Greek New Testament MP3’s

I recently downloaded the entire Greek New Testament in MP3 format. While there are audio Greek New Testaments available, almost all of them use a theoretical Erasmian pronunciation scheme. The text sounds choppy and artificial.

If you are a student of New Testament Greek, you should be a student of modern Greek. For too long, people have treated Greek as a dead language when it never has been. It was spoken in Greece even during the Ottoman domination, and it has been revived over the past two centuries as a living language. We should see Greek as a living language and treat it with the respect it deserves.

You can download the entire New Testament at http://www.greeklatinaudio.com/.

(They did the readings using Westcott-Hort, which is a turn off to some folks I am sure, but the ability to hear the Greek New Testament read in a living language is worth it.)

Precedence for the 1881 Revisions

I don’t necessarily accept the work of the 1881 Revision Committee that produced the English Revised Version of the Scriptures. I think there was a lot of faddish academics involved and the text that was produced was not of a high caliber at all, setting aside for a moment the Greek text used. I wanted to open this article with that disclaimer.

I was more or less surfing through Google Books and I happened upon this book by Philip Schaff, the author of the multi-volume History of the Christian Church that most pastors got on discount to fill their bookshelves and haven’t cracked since. From 1870 until his death, Schaff was a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, and he served as the president of the committee that oversaw the American Standard Version (although he died before it was finished).

The book is titled A Companion to the Greek Testament and the English Version, published in 1883. This was two years after the publication of the RV New Testament, and two years before the Old Testament was published. The book is, in fact, dedicated to the members of the American committee. He wrote:

I dedicate this book to my brother-Revisers as a memorial of the many happy days we spent together, from month to month and year to year, in the noble work of improving the English version of the Word of God.

It is truly a fascinating book because it is published at the same time as John William Burgon was publishing Revision Revised but shows a very different perspective on the entire process of revision. But that is a topic for another post.

What struck me as intriguing about A Companion to the Greek Testament and the English Version was that Schaff demonstrates at great length that, in his words:

It may well be said, without the least disparagement of the merits of the Revising Committees, that the great majority of the changes of text and version (probably more than four fifths) which they finally adopted had been anticipated by previous translators and commentators, and had become the common property of biblical scholars before the year 1870. But these improvements were scattered among many books, and lacked public recognition. They had literary worth, but no ecclesiastical authority. They were the work of individuals, not of the Church. (p 368)

Schaff goes on to say that essentially the Revision Committee felt they were under obligation to the Church at large to consider and evaluate not only the King James Version but also all of the many efforts to do translation since. They felt it was necessary because:

The subject of an authoritative revision was discussed with great ability by W. Selwyn (1856), Trench (1858), Alford, Ellicott, Lightfoot, and many others. Different opinions prevailed as to the extent of the changes, but the vast majority deprecated a new version, and desired simply such a revision of the time-honored old version as would purge it of acknowledged errors and blemishes, conform it more fully to the original Greek and Hebrew, adapt it to the language and scholarship of the present age, and be a new bond of union and strength among all English-speaking churches. (p 369)

We could argue endlessly about whether and to what extent the revision committee accomplished any of the three goals that Schaff outlines, but notice how he keeps talking about all the difference work that preceded the Revision Committee. It is a much bigger picture than just Westcott and Hort gathering a committee to carry out a translation of their Greek text. Here is the list that Schaff provides:

The number of English versions is much larger, and began as early as the last century with Campbell (the Gospels, 1788), Macknight (the Epistles, 1795), Archbishop Newcome (1796). From the present century we have several translations of widely differing merits, by Charles Thomson (1808), John Bellamy (1818), Noah Webster (New Haven, 1833), Nathan Hale (Boston, 1836, from Griesbaeh’s text), Granville Penn (London, 1836), Edgar Taylor (London, 1840), Andrews Norton (the Gospels, Boston, 1855), Robert Young (Edinburgh, 1863, very literal), Samuel Sharpe (1840, 6th ed..London, 1870, from Griesbaeh’s text), L. A. Sawyer (Boston, 1858), J. Nelson Darby (published anonymously, London,2d ed. 1S72),T.S.Green (London, 1865), G. R. Noyes (Professor in Harvard University, Boston, 1869; 4th ed. 1S70, published by the American Unitarian Association; a very good translation from the eighth edition of Tischendorf in Matthew, Mark, and part of Luke; Dr. Ezra Abbot added a list of Tischendorf’s readings from Luke xviii. 10 to John vi. 2, 3, and critically revised the proofs), Alford (London, 1869), Joseph B.Rotherham (London, 1872, text of Tregelles), Samuel Davidson (prepared at the suggestion of Tischendorf from his last Greek text, London, 1875), John Brown McClellan (the Gospels, London, 1875, on the basis of the Authorized Version, but with a “critically revised” text), the “Revised English Bible,” prepared by four English divines (London, 1877), the Gospel of John and the Pauline Epistles, by Five Anglican Clergymen (Dean Henry Alford, Bishop George Moberly, Rev. William Gh Humphry, Bishop Chas. J. Ellicott, and Dr. John Barrow, 1857,1S61).

Nor were these attempts confined to individuals. “The American Bible Union,” a Baptist association in America, spent for nearly twenty years a vast amount of money, zeal, and labor on an improved version, and published the New Testament in full (second revision, New York and London, 1869, with “immerse,” “immersion,” and “John the Immerser”), and the Old Testament in part (with learned comments, the best of them by Dr. Conant, on Job, Psalms, and Proverbs). Last, though not least, we must mention The Variorum Bible for Bible Teachers, prepared by five Anglican scholars (T. K. Cheyne, E. L. Clarke, S. R. Driver, Alfred Goodwin, and W. Sanday), and pnblished by Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1880 (in very small print); it contains a judicious selection of various readings and renderings from the best critical and exegetical authorities—we may say a full apparatus for the reader of the English Version. (pp 366-367)

I can honestly say that I have not heard of most of these translations. There are a few (such as Daniel Webster’s) which I have heard of, but I was blown away. It never occurred to me that the Baptists might have spent twenty years attempting to develop a superior translation more in keeping with their own doctrines. (I looked into this and it seems that the Bible Union was frustrated with using a Bible translated by Anglicans and which did not translate terms like baptize and congregation more literally.)

Why present all of this?

I think that it is interesting that most of the people who write for or against the work of Westcott and Hort zone in on a few writers. Usually we talk about John William Burgon or F.H.A. Scrivener, and occasionally people read a biography or a commentary that deals with Bishop Westcott.

Just how much do we know about the other people involved? Philip Schaff was no slouch. After all, he was born in Sweden, studied all over Europe and taught in the United States (learning English as a third language) for nearly fifty years. How was it then that I had to happen upon a book like this? I’ve never encountered his name in any reading on the issue. Maybe I just missed it.

More than anything, I’m thinking that perhaps we should expand our reading a bit and look beyond the big names of the debate. Burgon, Scrivener, Westcott and Hort get thrown around an awful lot but my opinion is that these kinds of things don’t occur in a vacuum. There were other intelligent, spiritually discerning individuals in the mix. Did they necessarily make the right decisions or have the right beliefs? I leave that for you to think about.

Even the Catholics Need an Updated Translation

According to an article in USA Today, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops will be releasing an update to the New American Bible on March 9. The new edition will be called “The New American Bible, Revised Edition” or NABRE for short.

If you don’t know, the NAB (which is entirely different from the American Standard Version or New American Standard Bible) is used by the USCCB in all American editions of the Roman Catholic liturgy.

What I find particularly interesting about this new edition is that in many places, it restored the older readings – many of which sound very much like Protestant Bibles. For example, in Psalm 23, the NAB reads “even when I walk through a dark valley” but the NABRE will read “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”

This trend toward the older, more accepted readings, can be observed in Protestant Bibles as well. In 1995, the New American Standard Bible was revised and some readings, particularly in the Psalms, took on much more familiar forms – forms far more in keeping with the heritage of the King James Version than had been there previously. In the same vein, the English Standard Version sought to restore some of the majesty of the English text and adopted the feel, if not the exact wording, of and older translation.

Embracing the KJV Tradition and Modern Technology

I use the English Standard Version as my standard reading Bible. Our church, however, has the New International Version in the racks so when teaching, I usually use it. (I even have a red ‘preaching Bible’ that I seem to misplace more often than I’d like to admit.)

This might be surprising to some of the readers who know that I am not a big fan of the Greek Critical Texts. It is my firm belief that with modern technology available to us, there is no reason we cannot use a modern version and hold to a more traditional or majority view of the texts.

Here is how it works out in my life and ministry.

More often than not, I teach from whole books or large passages of the Scriptures. For example, we are currently in the middle of a five week study of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). During tessarakoste (Lent for those of you in the western tradition), we will be journeying through the major books of the Exile (Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezra and Nehemiah). After Easter, we’re doing an expositional study of Paul’s Letter to the Philippians.

As I am teaching through a book, I am studying it. Really, I don’t spend much time on word studies because in real life, we don’t do word studies. We read to understand. If we don’t understand a word, we look it up and move on. Instead, I read the passage repeatedly. My office is full of whiteboards, and I will write out large passages in the original languages and read over them to familiarize myself with them.

This is where technology comes in. In my version of Logos Bible Software, I have a number of Greek texts. When I’m studying the New Testament, I use Scrivener’s 1881 text and I lock it to both Nestle-Aland 26 (I’m too cheap to upgrade so I have 27) and Stephanus’ 1550. I scroll through the texts, watching for variants and reading along in English – both the ESV and the KJV, as well as the NASB usually.

This allows me to see, at a glance, everything that is going on – all the competing ideas. Because I spent years reading the KJV, I can usually recognize a major variant in the English pretty quickly. If there’s a valid reason for the variant (because I don’t believe the TR is infallible), then I accept it and move on. If the variant is pointless or silly (like removing “broken for you” in 1 Corinthians 11:24), I just add it back in when I read.

When teaching, I will often point out that translation is an imperfect art. It is not uncommon for me to ask someone in the congregation to read a passage from the KJV, or read it myself (although I don’t preach with notes or a pulpit, and bringing another Bible up with me would look silly). At these times, I remind the congregation that translation is a community activity and we need to be connected with our heritage as well as with our contemporary culture.

I love the King James Version of the Bible, and I love it for a lot of reasons and I believe we can still learn a lot from it. It is, and should continue to be considered, the fount from which all English translations should flow. With modern technology at our fingertips, there is no reason why we can’t connect to that stream and use a version of the Bible people find readable.

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.