How many greek/hebrew versions are there?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Brads70, Jan 31, 2012.

  1. Brads70

    Brads70
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    I'm looking for truth with Bible versions. I'm not trying to stir the pot as I know this is a passionate subject in here and out in the world. This has been an issue with me for years.
    Historically I have used the King James version. I'm just an ordinary guy no letters before or after my name. I do believe God has preserved his perfect word in one of the translations. My thinking goes something like this....
    There is a perfect translation out there somewhere.
    They all say something different ( slightly?)
    If they all say something different, then they are not all the same?
    and if they are all not the same then they all can't be "the Bible" ?
    I'm thinking it would be a brilliant tactic of Satin to get in there and distort the word, get us Christians in disagreement.
    ( seems to be working!)
    I believe God is not the author of confusion, he doesn't change, man does.
    From what my pea sized brain ( LOL) has been able to process is it boils down to what you believe is the original manuscripts?
    So my question is how many "original manuscripts" are there?
    I'm assuming they are in Greek and Hebrew?
    I've been told ( I don't know if it's true?) that the "originals" do not exist?
    Just because something is belived "the oldest" doesn't make it correct if it's not the original ? no? Again I'm just a simple man using simple logic here? There are some versions that really make the "hairs on my neck go up" so to speak that I've heard from the pulpit.
    My hope and prayer is that this post doesn't turn into a nightmare! :wavey:
    Just trying to sort out the truth?
    Thanks Brad
     
  2. jbh28

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    KJV is a good translation

    Well, here's where the problem with the rest. This premise that you have isn't true. There is no perfect translation out there. There doesn't have to be. God never promised a perfect translation, much less a perfect English translation. There are a bunch of other languages too. :)

    Oldest doesn't default to better, but it is a very good weight in determining the original. Something that is closer to the original has has much less time to be corrupted. Your logic above is fine other than the premise(which caused the rest to be wrong).

    Now, as you said, the differences are slightly different. In the main translations, all major doctrines are there. The differences are going to be translational and textual.
     
  3. DaChaser1

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    think most important thing to realise in this area is that the original manuscripts/documents were inspired/inerrant in all things pertaining to what was recorded BUT that we have basically 'enough' of those in ANY Greek text can say with full confidence they are the word of God for us today, and ANY correctly translated version, KJV/NASB/NIV etc would ALL be the English word of God to us today!

    Since we do nOT have any of the original, cannot say one BEST text, but can say some better than others, ALL word of the Lord for/to us today
     
  4. franklinmonroe

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    Welcome to the Bible Versions section of the BB, Brad!

    You have obviously been thinking about this subject; you asked good questions. You will likely hear many opinions. My advise would be to look into some good books on the topic; I don't have a list with me.
     
  5. DaChaser1

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    best entry level for NT textual criticism would be the text of the new testament, by Kurt Aland

    Good text for entry OT hebrew is OT textual criticism by Ellis Brotzman

    Both good to understanding basis of how we got the current Greek/hebrew texts, and why impossible to have just "one" text only!
     
  6. glfredrick

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    Brad, I think that you are asking the wrong question -- akin to asking if a circle can be square -- and because of that it is possible that your faith is shaken when you discover the answer, which of course matches the wrong question.

    There is no "perfect" EXISTING Bible text or translation out there -- period.

    We believe wholeheartedly that the original autographs (that's what the ORIGINAL written books of the Bible are called by biblical scholars) are inerrant and sufficient for any purpose that God deems them sufficient.

    But we also know that we do not have the autographs. We have manuscripts (hand-written copies of the original autographs), miniscules (scriptural prayer guides, liturgical texts, etc.), codexes (early book-form texts), fragments, scrolls, etc., that number over 22,000, so there are a LOT of pieces of evidence that biblical scholars sift through in order to ascertain the correct base text for the translation into English and other languages.

    There are also various early language translations, Coptic (Egyptian), Syriac (Syria), Armenian (not Arminian, but actually the people of Armenia north of Greece), old Latin, and even a Greek translation of the OT from Alexandria, Egypt circa 250 BC (the OT of the Greek NT writers for the most part).

    There is one other help, the writings of the very early church fathers, who often cited Scripture in their writings. In fact, the early fathers cited enough Scripture that we could re-create vitrually the entire NT from their works alone, and we are aided in dating NT works from their writings as well. If they are citing passages from a particular letter or book, then it had to have been written and in circulation by the time of that citation, which blows some higher critical method interpretations right out of the water. Same for the OT, which I mentioned as already translated into Greek in its entirety 250 years before Christ. The prophecies concerning Christ were already locked down and translated well before He arrived, so no fool can say that someone "after the fact" changed the record.

    Even better, concerning the OT, is the Dead Sea, Hag Hammadi discoveries, which gave us very early examples to compare to later Masoretic (they gave us Hebrew vowel pointing) texts and scrolls.

    All of this works in the hands of DEDICATED godly biblical scholars who search these fragments and ancient texts to discover resemblances and differences, mark variant readings, and finally to present a single workable text of OT and NT from which other scholars translate, etc.

    No, none of these are "perfect" but just imagine after comparing 5,000 or 10,000 texts all speaking to the same passage that one WILL arrive at the original text or as close as is possible to that text (we now know the original text of the Bible to over 98% assurance) and also to know that no variant reading changes any doctrine of the church.

    Some compare the transmission of biblical text to the game "telegraph" where something is said in one person's ear, then passed on to the next and the next. We all know that by the end of the line what comes from the last individual is far different than what was originally uttered, which is TRUE for a line of text uttered verbally to people who are not particularly interested in preserving accuracy because they believe they are handling THE Word of God. Rather, scribes accurately and as carefully as humanly possible WROTE DOWN the text of Scripture, often counting as they wrote -- a certain letter HAD to appear at the top of a certain page in order to affirm that there were no errors -- and now we can compare tens of thousands of those mansucripts. If our game of "telegraph" were instead written documents it would be quite easy to reconstruct the original statement, for no two people would make the same error in copying and it would be abundantly clear what was originally written.

    So it is for the text of Scripture.

    Then, there is the issue of translation. As one schooled in that field somewhat (I have advanced Greek and Hebrew syntax and grammar with interpretation) I know that there is NO ONE-TO-ONE correspondence between one language and another. There is ALWAYS a judgment and a USAGE involved in deciding which of the several words might be translated into the next language. That some interpret this slightly different is not any surprise. Before King James called for his translation others had already began the translation effort into English, German, Latin, etc. The KJV was just the next new translation just like today there are newer translations -- some with MORE scholarly evidence in hand than what was available for the translators hired by James for the version carrying his name. This is a fact of life with translation and the better one understands it the easier it is to grasp one CRITICAL FACT.

    GOD will use His Word whether it is "perfect" or not. He does. He has. He will continue.

    He saves souls who hear the gospel in Hebrew, in Chinese, in Japanese, in Greek, in the various forms of English, and yes, even the NIV that so many dislike for one reason or another. I even know some people who were saved by reading their very faulty Jehovah's Witness New World Translation, which is intended to throw people away from God instead of leading them to Him.

    That's why He is God and why we are not, and why He has preserved His Word in such a way that it is ALWAYS and CONTINUALLY effective, just as it has always been and always will be.
     
  7. DaChaser1

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    That is why suggested those introductory OT/NT books, to get a grasp on textual criticism...

    Also, we can with confidence state modern english versions just as much the word of God to us for today as the KJV!
     
  8. Brads70

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    Wow! I'll have to read that over a few dozen times to "absorb" it all.
    Thanks you very much for all the responces. :wavey: That will keep me busy awhile! :laugh:
     
  9. Brads70

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    My Mothers side are Catholic's ( don't worry, I am NOT!):laugh:
    When my Mom died and I was cleaning out her house I found a Catholic Bible. I was going to just toss it in the dumpster but out of respect for her and my grandmother I kept it. Mind you it's in the garage piled up with car parts.
    How/why do they have a different bible that "we" do? Different texts I assume? Why do we not include the additional "books" that they have? Maybe if I read them it would be self explanatory?
    I'm trying to keep an open mind as I have only trusted KJV for years. I was looking at another thread on here discussing KJV vs NKJV. Gotta admit my head is spinning..... trying to figure how one knows what translations are accurate? Some of the differences are trivial... some totally change the meaning.

    Thanks again for the replies.... That was a lot of work to explain your views! I'll look for those books that were suggested
     
  10. DaChaser1

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    recommend to you a general introduction to the bible , by NORMAN GEISLER
    Deals withthe canon and with bible versions
     
  11. franklinmonroe

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    I agree that Geisler & Nix's General Introduction to the Bible (1968) is a good book to read.

    I'm going to recommend (because I've read 'em) some lighter books: one is called How We Got the Bible by Neil R. Lightfoot (updated in 2010 it is current, used on Amazon its less than $7, and its only about 200 pages); as odd as this may sound, another book that actually covers an intro to this subject very well is Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus" by Timothy Paul Jones (2007, 176 pages, only about $4 used); a third alternative is New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? by F. F. Bruce (2003 edition, only 149 pages, about $7 used); I'll also mention Searching for the Original Bible by Randall Price (2007, almost 300 pages, slight over $7 used); and New Testament Textual Criticism: A Concise Guide by David Alan Black (1994, only 80 pages, $6 used).

    So you see, it does not require a lot of reading or money to get started. One or more of the above books may satisfy Brad's level of interest. There are actually many, many more good books on the topic, but some such as Aland's Text of the New Testament (1995, 384 pages, $12 used) or Metzger's books may a bit too technical for Brad's current situation.
     
    #11 franklinmonroe, Jan 31, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2012
  12. franklinmonroe

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    Brad, because I truly want to help you I will give you some answers to some of your questions now. You can confirm (or refute) my answers after you've had a chance to read some books and study the subject more.
    Yes, the various English translations use different words (or else they wouldn't be different). Sometimes slightly, sometimes radically different. However as you know, it is possible to state virtually the same idea with different words (depending upon how demanding you are with 'equivalence'). So in that sense, some English translations could be different in individual elements (words) and yet still essentially be the same in whole (content). Differences among printed Bible versions basically arise for one or both of these reasons: use of different source texts underlying the translation, or different translation techniques (styles).

    You must develop a satisfactory (to you) definition of "the Bible".
    First, you already brought up that the Catholics have a different definition of 'Bible' than Protestants by comparing their canon (a defining list of the books considered genuine Scripture); the Easter Orthodox Church has yet a different canon from that of both Catholics and Protestants; the Jews only consider the 'Bible' what we now call the 'Old Testament'; and so on and so forth. If only one is the Bible, which? and how could we know?

    Second, you also mentioned manuscripts: a biblical manuscript was once someone's handwritten (rather than mechanically printed) 'Bible' or portion thereof. It is true: all extant manuscripts are mere copies (there are no original autographs of any biblical text). They are not even 'first generation' copies; they are copies of copies (probably of even of previous copies). Every discovered manuscript 'Bible' is slightly different from all the others (in part due to human errors, as you can imagine). It seems from the very beginning that all discovered 'Bible' copies had differences among them as much then as now; in earlier centuries it was just nearly impossible to carefully compare the multitude of manuscripts. If only one is the Bible, which? and how would we know?

    Actually, printed Bibles as we know them are not translated directly from ancient Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. Virtually all translators have used printed Greek and Hebrew critical editions (books compiling a limited number of available manuscripts), and often other additional ancient textual sources. As early as the AV1611, translators almost exclusively used printed Greek editions and printed Hebrew texts. Frankly, there are just too many original language documents to sift through. To answer another one of your questions: There are nearly 6,000 Greek manuscripts (from tiny fragments of papyrus, to large complete parchment Testaments) and several thousand Hebrew scrolls. They have not all been studied yet. Some are older than others.

    How old are these manuscripts (MSS)? Ironically, most NT documents are older than the vast majority of OT MSS. A few 'Bibles' were still being copied by hand after the advent of moveable type printing in the 15th century AD, but at about the 9th century AD the Greek documents are being considered almost 'recent' (and there are many more that have survived). Only a few of the earliest Greek (NT) fragments are from 2nd-3rd centuries AD. The earliest preserved Hebrew documents are from about 10th century, except for some Dead Sea scroll fragments. The age can be rather accurately established through material and handwriting analysis.

    We should not be discouraged by these facts, and we ought not to be "confused" by these facts.
     
    #12 franklinmonroe, Feb 1, 2012
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  13. Oldtimer

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    Brad, I was where you are roughly 2 years ago. My quest started when I had to replace my KJV bible with one with larger print. Friend recommended an NIV and I bought one. Used it for serveral months and could not get "comfortable" with it for lack of a better word. Too many things were different. And, I'm not talking about the switch from thee and thou type differences. Kept running into things different in meaning between the two versions.

    So, I dug in, using the Internet, to research the history of the Bible, why translations differ so greatly, and more. Studied sites that a pro KJV and those that are against it. In both cases there are extremes, often hate filled sites, so you have to be careful with those. Doesn't mean you can't use them. Instead use them, when applicable, as a starting point to counter what they are saying. ie what's wrong with their position.

    For example, there are sites that declare that King James was a homosexual and use that to condem the KJV. There are sites that refute that claim very easily with numerous references to historical evidence. Another example, are sites that bash the NIV and others that defend it. Both with lists of quoted verses for comparision. Yet, one more example. Sites that claim the KJV is full of errors and sites that explain why xyz is not in error.

    This is a long winded way of saying, develop your own opinion/belief based on working through this controversy. ALL THE WHILE, asking the Holy Spirit to guide you in your study. You'll be getting into some deep stuff, especially when dealing the manuscripts, ancient languages compared to modern ones, and "theories" of the correct way to translate said manuscripts.

    There are two dates that will become important as you continue your study. The first is May 1611, when the first KJV rolled off the presses. What bibles came before it? Which of the two main lines of manuscripts were used to produce English bibles. This target date will take you through much about the Catholic Bible and the separation from it.

    The next date is 1881 and the impact that Hort and Westcott (primarily) had on the development of "modern" bibles. A general statement is that here's where there was a split in which manuscripts were used by the KJV translators and those who follow.

    I'd recommend this approach before diving into books on this subject. Use the Internet to get a decent handle on what's involved. While all these sites are created by humans, just as books are, you'll be getting more pros and cons upfront. Starting with a specific book and author, you're going to get a good dose of what the author believes to be true. Without having the benefit of knowing, at least to some extent, there is probably opposition to it.

    Then, dive into the books, where you'll spend a lot of time with one author's viewpoint. With the background you've developed, plus the Holy Spirit, I believe you'll gain greater insight into what the author is saying. IMHO, it'll be easier to determine if you agree or disagree with his position.

    Back to my own story. :) Today, I'm KJV PREFERRED, not KJV only.

    And, I'm still continuing this line of study. Currently reading Modern Criticism and the Preaching of the Old Testament by George Adam Smith. Copyright notice is 1901. (Found it in our church library.) For the time being I'm focusing on books printed before the "explosion" of new versions/translations. Later, I'm planning to move on to books currently in production on these subjects.

    In closing, this is just my layman's 2-cents for whatever they may be worth to you in your quest. It isn't easy. It is time consuming. But, I know you'll gain much from this approach. At least that's been my experience over the last two years. And, I hope it will be for you also.
     
  14. DaChaser1

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    would recommend that he stay away at this time from researching this topic at KJVO sites, or read their printed materials!

    MUCH better sources online and in print form from those who advocate either the MT/CT texts as superior, but without the misapplied logic that KJVO groups tend to use!
     
  15. glfredrick

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    Agree...

    One should at least be cognizant of the fact that there are multiple translations for a reason and get grounded in what has transpired in history, including the discovery of the ancient texts of Scripture, before they get exposed to the intentional fallacies that inhabit the KJVO discussion.

    Prefer KJV, fine... Say that it is the "only" text that is actually the Word of God and you've made God out to be a liar (He caused the Scriptures to be written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) not to mention the damage created in the churches.
     
  16. DaChaser1

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    Fine to say that based upon my understanding of this concept, that the KJV would reflect best available Greek text/translation for today, but dishonest to say that its the ONLY version to us for today!

    Moot point to me, as see NASB as being best English version for study purposes, while KJV fine if you prefer it!
     
  17. Oldtimer

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    I beg to disagree. Spend time reading the KJV Only sites AND the sites that oppose this viewpoint. How will you develop your own stance on this issue without knowing the opposing opinion, regardless of whether it's pro or con?

    Switching topics for a moment. Using Jehovahs Witnesses, for example, how do you know whether you agree or disagree with their beliefs? Is it enough to say that I disagree with them? It shouldn't be so. You shouldn't take my word, as you don't know whether I'm right or wrong, until you at least learn the basics of their belief system.

    Same thing, whether it's Bible versions, which ancient manuscripts, types of Greek/Hebrew languages, and so on. FWIW, I'm leary of anyone who tells me to stay away from xyz (anything that isn't a sin in the eyes of our Lord). If you keep a continual prayer for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you in your studies, you won't go wrong.

    For 50+ years, I was told by "knowledgeable" people that evolution was the way God created what we see today. Stay away from those creationist types as they are a bunch of nut cases. Here's the evidence, the proof, they can't be right. So, when the Internet opened the opportunity to learn, for myself, I didn't bother. That is until my pastor challenged my opinion. I can't tell you how, but I do believe that the Holy Spirit was working through him and in me at the same time. To make a long story short, it took a while to undo 50+ years of indoctrination by evolutionists. If I'd continued to stay away from those creation sites, as instructed, I wouldn't have made a 180 degree turn in my beliefs.
     
  18. Brads70

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    Lots of good advice here guys Thanks!:thumbs:
    You know.... it's hard work being "on guard" all the time but unfortunately it's necessary. IMO
    I'm VERY careful on what/whom I "let in my head"
    Great advice on praying first and asking for wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit first and foremost ! :thumbs:
    I have been pulled from both sides of this debate KJVO and the rest... my family is split on this issue.
    I have listened to sermons before that I have had a definate sense that what I was hearing wasn't right. I don't recall what version it was from though.
     
  19. Oldtimer

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    FWIW, I use the term "awareness" when I write in the margin of our Sunday school quarterly -- "the Bible doesn't say that!". :BangHead: Then, it's off to compare translations, search for commentary, etc. More often, a simple prayer. Lord help me to understand according to your will. (Proverbs 2:3-6)

    The "awareness" isn't my doings. Not by a long shot. The Lord has proven me wrong too many times in what I think I know. :eek: The positive about this is the more He has humbled me, the stronger "awareness" grows in my being. I trust Him to guide me through whatever mire my studies take me. Whether it's a SS author pushing an agenda, JW website, or a KJVO bashing the NIV.

    2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
    15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
     
  20. glfredrick

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    Two critical things to contemplate in any KJVO discussion.

    First, what was the Scripture to all of God's people before 1611 -- or must you say that they had no Scripture at all, and if that, then from whence did James' scholars find something to translate?

    Second, is God only interested in bringing His Word to English speaking people, and what of ALL the other people represented at the throne of God in Revelation -- from every tribe, tongue, and nation of people, or all the people to whom we are to carry the "good news" (panta ta ethnae in Greek) if only the 1611 version is allowed as being truly God's Word? A corollary to this question is, how was it that God allowed His Word to be translated into so many languages, even in ancient times, where the number of languages was over 500 before AD 500?
     

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