Sunday, February 27, 2011

Change for the Sake of Change: 2 Peter 1: 5-7

In a discussion of the 1881 revisers' incompetence at handling Greek prepositions, Burgon gives the example of 2 Peter 1:5-7, in which they made 30 changes from the KJV in a passage of 38 words. He is highlighting their lack of skill as translators but this passage also demonstrates their violation of their commitment to make only the most minimal changes where clearly needed.

Burgon comments:
Was it then in order to bring Scripture within the captus of 'a Reader of ordinary intelligence' that the Revisers have introduced no less than thirty changes into eight-and-thirty words of S. Peter's 2nd Epistle? Particular attention is invited to the following interesting specimen of 'Revision.' It is the only one we shall offer of the many contrasts we had marked for insertion. We venture also to enquire, whether the Revisers will consent to abide by it as a specimen of their skill in dealing with the Preposition ἐν [en]? (p. 171, Revision Revised).
2 Peter 1:5-7 (Red shows differences from the KJV)
KJV: And beside all this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

RV: Yea, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply virtue; and in your virtue knowledge; and in your knowledge temperance; and in your temperance patience; and in your patience godliness; and in your godliness love of the brethren; and in your love of the brethren love.
Burgon continues:
The foregoing strikes us as a singular illustration of the Revisionists' statement (Preface, iii. 2), --'We made no change if the meaning was fairly expressed by the word or phrase that was before us in the Authorized Version.' To ourselves it appears that every one of those 30 changes is a change for the worse; and that one of the the most exquisite passages in the N. T. has been hopelessly spoiled, -- rendered in fact well-nigh unintelligible, -- by the pedantic officiousness of the Revisers. Were they -- (if the question be allowable) -- bent on removing none but 'plain and clear errors,' when they substituted those 30 words? Was it in token of their stern resolve 'to introduce into the Text as few alterations as possible,' that they spared the eight words which remain out of the eight-and-thirty? (p. 172, Revision Revised)
He goes on to discuss their "wooden" rendering of the Greek preposition ἐν but I won't quote him there as my point here is to show the change for change's sake the revisers did against their own assertion that they would only make the most minimal and absolutely necessary changes.

Now I'll include some of the modern versions' rendering of this passage, which ought to show 1) that the changes made in the RV are carried through in most of them, and 2) that the spirit of Westcott and Hort persists in any case in the making of changes for change's sake. It is possible that for today's readers two or three of the new word choices would be better, but the commitment originally was to make only changes that were needed where the sense was unclear, and I can't see how this applies in any of the changes in this example. (I've put words that are new in a particular translation in magenta.)
ASV: (1901) Yea, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply virtue; and in [your] virtue knowledge; and in [your] knowledge self-control; and in [your] self-control patience; and in [your] patience godliness; and in [your] godliness brotherly kindness; and in [your] brotherly kindness love.

RSV: (1946-52, 71) For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

NASB: (1966-95) Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral *excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

NIV: (1973 NT, OT 1978, Rev 1983) For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self control; and to self control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

NKJV: (1982) But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

Just musing: It is possible that the KJV's "charity" would be better rendered as "love" for today's readers, but Burgon makes a strong case for retaining "charity," (pp 201-2 RR) so that even though it's not used now as it was then it might be worth it to try to resuscitate it by retaining it, partly because of its place in the history of the English church and English literature, but mainly because the English word "love" is too broad for the specificity of the Greek agape -- "a grace of purely Christian growth" as Burgon puts it. (By the way, the Greek word translated variously "brotherly kindness, brotherly love" etc., is philadelphia.) On the other hand, I checked with the older translations, Tyndale, Wycliffe etc., and found that they used "love" for agape and to my mind that makes a good case for the change. Nevertheless, the KJV translators had those earlier versions available to them, and if they saw fit to change it to "charity" that is at least an equally strong argument to retain it now. Something for my wished-for future and probably impossible Dream Team Translators to ponder.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A few of Burgon's objections to the language in the Revised Version

To give some of the flavor of Burgon's criticism of the English changes made in the Revised Version of 1881, I decided to list some of his page headings in his article The New English Version, in The Revision Revised, which indicate the topic covered on that page.

Burgon presents himself as a capable scholar of the Greek, textual critic, and an astute judge of the English language, this particular article being about both the bad Greek and bad English in the Revised Version.

And the point is: Beside the point of demonstrating Burgon's abilities and exposing the mentality of the revisers who gave us the bad Alexandrian Greek tests, I've already done a few posts and hope to do more showing that the modern versions that have sprung up over the last century all take their cue from the Revised Version, sometimes repeating its phrases exactly. Garbage in, garbage out.

Disastrous results of revision
Blunders recorded in the margin
Unfairness of the textual annotations in the margin
Unfair suppression of scripture
Text of S. Matth 1. 18, depraved
First three textual annotations incorrect. -- Text of S. Matth 1. 25
Licentiousness of the revisionists
Changes wantonly introduced
Senseless alterations
Revisionists' notion of making 'as few alterations as possible.'
St. John XIII. 12, --mistranslated
Injudicious or erroneous changes
Changes for the worse
Acts XXI. 37, mistranslated
S. Matthew XXVI. 15, now mistranslated
Unwarrantable change in Acts XXVI. 28, 29.
Specimens of Infelicitous and unidiomatic rendering.
Pedantry of the revisionists in rendering the Greek aorist
Offensive pedantry of the revisionists exposed
The Greek tenses, misrepresented throughout by the revisionists
The Greek article, misunderstood by the revisionists
The particles, tastelessly or inaccurately rendered
Unidiomatic rendering of the prepositions
30 changes in 38 words. -- Violated properties of the English language
Margins encumbered with textual errors
Sorry "alternative renderings"
Useless marginal glosses.
Mistakes resulting from want of familiarity with Hellenistic Greek
Absurd note
Mistaken principle of translation
"Epileptic," why inadmissible.
Socinian gloss on Romans IX. 5

Many of the topics he discusses in this section show to my mind a highly trained and highly refined scholar and judge of language. Unfortunately the decisions made by Westcott and Hort, and their inferior understanding of both Greek and English, now prevail, and there don't seem to be people trained to recognize it. I had a discussion elsewhere with someone who claimed to have seminary training and to be well educated in Greek who insisted Burgon had to be wrong about a particular Greek word which Burgon claims the revisionists misunderstood. Well, you can take today's seminary training as your standard, of course, but I take Burgon's judgment myself, and figure this sort of adamant objection to Burgon's judgment is the result of Westcott and Hort's plot having won -- so that the wrong understanding now prevails and is taken for the standard instead of Burgon's better judgment.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Burgon the Perennial Footnote

I continue to be amazed at the near-absolute dismissal of Burgon by defenders of the modern versions. It's as if he doesn't exist. They have NO interest in reading him, they are content with what they've seen quoted from him -- from both sides.

Having spent some time in the last few weeks visiting anti-KJV-only websites, AND reading around in a couple of anti-KJV-only books, I find a near-total blackout on Burgon's contribution which is astonishing to me. Not that his name doesn't come up, but anything he actually argued is not discussed, he's really just ignored. I find footnotes about him, or his name is mentioned in passing in connection with some subject or other, along with others who also wrote on the same subject, while what Burgon himself wrote is known only through those who have quoted him -- or commented on him, sometimes unfairly. There are for instance some references to his "intemperate" manner rather than to anything he contributed to the discussion -- an "intemperate" manner I happen to think is appropriate to the enormity of the offense he is exposing, a passion for the glory of God and the wellbeing of His church against a destructive manhandling of the Bible, a context in which a neutral academic tone is out of tune.

Whatever the cause, Westcott and Hort's claims, which Burgon spent so much time criticizing, largely hold sway while Burgon is ignored.

What is it that happened? As the Revised Version and its new Greek text came out was it simply so rapidly accepted into the halls of academe that its critics were left behind in the dust? Apparently Burgon wasn't even addressed, his arguments weren't criticized, he WAS simply ignored, he simply disappeared from consideration. So W-H's propositions and arguments were studied by new generations without any exposure to their original critics? So whatever criticism came up was a product of that later study and never fed on the earlier?

Is that what happened?

Then perhaps the rise of the KJV-Only movement put the whole thing on such a different footing that their arguments became the focus instead of Burgon's, and that added to the eclipse of his work? He is loved by the KJV-Only movement but the bulk of their work doesn't overlap his. I just skimmed through the lengthy section on Burgon in David Cloud's For Love of the Bible and see that he reproduces mostly Burgon's polemics and his conclusions rather than his arguments themselves, although some of his evidence on the last twelve verses of Mark is included. He also shows the critics' unfairness to Burgon, partial quotes and that sort of thing, exposing the character assassination and lack of discussion of his arguments without himself presenting any of his arguments.

Burgon mustered a great deal of evidence against what Westcott and Hort did, against the Alexandrian texts both in general and with respect to specific verses, and against the English translation they did. He took years making comparisons among all the manuscripts then available in order to show the corruptions of the Alexandrian texts so favored by W-H. The Revision Revised is a collection of three articles he had first published in a scholarly journal, a 110-page critique of The New Greek Text including discussion of Greek terms that I can appreciate only indirectly, a 122-page article on The New English Version, and a 130-page article on Westcott and Hort's New Textual Theory, followed by a lengthy letter (150 pages) answering Bishop Ellicott who had written a pamphlet defending the revision. And this is only one book he wrote on the 1881 Revision. He also wrote a book completely addressed to exposing the corruptions in the Alexandrian texts, and another on the last twelve verses of Mark.

But when James White writes a book on the Bible versions he attacks the arguments of the extreme KJV-Only camp, that Burgon had nothing to do with. Here for instance is a whole page listing various criticisms of KJV and TR-only arguments, all by James White, none of which takes on Burgon. Burgon would not have aligned himself with the extremists like Ruckman and Riplinger and Marrs. (The likelihood that White has read Burgon is very slim; I would also doubt that he's read a book like David Cloud's For Love of the Bible either, but of course perhaps I'm wrong).

When D. A. Carson lists Fourteen Theses some of which were argued by Burgon he does not discuss what Burgon said about any of them; when he lists Seven Arguments in favor of the KJV they are arguments not defended by Burgon as far as I've found. He includes Burgon in quite a few footnotes but I get the impression that he may not have read Burgon himself. I get the same impression from most of the anti-KJV-only arguments I've read.

The controversy today is not the controversy as Burgon addressed it.

I don't know if reading Burgon would change minds of course, although personally I can hardly see how it could fail to do so -- probably not James White, but then who knows? However, I also appreciate other arguments such as DiVietro's which doesn't seem to have swayed anyone.

I hope I'll soon get back to posting quotes from Burgon.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Improving the KJV

As I've said, I am for updating and even correcting the KJV as necessary but I wouldn't want the job of determining what those changes ought to be. I'm against the changes made in the 1881 Revision and in all subsequent English translations, even the New King James because it also went too far and also treated the W-H work as legitimate. The Revision the 1881 committee should have made didn't happen. I wish it could still be made. Perhaps there would now need to be some more changes than were needed then, but likely not many more.

I was very interested to read an interview with textual scholar Kirk DiVietro recently at KJV Only Debate blog, in which he says he uses the KJV pretty much for the same reason that I do, that although it still needs some revision he wouldn't trust today's scholars to do the job right and takes the position in the end that it really doesn't need an updating.
I would no more trust today’s textual scholars and translators to correct the King James Bible than I would trust the present politicians to rewrite the US Constitution. In my opinion, the scholarship, the knowledge, the dedication and the corporate effort do not exist in today’s academic community.
He also made a very interesting remark about the attitude of the publishers of the NKJV, that they considered it a step for people to take toward the modern versions. Enough reason right there to reject it.

Philip Mauro also discussed this issue. I don't know much about him but I much appreciate what he wrote about the Bible versions in 1924, in which he refers frequently to Burgon -- I've linked it in the margin -- and take seriously what he had to say about the possibility of improving the KJV:
It is not that the Old Version did not and does not admit of corrections and improvements. Nor is it that the Revisers did not make them; for it cannot be denied that the R.V. contains many improved readings. Yet for all that, as the experience of a whole generation has now conclusively demonstrated, the A.V. retains, and in all probability will continue to retain, its long undisputed place as the standard English Bible.
I would really like to see his list of what he considers to be improved readings in the RV. I would trust his choices and note them in my KJV.

About what the revisers of 1881 did instead of sticking to their agreement to make the most minimal revision of the KJV, he said: is apparent from what has been said already that if the Revisers of the 19th century had used the same Greek Text, either as it stood, or with such corrections as might seem justified by discoveries made subsequently to 1624, they would have given us a Version having a comparatively small number of changed readings. In fact it is within bounds to say that, if the Revisers had given us simply a corrected translation of the Textus Receptus, instead of a translation of an entirely "New Greek Text," we should not have more than a small fraction, say less than ten percent, of the changes found in the R.V. And what is more, not one of those changes which are regarded as serious, and against which such a storm of protest has been raised (and that from men of the highest scholarship and deepest piety) would have been made. In that case it is likely also that the changes would have commended themselves to the majority of discriminating Bible users.
This describes the updated KJV I wish they had done. I also wish it weren't too late now to do this work. I appreciate Dr. DiVietro's stand, but I continue to wish a revision were still possible.

To this day we don't have a real Revision of the KJV, despite all the supposed "revisions" we do have. As I read the KJV I see many archaic words I would like to see changed, but, as usual, as soon as I have such a thought I am aware of the wolves lurking in the dark waiting to rip it to bits, so I hesitate, and decide once again that it has to be left as is for now. I can barely say that it needs updating, much less suggest it might even need correction because of the mentality that is only too happy to "correct" the KJV into oblivion, as Westcott and Hort were and most of the modern versions have already done.

So back to Burgon, whose work on this convinces me that he understood what Westcott and Hort did while no modern scholars on the side of the modern versions do.

It occurred to me that I should give a reason why I don't support the newest KJV revisions that have been done, such as the King James 2000 and the Modernized version -- not sure that's the right name. There are others. It's because one thing I argue here is the importance of there being a STANDARD Bible that is shared by at least a majority of Christians. I consider it a problem that we each have our own chosen version, I consider it a disunifying influence in the churches, a disruptive force. Unless it were so clearly the perfect revision that I couldn't resist it I don't want to have just another version among versions to add to the confusion.

A second reason, however, is that when I've briefly looked over the different Bibles I have the impression that they all disagree with each other about what changes should have been made, so among themselves they also conflict, and I couldn't choose among them myself. As I've said, I would like a church-authorized committee to make those choices. They could run them by us all publicly, that's a good idea too, so it can all be hashed out in advance on blogs and forums, why not, especially since that's been going on for years now anyway, but then they are to make the decision. But of course the committee has to be equal in scholarship and spiritual status to the KJV translators. Not going to happen, I know, but I don't see any point in proliferating versions, even attempts at minimal revision, until there's a clear consensus, among people with the ability to judge, on what should be done.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Amateur in Text Crit Land

I keep getting criticism for this opinion:
I don't think such amateurs should be questioning the KJV translators on such things anyway.
Am I off the wall about this? Should everything be decided by democratic vote?

Isn't a Bible translation meant to be a production of those gifted for the job and USED by the rest of us? In fact isn't this project I'm engaged in at this blog something that should never have to happen, where ordinary Christians feel a need to take on these questions at all?

I'd go further myself and say that we should never have been put in the position of having to consult a Concordance in ordinary Bible study either. We should never have had to consider getting a Bible dictionary or other Bible aid for that purpose. I know it's all supposed to merely enhance our study but I can't see it that way any more. Of course if you're inclined to do that, fine, I mean there shouldn't be this NEED to do it. We should be able to rely on pastors and teachers and our own reading of the Word alone. I once accepted the need for the study aids the way I accepted as a new Christian the whole Bible versions rationale, also accepted the recommendation of my Bible study teacher for a particular translation (which I have to say I disliked for its awful English and you might be surprised at which one that was -- not the NLT or the NIV -- perhaps it wasn't really the English but spiritual discernment, thank You, Lord if so).

All these study aids have been made necessary by the proliferation of Bible versions with their inconsistent readings and the general attitude that whatever the Greek or Hebrew says is up for grabs by the least educated of us. And there are way too many of us who do feel a need to learn something about the debate over these things, on either side. I'm not saying we shouldn't, it's unfortunately necessary. One side tells us the new Bibles are straight from the pit of Hell, the other side TOTALLY pooh poohs that idea and tells us we should relax and accept them all, it's just a matter of personal preference, it's really a great boon to the church, an overflow of riches, those other guys are just conspiracy thinkers and reactionaries. If you have any suspicion at all that the picture isn't that rosy you find yourself getting pulled into trying to learn what the real situation is. Turns out it really isn't all that rosy. It may not be quite the pit of Hell -- or it may be -- but there's definitely plenty to be concerned about.

We amateurs really don't have much choice, after all, some of us anyway, but we do have to remember that we ARE amateurs, amateur text critics, amateur translators, amateur Greek scholars or whatever, and this situation is not optimum for Christians anyway you look at it. In studying this I've come to the conclusion that the average seminary graduate is also an amateur even if he spent four or five years learning Greek. Burgon said he thinks the basic qualification for a textual critic is a LIFETIME of study of all the relevant disciplines.

Amateurs can only promote mediocrity when what we need is the BEST -- of scholarship and of spiritual fidelity and depth. I think Burgon is one who had his finger on the pulse of the best in both senses and a sharp eye for error, heresy and bad faith, and that's why he's become my hero and why I want to keep him the center of my blog.

And I'd better get back to it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Change for the Sake of Change: Isaiah 32:17

Besides evidence for the use of corrupted Greek texts in the modern Bible versions starting with Westcott and Hort's, I also want to give examples from time to time of the changes in the English that demonstrate what can only be called a destructive attitude toward the Bible, changes that serve no purpose other than change.

In the newest versions this is probably the result of the need to make a certain number of changes in order to qualify for copyright. That's bad enough. However, Westcott and Hort made over 36,000 changes against their commitment to do the most minimal possible revision of the Authorized Version or King James.

As I discovered some time ago from comparing the differences between different versions on the first three verses of Psalm 91 all the changes from version to version seem to have no purpose except to creat a confusion of tongues Babel-style in the Christian churches, making it impossible for Christians to quote consistently or read in unison, destroying the unity of the church in a diabolically subtle way, so subtle that some of the very best preachers have completely overlooked the deceit.

Here is another example, Isaiah 32:17: (Differences from the KJV in red and lt. blue. I bold the main words where they are the same as the KJV's.)
KJV: And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.

RV: And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and confidence for ever.
I ask you, was there a COMPELLING NEED to change "assurance" into "confidence?" Is there some problem with the word "assurance" that escapes me? Is it an archaic word or a difficult word to understand? Or isn't this obviously change for change's sake?
ESV: And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.

* Or security
Now we've got "effect" where "work" is in the KJV, and "result" for "effect." I checked: the Hebrew does not have the same word in those places. And now "trust" replaces "confidence" which replaces the KJV's "assurance." Is there any explanation for this except change for change's sake? AND we've got a footnote too, giving us yet another synonym, just what we need.
RSV: And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust for ever. (Identical to the ESV)

ASV: And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and confidence for ever. (Same as the RV)

NASB: And the work of righteousness will be peace, And the service of righteousness, quietness and *confidence forever.

A real original there, in "service."

NIV: The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.

Another original, that "fruit."

Webster's and Darby's are identical to the KJV

I know we usually say "will" for "shall" but "shall" is correct and it isn't a strange-sounding word to us either, so why should it be changed? The RV and the ASV retain it, why shouldn't it be regarded as the standard reading?

The RV, ASV and NASB also retain the KJV's "work," adding to the impression that there is no good reason to change THAT word either. The only change they all agree on is "assurance" and that just seems silly.

Come on, you CAN see that all this is nothing but Babel, can't you?


Apparently my Anonymous commenter to this post can't see it. He's at pains to convince me that these choices were all made by scholars for scholarly reasons. If so, that's a pretty sad comment on scholarship. What could be more revealing of the uselessness of scholarly work than the results shown above?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Corruptions of the Greek manuscripts: evidence from Burgon that is simply dismissed today

Burgon doesn't ascribe all the corruptions in the Alexandrian Greek manuscripts to the work of heretics, but discusses many different causes of such corruption, spending about fifty pages of Revision Revised on this topic. He even wrote an entire book on this subject. Some of it he does ascribe to heretical tampering, however.

I want to quote from a passage in which he is imagining a dialogue with a critic of his point of view and a defender of Westcott and Hort. Here he's quoting
a very ancient Father (Caius) writing against the heresy of Theodotus and others who denied the Divinity of Christ. He is bearing his testimony to the liberties which had been freely taken with the Text of the New Testament in his own time, viz. about A.D. 175-200:--"

The Divine Scriptures,' he says, 'these heretics have audaciously corrupted: . . . laying violent hands upon them under pretence of correcting them. That I bring no false accusation, any one who is disposed may easily convince himself. He has but to collect the copies belonging to these persons severally: then, to compare one with another; and he will discover that their discrepancy is extraordinary.

Those of Asclepiades, at all events, will be founmd discordant from those of Theodotus. Now, plenty of specimens of either sort are obtainable, inasmuch as these men's disciples have industriously multipled the (so-called) "corrected" copies of their respective teachers, which are in reality nothing else but "corrupted" copies. With the foregoing copies again, those of Hermophilus will be found entirely at variance. As for the copies of Apollonides, they even contradict one another. Nay, let any one compare the fabricated text which these persons put forth in the first instance, with that which exhibits their latest perversions of the Truth, and he will discover that the disagreement between them is even excessive.

Of the enormity of the offense of which these men have been guilty, they must needs themselves be fully aware. Either they do not believe that the Divine Scriptures are the utterance of the Holy Ghost, -- in which case they are to be regarded as unbelievers: or else, they account themselves wiser than the Holy Ghost, -- and what is that, but to have the faith of devils? As for their denying their guilt, the thing is impossible, seeing that the copies under discussion are their own actual handywork; and they know full well that not such as these are the Scriptures which they received at the hands of their catechetical teachers. Else, let them produce the originals from which they made their transcripts. Certain of them indeed have not even condescending to falsify Scripture, but entirely reject Law and Prophets alike.

Now, the foregoing statement is in a high degree suggestive. For here is an orthodox Father of the IInd century inviting attention to four well-known families of falsified manuscripts of the Sacred Writings; -- complaining of the hopeless divergences which they exhibit (being not only inconsistent with one another, but with themselves); -- and insisting that such corrected, are nothing else but shamefully corrupted copies. He speaks of the phenomenon as being in his day notorious: and appeals to Recensions, the very names of whose authors -- Theodotus, Asclepiades, Hermophilus, Apollinides -- have (all but the first) long since died out of the Church's memory. You will allow therefore (will you not?), that by this time the claim of the oldest existing copies of Scripture to be the purest, has been effetually disposed of. For since there once prevailed such a multitude of corrupted copies, we have no security whatever that the oldest of our extant MSS. are not derived -- remotely if not directly -- from some of them. pp 323-4 Revision Revised

He goes on at length with this argument, showing that these corruptions belong to what are known as the Alexandrian text type. I may add more eventually. Presumably it can be read and decided in favor of Westcott and Hort. I decide it in favor of Burgon. Perhaps that is the best that can be said. I find his arguments convincing throughout his book.

Leland Ryken: Celebrating the King James while accepting the modern versions as well

Since the Moorman-White debate I've been gathering information on this subject from so many directions it's becoming a scattering influence for me. When I originally began my blogs I expected to link to other blogs as well as to acquire as much information as possible, but I quickly found that to be beyond my ability to keep in any kind of order. That is what is happening now. It's not a bad thing in itself, I'm glad to have all the new links and information, but it's going to take me a while to be able to make use of it for my own purposes.

Just to restate it -- sorry to repeat myself so often but it seems necessary -- what occupies me primarily in the Bible versions controversy is the effect of the work of Westcott and Hort on today's Bibles. I'm not KJV-Only, meaning I don't believe the King James Bible is perfection in itself; I do believe any translation is to be updated as language changes, and to be corrected as better sources become available.

The problem in this case is that what happened back in 1881 seriously interrupted that normal flow of things, and inaugurated such a cavalier attitude toward Bible translation that it brings any thought of revision NOW under well-deserved distrust. The committee that was dominated by Westcott and Hort went way beyond their commitment to produce a minimal revision of the King James Bible, instead substituting Greek texts that seriously change the text, and making over 36,000 mostly unnecessary changes in the English.

This is all documented and discussed by Burgon and I still haven't done enough to bring out his evidence for that.

Instead of taking Burgon's warnings seriously, the Revision that came out in 1881 and the corrupted Greek text on which it was based, have been accepted to one degree or another as the basis of all translations since then. The Alexandrian Greek Text promoted by W-H is incorporated in the Nestle-Aland and United Bible Societies Critical Texts which underlie the new translations, and a comparison of the English texts of the various new translations with the KJV and prior translations shows indefensible changes based both on the corrupted Greek texts and on the changes-for-change's sake in the English that can be traced back to Westcott and Hort.

This amounts to what Burgon called a "mutilation" of the English Bible, and to one extent or another all the modern versions are mutilated in the same way, giving changed meanings, false readings, as well as bad English.

This is really where I should be putting all my efforts and I hope I'll soon get back to it.

Their work also seems to have inspired the rather casual multiplication of translations and editions of the English Bible over the last century as well.

Discussions of anything concerning the Bible these days, such as the reliability of its transmission from earliest times, treat the corrupted Greek texts as just another family of texts, and in fact treat them as better than the texts behind the KJV. Arguments against the KJV-Only position often spend much time trying to prove the KJV is flawed, or focusing on the error of believing any translation could be inspired by God or perfect in itself, even spending whole books on this error while slighting or completely ignoring "the elephant in the living room" which is the corruptions of the underlying texts of the modern versions.

Ignoring this problem is also the case in this next example, an interview with Leland Ryken, professor of English at Wheaton College. Professor Ryken wrote a book in celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible, available of course at Amazon.

Here I'm going to post an audio of the interview with him about the book. It's a very inspiring description of the making of the King James Version, no KJVOnly could ask for more as far as his admiration of it goes. He does a wonderful job of describing its manifold superiorities in every possible way, from its translators to its use of language to its effect on literature and the culture.

However, Professor Ryken accepts without criticism some of the modern Bibles, particularly the ESV but also the RSV and the NKJV, even comparing them favorably with the KJV in some respects. He rejects some others on the basis of their translation philosophy or philosophy of style, but he says nothing at all against the underlying texts, accepting them uncritically as so many others do these days.

With that caveat, for his wonderful appreciation of the King James AND some interesting information about it that was clarifying to me and probably new to many, he is well worth hearing, so here is the interview, Celebrating the King James Bible on its 400th anniversary.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Moorman-White Debate comments from Pastor Snapp

This is a comments page from KJV Only Debate on the White-Moorman Debate with some especially good posts by Pastor James Snapp. I just want to post this much now and will probably come back and quote a few of his statements later.

Nitpicking the KJV to death / one English word for one Greek word?

Joined briefly in a discussion at KJV Only Debate , where I quickly discovered I really have no place in such a debate. They seem to be focused on taking apart the KJV, which is very far from my interests and beyond my abilities to answer.

The question that was raised in this case involved the KJV translators' use of three different English words words for the Greek "eis," asking how we are to understand their choices, suggesting it would be better to have just one English word for one Greek word.

For example, when reading verses about baptism, John baptized unto (eis) repentance and preached the baptism of repentance for (eis) the remission of sins. Peter preached that people should be baptized for (eis) the remission of sins. Paul said we are baptized into (eis) Christ, and that Israel was baptize unto (eis) Moses.
So I pondered it and came up with the following thoughts on it:

Being baptized UNTO repentance suggests that the baptism is because of the repentance. I said something more vague on the debate site but I now think there's something of fulfillment implied in the "unto" -- repentance is the reason for the baptism.

There isn't a really good parallel between this use of "unto" and that for Israel's being baptised UNTO Moses, though, except to say that "unto" must be allowed its nuances just as "eis" must.

The baptism of repentance FOR the remission of sins seems to be saying it's for the sake of / for the purpose of / for the cause of the remission of sins.

Same with baptism for the remission of sins.

Being baptised INTO Christ is probably the easiest one to understand as it reflects the believer's unity with Christ, and the idea that we are baptised into His death.

As for Israel being baptised UNTO Moses, they certainly weren't baptised INTO Moses as he isn't the Savior, or FOR Moses as if it were somehow for his sake, but UNTO him as their representative and leader.

The meanings would no doubt have been more easily understood in the time of the translation, but even if I'm not quite in tune with them it seems to me that using just one English word in all those places wouldn't work. I can't think which one of the three would do the job at all.

This is a question for the KJV translators themselves or for someone with their degree of expertise, who most likely doesn't exist today. It's not a question for a bunch of amateurs who can only guess at such things, and I don't think such amateurs should be questioning the KJV translators on such things anyway.

The very idea that only one English word should be used for one Greek word shows a lack of understanding of language. Languages hardly ever have a one-to-one correspondence of meaning between them like that. A word in one language may have so many nuances it requires many words in another to convey its various senses. This is no less true of tribal languages that have no literature than the languages of civilization. Forcing subtle differences of meaning into one arbitary term doesn't serve the needs of a translation. Yet apparently this is what Westcott and Hort did, according to Burgon. The word "sophomoric" comes to mind.

I believe the first thing that needs to be addressed in the Bible versions debate is the disaster brought on the Church by Westcott and Hort's use of corrupted Greek texts, along with their substitution of English terms chosen clearly with a desire only to distance their Bible from the KJV -- change for change's sake as Burgon recognized. Only after the disaster is fully recognized should the KJV's faults be considered at all. And then this should be the job of people qualified for the task and appointed by the Church, not a bunch of amateurs. It should be done by men who have really SOAKED in the languages involved, preferably all their lives, who've read all their literature etc. etc. Unfortunately there probably aren't any such qualified men these days.

Follow-up comment: As I've continued discussing this with Pastor Jason S I've become clearer that his main concern is a pastoral one -- how to teach his people from KJV texts that are hard to understand, which he thinks in some cases is the fault of the translation. That may be so, or it may just be the expectable problems with difficult texts that no translation could ever be perfect enough to eliminate -- and there are some texts it even seems that God WANTS us to struggle with. Even if a translation was done faithfully to every conceivable standard it could nevertheless still not be completely easy for everyone to understand; in fact given the nature of God and the variety of human minds that seems a lot to ask. Nevertheless it could be something that should be changed in the KJV, I just think there isn't anyone around with the qualifications, the right authority and the undoubted trustworthiness these days to do that so it's up to the individual to make of it what he will, even using a modern version for comparison if necessary of course.

In any case, this is really a completely different concern from mine which is about the qualifications of the different Bible versions as such, whether the Greek texts were corrupted, whether Westcott and Hort violated their commitment to do the most minimal revision, and so on.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

James White is wrong: Tischendorf DID find Sinaiticus in a trash basket

This is one of those side issues that should not be allowed to become a major bone of contention, but I'll give it one post and hope that's the end of it. The reason for posting on it is that it is one of the factual points that James White got wrong in the Moorman-White debate (and apparently in his book as well), insisting that the manuscript was not found in a wastebasket but presented to Tischendorf wrapped in red cloth.

The whole thing is cleared up in the comments about the Wikipedia article on Sinaiticus, on this post of Dr. Waite's notes on the debate. I got a couple of comments there on the subject of Tischendorf's wastebasket find, one from Damien, who I believe is from the site KJV Only Debate, and one from Steven Avery who has started his own blog, Pure Bible.

Damien seems to share Dr. White's confusion on the subject, saying:
The Wikipedia article does not say that Tischendorf found Sinaiticus in a waste basket - it says he found scraps of parchment in a wastebasket, which he concluded was the Septuagint. This discovery led him to Sinaiticus, which even the Wikipedia article says Tischendorf found in a "beautiful vellum."
I reread the Wikipedia article and responded:
It looks like I did confuse different parts of the story with each other, the finding of the Septuagint leaves with the later acquisition of the Codex Sinaiticus. But Tischendorf also gives the same story of finding the Sinaiticus in the rubbish. He's also reported as telling the story of coming back later and being shown the Sinaiticus wrapped in a red cloth as Dr. White describes it as having been found, but Tischendorf says this is the SAME Sinaiticus he had earlier found in the waste basket. Tischendorf seems to make it all up as he goes along and is hardly to be trusted, but in any case he SAID he'd found it in the trash and that part White left out. He should have acknowledged this instead of implying it was only a fabrication by KJVOs.

Also, it is objected that a manuscript in such fine condition would not have been put in the trash at all. BUT a manuscript in fine condition is a manuscript that hadn't been used and might very well have been discarded for that reason, and its disuse is a clue that Sinaiticus was not considered by anyone to be the true text of the Bible.
Avery then clears up the matter in his comment:
The "Septuagint leaves"are simply the first part of what Tischendorf got of Sinaiticus in the first visit.

This is very clear in the account, so James White either has major reading comprehension difficulties (for 15 years!) or he is being deliberately deceptive, pretending that the first visit with the waste basket ready for burning (according to Tishendorf) was not Codex Sinaiticus.

I have placed this together on two posts on two forums
{I turned the bare links into titles -- Faith}:

Tischendorf's account of finding Codex Sinaiticus

[TC-Alternate-list] James White myths about Codex Sinaiticus

This is all rather simple, no great complications.
Hope that helps.

(Another forum where this could be easily discussed in WhichVersion on Yahoogroups)

Steven Avery

February 9, 2011 5:40 PM
The discussion at the first link he gives includes a link to Tischendorf's own description at Google books.

The Septuagint recognized by the KJV translators

Many of the King James Only viewpoint deny that the Septuagint exists, the pre-Christian translation of the Hebrew scriptures into the Greek. I don't know how they answer the King James translators themselves on this point, who in their preface written to the reader discuss the place of the Septuagint in the history of translations of the Bible. I am just now finally reading through that preface.

From the preface to the 1611 King James Bible, The Translators to the Reader:


"While God would be known only in Jacob, and have his Name great in Israel, and in none other place, while the dew lay on Gideon's fleece only, and all the earth besides was dry; then for one and the same people, which spake all of them the language of Canaan, that is, Hebrew, one and the same original in Hebrew was sufficient. [S. August. lib 12 contra Faust c32] But, when the fulness of time drew near, that the Sun of righteousness, the Son of God should come into the world, whom God ordained to be a reconciliation through faith in his blood, not of the Jew only, but also of the Greek, yea, of all them that were scattered abroad; then lo, it pleased the Lord to stir up the spirit of a Greek Prince (Greek for descent and language) even of Ptolemy Philadelph King of Egypt, to procure the translating of the Book of God out of Hebrew into Greek. This is the translation of the Seventy Interpreters, com- monly so called, which prepared the way for our Saviour among the Gen- tiles by written preaching, as Saint John Baptist did among the Jews by vocal. For the Grecians being desirous of learning, were not wont to suffer books of worth to lie moulding in Kings' libraries, but had many of their servants, ready scribes, to copy them out, and so they were dispersed and made common. Again, the Greek tongue was well known and made familiar to most inhabitants in Asia, by reason of the conquest that there the Grecians had made, as also by the Colonies, which thither they had sent. For the same causes also it was well understood in many places of Europe, yea, and of Africa too. Therefore the word of God being set forth in Greek, becometh hereby like a candle set upon a candlestick, which giveth light to all that are in the house, or like a proclamation sounded forth in the market place, which most men presently take knowledge of; and therefore that language was fittest to contain the Scriptures, both for the first Preachers of the Gospel to appeal unto for witness, and for the learners also of those times to make search and trial by. It is certain, that that Translation was not so sound and so perfect, but it needed in many places correc- tion; and who had been so sufficient for this work as the Apostles or Apostolic men? Yet it seemed good to the holy Ghost and to them, to take that which they found, (the same being for the greatest part true and sufficient) rather than making a new, in that new world and green age of the Church, to expose themselves to many exceptions and cavil- lations, as though they made a Translations to serve their own turn, and therefore bearing a witness to themselves, their witness not to be regarded. This may be supposed to be some cause, why the Translation of the Seventy was allowed to pass for current. Notwithstanding, though it was commended generally, yet it did not fully content the learned, no not of the Jews. For not long after Christ, Aquila fell in hand with a new Translation, and after him Theodotion, and after him Symmachus; yea, there was a fifth and a sixth edition, the Authors whereof were not known. [Epiphan. de mensur. et ponderibus.] These with the Seventy made up the Hexapla and were worthily and to great purpose compiled together by Origen. Howbeit the Edition of the Seventy went away with the credit, and therefore not only was placed in the midst by Origen (for the worth and excellency thereof above the rest, as Epiphanius gathered) but also was used by the Greek fathers for the ground and foundation of their Commentaries. Yea, Epiphanius above named doeth attribute so much unto it, that he holdeth the Authors thereof not only for Interpreters, but also for Prophets in some respect [S. August. 2::de dectrin. Christian c. 15]; and Justinian the Emperor enjoining the Jews his subjects to use especially the Translation of the Seventy, rendreth this reason thereof, because they were as it were enlightened with prophetical grace. Yet for all that, as the Egyptians are said of the Prophet to be men and not God, and their horses flesh and not spirit [Isa 31:3]; so it is evident, (and Saint Jerome affirmeth as much) [S. Jerome. de optimo genere interpret.] that the Seventy were Interpreters, they were not Prophets; they did many things well, as learned men; but yet as men they stumbled and fell, one while through oversight, another while through ignorance, yea, sometimes they may be noted to add to the Original, and sometimes to take from it; which made the Apostles to leave them many times, when they left the Hebrew, and to deliver the sense thereof according to the truth of the word, as the spirit gave them utterance. This may suffice touching the Greek Translations of the Old Testament."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"Families" of manuscripts? Or is one "family" really a gang of criminals?

As I was doing the post on the MacArthur discussion of the Bible versions it began to dawn on me for the first time that the very idea of "families" of manuscripts is suspect. They said:
5. Far more manuscripts are in existence today for the New Testament than for any other piece of ancient literature. There are at least four Scripture manuscript families that are widely recognized. They include the Alexandrian Text, the Western Text, the Caesarean Text, and the Byzantine, or Majority, Text.
And I was able to answer off the top of my head:
This list may itself be misleading, as all are listed as if they were choices on a salad bar, but the Alexandrians are represented by very few manuscripts and are the ones called "older and better" that are really corrupted; as Burgon points out, the "Western text" is a complete invention by Westcott and Hort; the term "Majority text" is generally rejected by supporters of the King James Bible -- "Traditional Text" says it better, or even "Byzantine"; and as for the "Caesarean text," it looks like another fictional category:
And followed up with this comment from The Bible Researcher:
In recent years many scholars have expressed doubts about the existence of a "Caesarean text..." More recently, Kurt Aland has expressed an even more skeptical opinion. He acknowledges only the Alexandrian and Byzantine text-types. While the "theoretical possibility" of a Caesarean text-type "must be conceded," Aland says that it is "purely hypothetical."
But of course, the whole thing is made up! There were no "families" until Westcott and Hort. They invented the Western "family" and of course the "Alexandrian" in the first place - to give legitimacy to the Alexandrians. To create the illusion that there are simply a number of equally valid lines of manuscripts. Of course the more the better for that purpose.

So along comes Kurt Aland and blows the whistle on two of the most obviously fictitious, the "Western" and the "Caesarean," leaving the "Alexandrian" alongside the "Byzantine" (a term preferred by the KJV side of the argument to "Majority Text," or maybe "Traditional Text" is the best term for it)

But the "family" of "Alexandrians" is not a family at all, it's a gang of criminals!

The whole idea of separate families is created by the fact that they are different from each other, by the many variants between them. If the variants in one of the "families" can be shown to be due to corruptions of various kinds, then it should not be called a "family" at all.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Removing the Landmark of Western Civilization

Proverbs 22:28: Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.

Listening again to the Moorman-White debate, now thinking how odd it was for me to be so happy with Dr. Moorman's opening statements, because that contradicts my usual position here, which is that I don't want to get into the KJV-only arguments, I don't want to make the case from the qualities of the KJV at all.

Certainly I agree that the KJV should be regarded as the Standard. The KJV IS the standard. What needs to be criticized is the stupidities that have been put in its place. What happens when the KJV is made the subject of the debate instead is that it is set up as a target for the barbarian hordes to tear down.

As Martyn Lloyd-Jones said:
One of the greatest troubles today is that everything is being brought down to the same level, everything is cheapened. The common man is made the standard of authority; he decides everything, and everything has to be brought down to him...

Are we to do that with the Word of God? I say No! What has happened in the past has been this -- ignorant, illiterate people, in this country and in foreign countries, coming into salvation have been educated up to the Book and have begun to understand it, to glory in it, and to praise God for it, and I say that we need to the same at this present time. What we need is therefore, not to replace the Authorised Version ...we need rather to reach and train people up to the standard and the language, the dignity and the glory of the old Authorised Version.
Westcott and Hort dealt unconscionably and ignorantly with the KJV, charged against it like bulls in a china shop, like vandals laying waste to civilization. The King James Bible had taught the gospel to generations of Christians, had built up their minds from its phrases and rhythms, had shaped the language and the culture of an Empire, and is preserved still in countless references and quotations in its literature. Perfection? No, but a faithful rendering of God's word and a high point of Christian civilization that should have been treated with deference but wasn't, and continues to be battered by a thuggish mentality today as well.

Burgon in his Revision Revised says:
...[O]n examining the so-called 'Revision of the Authorized Version,' I speedily made the further discovery that the Revised English would have been in itself intolerable, even had the Greek been let alone. In the first place, to my surprise and annoyance, it proved to be a New Translation (rather than a Revision of the Old) which had been attempted. Painfully apparent were the tokens which met me on every side that the Revisionists had been supremely eager not so much to correct none but 'plain and clear errors,' -- as to introduce as many changes into the English of the New Testament Scriptures as they conveniently could. [footnote here to discussion later in the book of this violation of their commitment, pp 127-130, 154-164 and 400-403] A skittish impatience of the admirable work before them, and a strange inability to appreciate its manifold excellences: -- a singular imagination on the part of the promiscuous Company which met in the Jerusalem Chamber that they were competent to improve the Authorized Version in every part, and an unaccountable forgetfulness that the fundamental condition under which the task of Revision had been by themselves undertaken, was that they should abstain from all but 'necessary' changes: -- this proved to be only part of the offence which the Revisionists had committed. Preface pp. xii-xiii. My boldings.
This "strange inability" to appreciate its excellences certainly continues today, along with the same strange imagination that today's scholars are competent to judge it, just as Burgon says was the case with those on the revising committee in his day. The common man standard has won. The barbarians have won. The Trojan Horse is within the gates.

Western Christian civilization has been falling into ruin for a century or so already from many batterings from many directions. We can chalk it up to God's judgment I'm sure. Judgment begins at the house of God. God will no doubt pull a good out of all this as He always does but how can we not cry over such destruction?

The KJV IS the standard.

But I still think the task is not to make the KJV the focus, but to demonstrate the inferiorities of the usurpers that have been taking its place for the last century.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

MacArthur discussion concluded

Part 2: I don't really want to get into the specific arguments against the King James Only position, which is what Part 2 is about. But of course I do find occasional statements I'd like to answer, such as this one:
...the fact that TR manuscripts are older than originally thought does not make tham necessarily superior to other text types but would only allow for an even treatment. New papyrii discoveries from the second and third centuries A.D. do evidence that Byzantine text type variants were available, but do not support recognizing them as superior to coexisting manuscripts.
No, but it ought to go a long way toward squelching the claim that the Alexandrians were clearly earlier and therefore closer to the autographs.
The Alexandrian manuscripts are the oldest we presently possess. It is logical to expect that if there were other early families, they would have circulated to Egypt and thus would have been preserved there also.
Yes, as long as you are going to persist in the delusion that the Alexandrians are simply an honestly copied "family" of manuscripts and not the result of tampering, yes it is "logical" to suppose a simple traveling here and there of equal variants.

Obviously what has to be established is that the Alexandrians ARE corrupt, which is of course hinted at in the facts 1) that there are so few of them, 2) that such early copies have managed to survive in surprisingly good shape, and 3) that there are so many differences among them, but obviously that isn't enough to convince those who are most engaged in trying to answer the excesses of the KJVOs.

I'm going to have to spend more time in Burgon for this purpose. It's nice to get a clear sense of direction from time to time.

So on to Part 3:
It is true that the value of a manuscript is not determined by its age. A late manuscript could be a copy of a very ancient one, whereas an older manuscript might be a copy of one not much removed from it in time. All things being equal, however, the oldest manuscripts are closer in time to the autographs. The shorter time interval implies fewer copies and fewer chances for error. This is a principle of all literary textual criticism, not just textual criticism of the Greek New Testament.
This is just another reminder that the corruption of these texts is what needs to be argued. Again there are hints enough already that suspicions ought to be raised and such gullibility not so easily indulged, not to mention the existence of treatises that go into sufficient detail to demonstrate the point, BUT OK, at least, again, this narrows the job description.

Yes, "all things being equal" which means assuming honest treatment of the Alexandrians, they ARE closer to the autographs. BUT ALL THINGS ARE NOT EQUAL in this case. There is AMPLE proof that the Alexandrians are corrupt. It often seems to me that there must be a willful blindness to the evidence for this.
Also, the assertion that the oldest manuscripts survived only because they were faulty is disproved by the scribal corrections evident on these manuscripts. Logic demands that faulty manuscripts would have been destroyed or corrected rather than shelved for future use or discovery.
Not if they were intended to support heresy! Not if the scribal corrections represent layers of changes over time both for and against heretical interpolations. And HOW MANY are you talking about that were shelved for future use or discovery? TWO?
There is no factual substantiation to the claim that Aleph, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, or any other of the earliest Greek manuscripts in existence today were of gnostic origin and altered to conform to their heresies.
3. Mark 16:9-20 has evoked no end of critical discussion. Many believe that this questionable passage should be deleted since it is used to back up the claims of charismatics; others, Grace Church included, believe that it should be considered part of the authorative text and rightly interpreted.
Interesting. Neither argument has anything to do with the question of the TEXTUAL support for the passage, which is supposedly what this dissertation is all about. The Alexandrians eliminate it, the Byzantines include it. If you think the Alexandrians are the closest to the autographs, isn't it inconsistent to include a passage they don't include? On what basis do you decide it is "authoritative" then?

Then they go on to specific verses, arguing that although certain verses don't have some familiar KJV renderings, others in the same manuscript nevertheless do, which is a typical begging of the question of whether these renderings were added to or subtracted from the text, as if all anyone cares about is that the minimal doctrinal statement is present.
8. Perhaps the biggest error of fact is the claim that 1 John 5:7-8 is a part of the autographa and should be included in all versions of Scripture. To say that to delete the phrase in verse 7, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are One” is to deny the tri unity of God is not true. The passage is absent from every known Greek manuscript except four, and these four contain the passage of what appears to be a translation from a late edition of the Latin Vulgate. These four manuscripts are dated very, very late.
OK, I've run across this argument many many times and have pretty much figured that if there isn't good manuscript support for it there is no reason to retain it. But I think now that a VERY GOOD REASON to retain it, or at least not be so eager to jettison it, is that the KJV translators considered it worthy to be included in their text. I have been coming to the conclusion that since all this is mostly a matter of scholarly judgment and the scholarly judgment of the Westcott and Hort contingent is hideously deplorable, GREAT weight should be put on the decisions made by the KJV translators in deciding the legitimacy of any given reading. If it ever comes to a serious respectful prudent attempt to update the King James, THEN questions can be raised about their choices. But in the context of the Westcott and Hort debacle I'm not in a mood to countenance throwing away anything in the KJV. It may be that the story that follows about how Erasmus came to include it is true, but I want a LEGITIMATE body of SPIRITUALLY QUALIFIED scholars to decide these things. Also, wouldn't the KJV translators have been aware of how Erasmus claim to include it? If not, fine, but again I'm not of a frame of mind to let anyone who defends the Westcott and Hort legacy decide these things. These things need to be decided by rightly authorized agencies, not willynilly in debate, by publishing companies, by self-appointed lone translators etc.
As can be seen from the discussion of these verses, it is unlikely that doctrines were manipulated by heretics since truths were not consistently deleted.
This is logical, yes, but there is other evidence that in fact such deletions were the work of tampering even though their inconsistency about it is curious.

Part 4: I do have to agree with many of the answers given here to the extreme KJVO's. That is what makes this discussion so frustrating. Theirs are not the only arguments against Westcott and Hort and the modern versions, yet they get all the attention and the whole issue becomes associated with their thinking.

Here's how the Grace Pulpit discussion ends:
The following quote from the helpful brochure published by Grace Theological Seminary and written by its president, Dr. Homer A. Kent, Jr., is a fitting capstone to this discussion of textual variants:
It needs to be remembered that the differences between the Alexandrian and Byzantine text types are not nearly as great as might be supposed.
But they are a lot greater than the defenders of the Alexandrians seem willing to admit, and the differences among the Alexandrians themselves are far greater than the differences among the Byzantines which flies in the face of the assumption that fewer changes ("faults," "errors") should exist in such early manuscripts as opposed to later ones.
The gospel is crystal clear in either version.
This is a red herring.
It is regrettable that an issue is being made over this matter in evangelical circles, especially when some extremists are making one’s attitude toward the King James Version an article of faith, and unwarrantedly raising suspicions against those who do not.
I have to agree with this.
The issue is forcing many Christians to make a choice where they lack the necessary knowledge and skill to do so.
Very true. However, it is really the fault of the Revision of 1881 and the proliferation of Bibles since then that so much is required of Christians, and this should have been recognized as a problem long long ago. The extreme KJVOs are not helping matters though.
How much better it would be to thank God that His Word has been preserved intact for centuries, and that the wealth of manuscripts assures us that none of the words have been lost.
Maybe not in the whole collection of manuscripts, but that can't be counted on in any given translation from what are most certainly deficient manuscripts.
In a few cases, we may not be certain which of several variants is the original, but our problem is an embarrassment of riches, not of loss.
Unwarranted optimism I'm afraid. When there is a wolf in sheep's clothing in the sheepfold it is sad that the shepherd is fooled by his disguise.

John MacArthur ministry's presentation of the controversy

Now I want to try to address a discussion of the Bible versions from John MacArthur's ministry. This is in four parts, the first being the one I linked here.
Grace Community Church regularly receives letters from “Grace to You” listeners all over the country who react to statements in the radio broadcasts that better and older texts differ from those used for the KJV and conclude we teach that the Greek manuscripts on which the KJV is based are inaccurate. They ask, “If the King James Version is not the most accurate translation of the Bible, then which translation is and why is it regarded so?” [my emphasis]
Already the discussion is skewed in the usual way. The problem begins with the implicit denial of what the listeners rightly deduce from the radio broadcasts, that to say that "better and older texts differ from those used for the KJV" does in fact imply "that we teach that the Greek manuscripts on which the KJV is based are inaccurate."

We are now going to be taken down the usual primrose path in which it is going to be maintained that No, they are not saying the KJV texts are inaccurate, NONE of the texts are really inaccurate, there are merely many different choices available among different acceptable traditions.

Your average Christian intuits that this makes no sense but by the end of the discussion will most likely either be thoroughly mystified out of maintaining his reasonable intuition, or be thoroughly indoctrinated into the convoluted reasonings that support the modern versions while pretending not to reject the KJV.

When it is said that "better and older texts differ from those used for the KJV" what ELSE should an attentive intelligent listener conclude BUT that there are better texts and therefore more accurate translations? And in fact if you spend any time reading up on these things you will certainly find that many defenders of the new versions DO treat the KJV as seriously inaccurate and ready for the trash heap -- well, it IS the reasonable conclusion from the claim that there are older and better manuscripts. AND you will find that among those who accept these arguments there are few (I suspect none really) who choose the King James FOR ITS ACCURACY, but prefer and even recommend one of the modern translations. Any who do retain the King James do so only from habit or personal preference, and must always have the nagging sense that the choice is inferior.

I want to be very clear that I am not accusing anyone of deception. I do not mean to imply that I think John MacArthur or any of the others who argue this way intend to deceive, and this includes a long list of eminent preachers whose Bible-based teachings are rightly appreciated across the country and even the world. I simply want to be as clear as I can that this argument is seriously flawed and deceptive in itself although this is generally not recognized by those who accept it. Those who hold this position do sincerely believe that the KJV is God's word while also believing there are better Greek texts, and that the issue is complicated and therefore easy to misunderstand.

They haven't recognized that you can't have it both ways. IF THERE ARE IN FACT "OLDER AND BETTER MANUSCRIPTS" than those used for the KJV, OF COURSE the logical implication is that the KJV should be abandoned in favor of better translations from the better manuscripts. OF COURSE! And OF COURSE a serious Christian would want to know which is the VERY best of the translations. But instead he's going to be taken on a roundabout trip in which two seriously different manuscript traditions are not going to be directly recognized as contradictory but are going to be upheld as acceptable, although the "older and better" tradition will of course as usual emerge indirectly as superior and his questions will not REALLY be answered.

The fact is that only one manuscript tradition can logically be acceptable because there ARE such contradictions, and my argument is, as always, for the tradition underlying the KJV. The claim for the "older and better manuscripts" is false, they are not older in the sense of representing the originals, but only in the sense of being physically older than the majority that have survived the ravages of use over time, and they are certainly not better but in fact a horror of corruption, as amply demonstrated by J W Burgon.

But let's go on with the discussion, which I'm only going to quote spottily. Here they are listing some "facts" about the Greek manuscripts that are currently available:
3. God never promised the perfect preservation of the original manuscripts, but He did promise to preserve their content, as evidenced in Numbers 23:19, Isaiah 55:11, and Matthew 5:18. The content is preserved within the body of currently existing manuscripts.
In principle this is true, and if the collection of existing manuscripts had not been currupted from 1881 on with the inclusion of corrupted texts it would continue to be factually true as well. Unfortunately the content is seriously different between the manuscript tradition that underlies the KJV and the supposedly "older and better" texts that began to be used from 1881 on. The differences are NOT negligible between the two traditions. Whole familiar passages that are included in the KJV are not present in the new texts, and some wording is different enough to convey a different meaning altogether.
4. There are differences among the existing original language manuscripts of both the Old and New Testaments. These differences are the source of the controversy.
Yes, but this obscures the fact that the differences among the traditional texts underlying the KJV (thousands of manuscripts collectively known as the "Byzantine" line, sometimes the "Majority" text, sometimes the Received Text or Textus Receptus) are extremely minor compared to SOME of the differences between that tradition and the manuscripts that were the basis of the Revision of 1881 (a total of I believe FIVE manuscripts as against the thousands of the Received Text tradition, TWO of which were elevated to extreme prominence though they differed from each other quite drastically -- known as Vaticanus and Sinaiticus). It is these very few Alexandrian type manuscripts that differ so extremely from the traditional text that are falsely regarded as "older and better" and are now incorporated into ALL the modern English Bibles to one extent or another.

Poor Dean Burgon. He spent the last years of his life applying his prodigious scholarship, his superior understanding of Greek, his highly refined discernment of excellence in the English language and in spiritual things as well, to trying to warn the Church away from these interlopers, yet the Church foolishly rejected his superior judgment.

But I digress.
5. Far more manuscripts are in existence today for the New Testament than for any other piece of ancient literature. There are at least four Scripture manuscript families that are widely recognized. They include the Alexandrian Text, the Western Text, the Caesarean Text, and the Byzantine, or Majority, Text.
This list may itself be misleading, as all are listed as if they were choices on a salad bar, but the Alexandrians are represented by very few manuscripts and are the ones called "older and better" that are really corrupted; as Burgon points out, the "Western text" is a complete invention by Westcott and Hort; the term "Majority text" is generally rejected by supporters of the King James Bible -- "Traditional Text" says it better; and as for the "Caesarean text," it looks like another fictional category:

Here's a comment on this from The Bible Researcher:
In recent years many scholars have expressed doubts about the existence of a "Caesarean text..." More recently, Kurt Aland has expressed an even more skeptical opinion. He acknowledges only the Alexandrian and Byzantine text-types. While the "theoretical possibility" of a Caesarean text-type "must be conceded," Aland says that it is "purely hypothetical."
Back to the discussion:
7. Textual variations are almost always incidental and do not significantly affect the meaning of Scripture. Once the easily explained variants are removed, 99.9 percent of the text of our Bible can be confirmed as accurate without reservation.
Unfortunately the phrase "the text of our Bible" implies that the distinctions I'm trying to keep on the table here do not exist, as if there is really nothing but one Bible text. And here's the usual apologetic for the new versions:
9. No doctrine in all of historic orthodox Christianity is dependent upon the solution to any one textual variant.
As if the accuracy of the text of the Bible has only to do with the main doctrines and not the truth of the whole text, the "every word of God" by which we are to live.

Now they are going on to consider what seem to be the different positions on this controversy:
1. ”King James only”

2. “Majority Text only”

3. “Thorough going eclectic”

4. “Westcott Hort”

5. “Balanced eclectic”
I can't comfortably place myself anywhere on this list.

I'm not KJVO because I don't start from the premise that the King James is perfection in itself or "inspired" by God, it's merely the only English Bible we have today that is trustworthy because all those that have any influence whatever from the Alexandrian texts and Westcott and Hort's English substitutions are untrustworthy and unworthy.

Perhaps the closest is "Majority Text only" -- though I'd rather call it the Traditional Text -- as I do regard that family of manuscripts to be the legitimate line and everything from the Alexandrian line to be false, but I think it's probably clearer to define my position in terms of my REJECTION of Westcott and Hort and the Alexandrians.

And I have some objections to how this position is represented too:
The second approach is the “Majority Text only” school. This reasonable approach, championed by Zane Hodges, professor of New Testament and Greek at Dallas Theological Seminary, also promotes the King James Bible. The Dean Burgon Society was recently formed to advocate this position, and Thomas Nelson Publishers of Nashville issued the New King James Version under the academic leadership of Dr. Arthur Farstad with this position in mind.
As I understand it the Dean Burgon Society was formed decades ago, not exactly "recently," and the New King James Version incorporates hundreds if not thousands of English words different from those of the KJV but identical to Westcott and Hort's gratuitous choices in their Revised Version, plus notes galore that imply the superiority of the corrupted Alexandrian texts.
The “Majority Text only” approach argues that God preserved His Word in the text which is found in the largest number of manuscripts. Because the largest number of manuscripts is found in the Byzantine, or Majority, family, this family is considered by supporters of this approach to most accurately represent the autographa. The King James Bible is based upon the “textus receptus” (TR), a segment of the Byzantine family of manuscripts.
The Byzantine family in general and the Textus Receptus in particular are "considered by supporters of this approach to most accurately represent the autographs" NOT simply "because the largest number of manuscripts is found in this family" but because their great numbers reflect a long history of transmission, showing the church's preference for them down through the centuries. That is, the numbers themselves are not the reason for preferring them, but their quality is considered to be evidenced BY the great number that have survived, by comparison with the paltry few from the Alexandrian tradition that have survived to the present -- tucked away in dark corners yet.

I'm not entirely clear exactly what the Textus Receptus is. In some descriptions it's a particular subfamily of manuscripts from which the King James translators selected readings -- out of the whole Byzantine family. Sometimes it sounds like it is an artificial manuscript made up specifically of their chosen readings. Yet apparently they included readings that aren't to be found in the Textus Receptus. The KJV readings were of course those the translators judged for one reason or another to best represent the intended meaning, whether they were selected from a majority of manuscripts or a minority or from who knows where, and it seems to me those readings ought to be taken particularly seriously because of the high quality of the men who did that work. Sometimes the KJV is criticized for its deviation from the majority or even from any known text, but I think this misses the point -- we need to know something of the basis for their judgments. They didn't operate in a vacuum, they were of the highest quality of scholarship and their judgments have to be taken seriously.

More later.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

D A Waite on the Moorman-White debate concluded

Here is the next section of Dr. Waite's notes on the Moorman-White debate. I'm going to let most of it stand without comment, since I either believe or tend to assume that Dr. Waite is correct and have nothing I want to add.

1. The first man’s question about James was foolish.

2. 1 John 5:7 was brought up. White said the early church never used this verse as proof of the Trinity. This is false. Early church writers quoted from it and used it for this purpose and other purposes.

3. If you take out the parts of 1 John 5:7 and 8, the genders do not match. White disputed this, but it is correct.

4. White lied when he said at the bottom of the page in the Nestle/Aland text “I have an exhaustive listing of every textual variant.” That is a total lie. Many, many texts are omitted. The hundreds of Traditional readings are merely grouped into the”M” symbol, but are never shown specifically. If “every textual variant” were shown in the footnotes, there would have to be over 8,000 variants shown since that is the total number of variants found by Dr. Jack Moorman. These are found in his book, 8000 Differences (BFT #3084 @ $20.00 + $7.00 S&H). This would take several volumes to contain “every reading.” How can James White be like this?

5. He said, further that “I have the textual data here.” He does not have ALL the data by any means. He said “I have the information right in front of me.” But it is only very, very partial and limited information.

6. He brings up Revelation 16:5 once again about HOSIOS to throw off the main discussion without answering Dr. Moorman’s 5500 manuscripts that all but 50 support the TR. Nor does he or the moderator let Dr. Moorman discuss the 105 places where the Gnostic Critical Text is weakly supported by very few Greek MSS.

7. The question was whether or not these differences are in minor things, or do they change the meaning of the text. White sidestepped this question and said “the vast majority of variations in the New Testament manuscripts do not in any way shape or form change the meaning. In fact, of the approximately 400,000 textual variants that exist in manuscript tradition, 99% of them you would not be able to explain what the difference is to the English speaker because it cannot be translated. So you have about 1% or about 4,000 meaningful variants which actually impact the meaning of the text. Of those, about 1500 to 2000 are viable, that is, they could be original . . . So you have about 1500 to 2000 that have to be examined and that might impact the meaning of the text. It’s very important.” The truth of the matter is that there are more than 356 doctrinal passages that change the meaning doctrinally. Almost 200 pages prove this in Dr. Moorman’s Early Manuscripts, Church Fathers, and the Authorized Version (BFT #3230 @ $20.00 + $7.00 S&H).
Too many books I'd like to have the money to buy and the time to read, sigh.
8. White lied when he pointed to the TR and the NA New Testaments and said: “If I take either of those two texts that Pastor Moorman has on the desk right there, and I apply the same translation procedure to those two books, I WILL NOT HAVE A DIFFERENT DOCTRINE OR TEACHING. I WILL NOT.” “I might have a different list of verses that support any one doctrine.” In fact, as I mentioned #7 above, there are 356 doctrinal passages that are in error on his Nestle/Aland text. This is a lie and a deception to his listeners.

9. When Dr. Moorman was answering this, White interrupted him and would not let him finish, nor give him equal time to reply. This is totally unfair for the moderator to have allowed this.

10. White lied when he said that rather than things being MISSING (as Dr. Moorman said). “You’ll never hear ADDED, and yet clearly there is added material in the expansion of titles in the Byzantine manuscripts.” This is false. It would have been impossible to have ADDED materials in these 5,500 manuscripts all over the world at different time periods and yet have the same words “added.” Yet REMOVAL was possible from the Vatican and Sinai kind of manuscripts.
You might not hear the actual word "added" but as I recall, Westcott and Hort clearly theorized that the passages that are missing from the Alexandrian texts but present in the Byzantines had to have been added at some point into the Byzantine line. What other choice is there? Either they were taken out of the Alexandrians or added into the Byzantines.
11. One questioner mentioned that in the Gnostic critical text, they “pervert the deity of Christ, take away from Him, remove the virgin birth, eliminate the Godhead, add works to salvation, support Jehovah’s Witness beliefs,” Then White interrupted and lied when he said (without letting Dr. Moorman reply), “That’s just not true.” Dr. Moorman said, “It most certainly is true!” White said, “That’s just not true.”

12. A question was asked about the dead sea scrolls. The moderator asked Dr. Moorman if he would like to comment on this. Dr. Moorman said it wasn’t an issue that we’re facing here tonight. White said “I think actually it is.”

13. Then White went on to say wrongly that the N.T. writers cited the Septuagint (LXX) rather than Hebrew Old Testament. In fact, there was no LXX in B.C. times, only in A.D. That is a serious lie that he makes. He then lies again by saying: “The dead sea scrolls demonstrate that the Septuagint translation has just as ancient moorings as the 1525 Bomberg Masoretic text that we have in Hebrew.” This is a total lie. White is exalts the Greek LXX to a par with God’s own Hebrew Old Testament Words. Shame on him! The LXX did not come into existence in B.C. but only in the 200's A.D. in Origen’s days. This putting of the LXX on an equal position (or even higher, perhaps) than the Hebrew Words which God Himself gave to us directly is serious heresy.
Now here I have to say that everything I've encountered on this subject puts Dr. Waite in the wrong. The Septuagint doesn't have to be regarded as on an equal footing with the Hebrew to be recognized as having existed before the New Testament was written, and some Septuagint writings WERE found with the Dead Sea Scrolls, clearly pre-Christian.

The Septuagint was translated by Jewish scholars more than three hundred years B.C. This is often a very important factor in debating the authenticity of the translation of the Hebrew "almah" as "virgin" in Isaiah 7:14, with anti-Christians who seek to disparage the New Testament as false on this basis among many others. I've encountered this debate in atheist discussions, evolutionist sites and Jewish anti-messianic sites. The fact that the Greek Septuagint has "parthenos" for "almah" is strong evidence in favor of the English "virgin" in the New Testament. There are other sources of evidence in pre-Christian Jewish writings that "virgin" was understood by them all along, but the Septuagint is a particularly accessible argument.

And some of the modern versions DO "remove the virgin birth" as the questioner said, by translating "almah" as "young woman," which agrees with all the New Testament debunkers I've encountered debating this issue.

I've run across the rejection of the Septuagint in fundamentalist KJVO circles before and it's always struck me as strange. Even the differences found between the Hebrew text and the New Testament rendering of those same passages can be somewhat explained as the result of translating the Greek of the Septuagint into Latin and then into English.

The New Testament writers obviously knew Greek. Also most Jews in the time of Christ lived scattered throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean area and many had completely lost their understanding of Hebrew, so it makes perfect sense that their scriptures would have been made available to them in Greek in that Hellenized world.
14. White tossed in Revelation 16:5 again as a distraction, yet never gave time for Dr. Moorman to answer it, though he has written on this very verse. He dealt with it in his Majority Text book which he could read for them, but they didn’t give him time to do this. See Dr. Moorman’s book, When the Majority Text Departs from the Authorized Version (BFT #1617 @ $25.00 + $7.00 S&H).

15. Dr. Moorman said that White had “not traversed MOUNT IMPASSABLE.” White said, “I believe I have.” Dr. Moorman said, “No you have not.” White has only two pillars, Vatican and Sinai and a few papyri, making maybe 50 MSS in all. That is it.

16. White then read off a list of words we don’t use or understand today. He should get the Defined King James Bible (BFT #3000) to clarify all of these words. Dr. Moorman said “there is 15.”
Yes, there are surprisingly few that could really be described as archaic, and I appreciated Dr. Moorman's point that often the KJV's wording captures the original meaning better than any of today's terms anyway.
17. White lied when he said that “The text of the Byzantine manuscript tradition is not what you find in those first centuries. It is the Alexandrian manuscripts that have that most primitive text.” The TR goes back to the apostolic text as to its words, though the date of the material on which those words were written was more recent because of copying and recopying. Mark 16:9-20 defense proves this is true based on ancient versions, and early church fathers’ quotations.

18. Dr. Moorman makes an excellent point when he asked White how words could have been ADDED when the manuscripts were from many different countries and covered many different years. It would have been impossible to have ADDED these in the more than 5,500 manuscripts now in existence. The Vatican and Sinai have 2900 fewer words. How could you add these 2900 words? “That is your MOUNT IMPASSABLE” that White did not answer, nor could he answer, though he claimed he did answer.

19. White went back to 1 John 5:7-8 as a distraction and did not answer HOW 2900 words could have been ADDED rather than what actually took place. These 2900 words were subtracted in Vatican and Sinai.
Burgon has evidence for this.
20. White lied again when he said that “if the KJB translators had the Vatican and Sinai manuscripts, they would have used them.” In point of fact, the KJB translators knew of these false MSS and rejected them. They would not have used them in any way. They knew them to be false.
Certainly what I've learned. If it's in Burgon I'll find it.
21. Robert Marsh’s question was cut off and he could not finish it. He was about to ask how James White accounts for the 356 doctrinal passages in his Gnostic Critical Greek Text.

22. In his 2-minute summation, White gave an erroneous statement when he talked about the real issue here which is:. “What did the inspired apostles originally write?” The apostles were not “inspired.” This shows White’s total ignorance of what “inspiration” really means. While Job 32:8 uses this word, 2 Timothy 3:16 is the only place in the New Testament where the word, “inspiration” occurs. Here it is defined exactly. It makes “inspiration” limited to PASA GRAPHE (“every word”) in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek which were “given by inspiration of God” or “God-breathed.” It is ridiculous to have MEN GOD-BREATHED. God did not breathe out MEN, but WORDS.
OK, point taken, basically a grammatical point.
23. He brings up Revelation 16:5 again as a distraction.

24. White said that if Pastor Moorman’s position is correct on the KJB, “Christians for 1600 years could not claim to have had the full word of God. How can that be? That’s simply not a viable alternative.” (simply because of his Revelation 16:5 and a few other verses).

25. White gives a horrific lie about the Greek Words underlying the KJB when he said, the New Testament was preserved, but “It was not preserved in one particular text that had to come into existence in 1611.” In this statement he repeated his lie mentioned before, that Dr. Frederick Scrivener translated his Greek text from the King James Bible. This is false to history and fact. In truth, Dr. Scrivener used the Greek edition of Beza’s 5 edition of 1598. Scrivener did not “back-translate” from the KJV to Greek as White, James Price, and heretic Gail Riplinger have all falsely claimed.
I thought it was Erasmus who supposedly "back-translated" -- in any case the source of the information needs to be produced for whatever the claim is.

But I didn't really get what White was saying about preservation and I'm not sure Waite has understood him either. I thought he was basically just stating the idea that God's preservation has to cover all the legitimate manuscripts, not just one particular set. But of course I don't consider the Alexandrians to be "legitimate." And maybe I still haven't understood what he meant anyway.