For those of you who didn’t know both the critical Hebrew and Greek text behind many of our English Bible translations are being updated by our scholarly communities: Biblia Hebraica Quinta & Novum Testamentum Graecum Editio Critica Maior.

You may ask yourself what does this mean – have we been reading the wrong bible for all these years? how can we have an inerrant and infallible word if we continue to have new critical texts emerging? can we trust the new versions or should we fight for older ones?

All these questions may roll across your conscience, if they do please don’t lose heart. First, please take the time to notice that many of the changes are not that significant as you can see by visiting the links provided above. In fact most of the updates occur in the critical apparatus (which is sort of like a footnotes area for Bible Geeks where different types of variants (different readings in ancient copies) are recorded by scholars). Second, the arrival of newer critical editions do not signify the out-dating of previous critical editions because all critical editions have a text-critic philosophy behind them that may help or hinder scholars in their choice of variants that are present in the several thousand ancient copies we have. Actually our Bible has more ancient copies than any other ancient text God has cared for His word in a special manner. Third, the new develops of textual criticism do not endanger our ability to confess the Bible’s inerrancy or infallibility, rather they teach us what it means to affirm our trust in scripture as an unchanging word from God because something of its original shape is being clarified in light of these changes. In other words these developments are being pursued on the assumption that God’s word is without error and cannot fail in its teachings. Lastly, we can and should trust the newer versions and be joyful that they contain what many of the new variants present in recently found ancient copies as well as new textual dating and philosophy tell us about the shape and nature of the original copies of God’s word. 

I’m hoping the arrival of these critical editions, and the subsequent updated English translations from them, will encourage us to realize that God is still preserving his word in our midst and bringing us as a body closer to seeing and appreciating it while also reminding us that we are continually dependent on His chosen way of preserving it in our midst.

How does the news of these things strike you? Does knowing that our English Bibles are based on critical editions of the ancient copies discourage you or cause you to realize how present God is in His people?