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This Christian Journey:

 

The Thee's and Thou's

Dr. Walter D. Huyck Jr. D.Min.

www.thischristianjourney.com

 

Recently I was asked, 

I believe the KJV is the most accurate version. I had a person ask this question: If thee and thou are more accurate, what do they do in Bibles translated into other languages? I couldn’t answer that question. Maybe you could help me. Thanks. 

May Answer, 

This is a curious point of contention.  I have never viewed the words “Thee” and “Thou” nor the “eths” at the end of words as points of concern.  Thee and Thou simple mean you or your as the context demands.  These two words, and the endings on various words, were merely words or constructs used when the KJ Bible was translated.  The KJ Bible was translated in 1611 and amended (or Americanized) in 1725.  Hence the language of the text is what I call Old English.  I simply teach people to understand Thee and Thou as you and your respectively. 

A second issue in the KJ Bible is that the translation is written at a 12th grade reading level while more modern translations are written at an 8th Grade reading level or less.  Most high school graduates in America today (especially products of public schools) read at far less than an 8th grade reading level.  Hence, reading the KJ Bible will greatly enhance your reading ability.   

The major issues that surround the various translations of the Bible, when dealing with the accuracy of translation have nothing to do with the Thee’s and Thou’s.  Instead the issues are far more important.  These include: 

1.   The Literal Word For Word Translation of the Text – There are only a few translations that are reliable when it comes to a Word for Word Translation of the Biblical text.  The most recognized are likely the New American Standard Translation (NASB), and the King James Bible (KJB).  The Translators of these two Bibles sought to translate, as much as possible, through a word for word translational process.  This means that they tried to translate one word for one word.  Of course this is difficult when translating from one language to another. Since many words just do not have an exact translation from Greek to English.  However, there is no other method of translation the does not impose the ideas of the translator on the text and potentially (likely) remove the original authors (God’s) intent from the text.  Difficult words and phrases are often noted in literal translations so that one can study to show themselves approved (2 Tim 2.15).

Clearly, the KJ Bible takes literal translation to a far greater extreme than the NASB translators did.  In the KJB you find Italicized words laced throughout the text.  These words were added by the translators to make the sentences grammatical in English.  They are italicized to help you identify every word that was added to the text.  This is incredibly important if you are seeking a truly accurate literal translation. 

Do Words Matter?  Does every word matter?  Jesus said,

 Matthew 5:18 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

In essence Jesus said that not one dot on an “i" or one cross on a “t” would not pass from God’s Word.  Jesus said every mark on the page matters.  I wrote a document on this issue some time ago that can be found at: http://www.thischristianjourney.com/ThisChristianJourney/GeneralPages/do_words_matter.htm

Every Christian should read and study a literal translation of the Bible; otherwise they are reading some translators opinion of the Bible, rather than the Word’s of God.  For instance the New International Version is a Dynamic Equivalency.  This means that the translators sought to translate the Bible phrase for phrase rather than word for word.  Does this matter?  It matters because the Milk in meat of the Word are only contained in the Word’s of God not in some translators opinion concerning the Word of God.  Any man’s opinion may contain either the milk of the Word, or the meat of the Word, or neither.  In essence, when any man’s opinion enters into the Word of God then the result will always be a commentary but it will never be God’s Word.  You need God’s Word. 

2.   The Manuscript Utilized In The Translation of the Text – This issue has been largely underestimated in Biblical Studies, but is incredibly important.  The biggest difference between the NASB and the KJB is this manuscript issue.  The NASB uses the Nestle-Aland Manuscript (NA) which is the manuscript used in most contemporary Seminaries today, the KJB uses the Textus Receptus (TR) which is used in most Fundamental KJB seminaries today. 

What is the difference?  Those of us who hold to the KJB believe that God has perfectly preserved His Bible throughout time so that the copies of the Greek Bible that have passed on to us through the hands of the Church of our Lord is the perfectly preserved Word of God.  We believe that God, in His supernatural power and sovereignty has protected His Word and will for all eternity.  After all, this is what Jesus said God would do for us in Matt 5.18 and is reiterated in numerous other Bible passages.  This preserved Word of God has been accurately compiled by diligent men of God into what we call the Textus Recetus and is supported by over 59 complete copies of the Greek Bible still available to us today.  The KJB is currently the only Literal Translation that is diligently translated from this text by translators who believe in the supernatural preservation of the Biblical text. 

Those who hold to the NASB and many other modern translations hold to the idea that human hands and minds have translated the Bible and that human corruption has inevitably found its way into the Bible.  They generally do not believe that God has perfectly preserved His written Word.  Hence they use the NA manuscript because they say it is based on the three oldest manuscripts (some might say six or seven old manuscripts) that are closer to the time frame of the original penning of the biblical text.  The problem here is that these oldest manuscripts mysteriously appeared after the early 1600’s.  This is evident because the proponents of this text will argue that the KJB translators did not have these best manuscripts when they translated the Bible.  Hence, their argument demonstrates that the Church has not always had these manuscripts available to them.  Secondly, these manuscripts are not all complete manuscripts, and these manuscripts often do not agree in their content.   

So one must ask, will I trust 59 Greek manuscripts that almost always say the same thing and have always been available to our Lord’s Church, or will I trust a few manuscripts that were not available to the KJB translators and often do not agree with each other.  This is the difference between the KJB and the NASB. 

What difference will this decision make?  Here are a few examples (there are many, many more) 

KJB Matthew 5:44 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

NASB Matthew 5:44 44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you

KJB 1 John 5:7-8 7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

NASB 1 John 5:7-8 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.

There are many differences between these translations which are evidences of the differences between these two manuscripts.  Again Jesus said not a jot or a tittle would pass form God’s Word.  So has God kept His Word of hasn’t He?  I know that He has so I use the KJB. 

  1. The Translation Of Bibles In Other Languages – The “Thee’s” and “Thou’s” should have no impact at all on Bibles translated into other languages.  Why?  Because it would be a grave error to translate from English into any other language.  Bibles must be translated from Greek and Hebrew into other languages.  To translate from a translation into another language will increase the potential for errors exponentially.  Translations must only be made from the original languages into any other language using a manuscript that is truly the Word of God.  Many of the doctrinal errors that have afflicted the Church of our Lord throughout the ages have been the result of translations based on other translations.  Hence, any anomalies that might be distinct to the English language as translated from the original languages of the Bible would not impact translations into other languages.

I notice that this answer has gotten a bit long.  I just felt a more complete answer should be given.  I hope it helps. 

 

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