Why Are There So Many Different Bibles?

It seems that there are a lot of different Bibles today, which can be very confusing if you are trying to know God and His will for your life. If you go to a store you can buy a KJV, NASV, NKJV, RSV, NIV, CSB, NLT Amplified, NCV, and many, many more.  The Catholics have their Bible, The Mormons their book, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have their version, and all the churches have their preferred version. How can anyone get to the truth with all the conflicting ideas, writings and translations?

I hope you slow down and think this through with me. The Bible was written thousands of years ago, in basically two languages, Hebrew and Greek. Therefore, because there are many English translations does not mean there are different Bibles. Since you and I cannot read or speak Hebrew and Greek we need a translation into our language.

The one Bible gets translated into thousands of languages so that the billions of people of the world can read and understand it for themselves. Language is a complicated thing. It is fluid and changing all the time that it is a living language. It is not like mathematics, so words in Hebrew do not always have equal English words to match. Greek and Hebrew do not have equal words that always clearly define a Spanish word, and so on. Therefore, the way someone translates becomes very important!

And not only that, people are prejudice in their thinking. When two people disagree on politics, they interpret the same words of our president in very different ways, even though they all speak English. Now, add this to translating a person’s words into another language too. Then add locations of the world where customs and figures of speech are different, this makes the translation even harder, so the readers can actually understand the sense of what God is revealing to them.

But wait there’s more! Add sworn enemies who try to corrupt and destroy the translation on purpose. Then add time, a lot of time and now you have the difficulty of getting to the truth of God’s Word from the modern day translators. Yes it can be confusing, but if you will be careful, you can understand why there are so many modern day translations.

The Bible is true, eyewitness accounts of people who met God through His divine revelation to them. They recorded actual events they saw and heard themselves. Like in any court of law, truth is found through actual evidence and eye witnesses, not hearsay and rumors.

One eyewitness records, “[WE ARE writing] about the Word of Life [in] Him Who existed from the beginning, Whom we have heard, Whom we have seen with our [own] eyes, Whom we have gazed upon [for ourselves] and have touched with our [own] hands. [2 ]And the Life [an aspect of His being] was revealed (made manifest, demonstrated), and we saw [as eyewitnesses] and are testifying to and declare to you the Life, the eternal Life [in Him] Who already existed with the Father and Who [actually] was made visible (was revealed) to us [His followers]. [3] What we have seen and [ourselves] heard, we are also telling you, so that you too may realize and enjoy fellowship as partners and partakers with us. And [this] fellowship that we have [which is a distinguishing mark of Christians] is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (the Messiah). [4] And we are now writing these things to you so that our joy [in seeing you included] may be full [and your joy may be complete].” 1 John 1:1-4  AMP

The New Testament authors’ saw, heard and touched, to verify truth. The Old Testament writers have the same testimony and are proven authentic. Therefore, we know the truth is clearly written in the original languages. And remember the Bible is the most questioned and tested book in all the history of mankind. Archeologists have dug up and continue to dig up everything they can in Israel and have never contradicted the Bible, but instead proven it’s accuracy. Paul writes in the New Testament and verifies that all the Old Testament is the actual words of God [2 Timothy 3:16] and therefore trustworthy also.

The Jews considered the Bible so sacred they had experts who memorized and made hand written copies to pass on from generation to generation. These men were so meticulous that every letter was counted on every page, so no mistakes would be preserved. The New Testament was written by the people who lived with and around Jesus. They were not some writers in another century who decided to write a history, these men preserved and watched over the truth they themselves witnessed. They carefully copied the writings and spread them across the Roman Empire as quickly as possible.

We know this because the second and third generation Christians wrote letters to each other, and quoted the New Testament books over and over again. These people are known as the Early Church Fathers and in their writings alone all but eight verses of the New Testament have been quoted and verified. The Bible was well protected and preserved.

But, slowly during this time groups from Egypt and other locations began to do some dubious things. They disagreed with the original eyewitnesses on the message and truth, and invented a spin off type of Christianity. And two streams of Bibles were now available. The northern stream was continuing to flow from Antioch and stayed faithful to Christ and the original Bible. The Christians from the Antioch translations created the Old Latin Bible that made its way even to England by 200 AD.

But in the south a new Bible was beginning to circulate.

Now the southern stream was a perverted group. They wrote letters and articles and forged the famous apostles names to them, confusing many. Paul mentions this problem even during the first generation of believers. They got away with this because it was the common way the early church leaders taught. For example Paul writes, “After this letter has been read to you, make sure it gets read also in Laodicea. And get the letter that went to Laodicea and have it read to you.” [Col 4:16 TM] So it got difficult to keep the truth with forgers working to pass on their warped teachings.

Paul had to start warning the churches about forgers, “Don’t let anyone shake you up or get you excited over some breathless report or rumored letter from me that the day of the Master’s arrival has come and gone. Don’t fall for any line like that.” [2 Thess 2:2-3 TM] Paul even had to start making a clear signature on each letter for authenticity. “I, Paul, write you this final greeting with my own hand. This is the mark and sign [that it is not a forgery] in every letter of mine. It is the way I write [my handwriting and signature].” [2 Thess 3:17 AMP]

This whole movement of false teachers mixed pagan philosophy with Christianity and created a mystic religion that felt they could erase the parts of the Bible they did not like. There was a movement who rejected the fact that Jesus was God, dismissed the miracles of the Lord, and chose to remove some of Christ’s words. These southern copies became confusing because some added words to the gospels, just like cults and modern day movements do today instead of leaving the Bible alone and believing what it already says. Origen (A.D. 185-254) found much confusion in these copies from northern Africa.

A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible: Its History, Methods … By Paul D. Wegner

Now this group progressed for several hundred years and the evidence shows they produced all kinds of versions that were  different from each other. They could not even agree what to add and subtract to propagate their lies. During the following few centuries [300-400 AD] a number of versions arose from these people such as, the Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and the Alexandrinus manuscripts which are preserved still today. These were so messed up they disagreed with each other in over 3000 places of the four gospels alone.

The Roman Catholic church eventually embraced these men and their mutilated versions, which are the foundation of many of the popular Bibles today, and is one reason for so many English translations and variations. The King James Version of the Bible is based off the Antioch stream of consistent and faithful copies. The quotes from the Early Church Fathers [100-200 AD] agree with and verify the old accepted Greek text used for the KJV version also.

I met Doctor David Otis Fuller and spoke to him about some of this matter. He traveled to England and other places researching and tracking down great evidence to verify these facts. The following quote comes from one of his sermons in the 1970’s:

Then in 1881, the Revised Version of the Scriptures was published. Brook Foss Westcott, late Bishop of Durham, and Fenton John Anthony Hort, were both professors at Cambridge University, and without question were two of the most brilliant and erudite scholars of their day, and to this day, nearly a century later. They command the attention and admiration of textual critics, both liberal and conservative. The two together had been working for twenty years on a Greek text of the New Testament. Around 1870 there was a demand made for another version of the Scriptures. Westcott and Hort spearheaded this demand and influenced many scholars and theologians to form a committee for a revised version which appeared in 1881.

The Westcott and Hort text was based upon two of the oldest manuscripts extant, Codex Aleph and Codex Vaticanus. One was found in the wastepaper basket by the great scholar Tischendorf on Mt. Sinai. The other was found in an out of the way place in the Vatican museum with dust over it. The former was discovered around 1859; the later some centuries before that; I believe in the thirteenth century or thereabouts.

These manuscripts are two of the worse in existence. They are filled with contradictions and errors, and they contradict each other. In the Vatican manuscript all of Revelation is missing, as well as all the Pastoral Epistles of Paul, and from the ninth to the thirteenth chapter of Hebrews. They just aren’t there. So it was quite a mutilated manuscript. But because they were the oldest, going back to the fourth century, there were those scholars that almost revered them and made much of the fact of these two manuscripts. The theory was that the oldest manuscript was nearest to the original autographs written by the Apostles and others.

But it so happens that this is not the case. The oldest manuscripts have proven to be the worst, because in the early days of Christianity a war was raging between Athanasius and Arius concerning the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot thank God enough that Athanasius won, even though he was banished five times by the emperor, because he was so tenacious and would not let this matter go. And when some of his friends came to him and said, “Athanasius, the world is against you,” he drew himself up and uttered those famous words, “Athanasius is against the world.” Arius and his followers were unitarian, and it is clear that many manuscripts in those days were corrupted doctrinally.

Both ideas, evolution and that of the Westcott and Hort theory, have no foundation whatever. They are made up of cobwebs, yet the Westcott and Hort Greek text was founded squarely upon these two manuscripts, with a few others, but in the main Codex Aleph and Codex Vaticanus were the ones that they relied upon the most.

See the full article here.

So even though the King James version is written like Shakespeare, it’s underlying Greek and Hebrew are the clearly preserved Words of God. But, like any translation be careful, you must be a real student of the Word.

What about all the other translations and versions? Be careful, read the introductions and research them. Just because they are new does not mean they are all of the devil or from the corrupted texts of ancient heretics. But they might be, and it is getting harder to find out and see them. Whenever I use other translations, it is as a commentary and help in understanding the original text. I use a Strong’s Concordance to verify the words and definitions. I stick with KJV and NKJV for the main research.

Take note, all the new English versions are copyrighted. So many publishers commission their own translation to give them an exclusive Bible to sell to the public. As they compete in the marketplace they advertise their version as better than the others.

Also, remember, because some Greek and Hebrew does not have exact equivalents, a variety of words can be used to give a good translation of the text. Within these good variations deeper truth can be understood.

And one last thing,  remember God finalized His Word in Greek and Hebrew, not English. We are all reading the attempts of men trying to give us God’s Word, some, not all are using corrupted text. And these corruptions are a small percent of the whole of the New Testament. The main message and doctrines are not destroyed even in the worst of our modern translations.