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Coping with Individual Differences between Standard Bibles | Should we call it "Valera 1909" or "Reina-Valera 1909"? | What about differences between Textus Receptus editions? | Is the Valera 1909 different from the King James Bible? | What about the various revisions of the Valera prior to 1909? | Is the Valera 1909 a Textus Receptus Bible?

Coping with Individual Differences between Standard Bibles

How can we accept real differences between the Spanish and English standard Bibles? For example, which version of Mark 1.2 is correct?

The argument over Mark 1.2 is typical. It illustrates the danger of stooping to textual arguments to undermine faith in the standard Bible of any language. There are two different readings of Mark 1.2 in different Greek manuscripts of Mark. “Experts” do not agree, of course, as to which reading is the “original” one. The English and Spanish standard Bibles read differently in this passage as well as a few other passages. KJV 1769 believers assume the KJV reading is the correct one, and Valera 1909 believers also assume their Bible is correct. It is not our intention to take sides, in fact, those who do take sides are overlooking some important facts.

No one alive has seen an original document of Mark or any other NT book. Therefore without prejudice it is impossible to know by evidence which one, if either, is the wording of the original document. Evidence for and against either reading is both inconclusive and unconvincing. For example, some experts point out the age of manuscripts containing one reading, while others point out the number of manuscripts with the other reading. Neither of these arguments are convincing to the other viewpoint.

Some KJV believers point out that the Valera’s reading is inaccurate, having Mark claim that a quote is from Isaiah when only part of the quote is from Isaiah. This, they say, proves the KJV reading is the correct one because it doesn’t mention the source of the quote. KJV critics however claim that the improved reading of the KJV demonstrates it in fact is the inaccurate reading, since a scribe would not alter a perfectly reasonable reading, but would more likely correct a confusing one. While accusing the KJV of containing tampered readings is unacceptable, accusing the Valera 1909 of error in Mark 1.2 is presumptuous.

Citations in the Gospels, even when mentioning the name of an OT author, are not always referring to the author of the quote, but may instead refer to the heading of a scroll containing several OT books, even if the quote itself is from a different book than that which the scroll opens with. For example, in Mat. 27.9 a prophecy found in the book of Zechariah is attributed to Jeremy the prophet. We must assume that this is no mistake, but simply an accurate reference to which volume the prophecy was found in. Therefore Mark attributing a quote to Isaiah which was partially found in Malachi is not evidence of error, especially in view of our ignorance of NT quotation protocol. The fact that in both cases a citation from a minor prophet was attributed to a major prophet indicates that they refer to the volume rather than to the author. The accusation that some scribe inserted the word “Isaiah” as he copied is ludicrous, or that he deleted it to correct an “obvious” error is faithless. There is an alternative to both accusations.

An unbiased mind can see the possibility that both readings are correct and even original, certainly not caused by tampering or error in copying. We know there were several original documents of several parts of the Bible, most notably the Ten Commandments. We might assume the second set of tablets were a word for word duplication of the first, but even if they were not, they were every bit as original and authoritative. There was a second original of parts of Jeremiah, which had been burned by the king (Jer. 36), and it is testified that the second was not exactly the same as the first (v. 32). Which one, then, was correct? It is clear that many of the New Testament books were dictated to professional scribes precisely for duplication purposes, for they were intended to be sent to many different quarters. The very nature of manuscript publication in NT times resulted in a proliferation of original documents, each one signed by the author and just as original and authoritative as the next, even if slightly different, or even drastically revised by the author at a later time. Some of the epistles (especially the personal ones) were possibly one-copy documents, but even that is unproven, while the opposite is explicitly understood in the case of three Gospels (including Mark), the general epistles (Hebrews, James, Peter, 1 John, Jude) and the Revelation (which we know was to be sent to seven different churches). It stands to reason that several different readings can be original and correct.

This does not prove that both readings are correct any more than any evidence available can prove that either one is alone correct. But the response of faith is that God’s word was preserved intact and correct, and the effective word of God (made effective by translation) being the standard Bible of a people, must be considered correct until proven otherwise. The few distinguishing marks of a standard Reformation Bible cannot be urged as evidence of error in the face of overwhelming evidence of God’s approval and authorization, (its spiritual effect upon a people and its common acceptance by that people). We recognize the standard Bible for what it is (God’s word), and refuse to sit in the company of its scorners for whatever reason.

Should we call it "Valera 1909" or "Reina-Valera 1909"?

By 1960 the Bible Societies decided that the importance of Reina's work had been overlooked, so they began referring to Valera's translation as the "Reina-Valera". There is no problem with this as long as we recognize that Valera was the first to translate the Bible into Spanish using the Textus Receptus of both Hebrew and Greek, and as long as we do not falsely accuse the Valera revisions since 1602 of having the Latin based textual and translation problems of the Reina 1569.

What about differences between Textus Receptus editions?

Not only are there differences between standard translations of the Textus Receptus, there are hundreds of minor differences between all the printed editions of the Textus Receptus itself, and literally thousands of different readings among the thousands of Greek Orthodox manuscripts in existence. Efforts to find an obvious solution to this problem have resulted in several standardization theories.

Critical theories choose readings according to several lines of evidence, including the age of the oldest manuscript containing the reading, the area the manuscript comes from, and internal evidence of tampering or error in copying. One problem with this theory is its exaggerated dependence on a very few manuscripts which happen to be slightly older than the majority. Needless to say any individual manuscript no matter how old can easily be inaccurate. The Nestles Greek text is one example of a critical Greek text.

Others predisposed to defend the standard Bibles propose a standard Greek text arrived at by simply counting the existing manuscripts in Greek which have a certain reading, and accepting the majority as accurate. This is called the Majority Text. One problem with this theory is the obvious possibility that one inaccurate manuscript could have been copied thousands of times recently, and this would result in a mistaken majority.

Still others, even more devoted to defending the Standard Bible, refuse to accept any change even to accommodate the majority reading. These presume to hold fast to the Textus Receptus, assuming that its appearance during the Reformation was God’s doing. Though this attitude is by far the most faithful of the three, the problem with this is that there is no single Textus Receptus. There are many dozens of Reformation era editions of Greek texts all of which have a legitimate claim to the title “Textus Receptus.” Furthermore, ongoing revision of the Textus Receptus introduced later printings of Greek Texts well into the 1800's which also are primarily Textus Receptus texts. And what is more, few if any of the Standard Bibles in European languages follow any one of the printed Greek texts exclusively. Therefore all Textus Receptus Bibles are somewhat different.

Because of this, it appears to us that the authority of a Bible does not depend upon the reading of any Greek Text at all. It is painfully obvious that no Greek text is final. If any Bible at all is God’s word to us, it can only be the standard Bible in our language. Its authority does not depend upon its accuracy with relation to originals or Greek texts, but rather its accuracy is assumed because of its common authority, the ability of the Holy Spirit to define and apply its words, and the fact that he has done so for centuries. Practically this conclusion prefers the Textus Receptus over modern critical theories and over the Majority text, since all standard Bibles in all major languages came from it. But by the same conclusion no one may sit in judgment over a standard Textus Receptus Bible having earned its place in its language, just because of textual peculiarities in it.

Is the Valera 1909 different from the King James Bible?

Yes, it is.

Remember, no Protestant Bible in any language since the invention of printing has agreed textually with the KJV 100 percent. The 1862 revision (which was essentially re-issued in the 1909), was textually revised in hundreds of places, but in about 40 or 50 of these textual alterations the change went against the KJV reading. These places are documented in the article entitled Most Likely Discrepancies. This same article documents 875 differences between the Textus Receptus used by the KJV, and the modern Nestles Greek text, as well as the "Majority Text" (the reading found in the majority of existing manuscripts, which indicates the source of other "Textus Receptus" readings). The modern Bibles normally differ from the KJV in better than 85 percent of these. Therefore they are not considered Textus Receptus Bibles. Reformation era Bibles in other languages normally differ in about 10 percent of these places. Even so, they are considered Textus Receptus Bibles. The original Valera differs in about 8 percent (60 or so places). The 1909 differs in about 12 percent of these discrepancies (a hundred or so places).

But our point is that the authority of the Valera 1909 (traced as far back as 1862) is not due to its similarity to the KJV. It is the authoritative Spanish Bible because it was the Bible that brought into being all of the existing Spanish speaking churches. And remember that in 1862 the original Valera had been almost completely out of print for more than two centuries. From an informed believer's viewpoint, the 1862 - 1909 Valera is practically the original Spanish Bible. Faith in the 1862 - 1909 Valera was the foundation of the sweeping revival that has continued unabated in Latin America since 1862. Any attempt to destroy that faith in the Valera 1909 is wrong, even if the culprit is a KJV believer.

What about the various revisions of the Valera prior to 1909?

These are the various revision of the Valera 1602 Bible: 1708, 1806, 1832(1831?), 1858, 1861, 1862, 1865, 1866, 1869, 1883, and 1909. (For further information on these revisions read Chronological Synthesis of the Various Revisions Made to the Reina-Valera Bible.) The only revisions in the 1909's line is the 1602, 1862, and (Of course) the 1909.

The Valera 1909 is not an original Valera 1602. Valera's original edition was revised in 1862 by Lorenzo Lucena for the Society for the Promulgation of Christian Knowlege (SPCK). Much of this revision was manifestly necessary. You can see this for yourself by downloading the 1858 NT available on this web page. (The 1858 NT is essentially an original 1602 with modern orthography). Compare the 1858 to the 1909 (or to the 1862 which is also available for downloading) and you will inevitably come across the problems Lucena was charged with revising.

Is the Valera 1909 a Textus Receptus Bible?

Yes, it is.

The controversy begun by Westcott and Hort with the Revised Version (1885) has forced Bible believers to defend the "Textus Receptus", but in fact there is no single Textus Receptus to defend. There have been literally hundreds of "Textus Receptus" Greek texts printed over the centuries, all of them differing slightly. Because of these differing texts, no Protestant Bible is ever exactly the same the others; and almost all Protestant Bibles until the late 1880's were and are considered Textus Receptus Bibles. One of these Bibles is the Valera. So, logically we must recognize that the Valera 1909 is a Textus Receptus Bible, even with some variations from the KJV and the Textus Receptus it was based on.