I have been conducting seminars on the history of the English Bible for the past dozen years. Inevitably, I get questions like, “What’s the most literal translation out there?” “What’s a good study Bible?” “Which Bible is the most accurate?” “What’s a good Bible for a new Christian to get?”

These are excellent questions. I will try to offer some guidelines here for the general English-speaking reader of the Bible, though it will be necessarily brief.

Let me start with two assumptions. First, your native tongue is English. Second, you live in a country whose native tongue—or one of them—is English (e.g., United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand). Obviously, not everyone reading this blog post will qualify, but these are the folks that I am addressing.

There are far more translations of the Bible into English than any other language on the planet. There are historical reasons for this, but we won’t go into them—except to say this: English-speaking countries for the most part have a broadly Christian culture as part of their heritage. To be sure, all are living in a post-Christian age now, but a large part of the heritage of that culture involves the Bible and Christianity. The influence of the Bible on the English-speaking world is absolutely stunning. It permeates almost every nook and cranny of our society, even if not intentionally so. E. D. Hirsch’s Cultural Literacy (1988) has a 60+ page appendix of words and phrases that every literate American ought to know. It’s amazing how many words and phrases are right out of the Bible and Christian thought.

Or consider the other end of the cultural continuum, pop music. Some of the best known rock songs, especially from the 60s and 70s, have allusions to the Bible and Christianity. Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, for example, speaks of “stairway to heaven” (of course!), “there are two paths you can go,” “our soul… the truth will come to you”; Don McLean’s American Pie: “do you have faith in God?”, “can music save your mortal soul?”, “If the Bible tells you so…,” “while the King was looking down the Jester stole his thorny crown,” “Fire is the devil’s only friend,” “no angel born in hell could break that satan’s spell,” “the three men I admire most: the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost…”; Steppenwolf’s The Pusher: “God damn the Pusher,” “I’d declare total war on the Pusher man…I’d kill him with my Bible…”

Whether one is a Christian, non-Christian, or anti-Christian, the Bible is a book that has infected our culture and the way we communicate.

So, what’s the best Bible to get? There’s no simple answer to this question. I will instead offer three or four categories of Bibles that every English-speaking Christian should own.

First, I think everyone should own a King James Bible. It has been hailed as one of the greatest literary monuments to the English language, and the greatest literary monument every produced by a committee. Regardless of what you think of the KJV’s accuracy, it is a must for all English-speaking Christians. I would add that I think it’s a must for all English-speaking people, regardless of their faith commitments. The KJV will celebrate its 400th anniversary next year. I would recommend that folks get a hold of Donald Brake’s A Visual History of the King James Bible, which will be released next year. Fascinating study of this incredible literary achievement. The only modern translation to come close to the KJV’s lyrical quality is the REB.

Second, I would propose that every English-speaking Christian own a good study Bible. It should be accurate and readable, and have plenty of helpful notes. There are several excellent study Bibles available, but the one I like the best is the NET Bible (available at www.bible.org). Why the NET? In part, because I worked on it—both as a translator and editor. But I was also a consultant for three or four other translations. What makes the NET Bible unique are three things: its philosophy of translation, how it was produced, and its extensive footnotes. The translation philosophy was to combine three different approaches: accuracy, readability, and literacy. The history of the Bible in English actually breaks down into three periods: the KJV was a literary production (following in the footsteps of Tyndale); beginning with the Revised Version of 1885, accuracy was king; beginning with the NIV, readability was of primary importance. The NET Bible’s philosophy of translation was to combine the three periods of English Bible translation. Often these three objectives are opposed to each other. In such cases, the footnotes in the NET give an alternative, usually the more accurate translation (which is also less elegant and readable).

The NET’s method of production was to put provisional translations of each of the books up on the Internet for the whole world to see. Over 100,000 comments and suggestions were made by reviewers, many of which were incorporated into the final translation. This was the first Bible ever beta-tested on the Internet.

Finally, it has more footnotes than any other Bible in history—over 60,000 of them! They are of three types: tn, which are translator’s notes; sn, which are study notes, often giving the various interpretations of the text; and tc, which are text-critical notes, giving the data from ancient manuscripts for competing readings.

But there are other good study Bibles, too. The ESV is an excellent, literary translation with understated elegance, in keeping with the KJV and RSV. And its study Bible, with articles and notes, is excellent. The NIV Study Bible has very good notes and a very readable translation, but it interprets a bit too much for my tastes. The NRSV is a very good translation, though its stance on gender inclusivism sometimes mars the beauty of the translation and is even, at times, misleading (cf. Matt 18.15; 1 Tim 3.2). The REB is a gender-inclusive translation but it has sidestepped the problems of the NRSV by giving literary power a higher priority.

One of the myths of a good translation is that to be accurate it must be a word-for-word translation. Languages don’t work that way. A word in one language cannot always be translated by one word in another language. For example, Greek has four different words for love, six different words for mind. Sometimes a paraphrase is necessary to bring out the nuances of the Greek into English. Further, idioms in one language are often, if not usually, unique to that language. In Matthew 1.18, the KJV says that Mary was ‘with child’; the NET says she was ‘pregnant.’ But the Greek idiom says, literally, that she was ‘having [it] in the belly’! Every woman who has ever been pregnant knows what that is like! Very graphic, but not particularly appropriate for a translation. Ironically, the most literal translation is probably the worst translation because it fails to communicate the Greek or Hebrew into acceptable English, misleading the reader.

Finally, I suggest that every English-speaking Christian get a Bible that is readable, lively, and captures the ‘feel’ of the original. The more accurate Bibles usually don’t do this (including the NET and ESV). The NIV comes close, but Eugene Peterson’s The Message, the Living Bible, and J. B. Phillips’ The New Testament in Modern English do well in this regard. These are Bibles that are meant to be read one chapter (or passage) at a time, not verse by verse. In fact, Phillips stripped out the verse numbers and only had chapters so that the reader would not get bogged down when reading the text.

So, what Bible should you own? At least three, and one of them needs to be the King James Bible. But whatever you get, make sure to read it!

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    141 replies to "What Bible Should I Own (Dan Wallace)"

    • John

      How would a translation like the HCSB fit into this group? I use it and have found it to be a good readable translation with the literal translation in the footnotes.

    • […] don’t weight all the versions precisely as he does, but he provides some excellent guidelines.  Not surprisingly he likes the NET.  I do too, though […]

    • mbaker

      My only complaint about the ESV study Bible, which I enjoy, is that it leans more heavily to the Calvinist teachings of pre-election. I think that we have to realize that all translations to some extent at least are going to be biased by the personal beliefs folks that are put on the council to translate it.

      That’s why I don’t depend on one translation, but have several.

      • Brad

        That’s actually been proven not true, and any version of the bible is Calvinistic because of the obvious.

    • […] Comment Dan Wallace, Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, helpfully answers this […]

    • nazaroo

      Our only objection to the NET bible, is in fact the bias of the text-critical footnotes in favour of the Hortian (Alexandrian) text-type and it’s many flawed readings.

      If the footnotes were more neutral and unbiased, the NETbible would be an awesome resource. As it stands, many of the notes are grossly misleading and present a very one-sided view of the text-critical resources and the real situation.

      I am not suggesting a TR-only or Majority Text is the only approach, but only that everyone knows the jury is hardly out on the textual history of transmission of the NT. It is dishonest and unscientific not to mention the many real points of difference between both previous and modern scholars on these issues.

      Other scientific fields don’t suffer from this kind of political dishonesty. Physicists for instance can disagree strongly about the origin of the universe, or the best approach to a grand Unified theory (GUT), or the many choices available for formulating an electrodynamic theory (QED). But they don’t disguise the fact that there is no agreed upon GUT or QED. They are happy to point to small successes in prediction and control with various interim solutions.

      A great example is how the NETbible has handled the question of the authenticity of the Pericope Adulterae (PA = Jn. 7:53-8:11). You have had Harris’ textual “notes” for years. But you have made no progress at all in correcting the most basic of facts, or in keeping abreast of the newest external (textual and patristic) and internal (literary and grammatical) evidences.

      But ordinary Christian students have a right to know that it has not at all been demonstrated that the passage was not written by John the Evangelist, and that most of the previous evidence and arguments against it were overthrown by scientific advances decades ago.



    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Nazaroo, if you object to the NET Bible’s text, then you must object to almost all modern translations’ texts. But to say that the notes are dishonest is uncharitable. The reason the notes are not updated, as you demand, is simply that we have not changed the notes for the printed text yet. That revision will be coming, but the readers should know that there are several more manuscripts that the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts teams have discovered that lack the story of the woman caught in adultery.

      Your link, which calls Bruce Metzger a liberal scholar and says that Metzger is to textual criticism what George Bush is to international diplomacy, is exceedingly misleading and, frankly, very irresponsible. Bruce Metzger is, by almost any standard, the best American NT textual critic of the 20th century; some would call him the best NT textual critic of the 20th century, period. And he was no liberal—unless your criterion is inerrancy. He embraced the deity of Christ, the bodily resurrection of Christ, the infallibility of the scriptures, the Trinity, etc.

    • DT

      In the readable category I would add the New Living Translation (NLT). It’s enjoyable to read while still retaining the accuracy of a translation (rather than just a paraphrase.) The NLT Study Bible is also a great resource, maybe not as hefty as the ESVSB, but still very good.

    • C Michael Patton

      Maybe Bruce Metzger was not as conservative as some, but to imply some type of liberal agenda upon his conclusions and methodology is nothing but emotional rhetoric. While both liberals and hyper-conservatives will bend things in their direction, it is important to know the options in a balanced way. I don’t know of any other Bible like the NET that truly attempts to help people understand the issues and the tensions. That is why I recommend, like you Dan, that everyone own one.

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Yes, DT, that’s what I meant when I spoke of the Living Bible. It’s now called the New Living Translation. Begun by Kenneth Taylor, it now has a great team of scholars behind it. The paraphrase is very lively and fairly accurate. I still would not recommend it as a primary study Bible though.

    • DT

      Dan – I knew the NLT had its roots in the Living Bible but was under the impression that it was now considered a new translation rather than a paraphrase. How do scholars view it? I agree that it wouldn’t be a good choice for a primary study Bible, but I find it is very helpful to people new to the Bible – easy to read with helpful notes.

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      DT, I don’t know how scholars view it–at least not in any detailed way. What I do know is that, because of the scholars who worked on the revision, it is viewed more favorably than before. There was some concern in some circles that the original paraphrase was too Arminian and not reflecting what the text said very accurately in such places. That issue has been resolved.

    • DT

      Thanks Dan for the helpful post and thoughts.

    • Mike

      We tend to expect too much from a translation. It really only puts us on first base in terms of understanding what the original text says. That’s not to underestimate the importance of the translation. You have to get to first base even if you hit a home run.

    • Delwyn X. Campbell

      Given that you like the KJV, is there any reason why you did not mention the NKJV? I noticed that it is not even listed in the poll. It uses the same manuscript background as the KJV, and tries to maintain the same lyrical qualities of the KJV. What about it left you cold?

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      I worked on the NKJV as a proofreader (working directly for Art Farstad). The Greek text is the same as for the KJV, which is hardly a recommendation for it! None of the translators, as far as I know, thought that the Textus Receptus was the closest text to the original. When the Majority Text (Hodges-Farstad) appeared, it deviated from the TR in 1838 places. This leaves translation philosophy as the sole criterion on which to judge it. And there, I think it comes up short. It is not nearly as elegant as the KJV, but is far more pedestrian. In this respect, I found it to be just a bit more readable than the NASB. If one wants a more accurate translation, I would recommend the RSV/ESV/NRSV (over the NASB and NKJV), and the NET over these.

    • Susan

      Wow, Dan, that last comment almost deserves a CMP chart 😉

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      I don’t know if I should take that as a compliment or an insult, Susan!

    • Susan

      mmm…..more likely the later.

    • cherylu

      I have some real problems with “The Message”. It often seems to really change the meaning of the Bible a great deal.

      Here are just a couple of examples in the NIV and then in “The Message”.

      Romans 15:13

      “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” NIV

      “Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!” The Message

      Who is the God of green hope and what on earth is green hope anyway??

      Romans 8:35:

      “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” NIV

      “Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:” The Message

      Notice how he adds the phrase about the worst sins listed in Scripture here.

      And lastly, this one: Ephesians 2:1-3

      “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature[2] and following its desires and thoughts” NIV

      “It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat.” The Message

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Cheryl, that’s rich–green hope? I’ve never heard of that before. Maybe Peterson is a secret tree hugger! (:-) As for the rest, my point was that the Message should be read a passage at a time, not verse by verse. All such paraphrases need input from accurate translations. What I find in the examples you listed is a refreshing paraphrase, though if one peers too deeply it can be troubling. The main thing to get out of paraphrases is the feel for the passage. But this illustrates the inherent weakness of any paraphrase: they interpret far more than a translation does. And, inevitably, we will find some things in any paraphrase to disagree with. Thanks for sharing these examples.

    • Susan

      NET 3)
      | | |
      | |

    • nazaroo

      Dear Mr. Wallace: Thank you for your charitable response: Lets take a look:

      Mr. Wallace: “Nazaroo, if you object to the NET Bible’s text, then you must object to almost all modern translations’ texts.”

      The short answer is yes. Here’s why: I’ve personally examined the 200 whole and half-verses deleted by Westcott/Hort and followed by modern critical versions. I have found at least fifty obvious errors caused by homoioteleuton, all documented here.


      What does that tell us? Not only were WH wrong 1/4 of the time in deleting the words of God from the Sacred text, but so are modern critical editors.

      Why is that? The answer is simple. Textual criticism is not any kind of a science, and has no credibility in establishing the text of a set of documents like the NT. The methodology is incapable of solving the simplest Variation Unit in a scientific manner.
      Mr. Wallace: “… but the readers should know that there are several more manuscripts that the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts teams have discovered that lack the story of the woman caught in adultery.”

      This amusing fact will have no significance whatever for solving the difficult problem of the textual history of Jn. 7:53-8:11. As Mr. Wallace knows, none of the “new MSS” are older than the 8th or 9th century, nor is their text. Even a hundred new MSS omitting the PA won’t be significant compared to the some 1,350 MSS from the very same period which contain the verses, mostly without comment or even an asterisk.

      The really important textual history for this passage occurred prior to the 4th century, antidating any extant MSS other than perhaps P66.

    • nazaroo

      Mr. Wallace: “Bruce Metzger is, by almost any standard, the best American NT textual critic of the 20th century; some would call him the best NT textual critic of the 20th century, period.”

      And what does that amount to? There was no competent scholar in the 20th century who could perform any credible textual criticism of the NT.

      Why? Because there was no scientific methodology available. Metzger was a meticulous documenter of opinions, conjectures, and random historical facts. But he failed to present a credible and comprehensive history of the NT text and its transmission for the last 2 millenia.

      Being the best at nothing is still nothing.


      Mr. Wallace: “And he was no liberal—unless your criterion is inerrancy. He embraced the deity of Christ, the bodily resurrection of Christ, the infallibility of the scriptures, the Trinity, etc”

      This statement is itself misleading. You have failed to mention that the version of “infallibility” that Metzger embraced (and many other evangelicals) only applies to the original autographs: A worthless doctrine which as a corollary implies that all extant copies and versions of the Bible are in fact error-containing, with unsure readings, and unknowable reliability in any instance.

      Thank you for your courteous response to my comment.


    • cherylu

      Daniel Wallace,

      Thanks for your reply.

      Yeah, green hope–that one has always boggled my mind!

      Unfortunately, there are quite a few places in “The Message” that just don’t seem to me to be true to the literal translations and therefore end up being troubling to me much more then refreshing.

      I wonder why John 1:14 in referring to Jesus becomes, “generous inside and out, from start to finish,” instead of, “full of grace and truth”. The part about “truth” disappears entirely in that paraphrase.

      Paul gives a list of sins in I Corinthians 6:9-10 in the NIV: ” the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers”. In “The Message” the list becomes: “Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it”. Somehow, the two don’t seem to me to give quite the same messge. Obviously Paul had a bunch of very specific sins in mind that he wanted people to be aware of here. Mr Petersen has lumped them all into 3 categories that are very general. And I am not at all sure what, “use and abuse the earth and everything in it,” means either or just how it fits with what Paul is saying here.

      There are more examples I could give, but I think these are a great plenty. I hope I haven’t bored anyone with them. But this version has troubled me so much because of this type of thing that it is hard for me to be quiet when it is recommended by anyone.

    • […] by T.C. R Over at Parchmen & Pen, Professor Daniel B. Wallace decides to tackle the question What Bible Should I Own? which in the end happens to be the NET Bible and with the ESV coming in second (well, he personally […]

    • Susan

      And that’s “Dr.”Wallace to you, Mr. nazaroo.

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Nazaroo, thank you for your opinions. Unfortunately, I find them rather idiosyncratic and, frankly, full of hubris. To say that “There was no competent scholar in the 20th century who could perform any credible textual criticism of the NT” sounds as if you know better. But what are your credentials? Are you competent in Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Latin, Coptic? Have you studied in-depth church history, and examined countless manuscripts for any and all clues they could yield up? Metzger did all that and more. And there were several others like him.

      Further, it is incorrect to say that only one Greek MS prior to the 4th century lacked the pericope adulterae. You forgot to mention P75 as well, an early third century papyrus. In fact, through the first five centuries we have but ONE Greek MS that has the PA—and it’s a manuscript that folks in your camp vilify more than any other. Through the first millennium the vast majority of MSS lack it. Thus, your statement that “As Mr. Wallace knows, none of the ‘new MSS’ are older than the 8th or 9th century, nor is their text” is factually wrong. You’re making a distinction between text and MS that most readers will not grasp: the text of a MS is as old as the oldest MSS to have it; thus, since P66, from the 2nd century, lacks the PA, the text of these 8th-9th century MSS reaches back at least to the second century. And when you say, “compared to the some 1,350 MSS from the very same period which contain the verses” this, too, is a misleading statement. Surely you don’t mean 1350 MSS from the 8th and 9th centuries, do you? No, the MSS that have the PA, though starting with one MS in the 5th century, don’t become a majority until several centuries later. As much as I would dearly love to have the story of the woman caught in adultery in the Bible, the evidence simply won’t allow me to go there. I used to hold that it was authentic, but after decade of toil in this field I recanted my views.

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Cherylu, several more illuminating examples. Thanks! Again, I am not defending the Message’s interpretation in specific passages; rather, I am saying that it captures the feel of the original, living letters. It may well not capture their gist in every place, however. As for Peterson’s “use and abuse the earth and everything in it,” again, maybe he’s a secret tree hugger!

      Here’s how I use paraphrases. When I want to get a feel for how the first Christians heard these letters, I check out paraphrases. The Message is as good as it gets on this score. But if I actually want to use a paraphrase when preaching or teaching, I have to check more accurate translations. If the paraphrase goes too far awry, I simply don’t use it when teaching. And the nature of a paraphrase, to beat a dead horse, is always interpretive. Your objections to Peterson’s work seem to be precisely at that level. I suspect that if you were to write to him, he could justify his paraphrases in terms of their interpretation. That may not satisfy you or me, but at least I would not go so far as to say that he is intentionally misleading in his paraphrase. Gordon Fee thought that Peterson’s work was a magnificent interpretive paraphrase on scripture. Chuck Swindoll has used it often in preaching. These men are no slouches.

    • Paige-Patric Samuels

      the NET Bile is by far a very impressive translation ands one that I use in the UK, however, it has not got the main hands as yet the ESV, struggles as the NASB, in the UK with sales and cutting a niche in the Bible Market, the NIV still holds it with the NRSV, in the the Historical protestant church, where as the King James version, still remains the choice Bible among Pentecostals.
      I enjoy using several translations ESV and NASB, along with the RSV and REB, however I think that HCSB, should be mentioned as it serves as a good mediating (optimal equivalent) translation between literal, and word for word. I use the Concordant Literal New Testament as it it consistent t the original Greek text, in that strives to conform as far as possible , to closely represent the closest equivalent i the Original, each word of which given a standard exclusive English rendering. Much of the Textual criticism and scholarly notes are found in the Concordant Literal New Testament, Text, where most translators would put it in the endnotes or margin or footnotes the CLNT strive to express the original as closely as possible to the original as far as idiom would allow,. However, their are part of the version that is rather awkward and wooden as the KJV, it still remans a good translation to read along with the other good translation such as the ESV, and NLT. I suggest that the bible people own would run like this KJV,NASB,ESV,NET,CLNT,HCSB,RSV,REB, NLT and Message.
      Soil Deo Gloria. P.S.

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Thank you for your informed viewpoint, Paige-Patric. I personally would not list the NASB that high, but many do. F. F. Bruce noted that if it weren’t for the RSV already in print, the NASB might have made a bigger splash, but nearly everything the NASB does well the RSV does better.

    • Phil McCheddar

      I wish more translations would follow J.B.Phillips’ example and avoid chopping up the text by inserting verse numbers and chapter divisions. In some places they create an artificial break in the flow of meaning, eg. there should be no break between the end of Ephesians chapter 5 and the start of chapter 6. I liked the NEB which kept the verse numbers out of the text and just printed them in a separate column alongside the column of text.

      I also dislike the modern tendency to split up a chapter with sub-headings because it can impose an artificial structure on the text, eg. Luke 15 in the ESV where verses 1 and 2 are key to the 3 parables that follow in the rest of the chapter but the ESV lumps verses 1 and 2 in with the first parable only. Also, the sub-headings are not part of the inspired text but you can easily fall into the trap of subconsciously accepting the meaning of the sub-heading as gospel truth! I complained to the editor of the ESV about sub-headings and he replied that people today are generally less literate than former generations and they need sub-headings in the text to help them find their way around the bible!

    • Lee H

      Whats so good about the KJV?

      Maybe it a good style back when it was written, but all I see when I read it are old words that need to be interpreted into modern english and so breaking the flow anyway.

      Other than that it isn’t accurate and some bits don’t make sense (see unicorns?).

      Why should everyone own one?

    • C Michael Patton

      Naz, don’t turn this into a KJV Only/Majority text only debate. It is not what the post is about.

    • nazaroo

      Dear C. Michael Patton:

      I’m not KJV Only. This is a gross miscategorization of my position. My position is more like Dr. Maurice Robinson’s.

      I would hold that the Byzantine text is a valid line of transmission like all others, and should be used in establishing the text like any other evidence. I would not exclude any textual evidence or text-type(s) such as the Alexandrian clusters of readings.

      But any scientist intrinsically understands that you can’t get the full picture without considering *all* the evidence.

      I happen to believe through careful research that the modern critical text has about 50 unnecessary omissions of the word of God as found in the original. This fact has little to do with KJV-Onlyists or Trinitarian vs. Unitarian controversies. These are accidental errors by omission in the Alexandrian MSS, and not doctrinally motivated.

      The reason I participated in this post was because I think the modern critical Greek text is inferior because of mechanically self-imposed guidelines for ‘reconstruction’ that are neither scientific nor defensible.

      Mr. Wallace chose the subject, “modern versions”, not I.


    • Susan

      Nazaroo, do you intentionally refer to Dr. Wallace as “Mr.” because you do not recognize his scholarship? http://www.dts.edu/about/faculty/dwallace/

    • C Michael Patton

      Naz, that is why I said KJV Only/Majority text debate. I was not sure which camp you came from so I don’t see how I mischaracterized you. But before this turns into a debate about whether I mischaracterized you, I will restate my wishes for this thread. Let us not turn it into a debate about the majority text vs. eclectic text theories. Dan can override my wishes if he desires.

      However, I will say that I was a New Testament major at DTS and had Dan as a teacher and, since, as a mentor. He taught us that serious consideration must be made of the Byz text, and that we should never discount it due to assumed across the board inferiority. He then gave examples where he believed that the Byz had the more accurate reading. You are right, all the evidence must be considered. But to assume that translators of modern versions don’t consider all the evidence is hasty and illinformed in my opinion. To assume a liberal bias is even more illinformed.

    • david carlson

      As soon as I saw this post, I knew the KJV only folk would be out.

      I will put my 2 cents in for the NET – I enjoy the with and without notes version, and I love bible.org for the articles and other tools

      I typically do give the NLT to new believers – it is easy to read, and it is reliable enough.

    • nazaroo

      Let me set this straight:

      I couldn’t care less about KJVonly arguments or the people behind them. I care as little about liberal bias (prevalent, or not).

      The bottom line is:

      Text. critics have no credible scientific methodology, and should not be followed until they can produce one.

      Forget all other variants for now, including the PA.

      Lets just talk about these 70 whole/half-verses deleted from the text in all modern critical editions and most modern versions (see my list onsite).

      We agree wholeheartedly that these readings, mostly shared by Aleph/B, (1/3 with early pap. support,) represent an earlier Egyptian text, and prove the existence of the “ancestor” of Aleph/B, going back to the 2nd cent.

      – Hort was right. He correctly (more or less) reconstructed the archetype of Aleph/B.

      But the very evidence that specifically IDs the content of this ancestor is also worthless for correcting the original text.

      For these are in fact “agreements in error” identifying the text. Since they are plainly accidents, unconsciously copied, they are “good readings” for establishing what their ancestor looked like. Thus they *do* belong in the text of any reconstruction of the ancestor of Aleph/B.

      But the same evidence (homoioteleuton) that proves these weren’t conscious edits or “mixture” from diverse sources, also proves they are not original, but simply uncorrected mistakes. This clears Aleph/B from (many) active edits; they were mostly just copying accurately (discounting their own blunders).

      But since we can identify them as h.t. errors, it is absurd to then re-introduce them into the reconstruction of the *ORIGINAL* text, which is what we want in a printed Bible. You cannot uncritically use an interim text raw to correct another text. It must be filtered and used intelligently, and with caution.

      THAT is the absurd methodological flaw in 20th cent. TextCrit. Its not about ideology: its a total lack of any…

    • Michael T.

      Dr. Wallace,
      I think David raises an interesting question. It’s all well and good that a more mature Christian should have multiple Bible translations/paraphrases to study. However, which Bible should we give new believers who are just starting out in the faith?

      I wouldn’t give them a NET Bible. I use this as my primary study Bible and absolutely love it, but i think a new Christian would be frankly overwhelmed by all the notes (I’ve been studying the Bible as an amateur for years and sometimes I find them overwhelming even thought they are extraordinarily useful). On the other extreme while I own and love the Message I would be hesitant to give that as an only Bible since while giving the jist of the passages, it sometimes doesn’t give the specifics which can be important. I don’t personally have much experience with the NLT, but if it a bit less of a paraphrase then the Message, while still being very readable it might be a good choice. Maybe an NIV Study Bible would work as well (this was my primary Bible before the NET).

    • nazaroo

      …its the total lack of any credible scientific methodology.


    • StuartB

      These three remain: literary, accuracy and readability, but the greatest gift is gold.

      How’s that for a double reference…

    • Michael T.


      I am unaware of ANY serious NT scholar who holds that anything other than that only the original texts were inerrant. Literally everyone outside of KJV Only nuts agrees that the MSS we have contain errors. Unless you claim some special revelation from God telling you which MSS are inerrant I don’t see how one can believe otherwise given all the variants.

      This is why I agree with Roger Olsen that “inerrancy” is a useless term. When used by a Bible scholar what that scholar actually means by the term causes it to die the death of a thousand qualifications. Even those who argue tooth and nail for inerrancy don’t understand inerrancy to mean what you’re average church attender sitting in the pews thinks it means.

    • nazaroo

      Dear Michael T: the inherent contradiction in your position seems apparent, unless I am missing something.

      On the one hand, you limit inerrancy beyond the autographs to a small group of “KJV Only nuts”. Then in the next paragraph you confess that “the average church attender” is also completely out of touch with the position of modern ‘scholarship’ (academia).

      Now if we combine the two groups, that comes out as the majority of ordinary Christians. Are they all ignorant? Are they all KJV0nlyists? Are they all nuts? Its all so unclear.

      I am not advocating any particular theory of “inerrancy”. I’m only pointing out that the academic version (autographs only) is utterly useless to Christians, and impractical, not just incomprehensible to the average Christian.

      Its these very people (whom academics snub as ignorant of issues and wrong on their position) whom Christ died for, and called blessed, for God apparently hid the truth and wisdom from the “wise” (academics?) and revealed it to babes (simple fishermen).

      When Christ returns, I hope to be counted among the ‘simple’, not the academics who thought they knew something, but “knew nothing as they ought to have known it”..


    • Michael T.

      My position isn’t incoherent at all. Three groups of people.

      1. KJV only nuts who claim that God inspired the translators of the KJV such that the translation is inerrant (even James White, who is one of the more conservative individuals out there, can point out the problems with this belief).

      2. Professional academics who know better than to claim that inerrancy applies to anything but the original autographs. The problem with doing so is manifest. Which MSS are you going to claim is inerrant?

      3. Average church goers who hear the term “inerrancy” and out of ignorance think it means something other than what it does. The very term “inerrancy” is a term created by academics. The problem is that those in the pews upon hearing the term think it means something other than what those academics intended it to mean.

      “Its these very people (whom academics snub as ignorant of issues and wrong on their position) whom Christ died for, and called blessed, for God apparently hid the truth and wisdom from the “wise” (academics?) and revealed it to babes (simple fishermen).”

      Got to love eisegesis and forcing you’re own interpretation on the text as it suits you. Without the “academics” who you hate so much we wouldn’t have a single translation of the Bible period. Not in English, Latin, French, Chinese or any other language save Greek and Hebrew. It takes years of academic study to even begin to grasp the Greek or Hebrew necessary to translate the Bible. Interestingly enough we have one of the foremost experts in the Greek language actually in this discussion, but you wouldn’t listen to him because he’s an “academic”.

    • nazaroo

      We don’t need any of that “academic” talent.

      Had they not published the Reformation Bibles, the stones themselves would have shouted and sung the gospel without a Bible.

      But then only a Christian believer would know that.


    • cherylu


      I’m sorry, but I just have to ask, “Whaaaat??” I’m not at all sure what point you are making with that comment, but it sounds like you don’t consider the Bible to really be all that necessary since the stones could do the job just fine without a written book.

      And if you don’t need all of that “academic talent” translating the Bible, who do you think should do it? Someone that doesn’t even know Greek or Hebrew? If that is the case, give me a manuscript and let me at it. Don’t think you would want to use my translation though.

      I simply don’t get what you are trying to say here at all.

    • Michael T.

      “Had they not published the Reformation Bibles, the stones themselves would have shouted and sung the gospel without a Bible.”

      Seriously man what are you talking about? I can only assume you are referring to Luke 19:40 where Jesus told the Pharisee’s that if his follower’s stopped praising God for the miracles they had witnessed the rocks would cry out. I have no clue how you can apply this to Bible translation. For most of Church History there were no Bible’s available in the vernacular for people to read, or if there was they were very rare and most people didn’t know how to read. Long story short you either studied and learned to read Latin, Greek, or Hebrew (which was impossible for the majority of people), or you relied on what the Priest told you the Bible said. I never heard any stories of rocks crying out as a result.

      Also what Cheryl said. The Bible must not be very important since the rocks could do the job just as well. Maybe the nutso church down in Florida should burn their Bibles along with the Koran and go listen to what the rocks have to tell them.

    • nazaroo

      I can’t believe people professing such knowledge about the Bible would be ignorant of the story for instance of Jeremiah’s scroll, burnt by the king of Israel himself.

      The action was to no avail. An identical copy was re-dictated and sent again. The same is true regarding the work of scholars.

      We can quote the book of Esther as a warning:

      “For if you hold your peace at this time, deliverance shall arise from another place. But you and your family will be destroyed.” (Esther 4:14)

      When a Bible critic, translator, publisher finishes his work, he had best say “I am a worthless servant. I have only done what it is my duty to do.”


    • cherylu

      I am sorry nazaroo, but I simply can not follow your train of thought. And it is not because I don’t know the story of Jeremiah’s scroll, or the story and warning spoken of in Esther. And it is not because I am an unbeliever that doesn’t know that God could make the rocks cry out if he so chose.

    • Gary Simmons

      Great post, Dan.

      What’re your thoughts on God’s Word as a paraphrase? In skimming parts of it, I think I prefer it to The Message.

    • Michael T.


      1. Jeremiah dictated a letter to the king which the king burned so Jeremiah at the Lord’s direction dictated another one. What is you’re point?? Are you saying the scribes throughout history were prophets or inspired in some sort of way that their transcriptions were free from error? The evidence seems to be against this.

      2. As to Esther if you’re trying to say that God will accomplish His purposes regardless of what we do then there is no disagreement from me. However, it seems presumptuous of you to think that God hasn’t chosen Bible scholarship and translation as one of the means to make Himself known. Most Evangelical scholars and theologians I know of consider their studies to be a calling. Those involved in translation are trying to discern the most authentic MSS, and the most accurate translations of those MSS so that the layperson and scholar alike will have the best possible idea of what the Bible teaches. This seems to me to be a noble task.

      3. I don’t know any Evangelical scholars who would consider themselves personally worthy of the task before them (maybe the secular scholars in the likes of Bart Erhman do, but no Evangelical scholar I have met does). That is why most of them study for so long and such diligence. However, this fact doesn’t negate the importance of their work, their level of relative expertise in that work, or the validity of the work.

    • EricW

      46. cherylu on 07 Sep 2010 at 4:29 pm #


      I simply don’t get what you are trying to say here at all.


      Just go to nazaroo’s Webpage via the link from his name. I’m sure after you read all he has written and all the articles he has posted there that what he is trying to say here will be crystal clear to you.

      But first brew a LARGE pot of coffee, ’cause you’ll be there for a long while. 🙂

    • EricW

      He even dedicates an entire page to Dr. Wallace: http://adultera.awardspace.com/AE/Wallace-Conspiracy.html

    • Susan

      Oooo…the ‘Daniel Wallace conspiracy’! The plot thickens.
      “printable gold”???

    • Levi

      Of one thing we can be sure: Jesus commanded us to go into all the earth and make disciples. Lets do that instead of arguing over such small issues. The Bible is God’s Word; Go preach it to someone.

    • Michael T.

      Eric W,

      Wait a second wouldn’t all the stuff on nazaroo’s site be broadly considered “scholarship”?? And isn’t it of an academic nature?? Seems Nazaroo has no problem using scholarship and the academia when it suits him. He just makes ridiculous assertions and accuses those who disagree with him as being “academics”. How convenient!!

    • EricW

      Michael T.:

      Evidently Nazaroo is famous*, or at least legendary. He even has his own page at Wikipedia:


      * Or maybe he’s just “sworned.”

    • EricW

      J.P. Holding considers him to be a “nutcase,” though:


      (The bottom/final post on the above page is from Holding.)

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Friends, I appreciate the lively discourse, even if it ends up in rabbit trails at times. I’d like to address two things: a translation to give to a new believer and the notion that inerrancy is irrelevant since only the autographs are inerrant.

      First, for new believers: I would definitely NOT recommend the NET Bible as the translation to cut one’s spiritual teeth on! The notes are excellent, as even scholars involved in other translations will tell you, but they are too much in the way for a new believer, who simply needs to read scripture.

      Among the translations that I would recommend to a new believer are the following: NIV, REB, and NLT. These are all fluid translations, easy to read, and to some degree lively. The NIV is probably the most accurate but least lively of them. The REB is the most elegant but may not be for everyone. The NLT is fairly accurate and fairly lively. Depending on a number of factors (education, age, previous acquaintance with the Bible, etc.), one of these would emerge as the best translation to give a new believer.

      As for inerrancy of the originals, I dealt with this issue in a chapter now published in a book: “Inerrancy and the Text of the New Testament: Assessing the Logic of the Agnostic View,” in _Evidence for God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy, and Science_, edited by William A. Dembsky and Michael L. Licona (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010). I believe that inerrancy is not at all an irrelevancy since the assumptions about not knowing what the original might say are themselves incorrect. You’ll have to read the chapter to see my point.

    • Michael T.

      Dr. Wallace,

      Thank you for the information. There is one clarification I would like to make. I affirm inerrancy as articulated by CMP elsewhere on this site. I think the big problem with it is ultimately not it’s relevance, rather it’s lack of clarity. The problem remains that what those in the pews think is meant by inerrancy is not what scholars mean when they use the term and educating them on this is generally hopeless. I know far too many well meaning Christians who hear the term “inerrant” and think that this means that the translation sitting in front of them is inerrant and no serious study is needed other than to simply memorize the Bible.

      Now I don’t want to knock Bible memorization either, but again I know far too many well meaning Christians who rather than examining the whole of Scripture instantly whip out their favorite memorized proof texts when an issue comes up. My grandma (who I love dearly) is an expert at this. Ask her why drinking alcohol is a sin and she’ll give you 20 different verses, never mind those verse which indicate otherwise.

      Ultimately there is a huge disconnect between inerrancy in the scholarly realm and inerrancy among the lay people.

    • nazaroo

      I don’t know who is moderating here, but it seems utterly inappropriate and petty that Eric W. (comment #58) should be allowed to post this:

      “J.P. Holding considers [Nazaroo] to be a “nutcase,” though:
      (The bottom/final post on the above page is from Holding.)”

      Here Eric has had to dig up a comment from JPH made over seven years ago (2003) as a result of a debate he lost in which he tried to sell the PA as a “loose leaf” from St. Luke which somehow was never included in his Gospel.

      Since most scholars don’t hold JPH’s theory as credible (zero evidence), who is the real “nutcase”?

      In any case, Eric W.’s mean-spirited comment has no other purpose than to insult and dismiss me as a person rather than address or engage with any of the comments I made.

      What is your policy regarding gratuitous ad hominen attacks?


    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Michael T., I agree with most of what you have to say. The one area where we might disagree is this: “educating them on this is generally hopeless.” I hope that this is not the case, and I have tried to educate lay people on the meaning of inerrancy. I think, rather, that there is a general unwillingness to engage lay people with the evidence for fear that they can’t handle the truth. I have always been more optimistic about what the person in the pew can handle.

    • Michael T.

      Dr. Wallace,

      I guess my statement that education is generally hopeless has to do with my own experience and is perhaps an over generalization. Suffice to say in my experience a good number of people in the pews consider the true meaning of inerrancy to be heresy. Unfortunately far too many pastors perpetuate the misinformation rather than correcting it.

    • Hodge


      Since we’re running off on rabbit trails, I just have to say this. The PA is not original to John for one simple SCHOLARLY reason: It has nothing to do with the theology of the Gospel of John. It has no contribution to it whatsoever. If you understood John’s theology, you wouldn’t need to quibble over the ms evidence. I would consider it an interpolation even if the entire textual corpus contained it. To hold otherwise is to be oblivious to John’s theology within his Gospel. That doesn’t mean I don’t think it is true and inerrant. It just doesn’t belong there and whether we put it in a Bible or not is simply irrelevant, as what it teaches is found elsewhere (although with greater qualification concerning sin and repentance).

    • nazaroo

      Just to show how fair indeed we are at the PA website (its not my site by the way; mr.scrivener is the administrator), we have posted J.P. Holding’s complete statement on the PA here, without any comment:

      Far be it from us to exaggerate or misrepresent Mr. Holding’s position. Although this statement is old (predating 2003), he allows it to be maintained (posted 2009) at his friend’s apologetics site (Tektonics).

      In 2003 Holding showed no interest in expanding, updating, or defending his statements, or correcting any errors.

      Perhaps Dr. Wallace would like to comment on the probability that the PA was a ‘rough note’ or ‘loose-leaf’ by Luke that never made it into his Gospel, and/or any supporting evidence.
      Dr. Mr Hodge: I find your statement here remarkable:

      Hodge: “I would consider it an interpolation even if the entire textual corpus contained it.”

      Clearly you hold internal or literary criticism (form/source?) in much higher esteem than textual critical evidence. But I think most textual experts would have to reject your position. I can’t think of a single skeptic, not even Tregelles, who would agree with your stance.

      Tregelles, who rejected the PA, took the exact opposite view to yours. He thought that if the textual evidence weren’t weighted against it, there was no serious internal grounds at all that would be significantly troublesome:
      “I do not rest at all on the internal difficulties connected with this passage, on the supposition that it is genuine Scripture; because, if it had been sufficiently attested, they would not present anything insurmountable. ” – Tregelles, Printed Text, (London, 1854), pages 236-243.


    • EricW


    • Susan

      Where’s Dr. Mike when we need him?

    • Hodge

      Tregelles? In a time that literary and the whole of the theology of a text was not considered? That’s the best you’ve got? There is no way this text belongs to John. It has zero to do with what John is arguing. Maybe Luke, but not John.

      Aside from this, however, these textual quibbles are worthless for the most part, as most textual variants give us a Bible that teaches the same inerrant theology, regardless of what one adds, deletes, or misspells. The Byz/Alex debate is one that doesn’t need to exist in most cases. If one were to drop or retain the PA, it has absolutely no bearing on the teaching of Scripture that contains the concept of PA (although, as stated before, more clearly than the PA) elsewhere.

    • Terry Fritts

      Nice article.

      I think Peterson’s phrasing of “green hope” is quite beautiful and adds a great deal to advancing the meaning of the verse. Wish I had thought of it.

    • nazaroo

      Dear Hodge: The point is, you have openly stated that you will ignore any and all textual evidence, because you have already made up your mind on the basis of your own personal “intuition” or notion of Scripture.

      You have a preset idea of what you think John is like and what he would have written, and you have made it clear that nothing is going to budge you or influence you. This is exactly the kind of close-mindedness that I face everyday when trying to have people examine fresh evidence, and more scientific methodology. It makes scientific investigation impossible.

      Yours is a 19th cent. approach, where individual critics gave their ‘intuition’ reign. Hort claimed he could detect the “ring of truth” in a variant with an almost clairvoyant manner. Burgon ridiculed this and preferred hard data in the form of text collations:

      “Readings which ‘look suspicious’ to one expert, may easily not ‘look’ so to another. A man’s inner conscience cannot possibly furnish trustworthy guidance.” (Rev.Rev. p.308)

      Those days are gone. Today we rely on statistical methods for the characterization of style and grammar, not personal subjective impressions, which have failed repeatedly.

      Real scientists prefer evidence, and strain to avoid potential personal bias.

      Today we rely upon what authors actually did do in terms of using sources, incorporating and modifying previous material. We don’t evaluate pericopes based on their apparent stylistic or theological features, which begs the issue and is a scientifically indefensible methodology. We investigate the features (structural and literary too) of the whole work.

      Then we find that the stylistic and grammatical case against the PA falls apart, and other more important literary features kick in:


    • Hodge

      “you have already made up your mind on the basis of your own personal “intuition” or notion of Scripture.”

      I think it’s convenient for you to present my position this way, so you don’t have to grapple with the fact that this pericope is out of place in John’s Gospel. My observation of what John teaches is not according to my personal intuition, but according to what is plainly there for anyone to read.

      “You have a preset idea of what you think John is like”

      No, I got my idea of what the Gospel teaches from studying the book. Exegesis is a science too. I could simply say the same of you, and then go on about how your presupps make a scientific analysis of the text impossible.

      “Yours is a 19th cent. approach”

      I’m afraid you’re confusing “literary” (i.e., the scientific observation of an author’s line of reasoning, motifs and subject material through the use of similar words and themes) with “literary” (i.e., the source and form criticism, the latter being 20th cent btw, of higher critics). The line of thought is traceable in John to anyone who wants to study it.

      “We don’t evaluate pericopes based on their apparent stylistic or theological features, which begs the issue and is a scientifically indefensible methodology,”

      I’m afraid this is just plain false. It may be true that stylistic features are awash, but every scholar I know still evaluates texts according to their theological consistency. If I took your last post as relating to our discussion and then there was a paragraph concerning whether cheerios are good with honey or sugar, there would be good cause for me to suppose that something is awry. So please enlighten us as to how the PA contributes to the larger argument of the book, that is, if you know what the larger argument is.

    • cherylu

      Re: comment #69 and “the God of green hope” in The Message.

      In all fairness, as I look back and read that verse in the context, I can see where he came up with the phrase. He had just referred to what the NASB translates as, “Again Isaiah says, “THERE SHALL COME THE ROOT OF JESSE, AND HE WHO ARISES TO RULE OVER THE GENTILES, IN HIM SHALL THE GENTILES HOPE. Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
      Romans 15:1213

      Petersen translates those verses like this: And Isaiah’s word: There’s the root of our ancestor Jesse, breaking through the earth and growing tree tall, Tall enough for everyone everywhere to see and take hope! Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!”
      The Message

      So he uses his “root” to be “growing tree tall” and giving hope and therefore speaks of “the God of green hope.”

      But again, that creates another problem because Petersen’s translation completely leaves out the phrase about the root of Jesse “ruling over the Gentiles”!

      Why would he just decide to leave it out I wonder? The only thing I can think of is that the way it appears in all other translations is not the way it appears in the book of Isaiah where it is quoted from. But that is often the case in the New Testament it seems to me. OT quotes are not always exact. So if this is the way it was written by Paul as it appear in the manuscripts, there must of been a reason for it, right? And why should anyone that is trying to be true to the Bible decide to change what Paul has written?

    • […] post on the CEB; Robert’s post about the HCSB having gone digital; Dan Wallace’s “What Bible Should I own?” followed up by TC’s comment, and Suzanne’s […]

    • Gord

      I recently gave a group of new believers the NIV. I had considered other translations, but ultimately felt the NIV was both readable and accurate (only to my best lay opinion…I don’t understand the rest of the comments on this post, so don’t comment to me nazaroo).

      Also, since our congregation mostly uses NIV I thought the newcomers would be more comfortable with a translation they could follow along with without getting distracted by inconsistent wording.

      Grace all,

    • JJ

      I wish that Nazaroo wouldn’t get caught up with the minutia that he (apparently) feels he must argue about because I think he makes a good point or two. Ideas can and do get lost in the senseless attacks that go back and forth… and merely ending a post with “peace” is not the same as maintaining peace through theological dialog.

      Naz, I am sure that you wouldn’t consider everything you brought up “minutia” but, I fear that your demeanor detracts from some solid points that I would like to see discussed.

      That said, I think that one point that often gets shuffled aside in the discussion of textual matters is the fact that oldest texts are considered “the best Mss.” Now, that doesn’t make me a TR proponent or a Majority Text fan; it is simply an observation. Why assume what should be proven. Why not simply say, “the oldest Mss. read,” instead of saying, “the best manuscripts read.”

      Oh, to be sure, the mountain of evidence seems to support those earliest manuscripts. And those that chose those readings are probably as convinced of their superiority as much as a KJV Only person is convinced. Still, it seems an unneeded slight.

      Those that hold to a Majority Text view use statistical evidence to determine the “best reading.” It is not based only on TR. Mr. Nazaroo, whatever one thinks of his demeanor, asks valid questions, what is the scientific methodology in place? Why is it that the Alexandrian text type is given preferential treatment? And I suppose, “why couldn’t the Alexandrian manuscripts be erred early on?”

      Do those questions belong in this blog? Perhaps not. Nazaroo apparently already disagreed with Dr. Wallace. And Dr. Wallace’s objective was NOT to discuss these issues, as he has done that in other places. But still, the question is valid… could it be discussed peacefully??? Perhaps not. 🙁

      Thank you, Dr. Wallace for a very helpful post and for some interesting reading.

    • Karen

      Greetings! For years I was on a huge quest to find the perfect Bible. And I successfully made myself a bit crazy and obsessed. But then I began to read more about the history of the Bible. And then I started asking, instead of which Bible, WHY THE CHANGE?
      If it exalted Jesus, I was for it. For I started to piece together that omissions by folks in the past caused flows of manuscripts to not have this or that, but they existed elsewhere, in other manuscripts elsewhere. However, I do find that those manuscripts while missing or less exalting, have quite a few hidden treasures also.
      So, today, I am just glad for it all.
      When I see verses like in the old Wycliffe– Phil 2:11, and various other verses that amaze me with clear evidences in Greek software that it is correct, I rejoice for all the privileges I have to see it all. So lately, I also love looking at older translations, pre KJV, as well.
      Another example to express my point, take for example 1 Tim 3:16.
      KJV and NKJV has God, while most modern translations put He or something else.
      Is this a deliberate change that took place sometime ago? I do believe it. And many other cases.
      I had purchased a NET Bible a while ago, but while it has the most awesome leather and the most wonderful maps, I started reading in Matthew, and I noticed something that had me running to my Greek software…it was the downplay of Jesus “knowing their thoughts”. It made me so sad.
      So, as you can see, I look for Bibles that exalt Jesus as God for I believe that is True.
      Even so, I find that all the Bibles I have, are Treasures and are Priceless.

    • EricW

      Karen wrote:

      Another example to express my point, take for example 1 Tim 3:16.
      KJV and NKJV has God, while most modern translations put He or something else.

      Per Metzger’s Textual Commentary:

      3:16 ὅς {A}

      The reading which, on the basis of external evidence and transcriptional probability, best explains the rise of the others is ὅς. It is supported by the earliest and best uncials (א* A*vid C* Ggr) as well as by 33 365 442 2127 syrhmg, pal goth ethpp Origenlat Epiphanius Jerome Theodore Eutheriusacc. to Theodoret Cyril Cyrilacc. to Ps-Oecumenius Liberatus. Furthermore, since the neuter relative pronoun ὅ must have arisen as a scribal correction of ὅς (to bring the relative into concord with μυστήριον), the witnesses that read ὅ (D* itd, g, 61, 86 vg Ambrosiaster Marius Victorinus Hilary Pelagius Augustine) also indirectly presuppose ὅς as the earlier reading. The Textus Receptus reads θεός, with אe (this corrector is of the twelfth century) A2 C2 Dc K L P Ψ 81 330 614 1739 Byz Lect Gregory-Nyssa Didymus Chrysostom Theodoret Euthalius and later Fathers. Thus, no uncial (in the first hand) earlier than the eighth or ninth century (Ψ) supports θεός; all ancient versions presuppose ὅς or ὅ; and no patristic writer prior to the last third of the fourth century testifies to the reading θεός. The reading θεός arose either (a) accidentally, through the misreading of ος as ΘΣ, or (b) deliberately, either to supply a substantive for the following six verbs, or, with less probability, to provide greater dogmatic precision.

      – – –

      a) I.e., probably the Greek OC (“who”) was mistaken for ΘC (“God”) (assuming a lunate Sigma – i.e., “C”)

      I’m sure your NET Bible (if you have the Diglot NT) has a similar explanation in the back appendix or in the footnotes.

    • […] Sound advice here from Dan Wallace. He provides recommendations in a few categories. The first one may surprise some readers, but I would agree with it: First, I think everyone should own a King James Bible. It has been hailed as one of the greatest literary monuments to the English language, and the greatest literary monument every produced by a committee. Regardless of what you think of the KJV’s accuracy, it is a must for all English-speaking Christians. I would add that I think it’s a must for all English-speaking people, regardless of their faith commitments. […]

    • Karen

      Dear ErikW, Greetings to you, and thank you for your reply.
      I am certainly not disagreeing with you on the fine information you gave. But here are the questions I ask myself: Any persecution in the early Christian church? Any lost texts? Lots of burning books? When the Lord dispersed various manuscripts to various lands in early Christianity, did HE indeed preserve His Word by doing so? Were these errors and accidentals that occurred? Or would anyone add to the Bible? Today, I would venture to guess we see more omissions than add-ins. But I am sure it could happen!
      For a while, I used to accept the terms, Parallel copying.
      But today, for another example, take that verse that is most always put into footnotes…Matthew 18:11. But for me, put that entire passage from Matthew 18:10 to 18:20 together, and I find that Matthew 18:10-11, fits most definitely with 18:19-20.
      Parallel copying? I don’t think so. But I know that others would not agree. It would be like asking, why or why does not any new modern translation even make a footnote of that big Greek word that is rarely translated “emprosthen” in Matt 18:14…
      I say that because I noticed that traditionally it is avoided. If modern translation make certain claims of accuracy, why is it avoided, even if it might not be so important? Is that accuracy? Or not?
      Why not? And I am sure there is a modern excuse for its unnecessary omission.
      I know I can go on and on, on my discoveries, but I am not arguing, just watching. I guess I am just a watcher of all these things. Thankful, oh yes, for what the Lord has given me.
      God bless you in Jesus’ Name.

    • Matt Edwards

      Dr. Wallace,

      I love the NET Bible! I try to promote it, but I can’t preach from it since so few people use it (my congregation has trouble following me when I preach from it). Spread the word. I like the ESV a lot, but the NET is still may favorite! Excellent work!

      I hope things are going well in Dallas!

    • david carlson

      @Gord (comment 74)

      I agree – any new believer adult who is attending my church I would give an NIV to as it is also our Pew Bible.

    • […] September 9, 2010 by T.C. R A few days ago I did a piece on Professor Daniel B. Wallace’s What Bible Should I Own?  Well, over at Between Two Worlds, Justin Taylor thinks prof. Wallace offers sound advice and then […]

    • Chris

      I’m a little late getting here. Thank you for the post Dr. Wallace and of course the running meta here, it was kinda fun and kinda annoying to read through all the comments.

      I affirm the statement that there is no perfect English translation but they are getting more accurate, the NET is wonderful, I like the NASB and use it for preaching/teaching and am thinking about moving to the ESV but I don’t want to do it just because everyone else is, I need to study it for myself. I love the NIV, especially in the OT prophets. The KJV is a great one too, for many it is the only English bible they know and it was the best in it’s time, definitely a landmark accomplishment for translators.

      One thing that is key is that with several verses, the last word has not been said, e.g., Ecc 3.11 “darkness/world” ? As difficult as it may be we need to keep an open mind regarding translating Scripture. Some meanings of words are all but lost (esp. in the OT). There are many hapax legomenon in the OT and for several words all we have is a meaning in a cognate language, which is helpful but doesn’t always lock in a perfect meaning for us. The best approach is to dig, study and wait, I wait for new findings to come out, I anxiously await for the work of scholars, a good example is Dr. McCabe’s articles on Ecclesiastes, he translates hevel (beginning in Ecc 1.1) as “frustrating enigma” instead of “vanity” or “meaningless” and he has the evidence to back it up. Bible versions are funny, they fail to make needed changes because of tradition, e.g., “Rose of Sharon” which really is “Crocus of Sharon” or perhaps for lack of evidence.

      Our English versions must to continually change to reflect not only our English language but to reflect accurate lexical, grammatical, textual (etc.) information rooted in our ancient mss. There is no perfect and inerrant canon.

      I’m not saying anything new here and I do believe that this is part of the idea behind the NET Bible.

    • […] Lees bietjie meer van wat hy kwyt raak hier. […]

    • […] I get asked quite often about which translation of the English Bible is best.  Dan Wallace provides a very helpful answer in “What English Bible Should I Own?” […]

    • […] Dan Wallace tells you what kind of Bible you should own. T.C. Robinson […]

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Friends, thank you again for the fascinating interaction. I would like to respond to Karen (#76, 79) and to the linked blogpost by T. C. Robinson (#82). Karen, I fully agree with you that the way to interpret scripture is christocentrically. Christ should be at the center of all our understanding of the Bible. One thing I think you’re neglecting in your preference for various translations (e.g., the KJV in 1 Timothy 3.16), though, is the methodological fact that the Incarnation requires of us. In brief, since God became man in time-space history, we simply do not have the right to brush aside history and evidence and make our choices on the basis of our own feelings. The Christian faith is inextricably linked to history and it can only stand if believers are rigorous about maintaining that link, rather than trying to separate it by appealing to a viewpoint that is weakly attested as far as evidence is concerned. Thus, as ironic as this may sound at first blush, the methodological motivation for me not to see ‘God’ mentioned in 1 Tim 3.16 is precisely that I do believe that Jesus Christ is God. The Incarnation expects believers to honestly sift through the historical evidence.

      And to T.C. Robinson (#82), your argument about not even owning a KJV is that it’s archaic and too hard to understand. I guess this means that you don’t own any of Shakespeare’s plays either. I feel sorry for you because you’ve cut out of your rich heritage some of the greatest literature in the English language.

    • […] Posted on September 10, 2010 by Nick Norelli In response to Dan Wallace’s recommendation that all English speakers should own a KJV T. C. mentioned yesterday that he doesn’t have […]

    • Karen

      Dear Daniel Wallace, Greetings to you. Thank you so much for your message. I really appreciated it.You are correct, my views should not be based on my feelings.I must admit I do do that in light of what I read about Bible history.I guess I am trusting that those who translated the King James had some sort of evidence for their translation.This brings to mind,a question, that you may be able to help with. I would like to know why Latin is so rejected as legitimate sources.I was wondering if you could help me weed out what this is all about. Kind of ignorant on this. It struck me so clearly recently when I revisited the reality that Latin was written on the cross of Jesus. No one seems to notice that it was also apparently a language of the day, to be written on the cross like that as well.I would love some scholars here to help me to understand why Latin manuscripts are considered so taboo today and please pardon my ignorance.Regarding your message about my feelings…what also came to mind is one of my obsessions is John 1:18. I have noticed that that verse is almost a verse that gives each Bible their own copyright as it varies in I think every single translation. I have not seen any that are word for word like another. But I have seen that some people declare this verse to be a idiom, which apparently gives it translation privileges. I do not go along with this course of reasoning. And I do think that this word “bosom” was defined as some sort of expression by Adam Clarke, which probably carried through to current times. That it was an expression of how they reclined in NT times, which meant that people were in close fellowship if they leaned into each others breast. Yet, when I see many modern translations, replacing Bosom with Side, I feel uneasy. For while some people stick to this concept as being an expression or idiom,I still think we should translate it accurately, and not by feeling change the doctrinal stand that it may have by changing it.

    • andrew bourne

      I am late to this discussion and feel that much of the discussion is a little odd to say the least. When this discussion comes up I wonder why the New American Bible is never mentioned it is also published in a study version and believe it is an excellent version. Any thoughts?

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Karen, thank you for your positive response. As for Latin, you’ll need to be more specific about what scholars distance themselves from it and why. The New Testament was translated into Latin in the second century, and anyone who works in textual criticism knows that it is not safe to ignore the Latin manuscripts. As far as a language in the first century world, yes, it was the official language of the Roman government. But the lingua franca of the known world was Greek. There were some regions in Europe that did not know any Greek (Spain, for example), but overall it was far better known than Latin. Latin is especially important in biblical studies when examining Patristic writings, since many church fathers wrote in Latin.

      As for John 1.18, the situation about ‘bosom’ is this: yes, the word κόλπος means ‘bosom, breast, chest.’ Many commentators have pointed out that Jesus’ position in relation to the Father is one of closest fellowship. But the standard dictionary of the Greek New Testament notes that “our lit. contains no application of the term to anatomical parts uniquely female.” This note is necessary so that readers will not conjure up sexual connotations. I found that in working on the NET Bible, one of the most sensitive issues we faced was making sure that the translation was not liable to sexual innuendoes or bathroom humor. ‘Bosom’ is one of those words that is not used in common discourse except to describe a part of a woman’s anatomy. That is the reason that modern translations have altered the text. It is actually out of reverence for the scriptures and out of a desire that they be clearly understood that translations have done this, not out of any theologically deviant motives.

      The NET Bible has here “who is in closest fellowship with the Father” for “which is in the bosom of the Father” (KJV). The NET thus interprets this idiom for the modern reader–accurately and reverently. Others do something similar.

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Andrew, there are literally hundreds of Bibles that we have not discussed. The New American Bible is a decent Roman Catholic translation. But perhaps because it was done by Roman Catholics, most Protestants either haven’t heard of it or don’t want it because it includes the Apocrypha.

      On the other hand, there are those who would always a prefer a Bible with the Apocrypha in it, even those who don’t regard it as scripture. I share this view. Given a choice between, say, an RSV without the Apocrypha and one with it, I will take the latter.

    • […] did I discern disrespect in his use of “Mr.”  But someone named Susan jumped in and said, “And that’s ‘Dr.’ Wallace to you, Mr. nazaroo.”  A few comments later […]

    • Michael T.

      Dr. Wallace,
      Is there a reason why the apocrypha is not available for the NET Bible other than it is not considered Scripture? It seems to me that for someone who is reading a more advanced Bible such as the NET Bible with all it’s notes, there are elements of the apocrypha which could be valuable.

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      The Apocrypha are not available in the printed version yet, but some of them have been posted online at bible.org. They translations were not done in time for the first edition of the NET. We are currently working on the second edition.

    • Susan

      When will the second addition of the NET go to print?

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Great question. And I’m afraid I can’t answer it. But it won’t be next year; of that I’m sure.

    • Karen

      Dear Daniel Wallace, thank you so much for your kind message. I really appreciate it. May I ask a question. Pertaining to John 1:18, I have read so many translations of this verse, and I would like to ask, based on the NET translation and many others…could one actually translate this verse (being polite as well)…

      “Who is in the heart of the Father”???

      God bless you in Jesus’ Name, Karen

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Karen, on the ‘feel’ level of what John is communicating, that’s absolutely appropriate. But it’s not as accurate as the other translations. Hence, the problems between paraphrases and more accurate translations. ‘in the heart of the Father’ captures well what ‘in the bosom of the Father’ was saying in that culture. But ‘in the heart of the Father’ also goes a bit beyond that level of intimacy. John doesn’t say it yet, but he will speak in no uncertain terms about the dearness and nearness of Jesus to God.

    • Karen

      Dear Daniel Wallace, Again, I really appreciate your message, and thank you so very kindly. I have been thinking about this verse all over again, and it brings me to ask you for your clarification on the NET translation of John 1:18. When I consider “closest fellowship”, does it not make one immediately feel that there is a competition here for “closest” that is not really indicated in the Greek? Also, the word fellowship makes me conclude that it is an intimate fellowship, but perhaps falls short of a higher calling than just closest fellowship?
      My question is, how did this become the translation for these words in the Greek. What is making these Greek words become, words like, near His Side, near His Heart, and a host of variations often involving Side or and Near. And of course some exceptions, like closest fellowship and so forth.
      I think I’ve been cracking my skull open on this one, can you tell?
      I am missing something here, and hoping you can help me on this passage. Thanks so very kindly. God bless you in Jesus’ Name, Karen

    • Yohan Perera

      My favorites are NET (love it!!!), KJV and Full Life Study Bible (NIV)… However you have pointed out some useful truths about the other common translations and I will consider adding some of those to my library…

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Karen, thanks for the question. If you look at the cultural background of ‘in the bosom of the Father,’ it was an idiom for being the guest of honor at a meal. The guest of honor was the friend of the host—and a very good friend at that. Although we can legitimately translate the idiom at ‘near the heart of the Father,’ ‘in closest fellowship’ actually captures the sentiment a bit better.

      Let’s say I have a feast and invite a dozen friends. A special seat is reserved for the guest of honor. He’s next to me. There may well be implied a sense of competition, at least in the sense that he is chosen for that seat while others are not. The NET Bible thus accurately represents what the Greek idiom of John 1.18 says. As I mentioned earlier, we see later on in John that the evangelist will describe Jesus’ relation to the Father in a number of ways that speak of the closest possible intimacy. John starts the process in his prologue, but he’s not done telling us about Jesus yet!

    • […] Wallace strikes Back! Posted on September 12, 2010 by T.C. R In linking back my post to this original piece, I somehow was able to get a reply out of Professor Daniel B. Wallace: “I would like to […]

    • Karen

      Dear Daniel Wallace, thank you so much for your message. Again, I really, really appreciate it. I was discussing this verse with a very special someone who is a teen–oh, out of the mouth of babes.
      This someone said to me, the what if, question. “What if, “God” inspired “John” to write bosom, even if it is sexual or sensual?”

      Out of the mouth of babes.

      This teen is wondering why there is not an English Bible out there that is just word for word, and let people figure it out for themselves what it means.
      Funny, I do realize we have the interlinear s, but then we have to decide if we want the Received Text version, the Nestle-Aband, United Bible Society, WH, Tisch, etc, etc. 🙂

    • Susan

      …as I said on the other thread, Dan just became a grandpa last night (9-11) so, he’s a little preoccupied! A little baby girl is God’s gift to this all-boy family!

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Karen, here’s the situation: God did not “inspire John to write bosom, even if it is sexual or sensual.” As I mentioned earlier, ‘bosom’ is a translation in John 1.18 of a Greek word that does not have sexual connotations in the New Testament or early Christian literature. It is an archaic rendering, which is therefore misleading. This is precisely why we need new translations all the time: people will read meanings INTO the text that simply are not there.

      For example, in the KJV at 2 Tim 2.15 it says, “Study to shew thyself approved.” In 1611 ‘study’ meant ‘be diligent.’ Now, it is almost strictly related to the acquisition of knowledge through diligent examination of something. But in 1611 people read this text to mean, “be diligent”–a much broader application than ‘study.’ Because the English language has changed, Bible translations need to change so as to help folks understand what the Bible means.

    • Karen

      Dear Daniel Wallace, No, you misunderstand the words of a very wise teenager. The words “Even if” were words of extension, the if statement, but the point is John did write the word Bosom. That is the point. The question is whether that was inspired by God or not, that word in the Greek Text. In your message 91, you even stated what this word meant in the Greek.
      We are not reading anything into the text. Actually, I find this word Bosom very spiritual, as you saw me asking about “in the heart” if that was saying the same, because that is how I always saw it. In defense–when Jesus said that He was in the Father, and the Father was in Him. This is where I think this passage is supporting what Jesus states later at the Last Supper. I see this completely spiritually and literally. My actual complaint nowadays with modern translations is that putting Jesus near or on the side, makes it sound like people are doctrinally altering the placement of Jesus. Yes, it is true that there are verses in the New Testament that talk about His Authority and on the Right Half of the Father and sitting there, but Jesus also talks about being in the Father and the Father in Him. Take this verse and change it to support the authority in Heaven, versus the literal, which Jesus describes disturbs me. Therefore, when I read bosom and it says so in the Greek, I think it was truly inspired. To alter it, I believe begins to corrupt it. But the truth is, if you do not believe that God inspired John to write bosom…I do not think we are on the same page. And I do not believe we have to rewrite the Bible for modern times as you said. I believe all that is needed is sentences that are readable while staying as accurate to the Greek as possible. To rewrite what John said with the idea that we know what he was trying to say based on expressions, can be harmful, for what if he was using an expression of the day, to make a new point?

    • Karen

      I want to say I am very sorry for throwing my weight around. I realize my own remarks probably have made me a hypocrite particularly with my own ideas on how to translate this verse.

      When I think about all this, with continual new translations surfacing, perhaps there might be a solution to all this. Perhaps scholars could come up with a new type of cataloging of new translations that surface. What I mean is that currently we have what everyone is calling word equivalents and it kind of jumps right into paraphrases and thought for thoughts. With more and more translations coming forth, maybe it would be a delight to modern readers is a more defined assessment of translations. Maybe categories that shows something like this:
      1.Word for Word (includes interlinear s, literal word for word as close as possible to Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic original words.
      2.Re-interpreted (includes translations that help you to understand sayings, idioms, expressions by re-defining them)
      3.Multi-manuscript 1 (includes translations that basically require a new interlinear compilation and may even have extended alternative notes and basically covers Received Text and all others but tries to be word for word)
      4.Multi-manuscript 2 (but includes such as the NIV but is more a thought for thought idea but not a big stretch out there type of thing by any means)
      5. Thought for thoughts (this tries to be accurate but is leaning toward more understanding of what is meant. This might include very good translations like God’s Word Translation)
      6. Paraphrases (This includes of course Living Bible)
      7. Loose Paraphrase, story like (This includes Message Bible which is an awesome Bible but is trying to emphasis the point for the Beginner or one who wants to understand the Bible in a nutshell.This is the kind of translation in this class that should not expect anything like a word for word equivalent for that is not its intention, but still is a great translation for the great purpose it…

    • Karen

      I ran out of room, so what I meant to conclude is that translations are an interpretation of course, no matter how word for word equivalent they are.
      But I shared my thoughts about perhaps a more defined catalog because I think in due time it might be necessary so those translating Bibles for the purposes that they did so, even those that are written for children, would be appreciated for what it was meant for, instead of being accused of what it was not maybe meant to be.
      Also, by my list above, it obviously falls way short, because certain translations fall into more than one category, of course.
      So it might be better to be a chart check off sheet type thing.

      But regardless, I think a more defined method is in order. As I do believe it will be more and more confusing in the future if these Bibles are not clearly defined.

      I say this in a heartfelt love for all our brothers and sisters who translate God’s Word for today that will affect future generations.

    • Renju Philip

      A good resource by Robert L Thomas



    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Karen, I appreciate your comments, but I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of what a translation is. All translation is interpretive. You wanted to have a translation that was word-for-word. This is actually the worst kind of translation because it is misleading. The task of the translator is to be faithful to the meaning of the original and to make sure that this fidelity comes across accurately in translation. No one who knows me would ever accuse me of not thinking that the Bible is inspired. So, let’s not go in that direction.

      Below are three verses that are translated word for word:

      Matt 1.18: “Of the now Jesus Christ the beginning thus was. Of having become engaged of the mother of him of Mary to the Joseph, before or to come together them {he/she/it} was found in belly having from spirit holy.”

      Rom 1.12: “This but is to be mutually encouraged in you through the in one another of faith of you and and of me.”

      John 4.2: “Although Jesus himself not was baptizing but the disciples of him”

      I hope you can see how absurd it would be to do a word-for-word translation. It doesn’t communicate anything in English. It’s not English. And it’s nearly impossible to figure out what is going on in the text. The first two examples show this clearly. The third example, John 4.2, can be translated fairly straightforwardly, and be fairly well understood in English. The problem is that the understanding in English is incorrect. The verse is not saying that Jesus baptized only his disciples. No, it says that Jesus was not baptizing anyone, but his disciples WERE baptizing people. In order to have an accurate translation, one must add the word ‘were’ even though it is not in the Greek text. That’s because this is what the Greek must mean.

      More soon…

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      As I mentioned previously, the KJV is not a word-for-word translation. Far from it! The original preface, in fact, talked about the freedom of the translators to vary their style in English even when the Greek was the same each time. And when the KJV says, ‘God forbid!” the Greek says, “May it never be!” Although that’s two words in Greek, the KJV is highly interpretive and captured the meaning well for its day. One of the most literal translations was the RV of 1885. But it was so ugly a translation that it didn’t do very well.

      Or consider 2 Timothy 2.15: “Study to shew thyself approved” in the KJV. But ‘study’ in 1611 meant ‘be diligent.’ The text is not saying ‘study’ as in ‘examine something in detail.’ No, it’s saying be diligent in showing yourself approved.

      In short, it’s a myth to think that a word-for-word translation is faithful to the original. As for ‘bosom,’ as I have mentioned before that this produces a false understanding in English since we naturally think of a woman’s anatomy when we think of bosom. But the word is never used that way in the New Testament nor in the early Christian writings. Further, I already pointed out (which you also acknowledged) what this idiom referred to. We have firm evidence of this, so we are on solid ground when we translate the idiom non-literally. Hence, one has to interpret or else he/she will be unfaithful to the meaning. In KJV English, ‘bosom’ may have been fine, but not today.

      To take another example: The RSV (1952) has “I will accept no bull from your house” in Psalm 50.9. Today, this means something quite different from what it meant in 1952! So, the RSV translators have revised it (NRSV) to say, “I will not accept a bull from your house.”


    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Or consider “man” in virtually all translations until the late 1980s. In English, “man” was commonly used to refer to both men and women through the first two thirds of the twentieth century. Same with the word “Brethren/brothers.” But no longer. Translators have had to go back through the Greek and Hebrew and determine whether “people” are in view as opposed to just men, and whether ‘brothers’ means ‘brothers and sisters’. We MUST find parallels in the language of the day or else our interpretations are based on thin air. But the task of Bible translating is one that has a long history and is increasingly becoming more accurate. But it absolutely must keep up with how the receptor language is being used in the culture at that time.

      In short, all translation is interpretation. And that’s because language is a living thing. In fact, a word-for-word translation is the very worst translation that one can do because it will give false readings at every turn of what the original text actually means.

    • Karen

      Dear Daniel Wallace,
      I agree with you, of course, that expressions can be so misunderstood. Take for example, it was about my 15th Birthday, where my dad in old European dry humor, farmer joke, type of thing, said to me, Whew, No Pig Gets That Old. He wasn’t calling me a pig. He was just making a funny statement that pigs don’t get that old. So, every birthday after, he reminded me, no pig gets that old. So, I always thought that was funny and later, years later at a company I worked at we had this dry board and in celebrations of birthdays, put such things on it, Over The Hill, No Pig Gets that Old, and such.
      Well, one day it suddenly occurred to me.
      You could NOT say, No Pig Gets That Old, to a cop. It would not mean the same thing. You just couldn’t. No.

      I hope you laughed.
      Well, I say that to say, I do agree with you in many various ways.
      And I say all that I did previously about cataloging translations more in a more defined sense, is for that very reason. So people would not be offended by the various renderings and translation privileges that do cause confusion. If there were upfront honest approaches to every translation then people will be happy because they know what they are reading. Perhaps, a better way to say this is exactly what you have been describing above…when people like myself hear Word for Word or a new Bible being described as accurate, we are looking for a word for word, and are rather disappointed. And perhaps it just can’t be done. But if it is carefully defined, people feel at peace, yes? I know I would for I would view it just the way it was meant to be and described as such and taken as such. Perhaps the very declaration of “accurate” is what is the problem.
      Blessings to you.

    • Susan

      Karen, do you happen to own a copy of the NET, of which Dan was the senior N.T. editor? I realize that it is accessible online, but if you have the ‘first edition’ in hand it is chock-full of translator notes (60,932 to be exact!). It affords the reader the opportunity to ‘look over the translator’s shoulder’ and see first hand what the difficulties of translation are in multitudes of passages, and thus follow the reasoning processes which lead the translator to the carefully chosen verbiage of the particular text. If you don’t have a copy I would think that it would be of particular interest to you. Wycliffe Bible translators use the NET in the field when they are translating into previously ‘unreached’ languages, because the notes are so helpful. The NET is available for purchase only at http://www.Bible.org .

    • Karen

      Dear Susan, I have the Reader’s Edition. I did get it there some time ago, but it is also available in other places online as well for awhile now.
      Regarding Wycliffe…just wanted to mention, the Wycliffe translation of long ago is one of my favorites!
      I have a passion for Bibles.

    • Clay Knick


      Did you know (I’m sure you do) that the Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg requires the NET Diglot in all their Greek NT classes? I bought mine from their bookstore.

      I think using the KJV is a great idea. I strongly agree with you about this. I refer to it just about every week when I study for a sermon. I was raised and educated on the RSV so it was not difficult at all to read the KJV since there is so much of the KJV in the RSV. I like the NRSV a lot, but feel it is quirky at times.

      The REB is lovely. I have loved reading the NIV for many, many years. The NLT is great for reading narratives and the Gospels, but I don’t like the poetic books as much, but like Proverbs.

      I think you made an excellent point about using some translations for close study of a verse, while others are better for reading long passages.

    • Rob Kashow

      Not sure if someone has pointed this out, but if one doesn’t like the NIV Study Bible because the NIV is too free with its translation, the solution is simple. It’s not strictly speaking the NIV study bible, but rather the Zondervan study bible. The exact same introductory and study notes are found in the NASB study bible, for example. If this was the only problem then with such a study Bible, it must rank very high sans the NIV.

    • Michael T.

      FYI I have both the standard version and the Reader’s Version of the NET (within arm’s reach actually). The Reader’s Version does not contain all the notes that the standard version does. I would highly recommend purchasing a standard version as the quantity and thoroughness of the notes is amazing.

    • Karen

      Dear Michael T, Thanks. I debated over that some time ago, but realized I had great software and much already…oh yes.
      I’ve even had life changing letter correspondence with Jay P. Green, Sr. and have some of his works too. To give you an idea how blessed I am.

    • Karen

      Dear Daniel Wallace, Greetings to you. I wanted to say something to you. I had been wondering briefly, for example, when I wrote the first few sentences of Message 109 and compared with your first sentences of your Message 111, what you were trying to say to me based on what I had just said there at 109, and some other examples above, but when it is all said and done…I want you to know…you really helped me, and I appreciate it. Your needed further explanations REALLY helped me and your previous explanations. I have much more peace, and I thank you. Furthermore, the Lord has been renewing my mind and last night was another breakthrough. Some of this, came forth from these messages, even though they seem to be in part just random acts of various comments, above here on this blog. Thanks. I have such joy I had not felt in a while. Blessings to you in Jesus’ Name.

    • […] Lees bietjie meer van wat hy kwyt raak hier. […]

    • Chris

      Remember the “text” is the issue, not a personal preference, or feelings. 50 people will tell you 50 different things, who cares. BEWARE of the smoke screens. Make sure the Bible you choose does “NOT” come from the Westcott Hort, Nestle Aland, Unite Bible Society stream. These are corrupt manuscripts. Dean Burgon fought this very battle in 1883, see The Revision Revised. No one alive today has his scholarship. Sadly all modern versions come from these stream. Do your home work, be a “Nobel Berean”.

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Chris, you are half right: the text is the issue, but so is the translation philosophy. It is the translation philosophy that is why I like the KJV so much. It’s not the text, however. That text was based on late and inferior manuscripts, assembled and collated into a printed text which would be called the Textus Receptus (TR). Westcott and Hort spent 28 years demonstrating the inferiority of the TR. To be sure, Burgon was very knowledgeable, but his presuppositions were so strong they prevented him from seeing the truth.

      Finally, to say that modern critical Greek texts and translations from them are based on corrupt manuscripts is certainly true precisely because ALL manuscripts are corrupt, including those behind the TR and KJV. I have spent the last eight years examining and photographing hundreds of Greek New Testament manuscripts, most of them of the Byzantine text-form which Burgon preferred. I have yet to see a perfect manuscript.

    • Chris

      Daniel, the text is the whole issue. If the root be corrupt so will the fruit be corrupt, if “all manuscripts are corrupt”, then all Bibles are corrupt. Do you believe all Bibles are corrupt?

      You also stated” Burgon was very knowledgeable, but his presuppositions were so strong they prevented him from seeing the truth.” If all manuscripts are corrupt then what truth was Burgon supposed to see?
      Did you mean when he found out that Vance Smith, a Unitarian (page 515) who denied the doctrine of the Trinity was changing the Greek text that proved the deity of Christ. Burgon said “Vance Smith was the one who inserted the word(s) “He who” for God in 1 Timothy 3:16 “. Burgeon said “Vance Smith stood without and found fault. But in the affair of 1881 Dr. Vance Smith revises, and ventilates heresy from within… pg. 513.

    • Karen

      Greetings to all! I have been thinking a lot on these things since I last wrote here…and Chris brings up the point of the Trinity which is I believe the heartbeat to all these verses in discussion.to know God.On another topic here I mentioned, “Is Jesus in the Godhead” or “Is the Godhead in Jesus”? This is why John 1:18 and Col 2:9 are points of interest and why I see 2 perspectives on the Trinity nowadays.And why Trinitarians who even wrote KJV had their influence…compare 1 Peter 3:15 and you will see what I mean. Regarding the Trinity, in all my studying I now see that I cannot deny Isaiah 9:6. Most Trinitarians do deny that Jesus is the Father. But Isaiah 40:3 is the LORD in Mark 1:3, and after Isaiah 63:9 there are various verses in the following Chapters that declare that LORD is the Father. I said this statement elsewhere and I was told that my very Salvation was at stake because I could not deny these passages and fall in line with the appropriate view of the Trinity.

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Chris, it is a fact that all MSS are corrupt. Anyone who has examined them even casually will admit this. There are no two MSS that are exactly alike. Since this is the case, you can either claim that ONE and only one MS is perfect or that all are corrupt to varying degrees. One of the things that Burgon did not grasp was that those evil MSS that he so despised ALL had harmonizations in them just as his beloved Byzantine text did. That is, any Gospel MS of any length will harmonize with another Gospel even when most or even all others disagree with it. This is borne out of pious motives. And it is strong evidence that the scribes who copied the scriptures had a high view of the text–including the Alexandrian and Western scribes. One doesn’t harmonize if one wants to destroy the Bible. A question for you: do you know Greek? Have you examined any manuscripts in the flesh? Don’t just rely on the words of Burgon; do your own homework.

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Karen, it seems to me that you’re taking a rather simplistic view of things. “In all my studying”–what does that mean? Have you examined Isa 9.6 in Hebrew or compared it with other ANE documents that make similar claims? Have you looked at Isa 40.3 in Hebrew or Col 2.9 in Greek? To say that Jesus = the same person as the Father on the basis of one verse that finds an easy explanation is not the result of deep study.

    • Karen

      Dan, actually to be honest, most of these past 25 years, I have been obsessed with the Book of John. I was exposed to radical Trinity views (those that believed even 3 Gods in Heaven, Worship & Sing about Jesus BUT do NOT pray to Jesus), so this led me on a quest for Truth for many years, but after 10 years I finally came to a pivotal place and asked the Lord to show me truth, etc and He began to do so. This was now so long ago, but questions began to surface for me, such as when Jesus in John 4 speaking of the Father stated that the Father was seeking those that worship in Spirit & Truth and God (Father was a Spirit. So in this radical 3 Persons view each having Egos, it hit me, that in a radical view,if the Father is Spirit, IS THE Holy Spirit ANOTHER Spirit? In a three Persons Co-Equal, Co-Eternal view? These things led me to compare John 2:19-21 & Gal 1:1, & Conceived by The Holy Spirit vs Begotten of the Father, etc, etc. It would be like examining John 14:13 and really seeing it

    • Karen

      Also, I do know that the Trinity vs Oneness folks focus on Acts 2:38 vs. Matthew 28:19, but I say…you can’t take one and erase the other, one must take them both! Even more, you can’t make baptism a works to be saved or you end up with legalism as we see today. But when I look at Phil 2:11 and compare that with the Wycliffe where it says The Lord Jesus Christ is in the Glory of the Father…and comparing that in Greek, I really see the tweaking to get it to say Jesus Christ to the Glory of the Father. Even the Greek “to” means more likely “to be”. Or even Wycliffe in John 14:13 even says “Father”, God’s Word puts Father there in para-ins to show that it is implied. But when I think of John 5:43, John 10:25, John 10:30, John 12:45, John 14:24, I simply see that Jesus causes us to believe that HE is the One Who died in our place and made that covenant with Moses and His People, and this very God died in our place..what we deserved, He took upon Himself to fulfill the Law He…

    • Karen

      Oops, I see my message broke off.. LOL
      Dan, my words I hope convey that I have been studying these matters for sometime. What is ever more so sad, is my obsession over this word Trinity, which is not even in the Bible. And as a matter of fact, how many times are Christians discussing words that are not even in the Bible…Calvinism, Dispensation, & a whole lot more. And regarding Trinity…I have never found one person who had the same interpretation as another on it. At this point in my life, I believe that I have come to a place to realize that it IS sacrilege for me to deny verses in the Bible, such as Isaiah 9:6, even if people only believe that is One occurrence, or that it really does not mean what it says, for I have found that to be true as well. As for me, words that are not found in the Bible seem to add mystery, while removing the word, suddenly no more mystery/confusion. Is my salvation based on man-made doctrines?It is like trying to find the perfect creed in books

    • Karen

      I do have a question to ask you, perhaps you can tell me, regarding this topic at hand…the revised 2011 NIV…regarding John 1:18. Now it seems that basically, the NIV simply copied the NET on this. My question, based on the 1984 NIV John 1:18…reads quite differently. It makes me ponder on the scholars who wrote them. Is it the same Scholar who wrote John that revised it today? Do you know the translator (s) for this Book of the Bible for the NIV? This really is perplexing me of late with the revisions coming forth from various Bibles. Are these the original translators? Who authorizes such an update? Especially, if it is not the original scholar, how would they know what the original scholars studied, especially since the NIV is one that claimed so much comparison with many manuscripts in the beginning. So, why the change today? I never hear these scholars of years ago screaming that their words were altered in final print, nor do I hear it today. Where are they?

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Karen, thanks for your comments. If I understand you correctly, you are saying that the Lord led you to no longer believe in the Trinity. The problem with that approach is that many, many Christians claim that the Lord or the Holy Spirit or Jesus led them to believe something that is contradictory to what others have been “led” to believe. Are you really going to insist that what ‘Father’ means in Isa 9.6 is what it means when speaking of God as Father in the New Testament? If we were to take that approach with scripture, the Bible would be filled with contradictions. Just compare James 2.14-26 with Rom 3.21-4.25 for example. We must allow each human author to speak in his own voice and not assume that every time a particular word is used in scripture it must mean exactly the same thing and have exactly the same referent.

    • Chris

      NIV2011 so sad!!! It will not be the last. Modern versions are not about giving you God’s Word, it is about money. This is taken from the booklet “From the NASB to the KJV” by the co-Author of the NASB. This is whats wrong with modern versions “…but I can no longer ignore these criticisms I am hearing and I can’t refute them. The only thing I can do–and dear Brother, I haven’t a thing against you and I can witness at the judgment of Christ and before men wherever I go that you were 100% sincere,” (he wasn’t schooled in language or anything; he was just a business man; he did it for money; he did it conscientiously; he wanted it absolutely right and he thought it was right; I guess nobody pointed out some of these things to him) “I must under God renounce every attachment to the New American Standard.” THE TESTIMONY OF DR. FRANK LOGSDON CO-FOUNDER OF THE NASV
      The Man who put the NASB together did not even know greek.
      People do not be fooled by those who push Modern…

    • Karen

      Dear Dan, On the contrary, as I said earlier that I discovered that there were 2 ways to see the Trinity…Jesus in the Godhead and the Godhead in Jesus…2 distinct views. But to the 3 Persons in the Godhead…I certainly see what people are saying, and in many ways I see that, for how can anyone communicate the majesty of God without some kind of terms, but the Truth is every single Trinity book I have ever read admits that it, the Trinity view, falls short. And it is easy to see that a Three Head count does not include the 44 or so manifestations of God in the Old Testament and especially the Seven Spirits of God in the New Testament, or the God Who fills the Universe and the God in the Spiritual Realm and the God Who comes in the created Realm (I think this was something Bullinger of the companion bible refers to). My point is that God is too big, and this is my point. Let alone the difficulties of being yelled at because I believe in Isaiah 9:6, and that LORD is Lord same.

    • Karen

      I just found this from Keil-Delitzsch…regarding Eternal Father in Isaiah 9:6…

      The fourth name springs out of the third:
      , eternal Father (not Booty Father, with which Hitzig and Knobel content themselves); for what is divine must be eternal. The title Eternal Father designates Him, however, not only as the possessor of eternity (Hengstenberg), but as the tender, faithful, and wise trainer, guardian, and provider for His people even in eternity (Isa 22:21). He is eternal Father, as the eternal, loving King, according to the description in Ps 72.

    • Jim

      What are your views on the Amplified Bible?

    • JB

      Nazaroo’s dilemma is trying to consider his (or their) own so-called scientific methodology in Biblical criticism and in this manner no well-known biblical scholars e.g. Metzger would qualify.

      Unfortunately, the existing Biblical scholarship has long been have it’s own trajectory. There’s no more point arguing with people whose standards are different.

    • Scott Sherrell

      The NET is simply a bad translation. Why remove figures of speech from the text and place them in the footnotes? I found particularly irksome the fact that Philippians no longer speaks of Paul’s “bonds” but only his “imprisonment.” Imprisonment is much less evocative than bonds and is an unnecessary paraphrase. If you were concerned that the reader would not understand the figure of speech, you should have put an explanation in the footnotes or inserted the italicized word “prison” before “bonds.”

      If scholars are divided over whether adelphoi means “brothers” or “brothers and sisters,” why not simply use the term “brethren”? It preserves the ambiguity of the phrase, allows the reader to interpret it to mean “brothers” or “brothers and sisters,” is neither gender inclusive nor gender exclusive, is less wordy, and would heighten the literary beauty of the translation?

      Why translate each verse in Ephesians 1 as a separate sentence when it was clearly meant to be one interconnected sentence, conveying a sense of breathlessness and excitement? But alas, the reader would never know that by reading the NET.

      I also feel like the NET’s translation of Isaiah 7:14 is too irreverent. Why not at least have “young maiden,” which sounds more dignified than “young woman” and at least gives a possible connotation of sexual purity?

      While it is true that it impossible to translate every Greek word with only one English equivalent all of the time, it is a laudable goal to move in this direction provided that the translation remains readable. A good example of this is the Modern Literal Version (although sadly this is based upon the Majority Text).

      While I could see an argument for translating “Tartarus” or “Gehenna” as hell because few people know what those words mean (although I would still disagree with this), it is incorrect to ever translate “Hades” as “Hell.” Why not simply “the realm of the dead” or “the unseen?” Or leave the…

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