Saturday, May 14, 2005

Responding to Some Particular KJV-Only Claims

A link was recommended to me regarding questions (1) and (2) put forth in an earlier post regarding King James Version claims.

My claim is that somebody with a King James and somebody with, say, an NASB or NIV will have all of the major doctrines of Christianity firmly upheld. One commentator here at the blog has pretty much implied that the PP is out of his league here. The PP has a good command of NT Greek and has a working utility with the basics of textual criticism, though I pass myself off as an expert in neither. However, I can tell the difference between an argument and silliness, and that should help carry the day in the end.

The link contains four introductory paragraphs before proceeding to a list of individual verses and passages meant to establish the claim. I wish to make some special comments on the third and fourth paragraphs.

Here is that third paragraph. I'm going to number the sentences for clarity in referencing. I will number them as [1], [2], etc.

[1] Are we to believe the scholars when they tell us that no important doctrines are affected by the new Modern Versions? [2] It is obvious that they are not correct. [3] What they really mean to say is that when all the changes have been made the Bible Doctrines are still there somewhere else in the Bible. [4]If there are ten verses showing the Virgin Birth of Christ, and they have removed two, there are still eight remaining to prove the doctrine. [5] That may satisfy them, but the Fundamental believer sees that as a piece by piece destruction of the Word of God.

The Pedantic Protestant responds:

[1]: This is the crux of the dispute.

[2]: My experience contradicts the claim here, and Evangelical scholars such as Wallace and Carson have my same experience, so perhaps it isn't obvious after all.

[3]: This really doesn't cover the possibilities. For example, consider the famous textual variant in John 1:18. The KJV/TR has the reading "only-begotten Son" while the modern eclectic UBS4/NA27 text has "God-only-begotten" [or "only-begotten God"].
Regarding this passage, the author of the link states regarding this verse:

1:18 "the only begotten Son" is changed to "The only begotten God." Such a phrase is foreign to Scripture. It accommodates the Arian teaching that Christ was a lesser deity created by God. It agrees with the teaching of Origen that Christ was not equal with God in essence and nature. Sound Fundamental doctrine concerning Christ is that he is one person of the Triune God and that he proceeds from the Father by an eternal generation and reveals God to men as the Son of God.

Certainly, the "only-begotten God" reading can accommodate the Arian teaching that Christ is a lesser deity created by God. But this has no logical impact on the argument, for modern day Arians [most notably the Watchtower Society] have argued that the Greek in John 1:1 really implies lesser deity for Christ, and observe that John 1:1 is not a problematic passage with respect to variants between the Textus Receptus and the NA27 text. Arians have taken another Johannine passage, where Jesus states that the Father is greater than He is, another nonproblematic passage, and have argued against the full deity of Christ on the basis of this passage as well. So, the proper response to the claim that a reading can be used to accommodate Arianism is this: So what? The Arian exegesis was wrong in the early centuries, and it is still wrong today. Basing textual decisions regarding a passage on whether a cult or heresy might make fallacious appeal to that passage is lazy and ignores the actual internal and external evidence that must be considered.

Unlike the claim of [3], if the proper reading is "only-begotten-God," a la the NIV, say, then while the passage isn't dealing directly with the doctrine of the Son of God, we have another passage here that identifies the Word as God. I have in my own experience used this in my interactions with Watchtower and Mormons. They'd sure like John 1:18 to read "Son" and not "God"! So, it is sort of a tradeoff here. We get something doctrinally relative to the Son in one reading, and the other reading gives us something relative to the Godhead. Actually, neither reading causes the slightest problem for the Christian.

The point of all this is to show that the claim in [3] isn't true, for it is too sweeping. The PP notes that these sorts of irresponsible sweeping statements that are easily disproven with easy-to-find specific counter-instantiations are rather par for the KJV-only golf course.

But, what would happen if [3] were true? Nothing on a logical level. If we have a clearly stated proposition X in, say, writings A, B, and C, but a textual variant calls X into question in writing A, then we still have the attestation of X in B and C. No problem here.

But the author of the provided link has a problem as stated in [4]-[5]. Let's take his example of 10 passages for the Virgin Birth [VB] in the KJV versus, say, his figure of 8 passagse for a modern version such as, say the NIV. I don't know about these numbers, but am merely dealing with the argument as it stands. Requoting [4]-[5], the author states:

If there are ten verses showing the Virgin Birth of Christ, and they have removed two, there are still eight remaining to prove the doctrine. [5] That may satisfy them, but the Fundamental believer sees that as a piece by piece destruction of the Word of God.

I suppose that this is really the problem of the person who needs 10 passages instead of 8 passages. To the best of my knowledge, nobody "removes" passages willy-nilly, but does so [or should do so] on objective external evidence of mss citations and such, while weighing that with the more subjective internal evidence of usage, idiom, flow of thought, etc. How we relate to the alleged "piece by piece destruction of the Word of God" beyond pointing out the emotive and question-begging wording depends on whether we accept the KJV-only claims.

The fourth paragraph is numbered as well for my referencing:

[1] We would accuse them of taking away from the Word of God. They would accuse us of using a Bible which has many additions inserted by overzealous Christian copyists. [2] The issue now becomes quite clear. We must either believe that overzealous heretics have corrupted the original Word of God or believe that overzealous believers have added to the original Word of God. I can understand why heretics would want to corrupt the original Word of God, but I cannot believe that Christians would add one word to the Word of God which they have been entrusted to copy and pass along. [3] The Spirit of God within Christians would put a holy awe and reverence around the sacred word and guided by that same Spirit they would copy what God had given them. [4] My conclusion is that the new Modern Versions are based on Greek manuscripts that have been corrupted by heretics who changed the Word of God to agree with their rejection of the Deity of Christ and their Humanism regarding salvation. [5] The Greek Text underlying the King James Version is not filled with additions made by overzealous Christians. It is the Word of God preserved by the Spirit of God and it exalts the Lord Jesus Christ, giving him his proper place and the glory due unto his name.


[1] Nothing really comment-worthy here.

[2] False dilemma here. Variants come in many other ways than (i) "overzealous heretics" corrupting --- note the active voice here!! --- the earlier mss and (ii) "overzealous believers" adding to the "original Word of God." A standard textbook, The Text of the New Testament by Aland and Aland gives a pretty thorough list of other unintentional ways variants can creep in:

(a) Dittography,
(b) Haplography,
(c) Homoioteleuton,
(d) Homoioarcton, and
(e) Itacisms, to name a few.

Whether an unintentional error makes a pet orthodox doctrine more clear or less clear, it is still an error. Doesn't the author have even the rudimentary basics of textual criticism? Based on the statement he made, it sure doesn't seem like it.

[3] No disagreement here, really, but this seems like a non sequitur .

[4] We get to the crux of the matter here. Somehow, in the author's mind [4] follows from all of this. Note that no actual internal/external textual considerations as of yet have been adduced in support of this claim .

[5] The claim here is that

[5] The Greek Text underlying the King James Version is not filled with additions made by overzealous Christians. It is the Word of God preserved by the Spirit of God and it exalts the Lord Jesus Christ, giving him his proper place and the glory due unto his name.

Wow! This is a strong conclusion, especially since no evidence is given. More importantly, the assertion is false. For example:

(1) The famous pericope concerning the adulteress, John 7:53-8:11, is found in the KJV, but is most certainly not authentic. Here, we in all likelihood have an addition to the original text.

[The heart and soul of this strong claim is the absence of this pericope from a very large collection of manuscripts, many of them quite early. One can consult Metzger, the Alands, or one can find a nice succinct-yet-detailed accounting of the internal/external evidence in something like this.]

This is what the author of the article states regarding this pericope:

7:53-8:11 The whole story of the woman taken in adultery is omitted. This is one of the most blessed portions of the Word of God. It is intended by God through the inspired writer to amplify what came before in 3:17. The law was given by Moses but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (1:17).

There's really no argument given as to why the pericope should be included by the author. In fairness, here's a link to an argument that contends that the pericope is genuine. Readers can decide. The PP finds the argument given there not unreasonable, but not nearly as strong as those of Metzger or Harris referred to earlier. [This is a mere reporting of my thinking --- defending this would take a fair amount of time for another post!] The reader, as usual, can evaluate these for himself. I'd say that there are very good reasons why liberal and conservative scholarship are generally in firm agreement regarding the inauthenticity of the pericope.

(2) The [in]-famous Johannine Comma, I John 5:7-8.

Here the text underlying the KJV has the longer reading which can be taken to support orthodox Trinitarianism, while the eclectic critical texts do not have this longer reading. The author of the KJV link states

The whole verse bearing testimony to the Triune God is discarded. There are at least 20 Greek manuscripts which have this verse in. It is also seen in the writings of the church fathers and lectionaries. It directly affects the Bible doctrine of the Trinity.

The UBS 4 Textual Commentary by Metzger et al states contrary to the above that the longer reading is absent from all Greek mss save eight of them, and within these eight mss four of them have the longer reading as a variant reading written in the margin as a later addition to the manuscript . I refer the interested reader to Wallace's discussion at this link.

Whether the doctrine of the Trinity is affected here is secondary to the actual evidence produced, and the evidence appears overwhelmingly against the inclusion of the Comma.

I note that actual evidence for/against a series of variants with some KJV proponents doesn't seem to be based on empirical evidence so much as whatever a priori assumptions they bring to the text regarding what doctrine needs protection. It is true that the Trinity is under attack today, but what's new about that? There is plenty of attestation in the NT regarding the Father's being God, the Son's being God, the Holy Spirit's being God, the separate status each has in the economy of the Godhead, the unity of the Godhead, etc. Those who deny this on the basis of the large amount of scriptural texts that are indisputed really wouldn't bat an eyelash at the Comma were it authentic. [The Watchtower folks to whom I've tried to witness have their own interpretations of the Comma that support their Arianism, so the Comma there serves cultish purposes.]

Wallace captures my feelings on the issue:

Unfortunately, for many, the Comma and other similar passages have become such emotional baggage that is dragged around whenever the Bible is read that a knee-jerk reaction and ad hominem argumentation becomes the first and only way that they can process this issue. Sadly, neither empirical evidence nor reason can dissuade them from their views. The irony is that their very clinging to tradition at all costs (namely, of an outmoded translation which, though a literary monument in its day, is now like a Model T on the Autobahn) emulates Roman Catholicism in its regard for tradition. [5] If the King James translators knew that this would be the result nearly four hundred years after the completion of their work, they’d be writhing in their graves.

Footnote [5] referenced in the quote above reads:

5 Thus, TR-KJV advocates subconsciously embrace two diametrically opposed traditions: when it comes to the first 1500 years of church history, they hold to a Bultmannian kind of Christianity (viz., the basis for their belief in the superiority of the Byzantine manuscripts—and in particular, the half dozen that stand behind the TR—has very little empirical substance of historical worth). Once such readings became a part of tradition, however, by way of the TR, the argument shifts to one of tradition rather than non-empirical fideism. Neither basis, of course, resembles Protestantism.


A reader referred me to the original link given, as if it would make some sort of sense. I contend that the article is not particularly helpful, and is generally puerile. The sweeping claims made there are easily shown to be false, and the listing of individual passages where doctrines are allegedly changed fails in at least two major ways.

(1) For each passage, the only thing that is pointed out is just how the variant might possibly affect doctrine within that passage alone, [note that this is not the issue under discussion!] but no orthodox Christian doctrine that is in jeopardy when one leaves the TR for the NA27 [say] has yet been exhibited. This has been my question all along.

(2) The author has made his own subjective preferences for what doctrine needs protection or stating the guiding [and only?] criterion by which he defends the TR.

Now, the author wasn't writing a scholarly paper, so we can't fault him for not having a journal-worthy article. However, the courtesy extended to the author stops when completely irresponsible and silly claims regarding the Bible, history, motives, etc are made, all without any evidence adduced. Whether in a journal or on a website, this is just sloppy.

Basically, if the links referred to by the commentator were meant to persuade or make me revise my thinking or question it, they fail to do the trick. In fact, this given link isn't so much unconvincing as it is a giant non sequitur. Again, readers can make up their own minds and are welcome to disagree or point out whatever flaws they think I have in my brief-by-necessity presentation.


Blogger c.t. said...

Throughout this post you sounded like an atheist responding to a Christian who was trying to explain to him what faith is. The same "No. I don't see it. Sorry. Fallacy, fallacy, fallacy. You can't convince me."

You also totally missed the fact that you are arguing from a basic assumption that your corrupt manuscripts are legitimate which is not the subject of your original two questions.

You wanted to know what doctrines were affected by your corrupt manuscripts. You were shown just that. You write it off with the usual boilerplate, "Well, if doctrine is effected detrimentally in 8 out of 10 instances, I don't see the problem because we still have the 8." The fact that it was pointed out to you that the devil is engaged in a progressive, evolving attack on the God's Word just goes right past you.

Then in one part you state that the author doesn't give evidence for a claim, when you are merely responding to introductory paragraphs and all the evidence, further on in the article, is what you were obviously avoiding like a child avoiding his mother after he knows he's been caught doing something wrong.

No, I (nor the author) can't 'convince' you of anything. This is a matter of spiritual discernment. One needs the Spirit of Truth in one to be able to see. Also, one needs independence of mind and the courage to fear God rather than fearing man and man's opinion.

This last point is something you should ponder.

Also, you stated you were milk fed on a Living Bible and the NIV and you now continue with the NIV. That alone shows you havn't even developed an interest or valuation for accurate translation even based on the corrupt manuscripts...

And, again, don't allow my sarcasm to influence you in these matters. This is the Word of God we're talking about. It is your lifeline... (It is other people's lifeline as well. One thing that is very grave for you is if you were to push the corrupt manuscript translations to others. Your vanity and pride will probably keep you where you are right now, but God really frowns on people who know better who then push the devil's work on the unsuspecting and innocent...

Sunday, May 15, 2005 3:02:00 AM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

Regarding fallacies, I call 'em as I see 'em. Unsupported claims are unsupported claims, whether made by me, you, the Pope, the atheist, etc.

I addressed two major examples, even providing a link to what seemed a counterpresentation.
This would seem to falsify your charge that I avoided the list.


Sunday, May 15, 2005 3:39:00 AM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

Also, you stated you were milk fed on a Living Bible and the NIV and you now continue with the NIV. That alone shows you havn't even developed an interest or valuation for accurate translation even based on the corrupt manuscripts...

I even once videotaped a Mets game on TV without having first obtained the express written consent of Major League Baseball, and I completely attribute that to my Living Bible with its incorrect mss. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?


Sunday, May 15, 2005 3:44:00 AM  
Blogger steve said...

So c.t. is now reduced to defending the church of Archbishop Laud, Bishop Pike, Joseph Fletcher, Bishop John Spong, and Mr. Flambeau Incarnate, Bishop Vicki Gene Robinson. Do his harlotries know no limit?

Sunday, May 15, 2005 6:46:00 AM  
Blogger steve said...

'Tis shocking and utterly appalling that c.t. would champion the work of Erasmus, that infamous Romanist and notorious opponent of Luther. Sad to say, c.t. has been wholly seduced by the wanton wiles and carnal blandishments of the Scarlet Woman!

Sunday, May 15, 2005 8:37:00 AM  
Blogger steve said...

Please pray for c.t., that wayward sheep, if sheep he be, and not some Romish goat, that he may be delivered from the lascivious lap and ample bosom of the Scarlet Woman!

Sunday, May 15, 2005 9:06:00 AM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

Steve --- don't forget to pray for the Spirit of Truth to come to him as well so that he may see and discern such things!!


Sunday, May 15, 2005 3:44:00 PM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

Seriously, c.t., I can appreciate the dedication to purity and such. I've seen plenty of all the modern bugaboos in grad school, my academic life of the present, as well as in some various church bodies, where a desire to stick with what is true is derided as being hopelessly anachronistic.

But, as has been stated on my part, liberalism has not been shown to be a byproduct of "corrupt, Satanic mss."
Rationalists and such deconstructed, demythologized, etc, the TR just as liberal scholarship today deconstructs, demythologizes the eclectic text.


Sunday, May 15, 2005 3:56:00 PM  
Anonymous 1689 said...

Steve: Sir, you should not speak that way of the Church of England... but it's fun, I admit. As to what 'Liberalism' is the result of, I'm afraid the PP is right here. As I documented in my article 'Sapping the Foundations' (The Reformer, March-April issue 2005), Liberalism resulted from the application an evolutionist framework to the Bible.

['The Reformer', founded by the Earl of Shaftsbury in 1845, is available only from:
The Protestant Alliance
77 Ampthill Road
MK45 1BD]

Monday, May 16, 2005 11:33:00 AM  

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