Testimonies about Bible Translations by past leaders of Bible Christianity

Topic:   Bible Translations Type:   Articles Author: R.   A.  Torrey

R. A. Torrey

No one, as far as I know, holds that the English translation of the Bible is absolutely infallible and inerrant. The doctrine held by many is that the Scriptures as originally given were absolutely infallible and inerrant, and that our English translation is a substantially accurate rendering of the Scriptures as originally given. We do not possess the original manuscripts of the Bible. These original manuscripts were copied many times with great care and exactness, but naturally some errors crept into the copies that were made. We now possess so many good copies that by comparing one with another, we can tell with great precision just what the original text was. Indeed, for all practical purposes the original text is now settled. There is not one important doctrine that hangs upon any doubtful reading of the text. But when our Authorised Version was made some of the best manuscripts were not within reach of the translators, and the science of textual criticism was not so well understood as it is today, and so the translation was made from an imperfect text. Not a few of the apparent difficulties in the Bible arise from this source.

For example, we are told in John 5:4 that "an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had." This statement for many reasons seems improbable and difficult to believe, but upon investigation we find that it is all a mistake of the copyist. Some early copyist, reading John’s account, added in the margin his explanation of the healing properties of this intermittent medicinal spring. A late copyist embodied this marginal note in the body of the text, and so it came to be handed down and got into the Authorized Version. Very properly it has been omitted from the Revised Version.

The discrepancies in figures in different accounts of' the same events, as, for example, the differences in the ages of some of the kings as given in the text of Kings and Chronicles, doubtless arise from the same cause, errors of copyists. Such an error in the matter of figures would be very easy to make, as in the Hebrew numbers are denoted by letters, and letters that appear very much alike have a very different value as figures. For example, the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet denotes one, and with two little points above it, not larger than fly-specks, it denotes a thousand. The twenty-third or last letter of the Hebrew alphabet denotes four hundred, but the eighth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, that looks very much like it and could be easily mistaken for it, denotes eight. A very slight error of the copyist would therefore make an utter change in figures. The remarkable thing when one contemplates the facts in the case is that so few errors of this kind have been made.

[Torrey, R. A., Difficulties in the Bible. 1917, pp. 17, 18].

[In his magnum opus, What the Bible Teaches, Torrey states:]

"Whenever possible the text of the Authorized Version has been given. In many instances this was impossible, as the Revised Version is manifestly more exact. Had it appeared that the Revised Version would soon obtain that general acceptance and use which it seems to so richly deserve, the author would have adopted it throughout; except in those rare instances where it is manifestly in error. In very few instances, indeed, has it been necessary to adopt renderings differing from both the Authorized Version and the Revised Version, and from the American appendix to the Revised Version"

Westwood: NJ, Revell, 1933, pp. 1-2.

Bob Jones, Jr. William B. Riley James M. Gray

Louis Gaussen

R. A. Torrey Charles H. Spurgeon
John Gill

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This Page Last Updated: 12/09/98 A. Allison Lewis aalewis@christianbeliefs.org