Arminian Today

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Bible Teachers: Explain Variants in the Texts

One of the common complaints among KJV only supporters is that the modern translations have so many variants in the English text.  How can we trust a translation that deletes God’s words?  So the KJV only supporter appeals to the KJV as the standard text to judge all other English translations by.  If a modern translation deletes a verse because it is using a different Greek text, the KJV only supporter will jump on the English translation and denounce it as a heretical translation that is disobeying Revelation 22:18-19.

The common Bible reader will often stumble if, for example, you are teaching on Luke 11:1-4 in the ESV and they are using the KJV.  The Textus Receptus, the Greek text that was primarily used by the KJV translators for the New Testament, contains words that make Luke 11:1-4 similar to Matthew 6:9-13.  At some point a scribe or even perhaps Erasmus himself, added words in Luke 11:1-4 because they believed Luke left out portions of the so-called “Lord’s prayer.”  The scribe was merely trying to help reconcile Luke 11:1-4 and Matthew 6:9-13 as they viewed them teaching the same thing.  While no gross errors can be attributed to the additions, I believe the ESV and the modern translations are correct to not have the words there.  The prayers are different because the teachings are at different times despite some similarities.

The faithful Bible teacher should labor to teach the disciples about variants in the English texts.  Why do modern translations not include these words in Luke 11:1-4?  Why does the NIV not include, as one KJV only supporter put it, over 2,000 verses in the New Testament?  Why does the ESV differ from the KJV over 1 John 5:7-8?

The Bible teacher should be able to explain these variants.  While textual criticism is a difficult area, we should labor to show the disciples how our Bibles came to us.  We should not gloss over the text while ignoring the variant readings.  Further, I think it is also equally wrong for the KJV only teacher to merely chalk up variants to conspiracy theories or to heretics.  One should research why English Bibles differ here and there including in the KJV itself.  Why do the KJV editions themselves differ in places and which KJV English Bible is the standard to judge all others by?  Variant readings in the text should cause us to do our homework and not ignore them.

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/17/2013 at 1:00 PM

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