English Translations of Psalm 22:16, 110:1; Isaiah 53:11, John 3:16, and Acts 8:37

Some English translations of the Bible are superior to others but no one translation is always the best. It seems evident that we may have some wolves in sheep’s clothing on the translation committees of some English versions of the Bible, such as the NRSV. In this blog, I make a case for reading multiple translations to determine the authenticity and divine inspiration of God’s Word. Below, I present several instances in which this is very important:

Psalm 110:1

Psalm 110:1 is directly attributed to King David in some English translations and the 2nd reference to the Lord is capitalized to reflect the initial meaning of the Greek “Kyrios” or the Hebrew “Adonai” (and not the later Masoretic reference to “Adoni,” which limits the word to a non-deity). Psalm 110 is the most heavily quoted Old Testament passage in the New Testament (Mark 12:35-37, 14:62; Luke 20:41-44; Hebrews 5:1-6, 6:20, 7; and 1 Corinthians 15:25).

KJV Mark 12:35-37 “And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David?  For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.”

ESV – A Psalm of David. The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

NRSV – Of David. A Psalm. The Lord says to my lord, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.

Psalm 110:1 presents a good reason to reject the NIV or NRSV translations in favor of the ESV, KJV, HCSB, or NASB. Agnostic Bart Ehrman was a full-time research assistant for the NRSV, while people who support Jesus like Peter Williams (ESV), Michael Brown (HCSB), and the late Gleason Archer (NASB) have contributed to other better translations.

Isaiah 53:11

Even though multiple Dead Sea Scrolls include the reference to “the light,” most English translations omit the light. Note that the Dead Sea Scrolls were composed over a century prior to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. The NIV and NRSV are (surprisingly) among the better translations here. Note that the prophet Isaiah composed this passage around 700 years before Christ walked the earth.

Dead Sea Scroll 1Q Isaiah(a) “After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light”

Dead Sea Scroll 1Q Isaiah(b) “After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light and be satisfied.

Dead Sea Scroll 4Q58 Isaiah(d) “After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light and be satisfied.”

NIV – “After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.”

ISV – “Out of the suffering of his soul he will see light and find satisfaction. And through his knowledge his servant, the righteous one, will make many righteous, and he will bear their iniquities.”

NRSV – “Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.”

Psalm 22:16

As pointed out by Dr. Michael Brown, the Hebrew word that is translated to “pierced” (or “bore a hole”) in Psalm 22:16 is evident in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which gives us ancient support that precedes Jesus’ crucifixion. Dr. Michael Brown is an expert on ancient Hebrew. Further note that King David composed the Psalms around 1,000 years before Jesus walked the earth.

ESV – “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet.”

NASB – “For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.”

NRSV – “For dogs are all around me; a company of evildoers encircles me. My hands and feet have shriveled.”

John 3:16

English translations vary on whether to refer to God’s only Son, His one and only Son, or His only begotten Son. The latter has eternal implications while the former phrases do not. In this case, the KJV and NASB1995 offer the best translations. Interestingly, the 1995 version of the NASB added in “begotten.”

KJV – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

NRSV – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

Acts 8:37

Acts 8:37 is strangely omitted from two of the most popular English translations, the ESV, the NIV, and the NRSV. In this case, the KJV is superior.

KJV – And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Conclusion

Given the fact that the Guinness Book of World Records has cited the Bible as the best-selling book of all time and publishing houses are in business to make money (and hence we have an abundance of translation offerings), one cannot be too careful when determining authenticity of the message within.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” – Mark 10:16 ESV

12 Replies to “English Translations of Psalm 22:16, 110:1; Isaiah 53:11, John 3:16, and Acts 8:37”

  1. I concur with you 💯, most English translations are a disaster while others show a clear intent. But what I think is that a lot of forgery was slotted in between the scriptures because many of Paul’s letters were not actually by him personally and so were the other parts of the Psalms, the Penteutech and other. Some even went on to purposefully omit certain passages and others replaced certain deity related titles by general ones.

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  2. Thanks for the insight. I have been looking at some of these in the NT for some time now. μονογενής (mŏnŏgĕnēs) is an interesting one. Besides translation challenges around the word and corresponding meanings in English, there seem to be significant theological challenges.

    As I am always interested in learning more, do you have any reference sources to recommend?

    Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Why do you try to link Ehrman to the NRSV? He didn’t serve on the translation committee. He was a secretary (and he says during this timeframe he was “a complete nobody”) and an administrative assistant.

    You like to bring up “agnostic Bart Ehrman” when talking about the NRSV, as I’ve seen you do on your YouTube channel, but this is a pathetic attempt at poisoning the well. As I’ve already said, Ehrman was not on the translation committee. Ehrman was also a Christian during this timeframe. So why bring up his current agnosticism?

    The NRSV was put out by the National Council of Churches. It’s used in Christian universities and seminaries (it was the preferred translation by most of my Christian professors). It’s embraced by Protestants, Catholic and Orthodox Christians. You don’t have to be a “Jesus supporter” to translate the Bible, but the translation committee had plenty of Christians, including Ehrman’s mentor Bruce Metzger (and Bart himself was a Christian at the time).

    Your lame attempts at poisoning the well should tell your readers how seriously to take you—which is not at all.

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      1. Yes, as I mentioned, he worked *for* the committee (as a secretary and administrative assistant) but not *on* the committee.

        See here: https://ehrmanblog.org/more-of-my-work-for-the-nrsv-bible-translation-committee/

        You also didn’t respond to the fact that you’re bringing up his agnosticism as if it’s relevant to his work for the committee. He was a Christian at the time.

        Not that you have to be a Christian to translate the Bible. It’s a weak attempt at poisoning the well. Bart Ehrman is irrelevant to whether the NRSV is a good or bad translation.

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  4. Apparently, you missed the part in the post you shared about Bart Ehrman’s full-time position as a graduate assistant on the translation committee. Here it is again (from YOUR post): “if I was interested in being his full time research assistant for the Bible translation committee. It would be a forty-hour a week job, with a decent salary, and I could do it with flexible hours, so that I could do that *and* continue teaching at Rutgers.”

    I’m sorry but your points are refuted by you.

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  5. I guess you’re not going to respond to my refutation of your attempts to poison the well by linking “agnostic Bart Ehrman” to the NRSV, even though it was Christian Bart Ehrman who had a very minor role in the committee’s work. I hope that means you’ll retire the ‘NRSV is Bart Ehrman’s baby’ canard.

    As far as Psalm 12:16, you prefer a christological translation for theological reasons, not textual or evidential reasons. Even if you disagree with their rendering of Psalm 22:16, if you apply this logic to every translation, you’d have to throw them all out. There isn’t a translation on the market that doesn’t have problematic renderings of certain verses.

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  6. In the video linked below, you say Ehrman was “serving on the board when they were creating the NRSV in the 80’s.” That’s 100% false. That’d be like saying the secretary or assistant to someone serving on a board was a member of the board. This is an example of you misleading your Christian audience to poison the well with the NRSV.

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