Question

How can different versions of the Bible all be right? After all, they each had to be changed to earn a copywright. That tells me that they really do not believe the in Revelation 22:19:

And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (KJV)
How can these other books be the same when so many of them have removed complete scriptures from them? These other versions are all tools designed by Satan to confuse us.

Answer

Well, since we don't have the original Scriptures, which were written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, any Bible we compile entails some guesswork. But beyond this, the problem you raise does not deal so much with multiple translations but with translation itself. For instance, you quoted from the King James translation. But that translation is not infallible either. We have a great many Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic texts, and the King James Version does not say precisely what those say. After all, it's in English! Since the warning in Revelation 22:19 applied to the original Greek text, your argument would imply that any translation of that text is evil, including the King James from which you quoted.

But more to the point, translation is a difficult task. There are not easy, direct parallels for all words or ideas. And the reason for multiple translations is that there are many different theories about the best way to render some of these words and ideas. It is not that people reject the obvious word of God. Rather, it is that people think they have found more helpful and accurate ways of rendering the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic language into modern English.

Consider this statement from the translators of the King James Version, found in the introduction to their Bible:
For when Your Highness had once out of deep judgement apprehended how convenient it was, that out of the Original Sacred Tongues, together with comparing of the labours, both in our own, and other foreign Languages, of many worthy men who went before us, there should be one more exact Translation of the holy Scriptures into the English Tongue; Your Majesty did never desist to urge and to excite those to whom it was commended, that the work might be hastened, and that the business might be expedited in so decent a manner, as a matter of such importance might justly require.
Notice that the translators of the King James Version were making an additional English translation (there were several earlier English translations), and that they commended the earlier translations as being "exact" translations made by "worthy men." Nevertheless, the translators of the King James Version thought they could do better. Just as other translators have added new versions in our day, the King James translators were adding one more version in their own day.

The fact is, multiple translations are helpful because they give us a broader picture of the meaning of the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. Hopefully, newer translations are even better than old ones. Many times this is true, sometimes it is not. Only in a few cases are new translations attempts to alter Scripture. Generally, they are attempts to explain the original meaning of the original texts with greater clarity.

For further information on this topic, you might take a look at Missing Verses?.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.