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Home » Why are there so many Bible 'Versions'?

Why are there so many Bible 'Versions'?

Recently I was in a mosque listening to the imam’s teaching. He said something very misleading. What he said I have heard many times before – from my good friends. And perhaps you also have heard this and it has raised questions in your mind. So let us consider it.

The imam said that there are so many different versions of the Bible (al kitab).  In the English language, you can get the King James Version, New International Version, New American Standard Version, New English Version etc.  Then the imam said that since there are so many different versions this shows that the Bible has been corrupted. Or at least we cannot know the ‘true’ one. There are these different versions. But this has nothing to do with the question of the corruption of the Bible. It has nothing to do with whether these actually are different Bibles.  In fact, there is only one Bible/Kitab.

The New International Version, for example, refers to a certain translation from the original Greek (Injil) and Hebrew (Taurat & Zabur) into English. The New American Standard Version is another translation into English but from the same Greek and Hebrew text.

The Same Situation: English Translations of Holy Qur’an

The same situation exists with the Qur’an. I usually use the Yusuf Ali translation but I also sometimes use the Pickthall translation. Pickthall translated from the same Arabic Qur’an that Yusuf Ali used. But his choice of English words in his translation is different. Thus they are different translations. But no one, not a Christian, a Jew, or even an atheist says that different translations of the Qur’an into English (Pickthall’s and Yusuf Ali’s) show that there are ‘different’ Qur’ans or that the Holy Qur’an is corrupted. 

The Many English Translations of Qur’an. These are not different Qur’ans but different translations from the same Arabic text.

In the same way, there is a Greek text of the Injil (see it here). There is a Hebrew text for the Taurat and Zabur (see it here). But most people do not read these languages. So various translations are available in English (and other languages) so that they can understand its message in their native language.

Since so many today read English a great number of English translations exist. But what about the errors involved in translation?  Does the fact that there are different translations show that it is impossible to accurately translate from the original? Due to the vast Greek scholarship, translators can precisely translate the original thoughts and words from Greek. In fact, the different modern versions show this. 

An Example from Original Greek

For example, here is a verse from the New Testament, taken from 1 Timothy 2:5, in the original Greek.

εις γαρ θεος εις και μεσιτης θεου και ανθρωπων ανθρωπος χριστος ιησους

1 Timothy 2:5

Here are some popular translations of this verse.

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, New International Version

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; King James Version 

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, New American Standard Version

As you can see for yourself they are very close in their translation – differing by only a couple of words. They say exactly the same thing with only slightly different word usage. This is because there is only one al Kitab/Bible and therefore the translations from it will be very similar. They are not ‘different’ Bibles. It is completely wrong to think that because there are different versions this means that there are different Bibles.

I urge everyone to select a version of al-kitab/Bible in their own native language to read. It is well worth the effort. Here is a good place to start.

16 thoughts on “Why are there so many Bible 'Versions'?”

  1. yah any way may b u tink dat d imam is rong bt No! Compear d new tstment an d original girik(wod of prfets) I do belif bibl bt wich bbl. D quran b4 s d quran 2day. In d Orgnl bbl jisu is mnsonin dear d last mesnger hu wil came wit d name Ahmad is it in d bbl 2day. And U nt u giv d complain 2 d Imam imidately afta d qutba N u ar siknesly bakbin hm in d nét. 2 kno d prov of d iman investigate Dr Zakr Vs Wiliam Cambel. Or ani day u mit me online w wl cht mor,pls try anoda 1 bcus dis 1 is Illnesly rong . Am very sury if my wods hots U pls. Gud bye

    1. Thank you Alagie for your comment. I do not know if I totally understand what you wrote, but I gather that you believe that the Bible is corrupted from the original. You should at least understand that my post here (about modern Bible versions) shows that the fact that there are modern Bible versions has nothing to do with the issue of corruption in the original Greek. As I said, there are different translations of the Quran in English – and that has nothing to do with the integrity of the Qur’an. So I can respect your belief about the Bible, but all I am trying to help us understand in this post is that (contrary to widespread belief) the fact that there are translations into English has nothing to do with the question of whether the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts have been corrupted. On that question, I would simply refer you to my posts on what the Qur’an says about this (here), the Sunnah (here), as well as the science of textual criticism (here). You will see from these articles that there are many good – and Islamic – reasons to trust the reliability of the Bible.

    2. The problem is not translation problem, but additional and reduction problem. There are things in the previous version doesn’t exist and added later, there are things in the previous version exist and then deleted in later version.

      Take an example, the story of a stoned whore, which doesn’t exist in the older version of New Testament but can find in the modern new testament.

  2. dear my doubt is did u belif in d quran an it s best among alk d buks. Did u belif in d last msnger muhamad (PBUH) hu Moses an Jisus(PBUDem) menson b4 dey go. Did u belif dat jisus s comin bak for mesion(t b among d Umah of Muhamad(SAW) d last msnger, t rectify dos hu ar rong an t kil dajal). An WHY! My last quson s did any Cristian or jue directly folow jisus or moses an hw. Rmmber dey neva eat puk neida drink alkohol no chisin a gal witout mariage. Never sain I wl nt hve wife. May Allah make us t se wel an kno d riegh pat t folow. Rmmba sum ppl ar luking bt were nt seing wish U al d best.

    1. Hi Alhagie
      I do not disagree with your accusation that Christians and Jews have not followed Isa (Jesus) or Musa (Moses – PBUT) as they should have. In fact my Article on Sign 2 of Musa – The Law discusses this very problem. However this is not only a problem for Christians and Jews but for all people. I encourage you to read that article and take the test at the end – have you kept the law?

        1. Alhagie. What is the title of this website? Is the title not ‘Al Injil’? And have I not put up over 25 articles that explain the Injil? So is it not amazing that you do not understand what I believe? Have you read them? And if you want to learn more about what I believe you can also visit my other website about the Gospel But perhaps the reason you do not understand is evident. So let me ask you – Do you accept the following?
          Say ye: “We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah (in Islam).” Surah 2:136 Al-Baqara (The Cow)
          The Qur’an itself commands you and I to accept the books of the Bible. This is the Injil – which is what this website is about. So do you?

  3. ma dear i mean d majority is in cristian an jews u kno it mor dan i do. I do C pure Mslms. Bt I neva pur crstian or jew directly folowin d real way did u kn dat. Wil U pls tel me Y crstian an jews did nt blif in d last Mesnger(Muhamad(PBUH) an Real Mslms beliv in al mesngers an realy belif in dem mor dan Crstian an Jews do am nt sapotin t b honest bt teling d fact. Or am I rong ned ur rply. Am realy sury if I hot U.

    1. Hi Alhagie
      I do not disagree with you about Christians and Jews not following the teachings properly. In fact my post on Sign 2 of Musa – The Law is all about that. I encourage you to read it. But on Judgment Day neither you nor I will be worrying about other people so it is probably best not to worry about others now either. We need to be ready for that Day ourselves. So let me ask you. Are you sure you are ready?

  4. Why are there so many Bible ‘Versions’?
    BECAUSE the BIBLE is result from 4 author that never be acquainted with JEZUS……. that are great of falsehood

    1. Hi Soepandinata
      Thanks again for this other comment. However may I suggest that you are confusing two different issues. You seem to think that the fact of 4 gospels has something to do with the many bible version. They are totally unrelated. Good questions can be raised on why there are 4 gospel records if there is one injil. But bible versions has to do with translation issues, not at all to do with what books are in al kitab and which ones are not. Suppose for sake of argument there is only Gospel of Matthew in al kitab (ie Mark, Luke and John are not there). You would still have the many bible versions because the one gospel of matthew would be translated many times into English. To deal with the issue of 4 gospel records please see my article on that.

  5. You do have a point there, most christians dont have a good imaan because they dont READ the bible, not because the bible is corrupted…

  6. Peace be upon you,

    I fully get your point about the translations – the issue I have with the Bible is that there ARE different bibles – protestants/catholics have different bibles where one has many more books within it than the other.

    This is something I do not have much knowledge on – but I do know one bible contains more books than the other – so, either one bible has extra content added to it, or one bible is missing some of it’s books!

    However, The torat, injeel and Qur’an are from our Lord, we must believe in them and obey them.

    Even with the arguement that scientific errors, logical errors, scriptual inconsistencies, contradictions etc occur in some “versions” of the bible (for example the bible says God tempted Abraham to kill his son, but later the same bible states God doesn’t tempt man to sin – furthermore we read in the Qur’an that it was the devil who decieved Abraham and tempted him to kill his son, but God saved him from commiting that sin)…..

    …..the underlying message, commands, commandments and “way” described in scriptures is the SAME and is plain to see to a sincere searcher.

    Yes, certain people in the past have tried to change the words of God, however despite all their efforts: The truth still stands clear from falsehood.

    There is one God. It is our duty and purpose to Worship Him Alone. Promote good and virtue and shun bad deed and evil.

    Peace be upon you bro, hope you don’t mind me throwing in my 2cents worth.

    1. Hi Muslim
      (I certainly don’t mind your 2 cents – that is what this site is for). I get your point about the different number of books between the Catholic and protestant bibles. Here is what that is all about. The New testament (injil) is exactly the same in catholic and protestant bibles. The books which the Jews consider sacred (ie the Taurat and the zabur) are also exactly the same in all bibles. In the period of time between the Old and New Testament (ie from about 400 BC to Jesus at 30 AD) the Jews still wrote books regarding their history. However they never considered these books sacred and inspired like Taurat and Zabur. So they were not included in the jewish Tanakh (scriptures) though they were (and still are) widely read as good and informative. In the Protestant and catholic controversies the catholics included these books in the 1500’s in the bible and the protestants did not. The reason was that these books were never part of Taurat or Zabur. The context for this is explained in my article on the close of the Zabur (here).

      This is why, when we talk about Injil, Taurat & Zabur we are on safe ground. Those books which are included in the Catholic Bible were never considered by anyone (Jew, Christian or Muslim) to be included in these categories of books. So the Christian controversy (Should the apocrypha books be in the Bible?) is separate from understanding the message of Taurat, Zabur & Injil. A parallel would be in the Sunni-Shia controversy there are differences over accepted haddith, but the quran is exactly the same for the two groups.

  7. Hmmmmm…..

    To add to my previous post… about two different bibles, one containing more books than the other…. it is ofcourse possible that the “injeel” itself isn’t a book, it is the “good news” spoken by the Son of Mary – which therefore would mean the bible, the books, contain the injeel within them! So, both protestant and cathlic bibles contain the injeel within them – or atleast part of it.

    IMHO: Judaism, christianity, islam have ALL been turned into man-made control systems designed to generate profit and power. However, their scriptures contain the true message of the true way of life which is submission to God alone.

    Mainstream religions do not practice what they preach – however the truth is there within those very books.

    God will judge us indivually, let us pray that we are not the losers – God willing, let us submit to God alone.

    From my own observation: even mainstream Islam has got it so so wrong. There are 3 prayers mentioned in the Qur’an (also the Torah).
    We are commanded NOT to divide into sects, like Sunni, Shia, Sufi – and infact we are commanded to leave those people alone (the ones who divide into sects).
    We are commanded to allow freedom of religion in our societys. (NOT killing people for choosing to leave religion or join a different one).
    We are commanded to make no differences or distiction between the messengers. (NOT glorifying Muhammad above all other messengers).
    We are informed by Almighty God Himself that the one’s who do not ask for any wage are the truthful one’s – notice how Imam’s get paid a wage.

    Essentially my point is this:
    The correct way is complete submission and obedience to the Almighty alone, we must submit to Him alone. He has given us clear signs, clear guidence – we must hear and obey – not hear and twist and turn. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

    1. Hi Muslim. I could not agree more. As you do, I recognize how mainstream religion(s) have often added ‘extra’ things. This is why this site is not about christianity. It is about the Injil, which follows from the taurat and Zabur. These books were inspired for everyone to submit to their message. All sorts of twisting occur in religion. But if we do not know the books we will never know what is being twisted.

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