Have you talked to the people who think that we should only use the King James Version of the Bible? The King James Version of the Bible is the version published in 1611 that is full of “thee” and “thou” and has a lot of words that have changed meaning with time. Many people think it is the “inspired version.” Is it? What do they have to back up that claim? These people may even speak with “thee” and “thou” when they pray to God, but not all. I met a young man recently who believes in the New King James Version because it is easier to understand, but at least, he thinks, he still has “the inspired version.” Is one translation really inspired?
If only an English version of he Bible is inspired, then what about all the other languages on the planet? Are their Bibles not inspired too? If someone can’t read English, does that mean they can never really know what God wants? By the way, have you ever heard the word “holpen”? It is in the King James Version of 1611. How well do you understand Shakespearean plays? The KJV and Shakespeare came out of the same year. What is a harpy? Unless you are an English major in the university, you probably don’t know. The language in the KJV and in Shakespeare can be beautiful, but is it inspired by God? Is there an inspired version?
The Bible was originally written in two languages, the Old Testament in Hebrew, and the New Testament in Greek. There is also some Aramaic in the New Testament. Jesus didn’t even speak English. How can we say an English version is “the inspired version” if Jesus didn’t speak English? It is the message that Jesus taught that is inspired. It is the idea that we love one another and that we should live a pure life that is inspired. It is the path to Heaven that is inspired. God told us the way to go to Heaven. That is what Christianity is all about.
If one translation is not inspired, then which translation is best to use since we don’t all speak Greek and Hebrew, the original? The answer to this question was never so clear to me as when I was in Romania. I had a Romanian translation of the Bible. It was translated by one single Romanian Orthodox priest. When I got to Matthew 12:46-49, the verses where Jesus is teaching inside of a house, and the people are all crowded around him, and his mother and brother come wanting to talk to him. The Orthodox priest who translated the version I was using put in parenthesis (These were not actually the brothers of Christ, but his cousins.) What? Why would he put that? He seemed to want to change what was written. To begin with, they were his brothers. If you look in the next chapter, in Matthew 13:55-56, it lists his brother’s names and even says he has sisters. If you look in Acts the first chapter, all the disciples were gathered in prayer after Jesus ascended to Heaven, even his brothers. If the problem is that you think Mary didn’t have any more children because she never slept with Joseph, look again. Look at the last verse of Matthew chapter 1. It says Mary and Joseph didn’t sleep together “until” after the baby was born. The book of James was written by James, the brother of Jesus.
Why would that Orthodox priest want to change what was written? The Orthodox pray to Mary. Many call her “the mother goddess.” They feel justified in doing so because they say she was “forever a virgin,” but she wasn’t according to the scriptures. (Matthew 1:25) This Orthodox priest didn’t want to go against the Orthodox church in his translation.
Why would they want Mary to be “forever a virgin”? It is the problem of “original sin.” According to the Bible, sin is something we do, (Romans 7:14-20) but according to people who espouse “original sin,” we inherit sin from our parents, and that is why they baptize babies. There was a church council a long time go where they put forth the idea of baptizing babies because they were worried for their souls. Infant mortality was a problem then. Many babies died. They wanted to protect their children. Who wouldn’t? They knew that baptism washed sins away and let people go to Heaven, (Acts 2:38) and they wanted to baptize their babies while they were small to make sure they would go to Heaven if they died. However, babies were innocent, and had no sin to wash away, so they began saying they had inherited sin from their parents. They said we all inherited the sin of Adam and Eve from our parents. That is the original sin. (They also forgot that Acts 2:38 says we must repent and be baptized, but babies are too small to repent because repentance is an acknowledgement that you have done things that are wrong and that you don’t want to do those things anymore. It is a concept too hard for a new born baby to grasp. Babies are innocent. New born babies can’t even reach out and grab a rattle, so how could they sin? They don’t need baptism. It is those of us who are old enough to do things we shouldn’t do that need it.)
However, if they said that we inherited our parent’s sins when we are born, that would mean that Jesus was not the perfect sacrifice (1 Peter 2:22 says Jesus was sinless.) for sin because it would say he wasn’t sinless because he inherited Mary’s sin. They had to declare Mary sinless or they would completely undo Christianity because Jesus had to be sinless. However, in the old times, many thought sex was a sin, so they had to make Mary sinless too, so they declared her “forever a virgin” because they knew she was a virgin at the time of Jesus’ birth.
Can you see what one translator can do to people who are reading the Bible? If you use a translation made by one person, you will get that one person’s ideas. If you use a translation made by a group of people from different churches, they will check one another. No one will let the others add something that is wrong. No one will be able to advance their own theology if everyone on the translation committee comes form different churches. Look in the front of the Bible you want to use. Who translated it? Was it just one person? Was it a committee? Was that committee all from one church like the committee who translated the KJV? Yes, the translators of the KJV had a few problems too.
At that time, everyone from England was from the same church. King James told the committee of Bible translators that if they made a mistake in the translation, he would have their heads cut off. You would think that would cause everything to be translated right. However, they had a problem. When they got to the word in Greek “baptizo,” it meant immersion. However, immersion was not the church’s practice of the time. They were sprinkling because water was difficult to come by. The translators were afraid that if they wrote “immersion,” the king would think it was wrong, so they had to do something. They did what linguists call “transliterate.” They left the original word and changed it to seem English and invented a new word in English. Baptizo became baptism. They confused the whole religious world. Now, when John the Baptist says that people would be baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire in Matthew 3, people have trouble understanding what he is talking about. If they had left the word alone, immersed in the Holy Spirit and fire is hard enough to understand which is a whole other topic, but at least you would have one word in the sentence that made sense. Those translators saved their own necks, but caused all kinds of religious confusion and division.
This is why we need the committee of translators to be from more than one church. We need people without any other agenda except to translate what is there, and we need the translators to check one another. It is hard to get a really good translation, but the message is clear. Jesus came to this earth to teach us and show us how to get to Heaven, and we need to follow him. We want to do what he said, and if we use our heads, we can figure it out. He has given us everything we need to go to Heaven. We can learn a lot from each translation, but we need to compare the translations because we want to make sure some translator didn’t make a mistake purposefully or otherwise. We want the pure, unadulterated, inspired message of Christ. It is the message that is inspired, not the translation.