A post has recently been doing rounds on Facebook. It begins by revealing that Harper Colins, who apparently own Zondervan, also publish the Satanic Bible and ‘The Joy of Gay Sex’. Having repulsed you with this, it then goes on to show you that the NIV has left out important verses in the Bible. You put 2 + 2 together. The Satanists are behind the NIV and are slowly editing away God’s word verse by verse. A lot of confusion ensues. A dear friend sent me an email about it. With his permission, I share my reply to him.
When you sent me the inbox about the NIV post, it wasn’t the first time I was seeing it. It has recently been doing rounds in the internet.
About Harper Collins
Concerning the report that publishers of the NIV are owned by people who published the Satanic Bible, I am saddened that there is a satanic Bible, and even more that there is someone willing to spend money in publishing it.
Publishers like Harper Collins and others are simply business people. They do not publish with a ministry goal but a financial one. I have seen copies of our beloved ESV Bible published by Harper Collins as well. Gone are the days when only Bible Societies published Bibles. The same is true of Christian books. Some formerly orthodox publishers are now publishing ‘theological’ books not faithful to the Bible. Let me not begin on examples. You’ll only hear that ‘the views expressed in this book are not necessarily held by the publisher’. These days publishing is more of a commercial enterprise than a religious one. To them it is just a book that will sell well and bring in money.
All that to say that the fact that Harper has published the NIV doesn’t confirm anything about whether it is a good version of not. Harper are not the ones who removed the verses. Even the ESV, RSV, HCSB and NASB, which are published by Bible Societies and Christian publishers, don’t have the verses that the NIV is claimed to have removed.
Notice that even NIVs published by our own Biblica do not have the disputed verses, and have the same content as the ones by Harper Collins. The Facebook article makes it look as if Harper Collins had an agenda in removing these verses. The verses have never been there in any NIV! Or any other well-known versions other than the KJV and NKJV.
About the missing verses
Now to the question of the missing verses. Have they been removed? The simple answer is NO.
But how come the verses are there in the KJV and not in the NIV, RSV, ESV, NASB, HCSB? (By the way I own copies of all the versions I’ve listed, and refer to them, especially when studying. I do this simply because I know many people I preach to own them, especially the NIV. I use an ESV, myself). The answer to this question is simple as well. Here goes:
As you know, the Bible you own is an English translation of the original languages (Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic). If you notice, the verses that the NIV is claimed to have removed are all from the New Testament. This is because there is a difference between the Greek sources from which the KJV is translated and from which these other versions are translated. (The New Testament authors wrote in Greek).
Now, we don’t have the exact paper (or papyrus) on which Paul wrote in his handwriting, but we have copies of his original letter. There are various copies of it, and because of the mistakes of some copyists, you get a bit of variation in what they wrote. Wait. Assume that 100 people were asked to copy this email by hand. One person might make a mistake on one sentence, but it will be easy to know where there’s a mistake because you will compare his one with the other 99 and determine the true words I wrote in the original.
The translators do the work of comparing these copies (known as manuscripts), and arrive at the original words with great accuracy. By the way there are thousands, not hundreds, of manuscripts available. What we have now is fully trustworthy as Paul’s words.
Where the KJV differs
The KJV and NKJV (which is just a revision of the KJV) are translated from a set of manuscripts which are different from the manuscripts used to translate the other versions. The fact that almost the whole of the KJV is just like the NIV except on these few verses quoted by people shows you how closely accurate these manuscripts are. However, the translators of the KJV do not compare manuscripts. They use one set of manuscripts known as the Textus Receptus (‘the received text’).
For many years, the Textus Receptus was the oldest manuscripts available. However, much older reliable manuscripts were found, and compared together for greater accuracy. These older manuscripts, being older and therefore closer to the time of the originals, were more reliable. It is from them that versions like the ESV and NIV are translated. Note therefore that the KJV may be an older English translation, but it is translated from younger manuscripts, compared to the manuscripts form which the NIV and others are translated. The manuscripts from which the NIV and others are translated are known as the Eclectic Texts, which simply mean ‘an assortment of texts’.
Because the older manuscripts are very many in number (actually tens of thousands), and are closer to the time when Paul and the others actually wrote, they are more reliable. This means that it is actually in the KJV manuscripts, which are later manuscripts, that these ‘extra’ verses exist. People think the KJV is the one that is older and more reliable, but when you are talking the Greek manuscripts, the NIV and others are the ones that are older and more reliable, though their English translations came later! You could say the KJV came to us first, having added verses/phrases, rather than say the NIV and other versions came later, having removed them.
The non-KJV translators are sensitive to these ‘differences’, since they know that many English speaking people are used to the KJV. Therefore, in the footnotes, they always add a phrase like ‘some manuscripts insert/have …’ and then they insert the verses that people claim have been deleted. Check the footnotes. The verses are there! But they don’t really belong in the text, that’s why they aren’t included.
Does it matter very much?
I don’t think it does. The verses added by the KJV are usually repetitions of something already said elsewhere in the Bible. They don’t add any new teaching which is lost in the NIV or ESV or NASB or others.
Take for example Romans 8:1. The ESV (like the NIV) doesn’t have ‘who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit’. But it is right there in verse 4, that those who are in Christ walk not according to the flesh! The NIV/ESV has not ‘deleted’ this teaching. If they wanted to, why did they include it very clearly in verse 5, only 3 verses later?
Another example is John 5:4 where we are told the NIV deletes verse 4 where it is explained that the water needs to be stirred for the sick man to jump in. The sick man says it himself in v. 7, and so nothing is lost!
A version I recommend?
I prefer the ESV or NASB. I only use the NIV because many people have it and I get to preach a lot to people who have it. The reasons behind my preference for the ESV is because it translates more literally. It tries as well as possible to give you the translation of the words, rather than interpreting the verse for you. (Note the difference between translating and interpreting. A more common general way of explaining the two is by saying ‘word-for-word’ translation vs. ‘thought-for-thought’ translation.). For this reason, the ESV/NASB are more difficult in their English than the NIV.
The NIV is still a useful Bible translation and I would say that you keep on using it for your daily reading, particularly for the Old Testament. When you want to do word studies and serious Bible study, get an ESV or HCSB or NASB which try more to be literal. Even the KJV is very good here, and I refer to my KJV a lot but not because it is ‘better’. In fact it is worse because not only don’t I understand some if its English, half the people I preach to may not as well! Once again, the KJV is essentially the same as the others, except for the added verses, if I may end with that cheeky comment!
Yours in the love of the Saviour who has given us His word.
(shared with Toni’s permission).