Types of Biblical Mistranslation Cited

Currently, we analyze each word in the King James Versions (KJV) and New International Versions (NIV) English translations, comparing them to the Greek source, pointing out the specific problems in them. We use codes in our word-by-word analysis to describe the problems found, such as WW, CW, MW, UW, etc, defining these codes in the Issues section below as "Wrong Word," "Confusing Word," "Missing Word," "Untranslated Word," etc. This article discusses those issues or problems and my criteria for identifying them in more detail. There are hundreds and perhaps thousands of these problems in every English translation.

You can see examples of most of these problems in any verse recently analyzed.

Note: We have tried to do a word-for-word analysis of other popular translations such as the New Living Translation (NLT) but there were simply too many verses with too little connection to the Greek to make it worthwhile. These paraphrasing "Bibles" should be described as impressions or interpretations of other translations, not actual translations of the Greek themselves.

CW - Confusing Word

This is the broadest category, and perhaps the most common. I use it to identify inconsistencies of various types. For example, when a Greek word is translated into two different English words within the same verse or a series of verses or when two different Greek words are translated into the same English word. For example, when one Greek word is translated into "sepulchers" in one verse and in the following verse, a different, unrelated Greek word is also translated into  "sepulchers" in the next verse.Some such issues are universal, two different Greek words with different meanings are translated as "love." Two different Greek negatives with different meanings are both translated as "no" or "not."  I also use this classification when an English word, which is consistently translated from a certain Greek word, is translated from a different Greek word with a different meaning.

WW - Wrong Word

This an easy to identify category and surprisingly common. I use it when a word that clearly means one thing is translated as something else. The most common example is a Greek "but" translated as an English "and" or vice versa. These kinds of "errors" occur because many of Jesus's responses seem to be replies to unrecorded questions (see this article) and the translators want to disguise this fact. While this is harmless, many common problems in this category are less so, such as translated "become," meaning to change, as "be," which implies saying the same. Or translated a "give" as a "bring." Or "writer" as "teacher." Technically, the Greek word translated as "word" is a wrong word since the Greek word means "idea," "accounting," or "concept" not "word" (see this article). However, some of these words I may cite it as only confusing because no real meaning is lost.

MW - Missing Word

Another easy to find and common category. The most common missing word is "the," which is much more important in Greek than English (see this article). For example, the phrase "the spirit, the holy one, is usually translated as "the Holy Spirit" leaving out the problematic article. But even critical words can be left out. There is one verse where the negative is committed, which would reverse the meaning the translators desired.

UW - Untranslated Words

Many words are actually not translated as all. Words such as "hypocrite," "satan," "prophet," and so on are actually a Greek or Aramaic word adopted into English from its use in the Bible. People hearing Christ would have heard these words differently than we do today. "Hypocrite" meant "actor." "Satan" means "adversary," not then incarnation of evil.

IW - Inserted Word and IP - Inserted Phrase

This category is more common in the more recent translations. The purpose is usually to explain something Jesus said in a way that makes it conform more to current Christian dogma or the explain something they thing needs explaining. For example, a "the" may be inserted to make a word seem more important than it was in the original.  Entire phrases may be entered to "explain" what Jesus was saying because today's readers are clearly less intelligent than the people that heard Jesus two thousand years ago.