Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Side Issues to be avoided in the KJV controversy (Did Dr. Wilkins really lose his voice or not?)

Scott Johnson is continuing the study of the Bible Versions problem, now getting into a general defense of the King James. He's collected most of the information I'd discovered myself in my own researches, which I'm not getting posted here as I'd hoped to do, so his talks are a good resource for me to link. A lot of it is in his PDF document which is linked at the button just below the Play button. (It's the same document for all his talks on this subject). http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=8110820493110

In this study he quotes mainly from one text, James Melton's Fighting Back, an online book which can also easily be found by googling it. (If the music is distracting to you, it's also available here). Melton makes it clear that he is not arguing the case but only presenting the main points of the KJVO position. Johnson simply reads it and does not check his facts independently, so it remains for that to be done.

I want to consider just one minor incident here, that Johnson brings up at the very beginning of today's talks, that I think unfortunately demonstrates how the real issues in the KJV debate get lost in side issues and misrepresentations and misunderstandings. This concerns an incident that occurred back in 1995 on a John Ankerberg Show discussion of the KJV-only controversy. Johnson reads a rather famous article describing this alleged incident, that is widely published on the internet, titled Bible Scholar Loses Voice on the John Ankerberg Show. This was written by Texe Marrs, a fervent KJV-only advocate, though few of the sites that publish it attribute it to him.

(Various sites where it is published:

The Marrs/KJV-only account is that one of the new version translators on the show, Dr. Wilkins, translator of the NASB, actually completely lost his voice, at least for a short period of time, ironically when attempting to answer a question about the very claim that many new version translators had lost their voices, demonstrating that this is what happens to people who tamper with God's word.

I haven't researched this claim enough to have a judgment of my own about it. I did, however, do a little google-tracking of the brouhaha around the Ankerberg Show event and the first thing I found was an exchange of videos on You Tube between someone named Calcium Boy and Dr. James White, well known defender of the new versions. The first episode I ran across was one of Dr. White's answers to Calcium Boy: http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=kExSnDDxzyU&feature=user

Calcium Boy had called Dr. Sam Gipp, who was one of the KJVO panel on that same John Ankerberg Show, to make him aware of a video recently offered by Dr. White on You Tube purporting to be THE segment of the Ankerberg Show where Dr. Wilkins had lost his voice. It's a segment in which Dr. Wilkins has a catch in his throat and stops to drink some water. Dr. Gipp responded on Calcium Boy's answering machine that that was NOT the incident in question, and called it a "deception," which of course raises the question of Dr. White's integrity and so on and so forth. So Dr. White now shows that same piece of video tape again, which he apparently thinks must be the incident the KJVO people are talking about. (By the way he says this was cut out of the original broadcast, of which White has the tapes. He says it was put back into the DVD version of the program when it was digitized later so that's how he happens to have it. He also says that his own remarks were cut out to make room for this episode in the digitized version, and he plays both versions for us to see).

As I watched it what I found hard to believe was that anybody could possibly think anyone would consider that to be a case of losing one's voice. It just can't be the incident the KJVO people have in mind. On the tape a big deal is being made about a little catch in the throat that nobody would make in any normal conversation, but WOULD make if some previous incident had occurred that they wanted to make fun of.

The first thing that occurred to me was that some other voice-losing incident must have occurred earlier that they are referring back to by laughing it off as a joke. I mean, in itself, somebody's having a tiny frog in his throat and having to drink some water is not something to even notice, let alone have a jolly old time about. Wilkins makes a joke of it right away after his little cough and says "Oh, I'm losing my voice" which everyone else laughs at. I don't know what the original was, but this cannot possibly be it, and I don't see why James White doesn't recognize this obvious fact. It CAN'T be it. NOBODY would make such a fuss over such an incident, not even your craziest frothing-at-the-mouth KJVO advocate (and that does seem to be how some of them are regarded by White and Company). The only people making a fuss over it are the ANTI-KJV people because, obviously, it MUST refer back to something that had happened earlier.

Why doesn't White catch this? John Ankerberg does:
Second, in previous shows Ankerberg had commented about Riplinger’s claim that new translations editors had lost their voices. He wanted an answer on this to quell the rumor and set the record straight since, obviously, none of the people present had lost their voices and neither did they know of this occurring to anyone else.
This is in fact a plausible enough explanation -- of the segment itself, that is, why they were joking around about a mere frog in the throat. It doesn't explain why the KJVO people remember an actual incident of voice-losing, however.

The Ankerberg report goes on to point out Marrs' errors:
But on the segment reported by Marrs, this was not Ankerberg’s question. Ankerberg’s question was to ask Wilkins about the credibility ofRiplinger’s book. So Marrs has distorted the context as well.

Third, the event in question was not at all like Marrs reported it. Dr. John Weldon, Chief Researcher for ATRI, personally reviewed this segment of the tape where Wilkins supposedly lost his voice. He didn’t lose his voice at all; he merely developed a "frog" in his throat which took about five seconds to cough out. This happens to people all the time and is hardly a sign of God’s judgment, nor would it be unexpected with someone who had just flown in from Athens, Greece and was tired. In response, Wilkins simply cleared his throat and said, a bit embarrassed, but half in jest, "I’m losing my voice." Everyone laughed and he took a drink of water and then proceeded to answer Ankerberg’s question concerning the unreliability of Riplinger’s book. He went on immediately to state that the Lockman Foundation had spent six weeks in investigation of Riplinger’s book and that "what I personally found is that virtually everything she says is wrong, or a misquotation or a deliberate deception of people…."

Right, but this can't possibly be what the KJVO people had in mind. Even making allowances for errors of all sorts as well as exaggeration of the incident itself, how can anyone suppose that Texe Marrs actually considered this to be an incident of losing one's voice? I can't buy it. I don't know what the explanation is, but it's just too hard to believe that Marrs would have misread such a trivial incident. In this incident Wilkins didn't lose his voice at all. He experienced a small catch in his throat and that didn't even stop him from going on to joke about how it meant "I'm losing my voice." THEN he took the glass of water. The whole thing looked staged to me (but I guess I could be wrong). And Sam Gipp directly denied it was the incident in question in his response on the answering machine recording put up on You Tube by CalciumBoy.

One thing I'd like to know is what Thomas Strouse who was also on the KJVO side on that program would say about it now. I couldn't find the answer on a brief google but I'll probably look more later.

I end up not knowing what the truth is about this alleged incident of Dr. Wilkins' supposedly losing his voice, but the segment White posted can't possibly be it, that's all.

What this shows more than anything else, I'm afraid, is how easily this discussion bogs down in irrelevancies and side issues. James White didn't miss the opportunity to call into doubt the credibility of Sam Gipp by quoting a few statements from his book that have nothing to do with the voice-losing incident. Dr. Gipp is apparently a defender of the most radical KJVO position, a follower of Peter Ruckman, a position that goes so far as to claim the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament didn't even exist (why this is an issue I'm not quite clear about), and no doubt supports the position that the King James Bible is absolutely the word-for-word perfect God-given text that must not be changed at all for any reason whatever. So White ridicules his position on the Septuagint, and he calls it "lying," which I guess is supposed to so impugn his character that we are advised not to trust him when he says that segment of Wilkins coughing isn't the one Marrs was writing about and they all witnessed.

Clearly there is no connection between the two things and shouldn't White steer clear of that sort of thing? Well, Gipp did it too when he called the segment "deception." Shouldn't Christians exhibit that old KJV word, "charity" to their opponents, assume the best rather than the worst, and stick to the known facts instead of making accusations? It may be that White really does think that's the only incident that could have been meant. Even to think that means his judgment of his opposition is a tad lacking in charity, but still, he may really believe what he said.


While all this cross-talk is going on, the main points are getting missed, as I see it, but then I'm not on the radical end of the KJVO position so maybe I see it this way for that reason. Anti-KJVOs aren't going to do anything with an article like Marrs' except ridicule it as this You Tube exchange shows, and in in my opinion in the context of the overall debate it's best to leave Marrs and other extremists out of the discussion. There is now no way to prove that Wilkins lost his voice on that show, and Marrs' attitude to White is not exactly exemplary Christian behavior, (which has to be said about Gail Riplinger's way of dealing with David Cloud too). Neither is White's exemplary, but he's probably THE advocate for the new versions we need to refute, so we can't ignore him, we have to answer him and it needs to be done well.

I think we should concede that the KJV could have errors and need some correction, and even advocate that such corrections be made under the right conditions, but the main job here is to show the corruption of the new versions, and as long as the argument is based on defending a perfect KJV this main job is not getting done. We don't need to focus on the character of Westcott and Hort even, we merely need to show that they were commissioned to do some very minor corrections and that they did something entirely different. Dean Burgon's work shows the corruption of the texts they used, and also shows the deceitfulness of their violation of their trust in changing thousands of words that by no stretch of the imagination could be called necessary. This is where the focus should be.

Even focusing on all the changes made and the words and phrases of the KJV that are left out of the new versions doesn't by itself win the argument, because the opposition's main claim is that their texts are superior to those of the KJV, so that whatever differences are to be found between the KJV and the revisions, theirs are the right ones. (Of course the many differences even between the revisions themselves can also be mustered to show that isn't the whole story).

Again, Burgon's expert judgment of the different Greek and Hebrew texts is the place to start, showing the corruption of those chosen by W&H and perpetuated in all the new versions today, a corruption that was recognized by the KJV translators as well. Exposing the sleight of hand W & H pulled in the thousands of unnecessary changes should be the left hand knockout punch that follows the right (or vice versa).


There is plenty more at You Tube on the Ankerberg incident for anyone who is interested.

This one is apparently an earlier video by James White in which he claims he just found out about the digitized version of the John Ankerberg show that includes the previously left out segment of what he calls the voice-losing incident, though it's really just Wilkins having a frog in his throat for a second and making a joke out of it as losing his voice:

This is "CalciumBoy's" reply to White's discovery of the supposedly original footage of the voice-losing event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAcKzQH_HAY

The next one in this series is the one by White I included in the body of the post above and commented on, but I'll repeat the URL here as well: http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=kExSnDDxzyU&feature=user

And this is CalciumBoy's answer to that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aA8izSpCRA&watch_response I agree with him that the segment White posted can't be the one Marrs and Gipp were referring to.

Then there's a series of four videos by James White aimed at discrediting Texe Marrs. Part I:
Part II of White on Texe Marrs:
In Part III White is going to get back to the lost voice segment and it's the same thing
Then Part IV "Why do these people WANT to believe what they do?" White is asking. Well, he says, the KJVO people were soundly routed so Texe Marrs is saving face. I don't see this. The anti people are raising irrelevancies and the KJVO people don't get sufficient time to answer. For instance Ankerberg and White raise the point that the KJV had marginal notes though the KJVO people object to the marginal notes in the other versions, isn't that a contradiction? Strouse says no, it's because those marginal notes are from the Nestle-Aland text (basically the Westcott-Hort text), and that's exactly the reason and it's completely valid. It just didn't get emphasized enough: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lS86OtdCYns&NR=1

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