Are modern Bible translations wildly corrupted? Short conversation with a KJV Onlyist

Source: Phillip Gould

This article defends the preservation of Scripture not the inspiration

Learn more on key terms used or KJV Onlyism below:

Your beliefs are very different to the early church because of corrupted translations. Even leading anti Christian sceptic, Bart Ehrman, claims in an interview found in the appendix of Misquoting Jesus (p. 252), “there would be very few points of disagreement — maybe one or two dozen places out of many thousands. The position I argue for in ‘Misquoting Jesus’ does not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.”

Westcott and Hort highlighted in Introduction to the New Testament in the Original Greek that only 1/8th of the variants between the Textus Receptus (basis for KJV) and their own Greek text (basis for many modern translations) had any weight, with the rest being “trivialities,” meaning 98.33% of their text is in line with the Textus Receptus!

The 1611 KJV is the perfect Word of God. If that is the case why do most KJV Onlyists read a 1769 not 1611 KJV? Why does the 1611 version translate souls as fish in Isaiah 19:10 if it is perfect? Why the many changes between the 1611 and 1769 KJV outlined by William Combs? Why does the author of Hebrews quote a part of Deuteronomy 32:43 in Hebrews 1:6 “all God’s angels worship him”, if the KJV lacks this part of the verse in Deuteronomy while modern translations include it in line with Dead Sea Scroll findings?

God will preserve his Word, why doubt? God preserves his Word in the manuscript tradition. Why don’t you count the apocrypha as Scripture as they were included in the 1611? The KJV translators said they were not prophets and counted the Septuagint as Scripture though deriving the KJV OT from the Masoretic text. The KJV was unable to incorporate later findings in the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947–56. An example is Deut. 32:8 which says sons of God in the ESV reflecting Dead Sea Scroll findings while the KJV says children of Israel. The KJV confuses Kue with a “linen yarn” in 1 Kings 10:28, being captured with “joined unto them” in Isaiah 13:15 and uses the same Greek word to translate murder and kill in Matt. 19:18 and Romans 13:9 although these words have different meanings.

Modern translations downplay Christ’s divinity. The words Lord Jesus Christ appear over 60 times in both the NASB and NIV (White, 2009). The Granville Sharp Greek grammatical rule which applies to Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 was not recognised in 1611. As such the ESV emphasises Christ’s divinity more than the KJV in these passages with the KJV making God appear more separate from Jesus (our God and Saviour Jesus v God and our Saviour Jesus). Moreover the NIV refers to Jesus as God in Rom 9:5 and John 1:18 while the KJV does not. There are more examples here. The KJV also contains unique contradictions in Acts 9:7 and 22:9 not found in other modern translations.

The OT as found in the KJV is the only true OT Word from God. The KJV OT is based off the Masoretic text. Why then did the NT authors quote from the OT using the Masoretic text and the Septuagint? KJV Onlyists have different standards to the NT authors. Take for example KJV in Heb 8:9 quoting the Septuagint of Jer. 31:32 saying “I regarded them not” v “I was an husband unto them” found in Masoretic Jeremiah translation!. Both are in the KJV! Or how about the temple item ordering in Heb 9:4 which follows the Samaritan Pentateuch and neither the Masoretic or the Septuagint? Will KJV Onlyists say the author of Hebrews didn’t quote from God’s true Word despite thinking they did?

The modern translations remove verses. Luke 17:36, Acts 8:37 and Acts 15:34 are attested by a minority of manuscripts yet included in the KJV. Even Erasmus omitted Luke 17:36 and Acts 8:37 appeared in no manuscripts for around the first 500 years after Jesus. Acts 8:37 is found in very few Greek manuscripts overall.

What about 1 John 5:7 being taken out? Regarding 1 John 5:7, Erasmus’ Novum Instrumentum had multiple editions (clearly not infallible) and the first two editions did not include 1 John 5:7. It was not found in the first 1000 years worth of manuscripts. No ancient Greek manuscripts include this verse; only several late Latin manuscripts include it. As such, no Greek manuscripts Erasmus used included this verse.

Why does all this matter anyway? The preservation of God’s word through the manuscript tradition is truly a miracle. The New Testament has by far the most and earliest manuscripts out of any major work in antiquity with approx. 5,800 Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin manuscripts and approx. 8,000 in other languages such as Coptic, Syriac etc compared to 3 manuscripts of Tacitus, 7 of Plato, 10 of Julius Caesar, 49 of Aristotle, 75 of Herodotus, 200 of Suetonius and 1758 of Homer.

As per Dr. Dan Wallace, of the variants in New Testament manuscripts (thousands of manuscripts), 75% are spelling or similar differences, 15% are variations of Greek synonyms and transpositions, over 9% are late changes easily detectable and less than 1% impact the meaning of the text and are from early manuscripts.

The manuscripts spread like wildfire across the known world as persecution dispersed Christians. There was no centralised control of the NT manuscripts for a mass alteration of thousands of manuscripts to take place. We can reconstruct virtually or very close to the entire New Testament purely based on quotes from early church fathers without even looking at the overwhelming manuscript evidence. Irenaeus refers to the gospel authors etc in approx 180 AD, Papias in approx 125 AD, Clement of Alexandria in approx. 180 AD and also Tertullian 200 AD despite these church fathers coming from different geographical areas

Dr. Habermas highlights how we have 42 sources attesting to Jesus’ existence within the first 150 years including several non Christian sources. If the NT manuscripts were created or embellished late or corrupted beyond belief why do we note many undesigned coincidences (note Paley’s masterpiece), excessive non theological verbiage, facts attested for by historical criteria of dissimilarity, embarrassment and multiple attestation or later historical findings?

The Dead Sea Scroll findings including approximately 230 biblical manuscripts attest to the preservation of the OT.

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