Peter Ruckman: The Crank as Artist

lifePeter Ruckman died. In a Chick tract-style nightmare, he was stripped naked and hauled by a gigantic angel to stand before a glowing outline of Jesus as the universe watched his entire life play out on a enormous drive-in movie screen.

Ruckman was the grandfather of 20th-century wild-eyed, kooksville KJV Onlyism. He was to KJVOlyism what Rousas Rushdoony was to modern theonomy and L.Ron Hubbard to Scientology. A despicable character who was both unfit for the pulpit and unqualified to be called a minister of God, Ruckman’s brawling rhetoric spawned at least two generations of worthless, pugnacious, “bad attitude” fighting Baptists whose doctrines have become a malignancy upon Christ’s Church.

He had an overheated type-writer from which his fevered mind birthed a number of his false doctrines he published in rambling, often times incoherent commentaries, so-called “Bible studies,” and of course his monthly Bible Believer’s Bulletin screeds.

I was first bewitched by Ruckman’s written materials when I was a stupid, untaught new Christian in college. As a recent convert to KJVOnlyism, I secured his book, Problem Texts, that attempts to provide an explanation for every apparent contradiction in the King James Bible. I thought it would help me answer skeptics on my school campus. It only helped to keep me mired in error and made Christianity a laughing stock. Probably the most bizarre of his books is called Black is Beautiful in which he writes about UFOs, government conspiracies, and other paranormal activity. A full review can be read here, Refuse Profane and Old Wives’ Fables.

A commenter on another blog reminded us how Ruckman illustrated all of his book covers. In fact, his crude chalk drawing style is copied for a lot of the lame, seizure-inducing KJVO websites that look like they were created using Windows ME “Paint,” we see on the internet today.

Here are some of his better gems,

liarslibraryhypercalvinismI think he is confusing garden variety, biblical Calvinism with hyper-Calvinism.
The donkey ears are a nice touch, though.

mythologicalmarkrapturesclownsvilleI think this is his take on the Brownsville Revival, which took place in Pensacola

masterpieceHere’s another version,

satanA number of years ago, one of his sons contacted me out of the blue to fill me in on a particularly aggressive KJVO opponent I had been tussling with on my blog. His son was an amiable fellow, and though he was not in agreement with a lot of his father’s ministry, he said that his dad was the real deal, believing everything that he taught and producing the volumes of printed material all on his own.

As “real” and sincere as he might have been, his stuff will only lead a person to spiritual disaster. I can only pray his wretched teachings will fade from the collective memory of the faithful in the Christian church.

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Reviewing Jack McElroy’s Which Bible Would Jesus Use?

All of my reviews of Jack McElroy’s book, Which Bible Would Jesus Use?, in one place.

Mcelroy207202015[1] Preliminary Remarks and Forward

[2] The Introduction

[3] Chapter 1

[4] Chapters 2-3

[5] Chapter 4

[6] Chapter 5

[7] Chapter 10

[8] Chapter 13

[9] Chapters 14-17

Reviewing Which Bible Would Jesus Use? [7]

itaintbibleIt has been a number of months since I took up Jack McElroy’s KJV only book, Which Bible Would Jesus Use? I had to put aside my reviews for a little while because the book was just becoming so wearisome to read. However, I didn’t want to abandon the project entirely. There are a few remaining posts I can draw out of the book. As I noted in my last entry, rather than providing a chapter by chapter review, I plan to interact with specific topics he addresses.

With this post, I come to chapter 10, “Which edition of the King James Bible is “The Bible”?” It is McElroy’s attempt with the use of double-standards and inconsistency to explain away all the differences between the various English editions of the KJV that have been updated and published since 1611. His basic assertion is that all of the KJVs ever published can be called the “Word of God.” In fact, he insists that the Lord would never be ashamed of any edition of the KJV because God has used them all.

Some of his reasoning is odd; perhaps even desperate. In the biggest “for instance,” he defends the insertion of the Apocrypha in the earlier editions of the KJV claiming it “provides valuable background information on the Old and New Testaments.” [163] He further writes, “Even if they’re not inspired [the books of the Apocrypha], those books would never have been originally included if they didn’t have some value” [ibid]. Really?

I find those comments strange given his previous rant in chapter 6 of his book about the influence of Roman Catholics in modern version production. Surely he is aware that the Catholics intentionally declared the Apocrypha inspired during the Council of Trent for the express purpose of refuting the Protestant Reformation? But he is either unaware of it or conveniently dismisses that historical nugget in order to preserve his KJVO apologetic.

But let me unpack that claim a bit more. His entire thesis throughout his book is that the KJV is God’s Bible. In his introduction, McElroy writes,

It’s [the Bible] the only authority we have. We have no pope, no cardinal, no priest, no Watchtower Society, no Church in Salt Lake City. The book is our only and exclusive source of truth. It’s our only and final authority. The Bible (and when I say Bible I mean book) is the foundational document for everything we believe. Our thoughts about God, about why we are here and what we are here for, and the reasons for our hope of eternal life are contained and defined for us in that book [7].

He goes on for a few more paragraphs with similar gushing praise for the King James version being that book and likening it unto the perfection of Jesus Christ. At one point he writes, “Like him, it should be pure — containing all of God’s words and not adulterated with men’s words” [8, emphasis mine].

So let’s break this down:

The earlier editions of the KJV contained the Apocrypha. In fact, the NT in the original KJV has marginal notes cross-referencing back to books from the Apocrypha. For example Hebrews 11:35 with 2 Maccabees 7:7,

hebrewskjv

There are others like Matthew 6:7 referenced with Sirach 7:14, Romans 9:21 with Wisdom 15:7, and John 10:22 with 1 Maccabees 4:59. Certainly the KJV translators saw some connection to the NT.

Even though he says those books are not inspired, you know, breathed out by God, McElroy insists they are valuable none the less because if God initially included them, He must’ve had a divine reason for doing so. Yet now those books no longer exist in any published King James one would find available at the local Bible Baptist Bookstore. Why is that?

If the books of the Apocrypha are not inspired, does that make them “men’s words?” But McElroy has told us that our Bible should be pure, containing ALL of God’s words and should never be adulterated with men’s words. If we follow his logic here, God included the Apocrypha, and if God included the Apocrypha for some unstated purpose, those books cannot be adulterated men’s words, which I think would mean they are inspired, right?

Yet they are no longer found in the KJV.  Did God choose to remove them? If so, why? Especially given McElroy’s claim that they would not have been included if God hadn’t intended them to be. Does he not see how goofy his defense of the KJV is becoming? I can only concluded that God either made a mistake or at some point changed His word for no apparent reason and rescinded His revelation.

dehartsI’d bet an order of chili-cheese tater tots you wouldn’t find one of them
Apocrypha KJVs at DeHarts.

Moving on…

McElroy pulls together comparison lists of what he calls, “insignificant matters” that show slight changes in grammar, standardized spelling, word order, and the like between the published English editions of the KJV. He argues that those changes had to do solely with the readability of the English printed text of the KJV, and nothing to do with changes or updates to the base Hebrew and Greek text from which the English in the KJV was translated. That is the key distinction. The editions of the KJV only change the English presentation in the printed text. Those changes do not affect the Hebrew and Greek that would transmit doctrinal error into English.

So for example, modern versions, translated from an altered base text, allegedly insert textual error into the Bible when they eliminate the last 12 verses of Mark, or switch the word “God” to “who” in 1 Timothy 3:16, or remove the proof of the Trinity by leaving out 1 John 5:7-8. Whereas the modern versions have their underlying original language source text revised over and over again, the KJV does not.

Of course, anyone with any basic working knowledge of textual and translational studies knows that is a ridiculous exaggeration and grossly disingenuous. It’s an argument against the modern versions that has emerged from the conspiratorial fever swamps of KJV apologists who claim sinister groups and heretics have corrupted the ancient copies of the Bible.

The one area that seems to be completely ignored throughout all of his book is the issue of marginal notes. The KJV, like any good language translation, will have marginal notes explaining a difficult reading or even an alternative reading that maybe found in other original copies of the Hebrew or Greek. The King James translators even noted when a particular reading wasn’t found in the best manuscripts. Take for example the marginal note for Luke 17:36 as it reads in the KJV,

luke17The note states that verse 36 is “wanting in most of the Greek copies.” Why are those dastardly KJV translators casting doubt upon God’s pure Word? It’s like one of those modern perversions Roman Catholic “scholars” have tampered with!

KJV apologists typically dismiss the marginal notes as unimportant and irrelevant. However, that dismissive attitude is easily challenged when the Hebrew qere and ketiv readings are considered.

The qere are marginal notes in the original Hebrew that became main text readings in our English Bibles. As copyists copied, they would come across a reading in the text that was odd, or perhaps unclear, or one the scribes believed was not originally part of the text, or even one that was difficult to read out loud. A scribe would leave the text unchanged, but place a marginal note with the reading he believed really belonged in the text. The word ketiv means, “as it is written” and is the unchanged text associated with a particular qere, or marginal note.

The King James Only Issue site has a more detailed article on the subject, Something “qere” is going on in the KJV. That article links to an extensive list of qere readings that are switched out with the ketiv readings as found in the King James translation. I will highlight one example taken from the KJV Only Issue article to show you what I mean.

In the KJV, Job 13:15 reads, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” The English of the KJV basically gives the idea that even though Job can have his life easily taken away by the Lord, he will still trust him. That’s a solidly orthodox understanding of the English text.

There is one problem, however. The words “in him” comes from the qere marginal reading. The KJV translators inserted it into the main Hebrew text when they translated into English. The words “in him” are translated from a little word “lo.” Combined with the Hebrew word for “hope” or “trust” the verse presents the idea of trusting in him, or trusting in God.

The RSV comes closest to translating the actual ketiv text of the written Hebrew, “Behold, he will slay me; I have no hope; yet I will defend my ways to his face.” The ketiv reading “he will” is pronounced the same as the qere “lo.” The ketiv “lo,” however, is spelled differently. Essentially, they are Hebrew homophones, similar to our English words “morning” or “mourning.” In this instance, though, when it is combined with the Hebrew word for “hope” or “trust” the word is negated to mean “no hope.”

Given the overall themes of the book of Job like eternal security, retributive justice, the folly of trying to earn God’s favor, the verse could be Job’s expression of uncertainty as to what God is doing in his life. “I have no hope in him,” Job complains. In Job’s limited understanding, God is doing what he wants with him; but he will muscle along anyway attempting to justify himself before the Lord.

What needs to be made clear, and is completely left out of McElroy’s book, is that the KJV translators changed the Hebrew text like this in many places. Now, they did what every sensible and honest translator of the Bible does: picked the readings they believed best explained the context. But it cannot be ignored that they altered the base text in doing so.

It is those sorts of little details that are conveniently left out of KJVO polemics. When they are examined, they demonstrate the major inconsistencies in the KJV apologetic.

BTWN Interview on KJV Onlyism

So I had the privilege of being interviewed by the hosts of one of my absolute favorite podcasts, The Bible Thumping Wingnut. We talked about a lot of fun stuff, but focused upon the issue of King James Onlyism.

BTWN Show 124, Fred on KJV Onlyism

We did a Google Hangout, and then it was posted up on You Tube. If you watch the You Tube version, you can see me waving my hands around a lot and hear me tell a funny John MacArthur factoid when Tim’s audio dropped.

Reviewing Which Bible Would Jesus Use? [6]

Editors Note: Beginning with this post I am announcing a change in strategy with my reviews. As I read ahead in the book, the chapters only continue to become a tedious hodge-podge of out of context citations from evangelical leaders that are accused of compromise with their views of Scripture. Examples of what I mean will be highlighted below. Furthermore, McElroy seems to be completely unaware (a self-inflicted myopia?) of the numerous rebuttals and other responses to his arguments he puts forth. His argumentation is increasingly becoming repetitive to where I am essentially covering the same point I had already covered in previous posts. What I plan to do from this point onward is rather than going chapter by chapter as I initially claimed I would, is to hit sections of the book that may be helpful with a response.

kjvonlyismChapter 5

Why the Lord can’t choose the King James Bible without looking foolish to scholars

Summary

McElroy starts this chapter by listing a series of quotes from conservative, Bible-believing, evangelical pastors, teachers, and seminary profs.  While on the one hand, they claim they love and appreciate the King James, in their heart of hearts, they really think it is a joke of a translation and would never truly recommend it to anyone.

After he outlines his quotations, he concludes,

Now these fellows aren’t against the King James Bible. They’re just not completely for it. The all recommend you use it in conjunction with the rest. They are politically correct. [91]

After a few more citations from other alleged orthodox men, McElroy lists out 16 verses that are omitted from the various modern translations. Such verses as Matthew 23:14, Luke 17:36, Acts 28:29, and Romans 16:24. He then takes a rabbit trail and explains how all the Roman Catholic editions also omit that same list of verses from their versions.

Returning to discussing the omission of those verses, McElroy explains that to remove them or to claim they are not originally a part of the Bible is essentially to call God a liar. Moreover, that conclusion ignores the fact that men would try to pervert, corrupt, and wrest from context God’s words. If then what the modern Bible proponents say is true, then we either have to dump the KJV or blame Jesus, because He is ultimately responsible for the failure to keep His own word.

Review

Using the Gail Riplinger ellipses technique of cherry-picked, out-context citations, McElroy makes the individuals he quotes sound as though they are some of the most dishonest con-men in the world.

But he has essentially built another strawman for his detractors to topple over.

Let me show you what I mean.

I will write out the original paragraph where McElroy gets his citation and I will place his citation found in the book in bold blue so you can see the contrast.

He begins by citing from geo-centrist and KJVO apologist, Thomas Strouse, who expresses his disfavor with Dr. James B. Williams, the general editor of a splendid, must read book, From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man.  McElroy doesn’t give any indication he read the actual book, but he does cite Strouse’s complaint that it is unfairly critical of Williams to call KJVO proponents “misinformers” and their position a “cancerous sore.” Seeing that I have interacted with KJVO apologists for way over a decade now, I think the descriptions are appropriate; but let’s consider the context of Williams’s words.

After writing about Peter Ruckman, especially his abusive arrogance, and noting how his “writings are filled with misstatements about manuscripts and texts and with attacks upon some godly Bible scholars who do not hold his view point,” Williams goes on to write,

There are others who have joined in this parade of misinformers, including D.A. Waite, E.L. Bynum, Jack Chick, and Walter Beebe. The list increases with time as more unqualified proponents of the KJV Only view join in the confusion. In general these are devout, sincere, well-meaning men who in their efforts to uphold the testimony of an inspired, inerrant, infallible Bible have followed others who have been misguided in their positions. … The healing of this cancerous sore appears impossible. Nevertheless, informed Bible believers have an obligation to point out error and present the truthful facts as they apply in this issue. [Mind, 7].

As can be seen, there is certainly much more to Williams’s comment than just the name calling of KJVO advocates. He even charitably calls them devout, sincere, and well-meaning. I should also point out that the descriptions of “misinformers” and “cancerous sore,” are separated by nearly a page of text.

Moving along to another quote, McElroy also selectively cites from the introduction of James White’s book, The KJV Only Controversy,

The Christian who wishes to “give the reason for the hope” that is within him (1 Peter 3:15 NIV) will be quite alarmed at the logical conclusions derived from the KJV Only perspective. The body of this work will demonstrate that KJV Onlyism is forced to make statements about the Bible that undercut the foundation of the faith itself. [White, 17].

McElroy quotes James as writing, “undercutting the very foundation of the faith itself.” I suppose it’s close enough, but James provides a good reason why he states what he states.

He also cites from an article from a series about KJV Onlyism and hyper-Fudamentalism by Central Seminary professor, Kevin Bauder.

Here is the fuller context of what Bauder wrote,

Of course, the King James Only movement is only one species of hyper-fundamentalism. Hyper-fundamentalism may revolve around personal and institutional loyalties, idiosyncratic agendas, absurd ethical standards, or the elevation of incidental doctrines and practices. The thing that characterizes all versions of hyper-fundamentalism is the insistence upon draconian reactions for relatively pedestrian—or even imaginary—offenses.

Hyper-fundamentalism and the new evangelicalism are mirror images of each other. The old neoevangelicalism damaged the gospel, not by denying it, but by attacking its role as a demarcator between Christianity and apostasy. The hyper-fundamentalist does the same kind of damage by adding something else alongside the gospel. If anything, King James Onlyism is worse, for it shows contempt for the Word of God. It attacks the heart of Christianity by sitting in judgment over its source of authority.

Considering what Bauder is stating, I am inclined to agree with him at all points.

Then there is a quotation from a blog article by William Combs of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary who wrote an article showing how the preface of the original AV 1611 refutes the modern day claims made by KJVO apologists. He writes,

Some try to get around the statements in the Preface by asserting that they themselves are not arguing for the infallibility of the translators, but the product of their work—the KJV itself. They seek to draw a parallel between the translators and the authors of Scripture, arguing that just as the authors of Scripture were flawed men, yet produced an infallible product, so the translators of the KJV. But this will not do. The only way the KJV, or any edition of it, could be infallible and inerrant is if the persons who produced it were under the same superintending ministry of the Holy Spirit as the authors of Scripture. And anyone who makes such an assertion is not just wrong but spouting heresy.

With his black magic marker use of ellipses note what McElroy left out of Combs’s comment. Combs wasn’t stating that he believes KJV onlyists are spouting heresy for only liking the KJV, but his words are aimed at those KJVO apologists who insist that the translators were under the same inspiration of the Holy Spirit as the original writers of Scripture. If you believe that about the translators, and McElroy has made a number of suspicious comments in his book that suggests the he does, a person is not just wrong about Bible translations, but has fallen headlong into heresy. That sounds rather reasonable to me.

standsAnd then one last one.

Turning to English Bible and Tyndale scholar at University College London, Dr. David Daniell, McElroy quotes this from his book, The Bible in English, “From 1769, effectively, there grew the notion that the KJV was peculiarly, divinely, inspired.” He then goes on to make this comment, “That’s quite a loft view of Scripture in English, but this would be among the common people. … Certainly, the intelligentsia would never have shared that opinion. [92].

The idea he wants to get across to his readers is that Daniell is claiming that in the 1700s, it was common that the normal, church-going folks who loved the Bible believed the KJV was divinely inspired. But that is not at all what Daniell wrote. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Rather, Daniell was describing what he calls “Avolatry,” or the folks who believed the translators and their work were divinely inspired. Take a look at a fuller citation from where McElroy took his quote,

By the end of the 1760s, another view was appearing, one that itself became a myth, supported by carefully manufactured other myths. This was the birth of “Avolatry,” the elevation of KJV to such heights of inspiration as to be virtually divine and untouchable. From 1769, effectively there grew the notion that KJV was peculiarly, divinely, inspired. To bolster the supposition it was announced that this translation had been especially venerated from the moment in 1611 that it appeared.

In 1762, however, a serious attempt had been made in Cambridge to correct the text of KJV by widespread revision: spelling and punctuation were changed, the use of italics was regularised and extended, printers’ errors were removed and marginal annotations were increased and greatly enlarged. It was in this much-altered form that the 1611 KJV went forward, but not before the work of Dr. F.S. Paris … had been itself revised by Dr. Benjamin Blayney …. with other corrections and increased marginalia, and repeating most of Dr. Paris’s errors. Thus the birth of “Avolatry,” in which King James’s scholars became almost sanctified in their work, and their Bible near divine, coincided with a general acceptance of two modern versions of that very work which were most strikingly changed from the original. [Daniells, 619-620]

Changes everything, right?

Honestly, it is that kind of sloppy, ham-fisted mishandling of source material that makes this book a chore to review. I am truly stunned that it was allowed to go into print; but I am assuming there wasn’t an editor who would have caught such problems and alerted the author to them. It gives me the impression that McElroy doesn’t seem to care if he is representing his opponents accurately. It’s bad enough that he doesn’t genuinely engage their arguments, but it is really bad that he makes them say something entirely different.

Archaic Words and Translational Precision

retroKing James Only apologists insist that the KJV is the most accurate and concise English translation in print. However, when confronted with the reality of archaic, out of use words that make no sense to today’s reader, the apologists will reluctantly admit archaic words do exist in the King James, but then claim there are no words so difficult or archaic that they are not easily understood.

Just Google “Are there archaic words in the KJV,” and a host of KJVO propaganda articles pop up defending the King James as a Bible easily read and understood in spite of the out of use vocabulary. They will defend such KJV translations as wimples (Isaiah 3:22), ouches (Exodus 28:11), rereward (Joshua 6:9), felloes (1 Kings 7:33), blains (Exodus 9:9), besom (Isaiah 14:23), stomacher (Isaiah 3:24), implead (Acts 19:38), meteyard (Leviticus 19:35), and sith (Ezekiel 35:6).

Sith!? Say wha…?

sith

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Joyner provides a more comprehensive list in these two articles, Obsolete Words in the KJV, PART 1 and PART 2

Sam Gipp offers the typical KJVO response regarding archaic words from his classic Answer Book. Under question #4, when answering the question, “Aren’t there archaic words in the Bible and don’t we need a modern translation to eliminate them,” he writes, “Yes and No. Yes there are archaic words in the Bible but No, we do not need a modem translation to eliminate them.”

He goes on to explain how the word “shambles” in 1 Corinthians 10:25 means a “market place” in today vernacular.  Yet instead of revising the KJV text with an update that reads “market place” in place of “shambles,” Gipp appeals to the example of 1 Samuel 9:1-11 when the writer of Samuel explains in the text that a “prophet” used to be called a “seer.” Christians, Gipp argues, should do what the Bible does at 1 Samuel 9:1-11 and just explain to the congregation what a “shambles” is without changing the word in the text.

Of course, what does a person do who is by himself reading 1 Corinthians and doesn’t have a KJVO English dictionary taped to the back of his Bible? Oh well.

Larry Vance, another KJVO apologist who wrote an entire book addressing the archaic word problem for King James believers, writes that many of the new translations contain just as many, if not more, archaic and hard to read words as the KJV. In fact, he states that in many, many instances, the modern translation will make a word even more difficult than what the KJV translates.

Now, I acknowledge that the majority of English used in the KJV is still in use today. And I recognize that modern translations may use unfamiliar words that may require an unread person to look them up in a dictionary.  However, the concept of “archaic words” in the King James is much more than just vocabulary words that are hard to understand without consulting a dictionary.

Archaic in this instance has to do with words that are no longer in use and are absolutely foreign in modern times. In fact, the average modern dictionary may not even have many of them listed. Their archaic nature then makes the Bible inaccessible, preventing readers from truly understanding what it was God said. That’s a travesty. It makes William Tyndale’s martyrdom pointless.

I contend that while there may be some harder that average words found in modern versions, those words are not “archaic” in the sense of those found in the KJV as noted above, and in those many places where a so-called simple word in the KJV is changed to a more complex one in a modern translation, that difficult word is actually more precise and accurate than what is found in the KJV.

Let me explain what I mean.

I had a KJVO proponent send me a list of “archaic” words found in the NASB. He sent it in the form of a photo from what appears to be a page out of Vance’s book on the subject.

NASBKJVVance, I suppose, believes this list proves his contention that modern versions make the Bible more difficult to read; but do they? I suggest they are not making the Bible more difficult to read but are making it more precise with the translation.

Let’s consider a few examples,

According to the list, the NASB has “sullen” at 1 Kings 21:5 rather than “sad” as in the KJV. The word “sad” is implied to be an easier word, whereas “sullen” a more difficult one. The word “sad” may be easier to read, but is it precise in translating the Hebrew? Not at all.

The word translated here is sar. It has the meaning of stubborn or resentful. The English word “sad” really just conveys the idea of sorrowful or mournful. Given the context of 1 Kings 21, Ahab is coveting Naboth’s vineyard and is prevented from acquiring it because he refuses to sell off his families inheritance. Ahab comes back to his house bitter and resentful, not grieved or mournful. The word “sullen,” which has the idea of bad-tempered or resentful, better conveys the meaning of sar in this verse.

Let’s move down the page to the word “torrent” as found in Judges 5:21 in the NASB. The KJV has the word “river.” We all know that a torrent is a sudden, violent outpouring; like a flash flood. A river, on the other hand, can be either slow or fast, meandering or swift depending on the circumstances. In the case of Judges 5:21, the Hebrew word translated “torrent” means just that, it was a torrent; an explosive, unexpected flash flood.

The story told in Judges 4 is of Deborah and Barak defeating Sisera and his army of chariots. The text isn’t entirely clear in Judges 4:15 of how Barak went about defeating Sisera except to say the Lord routed him and his chariots. Judges 5:21 is a part of the song of praise unto the Lord that Deborah sings after Israel’s victory. The song fills in some of the details as to what happened. It is suggested in Judges 5:21 that when Sisera and his army of iron chariots pursued Israel, they got bogged down while crossing a dry wadi, and God swept them away in a flash flood, which happened occasionally in the area. Torrent, then is a more precise translation.

Considering just one more. In the NASB, 2 Timothy 2:14 has “wrangle” instead of “strive” as in the KJV. The context is Paul exhorting Timothy to defend solid doctrine against those who would teach falsely. He warns Timothy to basically not dispute with them over worthless arguments.

In the instance of this verse, strive is not as precise as wrangle. The primary English definition of “strive” is to make a great effort to obtain or achieve something. A KJVO apologist may argue that the secondary definition of “strive” is in play here, which has the idea of fighting vigorously against something.  But “wrangle” more concisely conveys the meaning of what Paul is telling Timothy. “To wrangle” means specifically to dispute over complicated arguments, exactly what Paul is telling Timothy not to do.

If the reader has the time, he ought to look over each one of the references. It may not be that the NASB is more precise all the time, or that the particular KJV word is a terrible choice. What one will discover, however, is that as the English language has developed and changed over the centuries, the KJV’s originally ability to communicate God’s truth clearly has lessened, and the precise clarity of God’s Word is what we as Christians should desire for in our English translations.

Reviewing Which Bible Would Jesus Use? [5]

verseChapter 4

Why the Lord didn’t preserve the original autographs

I return once again to my review of Jack McElroy’s KJVO book, Which Bible Would Jesus Use? I will briefly provide summary of the chapter and then a review and response.

Summary

In his fourth chapter, McElroy derides the notion of the original manuscripts. He begins his chapter by stating that everyone knows that the original parchments of both the OT and NT are gone; even the tables of stone the Lord gave Moses no longer exist [79].

However, the main talking point of modern, textual scholarship is that God’s Word CAN be found in the originals and the goal of genuine, textual criticism is the identification of those original documents of Scripture. McElroy calls that the “Original Bible” doctrine and he says that it permeated the Christian culture today to the point where souls are lost because the only authority has been stripped from the flock by teachers who leave them realizing that their book is a mix of men’s words and God’s words [84-85].

Some of those modern Christian scholars claim that we have 95% of the Bible and we must determine by means of textual criticism the other 5%. Other’s will say 98%, others as low as 85%, where as others, like Daniel Wallace, say the Christian church has 110% and textual criticism involves identifying and discarding the spurious readings like burning off the dross so as to get to the gold.

The “Original Bible” doctrine only raises doubt, uncertainty, and speculation. No Christian truly has a Bible he can point to and say, “This is the Word of God.”

Review

McElroy does his readers a major disservice. He rips out of context cherry-picked quotations from various individuals who would be considered Evangelical textual scholars, and presents a wildly unbalanced view of modern textual criticism. Any unlearned individual who takes seriously his presentation about the original manuscripts is only being set up for a major face-plant when he encounters anyone who genuinely knows the facts of how our Bible was transmitted to us.

In other words, his presentation is setting up all the factors necessary for the creation of a fresh generation of “former-fundy” apostates and Youtube atheists.

With just the handful of reviews I have already presented, I have identified a number of significant flaws in the KJVO apologetic. With this chapter, McElroy’s discussion touches upon probably the most foundational doctrine of the Christian church. That being, what is meant by original manuscripts?

What we believe about the original autographs and how the copies of those originals came down to us so as to have a working text from which to translate the Bible into new languages shapes our understanding of the doctrines of inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy.

His discussion is filled with horrible amounts of gross error and the mishandling of historical facts. In his attempt to ridicule the current understanding of textual criticism, he unwittingly takes the side of counter-Reformation Roman Catholic apologists and the liberal myth that says the ideas of infallibility and inerrancy in the original autographs started with B.B. Warfield and was developed in the 20th century. See for instance, Jack Rogers and Donald McKim’s work, The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible: An Historical Approach.

The average reader of McElroy’s book – of KJVO apologetics in general –  is more than likely unaware of the Roman Catholic challenges against Sola Scriptura during the Protestant Reformation, as well as liberal attempts since the Enlightenment to undermine the doctrines of Scripture that has spanned into the later part of the 20th century; yet his arguments defending his perspective greatly parallels them.

The orthodox, historical view of the Christian church is that the original autographs are inspired and inerrant and any “error” that exists in the current copies we possess are due in part largely to unintentional copyist mistakes. Additional “errors” can be created by damaged manuscripts, poor handwriting, word order, sentence structure, and grammatical style.

Modern critics, both liberal and conservative, are correct when they point out that the thousands upon thousands of variants and corruptions that KJVO apologists like McElroy exaggerate and claim distort the doctrines of the Bible, are easily explained and do nothing to change the meaning of the text.  In other words, there are no missing doctrines or added heresies that KJV onlyist say exist in modern translations. So with that in mind,

Let’s travel back through church history.

Within the first century after the birth of the Christian church, apologists were engaged with defending the Faith against critics who raised skeptical questions against the Scripture. Those critics particularly zeroed in upon what was perceived as contradictions either in the text or in Christian doctrine, such as the problem of evil.

Believers understood that copying errors could exist. They certainly understood translational errors could exist as well, and those could account for the difficulties in the text. When Latin became the primary language of the Roman empire, and the NT was translated into other regional languages, they also understood that the Greek originals were the authority over those various language translations and would often appeal to those original Greek texts.

For instance, Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, in writing a treatise defending the concept of the Holy Spirit being co-creator with the Father and the Son, writes, “But if anyone disputes because of the variations of the Latin codices, some of which heretics have falsified, let him look at the Greek codices…” [Ambrose, Selected Works and Letter]. One will note that Ambrose recognized bad translations, but if the translation is in doubt, the Greek original (what he means by the codices) are the authority to clear up a discrepancy. Ambrose seems to have believe the “original Bible” doctrine that McElroy disparages.

The church father, Augustine, exhorted his students to be familiar with Hebrew and Greek. Writing on the subject of Christian doctrine, he states, “And men who speak the Latin tongue, of whom are those I have undertaken to instruct, need two other languages for the knowledge of Scripture, Hebrew and Greek, that they may have recourse to the original texts if the endless diversity of the Latin translators throw them into doubt.”[Augustine, Book 2, Chapter 11]. Augustine lived in North Africa. Those “originals” more than likely were Alexandrian in text type.

At any rate, he goes on to explain in chapter 12 why certain inaccurate translations arise, primarily due to poor translating skill or unfamiliarity with the original languages. Never does he suggest that heretics are responsible, nor does he throw up his hands by suggesting there is no solution for such bad translations. He points his readers back to knowing what the originals state in the Hebrew and Greek. Augustine, like Ambrose, believed in the “original Bible” doctrine.

Skipping a head to the Reformation, most modern Christians are unaware of the fact that at the same time the Protestant Reformers were recapturing the saving Gospel and formulating the five major Solas, Roman Catholic, Libertine, and Socinian apologists were busy attempting to undermine those efforts. John Woodbridge, in his book, Biblical Authority, has 3 long chapters detailing those challenges and I would exhort folks to find a copy and read his study into that important time of the Reformation.

Their main target of these enemies of the faith was Sola Scriptura, and a host of counter-Reformation apologists wrote against the doctrine, raising all sorts of skeptical questions against the Scripture. They wrote about alleged contradictions, asked Protestants how they knew who wrote which biblical book, and even questioned the vowel pointings in the Massoretic Hebrew text suggesting the sinister Jews could not be trusted with their own OT texts.

In organizing their rebuttals, Protestants explained that the original autographs were error free because they were written by the original inspired prophet or apostle. The counter-Reformation apologists argued that no one can know what the Bible really says because there are no originals with us today, what basically amounts to the same argument McElroy raises in his chapter.

whitakerYet, in spite of that claim, Protestants demonstrated how Christians could have confidence in the Word of God because they believed those originals were there, preserved in all the copies they had available at the time.

William Whitaker wrote the most comprehensive defense of Scripture during the 16th century against the onslaught from Catholic apologists. In his book Disputations on Holy Scripture, which is still in print today, Whitaker appealed to “the originals” or the “authentic text.” By that he meant either the original autographs penned by the authors of Scripture or the original languages of Hebrew and Greek in the copies the church possessed.

For example, Whitaker spends a good amount of space writing against his version of the KJVO position during his day, what could be called Latin Vulgate onlyism. Catholics argued that the Latin Vulgate was sufficient, should never be changed, and there was no need for any “modern” (in the 16th century) English versions, or any other language edition at all.  Whitaker, in answering those claims, argued that the “originals alone were truly authentic,” [Whitaker, 145]. In fact, that is his position throughout his book and he wrote that translations were only as good as the translators and those translations do not take precedence over the “originals.” Whitaker, like all the Protestant defenders of the faith during those crucial years of the Reformation, believed in an original Bible doctrine.

But even more to the point with my review, the King James translators themselves believed in an original Bible, an original Bible from which they made their translation. A person need merely to read their long introduction to the first edition of the KJV to see that they spoke about the “originals” frequently. For instance, they write, “if any thing be halting, or superfluous, or not so agreeable to the originall, the same may bee corrected, and the trueth set in place.”

Concerning the LXX, the Greek translation of the Hebrew text, they write,

“The translation of the Seventie dissenteth from the Originall in many places, neither doeth it come neere it, for perspicuitie, gratvitie, majestie; yet which of the Apostles did condemne it? Condemne it? Nay, they used it, (as it is apparent, and as Saint Jerome and most learned men doe confesse) which they would not have done, nor by their example of using it, so grace and commend it to the Church, if it had bene unworthy the appellation and name of the word of God.”

Here we see that they knew the LXX was a translation of the original Hebrew, and the LXX “dissenteth,” or departed from, the original in many places. However, as they note, that did not deter the Apostles from using it as the Word of God. One can only assume they believed the LXX was a mixture of both God’s Words and men’s words.

It is apparent that the KJV translators recognized the originals were certainly the Word of God, but good translations were just as equally the Word of God. In another section they write,

“…that wee doe not deny, nay wee affirme and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set foorth by men of our profession (for wee have seene none of theirs of the whole Bible as yet) containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God. As the Kings Speech which hee uttered in Parliament, being translated into French, Dutch, Italian and Latine, is still the Kings Speech, though it be not interpreted by every Translator with the like grace, nor peradventure so fitly for phrase, nor so expresly for sence, every where.”

What I have presented here is just a smattering of historical documentation that proves the Christian church has always recognized that God’s Word is found in the originals. Christians not only affirmed the original autographs, but they believed those originals were contained in the current copies of the biblical Hebrew and Greek text we have in our possession. They further considered any good translation of those originals the Word of God.

McElroy is misguided about his claim regarding the original Bible doctrine. The idea he puts forth that no original documents exist so we have to put all of our faith into a 17th century English translation is one wrought from the desperation of KJVO apologetics.

Reviewing Which Bible Would Jesus Use? [4]

monarchChapters 2 and 3

Two “dirty little secrets” of modern textual criticism

and

Proof — Prominent textual scholars believe God made mistakes when he wrote the Bible

 

I continue with my review and rebuttal of Jack McElroy’s book, Which Bible Would Jesus Use? With this post I’d like to review chapters 2 and 3 together because they present similar arguments against modern versions. I’ll try to briefly lay out the content of each chapter.

Chapter 2 is an overview of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, two of the oldest complete codices of the NT that the church possesses. While they may be some of the oldest codices in existence, McElroy argues that does not mean they are reliable when it comes to the Word of God. Both of them contain numerous variant readings that not only disagree with the majority of manuscripts, but also with each other. In fact, Vaticanus is a text that has been edited according to an Alexandrian principle [41].

They were used by textual critics in the late 19th century, particularly B.F. Westcott and F.A. Hort, to create a revised critical Greek text from which new, modern versions are translated. The problem, however, is that there are two “dirty little secrets” about those codices that modern textual critics don’t want their readers to know.

The first is that critics know those two codices are filled with errors, but they will believe them anyway. Citing a number of scholars, McElroy explains how they themselves tell us that Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are both filled with errors that distort the biblical text to the point they can’t be trusted.

The second “secret” is that critics assert that God made those mistakes in the original autographs. Again citing from a number of scholars, McElroy claims that modern textual scholars believe God or the authors of Scripture made mistakes concerning geography, grammar, and basic facts of detail [45].

Chapter three expands upon the last point and provides several citations from modern translations of specific passages that seem to contradict each other across the various modern versions, as well as from scholars like Bruce Metzger and Philip Comfort who have commented that errors may have existed in the original writing when the first biblical author wrote down his Gospel or epistle.

Some of the passages that McElroy highlights are Mark 1:2, John 7:8,10, Matthew 5:22, Mark 3:5, and 2 Samuel 21:19. He develops his point further by showing the reader how those passages read will severely impact some important doctrines essential to the Christian faith like the impeccability of Christ and the inerrancy of Scripture. He then concludes the chapter by setting up the subject for the 4th chapter on the original autographs.

Review

Practically ever KJV Only book has a chapter or section of chapters explaining how the two codices, Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, are wildly corrupted to the point of teaching heresy and how Westcott and Hort elevated them to a level of unquestionable prominence that has shaped modern Bible versions to this day.

Generally, the discussion is a ridiculous cacophony involving revision of ancient church history and the development of textual criticism. KJVO apologists will compile miscitations of out of context passages that are alleged to have been intentionally left out of those codices by editors who wanted to corrupt the Scripture. And then they impugn the character of Westcott and Hort as two Bible-hating textual critics who used those two codices to re-write the NT. They are the gateway scholars to all the modern perversions available today on the Christian book market. All those talking points are stirred up with a massive dose of pseudo-expertise in KJVO literature.

Never is there any attempt to genuinely explain the historical background and development of those codices. They are by default considered corrupted by heretics and were pushed onto our modern era by heretics. And that is exactly what we have here with McElroy’s two chapters.

They are amazingly bad; embarrassingly so. In fact, he even references an online article Will Kinney cobbled together explaining how Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are corrupted. Referencing Will Kinney in your book as a reputable source for understanding the character of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus is like referencing Rachel Dolezal as a reputable source for race relations in the United States.

alexandrianSpace just does not allow the opportunity to chase down every rabbit trail McElroy presents in his chapters regarding the history of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus and the reason why scholars utilized them in textual theory, but when the real history is put into perspective, they are not the Satanic bugbears KJV apologists want them to be.

Most folks in the 21st century forget that North Africa, where the so-called Alexandrian family of manuscripts circulated, of which Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are representative, was once a thriving Christian community. Some of the more notable earlier leaders there included Clement, Origen, Athanasius, Cyril, Tertullian, Cyprian, and Augustine.

Far from being the hotbed of heresy that KJV apologist say Alexandria was, it was just as orthodox as any other Christian community throughout the world at that time. In fact, when the entire world-wide church was essentially sliding into the heresy of Arianism, due in part to theological and cultural compromise in Antioch, where KJVO apologists insist the Bible was kept pure, it was Athanasius of Alexandria who was the anchor God used to keep Christianity biblical. He would have used the Alexandrian manuscript text types as his Bible.

McElroy sets up his reason for rejecting the Alexandrian texts with the following outline in his book [39-40]:

  1. Paul made 3 missionary journeys, visited scores of cities, and never went to Alexandria, Egypt.
  2. No original New Testament letters were ever written to anyone in Egypt.
  3. The two main “oldest and best” Vaticanus (B) and Sinaiticus (Aleph) manuscripts originated in or near Alexandria, Egypt.
  4. The best you could ever say about them is that they represent textual variation unique to that country.
  5. There was a lot of creative editing for style (referred to as “Alexandrian trimming”) and content instead of faithful copying going on in Alexandria.

If we take McElroy’s logic here, that represents KJVO apologetics in general, only cultic, new agey fake religious people who called themselves “Christian” lived in and around Alexandria. Apparently, it was a spiritual black hole where God’s Spirit could not operate and the Gospel could never penetrate. Nothing is to be trusted that came from Alexandria, and by extension North Africa, throughout church history. If by God’s grace there were any Christians living there at all, they didn’t have a real Bible to read. It’s a miracle they knew anything about Jesus.

But let’s revisit those 5 points. We could maybe re-write them thus,

  1. Paul made 3 missionary journeys, visited scores of cities, and never went to the British Isles.
  2. No original New Testament letters were ever written to anyone in Britain.
  3. The TR and the KJV originated in or near Great Britain.
  4. The best you could ever say about them is that they represent textual variation unique to that country.
  5. There was a lot of creative editing for style (referred to Erasmusian addition) and content instead of faithful copying going on in Britain.

You see how easy that is? But of course, it doesn’t represent the facts any more than McElroy’s strained version about the Alexandrian text type.

McElroy also pulls together a number of quotes and citations from various scholars he says proves his contention that they know Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are error-filled but don’t really care. His discussion, however, doesn’t even begin to explain how those two codices were just a part of a much larger picture of modern textual criticism that took shape in the 20th century with the uncovering of a number of papyrus texts. He attributes to them way too much influence. It is almost mythical.

Additionally, he doesn’t even define for the reader what those scholars meant by “error” or “corruption.” KJVO apologetics typically mean by the idea of “corruption” that an intentional distortion of the text by a nefarious individual or individuals that changes or challenges orthodox doctrine. But the word corrupt in the practice of textual criticism does not mean intentional distortion to introduce theological error. It has to do more with variants between similar manuscript types and explaining why or why not they should be included. There could be a number of rational, non-satanic cult reasons for why those variants exist. The point is that “corruption” does not equate to heretical attempts to alter God’s Word. That’s KJVO induced paranoia.

McElroy also ignores evangelical men who have written on the subject in order to provide a balanced perspective. Apologist James White is conspicuously absent in his discussion, as is Mark Minnick, who contributed essays on textual criticism to two separate books addressing the Scriptures and the Bible version issue among Fundamentalist believers. The author provides a disservice to his readers by ignoring good men who depart from his presentation.

In chapter 3, McElroy moves to highlighting specific passages that differ in reading between modern versions. They are meant to be the proof that modern scholars believe God made errors in the Bible. All of them he claims have dire impact upon the biblical orthodoxy. He specifically notes Christ’s deity as well as biblical inerrancy.

For the sake of the reader’s patience, let me interact with one I have addressed in a previous post. McElroy draws our attention to John 7:8-10 a number of times in his chapter. The passage states in the KJV,

 8 Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come.
9 When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee.
10 But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.

liarThe debate hinges upon the word “yet” in verse 8. The word translated “yet” is not found in the “oldest and best” manuscripts that are despised by KJVO apologists, so that in modern versions like the NASB and the ESV, Jesus says, “I do not go up to this feast…”

KJVO apologists insist that long ago, the redactors of the “oldest and best” manuscripts made a subtle change to John’s Gospel narrative that intentionally put a lie in the mouth of Jesus, because after He tells His brothers he wasn’t going up to the feast, He goes anyways as noted in verse 10. Jack Chick even has a tract about it.

The problem is easily explained, however, if one takes the entire context of what John writes. Christ has a discussion with his unbelieving brothers about His claims. They wanted Him to go up to Jerusalem and declare Himself the Messiah. He told them that it wasn’t His time for that just yet. Thus, when the context is considered, Jesus wasn’t telling His brothers that He wasn’t attending the feast at all, but that He wasn’t going up to the feast in the way they expected Him. There really isn’t a need for the word “yet.” The context is clear what was going on.

The KJV Onlyists never consider the fact that John wrote the Gospel without the word “yet,” because John the Apostle didn’t believe what he wrote was a contradiction. I mean, he was probably there as an eye-witness of the conversation. But it could be that at some later point in history, copyists thought that the text created a contradiction and so added the word to smooth out the reading. Deletion is always assumed by KJV Onlyists, never addition, which is just as bad when it comes to tampering with holy Scripture.

The other examples he lists are also easily explained. There are sound reasons why textual critics believe Mark 1:2 says “Isaiah the prophet” rather than “the prophets,” for instance. And it’s not because evangelical scholars don’t care and they believe God allowed errors in the Bible. To suggest as much to the readers of your book is just dishonest and slanderous.

Reviewing “Which Bible Would Jesus Use?” [3]

faithbookChapter 1: Why The Lord is Forced to Choose Only One Bible

I have taken up the task of reviewing KJVO apologist, Jack McElroy, and his book called, Which Bible Would Jesus Use? See Part 1 for the background

With this post, I come to the first chapter.

Summary

McElroy opens his first chapter by imagining a scenario in which Jesus Christ would visit your local church. As Jesus walks through the crowd to attend the service, you notice He is carrying a Bible and you wonder which version He prefers. McElroy then explains that in his book, the reader will learn why Jesus can’t use all the modern Bible versions, or even just some of them, and that He is currently using just one.

He goes on to prove his assertion by providing a number of passages from both the OT and NT that conflict between popular Bible version like the ESV, NAS, and the NIV.

For example, the ESV states in Ecclesiastes 8:10, Then I saw the wicked buried. They … were praised in the city, but the NAS states, So then, I have seen the wicked buried … they are soon forgotten in the city. Another example is found in Luke 10:1 where the ESV reads, After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others… but the NAS reads, Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others.

McElroy also cites a number of evangelical leaders like Al Mohler, John Piper, Paige Patterson, and even John MacArthur, who endorse many of those conflicting translations. MacArthur, for instance, recommends both the NAS and the NIV. However, that only confuses matters because he says that both the NAS and the NIV are “accurate” when there is documented differences between those two versions.

McElroy now sets up what he will discuss in the next couple of chapters when he explains how he will expose the “dirty little secrets” of textual criticism.

Review

missingAll KJVO literature will have a section that presents side-by-side comparison charts that mark out conflicting verses among the various modern Bible versions. Usually the charts and tables are cataloged according to doctrines the KJVO apologists claim are adversely affected by the translations of modern versions.

J.J. Ray wrote a little book called, God Only Wrote One Bible, as early as 1955, and Barry Burton published a classic KJVO book called, Let’s Weigh the Evidence, still available at Jack Chick’s website. Both supposedly demonstrate numerous alterations in the modern versions attacking biblical doctrine like inerrancy, salvation by faith alone, the deity of Christ, and the virgin birth by either changing the way a verse reads or by total omission. Both books set something of a standard for verse comparison charts that have been copied by KJVO apologists over the years.

There are a couple of important things to keep in mind when considering those comparison charts as I move through interacting with McElroy’s examples.

First, KJVO apologist present them with the presupposition that the KJV is the Word of God alone and any deviation from the way it reads indicates an intentional corruption of Holy Scripture by either sinister forces or unwitting, compromised individuals. Thus, when the modern version sides with another reading of a biblical text that translates the verse differently than what is found in the KJV, it is concluded that heretical men chose those textual readings for the reason of intentionally distorting God’s Word for evil purposes.

What those “evil purposes” are usually remain in the realm of speculation on the part of the KJVO apologist presenting the evidence of corruption. It could be anything from the advancement of a secret Roman Catholic agenda designed to destroy Protestantism by casting doubt on Sola Scriptura, or it could be as fantastic as secretly working to subvert evangelical churches so as to make them more pliable to theological error and the ushering in of Antichrist.

Secondly, KJVO apologists ignore the context as to the reason why modern translators chose to use particular readings for their modern version. If any reasons are discussed, they are always bad. As we will see in upcoming chapters, modern textual critics and translators are considered liberal and the deniers of the inspiration of God’s Word, so they can’t be trusted because they have a nefarious agenda. Any evangelical translators who do affirm the inspiration of Scripture, yet still use modern versions, are considered compromised or pandering to “academia.” Never is there any genuine attempt to explain to the reader a balanced perspective for why translators translated a passage the way they did.

That is essentially what McElroy is trying to do with his first chapter. He lays out a number of verses taken from both the OT and NT, and then attempts to demonstrate that there are extreme differences between translations. So much so that it is implied that modern versions teach an alternative Christian faith.

However, if we were to take a step back and evaluate his “evidence” with a bit of sober-mindedness apart from the manufactured grid of his KJVO apologetic, one will quickly discover that he is misdirecting his readers just a bit.

Let me start with McElroy’s opening example. After telling his imaginary story of Jesus visiting your church with a big Bible under His arm, he cites Exodus 36:19 which reads in the KJV, And he made a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering of badgers’ skins above that. He highlights the phrase “badger skins” and then lists out how Exodus 36:19 reads in the NIV, NASB, ESV, and the New NIV. All of those translations translate the word for “badger skins” in the KJV as, “hides of sea cows,” “porpoise skin,” “goatskin,” and “durable leather,” respectively.

So in other words, according to McElroy, a profound disconnect exists between all those translations. They can’t ALL be correct as he proclaims. The reader is left with the impression that the doctrine of inspiration and inerrancy is at stake. But is it really?

What he is not telling his reader is that there really isn’t any corruption in the biblical text at all. Oh certainly there are differences in translations, but translational differences don’t count as textual corruption or even variant readings. All OT texts say the same thing in the original Hebrew language. But as seen in the previous post, McElroy rejects the concept of the “original” text which really just introduces still another presupposition one must accept unquestioningly for his system to work.

The phrase translated as “badger skins” is tachash ore and checking any Hebrew lexicon, the words are rather generic that mean some sort of leather or animal skin. The phrase may or may not mean “badger skins.” It is even mentioned in Exodus 26:14, where the same description of the tabernacle is given.

How the word is translated is left up to the translator’s discretion. McElroy doesn’t even bother to explain which one is correct. The reader now has the impression that all those kinds of leathers are presented in various readings of the OT at Exodus 36:19, but that’s not the case at all.

Let’s consider the citation of Ecclesiastes 8:10. McElroy partially cites the verse as it is found in the ESV and the NASB, but let me cite the verse in its entirety from those versions:

ESV: Then I saw the wicked buried. They used to go in and out of the holy place and were praised in the city where they had done such things. This is also vanity.

NASB: So then, I have seen the wicked buried, those who used to go in and out from the holy place, and they are soon forgotten in the city where they did thus. This too is futility. 

whatSo here we have a major contradiction, right? The ESV says the wicked will be praised in the city whereas the NASB says they are soon forgotten? What on earth? One translation has them being praised but the other has them forgotten?

Again, what is not mentioned here is that a variant does not exist in the Hebrew. However, because this section in Ecclesiastes has been historically difficult for translators to interpret, there have been emendations to the text to help with understanding what it means. McElroy mentions how the ESV sides with the Latin Vulgate and the LXX rendering of the verse, “were praised,” but the LV and LXX are also translations of the Hebrew. Those translators had the same difficulty with interpreting the text as modern translators do, hence the reason they chose the translation they did and the reason why the ESV chose to side with those translations.

Even the earlier English translations before the KJV recognized the interpretive challenge. For example, the 1549 Matthew’s second edition translates Ecclesiastes 8:10 as,

For I have oft seen the ungodly brought to their graves, and fallen down from the high, glorious place in so much they were forgotten in the city, where they had in so high and great reputation. 

So the verse is not a matter of a corruption of God’s Word, but which interpretation best understands what Solomon is saying and capturing that in the receptor language. Either one of those translations could be legit, because they are attempting to understand the meaning of the text so as to convey that in the translation. (This article provides a bit of background to the interpretive challenge of Ecclesiastes 8:10: The Doings of the Wicked in Qohelet 8:10).

Let’s go to the NT and consider a verse that is a result of a textual variant.

McElroy notes Luke 10:1. In the KJV the passage states that Jesus sent out 70 men to preach the Gospel. A few modern versions, particularly the NIV and ESV, will have 72 instead of 70. The question then is which one is correct?

Honestly, KJVO apologists exaggerate the variant (as they do most of them found in the Bible as we will see), but there is solid textual evidence for both readings as Jeffrey Miller reports in his article on the subject, Two or Not Two. Even the 1541 Great Bible recognizes the possibility of the variant when it translates “Seventy (and two)” adding the two in parenthesis.

I believe 70 is the correct reading, but I understand why 72 is found in a number of manuscripts and ancient translations and it doesn’t worry me one bit if a modern version reads 72 instead of 70, nor do I conclude God’s Word has been corrupted by heretics nor do I believe it is no longer inerrant.

McElroy discusses 5 other examples in the first chapter and everyone of them is easily explained when one steps back, lays aside the KJVO interpretive filters, and takes Barry Burton’s advice to weigh ALL the evidence. The specter of a corrupted Bible dissipates into the air.

Reviewing “Which Bible Would Jesus Use?” [2]

Mcelroy207202015The Introduction

I am reviewing KJVO apologist Jack McElroy’s book, Which Bible Would Jesus Use? This will be the second entry. For background and preliminary remarks, see my first post.

What I will try to do is provide a brief summary of each chapter or chapters depending on how much I can cover in one post before becoming boring and the reader drifts off and clicks over to Facebook or somewhere. I will then back up and address specific talking points I think are important, especially important with offering a rebuttal and response.

With that in mind, let’s get started.

Summary

McElroy begins his introduction by making the claim that before 130 years ago, the Christian Church understood that the real Bible (in bold italics) was a real, genuine book. Now the Bible is believed to be just an idea. That being, the real Bible exists in the originals, but, as McElroy points out, no one has ever seen those originals and so the Bible of today never really existed.

McElroy finds that view point ridiculous. It represents a dysfunctional God who allegedly “inspires words but fails to deliver them to you.” [4]. The Bible versions recommended these days are really a mixture of men’s words and God’s words and it’s just left up to the modern textual critic to figure out which ones are which. Thus, the so-called original Bible exists only in the imagination of the modern academics.

The author also lays out the challenge that Jesus can only use just one Bible. He can’t use them all. To do so would make Jesus look really, really foolish. Hence, there is only one Bible He could use that would save His integrity. (Can you guess which one it will be?). He then outlines his presuppositions and finishes out the introduction by providing a brief overview of the upcoming chapters and his writing strategy.

His presuppositions are [11]:

1. There has to be a book called the Bible — A physical book.
2. The book must contain ALL of God’s words and only God’s words. It can’t be a mixture of men’s words and God’s words.
3. Most importantly, the work of providing this authentic, physical Bible is the responsibility of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He then claims that he is qualified as an author to offer his book for today’s readers because he has done all the necessary study and research to show you why his preferred Bible version is the only one Jesus could genuinely use, and hence the one all Christians should use as well.

Review

laughMcElroy’s introduction is regrettably outright laughable.

Take for example his personal charge on page 11 in which he says that the readers of his book will be getting a unique and informed slant on the issue, not someone else’s repackaged teachings.

Is he kidding me? As I move through my reviews, I’m going to demonstrate how he rehashes pretty much every argument ever made by KJVO apologists the last 40 years. Sure. He may have organized those arguments differently, added some updated illustrations, and slapped a new cover on his book, but the challenges he levels were offered years ago by such folks as Peter Ruckman, Sam Gipp, and even Gail Riplinger.

And additionally, those challenges have also been answered. For instance, the “where can I get a copy of God’s Word” and “where are those originals” arguments I originally answered nearly 10 years ago when I did my own overview of KJVO apologetics.

McElroy must think his critical readers are dullards or something.

But seeing that his focus in his introduction is the “where are the originals” challenge let me respond just for fun.

Like all KJV Onlyists, McElroy begins with the presupposition that the King James translation is the pure Word of God. That presupposition is clearly implied within the three presuppositions he outlines in his introduction: The Word of God must be a physical book that contains all of God’s words, no mixture of the words of men, and that is protected by Jesus.

KJVO apologists believe the KJV is that book. It alone is the standard to which all other Bible translations are to be compared. That means it should never be questioned as an English translation because it is the best that needs no correction and to do so alters and corrupts God’s Word. Hence the philosophical formula, The KJV alone = the Word of God alone.

Anyone paying attention will immediately identify a major contradictory flaw with his second presupposition that states the book must not be a mixture of God’s Words and men’s words. The KJV is an English translation of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages. If we are talking about language to language translation, there has been a mixture of men’s words that had to be “added” in the translation process. There is no possible way to get around that dilemma. Already the KJV fails McElroy’s own stated presuppositions.

That means, then, that he has to defend the idea that in the process of Jesus providing and protecting the physical book, Jesus inspired the translation process as well so that the KJV translators would translate accurately without error. That of course creates a major problem with basic Christian orthodoxy regarding the doctrines of inspiration and preservation of Scripture. It would in essence introduce a second level of divine breathing out by God beyond the original prophets and apostles to the very translating committees of the King James that in turn resulted in the Bible they produced. It also retells history so that an alternative story line is manufactured that traces the textual genealogy of the biblical texts down to the creation of the King James.

I would imagine that if pressed, McElroy would try and wiggle out from the intellectual conundrum his presuppositions created by redefining what he means by a “mixture of men’s words.” He would probably fall back by appealing to the “Jesus directed the translators to translate what He wanted” and “The KJV translators were the greatest, godliest scholars ever” argument.”

But anyone who seriously knows how our Bible came to us realizes how problematic his presuppositions are for him. He’s stuck having to acknowledge that when the translators translated from the original biblical languages into English, they had to make man-made decisions on how phrases and words were to be rendered into the receptor language. That by default means any translation, even the KJV, has a mixture of God’s words and man’s words.

In order to further strengthen his point about what modern evangelicals supposedly believe about the “original Bible,” McElroy cites from Randall Price’s book, Searching for the Original Bible. (Available on Google Books). He quotes from Price who stated that the autographs written by the original, inspired prophet or apostle is the original Bible. He then declares how inadequate that position is because the original animal skins Moses wrote on have since disintegrated and even Jeremiah’s “original” scroll was destroyed by Jehudi (Jeremiah 36:23). See how silly Price’s original autographs theory is?

strawmenOf course, that’s a typical strawman argument that comes stalking out from the rolling fields of KJV Onlyism. McElroy selectively quotes from Price in order to make him appear muddled with his views of Scripture. It really is a dastardly thing to do on McElroy’s part and is not becoming of one who names Christ as his savior. If a person will take the time to actually go and read what the guy really stated (I mean, the book is available online, for crying out loud!), you’ll see that Price defines his position rather clearly.

McElroy conveniently leaves off Price’s further remarks about his position. After citing article 10 from the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, Price writes that the concepts of inspiration and inerrancy applies only to the autographic text of Scripture and extends to copies and translations only insofar as they faithfully represent the original [Price, 35 emphasis mine].

You will note that Price believes we have the originals with us to this day. That is the position of the Bible-believing Church. (Heck, it’s the position of the Catholics as well, but we won’t go there). Price, like all sober-minded Christians, believes the originals are contained in the faithfully preserved copies of the biblical texts and faithfully translated editions of the modern Bible.

But like all KJVO apologists, that is not good enough because “sinful men” have their hands on the process way too much. And liberals critics were involved in the process as well! Can’t have that!

Again, folks who know how our Bibles came down to us over the centuries realize that McElroy’s historical theory is not as pure and clean as he let’s on. The Bible was a handwritten document for over a thousand years before the printing press was invented. Man mixed with the biblical texts a lot. Every time they hand copied a copy, with all the bad handwriting, misspelled words, spilled ink, water stains, etc., they were mixing with the text. That is just overwhelmingly evident for anyone considering the facts of textual transmission and criticism.

Now. Does God preserve His Word? Most certainly. But is it according to a KJVO daisy chain view that involves a mythical genealogical line of flawless Xeroxed manuscript copies that resulted in just one, never to be corrected English translation frozen in the 17th century? No. But we do have the “originals” in our hands, because the real way God preserved His Word effectively kept it safe, in the hands of His redeemed people, who faithfully passed it along so that we hold in our hands God’s written revelation.

McElroy, and the host of KJVO advocates will dispute my claim, but I’ll answer their disputations as I move along.