Last time we considered the fact (not the theory!) of the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God [literally, God-breathed]" (11 Tim. 3:16). But what about Bible versions? Are any of them "God-breathed"?
The many Reformed churches use the Authorized Version (AV) for two main reasons. First, we believe that the AV is translated from the best Hebrew and Greek manuscripts - manuscripts that have been preserved in and used by the church over the centuries. These manuscripts are faithful to the autographs or original manuscripts penned by the prophets and apostles. In no age has God's church ever been without His pure Word, for the Scriptures have "by [God's] singular care and providence [been] kept pure in all ages, [and they] are therefore authentical"(Westminster Confession of Faith 1.8). Second, we believe that the AV is based on the best principles of translation. The translators sought to convey not merely the general thought of each text of Scripture but the very expressions in which it is conveyed. Where exact literalness was impossible, the translators of the AV gave full expression of its meaning in English. The AV italicizes words not in the original - words which were necessary to give the sense of the text in English. Thus it shows its commitment to verbal inspiration, the truth that every word is God-breathed.
This brings us back to our original question: Is every word of the AV (or any other Bible version) God-breathed? If the words of the AV were God-breathed, then its translators must have been borne by the Spirit as the holy prophets who wrote not "by the will of man" but "as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (II Peter 1:21). If the words of the AV were God-breathed, then what of the earlier translations of Tyndale and others? If their translations were God-breathed, then there would be two or more God-breathed English Bible translations. If only the AV was God-breathed, then there was no God-breathed English Bible until 1611. And were the revisions of the AV in 1629, 1638, 1762 and 1769 also God-breathed? Did one God-breathed revision replace another God-breathed revision? Do other languages have one God-breathed translation? Then there would be God-breathed Polish and Arabic translations and thousands more.
The Hebrew and Greek autographs were "immediately inspired by God [God breathed]," and "by God's singular care and providence" through the faithful copying of the divine original over the centuries, His Word has been "kept pure in all ages" (WCF 1.8). The English words of the AV, though not themselves directly breathed by God, constitute a faithful and trustworthy translation of the God-breathed original, so that we have in our hands the more sure Word, God's hammer.
- Volume: 8
- Issue: 18
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
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