Correspondence with the Dean of a Bible College concerning the Spanish Bible
The following is correspondence between Pastor Emanuel Rodriguez and the Academic Dean of a well known Baptist Bible college in the U.S. back when Pastor Rodriguez was serving on the mission field.
Dear Bro. Rodriguez,
Thank you for the article. I took some time to read through it on my flight back from El Salvador. I mentioned a request to a missionary to Mexico yesterday about this subject…I will share it with you as well since you may have access to some articles with which I am not familiar.
What I am specifically looking for is an article that goes point by point through Calvin George’s defense of the 1960 readings. I am not as familiar with all of the researchers for the Spanish Bible – my passion and first love is my English Bible. In my initial investigation, which is definitely not thorough, my impression is that if a reading does not match Scrivener’s 1894 TR edition, his work based on the KJV, then by default it is labeled as Critical Text. It seems as though Mr. George has endeavored to factually demonstrate that these differences are not CT as much as they are differences within the TR family of manuscripts.
What I would like to find is someone who has taken the time to interact with his findings. I have never met Mr. George, so I am not emotionally connected to a personality. Whatever else he may have said is not my concern at the moment. What I am after is truth. Are the 1960 readings that he has worked through based on a list of alleged CT corruptions actually CT, or just a different reading within the TR family?
If you know of an article like that, or happen to come across one, would you keep me in mind?
Thank you for any help you can provide!
Dear Brother **** ******,
Thank you for taking the time to read the article. Sorry for not responding sooner as we have just recently finished a busy Evangelistic Campaign with our church here in Puerto Rico. We had a great meeting! The special speakers were Dr. Humberto Gomez (reviser of the RVG Bible) and Pastor *******. Several missionaries from around Puerto Rico also participated. We had 6 souls saved and many backsliders reclaimed for Christ!
My brother, if you will indulge me for just a minute I would like to courteously address your statement in which you said:
“In my initial investigation, which is definitely not thorough, my impression is that if a reading does not match Scrivener’s 1894 TR edition, his work based on the KJV, then by default it is labeled as Critical Text. It seems as though Mr. George has endeavored to factually demonstrate that these differences are not CT as much as they are differences within the TR family of manuscripts.”
First off, let me preface my comments by taking note that your investigation in these matters thus far has been an initial one and therefore it would be unreasonable for me at this point to expect you to have a command of all the details involved in this issue. I understand that in your position it behooves you to be extra cautious especially when dealing with such a delicate and controversial subject. Therefore I do not write to you with a desire to dispute but rather to inform. As God is my witness I simply want to be a help if I may.
As to the issue at hand, it CANNOT be denied that there are indeed Critical Text readings, departures from the TR, in the 1960 edition of the Reina-Valera (hereafter RV60). In fact, even Calvin George himself admits this much on page 42 of his own book entitled The Battle for the Spanish Bible in which he states:
“There are a few translations in the 1909 and 1960 that may not be able to be traced to differences in TR editions or semantics. (Few when considering there are nearly 8000 verses in the NT.) A few departures come from a critical text.”
(Note: Emphasis in bold and underline mine.)
Bro. ****** it is IMPOSSIBLE for even those who defend the RV60 to deny the Critical Text readings, departures from the TR, that exist in that Spanish version when the very individuals themselves who were responsible for the making of the RV60 tell us plainly that they used the Critical Texts in making changes to the Reina-Valera text. For example, the man who was appointed by the American Bible Society (today known as the United Bible Society) to organize, appoint, and oversee the revision committee for the RV60 was the late Eugene Nida. Mr. Nida wrote an article discussing the work that his committee had done. In this article he wrote:
“Nevertheless in some instances where a critical text is so much preferred over the traditional Textus Receptus the committee did make some slight changes, particularly if such changes were not in well-known verses…” (The Bible Translator, Vol. 12, No. 3, 1961, p. 113 note: obtainable through the United Bible Society.)
Bro. ******, notice Mr. Nida’s own words in which he admits that it is his belief that there are places where the Critical Text is to be “preferred” over the traditional Textus Receptus. A belief that I am certain you and I both would disagree with.
Secondly, notice Mr. Nida’s admittance that “slight changes” were made in conformity with the Critical Text as opposed to the “traditional Textus Receptus”.
Bro. ******, this is information “straight from the horse’s mouth”. It cannot be denied. Yet today we have some Independent Baptist preachers trying to deny the undeniable or at least acting like these Critical Text differences don’t exist in the RV60. This is intellectually impossible to do.
Furthermore, here is a quote from one of the official consultants of the RV60 committee. His name is Dr. Jose Flores, who served as President of the Spanish Bible Society. On page 323 of his book El Texto del Nuevo Testamento he wrote:
"One principle added to the first list of the RV 1960 revision committee was that wherever the RV (1909) Version has departed from the Textus Receptus to follow a better text we did not return to the Receptus. Point 12 of the working principles states: in cases where there is a doubt over the correct translation of the original, we consulted preferentially The English Revised Version of 1885, The American Standard Version of 1901, The Revised Standard Version of 1946, and the International Critical Commentary." (El Texto Del Nuevo Testamento, CLIE 1977,by Dr. Jose Flores pg. 232)
(Note: See Appendix A for a photo of the exact source in Spanish of this quote.)
Bro. ******, the 1960 edition is a revision of the 1909 edition of the Reina-Valera, aka La Antigua. The 1909 edition also had its shares of departures from the TR, as noted by Mr. Flores above, although on a lesser scale. Notice that wherever the 1909 text departed from the TR those departures remained in the 1960 edition. And according to Mr. Nida in the quote earlier, more changes were made in 1960, albeit Nida called them “slight changes”.
Notice also that the RV60 revisers implemented “preferentially” the ESV, ASV, and RSV in their work. As you know, these are very corrupt Critical Text based English Bibles.
Bro. ******, this comes as no surprise to us who use Spanish Bibles on a daily basis. There are readings in the RV60 that match these corrupted English Bibles. For example, did you know that the RV60 only mentions the word ‘hell’ (infierno) a total of 13 times? (Note: It is mentioned in the KJV 54 times.) In fact, the word ‘hell’ is not mentioned at all in the entire Old Testament of the RV60. In the RV60 you will find Hebrew and Greek transliterations (such as Sheol and Hades) instead of the Spanish word for ‘hell’ which is ‘infierno’. Did you know that the American Standard Version of 1901 does the exact same thing? Just like the RV60 the ASV 1901 only mentioned the word ‘hell’ 13 times and in the OT it is missing altogether. Coincidence? How can it be when one of the official consultants told us in writing that they “consulted preferentially” the ASV?
Now you may be thinking, “Bro. Manny this is more of a translational issue and not one of the Critical Text.” I fully understand that. But the point here is to simply demonstrate the influence and utilization of CT-based English Bibles (RSV, ESV, ASV) in the RV60. Again, the evidence is undeniable.
As proponents of the KJV and the TR, should it not bother us that the Spanish Reina-Valera, which was for the most part based upon Traditional Texts in its inception, was later mixed with readings based upon the CTs as well as CT-based English Bibles (RSV, ESV, ASV)? There are many missionaries and ministers like myself who for years were grieved in our spirits to know that the Spanish Bibles we used were flawed with CT readings. Bro. ******, do you know how frustrating it is to try to preach the truth from a Bible that you do not have full confidence in because at times the verses do not say what they are supposed to say? Do you know how frustrating it is to turn to verses that in the KJV defend the deity of Christ but in the Spanish version (RV60) those same passages have been changed to read exactly like the RSV or ASV (for one example see Eph. 3:9)?
I am not talking about mere differences in language. Though I do not claim to be an expert in Spanish or even English for that matter, as a bilingual missionary who lives amongst Spanish-speaking people, who Pastors an all Spanish-speaking church, and operates in the Spanish language on a daily basis, I am well aware of the linguistic differences that exist from one language to another. But not all differences between the Spanish and English Bible versions are only that of a linguistic nature. Some are indeed a matter of doctrine. Some are indeed a matter of the Critical Texts verses the Received Texts. I am talking about omissions, additions, and corruptions in the text.
You can only imagine the relief when we found out that a native Spanish-speaking Bible-believing Independent Baptist brother in Christ (Dr. Humberto Gomez) was taking it upon himself to lead about a revision of the Reina-Valera text to bring those Critical Text readings in line with the Received Texts. He did this with the aid of other nationals representing other Spanish-speaking countries around the world, as well as the aid of bilingual missionaries familiar with the issues involved, and also the aid of some with formal training in the original languages (such as Dr. D. A. Waite, a true expert in Greek and Hebrew and Dr. Rex Cobb, director of the Baptist Bible Translators Institute in Bowie, TX). If the purity of God’s words is important to us, how could we not be in favor of a work like this? As a missionary I want my people to have the best Bible available, not one tainted by Critical Text corruption.
Bro. ******, you asked, “Are the 1960 readings that he has worked through based on a list of alleged CT corruptions actually CT, or just a different reading within the TR family?” My brother, I am trying to show you what many of us have known for years. According to the very men responsible for the RV60 the answer is ‘Yes’ – there are indeed Critical Text corruptions, departures from the TR, in the RV60. They admit it themselves!
Bro. ******, if the men responsible for the RV60 did not deny it, why are Independent Baptist preachers today, who claim to stand for the truth, living in denial of these facts? Why are these facts being explained away rather than exposed and honestly dealt with? Why are CT readings in the RV60 being justified and excused rather than revised and corrected? And why are people like myself labeled the “bad guys” and “troublemakers” and “dividers” if we preach the truth and promote the use of a more pure Bible in Spanish? I understand that our main focus should be the winning of souls and that there are other subjects of importance to tend to. But in the grand scheme of things should not the purity and preservation of God’s holy words also be of utmost importance?
Bro. ******, you know well of Satan’s attack on the Scriptures in English. What if Satan did not limit his attack to the English language?
Bro. ******, you said:
It seems as though Mr. George has endeavored to factually demonstrate that these differences are not CT as much as they are differences within the TR family of manuscripts.
However, I respectfully beg to differ. Mr. George has not “factually” demonstrated that these differences are not CT but rather just “differences within the TR family”. Back when I was investigating these matters I carefully and objectively considered Calvin George’s arguments. I am more than familiar with his arguments. Those of us, who stand strongly for the Received Texts, and who also happen to be bilingual and therefore can decipher between the differences within the English and Spanish texts, see right through the faulty arguments of Calvin George.
In fact, I know of 3 individuals who were alumni with Mr. George (at Oklahoma Baptist College, Dr. Vineyard’s school) all of which have served as missionaries in Spanish-speaking countries. Two of them are still serving in Spanish-speaking countries. One of them now serves as a Pastor in the US but is still actively involved with ministry to Hispanic people. All 3 of these men reject George’s arguments and instead use the RVG in their Spanish ministries with much success. Their names are Allen Copeland, Tim Urling, and Adam Thompson. All 3 of these men have won many souls and planted multiple churches with the RVG.
You may be asking, “What does that have to do with anything?” The point is that many, even some of George’s own alumni, see right through his attempts to explain away the obvious. His arguments are not hard to refute. But many do not waste the time to engage George’s arguments because they feel that they have better things to do. I am one of the few who has been willing to “waste time” in engaging arguments. Yet even I get weary with trying to prove and disprove the obvious.
My perception of Bro. Calvin George is that he has an emotional attachment to the RV60 because this is the Bible he was saved from. I can appreciate that. But I personally know someone who was saved from the preaching of the New International Version (he later adopted the KJV once he learned the truth). But despite this soul saved I would never have anything to do with the NIV. Would you? The soul winner who led my father-in-law to the Lord used my father-in-law’s own Catholic Bible to do so. But does this justify the intentional corruption that is found in that Catholic Bible? No rational-thinking Bible-believer would draw that conclusion. I believe Calvin George’s judgment is clouded by the emotional attachment he has to the Bible he was saved with, which is understandable but by no means justifies the flaws of his arguments nor his Bible.
Calvin George tries to justify Critical Text readings in the RV60 by pointing out the existence of these same flaws in other older Bibles that are generally known to be for the most part Received Text based. But Bro. ******, with this method we can find justification for just about any corruption in any flawed Bible including ones as corrupt as the NIV. Not all Received Text based Bibles were perfect. For example, consider the TR based English Bibles that existed before the KJV.
Consider the error of logic in Mr. George’s method of justifying corruption in the RV60. I’m sure you are familiar with the controversy over the Johannine Comma. As you know, in most modern English Bibles today omit the 2nd half of 1st John 5:7. I’m sure you are also aware that in the first 2 editions of Erasmus’ Greek NTs this verse was also omitted but was later included in his 3rd to 5th editions. Despite this flaw in Erasmus’ first 2 editions we still recognize them as “Received Texts”. Calvin George’s method of justifying CT readings in the RV60 would be equivalent to someone appealing to the first 2 editions of Erasmus’ Greek NT to justify the omission of the Johannine comma and thereby claiming to have TR support to do so. Can we not see the fallacy in this line of reasoning? This is literally justifying error with error.
Let’s look at one example of Bro. George’s flawed attempt to justify corruption.
KJV - Mat 5:22 “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…”
RVG - Mat 5:22 “Mas yo os digo que cualquiera que sin razón se enojare contra su hermano, estará en peligro del juicio…”
RV60 - Mat 5:22 “Pero yo os digo que cualquiera que ___ _____ se enoje contra su hermano, será culpable de juicio…”
NIV - Mat 5:22 “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister _______ _ _____ will be subject to judgment…”
In Matthew 5:22 the words “without a cause” (in Spanish “sin razon”) are based upon the single Greek word “eike”. As far as I’m aware this word “eike” is located in ALL editions of the TR. On the other hand, the same is omitted in ALL Critical Texts. The phrase “without a cause” is important because it reveals that there are times when anger can be justified (Eph. 4:26). We sometimes call it “righteous indignation”. To omit these words would cause the verse to imply that all anger against a brother is wrong without exception, which would even make Jesus a sinner when in John 2:13-17 He made a “scourge of small cords” and drove the merchants out of the temple. Surely Jesus was angry. However, His anger was justified. In other words, His anger was “with a cause”.
In Calvin George’s article entitled Explanations for Problem Passages in the Spanish Bible, Mr. George attempts to justify the omission of the words “without a cause” when he writes:
Complaint: sin razón omitted (1909 & 1960). Source of complaint: Elephant book and Rex Cobb’s Verse Comparisons.
Vindication: The Tyndale 1534 New Testament, universally recognized as being based on the Textus Receptus, also omits this. The Bible states that it is possible to be angry and not sin (Eph. 4:26).
Bro. ******, do you really buy this argument?
Although we recognize the value of Tyndale’s great work in the Bible and rightfully regard him as a hero of the faith, there is a reason why we do not use his Bible today. Due to persecution, Tyndale’s Bible was an incomplete work. He did much of his work on the Bible in a rat infested prison cell, in an extremely sick condition, with very limited resources. Therefore any flaws in his work are to be understood in the context of the persecution he faced during his work. But they are not to be used to justify yet more error today, especially in Bibles like the RV60 in which the translators behind it did not have to suffer the conditions Tyndale experienced. Flaws such as these in Tyndale’s honest work are the reasons why God eventually raised up the 47 translators who gave us the KJV. Respected Bibles such as Tyndale’s, Coverdale’s, the Geneva, and others were very instrumental in the eventual making of the KJV. They served their purpose at the time and for that we are very thankful. But to appeal to whatever flaws that existed in these preliminary and transitional works before 1611 in order to justify flaws in foreign Bible translations today is a step backward, not forward. This is not good scholarship. How can any rational individual accept such a flawed line of reasoning?
This is what Bro. George does. He looks for a text in history that is generally considered TR-based to see if the same flaw exists and when he finds one he claims “vindication” for the RV60. If this method is valid then we have nothing to complain about with the NIV, RSV, ASV, and every other CT-based English Bible on the market because we could use Calvin George’s method to find justification for differences between those Bibles and the KJB. Do you really think this type of “vindication” is valid? I don’t. Neither do many other Bible-believing missionaries. We don’t think justifying error with error is good and honest scholarship.
Bro. ******, this is just one example. I could go on and on, point by point, with each difference that Calvin George claims “vindication” for and perhaps I will write such a refutation when time permits. I have an outline and notes already prepared for such a venture should I find time to follow through with it. My dilemma is that although I love to write as a side hobby I find that my limited time is better spent winning souls, discipling new converts, and being a missionary. Nevertheless, if there really are some who cannot see through the poor arguments of Calvin George then perhaps it would be serviceable to sacrifice the time to provide such a rebuttal in writing. But until such an article is available, I do not see how anyone can deny the Critical Text corruption that exists in the RV60 when considering that the very men involved with its making tell us point blank in writing that they incorporated the Critical Texts. If those statements “straight from the horse’s mouth” are not enough to convince even the most doubtful skeptic then I’m not sure if anything else will.
Bro. ****** I know that what you prefer rather than the content of this letter is a point by point refutation of George’s “vindications” of problematic passages in the RV60. And as time permits, I may eventually take it upon myself to provide such. However, I feel that before such is provided there are at least some obvious, undeniable points that could and should be taken into consideration. Thus, this letter. This issue really isn’t all that difficult to figure out. It only becomes difficult for some by the nature of the politics involved which hinder some from seeing things clearly, honestly, and objectively. Bro. ******, I trust that this will not be the case with you.
As for those of my persuasion, at the end of the day, we simply desire a Spanish version of the Bible in which Critical Text corruptions have been totally eliminated. The reason why we have this position is because Jesus said in Mat. 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” I want a Spanish Bible that has “every word” properly represented in Spanish, not one that has certain words omitted. I want my people to have a pure Bible, not a tainted one. And I believe this should be the desire of EVERY missionary as well as those who support or have anything to do with foreign mission work.
Do not our people of whom we minister to deserve to have the purest copy of God’s words available in their language? And will we not give an account at the Judgment Seat for what we decide to give to our people? And to the English-speaking leaders who would excuse themselves with the argument “But I don’t speak Spanish” will they not give an account for what they support and allow under their ministry, especially when considering that they had the opportunity to investigate matters and to support and allow something better?
I am not saying that we have to be ugly or even at odds with our brethren who use the RV60. We don’t have to look for a fight. There is a Christian and gentleman’s way to go about these things. I have friends, yea family members, who use the RV60 and we get along just fine despite our differences. The Bible says in Rom. 12:18, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” But at the same time, I do not believe that this means we sacrifice the truth for sake of friendship and fellowship. We are obligated to tell our congregations the truth no matter the cost. At the end of the day we follow the Lord’s leadership above all else and our Lord is a God of truth (Gal. 4:6).
Bro. ******, my fervent prayer is that this letter that will provoke good thought in the right direction. May God bless you, Bro. Villarreal III, and the rest of the good people at West Coast!
Your servant in Christ,
Missionary to Puerto Rico
Galatians 1:10 “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”
Proverbs 29:25 “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.”
"One principle added to the first list of the RV 1960 revision committee was that wherever the RV (1909) Version has departed from the Textus Receptus to follow a better text we did not return to the Receptus. Point 12 of the working principles states: in cases where there is a doubt over the correct translation of the original, we consulted preferentially The English Revised Version of 1885, The American Standard Version of 1901, The Revised Standard Version of 1946, and the International Critical Commentary." (El Texto Del Nuevo Testamento, CLIE 1977,by Dr. Jose Flores pg. 232)”
Dr. Flores was one of the official consultants of the Reina Valera 1960 revision committee. Dr. Flores made this statement in Spanish. The English translation of his quote used in this letter was done by a bilingual Hispanic brother in Christ who has served in Guatemala as a missionary for over 20 years. He is totally fluent in both Spanish and English. However, a photo of the source of this quote is given here in case there is any doubt as to the integrity of the translation of Dr. Jose Flores’ statement in Spanish.