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A New Hearing for the Authorized Version

by Theodore P. Letis, Ph.D.

 

Back Cover of printed Sola Scriptura Publications reprint: After many years of training and research, the author concludes that “keeping in consideration both the divine and the human aspects of the Bible, the Authorized Version should be retained in the churches, in Bible studies, and in the classroom, because of the superiority of its Greek text, translation, and English usage; and because it is a link with our past as well as a unifying factor for the present.” In a day of confusion, misinformation, and misrepresentation about an extremely important issue, this short but scholar work does what the title states—it provides a new hearing for the Authorized Version of the Bible.

 

 

 

Copyright 1997, 1978, Theodore P. Letis

Reprinted by Sola Scriptura Ministries with the kind permission of the author.

 

 

About the Author

 

The author is director of the Institute for Renaissance and Reformation Biblical Studies. He is past president of the University of Edinburgh Theological Society and is currently a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the American Academy of Religion, and the American Society of Church History.

 

Dr. Theodore P. Letis has a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh in ecclesiastical history and an honors M.T.S. (magna cum laude) from Emory University in American church history. He has completed graduate studies at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, and Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and has a B.A. in history and Biblical studies from Evangel College with additional undergraduate studies at Southwest Missouri State University.

 

He is editor and contributor to The Majority Text: Essays and Reviews in the Continuing Debate (1987), and author of The Ecclesiastical Text: Text Criticism, Biblical Authority and the Popular Mind” (1997) and From Sacred Text to Religious Text: An Intellectual History of the Impact of Lower Criticism on Dogma (forthcoming). He is also author of a documentary script titled Eclipse of the Sacred, which will be accompanied by a popular manual and a CD-ROM program by the same title.

 

For more copies and other publications, write to:

The Institute for Renaissance and Reformation Biblical Studies

6417 N. Fairhill, Philadelphia, PA 19126

 

 

Introduction

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Scrolls and the Parchments

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

1 Tim. 3:16

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

 

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

 

Colossians 1:14

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

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

 

Luke 2:33

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Revised Version of 1881-83

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Biblical English

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

To me that seems to say that the A.V. is in one sense timeless, and as such, cannot be rightly called archaic. One last

response, however, to the sincere advocates of “the Bible in the language of the people”:

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Thees and Thous

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Person

Singular

Plural

1st Person

I

We

2nd Person

Thou   Thee   Thy   Thine

Ye   You   Your

3rd Person

Masculine   Feminine    Neuter

He            She           It

 

They

 

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

 

The “Language of the People”?

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Revised Standard Version, 1952:

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

 

Today’s English Version, 1966:

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

 

The New English Bible, 1970:

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

 

New American Standard Version, 197 1:

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

 

The Living Bible Paraphrased, by Ken Taylor, 1971:

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

 

“The New International Version”, 1973:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Historical Ethos: The Forgotten Factor

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Modern Approach to Translation (Utilitarian)

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Renaissance/Reformation Approach to Translation (Theological)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Historical Cycles and the Modern Situation

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Summary

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

veritas temporis filia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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