The doctrinal significance of some of the omissions which characterize the modern versions of the Holy Scriptures

Those who favor the modern English versions of the Holy Scriptures contend that they present the reader with translations more accurate and intelligible than the Authorized Version, and that they rest upon a more ancient and reliable form of the Greek text. Although these claims are often repeated and widely accepted, they are not supported by the facts. The undue deference paid by textual critics to the Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus, and their allies has had the effect of popularizing in the present era a defective and unreliable form of the text prevalent in Egypt in the latter half of the third century and the first half of the fourth. The deficiencies of this form of the text were widely recognized in the fourth century, with the result that most of the manuscripts produced since that period preserve the text substantially the same as that found in the documents available to the scholars responsible for the production of the Authorized Version.

The most significant shortcomings of the modern versions are the inevitable result of the adoption of a defective text. The effect, which is often underestimated, becomes more apparent when the omissions of the modern versions are carefully examined. Omissions in the Greek text adopted by modern translators account for the omission of more than 2000 corresponding English words from about 500 verses in the Gospels alone, involving the complete loss of 42 verses, substantial parts of another 69, and words and phrases from the remainder. For the whole New Testament the figures are considerably higher.

The Deity and Sonship of the Redeemer

It is often asserted that these changes do not affect any Biblical doctrine, but this also is far from true. They do not eliminate any doctrine, but many of the omissions certainly occur in passages of doctrinal importance, and have the effect of diminishing the testimony of Holy Scripture to the Deity and Sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ. In these passages it cannot be truly said that all the versions are "theologically the same", for in most of the modern versions the emphasis on the Deity of Christ is considerably diminished. A few examples will be sufficient to show how these vital truths are affected.

  1. "God was manifest in the flesh." (I Timothy 3:16). This clearly shows the Deity of Christ, while the modern versions here assert only His humanity, by changing "God" to"who."

  2. "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God" (Mark 1:1). By removing "the Son of God" from the text, or by questioning the authority of these words in a note, an important declaration of Christ's Divine Sonship is eliminated or weakened.

  3. "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." (Acts 8:37). The modern versions deal with this verse in the same way and with the same effect, setting aside a whole verse relating to the vital doctrine of the Savior's Divine Sonship.

  4. "The Church of God which He hath purchased with His own blood." (Acts 20:28). By changing "God" to "Lord", and "His own blood" to "blood of His own", the modern versions remove another testimony to the Godhead of the Redeemer.

  5. "My Father" (John 6:65). In nine passages in John's Gospel the Lord Jesus Christ speaks of God the Father as "My Father", but in the modern versions "My Father" is changed to "the Father", and in all of these places the affirmation of His unique Sonship is lost.

  6. "He that cometh from heaven is above all." (John 3:31). The Revised Version margin rejects the last three words and thus diminishes the testimony of this verse to the equality of the son with the Father "above all."

  7. "He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven." (Luke 24:51). The versions which reject or question the authority of the last clause weaken the testimony of Scripture to the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  8. "He was received up into heaven and sat upon the right hand of God." (Mark 16:19). By repudiating the last twelve verses of Mark as spurious, the modern versions eliminate another important Scripture testimony to the ascension and to the Savior's equality with God.

  9. "And when they saw Him they worshipped Him." (Matthew 28:17). The text adopted by modern critics reduces this to "and when they saw Him they worshipped." In the Authorized Version it is clear that their worship may have been addressed to the Father. Another clear indication of the Savior's Deity is lost.

  10. "He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life." (John 6:47). In these words the Lord Jesus asserts His Deity by declaring Himself to be the object of saving faith. The force of this testimony is lost in those versions which omit "on Me."

Those who value the Bible as the Word of God will not lightly dismiss these testimonies as matters of trivial or minimal significance. In its basis the Graceway Bible Society undertakes to circulate "the Holy Scriptures which are given by inspiration of God", and requires that "the copies in the English language shall be those of the Authorized Version, which contains the disputed words in all of the passages quoted above.

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Thursday, February 7, 2002