Hi @dennis , thanks for starting this thread. There are some very interesting examples so far. I think the examples you shared shows the human error in the text, but the essential doctrine or theology remains as it was. I think that’s God’s grace to preserve His true word even when humans make mistakes in copying out the text.
What I notice in all the examples so far, is that there are some mistakes when a person painstakingly copies out a pre-existing manuscript. Their intention is to recreate the original as it was, but happen to miss a mark in the text, or misunderstand a word from the different language. I think there is still integrity in what they are trying to achieve. These translations are checked and rechecked by multiple scholars, and today even if modern translations are written, there is generally a team of 50 or so Biblical language scholars to ensure nothing is changed from the original.
When it comes to preserving the Bible’s original message accurately, these mistakes don’t concern me so much as some more recent ‘translations’ of the Bible that have appeared, that come about from one or a handful of individuals who take upon themselves the task of correcting doctrine in the Bible that they perceive has been altered over the centuries. I’m thinking of examples like The New World Translation, used by Jehovah’s Witnesses, or The Passion Translation, used in some hyper charismatic churches. Both these translations go away from the original manuscripts, adding or changing concepts.
For example, in nearly every Bible, John 1:1 says
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
In the New World Translation, it says
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.
This helps the JW doctrine that teaches that Jesus (the Word) was not part of the triune God, but was instead the first creation of Jehovah. This is an incredibly key alteration that impacts an entire doctrine, and thus, the understanding of salvation.
There are many alterations in the text of The Passion Translation, a study on this could take hours. Holly Pivec (Biola University) and Prof. Doug Geivett (Biola University) have done a great amount of research into TPT and the type of Christianity that it’s come from, and Holly has put together a fact sheet here: Passion-Translation-Fact-Sheet-1.pdf (squarespace.com)
In it, Holly gives an example of an alteration:
Example 1: Take note of the addition of teaching about the Holy Spirit and the deletion of admonitions to correct and rebuke.
2 Timothy 4:2
Standard English Translations:
- “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and
exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (English Standard Version)
- “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and
encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” (New International
- “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke,
exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” (New King James Version)
- The Passion Translation: “proclaim the Word of God and stand upon it no matter what! Rise to the occasion and preach when it is convenient and when it is not. Preach in the full expression of the Holy Spirit—with wisdom and patience as you instruct and teach the people.” (TPT)
Whilst this doesn’t impact the doctrine of salvation as the example above from NWT, it certainly adds to Christian doctrine in a way that can mislead Christians in their walk and growth with God. The removal of admonitions to rebuke is part of a teaching that is all about the exciting, Holy Spirit experiences of Christianity, leaving out the more challenging parts of faith.
I know people who love TPT because it speaks to them in a different way from ordinary translations because of the poetic nature of the language. As a piece of poetry, its very eloquent, but as God’s true word, untrustworthy.
I think it’s important to understand the different types of errors that can arise in Bible translation. We certainly need God’s wisdom as we read new translations that come along.