A Brief Critique of the Book The Old Spanish Bible Restoration Project by Carlos Donate

Critique by Calvin George

The full title is as follows: The Old Spanish Bible Restoration Project. 1602 – 2002, 400 Years of History. Written by Carlos Donate Alvira and published by Stringer Publications of Haines City, Florida. No date of publication provided.

Please note: Most of the complaints related to textual issues in the 1960 are overlooked in this critique, as many of them are analyzed in my article Explanations for Problem Passages in the Spanish Bible. Quotes from the book are reproduced in italics, with some brief quotes between quotation marks.

Between page four and five a chart appears that categorizes the 1960 as “evil fruit,” and unjustly places it in the category of modern Bibles which in some cases either omit entire verses or relegate them to footnotes such as the NIV and Good News for Modern Man. The 1960 translators lumped in with those of other versions were bitterly described as “Heretic translators and revisers [sic] unsaved, modernists, liberals, neo-fundamentalists and against the traditional texts.”

In 1999 the first edition of the 1602 Cipriano de Valera New Testament came out in circulation… (p. 47)

How could a 1602 be a first edition when printed in 1999? A cursory examination of the first edition of their so-called 1602 New Testament revealed hundreds, and most likely thousands of changes compared to the true and original 1602, in order to conform it to the KJV. It is as wrong to call this new revision a 1602 as it would be to call the NKJV (New King James Version) a 1611.

“The worst about the 1960 Reina-Valera revision was that it was based on Nestle-Aland’s critical text UBS #1, or UBS #2 (1956 and 1957 respectively). (p. 42)

The first edition of the Greek UBS NT was not published until 1966 (I know as I own a copy), which proves that the 1960 revisers could not have used it, let alone the second edition!

Eugene Nida had been able to convince his superiors in New York that if the “Bible” was going to be accepted in all the Hispanic world, then it was necessary to do a revision based on the best texts (the critical)… (p. 43)

As Nida was touring Latin America in 1950 to determine the need and extent of a Spanish revision, he observed the exact opposite: “The Spanish text which is almost universally used in the churches of Latin America is the Cipriano de Valera, a text which is based wholly on the Textus Receptus. Not within the foreseeable is there much chance of any wide departure from this traditional text…an omitted verse or a radically different reading will immediately cause questions and doubt on the part of Christians and be an effective weapon in the hands of any opposition to prove to the uninformed that the translation is completely unreliable and deceiving.” (Nida, Eugene. “Training the Translation Helper” The Bible Translator, April 1950, p. 43)

On p. 44, Domingo Fernández was praised (rightly so) for his strong stand for the Textus Receptus in his writings. Since he was praised in an anti-1960 book, it was misleading to leave out the fact that this Baptist of Cuban origin was an ardent defender of the 1960 in those same writings. See Conspiración Contra las Sagradas Escrituras It is interesting to note that this tireless defender of Bibles based on the Textus Receptus was actually one of the official consultants for the 1960 revision. (See La Biblia en América Latina, July – September 1954, Vol. 2, No. 33, p. 531).

On p. 49 under the heading “DOCTRINE IS AFFECTED,” the writer complains about the 1960 having the word “tumors” instead of “hemorrhoids” in 1 Sam. 5:6. See Gesenius Hebrew Lexicon under Strong’s # 6076. How in the world could this affect doctrine?

Nida says, in the preface of his book entitled “Entendiendo la América Latina”, that there were three important factors that motivated him to produce a Bible that was adapted to all: 1) The ecumenical movement impelled by the Catholic Church. 2) The great social interest by the Catholic Church, and 3) The Biblical renewal the [sic] which has stimulated more interest for the Bible message and the proclamation of the Good News in the Catholic churches. (p. 33)

An examination of the book in question reveals that the context of the three points was NOT in the least talking about the motives for producing a new Bible version in any language at any time at any place, but rather something entirely different. Simply put, he was not giving the motives for producing the 1960. See the preface of the book Understanding Latin Americans by Eugene Nida.

The 1960 Reina-Valera was made to join the Evangelicals with the Catholics, or those that sympathize with Catholicism. (p. 61)

The author reached this conclusion with the flimsiest of evidence, some of it faulty, as proven in the preceding paragraph. To prove to the contrary, it should be noted that words with a Catholic connotation that appeared in Valera’s original 1602 such as “beatificación” (beatification) in Rom. 3:9, “pontífice” (pontiff) many times in Hebrews, including in the Valera 1909, and the word “penitencia” (penitence) in Mark 1:4, did not reappear in the 1960. The apocrypha was included in the 1602, but it did not make a comeback in the 1960.

I emphasize again that we are not trying to force the English onto the Spanish, as we have been accused unjustly and wrongly. (p. 74)

However, in a Spanish Bible conference in Haines City, FL, in 2001 Donate stated the following in a speech: “Don’t destroy the King James. Correct your version with the King James.” (Tape 1 “Bible Societies & Comparisons” Dec. 2001, Landmark Baptist Church)

In order to justify certain readings not found in the original 1602 (but are found in the KJV), there are references to sources throughout the book of all sorts of Spanish Bibles ranging from such years as 1543, 1553, 1556, 1569, 1831, 1850, 1862, 1865 and 1893. Why go back and forth inconsistently and at random between such old Spanish Bibles? I believe it is an impulsive drive to find Spanish Bibles that agree with the KJV in spots where there is a departure in the original 1602. In other words, these Spanish Bibles ranging from 1543 to 1893 are considered an authority in certain verses only if and when they agree with the KJV. That is why the following admission is found on p. 22: In these translations that dated prior to 1611, we found words and phrases that match with the Authorized Version.

If the men behind the unfinished so-called 1602 want to force it to entirely conform to the KJV, that is their privilege, but they should not be evasive about it in attempts to please the guarded Spanish-speakers who would be against such a thing.

Among the sources listed as utilized in revising the so-called 1602, the 1850 Valera-Scio was mentioned twice on p. 77 and once on p. 78. Notice how the author portrayed this very version on p. 64: I think that with the 1850 edition of the Valera-Scio, many revisers and translators were influenced to please the Catholic by replacing not only “Word” with “Verb”, but many more Catholic words as well.

On p. 4 the author described Eugene Nida as being the 1960’s “main editor.”

This is refuted by the following documentation:

“Final decisions as to the text of the Reina-Valera revision rested with the Editorial Committee which was set up for the program, for once the committee had been named, the Bible Society representatives [Nida and Twentyman] were only advisers to the Committee and had no vote on decisions. The basic work of the revision was done by an Editorial Committee consisting of six persons: Juan Diaz G. (of Mexico), Honorio Espinoza (of Chile), Francisco Estrello (of Mexico), Alfonso Lloreda (of Venezuela), Henry Parra S. (of Colombia), and Alfonso Rodriguez H. (of Cuba).” (Nida, Eugene “Reina-Valera Revision of 1960,” The Bible Translator. vol. 12, No. 3, 1961. p. 111)

“In another translation of an African tribe, the word that was substituted for ‘lamb’ was bull. ‘Christ is the bull of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’ – – Taken from Evangelical Missions Quarterly, July 1998, Vol. 34, #3, page 316. ‘ . . . Who do men (like Nida) say is the Son of man? . . .’ (Matthew 16:13). (pp. 36-37)

The entire article mentioned as proof is found in the following website, and it does not even mention Nida, nor any translation where such an unthinkable thing was done! http://www.gospelcom.net/bgc/emis/1998/oxofgod.htm. [this link is no longer valid] What was alleged was not “taken from” said issue of the Evangelical Missions Quarterly, as I have had the opportunity to read it as originally written, and it matches the website article.

Read What Nida himself said in a recent interview about the above type of rumors:

“The translator, of course, cannot change all the sheep into goats and the goats into sheep. .. One fellow was anxious to change all the sheep to pigs because in his part of New Guinea, pigs were the important animals. .. I said, Wait a minute, because for the Old Testament, pigs were not kosher.” http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/011/2.46.html

Not only was no proof submitted that Nida translated “lamb” as “pig,” Nida himself actually warned against doing the exact blasphemous thing he is accused of! Read on:

“…the Marshallese have no sheep. Only a few Marshallese even have an idea of what such an animal might be like. In such a case, one must borrow the foreign word “sheep” from English or some other foreign language…The story has been circulated that the word ‘seal’ was used for sheep in one of the Eskimo translations. This is an intriguing story but without foundation in actual fact. A baby seal might be considered parallel to a lamb as far as general attractiveness and reputed ‘innocence’ is concerned, but after these features the parallel stops. Such an adaptation would be completely unsatisfactory.” (Nida, Eugene. “Bible Translating”, New York: American Bible Society, 1947, p. 136

In the second edition (2003, seen after this book review was already written) of this book the author made a partial retraction regarding the above as follows:

I want to make a clarification regarding what I did in the first edition of my book. I had said that Nida had translated the word “lamb” as “pig” in John 1:29 in a foreign translation. However, I want to correct the above and say that he wasn’t the one who directly translated “the pig of God who takes away the sin” in John 1:29, but that Nida was in agreement with such translation as long as it was accompanied by a translators’ note explaining the reason for such a translation. That is, Nida does not rule out such a translation, it just has to include a footnote.

Although it was good to recognize the error, referring to an published interview, Donate alleges that Nida was in agreement with translating “Lamb of God” as “pig of God” as long as a footnote was added. Read Nida’s words for yourself and see if that was what he intended to be understood:

“The translator, of course, cannot change all the sheep into goats and the goats into sheep. But you’ve got to have footnotes to explain the cultural difference. Otherwise, you’re going to give an entirely wrong impression.” (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/october7/2.46.html)

Nida did not say you could change lambs to another animal as long as you used a footnote. Nida said the translator “cannot change” the animal, but rather had to include an explanatory footnote. In the same article, Nida mentions an incident in which a translator wanted to change “lamb” to “pig” because in his area of New Guinea, the pigs were the important animals. Nida disagreed, and told him to explain cultural differences in footnotes. (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/october7/2.46.html)

The problem with the 1960 is that it implemented for the first time critical textual science in the Spanish Bible by partially using another Greek text than the one they have always used, the Textus Receptus. (p. 47, emphasis mine)

Compare the above to the following contradictory statement:

…even the 1909 had good public acceptance, since the majority of its verses were from the Textus Receptus, with only a low percentage, but not yet determined, from the critical text. (p. 31) and The 1909 retains some of the Vulgate, with influences from Lachmann, Tishendorf, Tregelles, Alford, and Wordsworth who were translators and revisers with corrupt tendencies in past centuries. (p. 28)

Alfonso Lloredo [sic]…Venezuelan. He wrote an article published by the A.B.S. attacking the position of the Textus Receptus and teaching that the critical text is better (TBT, Vol 1, #14, 1964, New York, USA). (p. 38)

An examination of the magazine issue mentioned here revealed nothing written by Lloreda. Other issues were examined of the same year or issue number, with the same results.

The final decision about changes was in the hands of the editorial committee in New York. (p. 41)

It was not a committee in New York that made final decisions (which could lead people to believe that it would include ABS officials such as Nida). The six revisers that made final decisions as to the text met in Costa Rica, Peru, and Mexico for the main sessions. (See –Nida, Eugene “Reina-Valera Revision of 1960,” The Bible Translator. vol. 12, No. 3, 1961. p. 111)

1960 – ‘For the soul of all flesh is its blood.’ (Even animals?) (p. 53)

The 1960 has “vida” (life) in Lev. 17:14, not soul.

…conforms a lot to the 1881 critical text of Wescott-Hort. The brethren that lived during the time when the 1960 was introduced saw this immediately, and it was the reason that they rejected it. (p. 62)

Not according to Principales Objeciones al Trabajo de Revisión Hecho a la Biblia Reina-Valera en 1960 by Felix Arana. He did not list a supposed conformity to the critical text among the objections, which were all of a minor nature.

In Numbers 33:52 the 1960 substitutes the word ‘pictures’ for ‘stone idols’, which is the same as the Vulgate and admits to the practice of having pictures with images for their veneration and worship. (p. 65)

The idols in this verse are not portrayed in a positive manner, as God is ordering them destroyed. See how the KJV translated the same Hebrew word in Lev. 26:1, “image of stone” as well as the marginal note.

…’conversation’ (I Peter 1:18, Philippians 1:27) was changed to ‘way of life / living’. (p. 47)

Of course. That’s what it means.

Throughout the book the author suggests that readers should switch from the 1960 to the 1909, yet this seems disingenuous when you consider that there will be a new plea to switch from the 1909 to the so-called 1602 when it is ready. This is evident in the following statement: We use the 1909 until we can get the best: the revised and restored “Antigua Valera” (of 1602) according to the Textus Receptus. (p. 7, emphasis mine). It is obvious that once the entire so-called 1602 is ready there will be an attack on the 1909. This is partly evident in this book, when it declares with no documentation whatsoever that one of the one who supposedly worked on the 1909 “Believed that infant baptism was necessary for salvation.” (p. 30) This is further questionable when the date of death for this supposed 1909 reviser is given in the book as 1894, a full 15 years prior to the 1909 revision! The plea to switch from the 1960 to the 1909 is only a bait-and-switch tactic, as it will soon be replaced with a plea to switch from the 1909 to this new mysterious revision that they insist on assigning the date of “1602.”

On page 28, the author admits that he does not know how many participated in the 1909 revision, and he further admits on the same page there was “some liberal and modernist element” including one of the revisers whom he says believed in salvation through infant baptism. However, in spite of all this he does not hesitate to consider these same revisers as “mainly people who were considered ‘fundamentalist’ or of conservative theology. (p. 31) But as to the 1960 revisers, using a combination of speculation and a lack of documented sources, the author in a chart between pages four and five unfairly proceeds to describe them as Heretic translators and revisers [sic] unsaved, modernists, liberals, neo-fundamentalists…

…The 1960 Reina-Valera was designed by a Catholic who wanted the “separated brethren” to return to the Holy Mother Roman Catholic Church. (p. 64)

Who was this Catholic who “designed” the 1960? Like usual, no documentation was provided. No documentation has ever been produced showing the participation of any Catholic in editing the 1960. In fact, two of the revisers were threatened by their families during their youth for their opposition to Catholicism, another publicly campaigned against a law that favored Catholics, and yet another reviser even spent time in jail falsely accused of placing a bomb in a priest’s home! All this documentation is revealed in my book The History of the Reina-Valera 1960 Spanish Bible

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