3.31.2008

More Musings about KJV Onlyism

I used to think the KJV was the best translation, at one time. I have Edward Hills The KJV Defended; Thomas Hollands Crowned With Glory, and a couple by D.A. Waites. I have read some of them twice in fact. I do not hold to that position anymore however.

I am not a linguist or fluent in the original languages but I am a student currently and have a desire to know the the languages of which the New Testament was inspired, koine Greek. I am blessed to have The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts and several lexicons and text critical commentaries as well. These among others are helpful aids.

As it concerns the New Testament, Greek is the language which informs the meaning of the receiving language. For you and I that is probably English. That said I believe it is within our purview as Pentecostals to not only "follow" the Spirit but also understand that the original inspiration was made in a language that was not mine nor yours. I do not believe we should all run to schools to become linguists or lexicographers but I do think we must be careful in applying the principles of the ancient tongues. If authorial intent means anything, which I strongly believe it does, then the Scripture text is communicating a particular message to its audience.

There are a few theories or criticisms of interpreting the Scriptures. Such a one is called Reader Response, which means that the meaning of the text is determined by the person, apart from the author’s original intent. I believe this is a pervading trend we should avoid. I have sat and heard Bible studies started with questions like, "What does this Scripture mean to you?". The question should have been, "What is the Scripture telling us here?" We must train our thinking so that we hear what God is saying through His Word and not necessarily what we can analogize or scrutinize it into saying. Finding this meaning I believe starts with understanding, first, that the Word has a meaning for us and we are forming our opinions to it and not conversely. Secondly, it means to allow the illumination of the Holy Spirit to illumine the meaning as well. I believe that the two should always agree, in principle.

The main tension in the discussion of KJV Onlyism is the Minority Text versus the Majority text essentially. The Minority Text is much older while the Majority Text is newer. The Byzantine text family, which is the stream of manuscripts for the Majority Text, did not appear in full form till the fourth century. The Majority Text is basically an eclectic reading of all Byzantine mss. This work was not published till 1982 and then another in 1991. The Bishop Bible came after the Geneva and then the KJV but all those versions were translated probably using the TR. Not the Majority Text.

The Minority Text existed even earlier. Someone once said, "While it is not always true that older is better it is generally true." I believe that a translator will tell us that we cannot simply "count" manuscripts. They must be weighed. A manuscript written a century after the original will probably have more weight than a Byzantine 14th Century manuscript would. As I mentioned earlier it will come down to variants. Both families (Byzantine, Alexandrian, and others) of manuscripts have variants.

As suggested, so far as we know, there was no Byzantine text, at least in full form, until the fourth century. It did not become the majority until the ninth century. Prior to that the evidence we have says the Alexandrian texts were used and came before the Byzantine. KJV Only advocates cite some patristic writings that follow the Byzantine reading but that does not mean that they were using that "text type" in actuality.

Some make much to do over this Scripture. Notice the two renderings closely.

Col 1:14 in whom we have redemption, th forgiveness of sins. NIV

Col 1:14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. NKJV
Using this very passage some believe that they have now identified the NIV as the “bloodless Bible.” Any person that is a student of Scripture might note that Ephesians and Colossians contain parallel passages. The parallel to Colossians 1:14 in Ephesians is found at Ephesians 1:7. Consider these two renderings closely.

Eph 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace NKJV

Eph 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace NIV
If translations, such as the NIV, that use the Minority Text were really trying to hide the blood of Christ and pervert the message of Scripture, why include it here? The answer is that they are not. This is only one example but should be kept in mind as we wade through posts that are quick to vilify the NIV and its renderings. It is always helpful to remember context and the testimony of Scripture as a whole when we are attempting to "rightly" divide the Word.

3 comments:

Polycarp said...

Great post. What a shame that too many KJVO advocates out there attempt to continue to use the same old strawman arguments.

James Anderson said...

It is a shame. In fact, I faced these very same arguments just this week. There still many out there that consider the KJV to be the only translation that they will bear. All others are probably perversions or translated by a faulty Minority Text. At any rate, I am thankful for the work that has been done in bringing us the Word of God. I am thankful for all the recent research the last several years that has given us great insight. God bless you and thanks for replying.

Kirk VanOoteghem said...

James,
I have been enjoying this topic here and on the discussion on WordShare. Thanks for posting this. I have been reminded of a few things I hadn't thought about for a while and learned a few new things on this topic.

I also enjoy your blog, in general! Keep it up!

God bless,
Kirk

Adversus Trinitas

"...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8:24 ESV)