HomeReligion ZoneSunday word: Bible tells its evolutionary story (Part 3)

Sunday word: Bible tells its evolutionary story (Part 3)


In my two previous installments of the Bible’s evolutionary history, it tells us of how grossly misrepresenting were some of the first English translations done by William Tyndale. He was subsequently “publicly executed and burned at the stake”, signifying some blasphemous connotations to his translations, especially those of the New Testament.

More other translation versions of the Bible followed but they lacked accuracy of original content.

The King James Version dominated the other different Bibles for over two centuries.

However, even that version was found to have “grave defects”, meaning that its contents were riddled with errors, misinterpretations and other inaccuracies too numerous to mention.

Both versions were the best seller “books” of their time, such that subsequent translators were ‘instructed’ to keep as close to these two as possible, obstinately to maintain ‘commercial profitability’ above authenticity.

It is thus a debatable fact that even the newer versions of the Bible we rely on today still contain centuries-old ‘defects’.

Most of us view the Bible as a sacred document which truthfully it should be. Most contents of the Old Testament contain the spoken words of the Lord, the Almighty God.

The Commandments are said to have been originally inscribed on the two tables of stone in God’s own handwriting.

Nothing else written down could be holier than that. Luckily for us, the Bible’s editors acknowledge that a much lesser damage was done to the original contents of the Old Testament as most of the Hebrew Scriptures had been preciously preserved.

It was then easy to detect any flaws to Old Testament translations.

Admittedly, changes to some meanings of certain words means that particular words may mean something different as of now.

There are several examples given of such differences in original meaning as per the Bible’s own footnotes.

Let us carry on from where we left off in the last instalment. Page (v) of the Preface section of the Revised Standard Version, from the third paragraph, reads: “The King James Version of the New Testament was based upon a Greek text that was marred by mistakes, containing the accumulated errors of fourteen centuries of manuscript copying.

It was essentially the Greek text of the New Testament as edited by Beza, 1589, who closely followed that published by Erasmus, 1516-1535, which was based upon a few medieval manuscripts. The earliest and the best of the eight manuscripts which Erasmus consulted was from the tenth century, and he made the least use of it because it differed most from the commonly received text; Beza had access to two manuscripts of great value, dating from the fifth and sixth centuries, but he made very little use of them because they differed from the text published by Erasmus.

We now possess many more ancient manuscripts of the New Testament, and are far better equipped to seek to recover the original wording of the Greek text. The evidence for the text of the books of the New Testament is better than for any other ancient book, both in the number of extant (still existing) manuscript and in the nearness of the date of some of these manuscripts to the date when the book was originally written.

The revisers in the 1870’s had most of the evidence that we now have for the Greek text, though the most ancient of all extant manuscripts of the Greek New Testament were not discovered until 1931. But they lacked the resources which discoveries written in the past eighty years have afforded for understanding the vocabulary, grammar and idioms of the Greek New Testament.

An amazing body of Greek papyri (script written of some reed paper) has been unearthed in Egypt since the 1870’s – private letters, official reports, wills, business accounts, petitions, and other such trivial, everyday recordings activities of human beings. In 1894 appeared the first of Adolf Deissamnn’s studies of these ordinary materials.

He proved that many words which had hitherto been assumed to belong to what was called “Biblical Greek” were current in the spoken vernacular of the first century A.D. The New Testament was written in Koine, the common Greek which was spoken and understood practically everywhere throughout the Roman Empire in the early centuries of the Christian era. This development in the study of New Testament Greek has come since the work on the English Revised Version and the American Standard Version was done, and at many points sheds new light upon the meaning of the Greek text.

A major reason for revision of the King James Version, which is valid for both the Old Testament and the New Testament, is the change since 1611 in English usage. Many forms of expression have become archaic, while still generally intelligible – the use of ‘thou’, ‘thee’, ‘thy’, ‘thine’ and  the verb  ending,  -est and –edst, the verb ending –eth and –th, it came to pass that whosoever, insomuch that, because that, for that, unto, howbeit, peradvantage, holden, aforetime, must needs, would fain, beloved, to you-ward, etc other words are absolute and no longer understood by the common reader. The greatest problem, however, is presented by the English words which are in constant use but now convey a different meaning from that which they had in 1611 and in the King James Version. These words were once accurate translations of the Hebrew and Greek scriptures; but now, having changed in meaning, they have become misleading. They no longer say what the King James translators meant to say. Thus, the King James Version uses the word ‘let’ in the sense of ‘hinder’, ‘present’ to mean ‘precede’, ‘allow’ in the sense of  ‘approve’, ‘communicate’ for ‘share’, ‘conversation’ for ‘conduct’, ‘comprehend’ for ‘overcome’, ghost’ for ‘spirit’, ‘wealth’ for ‘well-being’, ‘allege’ for ‘prove’, ‘demand’ for ‘ask’, ‘take no thought’ for ‘be not anxious’ etc” (end of quote).

Having highlighted the short comings of the current bibles in use today, it is obvious some interpretations of the scriptures represent an entirely different meaning from that of the original content. I can then safely conclude that some of the Bibles now speak as if in different languages and meaning.

This is not a deliberate act but a result of other evolutions in words, languages and unintended misinterpretations that follow these changes. It is not surprising that we now see the mushrooming of an assorted array of Christian denominations at each other’s throats denouncing each other’s beliefs, left, right and centre. Have we now reached a point where meanings or contents of some of our Scriptures can be compared to the confusion of languages precipitated by God at Babel (Genesis 11)? Could it now be Satan causing these confusions in the Scriptures?

  • Prosper Tingini is the Scribe of the Children of God Missionary Assembly – God’s messengers. Contact details: Mobile & Whatsapp: 771 260 195. Email address: ptingini@gmail.com 

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