Friday, May 29, 2009

What this blog is about

This is a new blog to collect thoughts and information about the text of most of our English Bibles, which I have come to believe over the last few years is the result of what amounts to an act of vandalism committed in 1881 by the Revising committee dominated by Westcott and Hort (that's Brooke Foss Westcott {Bishop of Durham}, and Fenton John Anthony Hort, two late-19th century English theologians).

I don't think my language is too strong. I decided this topic needs some jolting language like "vandalism" and a jolting title that gets at what really happened. It IS a hoax perpetrated against the churches, however "sincerely" in a sense, if you understand that the people who perpetrated it had already lost their spiritual bearings. I know I risk alienating people who sincerely believe it's not such a big deal, that the changes the Revisers made were not so great really, that today's Bible text is really quite different from Westcott and Hort's, and that overall the current Bible situation is a great benefit to the church and not the disaster I see in it.

I also need to say up front that I am NOT a "King-James-only" defender, although I do happen to think that it is the best English Bible now available, for reasons that should become clear as the various arguments get an airing, and that makes me a KJV defender for all practical purposes at least. I simply don't subscribe to the school that considers the KJV exact perfection as is, and recognize the need for revision as language changes over time. Very very MINIMAL and CAREFUL revision, however -- a caution made quite anxiously crucial to my mind in light of the cavalier treatment of the KJV by the W-H team. So although I acknowledge this need, I really don't think it's ever going to happen in an acceptable way. So the KJV it is for the indefinite future.

I'm no expert on any of this. I've simply had to learn a fair amount on the subject as it seemed to be necessary to get a grasp of what actually happened, and I'm sure I still get some things wrong. But I think my errors are mostly in the area of technical facts, perhaps some terminological confusion although I've worked at getting that straight, while I manage to have a pretty good grasp of the overall situation. I'll be linking to many sources for my information.

As I see it, there are two main reasons why this hoax is not recognized as a hoax.

1) People really do have trouble with the language of the King James Bible and the modern versions seem to them to be more readable. They have little knowledge of how we got all these versions and simply believe they are all different "translations" of the same basic Bible, so that the easier the language the better the Bible from their point of view.

2) Many seminaries were somehow persuaded of the methods of Westcott and Hort, although historically it took a while for their thinking to dominate as it does now. Each new generation of pastors to come out of the seminaries has been taught some basic Bible Greek and taught it from the Westcott and Hort family of manuscripts, known as the Critical Text, rather than the King-James family, known as the Received Text (or the Textus Receptus or the Traditional Text). The Received Text is generally dismissed as inferior and the Critical Text taught as superior. The reliability of the texts is studied completely from the Critical Text with hardly a nod to the Received Text.

How this came about is a mystery that still puzzles me. I've ordered some books on the historical situation that ought to be enlightening and, Lord willing and time permitting, will post quotes from them here.

For starters, as I get ready to move some posts I already did to this location, here is a list of those posts under the title False Bibles at the blog Faith's Corner.

Later: I may not be doing as much transferring of posts as I had at first expected to do. At the moment I'm content with linking to the posts I've already done and am thinking in terms of keeping this blog for new material. Time will tell.

A later restatement of my position is here.