Tuesday, September 16, 2008

David Cloud's review of James White's The King James Only Bible Controversy

David Cloud has written a great deal on the Bible versions controversies, but I linked this one in the post below because it says what I've figured has to be the case for most Christians these days, how the new versions are supported by partisan bias in the absence of any real exposure to the other side of the argument. This is an important point in Dr. Cloud's review of James White's The King James Only Bible Controversy. I decided it needs to be showcased here so I copied out a few passages I particularly appreciate (my emphases in bolding and purple): http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/examining01.htm

My first thought, as I looked through this book, was that this is a strange piece of writing. The world of Bible translation is becoming increasingly, bewilderingly perverse, yet James White aims his gun not at the Bible corrupters but at men who are attempting to defend God’s Word against the onslaught of end-times apostasy. Almost each passing year brings to light an English Bible version more corrupt than its predecessor. This is on the commercial side of Bible translations, yet the corruption is also evident in the field of professional missionary translation. The United Bible Societies, working hand in hand with the Roman Catholic Church, have almost completely given up on "formal equivalency" translation and have dedicated their vast resources to the production of paraphrase-type Bibles created with the presumptuous dynamic equivalency method of translation. The same is true for Wycliffe Bible Translators. White sounds no warning of these matters, though. His readers are given the impression that the onslaught of modernism in the field of Bible texts and translations is a matter of minor consequence compared to the great "error" of believing God has preserved His Word in the Received Text and in Received Text translations which have gone to the ends of the earth during the past five centuries of great missionary endeavor. . . .

Further, I did not read in White’s book long before I realized that it is misnamed. It should be titled The Ruckman-Riplinger Controversy, because White paints the entire movement in defense of the King James Bible with the brush of these two individuals.

White’s book appears, at first glance, to be an unemotional, objective, scholarly approach to the topic of Bible texts and versions. In reality, it is a slander upon defenders of the King James Bible and the Received Text underlying the KJV and other great Reformation Bibles. He implies throughout that every KJV defender is either a raving lunatic or an ignorant extremist. He ignores or passes over slightly, even flippantly, the great issues of the KJV defense, focusing, instead, upon indefensible representations.

The King James Only Controversy is straw man, smokescreen apologetics at its best. This is serious, because many men who read White’s book will become severely biased against "King James Onlyism" and, as a consequence, will never make the effort to read for themselves the many important materials written in defense of the Received Text and the KJV. It reminds us of a statement made by Dr. Alfred Martin, former vice president of Moody Bible Institute, in his doctoral thesis at Dallas Theological Seminary in 1951:

"In spite of the notable work of Burgon, Hoskier, and others who supported them, the opponents of the Westcott-Hort theory have never had the hearing which they deserve. How many present-day students of the Greek New Testament ever heard of the two men just mentioned, and how many ever saw a copy of The Revision Revised or Codex B and Its Allies, to say nothing of actually reading these works? ... THE PRESENT GENERATION OF BIBLE STUDENTS, HAVING BEEN REARED ON WESTCOTT AND HORT, HAVE FOR THE MOST PART ACCEPTED THE THEORY WITHOUT INDEPENDENT OR CRITICAL EXAMINATION. To the average student of the Greek New Testament today it is unthinkable to question the theory at least in its basic premises. Even to imply that one believes the Textus Receptus to be nearer the original text than the Westcott-Hort text is, lays one open to the suspicion of gross ignorance or unmitigated bigotry. That is why this controversy needs to be aired again among Bible-believing Christians. There is little hope of convincing those who are unbelieving textual critics, but IF BELIEVING BIBLE STUDENTS HAD THE EVIDENCE OF BOTH SIDES PUT BEFORE THEM, INSTEAD OF ONE SIDE ONLY, THERE WOULD NOT BE SO MUCH BLIND FOLLOWING OF WESTCOTT AND HORT" (Alfred Martin, A Critical Examination of the Westcott-Hort Textual Theory, Th.D. Thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, May 1951, pp. 4,46,47).

This was the condition that Alfred Martin witnessed in Christian education in the late 1940s and early 1950s. It is much worse today. The reason why most students at colleges and seminaries are not presented with both sides of the Bible text-translation issue is because of men like James White, who do everything in their power to make the defenders of the Received Text and the King James Bible look like fools. I believe these men have a lot to answer for before God.

Let me say at the outset that I am convinced that James White’s book on Bible versions is a dangerous book. This is because it is dead wrong and it is leading men and women away from the preserved Word of God, yet it is very popular. It is hastening a process that is destroying absolute truth in churches.

Yes, this is what I've come to believe about the overall state of things, and it confirms that the seminaries don't teach the other side at all, which I supposed must be the case some posts ago, when I so strongly wished that they would all carefully read Burgon, because it seems to me if they did they'd have to overthrow, or at the very least begin to question, assumptions that have been passed down uncriticized for a century by now. Too many have not read Dean Burgon but know whatever they know only by hearsay.

Since they don't read the other side, they treat critics like James White as The Authority and anyone who questions them is impatiently brushed off. White mentions Burgon once in his entire book, only to point out that he seemed to have supported the idea of a revision, but Burgon's work as a whole is a masterful dismantling of the whole Westcott-Hort undertaking, from their Greek text to their abuse of the English translation to Hort's "theory" which according to Burgon is nothing but a purely imaginative construct without the slightest relation to reality.

I haven't read further in Dr. Cloud's review yet. My own take on James White's book, from my position of less certainty about these questions, was a constant irritability. His approach is patronizing. He talks down to the reader. His avuncular air leaves no room for the slightest objection to anything he says. He occasionally stops to psychoanalyze what he projects to be the mental set of those who disagree with him, which is pretty silly psychobabble ("We" think this or that etc). As Dr. Cloud points out, most of his argument is aimed against the intemperate methods of Gail Riplinger and Peter Ruckman, which is a huge waste of time for someone who recognizes the error in their attitude and wants to get to the substance of the topic. When he does deal with the relevant material he is always begging the question. Instead of attempting to prove that the Westcott and Hort manuscripts are superior, he assumes it and explains things based on that assumption. I know I need to provide examples but I think I'll just say this much to this point.


bethany said...

what you have said regarding the method of translation used by wycliffe is untrue. great pains are taken to ensure that each new testament/Bible produced mirrors the original biblical texts in a way that is understandable to a marginalized language speaker. these Bibles are translations, they are not paraphrases.

God Bless...praise the Lord we have his word in our own tongue.

Faith said...

Bethany, you are referring to something said by Dr. Cloud, whom I was quoting at length in that post. What I guoted is at least ten years old, and I tend to trust him as a very careful scholar, but I can't verify everything he said. What he said about Wycliffe was a very small point in the whole. You'd have to take up that particular complaint with him.

Faith said...

However, on second thought, you use the term "mirrors" which is an odd term for translation, isn't it? Sounds like some form of "dynamic equivalency" as Dr. Cloud says, or "paraphrase-TYPE" translation.

Faith said...

Well, you got me reading up more on the subject, Bethany. Dr. Cloud apparently is very convinced that Wycliffe's policies of translation leave a lot to be desired. He discusses this at more than one place on his site but here's one page:


Steven Avery said...

Hi Folks,

One of the great ironies of the James White version position is that he abandons his supposed principle on the greatest verse that declares simply the Deity of Messiah.

"There is much to be said in defense of the KJV rendering of 1 Timothy 3:16 as 'God was manifest in the flesh.' In fact, I prefer this reading, and feel that it has more than sufficient support from the Greek manuscripts. I can agree with the majority of the comments made on the topic long ago by Dean Burgon." (King James Only Controversy, p. 207, 1995)

No, he does not say if that "preference" is 55% or 95% or why he does not agree with Dean Burgon on 100 other verses with equal or more evidence (from his confused position).

Consistency, the jewel.

Steven Avery

Craig Doriot said...

Actually what was said about the Wycliffe translators is actually extremely true. They have long ago embraced Nida's "dynamic equivalence" and actually believe that divine inspiration lies in the craft of the translator. They brazenly and openly read their own interpretations into the texts and consider that part of their job, to "explain" what the author means, instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to do that work. Finally, they are at the very heart of the entire Chrislam controversy, because their translators have taken "Son of God" out of the bible to appeal to Muslims.. something they prefer to brush off as "contextualization" to their audience.