Bible Versions

Acts 19:20: A Test Case for Translation Evaluation

NOTE: This article is reprinted with permission from As I See It, a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek. AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at

by Doug Kutilek

Recognizing the precariousness of claiming inspiration, inerrancy or infallibility for an English translation, even the KJV, many in the KJV-only camp will declare that they believe in the perfect inspiration and preservation, not of the English version, but of the original language texts behind that version. In short, perfection in text is affirmed for the Greek “Textus Receptus” and the Hebrew “Masoretic Text” (now including vowel points and all). Of course, this view conveniently ignores the troubling questions: ”Which TR edition?” (since no two are identical) and “Which Masoretic text edition?” (no two being letter-perfect alike). But we will leave that matter aside in this discussion.

At any rate, accepting what these men affirm in principle, let us examine how it plays out in practice.

Two Biblical texts are tailor-made for our investigation, Acts 19:20 for the Greek and Isaiah 44:8 for the Hebrew. We shall address the former, and reserve the latter for another day.

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“I find myself suspecting very strongly that this was the most important thing that I have done for the Kingdom and that the product of our labors is perhaps the biggest milestone in Bible translation in the past fifty years or more.”

J.I. Packer on the ESV Bible

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Defining the Word – A Critical Book Review

Discuss this article.

Last year, Mike Sproul published these words, “Reading an original KJV 1611 is nearly impossible for a twenty-first century American. Reading Wycliffe or Tyndale is nearly impossible. Thomas Nelson has now published a book [King James Word Book (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1994) by Ronad Bridges and Luther A. Weigle] that lists hundreds of archaic words and phrases in the OKJV. This book will surprise readers with the numerous phrases in the OKJV that they thought they understood, but really did not. For example, I have been reared to listen to the KJV, memorize the KJV, preach from the KJV, and earned a B.A., M. Div., and D. Min., in schools that only use the KJV; yet I did not know the meaning of certain words in my translation. If I did not know these idiomatic expressions of archaic words, how could the modern ‘ploughboy’ know them?”1

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