How Much Can Christians Benefit From Knowing About New Testament Textual Studies and Modern Bible Translations?

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Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 120 books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

We cannot possibly consider all English Bible translations, so we have decided to evaluate the essentially literal translation (ESV), the optimally literal (HCSB/CSB), and the actual literal translations (UASV, NASB, NKJV). We have no choice but to look at the Dynamic equivalent translations New International Version and the New Revised Standard Version. Before we list the translations let us offer the reader a general overview.

There truly has been a renewed interest in the field of textual criticism, which had lain relatively dormant for several decades. What has contributed to this renewed interest? Several factors have contributed to the rehabilitated awareness: the internet has provided such tools as Yahoo and Google discussion boards, where scholars and laypersons alike can discuss the science and art of textual criticism. The internet has given the layperson many free websites that offer comprehensive information about textual criticism. Evangelism is another reason for the resurgence of textual criticism. Evangelism is defined as “planting the seeds of the Gospel” while Preevangelism is defined as “tilling the soil of people’s minds and hearts to help them be more willing to listen to the truth” (Geisler and Geisler 2009, p. 22). This leads us to the third main reason for the renewed interest: The New Atheist, Agnostic, and Skeptic, who seek to cast doubt on the existence of God and his Word. These new critics of God and the Bible are different from those of 60 years ago or so, as they are far more evangelistic than even Christians. These new critics pen many books, magazine articles, advertising on billboards, news, and radio shows, and publicly debate Bible scholars. They seem to be everywhere and are contributing to the spiritual shipwreck of tens of thousands of Christians.

9781949586121 BIBLE DIFFICULTIES THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS

The fourth contributing factor to this renewed interest is scholarly books written for the layperson, which have enabled the churchgoer to enter the conversation. We now have a plethora of books dealing with numerous biblical fields, which enable Christians to avoid falling into the trap of doubting that what they have is, in fact, the Word of God, inspired and fully inerrant. There is absolutely no one to be blamed if we end up in repeated conversations that cast doubt on our beliefs and the Word of God, except ourselves. If the average Christian is going to be effective in his Preevangelism (apologetics) of helping those with receptive hearts to overcome the assault on God’s Word, they need good Bible study tools.

In addition, the renewed interest of textual criticism brings up why it is important to all churchgoers who may simply own a few good English translations. What is the benefit of all Churchgoers knowing about textual criticism? First, we might all agree on two very important points as it relates to translation differences. Most churchgoers would agree that what they want in their Bible is what God had the original authors write translated into English (ASV, RSV, NASB, ESV, CSB, UASV), not some interpretive translation, not what a translator thinks God meant in its place. (NLT, NIV, TEV, CEV) The same holds true with textual criticism.  Most churchgoers would agree that what they want in their Bible is what God had the original authors, who were moved along by Holy Spirit to write, namely, the inspired, inerrant Word of God (ASV, RSV, ESV, CSB, UASV), not the thousands of intentional and unintentional textual errors of copyists that crept into the text over 1,400 years of copying. (KJV, NKJV, NASB, and the DRV) The same holds true with textual criticism. So, our understanding of the foundations of, the basics of Bible translation philosophy and textual criticism can enable us to make the best choice when selecting a Bible translation.

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS

Do we as Bible readers seeking what God had penned under inspiration want the King James Version or the New King James Version that is based on the text of the 16th century (TR), the corrupt Byzantine text-type represented in the great majority of Greek Manuscripts? Or, rather, do we want the up-to-date Bible translations that rely upon the modern critical text of Westcott and Hort, the Nestle-Aland and the United Bible Society, which departs from the Byzantine tradition (WHNU). The following are critical texts: the TR stands for Textus Receptus text (1550), WH stands for Westcott and Hort text (1881), and NU stands for the Nestle-Aland text (2011) and the United Bible Societies text (2015). If we want to make such choices, eyes wide open, we must fully understand how the Greek text came down to us.

Why are Jehovah’s Witnesses so easily able to convert Christians over into their religion, by the millions. It is because the Christians, sadly are unaware, they have not taken in enough knowledge of God’s Word, in short, they lack knowledge. Therefore, what the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach sounds very good and very reasonable, and even very biblical to a person who lacks Bible knowledge. The same is true with this King James Version Onlist cult, who are able to hold millions of Christians under their influence because the Christian lacks an accurate knowledge (Gr. epignosis, used by Paul 21 times) of exactly how the Greek New Testament came down to us. Yes, there are some KJVOist out there who have a good measure of knowledge about the text of the New Testament but it is through the prism of the mind control of the KJVOist, who having impacted their thinking and their way of thinking, so any real evidence is dismissed out of hand or seen as mere trickery by those who have the accurate knowledge of the Greek text of the New Testament. This is how the Jehovah’s Witnesses operate, sowing doubt about all others. Witnesses say that true Christianity is the whore of Babylon and the tool of Satan, to trust them is to trust Satan and deny the truth. The KJVOist do the same in saying that all translations other than the KJV are the product of Satan.

In addition, understanding textual criticism is the same as understand Bible translation philosophy in another way. Those choosing literal translation do so because they do not want a translator making interpretive choices for them. The churchgoer can use textual criticism for the very same reason, removing the textual scholar from the driver’s seat so they can determine for themselves if a particular reading is original or not. As they read the Bible, the churchgoer encounters textual footnotes and they are left out of the discussion if they have no knowledge of textual studies.

The P52 PROJECT THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS 4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS

There is both good news and bad news. The good news is that all of the major English translation gives the reader footnotes where there are major textual issues that will affect the translation. However, the bad news is, this footnote means very little in the grand scheme of things. Let’s consider Matthew 6:13.

Matthew 6:13 (ESV)

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.[a]

[a] some manuscripts add For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen

 

Matthew 6:13 (CSB)

13 And do not bring us into temptation,

but deliver us from the evil one.[b]

[b] Or from evil; some later mss add For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Matthew 6:13 (NASB)

13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from [a]evil. [b][For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]

[b] This clause not found in early mss

Matthew 6:13 (NIV)

13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]

but deliver us from the evil one.[b]

[b] some late manuscripts one, / for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Matthew 6:13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

13 And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from the wicked one.[1]

[1] Matthew 6:13 ends with “but deliver us from the wicked one.” This is supported by the earliest and best manuscripts (א B D Z 0170 f1). Within the other extant manuscripts, there are six different additions to the end of Matthew 6:13, which is evidence against any addition at all. Within this footnote, we will deal with just one, which is found in the Textus Receptus and the King James Version, “for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, amen.” (L W Δ Θ 0233 f13 33 Maj syr) These later manuscripts do not outweigh the earlier Alexandrian manuscripts (א B), the Western (D), and most Old Latin, as well as other (f1) text types, and the early commentaries on the Lord’s prayer (Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian). It seems that the scribes were looking to conclude the Lord’s Prayer with an uplifting message, or in the case of a couple additional support for the Trinity doctrine. “because yours is the kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit forever. Amen.” (157 1253)

What do these textual footnotes in the ESV, CSB, NASB, and the NIV tell you about this interpolation? Basically, ‘some late manuscripts added this doxology at the and of the end of the Lord’s Prayer.’ The NKJV is just the opposite by saying, “NU omits the rest of v. 13.” The NASB is basically with the NKJV in that it has the textual interpolations in the main text of the Bible itself and a footnote that reads, “This clause not found in early mss.” The reader has no way of knowing if it is true, they have no way of defending it when they talk with the KJVOist on social media. All they can say in response is, ‘it is what my Bible says in a footnote.’ The Updated American Standard Version footnote offers the reader far more.

King James Onlyist (KJVO): Of course, the New Testament of the King James Version and the New King James Version is based on the Textus Receptus. Both the King James Onlyist (KJVO) and the Textus Receptus Onlyist (TRO) are of the same mind, the same way of thinking. The King James Onlyist are that the King James Version is the only English Bible that should be viewed as God’s Word.

Textus Receptus Onlyist (TRO): These scholars and their followers believe that the critical Text of Erasmus of 1516, the 1550 Stephanus New Testament, and all the critical New Testament Texts up until 1633 better preserve the original. While the Textus Receptus is based on the Byzantine text, it is only based on about seven manuscripts out of thousands. Daniel B. Wallace has counted 1,838 differences between the Textus Receptus and the Majority Text of Hodges and Farstad. – “Some Second Thoughts on the Majority Text,” Bibliotheca Sacra 146 (July–September 1989): 276.) 

Majority Text Onlyist (MTO): These scholars and their followers believe that the words penned by the original authors are better preserved in the thousands of Byzantine texts.

The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02

Significant Editions of the Greek New Testament

[There are] four [major] editions of the Greek New Testament: (1) the Textus Receptus, (2) Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in the Original Greek, (3) the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (third and fourth editions), and (4) the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh editions).

The Textus Receptus (TR)

The Textus Receptus (abbreviated TR in the commentary) has its roots in the early fourth century, when Lucian of Antioch produced a major recension of the New Testament (see Jerome’s introduction to his Latin translation of the Gospels, PL 29:527c). This text is sometimes called “Syrian,” because of its association with Antioch in Syria. Lucian’s work was a definite recension (i.e., a purposely created edition), in contrast to the Alexandrian text-type (see appendix D). The Alexandrian scribes did some minimal editing, such as we would call copy editing. By contrast, the Syrian text is the result of a much larger endeavor; it is characterized by smoothness of language, which is achieved by the removal of obscurities and awkward grammatical constructions, and by the conflation of variant readings.

Lucian’s text was produced prior to the Diocletian persecution (ca. 303), during which many copies of the New Testament were confiscated and destroyed. Not long after this period of devastation, Constantine came to power and recognized Christianity as a legal religion. There was, of course, a great need for copies of the New Testament to be made and distributed to churches throughout the Mediterranean world. It was at this time that Lucian’s text began to be propagated by bishops going out from Antioch to churches throughout the East. Lucian’s text soon became standard in the Eastern Church. For century after century—from the sixth to the fourteenth—the great majority of Greek New Testament manuscripts were produced in Byzantium, the capital of the Eastern Empire. All of these copies bore the same kind of text, one directly descended from Lucian’s Syrian recension. When the first Greek New Testament was printed (ca. 1525), it was based on a Greek text that Erasmus had compiled using a few late Byzantine manuscripts (notably, minuscules 1 and 2 of the twelfth century). This text went through a few more revisions by Robert Stephanus and then by Theodore Beza. Beza’s text was published by the Elzevir brothers in 1624, with a second edition in 1633. In this printing they announced that their edition contained “the text which is now received by all, in which we give nothing changed or corrupted.” In this way, “textus receptus” (the “received text”) became the name of this form of the Greek New Testament.

The edition of the Textus Receptus cited throughout [Christian Publishing House blog] is that of Stephanus (1550). The Elzevirs’ text (1624) is virtually the same. Both can be called the Textus Receptus (TR).

In recent years, a few scholars have attempted to defend the validity of the Textus Receptus or what they would call the Majority Text. The Majority Text is nearly the same as the Textus Receptus since TR was derived from manuscripts produced in Byzantium, where the majority of other Greek New Testaments were produced. The two terms are not completely synonymous, however, because TR did not attempt to reproduce the reading found in a statistical majority of witnesses. Thus, it does not consistently reflect the Majority Text throughout. Majority Text is more nearly synonymous with the Byzantine text-type because it was in Byzantium (and surrounding regions) that Lucian’s recension was copied again and again in thousands of manuscripts.

Modern advocates of the superiority of the Majority Text over other text-types are Hodges and Farstad, who produced The Greek New Testament according to the Majority Text. Their arguments are more theological than textual. They reason that God would not have allowed a corrupt or inferior text to be found in the majority of manuscripts while permitting a superior text to be hidden away in a few early manuscripts somewhere in the sands of Egypt. Further, they argue that the church’s adoption of the Majority Text was a vindication of its correctness, while the obscurity of the Egyptian text was a sign of its rejection.

Most contemporary scholars contend that a minority of manuscripts—primarily the earliest ones—preserve the most authentic wording of the text. Those who defend the Majority Text (and its well-known incarnations, TR and KJV) would have to prove that these earlier manuscripts, usually having a slimmer text than what appears in later manuscripts, were purposefully trimmed at an early stage in the textual transmission. In other words, they would have to present good arguments as to why early scribes would have purposely excised the following passages: Matthew 5:44b; 6:13b; 16:2b–3; 17:21; 18:11; 20:16b, 22–23; 23:14; 27:35b; Mark 7:16; 9:44, 46; 11:26; 15:28; 16:8–20; Luke 4:4b; 9:54c–56; 11:2; 17:36; 22:43–44; 23:17, 34; John 5:3b–4; 7:53–8:11; Acts 8:37; 15:34; 24:6b–8a; 28:16b, 29; Romans 16:24; 1 John 5:6b–8a. Had these portions originally been in the text, there are no good explanations why they would have been eliminated. On the other hand, there are several good explanations why they were added, such as gospel harmonization, the insertion of oral traditions, and theological enhancements (see commentary on the above passages). It is true that some of the earliest scribes were prone to shorten their texts in the interest of readability, but these deletions usually involved only a few words. Thus, most scholars see TR as being the culmination of textual accretions.

4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS The Complete Guide to Bible Translation-2

Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in the Original Greek (WH)

Aided by the work of scholars such as Tregelles and Tischendorf, two British scholars, Brooke Westcott and Fenton Hort, worked together for twenty-eight years to produce an edition entitled The New Testament in the Original Greek (2 volumes, 1881–1882; abbreviated WH in the commentary). In this publication, they made known their theory (which was chiefly Hort’s) that Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus (along with a few other early manuscripts) represented a text that most closely replicated the original writing. This is the text, which they called the Neutral Text, that Westcott and Hort attempted to reproduce in their edition. Their work was historically significant in that it dethroned reliance on the Textus Receptus.

In my opinion, Westcott and Hort’s edition is still to this day, even with so many more manuscript discoveries, a very close reproduction of the primitive text of the New Testament. Of course, like many others, I think they gave too much weight to Codex Vaticanus alone. This criticism aside, the Westcott and Hort text is extremely reliable. In my own studies of textual variants, in many instances where I would disagree with the wording in the NU edition in favor of a particular variant reading, I would later check with WH and realize that they had come to the same decision. This revealed to me that I was working on a similar methodological basis as they. Since the era of Westcott and Hort, hundreds of other manuscripts have been discovered, notably the early papyri. Were Westcott and Hort alive today, they would be pleased to see that several of these papyri affirm their view that Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus are reliable witnesses of a very primitive form of the Greek New Testament. They would have undoubtedly altered some of their textual choices based on the evidence of the papyri. For example, the testimony of 𝔓75 (with א and B) in several Lukan passages clearly indicates that Westcott and Hort were wrong to have excluded several passages in Luke 22–24 based on their theory of “Western noninterpolations.”

THE LIFE OF Paul by Stalker-1 Paul PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL

The Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (26th and 27th editions) and The United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (3rd and 4th corrected editions) (NU)

In the [Christian Publishing House Blog] these two editions, which have the same text, are referred to jointly as NU; when it is necessary to refer to the volumes individually, the sigla NA26, NA27, NA28, UBS3, and UBS4 UBS5 are used.

The United Bible Societies prepared an edition of the Greek New Testament as a tool for their Bible translators, in which a full citation of witnesses was given in the critical apparatus for significant variants. After the United Bible Societies had published two editions of the Greek New Testament, they decided to unite with the work being done on the twenty-sixth edition of the Nestle-Aland text, a scholarly reference tool.

Thus, the United Bible Societies’ third edition of the Greek New Testament and the Nestle-Aland twenty-sixth edition of Novum Testament Graece have the same text. Each, however, has different punctuation and a different critical apparatus. The United Bible Societies’ text has a plenary listing of witnesses for select variation units; the Nestle-Aland text has a condensed listing of the manuscript evidence for almost all the variant-units. Both works have since gone into another edition (the fourth and twenty-seventh, respectively), manifesting a multitude of corrections to the critical apparatus but not to the wording of the text itself.

In The Text of the New Testament, Kurt and Barbara Aland argue that the Nestle-Aland text “comes closer to the original text of the New Testament than did Tischendorf or Westcott and Hort, not to mention von Soden” (1991, 32). And in several other passages they intimate that this text may very well be the original text. This is evident in Kurt Aland’s defense (1979, 14) of NA26 as the new “standard text”:

The new “standard text” has passed the test of the early papyri and uncials. It corresponds, in fact, to the text of the early time.… At no place and at no time do we find readings here [in the earliest manuscripts] that require a change in the “standard text.” If the investigation conducted here in all its brevity and compactness could be presented fully, the detailed apparatus accompanying each variant would convince the last doubter. A hundred years after Westcott-Hort, the goal of an edition of the New Testament “in the original Greek” seems to have been reached.… The desired goal appears now to have been attained, to offer the writings of the New Testament in the form of the text that comes nearest to that which, from the hand of their authors or redactors, they set out on their journey in the church of the first and second centuries.

English Bible Versions King James Bible KING JAMES BIBLE II

Though the Alands should be commended for their work, it remains to be seen whether or not the Nestle-Aland text is the best replication of the original text. As noted before, I have my doubts. … Nonetheless, the Nestle-Aland Greek text is now truly recognized as the standard text, accepted by most of the academic community as representing the best attempt at reconstructing the original text of the Greek New Testament.

Since the scholarly community worldwide is most familiar with NU, this is the edition given first in each listing of textual variants. The NU reading is printed as it stands in the UBS4 edition, including accents. All the variants are unaccented, as in the critical apparatus of NA27. This presentation should not be interpreted as implying, however, that this text is “inspired” or infallible—as many scholars will readily attest. The NU editors were able to take into consideration the newly discovered documents as they sought to produce a more accurate text. In many places they no doubt have achieved their goal to produce a more accurate text than did Westcott and Hort. However, their strong reliance on the eclectic method has produced an uneven documentary text. In some, but not all, instances, the Nestle-Aland text presents an advance beyond Westcott and Hort.

Nonetheless, the reader will see that the NU and WH editions often agree on matters of major textual significance. Where the WH and NU diverge, however, NU far more frequently concurs with TR than does WH. Furthermore, where WH and NU differ, I am inclined quite frequently to agree with WH on the basis of documentary evidence.[*]

[*] Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary: Commentary on the Variant Readings of the Ancient New Testament Manuscripts and How They Relate to the Major English Translations (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2008), xxiii–xxvi.

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS

Biblical illiteracy being at 90%+ and giving Christians a Bible written on a 9th-11th-grade level is not too effective.

UASV WILL ADD THESE FEATURES (Each one is 5-8 pages long)

Appendix A

  • A1 Principles of Bible Translation
  • A1 Basics of Biblical Interpretation
  • A1 How to study the Bible
  • A1 Basics of Old Testament Textual Criticism
  • A1 Basics of New Testament Textual Criticism
  • A1 Basics of Biblical Hebrew
  • A1 Basics of Biblical Greek
  • A1 Basics of Christian Apologetics
  • A1 Bible Difficulties Explained
  • A1 Basics of Biblical Archaeology
  • A1 Basics of Christian evangelism

The ESV, CSB, NASB, and the NIV, as well as most other major translations, including the dynamic equivalent,  do not provide the readers with what they need to be able to make an informed decision about these significant textual variants. These footnotes do not allow the reader a non-textual scholar to truly evaluate the different variants (textual errors) of a variant unit (place in the manuscript where there are multiple differences) because they do not know what internal and external evidence supports each variant, or how to evaluate the weight of these manuscripts behind the variants. If the reading in the main text has (א B P75 and P66) and the variant has (L W Δ Θ 0233 f13 33 Maj syr), most churchgoers are going to think, wait, the variant has far more manuscript support than the reading in the main text, not knowing manuscripts are weighed not counted.

All the reader knows in the ESV, CSB, NASB, and the NIV, as well as most other major translations are that the Bible translation has made the decision for them, for they (1) do not have enough information in the footnote for them to evaluate the variants, and (2) if they were given external manuscript evidence, this would still prove to be unhelpful without knowing how to weigh the manuscript support. Moreover, how many churchgoers out of 2 billion can evaluate the variant readings for themselves by considering the internal evidence, such as context, style, and theological inferences. Thus, the reader is at the mercy of the translation’s textual committee choosing for them. Think this through for a moment. The reader who has chosen a literal translation has done so because he did not want translators making interpretive choices for him. Now, we have the translation doing just that with the textual decision. If the reader had enough information by way of appendices Basics of Old Testament Textual Criticism and Basics of New Testament Textual Criticism, as well as a footnote that gave them the external manuscripts.

Romans 16:24 Updated American Standard Version

24 ——[1]

[1] P46 P61 א A B C 1739 Itb cop omit; DItVgc, [The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.], which is the same as the end of vs 20. The earliest MSS support the omission of this verse. All modern translation does not include this verse because of superior testimony.

Thus, what is the benefit knowing ‘later manuscripts add this …’ or ‘early manuscripts do not contain this …’? Or, what is the benefit if the translation even listed the manuscript support if the reader cannot weigh the evidence himself for or against to determine for himself, which is the original reading?

The answer to our problem is quite simple for both internal and external evidence. There needs to be an appendix that makes the reader aware of how to weigh the manuscript evidence (Basics of Old Testament Textual Criticism and Basics of New Testament Textual Criticism) and a chart at the outset the translation that lists the major Manuscripts and Ancient Versions.

DEFENDING OLD TESTAMENT AUTHORSHIP Agabus Cover BIBLICAL CRITICISM

In summary, almost all modern translations of the New Testament use the Nestle-Aland-United Bible Society critical text that is reflective of the early Alexandrian family of texts. Nevertheless, these translations do offer the reader the briefest of footnotes that address the significant variants. At present, these footnotes do very little to offer the uninformed reader any means of weighing the evidence for or against a particular reading. Until this is made available in modern translations, readers are going to have to invest in a critical commentary that will enable them to hear reasoned arguments on most of the significant variant of the Greek New Testament, as to why one reading was chosen over another. The score below is based on whether the translation has textual footnotes, the detail of those notes, and is there any information provided so the reader can comprehend and make an informed decision about the footnotes.

Comparison Results by Score of to What Degree the Reader Is Informed about Textual Issues

Bible Version Score NT Textual Base
New King James Version (NKJV) 20% Textus Receptus
New American Standard Bible (NASB) 30% UBS5 & Nestle-Aland 28
English Standard Version (ESV) 30% UBS5 & Nestle-Aland 28
Christian Standard Bible (CSB) 30% UBS5 & Nestle-Aland 28
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)) 30% UBS3 & Nestle-Aland 26
New International Version (NIV) 30% UBS5 & Nestle-Aland 28
Updated American Standard Version (UASV) 100% Westcott & Hort

UBS5 & Nestle-Aland 28

American Standard Version (1901)—ASV

The ASV (essentially the same as the English Revised Version, 1881, with minor changes made for American readers) is the best English translation reflecting the Greek text produced by the end of nineteenth century through the labors of men like Tregelles, Tischendorf, Westcott, and Hort. These men were greatly influenced by Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, but not by the papyri, since only a few had been discovered and published by then. Thus, ASV reflects the influence of these two great uncial manuscripts and serves as a point of comparison with the subsequent twentieth-century versions. In this commentary, it is cited sparingly. – (Comfort, 2008, p. xxvii)

Revised Standard Version (1952)—RSV

The RSV is a revision of ASV. It was felt that ASV suffered from being too rigid; it needed reworking to make it more idiomatic. The demand for revision was strengthened by the discovery of several important biblical manuscripts in the 1930s and 1940s—namely, the Dead Sea Scrolls for the Old Testament and the Chester Beatty Papyri for the New Testament. The RSV New Testament was based on the seventeenth edition of the Nestle text (1941). (Comfort, 2008, p. xxvii)

Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

GREEK TEXT: The primary Greek text used for the preparation of the English text of the Greek Scripture portion of the Updated American Standard Version was the NA. Kurt Aland et al., Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th/28th Edition. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993/2012). [1]

The Updated American Standard Version (UASV) holds to the classic literal translation philosophy of English Bible translations over the past five hundred years. The source of this philosophy was William Tyndale’s New Testament of 1526; the King James Version of 1611 (KJV), the English Revised Version of 1885 (RV), and the foundation text for the UASV, the American Standard Version of 1901 (ASV).

The Updated American Standard Version endeavors to give its readers a deeper, more accurate translation that remains faithful to the original text. By translating Scripture into the closest possible corresponding modern English, the UASV allows readers to encounter God’s Word at it was originally intended.

Developed by one Bible scholar, in the translation legacy of William Tyndale, the Updated American Standard Version remains faithful to the Bible’s original text; therefore, the original author’s meaning is never endangered for the sake of readability, for it is the reader’s task to determine what the Bible author meant by the words that he used. In this literal translation that remains faithful to its translation philosophy, the reader can be secure in knowing that they are always getting the Word of God in English not what a translator has interpreted it to be. In order to achieve this, by way of the good judgment of the translator, every word and phrase in the UASV has been considered against the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, to give its readers the fullest accuracy.

The UASV was produced using lexical or linguistic translation philosophy that focuses on the accuracy of translating from the original languages into modern English, painstakingly deciding what English word or phrase most closely corresponds to a given word of the original text, never sacrificing accuracy for the sake of readability. Almost always the translator has given the reader a literal translation, a word-for-word rendering, as it is clearly understandable. However, in the rarest of exceptions, if it has been determined that the rendering will be misunderstood or misinterpreted, there is no going to extremes in the literal translation of the text just for the sake of being literal. At times, the translator has retained the literal rendering, such as “slept” for example and added the phrase “in death,” which completes the sense in the English text. (1 Kings 2:10) This process assures that the words of the original text chosen under inspiration by its authors are translated as accurately as possible for our readers.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

For the New Testament the Committee has based its work on the most recent edition of the Greek New Testament, prepared by an interconfessional and international committee and published by the United Bible Societies (1966; 3rd ed. corrected, 1983; information concerning changes to be introduced into the critical apparatus of the forthcoming 4th edition was available to the Committee). As in that edition, double brackets are used to enclose a few passages that are generally regarded to be later additions to the text, but which we have retained because of their evident antiquity and their importance in the textual tradition. Only in very rare instances have we replaced the text of the punctuation of the Bible Societies’ edition by an alternative that seemed to us to be superior. Here and there in the footnotes the phrase, “Other ancient authorities read,” identifies alternative readings preserved by Greek manuscripts and early versions. In both Testaments, alternative renderings of the text are indicated by the word “Or.”[2]

English Standard Version (ESV)

Similarly, in a few difficult cases in the New Testament, the ESV has followed a Greek text different from the text given preference in the UBS/Nestle-Aland 28th edition. Throughout, the translation team has benefited greatly from the massive textual resources that have become readily available recently, from new insights into biblical laws and culture, and from current advances in Hebrew and Greek lexicography and grammatical understanding.[3] “In the end, its text lies somewhere between RSV and NRSV; the translators were less likely than the NRSV committee to change RSV readings in the direction of NA27/UBS4.” (Comfort, 2008, p. xxviii)

is-the-quran-the-word-of-god UNDERSTANDING ISLAM AND TERRORISM THE GUIDE TO ANSWERING ISLAM.png

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) / Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

The textual base for the New Testament [NT] is the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th edition, and the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament, 4th corrected edition. The text for the Old Testament [OT] is the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 5th edition.

Where there are significant differences among Hebrew [Hb] and Aramaic [Aram] manuscripts of the OT or among Greek [Gk] manuscripts of the NT, the translators have followed what they believe is the original reading and have indicated the main alternative(s) in footnotes. The HCSB uses the traditional verse divisions found in most Protestant Bibles.[4] Comfort writes, “The Holman Christian Standard Bible was originally intended to be a fresh translation of the Majority Text; however, the textual basis was changed early on to the modern critical editions of the Hebrew Bible and Greek New Testament. In the New Testament, HCSB essentially follows NA27/UBS4, although it frequently provides TR readings in the footnotes.” – (Comfort, 2008, p. xxvi)

The 2017 Christian Standard Bible (CSB) In Its Own Words as to Trustworthiness

Below are two verses that I used for many principles in life, so let’s use these verses for translation principles as well. We will use the 2017 Christian Standard Bible (CSB). My words are in the brackets, of course. Bold is mine.

But first, by way of explanation, Dynamic equivalence (CEV, TEV, NLT, NIV, TNIV) and formal equivalence (KJV, ASV, RSV, ESV, NASB, UASV), terms coined by Eugene Nida, are two dissimilar translation approaches (philosophies), achieving a differing level of literalness between the source text and the target text, as employed in biblical translation. The formal equivalence is faithful to the original language text and gives the reader the corresponding words in the English translation, so it is a lexical or linguistic interpretive translation philosophy. The dynamic equivalent translation is faithful to the modern day reader and goes beyond the literal translation into commentary interpretation levels.

Matthew 7:21-23 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of (bold mine) my Father in heaven.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’’(Bold CSB)

1 John 2:17 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever. (Bold mine)

The reader should agree that the important point here is, what exactly is the will of the Father? Therefore, the actual Word of God is very important if we are to be doing the will of the Father and if a translator goes beyond a lexical or linguistic interpretation-translation over into the realm of interpretation-commentary, such as (CEV, GNT (TEV), NLT, etc.), he can give the reader the wrong meaning. Now, the ESV calls itself an essentially literal translation, so does that mean it is essentially the Word of God? Words matter.

The Updated American Standard Version’s primary purpose is to give the Bible readers what God said by way of his human authors, not what a translator thinks God meant in its place.

The Updated American Standard Version’s primary goal is to be accurate and faithful to the original text. The meaning of a word is the responsibility of the interpreter (i.e., reader), not the translator.

The Updated American Standard Version will be one of the most faithful and accurate translations to date. The CSB/HCSB, ESV, NASB, LEB are all great Bible translations that have many great strengths and some weaknesses. Below we will quote what the Christian Standard Bible says about itself and then analyze that point by point. Bold and different colors are mine.

THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy

CHRISTIAN STANDARD BIBLE VERSION INFORMATION: The Christian Standard Bible aims to draw readers into a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God. By translating Scripture into the clearest possible modern English, the CSB allows readers to experience God’s Word at its fullest.

Developed by 100 scholars from 17 denominations, the Christian Standard Bible faithfully and accurately captures the Bible’s original meaning without compromising readability.

The CSB was created using Optimal Equivalence, a translation philosophy that balances linguistic precision to the original languages and readability in contemporary English. In the many places throughout Scripture where a word-for-word rendering is clearly understandable, a literal translation is used. When a word-for-word rendering might obscure the meaning for a modern audiencea more dynamic translation is used. This process assures that both the words and thoughts contained in the original text are conveyed as accurately as possible for today’s readers. (Bold mine)

QUOTE: By translating Scripture into the clearest possible modern English, the CSB allows readers to experience God’s Word at its fullest.

RESPONSE: What does that mean, the clearest possible English? The dynamic equivalents have the clearest possible English because clear means being easy to perceive, understand, or interpret so the clearest, i.e., most clear of all would be the dynamic equivalents, such as the CEV, GNT (TEV), NLT, ERV, TNIV, and so on. However, being the clearest is not being the most accurate.

QUOTE: 100 scholars from 17 denominations

RESPONSE: This suggests that the translation will move away from what little literal translation philosophy that it has into the realms of an interfaith translation trying to please all people, such as the NRSV did.

I AM John 8.58 I AM John 8.58 I AM John 8.58

QUOTE: The CSB was created using Optimal Equivalence, a translation philosophy that balances linguistic precision to the original languages and readability in contemporary English.

RESPONSE: Optimal Equivalence sounds like code for dynamic equivalence philosophy, not literal translation philosophy. The idea of balancing being accurate and faithful to the original language texts with the readability of the modern reader means that the translation committee is going to take over the job of the reader and determine what is readable. The meaning of a word is the responsibility of the interpreter (i.e., reader), not the translator. Bible readers need to be given what God said by way of his human authors, not what a translator thinks God meant in its place, so as to make it easier.

QUOTE: In the many places throughout Scripture where a word-for-word rendering is clearly understandable, a literal translation is used.

RESPONSE: This is a slippery slope and as each revision roles out, we will find the translation committee determining more and more what is not clearly understood. The bar is set far too low with the word clearly and clearest being used. We will understand this more so in our next quote.

QUOTEWhen a word-for-word rendering might obscure the meaning for a modern audiencea more dynamic translation is used.

RESPONSE: The idea of might obscure is so dripping with subjectivity (based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions), it means that the most influential person on that translation committee is going to have the biggest impact. How about we drop the qualifier might and just go with obscure.

“The English Standard Version (ESV) is an “essentially literal” translation of the Bible in contemporary English. Created by a team of more than 100 leading evangelical scholars and pastors,” which had William (Bill) Mounce as their chief translator, who also moved onto the translation committee of the New International Version. He is a serious advocate for the dynamic equivalent translation philosophy. I have inside knowledge that when the ESV committee wanted to stay with a literal rendering, many time Mounce overruled them, so the ESV became a far less literal translation. However, they have published several books that advocate literal translation over dynamic equivalent translations when they hired a DE advocate as their chief translator and abandoned the philosophy more than they should have. The same can be said of the well worded CSB information about itself.

AN ENCOURAGING THOUGHT_01

QUOTE: This process assures that both the words and thoughts contained in the original text are conveyed as accurately as possible for today’s readers.

RESPONSE: As can be seen throughout, the focus is not on being faithful to the original language text but rather on today’s reader.

Why the Updated American Standard Version (UASV)?

The translation of God’s Word from the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek is a task unlike any other and should never be taken lightly. It carries with it the heaviest responsibility: the translator renders God’s thoughts into a modern language. The Updated American Standard Version (UASV)[5] is a literal translation. What does that mean?

Our primary purpose is to give the Bible readers what God said by way of his human authors, not what a translator thinks God meant in its place. – Truth Matters!

Our primary goal is to be accurate and faithful to the original text. The meaning of a word is the responsibility of the interpreter (i.e., reader), not the translator. – Translating Truth!

BIBLE DIFFICULTIES

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Greek Text: Consideration was given to the latest available manuscripts with a view to determining the best Greek text. In most instances, the 26th edition of Eberhard Nestle’s Novum Testamentum Graece was followed.[6] It should be noted that the NASB includes the Textus Receptus readings found in the NKJV in the main part of the translation not in footnotes. Comfort writes, “this translation is clearly lacking in terms of textual fidelity: though it was originally supposed to follow the twenty-third edition of the Nestle text, it tends to follow the Textus Receptus.” – (Comfort, 2008, p. xxviii)

New International Version (NIV)

The Greek text used in translating the New Testament is an eclectic one, based on the latest editions of the Nestle-Aland/United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament. The committee has made its choices among the variant readings in accordance with widely accepted principles of New Testament textual criticism. Footnotes call attention to places where uncertainty remains.[7] Comfort writes, “The New Testament essentially follows the United Bible Societies’ first edition of the Greek New Testament (1966). It diverges from NA27/UBS4 in about 350 significant places—many in agreement with TR.” – (Comfort, 2008, p. xxviii)

New King James Version (NKJV)

NKJV is a revision of KJV which modernizes its language but does not depart from KJV’s textual decisions. The New Testament of NKJV is thus based on the Textus Receptus, with several marginal notes on readings in the Majority Text (noted in NKJV as M-Text; see discussion under “Textus Receptus” above). NKJV also lists many textual differences between TR and the text of NA26/UBS3 (noted as NU-Text or U-Text). The reader can thus note how many significant differences there are between the two texts.[8]

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[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989).

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016).

[4] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009).

[5] https://www.uasvbible.org/

[6] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

[7] The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011).

[8] Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary: Commentary on the Variant Readings of the Ancient New Testament Manuscripts and How They Relate to the Major English Translations (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2008), xxvii.

10 thoughts on “How Much Can Christians Benefit From Knowing About New Testament Textual Studies and Modern Bible Translations?

Add yours

    1. The NA28 is the Nestle-Aland critical Greek New Testament. It is a restoration of what the original would have had, based on the work of dozens upon dozens of textual scholars over the past 120+ years. The manuscripts used to make the critical text date back as far as the early middle second century (125-150 A.D.) forward. Some date within decades of the Apostle John’s books.

      1. The Byzantine text that would later make up the KJV and NKJV only goes back to the late 400s, some 300+ years after the death of the apostle John. The Alexandrian MSS as I said earlier go back to 125-150, just a few decades from John. NOTE: The few Byzantine manuscripts that were used to make the Textus Receptus, that was used to make the NT of the KJV & NKJV date to the 1200s though.

      2. You are welcome. Just to add onto the previous comment, the Byzantine text is a corrupt text with many non-original readings, some 12 verses long other whole verses, and some words and phrases.

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