Accuracy, Inerrancy and Translations
13. Is our present Bible
a. Accuracy of the Bible:
b. Textual criticism of the Bible,
started in the 19th century:
Based on a comparison of the Masoretic
text with the Dead Sea Scrolls: over 98% of our Bible is exactly the same
in both, only less than 0.5% of the variants affecting sense of the passage,
but most importantly, no doctrine hangs upon a debatable text.
There are errors on the part of copyists
(Example: the number of Solomonís stalls for horses recorded differently
in 1Ki 4:26 and 2Ch 9:25; age of King Ahaziah in 2Ki 8:26
and 2Ch 22:2; age of King Saul in 1Sa 13:1, see explanations in
footnotes of NIV). But they are easily recognized.
Conclusion: our present Bible is adequately
accurate, for all practical purposes the very Word of God. This shows how
God providentially preserve the true text of the Bible through history.
c. Why did God allow errors in
copies of the Bible?
Higher criticism: concerned with matters
of date of origin, literary style, historicity, and authorship; applied
to genuineness of the Bible; "destructive" criticism; started by academics
who intended to discredit the Bible
Lower criticism: attempt to reconstruct
the original text that stands behind the various transmissions; applied
to authenticity of the Bible; "constructive" criticism
It is possibly a warning to biblical
scholars not to esteem palaeographic, numeric (numerology) or other trivia
over the essential message of the Bible.
Is the Bible inerrant or without error?
a. Complete inerrancy: (the orthodox
Lausanne Covenant Statement (1974,
led by Billy Graham and John Stott): The Bible is without error in all
that it affirms.
b. Limited inerrancy:
the Bible is fully inerrant (no errors)
in all it teaches or affirms, including history and science.
c. Irrelevancy of inerrancy
the Bible is inerrant in its teachings
on salvation while history and science may contain errors.
it is not important to defend the inerrancy
of marginal matters such as history and science.
How should we reconcile difficulties and discrepancies in the Bible?
b. Harmonistic approach:
aware of the difficulties in the Bible,
but the fact of divine inspiration is so convincing that the difficulties
cannot overthrow the inerrancy of the Bible; therefore it is not necessary
to explain the difficulties.
c. Moderate harmonistic approach:
believe that all difficulties have
logical solutions, therefore try to resolve all difficulties, sometimes
even through the use of conjecture (guessing); some others may use the
argument that the difficulties were errors of copyists and were not in
the original manuscripts.
d. Errancy approach: (non-orthodox
try to resolve as many difficulties
as possible, but leave unresolved difficulties in suspense.
accept that there are difficulties
that cannot be resolved and may actually be errors.
a. Old Testament
What are the original languages of the Bible?
b. New Testament
Hebrew (22 alphabets, all consonants):
a pictorial language suitable for biographical information
Aramaic (language of the Syrians):
in the following passages: Gen 10:22; 31:47; 2Ki 18:26; Ez 4:7-6:18; 7:12-26;
Isa 36:11; Jer 10:11; Da 2:4-7:28 (see Da 2:4, Ez 4:7)
Greek (24 alphabets, 8 vowels): an
intellectual language suitable for expressing propositional truth such
as the gospel; it was the universal language in the Near East, thus convenient
for evangelism [some words in Aramaic which was the language Jesus used,
see Mt 27:46; Mk 15:34; 1Co 16:22]
What are the major translations of the Bible? Which ones are the best?
a. Methods of translating the Bible:
b. Ancient translations:
Formal equivalence (FEq): translation
that mimics the form of the original language both in words and sentence
structure [Example: Gr. sarx in Ro 8:8-9 and Gal 2:20
both translated "flesh"]
Dynamic equivalence (DEq): translation
that tries to represent the original meaning by using its closest equivalent
in contemporary usage [Example: translated "sinful nature" and "body"]
Paraphrase (Par): translation that
restates the message by using different words
Greek translation of OT: Septuagint
(LXX) by 70 Jewish scholars at Alexandria, Egypt (250 BC), used in many
quotes in NT
c. Major English translations
still in use today (methods of translation in last column):
Latin translation OT & NT: Vulgate
(AD 405) by Jerome
d. Chinese translations:
Standard Version (RSV)
Standard Bible (NASB)
Bible / Todayís English Version (GNB, TEV)
James Version (NKJV, revision of KJV)
Standard Version (NRSV, revision of RSV)
English Bible (REB, revision of NEB)
English Version (CEV)
e. Best translation:
(similar method as KJV)
Chinese Version (similar method as NIV)
Living Bible (similar method as the Living Bible)
(similar method as NASB)
Each translation has its own strengths
and weaknesses. For all practical purpose, all the above translations are
sufficiently accurate. If one is chosen for all purposes, NIV (English)
and Todayís Chinese Version (TCV, Chinese) are good choices. However, because
TCV is not commonly used, the traditional Kuoyu Bible is still a good compromise.