Bible Translations, Not Inspired

BibleOccasionally I will run into someone who holds and unusually “high” view of a certain translation of the Bible. The most notable (or notorious, depending on your position) are those people who subscribe to the “King James Only” position. But there are also people I have met who argue for the supremacy of the Revised Version, the New Revised Standard Version, the New International Version, and the English Standard Version.

When reading any English Bible, we need to remember something very important: It’s a translation. And translation always involves interpretation. So not only are you reading Ephesians in a different language and linguistic context than the Apostle Paul wrote it in, but you are reading an interpretation of that passage by a certain set of Biblical scholars. Irrespective of what your views on the authority and inspiration of the Biblical text are, it seems unlikely that many people would subscribe to the view that the editors of the NET Bible are as inspired and authoritative as the Apostle Paul and Jesus Christ.

Additionally, throughout the history of English Bible translation there have been more than a few clearly uninspired moments, clear demonstrations that the humans editing and printing the Bibles that we read are, in fact, still humanly prone to error. Some of the most famous (or infamous) are below:

Matthew’s Bible (1537), A.K.A. “The Wife-Beaters’ Bible”

Proof that study notes and footnotes are not inspired: Notation on I Peter 3:7 reads, “And if she be not obedient and healpeful unto him, endevoureth to beat the fear of God into her head, that thereby she may be compelled to learn her duty and do it.”

Geneva Bible (Second Edition, 1562), A.K.A. “The Place-makers’ Bible”

Matthew 5:9 reads “Blessed are the placemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”. Homemakers everywhere loved this passage for years until it was fixed.

King James Version (1612), A.K.A. “The Printers’ Bible”

Psalm 119:161 reads “Printers have persecuted me without a cause” instead of “Princes.” Rarely mentioned by advocates of the “KJV Only” position.

King James Version (1631), A.K.A. “The Adulterers’ Bible” or “The Wicked Bible”

Exodus 20:14 (the Ten Commandments) reads, “Thou shalt commit adultery.” This version was recalled almost immediately, and only 11 copies are known to exist today.

King James Version (1716), A.K.A. “The Sinners Bible”

John 8:11, reads “Go and sin on more” rather than “Go and sin no more”.

New English Translation (2001), A.K.A. “The Prostitutes Bible”

Proverbs 2:16 reads, “To deliver you from the adulteress, from the sexually loose woman who speaks flattering words.” In the first printing of the New English Translation, there was a footnote at the end of this verse with a 1-800 number. The translator was writing the notes for this verse on his computer when he got a call and, unable to find a pen, he made note of the number on his computer. Unfortunately, he forgot to erase the number later.

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One thought on “Bible Translations, Not Inspired

  1. Pingback: Bible Translations, Not Inspired (Redux) | Pursuing Veritas

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