During the seventies a particular bumper sticker caused some irritation in our family from time to time. An obvious attempt to convince faithless people that they should trust the Bible, the decal read: 'God said it, I believe it, That settles it!' 155 How many times this author heard the comment, “God said it, That settles it PERIOD!!!” is a number known only to God himself. It was obvious when our family vehicle followed another automobile with that decal visible. My father took joy in making sure his children knew that it mattered not whether a person believed what God said for the matter to be settled. God said it! That settled it! Believing was every human’s responsibility but unbelief changed nothing. The matter was settled because God said it not because somebody believed it. That particular decal might have caused less frustration had it stated, “God said it. That settles it. I believe it!”
God has promised numerous times and in many ways throughout his holy writ that he will preserve his message forever. One example follows:
God said it! The fact that some people choose not to believe it changes nothing in the grand scheme of eternity. It’s already settled! God said so! He will preserve his word forever! That means he has preserved his message for us today. It’s up to us to decide if we will trust him! Should we?
The Holy Bible is a book that has been translated into numerous modern languages from ancient manuscripts that claim to be the very words of God written to men. Evidence within the pages of the Bible such as prophecy, the foretelling of future events, will suggest that the book must have some credibility as a supernaturally inspired message. Those who take interest in the possibility and spend time researching the evidence generally agree that the book deserves some credit as more than just another human-interest story. No human can predict the future in detail as the Bible does. Only God could know the future that clearly!
The Bible presents itself as a supernaturally inspired message from the God who created this world. The evidence within its pages declares that God caused his words to be written down by select men so that every man in every generation might learn what he has to say to the human race. It is apparent to those who have done their research that God has chosen to speak to this world through his written Word:
The Bible declares God’s existence from the very first verse, “IN the beginning God created . . .” 159 From that point on his existence is expressed upon each page within the recorded history surrounding people who found themselves fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to have dealings with the Holy Creator. Within the pages of the Bible men may learn about the God who created everything that exists. They may discover his love for them, his holiness and their sinfulness, their need of a savior, and how sinners may receive forgiveness of sins through Jesus, God’s perfect sacrificial substitute. God’s Word reveals the plight of the human race in his presence on the final day of judgment for all who have rejected that perfect sacrifice, Jesus, who is the divine solution to mortal man’s sinful state. For all people, interested or not, God’s Word has been written so that all might prepare for that inevitable day. It is God’s message through men to men. He has spoken! It is written! Men are commanded to listen!
God wants every person to hear his message; therefore he has promised that his truth will endure to all generations:
This is a promise that is in God’s hands, regardless what men may do! God said it! It is settled! Believe it! Where then may the preserved words of God be found?
It is apparent from our study in the previous chapter that Joseph Smith felt it was no big deal to change God’s message by adding to it. He is not the first or last person in history to do so, and to deny that some have done so would be dishonest. Whoever translated the modern version, The Living Bible PARAPHRASED, took the liberty to add a piece of their own thoughts into II Peter 2:19:
One might assume that this verse was not the only verse that has been added into the text much like Isaiah chapter twenty-nine was not the only place Smith chose to change God’s Holy Word in his revision. When a person or group decide it is okay to change God’s message in one spot, the whole Bible becomes a playground for their imagination. For this reason, one should reject those editions of the Bible entirely. Why spend time searching for more errors, when the time should be more wisely spent learning the message from an accurate translation. Whether Smith’s revision or The Living Bible PARAPHRASED among others, there is a better translation of the Bible available that is a more profitable use of a person’s time.
The fact that a few men have tampered with the message found within the pages of the Bible might lead some people to ask; â€˜Does God really care what happens to his message?’ We shall let his Holy Word speak for itself:
God apparently does care what men do with his message, but it is evident that some men like Joseph Smith do not care what God thinks or wants. Some men have tampered with the written message for their own gain.
The idea of tampering with God’s message was not a new idea in Joseph Smith’s day. Of the thousands of ancient manuscripts available for consideration from which the Bible New Testament was translated into English, it is evident that some have been modified by whoever copied them -- SOME that is, but not ALL! The greater percentage of ancient manuscripts available today reveal that most scribes feared God enough to copy his message exactly as they found it.
In his book LET’S WEIGH THE EVIDENCE, Burton said there were (as of 1983) 5309 surviving Greek manuscripts that contain all or part of the New Testament. 163 Speaking of ancient Bible manuscripts, Fuller says: “The Majority text, . . . is relatively uniform in its general character with comparatively low amounts of variation between its major representatives.” 161 The Majority text he referred to speaks of “ . . . a large majority of this huge mass of manuscripts - somewhere between 80-90% -- contain a Greek text which in most respects closely resembles the kind of text which was the basis of our King James Version.” 165 Speaking of that other 10-20 % of texts, Fuller quotes Kilpatrick saying, “ . . . the â€˜older manuscripts’ not infrequently reveal various kinds of changes in the text, both accidental and deliberate, . . . ” 166 If the smaller percentage of ancient scripts has â€˜various kinds of changes . . . both accidental and deliberate’, then one must wonder how these changes entered the texts. It is apparent that even in ancient times there were people like Joseph Smith who cared little about what God had to say. They took liberties to tamper with God’s message as they desired. They either did not believe the message came from God in the first place, or they decided that he no longer cared what happened to the message.
On the other hand, the greater percentage (80 - 90 %) of those ancient manuscripts has â€˜low amounts of variation’. How did that come to be? How is it that over four thousand ancient manuscripts are so agreeable as opposed to the smaller percentage of manuscripts that have various kinds of changes? No man can travel back in time and discover exactly what happened to bring about this situation, but this author can attempt to present the most likely scenario of those ancient events.
Each book of the New Testament was originally penned by its author as an individual story or letter. The Apostle Paul for example, wrote his first letter to the Church at Corinth. 167 (Corinth is the name of an ancient city no longer in existence.) When the letter was read to the church at Corinth, visiting Christians heard it and desired to pen their own copy to take home to their own church. From that original letter numerous copies were made and taken to various other churches. From those churches more copies were made and distributed to an even further reaching audience. Every true Christian that could read may well have wanted their own personal copy much like Christians today desire a personal Bible. As each letter or gospel story was penned, numerous scattered churches spread copies made from the original scripts to hundreds of little churches everywhere. Only God knows how many copies of those original scripts were actually made.
Through the centuries the original letters or gospel stories deteriorated due to use or age, but it didn’t matter because there were so many copies available scattered among the Christian churches. Are fifty thousand copies through the first 1500 years unimaginable?
Unbelievers have always attempted to discredit God’s Holy Word, and it can be expected that they always will. It is certain that somewhere along the lines of transmission of holy script unbelievers obtained copies of the manuscripts. They began corrupting the message according to their whims of imagination much like Joseph Smith did with his so-called â€˜Inspired Translation’. Through the years more and more corrupted copies were penned and began to spread in much the same manner copies of the originals had. Eventually there were quite a number of corrupted manuscripts being copied and Satan had, in part, accomplished his goal of confusion so that some people really didn’t know what to believe any longer.
It must be realized that the lack of modern communication and quick travel hindered the progression and agreement among the corrupted manuscripts. To a certain extent, distance and time prevented collaboration among dishonest scribes. Scribes who tampered with the message could only change their copies of the scripts, and that which one scribe disagreed with would not necessarily be corrupted in another tamperer’s rendition. Changes made in one manuscript would be different than changes made in another manuscript separated by distance and/or years. It becomes readily apparent how the smaller percentage of ancient manuscripts “ . . . not infrequently reveal various kinds of changes in the text, both accidental and deliberate . . . ” 168 They are the products of various corrupters through the centuries. When translators consider the mass of manuscripts available today it becomes evident that those have been tampered with, andhonest translators must set aside the corrupted scripts.
The greater percentage of ancient manuscripts (80 - 90 %) that show â€˜low amounts of variation’ reveal that many scribes feared God enough to leave his message exactly as they found it. A close comparison of these scripts can identify the few inconsistencies among them and help translators determine the original message. As to the low amounts of variation, the reader should understand that until the invention of the printing press every manuscript had to be hand written. Each local group of believers desired their own copies of the gospels and Apostolic letters to the various early churches. The only way to obtain them was to find someone who possessed a copy and spend the time hand writing a new one. It is possible that some minor errors occurred from the mere tedious nature of the work, but those changes would have been scattered and secluded, unintentional errors of misspelling and skipped words. An error that might appear in one manuscript would not affect all of the other copies being penned and could be singled out with some research. Those types of errors were not products of intentional corruption. They probably account for some of the â€˜low amounts of variation’ between the major representatives of the Majority texts. Tampering with the message generally involved greater portions than just a word here or there misspelled or left out. Discerning the original message is a process of weeding out the inconsistencies and corrupted texts to determine what has not been altered. God preserved his Holy Word through a multitude of accurate copies that support each other with â€˜low amounts of variation’ that can be discovered though a side by side comparison. How can we know this?
God’s Holy Word promises each reader that his intentions are to protect his message until heaven and earth pass away:
Thousands of agreeable manuscripts reveal that God’s Word has not passed away. God has preserved his message by mass multiplication of accurate manuscripts throughout hundreds of small churches hungry to know his will and willing to suffer if need be in order to have his message. Each reader who exercises faith can rest confident in God’s Holy Word by standing upon his promises found in the Holy Bible. God’s Holy Word will endure forever!
Today there are well over 5000 ancient Greek manuscripts full or partial that can be considered when scholars attempt to discover the original message of the New Testament writers. There are also a multitude of ancient copies that are translations in various foreign languages. The total sum of available scripts to support the New Testament is nearly overwhelming. Some are written on papyrus, (a paper like material made from plants), and others on vellum, (a parchment made of animal skins). Some are complete, and others have deteriorated partially due to their age, what they are written on, the conditions in which they were stored, and how many times they have been handled and copied. Many are in agreement with each other. These are referred to as the Majority Text, Traditional Text, or the Received Text( 173) , and are the type of Greek text from which the King James Bible was translated. 174 A smaller percentage of the ancient scripts cannot agree among themselves in various areas. From this variant lot of corrupted scripts came some of the modern versions of the Bible. They were spawned on the erroneous idea that the oldest manuscripts are the best (175) even though the two older manuscripts of alleged supremacy cannot agree among themselves “ . . . over 3,000 times in the gospels alone!” 176
The task of discerning the original texts from the available host of evidence may seem to be a Mt. Everest expedition, but to say that it cannot be accomplished would be dishonest. One should never assume that God is uninterested or uninvolved in the process. After all, he has promised his truth to every generation:
God alone knows how many thousands of hand written copies of ancient Bible text were actually penned and have long ago deteriorated due to the nature of the papyrus they were written on. A multitude may have been worn out due to usage as Christians copied and copied them etc. There is no doubt that the persecutors of the early Christians destroyed many. God knew which ones were accurate, which ones were not, and he knows which ones have survived. Nothing happens in the dark that God cannot see. He did not have to save every accurate manuscript or destroy every corrupted copy to ensure his message continued pure through the ages. Unlike men, God does not have to compare ancient manuscripts with each other to determine what was originally written. He gave the original message! He was there when they were being copied. All God had to do was direct honest men in their search for the truth. Honest men that is! Men who had no other agenda than to translate into the language of the people an accurate copy of God’s Holy Word!
It is true that there have been people from early times who took upon themselves the task of changing whatever part of the message their imagination collided with. Fortunately, they were not able to change every manuscript that existed. The fact that the changes they made did not coincide with changes made in other manuscripts by other dishonest scribes helps scholars determine which ancient manuscripts have been corrupted and should be set aside during the translation process. Their corrupted scripts were much like the multitude of modern translations today that cannot agree with each other as to which verses should be changed. Each person or group who takes the liberty to change whatever verses or portions of scripture they disagree with find themselves at odds with every other version that elected not to change the same sections. Their disagreements lend evidence to support the conclusion that God is not prompting this modern plethora of Bible translations. They have merely caused confusion and unbelief among people who are not sure what to believe anymore. The evidence of tampering can be discovered by a careful comparison of a multitude of texts in the same way early translators verified the accuracy of ancient manuscripts. A side by side comparison of modern Bible versions will illuminate many errors. Numerous scholars have already documented a multitude of those comparisons for searching souls. Please consider the available evidence listed in this appendix. The truth is available for people who truly desire to know. Finding it in this modern world may seem difficult, but it is still available for the honest soul who will search for it with a pure and sincere heart. God wants honest people to find him! God will direct the â€˜HONEST’ seeker to his truth! Jesus said, “ . . . seek, and ye shall find; . . .” 179 They who seek nothing always find nothing!
Like Joseph Smith and a few early scribes who tampered with the written message, some modern translators have shown disrespect for God’s Holy Word. As a thief thinks all people are thieves, and a liar believes all men to be liars, dishonest men generally choose to believe that all scribes were dishonest. With the realization that a small percentage of ancient manuscripts have been corrupted, they erroneously decided that every ancient manuscript was probably tampered with. This gave them the liberty to corrupt their rendition of the Bible any way they pleased. Their own dishonesty became a stumbling block preventing them from seeing the truth. There were and are honest people who copied God’s message without corrupting it. There are accurate copies of ancient Bible manuscripts available because there have always been some honest scribes who feared God and respected his message.
Should we agree with critics who preach that “ . . . the true New Testament text has been lost beyond possibility of recovery?” 180 If this was true, it could be concluded that God must not care what happens to his message. This idea opens a floodgate for anybody who desires to reword the Bible and pay for a copyright on his or her personal version. Joseph Smith apparently suffered from that delusion as well. Over one hundred modern versions since the late 1800’s have truly confused the issue. Fortunately for the honest seeker of truth, God has not abandoned his Holy Word as some believe, neither has he opened Pandora’s School for Bible Translators. Rather, many confused or dishonest people have been hard at work doing their best to sidetrack honest seekers of truth. Some may well have had good intentions, but without the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth (181), their efforts are only human attempts to clarify what must be understood through the leading of God himself by that same Holy Spirit.
Men of faith need not stand near that proverbial forbidden tree with all of the â€˜Eve’ followers of this world listening to that old serpent say “ . . .Yea, hath God said, . . .?” 182 God has said he would preserve his Holy Word! Trust him! Trust him like Abraham trusted beyond his own understanding. 183 Look for reasons to believe God instead of reasons to join the crowd around that tree. The proof of God’s preservation is available for those who will seek it. God said it! That settles it! Will you believe it?
The people who believe that every ancient manuscript has been corrupted, which would make it impossible to discover what was originally written, share the same lack of faith in God’s abilities or intentions that Joseph Smith did. They do not have enough faith to understand that what God determines to do he will accomplish! Nothing is impossible for the Eternal Holy God who can exist everywhere simultaneously as a Spirit. He was there when scribes honest and dishonest were reproducing each copy of his message. He never sleeps; he missed nothing! He was the one responsible for the message in the first place, and his Holy Word promises the reader that his intentions are to preserve that message forever:
It was not impossible for God to preserve accurate copies of the ancient manuscripts, and he knows which ones are uncorrupted. As stated above, he did not have to save all of the accurate scripts, nor destroy all of the corrupted ones. He merely had to direct honest translators to the accurate manuscripts and then ensure accuracy by those translators through the work of the Holy Spirit. This author believes he did so nearly four hundred years ago in the English language King James Version (KJV) Bible.
Under King James' commission, a group of about fifty-four men (187) who knew ancient languages gathered in 1604 to compare some early English translations as well as a multitude of ancient manuscripts and translate a new English version. Six previous English versions, the Wycliffe, Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthew, Bishop’s, and the Geneva Bible had not satisfied everybody’s confidence either in their accuracy or because of undesirable marginal notes. 188 Paine suggests a number of reasons why King James decided to allow the translation of a new Bible and those reasons may well be valid, but one must never leave God out of the picture. Regardless of who thought it was their idea and who had ulterior motives, this author believes that the group assembled at God’s prompting in answer to William Tyndale’s suffering final prayer.
Sometime after 1517 AD, William Tyndale had begun studying a Greek New Testament produced by Desiderius Erasmus. 189 Unlike many critics who read the scriptures to find reasons why they should reject the Bible, Tyndale read the scriptures with honesty and began realizing the truths presented within the pages of Holy Writ. Every true Christian will understand how God’s Holy Spirit must have worked in Tyndale’s soul to bring him to the acknowledging of God’s truth. At some point in his studies William Tyndale had been born again by the Holy Spirit of God. Only a true Christian could understand what happened through the reading of that copy of God’s Word, but the fruits of his salvation began to grow and became evident as he realized the spiritual needs of those around him. “The more he studied this new-found treasure, the deeper his burden became for his fellow Englishmen to share in the same.” 190
Tyndale was an educated man who could converse in seven different languages. 191 Attempting to “ . . . cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the scriptures than you do!” 192 , Tyndale set about to translate the Holy Bible into the language of the English speaking people. It is a certainty that Jesus’ commission to the disciples to take the gospel to â€˜all the world’ (193) pushed Tyndale in his endeavors as it should for all true Christians. He just wanted to make God’s Word available for lost sinners who could not read the original Hebrew and Greek languages:
October 6, 1536, tied to a stake to be burned for trying to spread the gospel in the English language, Tyndale cried out to God, “ . . . Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.” 195 Interestingly, “ . . . at the very time when Tyndale . . . was burned . . . a folio-edition of his Translation was printed at London, with his name on the title-page, and by Thomas Berthelet, the king’s own patent printer. This was the first copy of the Scriptures ever printed on English ground.” 196
It is certain to this author that God answered William Tyndale’s last prayer in a mighty way. Like so many true Christians before him who merely desired to obey God’s command to take the gospel to the world, Tyndale suffered for his obedience at the hands of the devil’s crowd. Like Jesus also, who gave his life for others, Tyndale gave his life for unlearned commoners. It was but a few years later that God opened King James’ eyes to the need of an accurate English translation; the unparalleled King James Version Bible, “ . . . the most printed book in history, . . .” 197
Of the numerous English Bible versions today, the KJV can boast a few things that no other Bible version can claim. It is the only version translated by the commission of a king and with a variety of theological perspectives present in the committee as well. The fact that “ . . . they differed among themselves on many matters of church order, administration and doctrine, . . .”( 198) was a positive feature for the translation committee. Prejudices could not rule above honesty as in the modern â€˜private church translations’ where each religious group changes the scriptures to reflect their own theological prejudices. It isn’t amazing that the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, translated by the Jehovah’s Witnesses singularly, reflects their theological prejudices! They allowed no voice outside of their own persuasion to interrupt their translation endeavors. Honesty was a slave to their prejudices, and it is evident that the master strangled the slave in that version. 199 The KJV Committee on the other hand had to subject their prejudices to honesty because of the power wielded by the king! “After all, James was the son of Mary of Scotland, who helped bring about the death of his father, and he owed his throne to Queen Elizabeth, who had given the word to behead his mother.”200 King James was not unfamiliar with bloodshed, and his instructions must have carried a lot of weight with the translators because of it. The KJV Bible is the product of a multitude of translators who knew a multitude of languages and who considered a multitude of manuscripts in the safety and danger of the king’s domain. (I.e., Safety from the outside forces that desired to stop the English translation, and danger from the King of England should any translator be accused of intentional dishonesty.) Accuracy reigned in the KJV through honesty specifically because of the special circumstances surrounding its translation. God moved to answer his martyred saint’s final prayer. No other Bible in the world can claim the same!
William Tyndale gave his life to put God’s Holy Word into the English language for common people who could not read the ancient languages; he gave his life to obey God’s command. As God’s Word promises, Tyndale’s work was not in vain.201 His translation efforts may well have formed the foundation of the KJV Bible although he was burned at the stake some years before it came into being:
Was the KJV Bible merely a revision of Tyndale’s work? A multitude of scholars who knew a multitude of languages compared various former translations and a multitude of manuscripts. They were able to weed out corrupted manuscripts so that the end product was based solely upon accurate texts. Their work produced what the above quote claims to be “mainly the exact wording of . . . William Tyndale . . .” If this is true, then it is also apparently true that God used the KJV committee to verify that God himself had been working through Tyndale to reach the English masses. First Corinthians 15:58 in the Bible proved true for the martyred translator; Tyndale’s efforts were not in vain! He willingly gave his life to reach the English masses with the truths of God’s Holy Word, and God has reached those masses that Tyndale died for through the KJV Bible for nearly four hundred years now. We should also consider that if Tyndale had uncorrupted manuscripts at his disposal while translating the scriptures and he was an honest man, one should expect that his translation would be similar to the final product of such a scholarly group of men who had numerous manuscripts available and were bound to honesty by their situation.