The 1865 Spanish Translation

copyright 2010 by Robert Breaker


Note: This page seeks to give the TRUTH about the history of the 1865 Spanish Version, especially since there are some who defend this version unwaveringly, claiming it is not only the very words of God, but also that it reads along with the KJV completely and is a true "representative" of the old Valera Spanish Bible.  The FACTS will prove this is not so, as the 1865 contains many catholic/critical text readings, as well as other readings that don't follow any text on earth! 

This Bible revision was the work of Angel Mora and H.B. Pratt (even though many modern defenders say that Pratt didn't do any work on it at all.  We will get to that in a minute and prove he did work on it), and was printed by the American Bible Society.  This version has recently (around 2001) been resurrected by Jeff McCardle and is adamantly defended by his Valera Bible Society as the words of God in Spanish.  You can visit their website at:  

According to Floyd Dallis, we read of the 1865: "Dr. Pratt made the most of his textual changes because of the then recent discoveries of Dr. Tischendorf.  Thus, of all the revision to this date, this one had more changes in the text based on Westcott and Hort corruptions.  About 100,000 changes were made in wording.  Dr. Pratt and Dr. Mora began their work in 1861.  Because of the numerous corruptions of this edition, the 1909 was published!  Note, the 1909 was therefore published to correct the corruptions of the 1865 edition of the ABS!"

This means the 1909 Spanish Bible was produced because of the 1865 Spanish Bible, which many believed was so bad, they needed to revise it!

Now, those that defend the modern day 1865 will be the first to refute this statement, and in part they are right, for 1865 was way before Westcott and Hort put out their critical text New Testament.  Thus, the 1865 does not contain Westcott and Hort Critical text readings.  However, the above quote is correct in stating the fact that Dr. Pratt did insert critical text readings.  And this can easily be seen by reading the American Bible Societies own literature, (presented further along in this article). 

Those who defend the 1865 today, claim there were no critical texts before 1881 (when Westcott and Hort printed their Greek CRITICAL text).  And, they further state that there were no critical texts for Mora and Pratt to use in 1865, therefore they could not have inserted them into the text.  However, the following quote from Adoniram Judson from a book entitled "Memoir of Adoniram Judson Being a Sketch of His Life and Missionary Labors," by J. Clement, Saxon Baker and Co., New York, 1860, refutes this assertion: "In my first attempts at translating portions of the New Testament, above 20 years ago, I followed Griesbach, as all the world then did; and though, from year to year I have found reason to distrust his authority, still, not wishing to be ever-changing, I deviated by little from his text, in subsequent editions, until the last."

This is a powerful confession, for Judson died in 1850.  Going back 20 years we come to about 1830.  So he must be referring to people using the corrupt Griesbach CRITICAL text between in the early to mid 1800s.  This means that Dr. Pratt did have access to Critical Texts.  (For Griesbach was one of the first critical texts available).  And as we read the words from the American Bible Society itself, about the history of the 1865, we find that Pratt did indeed concern himself with making sure of critical text readings in that version.

Now, it is important before we quote that source, to once again state the position of the Valera Bible Society and those who defend the 1865, as they claim that Pratt did not work on the 1865, as he was hindered in his work by the Civil War, and unable to work on the 1865 Spanish Bible translation.  But we will clearly see this is a willful misrepresentation of the facts.

In the ABS's essay on Text and Translation from 1860-1900, #16, vol. IV, we read the following on page 25:

 "In March [1860] they [the translation committee] recommended that the services of Sr. de Mora of Madrid and the Rev. Mr. H. B. Pratt of Bogota, working with Mr. Brigham, be used to produce a Spanish Bible..." 

This gives us the names of those involved.  We later read of several other men on the committee involved in the work.  The essay continues:

"The salaries for Mr. Pratt and Sr. de Mora were set at $1,200 a year each...then eye trouble and the disruption in communication by the Civil War made it necessary for Mr. Pratt (in North Carolina) to withdraw."

If we stop here, then we must agree with the Valera Bible Society that Pratt had nothing to do with the work.  However, we read on and find what followed:

"This enforced withdrawl of Mr. Pratt had caused the Versions committee to consider for a time dropping the project. The Committee approved Psalms and Proverbs, (1,000 copies each) for publication and requested Sr. de Mora to continue with the Old Testament consulting Dr. Schmidt and Dr. Jones of the Committee and Dr. Brigham, de Mora to continue at the rate of $1000 per year."

Here are the names given of the other men involved in the project.  And in a May meeting, of 1865, Mr. Holdich states: "Although they may not dare to hope that the work is absolutely perfect, for that would be to claim for it what belongs to nothing human, yet they have strong persuasion that it will be found a very decided improvement on Valera's generally excellent version."

According to him, the work was not absolutely perfect.  And he would not dare say it was.  But in his estimation, it was an improvement on Valera's version.  Why would he say this?  Could it be that he was pro-critical text, and that's why he thought it was better, because he or someone else, inserted many critical texts?

We can come to no other conclusion, as read the words of Mr. Pratt himself on page 27, in which he states he did work on the 1865 Spanish Bible project some with Mr. Mora, and that his job had to do with the critical accuracy of the translation.  I quote Mr. Pratt:

"My good friend Mora, as my long and intimate acquaintance with him qualified me to know, was more than an ordinary master of Spanish, but had not nor could he have a clear notion of critical accuracy so far as the sense was concerned. In our own division of labor, he was responsible for the language, and I for the critical accuracy of the revision. He used to pass on over many things that greatly needed mending, without perceiving that need, till I followed after and called his attention to them. It is, I assure you, one of the few great disappointments of my life, that I could not go on with him till the work was done; and the more so as two men never wrought together in greater harmony than we did."

So even though Pratt did drop out eventually, by his own confession from his own words here presented, he did work together with Mora (and in great harmony, mind you), and in his job his responsibility was the critical accuracy of the text.  What does that mean?  Well, if you know Pratt, and you know the American Bible Society at that time, and you take Mr. Adoniram Judson at his word, then you know that it is talking about using the CRITICAL TEXTS!  That Mr. Pratt loved the critical texts is no secret. In 1893, he produced his own Spanish Bible entitled, "La Versión Moderna" which was based entirely upon the critical texts.

Still, 1865 defenders say it's impossible that Pratt could have inserted critical text readings into the 1865. They claim number one, he didn't work on that revision at all, (but what we've seen from his own words above he did work some with Mr. Mora), and two, they say that there were no critical texts around in 1865. But that is an outright lie. There were critical texts, especial those of Lachmann and Tishendorf in the 1850s and 1860s. Not to mention there existed the corrupt Latin Vulgate, a critical, catholic text.

Dr. Holdich continues on page 27, stating, "I must say in justification that Mr. Mora had no part of the Bible which I had reviewed except the New Testament (barring the Revelation, which I have here), or that we had made but a partial revision of it, having determined to leave many things unsettled, till we came to revise it again before publication, our intention was to revise the Old Testament once, but the New Test. twice as its CRITICAL ACCURACY [emphasis mine] was most important."

What a confession.  So it appears that Mora didn't do much in the work.  And according to this, that version was again revised twice in the New Testament and once in the Old for it's critical accuracy.  Some one revised this Bible again with critical texts!.

On page 27 we read more:

"He [Holdich] pointed out that...Mr. Mora had no critical knowledge of the Scripture, nor even of the present English version."

Did you get that? Mora had no CRITICAL knowledge. It appears Mora was only interested in the original 1602 of Valera and reproducing it. He worked hard at changing the Old Spanish spelling of words to modern Spanish spelling, but he either didn't care or didn't know anything about the critical text readings, so he steered away from them. It was PRATT, and HOLDICH, and possibly others, who found them, pointed them out, and most likely made changes.

Now we come to the last paragraph on page 27, which is a real shocker. It says:

"A point of interest in this connection is committee action in 1868 by which the word 'Palabra' was ordered changed to 'Verbo,' Dr. Schmidt to make a list of the places where this was to be done. At the next meeting he reported changes to be made in John 1:1, 14, 1 John 1:1, 5:7, and Rev. 19:13."

So here we have an interesting confession. We are told in 1868 the word "Palabra" was ordered changed to "Verbo" in the 1865 edition.  So that means there must have been an 1865 edition where it said the correct Protestant word "PALABRA."  Thus, that means there was more than one edition of the 1865!

If you look at the 1865 that is being sold today, you'll see it says "Verbo." So is it really even an 1865 to begin with? Or, is it instead an 1868 revision of the 1865 American Bible Society Spanish Bible?

That needs to be addressed, especially, when you have some going around saying things like, "We need to defend every word of the 1865!" How can they do that if the version they are using isn't the 1865, but a revision of it done in 1868???

Anyway, on page 28, we find an interesting paragraph with a lot of information, which kind of takes us back to Mr. Floyd Dallis' statement we began with. We read:

"About this time [1868] in writing to Mr. Girdlestone of the BFBS, Dr. Holdich said he was at a loss to know what to do about a Spanish Bible. The ABS edition was better than the Valera but what were they to do? [Note: it was better in their eyes because they were pro-critical text and they added Critical Text readings.] All the criticisms came from Mexico and South America. 'We do not know how far to rely on them!' He would like a comparison of the BFBS and ABS editions. There should be one as near perfect as possible and both Societies use it. 'How can this be secured?' "

Look at what we find in this paragraph. Dr. Holdich of the ABS (American Bible Society) wrote to a member of the BFBS (British Foreign Bible Society), and proclaimed his 1865 (or 1868) was better than the Valera. (To him I'm sure it was, as it had been mixed with critical texts, which he believed were the "older and more reliable" texts.) But then he confesses that there were many criticisms of the 1865 from Mexico and South America! That means many Spanish Christians did not like it or accept it! Probably because they weren't in favor of the critical texts!

And then he says they should work together to get a near perfect as possible Spanish Bible. Interestingly enough, this is exactly what they did in producing the 1909 Reina-Valera Spanish revision, which became very widely accepted in Latin American,  and even was the standard Spanish protestant Bible in Central and South America for over 70 years (until it was replaced by the corrupt 1960 Spanish Bible). (Note: the 1909 was not perfect as it too has some critical text readings).

So there you have it. We clearly see from the ABS Text and Translation history that the 1865 (or 1868) Spanish Bible was produced by men who were pro-critical texts, and who inserted many critical texts into their translation. We also see that their version was NOT ACCEPTED and was very much criticized by people in Mexico and South America. And the fruit of the 1865 (or 1868), was to get them to produce another Bible, the 1909.

With all this information, how could anyone who claims to be a Bible Believer who loves God and wants a pure Spanish Bible use the 1865? We don't even really know if it is an "1865!"  For those who today use their version proclaiming it to be an 1865 are preaching from a version that says "Verbo," while our source tells us that this is not in the original 1865, rather it was changed in 1868.

But even after reading all of this evidence, there will still be some who will seek to defend the 1865 and try to deny the truth. It is for them, that I continue with a little more evidence. Below I will give examples of both critical text readings and readings in which what they claim to be an 1865 reads not only against the KJV, but against all texts whatsoever.  You are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to take you King James Bible out and compare the verses, for those who today use the 1865 claim to be KJV only in English and against the critical texts all together.  How then could they defend a version (like the 1865 or is it the 1868?) that reads against the KJV and in favor of the critical texts?


We will assume that the 1865 being pushed today is the original 1865. We don't know this, but we'll assume it. And we will take the version that they are printing and look at some places where it does not line up with the Textus Reptus and the King James Bible. In fact, we'll prove that it instead lines up with the critical texts. Eight examples should be sufficient to prove the point. (For even one critical text reading against the Textus Receptus and King James in favor of the Vaticanus and Siniaticus is too many!)

However, before going further, let me state that in my first book, "A Brief look at the History of the Spanish Bible," I pointed out a list of problems in the 1865 Spanish Bible. After that, those behind the 1865 Spanish Bible reprinted the 1865 with FIFTY CHANGES to the text (many of which are those same errors I listed in my book), and these were listed in the back of their version under the title of "Errata." (If this is not a confession that the original 1865 was in error, I don't know what is).

Because of this, many brethren accused those behind the 1865 of being deceitful in continuing to call that version the 1865, as it was no longer the 1865, but a revision of it done in 2005. They claimed it should have been called either a 2005 Reina-Valera, or a 2005 revision of the 1865 (or 1868?).

Those behind the 1865 later undid those fifty changes (many of which were critical text readings that they removed or corrected), in order to defend the original 1865, claiming it alone was the word of God, and that no version after 1881 (when Westcott and Hort put out their critical text) could ever be anything more than a "Laodicean" version of the scriptures. (So what did that make their 2005 edition?)

Further, I received personally a copy of an 1865 Leather Bound Spanish Bible, and found that there was a mistake even on the front spine of that version, as the word "edition" in Spanish was spelled wrong.  That's pretty bad when you find an error not only in the text, but on the leather cover!

Anyway, below are eight problems with the 1865 Spanish Bible.  There are many, many more.  But these prove the 1865 reads with the Critical Texts.


Matt. 24:2 Omits the word Jesus following the Latin Vulgate

Mark 15:3 Removes "mas el no respondió nada" following the Vulgate

Luke 9:43 Removes the word Jesus as do Aleph, B, and the Vulgate

Jn 14:28 Changes "mi padre" to "el padre"as do Aleph, B. and the Vulgate (see also 16:10,25 and (8:28)

Acts 16:10 Changes Señor to Dios following the Vulgate, Aleph, and B

Acts 17:27 Changes Señor to Dios following the Vulgate, Aleph, and B

Acts 22:16 Removes the words El Señor reading with the Vulgate and the critical texts

James 1:12 Changes Señor to Dios following the Latin Vulgate reading


Those behind the original 1865 further had so much disrespect for the word of God in Spanish, that they changed several places with NO TEXTUAL BASIS TO DO SO WHATSOEVER!  That is, they followed NO TEXT at all, and just changed the text to their own liking. Below are just a few examples.


Not only does the 1865 follow the critical texts against the King James and Textus Receptus, it also makes many strange changes with no textual basis for doing so. Below are a few examples:

Matt. 5:1  Jesus added.  Not found in any text.

Matt. 8:1 Adds Jesus to the verse when there is no textual basis to do so!

Mark 6:44 Omits the word como

Mark 8:25 Adds the words de lejos

Mark 11:19 Jesus added. Not in TR.  (But is in original 1602)

Luke 2:9  Changes Lord to God (Dios)

John 1:1 Changes Palabra to Verbo

Acts 8:16 Omits Señor

Acts 8:25 Changes Señor to Dios

2 Cor. 10:18 Changes Señor to Dios, following no text on earth!

Heb. 4:8  Says Joseu instead of Joshua.  All greek texts say Jesus.

1 Tim. 6:1 Changes Dios to Señor with no textual basis to do so

2 Tim. 4:14 Changes Señor to Dios, for no reason following no text

These are just a few of the many places in which the 1865 version has changed the true Reina-Valera Bible, departing not only in favor of the critical texts, but making changes with no texual basis to do so whatsoever! It's almost like whoever revised it decided they liked to interchange the words "God" and "Lord" back and forth anytime they so desired.



Ezek. 28:15  Says that Satan is finished (acabado).  Right texts say "perfecto" because when he was made he was perfect.  That's why he fell, because of pride, thinking he was better than God.

Matt. 14:36 Says people are saved by simply touching Jesus' garment

John 10:11  Says Jesus Christ gave his soul and not his life.

1 Peter 1:23  Makes it read is such a way that it appears that God is the living one, and not his word.



The mountain of evidence given here should be sufficient to any true Bible believer that the 1865 Spanish Bible is not worth wasting your time with. Although it has greatly improved some verses to match even closer to the KJV, it has also destroyed many other verses by making them read with the critical texts, and decimated even other verses by changing words which don't match with any text on the face of the earth!

Those who defend the 1865 claim to be KJV in English. If so, how do they reconcile the fact that their Spanish version doesn't line up with the English 1611 version? And how can they claim (as they so adamantly do) that the KJV is perfect, and then claim their 1865 is perfect when they don't say the same thing?

It is up to you, dear reader, with the evidence presented here to decide for yourself what to do with the 1865 (or is it an 1868?) Spanish Bible. Facts have been given which cannot be denied from those who commissioned the work to be done (the American Bible Society). I have also tried to give evidence from within the pages of the 1865 itself which prove it reads with the critical texts.  And, I've given information about how those who push the 1865 have revised it, but then gone back to the old version, proving they are not really interested at all in a pure Spanish Bible.  Instead they only want to defend their original A.B.S. 1865 (or is it 1868?) edition.

But, you mark my words, those who defend the 1865 will not deal with the facts, or the evidence. They will continue to do what they have always done, which is to try to explain away the obvious, and say that facts have been "twisted" or "taken out of context."  (They've even gone so far as to say that some of the differences from the KJV amount to "advanced revelations" in the 1865/1868 text.  This is hard to swallow!)

If falls upon you then, dear reader, to study this issue for yourself and see who is telling the truth. And please don't allow yourself to be taken off the trail with side arguments. Stick to the facts as I have done.  Stick to the text itself.

If you will study with an open mind, you will find exactly what I have found, that the purest Spanish Bible available today is the 1602 Purified Spanish Bible.

Below is a .pdf format document from the American Bible Society, which gives the history of many different versions in many different languages.  In this document, you will find the source of which I quoted from above.