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Where Was the Perfect Word of God Before 1611?


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.


Bro. *******,


Thank you again for indulging my views concerning this controversial yet important issue. In your last response you bring up some valid questions. By God’s grace, I will offer in this response what I believe to be valid answers.


In your latest email you said:


For the record, since you copied **** on the original email, I have not said anything negative about the RVG. When we spoke on the phone from El Salvador, I mentioned this. Any one who knows me knows that I take a strong stand on what Burgon called the “Traditional Text.” The word traditional to him meant that this was the text that had traditionally been used by the Churches, the pillar and ground of truth. When we say we use the Received Text, I believe we are saying that it was received by the Church (I am speaking here of the NT).

Bro. *******, for whatever it is worth I do believe we are on the same side of the fence in regards to the Bible text issue. Even if there is a particular detail in which you and I may not exactly see eye to eye concerning this issue I agree with the words of my friend Dr. Phil Stringer who once said (in regards to the KJV), “If at the end of the day we are standing for the same book (KJV) than we are on the same team.”


I do also agree with your assessment of the terms Traditional and Received Texts.


As to your questions, I will deal with them one by one:


Question #1 – “Was there no perfect Word of God in any language before 1611?”


Answer – Absolutely, the perfect word of God existed before 1611!


First of all, at the expense of sounding over-simplistic let me begin by saying that we KNOW God’s perfect word existed before 1611 simply because God promised the preservation of His words in Ps. 12:6-7, Mat. 24:35, and several other passages.


It’s as simple as saying “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” Simple logic leads me to believe that if God promised to preserve His words from generation to generation than that means that those divine words have been in existence ever since the day they were given by inspiration.


Although historical information of the texts and manuscripts throughout the ages which demonstrates and supports the Bible doctrine of preservation is to be desired it is not necessarily mandatory. The Bible needs no validation from history. It makes no attempts to prove itself. It is simply to be believed and obeyed. (Although Bible students find that true history does indeed validate the truths of the Bible.) With a childlike faith we simply accept the Bible teaching of preservation of the scriptures to be true regardless of whether or not we are able to historically locate and demonstrate the very texts and manuscripts that God used to carry out His promise in each generation.


It’s kind of like the old bumper sticker that said, “God said it and that settles it for me!” God said He would preserve His words in every generation and that settles it. I do not need to produce a list of every perfect copy of God’s word that ever existed from the days they were first breathed by God in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic to today in order to believe that perfect Bibles existed before 1611. All I need to do is believe what God’s word says about Bible preservation to know that His perfect word HAD to exist before 1611.


Secondly, as far as what language or languages the perfect word of God existed in before 1611 I admit that I cannot unequivocally say “this” or “that” particular pre-1611 text in any certain language was perfect simply because I am not intimately familiar with all the texts in all the languages that existed before 1611. (Is anybody?) I have never taken the time to examine them. My dealings are with English and Spanish therefore I am more familiar with the texts in those languages. As to other language texts I have some knowledge of them due to many books I have read.


But again, to make up for my lack of ability to unequivocally point to a particular pre-1611 text that I can claim total perfection for I appeal to the doctrine of preservation as taught in God’s authoritative word to declare by simple faith and logic that His perfect word HAD to exist somewhere in some language, or languages, before 1611.


Thirdly, I speculate that God’s perfect word probably existed in Latin before it was preserved in English in the KJB. This is an area that I have been investigating for some time in my own personal studies in the text issue. I have not found much written on this particular detail but Latin was sort of the universal language for many centuries way before English became such. Scholars on both sides of the fence agree that God’s word was immediately translated into Latin back in the 2nd century. It wasn’t until the Protestant Reformation era that Christians began refocusing their attention to God’s word (in the NT) in Greek. Before that time, Latin was the predominant and foremost language for the translating and preservation of God’s words for many centuries.


According to my own independent studies it seems that the Waldenses, Albigenses, and other primitive Christian groups dealt with God’s words in Latin more than any other language throughout history. Of course, the Catholics had their corrupted Latin version as well starting with Jerome’s edition in the 4th century. My point is that I believe God’s perfect word most likely existed in Latin amongst non-Catholic and yea non-Protestant groups such as the Waldenses, Albigenses and others for many generations before 1611. Of course many of these texts were burned and destroyed by the Catholics throughout history.


Nevertheless, I admit that this is all speculation on my part but I submit it here as food for thought in regards to your question at hand. But again, my lack of ability to pinpoint with total authority a particular text before 1611 that I can claim perfection for does not change my belief based upon the doctrine of preservation that God’s perfect word existed somewhere in some language before 1611 and from generation to generation. At the end of the day, God’s word still says what it says and for the man of faith that should be good enough. Bro. *******, as you have correctly noted:


When I teach preservation –as a Bible doctrine – then I am guided by a few principles:
1. God promised to preserve it
2. He committed it to the Church
3. He promised the Church would never be destroyed or defeated
4. So, if the Church is always here, the Word is here

I completely agree and I believe each of these points ring true in every generation since the day God’s words were given by inspiration.


Question #2 – “When did the Church lose the perfect words?”


Answer – It never did and never will.


Again I appeal to the doctrine of preservation. In fact, I will appeal to your principles quoted above. Since God promised to preserve His words from generation to generation, and He committed it to the Church which the gates of hell will never prevail against, than simple faith and logic lead me to conclude that His perfect words have always been in the possession of God’s people.


However, you must bear in mind that just because a perfect copy of God’s word may not be found in a particular language during a particular generation does not mean that a perfect copy of God’s word did not exist in another language in that same generation. In other words, just because a perfect copy of God’s word in Spanish, or French, or Pidgin, etc did not exist amongst God’s people in one generation does not negate the fact that a perfect copy of God’s word existed in another language (or languages) during that same time period. I will further elaborate on the process of preservation as touching other languages in just a minute.


Question #3 – “We cannot even say it existed in the TR, because not all of them match Scrivener’s – so perfect preservation in the Greek did not begin until 1894?”


Answer – (If I understand your question here correctly) No, perfect preservation did not begin in 1894.


Again, and I apologize for sounding like a broken record, but faith and logic based upon the doctrine of preservation tells us that perfect preservation of God’s words had to exist way before 1894 and the TR.


From a viewpoint of manuscript history, any attempt to trace preservation of the scriptures would obviously have to begin with the original autographs which all scholars on both sides of the fence agree were given in Greek, Hebrew, and some in Aramaic. We find that as early as the 2nd century God’s words were translated into Latin and Syrian languages. Throughout history we know that God’s words were transmitted into many other languages. If we accept the accurate translation of God’s words into other foreign languages as part of the preservation process, would it not be safe to assume, based upon the doctrine of preservation, that in every generation God’s words were perfectly preserved in some language or another and possibly in several?


Two things we must consider when trying to harmonize the doctrine of preservation and what we know (albeit limited) about manuscript history:


  1. God never said specifically that He would preserve His words in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic in every generation. In other words (and for example), to expect there to be a perfect NT text in Greek in every generation since the original autographs to today is an expectation not founded upon scripture. In fact, considering that the type of Greek and Hebrew used during the days of Bible inspiration eventually became outdated and obsolete it only makes sense to believe that God’s promise of Bible preservation was to be carried out in other languages as time went on.

  2. On the other hand, God never said that He would preserve His words in EVERY language in existence in each generation either. This is evidenced by the over 3000 languages and dialects today that still do not have any scriptures translated.


God simply promised to preserve His words. As to exactly how He would go about that and which particular languages He would do it in, He did not give us those details (that I am aware of in the Bible). God just made a simple blanket statement promising preservation of His words in Ps. 12:6-7 and other passages and then expected us to simply believe and accept it, which we do.


Now with such things in mind, logic may lead me to believe that in the beginning (times of inspiration) God’s perfect word was given in Greek, Hebrew, and some in Aramaic, and then it was represented in Latin and perhaps some other languages for many centuries amongst Bible-believing, non-Catholic, and non-Protestant Christians, and then today it can be found in English in the KJV and whatever other languages God’s words have been completely and accurately translated in. However, whether or not this model is perfect does not change the fact that God promised preservation and therefore His perfect word has always existed and always will regardless of whether or not this preservation process is properly explained by the aforementioned model. This model is simply a feeble human attempt to reconcile what little we know about the history of Bible manuscripts and texts with what the Bible teaches concerning Bible preservation.


Bro. *******, now that I have dealt with your list of questions I wish to address a few more items in your latest email. In so doing, perhaps more light can be shed in relation to your questions above as well.


1. When did preservation begin for God’s words in Spanish?


Bro. *******, you wrote:


If I am reading correctly, God did not preserve His Word correctly for the Spanish world until nearly 2 millennia had passed. Obviously, this is a tough mental block for me to get over.

First off, I believe preservation in light of what we see in history is best understood as a process. Yea, a purifying and refining process. And I do not believe this type of reasoning is farfetched when considering that God Himself likened the preservation of His words to the refining process of silver in Ps. 12:6-7. I think that once preservation is understood in this light then some mental blocks are done away with as to why it took so long for the Hispanic people to receive a totally purified copy of His words in Spanish.


A. Preservation of the English Text as an Example


For example, in English, of which we are most familiar with, we find that even before 1611 the process to preserve God's words into English was already initiated centuries before 1611. John Wycliffe's translation in the 1300s, although flawed, was used by God to open the door for future efforts to render God's words in the English language. Wycliffe’s Bible in the 1300s was the first honest and major attempt to provide God’s words in English. Then there was Tyndale, Coverdale, the Bishops Bible, Geneva, etc. Then the 1611 KJV.


Then even after 1611 the KJV itself went through a revision process in regards to orthography and other slight details. (As you know the edition most Bible-believers use today of the KJV is the 1769 Cambridge edition or the 1762 Oxford.) So we see a refining process that took place over a period of time. In fact, it was over 4 centuries before the final product of preservation for the English-speaking world was provided.


As to why God chose to do it this way for the English-speaking world, that would be a good question to ask Him when we get to heaven. But think about it. If we are to assume that God put it in John Wycliffe’s heart to translate His words in the 1300s, and if foreign language translations are part of God’s preservation process, and if God is indeed involved in the preservation process, why did He wait 4 centuries later, until 1769, to give the English-speaking world His perfect word in English? As soon as you find a suitable answer to that question, you will have your answer as to why the Spanish-speaking world is just now getting a totally purified copy of His word in Spanish. Once you have that figured out you may also have an answer as to why there are over 3000 languages in the world today that still do not have a translation of God’s words but may eventually get one in the future should the Lord tarry His coming.


B. Revival of the Greek Text as an Example


We can see a similar process in the revival of the Greek NT starting with Erasmus in the 1500s and then ending with Scrivener in 1894 as far as the “Textus Receptus” is concerned. During that process were the texts of Stephanus, Beza, the Elzivers, and a few others. The point is that there was a process, yea, a refining process. The same can be said for other language texts throughout history I’m sure.


C. Concerning Preservation of the Spanish Text


In regards to Spanish, we do not claim that the preservation process for the Spanish-speaking world started in 2010 or even in 2004 when the first edition of the RVG was printed. We have NEVER claimed that. When I wrote my book, God’s Bible in Spanish: How God Preserved His Word in Spanish through the Reina-Valera Gomez Bible, I was not saying that God didn’t start preserving His words in Spanish until the RVG. I was making a statement as to the RVG Bible being part of (and in my opinion the final product – time will tell) of God’s preservation process for the Bible in Spanish.


We believe the preservation process of God’s words in Spanish was started many years ago, yea, even before Casiodoro de Reina (1569) and Cipriano de Valera (1602). Before the Reina-Valera Bible there were brave Protestant men like Francisco de Enzinas and Juan de Pineda in the early 1500s that endeavored to provide a pure copy of God's words in the tongue (Spanish) of their people, a desire that was characteristic of the Protestants in those days.


D. Setbacks in the Preservation of the Spanish Text


On the other hand, our contention is that the purification process for God's words in Spanish did not begin or stop in 1960 either. You see Bro. *******, the same question you pose at us can also be directed towards those who defend the RV60. The RV60 defenders say that we don’t need another Spanish Bible revision and that the 2010 RVG was nothing but a big waste of time. 1960 is only 50 years before 2010. So even with the RV60 you still have the same problem when you say:


If I am reading correctly, God did not preserve His Word correctly for the Spanish world until nearly 2 millennia had passed. Obviously, this is a tough mental block for me to get over.

We believe the purification process in Spanish took a step backwards in 1960 when the revisers appointed by Eugene Nida and the American Bible Society incorporated more of the Critical Texts into what was meant to be a Traditional Text-based Spanish Bible in its inception back in the Protestant Reformation era. Therefore, we have called for further revision of our Spanish Bible in order for the preservation process to reach its proper conclusion – a totally pure Received Text based Spanish Bible, one not tainted by Critical Text corruption. That has been the motive and effort behind the RVG.


E. Explanations for Setbacks in the Preservation of the Spanish Text


Again, as to why God allowed this setback in 1960 would be a good question for Him when we all get to heaven. Why God allows setbacks in many other aspects of the Christian life many times is a mystery.


One explanation could be given in light of the fact that the Spanish Inquisition was not officially ended until 1834. You see Bro. ******* you have to understand that when Cipriano de Valera finished his work on the Spanish text in 1602, he did not consider his work a final product. He himself called for further revision of his text in the preface of his Bible. The problem was that the Spanish Inquisition was in full swing in those days. During the Inquisition it was forbidden in all Spanish-speaking countries, all of which were under the control of the Roman Catholic church, to translate or revise the Spanish Bible. The Reina-Valera Bible was birthed out of a time of Protestant rebellion against the Catholic church. That Bible was immediately labeled by the Catholic church as illegal and heretical and any attempts to produce, print, distribute, and to further revise that Bible was to be met with severe consequences. Therefore it wasn’t until the terror of the Spanish Inquisition was finally ended in the 1800s that Christians had the liberty to do anything with the Reina-Valera text without fear of persecution. So the Inquisition greatly slowed down progress for the Spanish Bible and Spanish Christianity as a whole for a little over 2 centuries.


When the Spanish Inquisition ended in the 1800s Protestants and Bible-believing Christians began sending missionaries into Spanish-speaking countries. It wasn’t until then that Christians began refocusing on the Reina-Valera text now that there was liberty to do so. This bit of historical information covers at least 2 centuries of the Spanish Bible text and helps towards answering the question as to why it wasn’t till many years later that we received a purified copy of God’s words in Spanish.


As for the 1900s, Bro. ******* you are well aware of the damage that was done upon orthodox Christianity and eventually upon Fundamentalism through the influence of Westcott and Hort and their corrupt Greek text introduced in 1881. Bible Societies began accepting the textual philosophies of Westcott and Hort and the Critical Texts became more and more popular throughout the 1900s with the editions of Eberhard Nestle, Kurt Aland, and later Eugene Nida and the United Bible Societies. Without going into all the details, it should come as no surprise to know that the Critical Texts would play a role when the Reina-Valera text was given consideration for revision by Bible Societies that were apostatizing from the Received Texts as the years went by. Bro. *******, when we come to the year 1960 and the revision effort of the Reina-Valera text as spearheaded by Eugene Nida you will find that the American Bible Society was definitely not on the same side of the fence as you and I when it comes to the Bible text issue. Bro. *******, I challenge you to do even the slightest research of Eugene Nida and his influence upon Bible translation work throughout his career and you tell me if he was a friend to the Received Texts in any way, shape, or form.


All of these historical factors must be taken into consideration when trying to ascertain an informed perspective of the Spanish Bible in regards to its preservation.


Thus, preservation for the Spanish Bible began way before 2010 but it suffered setbacks and stumbling blocks along the way. Likewise, the Church of Jesus Christ also has had its share of trials and tribulations throughout history but its preservation and perseverance against the gates of hell is undeniable (Mat. 16:18). As to why God did not immediately give us a perfect Spanish text the very first time one was attempted, the same question can be asked in relation to the Bible texts in English and other languages. Bro. *******, whatever spiritual answer you have for this same question in relation to the English text or any other language will most likely be just as suitable for our Bible in Spanish.


2. Concerning Critical Text readings in the 1960 Reina-Valera Bible


You asked:


In regards to CT readings, where would I go to get a true list of CT readings in the 1960? By CT readings, I mean places where Sinaiticus or Vaticanus was the impetus…I am not counting differences in the TR here…

Also you wrote:


I am not interested in where the 60 is “different” but I do want to get my head / hands around the places where a legitimate argument can be made that it is wrong. If that is 5-10 places, ok…let’s deal with it. If it’s hundreds, ok – let’s talk…

Bro. ******* there is the problem with your request. You desire a list of plain CT readings in the 1960 however you seem to make light of the significance of differences between the 1960 and the TR. With all due respect, this is an inconsistent line of thinking. How else will you locate CT readings without consulting the TR?


A. Critical Text Corruptions do Exist in the 1960


First off, when searching for CT corruptions in the 1960 you must start with the clear understanding that CT readings DO INDEED exist in the 1960. This much cannot be denied. The man responsible for appointing and overseeing the 1960 revision committee, Eugene Nida, said:


"Nevertheless in some instances where a critical text is so much preferred over the traditional Textus Receptus the committee did make some slight changes, particularity if such changes were not in well-known verses. . ."[1]

You could not find a plainer statement. Mr. Nida himself tells us that changes based upon the CT were made. Also, in the spirit of 2 Cor. 13:1, here is a second witness to this fact. I quote Dr. Jose Flores, one of the official consultants to the 1960 revision committee:


"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."[2]

In fact, even Calvin George has admitted in his writings that CT readings exist in the 1960. He has written:


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. A few departures come from a critical text.”[3]

I believe Westcott and Hort texts can be consulted in the process of translating (such was the case in the Reina-Valera 1909 and 1960); however, it must not form the basis for a translation.[4]

So, Bro. *******, that CT readings exist in the 1960 cannot be denied. As proponents of the Traditional/Received Texts, our conviction is that the CTs are corrupt and not to be trusted. Therefore, in order to ensure a totally pure and accurate Bible, all CT readings must be removed and replaced with readings that match the TR.


B. The Important Role of the Received Texts in Determining Corruption and Purity


The challenge is LOCATING these CT readings in the 1960. That’s when comparison of the Reina Valera Bible with an edition of the TR becomes a necessity. Considering that neither Eugene Nida nor Dr. Flores nor any of the 1960 revision committee members ever rendered a list of their changes based upon the CT (as far as we are aware of) we are left to find these readings ourselves. For this reason you find the lists out there that you spoke of where the Reina Valera Bible has been compared with an edition of the TR. Bro. *******, how else do you suggest we pinpoint CT readings? If you can suggest a better way, as God is my witness I would sincerely like to know.


Now Bro. *******, I will grant you that not every accusation of CT corruption in the 1960 has been a valid one. I will grant you that some mountains have been made out of molehills. As you mentioned in your email, in their zeal and jealousy for the purity of God’s words, some have went a little overboard and invalid accusations of corruption or error in modern English Bibles outside of the KJV have been made. I am well aware of that. However, those invalid statements do not invalidate the fact that CT corruptions and errors DO INDEED EXIST in modern English Bibles such as the NIV, ASV, RSV, etc. The same can be said of the 1960 Reina Valera.


No, not all of the 1960 is bad. For this reason many have been saved from its use. But the same can be said of the NIV, ASV, RSV, etc. My father-in-law was led to the Lord by a soul-winner who borrowed his Catholic Bible. But does that soul winner’s fruit justify the corruption of the Catholic Bible? Of course not. Our position is simply that as Bible-believing Christians who wish to win souls we prefer to use the most pure Spanish Bible available. And if the best Spanish Bibles available are flawed, which has been the case for many years, we simply say let’s try to pinpoint those flaws and correct them. Thus, the RVG effort.


C. Concerning Differences between the KJV and the 1960


While we are on the topic of differences amongst Bibles, I’d like to also make a statement as to differences between the 1960 and the KJV.


I understand that not every such difference is necessarily an error. As a bilingual missionary and Pastor of an all Spanish-speaking church and living in a Spanish-speaking mission field, I thoroughly understand that. But the idea being perpetuated by some that ALL differences between the KJV and the 1960 are simply some gringo’s misunderstanding of Spanish is a FALSEHOOD. (Keep in mind that Dr. Gomez is not a gringo and neither were many of his collaborators.) Again, there are indeed issues of corruption in the 1960 and to deny that is to be dishonest by ignoring the plain statements made by the very men responsible for the 1960.


Again, determining the difference as to what is corrupt and what is simply a matter of linguistics becomes a challenge. But that’s when comparison with the TR becomes critical. Also, that is why it is a blessing to know that the RVG was produced by men who have Spanish as their native language. Who will understand whether or not a difference between the English and Spanish Bible is simply a linguistic issue better than a national?


D. Verse Comparison Lists I Recommend


Bro. *******, in response to your request for Critical Text readings I recommend you look into the charts put together by Dr. Rex Cobb, Director of the Baptist Bible Translators Institute in Bowie, TX. Of all the lists out there I believe his are the most exhaustive. You will find them attached in my latest email. Also, you can find other lists and charts at www.reinavaleragomez.com. I also include a verse comparison chart in the back of my book God’s Bible in Spanish available by Chick Publications at www.chick.com if you are interested.


Bro. *******, I sincerely hope this helps. I wish for nothing but the best for you and all the good people at **** *****.


God bless,


Emanuel Rodriguez


[1] The Bible Translator, Vol.12, No.3, 1961, pg. 113 [2] El Texto Del Nuevo Testamento, CLIE 1977,by Dr. Jose Flores pg. 323 [3] The Battle for the Spanish Bible by Calvin George, p. 42 [4] Ibid. p. 115

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