Back in the early 1990s I began reading things about how all the newer Bible translations were corrupt and of the devil. It was my introduction to the whole “KJV Only” teaching. I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought for a while, but after a couple years I became more and more concerned about the matter and decided I’d research the subject. In 1996 I was at the local Christian book store and found G.A. Riplinger’s book, “New Age Bible Versions.” Thumbing through the book I decided this would be just the ticket.
Well, I was disappointed with the presentation, and was not at all convinced. Since that time I have acquired and read numerous books and articles from both sides of the debate and am convinced that there is no “New Age” conspiracy to corrupt the Bible, nor are the newer versions inferior to the KJV by virtue of being newer versions. There is a lot of scholarly debate on both sides about the relative value of the underlying Greek manuscripts especially, and as far as I’m concerned the jury is still out.
Now, Riplinger’s book seems to be one of the most cited resources by the KJV Only crowd, so I think it is worth while to examine exactly what her argument is. For this reason, I am re-reading the book and writing an examination for my personal files as well as for posting on this blog. I will be posting my examination of each chapter as I finish the write-up, so it will be a long project. I hope you will find the endeavor to be informative.
This examination is of the 1993 edition, sixth printing. In the lengthy discussion of NABV, unless otherwise noted, I will reference only the NAS and NIV for comparisons, because these are the most frequently cited in NABV, and I have a parallel Bible with all three (KJV, NAS, NIV) for easy reference.
I will make references to Matthew Henry’s Commentary in regard to the understanding of certain passages in the KJV. This is because he began this work in 1701, which would necessarily mean that he would understand the meaning of the language as used in the KJV, more so than would G. A. Riplinger.
This examination will not discuss the underlying Greek or Hebrew, nor will it be a discussion of Riplinger’s claims about the people involved in any part of the translations. This study is solely about comparing the actual texts of the various Bible translations which Riplinger compares to “prove” that all but the KJV are “New Age Bible Versions.”
I want to make a point to start with: This book could have been half the size if all of Riplinger’s rhetoric were removed. There are so many baseless claims about why various versions are made, that to examine them all would take a book in itself! Let me give just one example from Chapter One, which demonstrates her rhetoric, as well as paranoia. She opens the chapter with Revelation 13:4, and then begins her narrative (you’ll also notice that she seems to fancy herself as a poet):
“Souls snagged in a spiritual region remote from reason, will one day give way - sliding headlong down into Satan’s dark chambered church. These chaff choose a pew. (He’ll hew one for YOU too.) Friend and foe are ‘falling away,’ down the steep slippery stairs, framed by the archfiend - to the Church of [Revelation] Chapter 13.
“Satan’s barred by a small book from his quest for the throne. When opened it unleashes a wall of words - graven in stone.
‘It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord they God and him only.’ ... Luke 4:8
[At this point she compares NIV, NASB et al, with KJV at Phil 3:3, where KJV says “worship God” and the others say, “worship.” I address this problem when we get there.]
“Wanting to weaken this wall, Satan slips out stone after stone, hoping not to be known.
“‘Satan cometh immediately and taketh away the word...’ Mark 4:15
“To begin, he removes the rubblestone of sin and the keystone of salvation. The cornerstone of Jesus Christ and the capstone of his second coming are cut. These words once withdrawn leave loopholes for skeptics and portholes for postulators. Taken together these breaches become windows with wide-angle lenses, taking in the ‘broad way’ of these ‘last days.’ The stones piled high become props for his lie. Widening and deepening gaps give way, as scattered stones lay - like stepping stones to Satan’s sought after throne. The word of God so discomfit, becomes a bridge to the bottomless pit.
“His goal is to trap souls, so he adds key words, like keyholes. Page after page these open his hatchway to the New Age. Slipping in the side door of Satan’s church, using these keys, the ushers of apostasy bring souls from the nave to their knees, as a chorus of New Agers sing:...”
And from here, Riplinger cites five quotes about the New Age as if these citations have anything to do with the topic of the book - other than to perhaps “prove” that there is a “New Age” threat of a one-world religion. And of course the conspiracy means Satan has to have all these “New Age Bibles.” This is the type of drama on almost every single page!
To top it off, the first page of the book quotes Rev. 22:18-19 as the reason for not adding or subtracting from the Bible. But this is out of context because that passage refers only to Revelation - the rest of the N.T. wasn’t even put together yet! This should be a hint as to her hermeneutics.
The next time I post about the book will be an examination of the Introduction.