May 22

Wrapping up our discussion on why I do not consider the story of the woman caught in adultery to be actual Scripture, today’s devotional is a little longer as we focus on some history of why you and I have legal and available ownership of modern English versions of the Bible. Feel free to work through this devotional over a couple of days if you wish. The history of how we got our Bible was much more violent, bloody, and torturous than I will delve into here. But, I believe it behooves Christians to know their history, to realize Christianity is about suffering and not a relaxing trip in a canoe in a river drinking a Pepsi, and that the Word of God is so precious that we should be more in love with it when we get done reading this devotional, and thus more willing to read it, memorize it, and learn it. Get rid of most (or all) of your so-called “Christian” books (self-help junk, “Christian” romance novels, etc.) as they don’t do anything to spiritually contribute to your lives and just read your Bible. In it are the words of Life!

  • “The first thing we have to realize is that the Christian life is warfare, that we are strangers in an alien land, that we are in an alien land, that we are in the enemy’s territory… The teaching which gives the impression that the pathway to glory is all easy and simple and smooth is not Christianity… Do not be misled by the spurious notion of love. We must not only assert the truth; we must attack the evil and the false.”—D. Martyn Lloyd Jones

Picture walking outside, but it is totally pitch black out. You can’t see the hand in front of your face, you are thoroughly blind as you walk. You trip and fall on the uneven ground and the branches and obstacles in your way. You don’t know if you’re 1 foot from a cliff, or in the middle of the Alps, or stuck in New York City. While traversing the long, painful, and weary way someone hands you a flashlight. You’re amazed someone could see you, but nevertheless, you are thankful to have a light. You turn on the switch and find a massively bright beam of light like an air raid spotlight. You can see clearly now, like it was daylight, but the only way to assist others in finding help is to shine the light into their darkness. You will find that most will want nothing to do with the light for some reason (they seem to be in love with the darkness, tortured by the light shining on them), but you don’t despair because there are some that do want it. You find that those who don’t want the light fight you continually, trying to discourage you and even kill you—anything so that you will turn off that light. But, you keep moving forward, rescuing as many as possible for as long as you can.

The church has been given God-commissioned duties found in the New Testament. Our primary duty is to shine the light of the Word of God everywhere we go. We cannot worry if it offends people and causes them to hate us. They need rescuing and the Good News is the only light that will save them. Self-help gurus, racial reconciliation, social justice, pop psychology, life coaches, eating non-GMO organic foods grown on sustainable farms, thinking happy & peaceful thoughts, being a good neighbor, contributing to society, you name it, will not save any of them. In fact, those things are leading them to Hell just like any other man-made practice. The only thing that will save them is when they see their sin for what it is, when they see Jesus for Who He really is, and when they accept Him in faith. But, they will never see any of that without the light of the Word penetrating the darkness.

The story of the woman caught in adultery brought us to two subjects last Sunday: 1) The necessity to authoritatively teach the actual Word of God (which the story of the woman in adultery is not), and 2) The story itself demonstrating an oft-repeated story of Jesus shining the light into the darkness, the self-worshipping wicked scattering, and grace bestowed upon an undeserving, but accepting sinner.

Do you know the history of how we got our Bibles?

  1. The Bible became the exclusive purview of the Roman Catholic church, and became illegal for congregants to own or read (which didn’t matter much anyway as many were illiterate).
  2. In the 1300s a man named John Wycliffe, the Parish Priest of Lutterworth, held the conviction that the Bible needed to be in the language of the people (English), and not in the dead language of the church (Latin).
    1. He translated the Bible into English, had copies made (all by hand), and was persecuted for it.
    2. He died in 1384, but the Council of Constance decided to punish him forty years later and dug up his bones, burned them, and dumped the ashes in the river Swift.
    3. Wycliffe’s translation’s weakness was that he only had Latin to work with, thus his was a translation of Jerome’s Latin Vulgate and not of the actual Greek & Hebrew manuscripts from whence the Bible was actually written in.
  3. 1450 was an exciting year as Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press and produced a copy of the Bible (in Latin).
    1. Wycliffe’s copyists took 10 months to produce, by hand, one copy of the Bible.
    2. One London printing company could now produce 120 per hour!
    3. And in 1454 moveable type was invented which was even faster!
  4. Erasmus was a Greek scholar and friend of St. Thomas More. He produced the Greek New Testament in 1514 translated from the best manuscripts available at the time.
  5. In the 1500s William Tyndale worked on creating a more accurate English translation from the Greek. The church in England opposed him.
    1. The bishops’ hatred for Tyndale led to much persecution.
    2. He moved in 1524 to Hamburg, Germany to finish his translation while in exile. He was impoverished and would never see England again.
    3. He finished his work finally in Worms (where Luther had nailed his thesis to the church door).
    4. England burned Tyndale’s New Testament translations by the hundreds while the translations continually were being smuggled in.
    5. Finally, Tyndale was betrayed, imprisoned in the dungeon of the Castle of Vilvorden (suffering cold, pain, and utter misery).
    6. On Friday, October 6, 1536, he was strangled at the stake and burned to ashes.
      1. His dying prayer was, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes”.
    7. The Reformation created a rift between England (and King Henry) and the Pope, opening the way for a “Peoples’ Bible”.
      1. 1535 Miles Cloverdale produced a translation, largely copied from Tyndale.
      2. 1537, Matthews, who hated Tyndale, also offered his own copy which unbeknownst to him was mostly from Tyndale’s translation.
      3. Taverner’s Bible was a virtual copy of Tyndale’s, but with violent notes.
      4. 1539 King Henry VIII authorized Miles Cloverdale to create an official church Bible (the “Great Bible” was completed by April of that year).
      5. But later, when “Bloody” Mary’s ruled, she was violent, a staunch Catholic, and slowed some efforts down.
      6. Yet, about twenty years later, Queen Elizabeth triumphantly entered London, and she pressed the Bible to her lips, then laid it to her heart, and then thanked the City for such a precious gift.
    8. The Authorized Version, or King James Version was published in 1611 to have a consistent translation. King James appointed 54 skilled and educated men from the High Church down to the Puritans, and even those who were unaffiliated, to work on this translation:
      1. There were to be no marginal notes save Greek and Hebrew word explanations. Thus, a large reduction in bias.
    9. The Introduction of the “Translators to the Readers” within the King James Bible states:
      1. “But how shall men meditate in that, which they cannot understand? How shall they understand that which is kept close in an unknowen tongue? as it is written, Except I know the power of the voyce, I shall be to him that speaketh, a Barbarian, and he that speaketh, shalbe a Barbarian to me. The Apostle excepteth no tongue, not Hebrewe the ancientest, not Greeke the most copious, not Latine the finest. Nature taught a naturall man to confesse, that all of us in those tongues which wee doe not understand, are plainely deafe; wee may turne the deafe eare unto them.”
        1. In other words, the belief of these men is that you and I should have the Bible in ourlanguage, notthat dead language of the past.
        2. Notice how hard it is to understand 1611 English? That point will become important later in this discussion.
      2. “It remaineth, that we commend thee to God, and to the Spirit of his grace, which is able to build further then we can aske or thinke. Hee removeth the scales from our eyes, the vaile from our hearts, opening our wits that wee may understand his word, enlarging our hearts, yea correcting our affections, that we may love it above gold and silver, yea that we may love it to the end. Ye are brought unto fountaines of living water which yee digged not; doe not cast earth into them with the Philistines, neither preferre broken pits before them with the wicked Jewes. Others have laboured, and you may enter into their labours; O receive not so great things in vaine, O despise not so great salvation! Be not like swine to treade under foote so precious things, neither yet like dogs to teare and abuse holy things. Say not to our Saviour with the Gergesites, Depart out of our coasts; neither yet with Esau sell your birthright for a messe of potage. If light be come into the world, love not darknesse more then light; if foode, if clothing be offered, goe not naked, starve not your selves.”
        1. The translators informed their readers to love their Bibles, to love not darkness (ahhhh, Jesus’ theme in the Book of John!), and to not send Christ away by wanting other things than His Word.
      3. The End is Not Yet: Through hundreds upon hundreds of translation updates, the King James was continually updated to make it readable in the changing English environment, and to correct it against the latest textual information available.
        1. There have been thousands of revisions to the KJV over the years. In fact, the American Bible Society’s Committee on Versions (1851-56) found six versions of the KJV that had 24,000 variations!
        2. The King James Bible you may buy at a store today is not as hard to read as the original 1611 (like those two quotes above are). This version has been revised many times to make it understandable which was the intent of the translators in 1611.
        3. However, the work of scholars kept going. The American Standard Version and the Revised Standard were two of the earlier 20thcentury translations that worked with the latest Greek and Hebrew manuscripts.
        4. Today, the deepest translation work has been done in the English Standard Version (an improvement on the New Revised Standard) and the New American Standard (which is the most accurate/literal translation available).
        5. While there are many weak, unworthy versions out there, you can be rest assured that you will have a fairly solid transmission of God’s Word through the King James, the New King James, the Holman Christian Standard, and the older NIV, as well as the aforementioned NASB and ESV (my two favorites).

 

  1. Before today’s devotional, about how much (pick a percentage) of this history were you aware of before? ____________________________
    1. Many men suffered and died to get the Bible translated and produced so that you and I could read it. How does this history impact your life? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    2. If God’s Word is the only source of life, the foundation for our lives, and our spiritual food, and you read how these men fought to allow you to have a copy, then how much more should you be dedicated to it (reading, memorizing, studying)? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2. I love my King James because it is what I grew up with. But it is still a challenge understanding some of the verses in it due to the archaic language. Do you relate to this? ______________________________
    1. Feel free to own a couple of solid translations (i.e. notThe Living Bible, or The Message, or the TNIV, or the Easy-To-Read Version, etc.).
  • Psalm 30:5-6 Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.
  • Matthew 4:4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’”
  • Matthew 5:18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
  • Isaiah 28:9-10 “To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from the milk, those taken from the breast? For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”
  1. Why is being as accurate with each and every word of the Bible so important? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    1. True Story: In the 1631 edition of the Authorized Version, the king’s printers were fined 300 pounds by Archbishop Laud because they failed to transmit Exodus 20:14 correctly (they left out the word, “not”). Hence, it read: “Thou shalt commit adultery”. That is how important it is to convey even the words properly.
  2. Everyone has an agenda. Just read the news and see how two sides slant the same story. Well, it’s the same way when we come to Bible translations (e.g. Zondervan is no longer printing the original 1984 edition so that they can print gender-inclusive versions only replace gender-specific language in the Greek and Hebrew. Remember, Zondervan is nota Christian publisher as it is owned by Harper Collins which bought them a long time ago so as to capitalize on the Christian publishing profits. Thus, their bias is not biblical, but sales).
  • http://www.lockman.org/nasb/
    1. The NASB has been produced with the care and concern of transmitting God’s Word accurately (i.e. their bias is to glorify God). Read the last two paragraphs on this page and note some of their criteria for translating: _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  • https://www.esv.org/translation/philosophy/
    1. The ESV is also a carefully translated version. Read the second paragraph which defends why they do adhere to the Dynamic Equivalent translation method (such as the NIV, New Jerusalem Bible, and in part, the Christian Standard Bible). Why do they prefer to be as literal as possible: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
  • https://www.thepassiontranslation.com/about-the-tpt/
    1. Now read this page. What is the bias behind this version? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
      1. Open your Bible to Psalm 18:1. Now compare it with The Passion Translation:
  • “Lord, I passionately love you! I want to embrace you, For now you’ve become my Power!”
    1. What do you instantly see as severely wrong with the Passion “translation”: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  1. I won’t go into all the details here, but this growingly popular version being sold on Amazon and elsewhere is an abomination because it is nottrying to convey the thoughts of God, but is trying to convey the thoughts of man about what he wants God to be saying. Brian Simmons (the lead translator) and its endorser, Bill Johnson (of Bethel Church in Redding, California) are both heretics within the New Apostolic Reformation (I won’t give details here, but you can watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTNjIawhTwM). They add words to many verses, change the thoughts of them to match modern and cultural beliefs, and pass it off as Scripture. Didn’t Psalm 30:6 say this was punishable by God?

A really good article on this topic for your reading pleasure is from Daniel B. Wallace over at Dallas Theological Seminary: https://bible.org/article/why-so-many-versions. My only personal change in his Dynamic Equivalent selection that he suggests (at the end of the article) would be the New Jerusalem Bible over the NIV (I think it reads really well). But otherwise, great and interesting information from a great biblical scholar!