On Bible Versions

Some years ago, I spent a lot of time striving with folks on message boards that encouraged such behavior. These boards ostensibly were dedicated to discussing Christian subjects. Unfortunately, as so often happens, many became magnets, attracting people looking for a fight. The bellicose nature of many of the posters, and the incessant verbal fisticuffs, tended to drive gentler souls away. As I sorted through my computer archives a while back, I read again the records of those old battles. As I read, it occurred to me that some of the issues we discussed would be of interest to folks reading here. The thought became mother to the deed.

The Issue: I guess I'll never measure up here, and lately from what I have been reading.... I don't care!

The Response: Perhaps the difficulty you perceive has more to do with whom or what you may be comparing yourself to.

Over the years, both as a committed and active atheist and later as a committed and active follower of the risen Christ, I have encountered a variety of types among professing Christians. Likely you are familiar with many of the types. They range from the ones who identify with a religious group only when they are filling out hospital admission forms to the ones who keep a stake, a few fagots and a lit torch always at the ready, just in case they come across a heretic in need of burning. In that it is impossible for you and I to know for certain who it is that God has elected to eternal life, I believe we must accept the possibility, remote though it may seem, that even among these extreme types there may be some who are truly saved.

Personally, I consider it more probable that the great bulk of souls who make up the Body of Christ are to be found somewhere in the middle ground between these polar extremes. If this is so, then it would appear that many, if not most, true believers are folks who recognize the great change in their lives that occurred at the moment of their salvation and who are trying with varying degrees of effort and success to live godly lives. Some of us are better at Christian living than others. Some of us are beacons in a world enshrouded in dark sin. Some of us are like locked doors that bar entry into the light. Most of us, I imagine, just meander along the narrow path, sometimes stumbling and sometimes shining.

I suspect that the walk is easier for folks who were raised in Christian homes than it is for people like me, who were not called until late in life. People like me have sampled many forbidden pleasures. We have luxuriated in the seductive embrace of worldly living. Following regeneration, we reject our former ways some more vigorously than others. There are those, I suppose, who are so grateful for their new life that they strive, in an excess of zeal, to merit what they received as a gift and condemn those who do not struggle as they do to attain perfection.

There are some, saved and lost, who appear to honor religiousity more than simple faith. These are the ones who focus on public acts and symbols, as though public piety were a sure sign of inner sanctification. Jesus had much to say to this type in Matthew 23.

And so which type should the believer seek to measure up to? None of them. The believer, whether baby Christian or venerable old relic in the faith, should seek to measure up to the standards of no man. His only standard should be that set by our Lord:

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.--Matthew 22:37-40

It is only when a person can honestly claim to be perfectly conformed to these two great commandments that he might claim to have measured up to the only standard that really counts. I think it improbable that any human, other than the God-man Jesus of Nazareth, ever has or ever shall lay claim to perfection in this life, but we never should stop advancing toward that goal. In our own struggle, we should recognize that others we encounter might be at different stages in their own walks. We must be quick to lend a hand to our brothers who are just learning the walk and gentle in our reproofs of others who are stumbling.

The poster had asked a number of questions addressing an issue one of her antagonists had raised concerning the NIV use of "Morning Star" as a name for the fallen angel. Apparently, she was concerned that he had not responded.

Another Issue: One last thing. You never addressed what the Strong's has to say about what I posted on the morning star and Lucifer. I guess you didn't read it or choose not to believe it.

Another Response:I read your questions but left them for others to answer. I don't usually care to get involved in what I consider to be fruitless controversies over Bible versions. The simple truth of the matter is that no one, regardless of what they may think they know, can attest with absolute certainty to the accuracy of almost any translation, though I would consider exceptions to that statement when Pig Latin versions, etc., are concerned.

Personally, I like the KJV for a variety of reasons, but I do not consider it to be THE definitive translation. For all I know, some translation in a language I am not familiar with might be worlds closer to the original autographs than any English version. That such foreign language versions are not accessible to many of us has no bearing on their fidelity to the inspired texts, something KJV-Only folks occasionally seem to forget in their zeal to hold their favorite version above all others.

More than 20,000 ancient texts and bits of texts of New Testament books are available today. From very early in the history of the church, men have been "adjusting" and "enhancing" the texts originally penned by inspired writers. Over the centuries, scholars have labored over these ancient and not-so-ancient texts in their effort to determine which contribute to a compilation most faithful to the autographs. A major issue when comparing texts is that different scholarly schools have come up with different candidates for the most faithful compilation.

Personally, with absolutely nothing solid to back me up, I doubt that ANY translation in any language is perfectly faithful to the inspired texts. As a member of a bilingual family who routinely uses two languages in the course of daily living, I perhaps have a better appreciation than many of the difficulties attendant to accurately expressing thoughts that were originally composed in a different language and culture. It is a simple enough matter to mechanically translate the words, but to accurately translate the nuances of an idea in terms that someone whose background, experiences and educational attainment are different from both the original writer and the translator is more art than science. How much more difficult the task when the original thoughts were set to parchment as many as 3600 years ago?

Third Issue: Now if the NIV uses "morning star" and explains that it is referring to Lucifer, what is so bad about that? I think it is good because it gives people another understanding of Lucifer; how he was an exalted Angel at one time. When God created Lucifer, he was obviously pleased with him to give him this name. I know I saw this in the Bible and I also heard or read where he was the head of the Angelic Choir before he blew it."

A Third Response: Strong's defines the word translated Lucifer (1966) in Isaiah 14:12 (KJV) as:

Lucifer = "light-bearer"
1) shining one, morning star, Lucifer
1a) of the king of Babylon and Satan (fig.)
2) (TWOT) 'Helel' describing the king of Babylon

I believe it a reality that Jews of Isaiah's time would have understood the name God gave to the angel who led the rebellion in Heaven as meaning "Morning Star." That the men who compiled the KJV elected not to translate the fallen angel's name appears to me to be more a pious choice than an issue bearing on the reliability of a translation.

In Revelation 2:28, the revelator uses two words, translated morning and star, to identify Jesus. In 22:16, he again uses two words, though a different one for "morning", when referring to Jesus as the Morning Star.

In Roman Catholic writings, I have seen Catholic Mary who, in my estimation is most assuredly not the Mary of Scripture in whose womb was incarnated the Logos, referred to as the "Morning Star."

There is every reason to believe that the fallen angel once called Lucifer and now more commonly known as Satan was beautiful almost beyond description (Ezekiel 28), until iniquity was found in him. I think that today he has successfully sold an ingenuous world on the idea that Satan and those who serve him are easily identified because they are grossly ugly. How much easier for him, then, to corrupt the nave when he approaches them as a creature of beauty?

What is wrong with using the same terms when referring to Jesus as when referring to some other person, even Satan? Is not Jesus referred to as King sometimes? Are not Manasses and Herod also called king? There was a time when Lucifer was beautiful and when we are told that even God referred to him as Lucifer, the morning star. When John identifies the risen Jesus as the Morning Star, are we in danger of confusing the Logos with the deceiver? I think not.

Having had time to digest posts on that thread, she wisely wanted to see support for the claim that the KJV is the only trustworthy version of Scriptures.

A Fourth Issue: Also, I would like to ask what makes the KJV the only correct version? Who said the translators of that version didn't make mistakes or miss something when doing the translation.....or maybe just add something of their own, using poetic licence?"

A Fourth Response: There is absolutely nothing at all that makes the KJV the only correct version, as I have tried to make clear above. What makes the whole KJV-as-only-correct-version controversy so interesting is that the KJV is not an original translation. In fact, less than 40% of the language in the KJV is original with the compilers/translators. All the rest was lifted verbatim from earlier English translations.

In closing she expressed her concerns over what she had perceived to have been happening on that thread:

A Closing Comment: I do hope that this doesn't anger some of you into another "shunning". I really do want to hear what you have to say as long as it is in a dialog that is sharing and teaching and not so vitriolic of the NIV and those that read it. Sometimes when I read these types of response, I wonder,whether I'm going to hell because I read the NIV!!!"

A Closing Response:

A very wise and godly friend, a Baptist pastor whose doctoral dissertation was in the area of systematic theology, once reminded me that no one is saved by their theology. In truth, if you think about it, we have no real theology until after we are saved, for we are not able to know God while we are dead in sin. Similarly, I do not believe that anyone is saved or condemned by their choice of Bible translation. To think otherwise is, I believe, to think like the Pharisees of Jesus' time.

We are saved by faith that God alone can give to those whom He has chosen to have eternal life. We are not saved by religious affiliation, by anything we might do, nor by our choice of Bible version. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise.

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