An interesting question came up in Sunday School earlier this week: Why is Acts 8:37 included in the King James Bible, but not this modern translation (pointing to the NIV)? I tried to answer the question as best I could, but started throwing out terms like Textus Receptus and Textual Criticism, which probably left my audience more confused. This morning I found a nice little article which explains the answer better. I've tweaked it a little bit for the purpose of this specific question. Keep in mind that this is a summary of complex issues (an entire book could be dedicated to this question):
It is important to understand that we do not have an "original copy" of any book of the Bible. What we have are copies of copies of copies... (what we call "manuscripts"), from which Textual Critics seek to ascertain the original wording of the author. It is the original wording that most Bible scholars hold to be perfect and inspired by God.
Many modern Christians view "The Bible" that is sitting on their shelves as the perfect, exact word of the living God, but that belief is not quite correct. What is sitting on your shelf is an English rendition OF a particular translator's interpretation OF the group of manuscripts he studied when writing his translation. The KJV is no different.
The difference between the KJV and modern translations is the particular set of manuscripts they are based on. During the 16th century, when the KJV was written, a very limited set of manuscripts were available for translation. But since that time, thousands of manuscripts have been excavated, which have given us more insight into what the original wording might have been.
Modern translators (e.g. the NIV translators) seek to faithfully handle the word of God by considering as many reliable manuscripts as possible during translation - which is exactly what the KJV translators sought to do in their day (they just had far fewer manuscripts to work with.)
So, the NIV translators are not trying to lead you into a fiery demise by deceiving you with false translations. In fact, many of the so-called "missing verses" are referenced in the side-column of your NIV Bible. The only reason they were left out is that the translators of the NIV honestly believed that the evidence was overwhelmingly against those verses being part of the original writing.
I hope that clears up some confusion! Check out the videos below for more information about Greek Manuscripts and Translation.
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I've been feeling the need lately to share those extra thoughts that don't make it into Sunday's sermon. So this is where they'll end up!
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)