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Excerpts from all 9 chapters of the book “The History of the Reina-Valera 1960 Spanish Bible”


By 1946 the American Bible Society and the BFBS were reporting that numerous suggestions were being received as to the need for a new revision. Although the Valera line had undergone many minor revisions, it still retained much of the grammar and antiquated expressions from Casiodoro de Reina’s 1569 translation.

Accent marks on monosyllabic words were eliminated.

1909 1960
á a
é e
fué fue
vió vio

Spelling of names and places

The spelling of some names and places come across more like English words rather than Spanish in the 1909 and older revisions:

1909 1960
Bethlehem Belén
Jerusalem Jerusalén
Nathán Natán
Ruth Rut
Seth Set
Rachel Raquel
Ephraim Efraín

As evidenced in some words in the previous table, when the 1909 was revised “ph” had to be changed to “f,” and “th” to “t.” Also “ch” when followed by a vowel with circumflex accent was changed to “c” or “qu” (depending on the following vowel).

Absolute orthography of proper names was a problem for the revisers; therefore, they compiled a list of approved spellings with the help of Young’s Concordance,1 since none was available in Spanish. Old Testament forms of names were retained in the New Testament.

Substitution of terms that acquired a Catholic connotation

It should be noted that words that over the years had acquired a very fixed Roman Catholic connotation such as beatificación (beatification) in Romans 3:9 in the 1602, pontífice (pontiff—used as a title for the Pope in Spanish) many times in Hebrews up to the Valera 1909, and the word penitencia (penance) in Mark 1:4 in the 1602 did not reappear in the 1960.


It was recommended that the committee for such a revision should include men competent in biblical exegesis with a thorough command of Spanish, of good reputation among evangelicals in the Spanish-speaking world, and who could work happily with others. Another list added the following criteria for selecting revision committee members:

  • Good background in Biblical studies, including Greek and Hebrew.
  • Proficiency in the use of the Spanish language.
  • Deep personal devotion to the Scriptures.
  • Acceptance by the evangelical constituency as being persons sensitive to and fully sympathetic with the needs of the evangelical movement.

Excerpt from Chapter 3 THE REVISION UNDERWAY

The revision was done during four full sessions lasting approximately two months each, followed by two subcommittee sessions lasting approximately two weeks each. All six revisers attended all four full sessions for varying periods. The daily tasks were preceded by a time of prayer and meditation in the Word of God as the revisers wanted to open their hearts and minds to the blessed influence of the Holy Spirit. The six sessions took place during a six-year range, from 1951 to 1957. The three-year delay until final publication was due to proofreading, preparation for a limited concordance to be published simultaneously with the first edition, and also the realization that the type had to be reset. It was decided that the revision sessions would take place in different countries because this helped others to recognize the international scope and character of the project.

Detailed procedures

At the end of each session, members of the Revision Committee selected the books of the Bible that they would revise in a tentative fashion between sessions. In the actual sessions, each reviser would read his own draft out loud, and during that time he was chairman of the meeting. The various revisers would then take part in the discussion that naturally followed. The work was rotated so that no reviser had to read aloud and be chairman for an extended period of time. After a given portion was approved, the revised reading was placed on stencils for mimeographing, and then mailed to the consultants.


When the new Reina-Valera revision was first printed in late 1960, the response was mostly favorable. In 1961 the BFBS reported that “The introduction in the latter half of last year stimulated considerable increase in demand for the Bible on the whole of Spanish-speaking South America. It is reflected in the quantities in the Spanish Bibles which we have been called upon to send out.” In 1964, the General Secretary of the American Bible Society stated that although there was still some demand for the old Spanish version, which they would continue to print, as to the 1960: “its acceptance in Latin America has been overwhelmingly favorable.” Nida mentioned in 1969 that the 1960 had thus far been “very favorably received.”

However, it did take some time to win the hearts of Spanish-speaking Christians. Some reports of mild resistance against the adoption of the Reina-Valera 1960 were published in the early 1960’s. The Bible Societies reacted promptly by sending staff and at least one reviser from the Revision Committee out to the field to answer questions. For instance, López de Lara, who replaced Estrello as Secretary of the Bible Society in Mexico, was invited to a meeting of an independent evangelical group named Union of Independent Evangelical Churches to answer questions regarding the new Spanish text. As a result, the leaders of this movement representing 500 churches that were described as conservative decided to use the 1960 exclusively. Alfonso Lloreda visited a different group to answer questions regarding the 1960, with the resulting decision on their part to use both the old and new Valera text, with preference being given to the newer one. William Wonderly of the ABS reported in 1963 that an evangelical group whom he considered to be among the most conservative and numerous, after a meticulous examination of the text, officially endorsed it for use among their congregations. He further reported that although not all evangelical groups had yet decided one way or another, “many persons and congregations are already using it in preference over the previous revision.”


(From the biography of Alfonso Rodríguez Hidalgo, who suffered through 33 surgeries due to a growth of gangrene in his face at a young age)

Rodríguez eloquently summarizes his own testimony thus:

Precisely this ugly face of mine, all twisted and full of scars, which is certainly very visible, is one in which Jesus Christ has left his holy handprints, all pierced and bloodied by the nails of the cross of Calvary; day by day, all twenty-four hours and three hundred and sixty-five days a year, are not enough to express to the Lord my deep gratitude and my eternal thankfulness for all he has done for me, not only giving me a new face, but above all and over all, giving me new life.

Author Robert Heinze described Rodríguez in the following moving terms:

This is a man whose face was rebuilt out of the flesh of his thigh. This is a man whose superior mind might have remained undeveloped because people were repelled by a little boy wearing a handkerchief to hide his face. This is a teacher who stopped teaching History and Civics so he could begin to teach men to preach the Gospel. This is a man who tells his own story simply, in one sentence: “God gave me back my lips and I must use my lips to speak for him.”


From the biography of John Twentyman:

In his role as Secretary of the Bible Society, Twentyman sometimes traveled to remote areas to promote Bible distribution as well as visit missionaries. In answer to the often-posed question “why do we go to the jungle,” Twentyman would reply “…despite difficulties and dangers, disease and loneliness—the lost souls of men and women for whom Christ died.”

Twentyman had the admirable habit of referring to people not just as persons, but as souls. The following paragraph characterized his compassionate style of writing:

They [referring to Peruvian Indians] have souls, and are precious in His sight. They too are seeking the comfort of God’s Word, and find, as the reward of their seeking, Jesus Christ revealed to them in all His love and compassion.


In his own words–Nida on Salvation (written between 1952-1961):

As with the Pharisees, who were concerned with being accepted by God because of their works, and who substituted their rules for the commandments of God, some today exchange the doctrine of God’s forgiveness of sins for mere ethical principles about conduct pleasing to the eternal.

Especially in the field of soteriology, the Bible presents a unique way to God. For it is not a process by which man gains his salvation through hereditary privilege, ritualistic practice, or self-subjugation, but one by which God has not only sought out man, but has provided the means and the way of reconciliation to himself.

If you want to find the way, it can be only through Jesus Christ, who is “the way, the truth and the life,” who not only went ahead as “the pioneer of our salvation,” but has thus shown us the way in his atoning work on the Cross. By reconciling us to God, he has made it possible for us to be His children.

…Man has no righteousness except that which God gives to him through Jesus Christ.

As far as the Bible is concerned, man’s difficulty is his sin, which is not an error of the mind but a rebellion of the heart. Therefore, salvation comes not by intellectual assent to correct ideas, but through the heart, which in faith says yes to God.

It is not sufficient to simply reeducate man, for he must be born again. He must be converted into a new creature, for only in Christ “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” We have come to realize that “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” is not a vain formula of psychological escape. It is the very heart of the Good News, for all men who trust in the Jesus of the Scriptures and recognize him as the redeemer of their lives, not only are rescued from their oppressive sin and fear, but also receive new life through the Spirit of God.


One way in which to avoid paying for copyright royalties for the 1960 is to purchase such Bibles directly from Bible society agencies, especially since they sell Bibles below cost. At the time this book went to press, their 1960 paperback edition was being made available in a special offer on the ABS website at only $1.69 each in case-lots, and New Testaments in case-lots at only $0.85 each. When it comes to finances, in some respects the Bible societies operate the opposite of a commercial business. Since Bible sales are subsidized, “the greater the success, the greater the loss.”


The 1960 edition possibly differs from any given edition of the Textus Receptus less often than the Textus Receptus texts differ among themselves. For example, there are approximately 250 differences between Scrivener’s 1894 TR Greek New Testament and the Stephanus 1550 TR Greek New Testament.

Therefore, if differences among Textus Receptus texts do not shatter our confidence in them, neither should a lesser amount of differences in the Reina-Valera 1960.

Many “problem” passages in the 1960 are vindicated upon consulting older revisions of the Valera, lexicons, conservative commentaries, the ancient Itala and Peshitta manuscripts, or Textus Receptus-based Bibles in other languages such as the Italian Diodati, the French Ostervald, Luther’s German Bible, and the Portuguese translation by the Trinitarian Bible Society. There is a precedent in these TR-based Bibles as well as others regarding numerous readings in the 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.

In some cases, changes were made in the 1960 to line it up more with the Textus Receptus compared to the former revision (the 1909). Examples include replacing Señor with Dios in 1 Timothy 6:1, adding Jesús in Luke 24:36, adding pero in John 7:29, adding afuera in Acts 5:23, and yo fuí changed to yo estaba in Revelation 4:2.


Reina-Valera 1960 consultant Domingo Fernández accurately describes the prevailing sentiment of Spanish-speaking Christians toward the Reina-Valera in these passionate terms:

The immense majority of Spanish-speaking Christians love the Reina-Valera version just as it is now…We have the firm conviction that the providential hand of God has been manifested throughout the ages preserving the Sacred Scriptures, and that the message of God to humanity has maintained itself pure, in spite of human imperfections. We can fully trust the Reina-Valera version. The message of God remains without omissions or additions. Do not allow, dear reader, the attacks of apostate “liberalism” to undermine your confidence in the Reina-Valera version, which is up to now the best of all versions.

To order this book as well as other products related to the Spanish Bible, click here.


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