Virtual KJV Onlyism

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PointyHaired Calvinist

Puritan Board Sophomore
Pastor Eshelman's remarks have made me think on this (but blame me for it!). I want to tread lightly here, so let me make clear that I don't use "KJVO" in the Ruckmanite sense, and know that no one on this board (or would assume so) who uses the KJV exclusively believes it is an inspired translation, or the only translation Christians should use per se.

However, I have noticed over the years that Reformed KJV Exclusivists - such as the Trinitarian Bible Society - often are KJVO by default. They have potentially good criticisms of modern versions and of modern textual criticism. They don't send the invective of the KJVO-Fundamentalist types, and don't call into question the salvation of those who use MV's. They also don't think the KJV is perfect and *could* conceivably be updated in the future.

Having said this, TBS and some other Reformed KJV users (such as Joel Beeke if I read him right), when asked why they don't update it, will move heaven and earth to say the KJV is "good enough," will argue that it has history and ecumenical consensus behind it and we should keep using it. If pointed to a translational error in the KJV, or to an archaism, they are quick to explain it away or even condescendingly say "You should just learn English better." The requirements and standards are raised so high, that no one could ever meet their requirements for an update. They prove themselves King James Onlyist in action, if not in theory.

  • If now is not the time to update the language of the KJV, or the translation of the Received Text, when?
  • What would make you accept or consider an updating of the KJV?
  • Has there been no linguistic developments in Greek and Hebrew since 1611 that can be used to update the Bible?
  • Were the early English Bible translators wrong to do all their revisions (Tyndale, Coverdale, Rogers, Geneva, Bishops, etc...)? Were they sowing confusion in the Body of Christ?
  • Why was 1611 the year of the pinnacle of Bible translation? Why is no group of Christian scholars today worthy of a new Authorized Version?

I'm not talking about dumbing down the Bible, but updating the language and - if possible - translating it more accurately. I can't seem to get more than obfuscation, condescension, and deflection from the TBS stuff I have read.
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
Dear Johnathan,

This is rather hard hitting. You have unfortunately made those of us who use the KJV and believe it is a faithful translation appear to be something we are not, and saying things we have never said. I am also a member of TBS, and a speaker at their conferences. I will be speaking at their national convention in Grand Rapids next month. I also know Dr. Beeke and I think you have unfairly painted him into a corner.
You said
Having said this, TBS and some other Reformed KJV users (such as Joel Beeke if I read him right), when asked why they don't update it, will move heaven and earth to say the KJV is "good enough," will argue that it has history and ecumenical consensus behind it and we should keep using it. If pointed to a translational error in the KJV, or to an archaism, they are quick to explain it away or even condescendingly say "You should just learn English better." The requirements and standards are raised so high, that no one could ever meet their requirements for an update. They prove themselves King James Onlyist in action, if not in theory.

I take it you have asked him and TBS these questions mentioned above before you answered for him/them? The reason I ask is that when I am questioned about potential translation errors or obvious archaisms, I will NEVER answer condescendingly, "You should just learn English better." I would admit the archaism, help define it, and find a better word that satisfies the questioner. I do the same thing in my preaching. I will also hold out other wording in a portion of a text that may cause confusion and try to remove it.


Let me try and answer your questions:

"If now is not the time to update the language of the KJV, or the translation of the Received Text, when?"

I would say when the body of Christ comes together providentially to do such a thing. It has been attempted in the past but there was not enough inertia to carry it forward. It has been tried!

"What would make you accept or consider an updating of the KJV?"

First, it would have to come from the Church of Christ, not Dow Jones listed companies that are in it for making a buck (Think Zondervan and Thomas Nelson). Companies that are ever changing the landscape of the Word to keep, (at least in some part) their profit margins and investors happy, should not be the ones promoting the idea. The Bible belongs to the Church. I'm tired of "Bible Landlords" continuing to make millions on the back of the Church. If the Church of Christ came together, with its best linguistic scholars, and determined to do a soft revision (for the Church, by the Church), many would be for it, not against it.

Has there been no linguistic developments in Greek and Hebrew since 1611 that can be used to update the Bible?

Not significant enough to warrant an update all by itself as a criteria. The developments in our own language have a better warrant.

"Were the early English Bible translators wrong to do all their revisions (Tyndale, Coverdale, Rogers, Geneva, Bishops, etc...)? Were they sowing confusion in the Body of Christ?"

I do not believe they were wrong. They were not sowing confusion.

"Why was 1611 the year of the pinnacle of Bible translation? Why is no group of Christian scholars today worthy of a new Authorized Version?"

First, the KJV has gone through soft revisions up until the mid 1700's, so 1611 is not the pinnacle year. Second, if we had a group of true textual scholars (I mean of the quality in the days of the AV), we would be prepared to perhaps move on a soft revision. The problem is, that even the best in our circles are at the most, "just average" when it comes to textual analysis. I think many of us would like to see a group of highly qualified and gifted textual scholars emerge before a task like this could be done with integrity.

I was troubled by these words, "I can't seem to get more than obfuscation, condescension, and deflection from the TBS stuff I have read." I hope you have not found that to be true here.

Kind regards,
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I echo Pastor Lewis' reply but would also like to add that the line of questioning in the OP effectively only serves to throw out a smoke screen over the real issues. Those who reject the AV already have a wide range of alternatives to choose from. Those who accept it do so for confessional reasons and are unlikely to endanger their confessional unity by adding yet another translation which could only hope to find partial acceptance and lead to further fragmentation. The reality is, the AV has been updated numerous times since 1611. This created such a problem in the 19th century that both the southern and northern bodies of the Presbyterian church in the States desired a committee to work on a standardised edition. Every reader of the AV is free to update words by adding them to the margins of their Bible; they may use the Bible tools at their disposal to arrive at the true message and meaning of the Bible; and they have ready access to alternate versions if the AV becomes too difficult for them. They are not bound to the "AV only." Confessionally reformed churches have a responsibility to teach their people the Word of God, and that means they must identify the Word of God in English for those who are only English readers. Having a standard, ecclesiastically chosen translation is a matter of good faith and common sense. We desire a day of reformation and revival and look forward to the day when the church consistently and constantly takes up its task as the pillar and ground of the truth and attains to a degree of unity in doing this. That will be the time to re-examine our standards and alter anything which the church, in its unified and spiritual condition, sees necessary to alter. Until then, it is our duty to hold fast what we have, and to maintain the reformation standards with which we have been blessed.
 

PointyHaired Calvinist

Puritan Board Sophomore
Let me make clear, those who do not agree with what I questioned in my original post are not what I'm criticizing. Speaking of misreading, I NEVER would say

1) The KJV is a bad translation
2) Those who use it out of choice are bad people
3) Those who believe it is superior are bad people

Any who would accuse me of such are reading more into what I say than I read into what they are.

I have Majority Text leanings and would LOVE to see a solid confessional update of the received texts. (Which is one reason I prefer the NKJV.) The sad thing in my opinion is, those who would have the best qualification to do this seem uninterested in doing so because of their attachment to the AV. And the requirement of the church of Christ as a whole - who would this be? NAPARC? The PCA/OPC/FRC? A united Christian state church? It just seems to me - as a Reformed Christian who tends toward Byzantine texts and loves the KJV - that the standard has been set so high that it will never be done. The Spaniards have continued to revise the Reina-Valera, and I don't see why confessional Christians can't continue to revise the KJV, old texts and all. It is a shame that more "translation scholars" don't have enough regard for the ecclesiastical text to bother with them.
 

BibleCyst

Puritan Board Freshman
Pastor Lewis and Pastor Winzer,

I'm sympathetic to the viewpoint that the Bible should be passed down through the ages by the church, so I'm just playing devil's advocate here. Some questions popped up in my mind as I read both of your responses.

In a sense, the church has produced the post-KJV translations. Many of these translation committees are put together with the intent of representing the church very well, with scholars pulled from a diverse group of denominations and seminaries. The publishing company is simply the way the translations are... well, published. Comparing this to the KJV: the KJV was translated by a diverse group of scholars from the Church of England, with Robert Barker and the English Crown acting as the "publishing company." Is there, really, a difference? Some of the publishing companies that publish modern translations are even non-profit, such as Crossway and (I believe) Lockman.
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
Pastor Lewis and Pastor Winzer,

I'm sympathetic to the viewpoint that the Bible should be passed down through the ages by the church, so I'm just playing devil's advocate here. Some questions popped up in my mind as I read both of your responses.

In a sense, the church has produced the post-KJV translations. Many of these translation committees are put together with the intent of representing the church very well, with scholars pulled from a diverse group of denominations and seminaries. The publishing company is simply the way the translations are... well, published. Comparing this to the KJV: the KJV was translated by a diverse group of scholars from the Church of England, with Robert Barker and the English Crown acting as the "publishing company." Is there, really, a difference? Some of the publishing companies that publish modern translations are even non-profit, such as Crossway and (I believe) Lockman.

I'm not sure I could make the leap that publishing companies are mere facilitators of the Church's need. I'm sure that is what they would like to tell us. But lets be honest, their bottom line, by the very nature of their existence, is to make money. Since Rupert Murdoch added Thomas Nelson publishers to his HarperCollins empire, I'm not so keen on the theory you have put forward. Also, because we are dealing with the AV, the fact that Crossway and Lockman are not for profit does not help much in my opinion. I think we are speaking about RT and MT English bibles. That narrows the field significantly and at the same time makes the Bible Landlord's stand out. BTW, I think we are off topic. :)
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
1. There is obviously historical discontinuity. From Nicea to Westminster, the broad acceptance of standards was owing, at least in part, to a recognition of the principle that the civil magistrate has a duty concerning religious things. In our day that is generally rejected, and that with some degree of moral abhorrence, which means there is little likelihood of gaining the same acceptance and coherence which was attained by the AV. Universities, para-church organisations, ecumenical bodies, are all going to labour under the same disadvantage that their work will only gain partial acceptance. To answer the second post in particular, there is no problem with various organisations in an established society because those organisations are, by definition, a part of the visible church. Outside of an established society, however, they are in effect assuming territory which belongs to the church.

2. When we come to "changes," we must be aware that there is no such thing as a "changeless change." Tinkering with things might enable them to do things which they could not do before, but it might also damage them from doing what they were made to do. Now Mr. Tate has some idea in his mind as to the kinds of things he would like to see changed. It is likely that Mr. Winzer has a whole different idea of what should be changed; and it is possible that Mr. Lewis has a different idea again. And here we are, just three interested people having a discussion on a small board; what would it be like if we added OT and NT scholars, or denominational teachers, to the mix. We could entrust it to a body which represents a broad constituency of reformed churches, but would we really be satisfied? Is it likely this body is going to accept the Byzantine family of mss., or have some regard for the high quality translation contained in the AV? Not really.

In reality, unless there is a popular mass movement which accepts historic reformed teaching, or a return to the days of establishment which lent so much support to the reformation movement, or both, it is difficult to envisage a translation gaining the kind of unified acceptance and use which the AV has enjoyed.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
The sad thing in my opinion is, those who would have the best qualification to do this seem uninterested in doing so because of their attachment to the AV.

You answer your own question here. Why is it sad that those with the best qualifications love the AV? If those whom you believe have the 'best qualifications' are uninterested in a revision, then why are you?
 

PointyHaired Calvinist

Puritan Board Sophomore
The sad thing in my opinion is, those who would have the best qualification to do this seem uninterested in doing so because of their attachment to the AV.

You answer your own question here. Why is it sad that those with the best qualifications love the AV? If those whom you believe have the 'best qualifications' are uninterested in a revision, then why are you?

You're putting words in my mouth! I love the KJV, and one can still love the KJV and call for an update or revision. Revising the AV doesn't mean throwing it away or hating it. IF there are inaccuracies in the KJV, and IF some of the language has changed, instead of marking up our margins why not put more correct language in the text itself? If one argues against this, the conclusion is we should carry interlinears around, and I know no one would push this. It just seems to me some of the "non-KJVO" AV/TR advocates have raised the bar to English revision so high that nothing will satisfy them (like a single united church?). And this is the same spirit that kept the Vulgate as the official Bible long after Latin was spoken as a tongue.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
You're putting words in my mouth!

I don't see how I can be putting words in your mouth when I am simply quoting what you wrote.

It just seems to me some of the "non-KJVO" AV/TR advocates have raised the bar to English revision so high that nothing will satisfy them

It isn't AV advocates who have raised the bar to such heights, it is the AV itself. You assume the worst of AV advocates instead of considering the possibility that the AV really is that good.

I love the KJV, and one can still love the KJV and call for an update or revision.

Love is relative. The fact that you call for an update or revision where other AV/TR advocates do not is not to their demerit. It simply demonstrates that you do not 'love' the KJV as much as they do. As Rev Winzer noted, if you are not happy with the KJV, there are dozens of other options out there.
 
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