What Translation Should I Use?
Among Bible believing Christians, there is some debate over which English translation, and which sets of Greek manuscripts are the best to use. Even in Matthew Henry's (1662-1714 AD) day, they were quibbling over 1 John 5:7-8 because it is a minority and late text in the very few copies of 1 John that were and are available. Matthew Henry takes a long pause to discuss the issue in his commentary. He was in favor of the Text concerning the Trinity. I have been studying this issue since 1998. I have read a plethora of arguments from modern textual critics who support the Critical text (which is now the majority view in Christendom) and arguments from those who support the Majority of manuscripts. I don't think that there is as much conflict when dealing with the Old Testament, but the New Testament controversy has been a sight to see. I have changed my position several times since I have begun the study. Every time I find a scrap of evidence, it seems to change some views, and temper others. In all of the arguments given, I have seen good ones and bad ones from both camps. The bad ones are usually an overexaggeration of a small fact or misinformation due to rumors or someones opinion. The opinions aren't so much important to me as the textual, Biblical, historical, and scientific evidence. I am interested in this issue because it is so foundational to the doctrine and text that we hold to. Mainly the doctrine of inerrancy and preservation of God's Holy Word. As far as the other doctrines of the faith, I have not seen any major difference or change between the Critical and Majority texts. What I mean is, what is missing in one text of the Critical version and present in the Majority can be found in another text of the Critical somewhere else. One easy example would be Luke 4:4. Luke 4:4 in the Majority states "But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." (NKJV). The Critical reads "And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone." (ESV). Thankfully, the complete text shows up in Matthew 4:4 in the Critical text: "But he answered, "It is written, "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." (ESV). The question is: "What did Jesus say? and Did Luke originally record the second half of the verse?" I personally believe that Luke's account originally had the text "but by every word of God." There is good evidence to suggest so. Many in favor of the Critical text would say that some scribe inserted the second half to create harmony, which is a theory. If that were true, I think (Theory) that they would have done a better job and harmonized some of the other difficult texts in the synoptic Gospels, and they did not. Textual criticism is a science, and they have some excellent ideas, but just like in science, if the test is flawed, then the results are going to be. They could be right in their assumptions, but they are just that, assumptions (Theories). Their methods of testing are based upon certain rational methods of assumption and the truth is that we all have presuppositions when testing and researching. But, we are dealing with a God of miracles! Both sides of this issue have the same evidence, but are coming to many different conclusions. The Majority text has been used for many years and it is my belief that they (being all of the manuscripts) are a perfect representation as a whole of God's original inspiration. It is my belief that God has perfectly preserved His Word regardless of human error. Face it, he used imperfect men to originally write the New Testament just like He has used imperfect men to preserve it. I think that the science of Textual Criticism is interesting, but it is based on a cynical presupposition (man's inability) and ignores the hope of God's Word (God's ability). I am not in favor of this. Presently Modern Critics are honing in on the controversial ending of Mark, and the text of John 7:53-8:11 to remove it from the printed Bible. The latter text is the story of the woman caught in adultery. The question is: "Did it happen? and Is it Scripture?" Some textual critics believe it isn't, but my belief is that it is. Saint Augustine said in his day (354-430 AD) that many were deleting John 7:53-8:11 because of a pious fear that it would promote sexual promiscuity. Even in his day there were Textual Critics.
As far as Translations go, I think that the best and most accurate one representing the Majority text is the KJV. I say that only because it preserves words like "Dragon" instead of translating it into the word "jackal" for whatever reason (By the way, science and history findings now suggest that the dragons mentioned in the Bible could have actually been dinosaurs. The word Dinosaur wasn't coined until the 1800's. Before that they were called dragons. fyi) . It also preserves the translation of "hell" rather than watering it down to a transliteration of "sheol" or "hades." Nevertheless, the NKJV is an excellent translation and is an easier read, so I recommend it. The Evidence Bible which is put out by The Way of the Master Ministries is a good one of the KJV. It simply takes out the Thees and Thous but doesn't change the translation much. I like it. As far as the Critical text goes, the ESV and the NASB are the best translations in my opinion. The ESV is actually closer to the KJV by way of word preservation when it comes to the texts that aren't deleted. Of these two I prefer the ESV.
The good thing about the differences in the Majority and Critical Texts are that they do not change any major doctrine. Doctrines such as Justification, Sanctification, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, The Trinity, God's attributes, etc...... can be supported with both texts. However, I believe that the Majority text is the better and accurate New Testament text for the reasons I gave above, and because the manuscripts originate from the region that the Apostle Paul and many other disciples came from. It also has the most existing relatives, and there are manuscripts in other ancient languages that agree with the majority text that date back almost to the same era as the Critical text manuscripts (Evidence of evangelism. fyi). Historical references as far as what I have seen lean toward a majority reading. I don't believe that Acts 8:37 and 1 John 5:7-8 and many other texts deserve to be deleted from our Bibles. The arguments given are interesting, but I haven't seen enough to convince me that those texts should be removed. Therefore, I am going to hold to the Traditional text because I believe that the most accurate text is the one with the most descendants. Below are three videos promoting the NKJV. One is on the case for the NKJV, Two is on the textual issue, which is what I have written about here, and Three is on the method of translation. I hope that you will watch and be encouraged. I think that it is helpful.