Home > King James Only, Voegtlin > What Constitutes a “Faithful” Version?

What Constitutes a “Faithful” Version?

February 22, 2007

When we got it started, the word faithful was used many times.Â

1. We affirm that on the issue of versions, our most important duty is to be faithful to the Word and words of God.

8. We affirm that translations should be chosen, not particularly for their “accuracy” as for their faithfulness.

9. We deny that any form of “dynamic equivalence” can be considered to be faithful. We deny that any modern version that utilized “dynamic equivalence” can be considered faithful.

10. We affirm that “formal equivalence” is the only faithful method of translation.

11. We deny that reliance upon the Critical Text could be
considered faithful . . . . Â

13. We affirm that any version which attempts to translate either the Received Text or the majority text faithfully by means of Formal Equivalence can be considered a faithful translation.

For some this may be a new term to the topic of preservation and translations. A term I have heard much more is the word “accurate.” While not promoting inaccuracy, I want to point out that accuracy is not the most important quality for a translation. There are some translations that claim to be “more accurate” than the King James Version. I’ve not studied the details, but the gist of the claim is that the choice of English words to represent the Hebrew and Greek of the text is more accurate to today’s meaning than the choice of the King James. Now that may be true, but accuracy is not as important as faithfulness.

I stated in my first post in this series,

As a steward, I cannot add to the words he has given. If I did, would they continue to be His words? I dare not take away from the words he has given. Who am I to steal from my master?

Let me further state that a faithful steward trusts his master. He is not continually second guessing him. He takes his word and he takes him at his word. An unfaithful steward could relay accurately a message that the master did not give–someone else gave it. The same is true of a translator or a version. An unfaithful translator can give a very accurate translation of something that is not the complete words of God. An accurate translation of a “second-guessing” text is not faithful. Accuracy is important, but its importance is secondary to faithfulness. So, what constitutes a faithful version?

In a faithful version, the translators diligently strive to give an “every word” rendering of the faithfully received Hebrew and Greek text. To the best of their ability, they would give the translated word (for us, English) that best conveys the meaning of the original word or words. They faithfully give the words and form (or usage), not merely the sense. All the while, they acknowledge their own (and their language’s) limitations, admitting that they cannot preserve the precise meaning.

Precision and accuracy are important. But faithfulness is moreso. The faithful translator starts with trust in his Master (the received Word), then attempts to faithfully (accurately) relay the message.

Categories: King James Only, Voegtlin
  1. February 22, 2007 at 11:14 am

    Good philosophy. I agree with that. I do also believe that if a faithful text is not translated for someone to easily understand, then it doesn’t do the reader much good. The older that the KJV 1611, or 17?? gets, the more difficult it is for the lay person to understand clearly. Much of the wording in the KJV is so out dated, and some words are so much better to use for a better understanding of the origninal Greek and Hebrew. For example: in Romans 1 the phrase “who HOLD the truth inunrighteousness” in plain 21st centruy understanding the word “hold” simply means to passively contain something in your hands. The word “suppress” or “hold down” as used in the NASB, NKJV, ESV, etc. is more faithful to the original meaning and helps the reader to understand what the Writer is saying. Anyways, thanks for the KJV posts, I am enjoying them .

  2. Anvil
    February 22, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Let’s say for the sake of argument that a faithful steward who does trust the master makes several copies of the master’s orders and hands them to other servants of the master. And then those servants make copies and so on. Generations later, someone enters the master’s service and wants to know the true words of the master, but all he has are copies, and ones that do not completely agree. He is told by other servants who have been in service much longer than he has, “Well, these copies have worked OK for us, and we believe they are the right ones.” However, many copies of the master’s orders exist, and they still don’t agree in every point. Of course the new servant trusts the master, but that same trust doesn’t necessarily extend to the other servants, particularly when he doesn’t know all of them, many of those servants are long dead, no servant (including himself) is perfect, and further, the interpretation of the master’s orders by some of those servants is quite suspect in some key areas. However, as far as he can see, they are still servants who have done what they could to keep and transmit the orders of the master.

    The master has promised that he has a faithful copy of his orders, and that we are required to live by his orders, but in spite of that, none of our copies are exactly alike, even if we discount those that seem too different. Some servants of the master read his orders as guaranteeing that we have a perfect copy of those orders, but that view is only agreed upon by some of the other servants, and the evidence that can be found discounts this view. In what way is it distrust of the master to want to be sure that the copies of the master’s words that are now being used for marching orders by the new servant actually match what the master said so long ago?

  3. February 22, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Anvil, this line of argument only works for a divine, all-powerful, infinite master.

  4. February 23, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    Psalm 119:89 says, “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” This is possibly to what Anvil is referring when he or she says, “the master has promised that he has a faithful copy of his orders.” The jump is then made from arbitrary certainty to uncertainty relative to which Scriptures on preservation one is allowed to use. This is illustrated by the statement, “some servants of the master read his orders as guaranteeing that we have a perfect copy of those orders.” It would be more accurate to say, “some servants of the master RECEIVE his order OF guaranteeing that we have a perfect copy of those orders.” This position is derived from the grammatical exegesis of Scripture passages in their context, such as Psalm 12:6-7, Matthew 24:35, Luke 4:4, and many others. These exegetical presentations are available in places like Bro. Brandenburg’s book (TSKT) and the EBTS website and elsewhere. Unfortunately, many ignore these exegetical arguments. There are many more Bible passages on preservation besides just Psalm 119:89 and they do not contradict each other. The servants who pay attention to the Lord’s commands in Matthew 28:19-20, I Timothy 3:15, Revelation 22:18-19 will realize that the Lord’s churches guard the Lord’s words against the deliberate attack by the Lord’s enemy. Incidentally, the Lord’s enemy himself appears in the form of a servant or messenger (angelos). The admission that “evidence that can be found discounts that view” shows where the real authority is in the mind of some. Hebrews 11:1 tells believers that faith is the evidence. Evidence is not the evidence. Evidence is not the faith. This is according to the teaching of Hebrews 11 and other passages. At least Anvil believes that “the master” (hopefully not speaking of Baal) has a faithful copy of his orders. Some “servants” would not go that far.

    Just for the sake of argument, does the master’s own copy say “only begotten Son” or “only begotten God?” (in the original language of course). In other words, does the Lord’s Bible in heaven at John 1:18 have the TR reading, the CT reading, both, or neither?

  5. Anvil
    February 23, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    I don’t actually disagree that faith (in the right thing) is evidence enough. We also know that true faith “cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” So we know blind faith is of no use. Faith in a non-true book (like the Koran) that also claims to be the word of God is also no use.

    So, how do we have faith in the Word of God before we know what the Word of God is? After all, true faith can only come from the Word of God. I need to know what Gods words are to be able to receive them and have faith. Now we are down to trusting those who have passed on the words.

    I’m also not ignoring the arguments in “Thou Shalt Keep Them.” I own and have read that work (more than once), and I’m probably just about as familiar with it as anyone who wasn’t an author, editor, etc. I even wrote up my thoughts it (somewhere around 15 pages, single-space typed) for my own use and for reference. I just don’t agree with all the arguments made.

  6. February 23, 2007 at 7:19 pm


    I have not yet read one critique of TSKT that actually did away with the teaching of the book. People attacked us as men, went after strawmen that we didn’t mention in the book, mocked whatever typos were left in the first edition (which will hopefully be out of the 2nd edition), and actually ridiculed the teaching with questions about differences between TR editions, but the teaching remained. The teaching remains here too. People have not answered the actual Scriptural teaching. Instead, they bring up the “historical” material and “evidence” that causes them to stagger in their faith, unlike Abraham. He staggered not.

    If I give in on preservation when God said He would preserve every Word, just because of the really miniscule chaff that is thrown up against it in the way of “history” and “evidence,” then what is keeping me believing in Canonicity and Inspiration? I don’t know, because my basis for those two doctrines is similar, that is, Scripture, and that despite the so-called “errors” and “other gospels” that an agnostic can mount up against us. If I don’t stagger from the agnostic, I’m not going to stagger from the higher or lower critic.

    Thanks Bro. Grassi for your contribution. Please keep it up.

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