Skip to content

A History of Biblical Transmission

PLEASE NOTE: “It is posited that the general transmission of God’s revelations appear in every translation, but regrettably no single translation seems to exclusively or exhaustively contain all of the original Divine revelation beyond criticism. This writer believes that God always supersedes the faithfulness or frailty of the translator because the work of the Kingdom is too important to be halted for the whimsical propensity of one or several individuals. King Saul could have been the most glowing monarch of Israel, but due to his unapologetic dismissal of God’s promptings, a new king was divinely prescribed (1 Samuel 16:1). In the field of biblical translation, this writer suggests that if one individual or a group of translators decides to unapologetically slant their work for undisclosed reasons, God will then encourage others to produce more faithful works. Therefore, accurate biblical translation depends on a simple two-fold process whereby God sovereignly preserves Divine revelations through devout men and women who are spiritually guided by their own pliability to Divine promptings”. [For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the (sons-#5207=uhios) of God; Romans 8:14 KJV-mdw]

A History of Biblical Transmission

Written by Ronald J. Gordon Published: April, 1997 ~ Last Updated: May, 2016 ©
This document may be reproduced for non-profit or educational purposes only, with the
provisions that this document remain intact and full acknowledgement be given to the author.


hile studying your Bible, how many times have you wondered how other translations might read? After comparing a few versions, did you notice the wide variance between the selections of words from version to version? If the words are so different, how can a person tell if they are accurate? This exercise was developed so that you may easily compare many different translations without the necessity of going to a religious bookstore and laboriously opening and searching through a multitude of different versions or editions in order to gain an understanding of how they read. It is also designed to give you a basic education in the many disciplines of translation, manuscript history, theories of transmission, textual criticism, and a few other fundamentals. Our inherent purpose is to make these often esoteric subjects very understandable for the average unenlightened reader. The language of this work endeavors to resist the complicated vocabulary of the scholar for that of the student. We are interested in balance, for there are many books and web sites offering information about translations of the Bible yet most, regrettably, do not give the visitor an opportunity to objectively review available translations in a side-by-side comparison.

Far too many web sites are enamored with proving or refuting different theories of textual transmission or advancing a preference for one particular translation. Many are polemic in nature while others are excessively hermeneutical or even pedantic. How often have you searched for a web site, hoping to discover an informative, concise, and balanced perspective of these subjects with the additional opportunity to actually compare several verses from currently available translations? Well, here is your opportunity. The next few sections are intended to give you an overview of the disciplines of textual transmission and translation, based on observations from many voices across the entire spectrum of textual theories and viewpoints.

This writer does not presume to be an expert on all facets of textual criticism, or possess an exhaustive understanding of all three declensions of the Greek language and the nuances of verb tense, although he has read and translated from several Greek texts for more than twenty-five years and scrupulously compared most currently available translations with those texts – verse by verse and word by word. His desire is to return the grace of his personal education for the benefit of the aspiring student who loves the Bible and needs an accurate, balanced, yet unsophisticated lift to their own literary advancement.