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.

Justifying the Means of a Version’s Rise to Popularity

Another King James Only Double Standard?

Over a month ago, Erik posed the question: Does King James Onlyism come out of imperialism? over at the Fundamentally Changed blog. The discussion spilled out onto this site as well. My answer to that specific question was, “no.” I do not believe King James Onlyism is a result of imperialism. I have never found imperialistic tendencies within the arguments I’ve read supporting the KJVO position. However, I do believe that imperialism was a factor contributing to the rise of the King James Version (check out the links for the discussion).

Apparently, so did others. Even those who support the KJVO view chimed in at the comments section to give a nod to the idea that English imperialism aided the King James Version’s rise to prominence. Of course, none tried to justify the abuses of the imperialistic system nor everything that ensued during the height of the British Empire. However, the use of imperialism to spread the gospel, the Bible (particularly the KJV), and the modern missions movement was seen as a justifiable mean on the basis of the fact that God providentially used this situation for the furtherance of His cause.

Here’s what some of our King James Only commentators said about this:

Erik’s puerile argument could be easily turned on him as the Critical Text view was propogated at the zenith of the British Empire by the Anglican Establishment, I would not be so crass as to couple this incidental fact with the rise of imperialism. If anything, the RSV is tainted more with imperialism as it is the translation propagated by the imperialists. – PS Furgeson

If we believe that God is in charge and that history unfolds according to His sovereign will, then we are happy to see several points.
1. The Bible had an important place in English History: Alfred, Wycliffe, Tyndale, KJV.
2. God blessed England: the sinking of the Spanish Armada in 1588, the spread of British culture all over the world in the 18th and 19th centuries, which included the spread of the Bible.
3. The Bible spread to all the British colonies.
4. The Bible was preached to the world by British and American missionaries: China, India, and Africa.
5. The Sovereign God providentially used Great Britain to spread His Word all over the world—Praise the Lord!
6. We recognize God’s sovereignty, we see His providence, and we see that the King James Version was the Bible of this people. – Kent Brandenburg

In 1611 the English language was spoken by a mere 3% of the world’s population, but today English has become the closest thing to a universal language in history. He used the King James Bible to carry His words to the far ends of the earth, where it was translated into hundreds of languages by English and American missionaries for over 300 years. The sun never set on the British empire. It was even taken to space by American astronauts and read from there. God knew He would use England, its language and the King James Bible to accomplish all these things long before they happened. It is the only Bible God has providentially used in this way. It is the only Bible believed by thousands upon thousands of believers to be the inspired, infallible and 100% true words of God. – Will Kinney

I for one certainly recognise the perfection of the KJB and the greatness of the British Empire, and see a link between the two; I certainly argue for English to be used in missionary work and for people everywhere to eventually use the KJB; I certainly argue for a national view which is based on the KJB. However, I probably would not accept descriptions of my view as put forward by those who are not for it. – Bibleprotector

I interpret this as saying the English speaking people are not more specially important in the history and development of Christianity in the civilised world than any other language group. But, hasn’t the great modern push for cross-cultural evangelism since William Carey been largely born by the English-speaking peoples, as they took the Gospel (and the KJV as an integral part of that) to every corner of the globe, in the wake of English imperial ‘conquests’ ? – Edwin Clive

Now, I agree. History certainly is His Story. God is in sovereign control, and He uses all sorts of means to accomplish His ends. Of this there is no doubt. But the double standard that I see is this: how can we allow ourselves to think that God providentially uses some historical circumstances for good, when those circumstances involve evil, but not allow the same in other situations? I’m referring to the rise of Bible versions. The King James Onlyist is basically saying, “Yes, imperialism, and all its ills, were used of God for the rise of the King James Version.” But then he turns around and says, “(The means by which) the modern versions rose to popularity are evil, and therefore the modern versions are evil.”

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Ecclesiastical Text Theory — Refuted?

The Evangelical Textual Criticism blog pointed my attention to a lengthy article by Adam at the Old Testament Studies blog which refutes  the “Ecclesiastical Text theory”.  The article covers quite a bit of ground as it attempts to refute a recent article by Kent Brandenburg on the LXX argument.  Adam interacts with the Scriptural evidence for preservation, and shows how a proper exegesis does of them does not demand the preservation of a word-perfect, accessible text.  Adam then discusses targumming, the LXX, and gets into some OT textual criticism.

I recommend the article as a good reference for discussion.  The question remains, did he really refute the Ecclesiastical Text theory?  For additional discussion here, perhaps we should switch from calling a reasoned, Greek studying, KJV-onlyism, TR-onlyism and instead call it the “Ecclesiastical Text theroy”.  I think that might be preferred by people of that persuasion, what do you think?

Thanks go out too, to the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog for linking to our little blogging establishment again in their post about Adam’s article.

The King James Translators & the Septuagint (LXX)

It seems this has been a recurring theme on our blog of late, but discussions here and elsewhere have been focusing in on this point: Did Jesus and the Apostles use the Septuagint in their ministries and in quoting from the Old Testament? I was recently reminded that the translators of the King James Bible, themselves would answer “yes”. See their words below from “The Translators to the Reader“.

While God would be known only in Jacob, and have his Name great in Israel, and in none other place, while the dew lay on Gideon’s fleece only, and all the earth besides was dry; then for one and the same people, which spake all of them the language of Canaan, that is, Hebrew, one and the same original in Hebrew was sufficient. But, when the fulness of time drew near, that the Sun of righteousness, the Son of God should come into the world, whom God ordained to be a reconciliation through faith in his blood, not of the Jew only, but also of the Greek, yea, of all them that were scattered abroad; then lo, it pleased the Lord to stir up the spirit of a Greek Prince (Greek for descent and language) even of Ptolemy Philadelph King of Egypt, to procure the translating of the Book of God out of Hebrew into Greek. This is the translation of the Seventy Interpreters, commonly so called, which prepared the way for our Saviour among the Gentiles by written preaching, as Saint John Baptist did among the Jews by vocal. For the Grecians being desirous of learning, were not wont to suffer books of worth to lie moulding in Kings’ libraries, but had many of their servants, ready scribes, to copy them out, and so they were dispersed and made common. Again, the Greek tongue was well known and made familiar to most inhabitants in Asia, by reason of the conquest that there the Grecians had made, as also by the Colonies, which thither they had sent. For the same causes also it was well understood in many places of Europe, yea, and of Africa too. Therefore the word of God being set forth in Greek, becometh hereby like a candle set upon a candlestick, which giveth light to all that are in the house, or like a proclamation sounded forth in the market place, which most men presently take knowledge of; and therefore that language was fittest to contain the Scriptures, both for the first Preachers of the Gospel to appeal unto for witness, and for the learners also of those times to make search and trial by. It is certain, that that Translation was not so sound and so perfect, but that it needed in many places correction; and who had been so sufficient for this work as the Apostles or Apostolic men? Yet it seemed good to the holy Ghost and to them, to take that which they found, (the same being for the greatest part true and sufficient) rather than by making a new, in that new world and green age of the Church, to expose themselves to many exceptions and cavillations, as though they made a Translation to serve their own turn, and therefore bearing witness to themselves, their witness not to be regarded. This may be supposed to be some cause, why the Translation of the Seventy was allowed to pass for current. Notwithstanding, though it was commended generally, yet it did not fully content the learned, no not of the Jews. For not long after Christ, Aquila fell in hand with a new Translation, and after him Theodotion, and after him Symmachus; yea, there was a fifth and a sixth edition, the Authors whereof were not known. These with the Seventy made up the Hexapla and were worthily and to great purpose compiled together by Origen. Howbeit the Edition of the Seventy went away with the credit, and therefore not only was placed in the midst by Origen (for the worth and excellency thereof above the rest, as Epiphanius gathered) but also was used by the Greek fathers for the ground and foundation of their Commentaries. Yea, Epiphanius above named doth attribute so much unto it, that he holdeth the Authors thereof not only for Interpreters, but also for Prophets in some respect; and Justinian the Emperor enjoining the Jews his subjects to use especially the Translation of the Seventy, rendereth this reason thereof, because they were as it were enlightened with prophetical grace. Yet for all that, as the Egyptians are said of the Prophet to be men and not God, and their horses flesh and not spirit [Isa 31:3]; so it is evident, (and Saint Jerome affirmeth as much) that the Seventy were Interpreters, they were not Prophets; they did many things well, as learned men; but yet as men they stumbled and fell, one while through oversight, another while through ignorance, yea, sometimes they may be noted to add to the Original, and sometimes to take from it; which made the Apostles to leave them many times, when they left the Hebrew, and to deliver the sense thereof according to the truth of the word, as the spirit gave them utterance. This may suffice touching the Greek Translations of the Old Testament.

So we have a clear admission by orthodox Protestant scholars of the early seventeenth Century, that the LXX was used by Christ and the apostles. Subsequent scholarship has given additional insights into this, and confirms the notion that Greek translations of the Old Testament books were often used by the Apostles and quoted from in the New Testament. For more evidence on this point, see this comparison of NT quotes and the LXX vs. the Hebrew. See also this Trinitarian Bible Society (which incidentally only publishes the KJV for its English Bible) article on the value of the Septuagint [HT: Pavlos].