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 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.
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.”
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.”
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 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.
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