On Scripture

A New Hearing for the KJV Authorised Version

The Author

It has been a little over six years ago (June 24, 2005) that Dr Theodore P. Letis, Sr. was suddenly taken to glory after an academic career devoted to promoting and defending the traditional texts of the Bible, especially the Greek NT “received text” that lies behind all the major versions that sprang from the Reformation, including our beloved KJV. After his conversion to the Christian faith in the 1970s, Letis was instructed and mentored by Dr Edward F. Hills, himself an ardent defender of the traditional text behind the KJV, who would in many ways confirm Letis in his life work. His early academic career included receiving a B.A. in Biblical Studies and History from Evangel College and an M.A. from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Letis became a Lutheran (Missouri Synod) Biblical scholar who earned an honours M.T.S. degree in American Church History from Emory University and his doctorate from the University of Edinburgh in Ecclesiastical History. He originated the Institute for Renaissance and Reformation Biblical Studies for the advance of his cause and wrote and lectured widely on Biblical-textual subjects. He is the author of several books, including The Majority Text: Essays and Reviews in the Continuing Debate (1987), The Ecclesiastical Text: Text Criticism, Biblical Authority, and the Popular Mind (2000), and A New Hearing for the Authorized Version (2003).

Introduction

Twentieth-century man is a manipulated creature. The merchandisers of the world have conditioned him to believe that he must have variety and multiple choice for everything from toothpaste to gravestones. He has reached the point that if he does not have several options to choose from he feels forced upon by some authority other than his own freedom of choice. No dimension of life is sacrosanct, including religion. Not only do we have a religion (or denomination) for every conceivable disposition, but now we have Bibles to suit any temperament. If you have not seen one that you like yet, wait awhile; it will arrive. I find that I can tolerate most of this multiplicity of variety except when it comes to the Bible, and that is because I cannot seem to make it all fit with my idea of a “final authority” (for all matters of faith and practice). Perhaps my problem is that I take the issue too seriously.

Nevertheless, I have made a comparison of the English Bibles published from 1525 (Tyndale’s) to the present, 1978 (New International Version, first edition), with a view to the New Testament specifically, and have arrived at the following conclusion: keeping in consideration both the divine and the human aspects of the Bible, the Authorized Version (which shall hereafter be referred to as A.V. or King James Version) should be retained in the churches, in Bible studies, and in the classroom, because of the superiority of its Greek text, translation, and English usage; and because it is a link with our past as well as a unifying factor for the present.

Keeping in mind both the human and the divine aspects of the Bible the first area we will examine is that of the Greek text.

The Scrolls and the Parchments

One of the most prevailing criticisms of the A.V. is that it was produced before we had the advantage of recent manuscript discoveries [American Bible Society, “Why So Many Bibles?” (New York: American Bible Society, 1968), p. 5]. For example, it was not until the late nineteenth century that scholars took full advantage of two of the oldest New Testament manuscripts, Codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, both of the fourth century [Ibid, p. 15].

In spite of the antiquity of these two documents, however, some scholars believe they are edited copies because they differ from the majority of the rest of the manuscripts. Moreover, they differ from one another in over 3,000 places in the gospels alone [H. C. Hoskier’s Codex B and Its Allies: A Study and an Indictment, vol. I (London: Bernard Quaritch, 1914), p. vi]. John William Burgon, a scholar who personally examined these two “old” documents, characterized them as follows:

We suspect that these two Manuscripts are indebted for their preservation, solely to their ascertained evil character; which has occasioned that the one eventually found its way, four centuries ago, to a forgotten shelf in the Vatican library: while the other, after exercising the ingenuity of several generations of critical Correctors, eventually (viz. in A.D. 1844) got deposited in the waste-paper basket of the Convent at the foot of Mount Sinai. Had B and ? been copies of average purity, they must long since have shared the inevitable fate of books which are freely USED and highly prized; namely, they would have fallen into decadence and disappeared from sight. But in the meantime, behold, their very Antiquity has come to be reckoned to their advantage [John W. Burgon, The Revision Revised, 2nd ed. (London: John Murray, 1885), p. 319].

Burgon had good reason for doubting the reliability of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, if only because they differed so radically from the majority of the manuscripts. It was on the majority that the AV. was based, which thus assured it of the greatest possible accuracy, until the discovery of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. In what ways do these two ancient documents differ from the majority? It can be summed up in one word: omissions-close to five thousand altogether [Wilbur N. Pickering, The Identity of the New Testament Text (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc., 1977), p. 16]. Although it has been continuously asserted that none of these omissions (and other alterations) affect doctrine, the following examples seem to indicate otherwise:

1 Tim. 3:16

The Authorized Version reads: “God was manifest in the flesh.”

Sinaiticus (Vaticanus is missing this portion) reads: “. . . Who was manifest in the flesh.”

Colossians 1:14

The Authorized Version reads: “In Whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”

While Vaticanus and Sinaiticus read: “In Whom we have redemption, even the forgiveness of sins” (“through His blood” omitted).

Luke 2:33

The Authorized Version reads: “And Joseph and His mother marvelled.”

While Vaticanus and Sinaiticus read: “And His Father and His mother. . .”

This latter variant is of no small significance in light of a recent book titled The Illegitimacy of Jesus: A Feminist Theological Interpretation of the Infancy Narratives (1987). Here Professor Schaberg argues that Jesus was, as the title of her book makes clear, illegitimately born to Mary and Joseph and that it was Luke’s intention to demonstrate that “This child will be holy because the Holy Spirit will come upon his mother, and she will experience divine protection and empowerment even in a situation deemed unholy [Jane Schaberg, “The Illegitimacy of Jesus: A Feminist Theological Interpretation of the Infancy Narratives” (San Francisco: Harper and Row Publishers, 1987), p. 125].  Moreover,

“The process of gradual Christian erasure of the tradition [of Jesus’ illegitimacy] began here in the gospels, as the evangelists attempted to minimize the potential damage of the tradition and maximize its power. The tradition became a subtext, difficult to read” [Ibid., p. 195].

In other words, later Christians altered this truth of Jesus’s illegitimacy by turning it into a virginal birth, but the earlier manuscripts, such as Codices Vaticanus, Sinaiticus (and Bezae), which read “His father and His mother,” still suggest remnants of the original tradition. We can see here how such small alterations in the text can have profound implications for theology.

Some of the other lengthy passages omitted by these documents are as follows:

John 7:53-8:11 (The entire account of the woman taken in adultery, 12 verses in all.)

John 5:3,4 (The account of the angel troubling the water.)

Mark 16:9-20 (12 verses in all recounting the Resurrection and the Ascension.)

It will be asked why are these manuscripts so highly regarded if they lack so much that has been traditionally regarded as Scripture? Most scholars will answer that antiquity must be regarded as the highest priority [Sir Fredric Kenyon, “Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts,” 5th ed. (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1958), p. 3]. In effect, the criterion of ANTIQUITY alone has prevailed over the MAJORITY, and today all modern versions from 1881 on (with the rare exception of “The 21st Century King James Version,” which I shall address shortly), either are based on, or have reference to, these two manuscripts (and some kindred papyri), even though they seriously conflict with the majority and each other. Dean Burgon (1883) had the following to say concerning the advocates of this new textual theory:

“They [Westcott and Hort] exalt B [Vaticanus] and Aleph [Sinaiticus] . . . because in their own opinions those copies are the best. They weave ingenious webs and invent subtle theories because their paradox of a few against the many requires ingenuity and subtlety for its support [W. MacLean, “The Providential Preservation of the Greek Text of the New Testament,” 3rd ed. (Gisborne, NX: Westminster Standard Publications, 1977), p. 11].

There were other men along with Burgon who never lost sight of the divine aspect of the book and who realized that, though an open mind should be kept with regard to new manuscript discoveries, they were not ready to “take away from the words of the book” so quickly. They wanted to wait until all the evidence was in. There were others who wanted the Bible updated immediately according to the findings. Two such men were Bishop B. F. Westcott and F.J. A. Hort.

The Revised Version of 1881-83

Westcott and Hort were the leading force on a revision committee formed in 1879 to update the AN. by ridding it of obsolete words and by correcting “plain and clear errors” [’F. F. Bruce, “The English Bible”, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970), p. 139]. In fact, they were given eight general rules to follow, one of which was “to introduce as few alterations as possible into the text of the A.V. consistently with faithfulness” [Ibid., p. 137]. This principle, however, was stretched to its limit-some would say it was actually violated-when the revised Greek text Westcott and Hort had been conjointly constructing for nearly twenty years was introduced to the revision committee, a section at a time. It was a text revised to the standard of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. Burgon, who had not been invited to work on the committee and so had some degree of detachment, had a few words to say about this switching of Greek texts which has subsequently affected nearly every translation to date:

“Shame, — yes, SHAME on that two-thirds majority of well-intentioned but most incompetent men who, — finding themselves (in an evil hour) appointed to correct “PLAIN AND CLEAR ERRORS” in the English “Authorized Version, “ — occupied themselves instead with FALSIFYING THE INSPIRED GREEK TEXT in countless places, and branding with suspicion some of the most precious utterances of the Spirit! Shame, yes, SHAME upon them!” [Burgon, “The Revision Revised”, p. 135].

Westcott’s and Hort’s type of Greek text has prevailed in Bible translation work to the present day. Since their time, however, we have had an opportunity to take a closer look at the materials at hand; and as a result, some scholars are now starting to return to the type of Greek text on which the AV. was based.”

[On this point consult H. C. Hoskier’s “Codex B and Its Allies: A Study and an Indictment”, 2 vols. (London: Bernard Quaritch, 1914), wherein he has a dedication which reads as follows: “This essay is respectfully dedicated to the next body of revisers in the hope that it may prove of some service to them.” In the wake of this seminal work see more recently, Wilbur N. Pickering, “The ldentity of the New Testament Text” (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc., 1977); Jakob Van Bruggen, “The Ancient Text of the New Testament” (Winnipeg: Premier Printing, 1976); Brevard Childs, “The New Testament as Canon” (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984), “Excursus I”, pp. 518-530; and my own “The Ecclesiastical Text: Text Criticism, Biblical Authority and the Popular Mind” (Institute for Renaissance and Reformation Biblical Studies, 1997).]

Biblical English

With regard to English usage, the A.V. has been both praised and scorned; praised for the power and beauty of its language; scorned because that language is regarded as “archaic.” The best defence for the language of the A.V., however, is a professional appraisal of the state of today’s English, and for that, we turn to remarks made by George Orwell:

“Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it . . . [B]ut an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely . . . [I]t is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts” [George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” in Readings For Writers, ed. JoRay McCuen and Anthony C. Winkler (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1977), p. 299].

Americans are particularly susceptible to this criticism because of the ubiquitous influences of consumerist slogans and the national past-time of creating jargon and euphemisms in the business world and in popular journalism. What might this say for the argument that the Scriptures, with their regal thoughts and concepts, should be wrestled down from heavenly plateaus and made to speak through a language that is “ugly and inaccurate”? What would the effects be on those concepts as a result? Perhaps Kenneth Taylor’s Living Bible will serve as a fair example:

I Samuel 20:30: “You son of a bitch!” [This was actually altered in later editions because of the storm of protest it precipitated].

1 Kings 18:27: “Perhaps he is talking to someone or else is out sitting on the toilet.”

Should we not want to infuse contemporary English with a slightly higher form of expression, such as is found in the AV.? Pierson Parker noted in his insightful essay, “In Praise of 1611,” that

“it may well be that the flaccidity and banality of much twentieth-century English stems from the fact that people today do not know the Bible, the 1611 Bible, as their forefathers did. Yet we long for a fuller command of English among college and university graduates” [Pierson Parker, “In Praise of 1611,” Anglican Theological Review 3 (July 1964), pp. 251-60].

Some will reply, “that is an artificial approach; no one can be expected to go backward; besides, when the Bible was originally written it was in the language of the day.” Woodrow W. Hill would reply that

“While the original language of the New Testament was conversational in nature, the truths communicated were elevated and spiritual. For this reason, it seems inappropriate to many for the vehicle used in conveying these sacred truths to have too much of the smell of the mundane upon it” [Broadman Press, “What Bible Can You Trust?” (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1974), pp. 99-100. Moreover, it would seem that even the well-repeated slogan that the New Testament was written in, street language” has been called into question since the days of Deissmann (1866-1937), who first popularized this notion, as we will see under sections dealing with translation philosophy, “utilitarian” and “theological”].

I hear someone else responding with “Yes, but even the A.V. was in contemporary language in its day!” This is another of those popular misconceptions, I’m sorry to say, used by modern Bible publishers to legitimize whatever version they are pushing onto the market. According to Dr Edward F. Hills, an authority on the A.V.,

“The English of the King James Version is not the English of the early 17th century. To be exact, it is not a type of English that was ever spoken anywhere. It is Biblical English, which was not used on ordinary occasions even by the translators who produced the King James Version. As H. Wheeler Robinson (1940) pointed out, one need only compare the preface written by the translators with the text of their translation to feel the difference in style . . . The King James Version . . . owes its merit not to 17th-century English — which was very different — but to its faithful translation of the original . . . its style is that of the Hebrew and of the New Testament Greek” [Edward F. Hills, “The King James Version Defended”, 4th ed. (Des Moines: The Christian Research Press, 1973), p. 218].

To me, that seems to say that the A.V. is in one sense timeless, and as such, cannot be rightly called archaic. One last response, however, to the sincere advocates of “the Bible in the language of the people”:

“Again it is sheer accident, and wholly artificial, that Elizabethan language should be associated in the public mind with worship-just as it is accident and artifice that make us think 'church’ when we see gothic architecture. But legitimate or not, the association has been made and is a fact of our life. Even the R.S.V. and N.E.B. translators, when they come to hymns and prayers, revert to the ‘Thee’s’ and ‘Thou’s’ of yester-century. The question is by no means frivolous: if, as R.S.V. and N.E.B. testify, the tongue of Elizabeth is proper for hymns and prayers, why is it not proper for all Scripture reading in the churches?” [Pierson Parker, “In Praise of 1611,” pp. 251-60].

As for the overall difficulty of Elizabethan English, this is also a popular fallacy born of a scornful age. Dr Rudolf Flesch, one of the leading authorities on readable writing, has shown that the difficulty of any reading material can be gauged by the number of affixes per hundred words. For example,

“the average reader standard of 37 is important to know. The best example of very easy prose (about 20 affixes per 100 words) is the King James Version of the Bible: literary writing tends to be fairly difficult; scientific prose is very difficult. This book has on the average per 100 words, 33 affixes” [Rudolf Flesch, “The Art of Plain Talk” (New York: Harper & Brothers Publisher, 1946), p. 43.].

Incidentally, a good example of a Bible that tends to be “difficult” for the average reader is the modern “New English Bible” (1961-70). Terence H. Brown noted that

“In many places, the homely Anglo-Saxon words [in the KJV] have been displaced by stilted Latinisms, and simple expressions exchanged for more difficult ones. Typical examples are: — machinations (lying in wait), anxious to ingratiate (willing to do the Jews’ pleasure), beneficent work (grace), indefatigable in confuting (mightily convinced), arrogates (takes), inscribed (written), extirpate (destroy). Outstanding examples of pompous pedantry are to be found in I Tim. 4:3 ‘inculcating abstinence’; I Tim. 6:4 ‘pompous ignoramus’; James 3:8 ‘intractable evil’ [Terence H. Brown, “The New English Bible” 1961-1970 (London: The Trinitarian Bible Society, 1970), pp. 1-2].

It appears that the popular notions that the A.V. is difficult because it is OLD, while modern versions tend to be easy because they are contemporary, are both fallacious.

Thees and Thous

The issue of specific archaisms in the A.V. is one that has been abundantly over-laboured but should be addressed. Though more may exist, Hills offers only seventeen serious examples of words which have changed meaning since 1611 [Hills, “The King James Version”, pp. 217-218]. Nevertheless, almost every modern version justifies its existence on the basis of these archaisms; and certainly, it must be admitted that there is something to be said for updating obsolete words. Why is it, though, that we do not feel such compulsion with regard to Shakespeare’s works? The answer is probably that while all should be literate in Shakespeare, there are probably many who never will be. But Holy Scripture should be made as accessible as possible, to all levels of literacy. Hence, the recent appearance of a masterful updated edition of the classic A.V. now allows anyone with a desire to use the old Anglican Bible to do so, less the archaisms. The “21st Century King James Version” is an exact reproduction of the A.V. with accurate, modern equivalents for all the several archaisms found throughout its last revision ["The 21st Century King James Version” (Gary, South Dakota: 21st Century King James Bible Publishers, 1994). Moreover, this edition has not attempted to amend the underlying Greek and Hebrew texts of the A.V., as other modern publishers have done]. The complaint of difficult archaisms is no longer available for those who want to impatiently dismiss this sacred classic.

Moreover, there is actually an advantage to the antiquated pronouns that modern translation advocates are either uninformed about, or else rather quiet regarding. Late in the twentieth century, Thomas Nelson, knowing a market when they saw one, made an attempt to update the old workhorse of both high church liturgists, as well as low church fundamentalists, but also gave way like the “Revised Version” before it, this time in the Old Testament text, and by ditching the Tyndalian/Elizabethan second person singular/plural distinctions (i.e., the thees and thous) in their “’New’ King James Bible”. Dr. Mikre-Sellassie, a United Bible Societies translation consultant, rehearsed in an article he wrote for “The Bible Translator” in April of 1988 (pp. 230 -237), why the “thees” and “thous” cannot be dispensed with in good conscience. While many marketing-types think these terms are the shibboleth by which consumers will judge whether a Bible is “modern” or not (while trying to make up their minds at the shelf of their local religious bookstore), it is no justification for erasing the important grammatical function these terms actually fulfill. I shall let him speak in his own voice:

“Translators, and especially those in common language projects, may find it strange and surprising to hear a consultant recommending use of the King James Version for translation . . . The archaic English pronouns of the KJV distinguish number in the second person pronoun in all cases, as shown in [the accompanying] table. Thus the KJV can certainly render an important service to those translators who do not have any knowledge of the source languages of the Bible and therefore work only from an English base, in easily distinguishing between “you singular” and “you plural” [Ammanuel Mikre-Sellassic, “Problems in Translating Pronouns From English Versions,” “The Bible Translator” vol. 39 (April 1988): pp. 230-237].

PersonSingularPlural
1st PersonIWe
2nd PersonThou   Thee   Thy   ThineYe   You   Your
3rd PersonMasculine   Feminine    NeuterHe            She           ItThey

Hence, it is impossible to communicate this important grammatical point without Elizabethan/Biblical English terms, as found in the A.V. and as retained in the KJ21.

The “Language of the People”?

We will now illustrate the fragmentation that has occurred as a result of so many “Bibles in the language of the people,” vying to replace the A.V. and thus assume the monopoly of which it alone could once boast. I hope this will also demonstrate the fallacy of trying to ascertain just what is the “language of the people.”

The following quotations are from the book “What Bible Can You Trust?”, which supplies a brief description of the purpose for which several of the more important modern Bibles have been published. Though most of them give more reasons, all of them give the following:

The New Testament in Modern Speech, by Weymouth, 1903:

“To consider how it could be most accurately and naturally exhibited in the English of the present day” [Broadman Press, “What Bible”, p. 39].

Centenary Translation of the N.T., by Montgomery, 1924:

“ . . . to make a translation chiefly designed for the ordinary reader . . .” [Ibid., p. 40].

The Bible: A New Translation, by Moffatt, 1926:

“The aim I have endeavoured to keep before my mind in making this translation has been to present the books . . . in effective, intelligible English . . .” [Ibid., p. 41].

The New Testament, An American Translation, by Goodspeed, 1923:

“ . . . those facts were adequate reasons for a new translation . . . put in the familiar language of today” [Ibid., p. 42].

The New Testament in the Language of the People, by Dr Charlie B. Williams, 1937:

“Dr Williams . . . felt a need to produce a translation which would be as understandable to modern English readers as the original Greek text was to the reader of the first century” [Ibid., p. 43].

Revised Standard Version, 1952:

“A common slogan associated with the first publicity was, ‘the Word of Life in Living Language’” [Ibid., p. 48].

Today’s English Version, 1966:

“This translation . . . came in response to repeated proposals that a translation be made that would be understood by anyone who reads English . . . “ [Ibid., p. 65].

The New English Bible, 1970:

“We aim at a version which shall be as intelligible to contemporary readers as the original . . .” [Ibid., p. 70]

New American Standard Version, 197 1:

“. . . to make the translation in a fluent and readable style according to current English usage” [Ibid., p. 76].

The Living Bible Paraphrased, by Ken Taylor, 1971:

“Ken Taylor has . . . made the Bible readable” [Ibid., p. 81]

“The New International Version”, 1973:

“Opinions were garnered from men of wide and diverse theological and denominational backgrounds. The consensus was that, in spite of the fine features of many translations, there was a need for an up-to-date translation [!] . . . “ [Ibid., p. 84].

Let us at this point invoke a little common sense and logic into the discussion. These, of course, are only a few of the major versions, but the reader is left with one of three conclusions after reading the “raison d’tre” for each of these modern editions: (1) all previous attempts at putting the Bible into the language of the people have failed, thus prompting continuous attempts; (2) our language has been changing so fast that we need a new translation every few years to keep up with it; or (3) there are other factors that prompt one to make a translation of the Bible, which, when discovered, will explain why we have become inundated with modern Bibles.

Once one gets free of advertising slogans, two factors suddenly materialize offering insight as to what has prompted such a torrent of Bibles “in the language of the people”: first, a low regard for Scripture as a sacred text; and second, the economic determinism that governs free enterprise, which then enters to exploit the first point.

Concerning the first point, we refer to C. S. Lewis’s work “The Literary Impact of the Authorized Version”, in which he demonstrates that the movement to regard the Bible “as literature” arose from the era of Romanticism, the result of which negated any view of the Bible as a sacred text. It was this prevailing view of “the Bible as literature” that led some to try their hand at rendering a new translation “in the language of the people,” thus assuring for themselves a sort of immortality through their work.

The second factor, that of economic determinism, is probably the more significant of the two considerations. Paul told Timothy “The love of money” was the root of all evil, and I suppose Marx had a better grasp of this truth than most Christians have. Unfortunate as it may be, the economic factor is a strong incentive to any publisher to consider the guaranteed returns of publishing a Bible. It is common knowledge that since the invention of printing, the Bible has virtually dominated the field as the best seller of all time. Cunniff, an Associated Press business analyst put it this way:

“In the cold, hard, material world of bookselling, there is nothing like the Bible. The Word sells like nothing else. It beats sex, diet, money, and fad books. It has no equal year after year [John Cunniff, Associated Press Release: “Bible Still the Best Seller,” 1976].

It can almost be predicted that, just by publishing a “New Bible” and getting some well-known evangelical or academic to endorse it, one will ensure a considerable profit. A case in point is Ken Taylor’s Living Bible. Since the publication of this paraphrased version, as early as 1976 Taylor had sold well over twenty-three million copies and formed his own major publishing company (Tyndale House Publishing) [Ibid].

Further examples could be shown, such as the economic success story of a small regional religious publisher, Zondervan. Soon after publishing the New International Version, it became a part of the massive conglomerate owned by Rupert Murdoch, of which Harper and Row, and Collins are just a part [For just a glimpse of Murdoch’s power as a media mogul, see Henry Porter’s interesting analysis, “The Keeper of the Global Gate,” “The Guardian”, Tuesday, 29 October 1996, pp. 2-5].

Enough has been established, however, to make clear that these two factors, the Bible treated as literature, and economic considerations will ensure that there will be no end to new “Bibles in the language of the people.”

Historical Ethos: The Forgotten Factor

Concerning translation, it seems the AV. has had more than its share of criticism. It has become fair game, and open season declared, for every first-year Greek student to display his command of Greek grammar by pointing out so-called “inaccurate translations” in the A.V. I suppose this is to be anticipated since the temptation to correct a 385-year-old document must be more than some can resist. There is, however, a quaint anecdote that illustrates the truth that “a little learning is a dangerous thing.” Dr Kilbye, on one of the translating committees for the A.V., went to a Sunday morning service and heard a young preacher waste a great amount of his sermon time criticizing several words in the then-recent translation. The preacher meticulously illustrated with three reasons why he felt a particular Greek word should have been rendered differently. Later that evening, the preacher and Dr Kilbye, who were strangers, were invited together to a meal. Dr Kilbye took this opportunity to tell the preacher that he could have used his time more profitably. He then explained how the translators had very carefully considered the “three reasons” given in the sermon, but were constrained by thirteen more weighty reasons for translating the word the way they did.

This is a good opportunity to point out that in the seventeenth century, scholarship had reached no mean attainment. Lancelot Andrews, one of the translators (at home in fifteen modern languages, not to mention his command of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic), spent the greater part of five hours a day in prayer. John Boys, another on the translating committee, spent sixteen hours a day studying Greek. It must be remembered, there were not the enemies of learning to contend with in those days, such as television, radio, telephone, or jet travel for trips to the Holy Land. All spare time for these men was consumed with learning.

John Alfred Faulkner noted that these translators also, “had a deeply religious spirit which was thoroughly in rapport with the sacred text, and could, therefore, reproduce in print its wonderful spiritual atmosphere” [John Alfred Faulkner, “English Bible Translations,” Biblical Review Quarterly (April 1924): pp. 199-231]. The unique historical and cultural setting that gave birth to this translation, when compared with the technocratic-secularism of much of modern western culture, is a consideration which must not be lightly dismissed as incidental. Again, Faulkner observes:

“In 1611 the civilization of England was saturated with religion, not with science. Everybody thought and talked theology. ‘Theology rules there’ wrote Grotius of England in 1613. Religion and culture were then firm friends . . . The whole moral effect which is produced nowadays by religious newspaper, tract, essay, lecture, missionary report, sermon, was then produced by the Bible alone [Ibid].

I am not, of course, arguing from these facts that the A.V. could never be improved. (Herman C. Hoskier, the coadjutor of Burgon, could find only one point in his essay “The Authorized Version of 1611,” Bibliotheca Sacra 68 [October 1911]: 693-707, that he felt even deserved mentioning)” [It appears that at least at one point the translators retained a creative, proto-dynamic equivalent translation left over from Tyndale’s edition, e.g. “Easter” for the Greek “pascha,” Acts 12:4. On this see the helpful treatment found in the “Quarterly Review” vol. 470 January-March 1980): pp. 15-16]. Rather, my point is that we should not think for a moment that the twentieth century has the advantage of some special insight into linguistics because of its modern technological context.”

[There has been much published in recent days concerning the value of the Egyptian papyri discoveries and the insights they provide for the New Testament vocabulary and usage. Nevertheless, theologically speaking, in that the Biblical usage of the Greek language was a vehicle to convey inspired Revelation, as opposed to the secular usage of the papyri, the Scriptures themselves should always be consulted as a more reliable source for determining “revelational” meaning and usage. The Greek grammarian Nigel Turner has made a special contribution in this area. And as F. F. Bruce put it so succinctly, “As long as scriptural writers hug the coast of mundane affairs, the Egyptian pharos yields a measure of illumination to their tract; but when they launch out into the deeps of divine counsels, we no longer profit by its twinkling crosslights” F. F. Bruce, “The Books and the Parchments”, 1950, p. 64.]

Modern does not always equal better. In his article, “In Praise of 1611,” mentioned earlier, Pierson Parker has brought to light the enduring quality of the translation work behind the A.V. He has found no less than forty-four instances where the A.V. has a superior translation as compared to the Revised Standard Version, in the books of First Corinthians, Second Corinthians, and Galatians. After giving these examples, he concluded his article on a slightly ironic note (ironic in that Parker is one of the leading lights in the areas of source criticism and the synoptic problem):

“So my conscience troubles me, a little, now and then . . . I have seldom used the K.J.V. in book, article, lecture, or seminar — except, occasionally, to point out its shortcomings. Shortcomings, it certainly has. But then, one of life’s easiest tasks is to find deficiencies in the work of other men. The K.J.V. has, likewise, its own gigantic strength — strength which no amount of tinkering could reproduce in the R.S.V. or the A.R.V. or the N.E.B. Perhaps while retaining those others, I ought to expose my students more fully to the work of 1611. For they will find here a Bible that is rich, rewarding, and sometimes, even right” [Parker, “In Praise of 1611, “ p. 260].

The Modern Approach to Translation (Utilitarian)

James Moffatt, one of the earliest to offer his own modern twentieth-century translation of the Bible, wrote in the preface to his edition in 1913: “Once the translation of the New Testament is freed from the influence of the theory of verbal inspiration . . . difficulties cease to be so formidable.” Theologically, however, difficulties may just begin.

The prevailing modern philosophy of Bible translation now being used by the American Bible Society is called the “dynamic equivalence” method and has been borrowed from modern communications theory. Several scholars such as James Daane ["Converting by Translating,” Reformed Journal vol. 29 (February 1979): pp. 2-3], Noel K. Weeks [”The New Testament Student and Bible Translation” (Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1978)], and Jakob Van Bruggen ["The Future of the Bible” (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1978)] have noted the loss of original Biblical content in the translations produced by this method. Simply stated, those who advocate this theory maintain that “communicating” is the all-consuming priority — as a result, the Biblical content must be reduced to the receptor language categories, thought forms, and cultural points of reference, for real communication to take place.

This may sound like a reasonable approach to translation until it is discovered that one’s theology will colour the determination of what should be regarded as “essential,” and therefore what should be translated literally, and that which is “non-essential,” and should be translated in such a manner as would be understood in the receptor language, even if the original content must be altered. E. A. Nida, the American Bible Society’s former Executive Secretary for Translations and the major proponent of the dynamic-equivalence theory, gives an example showing why a major tenet — perhaps its very foundation — of historic Christianity, such as the dogma of the substitutionary atonement of Christ, should be exchanged for a concept that would be more readily understood in a given culture:

One of the most common interpretations of the atonement has been substitutionary, in the sense that Christ took upon Himself our sins and died in our place as a substitutive sacrifice. This interpretation, true and valuable as it may be for many, is not communicable to many persons today, for they simply do not think in such categories . . . [T]he presentation of the Atonement in terms of reconciliation is more meaningful, since in this way they can understand more readily how God could be in Christ reconciling the world to Himself [Eugene A. Nida, “Message and Mission” (New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1960), p. 59].

The problem that Noel Weeks sees with this reductionism is that “the original Scripture was not written on this assumption” [Daane, “Converting by Translating,” pp. 1-2]. Weeks feels that turning the Biblical text into an evangelistic tract so that it will be comprehensible to the unbeliever (who it might be expected would not readily understand the theology of the substitutionary atonement, even in the post-Christian West, or other important Christian distinctives), is “turning Scripture to a use for which it was not originally designed [Ibid].

This is not, however, a remote problem dealing only with missionary translation work, but has been used in producing the “Today’s English Version” (“Good News for Modern Man”). An example from the T.E.V. can be seen in the substitution of the word “death,” when speaking of Christ’s atonement, for the word “blood” (the latter word being the literal rendering of the Greek). Van Bruggen has seen a betrayal of the original Biblical content in this method and protests that,

“When the translator starts reducing the author’s form . . . the possibility of letting his own theological prejudice influence the determination of what is essential and what is not essential is far greater than when he sticks as closely as possible to the textual form handed down” [Van Bruggen, “TheFuture”, p. 167].

This “sticking as closely as possible to the textual form handed down” has been the method used from the very beginning of Bible translation until recently and in contrast to dynamic-equivalence, it is called formal-equivalence. For example, if Colossians 1:14 says: “in Whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins “ (KJV/KJ21), it is not proper to render this: “in Whom we have redemption through His death, even the forgiveness of sins,” as Nida and the “Good News Bible” advocate. According to the teaching of Scripture itself, there is grave theological significance to Christ shedding his blood, not just in his death alone. And herein lies the rather substantial problem of dynamic-equivalence: it allows the content and the form of Scripture to capitulate to the language, forms, and culture of the given receptor peoples, even at the loss of Biblical teaching itself.

Again, I am not advocating a total ignoring of the phenomenon of IDIOM, overdone by Luther and nearly ignored by the Revised Version of 1881-83. Idiom has always been a consideration in traditional, formal-equivalence translation. Rather, what I am arguing for is that the language, form, and images of Scripture, when translated formally in the traditional sense, do justice to the intent of Scripture, and that is to convert not only personalities but language and culture, to the matrix of the Judeo-Christian revelation.

We determine this from the first trans-language conveyance of revelational communication from the Old Testament Hebrew to the Hellenistic Greek of the Septuagint (LXX). F. F. Bruce has established the importance of realizing that

“the Greek was not suited for Hebrew revelation but was adapted to Hebrew thought forms and transformed by them: To one accustomed to reading good Greek, Septuagint Greek reads very oddly, but to a Greek reader acquainted with Hebrew idiom, Septuagint Greek is immediately intelligible. The words are Greek, but the construction is Hebrew” [F. F. Bruce, “The Books and the Parchments” (London: Pickering and Inglis, Ltd., 1950), p. 70. 52 Ibid., p. 70].

Concerning the influence of this Hebraic-Greek of the LXX on the New Testament, Bruce further mentions that

“The most important kind of influence exercised by the Septuagint on the New Testament Greek is in the meaning of certain theological and ethical terms. The Greek outlook on religion and morals differed from that of the Jews, and the Greek terms were of course devised and used to reflect the Greek outlook. But the Septuagint translators used these terms to represent Hebrew words which reflected the Jewish outlook, AND THUS GAVE THESE GREEK TERMS A NEW CONNOTATION. And it is this new connotation which regularly attaches to these words when they are used in the New Testament [emphasis mine] [Ibid].

If this is transformation, or conversion, if you will, of the New Testament Greek, in the direction of revelational content, why should we not see this as the proper approach to translation?

The Renaissance/Reformation Approach to Translation (Theological)

Returning to the Renaissance /Reformation period which was, in fact, the birth of modern vernacular Bible translation, we again find a model for this transformation of the receptor language when used to convey revelation, in Luther’s German Bible (1534). Luther not only gave the German people the Bible, (faithful to their idiom, yes, but NOT to the neglect of the original Greek and Hebrew content overall), he greatly influenced German usage, thus giving birth to, and moulding the German language around Biblical terms and themes. Goodspeed has noted this:

“Luther’s translation was so well done that it went far to form the basis of German as a literary language; it is generally regarded as the beginning of German literature. It set so high a standard that for centuries no further efforts to translate the Bible into German were made; they seemed superfluous” [Edgar J. Goodspeed, “How Came the Bible?” (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1940), p. 93].

Are we hearing Goodspeed right when he says Luther “set the standard” for German literature? Why, this is the very inversion of what Nida advocates when he says Scripture should be reduced to the culture, rather than to mould, or to convert the culture (i.e., language, etc.), to the content and expression of Scripture.

One final example will be offered in our “Authorized Version” of 1611. It has been universally acclaimed as the pinnacle of English expression and the standard by which all great English Literature has been judged. No one has analyzed this phenomenon with more insight than did C. S, Lewis, in his “The Literary Impact of the Authorised Version”. But many will be amazed to learn that though Lewis acknowledges that it was, indeed, this Authorized Version which has had inestimable influence on English language and literature (which is a further substantiation of our thesis that Bible translations should influence culture in its direction, rather than vice versa), he sees this not as a result of seventeenth-century English style, but rather as a result of the “faithful” formal-equivalence translation of the Hebrew and Greek:

“There is . . . no possibility of considering the literary impact of the Authorized Version apart from that of the Bible in general. Except in a few places where the translation is bad, the Authorized Version OWES TO THE ORIGINAL ITS MATTER, ITS IMAGES, AND ITS FIGURES [emphasis mine] [C. S. Lewis, “The Literary Impact of the Authorised Version” (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1967), p. 3].

That is to say, because the seventeenth-century Anglican divines who produced the A.V. held to a high, orthodox view of inspiration, which believed every word, and even syntax was inspired, those merits which we sense intuitively in their Bible are actually the Greek and Hebrew shining through the transparency of the “Biblical” English they employed. In light of these historical testimonies to the influence which formal-equivalence translation has had when given reign in a culture, Nida’s emphasis, and that of nearly all modern Bible publishers’ rhetoric appears hopelessly novel and defective.

Historical Cycles and the Modern Situation

The English Biblical scholar, F. J. A. Hort once made the observation that Protestant Christianity as we know it today, “. . . is only parenthetical and temporary.” Any student of church history would have to concur with his observation. The renewed Christianity of the sixteenth century gained a hard-earned peace and freedom which it has experienced since the triumph of the Reformation in the West; and though it may sound paradoxical, it is not suited to such leisure. Historically, the purest form of Christianity tends to thrive in a persecuted state. It was Tertullian, one of the early church fathers, who said that it was “the blood of the martyrs that was the seed of the church” [Earle E. Cairns, “Christianity Through the Centuries”, 6th ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1973), p. 72].

If one could draw a principle that best bears this out from church history, it would be that persecution produces a pure form of Christianity which, in turn, becomes adopted by the persecuting powers; and thus it then loses its power and purity; then the cycle begins again when persecution is permitted to come and purge the church back to its pure state. The “blood of the martyrs” purchased the freedom of Christianity from “Imperial” Rome when Constantine adopted Christianity in 313 [B. K. Kuiper, “The Church In History” (Grand Rapids: The National Union of Christian Schools, Eerdmans, 1975), p. 24]. Just prior to the Protestant Reformation (speaking in broad terms) a decadent form of late medieval Christianity prevailed. With the reassertion of a more Biblical Christianity (still speaking in broad terms), Luther and the Reformers suffered great persecution from “Catholic” Rome, until at last Protestant freedom was purchased by “the blood of the martyrs.” It is under this present “parenthetical phase” that we are again entangled with an aberrant form of Christianity, which explains why the publishing of a Bible can be reduced solely to a moneymaking proposition. The Bible has in our age passed from the oversight of the church, into the hands of corporate Bible landlords, each with their own copyrighted editions of Holy Writ.

The Authorized Version is the one supreme treasure left to us from the last period of renewal, the very era that purchased our freedom, and it is meant to be a constant reminder of what is the true nature of Christianity. The A.V. translators still had fresh impressions of the Marian persecution at Smithfield. Without in any way wanting to needlessly invoke old sectarian animosities, nevertheless, it is important to understand the ethos from which the A.V. arose. This intensely emotional feeling is conveyed in the “Letter of Dedication to the King” (still found in many editions of the A.V.) in which the translators make reference to the freshly won victory over medieval religion. Here they speak in terms of the truth prevailing over the Pope, “. . . which hath given such a blow unto that man of sin, as will not be healed . . .” They also invoked the tendency of the old church to thwart distribution of the Scriptures to the common man:

“So that if, on the one side, we shall be traduced by Popish persons at home or abroad, who therefore will malign us, because we are poor instruments to make God’s Holy truth to be yet more and more known unto the people whom they desire still to keep in ignorance and darkness . . . we may rest secure, supported within by the truth . . . [Oxford or Cambridge Editions of the Authorized Version. Citing this provocative document should not be interpreted as a piece of Protestant triumphalism, particularly in light of the historical record of misapplication of Scripture once placed in the hands of Protestant communities, i.e., the burning of Michael Servetus at the hands of the Genevan Calvinists, the slaughter of the peasants under Luther’s watchful eye, and the regicide at the hands of the English Puritans. Rather, it is intended to be honest about the historical ethos from which the 1611 edition came forth.]

Scholars agree that the A.V. is virtually the work of William Tyndale (the A.V. is nine-tenths his version) [Neil R. Lightfoot, “How We Got the Bible” (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974), p. 101], and as such, it is a blood-stained book in one respect, because Tyndale sealed his work with his death at the stake. His parting prayer was for God to open the eyes of the king of England so that he might grant to the people the freedom to read the Bible in their own language [Ibid., p. 99. What Tyndale meant by in their “own language” was ENGLISH, rather than LATIN, not conversational colloquialism!]. That prayer was answered, but how insignificant such freedom seems to most of us today, particularly as a result of the cheapening of the Biblical text in the hands of so many religious merchandisers.

The A.V., on the other hand, has for 385 years been our link with the conservative Anglican Reformation heritage and as such represents a William Tyndale type of Christianity; and if given the choice to embrace the type of Christianity historically produced by the A.V. (if I may be allowed to speak in such terms), or the type that has been produced since the arrival of “the Bible in the language of the people,” I feel constrained to embrace the former, archaisms and all.

Not only does the A.V. supply a Christian with a sense of identity by giving him a direct link with his Protestant roots, and the “via media” of the English Reformation, but it also undergirds this sense of identity by supplying him with a unifying force for the present. For example, there is a popular misconception that the name “Authorized Version” was given to the 1611 edition because of some official decree given by King James, but this just was not so. King James merely gave permission for the translation to take place only after he was asked by John Reynolds, one of the translators. “Strictly speaking, the authorized version was never authorized, nor were parish churches ordered to procure it [S. L. Greenslade, ed., “The Cambridge History of the Bible”, vol. 3, “The West From the Reformation to the Present” (London: Cambridge University Press) p. 168]. It seems to have acquired the title on its own merit!

This common consensus is so well established it hardly requires to be laboured. F. F. Bruce acknowledged that,

“it is well recognized that, throughout the English speaking world, there are hundreds of thousands of readers by whom this version [the A.V.] is accepted as ‘The Word of God’ in a sense in which no other version would be accepted” [Bruce, “The English Bible”, p. 112].

It has also been described as having “acquired a sanctity properly ascribable only to the unmediated voice of God” [Greenslade, “The Cambridge History”, p. 168].

The most telling summation, however, both of the unifying effect of the A.V., as well as its ability to command authority, was given by Burgon:

“Whatever may be urged in favour of Biblical revision, it is at least undeniable that the undertaking involves tremendous risk. Our A.V. is the one religious link which at present binds together ninety millions of English-speaking men scattered over the earth’s surface. Is it reasonable that so unutterably precious, so sacred a bond should be endangered, for the sake of representing certain words more accurately — here and there translating a tense with greater precision — getting rid of a few archaisms? It may be confidently assumed that no revision of our A.V., however judiciously executed, will ever occupy the place in publick [sic] esteem which is actually enjoyed by the work of the translators of 1611 — the noblest literary work in the Anglo-Saxon language. We shall in fact never have another “Authorized Version” [John W. Burgon. “The Revision Revised”, 2nd ed. (London: John Murray, 1885), p. 113].

Another illustration of the A.V.’s ability to command authority to the popular mind is seen in the Gideon Bible found in most hospitals and motels. In spite of all the Madison Avenue talk about “more reliable manuscripts,” the Gideons still publish the A.V. text as their Bible. The Gideons have seen them all come and go over the years, from the first Revised Version in 1883 to the present “superstar,” the New International Version, and to date, it is still the A.V. that holds sway over the popular mind [They do, however, supply modern language versions on special request]

With so much discussion about the need for unity in the church, one would think that more people would recognize the value of the A.V. to this end, but instead one hears only of using “the Bible of your choice,” which tends to lead to fragmentation in any group study, rather than to unity.

The results of having an abundance of modern versions to choose from are anything but constructive. According to an article in the New York Times, within the past twenty years “several hundred versions of the Bible, catering to every niche of reader” has resulted in a glut in the market, “too many Bibles for too few faithful” [”The Bible, a Perennial, Runs into Sales Resistance,” New York Times (October 28, 1996)]. The obvious problem of conflicting translations is illustrated by the many books that follow in the wake of the many translations, which attempt to clarify why there are so many translations! A few recent titles are, “Why So Many Bibles?”, 1968; “What Bible Can You Trust?”, 1974; “Which Bible?”, 1975; “So Many Versions?”, 1975; and others.

John 1:18 provides a good example of the kind of confusion that results from conflicting translations. The A.V. (and the KJ21) reads

“No man hath seen God at any time; The Only Begotten Son, Which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.”

The italicized portion of the verse is rendered in the following different ways by some modern versions:

N.I.V. and T.E.V. “The only Son” ["begotten” omitted]

N.A.S.V. “The Only Begotten God” [Polytheism?]

N.E.B. “God’s Only Son” ["begotten” omitted and “God” added]

Which is correct? [For a detailed and technical treatment of this variant, see Theodore P. Letis, “The Gnostic Influences on the Text of the Fourth Gospel: John 1:18 in the Egyptian Manuscripts and the Canonical Approach,” in The Ecclesiastical Text: Textual Criticism, Biblical Authority and the Popular Mind(Institute for Reformation Biblical Studies, 1997)].

As for the footnotes in the modern versions, they seem to be questioning the authenticity of every other verse with comments such as “not found in some ancient manuscripts” or “some manuscripts add,” without offering any explanation as to the value of these optional readings, or the various manuscripts they come from.

This tends to leave the average reader (unconsciously perhaps) with a doubtful attitude regarding what he can consider authoritative and in some sense final. Burgon noted this when such footnotes were first employed in the R.V. (1881):

“The marginal readings, which our revisers have been so ill-advised as to put prominently forward, and to introduce to the reader’s notice with the vague statement that they are sanctioned by ‘some’ (or by ‘Many’) ‘ancient authorities’, — are specimens ARBITRARILY SELECTED out of an immense mass . . . No hint is given as to WHICH BE the ‘ancient authorities’ so referred to: — nor what proportion they bear to the ancient authorities producible on the opposite side: — nor whether they are even the MOST ‘ancient authorities’ obtainable: — nor what amount of attention their testimony may reasonably claim . . . How comes it to pass that you have . . . instead, volunteered in every page information, worthless in itself, which can only serve to unsettle the faith of unlettered millions, and to suggest unreasonable as well as miserable doubts to the minds of all? [”The Revision Revised”, pp. 130, 131].

We have become so desensitized by these notes in our modern editions that one can hardly appreciate the impact they must have had on the first generation to encounter them in the Revised Version (1883). An example that might be able to shake us afresh will serve to illustrate just how misleading such footnotes can be.

At Mark 16:9-20, in the “New International Version”, there is a footnote stating, “The most reliable early manuscripts omit Mark 16:9-20.” What they fail to make clear is that out of the approximately 5,487 [Graham Stanton, “Gospel Truth: New Light on Jesus and the Gospels” (HarperCollins, 1995), p. 37] Greek manuscripts available to scholars, of those that contain Mark, only three manuscripts omit this passage. Two of them, Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, were put to the most detailed study of perhaps any others to date, by Herman Hoskier, in his “Codex B and Its Allies: A Study and an Indictment” (1914). No man in his day, nor perhaps since knew these two documents as intimately as did Hoskier. The conclusion of his study offered the following consensus:

“To revive the Egyptian textual standard [represented by Codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus] of A.D. 200-400 is not scientific, and it is certainly not final. The truth is scattered over all our documents and is not inherent entirely in any one document, nor in any two. Hort persuaded himself that where Aleph B were together . . . they must be right. This kind of fetishism must be done away with” [”Codex B”, vol. 1, p. 487].

Summary

In conclusion the Authorized Version should be retained by the churches, as well as in Bible study and in the classroom, because of the superior consensus represented by its Greek text, its translation technique, and its English usage; and because it not only provides the Christian with a link to his Protestant heritage, but it also supplies him with a sense of unifying identity for the present.

I do not believe, however, that anyone has the right, nor the authority, to pontificate to the Christian world one Bible alone as Holy Scripture, while anathematizing the rest to the incinerator (the Holy Spirit Himself must ultimately bear witness to the Divine final authority). We have all heard testimonies of people who have come to the Christian faith by reading a Jehovah’s Witness Bible. Martin Luther received salvation light from a Roman Catholic Latin Vulgate. We should never think that the Holy Spirit is limited to Elizabethan English.

But to whom much is given, much will be required. Those of us who have become aware that the modern Bibles represent more the abstract concerns emanating from the competing textual theories of various specialists, as well as representing the more pragmatic concerns of the Bible marketing industry which has capitalized on the loss of consensus produced by the specialists, it would seem we have a responsibility. That is, to direct young and seeking pilgrims, as well as seasoned saints, back to the “old landmarks.” John Wesley stated it this way:

“I have thought, I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: just hovering over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing — the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end, He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a Book. 0 give me that Book! At any price, give me THE Book of God!” [emphasis mine]

By Theodore Letis

Copyright 1997, 1978, Theodore P. Letis


Our Venerable King James Version!

Introduction

The last fifty years or so have seen a wide proliferation of new translations of the Bible. Some have hailed this proliferation as a blessing, which makes the study of Scripture easier and enriches one’s understanding of the outdated English of the King James Version (henceforth the KJV). Others, however, see it as a curse on our modern era. I am much inclined to agree with the latter.

It is interesting and significant that the proliferation of translations has paralleled various weaknesses present in the church and in modern Bible studies.

The proliferation of Bible translations has, for example, paralleled the rise of higher Biblical criticism. The adoption of higher critical methods of Bible interpretation has affected Bible translations because higher criticism has demanded the use of the defective text of Westcott and Hort, while the KJV has followed the Majority Text, a more accurate text of Scripture; the result was that new translations were prepared more in keeping with the text adopted by higher critics. Further, the attacks of higher criticism on the verbal inspiration of Scripture eroded the respect and esteem in which the Scriptures were formerly held. This has had devastating effects on Bible translations, for it opened the door to the use of the principle of dynamic equivalence as an acceptable method of Bible translation.

A powerful incentive for new translations is the money which can be made. Commercial motives of big- name publishers fuel the trend towards new translations and bring about a situation in which an updated version of the Bible has to be produced every few decades or so to keep the money flowing into the coffers of those whose only interests are to enrich themselves. If one requirement is necessary for the work of successful Bible translation it is total loyalty to the church of Christ, a burning desire to see the church flourish, and a profound commitment to the truth of God’s Word. Only the zeal of a Tyndale, a Luther, a Calvin will result in a successful translation.

All this has been a curse on our modern age and not been a blessing, as some allege. Many who take the time to compare various translations without having any standard for accuracy find the differences so great that they know not which one to accept. When people come together for Bible study, each comes with his own translation, and each presses for the meaning of the text as found in his particular version. The result is that no one knows anymore what the Bible really says.

Some translations are so inaccurate that they become a tool of falsehood rather than an instrument of growing in the knowledge of the truth. Satan has perhaps no better weapon to destroy the church than a poor and inaccurate translation of the Bible. By means of this subtle weapon, Satan succeeds in leaving people with the impression that they actually have the Word of God when, in fact, they do not. Satan’s delusions are subtle and effective.

It is not my purpose in this pamphlet to debate the question of the relative worth of the KJV on the basis of a comparison with existing translations. This would necessarily involve a careful study and evaluation of such translations, something done adequately in other books and pamphlets. Nor is it my purpose to defend the KJV as a translation without fault or blemish, itself infallibly inspired. Some have defended that proposition, but, as a college professor used to warn us: “A bad argument for the truth does more harm than a good argument against it.” The KJV has its faults. Conceivably there is room for improvement.

My purpose is more limited. I want the people of God to consider why the KJV has maintained itself as the translation of preference in countless churches, homes, and schools for over four hundred years. I suggest that there is a good reason for this continuous popularity of the KJV; we ought not to ignore such a reason in our pressing quest for something better. In short, the KJV is still, without argument, the most accurate and the most readable translation that exists today. Further, it is the one translation that conveys better than any other the reverence and solemnity that one ought to have in his soul as he comes to the Bible to be instructed at the feet of Christ. Its weaknesses are few and minor in comparison with its strengths. The burning question is: Can any

 

translation, given the sad state of affairs in today’s church world, genuinely improve on the KJV? It is my personal conviction that the answer is an emphatic No.

The Occasion for the Preparation of the KJV

A brief survey of the history of the translation of the KJV will give us some idea of why this translation is as accurate as it is.

The immediate occasion for a new translation of the Bible is part of the warp and woof of the history of the Reformation in the British Isles.

The Reformation in England, because it was an attempt to change the existing Roman Catholic Church to a Protestant denomination, never was as complete a Reformation as took place, for example, in Geneva under John Calvin. The resulting church in England was known as the Church of England, or, more briefly, the Anglican Church in which reformation was never completed.

Within that denomination were two parties struggling for ascendancy. The one party avidly supported Anglicanism, even though, especially in church government and liturgy, it retained a great deal of Catholicism. The other party, called the Puritan party, wanted more extensive reformation in church government and liturgy, which would bring the church more into conformity with the Holy Scriptures.

With the death of Queen Elizabeth, fondly known as “Good Queen Bess,” the house of Tudor came to an end. The one with the strongest claim to the English throne was James VI of Scotland, son of Mary Queen of the Scots. He was a Stuart. Characteristic of the Stuart kings was the firm conviction that a king was answerable to God alone, and the way to maintain such a lofty position was to be the head of a national church. In fact, the Stuarts were convinced that to maintain themselves in power, not only was a national church necessary, but also a church structured after the pattern of the Church of England – that is, a church with the same clerical hierarchy as Rome minus the pope. “No bishop, no king,” was the way James VI put it.

In Scotland James engaged in a long struggle with Presbyterianism, although he seemed, frequently for purposes of self-interest, to be sympathetic with Presbyterian ideals, which were fundamentally the same as the ideals of the Puritan party in England. In England, James found an ecclesiastical situation more to his liking. However, on his way south to London to be crowned James I of England, he was besieged by embassies from the Puritan party and from the Church of England, each seeking his favour in the hopes that he would support their ecclesiastical position. He could not help but come to London with a sense of the deep divisions within the Church of England. These divisions he hoped to heal.

Soon after his coronation, James I called a meeting of Puritan representatives and Anglican prelates to discuss ways and means to bridge the chasm. In the course of the discussions, rather off-handedly and without much thought, one of the Puritan divines suggested a new translation of the Bible as a way to bring unity to the divided church.

Strangely, although James obviously favoured the Anglican party, he adopted this proposal to prepare a new translation. His reasons, however, were his own. It was not as if there was a need for a translation of the English Bible, for there were many good translations. The work of translation had begun with Tyndale’s superb translation. It had continued with Matthew’s Bible, the Coverdale translation, the Bishops’ Bible and the Genevan Bible. In fact, the Genevan Bible was widely used in England and was greatly loved.

But James hated the Genevan Bible. It had been prepared in Geneva under Calvin’s influence, and it contained marginal notations to help in understanding the text. But it also included marginal notations that tended to deny the divine right of kings, something dear to the heart of James I. James saw a new translation as a way to supplant the Genevan Bible and get a new translation into common usage.

The Mechanics of Translation

James made preparations for a new translation by authorizing the formation of a translating committee, and he set down rules that he required the committee to follow.

 

The committee itself was composed of between fifty and fifty-four men almost all chosen from the professorial staff of Cambridge and Oxford Universities. Most of them were Anglicans; only three or four were Puritans. But they were men of vast learning, almost without exception of great skill in ancient languages. One of the translators, Launcelot Andrews, knew 15 modern languages as well as Latin, Hebrew, Greek, Semitic, Syriac, Chaldean, and Arabic. Another spent 16 hours a day studying Greek. And they were men dedicated to the welfare of the church.

The committee was divided into six sub-committees, two of which met in Cambridge, two in Oxford, and two in Westminster Abbey, London. Each was assigned a portion of Scripture and the Old Testament Apocrypha, and within the sub-committees, each individual was assigned a smaller portion.

When an individual had completed his assignment, he gave his work to his sub-committee, which went over the work meticulously. When the sub-committee had completed a given section, the translation was sent to the members of the other sub-committees. These men, in turn, studied the translation for accuracy, felicity of expression, and readability. Their sub-committees also met to evaluate the work, and their conclusions were sent to the original committee.

When the whole translation was completed, twelve men, two from each group, were chosen to go over the whole translation to make the translation uniform, accurate, and readable. And when they had finished the work, two men were assigned to go over the whole translation once more to make final corrections and to polish the finished product. In these last meetings, one of the men would read aloud to test the translation for readability.

Finally, after all this, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the highest cleric in the Church of England, made twelve or fourteen additional changes.

The work was carefully and meticulously done to assure, by cross-checking, the best translation possible.

The Rules Governing the Work

The rules by which the committees laboured are interesting and important. The king himself had a hand in drawing them up and he approved the final list. There were many such rules; we mention here a few of the most important.

The first rule was that the new translation might not be a new translation in the sense that the translators were to start from scratch as it were. The men were instructed to retain the older translations insofar as it was in keeping with accuracy. This was made easier by the fact that the preceding translations had, in general, been built upon preceding translations: Matthew’s Bible on Tyndale; Coverdale’s Bible on Matthew’s; The Bishops’ Bible on Coverdale, etc. Each translation was, for the most part, an improvement of the one preceding, and each one was more accurate.

We have an indication in this of the almost unbelievable accuracy of William Tyndale’s work. His labours both as a translator and as a theologian have not been properly recognized. The magnificence of his work is only enhanced by a consideration of the fact that he did most of his work as a fugitive from Roman Catholic persecution as he fled from place to place on the continent of Europe. His work was smuggled into England in bales of cotton. He died a martyr’s death, the victim of Roman Catholic perfidy. Some have estimated that the KJV is more than half that of Tyndale.

Such a rule as the king insisted on necessarily guaranteed an accuracy that is difficult to surpass. It is, in fact, so accurate that God’s people may be sure that when they hold the KJV in their hands and turn to it in their devotions, they have fully the Word of God. No doubt needs to enter their minds.

Two other characteristics of the new translation that the king commanded the translators to incorporate into the translation were readability and understandability. We cannot appreciate fully the significance of these qualifications.

The translation was prepared at a time when books were still very costly. Some homes could afford only one book, and that book would be the Bible. From it, many would be educated, and in it many would learn, haltingly and painfully, to read. Further, James wanted the Bible to replace the Genevan translation, and that required that it be a Bible read in the churches every Lord’s Day and, in fact, in many instances, every day. It was the only “literature” many people ever heard. It was for the uneducated and illiterate (of which there were many) their only contact with the printed word. James, and rightly so, wanted a Bible which was easy to read, easy to listen to, easy to memorize, and easy to understand. These demands of the king were primarily responsible for the rhythm, the cadence, the simplicity, and the beauty of the KJV.

Miles Smith, one of the translators, put it this way: Our task was “to deliver God’s book to God’s people in a tongue which they could understand.” Bruce Metzger, himself inclined to higher criticism, has said of the KJV, “It cut through the verbiage and said what is meant by force and in the fewest possible words.”

 

The Success of the Translation

The KJV was a startling success. It had the “wisdom, grace and beauty of previous translations, and possessed an eloquence which even unbelievers are forced to acknowledge.” H. L. Mencken has said this about the KJV:

It is the most beautiful of all the translations of the Bible, indeed, it is probably the most beautiful piece of writing in all the literature of the world. ...Many learned but misguided men have sought to produce translations that should be mathematically accurate and in the plain speech of every day. But the AV (Authorized Version, another name for the KJV) has never yielded to any of them, for it is palpably and overwhelmingly better than they are. ...Its English is extraordinarily simple, pure, eloquent and lovely. It is a mine of lordly and incomparable poetry at once the most stirring and the most touching ever heard of.

In speaking of the requirements laid down by James, Alistair McGrath says, in what is almost an oxymoron: “It attained literary elegance by choosing to avoid it.” And Gustavus S. Paine, in speaking of the readability of the KJV, says,

Rhythm in the days of King James was important not merely as a source of pleasure to the ear, but as an aid to the mind. Generations to come would learn to read by puzzling out vs. in the Bible that for many families would be the whole library. But at the time of translation, a Bible ‘appointed to be read in the churches’ was made to be listened to and remembered. Its rhythms were important as a prompting to the memory.

From every viewpoint, the KJV is a masterpiece of translation. It is very accurate. Its “readability” is superb. It is understandable to the people in the pew, young and old alike. It is sublime and creates a sense of reverence conducive to worship. It is written in beautiful cadences and rhythms that made it nearly singable and easy to memorize. It is ideally suited to use in the church and in the home. It evokes emotions in keeping with the nature of the text. It is still difficult (after having read it uncountable times) to read the story of Joseph’s reconciliation with his brethren without tears blinding one’s eyes. And who can read Isaiah 53 with a deadpan face and indifferent heart?

Two examples of the power and beauty of the KJV in comparison with earlier translations used by the KJV translators will illustrate the point that the KJV is a masterpiece.

In the Bishops’ Bible, the Twenty-third Psalm began: “God is my shepherd, therefore I can lose nothing; he will cause me to repose myself in pastures full of grass, and he will lead me unto calm waters.” In the hands of the King James men, this became: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.”

The Geneva Bible translated the last verse as, “Doubtless kindness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall remain a long season in the house of the Lord.” How much more gripping are the words of the KJV: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

 

The unforgettable seventh verse of the thirty-eighth chapter of Job had already gone through a remarkably subtle evolution. In Coverdale, it read: “When the morning stars gave me praise, and when all the angels of God rejoiced.” Matthew’s Bible (and after it, the Bishops’ Bible) had: “When the morning stars praised me together, all the children of God rejoiced triumphantly.” In the Geneva Bible, the language was heightened: “When the stars of the morning praised me together, and all the children of God rejoiced.” But the rapturous phrasing of the King James Version surpassed them all. “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.”

Is the KJV too Archaic for Use?

One of the chief objections to our continued use of the KJV is its archaic language. It is filled with words, so it is said, that could be understood when it was prepared, but are no longer used in contemporary English. This is a barrier to its use among us, especially in teaching children and doing the important work of evangelism. The result of so many archaisms is that the Bible has largely become a mysterious book, the contents of which are hidden from today’s readers by outdated and obscure language.

All the arguments for new translations finally come down to that one argument. Is that objection valid?

If the objection is valid, this would indeed be serious, for if the Bible can no longer be understood, its purpose has come to an end. The result of such a development would be that the Word of God, which the saints need for their spiritual life, would be beyond their reach, placed on an inaccessible shelf too high to be reached.

We must take this objection seriously, for the Bible is necessary for the life of the people of God, the work of the church, and the instruction of future generations. God accomplishes His work of salvation sovereignly by the Spirit of Christ in the hearts of the elect. But the Spirit never works apart from the Word of the Scriptures. If those Scriptures are inaccessible to God’s people, because of archaisms which make the Word difficult, if not impossible, to understand, that would be a barrier to the salvation of the saints.

The argument has a certain force and carries a measure of validity. Everyone with any knowledge of the KJV knows that there are indeed words that are no longer used in contemporary English, and that some words have taken a meaning quite different from what they had in the days when the KJV was prepared. We may not ignore the argument.

Nevertheless, two questions must be asked and answered. Are the archaisms in the KJV a serious barrier to the understandability of the KJV? And do these archaisms warrant a new translation? These two questions are related to each other.

Before one gives a yes or no answer to those questions, one must consider some crucial characteristics of Scripture.

Scripture itself testifies to the fact that there are passages in God’s Word that are difficult to understand. Peter tells those to whom he writes that in Paul’s writings there “are some things hard to be understood” (II Peter 3:16). Everyone knows that the prophets contain many difficult passages, which require much study if one is to penetrate into their meaning. Frequently passages of Scripture are distorted by the efforts of misguided translators to make these passages “understandable” to the modern 21st-century man, but in doing so their meaning is distorted beyond recognition.

Furthermore, in an important sense, the meaning of the Scriptures is not accessible to everyone. The Scriptures are God’s Word, written to the church, and intended to be God’s revelation to His covenant people of the mysteries of God’s eternal purpose in Christ. Although from a certain formal point of view everyone who reads the Scriptures can understand what he reads, Luther was right when he said that the Scriptures are a closed book to anyone who comes to them without the Spirit who works faith in God’s people. Luther understood what many today seem not to understand. Only the one who comes to Scripture in a Spirit-worked humility, saying in his heart: “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth,” is capable of understanding what the Scriptures say.

The point is important. When one possesses the Spirit of Christ and comes to learn the will of God, the Scriptures are open to him. When one lacks faith, the Scriptures are closed to him. To attempt to “open” the Scriptures to the unbeliever by a different translation is an exercise in futility.

 

The church has confessed, since the time of the Reformation, that one attribute of Scripture is its perspicuity. By this, the church has meant that anyone who comes in faith to God’s Word can understand what the Scriptures mean. Neither age nor education makes a difference; the Scriptures are open to the little child on his mother’s knee as well as to the PhD in theology.

But the perspicuity of Scripture has never been understood to imply that Scripture is shallow. Scripture is not like a shallow pool on a concrete parking lot after a brief shower, in which one can see the pavement beneath the pool. Scripture is like a deep pool, utterly clear, into which one looks, but can never see the bottom.

The point is worth emphasizing.

The Scriptures do not cater to modern man with his ten-second attention span, his inability to think clearly about almost everything, his need to have any knowledge given in TV-size bits, and his easy slide into boredom and ennui if any prolonged concentration is required.

In his book, What is Faith? J. Gresham Machen makes the following point:

"Many persons...seem to have a notion that modern Christians must be addressed always in words of one syllable, and that in religion we must abandon the scientific precision of language. ...In pursuance of this tendency we have had presented to us recently various translations of the Bible which reduce the Word of God more or less thoroughly to the language of the modern street, or which, as the matter was put recently in my hearing by an intelligent layman, “take all the religion out of the New Testament.” But the whole tendency, we for our part think, ought to be resisted. Back of it all seems to lie the strange assumption that modern men, particularly modern university men, can never by any chance learn anything; they do not understand the theological terminology which appears in such richness in the Bible, and that is regarded as the end of the matter; apparently it does not occur to anyone that possibly they might with profit acquire the knowledge of Biblical terminology which now they lack. But I for my part am by no means ready to acquiesce. I am perfectly ready, indeed, to agree that the Bible and the modern man ought to be brought together. But what is not always observed is that there are two ways of attaining that end. One way is to bring the Bible down to the level of the modern man, but the other way is to bring the modern man up to the level of the Bible (emphasis mine). I am inclined to advocate the latter way."

Scripture is meant to be studied. One comes to its meaning through pondering its truths, meditating on its words and sentences, and concentrating on the wealth of its thought.

It is not true that little children, still unable to read, are incapable of understanding Scripture in the measure of their own intellectual development. What child who understands the basics of the English language cannot understand Genesis 1 – and usually better than those who try to twist it to include heretical evolutionary teachings? And what child cannot understand the sober and simple, yet totally profound story of the birth of God in Christ in a manger in Bethlehem?

But the more one studies and meditates upon Scripture, the more one understands its riches and truths. The more accustomed one’s eyes become in peering into Scripture’s depths, the more deeply one can see into it. And yet, after a lifetime of study, even learning all that the church in earlier millennia have said about God’s Word, one only penetrates about two inches into the great depths of God’s revelation of Himself in all His wonderful works and ways.

If these things are not remembered and we come to Scripture as we do to a first-grade reading book, we have no right to blame our inability to understand it on the use of some archaisms. The fault lies with us.

The archaisms of Scripture are relatively few in number. They are easily explainable or understandable to one who is willing to take the time to look them up in a good dictionary. And parents can easily teach the meaning of them to their children when the family is together for family devotions, or when the children are memorizing parts of Scripture.

When a small child lisps the words of Psalm 23, usually one of the first chapters parents teach their children, is it so difficult to tell these children the meaning of verse 1? “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” “The Lord cares for me as a shepherd cares for his sheep. I will never lack anything in all my life, cared for by Jehovah God.”

 

The Timeless English of the KJV

 

While Scripture does have in it archaisms, the real question is not: How difficult is the KJV to understand? The real question is: Why is the KJV so easy to understand seeing it was prepared almost four hundred years ago? If one would compare the plays of Shakespeare, written only a few decades earlier, with the KJV, one will be astounded at the difference in the English. It is extremely difficult to read Macbeth without the help of some translation aids.

God, in His providence, brought into being the KJV at a propitious time in England’s history. Up to this time, England had no real English language. Anglo-Saxon invaders from Germany and the Lowlands had affected the early language of the Celts. Scandinavian Norsemen had invaded England, settled in it, and brought their own peculiar language to the country. William the Conqueror had imported French and all but made French the language of diplomacy and commerce. The English spoken in the fields and cottages was different in different parts of the country and was not that of the nobility. It was hard for one Englishman to understand another from a different part of the country.

But at the time of King James, England was emerging as a world power in its own right. It was coming to a national consciousness, which tended to unify the country. It was becoming a force to be reckoned with in commerce. Its navy ruled the seas. The sun never set on its many colonies. A language spoken nationwide was needed. A uniform English language, which was slowly developing, became, because of the unique development of the English language, the most expressive and influential language in all Europe. It had a depth and range that no other language possessed.

The KJV played a major role in attaining a countrywide and standard English. The translators not only prepared a translation that helped standardize the language, but the translators moulded and shaped a standard language, and thus became, in part, the creators of modern English. Luther did much the same with his German translation of the Bible, and the Statenvertaling of the Synod of Dordt had the same effect on Dutch.

In addition to the shaping of modern English by the new translation, the translators made the Bible understandable by all in England because they used English words instead of Latin words about 92% of the time. Latin words are still and cold, rigid and feelingless. English words, of Anglo-Saxon origin, are homey and earthy, expressive and forceful, the language of the people rather than the university.

It is because of these providential workings of God that a version was prepared that can rightly be said to be in “timeless English.” Undoubtedly this is the reason why so many words and expressions of the KJV have entered our everyday language. One need only think of such expressions as “to lick the dust” (Psalm 72:9), “sour grapes” (Ezekiel 18:2), “the skin of my teeth” (Job 19:20), “from time to time” (Ezekiel 4:10).

One scholar wrote about the Hebrew:

"The [KJV] is an almost literal translation of the Masoretic text and is thus on every page replete with Hebrew idioms. The fact that Bible English has to a marvellous extent shaped our speech, giving peculiar connotations to many words and sanctioning strange constructions, is not any less patent. The [KJV] has been – it can be said without any fear of being charged with exaggeration– the most powerful factor in the history of English literature. Though the constructions encountered in the [KJV] are oftentimes so harsh that they seem almost barbarous, we should certainly have been the poorer without it."

It is forgotten that if the church needs a translation of the Bible in contemporary English idiom, the church will have to re-translate the Bible every generation or so. The English of today is not the English of tomorrow – surely not in our polyglot society. The timeless English of the KJV in a new contemporary translation is cast into the mould of the ever-changing English of today’s marketplace. No wonder that a major publisher of the Bible, aware that a relatively recent translation of Scripture is no longer contemporary, now is on the verge of publishing a “contemporary translation” that is “gender neutral.” It makes one ponder whether contemporary English is not a destruction of Scripture.

 

The simple fact of the matter is that the KJV is not difficult to understand. Nor is it a deterrent in the work of evangelism. Anyone who has worked in any evangelistic labours knows that the problem is not the inability to understand. Even when Muslims are the objects of evangelism, no real problem exists. As one expounds the Scriptures and sets forth the great truths of redemption in Christ, explanation of words is always a necessary part of the work. Is it any more difficult to explain to people, unacquainted with the Bible, the meaning of “want” in Psalm 23:1 than the meaning of justification in Romans 5:1? It is obvious that it is not.

Other Considerations

Ideally, to prepare a good translation in English, the whole church of Christ in our land ought to be involved. The whole church of the British Isles was involved in and benefited by a new translation, for the Church of England was the only denomination in existence at the time the translation was done. Whatever we may think of a national church, in God’s providence the whole of the nation was a part of the work of the preparation of the KJV.

That brings up the question of whether the church today is spiritually and doctrinally capable of preparing such a translation. Translators are biased. They cannot help but be biased. They must be biased – for the truth of God’s Word. Their own doctrinal commitment will enter into and influence the work. Witness the doctrinal weakness (if not doctrinal heresy) of modern translations. It is necessary for the production of a good translation that the church as a whole be committed to the doctrines of Scripture and of the traditions of the true church. And it is necessary that translators be men wholly committed to the welfare of the church and the truth of God’s Word.

This was true in England. The whole Church of England, a national church embracing all the citizens, were united on the basis of the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, a basically Calvinistic creed. This gave a uniformity of doctrine throughout the entire country that is no longer characteristic of our own land or the British Isles. Today the proliferation of denominations and splinter groups would make such a translation impossible, and any cooperative effort would be stymied by the differing biases of the translators.

In other words, the church of today is simply not strong enough to produce a translation that is accurate and useful.

The proliferation of translations in our day has added to the great confusion that exists in the churches concerning what Scripture teaches. When, for example, at a Bible Study, people come with four or five translations, only confusion results. One says, “My NIV translates the verse this way.” Another chimes in: “My NEB translates the verse this way.” And yet another, “But the KJV reads differently.” No one knows anymore what the Bible teaches. No one can decide. Is it not far preferable in the church, in the home, and in the school to use one translation, which has been recognized as accurate for over four hundred years? God’s people ought to know that when they turn to the KJV they may be assured they will discover in it the Word of God. No one would dare to say that for all the years the church has used the KJV the church has possessed a faulty Word of God.

The KJV has become so much a part of our heritage that its language is embedded in the creeds, the liturgy, and the tradition of the church. A new translation of the Bible would require new translations of our creeds, our Psalter, and our liturgical forms. The 1912 Presbyterian Psalter is so permeated with the language of the KJV that a revision would almost be necessary.

Worship (whether in the school, the home or the church) must have a uniformity of language about it. This uniformity ought to be the language of the Bible which forms the heart of all the liturgy of the church. It is an anomaly when the language of Scripture differs from the language of the liturgy – an anomaly that will not long be tolerated. A new translation will almost inevitably spawn a desire for revisions in the whole liturgy of the church. In fact, one wonders sometimes if the clamour for a new translation is not deliberately raised to do away with our present creeds and liturgy. The fact is that in churches where new translations have been adopted, frequently new liturgical forms are next on the agenda, new hymns are introduced into the songbooks, and new creeds are written. It seems as if the argument for a contemporary translation soon results in a plea for contemporary ways of worship and confessing the faith of the church.

 

The church possesses a long tradition of sacred music that goes back to the Reformation. While much of this is not and cannot be used in the corporate worship of the church, it is an important part of the heritage of the church. But it has woven into its warp and woof the KJV. One need only thinks of Handel’s Messiah, to realize what would happen to this rich and beautiful musical tradition, if the KJV were abandoned.

It is but a short time before the Lord returns. For four centuries the KJV has served the church well. Would it not be to the church’s advantage to retain such a precious tradition in the little time that remains? One thing we know. When persecution comes, our Bibles will be taken from us and the only Word of God we shall retain is that which we have memorized and hid in our hearts. What easier translation is there to memorize than the rolling cadences of our KJV? It is the Bible for us and our children.

 By Prof. Herman Hanko - (Retired Professor of New Testament and Church History in the Protestant Reformed Seminary).


The Making of the English Bible

"Speaking about the "New English Bible" just published (1970), Gerald Hammond wrote, New_English_Bible_cover"Partly the loss of faith in the Hebrew and Greek as the definitive word of God has led to the translators' loss of contact with it, but more responsibility lies in the belief that a modern Bible should aim not to tax its readers' linguistic or interpretative abilities one bit. If this aim is to be achieved then it seems clear that a new Bible will have to be produced for every generation, each one probably moving us further away from the original text, now that the initial break has been made. In the New English Bible's title, 'new' is the operative word. The contrast with the Authorised Version could scarcely be greater...It has, in effect, unmade a Bible which took ninety years to make, and which held the imaginations and emotions of its readers for three hundred and fifty years" (G Hammond, "The Making of the English Bible").

"In order to assure that a textbook will be purchased and used by teachers, a sixth-grade textbook may be written down to a fourth-grade reading level in order to assure that all the students can read it. It's a simple matter to translate this into the modern Bible production context. The challenges presented to Bible Publishers to make lucid, ancient Near Eastern sacred texts, originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, to appeal to a population on a downward slide from literacy, are simply massive" (T Letis).

The publishers obviously think that "Christians" are dummies, with very little, in the way of, "linguistic or interpretative abilities" as per Hammond. And each and every one now and again come up with an updated version. How can you update the word of God, I ask myself? All of them prosaic, losing the poetic beauty of the original Hebrew, not to mention the literalness of God's word. Murdoch's popular NIV is quietly going gender neutral, in fact, I think it has already arrived. How long before they produce an all-inclusive version, catering to the Churches in West who have and are increasingly caving into the LGBTQ agenda?

Hammond was right, "a Bible produced for every generation," and more even.

The Quest Study Bible

The New Student Bible

Women's Devotional Bible

The Adventure Bible

The Teen Study Bible

Men's Devotional Bible

Couples' Devotional Bible

The NIV Life Application Bible

The NIV Study Bible

Youth Walk Devotional Bible

The above list is just from one publisher, the godless Murdoch empire. It is not an exhaustive list either. I think at the last count there are eighty-one private versions of the Bible in the UK alone. According to the Oxford University Press, "we have reached saturation point." It would seem not, for Crossway have just produced an 'update' including the Apocrypha. Rome will be well-pleased. Now she too can abandon the gender-neutral NIV, which the ESV was a reaction to we believe. With JI Packer of "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" at the wheel of the ESV translation business, this doesn't come as a surprise. The Bible has gone from being a possession of the Church to being the property of commercial landlords.

Further to this, the National Council of Churches, who owns the copyright to the old RSV, which is the basis of the ESV, eighty-one per cent of it, as can be clearly seen from the copyright page of the ESV itself. Where this is made perfectly clear. That a licensing fee must be paid for the use of copyright material is standard procedure in the publishing world. That Crossway has such a contract with the National Council of Churches has also been confirmed by the National Council of Churches themselves. Therefore, Crossway very much financially benefits the National Council of Churches. A Council, I might add, that is committed to ecumenism in the extreme, and is supportive of the gay-rights agenda, the ordination of both homosexuals and women, and that abortion should not be prohibited. Should any right-minded evangelical Christian, or Christian publisher be supporting such an organisation?

With the widespread and deepening apostasy, it's not too difficult to see where this is going to end up. However,

"I do not believe, that anyone has the right, nor the authority, to pontificate to the Christian world one Bible alone as Holy Scripture, while anathematizing the rest to the incinerator (the Holy Spirit Himself must ultimately bear witness to the Divine final authority). We have all heard testimonies of people who have come to the Christian faith by reading a Jehovah’s Witness Bible. Martin Luther received salvation light from a Roman Catholic Latin Vulgate. We should never think that the Holy Spirit is limited to Elizabethan English.

But to whom much is given, much will be required. Those of us who have become aware that the modern Bibles represent more the abstract concerns emanating from the competing textual theories of various specialists, as well as representing the more pragmatic concerns of the Bible marketing industry which has capitalized on the loss of consensus produced by the specialists, it would seem we have a responsibility. That is, to direct young and seeking pilgrims, as well as seasoned saints, back to the “old landmarks.”

John Wesley stated it this way: “I have thought, I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: just hovering over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing — the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end, He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a Book. 0 give me that Book! At any price, give me THE Book of God” (T Letis)! 


One Message, Really?

"With so much discussion about the need for unity in the church, one would think that more people would recognize the value of the A.V. to this end, but instead one hears only of using “the Bible of your choice,” which tends to lead to fragmentation in any group study, rather than to unity. The results of having an abundance of modern versions to choose from are anything but constructive. According to an article in the New York Times, within the past twenty years “several hundred versions of the Bible, catering to every niche of reader” has resulted in a glut in the market, “too many Bibles for too few faithful” [”The Bible, a Perennial, Runs into Sales Resistance,” New York Times (October 28, 1996)]. The obvious problem of conflicting translations is illustrated by the many books that follow in the wake of the many translations, which attempt to clarify why there are so many translations! A few recent titles are, “Why So Many Bibles?”, 1968; “What Bible Can You Trust?”, 1974; “Which Bible?”, 1975; “So Many Versions?”, 1975; and others" (T Letis).

"I’d like to talk to you about two controversial things: prophecy and women’s clothing. What is prophecy? At its base, prophecy is speaking the words of God to people. The prophet Ezekiel related these words in Ezekiel 2:3-5: “And he [God] said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. For they are impudent children and stiff-hearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them.” So, a prophet is a person who gives a message from God. What kind of message is it? Verse 4, “...Thus saith the Lord GOD.” Not, “This is the general meaning of what God said,” or “This is a cultural substitute for what God actually meant,” or “Thus saith my Bible college professor,” but “This IS what the Lord actually said.” The prophets were confident because they were right. They weren’t speaking for themselves, but for God. Did you know that the Bible says if everyone prophesied, it would actually be a good thing? In 1 Corinthians 14:24-25, God spoke through Paul: “But if all prophecy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.” Why would he fall on his face and worship God? Why would he report that God is in you of a truth? Because you all spoke the words of God! That means you all spoke the same things! Think about your church. Can you honestly say that if someone unlearned in the Bible or an unbeliever comes in, that all could take their Bibles and show the same truths about that person’s life? But if you had God’s words, you could do that, couldn’t you? But, really, if you had the NIV, ESV, NLT, New King James, all I can say is, “Good luck with that.”

Check out a controversial pair of verses: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) Let’s go back to verse 9. The 1984 NIV says that the last two are: “...nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders…” It’s in the 1984 NIV, but there’s a huge change in the 2011 NIV! Watch carefully. In the 2011 it says, “ ...nor men who have sex with men.” That’s MSM in the abbreviation. What happened? Check out the footnote: It says, “The words men who have sex with men translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homosexual acts.” By a strange coincidence, those words, the MSM, are also the very words used by the Centers for Disease Control. It even has its own Wikipedia page. The ESV says “... nor men who practice homosexuality,” But it has a similar note. So do the Common English Bible, the newest change to the Holman Christian Standard (yes, they keep changing it), and the NET Bible. The NLT has a different perspective. It says: “...or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality,” And the New King James goes in a different direction. It says, “...nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,” Confused yet? Believe it or not, a number of Bible versions actually agree with the King James word “effeminate,” including Westcott and Hort’s ASV and ERV, the New American Standard, the Noyes, Rotherham, Webster, Revised Webster and Young’s Literal. They hadn’t changed it yet, you see. What is effeminate, anyway? Webster’s 1828 dictionary says it exactly: “Having the qualities of the female sex; soft or delicate to an unmanly degree; tender; womanish; voluptuous.” Think about it. It goes way further than male prostitute, submissive homosexual or MSM. It means a guy who acts like a girl, a man who acts like a woman. It’s a man who is unmanly.

That covers a lot more ground, doesn’t it? So, if you go to a church and the male worship leader is dressed in a soft shirt with a woman’s sweater and women’s tight pants —that’s not homosexual, but it is effeminate. If a guy puts on a dress and high heels, that’s effeminate, too. If a guy acts like a girl, taking on a girl’s mannerisms, that may not be homosexual, but it is effeminate. And God says that should not be, especially in Christians. Homosexuality is way further down the line from effeminate, but God won’t allow either in His people, according to His preserved words. You see, many people, they’re like Lot. They set their tent so close to the Devil’s land, like Sodom, that they have to engage in a property dispute. But God says: “Don’t even go there.” Now if everyone in your church had the KJV, there would be no excuse. Don’t look like a woman, men. Don’t look like a girl, boys. One message. And if someone was convicted by these holy words, this one message, think about it. 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 could actually come true, in a sense: “But if all prophecy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:” Why? Because they have the same words. “And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.” My Bible says one message: This is God’s words, written in English. And you will only have one message if you will trust God’s holy words in English, the King James Bible. It will take out all the guesswork! You will be as confident as a prophet and be able to say, “Thus saith the Lord!” Because you will be right."

©️ DW Daniels: "51 Reasons Why the King James" Chick Publications.

Unity, one voice, thus saith the Lord? Where, in which Church, I ask you? With so many versions of the Bible and all conflicting with one another and forever changing, how can they claim to be God's word? To quote again the above author, "My Bible says one message: This is God’s words, written in English. And you will only have one message if you will trust God’s holy words in English, the King James Bible. It will take out all the guesswork! You will be as confident as a prophet and be able to say, “Thus saith the Lord!” Because you will be right" (DW Daniels). The Reformation not only gave us the freedom to worship God according to his will, but it also gave us a very good, accurate Bible. It has served the Church well for nearly four hundred years. Through those years the Church has spoken with one voice, one message and with authority because she was sure what she had was the very word of God. That is no longer the case. In fact, confusion abounds. We claim that our God is not the author of confusion and when it comes to this issue of Bible versions, Islam laughs in our faces. Not only does disunity abound but confusion also. Which one is the word of God? How can they all be the word of God when they all say something different? They cannot be. God is not the author of confusion. Bible Societies and Publishers are the authors of the confusion.

Is the Church in a better, healthier condition for all this multiplication of Bible versions? Does she speak with a greater degree of authority now we've modernised everything but the tiles on the roofs of their buildings? I suggest she has never had such a lack of authority, never been in such a state of declension as she is at present. Many, many congregations are awash with unbelief. Long ago, we left something behind, perhaps it was the word of God?


BB Warfield and the Preservation of the Biblical Text

"With so much discussion about the need for unity in the church, one would think that more people would recognize the value of the A.V. to this end, but instead one hears only of using “the Bible of your choice,” which tends to lead to fragmentation in any group study, rather than to unity. The results of having an abundance of modern versions to choose from are anything but constructive. According to an article in the New York Times, within the past twenty years “several hundred versions of the Bible, catering to every niche of reader” has resulted in a glut in the market, “too many Bibles for too few faithful” [”The Bible, a Perennial, Runs into Sales Resistance,” New York Times (October 28, 1996)]. The obvious problem of conflicting translations is illustrated by the many books that follow in the wake of the many translations, which attempt to clarify why there are so many translations! A few recent titles are, “Why So Many Bibles?”, 1968; “What Bible Can You Trust?”, 1974; “Which Bible?”, 1975; “So Many Versions?”, 1975; and others" (T Letis).

"I’d like to talk to you about two controversial things: prophecy and women’s clothing. What is prophecy? At its base, prophecy is speaking the words of God to people. The prophet Ezekiel related these words in Ezekiel 2:3-5: “And he [God] said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. For they are impudent children and stiff-hearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them.” So, a prophet is a person who gives a message from God. What kind of message is it? Verse 4, “...Thus saith the Lord GOD.” Not, “This is the general meaning of what God said,” or “This is a cultural substitute for what God actually meant,” or “Thus saith my Bible college professor,” but “This IS what the Lord actually said.” The prophets were confident because they were right. They weren’t speaking for themselves, but for God. Did you know that the Bible says if everyone prophesied, it would actually be a good thing? In 1 Corinthians 14:24-25, God spoke through Paul: “But if all prophecy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.” Why would he fall on his face and worship God? Why would he report that God is in you of a truth? Because you all spoke the words of God! That means you all spoke the same things! Think about your church. Can you honestly say that if someone unlearned in the Bible or an unbeliever comes in, that all could take their Bibles and show the same truths about that person’s life? But if you had God’s words, you could do that, couldn’t you? But, really, if you had the NIV, ESV, NLT, New King James, all I can say is, “Good luck with that.”

Check out a controversial pair of verses: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) Let’s go back to verse 9. The 1984 NIV says that the last two are: “...nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders…” It’s in the 1984 NIV, but there’s a huge change in the 2011 NIV! Watch carefully. In the 2011 it says, “ ...nor men who have sex with men.” That’s MSM in the abbreviation. What happened? Check out the footnote: It says, “The words men who have sex with men translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homosexual acts.” By a strange coincidence, those words, the MSM, are also the very words used by the Centers for Disease Control. It even has its own Wikipedia page. The ESV says “... nor men who practice homosexuality,” But it has a similar note. So do the Common English Bible, the newest change to the Holman Christian Standard (yes, they keep changing it), and the NET Bible. The NLT has a different perspective. It says: “...or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality,” And the New King James goes in a different direction. It says, “...nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,” Confused yet? Believe it or not, a number of Bible versions actually agree with the King James word “effeminate,” including Westcott and Hort’s ASV and ERV, the New American Standard, the Noyes, Rotherham, Webster, Revised Webster and Young’s Literal. They hadn’t changed it yet, you see. What is effeminate, anyway? Webster’s 1828 dictionary says it exactly: “Having the qualities of the female sex; soft or delicate to an unmanly degree; tender; womanish; voluptuous.” Think about it. It goes way further than male prostitute, submissive homosexual or MSM. It means a guy who acts like a girl, a man who acts like a woman. It’s a man who is unmanly.

That covers a lot more ground, doesn’t it? So, if you go to a church and the male worship leader is dressed in a soft shirt with a woman’s sweater and women’s tight pants —that’s not homosexual, but it is effeminate. If a guy puts on a dress and high heels, that’s effeminate, too. If a guy acts like a girl, taking on a girl’s mannerisms, that may not be homosexual, but it is effeminate. And God says that should not be, especially in Christians. Homosexuality is way further down the line from effeminate, but God won’t allow either in His people, according to His preserved words. You see, many people, they’re like Lot. They set their tent so close to the Devil’s land, like Sodom, that they have to engage in a property dispute. But God says: “Don’t even go there.” Now if everyone in your church had the KJV, there would be no excuse. Don’t look like a woman, men. Don’t look like a girl, boys. One message. And if someone was convicted by these holy words, this one message, think about it. 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 could actually come true, in a sense: “But if all prophecy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:” Why? Because they have the same words. “And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.” My Bible says one message: This is God’s words, written in English. And you will only have one message if you will trust God’s holy words in English, the King James Bible. It will take out all the guesswork! You will be as confident as a prophet and be able to say, “Thus saith the Lord!” Because you will be right."

©️ DW Daniels: "51 Reasons Why the King James" Chick Publications.

Unity, one voice, thus saith the Lord? Where, in which Church, I ask you? With so many versions of the Bible and all conflicting with one another and forever changing, how can they claim to be God's word? To quote again the above author, "My Bible says one message: This is God’s words, written in English. And you will only have one message if you will trust God’s holy words in English, the King James Bible. It will take out all the guesswork! You will be as confident as a prophet and be able to say, “Thus saith the Lord!” Because you will be right" (DW Daniels). The Reformation not only gave us the freedom to worship God according to his will, but it also gave us a very good, accurate Bible. It has served the Church well for nearly four hundred years. Through those years the Church has spoken with one voice, one message and with authority because she was sure what she had was the very word of God. That is no longer the case. In fact, confusion abounds. We claim that our God is not the author of confusion and when it comes to this issue of Bible versions, Islam laughs in our faces. Not only does disunity abound but confusion also. Which one is the word of God? How can they all be the word of God when they all say something different? They cannot be. God is not the author of confusion. Bible Societies and Publishers are the authors of the confusion.

Is the Church in a better, healthier condition for all this multiplication of Bible versions? Does she speak with a greater degree of authority now we've modernised everything but the tiles on the roofs of their buildings? I suggest she has never had such a lack of authority, never been in such a state of declension as she is at present. Many, many congregations are awash with unbelief. Long ago, we left something behind, perhaps it was the word of God?


Textual Criticism Sucks!

"The text is changing. Every time that I make an edition of the Greek New Testament, or anybody does, we change the wording. We are maybe trying to get back to the oldest possible form but, paradoxically, we are creating a new one. Every translation is different, every reading is different, and although there’s been a tradition in parts of Protestant Christianity to say there is a definitive single form of the text, the fact is you can never find it. There is never ever a final form of the text.

Dr D. C. Parker, Textual Scholarship and the Making of the New Testament, Oxford University Press, 2012

The end result of Restorationist Textual Criticism is scepticism" (AN Other).

Unbelief, even!


What Authority Do You Trust to Give You the Bible?

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BB Warfield as well as being an evolutionist introduced to Princeton Seminary biblical text criticism. He did so inspire

d by Westcott and Hort, who were equally inspired by the German higher critic, Griesbach. Warfield altered his interpretation of the Westminster Confession (1:8) regarding the preservation of the biblical text. He advocated a meaning the Confession that had never been held in all its history. His take was that what was meant by the preservation of the extant texts, but the providential restoration of an inerrant original text, by means of modern textual criticism. He said, "we believe in God's continuous care over the purity of his word, we are able to look upo

n the labours of the great critics of the nineteenth century, Tregelles, Westcott, Hort, as instruments of Providence in preserving (i.e., restoring) the scriptures pure for the use of God's people. Warfield's introduction of the text criticism into Princeton was disastrous. Shortly after his demise, Princeton adopted higher criticism, where his methods were fully developed. Warfield is now gone and so too is Princeton, however, the legacy is yet being preserved at the breakaway institution, Westminster Seminary. It would seem to me that along with the modern Bible publishing fraternity, Crossway, Murdoch empire etc., they are all still, with each new version or update, engaged in that search for the "restored inerrant" text? I believe that Dr Warfield's legacy bears that of bitter fruit, it has done immeasurable damage to the faith of God's people in the West and continues to do so. While you all await that text they are vainly searching for I continue to hold to the Protestant, Confessional doctrine of Scripture, not that of the Roman Catholic Church. Meanwhile, peruse below some of the responses provoked by Warfield and his school:

Thomas Lindsay (1843-1914)

"But when all is said they are bound to admit (Warfield) & his school) that the attribute of formal inerrancy does not belong to the Scriptures which we now have, but to what they call, the original autographs of Scripture. It follows that the Scriptures as we now have them are neither infallible nor inspired in their use of these words. This is not an inference drawn from their writings by a host

ile critic. It is frankly and courageously said by themselves, "We do not assert that the common text, but only that the original autographic text was inspired." The statement is deliberately made by Dr Hodge and Dr Warfield. This is a very grace assertion and shows to what lengths the School are driven to maintain their theory, and it is one which cannot fail if seriously believed and thoroughly acted upon, to lead to sad conclusions both in the theological doctrine of Scripture and in the practical work of the church. Where are we to get our errorless Scripture? In the ipsissima verba (precise words) of the original autographs? Who are to recover these for us? I suppose the band of experts in textual criticism who are year by year giving us the materials for a more perfect text. Are they to be created by-and-by when their labours are ended into an authority doing for Protestants what the "Church" does for Roman Catholics? Are they to guarantee for us the inspired and infallible Word of God, or are we to say that the unknown autographs are unknowable and that we can never get to this Scripture, which is the only Scripture inspired and infallible in the strictly formal sense of those words as used by the Princeton School? I have a great respect for textual and historical Biblical critics and have done my share in a humble way to obtain recognition of their work, but I for one shall never consent to erect the scholars whom I esteem into an authority for that text of Scripture which is alone inspired and infallible. That, however, i

s what this formalist theory is driving us to if we submit to it. I maintain, with all the Reformers, and with all the Reformed Creeds, that the Scriptures, as we now have them, are the inspired and infallible Word of God, and that all textual criticism, while it is to be welcomed in so far as it brings our present text nearer the ipsissima verba (precise words) of the original autographs, will not make the Scriptures one whit more inspired or more infallible in the true Scriptural and religious meanings of those words than they are now (T Lindsay, 1895).

Henry Grey Graham (1874-1959)

In yet another response to Warfield with a statement by an early twentieth-century Scottish Roman Catholic bishop. While the bishop's remarks are not directed at Warfield specifically, they offer a cogent testimony to the fact that Warfield's appeal to the autographa, rather than to an ecclesiastical extant edition, brought the Protestant view of Scripture, as Lindsay (above) argued, closer to the Roman Catholic view with but one difference: rather than depend on the mediation of an ecclesiastical hierarchy he now looks to the text-critical community to fulfil the same role. The following quotation is all the more important because it came from the pen of a former Protestant Church of Scotland minister who held the distinction of being the only convert to the Roman communion from the Scottish Presbyterian Church ever to be made a bishop. The Rt Rev Henry Grey Graham wrote the following in his popular essay on "Where We Got the Bible" 1911):

"Pious Protestants may hold up their hands in horror and cry out, "there are no mistakes in the Bible! it is all inspired it is God's own book?" Quite true, if you get God's own book, the originals as they came from the hand of the Apostle, Prophet, and Eva

ngelist. These and these men only were inspired and protected from making mistakes. The original Scripture is free from error because it has God for its author; so teaches the Roman Catholic Church; but that does not alter the fact that there are scores, nay, thousands of differences in the old manuscripts and I should like any enquiring Protestants to ponder over this fact and see how they can possibly reconcile it with their principle that the Bible alone is the all-sufficient guide to salvation? Which Bible? You know perfectly well that you must trust some authority outside of yourself to give you the Bible. We Catholics, on the other hand, glory in having some third party to come between us and God because God himself has given it to us, namely, the Roman Catholic Church, to teach us and lead us to him" (HG Graham, 1924).

The Text-Critical Community

This would be the authority outside of yourself that Graham suggests you trust to give you the Bible, lest of course like him, you cross the Tiber. God forbid!

The text is changing. Every time that I make an edition of the Greek New Testament, or anybody does, we change the wording. We are maybe trying to get back to the oldest possible form but, paradoxically, we are creating a new one. Every translation is different, every reading is different, and although there’s been a tradition in parts of Protestant Christianity to say there is a definitive single form of the text, the fact is you can never find it. There is never ever a final form of the text" (Dr D. C. Parker, Textual Scholarship and the Making of the New Testament, Oxford University Press, 2012).

"The end result of Warfield and his School's Restorationist Textual Criticism is scepticism, to say the least."

It would seem to me as the cup of iniquity fills up and the last of the last days appear on the horizon, the g

round is being prepared for the Man of Sin, the Antichrist. He for a short time will have his own ecclesiastical setup. And doubtless, he will have his own version of the Scriptures, everything is pointing to the ground being prepared for him. What community will you look to in these last days for a Bible, for God's word? The Text-Critical Community, or the community of Rome.

Or to trust the Scriptures given and preserved for us as God himself promised, "The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as in all controversies of religion the Church is finally to appeal unto them. But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God who have right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner, and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope" (Westminster Confession of Faith 1:8). Contrary to Warfield the Westminster divines were referring to the Scriptures that they already had, and not just to the autographa (originals) but also the apographa (copies) of which is our King James Version, given and preserved. You can read it, study it, preach from it with the utmost confidence that it is the word of God.


 

 

 

 



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