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 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.

Coffee With Sam: What’s the Big Deal about the KJV?

A new website has launched called BigDealKJV.com, in which (according to the video creator) 8-10 video episodes will eventually be published. In this first episode, KJVO advocate Sam Gipp sits down over coffee with a student to explain to his confused mind why the KJV is the final authority.

In this well-produced short video, Gipp offers many of the same arguments and presuppositions posited by KJV advocates. While Gipp has said things that place him in the Ruckmanite category, he comes off here as a humble and wise professor seeking to take the complex issue of biblical transmission and make it fit into a simple construct with contemporary analogies. Here are some arguments given:

1. The Bible(s) we have today have to be exactly the same as that given by inspiration in order to be authoritative. 

Gipp makes this point in the very beginning when he declares the Bible to be the final authority in all matters of faith and practice, and then clarifies that he’s “not talking about an imaginary book” but “a book that I’m holding in my hand right now.”  He proceeds to point to the Bible in his hand as the final authority.

This idea has been propagated in numerous ways across the spectrum of King James Onlyism. What this concept does is it provides a basis to later declare all modern versions as less than authoritative because they do not all equally match each other. The KJVO advocate may deny it, but if he uses this argumentation, he really is looking for a photocopy of the originals, albeit in English.

2. There are only two Bibles, the Egyptian and the Antiochan.

Over coffee, Gipp tells his suspicious catechumen that despite the hundreds of Bible translations in the bookstores, all Bibles come from just one of two lines of manuscripts: those that come from Alexandria, Egypt, and those that come from Antioch in Syria. From this simplistic categorization of text types, Gipp then uses the guilt-by-association tactic to prove the superiority of the KJV because of its affiliation with Antiochian manuscripts.

Never mind that the Bible provides no precedent to use a distinction between Egypt and Antioch for a basis of judging translations, or that the Son of God was called out of Egypt, or that Athanasius, the champion of trinitarian orthodoxy, came from Alexandria. Because the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch and Egypt is generally spoken of negatively in the scriptures, the issue is presented very matter-of-fact by Gipp that the KJV descends from the Antiochian line, and is therefore superior.

3. The Textus Receptus is the Antiochian line of manuscripts

Gipp says the TR “is the Greek that comes out of Antioch.” So, the line of reasoning is as follows: Inspiration in Antioch > copies and publishing in Antioch > Textus Receptus > KJV.

Unfortunately for Gipp’s argumentation, the transmission of the text is not that simple.

4. The Critical Text is bad because it’s called the Critical Text

I chuckled at the statement, “Just the fact that it’s ‘critical’ should tell you there’s a problem.” All the while he’s promoting the TR, which is a Greek text. A text, by its very nature, is critical. Variant readings from manuscripts have to be compared in order to produce a finished product. In this way, Erasmus’ TR editions are critical, although worked from far fewer manuscripts and with less of a science of textual criticism.

5. Modern translations cannot help a Christian grow in the same way the KJV can.

Thankfully, Gipp admits that people can come to the knowledge of the gospel and be saved through reading versions other than the KJV. However, only the KJV is incorruptible, and corrupt modern versions are not appropriate for the Christian’s growth. No evidence is given here, but at this point, the episode is coming to a close, so I suspect we’ll get more details in the future.

The Comma Johanneum: A Critical Evaluation of the Text of 1 John 5.7-8 by C.L. Bolt

This article isn’t brand new, but I believe it is a worthwhile contribution to our blog. I came across this essay as its author, C.L. Bolt, and I interacted on a mutual friend’s comment thread on Facebook. Mr. Bolt was happy to have me re-post it here. Be sure to check out his website, Choosing Hats, an excellent resource of presuppositional apologetics.

The Comma Johanneum: A Critical Evaluation of the Text of 1 John 5.7-8

by C.L. BOLT on DECEMBER 31, 2010

The Comma Johanneum as a Textual Problem

Introduction

The phrase “Comma Johanneum” is the name given to a short clause of a sentence found in 1 John 5.7-8 which has become a famous problem in textual criticism. The word “comma” as it is used here just means a short clause of a sentence and “Johanneum” refers to the writings of the Apostle John.[i] The phrase “Comma Johanneum” thus refers to a short clause of a sentence (comma) which has some relevance to the writings of John (Johanneum). The Comma Johanneum can be found in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible.

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 1 John 5:7-8 (KJV)[ii]

Continue reading

“The Superiority of the Majority Text” by Brian Schwertley

Recently, a reader sent me a link to the following lecture by Presbyterian pastor Brain Schwertley. It was forwarded to me under the heading of “Challenging Sermon from a TR-only Perspective.” I appreciate that forward; it gives us something to talk about. In listening to the sermon, I found it to be wanting: he used typical arguments, he confused terminology, and he does not answer each objections as well as he says he does. On the positive note, I found it refreshing to hear a sermon from a TR supporter that is not full of conspiracy theories and ad-hominem attack. Granted, he isn’t thrilled with those who support modern versions, but his passion seems sincere. What do you think?

Link to Sermon

Where Do We Stand?

Last week’s post generated plenty of conversation. I hope to highlight one of the points brought to light in a future post; namely, I will post on Tischendorf’s discovery of Sinaiticus and how the story is portrayed in the KJVO debate on all sides.

What got me thinking, though, is more along the lines of our personal backgrounds. I realize some of our regular guests have shared their own story, but I’m not sure that I even know where everyone stands on the issue. I see we have folks who regularly comment in support of the TR or MT but are not necessarily KJVO. We have others who are very critical of the CT but again, not KJVO. Then we have some who are indeed KJVO. I am also very interested in your theological leanings, as we’ve had people here who are not Christian at all. It helps to know who we’re talking to.

I’m wondering if those of you who regularly comment here (or who have in the past) would mind providing a little theological background and insight into your current thoughts on the Bible version issue. My fellow contributors are welcome to chime in as always. Even though we’ve given short bios on the authors page, and even though we all come from the IFB KJVO position, we have not all given our full position on this topic and I’m sure we even differ among ourselves.

To keep the commentary to the point, would you please follow these guidelines and answer these questions:

Guidelines: Please keep it brief yet specific. Please refrain from replying to a comment unless it addresses a specific point made (perhaps for an elaboration or clarification rather than an argument).

Questions:

1. What kind of church do you attend, if any?
2. What is your role in ministry, if any?
3. Has your position on the Bible version issue changed? If so, how?
4. How would you describe your current perspective on the TR, MT, and CT?
5. How important is this issue to you and how significant is it to your theology as a whole? (for example, do you practice separation if someone does not agree, etc)
6. What English Bibles do you recommend and use?
7. What resources have helped you, and which would you urge people to stay away from?
8. Finally, to keep things friendly, share with us what your favorite food is.

The above do not necessarily all have to be answered, or answered in order, but if you could frame your comments around these topics that would help us keep things clear and concise.

James White vs. Will Kinney

Will Kinney may not be a household name, but  those who have debated the King James Only issue on the Internet are very likely to have come across Kinney’s articles one way or another. I have personally exchanged arguments with him in the past. I do think he has a better handle of some of the issues than many drive-by commentators on the web (so much so that on a message board, a bunch of folks I’ve debated could not respond to my arguments so one member of the message board threatened to “get Will Kinney over here” to refute me, and the exchange began), but he does not hold back from the typical ad-hominem attacks of many extreme KJV Onlysists. His tone unfortunately takes away from the force of any of his legitimate arguments.

Anyway, in typical KJVO fashion, Kinney has gone on the attack against James White (who has possibly been attacked more by fellow Christians holding to the KJVO view than he has by Muslims and atheists) complete with insults and wide-eyed accusations. One video in which he does this is here, and you can follow related links to others:

On a recent episode of the Dividing Line, White responds to some charges:

Will Kinney calls into the program about 15 minutes in, and the two argue for about 12 minutes. The exchange is rather annoying, as both men are talking past each other and basically saying, “No, you answer the question” back and forth. Kinney is bold; James white is bold. Kinney is on the attack and White does not seem as though he will let these insults fly without response. Knowing Kinney’s pattern, he will not let this go. So unless James White, out of frustration, decides not to pursue the matter any further, I would expect a drawn-out back-and-forth over the next few weeks or so.