Thou Shalt Commit Adultery? Which Bible?

bibleMany people continue to argue passionately about which translation of the Bible is the most accurate. The implications of any allegations of potential corruption or conspiracy in some versions necessarily engender hot debate about which text represents the true Word of God. After all, the Bible is the final authority on life for millions around the world. Irrespective of differences over interpretation, it would seem fair to determine the right starting point for any discussions about its meaning or application.

I must admit that I’ve always been amused by people’s rigid defence of the King James Bible of 1611 (the ‘Authorised Version’) with its old English, but this is usually based on a view that most modern translations come from flawed Greek and Hebrew texts. Why? Because these modern translations allegedly removed a few verses from the original manuscripts. Of course, one could counter-allege that the texts used for the King James Bible added them in! No-one has the true originals, just many portions of copies from very close to the time of the original (which are still significantly closer and more substantial than for any other ancient text).

Therefore, if no-one has the original, it is surely safest to endorse the majority view of conservative scholars that the ancient texts used for contemporary translations are more accurate because they are older. No need for suggestions of conspiracies or cover-ups in the absence of evidence.

The most famous discrepancy is 1 John 5:7 which, in the KJV affirms the Father, Son and Spirit as being one, even though verse 8 is just split across the verses 7 and 8 of other modern Bibles. This was probably therefore originally added by a Trinitarian sympathiser, but of course maybe it really was in the original. No-one actually knows. It shouldn’t really matter, though, since the doctrine of the Trinity is supported elsewhere in the Bible. In addition, the whole Bible is remarkably reliable, accurate and believable overall for an ancient book, as outlined in other posts on this website.

Naturally some will prefer the KJV for its poetic beauty or for its accuracy in certain passages. Many have simply updated to the New King James Version to preserve its essence in modern language. But, of course, the King James Bible has undergone many revisions since its original publication.

Perhaps some would actually prefer Exodus 20:14 in the 1631 version, “Thou shalt commit adultery”, or the 1716 version’s, “Go and sin on (rather then ‘no’) more”! Aside from these obvious printer errors, there are dozens of changes that have been made to the KJV over the years to supposedly improve it, so which edition was actually inspired, and what about the poorly rendered verses that remain?

Translation remains an imperfect science and one that cannot be remedied by preferring one interpretation over the value of others in bringing a fuller understanding of the original message. This message is seldom really skewed, anyway, with any responsible reading of any one of them.


6 thoughts on “Thou Shalt Commit Adultery? Which Bible?

  1. I prefer literal majority translated text yet enjoy a sensibly translated paraphrase. Though all my searchings and true investigative research draws upon the literal majority translations. Each to there own I guess God is not defined by a bad translator…. New king James is translated from the minor texts (earlier manuscripts) as I understand it so a true KJV purist adherent couldn’t partake lol.
    I must have read john 5:20 from the 1716 at one point lol…. NIV has some dooseys tooo!!! God is bigger than ink 😀

    • Good point that all translations can have poorly rendered verses, some more than others. I like easy-reading translations for a fresh approach, but prefer a combination of the NKJV, NIV and ESB, especially the study versions of all these.

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