I studied the Bible with a friend of mine who reckons that the NIV does not contain the whole word of God, because in some places it is different to the King James Bible. I want to know the reasons for those differences. — Henry Bekker
In America especially, there is hostility between the “NIV camp” and the “KJV camp.” Tradition dies hard! Tell your friend the following facts:
* No translation is perfect. (Only the originals were perfect!)
* All versions differ to one another–as a function both of legitimate translation decisions–and of the generation in which the translation was made, as all languages are constantly changing.
* There were many good English translations before the KJV.
* The KJV has many errors, because in the 17th century biblical Hebrew and Koine Greek were not completely understood. (The major Greek papyrus discoveries were not made till the late 19th century, while the Hebrew Dead Seas Scrolls were not discovered till after WWII.)
* Some 500 errors were corrected in the second edition. Other errors remained longer, like “cherubims” (a double-plural; it was not understand that the Hebrew singular is cherub, the plural cherubim).
* Remind him that the original KJV included the extra (“Catholic”) books of the Bible, the Apocrypha. These were not removed until later editions.
* Modern English readers do not understand Elizabethan language. Ask you friend to define such KJV terms (well understood in the 1500s/1600s) as suffer, minish, and compass about. Or ask him to explain what the psalmist means by “In the morning my prayer will prevent Thee” (Psalm 88). I doubt he can do it (unless he has a graduate degree in English).
* Build a bridge. Admit that just as many doggedly “defend” the King James version today, there are equally stubborn people who “defend” the NIV against all the newer translations (those more recent than the 1970s, when the NIV was completed).
If your friend reads books (hopefully his mind is open to reading books other than the Bible), recommend Neil Lightfoot’s The English Bible from KJV to NIV. He (or she) will find it very helpful. Most important, make sure your friend is diligently studying the Bible. Otherwise, a whole mountain of opinions is worthless. Beware of the Pharisaism that says, “My version alone is right.”
Because unless you are actually reading the original languages, you do not have a perfect version.
This article is copyrighted and is for private use and study only. © 2003. Reprints or public distribution is prohibited without the express consent of Douglas Jacoby.