The Bible In Translation | Pt 3 Dipping a toe into the King James Controversy

by Glenn on November 25, 2019

The problem for the serious generalist is that you know a lot and you know nothing. You know a little in a lot of areas, but in any one particular area, you don’t have any great depth. The generalist doesn’t worry, though, because he or she knows that there are people who are singularly focused on particular areas and have expert knowledge. They go way down. As a generalist, you can depend on these experts to drill down so you can take a more horizontal view. Or, you can follow their lead and increase your knowledge in any one particular area. As a generalist I am grateful for experts.

Of course, you’re always trying to figure out who is actually an expert. When you hear people make declarations, among the questions that come up are Is this person an expert? and Is this person right? It’s not necessarily the people who are talking. But it might be. That is the nature of YouTube. Alongside videos of adorable animals doing adorable things, there are people talking about the things they believe (we assume they believe them—otherwise Why say them?, but that’s another thing), and those of us watching are trying to determine whether or not they know what they are talking about and decide what we’re going to do about it.

What happens when two experts are talking and they disagree with each other? The arguments of one of them have to be dismissed. How do we figure it out? That’s a problem.

In the area of Biblical languages, I am dependent on experts in all sorts of ways: understanding ancient documents, translating ancient words into modern vernacular, giving advice on which translations are best (or which one is best). I can do none of these things for myself. There are people who are happy to tell you what they think about a particular translation of the Bible. (Or, as I heard this past week, tell you that there aren’t any good translations and that you need to read the original languages. What percentage of Christians does that rule out? Is there any benefit to reading the Bible in translation? Is there a correlation between Christian character and the ability to read ancient Hebrew and Greek?) I’ve already benefited enormously from a number of them. As you listen to people talk, though, you discover there is a group of people who say some version of the following: “The King James Version of the Bible is the one and only perfect translation of the Bible in English.” Associated with that idea is this: “Other translations (or translators, implicating the translation) are corrupt in one way or another.”

You quickly discover there is (or has been—I’m frequently late to the party) some controversy around the King James Version. It’s called by some the “King James Only” controversy, which seems like an accurate description, but I noticed that one person doesn’t like this terminology. He sees the description “King James only” as a potentially confusing and/or derisive comment. On the one hand, if it means he likes the King James Version, then it’s a great term for him. But it quickly gets complicated because people want to look at the implications of that statement and he doesn’t agree with everyone’s implications. (Or maybe he doesn’t have an easy way to answer questions that people raise? Maybe he has taken a somewhat controversial view and learned he doesn’t like controversy.)

It’s like a guy who is talking about how great vegetables are and how he only eat vegetables and then someone says, “It sounds like you’re a vegetarian” and now the guy gets offended. If “vegetarian” is a description of what food he eats, then he is fine with the term. But he doesn’t want to be lumped in with vegans who want to, say, outlaw cattle farming or won’t wear shoes made of leather. (“I eat vegetables but I’m not against cattle farming or leather shoes.”) I suppose in that way, “vegetarian” could be a derisive term.

There are implications of being “King James Only,” but at this point I  am trying only to think of it as a descriptive term. I’ve heard some people say that the King James Version of the Bible is the only one that people should read and I want to understand their reasoning.

I approach this subject with some assumptions that I need to at least acknowledge because I find I can’t totally put them aside. One of the them is that I believe the people who created the King James Bible did a remarkable thing. I think they approached their task with the best of intentions and the results speak for themselves—a document that has served us well for more than four hundred years. (One of the stunning things is that it was created by a committee. What committee has ever produced something like the King James Bible?)

Another assumption I have is that the groups of people who are creating modern translations also have the best of intentions. I can’t speak to the spiritual heart condition of any particular group of translators, past or present. But, initially, I am not suspicious of any translation just because it isn’t the KJV.

I revere the KJV the way I think about Shakespeare’s plays. I hear people want to modernize Shakespeare and I get nervous when there’s talk of changing his words. With the Bible there is something that feels like a loss when we go from

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1 | KJV)


“The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough.” (Psalm 23:1 | The Passion Translation)

But I don’t automatically see the translators who have produced the English Standard Version or the Christian Standard Bible or the New International Version  or the New Living Translation as bad people. For that matter, I don’t decry Eugene Peterson for having created a paraphrase of the entire Bible. Talk about derision—that guy faced a good measure of it.

And so my purpose here is to try and understand what proponents of King James only are saying (and understand a little bit what their arguments are and how they make them) for the King James Version. To that end, I will react to three videos that I have run across as I have listened to people talk about translations, summarizing what I think they are saying.

– 1 –

This first video was posted by JesusAddictt. (One assumes the second “t” is silent.) It’s a bit of theatre. Production quality is a little low, but we might call it “The Parable of the Boy Who Was Going to Hell Because He Read the New International Version.” (Spoiler: In the end, he decides to get a King James Bible and is, therefore, no longer going to hell.) The cast includes two girls, and a boy. The girls each have a King James Version of the Bible. The boy has a New International Version Bible.

The parable begins when Girl 1 reads a passage from her King James Bible. It’s Revelation 22:18–19 (KJV):

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

“And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

Girl 1 then asks the boy to read the same passage from the New International Version:

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.”

The girls notice, “It’s different.” And it is. Where the King James Version says, “testify,” the NIV says, “warn.” The tone of the girls leads us to believe that this is a difference that makes an enormous difference, but I found myself agreeing with the Boy who responds, “Different words; same meaning. Big whoop.” When the Boy asks what their point is, the question isn’t answered as Girl 1 politely asks the Boy to turn to Acts 8:37. Girl 2 says she wants to show “how in many translations of the Bible other than the King James Version, the devil is very sneaky to change words and even omit …”

Girl 2 reads Acts 8:37 from the KJV. Then she asks the Boy to read it. He makes a decent show of flipping pages around to demonstrate confusion and declares that he is not able to find the verse. (He won’t win any drama awards, but this is a morality play, not a drama. I think the morality play is harder to pull off convincingly. One that did for me, though, was The West Wing, Season 3, Episode 1: “Isaac and Ishamel”.)

Girl 2: “Are you having trouble, there?”

Boy: “It’s not here!?”

Then Girl 1 references the opening: “What did Revelation say? If you take out anything from the Bible your name will be taken out of the Book of Life and no Heaven for you.”

The Boy says, “It skips from 36 to 38.”

The girls point out that that’s not the only one. There is Luke 17:36. In the KJV it is:

“Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”

Of course, this one is not in the NIV, either, and this time Girl 2 explains how this is a much more serious omission because “That’s actually Jesus talking” and “that’s talking about, you know, when the rapture happens and you know the people who are Christians and read the KJV … will be going to heaven and those who, you know are reading the NIV … [voice trails off].”

The Boy says he is leaving to go get a King James Version.

Girl 1 has a final warning that she addresses to people who own translations other than the KJV. She doesn’t want their names to be taken out of the book of life.


*     *     *

So here’s what I think they are trying to communicate:

1. The NIV has different words, and that is significant.

2. Verses of the Bible have been removed in modern translations like the New International Version.

3. The missing verses are an act of the devil.

4. People with translations other than the NIV are going to hell.

My goal is to understand the argument, but I think I want to react to these four statements because each of them is problematic. (Perhaps the problem is that they aren’t really making an argument?)

1. The words are different. We are led to believe this is a problem but we aren’t told what the problem is. It seems to me that when you translate something from one language to another, there isn’t always an exact one-to-one correspondence between words. More than one word can be used to translate a word. I’m not sure how you judge that one translator’s decision (or in this case a committee’s decision) on how to translate a word is right and others are incorrect, or if that is what they are actually saying.

2. Is the second point true? Have the words been “removed”? My observation is that the words actually haven’t been removed because they aren’t actually missing. In the example from Acts, there is the following footnote (in the NIV):

“Some manuscripts include here Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may. The eunuch answered, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’”

So, there are the words. Nothing has been “removed.” This point doesn’t feel completely honest. The words simply aren’t in the main body of the text.

In fairness to what these actors are saying, however, I have two different ESV Bibles. One of them has done what the NIV has done and included a footnote with the missing verse. The other ESV is a special journaling edition that does have a missing verse with no explanation:

(To be clear, that’s two women grinding grain at the same time in the same place.) This omission does bother me and goes to the point they are making. So, depending on the edition or translation you have, there may be missing verses—but whether or not they have been “removed” seems a different question. The same thing happens with the Luke 17 example. The NIV has a footnote that reads,

“Some manuscripts include here words similar to Matt. 24:40.”

If you go over to Matthew 24:40, you can find those words. If the point they were making was, “There are words missing (from the main body of the text),” I would be more sympathetic, for the simple matter that I think of the Bible as this singular thing and it bothers me to think that there are two Bibles—one with all the verses, the other with some verses either not included or set in brackets or put in footnotes. But maybe that is the situation we have.

“Removed” does seem to speak to motives and implies bad actors (in the moral sense—the other kind of bad actors). But not only has our little theatre company perhaps misrepresented the truth, it has offered a really problematic answer to the question of why the words were removed/are missing.

3. The third point is a declaration that the devil had the words removed. I wonder if there is a better story than “the devil made [them] do it.” I’m not sure what to say about this. It seems as though we are no longer in the realm of facts that we can look at and talk about. Now we are in a different place. They are declaring the presence of spiritual warfare in the production of the NIV—which is not to say there wasn’t—and that the translators were on the losing side (if not complicit in) of it, resulting in words being removed from this and every other modern translation. The way I see it, they are offering opinions without any sort of explanation on how they came to hold these opinions. (And they might not agree with the characterization of “opinion.” They may see their statement about the works of the devil as it relates to the NIV as fact, too.)

I find myself with a lot of questions. Since the words actually haven’t been removed, what do we do with this statement? And if we are talking about a translation like that one ESV edition I mentioned, where the words are indeed missing, how would you go about establishing the claim that that act was a work of evil? (And, by extension, the people involved are being used by the devil?) Is there something beyond “I said it happened, therefore it happened?” Is it possible there are other explanations for their removal than making it an act of the devil?

4. Point 4 is a little easier to address though, again, my idea here was just to understand the argument. It seemed like there was a little sleight of hand here. The text read from Revelation referred to adding or removing words from “the words of the prophecy of this book,”  but then the actor said, “the Bible.” So she wasn’t even quoting the verse accurately. My issue is a historical one. There was no Bible when John put his Revelation into writing. So when he said not to add or remove anything from this book, isn’t it possible that he was referring to this prophecy of Revelation? Which is not to say that you should be adding or subtracting from other books of the Bible. It’s simply that when we go to a bookstore and pick up a Bible, it’s all neatly packaged and the placement of Revelation art the end makes so much sense and John’s statement is the perfect way to close out the New Testament. And, no, we should not be adding or taking away from the Bible, but we need to have a realistic view of how the Bible came together. It’s not at all clear to me that John is saying his statement applies to the books that centuries later would be adopted into the canon. Over time, the Church has adopted that view and developed a protectionist view about the Bible (which may be why those missing verses are actually not in modern translations—it is an attempt to ensure that the word of God is the word of God), but I don’t know that we can claim that that was what John meant. But I do see their point. And it’s a scary one they are making.

Based on this video, it appears the King James Only people would say that different words and missing words in modern translations are a big problem. The first part needs clarifying why it’s a problem. The second point seems fair. It’s a problem for me, too. (You don’t like to think that there are two Bibles.)

When they go on to say it’s a problem from hell, though, that is literally beyond reason, as is saying that reading a modern translation places your soul in jeopardy.

– 2 –

The second video is by Pastor Steve Waldron of New Life Albany (Albany, Goergia). He is the person who didn’t like the descriptor “King James Only,” although he believes the King James Version is the best for English-speaking people and he wants to explain how he came to that conclusion.

Waldron describes how he was saved at age 18 and now he is 51. He “went to a Bible school that did not teach the primacy of the King James.” (This idea of “the primacy of the King James” is an interesting concept. I wonder where the origin of that teaching comes from? Who first made the claim?) Waldron used other translations in Bible college, but after graduation he worked at the largest Christian book store in Georgia and sold Bibles. It was there that he began to look at different Bibles. (Just to quibble—is it more helpful to refer to different translations rather than different Bibles? The idea is that there aren’t different Bibles. There’s one that has been put into various translations. But maybe that’s the point he is making.) He describes a time when he had an NIV and actually preached from a New American Standard. (Do I pick up just a little hint of shame and/or regret?)

And then one day someone brought their Bible back to the store. He had already engraved that Bible with the person’s name, but her complaint was that the Bible was missing Matthew 17:21. Waldron explains that he started off showing people how that verse wasn’t supposed to be in the Bible but “Lo and behold during the course of my studies I realized it was supposed to be in the Bible.” He claims you could spend thousands of hours going through each of the contested verses and state why they should or should not “be in there.”

Eventually he realized there were two lines through history. One line came directly from the apostles to what is now represented in the King James. Another line  was lost and rediscovered. (He mentions trash dumps, which would be really  confusing if I wasn’t reading a book about the history of the Bible where you hear about that. Without some background, the trash dump line wouldn’t make a lot of sense and would be prejudicial.) Part of the story he tells has an anti-Catholic (or at least pro-Reformation) feeling to it:

“The Spanish Armada is all about the Bible. Mary, Queen of Scots, is all about the Bible. The Gunpowder Plot is all about the Bible.”

In the end, the way the King James Bible came together is significant (do I detect a hint at some sort of divine inspiration for the KJV?) and the result was “they came up with the perfect Bible.”

He claims the KJV is “the easiest in so many ways.” Short words. Few syllables. “It is extraordinarily easy to read.” He recognizes there are some archaic words, which strikes me as an understatement. As far as other translations:

 “These other translations … are translating from these scraps of paper found in the past several decades … and were never used by Bible-believing Christians.”

He cuts himself off and says,

“It all comes down to this: Did God inspire the Bible and lose it for 1800 years or did he inspire the Bible and true Christians always took care … to  copy it one hundred percent … without error? There were people with devious intentions … that would change scriptures. … What we’ve got here in the end of time is a revival of messed-up scriptures that don’t agree amongst themselves.”

He reads the KJV because “God preserved His word. There’s always been a Church. That’s why I think the King James is the best translation.”

*     *     *

What I take from this video is the following:

1. Early in life, Waldron used modern translations—he even preached from them (perhaps to his regret—real or manufactured—today)—but at some point he became convinced of the primacy of the King James Bible.

2. Not only did God inspire the making of the Bible, he also inspired the translation process for the KJV.

3. Where the KJV can be traced directly to the apostles, modern translations suffer because they have a lost and found quality to them. Further, where the KJV has a solid textual history, these modern translations were created from scraps of paper that were made by secular people.

4. The KJV is an easy translation to read.

5. The King James Version is perfect.

1. I think the first point we just take at face value. He’s telling his story. I could use more detail in how he became convinced of the primacy of the King James Bible. He may be trying to tell two stories at once—the story of how he came to adopt the KJV for himself and the story of how the King James Bible came to be and why that makes it superior to modern translations—and that makes things a little confusing. One of the problems with this video is that the story-telling doesn’t seem to be that coherent, so it’s hard to engage completely with what he is saying. I don’t think I understand how it happened that he went from saying certain verses don’t belong in the Bible to certain verses do belong in the Bible. What had he learned? What changed his mind?

Perhaps the story of the origin of the King James Bible itself is what did it, which is why he goes on to talk about that. Unfortunately, there are so many gaps in this other story that I don’t think I could explain much about the origin of the King James Bible using this video as a guide. Perhaps this video is too short. I wanted either a longer story that explains the trash heaps a little better, or I needed to be told it is a long story and leave some of these difficult-to-explain-quickly details out. Otherwise I am left with a dismissive quality, which is to say Waldron is dismissive of other points-of-view and dismissive of other translations.

2. It seems like the second point is a conclusion that he comes to based on facts from history, which is interesting to think about—the KJV is inspired with the implication that others are not. In other words, there is a uniqueness about how the KJV came to be which makes it superior to other translations. The question is where does this conclusion come from? What are we to make of the large numbers of Christians who don’t see it the way he does?

3. As far as the third point, the first half seems rather straightforward—or he makes it seem like it’s straightforward. Again, I could use more details but that’s a compelling argument that you can trace the King James Bible all the way back directly to the people who wrote it.

The latter part of the third point could use more detail, though. When he talks about the origin of other translations and uses words like “scraps” and “trash,” it makes this strong dichotemy between the good King James Bible and the garbage other versions. Is that fair? (Both my assessment and my representation of his statement?) Along with that you get the idea that the committees who assembled the King James Bible were doing the work of God while the people who produced  other translations were sub-standard people doing sub-standard work in an uninspired and inferior way.

Something I learn from this video is that making a long story a short story isn’t easy. What is easy is making “our side” look good and the “other side” look bad. Is there really no other side to this discussion? Or, is this the best portrayal of the other side? I am accountable, too. I need to think about how I am representing what this pastor is saying. Am I being truthful in my representations? One of the things that goes wrong in communication is that we are so intent on being right that we don’t take care to bring to the light the best arguments of the other side.

4. The fourth point is a funny one because the evidence he offers for it is so limited. (Plus, at face-value the statement seems so self-evidently wrong.) Short words and few syllables is only part of what makes something easy to read. He accepts that some words are archaic in a way that seems dismissive of anyone for whom that is a problem, but is this more significant than he is saying or would like to admit? Adding to the reading complexity of the King James Version is the fact that along with the many words that aren’t used any longer, there are words that no longer mean what they used to mean. This fourth point seems like it is isn’t as simple as portrayed.

5. The last point is a judgment. “Perfect” is a word that could use some explaining. This statement that the KJV Bible is perfect has a feeling of dogma about it rather than a conclusion reached. Is this an article of faith or a claim that can be discussed rationally? If it is an article of faith, it’s sort of conversation-stopper. Here’s this statement of belief—“I believe the King James Bible is perfect”—and all that’s left is for us either to affirm it or not (and, one hopes, be respectful of those who see things another way). It’s not really up for discussion, though.

For me, the word “perfect” elevates the wrong thing. So if we agree that, for example, God inspired the apostle Paul to write a letter to the Church at Philippi (and that is an article of faith, too, but one I think the vast majority of Christians hold), that letter was the inspired word of God. He wrote that letter in Greek. It was copied. It was quoted by early Christian writers. And then the letter was translated into other languages. I can’t read the letter in Greek, so I depend on a translation. I need to read the word of God in a language I can understand. What do we call those translations? Are they the word of God? And I say, yes, they are the word of God, but I put a little asterisk acknowledging that the act of translation is an art, not a science. It’s the word of God that Paul wrote that has been translated into a language I can understand. My goal should be to focus on what Paul said and not get too attached to the translation.

The word “perfect” doesn’t allow for improvements. And we have two possibilities—either the King James Bible can or cannot be improved. I have read a few books by translators discussing their work as translators and they each seem to agonize over their translation in some way. Some say the act of translating is simply impossible. Others say it’s a compromise at best. You simply do your best knowing that there is no one right way to do a translation. Would the committee of translators who created the KJV say that they believed they were creating a translation for all time? Or was it a translation for their time?

It occurs to me that Waldron actually argues against the perfection of the KJV when his own statement is that there are some archaic words in it. Isn’t that a kind of recognition (admission) that fewer non-archaic words would actually be an improvement?

The other thing that strikes me is that when you say the King James Bible is perfect, that, in a way, is a kind of claim to perfection for yourself as well. You are claiming perfect knowledge of the original languages and perfect understanding of the destination language so that you can make the evaluation that the KJV is the perfect bridge between the two.

Isn’t it possible that in 400 years we have learned some things about the original languages or the art of translating that would impact how we translate today? And what are we to do about the changing nature of language? I don’t feel like these questions are addressed or an explanation offered as to why they are irrelevant.

How do you keep your delight in a certain translation from becoming a kind of idolatry of the translation? I’m thinking about myself here. I was pretty attached to the NIV 1984. Do I worship Jesus as revealed in scripture, or do I worship a particular revelation of scripture?

– 3 –

So far, the most impressive video in favor of the King James Version I’ve watched was this one, featuring Michael Pearl of No Greater Joy Ministries:

The production quality is more than adequate, but Pearl himself is an impressive person and has a kind of authority about him. He reads the question, “Why do you only use the King James Bible?” and begins his answer with humor. He explains that he doesn’t use the KJV “only.” He uses reference materials like a dictionary, concordances, and The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge which has an on-line version). And then there’s this zinger: “And if I need a good laugh I use the New Interntional Version” (Oh, snap.), which is followed by “So, I’m very broad-minded.”

I’m not sure the sarcasm helps him. It would certainly hurt if that was the end of his answer. Clearly he is opinionated, but he quickly moves into establishing some credentials for himself. He explains that he has numerous translations on his computer including four Greek translations as well as a number of translations in his library. He uses “all kinds of different books for different purposes.” He then says that the questioner was probably asking something different and so he reframed the question to “Why do I believe the King James Bible is the word of God and not the other books?”

That may not be what was being asked by the original questioner. Hard to know, isn’t it? There’s a little added something with “the word of God” in the reframed question. And then there is that bifurcation between the KJV and “the other books,” the modern translations which he doesn’t even refer to as Bibles. I’m assuming he did that on purpose.

Pearl’s answer centers around the idea that the KJV is in “that great tradition of Bible texts that we’ve received from our fathers. Pearl quotes the Bible’s declaration that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable,” and then points out that the word scripture “never refers to just the original. [It] refers to copies of copies of copies of the original.” So that when the gospels talk about Jesus reading the scriptures, he is reading copies, which are still inspired. He says the tense “is given” means “it’s an ongoing process.” Pearl says, “God didn’t create an original that was perfect and then desert it and allow error to creep in. God has continued to preserve and pass his scripture down.”

We learn that the KJV is based on “the majority text” or what in Latin is called “the textus receptus.” Pearl says, “It’s come to have the connotation of a particular text … but there is no … single Greek text.” There are “different Greek texts that differ one from the other in minor ways. Each of them would be called the textus receptus.” This is “the received text.” Pearl talks about four predecessors of the KJV, but only mentions The Bishop’s Bible, the Geneva Bible, and the Tyndale. I’m wondering if he left out the Coverdale translation. Something I appreciate is Pearl’s acknowledgement that the KJV had to be corrected. (I’ve read elsewhere there were as many as 400 printing errors at first. A 1631 printing  of the KJV is known as “the Wicked Bible” because among the Ten Commandments it includes “Thou shalt commit adultery.” Obviously, there is a “not” that is missing, there.) But the KJV was “consistent with the multitude of other language Bibles.” Pearl tells us that “95% of all Greek manuscripts … (extant manuscripts) … are in agreements with the King James Bible.” Less than 5% disagree.

And then we get an explanation about the modern translations. These were a result of “German scholarship” and “a departure from the King James Bible in any language” when “so-called scholars” who, in modern times, went to other manuscripts besides the received text. Texts from the Vatican and a waste-basket in the Sinai desert were used to create a new Greek manuscript in the mid-1800’s. These manuscripts were written by unbelievers not in koine Greek, but classical Greek. And then they were re-translated back into koine Greek so that it looked like they were early, from the time of Jesus, but actually came about 500 years after Christ. It’s “a new Greek Bible that never existed before,” known today as the Nestle Aland Greek New Testament (now into its 28th edition).

He acknowledges this is “a vast subject.” I’ll say. I haven’t internalized the story of the Bible the way Pearl has. The little reading I have done tells a different story about those manuscripts that were discovered in the 1800’s. If I want to understand this story better, I need to have a deeper understanding of the translations that were used to create the English Bible.

*    *    *

What I appreciate about Pearl is that he tells a more coherent story about the origin of the Bible. I felt like the previous speaker was in a rush to move beyond facts. With Pearl you get the sense that he’s happy to talk about and stand on the facts.

Three things that I’m thinking about:

1. He uses air quotes around “good, godly men” who don’t use the KJV. That’s not so subtle sarcasm, again, and I’m eager to hear these other men (side issue: is it just men who can have an opinion on these matters?) talk about what they are seeing and how they would answer his critiques of these other manuscripts. Are those who believe that the King James Bible is the only English expression of the word of God the only ones seeing clearly on the issue?

2. The wastebasket comes up again. That is a true story. But is it possible we have a case of stating a fact and then coming to the wrong conclusion? I think we have to make a distinction between the fact that a manuscript was in a wastebasket and the meaning of that fact. The fact that a manuscript that is used in modern translations was taken out of a trash heap doesn’t mean that that manuscripts is trash. The presence of something in a garbage pile does not necessarily mean it is garbage. It seems like it could be a little more complicated than that. A valuable manuscript could have been placed in the trash by a mistake. Alternatively, it could have been placed there by malice. I have pulled valuable things out of the garbage. I feel like there is a not-so-subtle conflation of those two things.

3. I’m also thinking about the fact that unbelievers were involved. Does that necessarily mean there is a problem with the manuscript? A Christian and an unbelieving plumber went out to work today. Will the work of the Christian be better just because he is a Christian. You can’t look at the work of the respective plumbers and tell which repair was performed by the Christian and which was performed by the unbeliever. Is there a similar thing here when it comes to the discovery of Bible manuscripts?

4. One of the questions I have is why is the King James the culmination? This seems to contradict what he said early on with the “ongoing process”. How do decide that the ongoing process stopped? If “God has continued to preserve and pass his scripture down” isn’t it possible that God is still working to create accurate translations of his word today?

Pearl’s closing statement goes a direction I didn’t see coming:

“Once you learn you’ll be shocked. You will feel like you do right now about the way the country is betraying you, politicians are betraying you in departing from the Constitution. The same kind of fraud, deceit … the same kind of willfulness to deprive you of your liberties. They’re also depriving you of the word of God. And the sooner you get educated on it and stop taking the word of ‘good, godly men,’ the sooner you will be reading the King James Bible and trusting every single word in it as the word of God.”

Clearly, if I want to understand where Pearl is coming from, there is a lot I don’t understand.

*    *    *

It’s good to know there are other perspectives. For example, this one:

What is extraordinary about this subject is how hard it is to sort all of this out, especially when you are a generalist in your knowledge. It is pretty amazing to read the comments section for this video. We have lots of opinions. It’s hard to get clear on the facts.

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[…] I began some preliminary investigations into translations of the Bible (here, here, and here) and came across the King James controversy, I decided that I needed to understand better the […]

by A Year in Review | Reading and Listening « on 1 January 2020 at 6:06 pm. #