother David

I assume you mean "1000 English translations" as I am sure there are far many more than that counting foreign versions. In any case, I hadn't heard this, but it wouldn't surprise me, especially if they're counting every English translation ever made, going back to Wycllife's.

>Have you had a chance to look at the God's Word translation of the Bible?


I've seen a few verses from it. And from what I've seen it looks like a paraphrase. As such it is not "God's Word"—but a human opinion on what God meant by what he said. In other words, it’s a commentary, not a translation.

Note: After receiving the above e-mail, I decided to include an evaluation of God's Word in my book Differences Between Bible Versions.

Since I’ve had question about it, I asked Maurice Robinson (of Robinson and Pierpont’s Majority Text) what became of the Logos 21 Version since the passing away of Arthur Farstad (the translator). He replied:

> The people who were distributing the Gospel of John in both NKJV and Logos 21 format are still sending these out as originally prepared by Farstad.  However, a few months before Farstad died he sold over the rights to Logos 21 to Broadman/Holman (the SBC publishing house), and they renamed the project the Holman Christian Standard Bible and are continuing the work with a new team of translators. 

HOWEVER—and this is a major bone of contention with me—the new team decided NOT to continue the project as a majority text translation, but have gone to an eclectic approach in which about 3/4 of the text now is following the Alexandrian base.... Farstad is probably rolling over in his grave over this one for not having stipulated precisely that the translation could only follow the H/F [Hodges and Farstad] majority text. What Hodges thinks, I don't know, since I have had no contact with him over the past several years.

This is *very* disappointing! I have removed the mentions of the Logos 21 on this site. Why Holmann would take over the project and change one of the main purposes behind it in the first place is beyond me. In another e-mail, Maurice Robinson stated that he believes money was the main reason, as in Holmann thinking a CT based version would sell better than a MT based one.



I found your material on NT manuscripts very interesting. I would like to know where I can get my hands on a non transliterated i.e. original Greek version of the Majority Text?

Thanking you in advance,

The MT is available in the Online Bible and the BibleWorks programs. For links to their Web sites, see the following page of my site (under Bible Programs): Bibles Online. It was available in hardcopy from Original Word Publishers, but I believe it is out of print now.

>Dear Gary,

I came across your interesting website recently and would like to know how I can purchase a Modern King James Bible.  The problem is, I'm in England and the bookshops here don't seem to have heard of it.

If possible, please can you send me an address where I can send a cheque or international money order , so that  I may purchase this Bible.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

The MKJV is available from: Books-A-Million.


Thank you for your reply regarding the Majority Text location. I've had more time to look through the darkness to light website - great work!!! ...


>Dear Sir,

>How does the New World Translation Of The Holy Scriptures rate in accuracy to the New King James Bible?

Anthony Tolbert

The NWT is the "Bible" of Jehovah's Witnesses. I put Bible in quotes as the NWT is purposely mistranslated to support JW doctrine. And it is a very poor translation in general. Several years ago I went through the first four chapters of Ephesians in the NWT marking all of the mistakes. I found so many that the pages looked like a checkerboard! 

There is simply no comparison between the NWT and the NKJV. The NKJV is a very reliable Bible version. I have been meaning to write an article on the NWT but simply haven't had the time. But there is plenty of info on my site as to why I think the NKJV is reliable. And if you compare the NWT with what I say about the NKJV, I think you'll see there's a very big difference between the two.

>Dear Mr. Zeolla,

Thank you for your wonderful article about Bible translations.  You and I have trod much the same ground when it comes to translations--and own many of the same books.  I'm a KJV man myself, but I also appreciate the other faithful translations.

Until recently I "bought into" the propaganda that the Critical Text was preferable--though I still used the KJV.  But then I made an exciting discovery--Titian's Diatessaron.  This document, which combines the greater part of the four gospels, bears witness to the texts of the gospels in the latter part of the second century.  In nearly every place where the Received Text differs from the Crititcal Text the Diatessaron follows the Received Text.

I strongly suspect that the Critical Text was constructed using manuscripts which fell into disuse because of their lack of reliability.

The text of the Diatessaron can be found on line here.


Thank you for the interesting info. I have heard of the Diatessaron but was not aware of the type of text it utilized. I will check out the Web site you indicate when I get the time. 

>I have a Greek-interlinear Bible. It says [in Acts 2:43] it should be (by the apostles)  instead of "through" as you say on your site. But my KJV has "through" in the footnotes. Do I have a bad Greek-interlinear Bible? Since I don't know any Greek do you recommend anything so I can check what it is saying?


The Greek word is dia which can be translated as "through" or "by." So it isn't a problem with your interlinear but a case of a translator's decision on which to use.

>You say on your site you believe we have 99.8% of the originals in the MT. If this is the case then what about God's promise to preserve his word, and why would he not preserve 0.2%? We may have arguments as to which are his words, but I believe they're all there. I believe all the words in the originals were inspired and deserving of preservation. Is there a reason you believe some of them were not preserved? Which words do you feel were left out?


By 99.8% is not meant that 0.2% is "missing." What it means it that for that miniscule amount it cannot be determined which of two or more variant readings is the correct one. So the text has been preserved; we're just not sure which of the possible readings to use. In such cases, Greek texts will footnote the possibilities.

>Brother Gary:

As your time permits, may I ask you to address statements I read many times that discribes the CT as "strongly eclectic."  I will cut and paste one here as an example of what I am referring to:

The Text. The UBS3 text, which is also shared by the 26th and 27th editions of Nestle-Aland, was prepared by a committee. As a result, it has few of the erratic readings which might be found in the text of a single editor (a fact which has been in large measure responsible for its widespread adoption). On the other hand, it is a strongly eclectic text, with no clear textual theory behind it. In general it follows the Alexandrian witnesses, and is closer to the Westcott & Hort text than most of the other modern editions, but it is not as radically Alexandrian as Westcott and Hort. (This was cut from here under the section entitled "United Bible Societies Edition").

How can the UBS text be considered eclectic if it generally follows the Alexandrian witnesses?  I would think that the MT would be a true eclectic text based on the criteria of its compilation as you have defined in you book.

So why do the CT people refer to the CT as a strongly eclectic text?

Grace & Peace,

The CT *is* primarily based on Alexandrian texts, but it does follow Byzantine readings at times, mainly when they are represented in the earliest papyri. The MT, OTOH, mainly follows the Byzantine Text, but not exclusively. So both texts are "eclectic" in about the same sense.

I guess the use of the label "eclectic" simply means the text is not based on one manuscript, or manuscript family. Probably, the main contrast would be between the CT and MT versus the TR. The TR is based solely on a handful of Byzantine texts. Similarly, WH's text was based solely on Alexandrian Texts. So maybe the label of eclectic is simply to distinguish the CT from these types of texts.

I hope that makes some sense!

>Hi Gary.

I was glad to hear that you are getting to grips with the back problem, and that you are beginning to write more on your web site.<

Thank you.

>I have read the Logos 21 Version of John and I am very impressed indeed. Do you have any information that would let me know when the full printed version of this Logos 21 Version will be available for purchase?<

Arthur Farstad was the primary translator of the Logos 21. With his recent passing away, I'm not sure what the status of the Logos 21 is. I haven't received anything from the MT Society, which was sponsoring it, for some time.

>Bless you brother Gary, I am still a loyal reader of your materials, you have the most balanced textual critic views I have ever read, I may not agree with them all, yet I am convinced that you are so gifted by God to give others the balance that we need in this very unbalanced world of so called Biblical scholarship.

In Christ,

Thank you for the kind comments.


I am looking for a source where I may buy a copy of the Byzantine New Testament in Greek. I have both the first and second editions of Hodges/Farstad's Greek New Testament in Majority Tradition. I have tried the publisher site but have gotten nowhere. Can you help?


The hardcopy edition of the Byzantine text is no longer in print. I know from conversations with Maurice Robinson that he has been trying to find a publisher but without success. The problem is, he wants to still make it freely available on the Web and in software programs, and no publisher will allow that. 

In any case, the text is available in the Online Bible and BibleWorks programs. So to get the text you'd need to get one of these programs. Links to sites with info on them are on the following page of my site: Bibles Online. 

>Great site! You have changed my Bible reading forever.<

Thanks. And I am thankful I could be of help.

> The question is, this site has a list of serious problems in the KJB. I noticed that many of the same problems also exist in my NKJV Bible. Are the listings correct to you knowledge?


This list of verses concerns the difference between the CT and the TR/ MT, and in a couple of cases between the TR and the CT/ MT. I discuss this subject, and even some of the specific verses they refer to in my articles listed under "Greek Text Types" on my Bible Versions Controversy page.

I will say this though, although I disagree with this site's position that the CT is superior to the TR, it is a good source for a list of the differences between the two texts.

>Hi Gary,

Just wanted to tell you and your readers that a free copy of the Logos 21 translation of the Gospel of John can be obtained here: http://www2.livingwater.org/livingwater/

Dr. Jon

Thanks for the info. I will make mention of it on my site.

>I enjoy your web site very much, I would like to thank you for your time you put into it.<

Thank you for the kind comments.

> I do have a couple of questions. First there seems to be a little debate over the symbol on the front of the NKJV Bibles, some say it belongs to the occult, some say it stands for the Holy Trinity. Could you give me any and all details you might have on this.<

This comes up a lot, and frankly I have never quite understood it. The triquetra is definitely a symbol of the Trinity. It has been used as such for centuries. It is simply an easy way to symbolize the three-in-oneness of God.

However, it is also true it has been used by pagans for centuries. The usage there is to show the unity of all things, as in pantheism. Now which used it first I really don't know, and it really doesn't matter. A symbol means what the person using it says it means.

> I love the NKJV but I would like to check this out just for my own piece of mind. Also I have read some of your ALT and it is very good, is there any way I could get the ALT text put into the Online Bible?

Thanks again,

To get the ALT in a searchable format, download the Bible Search Utility. It is a freeware program available through Compass Distributors. Follow the Bible Search Utility banner link on the ALT: Main Page for downloading.

Other than in the BSU, I am withholding giving permission for the use of ALT in any other program until it is in a more finished state.

>Newly published NT: From the MT from the Orthodox Church (who naturally accept the MT) there is a very accurate translation that was just published (URL below). You might find it useful in your comparisons. The translation of the verb tenses in addition to the footnotes that include Greek text comparisons from the varying Manuscripts with commentary from the early Church Fathers (NOT Catholic) make this very valuable. The downside for you will be the archaic language. Click here.


Thanks for the info.

> I had been wondering about the various Bible translations and which is best. Your very succinct overview gave me the foundational material that I need to evaluate the matter. Thank you.

Yours is a very good site that I will recommend to others.

God Bless You!

1/20/2000 <

Thank you for the kind comments, and the recommendation to others.

>Dear Gary,

I have just come to notice that there is quite a difference [in proverb 11:30] between the REB, NEB, & RSV versus the NKJV, LITV, AV, etc. It seems to me that the meanings aren't even the same. Please explain why. Thank you and may God bless you and your work.


I didn't have some of the first versions you mentioned, so I checked the versions available on The Bible Gateway.

The different versions there read:
NIV - The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.
RSV - The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, but lawlessness takes away lives.
KJV - The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.
DBY - The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and the wise winneth souls.
YLT - The fruit of the righteous [is] a tree of life, And whoso is taking souls [is] wise.

NKJV - The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise.

So it would seem out of all of these versions only the RSV is "out of place." But I assume from your comments, the REB and NEB read like the RSV.

As for the Hebrew text, I have no idea where "lawlessness" comes from in the RSV. Unless there is some kind of textual variant I'm not aware of, there is no word with that meaning in the text. As for "lives" vs. "souls," either translation of the Hebrew word is possible.

>Gary, I hope this question doesn't make me sound to stupid, but I have read in many places and in an online article you wrote that the NKJV (my preferred version) was written at an 8th grade level, and the KJV was written at a 12th grade level. I have always had trouble with the KJV (I am a preacher) and I assumed it was because of its old English. Too, I have also understood educational level to refer primarily to vocabulary. I always thought the sentence construction in the KJV was complicated and that this contributed to my difficulty with it. Perhaps it was my mental capabilities that are suspect. Would you mind emailing a reply?

Thanks a lot.

Thank you for your e-mail. If you're a pastor I doubt very much your "mental capabilities suspect." If they are then mine are too as _I_ have trouble reading the KJV!

I think the "reading grade levels" are more a way to compare the difficulties of different versions than to try to "grade" which version someone can read based on how much schooling they have. Exactly how such things are figured out I'm not sure. And note, I've seen other charts where the KJV was rated at "14th" grade, meaning a sophomore in college I assume. So there is no exact formula for figuring such things.

>Hi Gary!

I am really enjoying the Bible Version Controversy part of your website; in fact, I haven't had time to check out the rest of your site yet! Yours is by far the most logical and least legalistic argument regarding the problems with various modern Bible translations. One site I visited said that I was "cursed" for having used the NIV!<

Thank you for the kind comments. I try to be as "balanced" as I can, presenting my position as well as I can, but without making ridiculous comments like what you relate in your last sentence!

>I do have one comment on a particular paragraph in your book.

>>As for Sargent's second question, yes, one does "need to know Hebrew and Greek to FULLY understand the Bible." The above example showed how a look at the Hebrew helped to bring out shades of meaning which might be missed in an English translation.<<

I would suggest that even the man or women who is a Hebrew and Greek EXPERT still does not "FULLY" understand the Bible, as it is the Word of God, Whose thoughts are above our thoughts! Just an observation.<

You're correct here. It is probably just a matter of semantics. What I'm trying to say is what I related in the article My Bible Versions Experience - that learning Hebrew and Greek really helped to "open" the Bible up to me. I will change it to, "knowing Hebrew and Greek does help one to more fully understand the Bible."

>I am planning on using our NKJV more often now, but I enjoy comparing versions, and find that it gives me a fuller appreciation of what God says. God has used EVERY version in my life!<

It is very helpful to compare versions.

>I look forward to seeing the rest of your site as well.

Grace and Peace,

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

Bible Versions Controversy: Yearly Comments
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