I’m no nitpicker when it comes to certain things, especially Bible translations. I love the colour of the translations and the different take on things.
However, I’m becoming more and more convinced that a literal translation of the Bible is probably the most helpful kind of Bible to have as your ‘main’ Bible, and you can use the other translations just to get a different angle. The King James is actually a literal translation, and I’m finding it’s a rather good one at that!
Let’s look at two examples. Firstly, check this scripture in 1 John 5:19 in the NIV :
“We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”
Ok, so this tells me that the world is in the control of the evil one… but this doesn’t line up with the rest of what the Bible is saying about the evil one.
See it here in the authorized King James
“And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.”
Whoa… am I the only guy who sees a HUGE difference here? Let’s see another literal translation (the Young’s literal translation) to check it out :
“we have known that of God we are, and the whole world in the evil doth lie;”
Still, this isn’t saying that the world is under the control of the evil one!
What a terrible mistake to make! When I spotted this I was pretty disgusted with the NIV. For the first time in my life, I’m on the verge of being a purist in this area! This kind of mistake, IMO, is really inexcusable.
The NIV and most modern translations are translated dynamically and literally. ie, word for word and idea for idea. When the sentence structure won’t make sense (translating it word for word) they translate idea for idea. But, here we see two translations advocating opposed ideas. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Here’s another, check this out:
Gal 2:16 (NIV)
“know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”
Gal 2:16 (KJV)
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
Sheepers, can you spot the difference?? The faith OF Christ in the KJV and faith IN Christ in the NIV.
Actually, I have to say that the KJV reads easier here. The NIV seems somewhat confused. The sentence structure doesn’t make sense to me (too many ‘ins’)
I brought this ‘of and in’ issue to my friend Shaun Mackay, and it appears there is somewhat of a debate within Christian scholarship whether it should be rendered ‘of’ or ‘in.’ ‘In’ has won the day in most modern translations (including the New King James) but I’m still not decided on this. I think the ‘faith OF Christ’ may carry some merit when it comes to living a life of faith and miracles etc. Ie, I believe in Christ, and he fills me with his faith to perform miracles (the same faith he had when he was on the earth.) I think I may be onto something, but also I need to be careful here. But listen to what the KJV is saying here : we’re justified on the basis of Christ’s faith. Even we have believed IN Christ, to be justified by the faith OF Christ. This helps to see why ‘faith’ can’t really be classified as a ‘work.’
Am I the only one who sees a sharp difference here? Perhaps, if modern translators would AT LEAST put a footnote in their Bibles that it COULD be translated OF, we would all be in a better place to understand the gospel a little more correctly.
So? I’ve downloaded pocket E-sword for my PDA and am going to use the KJV from now on in my studies. Pocket e-sword also helps me do comparative reading without needing to get all my Bibles out. This will be incredibly interesting for me, let’s see if the KJV of theology produces more miracles, fruit and healings (Well, to be sure, only the Spirit can produce all that but let’s see if the KJV helps to renew my mind a little better at least!) Especially in the light of absolute, free, unconditional grace! This gospel is awesome, man.
Ryan Peter is a writer, journalist and ghostwriter from Johannesburg, South Africa. He writes fantasy, sci-fi, inspirational fiction, and on faith. Ryan is also part of the New Covenant Ministries International (NCMI) translocal team.