Friday, July 4, 2008

A famine of hearing the word of the LORD (Pt. 6)

Update 7/30:

My position has now settled down to this:

Westcott and Hort pulled a flimflam with their new version, violating the trust committed to them, making thousands of corrections (36,000 if I recall correctly) that are mostly no help but a nuisance, selling the unwary church on a set of texts that history including the KJV translators had rejected as corrupt, and in general leaving a legacy of chaos and disorder in the churches. (They were not even true believers. Their letters reveal doubts about the most important tenets of the Christian faith. The texts they preferred were denounced as corrupt beyond belief by a colleague and contemporary of theirs, Dean Burgon. I want eventually to get some quotes up from him.)

It's not that the word of God is not in the new versions, but it's certainly true that it is truncated.


I haven't yet posted all the many comparisons that demonstrate this, but the differences are many.

It's also not that the KJV is perfect in itself, despite the insistence of a certain branch of the church -- it may have needed and still need some minor updating. But it certainly did not need what they did to it.


1. We don't need to answer all the objections to the KJV. It's not necessarily that the KJV doesn't need some corrections to make it more accessible to people today, but

  • as a practical matter it is not going to happen as it should -- under the authority of the true churches;
  • as a practical matter it isn't really all that hard for everybody to read it, especially if it is preached to them as well;
  • as a practical matter the changes that might really be necessary (as opposed to those that might be desired by any given person) are very very few;
  • so as a practical matter it IS the word of God and we would do well to throw out all the others and stick to it.

2. The vast preponderance of the changes made by Westcott and Hort in the translation itself, quite apart from changes based on a different set of Greek and Hebrew texts, are manifestly unnecessary. They clarify nothing, in fact they make the meaning less accessible in some cases (pinions over feathers???). Westcott and Hort violated a trust in making so many absolutely unnecessary changes, creating a dissonance in the reading of the word in churches that accept all the versions, and in general promoting chaos. The very fact that they did such a thing ought to make the new versions suspect.

3. As a practical matter, we need to have the same Bible. We need to have an authorized English Bible. We need to be able to memorize and quote it and have all the words match up with everybody else's version. It's a depressing situation that we don't have this.

4. Apart from the translational stupidities, the W&H preferred Greek and Hebrew texts are the inferior ones, not those that the KJV is based on. I know this is argued up one side and down the other, but the KJV translators were God-fearing men as well as men of the highest scholarship, and they weren't ignorant of the other textual lineages either. It wasn't as if those preferred by W&H were unknown, they had been rejected by the church down the centuries. They simply had some very old copies of those corrupted texts and argued that their mere age made them superior, although this is highly illogical reasoning. The age of any copied text shows only that that copy happened to survive the ravages of time, it says nothing at all about its superiority to other texts, and may in fact if anything speak to its inferiority. The fact that the preponderance of preserved copies and fragments are of the other type, the type on which the KJV was based, although they are not as old as W&H's, their very preponderance, I'm saying, make them far more likely to be the superior texts, as having been copied so frequently shows them to have been more acceptable to the church down the centuries.

The KJV translators knew what they were doing, they were highly learned scholars. Dean Burgon describes Westcott and Hort's knowledge of Greek as on the level of schoolboys, and their use of the English language as clumsy. Also, there were 47 who worked on the KJV and they consulted one another, while Westcott and Hort were a party of two who did not even believe in the basics of Christianity. WHY OH WHY OH WHY do we allow their false productions to proliferate and corrupt the churches????

The basic rejoinder to the anti-new versions position is that the KJV has errors of its own.

Before getting into that dispute, and I may not be able to go far with it myself though I know I can find references to post instead, I want to reemphasize the points I've been trying to make so far.

First of all, it has to be remembered that the KJV was THE Bible for over 200 years before they set about revising it in the 19th century. It was the standard. It is still the standard. The revisers were not to alter it beyond the absolute minimum required to bring some of its language up to date.

However, in revising it, Westcott and Hort violated a trust by introducing new texts, and made changes that couldn't possibly be defended as compelling although they had agreed to make no other kind, and that in fact the changes they made are so frequently of such a mindlessly trivial sort (which I believe is shown in the first few verses of Psalm 91 alone) that the authority that appointed them should have thrown it all out. You have to keep in mind that the KJB was first, it was there, it was God's holy word and those who set about changing it behaved with an appalling cavalierness to take the breath away.

Now, after all that, and after dozens of newer versions spawned from that original profane assault on the word of God, all following in its footsteps, even vying with each other to come up with more and more absurd alterations, the argument forwarded in FAVOR of it all is that the KJV was flawed and that Westcott and Hort's manuscripts were superior, so that the readings in the new versions -- or some of them, they are not all the same so who knows which are right? -- are superior.

We're supposed to forget that a couple of liars and thieves put the whole thing in motion and nevertheless accept that they were right to do so because supposedly they had the superior manuscripts to work from.

I'm not going to get into this right now. It's beyond my knowledge for starters, but I do know that most of the argument rests on the greater age of the manuscripts used by Westcott and Hort (not that they needed manuscripts at all, since most of their changes appear to be simply whimsical changes in translation of the SAME manuscript texts). Where the KJV people argue that their texts have left out much of the word of God, they counter that apparently the texts underlying the KJV, on the contrary, added in what was not originally there, pointing to these earlier manuscripts as evidence.

It's amazing how many fall for this earlier-manuscripts = superior manuscripts argument. The fact that they survived so long might just as well be evidence that they were not much used, while manuscripts that are preserved in the thousands from later times are those that the church recognized as authentic. There ARE differences in the manuscripts. Should we trust that the eminently qualified KJV translators knew of all the differences and knew which were most reliable, or should we trust those two of inferior qualifications and proven bad character who then came along, violated a sacred trust, instead of clarifying the Bible actually mutilated it, and who are somehow now considered to be justified by the claim that their texts were superior?

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