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Chapter 3

Testimony of a Modern Revision

 

In 1982 the Revised Authorized Version (also known as the New King James Version) of the Bible was published. While being significantly superior to some of the other contemporary translations of the Bible, it also shares some of their errors. For example, in Hebrews 9:12, the Greek ta hagia is unjustifiably rendered "Most Holy Place" rather than "Holy Place" or "sanctuary."1 However, the preface to this modern translation offers unsolicited testimony to the unmatched quality of the original Authorized Version (also known as the King James Version) from rather unlikely sources, such as this quotation from the eminent Catholic scholar, Alexander Geddes, who in 1786 stated of the Authorized Version:

If accuracy and strictest attention to the letter of the text be supposed to constitute an excellent version, this is of all versions the most excellent (quoted in preface, The Holy Bibleórevised authorized version, Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1982, p. iii).

The same preface quotes the English literary legend, George Bernard Shaw, certainly not a Christian in belief, as saying of the King James Bible:

The translation was extraordinarily well done because to the translators what they were translating was not merely a curious collection of ancient books written by different authors in different stages of culture, but the Word of God divinely revealed through His chosen and expressly inspired scribes. In this conviction they carried out their work with boundless reverence and care and achieved a beautifully artistic result. Ibid. p. iii

The preface adds some other valuable insights as to why no other subsequent English translation of the Bible has been able to match the veracity of the Authorized Version of the Holy Scriptures. It affirms that the period of the 1611 translation was far more aggressively devoted to classical learning than our present day. Ibid, p. ii

Perceptively the preface of the Revised Authorized Version points out:

1. The Authorized Version translators determined to avoid a translation that paraphrased or gave only an approximate rendering.

2. The translating scholars were almost as familiar with the original languages of the Bible as they were with English.

3. The translators had a reverence for the divine Author and His Word, which assured a translation in which only a principle of utmost accuracy could be accepted.

4. The Authorized Version translators, unlike most modern translators who frequently use the less precise dynamic equivalence when translating certain passages, used complete equivalence. The former often leads to paraphrasing which lacks the more literal rendition of the Authorized Version of Holy Scriptures. Ibid.

The preface to the Revised Authorized Version also offers confirmation that the translators of the Authorized Version believed in the sacred providences by which the manuscripts were preserved.

They firmly believed that they had been handed down a trustworthy record of the Word of God. Ibid.

The profound influence of the Authorized Version upon a wide range of life and culture in the English-speaking world is also noted in the Revised Authorized Version preface:

The precision of translation for which it is historically renowned, and its majesty of style have enabled that monumental version of the Word of God to become the mainspring of the religion, language and legal foundations of our civilization. Ibid.

The preface also acknowledges the deficiencies of the Sinaitic and the Vatican manuscripts, upon which most of the modern versions of the Scriptures depend.

The manuscript preferences cited in many contemporary translations of the New Testament are due to recent reliance on a relatively few manuscripts discovered in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Dependence on these manuscripts, especially two, the Sinaitic and Vatican manuscripts, is due to the greater age of these documents. However, in spite of their age, many scholars have reason to doubt their faithfulness to the autographs, since they often disagree with one another, and show other signs of unreliability. . . .

On the other hand, the great majority of existing manuscripts are in substantial agreement. Even though some are late, and none are earlier than the fifth century, most of their readings are verified by ancient papyri, ancient versions, and quotations in the writings of the early church fathers. This large body of manuscripts is the source of the Greek text underlying the Authorized Version. It is the Greek text used by Greek-speaking churches for many centuries, presently known as the Textus Receptus, or Received Text, of the New Testament. Ibid.

Since the latter nineteenth century the theory has been held by some scholars that this traditional text of the New Testament had been officially edited by the fourth-century church. Recent studies have caused significant changes in this view, and a growing number of scholars now regard the Received Text as far more reliable than previously thought. Ibid, p. vii

No translation is perfect. It may even be persuasively argued that no exact copies of the original autographs still exist. This concept has become the platform of debate for many who declare that therefore the precision of a translation is less important than its relevance to todayís needs. This view has led to the deplorable situation where some "translations" have only scant resemblance to the sacred truth enshrined in the Scriptures. To those who cherish the sacred oracles of God, objective research confirms that the Authorized Version of the Bible is the most accurate and gives the most precise translation of any English Version yet produced. This reason alone is sufficient for it to be the primary Bible for all true Protestants.

1 This subject is thoroughly explained in C.D.Standish and R.R.Standish, The Sacrificial Priest, available from Hartland Publications, Box 1, Rapidan VA 22733 USA.<BACK>


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