Take the NKJV and NIV Vocabulary Test
Are Modern Bibles Easier to Understand?
By Will Kinney
Is 2nd Corinthians 6:12-13 Hard to Understand?
Those who promote the modern versions, especially the NIV, like to bring up these two verses in the King James Bible as an example of how hard it is to understand. The texts here are all the same, so that is not the problem with the passage. The Textus Receptus edition from which the KJB was translated and the UBS texts are the same.
2nd Corinthians 6:12 su stenoxoreisthe en hemin stenoxoreisthe de en tois splagxnois humon
2nd Corinthians 6:13 ten de auten antimisthian hos teknois lego platunthethe kai humeis Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
If we really believe that what we have before us are the very words of God, then we are obligated to translate them as accurately as possible without changing the tenses of the verbs nor paraphrasing by adding words not found in the text, nor changing a plural noun to a singular.
King James Bible 1611 Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompense in the same (I speak as to my children,) be ye also enlarged
At this point, the new version proponents like to contrast this with the reading found in the NIV, which reads: NIV "We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange--I speak as to my children--open wide your hearts."
Now the NIV carries the same basic message, but is it really a more accurate rendering of what God actually inspired or is it a paraphrase?
All three verbs used here are in the passive and that is how the KJB and many others have correctly translated them. However the NIV has placed all the verbs in the active voice rather than the passive. The passive means something is acting upon us; the active means we are doing it ourselves.
To "straiten" is not archaic, and according to Webster's 1999 edition, it means "to confine within narrow limits". The NIVs "withholding" is a total paraphrase and not a translation of the Greek word used here. Also there are no such words as "from you" nor "yours from us".
The word "bowels" is literally bowels in all Greek texts, and this speaks of the inward emotional part of a man, or the deepest recesses of his being. Webster's defines bowels as "the inward or interior parts". We still speak of the bowels of the earth. The NIV has changed this plural noun into a singular "affection".
A recompense is a repayment. "the same" (thn de authn) is literally what it says, but the NIV has rendered this as "fair".
"Be ye also enlarged" is exactly what it says in the Greek texts and it is in the passive voice. However the NIV again has made this an active verb and added the words "your hearts" which are not found in any text at all.
Here is how some other version have rendered it. The King James may be harder to understand at first glance, but it is the most faithful translation of what God said. Explain if you must what the words mean. That is the province of the pastor or teacher, but not of the translator.
Geneva Bible 1599 Ye are not kept strait in us, but ye are kept strait in your owne bowels. Nowe for the same recompence, I speake as to my children, Be you also inlarged."
Webster's 1833 translation (exactly the same as the KJB). Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompense in the same (I speak as to my children,) be ye also enlarged
Revised Version 1881 Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own affections. Now for a recompense in like kind (I speak as unto my children), be ye also enlarged."
American Standard Version 1901 Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own affections. Now for a recompense in like kind (I speak as unto [my] children), be ye also enlarged.
Douay-Rheims You are not straitened in us, but in your own bowels you are straitened. But having the same recompense, (I speak as to my children,) be you also enlarged.
Young's literal translation ye are not straitened in us, and ye are straitened in your [own] bowels, and [as] a recompense of the same kind, (as to children I say [it],) be ye enlarged -- also ye!
Third Millenium Bible Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own affections. Now as a recompense for this (I speak as unto my children), be ye also enlarged.
NKJV You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.
NASB You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections. Now in a like exchange--I speak as to children--open wide to us also.
NIV We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange--I speak as to my children--open wide your hearts.
Those who use the NIV to criticise the KJB should realize that the KJB follows far more closely what God actually said. God knows how to say words like "heart" and "withhold" and "fair" but He didn't use any of these words here in this verse.
This bait and switch tactic is often used by the new version promoters. They tell us they are modernizing the language of the Bible so we can understand it better, but in reality they often change the true sense of a passage, and alter it again by following corrupt manuscripts.
Here are two small examples in this present chapter of 2 Corinthians 6. In verse 5 we read: "approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in ...stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, IN FASTINGS;". The word used here is neesteiais and comes from the verb "to fast". Fastings is the reading of Tyndale, Geneva, RV, ASV, Douay, Darby, Young's, Lamsa, and the NKJV.
However the NASB, NIV, RSV and ESV say: "in HUNGER." Fasting is a spiritual exercise, but hunger is a natural consequence of having no food to eat. They are not the same thing.
In verse 9 we read: "as CHASTENED (paideuomenoi), and not killed." Every Christian is chastened by God, as the Father disciplines His children. The word means to discipline a child. CHASTENED is also the reading of the RV, ASV, NKJV, Tyndale, Geneva, Young's, Douay, Darby, and Lamsa's.
However the NASB, RSV, ESV say: "as PUNISHED", while the NIV has: "as BEATEN". Men punish and beat other men, but God chastens His children. The meaning is not the same and the spiritual significance has again been lost in the new versions.
Here's a Vocabulary Test for the NKJV and the NIV "Easier to Understand Versions"
The NKJV does not always follow the same Hebrew and Greek texts as the Authorized 1611 King James Bible. It also changes its own wording from one edition to the next. To date there are three different NKJV editions, 1979, 1980, and 1982, all with different wordings. When compared carefully with the old KJB, it is evident that the NKJV has drastically changed the meaning of hundreds of verses, paraphrased many literal readings, introduced several provable contradictions and perverted several doctrinal issues. Aside from these more important matters, the following list provides many difficult words found in this so called easy to understand version.
You may be able to recognize and define many of these words, though you too would probably fail a vocabulary test, but try giving this list to the average high school student today and see how they do.
NKJV Vocabulary Test:
Abase, abashed, abode, adhere, admonish, adversity, aground, algum, alienate, alighting, allays, allotment, alloy, aloof, alms, amend, amiss, annihilated, anise, antitype, arbitrate, apprehended, archives, armlets, ascertain, asps, attire, austere, backbite, banishment, baths (not to get clean), bdellium, befalls, beggarly, begetting, behemoth, belial, beseech, betrothal, beveled, birthstools, bittern, bleat, booty (not modern slang), borne, breach, brandished (not drunk), bray, bristling, buffet (not a restaurant), buckler (not a belt), bulrush, (not a stampede), burnished, butress (not a chair), calamus, caldron, capital (not a city), carcasses, carnally, carrion (not luggage), cassia, caulkers, centurion (not a 100 years), chalcedony, chalkstones, chaste (not pursued by a runner), chasten, (not related to previous chaste), chrysolite, chrysoprase, circumspect, cistern (not feminine of brethren), citadel, citron, clamor, cleft, cloven (not a spice), commission (not money), commonwealth (not shared money), compound (not a barracks), concede , compulsory, conciliation, concubine (not a tractor), congealed, contemptuously, confederacy (not the South), contingents (not same as large land masses), corban, coriander, countenance (not adding up ants), couriers (not an hordourve), covert, crags, crescents, crest (not the top of a hill), cropped (not food), cubit, custodian (not the one who cleans the school halls), curds, dainties (not effeminate), dandled, daubed, dappled, dayspring, denarii, deposed (not relaxing after a foto op), deride (not same as dismount), despoiled (not really, really rotten), diadem, diffuses (not to disarm a bomb), dilapidation (not the act of standing up), dispensation, disrepute, dissipation, diviner (not a grape grower), docile, dragnet (not a detective drama), dregs, drachmas, dropsy (not clumsiness), dross, dryshod, eczema (God bless you), edict, edification, elaborate, embellish, emitted, enigma, enmity, entrails (not a short cut), envoy, eventide, epistle, ephod, exorcise (not jogging), expiration (not a date on a carton of milk), faction, fallow, famish, fare (not average and not money), fatlings (not piglets), feigned (not passed out), festal, fetched, fidelity (not good sound), figurehead (not a statue of a head), filly, flanges, foreskin, fostered, fowlers (not a baseball term), fuller (not less empty), furlongs (not cat tails), gad, garland, garrison, gaunt, gecko, graven, Hellenists, hew (not a man's name), homers (not baseball), hoopoe (not a garden tool), immutability, indignant, insolence, insubordination, intervene, itinerant, jackdaw, jeopardy (a TV show, but what does it mean?), jubilation, kors (not a brand of beer), laden, lamentations, laud (not Boston pronunciation of lard), lusty, mail (not a letter), mammon, matrix (other than the movie), mattock (not a TV lawyer show), mercenaries, mina (not a type of bird), mite (not a bed bug), moorings, nativity, offal (not terrible), offscouring (not dandruff), omnipotent, onager (Job 39:5 - you won't believe this one!) oracle, pangs, papyrus (not a fruit), paramours, parapet(not a dog and a cat), penitents, perdition, phylacteries, pilfering, pillage, pims, pins (not like needles or bowling- has to do with a chariot), pinions (not a type of nut), plaited (not dishes), platitudes, potentate, potsherd, poultice (not chickens), Praetorium (not a place to pray), prattler, principality, prodigal, proconsul, prognosticators (not people who put things off till later), propitiation, pslatery, prow, pulverize, pyre, quadrans, quiver (not to shake), rampart (not a piece of a truck), ravenous, ravished, raze (not to lift up), reconciliation, recount (not to double check your arithmetic), rend, renown, reprisal, retinue, rifled (does not have to do with guns), rivulets, rogue, salute ( does not have to do with the army), satiate, satraps, scruples, sepulcher, shamefaced, shards, Sheol, shod, shuttle (not a type of bus or spaceship), siegeworks, sistrums (not an affectionate term for your sisters), skiff, soothsayer, spelt (not anything to do with spelling words), straits (not the opposite of crookeds), superfluous, supplanted, tamarisk, tares, tarries, temperate, terebinth, terrestrial, tetrarch, throng (not a skimpy bathing suit), timbrel, tittle (not the name of a book), tresses, usury, vagabond, vassal, vehement, vermilion, verdure, verity, vestments, waifs, wane, wanton (not desiring something), warp (not to bend), wend, wield, winebibber, woof (not a dog or stereo), wrought.
NIV Vocabulary Test:
abashed, abominable, abutted, acclaim, adder, adhere, admonishing, advocate, alcove, algum, allocate, allots, ally, aloes, appease, ardent, armlets, arrayed, astir, atonement, awl, banishment, battlements, behemoth, belial, bereaves, betrothed, bier, blighted, booty, brayed, breaching, breakers, buffeted, burnished, calamus, capital (not a city), carnelian, carrion, centurions, chasm, chronic, chrysolite, cistern, citadel, citron, clefts, cohorts, colonnades, complacency, coney, concession, congealed, conjure, contrite, convocations, crest, cors, curds, dandled, dappled, debauchery, decimated, deluged, denarii, depose, derides, despoil, dire,dispossess, disrepute, dissipation, distill, dissuade, divination, dragnet, dropsy, duplicity, earthenware, ebony, emasculate, emission, encroach, enmity, enthralled, entreaty, ephod, epicurean, ewe, excrement, exodus, factions, felled, festal, fettered, figurehead, filigree, flagstaff, fomenting, forded, fowler, gadfly, galled, gird, gauntness, gecko, gloating, goiim, harrowing, haunt, hearld, henna, homers, hoopoe, ignoble, impaled, implore, incur, indignant, insatiable, insolence, intact, invoked, jambs, joists, jowls, lairs, lamentation, leviathan, libations, loins, magi, manifold, maritime, mattocks, maxims, mina, misdemeanor, mother-of-pearl, mustering, myrtles, naive, naught, Negev, Nephilim, nettles, nocturnal, nomad, notorious, Nubians, oblivion, obsolete, odious, offal, omer, oracles, overweening, parapet, parchments, pavilion, peals (noun, not the verb), perjurers, perpetuate, pestilence, pinions, phylacteries, plumage, pomp, porphyry, portent, potsherd, proconsul, propriety, poultice, Praetorium, pretext, profligate, promiscuity, provincial, providence, qualm, quarries, quivers (noun, not verb), ramparts, ransacked, ratified, ravish, rabble, rawboned, relish (not for hotdogs), recoils, recount, refrain, relent, rend, reposes, reprimanded, reputed, retinue, retorted, retribution, rifts, roebucks, rue, sachet, satraps, sated, shipwrights, siegeworks, sinews, sistrums, sledges, smelted, somber, soothsayer, sovereignty, spelt, stadia, stench, stipulation, sullen, tamarisk, tanner, temperate, tether, tetrarch, terebinth, thresher, throes, thronged, tiaras, tinder, tracts, transcends, tresses, turbulent, tyrannical, unscathed, unrelenting, usury, vassal, vaunts, vehemently, verdant, vexed, wadi, wanton, warranted, wield, winnowing and wrenched.
It is funny that I can put together the phrase from the KJB which says; “The very sad green giant was hungry” and in the NIV it would be: "The overweening dejected verdant Nephilim was famished."
So you see, the modern versions also have many words that are hard to be understood.
1st Corinthians 14 - "he that speaketh in an UNKNOWN tongue"
1st Corinthians 14:2 "For he that speaketh in an UNKNOWN tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries."
In the King James Bible, and many others as we shall soon see, the translators have italicized the word "unknown" before the word "tongue" to describe the spiritual gift that was drawing so much attention in the church of Corinth. The apostle goes on to tell us what this gift is and how it should properly be used.
The italicized word "unknown" is added in verses 2, 4, 14, 19 and 27 of this chapter. The fact that it is italicized in the King James Bible tells us that they were perfectly aware that the word is not found in the Greek texts, but it is supplied to the English translation to give the correct meaning of the context.
Rick Norris, author of The Unbound Scriptures, frequently criticizes the King James Bible in his book and on the internet. He asks: "At 1 Corinthians 14:4, several of the early English Bibles do not add the word "unknown" before "tongue" or "language." Did the adding of the word "unknown" in italics in the KJV make the understanding of this verse clearer? "
The simple answer to Rick's question is, Yes, Rick, it makes the verse much clearer because of the context of the chapter. It should be pointed out that men like Rick Norris do not believe any Bible or any text in any language is the complete, inerrant, inspired and infallible word of God. He has no inspired Bible to recommend to anyone, but only offers interminable questions and doubts as to what "The Bible" really says.
I have read Mr. Norris' book and have responded to his arguments in a series of articles entitled A Response to Rick Norris' The Unbound Scriptures. You can see it at this site: http://www.geocities.com/brandplucked/unboundscriptures.html
The immediate context of 1st Corinthians 14 necessitates the "adding" of the word "unknown", because what was being spoken was not a known language to those who heard it. The example of tongues being spoken in Acts chapter Two is quite different. There the people understood what was being said in their own languages, without the need of an interpreter. Here, in 1 Corinthians chapter Fourteen, the type of tongue being spoken was not understood by anyone present in the church meetings. A simple reading of the whole chapter will make this abundantly clear.
Notice: "he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God, for no man understandeth him...he speaketh mysteries"; "except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken?"; "if I know not the meaning of the voice...he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me"; "if I pray in an unknown tongue...my understanding is unfruitful"; "he understandeth not what thou sayest"; "if any man speak in an unknown tongue...let one interpret, but if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church."
What was being spoken was obviously an "unknown tongue" and unless one was present who had the spiritual gift of interpretation, then what was being said could not be understood or known by anyone there.
Italicized or extra words are often added by ALL Bible versions when translating from one language into another. Versions like the NKJV, NIV, NASB (all of which omit the word "unknown" tongue in 1 Corinthians 14) are no exception. If someone objects to the use of italicized words, then they are left with no Bible at all that meets their rigorous and self-imposed demands.
In First Corinthians there are numerous examples of where the NASB, NIV, NKJV all add extra words in order to round out or smooth the sense in English. For example, the following capitalized words are found in the NASB, NIV and NKJV, yet none of them are literally in the Greek texts:
1st Cor. 13:2 "And though I have THE GIFT OF prophecy..."
1st Cor. 13:3 "And though I bestow all my goods to feed THE POOR..."
1st Cor. 14:1"Follow after charity, and desire spiritual GIFTS..."
1st Cor. 14:12 "ye are zealous of spiritual GIFTS..."
1st Cor. 14:21 "In the law it is written, With MEN of other tongues..."
1st Cor. 14:22 "but prophesying SERVETH not for them that believe not..."(NASB - "is for a sign", NIV "however is"; NKJV "is")
1st Cor. 14:26 "How is it then, brethren?"
NASB -What is THE OUTCOME then, brethren?" NIV -What then SHOULD WE SAY, brothers?
1st Cor. 14:27 "If any speak in an unknown tongue, LET IT BE by two, or at the most BY three..."
1st Cor. 14:33 "For God is not THE AUTHOR of confusion"
The NKJV reads the same here as does the KJB, while both the NASB and NIV add "God" saying: "For God is not THE GOD of confusion."
In 1 Corinthians 14:36 the NKJV, NIV, NASB all add words that are not found in any Greek text nor in the King James Bible. The KJB says: "What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?", while the NKJV says: "Or did the word of God come ORIGINALLY from you? Or WAS IT you only that it reached?".
The NASB has: "Was it from you that the word of God FIRST went forth?", and the NIV reads: "Did the word of God ORIGINATE with you? Or are you THE only PEOPLE it has reached?"
1st Corinthians 14:2 - "he that speaketh in an UNKNOWN tongue"
The King James Bible is not at all in error for adding the italicized word "unknown" to describe the spiritual gift of speaking in a language that was not understood by anyone, including the person who spoke it. It was an "unknown tongue" unless and until it was translated by one who had a spiritual gift that would enable him to interpret it for others.
If a person objects to the use of added words to give the proper sense (either italicized or not), then they have no Bible on this earth that meets their personal requirements, but instead, have become their own final authority, and their peculiar "bible version" will differ from every other one that is out there.
Obviously not all Bible translators share the opinion of those who criticize the KJB for reading: "he that speaketh in an UNKNOWN tongue". Not only does the King James Bible supply the necessary word "unknown" tongue, but so also do the following Bible versions:
The Geneva Bible of 1587 says "a STRANGE tongue". An "UNKNOWN tongue" is found in Daniel Mace's 1729 translation, John Wesley's 1755 translation, Webster's translation of 1833, Young's 'literal' translation, Lamsa's 1936 translation of the Syriac Peshitta, the Italian Diodati of 1602 and the Modern Diodati. The Spanish Reina Valera of 1909 and 1960 has either "lengua EXTRANA" or "lengua DESCONOCIDA" in verses 4, 14, 19 and 27. The New English Bible of 1970 says "a language of ecstasy".
"An unknown tongue" is also found in Goodspeed's translation 1942, Weymouth's translation of 1902, the Amplified Bible of 1987, Contemporary English Version 1991, Today's English Version 1992, Good News Translation 1992, King James 21st Century Version 1994, the Third Millenium Bible, the French La Bible du Semeur, the Hebrew Names Version, the World English Bible, the New Century Version 1991, God's Word Translation 1995, the New Life Version 1997, the New International Reader's Version 1998, Worldwide English New Testament, the Easy to Read Version of 2001, the Message of 2002, and the Holman Christian Standard Version of 2003.
Even the Modern Greek New Testament reads as does the King James Bible with: "o lalwn glwssan AGNWRISTON" (an unknown tongue) while The New Living Translation and the NIV both give the explanatory footnote of: " an unknown tongue."
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