Explanations for Problem Passages in the Spanish Bible

It is this author’s opinion that many lists of supposed problem passages in the text of the Reina-Valera 1909 and 1960 are put together based on the creator’s mere impressions, designed in turn for those who will likewise use their mere impressions to reach lasting conclusions, rather than a scholarly analysis that takes into consideration the gravity of the matter.

Many readings criticized in the Reina-Valera 1909 and 1960 are found in other translations that are recognized as being based on the Textus Receptus. Some readings are shown to be synonymous terms while others are vindicated with Greek and Hebrew lexicons. Many problem passages in the 1909 and 1960 are vindicated upon consulting older revisions of the Valera, lexicons, conservative commentaries, or Textus Receptus-based Bibles in other languages such as the Italian Diodati, the French Ostervald, Luther’s German Bible, and the Portuguese Almeida translation by the Trinitarian Bible Society. There is a precedent in these Textus Receptus-based Bibles as well as others regarding numerous readings in the 1909 and 1960 that have been questioned. When judging the soundness of a translation in any language, there needs to be an element of faith and some room for benefit of the doubt.

It should be pointed out that many of the most common objections to passages in critical text Bibles that are of the greatest concern do not apply to the 1909 and 1960. For example, there are no missing verses as compared to some translations based on critical texts that relegate them to footnotes. Even 1 John 5:7, one of the most disputed verses in the Bible, has remained in the Reina-Valera line since the first translation. 1 Timothy 3:16 reads, “God was manifest in the flesh.” Colossians 1:14 has “through his blood,” and Luke 24:6, “he is not here, but is risen”—a key phrase in a verse on the resurrection—is present in the Reina-Valera at least through the 1960 edition. All Reina-Valera editions have “virgin” in Isaiah 7:14.

It cannot be denied that there are “problem passages” in the Reina-Valera 1909 & 1960, the most common Spanish Bibles in Fundamental circles. But by the same token, there are “problem passages” in the English Bible. However, I approach the English Bible with an attitude of faith, being willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. Does not the Spanish Bible deserve the same treatment? For an example of a problem passage in the English Bible, see 2 Thes. 2:15:

KJV: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught…”

Spanish RV 1960: “Therefore, brethren, stand firm, and retain the doctrine which ye have learned…” (author’s translation from the Spanish).

If one were to use the same tactics commonly employed by many who denounce the common Spanish Bible, they would conclude that the above KJV verse teaches that we need to hold on to traditions, which is what Catholicism teaches. It could also be pointed out that Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthews, Bishops and the Geneva Bibles did not have the word “traditions” here, but the Rheims 1582 Catholic New Testament did. Is this enough to condemn the KJV as a Catholic-friendly version? Absolutely not, especially when you are willing to give the Bible the benefit of the doubt and are willing to look for possible reasons why something was translated the way it was. Concluding rashly that the KJV is Catholic-friendly in this verse would be erroneous, thereby proving that the criteria used to reach such a misleading conclusion was flawed. Strong’s Concordance defines the underlying Greek word in the following manner:

G3862

παράδοσις

paradosis

par-ad’-os-is

From G3860; transmission, that is, (concretely) a precept; specifically the Jewish traditionary law:

Although the KJV rendering of the above verse may sound unusual, it is vindicated by the Greek. The KJV translators therefore cannot be accused of trying to implement a Catholic agenda in the way they translated the above verse in question.

Problem passages must not be judged by mere impressions, but should be the object of diligent study. One of the most basic rules of Biblical interpretation is to interpret difficult or obscure verses in the light of clearer ones.

There are some problem passages that I did not attempt to vindicate because they involved matters of advanced grammar in Greek and Hebrew. If you are competent in advanced grammar in either biblical language and would like to assist me on some verses, please contact me.

There are some allegations against the Reina-Valera mentioned here that are just plain ridiculous, and the question may surface as to why I took them seriously enough to cover them here. I offer several reasons:

1. Some who are being presented with lists of problem passages in the Spanish Bible do not know Spanish and may not be capable of recognizing whether an allegation lacks merit.

2. Some laymen exposed to lists of problem passages in the Spanish Bible may not have any idea how to begin to verify claims without any knowledge of Greek and Hebrew.

There are some problem passages that I did not cover. The following are possible reasons why they are not presently covered:

1. I may not have finished analyzing a given passage at this time, or I may not be aware of a complaint.

2. In some cases a passage in the 1909 and 1960 not covered here may indeed be based on a critical text, without previous precedent in TR-based Bibles that I had available for my perusal. However, I believe the evidence I present in Explanations for Problem Passages in the Spanish Bible demonstrates that this does not happen all that often. The reader should be reminded at this point that there are some cases where the KJV departed from the Textus Receptus as well, sometimes following the Latin Vulgate. This should allow us to place the Spanish Bible on a more even “playing field.”

3. Some sources that complained of various passages in the Reina-Valera did not seem to make the most minimal effort to investigate why the Spanish Bible read different from the KJV in a given passage. It is not my goal or intent to take every single complaint seriously enough to cover it here, especially if it involved a simple matter where the most minimal research would have removed any doubt. I covered many complaints that had no merit for the purpose of making a point, but “chasing every rabbit” is something I cannot do and keep from neglecting my ministry responsibilities.

When considering a charge against a reading in the Spanish Bible, I believe it is only fair to consider criteria allowed for the KJV. Keep the following in mind written by authors defending the KJV:

“Every passage [in the KJV] must be interpreted in the context of the wider testimony of Scripture…” (Cloud, David. The Bible Version Question/Answer Database. Port Huron, MI: Way of Life Literature, 2005, p. 52)

“Wouldn’t it be wiser to give the KJV translators (and Tyndale and Rogers and Coverdale and the Geneva and the Bishops’) the benefit of the doubt, and to admit that they had serious reasons for every translation they gave, though we can’t necessarily trace all of their reasoning today, hundreds of years after the fact. Again, it is one thing to say that a certain word or passage could be translated differently; it is quite another to brazenly claim that the KJV is WRONG.” (Cloud, David. For Love of the Bible. Port Huron, MI: Way of Life Literature, 2006, p. 94)

“If there is an ambiguity, it is also in the Greek, and an accurate translation can do nothing more than follow its underlying text.” (Cloud, David. Examining the King James Only Controversy. Port Huron, MI: Way of Life Literature, 1999, p. 123)

“If an interpretation is taught elsewhere in the Bible, and if that interpretation does not violate the immediate context, it must be accepted as a possible one. … It is the translator’s challenge to find the proper meaning which best fits the context. Therefore, for someone to say that the KJV is inconsistent in translating the particular Hebrew word is to ignore that all versions do likewise.” (Lackey, Bruce. Why I Believe the Old King James Bible. London, Ontario: Bethel Baptist Print Ministry, 1987, pp. 22, 23)

“…this is assuming to know the translator’s intention without any proof.” Ibid, p. 34

“Before one charges error, it is a good idea to stop and think about what is actually being said and try to find a reason why a different word was chosen.” Ibid, p. 37

“Although the translation may be unusual, it is a possible one and cannot be called a mistake. Anyone has the privilege of disagreeing with a translator’s interpretation, but if the translation be grammatically and contextually possible, it cannot be called an error… Rather than treat these places as errors, why not remember that the KJV translators were intelligent and reverent scholars, and try to find out why they did a particular thing in the way they did?” Ibid, p. 39

“…A careful study of context and related Scripture often shows that what was supposed to be a discrepancy or erroneous translation is not at all.” Ibid, p. 41

“It seems that people are condemning inconsistency when it is convenient to do so, then turning right around and condemning consistency when it is likewise convenient. Are people looking for reasons to condemn the King James Version so much that they resort to such inconsistency? (!) The fact is, that no one is always consistent. As has been said before, in all translation there is some interpretation; there is no way to avoid that and have an understandable translation. There will always be a need for teachers to explain and expound God’s word. No translation can ever take the place of God-appointed teachers. It is a mistake to assume that the Bible is supposed to be perfectly clear to the surface reader, needing no explanation.” Ibid, p. 46

Peter Ruckman, whom we warn about extensively on our website, admits there are about 2,000 problem passages in the KJV. Of these, he says that around 1,600 can be explained by common sense without reference to a Greek or Hebrew lexicon. Of the 400 that remain, he says that about 20 could be called “difficult” problems, and 5 of those could be classified as “extremely difficult.” In the preface and first chapter of his book The “Errors” in the King James Bible, he admits that some of his rationalization of certain passages may come across as a little extreme or far-fetched, and it may seem that at times he “stretches a point” to make two verses match. I point this out in case some would consider some vindications of problem passages in the Spanish Bible to be far-fetched. The point is that some difficulty is also faced when attempting to defend some problem passages in the KJV.

What follows are typical problem passages in the Reina-Valera 1960 and sometimes the 1909, often used unfairly in attempts to convince others by mere impressions that the Spanish Bible must be revised. Many more problem passages will be added over time, so check back often. If you would like a specific verse to be treated here, e-mail the author at bautistafundamental@yahoo.com. If you would like to submit an explanation of a problem passage for consideration for inclusion on the webpage, please contact me. Also feel free to contact me if you see weaknesses or inaccuracies in any of my vindications. We also have a similar webpage in Spanish: Defensa de los versículos más atacados en la Reina-Valera.

In many cases multiple sources could be used to vindicate a Spanish Bible reading. In most cases, however, I went on to the next problem passage after finding a single source of vindication. At times what may appear as unfamiliar sources are used to vindicate a reading in the Spanish Bible, such as ancient versions like the Peshitta, the Old Latin, the Armenian, the Coptic, the Gothic, the Ethiopic, etc. These versions from the early centuries are sometimes used in pro-KJV literature to vindicate the KJV and demonstrate antiquity for Traditional Text readings. Although I believe the closeness of these ancient versions to the Textus Receptus is sometime overstated, since they are sometimes used to vindicate the KJV and TR, it is only fair if they are also allowed to vindicate the Spanish Bible, although I did not give these sources priority. An example of using such sources to vindicate the KJV and TR would be Jack Moorman’s book Early Manuscripts, Church Fathers & the Authorized Version.

I do not consider the Reina-Valera to be infallible and inerrant, but I believe it is trustworthy and dependable. I also believe its problem passages deserve to be looked at diligently for possible vindication rather than rashly jumping to conclusions by mere impressions. These explanations are done without declaring the KJV reading to be wrong and without resorting to a critical text source for vindication.

Part 1: Explanations for problem passages in the Spanish Bible – Old Testament

Part 2: Explanations for problem passages in the Spanish Bible – New Testament

Part 3: Explanations for criticized words and phrases appearing multiple times in various verses in the Reina-Valera

6 Responses to “Explanations for Problem Passages in the Spanish Bible”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. eugene says:

    Jesus Cristo o Jesucristo. Why and when did the translation of Jesus Cristo delete the second s from Jesús and thereby making two words one?

  2. Calvin George says:

    Re: Jesucristo translation/Jesus Cristo o Jesucristo

    Jesucristo is a compound word. A compound word combines several words into one, sometimes dropping a letter in the process. The evolving of the Spanish language and orthography is notable when one traces the history of a term such as Jesucristo. Using Mat. 1:1 as a reference point, in 1569 it was written as Jesu Christo, in 1865 as Jesu Cristo, and from 1909 on Jesucristo.

  3. Josue Rogers says:

    Thank you for the truth.

    Brother Calvin: Thank you for your clearly articulated expression of defense for the traditional Spanish Bible, as well as clear thinking on the issues of Bible Translation in general. This has been a lack for some time especially among Fundamental Baptists. I have been burdened by this issue, and even more so with the emergence of the latest revision RVG. Not that I have anything against it per se. But the need for it could not be reconciled and the inflamation of the issue for our Spanish speaking brethren has been a real source of grief to me. I have tried to defend it, and even began a compilation of defended scriptures. However, when I came to your blog today, I see that you are ahead of me. Thank you, with all my heart. I am the son of a missionary, Daniel Rogers, in Paraguay from 1981 to 1992, when we went to the Eastern Bloc country of Albania. I was called to preach and preached my first sermon in Spanish in 1988 at the age of ten. Putting personal feelings and pride aside, I have felt the necessity to maintain our brethren’s “rights” to Holy Spirit guidance as well as our own. In other words, God has lead them for over 400 years in Spanish with out the “benefit” of the King James Bible; and He is capable of continuing to do so. In English I most certainly use KJV. However, this should not be the source of our translations into other languages. Sorry, preaching to the choir. I am merely saying that I agree with your position as expressed in these articles and I thank you again for standing for grace and truth. God bless you! Joshua Rogers

  4. Bro. Rogers

    I was born in Mexico and Spanish is my first language. I don’t have any problem with having the King James Bible as a standard in translation. Any honest research will verify that the King James Bible excels any translation effort in History. Even Reina and Valera in their own writings acknowledged their lack of resources in their effort and academically the King James Bible translators excel any of today’s translation team that can be formed. Not only that but, the majority of texts from the Textus Receptus (which don’t exist today) were used to finalize the KJV. Why not take advantage of that great job to improve any other translation effort in any language? A “TR only” position is so silly because there is of the huge variety of manuscripts. I prefer to be one of those that believe only One Bible instead of not having any definite source of authority.

  5. Calvin George says:

    Re: Bro. Rogers

    The KJV translators do not agree with you that a translation should be the standard for other languages. This is what they said in the preface to the 1611:

    …the Hebrew text of the Olde Testament, the Greeke of the New…These are the two golden pipes, or rather conduits, where-through the oliue branches emptie themselues into the golde…as the credit of the olde bookes (he meaneth of the Old Testament) is to bee tryed by the Hebrewe Volumes, so of the New by the Greeke tongue, he meaneth by the originall Greeke. If trueth be to be tried by these tongues, then whence should a Translation be made, but out of them? These tongues, therefore, the Scriptures, wee say, in those tongues, wee set before vs to translate, being the tongues wherein God was pleased to speake to his Church by his Prophets and Apostles.

    The KJV translators believed translations could be consulted (and I agree) but they did not make one translation the standard as the RVG did and as you propose.

    “A ‘TR only’ position is so silly because there is of the huge variety of manuscripts.”

    Could you explain what you mean by this?

    “…the majority of texts from the Textus Receptus (which don’t exist today)”

    They don’t exist anymore? Please document this. The manuscripts that Erasmus used in editing the first edition of the Textus Receptus are known and still exist today. Below is a sample of a manuscript used by Erasmus, which is still at the university library of the city from which he published his first edition of the Greek New Testament:

    Underneath the picture is the following caption: “A manuscript used by Erasmus, miniscule 2e (University Library, Basel, twelfth century; cf. p. 4): Matt. 16:1-11, showing Erasmus’ additions and compositor’s marks.” (This comes from the book “The Text of the New Testament” by Kurt and Barbara Aland, 1989, p. 5.)

    If the manuscripts from which the Textus Receptus were done didn’t exist anymore, that would give us less reason to trust in the Textus Receptus, and consequently in the KJV, because we would have to go by blind faith.

    “I prefer to be one of those that believe only One Bible instead of not having any definite source of authority.”

    Since we are talking about foreign languages, what do you mean by this? One Bible in English as a source of authority for all languages? What would have been your “definite source of authority” before 1611?

    The point of the article where you posted had to do with allowing the Reina-Valera to be defended in the same manner and with the same kind of sources and criteria as the KJV. You did not mention whether you agreed or not. Please stay on topic. Comments deemed to be straying from the topic are subject to being deleted.

  6. Anonymous says:

    All the honor and the glory to God.I am amazed with the the information you have call “”MUJERES PREDICADORAS PROHIBIDO EN LA BIBLIA””I feel blessed reading and knowing that everything you posted comes from the bible.. do you have all this information in english.. Thank You May God bless you and keep using you to be a blessing for others..

Leave a comment...

*