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Should the RVG be Rejected Because It Was Based upon the 1909 Antigua?


by Pastor Emanuel Rodriguez


A missionary to Honduras wrote an article entitled “Is the Reina-Valera 1909 a Textus Receptus Bible?” In this article he argues that the Reina-Valera Gomez Spanish Bible should be rejected because it is a revision of the 1909 Antigua edition of the Reina-Valera Bible. In so doing, Bro. ****** demonstrates that the 1909 Antigua edition of the Reina-Valera was a text tainted by the Alexandrian Westcott and Hort Critical Greek text. On this much, we do not dispute.


For many years Bible-believing missionaries have been aware of the Alexandrian errors that have tainted the Reina-Valera Bible. This traditional Spanish Bible was originally and for the most part a TR-based Bible, particularly in its first revision accomplished by the great Spanish Protestant Reformer named Cipriano de Valera in 1602. However, over the years Bible Societies that had succumbed to the erroneous philosophies of modern textual criticism got a hold of the TR-based Reina-Valera text and rather than improve it by removing the remaining flaws overlooked by Valera they further corrupted it by deliberately replacing many pure TR readings with Critical Text readings. Such was done in the 1862, 1909, and 1960 revisions of the Reina-Valera.


It is the presence of these Alexandrian corruptions in the common revisions, namely the 1909 and 1960 revisions, of the Reina-Valera Spanish Bible that prompted Fundamentalist Bible-believing missionaries to call for further revision in recent years.


One of the revision efforts of recent years was spearheaded by a couple of graduates of the Pensacola Bible Institute, of Pensacola, FL. Sometime around the year 2000, this group rediscovered yet another revision of the Reina-Valera Bible done in 1865 by two men appointed by the American Bible Society (the same society that later produced the 1909). Their names were Mora and Pratt. The PBI graduates that rediscovered this text rallied a few more of their friends and colleagues to form a society called the Valera Bible Society.


The VBS initiated a revision of the 1865 Valera by introducing 50 changes into that text. The VBS printed, released, and started selling their revised version of the 1865 text. The changes made were good changes based upon the KJB. However, some members of the VBS started to protest the idea of revising the Valera Bible. Immediately, the VBS as a whole gave in to the pressure and decided to reverse those changes in future printings of the 1865 text.


Due to the VBS’s official decision to refrain from correcting the flaws that exist in the 1865 Valera, most Bible-believing missionaries and Pastors who desire a pure TR-based Reina-Valera Bible have rejected the 1865 and the reversed position of the VBS. Interestingly, Bro. **** ****** argues that it is this text, the 1865 Reina-Valera, which should be used by Bible-believing missionaries regardless of the flaws and the failure of the VBS to correct them.


A Better Option Presents Itself


Meanwhile, there was another revision effort being coordinated by a lifetime Missionary to Mexico named Dr. Humberto Gomez. Unlike Bro. **** ****** and most of the members of the Valera Bible Society, Dr. Gomez has Spanish as his first language. He is a native of Mexico with 40 years of experience as a soul-winning, church-planting missionary to his own people as well as the Aztec Indians in the mountains of Mexico. He is Bible-believer who stands for the Received Texts over the Critical Texts and believes that the King James Bible is the perfect and infallible word of God.


With the assistance of other Spanish-speaking Bible-believing missionaries, as well as national Pastors and laymen from around the world (Spain, Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, Paraguay, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, etc), Dr. Gomez revised the Reina-Valera Bible. The edition of the Reina-Valera that he chose to revise was the 1909 Antigua revision, the same edition that he was saved from and used in the ministry for 30 years.


For his revision effort Dr. Gomez used the King James Bible and the Textus Receptus. Men with proficiency in the original languages such as Dr. D.A.Waite (President of the Dean Burgon Society), Dr. Rex Cobb (Director of the Baptist Bible Translators Institute), Bro. Carlos Donate (Veteran Missionary and Bible text expert), and some others checked Dr. Gomez’s work to ensure accuracy with the Received Texts. Dr. Gomez also collated his text with the original 1602 revision of Cipriano de Valera to restore many of the pure readings that were removed over the years by textual critics.


His first draft of the Reina-Valera Gomez Bible was printed in 2004. From 2004 to 2010, the RVG text was reviewed over and over again in search for any defects that may have been overlooked. Even groups like the research department of Chick Publications, headed up by noted author and Bible text expert David Daniels, assisted in reviewing this text.


Bible-believers around the world who have longed for a purified Reina-Valera Spanish Bible have with joy adopted the RVG text. Many Bible-believing missionaries who understand the textual issues involved have bypassed the 1865 Valera and the failed efforts of the Society promoting it. Instead, we have gone forward with the RVG in our efforts to reach the Spanish-speaking world for Christ. Through the production of the RVG, the pure words of God continue to grow and multiply.


A Faulty Premise


The whole premise of Bro. ******’s rejection of the RVG is that it is a revision of a flawed text – the 1909 Antigua edition of the Reina-Valera. Instead, he believes that the 1865 revision should be preferred because it was based upon a text not tainted by the 1881 Critical Greek New Testament authored by Westcott and Hort.


The following are a few quotes from Bro. ******’s article explaining his position:

“…anyone who uses the 1909, or a revision based on it (like the 1960 or the Gomez Bible), and loves the King James and the TR, has a serious problem on their hands.
“If “adherents of the Textus Receptus” criticized this version [1909 Antigua] when it first came out, why is it now considered acceptable to use by people who supposedly believe in the TR? Why can someone now base a revision of the Reina-Valera (like the Gomez Bible) on this Westcott and Hort Bible and have one Independent Baptist after another claiming that such a revision is a “Textus Receptus Bible” even though it was based on Westcott and Hort?!?!”
“Whatever the cause, the 1909 IS NOT a Textus Receptus based Bible, and therefore, neither is any version derived from it. You don’t try and correct something that is corrupt, you discard it and look somewhere else.” (emphasis his)

Bro. ****** concludes his article by quoting Job 14:4 as the biblical principal that causes him to reject the RVG. Job 14:4 states:


“Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.”

Now personally, I believe Bro. ****** is a good man with a true desire to reach the Spanish-speaking people of Honduras with the Gospel. I also believe he is sincere in his desire for a more pure Spanish Bible to minister to his people with. However, Bro. ******’s line of reasoning against the RVG and for the 1865 Valera is flawed on both accounts. Here are several reasons why:


1. The 1865 Valera was ALSO based upon a flawed text.


If we should reject the RVG because it is a revision of a text that contained errors, then we should also reject the 1865 Valera because it to was a revision of a text that was flawed. The 1602 revision of Cipriano de Valera was not a perfect Bible. It had its share of shortcomings. Even the President of the Valera Bible Society, which promotes the 1865 Valera, and of whom Bro. **** ****** has preached for in the past, admits this fact:


“But if the King James is truly the standard text, as this author believes and affirms, then it will be found that when the Reina-Valera of 1602 is compared with the King James word for word it is sorely lacking (in regards to omissions and additions).”[1]
“As grand as the accomplishment may be, and as good as the translation they made is, there are problems nonetheless with even Valera’s revision. About 99% of the problems in the original 1602 Valera are problems of omissions where Valera did not have all the information he needed available to him.” [2]

The President of the VBS has made no bones about the fact that in the 1602 Valera “there are certainly omissions and additions”.[3]


In my book God’s Bible in Spanish, published by Chick Publications, a list of some of these errors in the 1602 Valera is provided on page 47.[4] The fact that the 1602 Valera contained flaws in no way causes the Hispanic Bible-believer, who understands the history of the Reina-Valera Bible, to think less of the great Cipriano de Valera. Valera’s efforts are to be esteemed highly. His work was an honest effort.


Casiodoro de Reina (the first to translate the entire Bible into Spanish in 1569) and Valera did their work during the Spanish Inquisition, a time in which it was against the law to translate the Scriptures without permission by the murderous Roman Catholic church. Reina and Valera, both Protestant Reformers, were declared heretics and criminals by the Catholic church and were hunted by the Catholic inquisitors. Therefore, Reina and Valera were forced to do much of their work in hiding and “on the run” as their lives were constantly disrupted by the pursuit of the Spanish inquisitors.


So understanding the circumstances, any flaws found within Valera’s text should be forgiven. However, they should not be ignored. Such flaws did exist. And it was because of these remaining errors that Valera himself called for further revision of his own text. In the preface of his 1602 text, Valera stated:


“Oh that it would please God that by His infinite mercy He inspire in the heart of the King to mandate throughout his coasts the gathering of pious and learned men in the Hebrew and Greek tongues that they would view and review this translation of the Bible; whom with a sincere and pious desire, that desire to serve God and do good to their nation, that they compare and challenge it with the Hebrew text that God dictated to his holy Prophets before the coming of Christ, and with the Greek text that He Himself dictated to his holy Apostles and Evangelists after the coming of Christ in the flesh.”

Valera’s admission of the need for his text to be “reviewed” and “challenged” is a point raised only to demonstrate the fact that the 1602 revision by Valera, as noble an effort as it was, was not without its flaws.


So the point is that it is inconsistent for Bro. **** ****** to dismiss the RVG due to its basis upon a text that was flawed when the same can be said for the revision he supports.


2. The Textus Receptus was a series of revisions based upon flawed texts.


Bro. ****** makes it very plain in his article that he stands in favor of the Textus Receptus. (So does this author and every supporter of the RVG.) I am in complete agreement with Bro. ******’s desire for a pure Spanish Bible that is based upon the Received Texts.


However, Bro. ****** would do well to consider the fact that the even the TR was also based upon flawed texts. I’m sure Bro. ****** is aware of the fact that there are over 20 different editions of the TR. The first edition of the traditional Greek text that later became known as “the Textus Receptus” was accomplished by Desiderius Erasmus in 1516. Erasmus’ text went through 5 editions. The TR edition by Stephanus went through 4 editions. Beza’s edition went through 9 revisions. The edition put out by the Elzevir brothers went through 3 revisions. Editions by others existed as well. Today, the edition printed and promoted by conservative groups is that of Scrivener produced in 1894.


So from 1516 to 1894, the TR went through several editions. Why so many different editions? The answer is simple. For 4 centuries the TR was a text in transition. After the invention of the printing press, a push was made to mass produce the printed Scriptures and get them into the hands of the common people. So men like Erasmus collated Bible manuscripts in efforts to reproduce the most accurate Greek New Testament as possible so that Bible translations (like eventually the Reina-Valera) could have a NT basis to work with. As more manuscripts and resources became available throughout the years other men of God would pick up where Erasmus left off and revise the TR text continually improving it with the goal of arriving at a more accurate rendition of the Greek New Testament.


That is the purpose of revision. To improve upon its predecessor. A revision would not be a revision if the text being revised was perfect. That would be senseless. The reason why the TR went through so many editions, or revisions, is because there were flaws that needed to be corrected.[5]


As proven in the prior point, the Spanish basis for the 1865 Valera was flawed. And now we confront the fact that the even the Greek basis for the 1602 Valera was not perfected. (The 1602 Valera was based upon Erasmus’ text.) The many TR editions were all based upon flawed predecessors (though any one of them is a thousand times better than any edition of the Alexandrian Critical Texts).


So again the point is made. If we are to reject the RVG because of its basis in an imperfect text – the 1909 Antigua, than we should also reject the 1865 Valera, and furthermore we should reject the TEXTUS RECEPTUS itself.


3. Even the KJV was a revision based upon a flawed text.


A common misconception is that the King James Bible was a translation “started from scratch”. In other words, many think that the King James translators pulled out the Hebrew Masoretic text and an edition of the Greek TR and started translating straight from the original languages. This is not true.


Although the KJV is generally referred to as a translation, technically, the KJV was more of a work of collation (comparison) and revision. The 54 “translators” authorized by King James formed 15 rules that governed their work.[6] The first rule stated:


“The ordinary Bible read in the Church, commonly called the Bishops’ Bible, to be followed, and as little altered as the truth of the original will admit.”

This rule as well as the other 14 reveal that the King James translators used the Bishops’ Bible as their English draft to work with, and reviewed it with the original language texts, as well as other TR-based English texts (Tyndale’s, Matthew’s, Coverdale’s, Whitchurch’s, and the Geneva Bible are mentioned in Rule #14), as well as translations of other languages.


The Bishops’ Bible was another one of these TR-based Bible versions that was made during the Protestant Reformation era just like the Spanish Reina-Valera. But it also had some flaws. For example:


1 Pe 2:2 “as newborn babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation” (Bishops)
1 Pe 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (KJV)

Notice that the Bishop’s Bible adds the words “unto salvation”. This is a serious doctrinal error in the Bishop’s Bible because it supports the Catholic teaching that salvation can be achieved through a process (growing unto salvation) rather than instantaneously once a man truly places his faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (This same error also exists in the NIV, RSV, ASV, and other modern Alexandrian bibles.) It was errors such as this that prompted the need for yet another English Bible translation, or better yet, Bible revision back in the 1600s. Thus, the KJV was born.


But again, the point is simply that Bro. ******’s insistence that it is wrong to accept the RVG due to its basis upon a flawed text would even invalidate the acceptance of the King James Bible! For we now see that the KJV was a revision of the Bishop’s Bible, which was a flawed text.


Now why do we as Bible-believer’s use the KJB? We use the KJB because we believe it is an English Bible that is not only based upon the right texts but it is a text that contains no Alexandrian corruption whatsoever. You see, the Tyndale, Coverdale, Geneva, Bishop’s, etc were all TR-based English Bibles. As Bible-believers we applaud the work of the great men of God behind these Bibles whose sacrifices and heroic efforts contributed to the eventual making of the infallible KJB. So we honor the memory of these great men, we recognize their efforts as honest, we also forgive their mistakes and recognize that none of their works were perfect. The perfect word of God in English was not provided until the KJB was produced.


Likewise, we accept the RVG Spanish Bible. We recognize the honest efforts of Reina and Valera and others (such as Enzinas and Pineda) who worked hard to provide the Spanish-speaking world with a totally pure Spanish Bible. Just as the flaws of the English Bibles prior to the KJV were recognized and dealt with, we recognize the flaws that exist in revisions of the Reina-Valera (1602, 1865, 1865, 1909, 1960, etc) and insist that these errors MUST be dealt with as well.


Those of us today who are concerned for Bible purity have studied and compared all the options available and have concluded that God’s perfect words in Spanish have been provided in the RVG. But if we are to go along with ******’s logic by rejecting the RVG due to its basis in the imperfect 1909 Antigua, than to be consistent we must also reject the 1602 and 1865 Valeras, the Textus Receptus, and even the KJB. You see, Bro. ******’s argument just doesn’t work.


4. Flaws still remain in the 1865 Valera anyways.


For all of Bro. **** ******’s concerns about rejecting Bibles based upon flawed texts, it is a wonder that he is not likewise concerned about the very Spanish Bible he supports and uses. For the 1865 Valera is not a perfect Bible either. The 1865 Valera itself is a flawed text.


Now Bro. ****** fails to mention in his article whether he believes there are flaws in his 1865 Valera. But the fact remains that some of the flaws that remained in the original 1602 Valera seeped through into the 1865 text.


Here are just a few examples of errors within the 1865:


1. In Numbers 31:34, 39 the 1865 says “seventy and one”, yet the KJB says “sixty and one”.


2. The 1865 waters down the truth about hell. In the 1865 the word “hell” (infierno) is missing in 2 Sam. 22:6, Ps. 16:10, Ps. 18:5, Pro. 17:27, Pro. 27:20, Hab. 2:5, 2 Pet. 2:4 (says “tartarus”), as well as several other places. In fact, the KJV says “hell” 54 times. The 1865 says “hell” (infierno) only 40 times.


3. In the 1865 the doctrine of Christ’s deity is diminished in Dan. 7:13 by rendering it as “a Son of man” (just like the corrupt RSV) rather than “the Son of man”.


4. The 1865 says “their gods” in Hosea 4:12. The KJV says “their God”.


5. In Mark 15:3 the words “but he answered nothing” are omitted.


6. The word “Jesus” is omitted in Mat. 24:2, Luke 9:43, Rom. 15:17, Phil 3:12, 2 Tim. 3:12.


7. The word “Lord” is omitted in Acts 8:16 and Acts 22:16.


8. The word “sincerity” is omitted in Titus 2:17.


9. In 2 Sam. 21:19, the 1865 fails to include the words “the brother of” like the KJV. Thus, it contains the same error that is found in the NIV, RSV, ASV, New World’s Translation, the 1960 RV (Spanish Bible), and other Alexandrian bibles in which it reads that Elhanan slew Goliath. This goes against the famous story of 1 Sam 17 which says that David killed Goliath. It also goes against the cross reference to 2 Sam. 21:19, which is 1 Chron. 30:5, which states that the giant Elhanan slew was named Lahmi, not Goliath.


(Note: More errors in the 1865 such as these are revealed in my book God’s Bible in Spanish on pages 52-53 as well as in the chart given in Appendix A of the book.)


Concerning the error in 2 Sam. 21:19, I brought it up to him in a discussion over the Internet and his response was:


“Did you ever consider the possibility that Goliath's father had another son after David killed Goliath, and that he renamed him Goliath, after his dead son? He would then be Goliath and the brother of Goliath.”

This is the exact same argument that those who defend the corrupt, modern Bibles in English use.


I explained to Bro. ****** that I could never consider a possibility that the giant that Elhanan slew in 2 Sam. 21:19 was also named Goliath because the Bible is its own final authority and the Bible plainly reveals to us the name of this giant.


1Chronicles 20:5 “And there was war again with the Philistines; and Elhanan the son of Jair slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, whose spear staff was like a weaver's beam.”

According to 1 Chron. 30:5 the name of Goliath’s brother that Elhanan killed was named Lahmi. After sharing this clear Bible truth, Bro. ****** then replied:


“I personally would rather believe that Goliath was resurrected and killed again then to shed even the slightest doubt on any of God's inspired, preserved texts like you are doing.”

So we see here that Bro. ****** is willing to resort to wild, absurd claims before admitting there are errors in the 1865 Valera. His loyalty to the 1865 Valera is notable. But is it honest?

I don’t believe that ignoring errors and making excuses for them by inventing outrageous theories to try to explain away the errors is the answer. Honesty is the answer. Truth is the answer. Letting the Bible be its own authority, because it IS the final authority, is the answer.

Bro. ******’s warns that people like me are casting doubt upon God’s inspired, preserved texts by pointing out errors. But I disagree. Bro. ******’s concerns might be valid if we did not have a better, yea perfect, option to offer. But we do. We believe the Reina-Valera Gomez Bible is a much, MUCH better option than the 1865.


We are not casting doubt upon God’s word. Our position is that the 1865 Valera is not the perfect word of God in Spanish. We believe the RVG is. (The RVG has all the errors mentioned earlier corrected and in line with the TR and the KJB.)


Bro. ******’s position us unrealistic. He is suggesting that instead of recognizing error and correcting it, we should twist the scriptures to find some sort of way to cover up the errors. But coming up with private interpretations does not help the situation any. As Christians we must confront the very real errors that exist and then correct them. Plain and simple. This is exactly what Dr. Gomez and his collaborators have done with the RVG. On the other hand, this is exactly what ****** and his colleagues refuse to do with the 1865 Valera.


So the question is that if ****** is suggesting that we reject Bible revisions based upon flawed texts, why is he supporting and recommending the 1865 Valera, which was not only based upon a flawed text, but today it still remains a flawed text?


In Conclusion: The Fundamental Difference of Attitude


Having discussed these issues at length with ****** (over the Internet) before, I already know that his thinking is that the RVG is also a flawed text. He doesn’t believe that Dr. Gomez and his collaborators have been successful in correcting all the errors that existed in 1909 Antigua. He believes that my position that the RVG is the perfect word of God in Spanish is wrong. But what Bro. ****** fails to realize is that there is a fundamental difference between those behind the 1865 and those behind the RVG.


We have already seen that when errors in the 1865 text are pointed out to ****** he beats around the bush and suggests wild private interpretations to cover up the shortcomings of his Spanish Bible. This is the exact same thing that the rest of his colleagues who support the 1865 Valera do. For specific examples, see my article entitled The Valera Bible Society’s Struggle for Survival (which can be found at the link on this footnote).[7]


But the opposite is true when potential errors are brought to Dr. Humberto Gomez’s attention. Ever since Dr. Gomez embarked upon his effort to revise the Reina-Valera Bible, this has been his policy:


"In our opinion, our Bible is perfect and ready to be preached from. However, we have an open heart and mind: If a godly person has an opinion regarding the text or grammar, we will take it into serious consideration because we want the best for our people.”
"What I am presenting to you, in my opinion, is the perfect word of God.
But here it is for you to read and examine; if you can find anything in it that is not in agreement with the Textus Receptus, or if you can find anything that is not written in good and perfect Spanish, we will immediately correct it, for the good of our people and for the glory of the Lord."

Dr. Gomez has proven over and over again that he has been more than willing to correct proven errors in his text. Many times brethren have pointed out things to Dr. Gomez that were not wrong to begin with but were rather a misunderstanding on the individual’s part of the Spanish language and the way things should be rendered in the target language. However, there have been times when valid issues that Dr. Gomez and his collaborators overlooked were brought forward and EVERY time those oversights were corrected.


For example, Bro. ****** has tried to point out passages that he feels are wrong in the RVG simply because they agree with corrupted 1960 Reina-Valera revision. After examining each one of issues Bro. ****** brings up I found that most times the readings were non-issues as they in no way conflicted with the TR or the KJV.


However, there were a couple verses of scripture that Bro. ****** brought up that did seem to conflict with the TR and/or the KJV. Rather than invent some kind of way to explain them away, like Bro. ****** does with 2 Sam. 21:19, I contacted Dr. Gomez to ask him to examine the issues raised by Bro. ****** and see if there be any validity to them. Dr. Gomez replied:


“Manny, gusto oír de ti. Esos versículos ya están corregidos desde hace mucho.”

(Translation: “Manny, good to hear from you. These verses were corrected a long time ago.”)


This is one of the main reasons why most Bible-believers are choosing the RVG over the 1865 Valera. We not only recognize the quality of the RVG text, but we see the honesty of those behind this revision. Whenever problems are brought before Dr. Gomez and his collaborators, once verified, the errors are corrected.


Our position is that after over a decade of going through the Spanish Bible with a fine-tooth comb all of the errors have been corrected by Dr. Gomez and his collaborators. And if we are correct that the RVG is error-free, than it is a perfect Bible.


On the other hand, when those behind the 1865 Valera were given the opportunity to correct the errors in that revision, they backed out. Now they sweep the errors under the rug and search for new ways to explain them away with wild private interpretations. These things ought not so to be.


Bro. ******, with all due respect to him as a fellow-laborer in the Gospel, has chosen the wrong path to go down when it comes to the issue of Spanish Bible purity. We pray that other Missionaries will choose a wiser path (and yea others are!) for the sake of the Spanish-speaking people God has called them to minister to. The Hispanic world deserves a totally pure copy of God’s holy words in their language, not poor excuses and private interpretations.


Note: At the time of this writing Pastor Rodriguez was serving as a missionary in Puerto Rico. Today he serves as the Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Beaufort, SC, the local church home of the RVG Bible Society.


[1] The Bible Believer’s Guide to Elephant Hunting, by Jeffrey McArdle, pg. 62 [2] Ibid, pg. 61 [3] Ibid, pg. 61 [4] For a thorough discussion on the Spanish Bible issue read the book God’s Bible in Spanish available at http://www.chick.com/catalog/books/1275.asp. [5] This fact also refutes the attempted argument by some claiming that the RVG should be rejected because of the several editions it has went through. If that is the case, than we should also reject the Reina-Valera, any edition, as well as the Textus Receptus, any edition, which in turn would invalidate any translations, such as the KJB, based upon the TR. [6] See Translating for King James by Allen Ward & Crowned With Glory by Dr. Thomas Holland, pg. 227-228 [7] http://www.4thesaviour.com/resources/A+Rebuttal+to+Jeff+McArdle.pdf

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