Psalm 8:5 "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels", or "a little less than God"?
There is a huge difference between the King James Bible's translation of Psalm 8:5 and those of many modern versions. The KJB tells us that God made us a little lower than angels.
The KJB reading is also the one found in the Greek Septuagint and Lamsa's translation of the Syriac Peshitta.
Psalm 8:5 "For thou hast made him a little lower than THE ANGELS, and hast crowned him with glory and honour."
The verse is even quoted in the New Testament in the book of Hebrews.
Hebrews 2:7 - "Thou madest him a little lower than THE ANGELS; thou crownedst him with glory and honour"
However, in Psalm 8:5 many modern versions tell us that we were made a little lower than God himself.
ASV, Catholic Jerusalem bible - For thou hast made him BUT A LITTLE LOWER THAN GOD, And crownest him with glory and honor.
RSV, Holman Standard, NASB "You made him LITTLE LESS THAN GOD."
NRSV 1989 - "you have made them A LITTLE LOWER THAN GOD", but footnotes: 'or than divine beings or angels'
The Message - "Yet WE'VE SO NARROWLY MISSED BEING GODS, bright with Eden's dawn light."
Young's - "And causest him to lack A LITTLE OF GODHEAD."
NIV 1978, 1984 editions, ESV 2001-2011 - "You made him a little lower than THE HEAVENLY BEINGS".
NIV 1984 footnote "or, than God."
However the NIV 2011 has once again changed their text and now it says: "You have made them A LITTLE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS." Footnote "Or than God."
The Contemporary English Version 1995 and the Names of God Bible 2011 - "You made us (him) A LITTLE LOWER THAN YOURSELF"
Green’s Literal 2005 has - “For you have made him LACK A LITTLE FROM GOD”
The Common English Bible 2011 - "You’ve made them ONLY SLIGHTLY LESS THAN DIVINE."
The International Standard Version of 2014 has "You made him A LITTLE LESS THAN DIVINE"
The blasphemous Ancient Roots Translinear Bible 2008 actually says: “You wanted a little god, and encircled him with honor and respect.”
Daniel Wallace's Gender Bender NET version reads: "Of what importance is the human race, that you should notice them? Of what importance is mankind, that you should pay attention to them and make them a little less than THE HEAVENLY BEINGS? You grant mankind honor and majesty."
The Catholic Connection
Among the Catholic versions we see the usual confusion. The earlier Douay-Rheims of 1610 as well as the 1950 Douay and even the St. Joseph New American Bible of 1970 all read like the King James Bible with "Thou hast made him a little less than THE ANGELS".
But then the 1968 Jerusalem bible and then the 1985 New Jerusalem changed this to "Yet you have made him LITTLE LESS THAN A GOD" - "little less than a god".
Jehovah Witness New World Translation - Psalm 8:5 "You also proceeded to make him A LITTLE LESS THAN GODLIKE ONES"
Brother John Hinton, Ph.D., a strong King James Bible defender, of Bible Restoration Ministry rightly comments: "Does it make sense to say that we are made a little lower than God? This implies what Hindus, New Agers, Mormons and other pagans say about man being bound for godhood. If we are a little lower than God, can we not work a little harder and become gods ourselves? This idea was actually presented to mankind in the Bible. It was presented to Eve through the mouth of Satan in the garden of Eden.
Genesis 3:5 "for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be AS GODS, knowing good and evil."
"This is, of course, a lie and it contradicts the entire Bible. We are vile sinners that are lost and on our way to hell if not for the grace granted to us by Christ. If we were just a little lower than God without a Saviour, what would we become once we are lifted up by a Saviour? Ask a high level Mormon for the answer to that question. Spiritual discernment alone tells us that elohim does not mean God in this verse. Our alleged slightly lower status than God's is the message of the serpent, not of God's Word."
"The Book of Hebrews not only explains the verse, but it actually quotes it, and it does translate elohim with the Greek word for angels. It should be noted that even the corrupt Westcott-Hort and Nestle-Aland pseudo-texts also have 'angelous' in this passage. Hebrews 2:6-7 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than THE ANGELS; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands." - (John Hinton)
See also John Hinton's article on Psalms 8:5 here -
A member at our Which Version club posted a link to a Christian blog in which the author was criticizing the reading found in the King James Bible. It is of utmost importance to point out that neither this member nor the man who wrote the blog believes any Bible is the pure and inspired words of God.
I have found this to be true of every person who criticizes the King James Bible. In fact, so you will know where he is coming from, here are his own words which he posted at our bible club: "The ESV is my favorite. I'm certain it's not perfect though. And yes, I believe only the originals are inspired... I don't have to defend a particular translation, and I have no need to believe any bible out there in any language is the complete, pure and infallible words of God that I can go out and get a copy of at Walmart. I don't see such a belief as this warranted by scriptures themselves."
Obviously this man does not believe any Bible on this earth is the pure and 100% true words of God. He doesn't even consider the version he prefers and uses to criticize the King James Bible to be the infallible words of God. Such is the mentality of all Bible Critics.
The blog he refers us to is typical of those who promote the idea that No Bible in any language, including the Hebrew and Greek, is now the inerrant words of God.
This "Every man for himself" bible version promoter says: "Upon comparing the ESV and KJV on Psalm 8, I decided that the decision to change my wording was based on the ESV's choice of the phrase "heavenly beings" over the KJV's "angels." Interestingly enough, the word in question is elohim, the most frequently used title for the true God in the Old Testament. It is curious that, although the word is used numerous times, this is the only place in which the KJV translates it "angels." The original wording explains why the ASV and NASB render Psalm 8:5, "Yet thou hast made him a little lower than God..." Following their lead, the CEV says, "You made us a little lower than you yourself...."
The ESV obviously went with a literal translation. However, not wanting to be as strong as some of the other versions, it stopped short of using the term "God" and went with "heavenly beings," leaving the reader to use the context to decide whether David meant God or the angels. I see nothing wrong with this decision. David had a Hebrew word available to him if he wanted to speak of angels (malak), but he chose to use elohim. It seems to me that we need to respect that."
Some preachers and teachers harbor undue suspicion towards all modern translations. But a Bible doesn't have to bear the name "King James" in order to be an accurate translation of the original Greek. I don't agree with every decision made by the translators of the ESV (cf. Mal. 2:16; Rom. 10:10), but for the most part it is an excellent translation. Considering the way the English language has evolved, it is far riskier to use the KJV in writing and teaching." (End of selected portions of bloggers notes)
Let's examine some of his thoughts. First of all, it is clear that he sets up his own mind and understanding as his final authority. He has no infallible Bible, and doesn't even always agree with his own ESV.
For those who might wish to know more about what is wrong with the new "Vatican Version" called the ESV (English Standard Version), I have written a article about it found here:
The Ever Changing ESVs 2001, 2007 and 2011 = just another Vatican Version
Secondly, how can the phrase "heavenly beings" possibly refer to God? I can see the likelihood of it referring to angels, but not to God. Heavenly "beingS" is plural, but there is only one God. The Bible never refers to God as "heavenly beingS". Is he now promoting the multiple Gods theory?
Thirdly, his argument about "this is the only time the KJV translates the Hebrew word as angels", and "David had a Hebrew word for "angels" but he chose Elohim" totally breaks down under the weight of blatant hypocrisy.
There are numerous examples in all bible versions of translating a particular Hebrew or Greek word usually one way, but only once another way. In fact, the ESV's own phrase "heavenly beings" is the only time it is so translated. In addition to this, not only does the ESV translate the Hebrew Elohim as God or gods, but also as "MIGHTY wrestlings" (Genesis 30:8); "a VERY GREAT panic" (1 Samuel 14:15; and "Nineveh was an EXCEEDING great city".
Likewise, the NASB and NIV also translate this same Hebrew word Elohim as "divine, divine being, exceedingly, the JUDGE (Exodus 22:8,9), great, RULER, and even "shrine" (NASB - Judges 17:5). The NIV even translates the 'literal' SONS OF GOD three times as "the ANGELS" in Job 1:6; 2:1, and 38:7.
The argument about David having a special word for "angel" and not using it here also falls apart when we look not only at the King James Bible but also at the NASB, NIV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, and his favorite though not inspired ESV.
All of these versions take a completely different Hebrew word and translate it as "Man did eat ANGEL'S food" in Psalm 78:25. In fact, this single Hebrew word Abbeer is translated in the modern versions as "angels (by the way, only once), bulls, strong, valient, stouthearted, mighty ones, and chiefest."
Fourthly, when this Bible corrector talks about "the original Greek", he's hoping you will not notice that there is no such animal as "the original Greek", and he wouldn't know what it looked like if it fell on his head. There are currently some 25 very different printed Greek texts, all of which often differ from each other in thousands of words, and nobody considers any of them to be the pure, complete, and infallible words of God.
The RSV omits some 45 entire verses from the New Testament, while the NIV omits 17 plus a couple thousand other words, and the ESV omits more whole verses than the NIV, but not as many as the previous RSV. When he speaks of "the original Greek" he doesn't really have anything specific in mind, but merely wants you to think he believes in something he knows doesn't really exist.
And finally, have you ever noticed that almost every "No bible is inspired or inerrant" guy out there always takes his potshots at the King James Bible? Why not attack all the other "Your guess is as good as mine" ballpark approximation versions?
I believe it is for the very same reason that only Christianity is publicly mocked and ridiculed, and not the other world religions. Satan hates the Truth, and that is what he always attacks.
As we shall see in a moment, the King James Bible is by no means the only Bible version to correctly render this word as ANGELS in Psalm 8:5. Many other translators disagree with our Bible Rummager here, and believe the word Elohim refers to angels in this verse in Psalms.
Let it be known that I do not hold any "scholar" or commentator to be my final authority for what the true words of God are. My final written authority is the Authorized King James Holy Bible, and nothing else. Scholars constantly disagree with each other regarding what they think the proper texts should be, what they mean, and how they should be translated. What one scholar confidently affirms, another just as firmly denies. I merely mention the comments of a few of them here so you can see that not all of them agree with the KJB critics.
Adam Clarke actually says: "The original is certainly very emphatic: Thou hast lessened him for a little time from God. Or, Thou hast made him less than God for a little time."
This absurd comment by Adam Clarke implies that man will some day be equal to God, doesn't it? In fact, if we look closely as the NASB and compare the two Scriptures, we could also draw the same conclusion. In Psalm 8:5 the NASB says: "You have made him a little lower than God", but in Hebrews 2:7 it says: "You have made him FOR A LITTLE WHILE lower than the angels." Implied in the NASB rendering is that AFTER A LITTLE WHILE man will be higher than the angels. So, what is the next level above the angels? It can only be God, right?
John Gill discusses both readings of "God" and "angels" and the reasoning for both, and concludes: "but since the word is rendered "angels" by the Chaldee paraphrase, the Septuagint interpreters, the Jewish commentators, Aben Ezra, Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, and in the Arabic, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions, and above all by the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, it is best to interpret it of them (the angels)."
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown agree with the King James reading - "God has placed man next in dignity to angels, and but a little lower, and has crowned him with the empire of the world."
John Calvin says:"The Septuagint render Elohim, by angels, of which I do not disapprove, since this name, as is well known, is often given to angels."
Matthew Henry agrees with the KJB reading, saying: "he is made but a little lower than the angels, lower indeed, because by his body he is allied to the earth and to the beasts that perish, and yet by his soul, which is spiritual and immortal, he is so near akin to the holy angels that he may be truly said to be but a little lower than they, and is, in order, next to them. He is but for a little while lower than the angels, while his great soul is cooped up in a house of clay, but the children of the resurrection shall be isangeloi--angels' peers (Luke 20:36) and no longer lower than they."
John Wesley concurs: "Thou hast in Christ mercifully restored man to his primitive estate, wherein he was but one remove below the angels; from which he was fallen by sin."
King James Bible and the other Bible Versions.
Other versions that read Psalm 8:5 just as the King James Bible with: "For thou hast made him a little lower than the ANGELS" are the 1917 Jewish Publication Society translation, the 1936 Hebrew Publishing Company's translation, the 1998 Complete Jewish Bible, and the Judiaca Press Complete Tanach of 2005.
Thus we see that four of the most common Jewish translations into English read "angels" just as the King James Bible. These Jewish scholars might know a little more about the meaning of their own native language than some wannabe scholar who took a year or two of Hebrew in seminary.
In addition to these Jewish translations we also have these other Bible translations that agree with the King James reading of "angels": The Latin Vulgate 425 A.D.; Clementine Vulgate, the so called Greek Septuagint, the Wycliffe Bible of 1395 - "Thou hast maad hym a litil lesse than aungels", Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible, Matthew's Bible 1549 - "made him lower then the aungels", Bishops' Bible 1568, Webster's 1833 translation, Living Oracles 1835, the Lesser Old Testament, Darby 1890, Lamsa's 1933 translation of the Syriac Peshitta, the Catholic Douay version 1950, the Catholic St. Joseph New American Bible 1970, the Complete Apostle's Bible 2003, New Century Version 1991, New Life Bible 1969, the Living Bible (but the New Living Bible has "God"), the NKJV 1982, the KJV 21st Century Version 1994, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, the Complete Jewish Bible 1998, the New Heart English Bible 2005, the English Jubilee Bible 2010, the NIV 2011 edition, the Aramaic Bible in Plain English 2012 - "You made him a little lower than the Angels" and the Knox Bible of 2012.
Other English Bibles that also read "Thou hast made him A LITTLE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS" are Bond Slave Version 2009, Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011, Conservative Bible 2011, The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011, the World English Bible 2012 - "For you have made him A LITTLE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS" and The Holy Bible, Modern English Version 2014.
This online Hebrew interlinear Old Testament - “than THE ANGELS”
The Jewish Virtual Library Complete Tanach 1994
“For thou hast made him a little lower than THE ANGELS, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.”
The Complete Tanach by Judaica Press
“Yet You have made him slightly less than THE ANGELS, and You have crowned him with glory and majesty.”
The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907 - “For thou hast made him a little lower than THE ANGELS”
The Jewish Publication Society Old Testament 1917 - “Yet Thou hast made him but little lower than THE ANGELS, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.”
The Complete Jewish Bible 1998 - You made him but little lower than THE ANGELS, you crowned him with glory and honor”
Foreign Language Bibles - Psalm 8:5
Among foreign language translations that have "a little lower than the ANGELS" are the Spanish Las Sagradas Escrituras 1569, the Reina Valera 1909, 1960, 1995, La Biblia de las Américas 1997, La Nueva Biblia de los Hispanos 2005, and the 2010 R.V. Gómez Bible - "lo has hecho un poco menor que los ángeles" the Dutch Staten Vertaling - "dan de engelen", the Polish Biblia Gdanska - "go od Aniołów", the Russian Synodal Bible 1876 - "Ангелами", the Italian Diodati 1649 and the Conferenza Episcopale Italiana-"l’abbi fatto poco minor degli Angeli", the French Martin 1744 and Ostervald 1996 - "moindre que les Anges", the German Elberfelder 1871 and the German Schlachter Bible of 2000 - "niedriger gemacht als die Engel", the Modern Greek Bible, the Portuguese O Livro 2000 and the Portuguese Almeida 1681 and A Sagrada Biblia em Portugués - "Pois pouco menor o fizeste do que os anjos", and the Modern Greek Bible - "Συ δε εκαμες αυτον ολιγον τι κατωτερον των αγγελων"
Another textual issue concerning the New Testament text that quotes Psalm 8 in Hebrews chapter 2 should be addressed. This shows the utter confusion among the modern "Every man for himself" versionists.
In Hebrews 2:7 we see the complete quote which agrees with the Hebrew text of Psalm 8:5-6. In the King James Bible we read: "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, AND DIDST SET HIM OVER THE WORKS OF THY HANDS."
This is the reading found in a vast multitude of manuscripts including Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, C, D, the Old Latin copies ar, b, d, and v, the Latin Vulgate, the Syriac Peshitta, Harkelian, Coptic Sahidic and Boharic, the Armenian, Ethiopic, Georgian and Slavonic ancient versions. It is also the reading found in Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale, Coverdale, Bishops's Bible, Geneva Bible, Luther's German, the Spanish Reina Valera 1909-1995, Douay-Rheims, Italian Diodati, and the NKJV.
Even Westcott and Hort included these words in their first critical text and the words are found in many modern versions that were based on the WH text including: Weymouth, the Revised Version, American Standard Version, the NASB, Amplified, New Life Version and even in The Message.
However the UBS critical texts have now once again changed their texts and now omit these words, and so do the NIV, RSV, ESV, Holman Standard and the NET version by Daniel Wallace.
Daniel Wallace gives us these silly footnotes for omitting the words "and didst set him over the works of thy hands": "Several witnesses, many of them early and important (Sinaiticus, A C D* P 0243 0278 33 1739 1881 al lat co), have at the end of v 7, “You have given him dominion over the works of your hands.” Other mss, not quite as impressive in weight, lack the words (Ì46 B D2 Ï). In spite of the impressive external evidence for the longer reading, it is most likely a scribal addition to conform the text of Hebrews to Ps 8:6."
So, in spite of the fact that the two "oldest and best" manuscripts upon which most modern fake bibles are based (Sinaiticus and Vaticanus) differ from each other, and the Hebrew texts read the same way as does the KJB reading in Hebrews 2:7, good ol' Daniel "scribal error" Wallace has decided to also omit these inspired words from the book of the LORD.
The modern Bible Babel versions do not even agree among themselves both in texts and meanings in literally hundreds of verses. Small wonder that more and more Christians today openly confess that they do not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture.
The King James Bible is always right. Accept no substitutes.
All of grace,
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