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Examples of Departures from the Traditional Text In the Original Reina & Valera Bibles


TT- The Traditional Text can be described as the Received Text of the New Testament as set through the timely collation of Dr Frederick Scrivener at the end of the XIXth Century, the Hebrew Masoretic Text in the Old Testament, and the Old Latin text prior to the Latin Vulgate of Jerome. The Traditional Text recognizes a few passages, taken from the Vulgate, but these are just an exception to the rule.

RV- Reina & Valera

RVG- Antigua Reina-Valera 1909 Bible, coordinated by Dr. Humberto Gomez

OT- Old Testament

MS- Masoretic Hebrew

NT- New Testament

RCC- Roman Catholic Church

1569- Year of publication of the Reina Bible, the first complete protestant Bible, published in Basle.

1602- Year of publication of the Valera Bible, a revision of Reina, published in Amsterdam.

1865- The Mora-Pratt revision of the 1602 conducted by the American Bible Society of New York. Currently being promoted by the Valera Bible Society of Miami, Florida.

B and Aleph (א) - Two oldest Alexandrian manuscripts , corresponding to Sinaiticus and Vaticanus respectively.

Departure - the inclusion, translation, or rendition of a word or phrase using non-traditional texts, predominately B and Aleph, and the obscuring of a word or phrase by poor translation. Departures can affect doctrine gravely, or may be simple.

Resources which I used for this paper:

1. “Casiodoro de Reina, Spanish Reformer of the Sixteenth Century”, by A. Gordon Kinder, 1975, Tamesis Books Lmtd., London.

2. “Valera´s Method For Revising The Old Testament In The Spanish Bible of 1602”, by Jorge A. Gonzalez, Emory University, GA., 1967. Unpublished doctorate’s dissertation.

3. “The Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels” by John William Burgon, 1896, George Bell & Sons, Cambridge, England. Reprinted by the Dean Burgon Society, Collingswood, NJ

4. The King James Version Defended, by Edward F. Hills, 1973.


Dear Pastors, Missionaries, and Bible-Believers everywhere: We live in perilous times! The Critical Text proponents cease not from launching vicious attacks against those of us who hold the TT in highest esteem. According to William Burgon, God preserved the TT for all generations. The TT is the pure, and accurate text-base which underlies the KJB, and now the RVG. It was not the official work of any ecclesiastical council, but rather a divinely transmitted text preserved by faithful, Bible-believing Christians starting from the 1st Century. Casiodoro De Reina, translated the complete Spanish Bible in 1569. Although he had access to the TT, he often chose to mix it with the Vulgate and the LXX. Today we know that this was unwise. Reina said in the Admonition of his Bible that he wanted the reader to decide for himself which reading, the common or the variant, was the most authoritative. Equal authority was given to all the manuscript evidence at hand. This, in my opinion, is not the tone of someone convinced of the accuracy and authority of the TT. Unsure of its universal reception, Reina called for the priesthood of the believer to make any necessary changes in the future to amend or improve his text. We know that Cipriano de Valera was responsible for the first wave of revision with the publication of the Bible in 1602, 32 years after Reina first published his. He began revising Reina´s Bible 20 years earlier, all by himself. His intent was to eliminate those Vulgate and LXX readings, as he considered them to be non-canonical. According to Dr. Jorge Gonzalez, there is a good chance that many verses which contain departures were overlooked. In effect, these departures have remained in our beloved Spanish Bible since 1602. Some departures are more serious than others, but the serious ones merit revision.

I. Causes for departures

A. Limited collation of manuscripts and texts. Reina mentions some of texts he used for his translation: First he mentions the “Old Latin Translation”, which was in wide circulation at the time. Valera elaborates on this in his Introduction by mentioning the Valencian Latin Version of Boniface and Vincent Ferrer, which was sanctioned by the RCC inquisitors. This was Vulgate based, and may explain some of the departures. (See Mr. Plutarco Bonilla´s article explaining differences between both Reina and Valera in “Traducción de la Biblia” S.B.U., Vol. 5, Num. 2, 1995, ppgs. 3-25). Second, Reina and Valera mention the Santes Pagninus´ Latin Version of 1528 from the Hebrew, which aided many other translators of the time. Although Pagninus was a Dominican monk, his work superseded the Vulgate in accuracy and purity. This being the fact, however, he left many verses unchecked. Thirdly, Reina and Valera relied upon the Ferrara Spanish Old Testament of 1553. The Ferrara Bible, a very “Hebraist version” of the OT, was produced by exiled Jews living in Ferrara, Italy, and has therefore significant departures from that of the TT, namely the biased portions which deny the deity of Christ (he mentions Isaiah 9:4 and several other passages). It is only fair to say that both Reina and Valera were aware of this bias, and rejected anti-messianic readings. Valera mentions the Complutensian Polyglot of 1517 and the 1572 Polyglot Bible of Benito Arias Montanus, also known as the “Antwerp” Polyglot. Polyglots contained Chaldean, Syriac, Latin, Hebrew and Greek translations. As a matter of fact, the Hebrew and Greek mentioned were definitely part of the TT, but Valera didn’t follow their rendering in certain passages as we shall see. In his Exhortation, he says that the Antwerp Latin version was based not just the old Latin, but the new Latin as well. Reina also included much of the Septuagint (LXX), especially in the book of Daniel, and Esther, something which Valera later rejects. They also had access to other Spanish and European translations as well, such as Juan Perez Pineda´s New Testament of 1556 in Spanish. This NT, similar to Enzina´s, was far more faithful to the TT, and was being circulated in Paris, but it came to their hands too late, as Reina had already begun his own translation of the NT.

B. A desire to please all bands and avoid further controversy. As a Roman Catholic, Reina was trained in the school of the Latin Vulgate. It was this knowledge that lead him to include much of the Vulgate in 1569 and the LXX. After conversion, Reina became a Calvinist, but later turned a “Martinist” (= Lutheran); During the years of translation work, he became the center of controversy ranging from personal attacks to his integrity, to criticisms regarding doctrinal issues like the Trinity. On the other hand, his long time friend Valera became a staunch Calvinist, and remained thusly associated throughout the rest of his life. Reina´s decision to include the Vulgate and LXX in the 1569 can be connected to his spirit of ecumenicity, as stated by A. Gordon Kinder, Reina´s biographer: “ In spite of his reverence for the Word of God, Casiodoro (Reina) had a critical attitude to the text of the Bible and was certainly no slavish literalist, but brought his historical and philological knowledge to bear on the problem of interpretation. Mention has already been made of Reina´s understanding of Isaiah VII.14, “a virgin shall conceive...” as referring to the prophet’s wife, and only by analogy to Mary, and a similar freedom may be discerned in the other annotations of Isaiah and Ezekiel. In his Evangelium Johanis, he studiously avoids naming the author of Hebrews, writing several times “Autor epistolae ad Hebreos” and even separating the author from the Apostolic epistle writers.....Reina admits allegorical interpretations, but firmly tries to see a passage as it struck the writer and those who first read it.” (Kinder, page 90). Valera, on the other hand, aligned himself with Calvin & Beza, and this association surely helped him revise Reina in 458 cases (Gonzalez, page 117). We learn from history that Valera remained loyal to his Lutheran friend all his life. Despite vicious attacks and criticisms against Reina by others, Valera never tried to make these an issue with his friend. They had worked together for years. Nothing would break that bond. He was kind and charitable towards Reina, but he definitely differed quietly with his friend in methodology and philosophy of translation. I personally beleive that Valera ultimately was forced to separate from his friend for doctrinal reasons. Dr. Gonzalez and I differ in this point. (By the way, Dr. Gonzalez was associated with the ecumenical Union Theological Seminary, in Matanzas, Cuba. This school is a stronghold of the Westcott and Hort philosophy, so it is not surprising that Dr. Gonzalez would not find any doctrinal grounds in Valera for having revised Reina). He states that Valera´s revision showed no theological bias for revision. But I beg to differ with Dr. Gonzalez. I believe that it was precisely his theological training that obligated him to revise Reina. That being the case, Valera didn’t publish his Bible until Reina died. Though today there may be some fundamentalists which admit Westcott and Hort, no true Bible-believing Christian today should ever vouch for the Vulgate and the LXX as legitimate, Traditional texts.

II. Examples of departures in 1602 (not a complete list) As mentioned, Valera fixed many of the departrues found in Reina 1569. Below is a partial list of things left unrevised.

A. OMISSIONS STILL PREVALENT - Romans 1:16. The Valera 1602 omits the two words “of Christ”, whereas Enzinas 1543 and Perez 1556 includes them. “Jesus” is omitted in Matthew 24:2, Luke 9:43, and Romans 15:17. “Lord” is omitted in Acts 8:16, and 22:16. “Among the gods” is lacking in Exodus 15:11. In 1st Peter 3:18 the Greek article is missing before Spirit, just as in B and Aleph. Though technically not a departure, or omission, many OT passages referring clearly to the Holy Spirit were left as “spirit” with small “s”, depriving the reader of valuable cross references in regards to this vital doctrine.

B. ADDITIONS STILL PREVALENT - 1st Peter 2:2, Valera 1602 adds the words, “grow unto salvation” following B and Aleph. Sometimes Valera 1602 (and 1865) added words not found in the MT. A few examples are found in Numbers 14:14 (“the Egyptians”); in Psalms 146:2 (“man”) and in Job 7:4 (“my heart”). Dittography, the accidental repetition of a word or phrase by the translator, but an addition nonetheless, occurs in 1602 and 1865 in Leviticus 23:10 when we read “primicia de primicias” (firstfruit of firstfruits).

C. 1602 SIDE MARGIN NOTES- In Matthew 19: 16, 17, the Valera 1602 continues to include the variant “Why askest thou Me concerning the good?” on the side margin. According to Ed Hills, the variant reading follows Aleph, B, D and another 8 Greek manuscripts, the Old Latin, Old Syriac, Origen, Eusebius and Augustine. Adding marginal notes to include variants casts doubt on the TT. On the other hand, Valera did include a side margin notes to clarify some texts, such as II Samuel 21:19 which says that Elhanan killed “the brother of Goliath”.

D. BRACKETS- 1569 Reina made extensive use of brackets to indicate a textual variant departure from the TT. See Acts 2:43; 7:18; 13:30; 16:7; 18:4; 20:18; 20:28; 21:8; 22:24; 24:1; 24:17; 25:6; Romans 1:3; 7:3; 8:28; 8:39; 9:4; 10:8; 1st Corinthians 1:8; 11:6; 12:13; 2nd Corinthians 1:14; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 5:15; Philippians 1:5; 1:14; 3:17; Colossians 2:2; 1st Thesa. 2:16; Philemon 2; and 2nd Peter 1:10. 1602 Valera revised the practice by eliminating 12 of the examples given above, but sadly left some. An example can be found in John 8:9 (the woman taken in adultery passage.) Another is Ephesians 3:9, where the words “by Jesus Christ” appear in said brackets. (A note about this verse: Valera uses “dispensation of the mystery”, a phrase which is a departure from the Greek, taken from B and Aleph). They were being honest, so they thought, in saying that there was equal authority in the Latin as well as the Greek. This however is a dangerous practice, as we all know, and casts doubt on the TT.

E. CHOICE WORDS AND PHRASES- In Job 1:5, 11; 2:5, 9; 1st Kings 21:10 and 13, the Valera 1602 translated the word “barak” in Hebrew as “bless”, following the Vulgate. His side margin offers the correct word, which is “curse”. Valera 1602 also uses “young woman” rather than “virgin” in Deut. 32:25 and Joel 1:8. In 1st Chronicles 28:12, the TT reading is “by the Spirit”, but Valera 1602 follows a departed text and translates “by his own will”. The verse is talking about Solomon, and how he was endued of the Holy Spirit wisdom to build the Temple. In Psalms 138:2, the TT magnifies His word above His name. However, the Valera 1602 follows a departed or perhaps conflated text by translating the verse “ thy Word and thy Name”. In Valera 1602, 2nd Peter 1:21 has “inspired” writers, whereas the TT teaches they were “moved” by the Holy Spirit. The TT Greek word is “phero”, NOT “theopneustos”. Poor choices of words are clear departures as they tend to confuse or weaken doctrine. Such is the case of the doctrine of Hell. For the sake of time and space, I will only mention the first several examples of over 50 where Valera 1602 and other revisions render the Hebrew word “Seol” as pit, or grave: Deut. 32:22; 2nd Samuel 22:6; Job 26:6; Psalms 9:17, 16:10 and 18:5. In Revelation 1:10, Valera 1602 translates the Greek phrase “ho kuiakos hemera” as “Sunday”, though on his margins he specifies that the Greek says “day of Rest”. Though I am not an 7th Day Adventist, the change does present an interesting case for those who beleive that John was actually describing a prophetic event known as the Day of the Lord. The point being that we should translate from the TT and leave personal interpretation to the reader. In Revelation 2:3, the Valera 1602 says “thou hast suffered, and sufferest....” rather than “thou hast bourne, and thou hast patience” as the Greek indicates. In Numbers 11:25 the Valera 1602 has “ceased” rather than the Hebrew “ceased not”. His side margin quotes the Hebrew. There are more examples, but these are sufficient in understanding the extent of departures. As stated, some were serious enough to merit revision today.

III. Conclusion - In the words of A. Gordon Kinder, Reina´s biographer, “To sum up, it can be said that Reina was a man whose orthodoxy on central evangelical truths held by all Protestants cannot be doubted, but that he wished to avoid strife at all costs, understanding that it was the Church‘s duty to put the Gospel into practice, rather than to dissipate its energies in fruitless wrangling over minute points of non-essential doctrines.” If that be true, then Reina left us with a grand unfinished task to complete! It is no trifle thing when some in the Church today try to minimize the issue by defending unfounded textual variants. If we beleive in sound doctrine, we must contend or strive for the pure words of God! Unfortunately, Reina gave equal authority to all manuscripts, texts and translations, whether it was the LXX, the Vulgate or the Received Greek text in the Complutensian Polyglot, hoping that the Christian world would decide for themselves which were legitimate and which were not. Due to these departures, the 1569 and the 1602 must be considered as critical editions of our Spanish Bible, much like Wycliffe, Tyndale, Bishop´s and the Geneva were to the English world. They were our starting point, but could not, and cannot remain unrevised properly. When I say “critical”, I am not saying that 1569 and 1602 were based on the Critical Text, for they were not. What I am saying is that both Reina and Valera needed improvement. Instead of improving our text to bring it closer to the TT, textual criticism began to attack out precious Reina-Valera by questioning the TT base. They attacked first. They began the battle, not us. We were doing just fine until the end of the XIX Century. The battle began when Chrsitians began to doubt the TT. Today, as David of old, we ask, “Is there not a cause?” We know that Hispanic Christianity needs an authority which accurately follows the TT, for the TT is the preserved underlying text of the Bible-believer. Valera began to purify Reina´s work, yet left some significant textual lacunae. Subsequent revisions improved the text, albeit partially. Despite this, God honored the Antigua Reina-Valera as missionaries went out with the glorious Gospel, and won untold millions of precious souls, trained nationals and built solid churches everywhere. It is not surprising that many of these national leaders yearned for accuracy and fidelity to the TT, as they learned to exegete and collate the Hebrew and the Greek, and as they compared their Antigua with the KJB and other faithful translations. The 1865 was a great revision, but it wasn´t entirely complete, nor was the 1909 for that matter. I don´t need to mention the 1960 revision, as you all know what I think of it. Never has there been more departures from the TT than with modern 20th Century revisions. Bible-believers have been praying for a pure, accurate revision ever since! All this changed, praise be to God, in 2004 with the publication of the RVG! I believe that the RVG has fulfilled the dreams and expectations of all who uphold the TT by completing what was begun by Valera. The RVG is a timely revision of the traditional Antigua Reina-Valera 1909 Bible which implements and adheres to the TT, honors the methodology of faithful translators and revisers, who in turn believe in the divine and providential preservation of scriptures, and solves all the above mentioned departures. Hispanic Bible believers ought to support it, and use with confidence. It contrasts with modern, textual criticism and Alexandrian method of translation and revision. It contrasts from the ecumenical Bible societies who work in favor of a one-world biblical text. Thank you for the time given to me to address the Society, and pray as we Bible-believing Hispanic missionaries and pastors work towards teaching our people to love, defend and promote the RVG.

By Missionary CA Donate Alvira

Guatemala, 2008

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