The Truth... What is it?

The Word of God: Translated

Bible: Contains The Word of God

Scripture, containing the divinely inspired Word of Author...(not necessarily "the words of God") as published in a Bible, see below, was initially and originally begun to be written down no less than 2500 years ago & recorded over a span of maybe 1500 years by some 40 different humans. Those original documents are customarily referred to as the original "autographs" of scripture. While great respect for, and love of, The Word is vitally important, it is also hugely important that believers not allow scriture versions to become objects of a sort of idolatry. The finger of God wrote the ten comandments (Exodus 31:18) in small...hugely important...portion of The Word within scripture. Though containing a multitude of facts, it is a collection of writings containing TRUTH...not primarily or necessarily a domain completely of facts. No autographs...original documents...are known to exist today (only copies exist). As far as anyone knows, Jesus never wrote anything down. The Word of God within scripture is living in that it is constantly at work on numerous lives, transforming believers through its work through the Holy Spirit. Having such happen to yourself will help you believe this. It is the only book that actually makes this claim of being "living".

Factors to keep in mind:

  • What does the passage literally say?
  • How does the passage fit within the context of what came before it and comes after it?
  • What would the people of that day have heard? [An over-riding mindset of biblical times was suzerainty thinking.]
  • What does the passage tell you/us about God?
  • What does the passage say to you/us TODAY?

The art and science of theologically studying ancient documents is called "textual criticism". Though no original autographs exist, the first & earliest-known copy of any biblical manuscript is called the "original manuscript". Unless specifically inscribed on some media by the finger of God (Exodus 31:18), then the inspiration came from that single, Divine Author into minds possessing a historical context and a cultural mind-set as their ONLY means of expressing in human language the Divine messages delivered into their minds and hearts. For us modern day folks to understand the Bible, there have to be translations of the text. The two big methods are (1) "literal" translation and (2) "historical, critical" translation.

Literal: Imagine someone in an entirely different humanity 2000 years from now (4015AD) translating cell phone texting messages. When we say "LOL", do we always literally mean that the message caused us to actually laugh out loud? When we "click" the "like" marker on a Face Book message, does that literally mean that we liked the entire message or just that we read it? So, there is significant danger of dramatic miscommunication with this approach.

Historical, critical: Jews of 2-3000 years ago communicated and wrote very factually, objectively, and concretely. The empire-building Greeks & Romans recorded in many other literary forms. First century Romans might write history in entertaining forms and with considerable laxity as to facts. So, in this method, "LOL" and "like" would be interpreted based on what historical documentation could reveal about cell phones and texting and what various other information told us that the useage meant in those days two millenia ago. (1) The value of this approach is in avoiding "anachronistic thinking" . Anachronistic thinking is the process whereby one assumes that the modern meaning of a word, phrase or concept is exactly the same as that back 100s to 1000s of years in time. Words and concepts change meaning over time. (2) The problem with this approach has to do with endless academic arguement over numerous details and fine points. Solution: In as honest a way as each individual can do after considering debate about an interpretation, ask yourself what you think Jesus (bringing the Gospel of righteousness in this world) would say about the issue.

Bible: The TRUTH of God

The Holy Spirit of God is charged with making this TRUTH known to those who would be followers of Jesus. [On coming to "belief", the Holy Spirit indwells the believer.] Imagine a necklace of pearls 100 yards long, and let these pearls represent particles of that TRUTH. Imagine these pearls coursing through all of the 100s of pages of holy scripture, hidden in the historical events, parables, etc. Pearls of TRUTH have all been "inspired" (God breathed) into scripture through humans and are all there. Yet, because of the specific times in human history when the pearls were heard or read & because of beliefs and influences at various periods of a person's life when heard or read, each "pearl' might be "seen" from a different angle or more or less clearly. And there are multiple, apparently contradictory passages throughout the Bible. Might this partly account for "progressive revelation" of the TRUTH and for the huge varieties of theological beliefs that the 1000s of Christian denominations stake out? All who read scripture cannot equally know historical or translational context of of any given passage. This all being well known, then the truth of scripture MUST depend on the MESSAGE that is derived overall and then applied back as one re-reads with increasing knowledge and the growing foundation of the message!

Each believer who actually digs into scripture in search of The Word will engage in a struggle which tends to lead to deeper thinking about topics. Leading to deeper thinking in this struggle are apparent contradictions in Scripture. Borrowing from an online source, consider the following examples.

"But the Bible doesn’t work that way. It contains within itself many disagreements about the nature of God and how events unfolded. For example, did Noah take two of every animal onboard his ship, as Genesis 6 (verses 18-20) claims, or did he take seven of every animal, as Genesis 7 (verses 2-3) claims? Does God require sacrifice, as Leviticus suggests, or does God require mercy and not sacrifice, as the prophet Hosea (verse 6:6) claims? Does God punish children for their parents’ mistakes, as Exodus (verses 34:6-7) claims, or is each generation responsible for itself, as the prophets Ezekiel (verse 18:20) and Jeremiah (verses 31:29-30) state? Did Jesus overturn the tables in the Temple at the end of his ministry, as the synoptic Gospels (such as Matthew 21, see verse12) claim, or did he do it at the beginning of his ministry, as the Gospel of John (verses 2:13-25) claims?" Scripture has MANY more contradictions throughout.

Jesus is about love, and He was clear that the basis for the best of life in this fallen world hinged on His two commands (about relationships...HERE...righteousness) AND what God provided through His sacrifice on the Cross (salvation) and upon belief in Jesus (the spiritual baptismal incoming of the Holy Spirit, The Divine indwelling the believer as a power source for change for a person's remaining time on earth)!

Bible: initial verbal phase

Prior to being written down by Jews, the pre-Christian (Old Testament) content of The Word was passed on generation to generation by "telling"...there was no writing. We presume that "telling" began with Adam & Eve. No one knows when writing-down of any parts of the Old Testament started, but here are some possible/suspected  beginning dates:

  • 15,000BC...the time of Adam & Eve (Homo sapiens sapiens?...the modern humans)
  • 5000BC the time of the great flood of Noah.
  • 1900BC...the time of Abraham.
  • 1250BC...the time of the exodus of Moses & the Israelites from Egypt (after his time with God, Moses was commanded to "write it down"...the early books [Exodus 24:4]).
  • 1030BC...central time of the reigns of David & Solomon.
  • 587BC...the time of the exile of Israelites into captivity in Babylon (Iraq).

Bible: not an idol

Though most serious believers have great respect for Bibles and even treasure their personal copy of The Bible, I'm told of a quote by Dr. Mulholland, "We worship the God of This Book, but not this book [as he held up a copy of The Bible]". It is OK to make notes in one's personal Bible!

The stuff on which ancient Bible text was written:

Papyrus is a large marsh weed most plentiful along the Nile in Egypt. The pith in the center of the stems was thin-peeled or sliced into strips which the makers overlapped in one layer and then placed a similar layer over the first & in another direction. Pressed several days & dried. Later, parchment (dried goat, sheep, cow, and other specially processed skins) or vellum (calf skin) was used. A "quire" was 4 sheets folded once and stitched down the middle (8 "pages" front and back). Several quires formed a codex. One goat skin could make a quire. It might take a herd of 50-60 goats to produce the parchment for a book or two of the Gospels...expensive!!

Bible: the ancient scribes

Oldest components are thought to have been carefully passed down verbally & not written down; but, in time, an autograph was written down. The ancient art and scholarship of being a "scribe" was one in which the scribes took tremendous pride in the accuracy with which they copied and recopied the divine writings...a highly respected office among the Israelite people. But "Scripture" is not limited to the original autographs...copies will suffice (often referring to current texts which were mostly copies...II Timothy 3:15-16; Luke 4; John 5; Acts 8; Acts 17; and Romans 4). The Roman coin, the denarius, represented a day's wage for a worker. A scribe was paid between 20-25 denarii per 100 line of writing. It is thought that the scribe cost for a single copy of the book of Luke was about 2800 denarii (almost 10 years worth of laborer wages). The scribes wrote with reed pens which had to be re-inked about every sixth letter. Ink was made either of "lamp black" [soot] and gum dissolved in water or the rusty brown material in nut galls [oak gall].

Scrolls & codex:

 Parchments or papyri were joined edge to edge so that writings were rolled up into a "volume" (scroll) seldom exceeding 35 feet in length (an amount which could be comfortably handled for a reading). The book of Luke took the whole 35 feet. A codex was a "book" form of the pages together as "leaves". The codex form was cheaper to produce, was more portable, and a writing group such as the four Gospels could be produced as a single writing to carry. From the above, one can see that the cost in skins and scribe fees to produce a single copy of any biblical writings was phenomenal! The wealthy, therefore, played a great role in the preservation of scripture in that it was mostly the wealthy who commissioned the expensive productions. Even with such costs in mind (and compared to the numbers of surviving non-Christian documents), scholars have an astounding 5700, more or less, ancient biblical documents available for study!!! The Gospels and the epistles of the New Testament account for most of them.

Bible: writing comes into being

Until the Canaanites invented the alphabet in the early second millennium B.C., reading and writing required years of scribal training to learn the hundreds of syllabic signs in Egyptian hieroglyphics or Akkadian cuneiform. Because only the ruling elite of court and temple could afford to subsidize a scribal establishment, they also controlled what was written. That early Hebrew alphabet, however, had only a few signs (22 finally came about in Hebrew). These could be learned quickly by anyone. What this means in theory is that the ruling elite no longer enjoyed exclusive control of information, and theirs was no longer the only story told. Other voices (God working through them) could make themselves heard. This happened as the Israelite (Hebrew) prophets began to emerge with the Word of God.

Bible: know the culture to know the words

It is crucial to the obtaining of Truth from the Word of God that we know things about the culture that scripture might allude to. Most importantly, thereby, we must know that the Hebrew writers of the law & the prophets (Old Testament) and the New Testament were acutely aware of the spiritual realm (Satan, demonic beings, angels, angelic beings). So, when scripture speaks, keep strongly in mind that (Jesus, for example) the object of a declaration may be Satan or demonic beings rather than only human beings (see Mark it Satan that blasphemes the Holy Spirit?).

Bible: not just for readers of English language

Jesus was born a Jew. Since true, born again Jesus believers have never only been English-speaking & reading people (the first Christians were Hebrew Israelite Jews), then we have Christian organizations translating into other languages. Those of us who are of  "protestant" branches of the Christian church need to know that the declaration of "reformed principles" was most profoundly put forth in German by Martin Luther, a German. So, the message of Jesus and The Scripture must be capable of not only crossing language differences, but doing so throughout thousands of years of the evolving of the various world languages...even the evolving of English.

Note the progression of officially published versions (since 1384AD) of the same verse, Matthew 28:19-20, and in the verse links here.

On 29 Jan. 2001, I had the good fortune to attend my Lutheran-pastor brother-in-law's retirement banquet. A lady from German Lutheran Church in Clearwater, Florida, gave a brief and moving testimony of how deeply meaningful it was to that congregation to hear Pastor Klaus O. R. Koch preach a wedding, funeral, or sermon in the native German tongue. I am sure that this is true for all other languages...thereby imposing subtle variations in translation. Yet, The Word of God stands in Scripture as always the same.

Bible: fear of end-times corruption of The Word

I'm not, at this date, able to supply the Scriptural indicators for it; but, many Christians believe the "end times"...The Antichrist (world dictator accepted by Israel as the true messiah) will come (see Daniel 9-11 and I John and II John). Satan will prepare the way for him by leading "the world" into a new world order with each human carrying a "mark" [the mark of the beast], there being a sort of one-world government, there being a great and pervasive socio-political atmosphere of toleration/acceptance of differing views. It is thought that one of the key ways to accomplish this will be the "watering down" or corruption of the Scripture.

Believing that the King James (English) Bible of 1611 holds the strongest and most unmistakable wordings of key, fundamental elements of Christian doctrine, these brothers and sisters in Christ tremendously fear the doctrinal corruption of new generations of preachers which they feel will come from the influence of more recent translations on the teaching . [note some examples of dilution

Furthermore (as detailed above) they correctly point out that there never was an actual assembled "Bible" in the early Christian times. In fact, it was not until his letter to his churches in 367 AD that anyone put together a list of books, and only those books, that would constitute the basis for the teachings of Jesus (Athanasius of Alexandra, Egypt, 20th Bishop of the Egyptian [Coptic] Christian church. That is, he initiated the "canon"...the basis for orthodox...customary & traditional...thinking.)

 And they note that Psalm 12:6-7 clearly indicates that God will make The Word available to all who seek Him in all generations. So, one must make a choice as to which Bible accomplishes this. But, we can be sure matter what...the end times will come about as foretold in The Word of God (in books of Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation, etc.)...if one understands those texts as "prophetic" (predicting the future) rather than "apocalyptic" (unveiling the ultimate destiny through what is going on at the time of the writing) Scripture.

Bible: God preserves His Word

The preservation of the New Testament is a marvel of God's capability and the promise of Jesus: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but what I say will not pass away." (Luke 21:33). In the persecution of 303 AD, emperor Diocletian ordered a systematic search that swept away the Biblical manuscripts from Asia Minor and Syria. The sacred writings were shoveled into carts and hauled to the market places to be burned. The goal was to wipe out Christianity. Later the Goths, Vandals, Moslems, and Mongols did their worst to destroy the Christian faith and writings.

While we trust the power of The Holy Spirit to see to it that The Word of God passes as God wills it from generation to generation, it is confidence-building to know that there is, in fact, now an example of a 1000 years older text (among the Dead Sea scrolls) of the book of Isaiah which is essentially identical to the previously oldest-known, newer manuscript.

Bible: always the most-published book

Go to your favorite internet search engine (or your favorite library) and check out "Bible versions", and you will be shocked at all the versions and the centuries worth of critique and criticism regarding them. Just note some of them, below. And be aware that, if you search "Bible manuscripts" or "scripture manuscripts", of all ancient documents known to man, surviving old biblical manuscripts far outnumber (as evidentiary support of what is thought in modern times) those of any other form of ancient writings!

Bible: so many choices...the canon

Throughout all of the centuries of the writing of scripture and the compiling of the "canon" (the officially declared 66 books of Scripture), we have assurance in the Bible that the Holy Spirit has been at work through men to accomplish what God wills. These books came together as the people practiced their religion. Therefore, especially as religious seekers or unlearned Christians, we need not be concerned or worried about books left out of the Bible, historical books in apparent conflict, and other fictional or non-fictional writings or movies which cast doubt on issues in this canon.

Bible: the divine Teacher available to you

What is the earnest Christian to do who wants to know the truth? Here is only one Truth of the gospel of Jesus: if you are a true Jesus follower, then The Teacher that Jesus left to instruct all present and future believers, The Holy Spirit, is within you. By leading your life in such a way that you have an ongoing...hopefully growing...relationship with God and are in an "abiding" condition with your Lord and shepherd Jesus, then the prompting conviction of the Holy Spirit is available to you. By seriously praying for guidance, you should become placed (by the leading of the Holy Spirit) into a local body of believers ascribing to the fundamentals of the Christian faith. And, you should seek that pastor's counsel on the Bible version for you. If you already have a Bible and know that you will need pastoral advice in studying Scripture, be sure that your pastor is "okay" with your version. You see, you will need to be in a church body grounded in the truth of Scripture, and you don't want to be studying in conflict with the pastor and that church.

Division and divisiveness are destructive. Every time you enter into scripture, always remember to pray that God grant you enlightenment and that the Holy Spirit reveal the Scripture meaning and some TRUTH to you and convict you of application for your life. No matter what version of the Bible is used, Satan can have a field day with your mind if you depend on yourself or a mentor/pastor, alone. Father God knew that confusion would come about as men attempted to pass the Word of God forward into time (Satan is always at work). And Jesus told of how He (Jesus) must leave so that the teacher (Holy Spirit) would come to us. The Holy Spirit is the believer's insurance as a force against (as well as to overcome) false teaching, false translation, and the publishing of misleading versions of Scripture. But always keep in mind: we humans are always caught between the power of the Holy Spirit & the forces of Satan. [Holy Spirit as one of The Trinity

Again, I remind you: no living person has ever seen the original autographs of Scripture because none are known to exist!


  • This Word of God is known in Hebrew as "Tanach": ta-na-ch, a word made from the 3 consonant sounds ...the three coming as reminders of....

    Torah [ta...The Pentatuch]...the 5 books of Moses given at Mt. Sinai, 1445 BC

    Nevi-im [na...The Prophets]...21 books considered prophetic, 1450-200 BC

    K'tuvim [ch...The Writings]...13 books (Psalms, Proverbs, etc.), up to 90 AD

  • After Hebrew: With Roman & Greek dominations of the known world, Hebrew became a "dead" language about 200 BC...increasingly so after the spread of Christianity and the scattering of the Jews after 70 AD. So, scripture was...officially or unofficially... rewritten into many languages (between 100-500AD): the Coptic versions of Egypt, Aramaic Targums, Peshitta version of Syria, Samarian versions, Ethiopian versions, Arabic version of 724 AD, and Armenian and Georgian versions. So, these "Bible translations" appeared centuries before any English translation.
  • Present at the time of canonization (declaration of validity as TRUE scripture) of the above, but not included, is the Apocrypha, Old Testament...writings which relate to the Jewish Revolt of 165-163 BC, 14 books, including the books of 1st and 2nd Maccabees. Hence, the Jews don't deem these writings as true Scripture. But, they are considered to be important historical and literary writings. 
  • The Apocrypha, New Testament, are also considered to be non-scriptural, historical and literary writings of Biblical times and topics, this group liberally numbering over 100 books.
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls (150BC-90AD)...rolled parchment made of animal hides... include some of the earliest known manuscripts, were only found in 1947 in a cave 7 miles south of Jericho, having been written between 150 BC and 90 AD. Prior to this, the oldest available Hebrew manuscript was written in the 800'sAD. An intact scroll of the book of Isaiah (scribe copy about 60 AD) has only 5 words spelled slightly differently than the previously oldest copy (800's AD), there being no impact at all on the meaning!
  • Masoretic Text: A group of Jews known as the Masoretes is credited with keeping the Old Testament pure in Hebrew until the printing press printed and published it in Hebrew in 1488 AD. Said to be the basis for the KJB of 1611 AD (below) Old Testament.
  • The Septuagint (LXX) (the version of "the seventy" Jewish translators): As Jews spread out within the Greek Empire, their children learned Greek and lacked exposure to Hebrew. A text was produced for them which is the product of the work of 70 learned Jewish translators of Alexandria (between 300-250 BC) writing a Greek translation of the Tanach for Jews living in and around Alexandria, Egypt. It has the distinction of being known as the first set of books ever translated from one language into another. The Word of God...having been previously narrowly confined to the Hebrew language, now became available through the (could it have been divinely prepared ?) instrument of the Greek language...the prevailing language of the entire known world of the 600 years of 300 BC-300 AD. These texts were in common use in the days of the Apostles.
  • apostolic canon: by the time of the death (about 90 AD) of the Apostle John, some strongly believe that, upon the writing of the book of Revelations, John...who outlived all the other Apostles...had, with the other true believer leaders, finished the canon of the New Testament and had assembled the correct canonical scripture of the Old and New Testaments. But, the first historical evidence of a any such canon was that letter written by Athanasius, ABOVE.
  • Alexandrian Text (100-500): from somewhere between 100-500 AD, the scholar, Origen, presumably using the apostolic canon (above), is said to have revised anything which was not clearly understandable to him....coming out of Alexandria, Egypt. No one is known to have been a martyr in protecting any of these copies.
  • Textus Receptus (400-1516): Greek text...the Received Text, copied and maintained by believers outside of the official auspices of the Roman Church....and maintained through the millennium of The Dark Ages (about 500-1500 AD), made from combining many of these manuscripts, printing them in 1516 AD and then making some revisions into the Traditional Text (Textus Receptus). It is said to have originated in Antioch Syria, the place where the disciples of Jesus were first called Christians (Acts 11:26), Antioch having been the hub from which Paul took the Gospel to the gentiles!! And, some point to the fact that Christian martyrs by the thousands died to protect these copies. Said to be the basis for the KJV of 1611 AD (below) New Testament.
  • Wescott-Hort Greek Text of (400-1881): In its production, this text is said to have given great translation weight to: (1) the Vaticanus (Codex B), a manuscript found in the Vatican library in 1481 and to (2) the Sinaiticus (Codex alpha) found in a monastery wastebasket at the foot of Mt. Sinai in 1844. And both the Vaticanus and the Sinaiticus are thought to derive much from the Alexandrian Text. Some believe that each was copied from the same document source estimated to have been written in 400+AD...suggesting the authority of antiquity.
  • Nestle Aland Greek New [Polyglot] Testament (1514): Novum Testamentum Graece is Latin name of an original Greek language version of the New Testament. When first printed, it was called Complutensian Polyglot Bible printed in 1514 AD.
  • The Vulgate (405): is the translation of The Septuagint (above) into common (" vulgar") Latin (about 404 AD) by Eusebius Hieronymus (St. Jerome of Bethlehem). Latin was considered the holy language of the Roman church. Many corrupted interpretations...especially of the New Testament...had crept in between 250 BC and 383 AD. Jerome's Vulgate was finished about 404 AD. A far-from-perfect version.
  • The Vulgate, Alcuin Revision (802): Because the scripture, in the meantime, had been corrupted so much into unofficial versions, Charlemagne charged Alcuin to make a revision in about 802 AD. Further efforts to retard the recorruption of scripture were: Lanfranc of Canterbury (1089 AD), Cardinal Nicolas (1150 AD), and the Cistercian abbot Stephanus (about 1150 AD)...all in Latin.
  • the Wycliffe Bible (1384): John Wycliffe (Wycliffefe), in a work of love, (not knowing Hebrew or Greek) completed his translation from the Latin Vulgate in 1384 AD, it being written in the everyday, new ("English" was only 100 years old) English speech of the common people. Many consider it to be the first major English translation. But, it was considered error-filled enough...and was against the custom of the Latin Vulgate...that Wycliffe was excommunicated, imprisoned for life, and his version outlawed!
  • Mazarin Vulgate (1455): the first printing press book ever printed was The Bible, as the Gutenberg Bible of 1455 and was of this Mazarin revision of the Vulgate...Latin.
     Early English versions: There are known to have been vernacular Britton/Angle/English versions since the English language began, about 500 AD. They were in Old English and were translations from the Latin Vulgates.
  • the Tyndale Bible (1526): Guttenberg invented the printing press in about 1450, and (during a revival of Greek in western Europe) Erasmus of Rotterdam published his first edition of the Greek New Testament. William Tyndale, in a work of love, translated from such Greek writings into the everyday English speech of the common people, in about 1526 AD. This was the first English translation directly from Greek. His version engendered intense opposition, and many copies were publicly burned by the order of the Bishop of London. The Tyndale was a New Testament Bible. Charged with heresy, he was killed...officially murdered...executed...burned at the stake in 1536. See the movie of his daring life, God's Outlaw.
  • the Coverdale Bible (1535): Miles Coverdale, in 1535 AD, published a complete translation of the Bible into English from Latin and German sources. Rather than a labor of love, it was a task imposed on him and was done perfunctorily, carelessly, and in haste. It is the second major English translation.
  • the Matthews Bible (1537): printed in 1537 AD, it bore the King's license. It is the first "authorized" version of the Bible in English and was a fusion of the Tyndale and Coverdale versions. Evoked strong ecclesiastical opposition. Thomas Matthews was probably a pseudonym; John Rogers was the editor. The 3rd major English version.
  • the Traverner Bible (1539): printed in 1539 AD, this was an "ecclesiastically correct" version of the Matthews Bible.
  • the Cranmer Bible: printed also in 1539 AD, it was the product of a corps of scholars under the direction of the Archbishop and was referred to as "The Great Bible" and officially used in the Church of England. Its cost (about $30) put it out of reach of most people. The 4th major English translation.
  • the Geneva Bible of 1599: Published about 1557-60 AD, this was a popular revision of "The Great Bible" made by Protestant Hebrew and Greek scholars who were refugees in Geneva, Switzerland. Its purpose was to bring The Word of God into the ordinary Christian's home. Produced during the time of protestant persecutions, the margin notes are said to have very pungently exposed the errors of the Roman church. It was so popular that more than 200 editions were published. The 5th major English version & the Bible brought to America in The Mayflower with the pilgrims.
  • the Bishop's Bible: appeared in 1568 and was from the commissioning of Archbishop Parker by Queen Elizabeth I to produce a version free of the Geneva margin notes. Elegant and too expensive. Its title page reads, "Authorized and appointed to be read in Churches." This version replaced "The Great Bible" as the Church Bible but never replaced the Geneva for private use; it was the overall basis for the KJB of 1611. The last edition was printed in 1619. The 6th major English translation.
  • the Rheims and Douay Bible: published 1582-1609 AD by refugees, it had poor English renderings.
  • the King James Authorized Bible of 1611: The "King James Bible", the KJV, was begun in 1604 AD at the suggestion of the Puritan leader, Reynolds, and upon the enthusiastic authorization of King James I; it was completed in 1611. Interestingly (see Bishop's Bible, above), its cover page did not call it the authorized version! It has never undergone a revision but has gone through some new editions, the most notable of which are 1629, 1638, 1762, and 1769. It was undertaken by 54 men, 47 being considered the ablest scholars of that time. It was ordered to always correspond with the Bishop's Bible except where the original Hebrew and Greek copies (remember, there have been no original autographs ever found or known) made that impossible. Unlike the predecessor versions, this Bible has held the heart of the English-speaking world for almost 4 centuries. Not being free of erroneous translation, it has carried on some damage of its own: two examples are: (1) it should have been more clear that water Baptism is an act of immersion...not sprinkling (but, King James was among "sprinklers" and it did not get correctly interpreted); and (2) a verse (John 8:44) relative to Satan being the father of Jews so that a gentile might think that Jews are born with horns (devil-like)...a sadly erroneous translation which has lead to the heartache of many a Jewish child whose Christian playmate asked to see where the child's horns had been. Modern proponents point out that there is less potential danger of misunderstanding of The Word if Bible readers would bother to expand their vocabularies and reading abilities in this version rather than regularly contending with new translations and the problems that new translations bring. [note some examples of dilution] Many consider this to be the SEVENTH major English translation...Psalm 12:6-7 "...purified seven times." So, one might say that this version should be "innocent until proven guilty" and regarded as correct unless it can be conclusively shown to be otherwise!!! [qualifications of a "best" version of the Bible]
  • the King James Bible, Revised Version of 1884: Following the convocation of Canterbury of 1870, there was a desire to correct a few miss-translations and to enhance the text because of the evolution of the English language and a greater understanding (over the intervening 244 years) of ancient Hebrew and old Greek. Also referred to as the English Revised Version, the ERV was published in 1884/85 and said to be a counterpart to the subsequent ASV.
  • the American Standard Version Bible: Published in 1901, the ASV was following recommendations of the American branch of revisers of KJV 1885. It is said to rely heavily on the Wescott-Hort Greek Text.
  • the Polychrome Bible: Early 1900's translation from original Hebrew and Greek texts under the direction of Professor Haupt of Johns Hopkins University...supposed to give renderings based on the most recent school of higher criticism of that day.
  • the Twentieth Century New Testament Bible: Coming out in London 1898-1901, revised in 1904, it was in modern idiom and had books in chronological order.
  • the Moffatt Historical New Testament Bible: Appearing in Edinburgh in 1913 with finalization in 1935, this version incorporated so-called higher-critical hypotheses and conclusions.
  • the Westminister Version of the Sacred Scriptures Bible: This Roman Catholic version appeared in 1913 with final in 1937.
  • the Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text, A New Translation Bible: This Jewish rendering appeared in 1917.
  • the Weymouth The New Testament in Modern Speech Bible: Came out in 1903 by Richard F. Weymouth, with American edition in 1943.
  • the Goodspeed The New Testament, An American Translation Bible: This was by Edgar J. Goodspeed in 1923. This was combined with the Meeks OT Bible and Goodspeed's commentary on the Apocrypha to become "The Bible, An American Translation" of 1931.
  • at least 9 more versions:___.
  • the Revised Standard Version Bible: It is copyrighted by the National Council of Churches. An authorized revision of the ASV Bible of 1901, copyrighted in 1946 and 1952, and said to have been done almost entirely by translators of the liberal school of theological thinking, many consider the RSV to be doctrinally weak and unreliable. It eliminated the word "virgin" in Isaiah 7:14.
  • the New American Standard Version Bible: The NASV was said to be the version for conservatives, evangelicals, and fundamentalists. Yet it claimed to revise the ASV, relying heavily on the 23rd edition of the Nestle Greek NT, above. It came out in 1960 and was revised in 1971.
  • The Holy Bible: An American Translation: The Beck Bible (AAT), arose from Dr. Beck's New Testament translation in 1963, out of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. He added Old Testament and had gone through 3 editions with revisions by 1976. He translated in defense of Old Testament prophecies of the coming savior which he considered undermined in the RSV Bible. And he found some faults with the KJV 1611.
  • Good News for Modern Man Bible: The 1st edition, published in 1966, is said to have used the word "virgin, referring to the birth of Jesus, in Matthew and Luke. But the word mysteriously disappeared in the 2nd and 3rd editions from Luke 1:27.
  • The Living Bible: The LB is a paraphrase Bible, authored by Ken Taylor in 1967 (revised in 1971) is said by Taylor to have attempted to reach what he called "dynamic equivalence" as a "thought-for-thought" translation rather than a "word-for-word" translation. Taylor said that he worked for the most part from the ASV, above.
  • Good News Bible: The GNB was an entire translation of the Bible in 1976, including the above Good News...
  • the New International Version Bible: The NIV is said to be theologically conservative and was an interdenominational effort by evangelical scholars who referred to many Greek texts in order to produce a completely new translation ( and they supplied footnotes as to alternative translations). The literary style, however, is said to not lend itself well to public worship; and the paraphrasing is said to sometimes misrepresent the true original meaning. It tends to leave out much of what is omitted in the ASV and NASV. Published in 1973-1978.
  • the New King James Version Bible: The NKJV was initiated in 1975 by Sam Moore of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tenn.. Sam was disturbed that the King James tradition might be obscured by all of the new versions coming out. This version was meant to clean up archaic wordings and language styles but to retain the wordings of familiar passages as much as possible. Notes about certain alternative translations were supplied so that the reader could be better informed. It was published in 1979 and completed in 1982.
  • the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Copyrighted by the National Council of Churches, this ecumenical effort, published in 1990, will replace the RSV. It is known for omitting so-called sexist language. 

Michael Paul Johnson maintains a page with links to MANY Bible sources here. And, I find that Wikipedia has very interesting write-ups of various topics, including many of the Bible versions.

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(posted 26 July 1999; latest few adjustments 24 January 2018)