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This article is a rewrite of the ad-lib content found in this video: “Three Positions Concerning the ‘Spanish Bible Issue’ for Bible Believers”. You can view the video or read the article; the basic content and conclusion are all the same.

For over twenty years there has been a contention among Bible believers (generic professions or the Pensacola type) concerning the Spanish Bible and what position English speakers should take. There has been all sorts of misinformation and outright lies published by professing Bible believers which has muddied the waters and caused confusion in the minds of Spanish speakers and non Spanish speakers alike. We present the following information with the desire to offer the only three options that the English speaking Bible Believer has if he feels it necessary to take a side in this particular discussion.

Our present treatise is designed specifically for those that believe that God gave His words in the English language via the King James Bible. The following information will have little value to anyone who does not believe in a perfect translation of the Bible, or that God supernaturally preserved His words through the ages and made them available in the form of the King James Bible in English.

Option 1: stick with a Critical Text-tainted Modern Version

It is established without any question that the “Reina-Valera” versions beginning in 1909, including the 1960, intentionally incorporated Critical Text readings in the text. We have published at least two exposés on the 1909 itself (La Historia de la Valera 1909 (1) and (2) ) demonstrating the translation committee’s determination to use the Westcott and Hort readings despite the misgivings of certain preachers in Latin America. The 1960 continued on this trajectory, clearly aligning itself with the Critical Text, despite all of the obfuscation and dishonesty of Calvin George.

Nevertheless, this is what many missionaries and pastors have done, whether out of convenience or indecision, as it is understandably very difficult to change the Bible that everyone has believed and grown up with. It is quite certain that tens of thousands or even millions of believers have been saved, discipled, and are serving with an RV1960, despite its clear errors and textual corruption.

For the non Spanish speakers, it may be easy to assume that the RV1960 is similar to an NASB or an ESV. That is not the case. Unlike the modern versions in English, the RV1960 does not omit any verses. This was not because the translators believed that those verses belonged in the text, but because (they stated) that Latin believers would reject their new version upon seeing the absent verses. Most of the text of the RV1960 follows the Received Text, with some notable exceptions (Matthew 5:22; Acts 20:28; Revelation 22:14 as some glaring examples), and many of the readings of the RV1960 have been adjusted from its preceding versions to sound more like the King James. However, it is severely wanting when it comes to fidelity to the Received Text, and its translation philosophy was definitely that of the modern textual critics, not the mentality of the Bible believers of yore that were used of God to give us His word in a variety of languages throughout the Philadelphian church age.

The RV1909 is not quite as bad as the 1960, yet its translators chose willingly to follow the Westcott and Hort Critical Text of 1881 in many places. As a result, it was a significant departure from the historic position of the Reina Valera line, which has always been based on the Received Text, and began the downward trend toward modern textual criticism in the Spanish Bible.

This option should not be viable for an English Bible Believer, at least as long as there are other options. Spanish is not like some languages, which have never had a good, Received Text Bible from the Reformation era. Vietnamese has never had a good Bible, or so I’m told. Many languages of the Indian subcontinent have never been blessed with a faithful Bible. However, Spanish is a very different situation and has had God’s word available to them in a comparable process of purification to that of the King James Bible since the very first complete Spanish Bible was published in 1569.

Option 2: opt for a “Fixed” Critical Text-tainted Modern Version

The most popular option by far amongst most of those that have waded into the “Spanish Bible issue” is to take the 1909 and “fix” it, at least according to their opinions. This approach is based on the extremist idea that the King James Bible is the only possible perfect Bible, and since it is a perfect Bible, every other Bible in the world must be submitted to IT – and in line with the observer’s opinion (and yes, it always comes down to opinion).

There are three major projects all claiming to “fix” the RV1909 and produce (in two cases) a Spanish Bible “like the King James”, and the third is the Trinitarian Bible Society’s project (they are not KJV-only). The two projects promoted by “Bible Believers” to “correct” the RV1909 are the “Reina Valera” Gomez and the 1602 “Purificada”. We will look at the various issues with each of these briefly.

The “RVG” project started around 2001, with the first edition published in 2004, and is based on correcting the RV1909. It has alternately been promoted as everything from being its own project to being a “King James Bible in Spanish” (an absolute absurdity). Most people unaware of the details will repeat what they’ve been told when the Spanish Bible topic is raised: “Get the RVG, it’s the KJV in Spanish!”

This project has varied in its approach over the years, initially opposing certain textual changes based on Spanish language nuances (the word “Study” versus the Spanish “Procura con diligencia” in 2 Timothy 2:15 being a key example), but eventually relenting and changing the text. Various claims of having fixed all the RV1909’s Critical Text readings have been made, yet a quick look at John 15:11 shows that the RVG retains a Critical Test reading (“esté” or “be {temporary}” from “ᾖ”) instead of the Received Text (“permanezca” or “remain” from “μείνῃ”).

This is the practical result of Bro. Gomez’s approach to “fixing” the RV1909, which was basically to travel around to different churches in Latin America and ask for input on how a verse should read and making his changes based on input from people that weren’t even aware that they were being consulted on a Bible revision. (I have heard this from two different pastors who experienced this technique.) Based on the available information, none of the Spanish speaking editors involved in the project had any understanding of the underlying languages (Greek and Hebrew) to be able to catch these subtle differences. The editors of all Reformation era Bibles were experts on the underlying languages; it seems absurd that someone who has no understanding of biblical languages would dare to meddle with the text of the Scriptures. The result is unfortunately a mash-up of personal opinions, Mexican (not Spanish) grammar, unnecessary adjustments to appease American donors, and leftover Critical Text fragments due to ignorance of the original languages.

The “1602 Purificada” (“Purified”) is a somewhat similar project to “fix” a previous Bible; this time the claim is that it is based on the de Valera 1602 revision of the 1569 (de Reina) Bible. While this author would agree that certain things in Valera’s Bible needed to be adjusted, the brethren from Monterrey didn’t just fix the issues: they overhauled the entire text to conform (again, according to their own opinions) to the King James Bible. Furthermore, while they apparently digitized the 1602’s New Testament text in the process of “purifying” it, there is internal evidence that the Old Testament is actually just the RV1909 again, with yet more adjustments.

For example, they removed the word “Jehová” from almost the entire Old Testament, which has been in every Spanish Reformation Bible since 1569, and replaced it with “el SEÑOR” to make it read like the KJV. They were the pioneers of changing the very understandable and very clear “Procura con diligencia” in 2 Timothy 2:15 with “Estudia”, which makes little sense in Spanish due to the other instances of the word (Job 9:14; Ecclesiastes 12:12). The word “Study” in English is obviously the word that God chose – in English – but in the Spanish language, the definition and biblical use of that word does not lend itself to a positive meaning. The Spanish word for the act of searching the Scriptures is escudriñar (Proverbs 2:4; 20:27; 25:2; Ecclesiastes 12:9; John 5:39; Acts 17:11; 1 Peter 1:11) and the English word “study” doesn’t inherently mean books (1 Thessalonians 4:11). This change was not only unnecessary: it is confusing and obfuscates the biblical requirement to work hard in understanding the Scriptures.

There is also translational dishonesty demonstrated in the “1602 Purificada”. The original 1602 translated the word “λόγος” as “la Palabra” (upper-case P), making the Name of the pre-incarnate Christ feminine. This is not inherently a problem, though it is not the perfect translation that would later be provided (see Option 3 below), but de Valera’s translation was at least consistent. In verse 2 we find the demonstrative pronoun “οὗτος”, referring to the antecedent “λόγος”. Honest and proper translation rules require the pronoun to match the antecedent in both gender and number; thus we have “The same” in English and “Ésta”, “this (one)”, feminine, in the original 1602. The “Purificada”, in “purifying” this “impurity”, maintained “la Palabra” since they wrongly argue that the word “Verbo” is a Catholic word, but dishonestly changed the demonstrative pronoun in verse 2 to “Él” (“He”). This is dishonest and false, demonstrating either a woeful ignorance of Greek and Spanish grammar, or outright deception or lack of care for the text of Scripture, in the rush to “fix” a Bible based on their own whims.

The Trinitarian Bible Society has been working on their own revision of the RV1909 (again, why that one?) and are close to publishing it. Unfortunately it continues maintaining certain textual errors contained in the RV1909, and makes its own errors more in line with the RV1960. For example, it removes the word for “whale” (“ballena”) in Matthew 12:40, which not even the RV1909 does, changing it to “gran pez” (“great fish”) like many modern versions. But ultimately, the question is: “Why make another version?” There’s already enough confusion thanks to all these projects purporting to “fix” a corrupt Bible; why make another one?

Option 3: stand for a Philadelphian-era Spanish Bible untainted by the Critical Text

As King James Bible Believers in English, we accept that God gave His words through the supernatural process of preservation and inspiration in a form that we can hold, read, study, understand, and obey today. We do not doubt that God worked through and in spite of the failures, bad doctrines, and other problems with humanity, to produce a perfect Bible that we accept first by faith, and secondly by the evidence, as being God’s written word and words in English.

So, the question is: Can God do that in more than one language?

My answer is an unequivocal and immediate YES. I believe that God did it in English, and I believe that God did it in Spanish also. I cannot attest to any other Bible in any other language, as the Holy Spirit only bears witness to me in the two languages that I speak: English and Spanish. But it is my position that God has given His word and words in English and in Spanish. Each believer must face this question for himself, but he should be careful not to impose his own opinions onto God’s work. For example, one may vehemently argue that God cannot say two different things in two different languages, and therefore the Spanish Bible must line up exactly (in his opinion) with the KJV, but he should carefully inspect Christ’s quote of Isaiah 61:1-2 in Luke 4:18-19 before uttering such things. (And no, we don’t believe in the tripe about the mythological “Septuagint”.) God’s work is not bound by your opinion.

One of the biggest challenges for our English-speaking-only brethren to overcome is the deeply ingrained idea that a difference is an error. While we definitely agree that any departure from the English text of the King James Bible is an error, it would be appallingly ignorant to apply that to a different language. The above treatise on “Procura con diligencia” is a prime example. The anglocentric mind struggles to comprehend that any word other than the apparent 1:1 cognate “estudiar” should be employed in that verse. However, upon investigating the definitions of those words in their respective languages, one realizes that “study” includes a little used definition of “make an effort to achieve (a result) or take into account (a person or their wishes)” which goes beyond simple bookwork. Comparing 1 Thessalonians 4:11 demonstrates that even in English, the word “study” doesn’t invariably involve books. Therefore the understanding of the English use of “study” should be amplified, instead of forcing an inferior Spanish word into a verse simply because it looks right to a non Spanish speaker.

Despite unfounded, baseless, malicious lies concerning the Reina-Valera 1865 published on BibleBelievers.com written by “Thomas Holland”, the RV1865 is the final Received Text Bible of the Philadelphian/Reformation era. And regardless of how many people have seized upon those lies to promote their own project, the Reina Valera 1865 is the last Bible based exclusively on the TR and produced by Spaniards. You are welcome to disagree, but no one else can hold up a pre-1881 Spanish Bible and say without any hesitation “This is the word of God in Spanish”, and as we have demonstrated, those other projects contain errors that preclude their being “the word of God” in Spanish.

But don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll come out with another edition and this time it will be “God’s Bible in Spanish“. Maybe Bro. Rodriguez will update the cover with the new date.

Conclusion

Ultimately, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to “take a side” or choose which Bible to stand on, you will have to get peace from the Holy Spirit. There are plenty of brethren that have opted for a Critical Text tainted Bible, and others that have picked one of the contenders for “fixing” the 1909, but if you are willing to believe that God can provide His words without help from gringoes, then we invite you to learn more about the Reina Valera 1865.