The Sinai Texts and the ESV translation

Simon Peter SutherlandEvery word of God is pureProverbs 30: 5

 In May 1844, a German scholar by the name of Constantine Tischendorf travelled to Egypt and during his trip he visited St Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Sinai, the traditional site of where Moses recieved the Ten Commandments.

During his visit and tour around the monastery Tischendorf saw some manuscripts in a waste basket and found the basket to contain 129 ancient handwritten Bible leaves. When Tischendorf enquired concerning these treasures, he was told that two previous baskets had been already consigned to the fire and that the contents of the basket were about to be gathered up and burned.

Tischedorf was given the manuscripts and they are part of what we now know as ‘Codex Sinaiticus’.

 Click the link to view the manuscript http://codexsinaiticus.org/en/

This historical event is one of the most interesting and important events in the history of modern Biblical scholarship, and although many deny that Tischendorf found ‘Codex Sinaiticus’ in the rubbish bin, there is good evidence to believe the story. The account of the discovery of Codex Sinaiticus as I have given in this article comes from directly from the British Museum.

In 1859, Tischendord made another visit to the monastery and he was shown more leaves and in total he received 347 leaves.

These manuscripts found by Tischendorf were part of hand-written copy of the Greek New Testament and are now accepted to date as early as the 4th century AD, which included half of the Greek version of the Old Testament. The manuscript also contained other books, including the none-canonical epistle of Barnabus and the Shepherd of Hermas.

Today, most of the New Testament manuscript is housed in the British Library and the rest of the manuscripts are housed in four libraries around the world and although the manuscripts are very important in Biblical history and New Testament scholarship, it can be deduced that the text now known as ‘Codex Sinaiticus’ was in fact a group of ancient Bible leaves, hand written by a Catholic monk. It can also be deduced that they were the work of a monk who scribed out text after text of Biblical narrative as part of his day to day life as a monk.

The problem we face today, is not concerning these manuscripts, but the conclusions which have been made as a result of their find. Modern versions of the Bible such as the NIV and the ESV amongst others, include these manuscripts as evidence and support for their edits of verses from their translations of the New Testament.

But many questions remain regarding this practice of editing the word of God and verses such as Deuteronomy 4: 2 condemn the practice.

THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD OVER HIS WORD

Today, many use these manuscripts as so-called evidence that certain passages of the Bible are not actual scripture, but either parts of other scriptures or later editions. This conclusion is drawn up based upon, the so-called oldest manuscripts which do not contain certain texts.

As a result of these claims, the popular current version of the Bible ‘The ESV’ has included many edits within its text.

The problem remains that the many leading Reformed figures and much of Christianity today who embrace more modern versions the Bible, versions such as the ESV and likewise defend its edits of certain texts, are in fact staunch believers and proclaimers of the Sovereignty of God, yet in doing this they prove themselves inconsistent when they deny His sovereignty by claiming that these verses are not authentic and so claiming that man has put them into the Bible. Many honestly believe they are getting closer to the actual Biblical Narritive. Yet, what about God? Has He not permitted the edited verses to have remained within the New Testament throughout church history? Has He not permitted them to remain in all His Bibles from the dawn of the New Testament through to the handwritten Bibles and from the dawn of the printing press around 1440 AD and the translations drawn up during the reformation and until now?

Yet scholars now appear to be under the impression that they have more knowledge than God Himself and they appear to believe they have the authority to edit Gods word, yet does any man alive truly have the authority to edit the word of God? I fail to see why endorsers of the ESV proclaim the Sovereignty of God or claim the Bible is the word of God, when in reality, their actions and words reveal that they do not fully believe the Bible is the word of God, but that the older Greek New Testament fragments are the word of God are the true word. That the early Greek New Testament compilers and early English translators were totally mistaken? If this is true then these modern scholars are claiming that Jerome was mistaken, John Wycliffe was mistaken, William Tyndale was mistaken, Luther was mistaken and the King James translators were mistaken also. In fact all Bibles throughout history were in fact in error, that is until modern Bibles such as the ESV came into publication.

Thats a pretty big and arrogant claim.

Thus God has kept generations upon generations from having the pure word of God and under the authority of a text that might be the work of a mere scribe?

Then what do we have? The word of man or the Word of God?

ESV

“If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the book of life”

Revelation 22:19

When I first heard that a new translation the Bible had been made and it was called the English Standard Version, I was told it was excellent and that it was endorsed by many leading evangelical scholars, and that J I. Packer was over the whole translation. I was happy to hear this and so I purchased a copy of the ESV and began to read it. My initial response was that the translation in question was very well translated and read well and clear, but then I began to notice verses missing from the text, and it was then that my spirit was stirred and I began to ask why these verses were missing.

I accept that scholarship is progressional and that ideas move and update and progress, but editing the Bible is not within the authority of scholarship.

I began to ask why these verses were missing and why would men like John MacArthur, John Piper and many more leading figures add their names alongside this version? And why would they continue to endorse this translation? It made little sense. However, it could be concluded that this is a prime example of how Satan works within the church, he uses people have have gained the trust of the church for 40 years or more, and then sneaks in a damnable heresy and many of the sheep who follow their shepherds do find themselves persuaded by their trusted leaders. Even if their ministers speak contrary to the text of scripture itself.

I’m am speaking of course, of the ESV and the leading scholars who have composed it and those who have embraced and endorsed it. Many of whom may or may not even be aware themselves of how huge an error such edits are?

Regardless, the scriptures warn us time and time again concerning errors creeping into the church. The ESV is one of them, of which the translation committee was composed of inter denominal evangelical scholars led by theologian J. I. Packer, is now very popular throughout Christianity, yet I would advise that Packer must be approached with strong caution, since he holds to to some very questionable things, including connections with the theory of evolution.

However, within the context of the ESV, here are some of the missing New Testament verses from the English Standard Version:

Matthew 6: 13. Note: Prayer edited

Matthew 12: 47

Matthew 17:21

Matthew 18: 11

Matthew 23: 14

Mark 7: 16

Mark 9: 44

Mark 9: 46

Mark 11: 26

Mark 15: 28

Luke 9: 56. Edited. “For the son of man came not to destroy men’s lives but to save them”

Luke 11: 2-4. Edited.

Luke 17: 36

Luke 23: 17

John 5: 4

Acts 8: 37

Acts 15: 34

Acts 24: 7

Acts 28: 29

Romans 16: 24

1 John 5 7. (An important doctrinal text editied)

Now, a major point of distinction here is that when I began to see the missing verses from the ESV, I was compelled to look at the W & H, and when I did review the missing verses, I found these very same verses are also missing from the 1885 Westcott and Hort Greek New Testament. This Greek New Testament is known by many for its corruption of the Greek text.

What is clear is that the ESV translators employed the W & H and made no mention of this in their PREFACE to the translation.

It is also clear that the ESV is a revision of the RSV and not a fresh translation from the actual original Greek New Testament. Thus, the translators have an agenda, not to do a fresh translation, but to revise an corrupted translation.

FACTS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

 1) These texts were in the 4th century Latin Vulgate and continue to remain in the Latin Vulgate

2) They are in the 1388 Wycliffe New Testament

3) They were in the 1550 Stephanos Greek New Testament

4) They were in the Textus Receptus Greek New Testament (The textual basis from which we gained much of the Protestant reformation and the King James Bible)

5) They are in Theodore Beza’s 1565 Novum Testamentum

6) They are in the 1521 Luther Bible

7) They are in the 1524 Tyndale New Testament

8) They are in the 1560 Geneva Bible

9) They are in the 1535 Coverdale Bible

10) They are in the Douay Rheims 1582-1609

11) They are the 1611 King James Bible

In fact, all English Bibles and translations in all languages have contained these verses right up until the more modern translators omitted them, and although, many will critique what I am saying in this article and claim that I am making something out of nothing, and the verses in question are not important and contain no doctrinal verses. To whom my answer is that such is a human way of looking at things and is not seen from God’s perspective, the argument which you have in your brains has come from your leaders and those who defend the ESV. Yet such a claim is untrue, for Gods word says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God2 Corinthians 3: 6. Note the text: “Every word”

Thus, do we believe the Bible is word of God or not? Or do we believe it is the word of man?

I am very concerned for the church of our time and I am convinced that the ESV is one of the many distortions and deceptions of 21st century Christendom. Satan knows how much of an offence it is to God to take away from His word and how those who perform or embrace such actions will not escape the judgment of God.

If the modern evangelical scholars who have translated the ESV so desire to have the Bible accurate to the original, (or so they claim) then they should also have to erase chapter distinctions and book titles and even a distinction between the Old and New Testaments, since such is not in the original manuscripts. Likewise, they should also include the apocryphal texts.

Now, before I conclude, permit me to say that I admire theologians such as J I. Packer, John Piper, R C. Sproul and the many more leading figures who have endorsed this Bible, but if such teachers continue to defend the status of the ESV and persuade ‘the sheep’ that the edits are acceptable, my hope is that they reconsider their actions, for to add or take away from the word of God clearly brings forth a curse or destruction and no man, be he Christian or not will escape the judgment of God, as Paul says, “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and will give an account for the deeds done while in the body, be they good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5: 10)

I am not a KJV onlyist, but issues and actions such as this one cause me to reject many modern translations and enjoy more older versions.

May the authorities who have committed this error add the texts I have mentioned back into their translation and thus save themselves and their flocks from their own destruction.

Simon Peter Sutherland

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