Why the differences in ‘Literal’ translations

October 2, 2006 at 8:32 pm (Religion)

Apart from the NIV, all the Bibles that I compared last time were ‘literal’ translations, so why are there such differences, and why do some include or exclude verses?

Primarily, it is because of the source documents from which they were translated. So, how do we know which source documents are the ones for the real Bible?

The Old Testament.

It should come as no surprise that the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, and the scribes assigned to reproduce it were obsessed with the accuracy of their copies. These scribes produced what we now call the MASORETIC text. The other source text for the Old Testament is called the SEPTUIGINT, sometimes abbreviated LXX, is a Greek translation from the Hebrew Old Testament, and contains the ‘APOCRYPHA‘, which are not recognized as part of the inspired Bible, but may be helpful as are other ancient writings. Note that the Septuigint originates in Alexandria, Egypt. (This will be important later)

The New Testament.

The New Testament was originally written in Greek and Aramaic, and was completed about 90 A.D. There are four different ‘text types’ associated with the new testament. The ALEXANDRIAN, BYZANTINE(Antiochian), CAESAREAN, and the WESTERN. The Caesarean and Western texts are usually included in the Alexandrian.

So what does God say about it?

We are not directed where to get our bible manuscripts, but we are told important things about both Alexandria(Egypt) and Byzantium(Antioch). After a few searches, it should become clear which place God prefers.


  • Genesis 12 – when Abram tells his wife to pretend to be his sister, so that the Egyptians don’t kill him and steal her.
  • Genesis 13 and Revelation 11 Egypt is compared to Sodom & Gomorrah
  • Genesis 21 – Ishmael’s wife was from Egypt
  • Genesis 26 – Isaac is told not to go to Egypt
  • Genesis 37 – Joseph is sold into slavery in Egypt (by descendants of Ishmael)
  • Genesis 46 – Israel rightly refuses to go to Egypt until God specifically tells him to
  • Genesis 47 – Israel doesn’t want his bones left in Egypt
  • Exodus – The Egyptians kill Hebrew babies because they are getting too numerous – and it takes the plagues to convince them to allow them to leave
  • Deuteronomy 4 – Egypt is called an Iron Furnace

In most instances where Egypt is mentioned, it is a bad place – a place to be ‘Called Out Of’


  • Acts 6 – One of the first deacons was from Antioch
  • Acts 11 – A great number in Antioch were converted, Paul and Barnabas taught for an entire year, the disciples were first called ‘Christians’, and the prophets moved from Jerusalem to Antioch
  • Acts 13 – The first missionaries are sent from Antioch
  • Acts 14 – Most of the early Church is centered around Antioch
  • Galatians 2 – Paul corrects Peter’s teachings

Antioch was key to the early church’s spread and doctrine.

 Greek Texts

There are quite a few different Greek texts of the new testament, which are compilations of source documents from the ‘text types’ above.  The Textus Receptus, Wescott-Hort, and Nestle-Aland, are the main Greek texts with many others including Hodges-Farstad and Robinson Pierpoint.  The primary (read ONLY) important difference between them is the source documents that they use.  The Textus Receptus is based exclusively on the Byzantine texts, the others are based on a mixture of Byzantine and Alexandrian with varying emphasis placed on one or the other.  The ‘Majority Text’ used to refer to the Textus Receptus, but the name has been used by Robinson and Pierpoint in their ‘New Majority Text’ which causes some confusion.

All bibles (that I have seen, anyway) will have information in a preface that tells you which Greek new testament and old testament version they are using.


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