On March 1, 1841, Joseph Smith, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wrote thirteen Articles of Faith as a declaration of beliefs which the church subscribes to. In the 8th article it states, "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God." This statement has caused quite a stir in the Christian community. They contend that such a belief is proof that Mormons are not Christians, and they base their contention on four factors.
The first and most important reason they object to this Article of Faith is that Christians are suppose to believe that the Bible is the complete and final word of God. As scriptural proof they quote Deuteronomy 4:2 which reads, "Ye shall not add unto the word which I have commanded you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it." In Proverbs 30:6 it says, "Add not unto his [God's] words." And in Revelation 22:18,19 the Lord warns, "If any man shall add unto these things… and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophesy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life."
Since the Bible is known as "the word of God," they understand these verses of scripture to say that we are commanded not to add anything to or take anything away from what God has caused to be written in the Bible. Since the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that the Book of Mormon is also the word of God, that means they have added more than 500 additional pages of scriptrue to what God has already written in the Bible. Therefore, Mormons cannot be considered Christians in the traditional sense because the very foundation of their belief rests on a violation of God's holy word.
The second reason they object to the 8th Article of Faith is found in Matthew 5:18 which reads, "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled." A "jot" is similar to a dot over the letter "i", and a "tittle" is similar to the line which crosses the letter "t". To most Christians, what this scripture means is that every word, every dot, and every other punctuation mark found in the Bible is exactly what and where God intended it to be. It is therefore believed that, even though it was produced through the instrumentality of men, God is its actual author. Furthermore, since God is perfect, that means each and every word found in the Bible is precisely the word a perfect God intended to use and accurately reflects what He wants us to know. Therefore, any deviation from God's divine written word as contained in the Bible is to corrupt and alter what a perfect God has written.
To many Christians, this verse of scripture in Matthew also means that God has promised that His word would always be faithfully translated, even down to each dot and tittle, so that not even one period, coma, or semi-colon would ever be lost. In fact, this very doctrine is clearly set forth in the Westminister Confession of Faith. Concerning what we are to believe about the Bible, it reads in part, "…being immediately inspired by God and by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them" (Chapter 1, paragraph VIII, emphasis added).
In the Book of Mormon there are numerous Old Testament scriptures quoted, but not all of them are quoted exactly as they are found in our Bible. So this objection which most Christians have against the Book of Mormon is that it changes the words which God had caused to be written.
The third reason why Christians scoff at the 8th Article of Faith is because, if God is perfect, that also means what He has caused to be placed on paper is also perfect. As such, it is a given that there are no mistakes in the Bible. To all who believe in the Bible as the word of God, this is known as "the inerrancy" doctrine. What that means is there are no errors, mistakes, inconsistencies, or discrepancies anywhere in the Bible. To say otherwise is to say that either God is imperfect or that God did not write the Bible. Both of these conclusions are totally unacceptable to Christians.
Therefore, when Christians study the Book of Mormon and find what they consider to be mistakes or errors in it, they naturally conclude that it could not have been written by a perfect God. As such, when Mormons claim that the Book of Mormon is God's word, Christians believe such a statement is a provable lie.
To verify this point, a husband and wife team by the name of Jerald and Sandra Tanner have photocopied every page of the original 1830 version of the Book of Mormon and meticulously compared it with the 1964 edition. In this way they have been able to catalog 3,913 changes that have been made between these two editions. Their argument is that if the Book of Mormon was written by God and revealed to Joseph Smith in 1830 by divine revelation, as he claims, there should be no need for any changes to have been made. Yet, instead of zero mistakes, they have documented nearly a whopping 4,000 errors in a book that supposedly was given by heavenly intervention!
The fourth reason why Christians object to the 8th Article of Faith is because it infers that the Bible we have today may not be translated correctly. Although it is an accepted fact that many of the ancient manuscripts of the Bible which are still in existence today have mistakes in them, defenders of the Bible point out that there are over 5,000 Greek manuscripts from which scholars for centuries have been able to study. Even though there are mistakes in each of these copies, they argue that the same mistake wouldn't appear in all of them. Therefore, by comparing each manuscript with all the others, biblical scholars have been able to accurately determine the most universal wording, thereby insuring that what the apostles wrote is still faithfully preserved to this day.
Furthermore, since Christians believe that God wrote the Bible, to say that our English version has translation errors in it is tantamount to saying that God doesn't have the ability to insure that His word is properly and accurately transferred from one language to another. To many Christians, the idea that the Bible is not translated correctly is, at the least, laughable, and, at the worse, blasphemous.
Which so much "evidence" against the Book of Mormon, some wonder how anyone could still cling to the notion that it is the word of God. To understand why Mormons still believe as they do, we need to understand how our English version of the New Testament has come to us.
When the apostles wrote their epistles, they made only one copy which was sent to the church for whom it was written. Scholars refer to these writings as being "the original autographs." Needless to say, that thousands of years later these original autographs no longer exist. In the earliest days of the church, Christians from all congregations were eager to not only read for themselves what the apostles had written, but also to spread the good news to others. Giving non-Christians a copy of a letter written by an apostle was one way to do that. Over the next fourteen hundred years, tens of thousands of copies of each letter were made and distributed throughout the known world.
However, until the 15th century, the only way to make a copy was by the long, painstaking task of re-writing them by hand. Since, in the beginning, there was no central committee who oversaw this work, there was no way to insure that each new letter produced was copied accurately. In fact, of the 5,000 manuscripts which we still have today, no two read exactly alike. There are several reasons for this. One is human error. Even with the most careful attention, people make mistakes. But, beyond that, the early Christians didn't bother with exercising much care. Most of these early copies were done in haste, and the careless handwriting of many of the copies we have today clearly demonstrates this fact. Later, when someone else made a copy from an imperfectly written manuscript, it was easy for them to misunderstand what the text actually said, thereby compounding the error by making more mistakes.
It should also be noted that the earliest manuscripts had no punctuation or even spaces between words. They were merely a string of upper case letters written side by side in a never ending line with nothing to mark where one word ended and another began, or where one sentence ended and another one began. This form of writing is known as "uncial letterforms." This was the style of writing that was used until the ninth century when "script letterforms" were gradually introduced. The problem this presented was, if the first scribe inadvertently miscopied one of the upper case letters, or carelessly wrote it, the next scribe could easily misinterpret the intended word. For example, in today's writings, it is easy to mistake a handwritten "n" for an "m" or a "v" for a "u. If, because of sloppy penmanship, someone's "u" looks more like an "o" then the word "sun" would be mistaken for "son." In addition to this, without punctuation marks, it sometimes becomes impossible to determine the exact inflection which the writer intended to put on a certain word.
But there were more serious problems than these. Today we are fond of saying that every word in the Bible is the exact word God intended to use, but the early Christians didn't share this view. As such, they sometimes felt free to reword or rephrase a verse of scripture here and there to help make it more understandable to their readers. What that means is, they would rewrite the scriptures so that it conformed to their idea of what the gospel taught.
Sometimes, rather than changing the wording, a scribe would make comments in the margin to help the reader better understand what a certain passage meant. However, the next scribe who copied that letter might incorporate the margin notes into the actual body of his writings. Of course, the next person who transcribed that letter, would copy it as it was, thereby perpetuating the mistake made by the previous scribe.
Worse of all, there were people who deliberately made changes in their copies so as to make the words of the apostles agree with their own apostate ideas about the gospel. What better way to prove your point than to use as scripture something you yourself had written, but claimed it was written by an apostle! This happened so frequently in the early Church, that the bishops began keeping a list of which letters were authentic and which ones weren't.
To make matters worse, there were different kinds of Bibles produced, each depending on the influence of the geographical area and time period in which they were written. For example, in the area around Greece and Asia Minor - known as the Byzantine Empire, which was predominately the Greek speaking world - the texts of these letters exhibited the influence and culture of that part of the world during that period of time. Because of this, the wording of the biblical texts is elegant and formal, with a flowing style of writing which was typical of that society. However, in Northern Africa, and especially in and around Alexandria, Egypt, the scriptural texts were much different in style and composition. Their most distinctive feature is that they are much shorter in length, using abbreviated terms and using simpler wording. For example, rather than writing "the Lord Jesus" it would simply say "Jesus." For this reason, the Byzantine texts are referred to as the "fuller text"
While both of these two styles were written in the commonly used Koine Greek language, in and around Italy and France - known as the Western part of the world - the New Testament text was written in Latin. But, more importantly, these copies tended to paraphrase what the apostles had written rather than closely following the exact wording of the original book or letter. Later on, in the area of Caesarea, another style of text was begun. This one had the combined characteristics of the Western readings plus some of those from Alexandria, while incorporating some of the elegance of the Byzantine way of writing. Thus, among the ancient manuscripts which we have today, there are four different types, or style of texts to choose from. Biblical scholars identify them as 1). Byzantine, 2) Alexandrian 3). Western, and 4). Caesarean.
While we classify all of these as being "ancient manuscripts" that in no way means they are the originals, or even close to the originals. What we have today are copies of copies of copies of copies. The oldest Alexandrian text we have today dates back to the middle of the fourth century. Only two of these texts still exist. One was discovered in 1844 in a wastepaper basket in a monastery in Sinai. The other text had been brought to the Vatican in 1448 by Pope Nicholas V where it remained locked away for centuries and was not released to the public until 1867. They are known among biblical scholars as the codex Sinaiticus and the codex Vaticanus.
Among the Western texts, there are three surviving manuscripts in existence. One is known as the codex Bezae, which contains only the four gospels and the Book of Acts, and dates back to the fifth or sixth century. Another one is known as the codex Claromontanus, which contains most of Paul's letters and the first five chapters of the gospel of Mark, and dates back to the sixth century. And the third manuscript is known as the codex Washingtonuanus which dates back to the late fourth century or early fifth century. The Caesarean manuscript we have today is known as the codex Koridethi and dates back to the ninth century.
By far, the most numerous manuscripts we have today come from the Byzantine style texts. Of the 5,000 manuscripts that are presently available to us, approximately ninety percent of them are classified as belonging to this style. However, the most complete Byzantine manuscript we have is one that is known as the codex Alexandrius, but it does not contain the Book of Acts, any of Paul's letters, or the Book of Revelation. The great majority of the remaining manuscripts are small, incomplete fragments of books which date back no later than the sixth or seventh century.
Although the twenty-seven books of the New Testament which we presently have in our Bibles was officially authorized as official scripture (canonized) by the third council of Carthage in 397 AD, these were never put together into one complete volume until the invention of the printing press. In 1516 AD a Roman Catholic humanist named Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1469? - 1536) published the first "bible" as we now know it. By comparing the various wording from seven different Greek manuscripts (all of which were Byzantine-text, dating back no later than the 10th century), he was able to make a complete and unified New Testament book which he translated into Latin. However, because his work was done in haste, the first edition of his book had thousands of typographical errors in it. Nevertheless, it became an instant success, with people eagerly anxious to purchase a copy for themselves. During the next fifteen years, Erasmus published four other editions of his work (1519, 1522, 1527, and 1535), each one improving upon the translation of the previous one.
Although he was the first to publish such a book, he was by no means the only one during that time. In 1514 Cardinal Ximenes made a Greek and Latin edition of the New Testament, which was known as the Complutensian Polyglot. However, it wasn't published until 1522. This became one of the most popular and famous editions, especially among the people of England. Theodore Beza, a follower and successor to the Protestant reformer, John Calvin, produced ten editions (i.e., translations) of his own between 1565 and 1604, each one trying to improve upon the proceeding editions. Robert Stephanus Estienne published four editions of his own between 1546 and 1551, and Abraham Elzevir published three different editions between 1624 and 1641. In all there are approximately thirty different editions produced during this time, with no two being worded exactly the same.
These translations, all made from the same six or seven Greek manuscripts, have become known as the "Received Text" or the "Textus Receptus" manuscripts. However, as has just been pointed out, there is not one "Received Text," but rather there are approximately thirty different versions of this text. And it was from these published works of Eramus, Ximenes, Beza, Estienne and Elzevir that the Protestant reformer, William Tyndale made his English translation of the Bible, and which heavily influenced the translators who produced the King James Bible. For the next three centuries the "Received Text" became the standard from which all other translations were made.
In 1828 Brook Foss Westcott was born in Birmingham, England, and in 1851 he completed his graduate schooling from Trinity College in Cambridge, England. That same year Fenton John Anthony Hort began attending Trinity College himself. Shortly afterwards, in the spring of 1853, these two men began to make a serious, systematic and critical analysis of the ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament.
However, instead of rushing to complete their work in a short period of time, as previous translators had done, Westcott and Hort approached their project with meticulous scholarly dedication, using careful examination and a critical judgment of the text. This has lead to their method of translation being known as "textural criticism." What this means is, they approached their work with scientific objectivity rather than with religious subjectivity. Rather than basing their translation on some pre-conceived religious ideas drawn from their own personal faith in God, they relied solely on academic logic based on proven rules of research.
As part of their translation method, all manuscripts were rated according to their date, content, and other objective factors. In this way they made the determination of which manuscripts were to be considered more "authentic" than others. Under such a method, not all manuscripts received equal status.
In the course of their work, Westcott and Hort also studied the two Alexandrian texts - the codex Sinaiticus and the codex Vaticanus - which were not available to previous translators. Through their method of textual criticism, they concluded that these two Alexandrian texts were of older origin than any other manuscripts and therefore felt they more accurately reflected what the ancient apostles had originally written. As a result, they relied heavily on these for their translation, rather than on the Bryzantine style texts which Erasmus and the other 16th century translators depended on.
Concerning their work Hort wrote: "We are bold to say that none of the shortcomings [of our translation] are due to a lack of anxious and watchful sincerity. [We employed] an implicit confidence in all truth…. And [made] a deliberate dread of shutting out truth as yet unknown." (from the two volume book entitled, "The life and letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort")
After 28 years of painstaking effort, their long anticipated work was published in 1881. Nearly immediately it was hailed as one of the most significant contributions to Biblical learning, and their system of textual criticism became the method by which future biblical translators approached their work. Because of this, their translation has become known as the "Critical Text" as opposed to the "Traditional Text" which was used by the King James translators. Most of today's modern translations, including the New International Version, the New American Standard Bible, the New Living Testament, and the Revised Standard Version, use the Westcott and Hort translation as the basis for their own. Today most churches use one of these newer translations rather than the King James Version of the Bible, and even such noted evangelists as Billy Graham have given their endorsement to these modern-day translations.
The Westcott and Hort method for translating also employed what is known as "dynamic equivalency," rather than the "formal equivalency" method, used by earlier translators. The "formal equivalent" method makes a literal, exact word-for-word translation. However, there is a problem with this kind of an approach. Sometimes a translator can come across a Greek word for which there is no equivalent word in English. Or, sometimes the original writer used a slang or idiomatic expression that loses its intended meaning when literally translated. For example, today a popular phrase is, "Get a life." If we take those three words literally it conveys an entirely different meaning than the one intended.
To correct this problem, modern translators use what is known as "dynamic equivalency." This method tries to convey the idea behind the words. As such, it is more of a thought-for-thought translation. As such, it inserts words and phrases that are not actually present in the text but which are implied. By doing this, it not only helps make the text easier to read but also makes it easier for the reader to understand the message. However, this method has its own set of problems, because it is the translator who must determine what the original author meant. Since that is not always possible, often there is a greater chance for the translator to interpret words and phrases according to their own theology.
And there is a secondary and unintended problem which also arises from this kind of translating method. Once it became acceptable to discard a literal translation, this made it easier for people to use an even looser form of translating known as paraphrasing. Rather than adding or changing a word here or there to make the text more understandable, paraphrasing dramatically alters and restates in the author's own words what he or she thinks the apostle was trying to say. The Good News Bible is one example of this kind of translation, and it has likewise been endorsed by Billy Graham and other evangelical ministers.
Considering that there are nearly 6,000 changes between the Traditional text of Erasmus which the King James translators used and the Critical Text of Westcott and Hort which all modern translators use, it is impossible to prove which, if any, Bible truly contains the exact words which God caused to be written. Even among the Traditional Text, there are more than thirty different versions. And among the two Alexandrian manuscripts which Westcott and Hort used - the codex Sinaiticus and the codex Vaticanus - there are more than 3,000 differences in wording between them in just the four gospels alone!
If we say that the Book of Mormon cannot be considered the word of God because it contains 3,913 changes in the entire book, then we would have to say the same about the Bible, which has had a far greater number of changes made to it.
Defenders of the Bible say that despite the changes found in our newer versions of the Bible, they do not alter the message of God's word. Even if we accept that premise, the fact still remains that today's Bibles no longer use the exact words which God inspired the apostles to write. As such, the Bible we use today is not the word of God. Instead, it contains the words of those men who have given us their translation of God's word.
This very point is clearly explained in the Introduction of the Amplified New Testament Bible. It's beginning paragraph states, "There never has been, nor can be, an entirely adequate translation from the original Greek. No matter how perfectly done the work of the translators may be, the difficulties involved in expressing the ideas bound up in one Greek word or phrase in an equivalent English word or phrase are often insurmountable. In some cases, the translator finds himself confronted with a Greek term which combines the thought of a number of English words, each of which conveys some shade of meaning not to be found in the others. His only choice is to select the most fitting of these expressions and omit others. In this way the reader is deprived of much that would clarify the meaning of the text if he only knew it, and it often leaves him with only a vague understanding of what would otherwise be delightfully clear."
In light of such evidence, for anyone to claim that the Book of Mormon cannot be the word of God because of numerous changes that have been made to it, shows a total ignorance of the translating process. To better understand the complete lack of credibility which critics of the Book of Mormon face, let's compare the changes found in that book with changes that have been made in the Bible.
In the very first chapter alone of the Book of Mormon, there have been 56 changes made between the 1830 edition and the 1964 edition. For example, in verse 8 in the 1830 version it read, "and being thus overcome with the spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the Heavens open; and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne." In the 1964 version it reads, "And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and thought he saw God sitting on his throne."
If you are having trouble recognizing the changes, let me point them out. The very first word was changed from a lower case "a" to and upper case "A" and the same change was made to the word "spirit," while the word heaven was changed from an upper case "H" to a lower case "h." Also, the semicolon after the word "open" was changed to a coma.
In the very first chapter of the Book of Mormon, out of the 56 changes that have been identified by the Tanners, seventeen of them were capitalization changes and twenty were punctuation changes. Several of the other changes were to correct spelling errors (i.e., "shewn" was changed to "shown") and tense errors (i.e., "is" was changed to "was").
These kinds of changes account for nearly eighty percent of the changes made in the Book of Mormon. When we consider that no manuscript before the ninth century contained any punctuation, it is obvious that the original Book of Mormon, written in the fifth century, from which Joseph Smith made his translation, likewise had no punctuation. Since every Bible we use today contains punctuation, that means that every Bible we use today has added something to God's word (i.e., punctuation) that was not originally there. But, if we rightly dismiss punctuation changes in the Bible, then we must likewise rightly disregard such changes when they occur in the Book of Mormon. In that case, the number of changes found in that book is dramatically lower than 3,913 to fewer than 800 changes.
Nevertheless, one Christian organization known as the Institute for Religious Research, still calls these "examples of some of the most significant revisions made to the book of Mormon." Although they admit that "most of these changes were made to correct embarrassing spelling and grammatical errors," they quickly add, "However, there are numerous other changes which affect doctrinal readings…. [for example,] Joseph originally taught that Jesus and the Father were the same person and that God had always been God, but later developed the idea that the Father and Son were separate Gods, each with a tangible body" (see www.irr.org/mit/changingscrips.html ). As proof of this, they cite four places where the wording was changed to reflect this difference in doctrine. One such place is found in 1 Nephi 11:18. The 1830 edition reads, "Behold, the virgin which thou seest, is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh." Today's version reads, "… is the mother of the Son of God." (see , www.saintsalive.com/mormonism/bomchanges.htm ). The fact that four times in the Book of Mormon the phrase "the Son of God" was added to a verse of scripture to show that Jesus and the Father are separate beings is clear evidence to these critics that the doctrine of the godhead was changed.
However, there are fifty-seven other verses of scripture in the 1830 version of the Book of Mormon that have not been changed where Jesus is identified as "the Son of God." The critics seem to conveniently ignore these unchanged verses in order to give the false impression that nowhere in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon did it make a distinction between the Father and the Son.
Instead of creating a new and different reading, it appears that later editions employed the "dynamic equivalency" method to help clarify what these four "changed" verses were intended to convey. But, apparently, when dynamic equivalency changes are made in the Bible, many Christians feel that is a perfectly acceptable and even a highly commendable practice. However, when the same technique is used in the Book of Mormon, these same Christians consider it to be a blasphemous act.
Another significant change that critics of the Book of Mormon cite is that in the title page of the 1830 edition it refers to Joseph Smith as the "author" of the Book of Mormon, while the 1964 edition states he is the "translator," as though this is some dramatic and fundamental change in doctrine. From a legal standpoint in relationship to copyright laws, especially in 1830, Joseph Smith could rightly be considered as the "author" of the Book of Mormon, since he produced it and published it. Although the term "author" may not be precisely correct in the strictest sense of the word, it is nonetheless true in the legal sense of its meaning. Since Mormon was the actual author, who had died in 400 AD, it would have been hard to award him the copyright after he had been dead for 1400 years. Thus, Joseph Smith was originally listed as the "author" of the Book of Mormon.
By 1964 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held the copyright to this book and therefore could more correctly referred to Joseph Smith as the "translator." Both of these words are correct in the context of how they are used in the title page. However, such an argument is totally irrelevant to begin with because this part of the Book of Mormon was not dictated by God, nor is it considered as scripture. It is merely a publishing format that is used by all books, including the Bible. Its form and wording is of human origin and thereby can legally be changed by the person holding the copyright anytime they want.
Now that we have looked at some of the most "significant" changes in the Book of Mormon, it's only right that we examine some of the changes that have been made in the Bible. And as we do, we must keep in mind that Christians are adamant in their belief that the Bible expressly forbids anyone from adding to or subtracting anything from God's word.
There are numerous modern-day translations such as the New King James Version (NKJV), the New International Version (NIV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the New Living Bible Translation (NLT), the Revised Standard Version (RSV), the Darby Translation (DT) and Young's Literal Translation (YLT), to name just a few.
In the NKJV, it has been estimated there are over 100,000 changes to the KJV! And this translation has the fewest changes of all the other modern-day Bibles! More importantly, these changes are not just simply substituting the word "you" for "thee" and "thou." To illustrate what these changes are, let's examine just three out of thousands that could be cited. In 2 Cor. 2:17 the KJV reads, "For we are not as many which corrupt the word of God," while the NKJV reads, "For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God." Disregarding the changes in punctuation (which also changes the meaning of the sentence), to "corrupt the word of God" and to "peddle the word of God" indicate two entirely different things.
Speaking about Jesus, in John 1:3 the KJV reads. "All things were made by him." However, the NKJV says that "All things were made through him." So which is it? Were all things made by or through Jesus? Although to some these two words may seem to mean the same thing, to those who base their beliefs on each and every word in the Bible, there is a significant difference in connotation between them. But, the more important question we need to ask is: Which word is the one that God inspired John to write?
In Acts 3;13 the KJV reads, "…the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus Christ…" while the NKJV reads, "…the God of our fathers, glorified his Servant Jesus." Again, to some, these two verses may seem to be saying the same thing, but to those who base their doctrine on every word in the Bible, calling Jesus a "Servant" of God rather than a "Son" of God has enormous doctrinal implicatons. According to the Trinitarian doctrine, Jesus is God, and, even though He is also the Son of God, there is still only one God who is indivisible. But when we refer to Jesus as God's "servant" it tends to give the impression that He is separate from the godhead and makes Him seem inferior to God the Father in authority. As such, this kind of wording tends to weaken the Trinitarian doctrine which traditional Christianity so highly values. Also notice that the NKJV leaves off the title of "Christ" when talking about Jesus, which further tends to weaken His role as Savior if we are basing our doctrine on every word in the Bible being just the exact word that God intended to use.
The NIV, which is the most popular modern translation in use today, makes even more changes. Let's examine just a few examples. In Philippians 2:6 the KJV reads, "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." The NIV changes this to, "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped." Those two statements do not say the same thing. There is a distinct difference in meaning between them.
In Isaiah 14:15 the KJV reads, "Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell." The NIV reads, "But you are brought down to the grave." This is one of twenty-two places in the NIV where it changes the word "hell" to a different word. It does the same to the word "blood" 23 times, the word "repent" 44 times, the word "heaven" 50 times, the word "God" 51 times and completely omits and deletes more that 64,000 words such as "mercy seat," "Jehovah," "Godhead," and "damnation."
Besides eliminating certain words, they have completely deleted over 40 complete verses of scripture. For example, Matt. 17:21, 18:11, 23:14, Mark 7:16, 9:44, 11:26, 15:28, Luke 17:36, and John 5:4 no longer exist in the NIV! And that's just in the gospels alone.
In addition to that, they have removed (subtracted) portions of another 147 verses. For example, in Matthew 20:22 it reads, "But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: They say unto him, We are able." However, in the NIV it reads, "You don't know what you are asking. Jesus said to them, Can you drink the cup I am going to drink? We can, they answered." The NIV has left out all mention of baptism! More than that, there is no footnote even explaining why this part of the verse has been eliminated!
In Colossians 1:14 the KJV reads, "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." However, the NIV leaves out the critical phrase about the blood of Christ when it says, "In whom we have redemption , the forgiveness of sins." It does provide a footnote which reads, "A few late manuscripts [contain] redemption through his blood."
In Romans 8:1, the KJV read, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." However, the NIV leaves out the phrase "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." The explanation given in the footnotes is that this omitted phrase is found in some later manuscripts.
Since Christians believe that the Bible contains the very words of God Himself, and that we are not to add or subtract from what a perfect God has caused to be written, the problem we are now faced with is trying to determine exactly what it was that God inspired the apostles to write. If these omitted phrases only show up in later manuscripts, then apparently some human person has added it to God's inspired word, which means that the KJV is in error. Yet this is the version which Christians have been claiming for over 400 years is inerrant (without mistakes)! On the other hand, if the modern translations have incorrectly assumed that these phrases weren't part of the original writings of the apostles, then many churches today are reading from a Bible that has had some of God's words subtracted from it, thereby making it incomplete and with errors in it.
The NASB is no better. For example, in Hebrews 7:21 it reads, "Thou art a priest forever," and omits, without explanation, "after the order of Melchisedec." In John 17:5 it simply reads, "glorify Thou me together with Thyself," while the KJV reads, "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." This omitted phrase is highly significant when it comes to doctrines relating to the Godhead. When we couple this with the fact that the NASB has completely eliminated the word "godhead" from its translation, we see that it severely limits our knowledge about the Trinity.
In Luke 11:2 the KJV reads, "And he said unto them, When ye pray say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. They will be done, as in heaven, so in earth." However, the NASB simply says, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come." That's all this verse says! It completely eliminates any mention of heaven. In verse 4, the KJV reads, "…and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." The NASB merely says "… and bring us not into temptation," and omits any mention about delivering us from evil.
But omission of words and phrases aren't the only kinds of changes that this modern-day Bible makes. In 1 Kings 19:12 the KJV reads, "And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice." Yet in the NASB, this same verse read, "and after the fire, a sound of a gentle blowing." Which is it? Did God come to Elijah as "a still small voice" or as the "sound of a gentle blowing?" These two verses do not say the same thing.
In Luke 2:14. the KJV reads, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." However, in the RSV it reads, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he [God] is pleased!" While in the DT it reads, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good pleasure in men," and in the YLT it reads, "Glory in the highest to God, and upon earth peace, among men -- good will." These all mean different things. So which it? Is it "peace on earth" and good will toward all men, or is it peace among only those with whom God is pleased, or is it peace, which is good pleasure in all men, or is it peace upon the earth and good will among men?
In 1 Peter 3:21 we read that baptism saves us but this is "not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God" (KJV). However, the RSV reads "not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience." But the DT renders it, "not a putting away of [the] filth of flesh, but [the] demand as before God of a good conscience," while the YLT reads "not a putting away of the filth of flesh, but the question of a good conscience in regard to God."
It's clear that baptism isn't just the washing away of dirt from off the body, but is it the "answer" of a good conscience "toward" God, or the "question" of a good conscience in regard to God? Or is an "appeal" we make "to God", or is it a "demand" we make "before God?" Again, each of these versions makes a significant change to the meaning of the verse.
In 2 Peter 2:4, it speaks about the angels that sinned and how God "cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness" (KJV). However, the NIV says that God "put them in gloomy dungeons," the RSV states that God "committed them to pits of nether gloom," and the NLT says "he threw them into gloomy caves." Yet the YLT reads, "but with chains of thick gloom, having cast them down to Tartarus…"
To some it might not matter if these angels were put into "chains of darkness," "gloomy dungeons" "pits of nether gloom" or "chains of thick gloom," but that doesn't change the fact that these phrases don't say the same thing. If the very words of the Bible don't really matter, then it doesn't make any real difference which version is correct. But if we are to believe that every single word found in the Bible is the precise, exact, perfect word that God intended for us to have, and if we say that God has insured that not even one "jot" or "tittle" of His word has been lost in translation, then it is extremely important that our Bible contains the correct "word of God." But the real question is, which translation is the correct one? They can't all be correct because they all convey a different idea from one another.
In 1 Cor.9:14 the KJV reads, "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." What does Paul mean when he says "live of the gospel?" The NIV and RSV translate this as "those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel." However, the DT reads "those that announce the glad tidings to live of the glad tidings," while the YLT reads, "those proclaiming the good news: of the good news to live." The implication here is that those who preach the gospel should live according to the very gospel they teach others to observe. So which translation accurately states Paul's words? Is Paul saying that people should get paid for preaching or that they should live what they preach?
In 1 Cor. 15:33 33 the KJV, DT, and YLT read, "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." But the RSV reads, "Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals." These two versions don't say the same thing. What is it that Paul is trying to tell us? Does speaking evil corrupt our manners or does hanging around bad company ruin our morals? To say that both statements are correct in their sentiments doesn't answer the question of which statement is the correct translation of the inspired word of God which was written by Paul.
Let's take a look at a few more examples. In the KJV, Luke 7:21 quotes Jesus as saying, "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." The NIV reads, "the kingdom of God is within  you," but adds a footnote with reads "or among you" The NASB, RSV, and DT translate it as, "For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst" or "in the midst of you."
These translations give two fundamentally different meanings to this verse. There are those who point to the KJV of this scripture to verify that Christ did not set up a physical, tangible, organizational church, because the kingdom of God is inside each individual believer. What that infers is that the kingdom of God is defined more as being an indwelling feeling or an abstract concept rather than as something that exists outside of and apart from us. On the other hand, if the kingdom of God is among us, meaning that it is in our midst, that clearly infers that God's kingdom does exist outside of and separate from us. As such, it is not merely an inward feeling, but can be something tangible that we belong to rather than it belonging to us. This change in translation has a dramatic effect on the definition of God's kingdom. Once again, we need to ask ourselves the question, Which translation gives us the correct word of God?
The Lord commanded Moses to make some garments for Aaron to wear when he performed his duties as a High Priest. In the KJV, RSV, YLT, and NASB of Exodus 28:2 they all read, "And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty." The NIV reads nearly the same when it says, " Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron, to give him dignity and honor," however, it omits the fact that this garment was to be for "beauty" as well as for "dignity and honor." On the other hand, the DT reads, "And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, for glory and for ornament." According to this translation, the garment was not made "for beauty" but was meant for glory and ornamentation.
While all of these translations say that the garments are "sacred" or "holy" the NLT reads, "Make special clothing for Aaron to show his separation to God--beautiful garments that will lend dignity to his work" Although "sacred garments" are indeed "special clothing," you can't say that all special clothing is sacred. Therefore this translation omits the fact that these garments are to be considered sacred. Also, it adds a comment that the garment was meant "to show [Aaron's] separation to God," yet, none of the other translations make such a statement. So which one of these translations correctly gives us the inspired word of God?
In the KJV Bible Genesis 37:3 reads, "Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors." Yet, in the RSV Bible it reads, in part "he made him a long robe with sleeves," and says nothing about it having many colors. The NIV reads, "he made a richly ornamented robe for him", while in the NLT it reads, "he gave Joseph a special gift - a beautiful robe." Again, none of them say this garment had a multitude of colors. However, the DT reads, "he made him a vest of many colors." What was it that Israel gave to his son Joseph? Was it a coat , was it a robe or was it a vest? Did it have many colors or just a few colors, or was it all one color? Was it "richly ornamented" or was it just a "beautiful robe"? Several of these modern translations have a footnote which states, "the exact meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain." If that is true, that means none of these translations are accurate because all of them are guessing at what God's inspired word means.
It is argued by the defenders of the Bible that none of these variations make any significant change to God's teachings as found in the Bible. They further argue that when we take the Bible as a whole, instead of focusing on one or two unimportant verses, these minor differences in wording are rendered meaningless. If that is true, then the exact wording of the Bible is unimportant. In that case, the Bible can't really be called the "word" of God, if we can substitute whatever word we want. In effect, that's the same as saying the words themselves don't really matter that much as long as we get the basic idea of what's being said. Yet it is these same people who point to punctuation, spelling, and grammatical changes in the Book of Mormon as convincing proof that it couldn't have be written by a perfect God.
However, since the Christian world strongly claims that we are to accept every word in the Bible as being written by God Himself through the instrumentality of man, that means that any change made to the Bible is changing the inspired words which a perfect God has given us. Furthermore, as we stated earlier, they also believe that God is watching over the translation of His word to insure that it accurately says what He intended. But with so many different Bibles giving us so many conflicting readings, the real question becomes, which translation, if any, is the correct one?
For centuries people have used the KJV, saying that it was totally accurate because it was written by God Himself. But today's translators argue that their work is more accurate because they have used older manuscripts than were previously available. However, not everyone agrees with that statement. What we find is that, within the Christian community, there is a fierce philosophical debate between those who feel that the old, traditional method of translating is more accurate and those who believe that the Westcott and Hort critical text method is the best means of determining God's word.
What this all points out is that it is impossible to say, with any degree of certainty that any of today's Bibles accurately give us the word of God as He originally inspired men to write it. Instead, regardless of which translation we use, all of them were written by fallible men who lay no claim to divine inspiration, and who admit to guessing at what certain words mean. To claim that the Bible is God's complete and inerrant word, which we can neither add to nor subtract from, is a demonstrably false statement.
In 1841, when Joseph Smith wrote that "we believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly," Westcott and Hort hadn't even begun their work. Yet, because of them, Joseph's words are more accurate today than they were at the time he wrote them.
Those who spend their time looking for changes in the Book of Mormon as proof of its human origin are likewise condemning the very Bible which they say is of divine origin. Those who say we cannot have any more Bible because we cannot add to or subtract from God's words have no clear historical evidence to prove that man hasn't already inserted or omitted words to the Bible over the centuries. In fact, the evidence seems to indicate that this is exactly what has happened.
If ever there was a time when we needed a purer translation of God's words, it is today. Despite the 3,913 changes in the Book of Mormon, its message is still the same today as it was in 1830. It was given by divine inspiration, it was translated by divine inspiration, and it continues to be preserved by divine inspiration. No Bible since the first century can make that claim. As such, it is the only book that can truly be called God's word.