Only Perfect Translation?

Discussion in 'Translations and Manuscripts' started by JS116, Nov 7, 2011.

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  1. JS116

    JS116 Puritan Board Freshman

    Back in high school years,I've talked to a person who once said that the KJV is the only perfect english translation,at that time I used to read the NIV so that sparked me to find out more about the issue.

    Now,at that time I knew very little about the formation of the cannon and after embracing reformed theology and studying a little church history,I know alot more but still don't know as much as I should today about it.I know the Septuagint greek and hebrew manuscript is the original version of text,but I know little about how it was formed,standardized and set apart from the apocrypha so I feel I will be inadequate to say anything about it if an unbeliever or believer asked me,which could be a hindrance.

    With that being said,if anybody as any helpful resources to help me,I would GREATLY appreciate it.I am a student at community college going for computer engineering and I dont think any secular classes offered would be really beneficial to truly diving into the issue since the teachers really don't even believe in the infallibility of the scriptures ,so I need some lectures,links or books to kinda give me an introduction into it.
  2. SolaSaint

    SolaSaint Puritan Board Sophomore

    James White wrote a good book on the KJV only issue, not sure of the title, just look in for his books.
  3. Weston Stoler

    Weston Stoler Puritan Board Sophomore

    I used to be a member in an IFB KJV only church. That doctrine is a sad and tragic doctrine. Not because I don't love the KJV but because so many cannot truly understand 17th century english.

    James white also has quiet a few videos on it.
  4. Dearly Bought

    Dearly Bought Puritan Board Junior

    I would encourage you to consider some of the following resources in your study:

    Trinitarian Bible Society Articles

    Trinitarian Bible Society Audio (I would start by listening to some of the audio here for a good introduction to the Traditional Text position)

    Traditional Text Pamphlets

    "The King James Version Defended" by Dr. E.F. Hills (various formats, e-Sword module)

    JerusalemBlade's Textual Posts

    Please note that these men are not KJV-only IFB's, but rather attempt to approach the issues from an explicitly Reformed viewpoint.
  5. Moireach

    Moireach Puritan Board Freshman

    I would echo what's been said. The Trinitatian Bible Society have the best resources on the KJV (in its favour). To see the case against it you don't have to go past James White.
  6. Hebrew Student

    Hebrew Student Puritan Board Freshman


    I would say this is absolutely indefensible. The difficulty with this claim is that, at the time the KJV was translated, the academic study of the Hebrew Bible in Christian circles was only in its infancy. Hence, in order to do their philology in the Hebrew portions of the Bible, they relied very heavily on Latin and other translations.

    The problem is, since the time of the translation of the KJV, other cognate languages to Biblical Hebrew have been discovered and deciphered. For example, the East Semitic language of Akkadian was deciphered beginning in the 1860's, and has helped a whole lot in dealing with many of the lists of animals in the Pentateuch. Also, Egyptian Hieroglyphic was deciphered in 1820, and it has given us an understanding into many of the Egyptian loanwords that are found in the Hebrew Bible. Also, we have the major find of Ugaritic in the 1920's. Ugaritic is a Northwest Semitic language like Hebrew, and has many similarities to Hebrew. Hence, we were able to see the definitions of several obscure words more accurately, and even correct faulty word divisions in the Masoretic text, because Ugaritic gave us a much more extensive Northwest Semitic vocabulary [c.f., Proverbs 26:23 in the KJV and the NASB].

    Not only that, the KJV was long before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls which demonstrate that the rescentions of the Septuagint and the Samaritan Pentateuch predate the time of Christ. The KJV translators were unaware of these things.

    Now, I should mention that that does not say anything about the KJV translators themselves; they did the best they could with what they had. I like what Greg Bahnsen had to say on this issue:

    The point is we enjoy so much more information today concerning the text of scripture, and we should use it to become more and more accurate in our understanding of scripture.

    As far as resources, our textbooks at Trinity for Old Testament Textual Criticism were Emmanuel Tov's book Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, Wuthwein's book The Text of the Old Testament, and Kyle McCarter's little book Textual Criticism, Recovering the Text of the Hebrew Bible. I would also recommend reading anything by Goshen Gottstein, Shemaryahu Talmon, and Bruce Waltke. However, it might be good to begin with a simplified introductions to these books and articles such as Ellis Brotzman's Old Testament Textual Criticism, a Practical Introduction.

    God Bless,
  7. Todd King

    Todd King Puritan Board Freshman

    New Age Bible Versions by G.A. Ripplinger is a very scholarly examination of the subject.
  8. BibleCyst

    BibleCyst Puritan Board Freshman

    I pray that this is sarcasm.
  9. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior

    Surely you don't mean the Gail Riplinger whose degrees are in interior design, art, and home economics, who has never taught professionally other than in the field of home economics, and who cannot read Greek and Hebrew?

    Surely not the Gail Riplinger whose many errors, deliberate mis-citations, and invented statistics have been thoroughly exposed time and time again?

    Here's just one example: Why Respond to Gail Riplinger? | - Worlds Largest Bible Study Site
  10. Weston Stoler

    Weston Stoler Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm sure it is sarcasm. If it is not someone needs to go get you an esv and go to work :D
  11. NB3K

    NB3K Puritan Board Sophomore

  12. Dearly Bought

    Dearly Bought Puritan Board Junior

    Since you have raised the example of Proverbs 26:23 again, I would like to briefly address this proposed advance in understanding. Waltke, who you cite as an authority above, endorses the traditional reading after rehearsing the relevant literature (The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 15-31, page 342, footnote 42). Apparently the meaning of the Ugaritic term which is supposed to lend the insight into the Hebrew text is itself in question! Harold Dressler's essay on "The Lesson of Proverbs 26:23" is helpful in this regard.

    It would appear that the textual change was driven by the assumptions of recent archaeological research which left no room for the traditional reading. This case demonstrates the importance of the text critic's presuppositions. Should the current assumptions of unbelieving archaeologists determine the Biblical text or should the Biblical text determine the presuppositions of archaeology?
  13. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

  14. PointyHaired Calvinist

    PointyHaired Calvinist Puritan Board Sophomore

    "God And" Riplinger is a great example of why even general users of the KJV, and those who support its superiority, get lumped in with nutjobs.

    Letis, Hills, and TBS are good pro-KJVs, and White is the premier author against KJV supremacy.
  15. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Read the Translators' Preface, which for some reason is left out of any KJV that I've seen, and see if those who translated the KJV believed it was beyond improvement.

    The Translators' Preface and alternate readings should be properly published with each copy of the KJV.

    Translators' Preface to 1611 KJV

    The KJV is a very good translation of the Bible, but not the only one.
  16. Hebrew Student

    Hebrew Student Puritan Board Freshman

    Dearly Bought,

    First of all, the issue is contextual with that verse. Willem VanGemeren, my professor, said one of the things that he dislikes about Waltke's commentary is that it is too lexical, and not contextual enough. This is a case in point. The problem is that the KJV translation here is absolutely meaningless given the context of clay. What would be the point of putting specifically silver dross on top of clay, and how would it make sense out of the Proverb? If you take the Ugaritic evidence, then you have a perfect parallel. Just as you cover dirty clay with glaze in order to make it look better, fervent lips only cover up an evil heart, but do not take it away.

    Yes, you are right the issue is presuppositions. The problem is your presuppositions as Bahnsen rightly pointed out are very similar to those who would say that we should go back to seventeenth century medical books, and not avail ourselves of the medical insights that we have gained since then. In this case, you have mistakenly not done your own research, and relied upon an interpretation that doesn't make any sense when you consider the overall context, all in service of a tradition. At least we can't blame Waltke for that; he has his reasons, even though I believe they are invalid.

    BTW, I am also aware of the dispute of the Ugaritic term. However, most Northwest Semitic Lexicographers will accept that definition, and most accept its validity here. The number of people who dispute what I have said are incredibly small, and their argument is largely lexical, not exegetical. The dispute is not very widespread at all. I would also add that, even the article you cited notes that there is a Hittite cognate for this word which means "glaze." Hence, it is not just cognate evidence from Ugaritic that can be used to support this interpretation, but also Hittite as well. Also, it fits the context like a glove. All of these arguments together make the defense of this tradition highly unlikely.

    I would also point out that these scholars would totally reject your notion of the "Traditional text." Even Waltke recognizes the impossibility of these things. While he would agree with the traditional reading Proverbs 26:23, his Doctoral work on the use of the Samaritan Pentateuch a priori rejects your position. I will add one more problem for this position as well. I have brought this up before, and gotten no satisfactory response. Consider the text of Habakkuk 1:5 and Acts 13:41 in the KJV:

    Habakkuk 1:5 Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.

    Acts 13:41 Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.

    Which is the "preserved" word of God? Is it "among the heathen" or "dispisers?"

    Also, what do you do with the blunders in the KJV such as "unicorns." Do you not agree that the evidence from Ugaritic and Akkadian helps us better understand the meanings of those words? Or, are you going to take a Greek mythological character and say it exists, all in an effort to preserve your tradition?

    The point is the KJV translators were ignorant. They were dealing at a time when Hebrew studies were in their infancy. They had no way of knowing some of these things. In fact, I would say, if the KJV translators were alive today, and they had the information we have, they would use it.

    I also think presuppositions play a role in that, we are continuing to understand more and more about the text of the Bible. What I am saying makes sense in the context; it is not just willy nilly. It fits the contours of the text. That is something the position you are articulating cannot care about. it is only concerned with a tradition, whether it butchers the text or not. I would rather have the truth. Your position is destructive to the truth, because it places a tradition in the way of accurately understanding the text.

    God Bless,
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2011
  17. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I doubt that anyone questions that. But it is quite different to say that they would make use of all information available, and to assert that they would come to the same conclusions that contemporary users of that information have reached.
  18. Hebrew Student

    Hebrew Student Puritan Board Freshman

    I was just checking on the KJV translation of שי in Isaiah 18:7 as well. The Ugaritic term ty appears to be a cognate and, in fact, the vocabulary is almost identical to what is found in the Ugaritic letters we did in Ugaritic class. The KJV translation is *way* off here:

    In that time shall the present be brought unto the LORD of hosts of a people scattered and peeled,

    The actual rendering of the passage should be that a people scattered and peeled *will bring* a tribute offering, not that they will be the offering. In fact, *all* other translations have this. The KJV is simply in error here, again, mostly because the didn't know the significance of this vocabulary [שי with יבל] in Northwest Semitic.

    God Bless,

    ---------- Post added at 08:07 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:59 PM ----------


    First of all, just like at the time of the KJV, not everyone agrees today.

    Secondly, I was arguing against the idea that we should just take the KJV as the final standard, and leave out all of the evidence that has come down since then. When you enshrine the KJV as the standard, or the text which underlies the KJV, you do have to basically say that the discoveries that have been made since that time are totally irrelevant, because the KJV is your standard. That is what I was arguing against. The KJV translators would *not* have accepted this notion. As the preface to the reader indicates, they allow that their work can be and should be corrected by later discoveries.

    We should all guard against this notion and, instead, "Be dillegent to present ourselves approved to God" by "rightly handling the word of truth." When you just enshrine ideas from a point in history, and say that they can never be challenged, then you simply cannot be interested in truth unless you accept the infallibility of the KJV translators, a concept which they themselves rejected.

    God Bless,
  19. Hebrew Student

    Hebrew Student Puritan Board Freshman

    Hey Everyone!

    I was thinking about the article that DearlyBought linked to, which is generally the article people who still hold to the MT word division point to, and I was struck by his rejection of the most common interpretation of the crux interpretum in the Anat epic, namely, that this is dealing with burial ritual. Here is Simon Parker's translation of the text:

    In the end a man gets what?
    A man gets what as his fate?
    Glaze is poured on the head,
    Lye all over the skull
    [Aqhat Epic tablet I, Column VI, lines 35-37]

    Here is how Harold H.P. Dressler, the author of the article DearlyBought cited, interprets this passage:

    The problem is that we are dealing with poetry. The Aqhat epic is poetic, and thus, will employ poetic devises. Consider, for example, when we talk about "the mouth of the Lord" saying something. Does that mean that God literally has a mouth? No, it is a metonymy for saying that these words come directly from God himself. We even do this in English when we say that "the White House said this" or "the White House said that." The house itself didn't physically open up its mouth and speak.

    Clearly, in this context, the burial ritual would be a metonymy for what it entails-a burial ritual entails death, and death is clearly part of the context of the Aqhat epic at this point.

    I was reading a book last night about ritual in ancient Ugarit, and came across a passage dealing with burial rituals. This passage is specifically mentioned in the article. He acknowledges the ambiguity of the passage [even oddly, translates spsg as "silver," when ksp is the Ugaritic word for silver], and, interestingly enough, takes ḥrṣ ["Lye" in the above translation] to mean "gold" relating it to the East Semitic term ḫuraṣu. This not without problems, not the least of which is that Ugaritic normally uses the circle h for this word [ḫrṣ], but sometimes these can be confused, as most of the other Northwest Semitic languages in the area do not distinguish between these sounds [Phonecian, Hebrew, and Aramaic for example]. Hence, it would be very easy to slip between the various consonants.

    If that is the case, then, obviously, this is consistent with certain burial rituals we already know from this time period where the body was glazed in gold before it was put into the ground. The palaces at Mycenae are the par excellence example of this, and they probably got these ideas from Egypt. So, I simply don't find Dressler's argumentation convincing at this point, even though, yes, I am aware of scholars such as Waltke who subscribe to it.

    God Bless,
  20. Todd King

    Todd King Puritan Board Freshman

    You're right, Weston. Having cut my teeth on the KJV and studied it some 30 odd years, my very election is in question! (This is said in a light-hearted manner, but I'm not smart enough to figure out the smilies on my phone.)

    My original comment was made tongue-in-cheek with the primary goal of instigating some of you (yes, I'm that way.) However, I do think the scholarship with which Gail identifies the figures of speech and their tenses is valuable. I do have a personal issue with the way the English language has been bastardized and so far removed from proper tense as is found in the KJV. That's a whole other issue though.
  21. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    No doubt; my point was that sometimes an attempt is made to claim historical figures as those who would stand on our side of a particular issue if they only had access to the same facts that we do. This is at best an assumption or a projection, particularly in the not infrequent cases where historical figures also held to certain influential principles in their approach to the facts that many no longer share.
  22. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I disagree. Theodore Letis critiques James White and does it very well. James White work in this area shouldn't be considered as a scholarly work according to Letis. I agree. I was disappointed with the book when I read it in the early 90's. It isn't that good.

    Here is a resource page for Dr. Letis' work and you can listen to or download some mp3's from this page also.

    Listen to a great critique of White's work here.,2000.mp3
  23. Hebrew Student

    Hebrew Student Puritan Board Freshman


    Well, if they clearly lay down their standards, it would not be assumption. For example, if someone says they prefer older manuscripts to later, and then, order manuscripts are found, obviously their views are going to change. My point is that they already laid out in their preface the fact that translations needed to change as more evidence becomes available. They simply did not accept the idea that the KJV or the Masoretic Text is the be all and end all of all things. In that sense, they agreed with me, and not with the others on the board, simply given their standards.

    What I am concerned about is exactly what Greg Bahnsen said:

    I always shake my head when I see people who claim to hold to Sola Scriptura supporting this kind of a position. I never thought in a million years I would see people who cannot even read Ugaritic trying to cite an argument from scholars using Ugaritic who would mock their idea of an Ecclesiastical text in the first place! The double standards are amazing.

    The idea that we should base our conclusions about textual decisions on the arguments people who know nothing about Northwest Semitic Philology like Ted Letis [who was a church historian], and/or people in church history who did not have the information we now have is nonsense. As Greg Bahnsen said, would you allow someone to operate on your heart who has never been to medical school and knows nothing about heart operations who is relying upon books on surgery that were written back in the seventeenth century? Such violates all common sense. Yet, for some reason, when it comes to God's word, this is the kind of care we take.

    God Bless,
  24. Weston Stoler

    Weston Stoler Puritan Board Sophomore

    I would in no wise discourage you from reading the KJV, it is an amazing and beautiful translation. However I would discourage you from taking gail riplingers book seriously. It has some serious theological, historical, and just out right blatent errors. It is littered with many outright lies and falsehoods. I was in the IFB KJVonly fanatical crowd and loved her book, now I know the crazyness when I see it.
  25. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    You mean they might decide they don't like the older manuscripts on examination?
  26. Hebrew Student

    Hebrew Student Puritan Board Freshman


    Why would they not like them if their ultimate commitment is "older is better?"

    God Bless,
  27. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I doubt anyone but an antiquary has that ultimate commitment.
  28. Hebrew Student

    Hebrew Student Puritan Board Freshman


    I agree; my point was that, in some instances, there are means of concluding, given a person's ultimate commitment, what they would hold if they were consistent with those presuppositions. I suppose we do have to recognize the possibility that someone will be irrational, but we are talking about people who are contentiously seeking to be consistent as part of their ultimate commitments.

    God Bless,
  29. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    It is a bit misleading to call Dr. Letis a "Church Historian" in a way that makes it sound like his work was not related specifically to textual criticism. Especially when in fact all his academic career was focused upon textual criticism and his Ph.D work at Edinburgh was on textual criticism.
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