Valera vs. McVey
by William Kincaid
I have assumed up to now that those who take a stand of faith on the Authorized Version in English do so because God has given them one or two characteristics which are obviously lacking in those who doubt it. One, they have common sense. That is what it takes to recognize that a man who corrects or changes the Bible in any way neither believes it nor is submitted to it. While common sense is common among common people, "knowledge puffeth up," and there are those who "make themselves overwise." Few highly educated people are common enough to know their own limitations, and submit to any Bible.
The other characteristic they have is faith. Without proof, and against the tide they believe the old book. Unshakable faith that God has spoken to common people, in their language, in a book called the Bible. And through their faith in his word, God is made unto them both wisdom and righteousness.
For twelve years now I have been a missionary to Mexico. I have noticed these same characteristics among simple Christians here as well. What common sense and faith in the Bible have done for English speakers, they have done for Spanish speakers too. As everywhere, the controversy pivots on belief of the book we have open in our hands. Roman Catholic Priests and Seminary students speak mystically about faith, then steadily sink into a sea of empty sounds, while young men not educated past sixth grade, full of faith in a book they hold, speak boldly and clearly about eternal life and the judgment to come. Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons speak of believing, and knowing nothing at all for sure, while people whose literary perception barely reaches the level of comic books, speak knowingly of their own destiny, of right and wrong, and have the means to try them that say they are apostles, and are not, and find them liars, only because they believe a book they see and read daily.
Recently, however, a small controversy among Americans has begun in which Bible believing Christians have taken the role of destructive critics toward the common Protestant Spanish Bible, the Antigua Version de Reina/Valera (1602), revised in 1862, and 1909. Such a controversy ought to be insignificant since it is only among English speakers and the Bible under attack is Spanish. But it bothers me that those who are attacking our common Spanish Bible are people who have taken a stand of faith on their own English Bible.
The Valera 1909 is God's word in Spanish, exactly as he wants us to have it, without proven error. This is confirmed by the testimony of faith, of fruit, of endurance and of hatred. Of faith, because the house of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth, believes it. They don't just prefer it, or use it, they believe it and submit to it. Of fruit, because it has made its mark on the twentieth century by overseeing the greatest (and only) revival among Spanish speakers ever, so much so that the Pope makes special efforts in Latin America and the Southern United States simply because his faithful are deserting the Catholic church by the thousands and becoming "Evangelical." Of endurance, because it is in almost every Christian home, recognized as God's word by almost every Christian, and has outlasted every attempt to vanquish it as God's authority in Spanish. Of hatred, because Catholics, and Mormons, and Jehovah's Witnesses, and the wise of this world despise it.
I have here in my home correspondence from several missionaries and Stateside believers who accuse the Valera 1909 of error. Of course they are just guessing. They attain just enough understanding of Spanish to see differences between the Valera and the AV, and immediately their faith in God's promise dissolves into dismay. They can no longer believe the common Bible, not because of something they know, but because they think they know something. They know nothing, of course, for no one can prove any error in the Valera in any edition. But these begin to speak evil of the things that they understand not. Rather than believe, or submit, they stoop to change. Mind you, none of them are satisfied with or submitted to any version ever translated and printed in Spanish. Several groups are in the process of new translations. A certain brother McVey has completed a New Testament purported to be a "word for word faithful translation...of the Sacred Bible commonly called the Authorized Version." In this version McVey changed every verse in the New Testament, and not only flaunted his ignorance of Spanish on every page, he displayed his ignorance of English too. I do not mean to be critical of the man's intentions. But the fact is he tossed out the Valera 1909 as full of errors without proving even one, and proposes to replace it with his own translation, which neither he nor those who recommend it claim to be free of errors.
The 1909 is not a word for word translation of the KJV. No Spanish Bible ever will or ever can be. And although it was translated with that objective, neither is the McVey. It surely is true that "God messes with the mind of those that mess with his book." Notice a few isolated discrepancies in the McVey:
"Costeando alrededor" (sailing around) was changed to "buscamos un compas," meaning "looked for a compass." This was a lame attempt to match the English "fetched a compass," which of course means "traveled in a circle." See Num. 34:5, Josh. 15:3, 2 Sam 5:23, 2 Kings 3:9 and many more.
Acts 7:49, Heb. 10:13
Omits the word "foot" in "footstool" where the English has it, the Greek texts have it, and the 1909 has it.
1 Tim. 3:3,8, Tit. 1:7, 1 Pe. 5:2
Translates "lucre" as "metal," when of course it means "gain." The 1909 reads "ganancias" (gain).
1 Tim. 5:4
Translates "nephews" as "sobrinos" when the old English word actually means grandsons everywhere it is found in the KJV (Latin root nepos, meaning "grandson"), the Greek and Hebrew words mean grandsons, and the 1909 translates it as "nietos" (grandsons). See Acts 23:16 or Col. 4:10 for KJV wording for modern day "nephews."
"Habiendoos despojado del viejo hombre" is in English "having put off the old man" which according to McVey should be changed to "os habeis desnudado el viejo hombre." He changed "del" to "el" making it "ye have stripped the old man."
"Alguacil" (law officer) in the 1909 is wrong, and should be changed to "agente de policia" (police agent), according to McVey, who should have believed what he read instead of "knowing better."
McVey presumed that "determinate counsel" should not be "determinado consejo" as in the 1909, but should be "deliberado consejo" (deliberate is not determinate). Valera and KJV use the same word.
Inexplicably McVey changes the order of the words in "I foresaw the Lord always before my face" to "Yo siempre previ al senor delante de mi rostro." This has David "always forseeing" rather than "the Lord always before" him. The 1909 has the same word order as the KJV.
The 1909 renders "untoward" as "perversa" (perverse), which of course is exactly what untoward means in English. McVey changed it to say "insumisa" (unsubmissive).
There is no discrepancy between the KJV and Valera, but McVey thought it should be changed, so he made the verse an example of Gringo Spanish. "El numero...habia" is wrong, it should be "fue", exactly as the 1909 reads.
Aside from these, McVey tries to duplicate "Holy Ghost" (ghost being a spirit without a body), but translates it as "Fantasma Santo." Literally this means "holy phantom," or if you will, "holy spook" (fantasma is an apparition or a spectral).
Every time "righteousness" appears in the KJV McVey translates it as "rectitud" meaning primarily "straightness" (shortest distance between two points), and only by implication "uprightness." The Valera says "justicia" (righteousness) which McVey could not tolerate, perhaps because it starts with a different letter.
While McVey thought to improve God's Bible in Spanish he only proved his own lack of faith. And his problem remains. He still does not have a Bible that he believes to be God's perfect word in Spanish. And by touting another translation he joins the chorus of a faithless generation. An educated generation so wise they doubt the source of their wisdom. "O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves?" Do you not believe God can speak to his people in Spanish without using the same choice of words he used in English? Do differences cause you to doubt that God left us a book vested with authority in Spanish?
While every sect and denomination push their own Bibles, or publish a new one every several years, we simple Christians keep on believing the oldest Protestant Spanish Bible in print, because we aren't wise enough to change it, or even to doubt it. We just trust it, we believe it, we stand on it. And Jesus speaks to those who couldn't find grace enough to believe it, "O ye of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"
For the record, there is no doctrine taught by the English Bible that is not accurately and powerfully taught in the Valera 1909. The discrepancies touted by those who refuse to submit to God's authority in Spanish are minor and common textual discrepancies among Protestant reformation Bibles, or simply translation variety. The 1909 does not follow the Vaticanus Text nor is it a Catholic Bible. Those responsible for the 1909 revision rejected the theories of the Revised Version (1885) and the American Standard Version (1901) even though these were the pride of their faithless generation. They also were not affected by the liberality in translation (dynamic equivalence) with which Beekman (Wycliff) and those like him have diseased modern translations (including the 1960 and the 1977 Valera). And those who reject the 1909 today are, in the words of the KJV translators, "selfconceited Brethren, who run their own ways, and give liking unto nothing, but what is framed by themselves, and hammered on their anvil."
The same way English speakers submit to the KJV (latest revision) many thousands of Latin American Christians submit to the Valera 1909. These noble and persecuted Christians must not and will not allow a few half-cocked missionaries to wrench their authority from their grasp and replace it with their opinions as to the original meaning of 1611 English. The truth is that McVey's translation and any new one that comes out after it has bitten the dust, are at best an excercise in futility, and at worst another attempt to overthrow the authority God gave to his time-tested common Protestant Bible, the Valera 1909.
First published in the Bible Believer's Bulletin, May 1989.