How to pick and choose verses so that one translation looks better than another.

This is one of the more unfortunate things I have seen on the internet. There are a zillion sites that compare the King James Version of the Bible with another and attempt to show the other translations are part of some insidious conspiracy to subtly undermine a belief in God. They may show a verse where the 'other' translation has one word different, like calling Jesus "Master" instead of  "Christ" or "Son of God" instead of "Jesus" (why is that dishonorable?) and then saying that even though that translation may say "Jesus Christ" in many other verses, the small percentage of differences is proof of some plot to destroy your faith.

Here is a comparison of the two primary contenders, the KJV and the New International Version (this is another excellent site). The comparison on the left favors the KJV but a similar kind of comparison on the right favors the NIV.
 Comparisons that favor the KJV over versions like the NIV (or NAS)    Comparisons that favor the NIV (or NAS) over the KJV
For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village. Luke 9:56 and they went to another village.    Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? Acts 4:25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: 
"Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?"
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.    In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast
revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.
Luke 10:21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned,
and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. 
While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon
her, and she shall live.
Matthew 9:18 While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and said, "My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live."    And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 
Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. Revelation 1:11 saying, "Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea."  If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. John 14:14 If you ask Me anything in My  name, I will do it.

Looking at Acts 4:25 above, do you think this means the KJV was trying to remove a reference to the Holy Spirit to undermine your faith? Or maybe in Luke 10:21 the KJV was trying to hide the connection between Jesus and the Holy Spirit? What nonsense. Neither the KJV nor the NIV are part of any diabolical conspiracy. Each was translated from the Greek text the translators had and believed to be the best. They did not add or delete words. The words were simply not in the text (or texts) they had in front of them at the time. The texts used for the KJV were different from those used for the NIV. The texts were chosen not because of some hidden agenda but because in the 17th century the texts that were accessible and accepted were what the translators used for the KJV. Then by the twentieth century the Bible scholar community generally preferred a different set of Greek texts because of their older age. The older the text, the closer to the original it is generally believed to be.

Naturally we should be concerned with the integrity of the Bible text. Revelation 22:18,19 warns of adding or deleting words from the Bible. But what is ironic, is that modern copies of the KJV have removed some things from the KJV Bible as originally produced. For a couple of centuries the KJV had the apocrypha in it, books that scholars and informed students of the Bible generally believe do not qualify to be called the inspired word of God. So if someone claims, as some supporters do, that the KJV version was originally produced under the Divine Providence of God and should be used in that form, they should also insist that the apocrypha belongs in the Bible.

There is another irony. Some would argue that the differences between the KJV and other versions are most significant in places where a title like "Christ" or "Lord" is present in the KJV but not in the other versions. These differences supposedly show the KJV honors God more than other translations. Now consider this illustration. Suppose the President of the United States collaborated with a professional writer to produce the President's biography. After his final approval it is sent to an editor. Then suppose the editor replaced every occurrence of the President's name with "Mister President" or just "Mister", hundreds of occurrences, leaving only 4 references to his name in the whole book. Would you think the President would feel honored by this, especially since he had already approved its contents, including the many references to his personal name? I don't think so.

Yet that is exactly what happened in most Bible translations including the KJV (except the New Jerusalem Bible and the American Standard Version). Have you ever read God's personal name in the Old Testament? If you read Hebrew you would see it. It is throughout. The Hebrew word for God (El and Elohim) occurs almost 3,000 times in the OT but the proper name of God (Divine Name of God in Hebrew= "Yahweh") occurs more than twice as many times, 6,823! Yet the KJV will show a proper name (the translators chose "Jehovah") only 4 times (see Exodus 6:3; Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 12:2; Isaiah 26:4). How does removing God's name, the name He put in the orignal text, bring glory to God? If one is going to insist that there should be no tampering of God's word then the question becomes, if it was right to display "Jehovah" 4 times why was it improper to consistently put it in the other 6819 places? If God put His name in the text how can the KJV translators be authorized to remove it? Who authorized that?

By this I am not condemning Bibles that replace the proper Name with "LORD", although I think it would have been much better if they included something that looked like a proper name (like "Yahweh"). I am claiming that a criticism against translations that (appear to) remove God-honoring titles (like "God" and "Lord") is also a criticism against the KJV.

This next irony is a little subtle. Compare Revelation 22:18,19 in the KJV with any other translation, like the NIV:
King James Version New International Version
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book , If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book : 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book  of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book  of life , and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book . 18I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book : If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book . 19And if anyone takes words away from this book  of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the  tree of life  and in the holy city, which are described in this book .

Only the KJV refers to the "book of life" in verse 19. This difference may not seem very significant but the irony is that this is probably the most quoted verse in this battle of the versions. Yet in this very verse is an example of words being added and deleted. I checked "Novum Testamentum Graece" and "The Greek New Testament" which list most textual differences of any significance evidenced by even a small number of known biblical texts. If  there is a word found in some ancient text that is not present in others then these two reference works identify both the word and the manuscript that exhibit the difference.  Yet these works list no manuscript as reading "the book of life". This indicates that whatever ancient texts (biblical or commentary) there may be that read "book of life", they are either too few or too insignificant to be listed. This implies that the majority of the greek Bibles read by believers over the centuries read "tree of life".

At some point a copyist made a simple and innocent mistake. If the reading "the book of life" was original, then somehow although many Greek New Testament copies were made down through the centuries, all, or the vast majority were eventually corrupted in this verse and all of the correct copies (if any) eventually deteriorated leaving no progeny. If the original text with "the book of life" had at some time been pervasive in the Christian community, it is hard to understand how copyists could have erroneously removed this from the Greek texts so often that no correct copy could survive until our day.

However, if the original reading were "the tree of life" then a different scenario presents itself. Some copyist was copying the phrase 'words of the book (biblou) of this prophecy . . . from the tree (xulou) of life'.  In in greek the word for "book" and "tree" look alike in that they end in the same three letters (biblou  xulou - while there are various spellings for "book", in the text used for the KJV it is spelled biblou). The copyist was about to copy xulou ("tree") but when he looked back to his original to continue copying, he could have lost his place, looked at the previous line and saw biblou ("book") and copied that. Unfortunately, this mistake is in the very verse that condemns additions to the text. So I ask those who feel the KJV represents the original Bible, without need of any correction, why do the vast majority (or all?) of the greek texts over the centuries prior to the KJV read "tree of life" here? Since a large number of Christians over the early centuries had greek texts that read "tree of life," why insist that the only correct reading is "book of life".