We first mentioned this in Chapter 7. In the famous verse of Exodus 3:14, translators, as noted by Encyclopedia Britannica, have translated “I AM WHO I AM” in accordance with their own religious beliefs. The original text says, “I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE.” In Chinese, this has been translated into a poetic form as “Self-Existing, Forever-Existing.”
There are several other examples of this kind of translation, which we will see.
In other cases, changes to the original text have occurred through the handwritten copying of the original text.
The King James Bible was based on the third edition of the Greek New Testament, of 1550, issued by the Parisian publisher Stephanus. This Greek text was based on the first printed Greek New Testament, compiled by Erasmus in 1516, and dedicated to Pope Leo X.
Erasmus, in his day, opposed Martin Luther and any challenge of Catholic Church doctrine. It is perhaps with this mindset that he favored the most recent manuscripts recognized by the Church.1
To compile his text, Erasmus used manuscripts: Codex Basilensis A. N. IV. 2; Minuscule 2814; Codex Basiliensis A. N. IV. 1; Codex Basilensis A. N. IV. 4; Minuscule 2816; Minuscule 7; and Minuscule 817 (Gregory-Aland). All are dated from the eleventh to fifteenth century.
These so-called “manuscripts” were of course just “copies of copies of copies” of the Bible, which had been made by hand over 1500 years, before Erasmus’ compilation was used to create the first printed version of the Greek New Testament. In some cases, such as Revelation 22:16–21, Erasmus had no Greek manuscripts at all, so he created the Greek text from the Latin text, which he himself also updated.
The Stephanus edition on which the KJV was based made some improvements to Erasmus’ text, based on manuscript evidence and was considered the first step in Textual Criticism. About 13 years after the KJV was published, the first version of the Elzevir edition was produced, and was self-proclaimed as the “TR”—Textus Receptus, “the text which is received by all.” It substantially followed the Erasmus and Stephanus text. The expression TR is now applied to Erasmus’ edition.
Since the translation of the KJV, dozens of earlier Greek manuscripts have been found, many from the second to fourth century.
The most accurate Greek text recognized by scholars and theologians today is the NU text, the Nestle-Aland and United Bibles Societies text. The 1904 edition can be read in the interlinear version at www.biblehub.com. This is also known as the Critical Text, because it is based on a “Textual Criticism” of the oldest manuscripts. The details of the oldest and most important manuscripts currently available can be seen at https://nttranscripts.uni-muenster.de/. The manuscripts are listed in date order. We reference those manuscripts, when discussing Acts 20:28 below.
Through the study of older manuscripts, many errors have been corrected in more recent translations of the Bible.
As mentioned, many errors in translation result when translators are not faithful to the original language. In these cases, we have not provided any explanation for the differences.
To explain some of the errors, we have referred to the Pulpit Commentary, published in 1890. It is a well-respected conservative, public domain commentary, of more than 22,000 pages, that relied on over 100 Trinitarian believing contributors and was assembled over a 30-year period.
|1 (7)||Exodus 3:14
“Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
|“Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I WILL BE has sent me to you.’”|
|2 (24)||Matthew 1:20
“An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.'”
|Correct in the KJV as “the Angel of the Lord.”
Apollonius’ Cannon requires the translation of Matthew 1:20, Acts 5:19, 8:26, and 12:7 as “the Angel of the Lord,” just as in the Old Testament. The Spirit of Christ continued to appear as “the Angel of the Lord,” after Christ became a man.
|3 (2)||John 1:1
“And the Word was God”
|“And God was the Word.”
Meaning – ELOHIM in Genesis 1 was Christ.
|4 (2)||John 1:18
“The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”
|“The only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”|
|5 (16)||John 4:26
Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
|Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you AM.”|
|6 (16)||John 8:24
“. . . for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
|“. . . for if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.”|
|7 (16)||John 8:28
“When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He”
|“When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM . . .”|
|8 (16)||John 13:19
“Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He.”
|“Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I AM.”|
|9 (21)||John 17:11
“keep through Your name those whom You have given Me.”
|“NU-Text and M-Text read, ‘keep them through Your name which You have given Me.’”
(footnote in the NKJV Bible)
|10 (21)||John 17:12
“While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept.”
|NU-Text reads, “in Your name which You gave Me.”
(footnote in the NKJV Bible)
NU refers to the oldest most reliable manuscripts. The manuscript evidence on this verse is balanced. The external evidence favors the NU reading.
|11 (16)||John 18:5
“They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, “I am He.”
|“They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, “I AM.”|
|12 (16)||John 18:8
“I have told you that I am He.”
|“I have told you that I AM.”|
“Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the (Godhead – KJV) Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.”
|Corrected in the NKJV
(The phrase Godhead was invented by the translators, and used for three obscure Greek words found in Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20; and Colossians 2:9.)
“To shepherd the Church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.”
|The reading of the TR and the King James “the Church of God, which He purchased with His own blood” appears only in late manuscripts.
The earliest and best manuscripts, including P41, and P74, favor “Church of the Lord” rather than “Church of God.”5
The majority and earliest manuscripts, including P41 and P74, read, “tou haimatios tou idiou” (the blood of His own); rather than “idiou haimatios” (His own blood).6
The reading “Church of God, which He purchased with the blood of His own,” which appears in the Westcott-Hort text of 1881, UBS5, and Nestle-Aland Greek text today is based primarily on these internal arguments:
a) That Paul used the phrase “Church of God” nine times, and never otherwise used the expression “Church of the Lord.”
b) God is Spirit and has no blood (Luke 24:39). If the true reading is “Church of God,” then “blood of His own,” tou idiou is likely an ellipsis for “of His own Son” tou idiou Huiou, the phrase that appears in Romans 8:32 4; and the message repeated throughout the Bible, in Gen 22:2 John 3:16, Romans 8:32, etc. The phrase idios or idiou (His own) without an accompanying noun also occurs in John 1:11, 13:1, 19:27, Acts 4:23; 21:6, and 24:23.
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”
|“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and divine nature, so that they are without excuse” (see NIV).
(See Godhead comment under 10)
|16 (28)||Romans 9:5
“Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.”
|“Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.”8(As written in the original KJV, and as understood by all Greek and other interpreters prior to 1516; the original Greek had no commas, or periods and the interpretation was not an issue. But modern interpreters through the placement of punctuation created a new meaning. It is interesting that not even Noetus, the first modalism teacher, approx. 180 A.D., ascribed the interpretation in the NKJV, as noted in Hippolytus, Against Noetus, par. 2 and 6)|
|17 (27)||Colossians 1:15
“He is the firstborn over all creation.”
|“He is the firstborn of every creature (all creation).”
As appeared in the King James Version, and the 4th century Latin Vulgate.
In English, it appears there is a contradiction between this phrase, and the following phrase, “for by Him all things were created.” How can He be the firstborn of the things created, and have created “all things”? In the Greek, the reader sees the word “firstborn,” as “prototokos,” “pro” means “before.” The Greek reader can understand the text as, “begotten before all created things,” which eliminates any apparent contradiction (see Barnes’ Notes, Ellicott’s Commentary, and Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary). In his Dialogue with Tryphos, Chapter LXI, Justin Matryr, in 150 AD wrote, “I give you another testimony from the scriptures, that God begat a beginning before all the created things.” His understanding can only come from Colossians 1:15, and Revelation 3:14, which calls Christ, “the beginning of the creation of God.”
“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”
|“For in Him dwells the fullness of the divine nature bodily” (see NIV).
(See Godhead comment under 10.)
|19 (18)||Philippians 2:6, 7
“who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.”
|“who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but He emptied ἐκένωσεν Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.”|
|20 (18)||1 Timothy 3:16
“God was manifest in the flesh.”
|“Ὃς Who (Christ) was manifested in the flesh.”9|
|21||1 John 5:7
“For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.”
|“not found in any Greek manuscript before the fourteenth century” – footnote in the NIV version.|
|22 (25)||John 10:20
“I and My Father are one.”
|“I and the Father are one.”
(Jesus used the expression “My Father” only in respect of His role as “the Son,” which began at His baptism. He used the expression “the Father” when describing His relationship with “the Father,” which began in the Old Testament.)
1 Timothy 3:16 – Ὃς Who was manifest in the flesh
In the nineteenth century, it was recognized that the earliest manuscripts showed “who” Ὃς and not “God,” but a debate arose regarding the Alexandrine text, which was the oldest. It seemed to show “Theos” or “God” in the short form. The short form of “Theos” needed a line through the middle, making it “Theos” and a line on the top, to indicate it was a short form of the word.
The Alexandrine text lacked the line in the middle making it “Theos,” but it had the line on top indicating it was a short form. The whole debate climaxed when several scholars examined the text under a microscope to see that the short form line had been added later on, in order to cause us to believe that “who” was a short form of Theos.
From The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges.
Since the minute inspection of the Alexandrine ms. by Bps Lightfoot, Ellicott, and others, there is no doubt of its original reading being ‘who,’ as is also the reading of א, and all the Versions older than the seventh century, of Origen, Epiphanius, Jerome, Theodore, and Cyril.
Ellicott explained that 1 Timothy 3:16 was actually a beautiful hymn in the original Greek.
From Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers.
Possibly the difficulty in the construction is due to the fact of the whole verse being a fragment of an ancient Christian hymn, embodying a confession of faith, well known to, and perhaps often sung by, the faithful among the congregations of such cities as Ephesus, Corinth, and Rome—a confession embodying the grand facts of the Incarnation and the Resurrection, the preaching of the cross to, and its reception by, the Gentile world, and the present session of Christ in glory. In the original Greek the rhythmical, as well as the antithetical character, of the clauses is very striking. In the English translation they can hardly be reproduced:
“Ὃς Who was manifested in the flesh,
justified in the Spirit,
seen of angels,
was preached among the Gentiles,
believed on in the world,
taken up into glory.”
Fragments of similar hymns to Christ are found in 2 Timothy 2:11, and perhaps also in Ephesians 5:14.
- Bruce Metzger, The Text of the New Testament. Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, Oxford University Press, 1992, p. 102. ↩
- It is unclear what D2 is; if it is the Codex Bezae, the Greek text in this verse has been completely obscured. The oldest evidence is likely lectionary L845, dating to the 9th century, 100 of 109, 8th to 11th century lectionaries read, “Your name which You have given Me”—see “The textual tradition of the Gospel of John in Greek Gospel Lectionaries from the middle Byzantine Period, 8th to 11th century,” p. 486, Jordan. ↩
- 69 is a 15th century Miniscule. ↩
- Pulpit Commentary ↩
- Supporting “Church of the Lord” του κυριου: P41 P74 02 04* 05 08 044 33 945 1739; supporting “Church of God” του θεου 01 03 614 1175 1505; Later manuscripts read: “Church of the Lord and God,” του κυριου και θεου 04C3 020 18 323 424C 1241 ↩
- Supporting “haimatios tou idiou”: P41 P74 01 02 03 04 05 08 044 33 945 1175 1739; supporting “idiou haimatios”: 020 18 323 424 614 1241 1505 ↩
- Pulpit Commentary ↩
- Pulpit Commentary, “Not one of the Greek or other Fathers, or any interpreter before Erasmus, is known to have understood it otherwise.” ↩
- Pulpit Commentary, He who for God, A.V. and T.R. ↩