How to Get Banned from Commenting on this Site

If you’re a subscriber to the comments on the post concerning Revelation 16:5 from the Jack Moorman-James White debate, you might have noticed that a certain commenter named Keith Whitlock decided to violate the guidelines for discussion and then his posts ceased to appear. This is because he decided to use the comment section of the page to make unsubstantiated accusations against Kirk DiVietro who is not associated with the kjvonlydebate.com about a matter that did not concern us. These attacks were personal in nature, and were extended to me, as a contributor, because I happen to be his son.

You can see the comment exchange here, which I will not reproduce for the sake of space. After Keith referred to my “lying father” and accused me of having a “lack of integrity”, I informed him that he would be banned for violating the guidelines for discussion. The exchange extended beyond, and Keith confirmed repeatedly the reasons he was banned. I am providing the exchange in the sake of full disclosure.

Although he was banned, Keith posted three subsequent comments which I will reproduce here in their entirety (although they do not appear on the article).

2/25/2011 8:20pm
Please Eric, humour [sic] us. You could have saved typing labor and loss of respect by answering the question of which Greek Textus Receptus is THE copy of the original preserved text. From what I can gather, you don’t believe it exists. But one quote from you troubles me. It’s “Huh? I don’t argue against eclectic texts” Of course not, They are ALL eclectic (fabricated from many texts). So you have no problem with the Westcott Hort text and it’s [sic] mutants?
But you and I know there is no such animal. God seems to be through with the dead Koine Greek language. Dead for over 1,400 years. No noe [sic] speaks Koine today hence no need for an inspired and preserved text.

2/25/2011 8:28pm
Evil is as evil does. BS had no problem with Gail until the publication of Hazardous Materials Greek and Hebrew Study dangers which exposes the corruption in reek and Hebrew lexicons and other study tools. I personally checked over 400 quotes in her book and found them all to be 100% accurate and in context. I have not read your father’s book yet, but if it is anything like your daddy’s mentor’s DBS’s Don Waite’s and Stringer’s National Enquirer style slander, I’ll understand better your evasiveness on these issues. Is your Dad still selling his Stephanus text to Logos Software?
When you publish garbage like your’s [sic] and others into the public domain, you can’t whine when you are held accountable.

2/25/2011 8:36pm
So according to this blog’s guidelines, anyone can blaspheme the Holy Spirit, disparage the King James Bible, and the culture of the English people during the reformation, disparage the KJB translators and Christians who hold the traditional belief that the King James Bible was inspired by God, but to point out the blatant heresy of the Greek Orthodox Church is forbidden?

As you can see, Keith maintained and intensified his combative and abrasive style. This prompted me to Google his name, and I found that he has done this kind of ‘drive-by comment’ thing all over the internet. (Just for clarification. My ‘troubling’ quote can be found here. Someone was saying I believed something I don’t.)

In the hope of developing understanding, I contacted Keith directly through email.

FROM: Erik DiVietro
TO: Keith Whitlock

Keith,

Your last three comments will not appear on the KJVonlydebate.com, nor will I be answering your accusations because you have violated the commenting policy of our site. Had you approached the discussion with something even resembling courtesy, we would have welcomed your thoughts. Instead, you have chosen a course of attack and accusation. The blog’s contributors come from very different viewpoints and co-exist together in the hope of encouraging discussion and mutual understanding. Your comments reflect neither of these.

If you choose to change your tactics and discuss things according to the blog guidelines – https://kjvonlydebate.com/the-rules-of-the-debate/ – we will reconsider your situation. If, however, you choose to continue to post the same kinds of attacks, they will not appear on KJVonlydebate.com.

I received this in reply:

FROM: Keith Whitlock
TO: Erik DiVietro

Thanks for the email.
It answers a lot of questions. Crybaby. However, I will have to hold you accountable since you publish your heretical views in the public domain. Your cowardice actuallly [sic] has inspired me to read your father’ s critique of my friend Gail Riplinger so that I can thoroughly refute him and put him and his sponsors heretical beliefs into the light. Debating you is fruitless. You can not aswer [sic] my questions so you evade and level insults at me. Remember, this is the information ag, but I also like to use a hands on aproach [sic]. I bet you could not carry on a coherent conversation with an 8 year old Greek girl if your life depended on it.
Keith Whitlock

I replied:

FROM: Erik DiVietro
TO: Keith Whitlock

You really don’t know how to be courteous or considerate, do you? Name calling and insults are such a mature way to go about life. I don’t believe I’ve done or said a single disparaging thing to you, and yet you continue to attack me for no reason. You have only confirmed through your actions that we were correct in blocking your comments.

This was Keith’s answer:

You only pretend to be a gentleman Eric. I can be most courteous. But I have a problem with you Eric. You are a heretic, a liar, and an arrogant one too. What you and others think of me means nothing. Like I said before, you are now on my radar. I will engage you whenever I find you publishing blasphemous and slanderous statements. I will post your hereical staements on the interet [sic] as a courtesy to you. And I will be on your father like a pitbull if  I find his book in any way slanders my good friend Gail. You can take that to the bank.

It is not hard to see that Keith was not remotely interested in having a civil conversation with us. His agenda was to push his views on anyone and everyone, and verbally assault, defame and libel anyone who holds a different position. When we did not tolerate this behavior, he turned to attacks and libel.

This, readers, is a textbook case of how to get banned from commenting on our site. We have presented it here not to pick on Keith but to demonstrate the way not to interact here. Keith’s banning has nothing to do with the position he holds. It has everything to do with the way he behaves. This is not a proper approach to discussion with Christian brothers and sisters. We have had a number of people come to our site with Keith’s attitude, and after not heeding the warnings we provide, have also been banned.

We have also had far more people who may have started out poorly but, once shown the guidelines for interaction, have demonstrated Christian maturity and reserve in their conversations. To those people, THANK YOU for honoring Christ.

This site is not a free-for-all discussion blog for people to attack and denigrate one another. If you cannot abide by the Rules of the Debate. Please do not comment here. You are free to link to our page, quote our articles elsewhere and attack us all that you want on your own sites or in some free-for-all discussion blog. But on this site, we treat one another as Christian brothers and sisters. The contributors of this site have wildly different views on many things, and we have rather animated discussions via email. But this site is a place for civil discussion in a Christian atmosphere.

We do not respond to name calling and allegations in kind. That is not the way we manage this site. If you descend to these behaviors, you will not be permitted to interact on the site.

Let me close by once again saying “Thank you!” to everyone who interacts with others of diverse opinions with respect and honor. You make this interaction worth having.

50 Copies for the Whole Empire

I have thought it expedient to instruct your Prudence to order fifty copies of the sacred Scriptures, the provision and use of which you know to be most needful for the instruction of the Church, to be written on prepared parchment in a legible manner, and in a convenient, portable form, by professional transcribers thoroughly practiced in their art. (Constantine the Great, writing to Eusebius of Caesarea, Vita Constantini IV.36)

The above lines are order for the first Authorized Version of the Scriptures. Constantine realized that because Christianity had always been a lower class, urban movement, there were not a lot of copies of the Scriptures around.

We need to know a few things about Constantine. He was born in what is today the Balkans, but he traveled extensively as a young man in the court of Diocletian. Diocletian made his father, Constantius Chlorus Augustus of the West in 293 CE, and Constantine accompanied him to Britain. When Constantius died in 306 CE, his troops acclaimed Constantine as Augustus. Diocletian had abdicated in 305, and Constantine shortly marched on Italy. At the Battle of Milvian Bridge (312 CE), Constantine claimed divine protection in defeating Maxentius. This is the famous ‘conversion’ moment. The following year (313 CE), Constantine made a peace with the only remaining Augustus, Licinius, and as part of the peace declared the end of Diocletian’s persecution of the Christians.

This persecution had been unevenly executed. Most of the western Christians had escaped unharmed, but there was a significant effort to wipe out eastern Christians – mostly in Greece and Asia Minor. During this persecution, churches were to be destroyed and Scriptures burned.

It was the nineteenth year of Diocletian’s reign [AD 303] and the month Dystrus, called March by the Romans, and the festival of the Savior’s Passion was approaching, when an imperial decree was published everywhere, ordering the churches to be razed to the ground and the Scriptures destroyed by fire, and giving notice that those in places of honor would lose their places, and domestic staff, if they continued to profess Christianity, would be deprived of their liberty. Such was the first edict against us. Soon afterward other decrees arrived in rapid succession, ordering that the presidents of the churches in every place should all be first committed to prison and then coerced by every possible means into offering sacrifice. (Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius, VIII.2)

Just how well this was applied on the local level is a matter of some confusion. Eusebius reports that Diocletian rescinded the ban when he was sick, provided that the Christians agreed to pray for him. In reality, it was Diocletian’s co-emperor Galerius who was adamantly anti-Christian. Diocletian certainly was not pro-Christian, but he seems to have been content with threats while Galerius acted on the,.

Constantine brought all of this to an end. Within a few years of his ascension Christianity went from being persecuted to being actively encouraged.

And this brings us to the quote that we began this article with. Constantine recognized that Christianity was growing fast, but there were not enough copies of the Scriptures to teach them from. When Christianity was a small, oral-primary movement, copies of the Scriptures could be rare because the teachers could rely on their memories to present the Gospel and Epistles. Now, Christianity was full of people who knew nothing of the Scriptures.

The remarkable thing was that Constantine called for only 50 copies! At the time, the population of the empire had to be around 10 million people. Even if he was only seeking copies for the Eastern portion of the empire (perhaps to help rebuild the church there), the East was easily the most populated part of the empire. Ephesus, Athens, Corinth, Jerusalem and Alexandria were all around 1 million people, and Constantine was building a New Rome that would soon be a metropolis itself.

This little bit of history tells us two important things:

  1. There were Scriptures before Constantine, but there were few of them. The oral-primary culture of urban, lower class Christians did not require many copies.
  2. Constantine’s order for manuscripts was for professional quality work.

At once, Eusebius defuses the primary argument for textual variants – that the manuscripts were being written hastily by amateurs. Since all of the manuscripts we have today are from the era of Constantine and forward, this argument really does not hold a lot of ground. He also explains why we don’t find manuscripts earlier than Constantine.

History itself bears out that we should not expect to find manuscripts earlier than the 4th century CE, and the early manuscripts we might find will be the work of an early imperial edict. That does not guarantee their accuracy (especially in cases where the text might conflict with Roman rule) but it does set some parameters for their existence.

Why the Study and Preservation of the Majority Text is a Good Thing!

A few months back, my father mentioned to me that he had been approached to join the board of The Center for the Study and Preservation of the Majority Text. Just a couple weeks before, I had been actively advocating the abandonment of the current ‘Text Family’ arguments in favor of a holistic approach to the corpus of Greek texts available to us. When I head about the CSPMT, I was hopeful that the project would yield what I was advocating:

  1. The rejection of the 19th century textual family arguments.
  2. The compilation of all known manuscripts (not published texts)
  3. The collation of these manuscripts in a database that would allow parallel views of the originals and transcriptions
  4. The development of the necessary software to make this database available as an online resource

Understanding that such a project would be a truly massive one, I did not expect the CSPMT to undertake it but at the very least to lay a foundation for it. As the CSPMT has begun to take shape, I think that it will be the foundation that is necessary.

Does it bother anyone else that textual criticism is bogged down by arguments between the proponents of the texts used in the 17th century (the Textus Receptus) and those discovered in the 19th (the Critical Text). This is the 21st century. Why can’t we rebuild our understanding of the text from the ground up without relying on the biases of polymath priests (Erasmus), printers (the Elzevir brothers), theological liberals (Westcott and Hort), adventurers (Constantin von Tischendorf), and continental academics (take your pick).

Rather than having to fight with insufferably complex critical apparatuses in one of two or three printed texts, technology would allow us to access as much or as little of the original information as we need. With the proper scanning technology and a well-constructed database, searching and comparison would be no more complicated than using Bibleworks or Logos.

Is it a massive project? Yes. Will it slaughter an awful lot of sacred cows? Yes. Will academics like it? No. (because it will remove their monopoly on information.)

Just a thought.

Book Review: The Legacy of The King James Bible

The Legacy of the King James Bible: Celebrating 400 Years of the Most Influential English TranslationThe Legacy of the King James Bible: Celebrating 400 Years of the Most Influential English Translation by Leland Ryken

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Of all English translations of the Bible, the King James Version is certainly the one which has stood the test of time. Four hundred years after it was first printed, the KJV is still loved by many. This book celebrates the accuracy, beauty, and influence of the King James Version of the Bible.

Ryken gives credit where it is due to both Tyndale and Wycliffe, whose translations laid the foundation for the King James Version. Their desire was to translate the Scriptures faithfully so that English speaking people could read and understand God’s Word. The King James Version stands upon the shoulders of these translations as well as a few others such as the Bishops Bible.

Ryken takes the time to give us interesting facts about the translation process. The work was divided among committees, and they were instructed to use the existing English translations and compare them. In fact, that King James Version is a revision of the Bishop’s Bible, which was also compared with the original languages to assure that it was as accurate as possible. The translators also consulted Luther’s Bible, the Latin Vulgate, the Syriac New Testament, Aramaic Targums, and various commentaries. This was indeed a great undertaking that was taken very seriously. Once it was published, it only took fifty years for the KJV to surpass the Geneva Bible in popularity.

Ryken gives a very timely warning to those who accept that there are more accurate Greek manuscripts than those used by the KJV translators. He reminds us that the ones that were used to translate the KJV were by no means bad texts, and that the difference between the Received Text and today’s Critical Text is actually minor. No one is in danger of being misled by the King James Version of the Bible.

The influence of the KJV is extensive. Although it is not named a “Standard Bible”, it is the standard for many English translations. The RSV, NKJV, and ESV are all in the stream of the King James tradition in that they seek to adhere to an essentially literal approach. Another thing that points to the King James Version as a standard is the fact that many who follow the dynamic equivalence translational philosophy find fault with the King James Version and try to show how theirs is in some way superior. This may be a back handed acknowledgement of the KJV as a standard, but it is indeed an acknowledgement that it is.

The KJV has permeated English culture, language, and literature. Billy Graham, one of the world’s foremost evangelists, preached from the KJV. Expressions that are in our everyday speech come from the KJV. Great literature either quotes or has language that is very similar to the KJV. Many writers acknowledge that they used, or are indebted to the KJV. Public inscriptions of Scripture are more often quotations of the KJV than not. Great musicals, poetry, and paintings have been influenced by the KJV. There is no area of English speaking culture that has not been influenced by the KJV.

Ryken calls the KJV the “gold standard for a literary Bible”. The language, cadence, and beauty all show the KJV to be an excellent translation. In fact, many consider the KJV to be a miracle of literary excellence. The one place where Ryken faults the KJV translators is in their printing of poetry as prose. In all, he holds the King James Version in high esteem, as well we all should. He makes an amazing statement when he says, “I do not remember ever having encountered a member of the literary establishment who preferred any English Bible other than the KJV.”

Today we have a proliferation of English Bible translations. One would think that would be a blessing. Ryken, who greatly loves and supports the work of the English Standard Version, declares that “biblical illiteracy has accompanied the decline of the King James Bible.” He states that this is widely acknowledged. He even quotes a colleague who said that even Christian students have become inept at seeing biblical references in literature, because they do not know the KJV and its influence. There is no greater praise to be given to the King James Version by one who is a great supporter of a modern version. In fact, Ryken recommends that Bible readers continue to read the KJV along with their modern version.

Time and space would fail me to say all that could be said about this book. Let it suffice to say that this book is a must read for all who care about literature, whether it be biblical or secular. In fact, I would highly recommend this book for those who are King James Version only believers as well as those who are King James Version critics. Both groups could learn much from this book.

This book provided for review by Crossway with no requirement of a positive review.

View all my reviews

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Jack Moorman on Revelation 16:5

In the recent James White — Jack Moorman debate on King James Onlyism, White brought up Rev. 16:5 as containing a phrase in the King James Version with no manuscipt support at all. It was added on the basis of conjectural emendation, he claimed. Several times in the debate he went back to that point, and Moorman kept saying he dealt with it already in one of his books.

Well, here’s the only section in Jack Moorman’s books that I know of which deals with Rev. 16:5. This is from When the KJV Departs from the So-Called “Majority’ Text: with Manuscipt Digest by Jack A. Moorman (published by The Bible for Today, Collingswood, NJ 1988). This is from pg. 102. I’ve tried to reproduce the format as shown in his book (my copy is the second edition).

Revelation 16:5
AV        which art, and wast, and shalt be
HF CR                                    … the Holy One

                                                                     Beza.

The KJV reading is in harmony with the four other places in Revelation where this phrase is found.
1:4 “him which is, and which was, and which is to come”
1:8 “the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty”
4:8 “Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come”
11:17 “Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come”
Indeed Christ is the Holy One, but in the Scriptures of the Apostle John the title is found only once (1 John 2:20), and there, a totally different Greek word is used. The Preface to the Authorised Version reads:

“with the former translations diligently compared and revised”

The translators must have felt there was good reason to insert these words though it ran counter to much external evidence. They obviously did not believe the charge made today that Beza inserted it on the basis of “conjectural emendation”. They knew that they were translating the Word of God, and so do we. The logic of faith should lead us to see God’s guiding providence in a passage such as this.

[AV = Authorized Version/King James Bible, HF = Hodges/Farstad Majority Text, CR = Critical Text (specifically the NA26/UBS3)]

When I first encountered this reasoning for maintaining the King James reading, I was troubled. He lists no witnesses except for Beza’s text. At the time, I was still of the KJV only persuasion, the TR Only variety. I wondered why Moorman disagreed with E.F. Hills a learned King James Version defender who admitted that Rev. 16:5 was a conjectural emendation. Later I learned that Beza actually tells us in his textual notes that this is a conjectural emendation inserted based on his presumption that John would be consistent with other similar phrases (which Moorman quotes above).

Well, since that time, I’ve come to see this as one of the clearest errors in the King James Bible and the Textus Receptus. Neither accepted version of the Textus Receptus contains this error. The 1550 Stephanus edition, prized in England as “the standard”, and the Elzevir’s text of 1633 preferred on the continent (of Europe), both do not contain this reading. Update: Actually the 1550 Stephanus, the standard in Europe, does not have Beza’s reading. The 1633 Elzevir’s text does, but the earlier 1624 Elzevir’s and all later Elzevir’s editions (1641-1678) go back to the Stephanus reading. I am unclear as to how much more preference was given to the 1633 text over the 1624, edition. H.C. Hoskier says the 1624 text is better, see Appendix C of his A Full Account and Collation of the Greek Cursive Codex Evangelium here). None of the previous English versions that the KJV translators referred to had this reading. The Latin didn’t have it either. In another post I have detailed the only possible, barest shred of evidence, a citation in one Latin commentary which may contain this reading. Beza is ignorant of that commentary however.

My point in bringing this up here is to show that I’m not so certain that Moorman has really dealt with this text. This is circular reasoning at its worst. This mentality belies the motivation behind many KJV Onlyists, which I believe White correctly pinpointed in the debate. It is the desire for a standard text. That’s a commendable desire, but it doesn’t excuse sloppy handling of evidence. By the way, this doesn’t mean that the TR isn’t a great text (most TRs don’t have this error). It also doesn’t impugn the Majority Text, as it obviously doesn’t have this reading.

Now I’m ready to stand corrected if in later copies of this book, Moorman actually added more evidence or took out his circular arguments. But at least in this version of the book, his arguments were quite poor indeed.

A Question Regarding the KJV and “Eis”

I am curious as to why the King James Version translators translated eis as into, unto, for instead of consistently using one word.

For example, when reading verses about baptism, John baptized unto (eis) repentance and preached the baptism of repentance for (eis) the remission of sins.  Peter preached that people should be baptized for (eis) the remission of sins.  Paul said we are baptized into (eis) Christ, and that Israel was baptize unto (eis) Moses.

I cannot see that the word actually has a wide variety of meaning from one of these texts to  another.  It would have been helpful, I think, for it to have been translated with a little more consistency.

Perhaps someone could help me on the whole issue.