Reviewing Which Bible Would Jesus Use? [8]

kjvWhy “Which Edition?” is (quite often) a trick question

I return again to a review of the King James Only book, Which Bible Would Jesus Use?, written by Jack McElroy. Coming to chapter 13 in his book, McElroy interacts with a chapter from an anti-KJVO book titled, One Bible Only? edited by Roy Beacham and Kevin Bauder.

The chapter in question from One Bible Only? is called “An Appeal to Scripture,” and is written by Bauder. In it, he challenges the KJVO view of biblical preservation and methodically dismantles their apologetic that insists God’s Word must be recognized as preserved in the King James Bible.

He explains that the KJVO apologists believe a priori that God’s Word is preserved only in the KJV. They then craft their arguments for that belief from miscited facts from church history, misinterpreted biblical evidences, and convoluted conspiracy theories regarding textual criticism. If KJVO apologists were truly honest, however, they would have to begrudgingly admit that they hold the exact same position concerning the Word of God as those non-KJV believers they accuse of compromise and unbelief. Bauder spends the remainder of his chapter outlining a withering analysis that demonstrates his claim.

Ignoring entirely the major problems Bauder raised in his essay against the KJVO apologetic, McElroy returns to his “original Bible” strawman argument he built earlier in his book. (I address that a bit HERE). McElroy insist there is no such thing as an “original Bible.” Of course, by claiming that, he remains blissfully unaware that his view of the Bible is nearly identical to Bart Ehrman’s and other similar skeptics.

In McElroy’s evaluation of Bauder’s chapter, he seems to intentionally miss his key point. Instead, he embraces the a priori designation of his position with a big bear hug and relishes the idea that he adheres to deductive reasoning about the Bible rather than the unbelieving academic inductive reasoning regarding a mythical “original Bible.” Deductive reasoning, argues McElroy, tells us the Lord wouldn’t leave us without a book, obviously the King James, whereas inductive reasoning creates “Nebraska man” out of a pig’s tooth.

nebraska manSeriously. Nebraska man.

He states that the deductive reasoning of his KJV perspective on the biblical text is likened unto putting together a massive puzzle. In his case, he has all the pieces and the picture on the box by which to go with.

Non-KJV folks, on the other hand, have all the pieces, but they don’t have the box with the picture. Using their poor inductive reasoning skills, they frustratingly examine each one of those many pieces, fitting them together and taking a guess at what the picture will eventually look like.

That picture on McElroy’s box is of course the King James Bible. Hence he forces all the pieces to fit his particular picture on the box cover. He is only hoping he has the right box cover.

He then spends the rest of his chapter highlighting what he believes are “gottcha” objections to Bauder’s “original Bible” position. His objections, ironically, expose the folly of his apologetic and basically vindicates Bauder’s contention that KJV onlyists have the same issues to wrestle through as those compromising non-KJV onlyists. Let me consider each one in turn.

First he asks if Bauder’s “original Bible” only has the 66 books of Scripture and no more. He then states that the Catholic’s claim they have 73 books in their “original Bible” and The Greek Orthodox has 76 and the Ethiopic Church has 81. How exactly does Bauder know he has all the right books?

That is a rather laughable objection seeing that in chapter 10 of his book, McElroy insists that the Catholic Apocrypha provides “valuable background information on the Old and New Testaments” and they would never have been included in “God’s Book” “if they didn’t have some value.” So I wonder why his question doesn’t apply equally to himself? Did he forget about what he wrote in chapter 10 regarding those extra books? I am also curious why his KJV removes those books in their current editions.

He then wonders if the “original Bible” only promises 150 Psalms or 151 Psalms. Oh yes, Psalm 151 exists. You can read it HERE. The Greek Orthodox and Armenian churches accept it as a valid Psalm. The problem, and one that McElroy doesn’t mention, is that the title of the very Psalm tells the reader that it is “outside the number” meaning that it is not apart of the original collection of 150 Psalms that are in our OT canon. It is a moot objection.

Next he asks if the “original Bible” believes Matthew wrote his Gospel. Additionally, that Matthew wrote it originally in Hebrew as the early Christians like Papias, Irenaeus, Origen, Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Jerome said he did. McElroy chides Bauder by asking if he believes ALL the Greek words, and only the Greek words appeared in the NT of his “original Bible.”

The primary difficulty with McElroy’s assertion about Matthew’s Hebrew Gospel is that Papias, who seems to be the original source for the tradition that the other Church Fathers merely repeated in their writings, doesn’t directly state that Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew.

Papias wrote, “Matthew therefore wrote the oracles (translated from ta logia) in the Hebrew dialect, and everyone interpreted them as he was able.” There is reasonable debate as to what Papias meant by the words “oracles,” or ta logia, “dialect,” and “interpreted.” Did he mean his original Gospel? Or did he mean that Matthew’s Gospel message was intended for a Jewish audience specifically? There are a few other ways we can understand Papias’s words.

Those who are familiar with the subject know that the copies we have of Matthew’s Gospel do not bear the marks of a work that was translated from the Hebrew. Now is it possible, as D.Edmund Hiebert argues in his NT introduction, that Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew for the Jewish community in and around Jerusalem, what Papias has in mind, as well as in Greek, what God chose to preserve for the NT canon? Sure. But that is only speculation at best.

McElroy implies that we wouldn’t know that Matthew wrote his Gospel unless we accept the tradition that he wrote it first in Hebrew. But that is not true. The early church always recognized the apostle as the author of his Gospel. Whether he wrote it in Hebrew is irrelevant, because all the Greek copies we have in our possession have his name in the title.

Then lastly, he asks how the “original Bible” position knows Paul wrote Hebrews. Paul wrote Hebrews? While I affirm the Pauline authorship of Hebrews even on the basis of the sources McElroy cites, the canonicity of Hebrews does not stand or fall upon whether Paul wrote it. God’s redeemed community recognized the book’s inclusion into the NT canon early within the first and second centuries. I am not entirely sure how this challenge is even relevant to his case against non-KJV folks like Bauder.

Contrary to what McElroy wants his readers to believe about their non-KJV only opponents, all Bible-believing Christians affirm a priori that God has left His people with a book we call the Bible. They believe it is inspired, inerrant, and preserved by God’s Spirit; they just reject the presupposition that the Bible will look like the KJV on the cover of their puzzle box.

Rather than beginning with a picture of a King James Bible on a puzzle box and then cutting and shaping together mismatched pieces to make them look like that picture, true Bible-believing Christians look at their box with the picture of “God’s Word” on it. They then honestly evaluate the pieces to see if they do fit. The overwhelming evidence provides us with pieces that fall together perfectly giving us God’s Word that is contained in a number of English translations.

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2 thoughts on “Reviewing Which Bible Would Jesus Use? [8]

  1. Apologies if you have already dealt with this, but where was the bible in English before the KJV? If the KJV is the standard by which successor versions stand or fall, how do you judge the previous versions produced in English, post-middle English versions of which the KJV happens to be a revision itself.

  2. Pingback: Reviewing Jack McElroy’s Which Bible Would Jesus Use? | hipandthigh

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