Valera vs. Enzinas
by William Kincaid
Broken Arrow Baptist Church in Pearce, Arizona is presently "involved in the production of a Received Text Spanish Bible," according to a 40 page letter-size pamphlet called "Double Exposure," put out by Pine Grove Baptist Church in Fort Olgethorpe, GA. The pamphlet was written by a certain Kent Rabe, who is "fluent in Spanish" and has been "involved in Mission work in Mexico" since he was 16 years old (p. iii). In fact, what brother Rabe and others at Broken Arrow Baptist Church are doing is a revision of an obscure Spanish translation of the NT printed in 1543 by Francisco de Enzinas. "Double Exposure" is not only a defense of the Broken Arrow Enzinas Revision however, it is also another attack on the standard Protestant Spanish Bible, the Valera 1909.
Brother Rabe's quarrel is with "seriously misguided men" who call "the" Reina-Valera Bible "God's word." He says they "use and defend the 1960 revision"... "others choose the 1909 revision" and yet others the "1602 revision" (p. 10). Brother Rabe needs to recognize the real issue here, and it is not who USES or CHOOSES what. Bilinguals (such as American missionaries) "choose" between Spanish Bibles, but Spanish speakers OWE their faith to the Bible that was ultimately responsible for them. Bilinguals will USE the one they CHOOSE, but Spanish speakers must BELIEVE the one they RECEIVED. There is a vital difference.
"Double Exposure's" declared intention is to display "FACTS that will prove 'beyond a preponderance of evidence'" (whatever that means) "that the Reina-Valera Spanish Bible is NOT as others have claimed it to be,... the so-called 'Textus Receptus-based Preserved Word of God in Spanish.'" (Forward, p. iv). With such a purpose stated, and so focused on "facts", we might have expected brother Rabe to 1) define the Textus Receptus he actually believes, 2) prove it is the only edition acceptable to God, 3) prove that "the" Reina Valera Bible is not based on it, and 4) point out to us which available Spanish Bible is indeed the "preserved Word of God in Spanish". It didn't happen however, for as Rabe knows, the Valera is indeed based on the Textus Receptus, although not the same edition the KJV was based on. Even Rabe recognizes differences in TR texts which is why he states: "The Word of God is preserved ... IF ... and WHEN ... it is transmitted and translated into that language from a preserved line of family texts!" (p. 3, emphases his). I am not sure what a "family text" is, but apparently even Rabe knows of a whole "line" of them that are acceptable.
Now, the truth be known, brother Rabe does not believe any TR. He believes the KJV (1769). And it is to be expected, for the TR never did anything for him directly. Therefore his outright rejection of Valera for using a different TR than the KJV is unreasonable. For one thing, Valera translated first. Rabe warns us that the "changes which are about to be exposed are quoted from the 1960 revision, but are nonetheless evident in the 1909 and the 1602 revisions as well" (p. 10). Since brother Rabe believes that the "changes" he quotes from the 1960 revision are evident in the 1602 revision, why does he not wonder how a 1602 revision can "change" a 1611 edition? Would it not make more sense for brother Rabe to accuse the AV 1611 of having "changed" from the earlier Valera 1602?
Now brother Rabe in a moment of lucidity mentions the actual reasons he believes the KJV is God's word. He mentions "majestic style," "poetic fluidity" (!), and the "quality of the translation work" as "elevating it to its unique authoritative position" (p. 8). "Unprecedented proliferation" and "starting revivals" are also mentioned. More "missionary endeavors, church growth, effective soul-winning and Holy Spirit-filled preaching" under the KJV are also listed as reasons to believe the KJV is God's word (p. 9). In all of these we agree. We respectfully insist he is correct (even if some of his reasons are unquantifiable). Now, why was it again that Spanish speakers cannot believe the Valera 1909 for the same reasons?
It is quite simple really. We are not allowed to believe the Valera 1909 because English speakers do not. No matter how fluent they might be in Spanish, their mother tongue is English, and the Valera differs from the English KJV, something bilinguals understandably have real problems with. Indeed they are different. They are in different languages, with different histories, to different peoples, with different cultures, expressions and needs. God provided the KJV for English speakers knowing well their future spiritual needs. He provided for them perfectly, including "strange" readings, translations, and cross-references that arm English speakers for their battles against "philosophies," "false sciences," and charlatans. But God provided the Valera for Spanish speakers knowing their future spiritual needs perfectly as well. He armed them with perfect though peculiar readings and translations indispensable in their battles against idolatries, priests and severe persecutions. I can understand how someone who has never DEPENDED on the Spanish Bible in spiritual battle could suspect the Valera for its differences from the KJV, but in all candor, the KJV is not "poetically fluid" in Spanish. It has never sustained any Spanish speaker's faith in any of their frequent and particularly severe trials. The FACT that Spanish speakers believe the Valera 1909 just like English speakers believe the KJV 1769 is no mystery. The FACT is the Valera BEGAT the Spanish speaking church. All (not most) of the revivals among Spanish speakers from the dawn of creation have happened under the Valera 1862-1909. (Facts are stubborn things.) With the maturity and humility becoming Bible-believers, does brother Rabe really expect Hispanics to believe the TR or the KJV over their own Valera 1909?
Indeed, brother Rabe's claims to the contrary, the argument IS THE SAME in English and Spanish, and it has little to do with the TR. If he had insisted, like others, that the KJV is the only perfect Bible in any language, surely he might forgive Spanish speakers for having BELIEVED the best one available, in fact, the standard Bible which was preached to them. And could any English speaker blame them for not believing a new Enzinas NT which even when finally available cannot be perfect, but only BETTER? On the other hand, if God indeed has "preserved His Word for the Spanish speaking world", as brother Rabe allows (p. vii), and as every Spanish Bible-believer knows, which Spanish Bible does he propose it has been all these years?
Brother Rabe's tacit answer to this question is precisely "none at all." Not only does Brother Rabe not BELIEVE any Spanish Bible in print today, he does not BELIEVE any Spanish Bible ever printed in any century. Even his still unavailable Enzinas has textual discrepancies with the KJV, which is why they are working it over (p. 31). In fact, when they are done with their Enzinas revision they will still not BELIEVE IT. They cannot help but sit in judgment over it because it will never be the KJV.
Even more curious than Rabe's uncanny ability to miss the point is the slider he pitches for the Enzinas in "Double Exposure." Two chapters of it (pp. 16-26) are devoted to a corrected history of the Spanish Bible. Besides being as irrelevant as a history of Erasmus or King James I, Rabe's revisionism is a curious contention that Enzinas was a "decided Protestant" before the Reformation "gained popularity," while all the others in question, including Juan Perez, Casiodoro de Reina and Cipriano de Valera were "pro-Roman Catholic" (p. 26). The only fact adduced in support of this illusion is the "textual evidence" of their translations (p. 16). To top it off he actually accused all other Spanish Bible history authors of this century of "bending" the historical evidence in their favor (imagine that!), and tainting the facts to fit their "biased" opinions (p. 16).
His vilification of the other Reformers (based entirely on his opinion of their translations after a most superficial comparison) begins with insinuations that Catholic writers "revered and respected" Reina and Valera while Enzinas was persecuted by them (p. 16). He calls "alarmingly odd" his own contention that Reina's and Valera's revisions "enjoyed wide-spread acceptance" in the midst of the Spanish Inquisition (p. 25). Acceptance by whom? Romish authorities? Carlos V? Of course not. Reina's and Valera's writings were officially banned by the Inquisition just like Enzinas', but Rabe didn't say that, so you might assume whatever you might assume. In fact, Rabe goes so far as to surmise with "some" others that the reason the Spanish Inquisition "gained strength" was the cowardly escape of Perez, Reina and Valera from Seville in order to save their own lives, leaving "hundreds of others, who stayed and stood for their beliefs" (p. 20) to "literally 'pay the price'" (p. 21). Of course, brother Rabe does not criticize Enzinas for doing the same thing, escaping to Germany and eventually dying there, as is so appointed, but not a martyr's death. According to Rabe's pseudo-history God delivered Enzinas from his prison (presumably by angels) in order to complete the first pure Bible in Spanish, but was unfortunately cut down by the plague before he could finish it (p. 19). Sloppy angels.
With more respect than is due such a contorted history as this we are forced to point out certain flaws in Enzinas' "word for word" translation of Erasmus' Greek text. Not that we have anything to accuse Enzinas of. I don't blame him at all for escaping the Inquisition, or for translating whatever Greek text he had on his table. Indeed, I am rather impressed with him, as I am with Perez, Reina and Valera. But the claim that Enzinas published a purely Protestant text while the others were Catholic sympathizers is both false and absurd. You see, Rabe is not being candid about the similar "corruptions" of Enzinas' translation while accusing us Valera believers of deliberate deception.
For example, Rabe accuses the Valera of corrupting Romans 10:15 by leaving out the word "gospel" (p. 10). In fact, only the modernized 1960 revision omits the word "gospel" in Romans 10:15, while the 1909 (the old standard Spanish Bible) indeed includes it, as does the original Valera: "los que anuncian el evangelio de la paz". But I challenge anyone to show me that word in Enzinas 1543, who Rabe claims to have "faithfully translated Erasmus." I don't know what Erasmus did, but Enzinas OMITTED it. While Rabe uses this omission in the 1960 to demonize all the Valera revisions since 1602, even though they contain the word, why should we excuse Enzinas who actually omitted it?
Rabe excoriates the Valera for "changing" Acts 1.3 from "infallible proofs" to "pruebas indubitables" (p. 11). Rabe goes on to claim that Enzinas "did insert the proper word 'infallible' in his New Testament ... twenty-six years before Reina..." (p. 11, footnote). Anyone with a copy of Enzinas 1543 can see that Rabe is mistaken (we speak charitably). Enzinas not only refused to translate "infallible" as "infalible" contrary to Rabe's claims, Enzinas OMITTED the word entirely ... "en muchas feñales," (Enz. 1543, Folio 150 b, line 12).
Rabe then goes on to list over a hundred well known discrepancies in the 1960 collected over the last 30 years by KJV believers (p. 34). But he did not document his own substantial list of discrepancies he knows to exist in the Enzinas. He might as well have called his paper the "Double Standard." While including such "damaging" differences in Valera as an addition of "like" in Rev. 4, or "give" changed to "recompense" in Rev. 22, "a deceiver" changed to "the deceiver" in 2 John, he refused to document any problem at all with Enzinas, not even the omission of ENTIRE VERSES (Mark 11.26, Luke 17.36, Acts 16.7). While accusing us of stealth concerning the Valera, Rabe avoided mentioning the FACT that Valera omits no whole verses (in any edition), and agrees with the KJV on all the major doctrinally inclined discrepancies, while the Enzinas stands "corrupt" in such notables as Luke 2:33 (his father and his mother) and Luke 2:43 (his parents).
Brother Rabe, although aware of Enzinas' discrepancies (p. 31), saw no need to do an objective research comparison of the Enzinas with the Valera before assuming and declaring Enzinas' "unique" purity (and then revising Spanish Reformation history). We Valera believers, on the other hand, in spite of our actual faith in an actually available Bible, based on our spiritual DEBT to it, have not shunned to compare the Valera objectively. Taking a neutral source of discrepancies (all 875 documented between the TR, the Majority Text, and the Nestles text, footnoted in the New King James Bible, 1992, Thomas Nelson, Inc.) we have compared the original Enzinas with the original Valera, and the FACTS so dear to brother Rabe et. al. do not endorse his so "unbiased" position. Out of 875 possible discrepancies and without counting bracketed or questionable discrepancies, the Enzinas 1543 disagreed with the KJV 65 times, while the Valera 1602 disagreed 61 times. (Reina 1569 disagreed 85 times in the same neutral list.) If the Valera for 61 differences is not a preserved TR Bible, how is the Enzinas a preserved TR Bible with 65 differences and several whole verses missing?
Now it "behoves" us to ask pastor Rabe just how many souls his almost "pure" Enzinas has won to the Lord in 450 years. How many revivals? How many street preachers during the Mexican Reformation stood up on a street corner and preached from an Enzinas? Is there anybody, alive or dead, who actually believes Enzinas is God's perfect word without error?
I do not know how to explain the differences between the KJV and the Valera 1909 to the satisfaction of bilinguals. But I recognize that the Valera 1909 is God's word in Spanish, not because I prefer it (although I certainly do), and not because it is the best available (and it certainly is), but because it alone is ultimately responsible for the existing Spanish and Latin American churches. It is our duty to believe it, not to judge it, modernize it or Americanize it. And while the Broken Arrow Committee finds ways to fill in the missing verses in the Enzinas in order to give us a "more purified" Bible than we have now, one thing we know, when it is done, nobody will actually believe it. Spanish speakers will ignore it, and bilinguals will only PREFER it over the standard Bible. On behalf of all Spanish speaking Bible BELIEVERS, let me say beforehand, thanks for nothing.
[Rabe and Broken Arrow are not only wrong, they are fighting a battle that is not theirs to fight, and which they understand only marginally. To understand it correctly we do not have to search in the past beyond the 300 year long Spanish Inquisition, which purged Spain of Spanish speaking Christians, to study men such as Enzinas and Valera. The important facts are nearer than that. See the relevant history of the Real Spanish Reformation in the companion article of that name on this web page.
Furthermore, Broken Arrow would not share their electronic text of Enzinas with us, which we requested for computerized comparisons, but we will share all of our NT texts with you. We have prepared in electronic text format the BFBS 1858 and the SPCK 1862, two important versions mentioned in "the Real Spanish Reformation" article. Others, including the ABS 1865 (Mora-Pratt), the Enzinas 1543 and the Valera 1602 are partially available on this web page.]