For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,
and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
Psalm 8:5

There is a huge difference between the KJV’s translation of Psalm 8:5 and those of the modern versions. The KJV tells us that we were made a little lower than angels.

However, the majority of modern versions tell us that we were made a little lower than God himself.

ASV For thou hast made him but little lower than God, And crownest him with glory and honor.

RSV Yet thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor.

Other similar renderings include those of the RV, Moffat’s, NASV, WBT, NRSV, Amplified Bible, NLT, CEV (you yourself), the so-called God’s Word (yourself), and the NIV, The Living Bible and the so-called New King James Version in footnotes.

This key verse is one of the trickier issues for defending the KJV to some extent because this is not a case where the modern versions have ignored, altered or misread the Hebrew of the text. Out of context, the reading of many of these versions can be claimed to be correct renderings of the Hebrew. However, this is a verse that requires more than just a casual examination of the Hebrew. It requires that the reader put the verse into the context of the whole Bible itself, and above all, it requires spiritual discernment. The latter attribute is, or was, absent in all of the modern version translators — and I do not mean virtually all; I mean all. Some may have repented after their crime against God had already been committed and later gained spiritual discernment, but in this case it is after the fact. Bible translation is very different from other forms of translation. I am a professional translator. I have done countless Arabic translations, which include birth certificates, marriage licenses, legal documents, contracts, brochures for pharmaceuticals, a suicide letter, obscene graffiti vandalism, newspaper articles, Islamic documents, and an autobiography of an Islamic fundamentalist leader, as well as translations in Persian, Hindi, Urdu, French, and a number of ancient languages. In all of these cases there were two requirements incumbent upon me, and these requirements apply to all translators of all genres and languages. (1) The translator must have a strong working knowledge of the source language, and this requires a firm understanding of the culture and its history in addition to a knowledge of the grammar and syntax of that language. (2) The translator must be a capable writer in the target language, which will usually be his own native tongue. If a translator cannot write decent English, if that is the target language, then he cannot hope to reasonably reflect what is being said in the source language.

The Bible, on the other hand, is special because it requires a third criterion, which is spiritual discernment. If a translator is not being guided by the Holy Spirit he cannot hope to understand the Bible above the most superficial level. The latter criterion is one that I learned the hard way. I learned Hebrew and a certain amount of Greek long before I got saved. I got good grades in my Harvard classes and read a large portion of the Hebrew Old Testament and some of the Greek New Testament as an unsaved man and was able to understand the sentence structure, grammar and basic sense as well as anyone else that I knew with my level of experience. I can say the same thing for my Vedic, Sanskrit, Akkadian, Hittite, and Arabic Qur’an classes, all of which were equal to me at the time. I also read the RSV and gained enough Bible knowledge to have been very competitive in a game of Biblical Trivial Pursuit, and could probably have beaten the average church-goer at that game. I did not, however, understand the Bible at all, because it is not intellectually perceived, but spiritually discerned. I only knew it as an intellectual and I was bound for hell at the time. Upon accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour, and repenting of my sinful nature, a whole new understanding of the Bible was presented to me instantly. I will never fully understand the Word of God, and will always have much to learn and study, but my knowledge increased many times over at the moment of my surrender. My twenty some years of Hebrew have their use, but they did not grant me one iota of discernment; only the Holy Spirit did that. I also became convicted of what I already sensed, and that was that the King James Version was the only Bible that I should read, and that the RSV that I used for studying was highly tainted. I never opened it again, except for the purpose of showing others where it is corrupt.

Many modern version translators are capable with the second criterion (notable exceptions include Eugene Peterson and at least most of the committee members for the CEV, TEV, WBT, The Living Bible, and other similar slop jobs), and a few are marginally capable translators of Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek, which allows them to satisfy the first criterion to an extent. A small minority may even be satisfy the first criterion to an exemplary extent. None of these translators, however, satisfy the third criterion and because of this they are no more than hacks. Are we to expect serious biblical translation work from apostates, witches, sodomites, lesbians, sodomite and lesbian sympathizers, evolutionists, socialists, New Agers, Catholics, non-Catholic pagans, abortion supporters, agnostics and atheists? It is an absurdity to think that we could, and it does not require more than the smallest measure of spiritual discernment to see that this is so.

This is where so many go wrong when they deal with Psalm 8:5. Does it make sense to say that we are made a little lower than God? This implies what Hindus, New Agers, Mormons and other pagans say about man being bound for godhood. If we are a little lower than God, can we not work a little harder and become gods ourselves? This idea was actually presented to mankind in the Bible. It was presented to Eve through the mouth of Satan in the garden of Eden.

Gen 3:5 for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.

This is, of course, a lie and it contradicts the entire Bible. We are vile sinners that are lost and on our way to hell if not for the grace granted to us by Christ. Would God cast anyone into hell if they were just a little lower than Him? Would we need to be redeemed by a Saviour if we were so lofty? If we were just a little lower than God without a Saviour, what would we become once we are lifted up by a Saviour? Ask a high level Mormon for the answer to that question. Spiritual discernment alone tells us that elohim does not mean God in this verse. Our alleged slightly lower status than God’s is the message of the serpent, not of God’s Word.

Still we do have the word elohim to deal with in the passage and it does mean God as so many Bible correctors smugly point out. These would-be correctors rarely, if ever, bother to bring up the fact that elohim also means gods. Grammatically it is a plural and it is used as one in the Old Testament in over 200 occurences. In these cases it always describes pagan gods, which are always either products of the imagination of man, or actual demons, which are fallen angels. The following examples include RSV verses to show that the modern versions do not disagree on the issue of gods being a valid translation of elohim. I am not going to take the time to compare every single occurence, but it is likely that the ASV agrees with the KJV on this issue in every example. The same could be said of most other modern versions. I have chosen the ASV because it, along with the RV, started the ball rolling with the trend to pervert Psalm 8:5.

KJV Gen 31:30 And now, though thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou sore longedst after thy father’s house, yet wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?

ASV And now, though thou wouldest needs be gone, because thou sore longedst after thy father’s house, yet wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?

KJV Deut 18:20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

ASV But the prophet, that shall speak a word presumptuously in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.

KJV Psalm 96:5 For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.

ASV For all the gods of the peoples are idols; But Jehovah made the heavens.

KJV 2 Kings 18:34 Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?

ASV Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand?

KJV Jer 11:10 They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.

ASV They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words; and they are gone after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.

Why was Psalm 8:5 not translated as a little lower than the gods by the modern versions? Would this not be just as strong of a possibility on a purely philological level? It would actually be a better one than what the ASV and RSV have presented, because in a sense this is exactly what it says, but this needs clarifying. As stated earlier, angels are worshipped in false religions all over the world. The OT’s many references to the gods of the nations refer to the worship of angels that are treated as if they were divine. Virtually every major religion of the world does have the belief that there is one all powerful God that created the universe. However, most religions choose to ignore Him and worship lesser deities, which are of course demons, or angels, being one and the same. The evidence for this fact is overwhelming and can be demonstrated for the religions of Indo-Aryans, Hindus, the Chinese, Zoroastrians, Babylonians, Sumerians, Egyptians, and many other cultures. It is not necessarily so that only demons, or fallen angels, are worshiped by man. The modern abomination of angel worship as it appears in America is the worship of angels in general; their fallen or non-fallen nature is not called into question. It is as the KJV and so many ancient versions tell us. Angels are what are being referred to in Psalm 8:5.

The retort that the arrogant will make is that nowhere else in the Old Testament is elohim translated as angels. That does not matter in the least because we have a final authority that settles the matter once and for all for us, which is the Bible itself. The Book of Hebrews not only explains the verse, but it actually quotes it, and it does translate elohim with the Greek word for angels. It should be noted that even the corrupt Westcott-Hort and Nestle-Aland pseudo-texts also have ‘angelous’ in this passage.

Hebrews 2:2-9
For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

I was shocked and saddened when I listened to a tape by Bert Thompson, one out of the many creation scientists who purports to defend the Bible out of one side of their mouths while attacking it out of the other, make the statement that the ASV was correct in translating Psalm 8:5 as God instead of angels. Apparently Thompson, like so many other modern Bible “correcting” apostates thinks that he knows better than the author of Hebrews and that he is not only just a little lower than God, but a little higher than the New Testament, which is the Word of God. I might remind such claimants of the words of Psalm 138:2.

“I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.”

Not only do such critics place themselves on a divine pedestal, but they imply that the New Testament is in error and that this is a contradiction in the Bible. This puts them on very dangerous ground indeed, no matter how much they claim to be defenders of the Bible.

Matthew 7:21&22 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

The NIV should not be neglected in this discussion for it did present a unique translation that could fool the undiscerning on another level.

“You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings…”

This may appear, on the surface, to refer to angels, but it does not. The NIV translators had something more specific in mind when they came up with this wicked translation, and it does not refer to angels per se. The New Age origins of the NIV, which are so obvious in so many places, surface here with gusto. This is, undoubtedly, a reference to the New Age concept of ascended masters that was so prominent in the writings of Madame Blavatsky and her fellow demon-worshipers. While the ambiguous term spiritual beings may refer to angels, it may also apply to false gods, or to the Great White Brotherhood of Blavatsky, or Hindu avatars, yogis, buddhas, Jain tirthankaras, Sufi masters, and endless other varieties of so-called ascended masters. This purport may escape the attention of the average pew-warming NIV church member, but it would not escape the attention of the initiated. The NIV does not, however, neglect to present the alternative translation of “a little lower than God,” which it presents in a footnote. Nowhere does it present “angels” as an alternative, at least not in an edition that I have seen. Perhaps, they want to make it clear that so-called ascended masters are on their way to godhood. Perhaps, the most blatantly New Age perversion of this verse comes from the ever idiotic The Message of Eugene Peterson, which actually has “we’ve so narrowly missed being gods.” How much worse can it get than that? I shouldn’t ask; someone will probably come up with something worse before too long.

Numerous ancient versions, including the Septuagint, acknowledge that “angels” is the proper translation for the verse. These are valuable sources to back up the KJV’s translation, but we do not need them at all. We have the New Testament for proof and we need nothing more.

In summary, unlike the critics, I will accept what the Word of God and the Holy Spirit tells me about Psalm 8:5, and allow the arrogant to go their own way. I am not a little lower than God; I am immeasurably lower than God. Comparing ourselves to God would be far sillier than it would be for termites to compare their hill to Mount Everest. I rest my case on God’s own Word on it.

1 Conveniently, the ASV and other modern perversions have perverted this verse too. In the future I may present a discussion of this verse that was inspired by and would largely be derived from the writings of Will Kinney and Jeffrey A. Tibbetts.

John Hinton, Ph.D.
Bible Restoration Ministry
A ministry seeking the translating and reprinting of KJV equivalent
Bibles in all the languages of the world.