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Archive for the ‘King James Only Controversy’ Category

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the most important event in the history of English Bible translation.  In fact, the publication of the King James Version of the Bible in 1611 was the most important event in the history of book printing as a whole, inasmuch as it is the bestselling English book of all time.  I tell my students that the publication of the King James Bible was the most important event in the history of English and American literature.

There are important ways in which the King James Version is a book of wonders, and that is the format I have chosen for this article.

Wonder #1:  the inauspicious origin of the KJV

The greatest English Bible was begotten in a moment of spite by a profane king.  The origin of the King James Version is as follows.  As the coronation procession of King James of Scotland wound its way southward, Puritan leaders presented the king with the Millenary Petition (so-called because it allegedly bore the signatures of a thousand Puritan ministers).  In response, the king called the Hampton Court Conference (held January,  1604).  

The conference turned out to be a farce.  Four moderate, hand-picked Puritans were pitted against eighteen Church-of-England heavyweights.  The king summarily dismissed all Puritan requests and threatened to “harry them out of the land–or worse.”  As a last-minute attempt to salvage at least something from the conference, the Puritans requested that a new English translation of the Bible be commissioned.

The king surprised the assembly by approving the request, but he did so with a scornful put-down of the Geneva Bible (the Puritans’ preferred-translation) and of the whole tradition of English Bible translation.  The king’s famous statement was that “he could never yet see a Bible well translated in English, but the worst of all his Majesty thought the Geneva to be.”

So this was the origin of the King James Bible–a “poor and empty” request (as the preface to the KJV calls it) from a handful of dejected Puritans, granted by a sneering king.  It is hard to imagine a less auspicious origin for the mighty King James Bible.  Yet God chose to override the scorn of a king who was seeking his own political advantage rather than the spiritual health of his nation.

Wonder #2:  the unlikely process of translation

A whole host of wonders meets us when we learn the details of what is commonly called “the making of the King James Version.”  For starters, even though the King James Bible originated in a climate of religious and political contentiousness, once the process was set in motion by King James and Archbishop Richard Bancroft, everyone involved in the project rose above partisan spirit.  Something like a benediction fell on the venture.

The forty-seven men who did the translation were chosen solely on the basis of their scholarly ability.  They were “the best of the best” that England had to offer in Hebrew and Greek language studies and biblical scholarship.  It is true that all of the translators were clerics in the Church of England, but all viewpoints within that church were represented, from high church Anglo-Catholics to low-church Puritans.  Approximately a fourth of the translators were Puritans.

The second wonder is that a seemingly unwieldy committee structure did not impede the work.  There were three primary committees, but each of these was in turn divided into two committees, so in effect the work was performed by six committees.  To add to our astonishment, they met in three separate locations–Oxford University, Cambridge University, and the Jerusalem Chamber off the entrance to Westminster Abbey in London.  

Benson Bobrick, author of a book entitled Wide as the Waters: The Story of the English Bible and the Revolution It Inspired, sees a delicate balancing act in the three locations where the committees met.  Oxford University had royalist and high church associations.  Cambridge University was a hotbed of Protestant and Puritan fervor.  Both universities were governed by Christian assumptions, but as educational institutions the were “secular” rather than ecclesiastical.  Westminster Abbey, by contrast, was a church institution, and additionally its officials were appointed by the ruling monarch.  Of course no one deliberately set out to orchestrate the venture in these terms, but the effect was as Bobrick describes it.

While the committee structure would seem to have been unmanageable in size and location, the process was so thorough that eventually all committee members read and had opportunity to comment on the entire manuscript.  In yet another surprise, even though the Geneva Bible was the best and most popular translation of the day, the Bishops’ Bible of 1568 was the stipulated starting point for the King James translators. 

A final wonder is that the six committees produced not only a unified product but a literary masterpiece–the only one ever produced by a committee, as is commonly asserted.  The primary aim of the translators was to produce an accurate translation.  But as Alister McGrath writes in his book In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language and a culture, “The king’s translators achieved [literary merit] unintentionally, by focusing on what, to them, was a greater goal. . . . The achievement of prosaic and poetic elegance that resulted was, so to speak, a most happy accident of history.”

Wonder #3:  the language and style of the KJV

The language and style of the KJV are a wonder because they defy complete analysis.  A symptom of this is that the King James style can be parodied and imitated but never duplicated.  Here, too, a benediction descended on the translation.

Modern advocates of colloquial Bibles have made fallacious claims about the King James style that need to be countered.  The archaic quality of the King James Version makes it seem formal and exalted to modern readers, but the archaisms of the KJV were equally characteristic of the daily speech of the time.  Another fallacy is that the King James translators spoiled the racy colloquialism of Tyndale’s translation by embellishing it upwards.  It is true that the King James translators had “a sure instinct for betterment” (as one expert puts it) as they massaged their inherited English translations, but I have found that this improvement often consisted of simplifying Tyndale’s formulation, not by making it ornate.  For example, Tyndale rendered 1 Timothy 6:6 as, “Godliness is great riches, if a man be content with that he hath.”  The King James translators tightened it up by rendering it, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”  

It is hard to know what descriptors to use for the King James style.  It is not colloquial, but what is it?  The adjectives beautiful, dignified, and elegant (not to be necessarily equated with eloquent) are all accurate.  Mainly, though, the King James style is as varied as the original biblical text, which shares with the King James Version the paradoxical quality of combining simplicity with majesty.  

Where the original text is exalted and rhetorically embellished, the King James Version is also:  “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and though I have all faith so that I cold remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-2).

But the simple can also be a form of beauty, and we find this as often as we find the embellished:  “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8).  Or this from the creation story:  “And God said, Let there be light:  and there was light” (Genesis 1:3).  Advocates of colloquial Bibles want us to believe that because the King James Version does not sound like conversation at the bus stop it is stilted, but this is a fallacy that we need to resist.

The King James norm is simplicity of style combined with majesty of effect:  “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knoweth it shall be opened” (Luke 11:9-10).  The vocabulary of that passage is simple, but the elaborate rhetorical patterns of repetition elevate it above everyday conversation.  A good parallel is Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, where the vocabulary is simple and the effect is elevating.  I note in passing that a scholar has written a whole book that explores the indebtedness of the Gettysburg Address to the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.

An additional quality of the King James style is that it is memorable and aphoristic.  Dozens of familiar sayings entered the English language through the King James Version (which both perpetuated felicitous formulations from earlier translations and added to the storehouse):  labor of love, my brother’s keeper, fly in the ointment, the powers that be, like a lamb to the slaughter, the salt of the earth, a law unto themselves, vanity of vanities, under the sun.  There are so many memorable sayings from the King James Bible in Bartlett’s Famous Quotations that an editor segregated them out and published a freestanding book that runs to over 200 pages.

Wonder #4:  the unmatched influence of the King James Bible

The King James Version became the most influential book in the history of the English-speaking world and not impossibly in the world as a whole.  Sources claiming that the KJV is the best-selling book of all time are too numerous to cite.  David Daniell, author of the magisterial The Bible in English, claims that the KJV is “still the bestselling book in the world.”  Adam Nicolson, in his book God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible, claims that more than five billion copies of the King James Bible have been sold.  Gordon Campbell, in his recent Oxford University Press book entitled Bible: The Story of the King James Version 1611-2011, calls the King James Version “the most important book in the English language.”  Any book that elicits such claims as these is a “wonder book.”

Until relatively recently, the King James Version was what people meant when they spoke of “the Bible.”   Wherever we dip into the sermons and writings of the famous preachers and theologians of the English-speaking world, it is obvious at once that they used the KJV.  Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, George Whitfield, D. L. Moody, Matthew Henry, and Billy Graham all used the King James Version and did not need to tell their audiences what translation they were using.

From approximately 1700 to 1950, the King James Bible was the preeminent book in England and American in virtually every sphere of society that we can name–family, religion, church, politics, education, literature, art, and music.  The foundation on which everything else rested was the influence of the King James Version on the English language.  The influence of the English Bible on the language started with William Tyndale, who gave English-speaking people what David Daniell calls an English plain style.  But Tyndale’s pioneering work would have proven ephemeral if other Bible translations had not perpetuated his work.

In turn, the King James Version synthesized a whole century of English Bible translation into a climactic document.  More importantly, it was through the King James Bible that this linguistic accomplishment remained dominant for three centuries.  If there was just one book that the American pioneers carried in their covered wagons, it was the King James Version of the Bible.  The King James Bible was first of all a religious authority, but it also provided a standard of stylistic and linguistic excellence that the pioneers preserved amidst conditions that doubtless seemed to threaten their cultural heritage.  For more than four centuries, English-speaking people (around the world and not just in England and America) had a touchstone for what constituted good written and oral communication.

For some glimpses into the spheres where the KJV was preeminent for three and a half centuries, I will dip into an area that emerged as one of my favorites when I wrote my book The Legacy of the King James Bible, namely, public inscriptions of verses from the King James Bible.  As a graduate student at the University of Oregon, I could look up whenever I entered the library and read the engraved verse, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).  

Every year two million visitors have a chance to read Leviticus 25:10 on the cracked Liberty Bell in Philadelphia:  “Proclaim LIBERTY through all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof.”  The “Isaiah wall” across the street from the United Nations headquarters in New York City bears these words from Isaiah 2:4:  “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks:  nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Texts from the English Bible have appeared on the walls of churches and cathedrals at least since the sixteenth century, and a majority of these have been from the King James Version.  A person sitting along the outer aisle of a pew of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia can read verses such as these:  “he being dead yet speaketh” (Hebrews 11:4); “being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10); “well done, thou good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithfull over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of they Lord” (Matthew 25:21).

The scope broadens if we consider the King James texts imprinted on the walls of the Dunham Bible Museum on the campus of Houston Baptist University.  These texts mark famous moments in American history where the King James Bible was quoted.  Specimens include these:  “What hath God wrought?” (Samuel Morse as he sent the first words over his newly invented telegraph machine, quoting Numbers 23:23).  “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained. . .” (Buzz Aldrin as he spoke on a television broadcast after his space walk, quoting Psalm 1:3).  “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Benjamin Franklin during a debate the drafting of the U.S. Constitution, quoting Psalm 127:1).

Conclusion

I have done no more than give hints of the greatness of the King James Bible and its historical influence.  McGuffey’s Fifth Eclectic Reader, which itself did much to perpetuate the influence of the King James Bible, can be allowed to encapsulate the praise that has been legitimately heaped on the King James Version through the years and especially in this anniversary year:  “The best of classics the world has ever admired.”

-Article by Leland Ryken, he is the Clyde S. Kilby Professor of English at Wheaton College. He is the author of numerous articles and has contributed, written or edited more than twenty books.

 

Click here for additional details on the KJV

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James White vs. Gail Riplinger

KJV Only Debate

(Video 5 of 5)

James White is the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the author of more than twenty books (including: The King James Only Controversy), a professor, an accomplished debater, and an elder of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church.

Gail Riplinger is an American author and speaker well-known for her support of the King James Only movement. She is the Author of “In Awe of Thy Word: Understanding the King James Bible Its Mystery and History Letter by Letter “and “New Age Bible Versions: An Exhaustive Documentation of the Message, Men & Manuscripts Moving Mankind to the Antichrist’s One World Religion. “

 

This is the final video of the debate.

 

Part 5

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James White vs. Gail Riplinger

KJV Only Debate

(Video 4 of 5)

James White is the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the author of more than twenty books (including: The King James Only Controversy), a professor, an accomplished debater, and an elder of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church.

 

Gail Riplinger is an American author and speaker well-known for her support of the King James Only movement. She is the Author of “In Awe of Thy Word: Understanding the King James Bible Its Mystery and History Letter by Letter “and “New Age Bible Versions: An Exhaustive Documentation of the Message, Men & Manuscripts Moving Mankind to the Antichrist’s One World Religion. “

Part 4

 

Video 5-Tomorrow

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James White vs. Gail Riplinger

KJV Only Debate

Video 3 of 5

 

If you are the least bit interested in educating yourselves on this issue, the following debate is jam packed with information from both sides of the issue.  We hope that you will find this as a helpful resource!

James White is the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the author of more than twenty books (including: The King James Only Controversy), a professor, an accomplished debater, and an elder of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church.

 

Gail Riplinger is an American author and speaker well-known for her support of the King James Only movement. She is the Author of “In Awe of Thy Word: Understanding the King James Bible Its Mystery and History Letter by Letter “and “New Age Bible Versions: An Exhaustive Documentation of the Message, Men & Manuscripts Moving Mankind to the Antichrist’s One World Religion. “

 

Part 3

 

Part 4-Tomorrow

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James White vs. Gail Riplinger

KJV Only Debate

 

 Video 2 of 5

 If you are the least bit interested in educating yourselves on this issue, the following debate is jam packed with information from both sides of the issue.  We hope that you will find this as a helpful resource!

 

James White is the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the author of more than twenty books (including: The King James Only Controversy), a professor, an accomplished debater, and an elder of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church.

Gail Riplinger is an American author and speaker well-known for her support of the King James Only movement. She is the Author of “In Awe of Thy Word: Understanding the King James Bible Its Mystery and History Letter by Letter “and “New Age Bible Versions: An Exhaustive Documentation of the Message, Men & Manuscripts Moving Mankind to the Antichrist’s One World Religion. “

Part 2

 

Part 3-Tomorrow

Read Full Post »

 

James White vs. Gail Riplinger

KJV Only Debate

Part 1 of 5

 

 

 If you are the least bit interested in educating yourselves on this issue, the following debate is jam packed with information from both sides of the issue.  We hope that you will find this as a helpful resource!

 

James White is the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, Arizona.  He is the author of more than twenty books (including: The King James Only Controversy), a professor, an accomplished debater, and an elder of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church.

 

 

Gail Riplinger  is an American author and speaker well-known for her support of the King James Only movement. She is the Author of “In Awe of Thy Word: Understanding the King James Bible Its Mystery and History Letter by Letter “and “New Age Bible Versions: An Exhaustive Documentation of the Message, Men & Manuscripts Moving Mankind to the Antichrist’s One World Religion. “

 

Part 1 

 

 

Part 2-Tomorrow

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(post 13)

Believe What?

KJV Only advocates often use a double standard in their incrimination of the modern versions. Consider this passage found in John 6:47:

 

  • • KJV – Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
  • • NIV – I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.
  • • NASB – “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.

 

Because of this verse, serious charges of “tampering with the Gospel have been levied against the modern versions. D.A. Waite, in a somewhat hysterical fashion, declares:

 

“This is, perhaps, one of the CLEAREST theological errors in these three versions. To make salvation only a matter of “believing” rather than solely, as Christ said in this verse, “believing on me,” is truly ANOTHER GOSPEL. If you are trying to lead someone to Christ with the NIV or NASV, using this verse, they could “believe” in anything and still have “everlasting life” – whether in Santa Claus, in the Easter Bunny, in the Tooth Fairy, in Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer or in any of the false world religions. This is SERIOUS THEOLOGICAL PERVERSION!”

 

The question is asked, “Does the rendering of John 6:47 allow for belief in Santa Claus for eternal salvation?” This rant is ridiculous when you read just 12 verses earlier, where the modern version records Jesus saying “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” In verse 40, Jesus says, “For this is the will of the Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life.” This same phraseology is found in John 7:38, 11:25-26, 12:44 and 12:46.

 

Here, in the exact same immediate context, Jesus is defined as the direct object of the faith about which He is speaking. Again, if this is a conspiracy among modern translators to mislead people away from Christ, they do a horribly inconsistent job. And seriously, could ANYONE read John 6:35-47 and NOT know what the object of faith in verse 47 is to be?

 

However, this does open a “can of worms” for the consistent KJVO advocate. What if the KJV fails to always include a direct object with “believe?” Consider the following from the KJV:

 

  • • Mark 9:23, where we read “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible

to him that believeth.” Believeth what???

 

  • • Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto

salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Believeth

what???

 

  • • Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

Believeth what???

Can we condemn the KJV as presenting “another gospel” here in these verses? Of course not, yet KJV Onlyists are quick to pin that label on modern versions. I am stunned by the complete lack of ethical scholarship in this argumentation.

 

Quite simply, it is hard to imagine that someone could see a malevolent force behind the John 6:47 verse and then ignore the same situation in these verses!

-Jeff Spry (monergism.com)

 

Something to Think About:

Have you blindly accepted KJV Onlyism?

 

***This will be an ongoing series that will take a deeper look into the KJV Only movement.  This is not meant to create controversy but hopefully it will serve as a resource for those who are wanting to take a more detailed look into this subject to see if the claims made by KJV Onlyist are necessarily true and valid, that all other versions are “perversions”.  This series will be taken from a variety of resources.  This is by no means an attempt to discredit the KJV Bible as we believe it is a good translation.  However, as previously noted, this series is an attempt to answer a few of the claims made by the KJV Only advocates.  We are not claiming this to be an exhaustive resource on this topic, but we will provide resources to those interested in further study and research on this topic.***

 

 

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(post #12)

The Book or Tree of Life

When Erasmus was compiling his Greek New Testament, he struggled with the text of the Revelation. He could not find ANY manuscript that contained the book. He learned that his friend Reuchlin possessed a text that was “of such great age that it might be thought to have been written in the time of the apostles.”However the text was still missing that last page of the Revelation, which contained the last six verses.

 

Erasmus made the decision to use his Latin Vulgate to translate the Latin back into Greek since he had no original Greek to use. This caused Erasmus to create the following textual variant:

  • • KJV – And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall

take away his part out of the book of life,

 

  • • NIV – And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from

him his share in the tree of life

 

  • • NASB – and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take

away his part from the tree of life

 

Naturally, this verse is important because of its theology and its warning, which is not missed by KJV Onlyists. The screed goes out that modern versions HAVE taken away for the words of “this book.” But have they?

 

Remember, Erasmus translated Latin back into Greek. The Latin word for “book” is libro. The Latin word for “tree” is ligno. It is easy to see how ligno could slowly change over time through copy errors into libro in Jerome’s Bible. There is no doubt that Erasmus saw libro in the Latin text he was using, which read “Deus partem eius de libro vitae” in the Vulgate and still does today.

 

However, there is NO other Greek text ANYWHERE that has the Greek word for “book” here. In fact, every Greek text has the Greek word for “tree,” which is xulos.

 

This also presents a theological problem. Prostestants believe in the “perseverance of the saints.” We believe in eternal security. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. However, the KJV tells us that nothing does not mean nothing – the act of translating a modern version can cancel out your salvation! Is this doctrinally correct?

 

These “embarrassing” items are mentioned NOT to denounce the T.R. Excepting the accounts above and a few more, the T.R. is a fine example of the Byzantine text family. We note these things because of the ABUSE and MISUSE of the T.R. by KJV Only adherents. 

 

Something To Think About:

Have you ever studied the “differences” between KJV and the Modern Translations?  Have you examined the claims on both sides?

 

***This will be an ongoing series that will take a deeper look into the KJV Only movement.  This is not meant to create controversy but hopefully it will serve as a resource for those who are wanting to take a more detailed look into this subject to see if the claims made by KJV Onlyist are necessarily true and valid, that all other versions are “perversions”.  This series will be taken from a variety of resources.  This is by no means an attempt to discredit the KJV Bible as we believe it is a good translation.  However, as previously noted, this series is an attempt to answer a few of the claims made by the KJV Only advocates.  We are not claiming this to be an exhaustive resource on this topic, but we will provide resources to those interested in further study and research on this topic.***

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(post #11)

The Textus Receptus

Desiderius Erasmus is known today as the “Prince of Humanists.” Of course, the term “humanist” has changed greatly since his days. A “humanist” in Erasmus’ day was not trying to remove God from every aspect of life. Instead, the humanistic Erasmus felt that God had endowed man with certain abilities of the mind and thought that men should, to God’s glory, cultivate those abilities. The motto of the humanists was ad fontes, which means “to the source!” Of course, the “source” for Erasmus was the original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament.

 

Erasmus wanted to compile a Greek New Testament and worked in England for years. Up to 1511, no one had ever printed one and scholars were all using hand-written copies. In 1514, Erasmus went to Basel, Switzerland, hoping to find many excellent Greek manuscripts. He was disappointed to find only five but set to work with these few. Using these few manuscripts, Erasmus did an incredible job of translation and editing.8 However, Erasmus also readily admitted that he did not produce a “perfect work,” saying it was “precipitated rather than edited.” Some of these problems that plagued Erasmus in compiling the Greek New Testament have a direct impact on the King James Version and still plague us today. There are approximately twelve passages found in the Textus Receptus and the King James Version that are not found in any other Greek manuscripts from any age and therefore are not in our modern Bibles.

 

So, what should we think about the T.R.? It helps to understand how it came to be. The T.R. has a long history and is not equivalent to Erasmus’ original work.

 

The New Testament of the King James Version of the Bible is based upon a later printed edition of the Greek New Testament that originated in the work of Erasmus. Erasmus produced several editions in 1516, 1519, 1522, 1527 and 1535 and reprinted it 69 times in that span. Luther used the second edition to translate his German text and Tyndale used the third edition for his English translation.

 

However, the fourth edition is the definitive work. It contained THREE columns: the Greek text, the standard Latin Vulgate and Erasmus’ own Latin translation, which differed from Jerome’s. Erasmus’ work became the standard Greek text.

 

Is Erasmus’ work the famed Textus Receptus? Not yet. A famous printer from Paris named Robert Estienne (1503-1559) later produced four more editions (1546, 1549, 1550, 1551). He is also known as Stephanus, his Latinized name. Estienne’s work compiled Erasmus’ text and the text of Ximenes, whom Erasmus was racing to be the first to publish a Greek New Testament. Ximenes’ work is called the Complutensian Polyglot, which contained Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin in four columns. Stephanus’ third edition contained the first “critical apparatus,” which is a series of footnotes that the editor used to show the facts for the basis on why he chose a particular Greek word in each verse. Stephanus also invented another item that is of great importance to all of us: verse divisions. It was Stephanus who first divided the Bible up into numbered verses.

 

Is the work of Erasmus and Stephanus the famed Textus Receptus? Not yet. Theodore Bèza succeeded John Calvin in Geneva as head of Reformed Protestantism. He published NINE editions of this same Greek New Testament. Bèza’s text is quite similar to Stephanus’ fourth edition.

 

Is the work of Erasmus and Stephanus and Bèza the famed Textus Receptus? Yes and No. There was still one more step. Bonaventure and Abraham Elzevir were two brothers who had a lucrative printing press in the Netherlands. As a commercial venture, they published a small edition of the Greek text and it gained great popularity because of its small size and remarkably clear printing. It was primarily based on Bèza’s 1565 edition. The preface contains an advertising blurb in Latin and claims that this edition was “the text which is now received by all, in which we give nothing changed or corrupted.”

 

In Latin, the important words are “textum” which is “text” and “receptum” which is “received.” This edition came to be known as the TEXTUS RECEPTUS or the Received Text. Please note that this does NOT mean the text was “received from God” but rather was “accepted by readers.”

 

The T.R. (as it is commonly abbreviated) is the accepted text of the Erasmus/Estienne/ Bèza/Elzevir tradition in 1633. Ironically, thousands swear allegiance to this T.R. and yet know nothing about it.

 

This Greek text underlies the King James Version of the Bible, even though it was not called the Textus Receptus until 22 years after the publication of the first King James Version.

 

We cannot praise enough the T.R. but we should not be blinded to its limitations, either. The question is whether or not we should stop with the Received Text of 1633. To use an illustration, the T.R. is the Model T of the New Testament texts. The Model T automobile was a triumph of early engineering and design, but it was only the first step of many. Wouldn’t we all suffer if we were still forced to use that type of car today? Aren’t you glad we have faster, safer, more comfortable, more powerful and more efficient cars today?

 

What is an amazing irony is that Erasmus, if he were alive today, would be on the side of the modern scholars. Many of the exact same arguments that are used today by KJV Only advocates were used against Erasmus 500 years ago! The very man to whom KJV defenders must defer for the mast majority of their New Testament text and textual arguments used the very same arguments and methodology to defend his work that modern translators use to defend the NASB or NIV! Amazing!

-Jeff Spry (monergism.com)

 

Something to Think About:

Why were there 35 textual notes given in the margin of the King James Bible? [Examples: Matthew 26:26—“Many Greek copies have…” Luke 10:22—“Many ancient copies add these words…” Luke 17:36—“This verse is wanting in most of the Greek copies” Acts 25:6—“Or as some copies read, no more than eight or ten days.”

 

***This will be an ongoing series that will take a deeper look into the KJV Only movement.  This is not meant to create controversy but hopefully it will serve as a resource for those who are wanting to take a more detailed look into this subject to see if the claims made by KJV Onlyist are necessarily true and valid, that all other versions are “perversions”.  This series will be taken from a variety of resources.  This is by no means an attempt to discredit the KJV Bible as we believe it is a good translation.  However, as previously noted, this series is an attempt to answer a few of the claims made by the KJV Only advocates.  We are not claiming this to be an exhaustive resource on this topic, but we will provide resources to those interested in further study and research on this topic.***

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(post #10)

Textual Differences: Textual Variances

It is of the utmost importance to remember that we are dealing with copies of copies of copies of copies. These copies were made by men just like you and me. As we all must admit, men make mistakes because “to err is human.” As I sit here typing these notes, I have to “back up” and correct mistakes. My computer tells me when a word is misspelled. As I copy a quote from a book, I make mistakes of skipping words or entire lines of text. Even in my air-conditioned office, sitting in my comfortable chair using a Pentium 4 computer under many bright lights, I still make mistakes in my writing.

 

Now, consider the difficulty of writing by hand, working for hours upon hours with fingers cramping around a feather quill or some other antiquated writing instrument in a hot/cold dimly-lit room on a rough stone or wood table. It is easy to understand how errors began to appear in these copies.

 

This should not shock you or surprise you. If I asked all in the classroom to spend a week copying the Gospel of John, what are the odds that 40+ people would return with exact matches throughout the handwritten (or typed) documents? Not very high, I would assume. We would still make the same types of errors those ancient scribes did. Consider this familiar “brain teaser”:

 

 

 

Did you read “Paris In The Spring” or “Paris in THE THE Spring”? See how easy it is to make a mistake. And you were not sitting in a cold stone “scriptorium” with little to no light and horrible writing/reading conditions.

 

As we readily know, it is easy to make mistakes while handwriting or copying text. There are many different kinds of errors we make (and ancient scribes made). Consider the following:

 

􀂃 Misspelling – we all have words that we just can’t seem to ever get right or remember. This simple error accounts for a vast majority of “textual variances.”

 

􀂃 Skip a word of phrase – This might occur as a scribe returns to the “exemplar” and his eye catches a similar word or the same word at a different point in the text. We do this all the time when we are reading.

 

􀂃 Fusion or Fission – this is the incorrect joining or parting of words. For example, in Mark 10:40, different manuscripts have “all ois” which means “but for whom” and others have “allois” which means “for others.” Also, Romans 7:14 has both “oidamen” which is “we know” and “oida men” which means “on the one hand I know.

 

􀂃 Errors in hearing – In some instances, scribes worked in a “scriptorium,” a dictation center of sorts. One individual would read from the master text and others would write down what he read aloud. It is easy to see how errors occurred in this situation. We all know how a mind can wander after several hours of monotonous labor. The copyists also had to deal with homonyms, words that sound alike but have different spellings and meanings (such as “their” and “there”). In Greek you have “exomen” (ecomen, “we have”) and “exomen” (exwmen, let us have”).

 

􀂃 Harmonization – This scribal error occurs when you are used to hearing a certain phrase hear a certain way and then you hear a similar phrase. It would be very easy to inadvertently and innocently change the phrase to fit your familiar understanding. This kind of textual variant is found all over the place. One example will be helpful in understanding:

 

-Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:2 “Grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” This phrase became a “blessing” or “greeting” in the early Christian church. Later, when writing to the Colossians, Paul was not as “complete” in his wording. Paul wrote in Colossians 1:2 “Grace to you and peace from God our father.”

 

Now, place yourself in the position of the scribe who has memorized Ephesians 1:2 and repeats it every Lord’s Day as he enters or leaves the worship service. You start to copy Paul’s letter to the Colossians and read “Grace to you and peace . . .” and then you think to yourself, “Ahh, I know that one” or “That’s strange, it should say…” In thinking this, you might “correct” the manuscript to say what you “know” it should say because the earlier scribe must have missed it.

 

This is very easy to understand why this is a very most common type of textual variant. The KJV does have “and the Lord Jesus Christ” at Colossians 1:2 and the modern versions do not. Therefore, this verse, and others like it, are some of the most commonly used ammunition of KJV Only authors and preachers who proceed to tell us how the modern versions “remove Jesus” from the Bible. The fact that “the Lord Jesus Christ” appears at Ephesians 1:2 and dozens of other places is seemingly lost on these authors, whose conspiracy theory falls flat.

 􀂃 Marginal notes – We must remember that these texts were all handwritten. Therefore, if you made an error, you couldn’t just backspace or erase or wad up and toss. Instead, the copyists put a note in margin in the place of the error. Later, future copyists would see that note and have to interpret its meaning. Did the first scribe mean for the note to be inserted in the text because he had mistakenly omitted it? Or was it just an explanatory or referential notation? You don’t want something in your copy that isn’t authentic but you also don’t want to leave something out. For the most part, it seems most scribes deemed it safer to add the extra material than leave it out. This has lead to scholars referring to the more recent copies as “fuller.”

 

􀂃 Natural human error in handwriting – Even in our day, it is hard to read some people’s writing. It was no different in ancient times. People still had trouble differentiating between T’s and F’s, E, O, C. If you can’t ask the original scribe, you have to “make an educated guess.”

 

This information is probably SHOCKING to many of you. It need not be. When you hear that the Bible contains thousands of variants, it is wise to listen closely to what is really being said. If you put ten people in a room and asked them to copy the first five chapters of Leviticus, you would soon end up with ten different versions of Leviticus. No two handwritten copies would be identical. Someone would skip a word in 2:8. One person would misspell a word in 4:13. Another might skip a whole line in 3:15.

 

In other words, you would end up with a lot of VARIANTS. However, would you still be able to reproduce the original and authentic message of Leviticus from these “corrupted” copies? Of course you would. This is possible because although every copy has errors in it, none will have the same error in the same spot in all ten copies.

 

When you hear a claim that the ancient manuscripts have thousands of variants, they are referring to the fact that when one manuscript has a unique spelling of a word at one point, this creates a variant against ALL OTHER manuscripts. When we speak of 200,000 variants within the 5,300 manuscripts we have, that does not mean that we have 5,300 DIFFERENT New Testament documents. You can still reproduce the original writings.

 

The great American scholar. Dr. A.T. Robertson, whose familiarity with the most intricate details of the Greet text is abundantly verified in his massive 1,454 page “A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research,” indicates that areas of real concern amounts to a “thousandth part of the entire text.”

 

Research has shown that 98.33% of the texts are pure no matter whether one used the Textus Receptus or any of the modern Greek texts. The reality is that the amount of variation between the two most extremely different manuscripts would not fundamentally alter the message of the Bible. The simple truth is that no textual variants in either the Old or New Testaments in any way, shape or form materially disrupt or destroy any essential doctrine of the Christian faith. Any impartial review of the situation will reveal this.

-Jeff Spry (monergism.com)

 

 

Something to think about:

Luther translated the Greek New Testament into the German language. Was his translation a perfect translation? Was it blessed of God and useful to the German people? Was it of the devil or of God?

 

***This will be an ongoing series that will take a deeper look into the KJV Only movement.  This is not meant to create controversy but hopefully it will serve as a resource for those who are wanting to take a more detailed look into this subject to see if the claims made by KJV Onlyist are necessarily true and valid, that all other versions are “perversions”.  This series will be taken from a variety of resources.  This is by no means an attempt to discredit the KJV Bible as we believe it is a good translation.  However, as previously noted, this series is an attempt to answer a few of the claims made by the KJV Only advocates.  We are not claiming this to be an exhaustive resource on this topic, but we will provide resources to those interested in further study and research on this topic.***

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