Accuracy of the KJV

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JennyG

Puritan Board Graduate
There's no doubt our knowledge and understanding of Hebrew and Greek has improved since the days of the KJV.
(from the OP)

there's a bit of doubt in my mind about that. I can't say anything about Hebrew, but when it comes to the knowledge of the classical languages in general, I would say it has declined considerably even just within my own lifetime.
Unless you have a broad solid base of learning to draw on in any discipline, - unless it's taught thoroughly and universally to every bright child from an early age,- then the cutting edge of scholarship in that discipline is certain to suffer. The classics aren't like science, with today's results ever superseding yesterday's (if you believe all you read). And I can't believe it's any different with Hebrew, as we move further and further from the milieu that produced the MSS and into an altogether alien culture, with all its antithetical thought-patterns.
If you were to measure today's best academics against those of a few generations ago, such as Burgon, I think they'd come out looking silly, leave alone those 17th Century divines.
 
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Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
I didn't defend "God forbid." As I told Boliver, the KJV does the same thing but far less consistently.

Fair enough. But you do see my point. Jot and tittle is jot and tittle, regardless of frequency. I was just calling for consistency in our criticisms.

I see your point. For what it's worth, I do think that any translation into another language is going to require (and not wrongly) some slight adjustments to Hebrew and Greek idiom, but it is my opinion that there should be a good reason for each case and that it shouldn't be done to a greater degree than is necessary for clear understanding. I think the ESV is, on the whole, poorer at this than it is advertised to be. Sometimes the replacements seem almost arbitrary, when a straightforward translation would have made perfect sense.

And I can respect that. Part of the problem I think you will fine with criticism of the renderings of idioms, though, is that they are far more common that we realize. Unless one has dug into the original languages and seen, for instance, the underlying Hebrew, they can be missed. An example is Jonah 4:10, which describes the demise of the gourd-vine. The KJV renders the last part of the verse "which came up in a night, and perished in a night" (the ESV, btw, uses an almost identical translation: "which came into being in a night and perished in a night"). OK, fine. The problem is that both are translating a Hebrew idiom which literally reads, "which a son of the night became and a son of the night perished"). Of course, that would sound very odd to the ears of an English reader, hence the translators' rendering. All I'm saying is don't fault one translation for doing this and give a free pass to the other.
 

christiana

Puritan Board Senior
One place the KJV outshines all others is Genesis 7:1 where God tells Noah to 'come' into the ark. That phrase 'come into the ark' has such great significance for the whole of the gospel where we are to come into Christ, our ark of safety.
All other versions that use 'enter' or 'go' totally change the significance and cause it to diminish the meaning. Yet, in prior discussions of this on PB posters state the word can have the different meanings. For me, this brings questions then to how perhaps all other words in scripture can be altered to mean what I'd prefer as well. Not a good thing when we think the words of scripture are not inerrant as they were written.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
There's no doubt our knowledge and understanding of Hebrew and Greek has improved since the days of the KJV.
(from the OP)

there's a bit of doubt in my mind about that. I can't say anything about Hebrew, but when it comes to the knowledge of the classical languages in general, I would say it has declined considerably even just within my own lifetime.

A couple of things to keep in mind here. One is that the Greek of the NT is not classical Greek; it is actually written in koine (common) Greek, which, while similar, is not the same (Elizabethan English is similar, but not the same, as modern English, to use a crude analogy). As far as advances in the knowledge of Greek grammar goes, one that comes to mind is the Granville Sharp Rule -- an advancement since the day of the KJV, and one that has helped defend the deity of Christ directly from the NT text. In addition, as great a scholar and Christian gentleman as Dean Burgon may have been, he did not own a time machine. He would have been quite unaware of the many papyri discoveries of the 20th century, for instance.
 
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C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Graduate
I don't consider myself a fundamentalist but am a loyal KJV preacher. Now we might debate the definition of a fundamentalist. I suppose it all depend on who's using the word. But regardless of one's stance on the manuscripts and other issues, there is absolutely no excuse for any serious student of Scripture to hold the Authorized Version in contempt or to be in anyway dismissive of its monumental contribution to the Church of Christ for the last four hundred years.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
One is that the Greek of the NT is not classical Greek; it is actually written in koine (common) Greek

This is another fallacy that circulates around. Each NT author wrote differently, so while some of the NT books are in Koine Greek, others such as the ones written by Luke are in more classical Greek. It is not true to say that the entire NT was written in Koine Greek, only some of it.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
[As far as advances in the knowledge of Greek grammar goes, one that comes to mind is the Granville Sharp Rule -- an advancement since the day of the KJV, and one that has helped defend the deity of Christ directly from the NT text.

Sorry to burst the "advancement" bubble, but modern approaches give greater weight to stylistic variation of the definite article and have restored the kind of understanding which the AV translators worked with -- a far more intuitive approach to language.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
One is that the Greek of the NT is not classical Greek; it is actually written in koine (common) Greek

This is another fallacy that circulates around. Each NT author wrote differently, so while some of the NT books are in Koine Greek, others such as the ones written by Luke are in more classical Greek. It is not true to say that the entire NT was written in Koine Greek, only some of it.

This is a bit like saying that the OT was not written in Hebrew because some of it is in Aramaic.

This is news to me, since I've actually taken Greek in seminary, it is not some rumor that I heard circulating around. Perhaps you have taken Greek as well. They taught us koine Greek, not classical Greek (I can't imagine what value the latter would have been since it was pretty much a dead language by the 1st century A.D., at least to the average person). We translated all of 1 John and all of Ephesians. It was koine Greek, not classical Greek.

It is simply incorrect and misleading to say "the ones written by Luke are in more classical Greek." The opening of the Gospel of Luke is in a stylized Greek (as is the book of Hebrews), but these are the exceptions to the NT. And while they are stylized, they still are not in what would be ordinarily termed classical Greek. Matthew, Mark, and John are written in koine Greek. Paul's letters and John's epistles are in koine Greek. Etc. etc. etc.

But don't take my word for it. Here is Bill Mounce, from Basics of Biblical Greek:

The form of Greek used by writers from Homer (8th century B.C.) through Plato (4th century B.C.) is "Classical Greek." ... As the Greek language spread throughout the world and met other languages, it was altered (which is true of any language). The dialects also interacted with each other. Eventually this adaptation resulted in what today we call Koine Greek, the language, used by everyday people. ... It is this common, Koine Greek that is used in the Septuagint, the New Testament, and the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. (p. 1)

And from Daniel Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics:

The Koine was born out of the conquests of Alexander the Great. ... By the first century CE, Greek was the lingua franca of the whole Mediterranean region and beyond. (p. 15)

Both New Testament Greek and Septuagint Greek are considered substrata of the Koine. (p. 17)

For the most part, the Greek of the NT is conversational [Koine] Greek in its syntax -- somewhat below the refinement and sentence structure of literary Koine, but above the level found in most papyri ... . Its style, on the other hand, is largely Semitic -- that is, since almost all of the writers of the NT books are Jews, their style of writing is shaped both by their religious background and by their linguistic background. (p. 29)
 
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Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
I understand that the NT is not written in classical Greek, and I did not say that it was. I was simply objecting to the idea that it was all written in a type of simple, elementary Greek, which is what is generally implied when someone points out that the NT was written in Koine Greek. Both Charles Dickens and John Grisham technically wrote in modern English, but the result is hardly the same.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
[As far as advances in the knowledge of Greek grammar goes, one that comes to mind is the Granville Sharp Rule -- an advancement since the day of the KJV, and one that has helped defend the deity of Christ directly from the NT text.

Sorry to burst the "advancement" bubble, but modern approaches give greater weight to stylistic variation of the definite article and have restored the kind of understanding which the AV translators worked with -- a far more intuitive approach to language.

If "advancement" is not a suitable word, then substitute "development." As far as "modern approaches" goes. Daniel Wallace studies the rule in great detail in GGBB, noting that it has been greatly misunderstood and abused at times. In conclusion, he writes:

On the other hand, Sharp's rule has also been misunderstood, the net effect being to lessen certainty as to its value in christologically pregnant texts. It has been applied with great hesitation to Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 by Trinitarians in the past two centuries. However, a proper understanding of the rule shows it to have the highest degree of validity within the NT. Consequently, these two passages are as secure as any in the canon when it comes to identifying Christ as [theos].

My only point was to give an example of a grammar rule that had developed the knowledge of the koine Greek language since 1611 (Colwell's rule might be another). It was not meant to be a slight of the translators in any way. We must avoid both extremes so that we do not commit a chronological snobbery fallacy; modern language scholars do not necessarily know more because they are modern, but neither do they necessarily know less. More information is available today and language tools are more prevalent; on the other hand, education requirements and the like were perhaps far more demanding centuries ago, which I suspect was the substance of Jenny's comment. I remember reading somewhere that in order to receive a Th.D. during the period, one had to write a dissertation and then defend it before the college -- in Latin. Are there some scholars who could do that today? Perhaps. But I would suspect very few.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
I understand that the NT is not written in classical Greek, and I did not say that it was. I was simply objecting to the idea that it was all written in a type of simple, elementary Greek, which is what is generally implied when someone points out that the NT was written in Koine Greek. Both Charles Dickens and John Grisham technically wrote in modern English, but the result is hardly the same.

But that is not what you wrote:

Each NT author wrote differently, so while some of the NT books are in Koine Greek, others such as the ones written by Luke are in more classical Greek. It is not true to say that the entire NT was written in Koine Greek, only some of it.

If you meant something else, then you need to be clearer in what you write.

Obviously Dickens and Grisham have stylistic differences -- they lived a century apart from one another. They were also from different countries and wrote different genres of literature for different audiences. To the best of my knowledge, neither wrote in Middle English or Elizabethan English.
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
A quote from a blog post by Daniel Wallace about an annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature :

As remarkable as it may sound, most biblical scholars are not Christians. I don’t know the exact numbers, but my guess is that between 60% and 80% of the members of SBL do not believe that Jesus’ death paid for our sins, or that he was bodily raised from the dead. The post-lecture discussions are often spirited, and occasionally get downright nasty.​

Frustrations from the Front: The Myth of Theological Liberalism | Parchment and Pen
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
My only point was to give an example of a grammar rule that had developed the knowledge of the koine Greek language since 1611 (Colwell's rule might be another). It was not meant to be a slight of the translators in any way.

Point taken; but my point is that turning functions into rules is a problem because it detracts from the intuitive way in which a Greek reader would naturally read the text. The rule might be good for exegesis and analysis, but as a rule it rules out various stylistic functions of the definite article. Greek readers, as opposed to interpreters of a Greek text, would have a feel for the way the definite article functions which cannot be encapsulated in a rule. No doubt, more knowledge is an "advance" on less knowledge, but it cannot be considered an "organic development" when it takes away from the natural way in which a language would be understood.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Point taken; but my point is that turning functions into rules is a problem because it detracts from the intuitive way in which a Greek reader would naturally read the text. The rule might be good for exegesis and analysis, but as a rule it rules out various stylistic functions of the definite article. Greek readers, as opposed to interpreters of a Greek text, would have a feel for the way the definite article functions which cannot be encapsulated in a rule. No doubt, more knowledge is an "advance" on less knowledge, but it cannot be considered an "organic development" when it takes away from the natural way in which a language would be understood.

An excellent point.

The problem from our perspective is that we are so far removed from the language that we stumble over certain things. Certainly the original readers would have found these things far simpler! We do not have that luxury. And we have the tendency today to make exegetical mountains out of molehills (assuming that expression has the same meaning Down Under as it does here).
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
If you meant something else, then you need to be clearer in what you write.

You're right, I wasn't very clear and I apologize. What I meant was that when people say that the NT was written in common (Koine) Greek, this is generally intended as a means of inferring that the KJV is not true to the original because it is not written in common, simple English, while newer versions are. I was simply pointing out that this is a fallacy because, while all of the NT is technically written in Koine Greek, it is not all in a basic or simple style of Koine Greek.
 

PaulMc

Puritan Board Freshman
Two distinctive features of the Authorised Version lend particular credibility to claims of superior accuracy in translation. First, the Authorised Version makes use of italics to distinguish words in the English translation which are not present in the original language but are used to contribute to understanding and proper English. Secondly, the Authorised Version utilizes the old English forms of the second person singular and plural (e.g., thou, thee, ye) to communicate these crucial distinctions in English translation.

I think this is one of the most vital points of the whole discussion and yet barely anything has been mentioned of it!

I for one would not want to be without italics marking words not in the original (which sometimes involves interpretation); I find it very hard to understand why among modern versions only the NKJV maintains this (please correct me if I'm wrong, as I'm not familiar with ALL modern translations, but most).
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I for one would not want to be without italics marking words not in the original (which sometimes involves interpretation); I find it very hard to understand why among modern versions only the NKJV maintains this (please correct me if I'm wrong, as I'm not familiar with ALL modern translations, but most).

The NASB does it too, and my Oxford Longprimer (KJV) does not.
 

PaulMc

Puritan Board Freshman
The NASB does it too, and my Oxford Longprimer (KJV) does not.

OK. I've never seen a KJV that doesn't have italics, something is wrong there!

But the NIV and ESV, two of the most popular modern versions, do not, do they?
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
OK, this is my dumb question for the day: when the KJV was published in 1611, did that version also have italics?
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
An example of a "dynamic equivalence" in the KJV would be in Romans 6:2a. The KJV has the translation "God forbid," even though the words "God" and "forbid" are nowhere in the text. The NASB, on the other hand, translates me genoito more literally as "may it never be."

While the KJV rendering here may not be the most literal, does it really rise to the level of "dynamic equivalence?" Is there really that much difference between "God forbid" and "may it never be?" It seems to me that it doesn't rise to the level of the kinds of dynamic translations you find in so often in the NIV and especially the NLT, etc.

In my admittedly somewhat novice opinion, it seems to me that there are many passages in which the KJV is more literal than the NASB, especially the 1995 NASB. Many times, especially in the OT, the NASB will adopt a more idiomatic English translation and will have the literal translation in the margin, while the literal translation will be reflected in the KJV text (and often the NKJV as well.)

Edit: After reading the whole thread I see that the me genoito issue has already seen some discussion. I may be missing something but I still don't see a real difference between the meaning of "God forbid" and "may it never be" other than the latter apparently represents more of a strict word for word correspondence.
 
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Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
Another thing to keep in mind when translating are the differences in languages. For example, if I was to translate the English expression "it's raining cats and dogs" into another language, the most literal translation might not neccesarily be the best. They might take it as an apocalyptic omen instead of just an expression that means it is raining hard. An easier example would be the Spanish phrase "por favor". If I translated it literally into English it would be "for favor", but we all know that it means "please", so "for favor" would be the more literal translation, but "please" would be a better translation given the differences in the languages.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
An example of a "dynamic equivalence" in the KJV would be in Romans 6:2a. The KJV has the translation "God forbid," even though the words "God" and "forbid" are nowhere in the text. The NASB, on the other hand, translates me genoito more literally as "may it never be."

While the KJV rendering here may not be the most literal, does it really rise to the level of "dynamic equivalence?" Is there really that much difference between "God forbid" and "may it never be?" It seems to me that it doesn't rise to the level of the kinds of dynamic translations you find in so often in the NIV and especially the NLT, etc.

In my admittedly somewhat novice opinion, it seems to me that there are many passages in which the KJV is more literal than the NASB, especially the 1995 NASB. Many times, especially in the OT, the NASB will adopt a more idiomatic English translation and will have the literal translation in the margin, while the literal translation will be reflected in the KJV text (and often the NKJV as well.)

Edit: After reading the whole thread I see that the me genoito issue has already seen some discussion. I may be missing something but I still don't see a real difference between the meaning of "God forbid" and "may it never be" other than the latter apparently represents more of a strict word for word correspondence.

I believe I addressed the issue of dynamic equivalence with regard to the phrase in post # 60 above. You may have missed that; it's a long thread. I placed "dynamic equivalency" in quotation marks on purpose to indicate I was not specifically calling it that, but showing it wasn't "word-for-word" at this point. The use of "non-literal" here might be a better phraseology.

In reality, it's a most peculiar problem. The words "God" and "forbid" are obviously not in the original language. So why the usage? It could be that it was a common idiom at the time. It might be a carryover from the Wycliffe Bible, but I am only speculating. I know for me (and this is strictly for me personally), seeing the phrase gives me pause. I would not use phrases like this in everyday speech because it seems (again, to me) to be a misuse of God's name. Perhaps I am being too strict in my adherence to the 3rd commandment, but I would rather err on the side of caution. I simply think there is an easier way to render the phrase -- one that is a far more literal translation of the actual text, and one that does not raise an issue of conscience like this with me. :2cents:
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
NASB, NIV, etc. have all gone through revisions...a revision is not a new translation.
 
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