Is There Only One “Authorized” Translation of the Bible?

Posted by on December 9, 2017 in Studying the Bible | Comments Off on Is There Only One “Authorized” Translation of the Bible?

IS THERE ONLY ONE “AUTHORIZED” TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE?
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Once in a while I get this question from inquiring minds contacting me on our church website:  “Do you use only one version of the Bible in your church?”  When this question is asked it always has to do with whether or not we use the King James Version of the Bible, which some camps consider the only “authorized” version of the Bible, and that all others are satanic substitutes.
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The short answer to this question is that, no, we do not use only one translation of the Bible in our church, and no, we do not  consider the King James Version the “authorized” version of the Bible.
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The long answer reveals more about why we don’t use the King James version, exclusively.
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The King James version of the Bible was translated from 1604 to 1611 for the Church of England.  The question I believe we should be asking, then, is what everyone prior to 1611 did for Bible reading.  Was there no version of the Scriptures that God approved of prior to that?  Was Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible into German in 1522 heresy and unapproved by God?  And today, what are Chinese Christians to do who cannot read English, and who therefore have the Scriptures translated in their native language?  Are they heretics, too, for not reading an English King James Bible?  Actually, the only truly authoratitive version of the scriptures are the Hebrew and Greek in which they were originally written.  Every version after that has translational mistakes, yes, including the King James version.
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Also, we must base everything we do as Christians on the authority of God’s Word, and there is nowhere in the Bible that affirms or dismisses any one translation.  In fact, translations of the Scriptures are not addressed at all in the Bible.  To quote Daniel B. Wallace of Dallas Theological Seminary,
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“Nowhere in the Bible am I told that only one translation of it is the correct one. Nowhere am I told that the King James Bible is the best or only ‘holy’ Bible. There is no verse that tells me how God will preserve his word, so I can have no scriptural warrant for arguing that the King James has exclusive rights to the throne. The arguments must proceed on other bases.”
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Wallace goes on to point out that the King James Bible has undergone three revisions since its inception in 1611, incorporating more than 100,000 changes. Which King James Bible is inspired, then?
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Also of huge importance are the translational mistakes in the King James version.  The man who edited the text was a Roman Catholic priest and humanist named Erasmus.  He was under pressure to get it to press as soon as possible since, 1) no edition of the Greek New Testament had yet been published, and 2) he had learned that Cardinal Ximenes and his associates were working on publishing a translation of the Greek New Testament and he was in a race to beat them. As a consequence of this hurried attempt at a translation, Erasmus’ edition has been called the most poorly edited volume in all of literature! It is filled with hundreds of typographical errors which even Erasmus would acknowledge.  And this is why so many other English translations of the Bible now exist, to update the text and try to improve upon these translational inconsistencies.
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To learn more about the problems with the King James version of the Bible, I would recommend reading Wallace’s complete article: https://bible.org/article/why-i-do-not-think-king-james-bible-best-translation-available-today
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Having said all this, it is amazing to me how God’s Word is truly alive and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, to quote Hebrews 4:12.  Even with the translational problems with the King James version, it has been part of the foundation of Christianity in the West.  It has still worked in preserving the centrality of the faith and the basic teachings of Christ.  Even so, if we can identify and correct some or all of the translational mistakes in the King James version after more careful study of the ancient Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, why wouldn’t we?
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So, no, we do not adhere to just one Bible version.  At our church, Blessed Life Fellowship, we read from many translations, including the King James version on occasion, but the ones we use the most are the New King James version, the 1984 NIV, and the NLT, and we refer to the Hebrew and Greek often for clarity.