I recently had a letter from a Salvation Army pastor, a Major Graham, about the KJO issue. Let me just say that I know Major Graham (hereafter referred to as “Pastor G”) as a sincere, born-again child of God. Unfortunately being sincere doesn’t always mean one is right. He was responding to a letter wherein I highlighted some problems we have with the ESV (although one finds similar problems in all the modern Bible translations). Since many hold to similar anti KJO arguments I wish to respond publicly. To make reading easier I shall put what I originally said in blue, pastor G response in black and my response to him in red.
SCHOLARSHIP OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS
He refers to the ESV, and says “I’m sure you are aware of the high level of scholarship that goes into such a translation. Perhaps I am unique in that I enjoy reading the preface in Bibles so I get a sense of how it was all put together and by whom. I have also read and listened to Bill Mounce on many occasions and have always been impressed by his humility, his genuine faith, his translation skills, his fluency in Biblical Greek, and most of all his ability to make complex concepts easy to understand (the hallmark of a good teacher). He served on the chair of the ESV translation committee and serves on the NIV translation board. I highly recommend his books and lectures.”
Now of course my reply is that of course a high level of scholarship goes into a Bible translation, but scholarship based on which text; The Traditional Text or the Alexandrian Text? If you used the Gnostic-infested Alexandrian text, you will be able to change scripture all the time, as it “evolves” according to human experience (to use the term of some modern Bible translators). This creates a great open door for textual critics to spend thousands of hours to pull apart God’s Word. Secondly, one’s humility, genuine faith and other good qualities does not automatically mean one cannot be deceived by Satan to interpret scripture wrongly. Catholic-backed Alexandrian text criticism is so widely practiced that it is often hard to dare to oppose it, even though logic clearly shows the absurdity of using about 45 manuscripts that all differ in some way from each other, versus using the 5200+ manuscripts (upon which the KJB is based), that all support each other.
SODOMITES OR SHRINE PROSTITUTES
I originally referred to HOMOSEXUALITY- (look up the meaning of ‘sodomy’ at www.dictionary.com- anal sex, oral sex, bestiality and same-sex copulation). Where the King James Bible refers to ‘sodomites’ (1 Kings 14:24; 15:12; 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7) the ESV refers to “prostitutes”. So our gay colleagues would say ‘we are gay but we are not prostitutes; we are in a loving, caring relationship” and so the Bible [such as the ESV] is not against homosexuality!’
Pastor G said “ When translators select the appropriate English word (from the Hebrew or Greek) they generally hold the entire Semantic Range in view. Then, by studying the context, and the usage of that same word in other texts, they make an informed decision. This decision is also influenced by the goals and target-readership of the particular translation. (Eg: If the translation is intended for those with limited English vocabulary many possible words are excluded).”
This is only true for translations where the Dynamic Equivalence (DE) translation method is used. The KJB used the Literal (Word-for-Word) translation method. The danger of the DE method is of course that it is very subjective, instead of objective. The translator’s views can easily affect the translation. The work of homosexuals Dr Marten Woudstra and Virginia Mollenkott in the NIV illustrates this.
‘So, in 1 Kings 14:24 (your first example) the KJB uses the word ‘sodomites’, the ESV uses ‘male cult prostitutes’ and the NIV uses ‘shrine prostitutes’. Firstly you stated that the ESV uses ‘prostitutes’ which is somewhat misleading because a cult prostitute is more specific than that, BUT is within the semantic range of the original Hebrew word.
Only if one looks at the Hebrew as per the corrupt Alexandrian sources- NOT so as per the Traditional (Antioch) Text. Secondly: The team of translators, all of whom are very familiar with the original language had to decide which term best fits the context. In other words – what the the original author had in mind in this sentence? In the majority of versions the consensus is that terms similar to those used in the ESV convey the original meaning best.”
Because the majority of versions use the corrupted Alexandrian text! “…broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction” Matt 7:13
“The NKJV uses the broader term ‘perverted persons’, playing it safe, I suppose. The King James 2000 Version uses ‘cult prostitutes’. So to insist that ‘sodomites’ is the best or only possible rendering seems rather presumptuous to me.”
It is the only rendering used in the Traditional text.
“You suggest that gay people could point to this verse in the ESV and somehow conclude that since they are not prostitutes, the Bible doesn’t teach that homosexual activity is sinful. I think that’s a red-herring since it would be a simple matter to read the passage to such a person, showing them the context, and then take them to more appropriate and helpful passages.”
There are no other passages that directly condemns homosexuality. Or does Pastor G mean that homosexuality is not a sin and they should be “helped” by ignoring their lifestyles? In fact I know of at least four congregants of his small congregation (corps) (one his senior officer) who is or was lesbian or gay, which will explain why he has this seemingly “soft” attitude on homosexuality.
Pastor G commented that many English words have changed since the KJV was written in 1611, so that updated language may be helpful to modern readers. The King James language is NOT hard to understand. Most of the so-called “archaic” words are explained by the context of the passage or by comparing the passage with other passages in the Bible where the same word is used. There is in any event a booklet out called “The KJB Companion” (David W Daniels) that defines over 600 archaic words. Many archaic words also exist in modern translations, by the way. See for example http://www.av1611.org/kjv/vanceniv.html) But heady and high-minded people resent the King James language because it is plain and simple, and it isn’t in tune with their high-minded vocabulary. In fact, the Grade Level Indicator of the Flesch-Kincaid research company says the King James language is EASIER to understand than the new versions. It was also proven that since the KJB’s language is more poetic, children memorize it easier than modern versions. We certainly agree however that the language of the King James Bible is a unique language, but why shouldn’t it be? It’s the WORD OF GOD!
ORIGINAL AUTOGRAPHS OR TRANSLATION INSPIRED?
Pastor G said “I think you’d agree that it’s the original autographs that were inspired by the Holy Spirit – not the manuscripts (copies) nor any particular English translation.”
Firstly, no-on has the original autographs. But God promised to preserve His Word. Remember even the writers of the originals were sinful men. Yet God made the words they wrote infallible. The King James translators were only INSTRUMENTS of preservation (which is exactly what they called themselves in the Dedicatory to the A.V. 1611). God has always been the Divine Preserver of His word (Psa. 12:6-7), but He has used men as tools and instruments of preservation, just as He uses men to teach and preach His words. When men humbly yield themselves to the will of God, God can use them to accomplish His will (Rom. 12:1-2), and this is precisely what happened between 1604 and 1611.
“It’s due to the many manuscripts that are available, none of which agree with each other 100%
True, since they are ultimately based on the +-45 corrupt Alexandrian manuscripts. The KJB is however based on more than 5200 Traditional manuscripts, that all manifestly correspond with each other.
“… that good textual criticism (the science of analysing the copies available) is needed and due respect must be given to experts in this field.”
Respect is given to those who with a good conscience and upright heart search for the truth, not to those who blindly follow the popular Catholic-driven option.
REVISIONS OR EDITS OF THE KJB?
Pastor G: “When you pick up a KJB today it is not exactly the same as the 1611 edition. Some folks believe that the King James Bible has perfectly preserved the Scriptures for all time. If this were the case there would have been no need for further edits. The KJV Bible we use today is based primarily on the revision completed in 1769, some 158 years after the first edition.”
The so-called “revisions” of the KJB prior to 1800 were to correct typographical errors, add notes and omit the Apocrypha from between the Testaments. There were no changes in the actual TEXT of the KJB whatsoever. The real changes (over 36,000) of them didn’t start until the modern revisionists came on the scene.
APOCRYPHA IN THE BIBLE
Pastor G: “It’s also worth noting that the original 1611 KJV contained the Apocrypha. Protestant Christians do not regard the apocrypha as inspired by God. The 1666 edition was the first edition of the KJB that did not include these writings, which are not included in the Canon of Scripture. I understand that KJV-Only proponents would argue that the compilers of the KJB did not view the Apocrypha as God’s Word but merely included it as historical writing but I cannot see any reason why they would include them in the middle of the Bible – if they thought they were not part of the Bible. It just makes no sense to me.”
First, the Church of England commanded the KJB to include the Apocryphal books. They posted an official notice that printing a KJB without the Apocrypha would result in a year’s imprisonment. In the days in which the KJB was translated, the Apocrypha was accepted reading based on its historical value, though not accepted as Scripture by anyone outside of the Catholic church. The King James translators therefore carefully placed it between the Old and New Testaments for its historical benefit to its readers and to avoid imprisonment. They did not integrate it into the Old Testament text as do the corrupt Alexandrian manuscripts. That they rejected the Apocrypha as divine is very obvious by the seven reasons which they gave for not incorporating it into the text. They are as follows:
1. Not one of them is in the Hebrew language, which was alone used by the inspired historians and poets of the Old Testament.
2. Not one of the writers lays any claim to inspiration.
3. These books were never acknowledged as sacred Scriptures by the Jewish Church, and therefore were never sanctioned by our Lord.
4. They were not allowed a place among the sacred books, during the first four centuries of the Christian Church.
5. They contain fabulous statements, and statements which contradict not only the canonical Scriptures, but themselves; as when, in the two Books of Maccabees, Antiochus Epiphanes is made to die three different deaths in as many different places.
6. It inculcates doctrines at variance with the Bible, such as prayers for the dead and sinless perfection.
7. It teaches immoral practices, such as lying, suicide, assassination and magical incantation.
Each page was clearly labeled “Aprocrypha”. The last page of II Macabees, in the 1611 King James reads “End of Apocrypha.” If having the Apocrypha between the Testaments disqualifies it as authoritative, then the corrupt Vaticanus (obviously originating from the Vatican) and Sinaiticus (now proven fake) manuscripts from Alexandria, Egypt must be totally worthless since their authors obviously didn’t have the conviction of the King James translators and incorporated its books into the text of the Old Testament thus giving it authority with Scripture. And all the modern versions are based on the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.
POLITICAL MOTIVES TO WRITE THE KJB
Pastor G: “King James (who authorized its publication) hoped the KJB would hold together the opposing factions of the Church of England and the Puritans, which threatened to tear the country apart. Most of the translators were clergymen belonging to the Church of England. King James issued over a dozen rules that the translators had to follow. He disliked the Geneva Bible, the Bible used by the Puritans, because he believed that some of the commentary in the margin notes did not show enough respect for kings. King James favoured the hierarchical structure of the Church of England and wanted this new translation to keep words that supported a bishop led hierarchy. For example, he would not allow the word for ‘church’ to be translated ‘congregation’ even when the context made it the better option. King James also ruled that only his new Bible could be read in England’s churches. The political motives of King James had a direct, negative influence on the translation of the KJB. Again, these factors cast doubt on its reliability, although I still believe it to be a relatively good, useful and beautiful translation which has unquestionably had a huge, positive impact on the English-speaking world.”
If King James had political motives it makes no difference to the accuracy of the KJB. He had no part whatsoever in the actual translation. God brought together 54 of the finest Bible translators English has ever known, to translate the KJB. For 20 years researcher Alexander McClure pored over records to learn all he could about who translated the KJB and why. His resulting book “Translators Revived: A Biographical Memoir of the Authors of the English Version of the Holy Bible” stands as monument to these brilliant dedicated Christian scholars. They had to strictly follow 15 Rules as guidance. In all, every single verse in the Bible was carefully examined and decided upon a total of 14 times, by as many as 50 or more people! This made it impossible for one translator to impose his personal viewpoint on a passage (which is the big danger of the modern “Dynamic Equivalent” translation method)
ONLY BEGOTTEN SON
I said : Another example is ISLAM. Muslims scholars say they disagree with the King James Bible that calls Jesus the BEGOTTEN Son of God since “Allah had no son”.(remember John 3: 16 ‘for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…’). However, they don’t have a problem with Bibles (such as the ESV) that refer to Jesus simply as the “son of God” (John 1:18; 3:16; 3:18; 1 John 4:9) since in a sense we are all sons of God- Adam, Mohammed, you, Jesus. Thus they say that the ESV and other modern Bibles do not pose a threat to Islam, or much less of a threat than the KJB.
Pastor G’s response: “I agree that the loss of the word only BEGOTTEN Son is a pity. Personally I still use it and then offer an explanation. Without explanation, someone who is new to the Bible could misunderstand and think that Jesus was a created being. So Bible translators have to weigh up in their minds, which wording will convey the intended truth best. I suppose in a so-called Word-for-Word translation this might be a little easier but in a Thought-for-Thought translation the translators have much to take into account. For example the NIRV puts John 3:16 like this: ‘God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life’.”
This is a red herring. The issue was that Islam does not find modern Bibles (much of ) a threat, it is only the KJB that poses a threat. Could that be because only the KJB contains the absolute truth??
“If you keep in mind that the target audience of this translation is children an/or those who use English as a second or third language, then I really think the translators did a great job.”
See what I said above about OUTDATED LANGUAGE.
WHO KILLED GOLIATH?
I said: THE ESV LIES AND CONTRADICTS ITSELF. Example: 2 Sam 21:19 Elhanan killed Goliath (not David). 1 Chron 20:5 Elhanan killed the brother of Goliath (in the same battle). So did Elhanan kill both Goliath and the brother of Goliath? Or did David kill Goliath? I t doesn’t say so here!
Pastor G: “I agree with you! The ESV got this one wrong. However the error appears to be a copyist error and can be adequately explained by our textual critics…Suffice to say the ESV footnotes do point the reader to 1 Chronicles 20:5 and add: “Which may preserve the original reading”.”
It is important to remember that footnotes do not make the translation; footnotes are not inspired and are not part of God’s words. One may easily read over a portion anyway without noticing, or bothering to read, a footnote.
I said: THE ESV LEAVES OUT IMPORTANT VERSES THAT ARE FOUND IN THE KJB Example:
Matthew 12:47 ‘Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.’
Pastor G: “Yes the ESV omits this verse, but then inserts a footnote saying that “some manuscripts insert…. and they include verse 47 in full. There are 2 possibilities here…”
First, read what I said above about footnotes. Past G then refers to Lincoln Blumell and his interpretation of why this omission. In essence Blumell states that the scribe of Matthew 12 inadvertently omitted it. So we who believe that God promised He would preserve his Word must believe that a verse in the Bible was accidently left out! If true it shows the poor quality of academic excellence that was applied (whether in the original Gnostic manuscripts or the modern translations) versus that of the KJB, where, as indicated, we had 14 confirmations by up to 50 people of every verse of God’s words.
Pastor G:”.. at other verses he [Blumell] explain why it’s more probable that a verse or phrase wasn’t part of the original autograph and so the omission is accurate.”
And so Satan makes us doubt- by giving us the “did God really say” bit. For who then really knows? Believing one particular Bible version as God’s words bring comfort and certainty. Believing in the modern versions that disagree with each other brings confusion and doubt- it cannot give me faith for I am not sure whether this is REALLY what God said. What if they find “new evidence” or evolving evidence tomorrow that contradicts what I believed today?
In David W Daniels’ brilliant book “Why They Changed The Bible” we see how the Catholic church infiltrated every aspect of the Protestant Church, with the end result a one world Bible for one world religion. One cannot change the Bible overnight to be acceptable to all religions, it will obviously be rejected. For this reason our cunning enemy Satan planned to have it changed bit by bit, slowly, until eventually it reaches this goal. Every time a new Bible translation is written a certain percentage of all other versions must be changed so not to breach copyright on these older versions. As such the Bible translations drifts slowly but surely away from the originals.
But thank God He preserved His Words!