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The Bible Version Controversy

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A controversy of immense silliness has recently broken out among Evangelicals regarding the validity of modern, conservative translations of the Bible like the New American Standard, the New International, and the New King James. The controversy was ignited by a book written by Gail Riplinger entitled New Age Bible Versions.

The only thing sillier than the controversy is the book that sparked it. Remember the old joke? -- "If the King James Version was good enough for the Apostle Paul, then it's good enough for me!" Well, Riplinger tries to convert the joke into gospel.

A Ridiculous Thesis

Her thesis is that the King James Version is the one and only pure translation (in any language!) and that all the new translations that have flooded the market in recent years (including the most conservative) are part of a Satanic, New Age conspiracy to undermine the deity of Jesus and the credibility of God's Word.

The book is mean-spirited and vicious in its attacks upon the godly evangelical scholars who labored so hard to produce the modern versions, not to undermine the Word, but to make it more understandable to the average reader.

Unfortunately the book has spawned an army of Riplinger disciples who feel it is their god-ordained duty to go forth and purify the Church by demanding the exclusive use of the King James Version. Picking up on their mentor's divisive spirit, they are labeling as heretics all fellow Christians and Christian leaders who prefer to use some version other than the King James.

To illustrate how insane this silliness has become, consider a recent article that appeared in the newsletter of one of Riplinger's most enthusiastic supporters, a prophecy teacher by the name of Texe Marrs. Calling the new conservative translations "unholy" and "grotesque," he proceeded to condemn four leading prophecy teachers because they refused to endorse Riplinger's book and join with him in certifying the King James Version as the only reliable translation. The four he condemned as "misguided leaders" and "false witnesses" were Dave Hunt, Peter LaLonde, Arno Froese, and John Ankerberg. Two of these, Hunt and Ankerberg, happen to be among the leading defenders of the Christian faith today!

Even more incredible is the fact that all four men use the King James Version in their preaching and teaching -- and Marrs knows that they do! Still, they must be condemned as heretics because they refuse to denounce the "Satanic, New Age" versions.

An Exercise in Foolishness

Another thing that makes all this so tragic is that it would be very difficult to find a book that is more foolish than the one Riplinger has written.

To begin with, she has no credentials for writing the book. On the back cover, the book declares that she has the B.A., M.A., and M.F.A. degrees and has done additional post-graduate work at Harvard and Cornell. What the book does not tell you is that all these degrees are in the field of interior design! Throughout the book, she pontificates on the meaning of various Greek and Hebrew words and texts, when the truth is that she cannot read either language!

The result, again, is silliness gone to seed. For example, she claims the new translations try to identify Jesus with Satan, and she bases this absurd claim on the fact that the new translations remove the name "Lucifer" from Isaiah 14:12, replacing it with a term that refers to Jesus.

Let's consider this argument for a moment. The King James and New American Standard versions read as follows:

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! -- KJV

How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! -- NASB

As you can see, the NASB, like all modern translations, deletes any reference to Lucifer. Instead, the modern translations refer to "the shining one" or "the morning star." Since Jesus refers to Himself in Revelation 22:16 as "the bright morning star," Riplinger jumps to the conclusion that the modern translations have substituted Jesus for Satan!

What she seems to be totally unaware of is that the word, Lucifer, is not in the Hebrew text. It comes, instead, from the Latin Vulgate translation where it was used by Jerome because it is the Latin word for morning star or Venus.

Nonsense "Mathematics"

The height of Riplinger's foolishness comes when she presents a bizarre invention of her imagination called "acrostic algebra." You have to see it to believe it:

In step one she "subtracts" NIV from NASV and comes up with ASI. Then she adds back the two letters that were cancelled -- N and V, producing ASI + NV. Then she subtracts AV (American Versions) and is left with the letters SIN.

Is that profound? What makes this especially ludicrous is the fact that she uses NASV as her abbreviation for the New American Standard Bible only in the equation. Throughout the rest of her book she refers to it as the NASB!

An Irresponsible Book

Enough said? Not exactly, for you see, Riplinger's book is more than foolish. It is also irresponsible. It is full of misquotes, and it traffics in character assassination.

James White, a leading Christian apologist, sums up the book by saying, ". . . New Age Bible Versions is not a nice book. It plainly and obviously identifies anyone who was involved in the production of modern Bible versions . . . as not just non-Christians, but anti-Christians who . . . want everyone to worship Lucifer." He goes on to point out that he has only once or twice ever encountered a work that contained more misrepresentations of facts and documentation.

Dave Hunt, another defender of the faith, states that Riplinger's writing is "driven by a misleading style and loaded with contrived 'evidence.' She starts off misrepresenting people and continues to do so throughout the entire book . . ." Hunt further observes that "perhaps the most reprehensible aspect of the book is its penchant for

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