“Dr.” Gipp is At It Again

Sam Gipp’s most recent “What’s the Big Deal about the KJV?” video tackles two questions:

  • Did the King James translators add words to the Bible?
  • Does the KJV correct the original Hebrew and Greek?

[1:26] Gipp’s first slight-of-hand is to state that no Bible believer would say that the English “corrects” the original Hebrew and Greek, but then says that no one has the original Greek and Hebrew. What he says without saying it is that the KJV is intact but the original languages are not. It is a distinction without a difference. He still believes the original languages have been superseded by the English.

[1:51] Gipp’s assertion that the italicized words of the KJV represent only words added to smooth out the translation is patently false. While this was certainly the most common reason, they also used italics for phrases they added which did not appear in the text, such as the brother of in 2 Samuel 21:19. This addition was made solely to synchronize this passage with 1 Chronicles 20:5. There is absolutely no textual evidence for changing the reading.

[2:09] When he recasts honest questions as “this friend of yours would be upset” about using the KJV, he is pulling another fast one. I do not know of any honest, English-speaking believer who would be upset about the italicized phrases in the KJV. What upsets people is the assertion that KJVO people make concerning the inspiration of those italicized words as being on par with the underlying text.

[2:50] Dr. Gipp shows his young friend the italicized phrase who had been the wife of in Matthew 1:6 as evidence of the necessity of KJV translators adding phrases for ease of reading, and then says, “Surprise! This is not a King James Bible! It is New King James.” He claims this proves that the guy’s friend is ignorant because if they have a problem with additions to the text, they would have a problem with every translation. He creates a straw man – plain and simple.

Dr. Gipp is also ignorant of the development of the English text here. The particular line he is citing is not from the KJV. It dates back to the Vulgate. Only the word wife was added (by Tyndale, not by the KJV translators). This is a case where the translation is implied by the original. He ignores passages like Psalm 7:11 where the translators supplied the words the wicked to demonstrate a particular view of God. He also ignores passages where the Old Testament translation is adapted to the New Testament quotes or paraphrases, such as when Peter quotes Psalm 16:8 in Acts 2:25. While these additions do make the finished translation more cohesive, they give a false impression that the NT writers knew these passages verbatim, which they did not.

[3:42] Another case of Dr. Gipp being either disingenuous or ignorant. He claims that the KJV supplies something lacking in the text by clarifying that “flies” in Exodus 8 is in italics. He completely misses that “swarms of flies” was idiomatic and a perfectly acceptable translation of the Hebrew עָרֹב, as evidenced by its use in Cranmer and Geneva. That the KJV translators put “flies” in italics is actually unfortunate. There was no reason to do that.

[4:36] Gipp’s explanation of the addition of italics in 2 Samuel 21:19 is the same weak argument used by everyone who just has to have the KJV be perfect. He refers to modern translations as “pulling those italics out” when in fact, this is not what happens at all. Modern translations do not utilize the system of using italics because a translation is a translation. The italics should be removed in 2 Samuel 21:19. They do not belong to the text, and saying anything else is acknowledging exactly what Gipp says he does not believe – that the KJV corrects the shortcomings of the original languages.

[5:51] Arguing that the KJV does not have contradictions in it and therefore prevents confusion is absurdity. There is no contradiction to say two people killed someone named Goliath. The Philistines often used the same title for multiple people who filled the same office. Two people killing someone named Goliath does not make a contradiction, anymore than saying I like Sam and I don’t like Sam is a contradiction if I am talking about two different people named Sam. Gipp’s argument boils down to “Choose the Bible that is easier” instead of “honor the text.” And then he throws a coloring book into the situation.

Once again, Gipp would rather be confident in the KJV than rely upon the text or do any kind of hard work. The KJV is just easier for him – there’s no way around it. He is dismissive of any kind of historical or textual work that might be needed to deal with the realities of the manuscript evidence and the process of translation. He asserts that if it is in the KJV, it is absolutely true; and then solves all his problems by putting that presupposition ahead of any other evidence.

It would be nice if the situation were that simple; but it is not. To be honest, if I were that guy sitting across from Gipp, I would not just smile at his simple hand-waving dismissals and ignore my friend who is asking good questions. I would want to research this further. Fortunately (for him), Gipp is surrounded by people who just accept his explanations as absolute.

 

Space Age Science by Edward F. Hills

Space Age Science by Edward F HillsEdward F. Hills is best known for his 1956 book The King James Version Defended: A Christian View of the New Testament Manuscripts (Christian Research Press). Assessments of Hills’ legacy are offered by both King James Only advocates (here and here), and critics (here). All agree that Hills was unique in being the only defender of the King James that had studied in the field of textual criticism, a ThD from Harvard, no less.

It was actually by reading Hills’ work, that I first began to doubt the tenets of King James onlyism, since he is honest with the evidence and admits to a few errors in the Textus Receptus. Hills also espouses a more Calvinistic bent in his theology than I had been exposed to up to that time, but what most made me pause in my reading of Hills, was his unabashed acceptance of geocentrism. He is not the only King James proponent to hold to geocentrism (the idea that the sun and planets rotate around the earth), see this article by Dr. Thomas Strouse.

With this wariness in my mind, I was intriguted when I found a copy of another smaller title written by Edward Hills: Space Age Science (Christian Research Press, 1964). In this title it appears he backs off of his geocentric views, somewhat – but later editions of his more well known work do not clarify matters.

Here is a brief review of this book, which I recently read with interest, particularly in light of the modern debates over science and the Bible.

This book displays an interesting perspective on science and faith, from the early 1960s. Hills does a good job explaining Einstein’s theories, but his critiques and biblical application don’t stand on much. He doesn’t cite authorities backing up his claims.

At first glance, it appears that in this book, Hills backs away from geocentrism (the view that the earth is stationary and the planets rotate around it). He makes the interesting observation that according to Einstein, Ptolemaic theory (stationary earth) and Copernican theory (stationary sun) are interchangeable and both equally true depending on your perspective. But then he clearly distances himself from a geocentric view:

“When we consider what the Scriptures say concerning the movements of the heavenly bodies, we see that they by no means teach the Ptolemaic theory” (p. 55). He goes on to quote Ps. 19:6 as showing the sun moves on its circuit. And points out the context of Ps. 93:1 a verse taken to prove geocentrism. He points out that God “hangeth the earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7) and says “The astronomy of the Bible is not earth-centered but God-centered” (p. 55).

After doing some searching, I did find that this contradicts what Hills states in his book The King James Version Defended. There (in the 4th edition, 1984, pg. 7) he states that he thinks it likely that Tycho Brahe’s theory (the predecessor of Copernicus) that the earth rotates on its axis and the sun and planets rotate around the earth is “probably correct.” It appears his conclusions in this volume (Space Age Science) are tentative and underplayed.

Another intriguing element of this book was his concession that God’s initial creation may have been just “mere energy out of which matter was later constituted” (p. 71). But then he disavows the deep time involved in modern astrophysics: “No billion years were required for the light of even the farthest star to reach our earth’s atmosphere, for God’s almighty power was able to bring it there in an instant of time” (p. 73). He even suggests that this may be what is intimated by the fact that God “set” the great lights in the firmament (p. 73).

Overall this is a fascinating insight into a Christian scholar trying to grapple with modern science from a believing point of view. I don’t think his qualifications from a scientific background fit him well for writing this book, and I don’t follow him in all his positions; but his attempt to apply the Bible and asses modern scientific developments is laudable.

Pick up a copy of this book at any of the following online retailers: Amazon.com, Bible Baptist Bookstore.

What’s The Big Deal with Sam Gipp?

On August 7, 2013, I added Gipp’s fourth video, in which he demonstrates ignorance of the English language. Among other misinformation, he says we do not spell trafficked with a k and that the word is spelled in an “archaic” way. This is in fact the only way this way could be spelled. From his presentation, it is apparent that “Dr. Gipp” does not even understand the meaning of the term archaic

We have no need of the originals, even if they were available. (“The Answer Book”)

This is Sam Gipp’s statement about the non-necessity of the original texts of the Scriptures. He openly admits that the King James Version of the Bible has replaced the original texts (and does so with a very poor, allegorical exegesis of Jeremiah 36). This kind of teaching is dangerous. It parades around with a thin veneer of academic respectability.

Over the past eight months or so, Sam Gipp has released three well produced videos supported the King James Version Only position. These videos, available on their own website have been circulating all over the internet.

I have to be honest. When the videos first came out, I had no idea who Sam Gipp was. He runs in camps that I was never a part of, even when I was King James Only. As I have learned more about him, there have been some serious questions that have come to mind.

Sam Gipp’s Questionable Ethics

On the surface, Gipp appears to be a well-intentioned man who just wants people to have the “perfect Word of God”; but underlying most of his argumentation is a distrust of anything or anyone who disagrees with him that manifests in a kind of academic bait and switch. He intentionally oversimplifies things, creating false dichotomies in which only his position has the “right answer.”

What’s more, the staged and often stiff questions presented to him by his interlocutors create straw man arguments for him to demolish. Particularly, his anti-everybody else position becomes evident at the end of his third video. He challenges his listeners and essentially states that if you use any version of the Bible other than the KJV, including Greek and Hebrew, then you are in danger of heresy because you’re clearly just looking for reasons to doubt the Scriptures.

Gipp pulls this bait and switch over and over again, both in the videos and on his website. In his “Answer Book” section, Gipp deals with “If King James did not authorize the Bible for use in churches, who was it translated for?”

Ignoring the fact that Gipp does not acknowledge the rich heritage of translations from which the King James Version was revised and acts like it appeared in a vacuum devoid of accurate English translations, Gipp’s logic works something like this:

  • The Bible belongs in the hands of the common man.
  • The Roman Catholic Church does not want the Bible in the common man’s hands.

(Both are true statements, as far as they go.)

  • The Roman Catholics did not translate the King James Version.
  • The modern versions keep people from knowing God’s Word.
  • The Roman Catholics are using modern versions to brainwash the common man.

Subtly, Gipp pulls the bait and switch. He conveniently ignores that the man behind the Greek text used for the KJV was Roman Catholic. He never mentions that the Anglican Church that produced the KJV was violently opposed to dissenters, like Puritans and Baptists. He never mentions that the Roman Catholic Church openly allows the use of the King James Version of the Bible, even if recommending you use a modern version.

(Incidentally, the Vatican recently held an exhibit of the Catholic roots of the King James Version. Check it out.)

If you watch the way Gipp argues in his videos, he does this constantly. Particularly, in the second video he uses the fact that modern versions are updated from time to time as an argument for trusting the KJV; but he does not acknowledge in any way that there have been several updates of the KJV text for spelling, grammar and word choice.

Sam Gipp’s Dualistic World

His three videos can be distilled to these three arguments:

  1. The KJV comes from the Antioch text. Other translations come from Egypt. Antioch=good. Egypt=bad.
  2. Modern translations cut things out of the KJV. They get updated. KJV=complete. Modern translations=edited.
  3. Using modern versions is looking for errors in the Bible. Only KJVO people don’t question the Bible. Acceptance=faith. Academic rigor=hatred of God’s Word.

Each argument is made in a bait and switch way. For example, in the first video he asks a series of questions about “What do you know about…?” He uses these questions to set a “principle” that anything coming from Egypt is evil and gnostic; and that anything coming from Antioch is good and healthy. He does this using proof texting and questionable hermeneutics.

James White does a great job of destroying these arguments in his response to Gipps’ video, so I won’t respond. I will just post the link.

While I don’t agree with James White on some minor things, I think he does a great job here of exposing the fallacies that Gipp presents.

The reality is that Sam Gipp has created a very Gnostic, neo-Platonic view of the world. While claiming that Gnosticism influenced the church in Egypt, Gipp is unaware that he has himself employed this world view. Since, in his mind, Egypt represents the world and sin, he has marked anything that comes out of Egypt as evil. It is corrupted and broken. Then he proceeds to label anything from Antioch as good and healthy. This is Gnosticism draped in pseudo-history.

A simple study of the Scriptures will refute this dualistic, Gnostic worldview.

And here lies another hint of Gipp’s unethical approach to the topic. While he claims that the Scriptures are for all men, he sets himself up as an authority on the interpretation of Scripture and has developed a scheme for presenting the Scriptures while withholding information through his method of oversimplification as well as bait and switch.

Sam Gipp’s Confusing Academic Situation

On his website, he gives his name as Evangelist Samuel C. Gipp, Th.D. There is very little information about Gipp’s degree, but from all indications, his Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) is an honorary degree from Pensacola Bible Institute, presented to him by Peter Ruckman.

This is a bit confusing since the Doctor of Theology is generally considered to be a research degree and not an honorary one. In most academic fields, it is considered roughly equivalent to a Doctor of Philosophy.

But this is what Gipp has written about honorary degrees, on his own website:

An honorary doctorate is just that. It is bestowed upon the recipient by some college or university as a way of honoring him or her for some outstanding merit, or service to that school. It must be remembered though that an honorary degree cannot bestow an “instant” expertise in the area named…Their opinion on Bible questions certainly wouldn’t outweigh the findings of an earned degree. Or even of someone who holds no degree but has thoroughly investigated all of the available evidence. (“The Answer Book”)

He also makes it quite clear that one does not need Bible college or advanced degrees, and that such things often detract from your understanding of the Scriptures:

A Bible college education seldom strengthens a student’s faith that the Bible is perfect. (“The Answer Book”)

There is a strange irony then that the first of Gipp’s “What’s the Big Deal About the KJV?” videos shows him in a clearly academic setting. Bible college is apparently acceptable if it is 1) taught by someone with an honorary Th.D. and 2) presents the KJV as the only authoritative version of the Scriptures. Otherwise, you should not trust it and you don’t need it.

Fight the Ignorance!

Don’t listen to Sam Gipp and receive what he says passively like his sock puppet listeners do in the videos he is making. He is presenting textual, historical and doctrinal errors. He is teaching a false dichotomy and painting a very complex issue with broad brushes to cast his own position as authoritative and any other position as sinful and evil.

I have no doubt that Sam Gipp believes he is right. He accepts his own oversimplified view of the world and believes in his “research” and his own credentials.

But he is wrong – on many fronts; and he is using deceptive, manipulative practices to make himself look correct.

Book Endorsement: The Doctrine of Scripture by Jason Harris

The Doctrine of Scripture by Jason HarrisToday’s book review post is special for two reasons. First, this marks the 150th book review I’ve posted here at Fundamentally Reformed. Second, this review includes the foreword I was privileged to write for this book.

The Doctrine of Scripture: As It Relates to the Transmission and Preservation of the Text by Jason Harris is published by InFocus Ministries in Australia. I’m excited to recommend this new book to my readers here in the United States as I believe this book can go a long way toward helping those confused or entangled by King James Onlyism.

My Foreward

Another book on the King James Only debate? Much ink has been spilled and many passions expended in what may be the ugliest intramural debate plaguing conservative, Bible-believing churches today. Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, Baptists and Presbyterians, Reformed and charismatic — all have been affected to a greater or lesser extent by those arguing for or against the King James or New King James Versions of the Bible. With each new book it seems the debate becomes more and more caustic, each group castigating the other in ever more forceful terminology.

Jason Harris enters the fray with the right blend of humility and tenacity, and turns the attention of all to the true center of the debate: the doctrine of Scripture. What makes this debate so passionate is that it centers on the very nature of Scripture. Rather than focus on technical facts and ancient manuscript copying practices, Harris takes us back to what Scripture says about itself: its inspiration, preservation and accessibility. In doing so, he demonstrates how those upholding the King James Bible and the Textus Receptus behind it, base their position not on sound exegesis of the Scripture, but on tenuous assumptions read into the text.

Harris’s pen is lucid and his grasp of the King James Only debate as a whole is masterful. He focuses his work on TR-only position which represents the very best of King James Only reasoning. He interacts with the exegesis of key TR-only proponents and marshals compelling evidence demonstrating their failure to measure up to Scripture’s own teaching about itself. And after explicating the doctrine of Scripture, Harris draws important conclusions which should protect the reader from making simplistic assumptions in a quest for textual certainty that goes beyond what Scripture teaches we should expect.

Harris wants us to be confident that we do have the inspired Scripture translated accurately in our English Bibles. He wants such confidence to be rooted to a Scriptural understanding of the Doctrine of Scripture rather than in the “supernatural-guidance” of a group of sixteenth-Century translators. Assuming that such a group of men made no mistakes is to expect something Scripture doesn’t teach, and ignore what it does. Harris is to be commended for such a clear, lucid defense of the historic doctrine of Scripture. I hope his book is received well and helps laymen and pastors everywhere to begin to rethink the basis for why they think as they do when it comes to the King James Only debate.

Bob Hayton
FundamentallyReformed.com
KJVOnlyDebate.com

[pp. 9-10]

Additional Thoughts

After re-reading this book and seeing the published version, I am more optimistic than ever about its promise to provide clarity to the King James Only debate. Jason Harris’s book has a few characteristics which together make it a unique contribution to this debate.

First, his book focuses on the alleged doctrine of the verbal, plenary accessibility of Scripture. This is where the root of the KJV and TR preference lies for many people. The argument is not so much based on texts and manuscripts as it is on what allegedly the Bible teaches – that the very words of Scripture (all of them down to the letters) would be generally accessible to believers down through the ages. Harris spends most of his time marshalling a Scriptural rebuttal to these claims and also demonstrates the difficulties such a position has when it comes to the history of the text as we know it.

Second, this volume carefully builds a theology of the transmission and preservation of Scripture. Such a careful, exegetically-based explication of the doctrine of Scripture has been lacking in this debate. And such a gap has often been used by KJV-only proponents to their advantage. It is KJV-only books which start with a Scriptural position and then look at the evidence, with the “anti-KJV” books starting with history and evidence and then moving to the Scriptural arguments. This book is different and starts where the debate starts for most of the sincere beleivers who get swept up into it — it starts on Scripture’s teaching about the very nature and preservation of Scripture.

Finally, Harris keeps a very irenic tone throughout. He is careful not to overstate his case and exaggerate the claims of his opponents. This is especially difficult to do when it comes to this heated debate, but Jason pulls this off well. Additionally, he backs up his book with the inclusion of a vast array of footnotes documenting the claims he is arguing against. I appreciate how he does not direct his argument toward the Riplingers and Ruckmans of this debate. He focuses on the TR-only position and the more careful wing of KJV-onlyism, men like David Cloud, D.A. Waite, Charles Surret, and the like. Harris has read widely in the KJV only literature, and his treatment avoids broadbrushing and generalizations that tend to give KJV-only propoents an easy out. It’s easy to dismiss a book as not being directed to their particular position, or to claim the author makes egregious errors and lumps their position in with that of heretical views. Harris’s book is not open to such charges. He directs his case against the very best arguments of KJV-onlyism.

Had I been exposed to such a book I would have been inoculated to the pull of the KJV-only persuasion. As it happened, I was swept up in a TR-only view that made it seem like we had the corner on truth and everyone else was compromising. By God’s grace I came to understand that Scripture does not support such a view of the transmission of the text.

Jason Harris is to be thanked for giving us a tool to recommend to those thinking through this issue from within, and to help the ones who are being pressured to join the KJV-only position. I highly recommend The Doctrine of Scripture and hope it makes its way into the hands of anyone struggling with this issue who will yet be open-minded enough to study out the issue from both sides.

You can pick up a copy of The Doctrine of Scripture at Amazon.com.

Disclaimer: This book was provided by the author. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.

~ cross posted from FundamentallyReformed.com, the author’s other blog.

Change 8 Verses and get a Gay Bible

They’ll do anything to justify their sin. This is a King James Version bible with 8 verses edited: specifically: Gen. 19:5, Lev. 18:22, Lev. 20:13, Rom. 1:26, Rom. 1:27, 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10 and Jude 1:7.

The editors of the Queen James Bible took a KJV and took the liberty to add a few interpretive changes to justify themselves…

More here…http://queenjamesbible.com/

This is what the Proverbs and Revelation mean when they say:

Proverbs 30:6  Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

Revelation 22:19  And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

This altogether different from other versions’ choices of words  because this is a denial of the totality of Scripture’s authority by their own admission:

“Leviticus is outdated as a moral code, but we still picked it as our most important book to address in our edits, as most anti-LGBT religious activists cite Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 as proof-positive that homosexuality is a sin, even worse, a sin punishable by death.”

Unfortunately, this kind of thing is fodder for the KJVO crowd to use as proof of what all the other versions are also doing. Most other versions are translated and produced by those who do believe in Scripture’s authority.  Those that are not, are rightly suspect.

A Clear Exposition of Psalm 12 as a Whole

1 Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth;
For the faithful fail from among the children of men.
2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbour:
With flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.

3 The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips,
And the tongue that speaketh proud things:
4 Who have said, “With our tongue will we prevail;
Our lips are our own: who is lord over us?”

5 “For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy,
Now will I arise,” saith the Lord;
“I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.”
6 The words of the Lord are pure words:
As silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

7 Thou shalt keep them, O Lord,
Thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
8 The wicked walk on every side,
When the vilest men are exalted. (Psalm 12, KJV)

Why do an exegesis of this Psalm?

The King James Version Only camp loves to quote verses 6-7 of this chapter as a proof text for their position. Despite the fact that countless commentaries and even the marginal notes of the translational ancestors of the KJV like the Geneva Bible contradict them, KJVO believers insist that the “them” in verse 7 is “the words of the LORD” in verse 6 and that this indicates the need for, as one pundit puts it, “a 100% pure version of the Bible.”

This passage has been cited this way so many times in various forums, that it led me to do an expositional study of the passage. My hope and prayer is that by understanding these verses in their proper (and immediate) context, our brothers and sisters will be encouraged by the content of the psalm rather than continuing to apply a poor hermeneutic to it.

The Structure of the Psalm

The psalm is composed of four distinct sections or stanzas.

1. The call for assistance (1-2)
2. Accusation against the wicked (3-4)
3. YHWH’s response (5-6)
4. Response to YHWH (7-8)

The Call for Assistance (1–2)

Clearly, the psalm is meant to reflect a period of oppression or attack. The author, traditionally King David, is really struggling. He declares that he is on the verge of collapse. (Ceaseth is Hebrew גמר. See perfect in Psalm 138:8.) This is a personal feeling but it is also felt in the entire faith community. Both “the godly man” and “the faithful” (plural) are under duress.

The particular issue in view appears to be lies and false witness against the people of God. Vanity (שוא) implies emptiness. The imagery also seems to indicate manipulation of others through flattery (חלק) and deceit.

The Accusation Against the Wicked (3-4)

The prideful attitude of these accusers becomes clear. The psalmist quotes their bravado and empty words of self-confidence before YHWH. They proclaim that they will overcome and bow to no authority but themselves (v 4).

YHWH’s Response (5-6)

This blasphemy of self-worship frames YHWH’s response. The psalmist picks up the motif of the poor and oppressed crying out. This motif looks back as far as Abel’s innocent blood (Genesis 4), mingling it with imagery that appears in the opening of Exodus and is repeated in Judges.

YHWH hears the cries of those these self-worshipers are destroying, and he says, “I will arise.” This concept is picked up by the prophets Isaiah (14:22) and Amos (7:9).

Because the psalmist attributes this statement to YHWH himself, we have every reason to believe this declaration is meant to be taken as a declaration of YHWH’s will, and as mentioned before, it conforms with his character as demonstrated in both Genesis and Exodus.

God himself is speaking, and His words are actions. This is a statement of great importance. It is a response to prayer, and a declaration of action from YHWH himself.

It is immediately on the heels of this declaration that the psalmist declares, “The words of the Lord are pure words: As silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”

Response to YHWH (7-8)

Notice that there is an immediate shift in the object of the Psalmist’s words. He now speaks directly back to YHWH. Verse 6 is not a direct address to YHWH, but rather an affirmation of the words spoken by YHWH. In liturgical use, verse 6 may have been a refrain that was meant for the assembled believers to recite. (It is important to remember that the psalms were meant for public recitation by the faith community, not personal reading.)

But verse 7 addresses YHWH directly. It is a response to YHWH’s declaration in verse 5. The psalmist responds to YHWH in thanks that he will preserve and keep. But what will he preserve and keep? It is the “godly man” and “the faithful” in verse 1. The psalm is not a declaration of the Word. It is a call for help, a prayer for intervention. And YHWH answered the Psalmist’s prayer.

And if it weren’t completely clear, the statement is immediately followed by a clarifying statement in verse 8 addressing the justice to be dispensed against the wicked. These wicked people surround the “them” of verse 7. This again looks back to verse 1.

Conclusions

A clear, simple reading of this psalm as a liturgical song of prayer and divine response indicates that this passage is misread when one applies the affirmation of verse 7 to the statement of verse 6. Verse 6 is a communal affirmation while verse 7 is the answer of prayer.

This passage makes no guarantee of a “100%” preservation of the Scriptures as “the words of the Lord” which requires a single translation of the texts.

It does, however, encourage those who are facing opposition, persecution and false witness that YHWH does not abandon his people and he will “arise”.

Manuel II Paleologus, Renaissance Europe and the Textus Receptus

In 1399, the city of Constantinople was under siege. The Ottoman Turks under Bayezid I had conquered virtually all of the Byzantine territories outside of the city itself. The emperor, Manuel II, was convinced that the only way to break the siege was a personal appeal to the powers of western Europe. For the first time in history, a Byzantine emperor headed west on an imperial tour.

What significance does this have in the discussion of the King James Bible?

More than you might think.

Manuel’s tour lasted three years. He visited the courts of England, France, the Holy Roman Empire (Germany), Denmark and Aragon (Spain). He carried himself as exactly what he was – the ruler of a culture that had survived for nearly 2,000 years. Manuel was educated and refined. He was a master of language, literature, science and politics. Everywhere he went, there was a swelling rage for Greek things. Dozens of contemporary accounts exist, gushing over the way he dressed and the way he spoke. He was such an impressive person that no one even brought up the religious differences that had divided Constantinople from the rest of Europe for ever 1,000 years.

Greek was very in that season.

Shortly before Manuel’s tour, the University of Florence had invited a Greek by the name of Manuel Chyrsoloras to teach Greek thinking and language. Manuel’s tour made Chyrsoloras and his students celebrities as well. Chyrsoloras taught many of the early humanists such as Leonardo Bruni and Ambrogio Traversari. His small group of close followers eventually rose to high level positions throughout Europe. Bruni became secretary to pope Gregory XII while Traversari was an influential thinker who did a number of key translations of ancient philosophy. Others such as Guarino de Verona traveled back to the Greek capital, learned Greek there and then brought manuscripts to Europe.

It was the rage for Greek things that was fueled by Manuel’s visits which ultimately resulted in the compilation of a Greek text for western Europe. Men like Traversari and Guarino spread their knowledge of the language through their own students and admirers. When Desiderius Erasmus learned Greek, it was from Chyrsoloras’ grammar, Erotemata Civas Questiones, which was printed first in Italy in 1471 and then made available to greater Europe in 1483.

People often wonder why there was no “standardization” of the Greek New Testament in Europe prior to Erasmus’ editions (1516, 1519, 1522, 1527, 1535). It was simply because no one in western Europe had learned Greek for 700 years, and they had extremely limited access to Greek texts of the New Testament – access so limited as to be virtually non-existent.

Manuel’s tour, coupled with the work of Manuel Chyrsoloras and his pupils, changed the way Europe viewed Greek culture and language. Once European Christians could access the Greek text of the New Testament, they began to question the Latin text they had received.

Unfortunately, they had access to very few manuscripts of the Greek text. There were a few – Vaticanus was probably brought to Italy after Constantinople was taken over by the Normans in 1204 – but they were not available to most people outside of the Papal palaces. After Manuel’s tour, more were brought over, but there were never a LOT of Greek manuscripts. (It is highly likely that among Guarino’s texts, there was at least a portion of the New Testament.)

Manuel’s son Constantine XI was the last emperor in Constantinople. In 1453, the great city of Constantinople fell to Bayezid’s grandson, Mehmet II. The flow of manuscripts ended abruptly once the Ottoman Turks took Constantinople and rechristened it Istanbul. The Turks sacked and burned most of the churches in the city and a thousand years of archives and literary treasures went up in flames.

For the next three hundred years or so, western Europe had no access to Ottoman territories. Practically the only Greek manuscripts they knew were those which had come to Europe via the short period between 1399 and 1453.

Once Erasmus printed a Greek text of the New Testament and Chrysoloras’ grammar was made available, Greek learning grew substantially. It was, however, confined to the study of the classical texts and the few Greek manuscripts that had made it to Europe. It would not be until the 19th century that anyone could penetrate the Ottoman controlled Middle East and find other texts.

The King James Only advocates demand that we accept the Textus Receptus as the absolute text of the Greek New Testament because it underlies the King James Version. They often support their position using the years in which it was the standard Greek text. The reality is that the TR was the result of a short interlude that allowed a few precious manuscripts into Europe.

History can be a stubborn thing, which is why many ideologues choose not to read it.

Book Review: Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (3rd Ed.) by Emanuel Tov

Book Details:
  • Author: Emanuel Tov
  • Category: Academic, Biblical Language
  • Publisher: Fortress Press (2012)
  • Format: hardcover
  • Page Count: 512
  • ISBN#: 9780800696641
  • List Price: $90.00
  • Rating: Recommended

Review:
Reading Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible by Emanuel Tov was both a joy and a challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in the world of the Hebrew Bible. Ancient manuscripts, Dead Sea Scroll finds, ancient versions, textual variants — all of these things stir the Bible-geek in me. At the same time, the state of current scholarship with regard to the Old Testament text can be a bit troubling to an evangelical Christian. While the New Testament stands affirmed by numerous manuscript discoveries to the extent that almost all textual critics can agree on the vast majority of the minute details of the text, the same cannot be said for the Hebrew Old Testament.

Emanuel Tov takes readers of all scholastic levels by the hand as he surveys the field of Old Testament textual criticism. This third edition of his classic textbook, explains things for the novice and scholar alike. Careful footnotes and innumerable bibliographic entries will impress the scholar, while charts, graphs and numerous glossaries keep the would-be scholar feeling like he is getting somewhere. I have no problem admitting that I am one of the would-be scholars, with barely a year of Hebrew under my belt. Yet I was able to work my way through this book, becoming sharper in my Hebrew and awakening to the many facets of the intriguing study of OT textual criticism.

Tov has departed from a more traditional stance in his earlier versions, opting instead to follow the evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls and contemporary studies. He manages to keep away from a fatal skepticism, however, arguing that textual evaluation still has merit. The aim is still to recover the earliest possible text, but the recognition that there are often two or three competing literary editions of the text complicate the matter. An example would be the different editions of Jeremiah, with the Septuagint (LXX) Greek version differing drastically from the Hebrew Masoretic Text (MT). 1 Samuel provides another example with a Dead Sea Scroll offering perhaps a third different competing literary edition. Tov points out the two very different versions of the story of David and Goliath and Hannah’s prayer as he expounds on the problem.

Rather than trying to solve each exegetical or specific textual problem, Tov aims to illustrate the challenges facing the would-be textual critic. He surveys the textual data, and reconstructs the history of the text – giving more attention to the accidents of history, such as the destruction of the Jewish state in A.D. 70, as weighing into the nature of the textual evidence we have. Rather than the Masoretic Text gradually gaining dominance, it was the de facto winner of the “text wars”. The LXX-style Hebrew texts (which the Dead Sea Scrolls and other finds have confirmed existed), were ignored by the Jews as Christianity had owned the LXX as its own. The Samaritans had their version of the Pentateuch, and the existence of a variety of other text forms, such as those found at Qumran (the DSS) were forgotten with the cessation of a normal state of existence for Jewish people. The Masoretic text found itself with little real competition and over the years came to be further refined and stable. I should clarify here, that this is not to downplay the Masoretic text, as it manifestly preserves very ancient readings, and Tov repeatedly affirms the remarkable tenacity of the MT. Instead, Tov is saying that the majority position the MT holds among the textual evidence and in the minds of the Jewish communities in the last 1800 years should not prejudice the scholar to consistently prefer MT readings. Tov in fact claims that text types, such as are commonly discussed in NT textual criticism, are largely irrelevant in dealing with the OT text. Internal considerations are key in textual evaluation. I will let Tov explain further:

Therefore, it is the choice of the most contextually appropriate reading that is the main task of the textual critic…. This procedure is as subjective as can be. Common sense, rather than textual theories, is the main guide, although abstract rules are sometimes also helpful. (pg. 280)

Tov’s textbook goes into glorious detail concerning all the orthographic features that make up paleo-Hebraic script, and the square Hebrew script we are familiar with. His knowledge is encyclopedic, to say the least. The numerous images of manuscripts that are included in the back of the book are invaluable. His discussion on the orthographic details of the text should convince even the most diehard traditionalists, that the vowel points and many of the accents were later additions to the text, inserted by the Masoretes. Some still defend the inspiration of the vowel points, but Tov’s explanation of numerous textual variants that flow from both a lack of vowel points and from the originality of paleo-Hebraic script (and the long development of the language and gradual changes in the alphabet, and etc.) close the door against such stick-in-the-mud thinking.

Tov’s book details the pros and cons of different Hebrew texts, as well as discussing electronic resources and new developments in the study of textual criticism. His work is immensely valuable to anyone interested in learning about textual criticism, and of course is required for any textual scholars seeking to do work in this field.

Tov doesn’t add a theology to his textual manual, however. And this is what is needed to navigate OT textual criticism. After having read Tov, I’m interested in seeing some of the better evangelical treatments of the textual problems of the Hebrew Bible. I believe we have nothing to fear in facing textual problems head on. Seeing different literary editions of the text can fill out our understanding of the underlying theology of the Bible as we have it. Some of the work of John H. Sailhamer illustrates this judicious use of contemporary scholarship concerning the literary strata of the text.

Tov’s book is not law, and he sufficiently qualifies his judgments. He stresses that textual criticism, especially for the Old Testament, is inherently subjective. It is an art. And those who don’t recognize that, are especially prone to error in this field. This book equips the student to exercise this art in the best possible way. Tov walks the reader through evaluating competing textual variants, and his study will furnish the careful reader with all the tools to develop their own approach to the text. Tov’s findings won’t erode the foundations of orthodox theology. I contend that they will strengthen it. As with NT textual criticism, paying attention to the textual details has unlooked-for and happy consequences. It strengthens exegesis, and allows for a greater insight into the meaning of the text. And it can build one’s faith.

Bible-geeks, aspiring scholars, teachers and students alike will benefit from this book. Understanding the current state of OT textual criticism puts many of the NT textual debates into perspective. Christians don’t know their Old Testaments well enough, and studying the text to this level is rare indeed. I encourage you to consider adding this book to your shelf, and making it a priority to think through the challenges surrounding the text of the Hebrew Bible.

Author Info:
Emanuel Tov is J. L. Magnes Professor of Bible at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Editor-in-Chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project. Among his many publications is The Greek and Hebrew Bible-Collected Essays on the Septuagint (1999).

Where to Buy:
  • CBD
  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble
  • direct from Fortress Press.

Disclaimer:
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Fortress Press. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.

Originally Posted at:
This article was originally posted at my personal blog, Fundamentally Reformed.

A Critique of Thomas Holland’s View of the Last Six Verses in Revelation

I recently noticed that the Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism chose to address the writings of an influential King James Only proponent: Thomas Holland. Holland represents the best kind of King James Onlyism, from what I have heard of him. He is honest and deals with the evidence at hand – or at least tries to. At the end of the day, he sticks with his guiding principles and faith in the perfect preservation of all of God’s words, no matter what the evidence. But his writing style is more helpful than many of the KJV proponents I have read.

The journal article focuses on Holland’s explanation of the last six verses of Revelation and his valiant attempt to explain away the consensus that Erasmus translated these verses from the Latin into Greek (for his N.T. edition), since he had no Greek manuscripts that covered that portion of Revelation.

Jan Krans, whose written a book on how Erasmus and Beza handled their translation work, takes Holland to task for what amounts, ultimately, to poor scholarship. Here is the abstract for his paper:

With Thomas Holland’s lengthy discussion of a reading in Rev 22:19 as an example, this article shows how Holland’s way of doing New Testament textual criticism falls short on all academic standards. With respect to the main issue, Erasmus’ retranslation of the final verses of Revelation, Holland fails to properly find, address and evaluate both primary and secondary sources.

I was impressed by how carefully and fairly Krans treated Holland, even as he systematically dismantles his every argument. At the end of the day it is quite apparent that Erasmus did translate from the Latin into Greek resulting in several unique Greek readings in these few short verses.

Equally apprent is the fact that Holland engages in special pleading and circular reasoning in trying to explain away the obvious. He casts doubt upon this historical reality (and definite problem for the TR – since most of the errors remain in all copies of it) in any way he can. He throws suspicion on whether Erasmus really said he translated it from the Latin, then he says the translation job was really good, then he says actually Hoskier thinks that another manuscript was used by Erasmus. In each case, Holland is misreading his sources and misses the mark of the truth.

Like it or not, Erasmus translated from Latin into Greek. The only Greek copies which support his mistranslations were copied after the presence of his Greek NT, and were influenced by it. This fact is admitted by Hoskier and is the consensus of careful scholars. Anyone who claims the Textus Receptus is perfect, has to grapple with this fact. I would argue that we can’t just believe what we want to believe and turn a blind eye to history and textual evidence. We have to face them head on. Reading thisarticle will help in that process. And I’d recommend William Combs’ articles on this matter as well.

Here’s some more info on Krans:

Jan Krans, Ph.D. (2004) in Theology, is Lecturer of New Testament at VU University, Amsterdam. He is currently working on a comprehensive overview and evaluation of important conjectures on the Greek New Testament. He is the author of Beyond What Is Written: Erasmus and Beza as Conjectural Critics of the New Testament (Brill, 2006) and also contributes to the the Amsterdam NT Weblog. His book is available online through archive.org.

More Info on the Discovery of the 1st Century MSS Fragment of Mark

Recently, Dr. Dan Wallace made news about the discovery of what is possibly the earliest NT MSS fragment ever found. I gave details on the find here. [And we reported on that here at this blog, too.]

Well, Dr. Wallace was recently interviewed by Hugh Hewitt on his radio show about the discovery and gave additional details. We now know the MSS contains part of one papyrus leaf, written on both sides. From the sound of it, it is most of one leaf so several verses but not much more. It was also found in Egypt — all seven of these MSS finds were found there. Dr. Wallace will also be on of the authors of the book that will publish all seven papyri fragments in early 2013.

Wallace continues to consider this a truly monumental manuscript find, as the following snippet from the full interview makes clear:

HH: Wow. Now in terms of, for the lay audience, Professor Daniel Wallace, the significance of this work when it appears, how would you grade it, with an A being a Dead Sea Scroll sort of significance, and you know, flunking, it just doesn’t matter?

DW: I would grade it at least an A, maybe an A+.

HH: And will the rest of the scholarly world agree with you on that assessment, do you think?

DW: I think that when they understand the ramifications of the entire nature of this manuscript that I’m not at liberty to mention, yes. They’re going to understand. At least those that will accept that date. Since the manuscript doesn’t have a date stamp on it, it says it was done this year, there are always going to be dissenters. But to do the work of paleography takes thousands and thousands of hours of research to do one.

I’m not sure the discovery will prove to be the equal of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but I’m cautiously optimistic that it will prove to be very consequential.

I also got an update from Matthew Hamilton who I quoted in my earlier post on this. From his information and that of Wallace from this interview, the following looks to be the list of the 7 manuscripts. Many of these would be the earliest textual witness we have of that Biblical book, if the dates hold true.

  1. 2nd century homily (sermon) on Hebrews 11
  2. 2nd century frg. with I Corinthians 8-10
  3. 2nd century frg. with Matthew
  4. 2nd century frg. with Romans 9-10
  5. 2nd century frg. from Hebrews, one side contains 9:19-22
  6. 2nd century frg. with Luke
  7. 1st century frg. [part of one leaf] with Mark

For more details read the entire transcript of the Hewitt – Wallace interview, and keep an eye on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog.

~cross posted from my personal blog, FundamentallyReformed.com.

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