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Question #1:  


"For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?" (Deuteronomy 30:13)

"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."(Matthew 24:35)

I don't think it is spiritually wise to believe in an errant Bible. In doing so, we are doing what Moses forbade, and placing God's word up in heaven. But God and his angels don't /need/ a Bible: it is those of us who are trapped in the air that need his word the most. To say that it exists and then store it up in heaven would be a practical joke of the meanest sort. However, the good news is that Jesus reminded us that neither will a single jot or title pass from the law (Matthew 5:18) nor that any one of his words will pass away.

All of these questions, like if 1 John 5:7 was really in the Bible, or if the longer ending of Mark was, are all just erudite ways of asking, "Yea, hath God said...?" Is it any wonder that since modern seminaries and "scholarship" have switched their mottoes from "Thus saith the Lord" to "Yea, hath God said," modern Bibles are failing everywhere they're going?

If you think that the abuse of the Pericope Adulturae is enough to convince you of its falsity, consider this: Every Mormon and Muslim statement of faith is that the Bible is "improperly translated" and the true meaning is hidden only "in the original manuscripts"! (Of which, of course, only their respective prophets have discovered.) Everyone uses the excuse that Moses expounds, so as to absolve themselves of doctrinal responsibility, and so as to keep themselves in rebellion against God. After all, who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?

Bible-correcting, furthermore, becomes an obsession. There is no peace in the process, for it is written, "And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh." (Ecclesiastes 12:12). Peace cannot come through the flesh, but only through the Spirit of God. The Pharisees did this, studying endlessly over "scholarship" of the Bible, and Jesus said that their holiness was only flesh deep, but inside they were spiritually dead. Jesus was a carpenter (most certainly /not/ an academic like the scribes!) but he spoke with authority, because he spoke with the Spirit of God.

As for which Bible is the preserved, inspired one? It should be quite simple: it's the one which receives the majority of attacks, slanders, accusations, disgust, and discouragement. It's the one whose followers are labelled as "bigoted" and "ignorant of real scholarship." It is the one that the modern church is ashamed of: the King James Bible.


Response #1: 

Dear Friend,

As a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ I owe my loyalty to Him and to His Word – what it actually is, says and means.

The KJV is a great version, but it is not inspired. No translation can be an object of faith, any more than a particular church or ministry or individual can be – without introducing grave spiritual danger.

I love the KJV, listen to it on tape almost daily, make use of it in my ministry continually, and recommend it to readers. But I know what it is – and what it is not.

The translators of the KJV were "academic scholars" from Oxford, Cambridge et al., and how many of them were saved is an open question. But that does not matter. They did know Greek and Hebrew passably well, and they did produce a fine translation of the Bible . . . but based on what? A translation can only be even potentially as good as the text being translated, and as far as the New Testament is concerned, the KJV was produced from a composite, scholarly Greek edition – that is to say, the KJV is based not upon a manuscript or a group of manuscripts, but upon the latest published, scholarly edition of the Greek NT available at the time. So unless we are willing to pronounce the writings of Erasmus "inspired", we had better think twice about doing the same for a translation done by scholars based upon a scholarly work which he and other secular scholars produced (directly and indirectly).

If "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk.16:16 KJV) and "They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them" (Mk.16:18 KJV) were really part of God's Word, I confess that I would find very difficult reconciling these sentiments with the truths I have elsewhere learned from scripture. Blessedly, however, (almost) anyone who has given the matter some serious study knows that the longer endings of Mark were added later and are not part of the Bible (there are diehard disputants, mostly motivated by their love for the KJV). These passages are only in the KJV because the scholars doing Mark had them in the critical edition they were given to be the basis for their translation (i.e., the secular editors of the so-called Textus Receptus were mistaken on this point about what should be included in the Greek text, but the translators were obliged to follow the common text regardless of personal feelings on the matter).

There are really very few interpolations in the NT which are problematic to any great degree. I am in the habit of telling folks who ask me about this issue that making the KJV (or any major main-stream version) their "translation of choice" is fine, but that getting into the habit of checking all passages that seem odd or contrary to their understanding of the truth against other versions is a spiritually salutary thing to do. The argument that doubting the KJV is dangerous is for me very much like the R.C. church's insistence that their communicants not read the Bible at all – because it might lead to wrong ideas. In fact, of course, consultation of scriptures is an important Christian right and responsibility (see the link: Read your Bible). But to fully carry out that responsibility requires that Christians have some idea of what they are reading: "Where did this translation come from? Who did it? On what is it based?" These are precisely the sort of questions I would hope anyone seeking a Bible teaching ministry would ask as well. I know that some ministers bridle at giving any such explanations, but I have always felt that any minister of the Word worth his salt should be able to "[give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (1Pet.3:15 KJV). The KJV can take it too. Understanding its weaknesses only reveals its greater strengths – for all who truly believe. Unbelievers who do not accept the authority of scripture and who seek to tear down the Bible will not believe any version or translation, and need not come into the argument at all. For those of us who do delight in the Word of God, living our lives "by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt.4:4 KJV) is a sacred responsibility, one we should pursue wherever it takes us, even it ruffles feathers or contradicts traditions. For in the end, the truth of Jesus Christ can be our only sure guidepost in this world.

In addition to the (most important) link above, here are some other links to where this and similar topics are discussed at Ichthys:

Who Wrote the King James Version?

Inspiration and the KJV

Canonizing the KJV?

KJV "Onlyists"

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior, even Him who is the true Word of God.

And thanks again for your prayer's on my friend's behalf! They are very much appreciated.

Bob L.

Question #2:  

Let's assume that only the original manuscript of Genesis was divinely inspired. We know that in the book of Genesis, chapters 42-45 occur in the original manuscripts. We also know that Joseph did not speak Hebrew, but rather Egyptian (Genesis 42:23). There are 3 possible options: (1) Moses recorded the words of Joseph in Egyptian, while leaving the rest of Genesis in Hebrew.

(2) God imperfectly translated Joseph's statement, thus meaning that Joseph's words in Genesis 42-45 are not inspired, and thus God's own words cannot be an object of faith. (3) God perfectly translated Joseph's statement, and translations can be God's own words (and thus an object of faith).

". . . by academic scholars . . ."

I have nothing against academic scholars. King Solomon was the smartest man (sans Christ) who ever lived, and spent his whole life devoted to scholarship. However, he concluded that much scholarship is a weariness of the flesh, and that it is far more important to fear God. I myself will probably be going onward to graduate school in a science (and this is partially why academics get on my nerves).

As for how many of them were saved, being saved is not a requirement for being a prophet of God. As you well know, Balaam's donkey wasn't saved either, but it served as a prophet of God at that moment in history. Neither was the Witch of Endor, for that matter. This is the reason why the New Testament warns us that we shall know a Christian by his fruits. It does /not/ say that we shall know a Christian by his gifts, and prophecy is a gift. This means that gifts (including prophecy) can be given out to non-believers.

"Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?" (Romans 9:20-21).

" . . . I love the KJV . . . "

Of course! Your spirit recognizes the KJB for what it is, and it also knows that all of the modern versions read like novels and not like Bibles. that is to say, the KJV is based not upon a manuscript or a group of manuscripts, but upon the latest published, scholarly edition of the Greek NT available at the time. So unless we are willing to pronounce the writings of Erasmus "inspired", we had better think twice about doing the same for a translation done by scholars based upon a scholarly work which he and other secular scholars produced (directly and indirectly).

". . . based upon a scholarly edition . . ."

This is partially false, since the KJB translators deviated from the Textus Receptus. As for Erasmus, I have reason to believe that he was a sodomite (he wrote shameless love letters to his colleague that went far and beyond whatever cultural norms were at the time. But whatever shameful reprobate Erasmus was had no bearing on how God could use him.

I would find very difficult reconciling these sentiments with the truths I have elsewhere learned from scripture.

I don't see any conflict in scripture. "Believe and be baptized" in 16:16 means the same thing as whoever is born of the water and spirit shall be born again (John 3:5). The baptism corresponds to being born of the water (the word) and believing corresponds to being born in the Spirit, for that is how the Holy Spirit enters:

"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." John 3:16

As for the serpents and poison, there is testimony in the scripture to support both these prophecies: Acts 28:5-6 and a similar promise in Isaiah 43:2.

"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." (Isaiah 43:2)

I also have personal testimony on someone who, by the grace of God, survived after drinking poison. And the first thing she remembered was the promise made in Mark 16.

". . . the scholars doing Mark had them in the critical edition they were given . . ."

The texts used in the KJB also represent a preserved textual lineage from Antioch, while Sinaticus and Vaticanus represent a preserved textual lineage from Alexandria. This is also why I call the KJB the King James Bible, as opposed to the King James Version: for usage of the word "version" implies that the newer bibles are just newer translations of the same texts, while the newer Bibles are something else entirely.

Either way, it's no surprise that the Alexandrian texts removed some bits which were controversial, the most obvious one of these is 1 John 5:7. Alexandria was headquarters to the Arian heresy, and the concept of the Trinity has been by far the biggest stumbling block to many in the Christian faith, so such a powerful testimony of the Trinity would no doubt be retracted. Even the grammar of the verse itself testifies to it being present in the original. "Looking at 1 John 5:8, there are three nouns which, in Greek, stand in the neuter (Spirit, water, and blood). However, they are followed by a participle that is masculine. The Greek phrase here is oi marturountes (who bare witness). Those who know the Greek language understand this to be poor grammar if left to stand on its own. Even more noticeably, verse six has the same participle but stands in the neuter (Gk.: to marturoun). Why are three neuter nouns supported with a masculine participle? The answer is found if we include verse seven. There we have two masculine nouns (Father and Son) followed by a neuter noun (Spirit). The verse also has the Greek masculine participle oi marturountes. With this clause introducing verse eight, it is very proper for the participle in verse eight to be masculine, because of the masculine nouns in verse seven. But if verse seven were not there it would become improper Greek grammar." (Source: http://av1611.com/kjbp/faq/holland_1jo5_7.html)

As for the long ending of Mark, and the parable of the adulteress, there's a simple explanation as to why they were taken out: moral panic. People thought that the latter passage would give women an excuse to commit adultery, and that the former passage would give people an idea to do poison drinking "experiments". You have to remember, back in those days people were very conservative, and would often omit scripture so as to scratch their itching ears (consider the Marcion heresy, where Jesus should be omitted since he was considered "too liberal", and the in vogue view today that Paul should be omitted since he is "too conservative" etc...) People tend to go to extremes, and ignore what the Bible actually says.

" . . . getting into the habit of checking all passages that seem odd or contrary to their understanding of the truth against other versions is a spiritually salutary thing to do."

It's one thing to doubt a human authority, but it's quite another thing to take the word of God and ask, "Yea, hath God said?" Since when has that EVER been good exegesis?

"Understanding its weaknesses only reveals its greater strengths – for all who truly believe."

I believe that it's important to study the history of a text, but I believe most importantly in the triple inspiration of the scripture. That is, (1) God inspired the original manuscripts of the scripture. (2) God inspires the preservation of the original scripture, so that the word may abide forever. (3) God inspires the believer who reads said scripture, so that the meaning may come to him.

With that being said, no, one does not need scholarship to be a powerful minister: one /only/ needs faith. The scribes and pharisees had all the time, scholarship, and knowledge (of the original languages) in the WORLD, and Jesus said that they were whited sepulchers, a brood of vipers, and that they needed to fear going to hell. Instead, he gave the keys to heaven to a FISHERMAN! (Matthew 16:19)

Tell me, who do you think has the keys to heaven today: do the professors at the divinity school have them, who say that only by spending extravagant time, effort, and money learning dead languages can one know God, or does the lone fisherman today who believes that the KJB has /everything/ and /anything/ on what you need to know God had said?

"Unbelievers . . . need not come into the argument at all."

The majority of unbelievers and reprobates attack one version of the Bible. I want you to guess which one. What do the devils that posses them know that you don't know? Devils, like humans, attack and lash out against what they fear the most. What do they fear /so much/ from this little, tiny, 400 year old Bible?

Likewise, why is it that in the 19th century, after the knowledge of the oldest and greatest manuscripts came into light, did the world engage in a great apostasy? They were the /oldest/ and /best/, and they were free of all the supposed lies of the KJB, and yet... the fruit they bear is ugly. Why is it that when the believers had only the KJB did they bear such great fruit, but when they had these alleged "best" manuscripts, did the fruit become so rotten?

I hope I didn't upset you too greatly by my strong statements, but I believe in the primacy of sincerity over scholarship. I hope we can, at the very least, agree to disagree.


Response #2: 

Dear Friend,

No offense taken – it's just a busy time for me and I am only now able to get to your email. It's an important issue for lots of reasons.

Yes, the original manuscript of Genesis was divinely inspired just as all of the original mss. were:

Yet I consider the prophetically inspired Word (i.e. the Bible) even more reliable (i.e. than what I saw with my own eyes). You too would do well to pay the closest attention to this [prophetically inspired Word], just as to a lamp shining in a dark place (cf. Ps.119:105), until the day dawns, and the Morning Star rises (i.e. the Living Word, Jesus Christ, returns), pondering in your hearts this principle of prime importance: no single verse of prophetically inspired scripture has ever come into being as a result of personal reflection. For true prophecy has never occurred by human will, but only when holy men of God have spoken under the direction and agency of the Holy Spirit.
2nd Peter 1:19-21

Indeed, if scripture were not the Word of God, then none of us would know anything about God for certain (beyond natural revelation) – unless we claim to have had Him speaking to us personally.

1) On the first point, of course Egyptian in the dialogue is not an impediment for God in making His precise message clear through the Holy Spirit in Moses penning of the original manuscript under divine inspiration. But a translation done by any human being or groups of human beings (however good it may be) is not worthy of comparison to prophetic revelation which may include translation accomplished by God.

2) I have trouble seeing the academics who translated the KJV as "prophets of God". If that is what I am reading as the conclusion here, not only would this be a pretty unique claim (as far as I personally am aware), not only would this sort of "group prophecy for a group project" be something completely unprecedented in and unanticipated by scripture (the tope does occur in extra-biblical mythology – the same claims were made for the LXX in the Letter of Aristaeus et al.), but we would then also be positing the continuation of prophecy beyond the apostolic era – for which there is absolutely no evidence on even a small scale let alone something as grandiose as this event would then be.

I have nothing against scholars either (being one myself, albeit a very minor one). My point is that much of the original criticism against those who find the KJV not to be perfect is based on the proof that it comes from academics; but in truth there is absolutely no difference in type between the scholars who acted as translators and those now who now seek to improve our understanding of the Word by resorting to the original languages – precisely as these translators did – using exactly the same methods, namely, philology. So if the KJV translators were prophets, it is hard for me to understand how I would not be just as much a prophet as they – and a better one too since I am working with better manuscripts. But I'm no prophet. Neither was the witch of Endor. Balaam was, but remember that his words which occur in scripture were uttered against his will as he was trying to curse Israel against God's will. That was a unique situation in all of history, and is, however construed, a very questionable standard to bring to bear in this argument. I doubt these gentlemen would appreciate the comparison.

3) I love the KJV, but I get more out of the 1984NIV. If I didn't know Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, I wouldn't want to limit myself to a single version, especially not to the KJV.

4) It is news to me that the KJV translators "deviated from the TR". I would be grateful for any references that support this statement – I have never heard it before. If they did "deviate", to what alternative text did they "deviate"? As far as I am aware, the TR was what they were given and what they were required to translate (if they made some obvious mistakes, that is another issue). Certainly, God makes use of everyone and everything for His plan. He even makes use of the evil one and his minions. That is not a recommendation of anyone, however, as in the case of Erasmus. God makes use of us too: that doesn't make these emails "inspired" – unless we want to reduce the meaning of "inspiration" to anything anyone ever puts down in writing.

5) Mark 16:16 is problematic for anyone who realizes that water-baptism is not a means of salvation and not authorized for the Church, or for anyone who realizes that handling snakes is dangerous and that Christians are not in fact automatically protected from doing obviously dangerous things like this in a presumptuous way. The fact that God sometimes delivers from poison and snakebite does not make Mark 16:16 true. It also does not make it the Word of God (which it is not). In my view this is standing up for a bad cause here. For every person who can rationalize away the obvious problems, there are at least ten whose spirituality and physical health stand to be damaged by believing something "because it is in the Bible" when in fact it is not in the Bible:

"Every word of God [is] pure: he [is] a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." [Solomon]
Proverbs 30:5-6 KJV

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.
Revelation 22:18 KJV

We are blessed – not cursed – to know that Mark 16:16 (and a handful of other passages) are not in the Bible. In my view, that is the gracious intervention of God for which we should be thankful – as opposed to inappropriately enshrining a good translation as if it were the Word of God itself.

6) As to the so-called Johannine comma, I have no inclination to re-adjudicate that rather simple (in my view) issue here (see the link: "The Johannine Comma"). Suffice it to say that I am a strong Trinitarian in every respect and that the correct reading of the passage in 1st John chapter 5 most certainly does not undermine the Trinity. To the contrary, though the additions were added in defense of the Trinity, the conflated passage with biblical parts combined with non-biblical parts merely serves to confuse John's actual point (which is the importance of the truth of the Word and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in salvation) while not advancing the doctrine of the Trinity in any significant way. That is always the case when falsities are added to scripture, even with the best intentions. The academic theory of provenance reported in this section is an entirely flawed one though I have heard it many time. To make just a few brief points, Sinaiticus probably has a Caesarean provenance rather an Alexandrian one. Even more to the point, the drawing of conclusions based on "families" of mss. is, when one gets down to actual cases and looks at the actual manuscripts and examples, turns out to be an "emperor has no clothes" type of argument: there really is very little that anyone can say with authority about any textual reading based upon "families" of Bible mss. as the differences between the manuscripts in truth defy any sort of categorization – past the point of the most broad sort of generalization (the exception being the large number of very late and inferior Byzantine mss. which do correspond with each other because of incestuous recopying).

7) There is no evidence that the pericope of the adulteress was ever taken out of the Bible. In fact it makes no sense: there are plenty of parts of scripture which are uncomfortable to some people for any number of reasons and yet these were never taken out. Had this been a case of excision, it would seem to have to mean that there would many such individuals or groups who took offense at this passage (which there patently are not). If it were taken out, how can we explain it being absent from virtually all mss. and versions before Byzantine times, and, strangely, it then shows up mainly in later Byzantine manuscripts? By the logic of this argument, we have to assume that once the Roman Catholic church became powerful and influential, moral panic subsided and something taken out of scripture by less spiritual (?!) second century believers was then put back in. On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence for the pericope having been added in later (see the link: "John chapter 8").

8) I grew up on what I would consider good Bible teaching and that is what I try to provide. That is what the Church is for. The fact that it is rare does not mean that it is extinct.

9) Inspiration is a Latin derived word drawn in no small part from the Vulgate's rendering of 2nd Timothy 3:16. That passage and the one quoted above are speaking of the actual scripture, not God's preservation of the text nor His illumination of the believer through the Spirit. Theologically, only the first of these is "inspiration" in the sense we have been discussing this issue. I certainly agree that not only is scripture inspired but also that God has miraculously preserved the text of the Bible (that is what I am defending) and also "inspires" believers in the sense that the Spirit's ministry is necessary for anyone to understand the truth (it's called epignosis; see the link: "Epignosis, Christian Epistemology, and Spiritual Growth."). But these latter two things are significantly different from the Spirit's use of a prophet to pen actual scripture. Conflating that important doctrine with these other two functions – or with the translation of scripture – diminishes and confuses it, and potentially offers a threat to faith.

After all, why then would a sermon "based on the KJV" not be inspired? This train of thought seems to me to be very close to the subjective liberal canard about anything having to do with the Bible "becoming the word of God to you". At some point, basic objectivity is necessary. What I find really ironic about all this is that some KJV-onlyists have launched that crusade in order to achieve just this simple objectivity. The problem is that they have made the wrong thing the object of their esteem: a version and not the actual Word of God.

10) Scholarship is a tool. It doesn't make a person good or bad. The heart is what counts, but also what one does with the hands once the heart is persuaded. A person who is a genuine Christian is the only one who has a chance to learn the truth; but that doesn't mean that said person gets a pass "because of a good heart" so as not to have to do the hard work of spiritual growth. Part of that hard work is to find a good source of truth; and in the case of those gifted and called to be pastors to find out what really is the truth. The truth is, the KJV is a translation; it is the text of the actual Bible which is inspired.

11) I don't find this to be true. Atheists and servants of the devil attack the truth. I think that to the extent that fixation on the KJV is a distraction from learning and believing God's truth (and it can be a big distraction for some people), to that extent I am certain that when the Lord reveals all things we will find that the evil one had a large role in this movement. After all, almost all those involved are often mistaken about some major doctrine or another, and their loyalty to the KJV sometimes acts as a set of blinders to keep them from seeing the same – not because of differences in the translations, but because of the false mind-set about all things scriptural and spiritual such a point of view often engenders.

12) Finally, I don't find the world lacking in evil or apostasy or scriptural or spiritual ignorance in the 16-18th centuries. The fact that the world is accelerating into spiritual degeneration is certainly predicted in the book of Revelation (see the link: "Laodicea") – and that book is perhaps the most poorly translated book in the KJV, by the way, and because of the TR. In my evaluation of the history of the world from the spiritual point of view, evil always attacks truth. Unbelievers get little flak from the devil, and advancing believers get much more of Satan's attention than those who are going nowhere spiritually (e.g., Job, Paul, etc.). Believers who are fixated on the KJV and, worse, making its defense the definition and the focus of their "spirituality", are largely already hors d' combat, and probably can expect very little of the devil's attention as a result. Think about it. I know from my experience with many readers of this site that those who take vehement issue with any suggestion that the KJV is not perfect are mostly concerned only with that issue (or at least this is close enough to being true that it amounts to the same thing). That is the nature of crusades. Those of us who love the KJV but have not made the mistake of thinking it perfect are always a bit mystified by this vehemence. Use it. Love it. But don't abuse it. It's a translation – and a translation is, by definition, a translation.

In the Name of Jesus Christ who is the Word of God,

Bob L.

Question #3:   

". . . I have trouble seeing the academics who translated the KJV as "prophets of God" . . . "

Actually, after consultation, you may be right. I misinterpreted Romans 14:26, making it say not "everything that does not come from faith is sin," but rather "everything that comes from faith is not sin." While it is always sinful to doubt God, it is not always good to have faith, especially in things that are extrabiblical.

"It is news to me that the KJV translators "deviated from the TR" . . ."

This is where I'm getting my source from: "The KJV is not based in every single instance upon the majority reading, nor on the Textus Receptus." (Streeter, Lloyd. Seventy-Five Problems with Central Baptist Seminary's Book The Bible Version Debate. First Baptist Church of LaSalle, 2001, p. 145). Also, as we have seen, sometimes the several editions of the Textus Receptus differ from each other and from the King James Version. (Hills, Edward. The King James Version Defended. Christian Research Press, 4th edition 1984, p. 224) As to what the translators deviated to, I'm not entirely sure. However, they list all variant readings in the margin and translation notes.

"Mark 16:16 is problematic . . . water-baptism is not authorized for the Church . . ."

Then what do you do with this verse? "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:" (Matthew 28:19) In particular, the challenge is to find something that can be said only for this verse and not for Mark 16:16 as well. A plain reading suggests that either both verses are asking for water baptism, or both verses are using baptism figuratively. Of course, perhaps Matthew 28:19 also isn't in the oldest manuscripts either.

". . . something taken out of scripture by those less spiritual (?!) second century believers was put back in . . . "

Actually, isn't this /exactly/ what happened? All of the old Latin texts include these controversial passages. And lastly, the second century saw some of the largest heresies ever developed. It was mainly the persecuted church that was the most spiritual.

" . . . God has miraculously preserved the text of the Bible (that is what I am defending) and also "inspires" believers . . . "

So what do we do about scribal errors, like that between Chronicles and Kings? If God has preserved the correct information, then we should be able to deduce the correct information via textual analysis. In that case, if we can, then we should aspire to produce a "recovered" Bible that removes all of these errors.

". . . the book of Revelation – perhaps the most poorly translated book in the KJV . . ."

Actually, a devote KJOnlyist wrote a /very/ interesting prophetic interpretation based on the KJV. And his conclusion? A revived Alexander the Great will be the antichrist before Christ returns!


I think you'll enjoy reading that.

" . . . Use it. Love it. But don't abuse it. It's a translation-- and a translation is, by definition, a translation. . . "

Will do.


Response #3: 

Dear Friend,

Good to hear back from on this.

1) As to the quote, "The KJV is not based in every single instance upon the majority reading, nor on the Textus Receptus", that is immediately contradicted by the notion that there are multiple "TR's" – which is an alternative explanation directly in conflict with the former. Also, since the KJV is a translation, unless something is definitely left out it is very difficult to make the argument that a particular verse in the KJV "is not based on the TR". All translators approach their task differently (that is why the third Person of the Trinity is sometimes "Spirit" and sometimes "Ghost" in the KJV), so unless is there is noticeable gap or a noticeable addition vis-a-vis the KJV (and I am not aware of any of these), then in my view it is impossible in the vast majority of instances to chalk this up to "deviating from the TR" as opposed to "translating it in a way that I as a Greek reader would not do based on my personal interaction with the TR". But if there are multiple TR's, then how do we know which translator accessed which. And if there really is a case of one of the translators "deviating from the TR", then to what did he deviate? Unless he was making it up out of thin air, then he would have had to have a different manuscript or used the Latin Bible or just have gone with a previous English translation. Not the stuff of inspiration in any case. Of course part of the TR was "made up" . . . coming from a gap in the ms. tradition that Erasmus filled in by back-translating the Latin version.

2) Matthew 28:19 is indeed in the oldest mss., and is significantly different from the erroneous *Mark 16:16* in a variety of ways, two of which are critically significant: a) the erroneous passage directly yokes baptism and faith, and b) the Matthew 28:19 gives the purpose of the non-water baptism, namely, to position the new believer "into" (n.b., not "in") the Trinity. So Matthew is speaking of Spirit baptism (see the link), but the erroneous passage added to Mark erroneously assumes water-baptism in the other gospel and helps to perpetuate this damaging false doctrine.

3) The Old Latin versions we have are incomplete, for the most part are attested to only in much later iterations, and have a textual history more vexed than that of the Septuagint or Vulgate. No persuasive argument can be based upon them, one way or another. And as far as heresy is concerned, the first generation after the apostles began to go astray through lack of focus on scripture (see the link: "The Era of Ephesus"), and there has been no shortage of heresy ever since. It's plenty prevalent today, if by "heresy" is meant teaching things which are not biblically sound.

4) We most certainly should be striving to be accurate in all things pertaining to scripture. Q.E.D. As to the text of scripture, however, we are 99.99% there – and I would says virtually 100% there when it comes to anything of doctrinal substance. That was not true in the 17th century.

5) Thanks for the link. I certainly agree that there have been many false i.d.'s of the beast in the past – something I am having to continually warn readers about. However, the devil cannot actually "revive" anyone. The beast will be a nephilim, the actual "seed of Satan" as Genesis 3:15 states (his "coming back" will occur mid-way in his career and will not be any kind of genuine "resurrection"). Also, as Revelation 17 makes clear, the seven are Roman emperors of which antichrist is #7. For more on all this and the details see the link: CT 3B: Antichrist and his Kingdom.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:   

Hi there, my question is where can I get a list of all the vulgate readings and words that are in the textus receptus? (the ones Erasmus put in from the vulgate and not found in the greek manuscripts)

Keen to hear from you

God bless

Response #4: 

Good to make your acquaintance and welcome to Ichthys. This is a difficult question to answer. Erasmus did a version of the Greek New Testament called the Novum Instrumentum omne published in 1516, the first critical edition of the Greek New Testament to be printed and published – just beating out the "Computesian Polyglot" which had been begun much earlier. Erasmus' manuscript of the book of Revelation was missing its final leaf, so he used a manuscript of the Vulgate for the final six verses (back-translating from Latin back into Greek) in order to stave off any delay in publication. But Erasmus took other liberties in his edition as well (and apparently did so quite often). How many of these are due to the influence of the Vulgate or his desire to make the Greek match the Latin and how many are due to his editorial judgment is probably impossible to tell definitively. When an editor is producing an edition of any ancient work and is fortunate to have more than one manuscript (which was the case for Erasmus except for the book of Revelation), the editor has to make a "judgment call" wherever the manuscripts disagree, and sometimes will print his/her own text anyway when in his/her critical judgment all the mss. have "made a mistake". Since Erasmus was a "big fan" of the Vulgate, it is unquestionably the case that it influenced some of his readings, but without specific comment from him, determining "which is which" will be a matter of speculation. The Wikipedia article on all this is quite good and quotes Scrivener (whose work I personally admire) on the issue of Vulgate influence (you might want to check out this book of his: Scrivener, Frederick Henry Ambrose: The Authorized Edition of the English Bible, 1611, its subsequent reprints and modern representatives, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1884). As far as I know, no one has ever done a study of this issue, and that would be understandable since it would require quite a lot of effort and the conclusions would necessarily be very difficult to prove. You might try the following, however:

Coogan, Robert. - Erasmus, Lee and the correction of the Vulgate : the shaking of the foundations. Gen ve : Droz, 1992. 125 p. index. (Travaux d'humanisme et Renaissance ; 261)

One other quick note on an important related issue (of which you may already be aware): the Textus Receptus upon which the King James version was based was itself based in part on Erasmus' edition, but only indirectly in the sense that his editions served as the basis for a series of following critical editions from which "TR" was eventually drawn. The translators of the KJV used the 1598 and 1588/89 Greek editions of Theodore Beza for the most part (apparently) which were based upon Estienne's editions which made use of Erasmus but also the Computensian Polyglot and other manuscripts which had come to light in the meantime. That is to say, while the so-called TR and Erasmus' various editions are substantially the same they are far from being identical.

I hope this is of some help to you. It's an important point because it highlights the fact that proponents of the "KJV only" school of thought are on shaky ground when they claim superiority of manuscript tradition.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #5:  

Hi Bob,

Thanks for getting back to me so quick. I'm a big fan of F.H.A Scrivener too. I Found some vulgate to greek reading's from Erasmus in F.H.A Scriveners book A Plain Intoduction to the Criticism of the New testament. And The Scrivneners book you mentioned has some of the readings as well. But The problem is he says this is probably just a few of them showing he's not quite sure himself. Now I read an article saying that Philip Schaff found 80 in the New Testament. The artical reads: Quote"Schaff points out that in about 80 places in the New Testament, the KJV adopts Latin readings not found in the Greek". End quote. The only problem is the article has no source connected to it and Schaff produced a lot of works in his life time.

Would you know buy any chance know what the book was called or how can I narrow his works down to find the exact book with the 80 places in it. If I could find this book It would very useful to the church as whole I think.

Keen to hear from you .P.S I will have a look into that Erasmus work you mentioned in your previous email and see what i can find. thank you also for these sources.

Have a great day

God Bless

Response #5: 

I don't know where that might be found. If it is in one of his more general works, such as his "History" of the Church, there might not be any list to do with the quote. Let me say, however, that an article (internet article?) which does not attribute such a quotation is not necessarily true. One nasty phenomenon of the internet is the cutting and pasting of incorrect quotes and proofs that may go back to something entirely fabricated, and lack of proper citation in an "article" always makes me suspicious of the same.

Your in Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Hi there, I was wondering if you can help me with something? My Dad who is an elderly theologian has heard from some sources condemning C.I Scofield essentially saying that he was a heretic, but my Dad was wondering if there are any resources or info available which might defend his teachings? If you could kindly inform me of a book, or website as to where to obtain such info defending Mr. Scofield, than that would be fantastic. We live in Toronto, Ontario Canada.

Thanks so much, God bless,

Response #6: 

Good to make your acquaintance. For it is worth, not only do I not consider Scofield a "heretic" but I also do not know of any reputable evangelical Bible teacher who does. Scofield's teachings on dispensations and his systematic treatment of biblical doctrine were extremely influential in the history of the evangelical movement, and particularly in their influence of L.S. Chafer, the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary and the author of Chafer's Systematic Theology. This does not mean that Scofield's teaching (or Chafer's either) are canonical or anything of the sort (for my own view of dispensations see the link), but to call him or his work "heretical" is, objectively speaking, ridiculous – except possibly from the Roman Catholic point of view (wherein all Protestants are heretics – it's just a matter of degrees).

You might want to have a look at this link as well: The Scofield Reference Bible

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #7:  

I remember reading on Ichthys that you recommend the NASB version of the bible to be the most accurate one and the one to make you think the most, unless I am mistaken? I have been reading the NLT (switching to other versions upon times of confusion or possible mis-translation), and I remember in a previous email you said that it is really good when it is good, but when it's bad, it can really give the wrong impression if read incorrectly. Should I continue to read the NLT in conjunction with the other versions, or switch to the NASB as my 'primary' read?

I hope to hear your reply and I thank you for your assistance. I would like to say that each and every one of our emails together I have enjoyed reading.

Response #7: 

As to translations, I've never heard anything good about the NLT from conservative sources, but I don't know much about it from personal experience. I must say that the few times I've made use of it I was favorably impressed. I do remember one time where it got the sense dreadfully wrong, however. That is the problem with versions like the NLT which are highly interpretive. They decide what a passage "really means" and translate accordingly. That is wonderful – if they are right about the meaning – so they really "bring it home". However, if they are wrong, because of their loose way of translating it might not even be possible to get any sort of handle on what the correct meaning might be from their interpretation. The KJV, on the other hand, is wonderfully ambiguous in this regard, rendering very close to the Greek/Hebrew (often so close that it is unclear what is meant in English). NASB is closer to KJV; NIV is closer to NLT in this regard; ESV and RSV are somewhere in the middle. When it comes to passages which teach things beyond what traditional theology understands (or in a way different from what has been understood), versions are likely to be correct only by accident in any case. So I have no problem with your choice, as long as you are apprised of the potential problems. Your use of another version to "backstop" the NLT is a good idea and one I often recommend. In any case, believers who do not have the gift of pastor/teacher or, even if they do have the gift, who don't have the requisite preparation (including access to the original languages) should always be reluctant to "run" with one passage from an English version which seems to teach something at odds with what they have been taught (especially if they are being taught by a reliable and orthodox teaching ministry). If they are way "off base" on some doctrinal point, the Spirit will make that clear from a multiplicity of passages over time . . . and will lead them to a place where the point in question can be "explained more adequately" (Acts 18:26).

It's always good to hear from you my friend. Keep persevering in your study of the Word.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Dear Bob,

Hey, a question came to mind again (or well, a couple, actually) and it actually got me wondering: how many emails do you get a day? Are there regular emailers like me who seek advise/guidance, are in need, or simple wish to speak to you/update you on their spiritual progress? It must make you very busy.

Speaking of seeking guidance (well, more like simple clarification), I was reading 2 Corinthians 5 today. I read two parts in Paul's letter which I was curious about:

- 2 Corinthians 5: 10 "For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body." (NLT)

What did he mean exactly, when he wrote this? Obviously, forgiveness for sin should be kept in mind, but was he being literal when he spoke of getting what we deserved? There is some way this fits in with forgiveness, I'm just not making the connection.

- 2 Corinthians 4: He says we reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods.

Well, this is more about a specific situation than what the meaning of the passage is. [details omitted] What do you think?

Response #8: 

The NLT is an interpretative translation. That is, it attempts to figure what exactly the text means and then render the meaning in English (as opposed to a more "literal" approach). As a result, it tends to be like the little girl in Longfellow's poem who "when she was good she was very, very good, but when she was bad she was horrid". The problem with this particular rendering of "receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done" is that it connects "good or evil" directly with "deserve", and that opens the door for anticipating punishment. In the Greek, however, as well as in most other versions, the "good or worthless (note the difference; not "evil")" connects with "what we have done" rather than with "what we deserve". There is no punishment in store for believers. Paul tells us all about this judgment in 1st Corinthians chapter three. Here is my rendering:

(10) According to the grace of God given to me like a wise architect I have laid down a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each one take care how he builds upon it. (11) For no one can lay another foundation except the One that has been laid down: Jesus Christ. (12) And if someone builds upon his foundation with gold, silver, and precious stones, [or] with wood, hay, and stubble, (13) [in either case] his work will be made manifest [as to its true quality], for the Day [of judgment] will make it clear [for what it truly is], because it will be revealed (lit., uncovered) with fire. And the fire will evaluate (lit., "assay") the work of each person as to what its [true] quality is. (14) If anyone's work which he has built [on his foundation of faith in Christ] remains (i.e., is not burnt away by the fiery evaluation), he will receive a reward [for it]. (15) If anyone's work is burnt up, he will suffer the loss [of any potential reward for it], but he himself will be saved – but in this way [just described] as through fire [which evaluated his false works as worthless and burnt them up].
1st Corinthians 3:10-15

The worthless things we have done will be burned up, and I would imagine that many Christians who have been wasting their time in this life will have quite and embarrassing bonfire to have to observe before the Lord and the rest of the Church on that day – but they themselves will be saved "as through fire". So while this truth does provide motivation to make our lives count for Christ (Paul says in the very next verse after the one you ask about "Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord," NIV), it most certainly does not suggest what the NLT implies by changing "worthless" to "evil", and by connecting up "deserve" to directly with "for what we have done". It is also true that when we use "get what we deserve" in US English, it almost always has a negative sense. But Paul's Greek really leans positive. Here is how I render the two verses:

(10) For we must all stand before Christ's tribunal, so that each of us may receive recompense for what he has accomplished through this body, whether it be good or worthless. (11) Therefore since we know the fear of the Lord, while we attempt to persuade men God sees us entirely for what we [truly] are – and I trust that what we [truly] are is equally clear to your consciences.
2nd Corinthians 5:10-11

My usage, "receive recompense", is neutral, but Paul's komizomai is most often used of winning prizes and/or getting what is deserved in a positive way rather than a negative one.

On 2nd Corinthians 4:2, the passage is talking about Paul's approach to evangelism. It does have general application, but it means that he never used any sort of illicit methods in order to promote the truth of Jesus Christ, and that he never had any illicit motives in doing so. In other words, his sanctified method is a witness to the sanctity of his motivation and his method.

For what it is worth, I think you are approaching these issues correctly in seeking out biblical guidance so that you may know when what you are worried about is really the Spirit talking to your conscience or merely inappropriate false guilt. Some Christians tend to err in the direction of "overthinking" everything in that way (they should read the Bible and learn the truth of the Bible to separate the wheat from the chaff); others tend to be relativistic and ignore their consciences even when it is the Spirit prompting them (they attend to the Bible and its truth too, so that the Spirit may work through the scriptures to guide them more effectively). If a person were doing something purely to achieve a particular end, that could be sneaky and underhanded – and a big mistake on too many levels to count. What you seem to be wrestling with is the timing – which seems to me to be an entirely different issue. I will certainly continue to keep you in prayer on this matter.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #9:  

Hello again Dr Luginbill. Just a quick question I was wondering if you could help me out with

What is it about the NIV study Bible by Kenneth Barker that you like in comparison to other study bibles?

Are there any major differences between the 1995, 2002 and other editions?

What are your thoughts on the ESV study bible?

Thanks again

Response #9: 

Hello Friend,

I have the older edition (1985) and really can't speak to the newer ones; in my experience these things may change marginally but are usually not much different, edition to edition. I have found the notes in the Barker ed. to be of fairly high quality and of some actual help in understanding the text; I also have not found too many places where they would lead a believer greatly astray. Naturally, I have not read them all and do not use them on a daily basis, but this is the best resource of its type I have ever come across. It's not perfect; it is helpful. As to the ESV, that is a good version. There may be multiple ESV study Bibles, and the quality would depend upon who is doing the notes, not the version per se. I am not acquainted with any these in any case.

Yours in Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Dear Professor,

I just saw today that NIV1984 disappeared from Biblegateway, where I have been reading the Bible. I don't know if this is only temporary or permanent. Is the NIV there the new one, about which you were critical? If NIV1984 is no longer there, which translation would you recommend - NIV, NASB?

With constant prayer for you and your ministry,

Response #10:

I just found the NIV at the following link:


I'm not generally a Biblegateway user (I prefer the Blue Letter Bible site), so maybe it is just a case of renaming the version as simply NIV. Did you notice any changes from what you were reading? From my understanding of these matters, the NIV was done in the 70's and the "1984" revision was minor, so that "NIV" probably means "revised not original NIV". In time they may drop the TNIV vs. NIV distinction too – I have found very little difference between them. This is a standard problem in book publishing where a popular title is reprinted a lot and minor changes are made from time to time (and almost all popular Bible versions suffer from this malady to one degree or another). From everything I have seen, NIV means NIV with little real difference from one iteration to the other. That may not hold for a small set of passages, but I wouldn't personally worry about the differences, at least not based on what I know about the matter at this point.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.


I'm still a long way from finishing with your last batch of questions (thanks again for your continuing patience), but conscience prods me to write to you about the NIV issue you asked about recently. I have since learned – much to my dismay – that Biblica, the organization that owns the NIV, has apparently decided to "stamp out" the 1984NIV and replace it with the 2011 version. I had assumed that this was not much different from the 2005 TNIV, which is only a minor tweaking of the '84 revision, but in fact the 2011 "revision" is completely different in many places so as to be a whole new version in fact. I finally figured this out after experiencing "problems" over the last few weeks at Blue Letter Bible, my site of choice for online Bible reference. I would search for an NIV passage and not find it; or when I found what I was looking for it seemed as if someone had "monkeyed" with the translation. In every case where I have so far identified a divergence between 1984 and 2011, the latter has been a horrible defacing of what was a pretty good rendering – and in some of these changes, where they are providing a "gender neutral" update, the verbiage is absolutely unreadable as well as ridiculous. Example:


(7) O LORD, you will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever. (8) The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.


(7) You, LORD, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked, (8) who freely strut about when what is vile is honored by the human race.

I can't find any statement about it (n.b., Blue Letter has since posted: "The text of the New International Version (NIV) has been updated to the NIV 2011 text. This was done in accordance with our license agreement with Biblica, the copyright holder of the NIV. For more information go to Biblica's website."), but the fact that all the internet sites which have or had the NIV have been forced to replace the 1984 version with the 2011 version and have not been allowed to offer both I find to be a horrible thing – at least I would not want to have to answer for it (though I can anticipate some of their rationalizations). Even at the Biblica site which used to have a variety of the NIV versions including the incipient 2011, the 2005 TNIV, the Anglicized version, the Reader's version, and the 1984 version, the last has now disappeared. I think what most upsets me is what disturbed you, namely, the fact that this wholesale change is not obvious at all from the way the revision is described – or not mentioned at all! Speaking of 1984, it reminds me of Orwell's novel of the same name and how text was changed with no mention.

So I appreciate your keen eye, and I apologize for not realizing what was going on right away. The new rendering I find so pathetic – anywhere that it changes the 1984 text – and for that matter so confusing because of the many changes sprinkled into the more familiar text – that I fear I will have to get used to a new version. I'm planning to experiment with ESV more and the NLT.

Hope all goes well with you my friend!

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior who is the very Word of God.

Bob L.

Question #11:  

Dear Professor,

Thank you for writing regarding this - it is very helpful, particularly as I am a considerable distance away from being able to assess the quality of a translation. To scrap 1984 NIV and make it unavailable is indeed very strange and I don't know what is the rationale behind it. And the way it has been done - without notification - really does remind "1984", one can only wonder whether the authors of this undertaking will notice the irony.

Following what you said I will also take a look at ESV and NLT. I must say that I've been reading NASB a lot and this is also the audio Bible translation to which I listen. If there are any major issues with it, then please let me know. When I was looking at various versions some time ago, I found on some occasions that NASB conveyed the meaning that you put forward on your website quite clearly and decided to stick with it, although I'm sure that there are many passages that in your view could or should be rendered differently.

I took a look at the Blue Letter Bible and I like the simplicity of it, I must say that the advertisements on Biblegateway are distracting and unhelpful, put in such spots as to attract attention when one is trying to focus on the word (and some are just outright ridiculous - the website for Christian singles uses the advertising slogan "Find God's match for you"® with a registered trademark sign at the end). Blue Letter Bible also allows checking the original language - although I'm only in the process of studying both, this feature certainly makes me feel very excited and I cannot wait to start using it on a regular basis. The only thing that would really help me on the BLB are the section titles, which are shown on Biblegateway, but Blue Letter Bible shows the text verse by verse. I want to get a sort of a "footing" in the Bible and I'm going through both the Old and New Testament from the beginning, knowing sections and associating them with chapters really helps to remember the order of events and place them in correct order, particularly from the perspective of visual memory.

I also hope Professor that all is good with You, or at least things are improving, and I pray for it.

In our Lord,

Response #11: 

You're very welcome, my friend!

I find it strange as well – and your remark about the irony is very well put.

Yes, NASB is a solid translation, but when it comes to the Psalms, for example, I find it almost unreadable (as well as not particularly good at bringing out the Hebrew). The New KJV is also quite a good translation. I plan to be branching out myself in the years ahead, at least as far as the online offerings are concerned (blessedly, I have several 1984NIV print versions).

Still on tenterhooks here, but your prayers are much appreciated as always my friend!

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #12:  

Hello Bob,

Thank you for writing:

Where is the 1984 NIV?

Don't you think that it is disingenuous to offer the "NIV" when what you have is the 2011 version – a completely different and far inferior translation?

Better would be to identify the version for what it is and offer readers the opportunity of choosing.

Bob L.

Our licensing has changed to allow for only the updated version. The publisher has specifically requested that it be titled "New International Version" so we have switched to that from our previous title "New International Version 1984". We did include the copyright date with every parallel verse page:

New International Version (©2011)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The copyright date is also at the top right of each chapter page.

I believe this is the same situation as Bible Gateway and other sites.


Response #12: 

Thanks for your quick reply.

It seems you have few options then. It is sad that the older version is no longer electronically available anywhere, especially as the new one is far inferior . . . and confusing for those of us who have been reading the real NIV for decades (i.e., looking for passages on your site and others only to find they now say something substantially different from before and, initially at least, wondering why).

I have no problem with publishers updating their work. But when a "revision" is really a completely new work as it is in this case, yet is presented in a way so as to cause most people to miss the substitution of work A for work B, that is really something unique in the history of publishing. The fact that Biblica is attempting to wipe out all evidence of the real 1984NIV in a sort of damnatio memoriae reserved for only the worst of the Roman emperors is particularly bizarre – and disturbing. The only parallel I can think of is fictional, namely, the immediate and unannounced switching of documentation when alliances changed in Orwell's 1984. As one of my readers noted, it is doubtful that Biblica realizes the irony in this being the 1984 NIV they have shredded.

I suppose those of us who love the previous version and detest the new one will have to "unplug" from sites such as yours. That's progress?

Again, thanks much for your straightforward and rapid response.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:   

[message to Biblica] Biblica has changed to 2011 NIV

Response #13: 

Dear Sirs,

On Galatians 5:17:

Old 1984NIV: For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

New 2011NIV: For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

These two translations mean something completely different. The problem is that the new one is demonstrably wrong – as any of my first year Greek students could easily demonstrate. I am finding these kind of errors throughout the New "version". I don't understand why this substantial revision is 1) chock full of such errors; 2) far less readable than the 1984 revision; 3) has been slipped in seemingly surreptitiously in all of the places the online NIV is available.

I also don't understand why the 1984NIV – which, it is becoming apparent, is a completely different version in fact if not in name – is no longer being made available.

A response would be appreciated.

Bob L.

Question #14:   

Hi Dr. Robert,

Thank you for taking the time to share your question on getting an electronic copy of the 1984 NIV on your Android phone. We apologize for the late reply.

There are no plans for Biblica to restore the 1984 copyright of the NIV translation back online, and we do not carry an electronic version of the older NIV Bible. You might be able to find the 1984 NIV in an electronic format through Amazon.com or Christian Book Distributors (www.ChristianBook.com). You may also be able to find other online sources via Google search that still support the 1984 NIV text.

We understand your dismay over the discontinuation of the 1984 NIV. We would also invite you to reconsider the current edition of the NIV. The latest revision retains 95% of the rendering of the 1984 NIV, and we believe the latest edition of the NIV is the very best translation we can offer. The attached document was written by the Committee for Bible Translations (http://www.niv-cbt.org/translators), the team responsible for the NIV, and details the kind of specific changes that were made in the 2011 edition. We care about one thing: connecting people with God’s Word and see lives transformed by encountering Jesus Christ. This is what compels us to publish the updated NIV. This is what compelled the translators to spend years poring over the text, making sure the latest edition of the NIV represented their very best work.

Finally, if you wish to receive a free print sample of the latest edition of the NIV we would be more than happy to do so.

Thank you for taking the time to write to us concerning this matter.

Blessings to you,

Response #14: 

I appreciate your detailed response regarding my concerns about the new NIV (I do not have an Android phone, however).

First, you state that "you may also be able to find other online sources via Google search that still support the 1984 NIV text", but as you should know, all of the online sites have pulled down their 1984NIV texts because of Biblica's requirements. As, for example, Blue Letter Bible says, "This was done in accordance with our license agreement with Biblica, the copyright holder of the NIV", and they (and others) have explained to me that they had no choice in the matter.

Second, although "95%" may be the same in both editions, since many of the substantive (as opposed to the stylistic) changes have been made in the Pauline epistles and in the Psalms, that "5%" is much more consequential than might otherwise be readily apparent (e.g., if a person took out only Jesus' direct words it would probably only constitute around 5% of the Bible but what we would be left with would not really be a Bible).

Third, the manner in which this change was made is to me perhaps the most disturbing part of the affair. Readers of my Bible site, Ichthys, had alerted me to problems with accessing the NIV online, but I didn't think anything of it at first. It was only in the course of my studies that I began to notice many verses that seemed "not right". After checking my print edition I discovered that a new edition had been substituted for the older one. Later, sites such as Blue Letter began posting explanations (no doubt as a result of emails from similarly concerned readers). In retrospect, it seems it might have been better to let people know this was coming, and to call the new edition by a new name. You did this before (i.e., "TNIV"), and other versions have done the same (notably NKJV). Naturally, there will always be those who prefer the old to the new, but in time they may come around. Wiping the old off of the face of the earth and trying to do it in such a way that nobody would notice was a mistake in my opinion, and I would hope that Biblica would take measures to rectify this ASAP.

Here is the problem. Arguably, the 2011 NIV consitutes a greater change from the 1984 version, stylistics aside, than the NKJV as over against the KJV. Yet it purports to be the same version of the Bible. When a version changes so dramatically that one cannot be sure that a key verse in the new edition will be essentially the same as what one remembered from the old version, a lack of confidence results. I become "gun shy" about quoting the NIV because, well, which NIV am I referring to? I become reluctant to read it too in the new version because a key element may have changed in an otherwise unchanged context. This is the case even where I might agree with some of the changes on philological grounds: as a "river pilot" of the 1984NIV, I know where the shoals are, but if you have only moved the hazards from one side of the river to the other (e.g., Philemon 1:6), the river is no more safe than it was before, only less easily navigable by me.

Finally, while the notes you include are very persuasive, they do not include many of the issues with the new version I have bumped into (e.g., Ps.12:7-8 and Gal.5:17 replace powerful, correct renderings with insipid and incorrect ones respectively). My impression overall is that in addition to the problems outlined above, the new renderings take a good deal of the "steam" out of the NIV. NIV is, of course, a highly interpretive version. While all translations are interpretations, at least, like the famous little girl of verse, the 1984 NIV was "very very good" when it was good (even if sometimes "awful" when it was incorrect). Long time readers are aware of the previous problems. Taking the spice out just makes it less readable (and, it seems at initial inspection, has merely introduced new problems).

Certainly, this is your commercial product and you are free to do with it as you please, and that is true of the 1984 and 2011 editions. But I hope you are beginning to see by now that, however good you feel the 2011 offering to be, taking away the 1984 option from those of us who were accessing it on the internet is not a spiritual "plus". It can be justified on commercial grounds, but I am pressed to see how this action of denying electronic access to a favorite version which many of us spent decades with can be construed as "connecting people with God’s Word [in order to] see lives transformed by encountering Jesus Christ".

I do hope you will reconsider your refusal to allow the 1984 version to be accessed electronically online by your licensees.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #15:  

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Hope you are well and safe. Thank you for all your effort to share God’s word with us lay folks. My husband was having a Bible study with a Jehovah’s Witness and they were using the World Translation of Holy Scripture. During the course of study there was found to be a difference between the two.

KJV John 8 starts with verse 1 and continues . . .

WTHS John 8 starts with verse 12, and there were footnotes that showed verses 1-11. When asked why, they stated that these verses were not originally included and that these were on scrolls. All scripture started on scrolls or so I thought. The lesson learned there was just before the elders questioned Jesus’ authority, meaning one moment led to the next.

So I guess my question is how can verses be separated ?

In Jesus

Response #15: 

As much as it pains me to say anything good about the WTHS, it is correct on this one. The story of the woman caught in adultery is not original but is a much later addition of uncertain origin. I have written up the details on this at the following link: "Let him who is without sin . . ."

There are certainly indications in the passage itself that would make any Christian with good spiritual common sense wonder (Jesus writing something indecipherable in the dirt, for example – what in the world would that be all about if true?). The interesting thing to me that this is such a clear example of interpolation at a later date (the evidence is irrefutable), and yet none of the major versions are willing to do more than footnote it – an astounding lack of courage for organizations that claim to be devoted to the truth of the Word. As a result, most Christians are under the impression that this is part of scripture (for a compilation of other famous and oft-quoted interpolations please see the link: "Interpolations in the Bible").

On the WTHS, this is otherwise a notoriously bad and self-serving version, one which is inconsistent even internally with the way it renders certain words and phrases important for JW doctrine. When I saw your email heading, I thought it might be dealing with one of their gems at the beginning of John's gospel: John 1:1, translating "the Word was A God". That is the sort of thing one can expect with this version, so be aware that many of the passages which make the truth very clear have been pre-mistranslated by them specifically for the purpose of confounding those who might otherwise have some good "ammunition" for leading their members back to the truth.

In Jesus who is our Lord and our Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Hello--I hope I am not bothering you. I hope you don't mind looking over something for me, concerning John 1:1c. As you know, the Jehovah's Witnesses have "and the Word was a god." Which I know is heinous. Anyway, one of the main reasons they do that is because "theos" is anarthrous. Dr. Dan Wallace, in his book Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics analyses their rendition and reasons for it, also concluding that it is mainly due to its anarthrous. I remember your telling me and reading that anarthrous nouns can still be definite and are not automatically indefinite. Wallace says in his book that John 1:1c has three choices--it can be definite, indefinite, or qualitative. He said the indefinite argument is the weakest, for reasons I won't go into here, and thinks the qualitative is the strongest one, since John is saying WHAT the Word was, not Who, in 1c. I was wondering though...this JW says that "theos" in John 1:1c is both qualitative AND indefinite. Is that possible in Greek? Wallace gives plenty of reasons why the JWs have messed this up and you could probably add a few more. Anyway, could you look at what this JW guy came up with and tell me what you think of it? Look especially at the very last line, bolded, down below. Isn't that the same thing as saying the noun is indefinite?

No hurry; I know you are busy. Thanks. _______________________

"If θεός were indefinite, we would translate it "a god" (as is done in the New World Translation [NWT]). If so, the theological implication would be some form of polytheism, perhaps suggesting that the Word was merely a secondary god in a pantheon of deities. The grammatical argument that the PN here is indefinite is weak. Often, those who argue for such a view (in particular, the translators page 267 of the NWT) do so on the sole basis that the term is anarthrous."--from Wallace's book

From the JW--The NWT Reference bible says something quite different. This was available when Wallace published his grammar. Here is what it {JW Reference Bible} says in the appendix:

These translations use such words as "a god," "divine" or "godlike" because the Greek word θεός (theos) is a singular predicate noun occurring before the verb and is not preceded by the definite article. This is an anarthrous theos . The God with whom the Word, or Logos, was originally is designated here by the Greek expression θεός, that is, theos preceded by the definite article ho. This is an articular theos . Careful translators recognize that the articular construction of the noun points to an identity, a personality, whereas a singular anarthrous predicate noun preceding the verb points to a quality about someone. Therefore, John’s statement that the Word or Logos was "a god" or "divine" or "godlike" does not mean that he was the God with whom he was. It merely expresses a certain quality about the Word, or Logos, but it does not identify him as one and the same as God himself.

In the Greek text there are many cases of a singular anarthrous predicate noun preceding the verb, such as in Mr 6:49; 11:32; Joh 4:19; 6:70; 8:44; 9:17; 10:1, 13, 33; 12:6. In these places translators insert the indefinite article "a" before the predicate noun in order to bring out the quality or characteristic of the subject. Since the indefinite article is inserted before the predicate noun in such texts, with equal justification the indefinite article "a" is inserted before the anarthrous θεός in the predicate of John 1:1 to make it read "a god." The Sacred Scriptures confirm the correctness of this rendering.

In his article "Qualitative Anarthrous Predicate Nouns: Mark 15:39 and John 1:1," published in Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 92, Philadelphia, 1973, p. 85, Philip B. Harner said that such clauses as the one in Joh 1:1, "with an anarthrous predicate preceding the verb, are primarily qualitative in meaning. They indicate that the logos has the nature of theos. There is no basis for regarding the predicate theos as definite." On p. 87 of his article, Harner concluded: "In John 1:1 I think that the qualitative force of the predicate is so prominent that the noun cannot be regarded as definite."

Following is a list of instances in the gospels of Mark and John where various translators have rendered singular anarthrous predicate nouns occurring before the verb with an indefinite article to denote the indefinite and qualitative status of the subject nouns (collection of translations from various versions given):

6:49 an apparition a spirit a ghost a ghost a ghost a ghost
11:32 a prophet a prophet a prophet a prophet a real prophet a prophet

4:19 a prophet a prophet a prophet a prophet a prophet a prophet
6:70 a slanderer a devil an informer a devil a devil a devil
8:44 a manslayer a murderer a murderer a murderer a murderer a murderer
8:44 a liar a liar a liar a liar a liar a liar
9:17 a prophet a prophet a prophet a prophet a prophet a prophet
10:1 a thief a thief a thief a thief a thief a thief
10:13 a hired man an hireling a hired man a hired hand a hireling a hired man
10:33 a man a man a mere man a mere man a man a man
12:6 a thief a thief a thief a thief a thief a thief

Note that the NWT does not say that THEOS HN hO LOGOS is rendered as "the Word was a god" as merely definite (as Wallace says) but as indefinite and qualitative. Also note that the reason is not, as Wallace says on the sole basis that the term is anarthrous but because the Greek word θεός (theos ) is a singular predicate noun occurring before the verb and is not preceded by the definite article

Response #16: 

Always good to hear from you. Yes, I have written about this before. I will address it anew below, but here are some links that apply:

What does "the Word was with God" mean in John 1:1-2?

The Tense of "was" in John 1:1

Also, by way of introduction, here is what say about the verse at the link in BB 1 Theology:

In verse one of John 1:1-2, the clause "the Word was God" cannot legitimately be translated "the Word was a God". First, earlier in the verse, the apostle John had used the definite article with the Greek word theos θεός to refer to the Father according to customary usage ("the [sc. Father] God"), and so to use the identical combination again to refer to the Word would be potentially confusing, making it seem as if "the Word" was really identical to "the [sc. Father] God", one of the very points that John is disproving here. Secondly, Greek does not possess an indefinite article ("a/an"), but it does have an indefinite pronoun, tis, meaning "a certain one" – the very word that a Greek reader would expect here if the point was that Christ was somehow a god, but not really "God". So John only had three ways to write this: 1) the Word was "the God" (but this would mean that there was no real distinction between the Father and Christ); 2) the Word was "a certain god" (but this would mean that Christ was a lesser sort of divinity, not God on the level of the Father); or 3) the Word was "God" – what John actually did write, thus fully and unambiguously attributing deity to the Word as distinct from the Father.

As the quote I include above makes clear (I hope), John's actual words would have been very clear to the readers of his day as attributing the same divinity to the Son as possessed by the Father. This is one of the reasons, by the way, why liberal theologians often disparagingly talk about "the fourth gospel" as a "later development" which came about as the result of theologians attempting to assert a divinity for Christ which – in their mistaken opinion – is not present in the synoptic gospels. My point in bringing this up is that even to secularists and atheists the message of deity is clear here (which is why they want to call the whole gospel into question).

The appellation "qualitative" is grammatical terminology developed by "us" and cannot be used to back-interpret into the Greek (a mistake many novices make: Greek is Greek; our tools for interpreting it do not supersede what it actually means); this terminology only exists to help us explain what is going on. There is no definite article here (we do call that "anarthrous", a grammar word literally meaning "having no article"), but since your two combatants obviously disagree about just what "qualitative" means, agonizing over that term's definition doesn't seem a profitable way to settle the argument of what the passage itself means.

The real question is whether or not theos here means "God" or "a god". The first question I would pose to JW theologians would be "how can there be a difference between God and a god anyway?" After all, if there is GOD Himself, then the same Greek word in the singular will have to refer to Him in all cases where some alternative is not spelled out. That is because, whether or not we choose to capitalize it in English, we have in any case the same word, theos, without any distinction in Greek, and beyond all argument it is only when the plural is used "gods" that the word theos in the New Testament does not refer to GOD Himself. An important case in point of this observation is verse six in the next paragraph. John is described as having been sent "by GOD" (para theou). Now if the JW translation were to be consistent, the would translate "sent by a god" – because the form is anarthrous just as in verse one (i.e., we have para theou and not as one might think from their translation para tou theou). There is no grammatical reason for making any distinction between John 1:1 and John 1:6 – and certainly not one of such profound significance as between "a god" and "God": whatever these words mean, they are the same in both cases. In fact, throughout the New Testament theos is often found in the anarthrous form and yet clearly refers to GOD Himself. Here are three examples of other anarthrous forms also from John chapter one, and included here is JW's own NWT translation:

John 1:12 -- God’s children (tekna theou) NWT

John 1:13 -- but from God (ek theou) NWT

John 1:18 -- No man has seen God (theon) at any time; the only-begotten god (theos) who is in the bosom [position] with the Father is the one that has explained him. NWT

The last example here is particularly illuminating because "God" here is being contrasted with Jesus who is also called theos. The only difference in the word is that the Father is in the accusative case (He is object of "seen"), whereas the Son is in the nominative case (He is the One who as explained Him): both are anarthrous; both say GOD (or god – but it is misleading in the extreme and wrong by any normal canon of interpretation to translate one one way and one the other). This verse, John 1:18, makes mincemeat of any attempt to distinguish the two based on the presence or absence of the definite article since both lack the article. Please note by way of refutatio that the verb "to be" is not a part of either clause; both are subject/verb/object clauses and grammatically indistinguishable in respect to what an anarthrous noun might mean (JW's often try to make a grammar argument on the basis of the predicate nominative in John 1:1, mostly because average people don't understand enough about grammar to get what they are even talking about so it sounds like they "know"). In this last passage, there is no grammatical justification for translating "seen GOD" as referring to GOD Himself in the first clause but "only begotten god" as not really referring to GOD in the second. Whatever theon means in the first clause, theos must mean the same thing in the second.

One last point here to highlight their inconsistency. Notice that in the second clause of John 1:18 the Word is described as "THE only begotten god" in their translation – even though there is no article, no "THE" present at all – and that presence or lack is supposed to be the "big deal" elsewhere. So apparently the NWT has no problems with supplying the definite article when it suits their purposes.

Please feel free to write me back about any of the above.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior who is THE Word of God.

Bob L.

Question #17:  

Hi--Thanks for your answer and so quickly, too. I have used some of the same arguments you gave with the JWs. Do you have their NWT? I was wondering, since you said it has "the only-begotten god" in it. I do have it, but haven't checked that verse. But they are terribly inconsistent with where they put "the." I noticed that a decade ago and so have many scholars critiquing its mangled Greek (and English, sometimes)

But could you tell me if this means the same thing as translating "theos" as "a god" because it has no defnite article?

"*Also note that the reason is not, as Wallace says *on the sole basis that the term is anarthrous *but *because the Greek word èåüò (the os ) is a singular predicate noun occurring before the verb and is not preceded by the definite article*

This JW says that there were other reasons for translating "a god" besides the fact that it is anarthrous, but it sounds like the same reason, to me. What does being a singular predicate noun have to do with writing it "a god"?

So, you don't agree with Wallace, about "theos" here being qualitative? Because "qualitative" doesn't have that much meaning with the Greek, but is a modern term? I just wondered if something could be qualitative and indefinite at the same time, as this JW seems to think.

Also, when you wrote this: "what John actually did write, thus fully and unambiguously attributing deity to the Word as distinct from the Father." You meant that the Word is a Person distinct from the Father, did you not?

Also, I think you said that when the Bible has "ho theos" it always means true God (paraphrasing). But Jesus once called Satan "the god" of this world. I remember some JW years ago telling me that meant that Satan really WAS "a god" of some kind. Could you please comment? Obviously, context determines translation here and Satan in no way, shape, or form is "true God".


Response #17: 

I found the NWT online. As to John 1:18, well, Jesus is described there as ho theos, "the only-begotten God" (article included; not anarthrous). This the NASB's translation, so that the only difference between the very conservative, evangelical NASB and the JW's NWT at John 1:18 is the lack of capitalization in the latter. Capital letters were all that existed at the time of writing of the New Testament, so the decision to capitalize or not today is an editorial decision. Clearly, the NWT uses lower case to suggest that Jesus is not God, but of course their own translation flies in the face of this. I think that if one admits that Jesus is "the god", it is indisputable that He is God, and no absence of capitalization can change this fact for those looking at what the language actually says.

On the issue of the verb "to be" and its predicate, this is a red-herring. There is nothing special about the copula in this respect. That is to say, there are no "different rules" for these sorts of things because we have the verb "to be" instead of transitive or intransitive main verb (which under many circumstances can have a predicate; e.g., a predicate accusative). I think Wallace and others are mistaken to follow the JW's down this particular rabbit hole because it only confuses the issue. The question hinges entirely on what God / theos may or may not mean with or without the definite article. Taking away any suggestion that we have a special case because of the verb "to be", the JW position relies entirely on the assertion that theos without the article in John 1:1 where it is referring to Jesus means that He is less than God the Father – because the Father has the article: ho theos. However, in addition to the explanations provided in my last email, this cannot be so because:

1) The Father is described as God without the article; e.g., Jn.1:13 ek theou: "from God" NWT.

2) The Son is described as God with the article; e.g., Jn.1:18 ho . . . theos: "the [only-begotten] god" even in the NWT.

Since even the NWT recognizes by its own translating (1) that the absence of the article does not mean that we do not have to do with God (at e.g. Jn.1:13), and further (2) that the Son is described as THE theos, (at e.g. Jn.1:18), their own renditions prove that their assertion to the effect that an absence of the article in John 1:1 demonstrates Jesus as not divine is completely incorrect.

As mentioned earlier, I think the whole "qualitative" question is unprofitable. This is not standard, classical terminology. It does occur in A.T. Robertson, but from the snippets provided it does not seem to me that Wallace completely got what Robertson was saying. Robertson (chap. XVI, part VII, subpart (j), p.794) uses "qualitative" to mean, essentially, generic. Citing Mk.10:2 "for a man to divorce a woman", for example (meaning any particular man and any particular woman). Using this analysis on the translation "a God" would be justified but only if we understand that then whatever THE God is, so also the Logos is. That is to say, the Logos would have the same precise qualities of theos as ho theos. To be fair to him, none of the examples Robertson gives have anything to do with explanatory predicates, and that is not how such predicates generally work in Greek anyway. Here is what the standard English language Classical Greek grammar (H.W. Smyth, Greek Grammar) has to say on the subject:

"A predicate noun has no article, and is thus distinguished from its subject" (para 1150)

The example Smyth gives is Thucydides 2:15, "The acropolis is called by the Athenians 'city' ". Notice, not "A city" but merely "city", and this would correspond precisely to John 1:1 "God", rather than "a god". There is only one acropolis so "a city" would be a terribly bad translation; just as in our case Jesus is not "a god" as if there were some subcategory of divinity below the Father but He is "God" just as the Father is God. Notice too that this is the standard way predicate nouns work in Greek; that is to say, as Smyth describes the situation, an anarthrous noun in the predicate is precisely what we should expect when the predicate is a noun rather than an adjective, so that our supposition is never that such a noun is indefinite, merely as Smyth says, it is "distinguished from its subject". This is an important feature in Greek because of word order. Since either subject or predicate can come first, it is the inclusion of the article that identifies the subject and conversely the exclusion of the article which identifies the predicate. This and only this is the significance of the anarthrous theos in John 1:1, namely, so show that theos IS the predicate and not the subject (and NOT to suggest any sort of qualitative difference by the lack of the article). Rendering the noun as indefinite or making it distinct from what theos means with the article is entirely unjustified by the canons of Greek grammar.

On your other point, yes indeed. The language shows that both Father and Son are God and yet distinct. The only way this can be true is if they share the essence of God yet are distinct Persons (the classical view of the Trinity).

On "gods", I believe I said that pagan gods, in which category I would include demons and the devil, are sometimes referred to with the word theos, but the context is always careful to differentiate these matters. All moral creatures are 'eliym or "gods" in respect of the free will we have been given to respond to the WILL of THE God (as Jesus says: Jn.10:34-36; for explanation see the link: in BB 4B "God's Plan to Save You").

Yours in THE God our LORD Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

Hello--Thanks for your explanation. I thought "qualitative" meant it was about the quality found in the noun--in the case of John 1:1c saying WHAT the Word is--God/Deity--as opposed to WHO He is. We know He is NOT the Father, but it just as much God as the Father. NOT, as Robertson says, it means "generic." I don't think Wallace means that, in his Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics. He says that having the "theos" in 1:1c as qualitative is much more probable than that it is definite and that indefinite is the least likely option. Something the JWs ignore. They quote what they want to from his writings and ignore the rest. Wallace himself wrote to one of my on-line friends who has corresponded with him, that he is tired of these cult groups misrepresenting what he writes.

This JW fellow on CARM thinks your argument that I posted today, that you sent me yesterday, is "1/3 correct" and you wouldn't even get a grade 50 if there had been a test. So, I guess a JW guy, who has merely dabbled in Greek knows more than a scholar who studied Greek for 11 years and teaches it and has a doctorate....8-| rolling eyes Eh?

I may send you one more thing, from this JW guy, after he explains better to me what and why he disagrees with that you wrote. If that is okay; I don't want to bug you to death. Thanks. God bless

Response #18: 

OK, I will be on the lookout for that.

I suppose that might be what "qualitative" would mean judging from the word itself. My problem with that is even if we agree with Wallace's objectives, one can't just start making up grammatical categories then using what one has made up as a basis for defending a particular position. I would have to see Wallace's entry on the subject. The key for any scholar is whether or not there are parallels, exempla in the language which clearly demonstrate the point the grammarian is suggesting. Smyth doesn't have anything like this, and his grammar is a standard and highly comprehensive; what Smyth does say (quoted in the last email) is definitive in my view, and agrees with what I know about how Greek employs a noun in the predicate. It also, by the way, backs up the traditional translation and understanding of John 1:1 to a tee.

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #19:  

Hi--Here is some of what Wallace wrote about this, about John 1:1; I interspersed my comments between his, with ____________:


"R. H. Countess pointed out that:

In the NT there are 282 occurences of the anarthrous "theos". At 16 places NWT has either a god, god, gods, or godly. Sixteen out of 282 means taht the translaters wer faithful to THEIR translation principle only 6% of the time...

The first section of John 1:1-18 furnishes a lucid example of NWT arbitrarary dogmatism. Theos occurs 8 times--vs. 1, 2, 6, 12, 13, 18--and has the aarticle only twice--vs. 1, 2. Yet NWT 6 times translated "God" once, "a god" and once 'the god'."

(This is from pp. 266-267 of Wallace's book, "GGBB." He goes on to say, on p. 267:)


"According to Dixon's study, if "theos" were indefinite in John 1:1, it would be the ONLY anarthrous pre-verbal PN in John's gospel to be so. Although we have argued that this is somewhat overstated, the general point is valid: the indefinite notion is the most poorly attested for anarthrous pre-verbal predicate nominatives. Thus, grammatically such a meaning is improbable. Also, the context suggest taht such is not likely, for the Word already existed in the beginning. Thus, contextually and grammatically, it is highly improbable that the Logos could be 'a god" according to John. Finally, the evangelist's own theolgy militates against this view, for there is an exalted Christology in the Fourth Gospel, to the point that Jesus Christ is identified as God (cf. 5:23; 8:58; 10:30, 20:28; etc.)"


Wallace goes on to say, on p. 269, that "theos" in John 1:1c is most likely qualitative. This is most likely because, for one reason, "this is true both grammatically (for the largest proportion of pre-verbal anarthrous predicate nominatives fall into this category) and theologically (both the theology of the 4th Gospel and of the NT as a whole). There is a balance between the Word's deity, which was already present in the beginning (1:1)...and His humanity, which was added later (1:14). The grammatical structure of these two statements mirrors each other; both emphasize the nature of the Word, rather than His identity. But theos was His nature from eternity, (hence, eimi is used), while sarx was added at the incarnation (hence, ginomai is used). "


Wallace goes on to say, same page:


"Such an option does not at all impugn the deity of Christ. Rather, it stresses that, althrough the person of Christ is not the perons of the Father, their ESSENCE is identical. ....the idea of a qualitative theos here is that the Word had all the attributes and qualities that "the God" (of 1:1b) had. In other words, He shared he essence of the Father, though they differed in person. The construction the evangelist chose to express this idea was the most concise way he could hav stated that the Word was God and yet was distinct from the Father."


This following is from the JW I am debating:

"Your bolded statement HERE: "Note that the NWT does not say that QEOS HN hO LOGOS is rendered as "the Word was a god" as merely definite (as Wallace says) but as indefinite and qualitative. Also note that the reason is not, as Wallace says, on the sole basis that the term is anarthrous but because the Greek word èåüò (the os ) is a singular predicate noun occurring before the verb and is not preceded by the definite article."

Me here--I just don't get this last phrase, bolded (sorry that my stuff here is bolded, Dr., I don't know how to shut it off). Isn't that another way of saying that the NWT rendered it "a god" because it was anarthrous??? I just don't get it...can you explain what this JW is saying, in layman's terms, for me?

....sounds like the same thing as saying that the reason the WBTS says "a god" is because it is anarthrous.

Here is a bit more on that predicate nominative construction from that JW guy:

"The argument is the PVAPN (preverbal anarthrous predicate nominative). That is the main argument. And it is not merely the anarthrous as Wallace has in his grammar. In addition the Reference Bible calls this qualitative and indefinite, not merely indefinite.

There are 3 elements to this:

1) Must be a predicate nominative (PN) construction. This is really the major grammatical structure.

2) The predicate noun is anarthrous (in the PN)

3) The predicate noun precedes the verb"


He means the main argument about why the NWT has "a god" in John 1:1c. I still don't see the difference than saying it was because the noun is anarthrous. What difference would it make if it is in the predicate? Can you explain it more clearly to me, in layman's terms? Thanks!

Response #19: 

Yes, I had picked up on that argument. This is what I had labeled as a red-herring. In the 1/2/3 list of "elements" you give, the only thing that Wallace (and others) have not addressed is #3, "the predicate noun precedes the verb". That is because it completely contradicts actual Greek usage. Word order in Greek is flexible. Unlike English, all permutations are possible without a significant change in meaning. English, of course, is an SVO word-order language, so that there is a big difference between "dog bites man" and "man bites dog" (in the famous example of what is "news" and what is not). In Greek, the cases tell the story of what is subject and object not the word order so that while kyna daknei anthropos may look like "dog bites man" to the uninitiated it is really the other way around because "dog" is accusative and "man" is nominative irrespective of the word order. Where the verb "to be" is concerned, since both subject and object are in the nominative in such constructions, it is the presence of the definite article which identifies the subject and its absence which identifies the predicate. Since that is so, moreover – and critically, the predicate's lack of a definite article does not necessarily make it indefinite ("city" not "A city" in the Thucydides example; "GOD", not "a god" in John 1:1).

In terms of varying the word order here are six ways John 1:1 could have been written, all of which would mean essentially the same thing:

*1) theos en ho logos [the text as we have it]

2) theos ho logos en

3) ho logos en theos

4) ho logos theos en

5) en theos ho logos

6) en ho logos theos

Is there any difference between these? Yes, but only one of emphasis. Whatever comes first has the most semantic weight, so that a translation such as "The Word was GOD" would not be out of line with the effect of the placement first in the sequence of theos. That is to say, rather than being "indefinite", by virtue of being first (cancelling out thereby the normal predicate noun usage) to the contrary it is more emphatic. The reason why JW point #3 is not addressed by Wallace (or others) is because it is nonsensical. There is simply no evidence to suggest that placing the predicate first ever results in an indefinite meaning for it anywhere in Greek – and I challenge your correspondent to provide a single parallel to that effect (indeed, as I say, the first position only makes the noun more emphatic in actual ancient Greek usage).

As I pointed out in the previous email and as Smyth makes clear, the reason for the anarthrous predicate noun is not to make it indefinite (it is usually definite), but to show that it is the predicate and not the subject. That is the central grammatical point here, and that is why I am impatient with Wallace's long explanations which miss that point. What he says is all fine (apart from the mysterious "qualitative" reference which is never explained), but it misses the central issue: John 1:1 conforms with Greek usage in giving us an anarthrous yet definite predicate (recall the example: "the acropolis is called [the] 'CITY' "). Since that is the normal usage, and especially since theos is first in the sequence in the place of greatest emphasis, were it John's purpose to say that Jesus was not GOD but merely "a god" (whatever in the world that would mean), and since he would then be fighting against normal usage and reader expectations, to make that point clear he would have had to have provided an additional signal in order for Greek readers not to conclude (as all have concluded for millennia) that "the Word was God". John would have had to have written theos tis instead of just theos for this verse to bear the meaning the NWT prefers (as explained in the inset in the previous email).

Hope this helps!

In Jesus the Word of God, our Lord and our God,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Yes, that helps some...I know about the sentence structure and how the subject has the article and PN doesn't--but I never thought that might be the main reason John did that, not just to show WHAT the Word was. But to show which noun was the subject and which was the PN.

All this comes from that "convertible proposition" that I told you about some time ago. You said you had never heard that term before, but Wallace talks about it in his Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics. It must be a term that didn't exist when you were learning Greek years ago. If you remember what it is about, I won't reiterate, but John 17:3 is supposed to be a convertible prop, even without the verb. Ray Goldsmith, who has written to you before and thinks highly of you, debated with Robr about what Wallace said in his book about the convertible prop and John 17:3. I can cut and paste what Wallace says about it in his book, if you are interested, that started all of this debate. They tend to get out of hand. Something about appositives and assertions and such...I understand what Wallace means, but this robr guy says that Wallace is saying, in effect, that John 17:3 exhausts all the category of "God" and so, it means that Jesus can't be true God, since Jesus says "You, the only true God". But I will try to send you a link to CARM where all this happened, if you are interested. It is from last September. Ray was brilliant in understanding what Wallace meant and robr....wasn't. Wallace is tired of JWs mining his stuff and twisting what he writes. Can't blame him. Thanks.

Response #20:

In my view John 1:1 is on its own merits a valid text to use to demonstrate the deity of Christ.

John 17:3 is very emphatic about the fact that the Father is God, "the only true God", but according to the orthodox view of the Trinity this would only be an impediment to Jesus being God as well if this passage were talking about the Father in the sense of being "a God". But of course orthodox believers understand that the Father, Son and Spirit are not "three Gods" but God – in three Persons. I would not care to discuss John 17:3 independent of the context since the truth of what the verse means is evident just a little later in the passage:

"And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began."
John 17:5 NIV

Beyond all reasonable argument, according to this statement Jesus had to exist before creation and could only have done so if He were God. That, by the way, is what "glory" is (see the link): the visible manifestation of deity.

I did have a look at the link you provided. I think the real issue here is whether or not by calling the Father "the only true God" Jesus is ruling out deity for Himself. In the absence of the Trinity such as it is or without the following context, this might be a defensible proposition – in my view it's not a question of the grammar. I.e., the grammar does not rule it out or rule it in, and I think your friend Ray does an admirable job of debunking attempts to "rule it out" (which the language, fairly read, does not do in English or in Greek as Ray's Jude 1:4 example shows). Understanding the Trinity and taking this verse in conjunction with verse five demonstrates semantically that Jesus does not mean to rule out His own divinity by this statement. Naturally, my position is more of a teaching position than an apologetic one. We are all blessed to have those like you and Ray down there in the trenches fighting that battle day by day.

Yours in the Lord Jesus whom we all serve, each according to his gifts.

Bob L.

Question #21:  

Hi--Thank you for your thoughts. Yep, Ray G. is the best apologist on the boards, partly because he does know biblical Greek, thought not as much as you do.

I have always read John 17:3 in this sense: "...that you may believe in Bill, the only true Townsend, and in his son, Larry." (from my father-in-law and husband's names). Is Larry less of a Townsend than Bill? Nope. JUST as much. However, in this example, Larry came into existence after Bill, since it is the nature of humans to have children younger than their parents. But that isn't the nature of God. Jesus bears the very stamp of God's nature, as per Heb. 1 and where Paul says that ALL the fulness of Godhead dwells in Jesus in bodily form. Therefore, HIS nature is the same as His Father's--being eternal and uncreated.

Also, IS Jude 4 the same sentence structure as John 17:3? I think Ray said it was, except that Jude 4 is genetive, but that shouldn't make any difference, should it?

However, I have seen others who have tried to use that "glory" verse against the JWs, but they believe that God created Jesus first, then He created everything else--so, of course he had the glory of His Father, before the world began. They also bring up where Jesus said He would give us His glory (paraphrased), as from John 15-17....I think He says that somewhere. So, the JWs say, Jesus can give us HIS glory, and we are created, then why cannot the Father give His supposedly created Son His glory, as well?

I've seen all the arguments. The latest is about the Holy Spirit. This robr is NOW saying that JWs don't view the Holy Spirit as a mere force, but as a "metaphor" for God's power, so naturally, when the bible uses personal pronouns of Him and where He is lied to, sends out, teaches, forbids, etc., it is just using personification. But it is my understanding that such devices as metaphors and personification are used in mostly poetical parts of scripture--and most of the time, when the HS is referred to by personal pronouns and teaches, sends, forbids, etc., that it is during straightforward prose...then there is where He is called "God" in Acts 5, and in 1 Corinthians, it says "Now, the Lord is the Spirit"--and THAT is a convertible proposition if I ever saw one, as Ray told me years ago. How can a metaphor be the Lord????

If you have any more thoughts on this, I would be interested in seeing them. Thanks.

Response #21: 

The critical point of comparison between Jude 1:4 and John 17:3 is that they both call a Person of the Trinity "only" (Greek monos) and then link that "only-ness" to a title in a way which while it might at first glance appear restrictive clearly is not: just as Jesus is not "the only Lord" to the exclusion of the Father's Lordship, so the Father is not the "the only God" to the exclusion of Jesus' deity. The grammatical structures are the same in all critical details.

On "glory" in John 17:5, the critical point is "before the kosmos existed". The kosmos is the entire universe in biblical parlance: time and space. Creatures by definition exist in time and space. No creature, no created thing can, by definition, exist before the creation. Only God can exist outside of time and space. This verse says Jesus did so, ergo He has to be God.

On the Spirit, honestly, these cavils seem too pathetic to justify with any response. Using the same logic a person could claim that the Father was just a force of nature or a way of explaining the world mythologically. There are, of course, unbelievers who take this sort of tack. I also see no great profit in proving the obvious. God exists as everyone knows. And for those who accept the truth of His existence and the Bible as His Word, it remains only to see what the Bible says. This is my greatest basis of disagreement with the JWs. They are clearly not really interested in what the Bible says. They only use it 1) to support what they say, and 2) to make it look to the uninitiated as if they have a authoritative basis for what they say. In other words, this is classic cult behavior. Since those who apologize for them already know that, there is a point at which arguing with them leaves me cold. Of course, just as they are only arguing for the purpose of keeping those listening to them enslaved, you are arguing so that those listening may come to their senses. A noble Christian task indeed!

Keep up the good work in Jesus Christ!

Bob L.

Question #22:  

Hello--Thanks for your insight; I never though about "Kosmos" meaning the totality of creation, including time itself, which is also a function of creation, not God, since He exists outside of time. That is an important point!

I have just one more question though, and then I will give you a break: Is the sentence structure the same for both passages--with "monos" in the attributive grammatical sense in both John 17:3 and Jude 4? One JW said that having "and" between "Master and Lord" might make a difference, but I don't see how in the world it could make the slightest difference.

As for the Holy Spirit, now this one guy is saying that the HS is a 'metaphor" for God's "active force." It is ridiculous how they reduce the Holy Spirit to a radar beam, like from a remote control, that controls a TV, and turns it on and off, changes its channels, etc. The HS is an inanimate force that God uses to get things done. Yet, they have no problem declaring OTHER spirits--like angels and devils--as being persons. But NOT the Holy Spirit.

Thanks for your help. I will try not to bother you again, at least, not for awhile! God bless!

Response #22: 

John 17:3 and Jude 1:4 are as identical in terms of grammar as two different passages can be. Jude 1:4 says "our [the] only Master and LORD" because the two nouns have to be connected. Just as in English, the adjectival force is assumed to go with both nouns unless there are contextual factors which militate against that. This tendency, by the way, is even more pronounced in biblical Greek (cf. "Granville Sharp's Rule" about even the definite article not being repeated). But this is very common in all prior Greek as well (Smyth G.G., para. 1030). Given the nature of the passage, in my opinion there is no way that Jude could have written "our [the] only Master and LORD" with any expectation that Greek readers would understand "only" as applicable to the first noun alone. For those who want to make that argument, it would also be necessary then to restrict the force of the definite article to the first noun alone – and this would violate Granville Sharp's Rule, not to mention producing gibberish: "our [the] only Master . . . and a LORD". I note that the JW Bible, the NWT, does not, in fact, do so (they have: "to our only Owner and Lord"), so the NWT undermines entirely your correspondent's attempted defense.

You're most welcome!

Write any time.

In Jesus,

Bob L.


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