Tuesday, August 4, 2009

King James Onlyism Interview (Concluding points, part 4)

I've completed taking the stuff from Will Kinney's argument. You can read Part1 Part2 Part3 at these links. I will say that I did learn something important from the debate. It is essentially impossible to debate in favor of the "modern versions" vs. the KJVonly (MT/NA27 based) and maintain a belief in word for word inerrancy. 1 Samuel 13:1 is a perfect example from our conversation in the first part:
Even in the most conservative version around the ESV you drop the notion of word for word preservation:
Saul was . . .[a] years old when he began to reign, and he reigned . . . and two[b] years over Israel.
a. 1 Samuel 13:1 The number is lacking in Hebrew and Septuagint
b. 1 Samuel 13:1 Two may not be the entire number; something may have dropped out

Will gave another similar list:
The following short list is just a sampling of the divergent and confusing readings found among the contradictory modern bible versions. There are numerous other examples. Among these “details” are whether Jeremiah 27:1 reads Jehoiakim (Hebrew texts, RV,ASV, NKJV, KJB) or Zedekiah (NIV, NASB); whether 2 Samuel 21:8 reads Michal (Hebrew texts, KJB,NKJV, RV,ASV) or Merab (NIV,NASB), or 70 (NASB, NKJV, RV, ASV,KJB) being sent out by the Lord Jesus in Luke 10:1 or 72 (NIV), or the 7th day in Judges 14:15 (KJB, NKJV, RV, ASV) or the 4th day (NASB, NIV), or God smiting 50,070 men in 1 Samuel 6:19 (KJB, RV,ASV,NASB) or 70 men slain (NIV, RSV), or there being 30,000 chariots in 1 Samuel 13:5 (KJB, NKJV, RV, ASV, NASB, ESV) or only 3000 (NIV, & Holman), or 1 Samuel 13:1 reading - ONE/TWO years (NKJV, KJB, Geneva,Judaica Press Tanach), or 40/32 (NASB 1972-77) or 30/42 (NASB 1995, NIV), or _____years and.______and two years (RSV, ESV), or even “32 years old...reigned for 22 years” in the 1989 Revised English Bible!; 2 Samuel 15:7 “forty years” (Hebrew, Geneva, NKJV, NASB, RV) OR “four years” (NIV,RSV, ESV,NET), or whether both 2 Samuel 23:18 and 1 Chronicles 11:20 read THREE (Hebrew texts, RV, ASV, NKJV, NIV, NET, Holman or THIRTY from the Syriac NASB, RSV, ESV), or 2 Samuel 24:13 reading SEVEN years (Hebrew, ASV, NASB, NKJV) or THREE years (LXX, NIV, RSV, ESV) or the fine linen being the “righteousness” of saints or the fine linen being the “righteous acts” of the saints in Revelation 19:8, or where 2 Chronicles 36:9 reads that Jehoiachin was 8 years old when he began to reign (Hebrew texts, NASB, NKJV, RV,ASV,KJB, ESV) or he was 18 years old (NIV), or that when God raised the Lord Jesus from the dead it is stated in Acts 13:33 “this day have I begotten thee” (KJB, NASB, NKJV,RV, ESV) or “today I have become your Father” (NIV).
So then if you assume the scriptures were originally word for word inerrant and complete, I can't think of any way to argue for modern versions while maintaining a belief in word for word preservation, Will is correct here. You must have a more liberal definition of inerrancy, if you want your modern version to be inerrant. Thus if word for word preservation is true then some version must be authoritative. It is reasonable to suppose that if a preserved version exists it would be one of the more important versions in Christian history: Targum, Syriac, LXX, Vulgate, Old Church Slavonic, Geneva (German), King James, the Waldensians/Paterines/Cathar translations, Reina-Valera, Wulfila...

The LXX introduces the same multiplicity of versions as the MT/NA27 (for those readers interested in translation based on the LXX: NETS is considered best, and the apostolic interlinear seems quite useful). The Cathar bibles are lost. But some of the others do work, like the Vulgagte.

But at core the issue is really this for the English language speaking baptist they are confronted with a terrible dilemma. If the authoritative text are in another language then a class of experts is created undermining the meaningful priesthood of the believer in a sola scriptura environment. So instead a plausible but readable translation needs to be "God's word". In some sense the Protestant community faces a desire for:
  • sola scriptura
  • priesthood of the believer / perspicuity of scripture
  • historical accuracy
with the rules they may only pick 2. Throwing historical accuracy overboard may seem like the least harmful option, the most spiritually enlightened option.

What clarified this to me was by coincidence I was debating conservative Catholics at the same time I was editing these articles. For them the issue is did Christ found a historical church, if so does it still exist today, "the gates of hell will not prevail”.
  • There was a historic church founded by Jesus
  • This church has existed through the centuries as the primary Christian church
  • This church has remained perfectly faithful to the gospel, i.e. taught perfect faith and morals
Therefore the catholic church is the true church even today.

Again you run into the same problem. On almost any issue where you examine the churchs position over time you see substantial changes in its teachings with respect to faith and morals. If there was a historical church founded by Jesus it was James' church that was destroyed during the First Jewish Roman War (66-73); perhaps in keeping the John 4:20-4 Jesus did not want a distinguished church but wanted coequal congregations. But regardless. Christianity was far more diverse than just this one church in the first century and there was no single church of importance. The second through fifth centuries was where Christianity was pulled together from a broad based philosophical and spiritual movement into a single religion with a single governing body. Jesus did not found a historic church that survived, but Irenaeus, Ambrose, Tertullian, Constantine.... most certainly did. The Catholic church as we know it today was not the battle ground of the debates of the second through fifth century but rather the product of those battles. In the same way as the KJV is not the bible handed to the first century church by God but rather the outcome of a 16 century long process or redaction and modification.

But similar to the KJVonly case what are the alternatives?
  • Be unfaithful to history and support the Catholic myth?
  • Believe that some other church is the faithful remnant, the traditional Baptist position or the Mormon position.?
  • Or believe that god did not in fact provide a perfect church and man has to decide?
While Catholics have no fondness for the KJV, and KJV supporters no fondness for Catholics it was interesting coincidence that I ran into exactly the same dilemma back to back like that. I had originally gotten interested in KJVonlyism because of the connection to ESVonlyism. ESVonlyism is a brand identity "the Yankees are better than the Mets" sort of movement, it has no intellectual content just a bunch of fallacious advertising pap put out by Ryken and Grudem. KJVonlyism though clearly dying is a much more interesting idea.

As an aside my own opinion of the KJV is that it is a historical landmark. It works wonderfully as a liturgical bible for high church (formal) type activities. Nothing "sounds like the bible" as much as the KJV. In terms of poetic excellence it is hard to find a translation that is remotely close, Robert Alter frequently talks about how strong a job the KJV did on capturing the poetry of the OT. As a translation it is rather formal (a 4 on my scale) and so picks up the advantages and disadvantages of formal. The KJV translation is based on old lexicons so much less accurate even when translating from the textus receptus than something modern and formal like the NRSV. Finally of course, I consider the textus receptus a large drop in accuracy to the originals from the Nestle-Aland.


See also:

15 comments:

Will Kinney said...

Hi CD Host. I want to thank you for the invitation to discuss why I believe the King James Bible is the only true, preserved, complete and 100% true Holy Bible.

You have been very gracious and fair minded; far more so than many others I run into.

So, again I thank you and wish God's mercy and blessings on your life.

"I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living."
Psalm 27:13

Accepted in the Beloved - Eph. 1:6

Will Kinney

CD-Host said...

Glad you felt comfortable Will. I try and create a space where people can share ideas and express their views to others and that frankly is rare in the Christian community which far too often censors and misrepresents people they disagree with. I frequently am on the other side of that and it stinks.

This was a good interview series. I hope people got a clear view of the position and the alternatives.

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