There is an old saying that God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick. This boils down to the fact that God is not dependant on the perfectness of a man, being without mistake, before he could be used in God’s service. The question arises whether this also holds true for the people God used to write down His Word. Even more concerning is the question whether this could also be applied to the people God used through the ages to copy, translate and distribute this written word of God. What if one of these scribes altered a word or sentence whether by mistake or on purpose? What if he omitted or added something to that which was originally written? Does this invalidate that version of the Bible? Should we stick to a certain version of the Bible, especially the one our fathers adhered to, the one we grew up with, or the one that led me to the truth of God and to my own salvation? Or should we rather study the different manuscripts to our disposal and objectively evaluate them with sound scientific methods? Should we not try to establish as accurate as possible the original manuscript and eliminate changes that crept into the scriptures through the ages of copying?
Every person accepts the translation he uses, as correct. Therefore many Christians would vehemently discard any critique against it. Many would even refuse to take note of the reasons why it does differ from another version. This is every person’s right. On the other hand, to many who would like to look objectively themselves, the sources usually are out of reach. With this blog I would like to make more accessible to the ordinary Christian, that which is available.
There is a great risk in writing anything concerning God or his word. On the one hand you, the reader of my dissertation might put on my glasses and loose objectivity. On the other hand God as well as his word might be reduces to a mere object of our study. Our study may never hinder our personal relationship with God or a personal encounter with Him. Even if any book that I read might be the best ever written, or the most correct, if it threatens or weakens my personal relationship with God, it is not worth my attention or time. The armor that king Saul offered David, was the best available – after all, it was made for the king! But it was not meant for David. In the same way, if what you read in this booklet does not cause you to stand in awe before the living God, or if it does not build and strengthen your relationship with God, it is not worth your time or effort.
On the other hand, we cannot deny the fact that variations between different versions do exist. To some this might threaten their trust in God. It could also threaten their acceptance of the message of the word of God. If you are in doubt because of the variations, read this booklet and study the examples given. If you still doubt, contact your pastor, but do not stay in confusion. Don’t allow anything to damage your relationship with God. 2 Corinthians 5:7 “We live by faith, not by sight.” Bear also in mind Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Hebrews 11:1 gives a clear definition of faith: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” The main source for our knowledge of God, is the Bible. That is why the way we perceive our Bible, is so important. The reason why we study the Bible is as Paul states in Philippians 3:10-11:” I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Therefore we should not give up searching for God until we are grounded in a living relationship with Him.
The fact that God used a donkey to speak to Balaam, (Num.22:21-41) does not mean that a donkey is some extraordinary or holy animal. Likewise the written word of God, as well as any dissertation concerning the Scriptures has no value in its own, other than bringing us to knowledge of the living God. It helps us to build a living relationship with God.
How should we handle it when a specific verse or phrase in Scripture that has special meaning to us personally, does not appear in a modern translation? We should not allow that to cause us to be disheartened, or doubt God. If we now discover that it had never been part of God’s word in the first place, praise God! He might even speak to someone through the words of an atheist! Our main purpose remains to know God and have a living relationship with Him.