Home >> Articles >> Apologetics - Defending the Faith
Q. Hasn't the Bible been rewritten many times by so many zealots that bigotry has found a home in religion? (A.M.)
Thanks for your question. We welcome your thoughts and opinions.
Before I begin, please understand that all of us are bigots, zealots and hypocrites! This is because we all suffer from something called "sin." It's a human condition. Mankind is infected with an incurable disease - sin and death. That's why God reached out to us through Jesus Christ, His Son. If we believe in His Lordship and redemptive work He will free us from all this "bigotry" and "hypocrisy" in the future. Meanwhile, we're stuck in bodies and minds tainted by sin.
Translated - Not "Changed"
Many people mistakenly think the bible was rewritten and changed again and again. But, this is a misconception. Instead, the Bible has been translated from ancient languages and put in harder or easier versions among the various languages in use today.
You can see this when you compare the New Living Translation with the King James Version, for example. One is very difficult to read while the other uses shorter, easier sentences. But, the Greek text or Hebrew text underlying these modern translations is almost identical from century to century.
Two Foundational Texts
There are really only two major or primary sets of ancient texts from which the Bible is translated. One group of texts underlies the King James and New King James translations. The other group underlies all the other translations like the New International Version, the New Living Translation and others.
One group of texts spread to the East and developed in the Constantinople region (Turkey). These are called the Byzantine texts. The other group spread to the South and West settling in the Alexandrian area (Egypt) early on. They are called the Alexandrian texts.
Catholic Latin Translation - Not "New"
Later, these two primary groups of texts were translated into Latin and other languages. Of course, the Latin translation found its home in the Roman Catholic Church. The Latin translation is also an excellent text used in later Catholic translations like the New American Bible. But, the Latin translation is not a "new" text. It was a translation based on the available earlier texts mentioned above.
The Catholic New American Bible (NAB) is a wonderful, modern translation, by the way. It's interesting to compare the NAB with the Protestant NASB or ESV translations. They are pretty much identical! (This fact surprises many Protestants). The major difference is that Catholics include a few, short books called the Apocrypha - revered by Jews around 175 B.C.
Less Than 1% Difference in Texts
Surprisingly, the differences between these texts are extremely miniscule - less than one percent of the text. If you read the New Living Translation alongside the New King James Version you will find just a few added or deleted passages. But, none of those differences affect the meaning of the New Testament writings in any significant way. They are virtually the same.
We encourage all of our readers to own as many representative translations as they can afford. That way you can check out these miniscule differences for yourself. You'll never doubt your Bible again.
Remained Same Over Many Centuries
Not too long ago the only copy we had of the Old Testament was dated to around A.D. 1000. But, after archaeologists discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 we now have a copy of the Old Testament dating to at least 1,000 years earlier.
Guess what? The copy of the Old Testament dated 1,000 years after the Dead Sea Scrolls copy of the O.T. is identical! This is an awesome discovery! There are just a few minor spelling differences. These are similar to adding an "e" at the end of a word or an apostrophe.
Christians and Jews can rest assured that the Greek and Hebrew texts that form the foundation of our modern translations into English and other languages are astonishingly accurate.
So go read that easy or hard translation of the Bible in confidence - it's a modern miracle!
Emilio, V&K. Copies of copies of copies of copies. www.remnantreport.com. Available from: http://www.remnantreport.com/cgi_bin/imcart/read.cgi?article_id=483&sub=19.
Lightfoot, Neil R. 2003. How we got the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
Authors Valorie Emilio holds an MA in History from UCLA and is a popular biblical essayist. Ken received his BS from CSULB and holds an MA from Louisiana Baptist University. They know they are just a fleeting shadow who must make the most of time remaining upon this earth (Jas 4:14, Eph 5:15).
© RemnantReport.com. All Rights Reserved.