More Bible Versions

“Of the making of new Bible versions there seems to be no end.” According to “Dateline Tomorrow” in the January 1973 issue of The Christian Herald there is a new “Common Bible” version which was slated for publication in England in January, 1973. It is said to have unprecedented endorsement by British Protestants, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. From those who look favorably on the development of new versions the present era been termed as the “Golden Age of Versions”.

Ever since the publication and big sales of the Revised Standard Version (RSV) 1952, new versions have been adding popularity, especially to the purchase of Bibles. In the first two months after the publication of the RSV one million six hundred thousand copies were sold. The “Living Bible”, a new paraphrase, now boasts about ten million copies sold. “Good News for Modern Man” (Today’s English Version — TEV) has become an all-time best-selling paperback with over one million copies sold. One would have reason for rejoicing in this popularity for the purchase of Bibles if we could see these millions of buyers trembling at the commandments of God and coming under the Savior-hood and Lordship of Christ. From all evidence the very contrary seems to be true. These Bibles have become symbols of the most popular, best-selling, unread or misunderstood books of all ages.

The original manuscripts of God's Word (written largely in Hebrew and Greek) were infallible even to the point of every “jot and tittle”. In the first Article of Faith (Garden City MO, 1921) it is declared that the Word of God is “inerrant in the original writings, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice”.

The Church has never claimed this kind of infallibility for any translation or version of the Bible developed since the original writings. We do believe, however, that when men are sincere with God in their motives and intentions God will so direct that in the translating of His Sacred Word His full will may be clearly known.

We also recognize, however, that there is always a danger of translation or version authors being influenced by unbelief or preconceived theological concepts so that the translations or versions become, in a measure at least, the interpretation of the author. Wuest's “Greek New Testament” is badly tainted with the author's Calvinistic theology. The “New English Bible” indicates a bias for only partial inspiration of the Scriptures when it translates II Timothy 3:16 “Every inspired Scripture has its use for teaching . . .”

The RSV was sponsored by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of America. The National Council as well as the men who were appointed for the work are, according to our understanding of Biblical truth, modernistic or have modernistic trends. It is not at all surprising, therefore, to find some passages where the deity and virgin birth of Christ are shaded even though there are many other passages where His deity and virgin birth are clearly indicated. As examples, there are many references to Christ where the term “son” is used but is not capitalized while in other references the capital “S” is used. In the first three chapters of John, the King James Version refers four times to Christ as the “only begotten Son” of God. The RSV drops the word “begotten” in each of these references which, of course, eliminates the deity and virgin birth of Christ in these passages. Other examples could be cited.

Whether it was done intentionally or unintentionally, this writer believes that RSV was a half-way version preparing the way for a move fully modernistic version sometime later. Perhaps it could be illustrated by the children's meeting on Easter Sunday in which the children were asked whether Easter means the resurrection of Jesus or a rabbit that lays eggs and one little boy promptly answered, “fifty-fifty”. The RSV seems to be a “fifty-fifty” version on the deity and virgin birth of Christ.

The forthcoming “Common Bible” version is said to “reflect changes in the text of the RSV” This “Common Bible” version which is so highly endorsed by Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Churches will no doubt soon need to be replaced by a version that will also be endorsed by Jewish religious leaders. There are “scholars” (?) already who are recommending “that Catholic, Jewish and Protestant scholars seek a common condensed (italics mine) version of the Bible.”

Now if the Bible is condensed to suit Catholics who believe that Mary is the mother of God and our most effective mediator, etc., and Jews who believe that Christ was a bastard, etc., and Protestants who have apostatized to the point of cooperation with the above named religious groups, it will be far less than a “fifty-fifty” truth-Bible. Such a Bible could rightly be named the “Reversed Standard Version”.

Amidst the present shower of Bible versions, and more showers on the way, we would like to encourage the continued faithful use of the “King James Version” (KJV). The KJV has stood the test of over three and one half centuries. It stands today as a monument of security against the invasion of the higher criticism of the past and the modernism of today. We believe it will continue to be a bulwark of safety against the subtle additions to and subtractions of many modern versions from the unchanging Word of the Lord.

The KJV stands, perhaps unmatched, as a safe translation and as a masterpiece of English literature. Its literary style and verse arrangement enhances Bible memorization which is practically lost today in the forest of modern versions.

We do not need any more new versions of the Bible — except the version of living epistles of the unchanging Word which our God has so graciously preserved for us.

Aaron M. Shank

July 1973