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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.