Are all bible versions 99.5% the same? Part One.
One of the common and most obvious falsehoods we often hear by those who rail against the idea that the King James Bible is the complete, inspired and 100% true words of God is the claim that all thousands of textual variations out there are very minor and not of any real importance, and that the various bible versions are basically 99.5% the same.
These ridiculous claims by those who do not believe that ANY Bible in ANY language are the complete, preserved and infallible words of God are so easily proven to be absurdly false that one has to assume that such people are either speaking out of complete ignorance of the facts or they are deliberately lying.
Those that make this claim, men like Norman Geisler, James White and other, have rejected not only the Traditional Reformation text called "the Textus Receptus (Received Text) but the so called "Majority Text" as well, and have limited themselves to the ever changing UBS/Nestle-Aland Vatican supervised "Critical Text", which is based primarily on TWO manuscripts (Sinaiticus and Vaticanus) that not only disagree with the Majority of remaining Greek manuscripts but they disagree with each other more than 3000 times (including many whole verses) just in the New Testament.
Here is one such claim found on a popular anti-King James Bible only site written by a man named Steve Rudd. http://www.bible.ca/b-kjv-only.htm
We will look carefully at what he says and then respond to his statements. He writes:
"This outline is designed to refute the view that the King James Version (KJV) is the only modern Bible on earth that is 100% accurate and error free. Foremost, we feel that the KJV is an EXCELLENT translation, but not the ONLY excellent translation. In over 90 percent of the New Testament, readings are identical word-for-word, regardless of the family. Of the remaining ten percent, MOST of the differences between the texts are fairly irrelevant, such as calling the Lord "Christ Jesus" instead of "Jesus Christ," or putting the word "the" before a noun. Less than two percent would significantly alter the meaning of a passage, and NONE of them would contradict or alter any of the basic points of Christian doctrine. What we have, then, is a dispute concerning less than one-half of one percent of the Bible. The other 99.5% we all agree on! Because there are over 14,000 manuscript copies of the New Testament we can absolutely be confident of its accuracy." Steve Rudd.
Responding to Mr. Rudd's Claims.
First of all, Mr. Rudd has a peculiar way of using the words telling us that "we feel that the KJV is AN EXCELLENT TRANSLATION". If he really thinks it is such an excellent translation, then why do so many of his other articles found on the same site go on and on, example after example, complaining about how the King James Bible is based on the wrong texts and has scores if not hundreds of translational errors?
Either his standard of "excellency" is very low or he is not willing to be honest and come right out and tell us that he thinks the King James Bible is an inferior and error ridden relic of the past that should be left behind and abandoned for something more modern and accurate.
Secondly, Mr. Rudd then tells us: "In over 90 percent of the New Testament, readings are identical word-for-word, regardless of the family. Of the remaining ten percent, MOST of the differences between the texts are fairly irrelevant, such as calling the Lord "Christ Jesus" instead of "Jesus Christ," or putting the word "the" before a noun. Less than two percent would significantly alter the meaning of a passage, and NONE of them would contradict or alter any of the basic points of Christian doctrine. What we have, then, is a dispute concerning less than one-half of one percent of the Bible. The other 99.5% we all agree on!"
Here is where Mr. Rudd goes completely off track and is either speaking out of ignorance or is flat out lying about the facts.
Modern version proponents (also known as Bible Agnostics because they do not know and cannot tell you with absolute certainty which parts of all the various contradictory versions are from God and which are not) often try to tell us that all the bible versions teach the same things doctrinally and so there is not need to get all upset about this King James Bible onlyism stuff.
Well, this simply is not true. There ARE definite doctrinal differences and it is these very real differences that prove the modern versions to be false witnesses. Please see
IF the modern versionist actually BELIEVES what his fake bibles teach, then he does believe in false doctrines and has erred from the truth.
Here are about 40 concrete examples of the falsehoods taught by these fake bible versions. Examples - God can be deceived by men (NASB, NET), Man can speed up the coming of the day of God (NIV, ESV), Pride and Boasting are Christian virtues (ESV, NASB, NIV, NKJV), Satan controls the world (NIV), ghosts exist (NKJV, NIV, NASB, ESV) and There are different races of men and some races are inferior to others (NASB, NIV)
"For ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of hosts our God." Jeremiah 23:36
Mr. Rudd is pretty close to the truth when he says there is about a 10% difference regarding the text of the Bible among the various translations out there today, but then he grossly overstates his case when he tries to pass off the majority of these as being nothing more than reversing the name of Jesus Christ or putting "the" before a noun. He is completely in error when he claims that "the other 99.5% we all agree on!"
Then he goes way over the top when he affirms as his conclusion: "Because there are over 14,000 manuscript copies of the New Testament we can absolutely be confident of its accuracy."
Let's check out the FACTS, OK?
Actually, what we see from recent polls is the the majority of present day Christians no longer believe that any Bible in any language is the complete and infallible words of God, and they are by no means "absolutely confident of its accuracy".
See "The Bible is NOT the Inspired and Inerrant Words of God"
Here is just one of the quotes regarding textual criticism you will find in this article.
"As New Testament textual criticism moves into the twenty-first century, it must shed whatever remains of its innocence, for nothing is simple anymore. Modernity may have led many to assume that a straightforward goal of reaching a single original text of the New Testament--or even a text as close as possible to that original--was achievable. Now, however, REALITY AND MATURITY REQUIRE THAT TEXTUAL CRITICISM FACE UNSETTLING FACTS, CHIEF AMONG THEM THAT THE TERM 'ORIGINAL' HAS EXPLODED INTO A COMPLEX AND HIGHLY UNMANAGEABLE MULTIVALENT ENTITY. Whatever tidy boundaries textual criticism may have presumed in the past have now been shattered, and its parameters have moved markedly not only to the rear and toward the front, but also sideways, as fresh dimensions of originality emerge from behind the variant readings and from other manuscript phenomena" (E. Jay Epps, "The Multivalence of the Term 'Original Text' In New Testament Textual Criticism," Harvard Theological Review, 1999, Vol. 92, No. 3, pp. 245-281; this article is based on a paper presented at the New Testament Textual Criticism Section, Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, Orlando, Florida, November 1998).
And this isn't even mentioning the Old Testament where versions like the RSV, NASB, NIV, ESV, NET and Holman Standard Versions reject the Hebrew texts hundreds of times and not even in the same places.
Here is just a sample. You can see many more here:
At another huge Muslim site called Muslim Awareness, in their article titled Textual Reliability/Accuracy of the New Testament - (you can see it here - http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Bible/Text/Bibaccuracy.html#3
They factually explode the often quoted statement by textual critic Bruce Metzger and repeated by most modern version promoters that "The N.T. text is 99.5% authenticated".
(My Note: This false claim of 99.5% the same for all New Testament versions IS false. In this instance the Muslim scholars are being more truthful than the modern day Evangelicals.
In their Conclusion at Islamic Awareness they state: "We can see that the modern day textual critics portray a very different set of statistics quite contrary to the over-hyped claims of the missionaries and apologists. The Alands, discussing the differences between seven popular critical editions of the New Testament, excluding orthographic differences and differences of only one word, calculate that 62.9% of the verses of the entire New Testament are in agreement with each other. Similarly, if we look at the statistics for the gospels, we find that there is a 54.5% agreement. If we look at the textual "certainty" of the United Bible Societies' The Greek New Testament, a text which is based on the decisions of a committee, the result is close to 83.5%. There is no mention of 99.5% agreement here. In a twist of irony further compounding the foolishness of the missionaries' and apologists' position, the Bibles they use (normally the NIV version) are based on the very same critical editions of the New Testament by the very same people who have calculated the above percentages!"
Dr. Kurt Aland and Dr. Barbara Aland calculated that all the variants between all of the New Testament manuscripts calculated to a 37.1% difference. (Dr. Kurt Aland and Dr. Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), p. 29.) That means that over a third of the New Testament has meaningful variants.
The Alexandrian Family is what underlies most of the modern versions of the Bible (NASB, ESV, NIV, NLT, etc.). The Alexandrian text is full of variants and makes up most of the 37.1% difference between all the Greek New Testament manuscripts. Early church father Origen (who lived in Alexandria) said about the local Bible copiers, "the differences among the manuscripts [of the Gospels] have become great, either through the negligence of some copyists or through the perverse audacity of others; they either neglect to check over what they have transcribed, or, in the process of checking, they lengthen or shorten, as they please." (Bruce Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, 3rd ed. (1991), pp. 151-152.)
Manuscript Comparison Chart
p 45 agrees with
p 66 agrees with
p 75 agrees with
p 45, 66, 75 agrees with
p 45, 66 agrees with
(The above chart data, taken from A Survey of the Researches into the Western Text of the Gospel & Acts; part two 1949-1969, by A.F.K. Kiln.)
Papyrus (p45) contains excerpts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts. It is presently in the Chester Beatty Museum, Dublin, Ireland.
Papyrus (p66) contains excerpts from the Gospel of John. It is presently located at Cologne/Geneve, in the Bibliotheque Bodmer.
Papyrus (p75) contains excerpts of Luke and John. It is presently located at Cologne/Geneve, in the Bibliotheque Bodmer.
Note, please, that these lately discovered manuscript fragments, agree more frequently with the Textus Receptus, than they do with Westcott and Hort's favored Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. P45 is thought to date from the 3rd century. P66 is dated around 200 A.D. And, P75 is dated from the beginning of the 3rd century.
Wilbur Pickering, ThM. PhD. writes in his book The Identity of the New Testament Text, 2014 -
"Bruce Metzger said, "It is understandable that in some cases different scholars will come to different evaluations of the significance of the evidence". A cursory review of the writings of textual scholars suggests that Metzger's "in some cases" is decidedly an understatement. In fact, even the same scholars will vacillate, as demonstrated by the "MORE THAN FIVE HUNDRED CHANGES" introduced into the third edition of the Greek text produced by the United Bible Societies as compared with the second edition (the same committee of five editors prepared both).
K. Aland, M. Black, C.M. Martini, B.M. Metzger, and A. Wikgren, eds., The Greek New Testament, third edition (New York: United Bible Societies, 1975), p. viii. Although this edition is dated 1975, Metzger's Commentary upon it appeared in 1971. The second edition is dated 1968. IT THUS APPEARS THAT IN THE SPACE OF THREE YEARS ('68-'71), WITH NO SIGNIFICANT ACCRETION OF NEW EVIDENCE, THE SAME GROUP OF FIVE SCHOLARS CHANGED THEIR MIND IN OVER 500 PLACES. IT IS HARD TO RESIST THE SUSPICION THAT THEY WERE GUESSING."
The changes between the 25th and 27th editions of the Nestle-Aland NTG are also interesting -- 763 changes, of which 408 occur in the Gospels.
(My note: At our Which Version club a member asked me if I really believed these statistics by the Alands, etc. Well, Yes. That is what they say as can be seen here where they discuss the Greek New Testament (it is NOT a Muslim site)-
What does Kurt Aland have to say about this? Mr. Aland is one of the chief editors of the Nestle-Aland Critical Greek Text, which is the textual basis for the Vatican supervised versions like the ESV, NIV, NASB, Holman, NET, Jehovah Witness NWT and the modern Catholic versions.
Undeniable Proof the ESV, NIV, NASB, Holman Standard, NET, Jehovah Witness NWT etc. are the new "Vatican Versions" Part One - the Documentation
Undeniable Proof the ESV, NIV, Holman Standard, NET, NASBs, Jehovah Witness NWT are the new "Vatican Versions" Part TWO, which shows the whole verses, phrases and word omissions common to them all.
In The Text of the New Testament, Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland compare the total number of variant-free verses, and the number of variants per page (excluding orthographic errors), among the seven major editions of the Greek NT (Tischendorf, Westcott-Hort, von Soden, Vogels, Merk, Bover, and Nestle-Aland) concluding 62.9%, or 4999/7947, agreement. They concluded, "THUS IN NEARLY TWO-THIRDS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT TEXT, the seven editions of the Greek New Testament which we have reviewed ARE IN COMPLETE ACCORD, with no differences other than in orthographical details (e.g., the spelling of names, etc.). Verses in which any one of the seven editions differs by a single word are not counted. THIS RESULT IS QUITE AMAZING, DEMONSTRATING A FAR GREATER AGREEMENT AMONG THE GREEK TEXTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT during the past century THAN TEXTUAL SCHOLARS WOULD HAVE SUSPECTED. In the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation the agreement is less, while in the letters it is much greater"
Total Number Of Verses
Variants per page
In "The Text Of The New Testament", Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland compare the total number of variant-free verses, and the number of variants per page (excluding orthographic errors), among the seven major editions of the Greek NT (Tischendorf, Westcott-Hort, von Soden, Vogels, Merk, Bover and Nestle-Aland) concluding 62.9% agreement." - K. Aland and B. Aland, "The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions & to the Theory & Practice of Modern Textual Criticism", 1995, op. cit., p. 29-30.
(My note: And then they call this 62.9% "an amazing agreement among the Greek texts, greater than the textual scholars would have suspected."!!! And even then the Alands did not include the Traditional Greek Texts or the Trinitarian Bible Society Greek text by Scrivener that shows the basic Greek text that underlies the vast majority of all Reformation Bibles, whether in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian or Portuguese, and of course the King James Bible. If they had included it in their comparison study, the textual agreement would have been far, far less than their 62.9%.)
Be sure to see "Are All Bibles 99% the Same? Part Two"
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