Eight Rules for Beginners Reading the Bible

Rule #1: Start with something that is easy to understand/easily applicable and work toward the books that are harder.
– NT: James, Gospel of Mark
– OT: Psalms, Proverbs & Genesis

Rule #2: Be regular/consistent.

Rule #3: Don’t read for quantity, read for quality. Reading the Bible through in a year is great but does little if you don’t learn anything, change anything, or draw closer to God based on what you read.

Rule #4: Read to understand, understand to apply. Learning information by itself isn’t the point. Application is the point. But you first have to understand what it says before you know what to do with it.

Rule #5: Prayer – Ask God for wisdom, insight and understand.

Rule #6: Realize up front that not all your conclusions will be valid – talk with someone you trust, ask questions and compare your findings with other scriptures to try to determine what is right.

Rule #7: When you run into difficulty, don’t go straight to a commentary for help. Wrestle with it on your own for a while first. Commentators are people too and they can make mistakes.

Rule #8: Not everything in the Bible is written for the same reason. Some writings are poetic and some are laws. Some are for instruction and others are general good advice. Not everything in the Bible is a command from God.

What advice would you add?

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

62 Responses to Eight Rules for Beginners Reading the Bible

  1. I’m one of those rare people who finds James and Proverbs very difficult to read. That is, I find them to be such a different genre from most of the Bible. I like connections, outlines and flowing themes; those are absent in Proverbs and difficult to spot in James.

    I send people first to Mark or John, then to Genesis.

    I also try to emphasize from the beginning the idea of context. Reading the Bible as a series of fortune cookie statements can lead to wild doctrinal positions.

    And I teach three basic questions:
    What does it say?
    What does it mean?
    So what?

    Your list is a great start that would be helpful to any beginner.

  2. Pingback: Thursday’s Links To Go | Tim Archer's Kitchen of Half-Baked Thoughts

  3. One thing many people miss is asking the question, “What does this passage say about Jesus?” After all, in His post-resurrection appearances He opened the Scriptures (Old Testament) to His disciples and explained how they spoke of Him. He told the Jews (John 5:39) that though they were searching the Scriptures, thinking that in them they found life, the Scriptures (Old Testament) testified of Him and they refused to come to Him to find life.

    I think it is easy for us to do the same – miss Jesus while we look for hidden clues as to when He will return or penumbras of an aura that hint at a command. When we search for such things we will (think) we find them – and will be led astray. Yet if we honestly ask about how and what this passage teaches about Jesus, we are not likely to stray far from Him.

  4. Robert Floyd says:

    One more rule I encourage people to follow: read from a translation you can understand and make sure it prints scripture in paragraph form. It’s surprising how many people think chapter and verse markings are part of the original text.

    And double-plus good to Tim: context is everything (and that includes the genre of what you’re reading).

  5. Andrew Patrick says:

    That is a good note about the commentaries. While they do have a lot of valid notes and data, they can cause confusion, because once you have looked at someone else’s idea you have lost your chance to form a first impression without interference, to see something that the commentary may have missed, or even tried to avoid (because commentaries can have their own theological slants also.)

    Some additional suggestions / supplemental thoughts,

    10. The bible uses a lot of parallel structure, things are oft repeated for similarity instead of difference (that was an example, notice how the second phrase defined the first?)

    11. The New Testament assumes a familiarity with the Old Testament, and latter books assume a foundation of what has already been written. There is merit with taking one book by itself because it may seem easier, but it would be greatly beneficial if everyone could read the bible in order at least once. Without a biblical foundation, it is difficult to read without substituting a different foundation.

    12. Not all statements are commands, but also not all commands are given to the same people either. Remember that there are issues of scope and jurisdiction. Forgetting this can lead to mistakes, such as applying the Sabbath commandment outside of that nation of Israel, wondering how we are supposed to submit the first fruits of our harvest to the Levite, and so forth.

    13. Even if a message or command is given to a different person or for a different time, if the shoe fits, wear it. If God says he hates a particular thing at one time, he probably continues to hate that thing (or things like it) now. If God praises a particular behavior once upon a time, remember that this is the same God today. When God reveals his character, that character has not changed.

    14. Allow the Bible to define its own terms, within context or from other passages. The Bible is not a collection of random writings from eclectic authors, but it has a master author that directed and planned the whole thing, and that author is very, very, smart, and quite clever. If something is in those pages there is probably a good reason or even multiple reasons. Allow for the possibility that even the specific words might have been chosen on purpose.

    15. Don’t expect to immediately understand everything you read. Some things may be impossible to understand with what we have been given, but other things may make sense later on. It is better to read a difficult passage and continue on, than to be afraid to read it, or worse, to read it and force a bad meaning upon it.

    16. Adding onto this, allow yourself to feel the subtext. Subtext is when an author speaks in a subtle fashion that can be understood without the target audience even realizing how it was said. Human authors can manage this, but the Bible is written (directed) by a superior divine author. If a passage (or the whole book) gives a certain feeling, then it might be that it was meant to give that feeling as part of the message.

    17. … and even with the dread that this might cause some offense? get a normal King James version for reading. In spite of what some of its detractors might say, it is not harder to read, it is easier due to superior style, grammar, and poetic qualities such as alliteration, rhyme, and rhythm, thus easier to memorize and internalize. Besides this it really is a better translation in terms of accuracy. You might have to learn a couple words (such as “neesings” (Job 41:18) is an obsolete form of what we now call “sneezings”) … but surely this is no obstacle for one who cares about the substance? And in some cases the substance (the literal meaning) can be quite different in other translations.

    18. Allow the Bible to be interpreted first in its primary, most ordinary sense. If the Bible says something, then perhaps that might be what it really meant. Accept the normal meaning first before looking for other meaning, and only demand other meaning after proving that the literal meaning could not have been the intended meaning. Remember that the bible will not contradict itself, and apparent contradictions should be able to be resolved.

    19. Take care not to take away or add unto the words. Make sure to read exactly what it says, and take care not to substitute a paraphrase when the original text is accessible. The bible itself gives examples where people got bad ideas (or wrong doctrines) where as little as one word was adjusted (ignored/changed) in the original statement. Recognize the difference between what has been said in black and white, and our extrapolations and interpretations of that black and white.

    20. And finally, don’t get intimidated or allow others to awe you with years, letters, or credentials. A simple reading may be the intended reading, and sometimes the child can see where the experts have been so conditioned that they can no longer see from a clean perspective. God is less likely to reveal his thoughts to those that are haughty or arrogant.

    … isn’t it amazing how something can be both simple and complex at the same time?

    • Speaking of the King James Version, Andrew Patrick said, “Besides this it really is a better translation in terms of accuracy.”

      Really? Alexander Campbell had to fight the inaccuracies (Calvinistic) of the King James Version his entire career. There are other versions – such as the ESV that equal the KJV in its poetic fluency and the rhythm of its style. It is also a very literal translation. And a translation that is more than 400 years old is in a language that is out of date. It is the language of Shakespeare, not the language of the man in the street. Yet, the New Testament was written in the Koine Greek, that is the language of every day conversation and business.

      I suspect that Andrew has read the King James Version all his life. I quit preaching from this version when I was in New Zealand preaching to and teaching people who did not have a life-long familiarity with the Scriptures. When I would read a text, I found I had to translate the translation before I could make the point. I decided this was foolish and that it would be better to use a more modern language version that the people could understand. Before making the switch, I examined the version I had selected (at that time, the RSV) and compared it with the KJV verse by verse. When there was a significant difference, I looked at the text in the Greek. Invariably, the RSV expressed the sense of the text more accurately than did the KJV. Later, I switched to the NIV because of problems I have with the Old Testament part of the RSV. More recently I have switched to the ESV, as I consider it superior to the other versions I have used.

      One must always realize, however, that translation is not inspired. It is a work of man and is therefore subject to human error. I doubt there is any translation that is absolutely free of all human error. That is a far thing, though, from saying there are errors in the Bible. It is easy enough for us today to compare various translations. Where there is confusion of translation, it is a pretty good indication that there is ambiguity in the original text – which at times may be deliberate on the part of the author. For example, in 1 Peter 3:21 does Peter mean to say that baptism is a pledge of a good conscience or that it is an appeal for a good conscience. The verb can mean either – and the translations reflect that. Why, then, must one settle on one meaning in this passage? In fact, doesn’t baptism partake of each of these concepts? A pledge (promise) and an appeal? Why couldn’t Peter, through the Holy Spirit, intended to convey both?

      When it is no longer necessary for English teachers to explain Shakespeare to high school freshmen it may be time to resurrect the King James Version (though even being able to read Shakespeare would not correct its inaccuracies). Until then, I choose to use and recommend translations that people of today can understand without benefit of clergy having to explain it to them, which may be why some prefer to have the King James Version.

      Is it also possible that they have developed some of their doctrines based on peculiarities of the KJV instead of on the original text? If so, they may need to restudy a lot of things.

      • Hello Jerry,

        Thank you for your story. It seems this was addressed to me (and I am hoping we can talk here) so I have a few comments and/or observations:

        1) If Alexander Campbell was fighting against the King James because he thought it was Calvinistic, that is indeed strange. King James (himself) was not Calvinist, and as the head of the English church he would not permit Calvinism to be taught in the churches. He is on the record as describing five point Calvinism as so terrible, that the devil himself (or all of his devils) could not possibly imagine a doctrine more likely to turn man against his maker. As an honest question, why did Alexander Campbell think that the King James version was Calvinist?

        2) The King James bible is not the language of Shakespeare. When was the last time you tried to read Shakespeare? I was able to read King James when I was six, but Shakespeare remained difficult reading when I was fifteen or twenty. The King James defined modern English and you could speak in a King James dialect to a man on the street today and he would understand you perfectly.

        3) English is the new koine Greek. If you consider everything that the Greek was in its day, and the purpose it served, that is the role played by the English language today. Both languages were spread throughout the world, both languages spread the scripture around the globe, both languages were (are) the standard of commerce. So, as a question for you, was the spread of the Greek language across the known world prior to Christ and his apostles, was that of men, or was that of God?

        4) Did you realize that your reasoning was based upon circular logic?

        You just said,

        One must always realize, however, that translation is not inspired. It is a work of man and is therefore subject to human error.

        You are supporting your first statement with your second statement, but the problem is that the second statement depends upon the acceptance of the first statement. If a translation is not inspired then it is the work of men and subject to error, but you are using “work of men” as an (assumed) proof that translation is not inspired. That is called “circular logic” (and should get your attention).

        But how did you reach the conclusion that translation is not inspired?

        a) Do you have a scripture that says that translation is not inspired?
        b) Do you have special revelation from an angel or spirit that said translation is not inspired?
        c) Is it logically impossible for translation to be inspired?
        d) Is it supernaturally impossible for translation to be inspired?
        e) Is it intrinsically against God’s character to inspire translation?
        f) Or have you heard others say that “translation is not inspired” when no one stood up to demonstrate the contrary?

        Assuming that you accept the whole bible as divine revelation, if you were to provide a few straight answers to a few questions, I believe that within a few minutes you yourself would have to admit that not only can translation be inspired, but that we have indisputable examples of inspired translation.

        Straight question one: Do you accept the Hebrew text as inspired?
        Straight question two: Do you accept the Greek text as inspired?
        Straight question three: Do you accept the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib as a literal event?
        Straight question four: Do you accept that the account of the tower of Babel as a literal event?
        Straight question five: Do you accept the apostolic speaking of tongues of Acts as a literal event?

        I could work with just the first two questions, but I thought the latter examples might be helpful in case the question of God’s power or character came into the picture. So if you answer all of my questions, I can prove divine inspiration in spades.

        Circular logic should throw up a red flag, because it indicates that your thinking may have been swayed more by emotion than than proper reasoning. Or even if that was merely considered an unsupported statement, why are unsupported statements of that sort expected to be taken as fact? That should also throw up a flag. Red flags like these should prompt us to be ready to go back and restudy a few things.

        So until we have these questions addressed, speculations and opinions about whether English can be understood should be set aside. We should look at this first, and later we can ask for specific examples of these “peculiarities” you speak of.

        Thanks,
        -Andrew

      • mattdabbs says:

        Jerry – here are some verses in question. These are listed by Jack Lewis in his book KJV to NIV, p 62

        Acts 2:47 – “such as should be saved”
        Gal 5:17- “ye cannot do the things that ye would”
        Heb 6:6 – “If they shall fall away”
        Heb 10:38 inserts “any man”
        1611 KJV has a marginal note on Rom 5:12 that says, “in whom all have sinned”

        He concludes, though, that he doesn’t think any of this adds up to a blatant Calvinist influence in the KJV,

        “However, to be completely fair to the translators, one should observe that these are isolated verses and that in many other passages which could have been crucial to these same doctrines no such leanings can be detected.”

      • Andrew Patrick says:

        That provided some interesting history as to where some of the “against King James” arguments found their start, that is, in the Campbell tradition. It is a shame that I cannot actually talk to him now… but I can comment, at least:

        1) an example of Campbell’s “errors in the King James” was “gopher wood” where he thought it should be “cypress wood?” When the actual type of wood is unknown, transliterating the word is a sign of caution, not faulty translation.

        The article wrote:

        He declared that the translators allowed the King’s notions of “predestination, election, witchcraft, familiar spirits” to influence their work of translating. Many passages, Campbell said, were simply mistranslated and finally the division of verses into individual paragraphs severely hampered following the flow of thought for the ordinary reader

        2) King James prohibited the preaching of Calvinism in the churches, and he pronounced the Five Point Calvinism of the Synod of Dort as so terrible that even the devil and his host of fallen angels could not come up with a doctrine more likely to turn man against his maker. Has the Church of Christ ever taken this strong of a stance against Calvinism? So what was Campbell implyingy?

        3) As per the King’s beliefs concerning witchcraft and familiar spirits, what was Campbell’s beliefs concerning witchcraft and familiar spirits? Witchcraft and familiar spirits are spoken of in the Bible, such is reported by missionaries who have contact with other areas of the world, and I know people who practice witchcraft and deal with familiar spirits today. Can someone (who is in the know here) please explain what Campbell was complaining about?

        In contrast, a conversation I had with a preacher (student) from the Church of Christ declared that it was impossible that devils were loose in the world today, because it would require the Holy Spirit to banish them, thus, he reasoned, there was no Holy Spirit in the world today, thus no demons. I hope someone here can see the flaw in that logic. I wonder if Campbell had similar reasoning.

        4) I find verse division to be extremely helpful in maintaining a thought flow in scripture. Have you ever tried memorizing paragraphs? Can you readily recite paragraphs? But verses can stay in my mind. But this was one of his chief objections?

        Thanks for providing that background. And if anyone can explain what his complaint was about witchcraft and familiar spirits, I really would like to know.

    • Robert Floyd says:

      Regarding #11, I agree it would be useful to read through the Bible in order. However, we need to understand that the order of print Bibles today, especially the Old Testament, would not have made sense to the original readers. When Jesus referred to “the Law and the Prophets,” he was referring to the first two divisions of the Jewish scriptures, what are referred to as the Tanakh. The Law referred to the first five books (Genesis – Deuteronomy); the Prophets referred to Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the 12 Minor Prophets; the Writings referred to Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles.

      For a good study of the history of Israel, I would suggest readings Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings. Those books present a solid history of Israel, perfect for someone who doesn’t know the stories (and for those of us who do know the stories). In particular, they paint a very different picture than we might expect of the people of Israel and their relationship to God.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Andrew,

      A few responses,

      1 – It has been a while since I looked at it but I am pretty sure the 1611 has some translations that are more supportive of Calvinism than an a more accurate translation would allow.

      2 – The 1611 English of the KJV wouldn’t be readily understood by many people today. I can give you a list of words that you might even struggle to know the definitions of from the 1611. If you do understand those definitions it would only be because you took extra time to learn that and 99.999% of people haven’t done that.

      3 – If the 1611 KJV was inspired by God then it was inspired with tens of thousands of errors that have since been corrected in countless revisions.

      • 1) I have not found a more accurate translation than the King James, but… I would be interested in seeing some examples of what you are thinking is “supportive of Calvinism” … but just to be fair to Calvinism, is that really the right standard of judgment? What if I were to think that when Jesus said “…this is my body” that it was too supportive of Catholicism, and said a translation that rewrote it was more accurate … based upon my anti-Catholic bias?

        2) The 1611 English is readily understood by people today when they hear it. The main difference between modern English (1611) and modern English (2011) is in what constitutes accepted spelling, which is only detected in the visual reading, not the hearing. In the 17th century there was no such thing as “standardized spelling” and as such people used creative licence, because all that mattered was the pronunciation.

        … but it seems our society is reversing this trend, because many people are abandoning standardized spelling, not only with examples like “nite” for “night”, but with entirely new dialects with words like U (you), QQ (quit-and-cry), ROFL (roll on the floor laughing), “Whazzup dawg?” etc. If you want to talk about dialects that are difficult to understand, go read the internet … or a kid’s text message.

        However, when someone hears a phrase like “Thou shalt not …” they not only recognize it as a biblical dialect, but they also have perfect comprehension of what it means, and they know that they are hearing scripture. Which is not a bad thing. Walk up to someone on the street and say “Thou shalt not steal” and I wager that 99% of them will understand you, even if they pretend not to. It will also have a lot more impact than if you had said “Don’t steal” or “No stealing” or “Stealing bad!” (like the Message tries to speak, as if you are a dog with a short vocabulary.)

        3) I think you are jumping ahead of the argument here, but where are these “tens of thousands of errors” in the 1611 King James translation? Surely you are not considering printing errors as translation errors? Or if I took a Bible with 1000 pages, and stabbed it 10 times through with an ice pick, would that be 10,000 errors right there? Can you show me at least 1000 errors in the 1611 King James translation? Or perhaps 100? Or what about a more manageable number like 10?

        Some concrete examples might be helpful, because we really shouldn’t make judgments on rumor or speculation…

    • mattdabbs says:

      Andrew,

      Here is a little KJV quiz for you. Without looking up these word meanings type next to each word what it means in 1611 KJV English:

      Halt
      Lovers
      Suffer
      Mean man
      Pitiful woman
      Shambles
      Wax great
      Cockle
      Advertised
      Hosen
      Upbraids
      Somewhat
      Common
      Doves’ dung
      Besom

      I would give you the scripture references (which I have) but you shouldn’t need them if your opinion on this kind of language is true.

      • Matt, before I engage in this quiz, could you please explain what you mean by “looking up the word meanings” and “1611 KJV English?”

        Specifically, the King James English never occurs as single words that stand alone. They always occur in context, and the context of the passage usually contains the definition. So, if you are asking me to explain what it means in King James English, you are asking me to read it in context.

        However, reading it in context would also qualify as “looking up the word meanings” so you have asked me to perform an impossible task. Besides this, some of those words have greatly varied meanings depending on the context.

        For example (and I haven’t looked up anything one way or another yet) the word “besom” is indeed unusual, but when read in context with “sweeping with the besom of destruction” it is pretty obvious that it is something that you sweep with.

        I will suffer your quiz if you would be willing to define your terms, the ones which you have already used to define this challenge. And as a bonus question, could you please define this word as it is used today?

        * Bad

        Make sure you pick the right meaning (sorry, I haven’t provided any context for that word, but if you are really as familiar with the English you shouldn’t need one, right?)

        Thank you,
        -Andrew

    • mattdabbs says:

      Andrew,

      Let me go ahead and make my point. I don’t need a dictionary to define “bad:. I would need to look up these and hundreds of other words from the KJV that have been adequately translated into modern English by many very reliable translations. I can list at least 100 more words that are just as difficult but there is no need to do that.
      You wrote, “In spite of what some of its detractors might say, it is not harder to read,”

      I really don’t understand why you would say that. Anyone who would say that has some pretty strong biases. Just being honest and straightforward here. I have my own biases, of course. The KJV is on a 12th grade reading level and is full of grammar, syntax, and words that are not common today.You get the point. Bottom line is, the average guy on the street is going to have an easier time reading the NIV than the KJV.

      Think about it, I give you words from the KJV like “besom” and you give me “bad” back. Which is easier to understand? Some of the words in the KJV actually mean the opposite today. One of those is the word “let” which then meant to hinder and today means to permit.

      Let me add, I really like the other 10 things in your list…just disagree on #17🙂

      Tomorrow, I will have a look at Calvinism in the KJV and get back with you on whether or not there is any merit to that.

      Let me point you guys back to an older post that has some points to consider (and the definitions of those words)- https://mattdabbs.wordpress.com/2007/02/14/paradigm-issues-facing-the-church-translations/

      • Matt, your point already fizzled. Please suffer a brief explanation:

        1) You were unable to define the word “bad” … nor could you be expected to without context. Is “bad” in the context of Leave it to Beaver or Michael Jackson? It makes a difference. You cannot define that word without context, because it has changed back and forth within the last 60 years. What does it mean today, in 2013, if someone says you are a “baddie?” Is that a compliment or not?

        … so if you cannot define a common three-letter word like “bad” without context, why should anyone be expected to define other words without context? So my point was proved when you declined the definition, your challenge was unreasonable.

        2) I cannot say I have read every bible translation, but after some reading I do somewhat wince when I encounter the terrible grammar and diction, or even a jarring lack-of-rhythm when compared with an elegantly written biblical text. I will admit to having some bias, and one of them is that scripture shouldn’t sound like it was composed by a struggling high-school freshman in English class.

        … and I suppose I have another bias: a 12th grade reading proficiency should be expected. The English speaking world usually provides a 12th grade education for free, even passing laws to encourage people to complete that education. A grade twelve reading proficiency isn’t even that difficult, many good students are reading at a grade twelve level when they are twelve years old.

        But I do need to get your attention here again, and ask you where you are getting your facts and figures? The King James text scores lower on those reading tests than your example NIV. The King James Genesis has a grade 5 reading level, Psalms grade 4, Malachi grade 6… the highest score is Jude at a whopping 9th grade level (everything else is beneath grade 8). The King James comes out ahead in those reading level comparison tests. I don’t think that should really be the issue, but since you thought it was important…

        So who is telling you that you cannot understand the King James because it is at a 12th grade reading level? That’s wrong in so many ways.If you tell someone that they are too stupid to understand something, they will eventually believe it, and it is even worse if they are told such things from positions of authority, such as parents, teachers, and pastors.

        3) Between “bad” and “besom” … which is easier to understand? Considering that I defined besom without missing a beat, but you were unable to define bad, it would seem that “besom” wins the day with a clean sweep. Besom only has one meaning, so by your standard that seems to make it the clear winner. Plus it has that memorable phrase, “sweeping with the besom of destruction” which will stick in your mind pretty well.

        So I guess I should explain why you needed to define your question:

        A) If you said that using the words in context was not “looking up the definition” then it is a simple manner for me to illustrate how easy those words are to understand in the verses themselves, and this becomes a simple teaching illustration, and the challenges you gave would dissolve away or even look a bit silly.

        B) If you said that using the words in context was “looking up the definition” so I would have to answer without using biblical context, your question self destructs for two reasons:

        … first, you would be unable to define “bad” without context, so the common English of today fails by your standard as well,

        … second, you would have just admitted that the scripture defined itself without need of a dictionary, that the definitions were oft self-contained, thus removing your objection all together.

        Incidentally, I really have trouble understanding why you considered some of those words difficult. Seriously, “dove’s dung” is supposed to be hard? We know what a dove is, and we know what dung is, so “dove’s dung” is the dung of a dove. I think they teach the apostrophe possessive in first grade, or even earlier if you watched Sesame Street or Electric Company.

        … NASB and ESV also have “dove’s dung” … so why does the NIV say “seed pods” when it is comparing it with the price of the head of a donkey? The Message has “field greens?” I still cannot imagine what is hard to understand about dove’s dung, but regardless of how hard it is to stomach, maybe we ought to start considering accuracy?

        Seed pods and field greens? During a siege when they are eating human babies and donkey heads? Really? I don’t care how easy anyone thinks it is to understand “field greens”, what is the point of understanding something that is totally wrong?

        I am not following the link to your post because you have neither retracted nor withdrawn your challenge, and aside from looking at the context of “dove’s dung” just a moment ago, I am still eligible to take your test, regardless of which of those options you actually pick.

        Does reading the words in their context count as “looking up the word meanings” or not? If you were not able to easily answer that question, I think my point is proved. Maybe you haven’t realized that you’ve been doing this, but you’ve been trying to make the simple seem complicated even based on inaccurate statistics.

      • mattdabbs says:

        There is a big difference between my ability to define bad and my willingness to define it.

      • Hello Matt,

        Taking the test assuming option 1 (allowed to use scriptural context):

        Halt (1 Kings 18:21) … Essentially “stopped” as in “How long halt ye between two opinions?” which continues to fit even in context of Luke 14:21, “… and bring in hither the poor,and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind…”

        Lovers (Psalm 38:11) Those that do love. As always, the word “love” must be interpreted contextually, because “love” does not always have a sexual meaning. A whole sermon could be written on the varied meanings of “love” …

        Suffer (Exodus 12:23) to endure, thus by association to permit, “The LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you…”

        Mean man (Proverbs 22:29) The average man, “… he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.” Also, the mathematical “mean” is similar to its average.

        Pitiful woman (Lamentations 4:10) Women deserving pity, “The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children…”

        Shambles (1 Corinthians 10:25) A place where things are sold, “Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat…”

        Wax great.. (Genesis 26:13) to increase and become great, “.. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great.”

        Cockle (Job 31:40) A type of weed. “Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley. The words of Job are ended.”

        Advertised (Numbers 24:14) to make known. “And now, behold, I go unto my people; come therefore, and I will advertise thee what this people shall do to thy people in the latter days.”

        Hosen (Daniel 3:21) A primary article of clothing, legwear. “Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.” Women wear pantyhose and most people would recognize that “lederhosen” are German pants.

        Upbraids (Matthew 11:20) To figuratively grab up by the hair (the braids), to reprimand, “Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:”

        Somewhat (Leviticus 4:13) Some … what. “… and they have done somewhat against any of the commandment of the LORD concerning things which should not be done, and are guilty…” This is exactly how the word is used today.

        Common (Leviticus 4:27) regular, normal, “And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance…”

        Doves’ dung (2 Kings 6:25) The dung of a dove, pigeon poop, bird droppings, “And there was a great famine in the land of Samaria: and behold, they beseiged it, until an ass’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the forth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver.”

        Besom (Isaiah 14:23) Something that sweeps, “… and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts.”

    • mattdabbs says:

      Andrew,

      You have asked me to give you my source on my figures. Here is the information,
      “It’s All Greek To Me! Clearing Up the Confusion About Bible Translations” in Discipleship Journal, 132, Nov/Dec 2002. Pp. 28-36 by Clinton E. Arnold, the KJV is written at a 12th grade reading level. The NKJV brings it down to a 9th grade reading level compared to the NASB (11th grade) and the NIV (7.8th grade). I read this back in grad school and couldn’t find my copy but I did find it here – http://www.koinoniafellowship.com/pdf/its-greek-to-me.pdf

      Can you tell me where you got your figures of the KJV being the lowest?

      • Thank you for sharing your article. I saw the number “12” in a chart next to King James Version, so if you read that in grad school it probably left that impression.

        The specific numbers I used last night were results of a readability testing / analysis by Dr. D. A. Waite. I have a copy of one his “Defined King James” bibles (King James text, with “uncommon” words in boldface with a short definition in the footnotes… and with the exception of two-three places, he avoids inserting his doctrinal bias in those footnotes.) He has a page at the front with a listing of each book of the Bible with its own grade level readability score. If you wanted those numbers I could scan the page and send it by email. Genesis 5.10, Exodus 6.22, Leviticus 6.59, etc…

        … by the way, in practice those footnote definitions are not used, they are unnecessary. If you stop to look at them you usually realize that you already had the definition from the verse above. Excepting “neesings” … which was quite funny once you realized what it meant all along… think “achoo!” “By his neesings a light doth shine…” – “sneezings” would not work as well because it would have horrible diction, say it five times fast?

        There is a popular grade-level readability test that is also applied to bible versions, called the “Flesch-Kinkaid” grade level test, and the King James text scores even lower (easier to read) with this manner of testing. For example, the average King James text (with this method) is 5.8, the NIV is 8.4, the NASB 6.1, and the NKJV at 6.9. I think you can get similar results doing tests on your own with a program called “Grammatik and Word for Windows.”

        I think Dr. Flesch is also known for his book “Why Johnny Can’t Read: And What You Can Do About It”

        http://www.amazon.com/Why-Johnny-Cant-Read-About/dp/1568491387

        Just for fun I glanced at Wikipedia, and although they list the KJV as having a reading level of grades 8-10, that still would fall a bit short of Clinton Arnold’s “12.”

        Honestly, I think the whole “grade level” review is misplaced – when I was in school I paid no attention to any of those “grade level” concepts. If you tell children something is too difficult for them, they start to believe it.

        As concerning the nature of reading itself, no one learns to read by picking up a dictionary. That’s not how it works. “No one” reads like that. People pick up a book and they read it, and if they see a word they do not immediately recognize, they continue on and eventually absorb the meaning without realizing it. They learn by context, and they keep reading, and if a document has been written well, unusual words are already explained without needing a reference book.

        “I have been feeling morose, and extremely sad.this morning…”

        If you were reading this sentence and had never seen the word “morose” before, would you stop and get a dictionary, or would you keep reading and yet somehow understand that it was a similar word for “sad?” (I wrote that sentence that way on purpose.)

    • mattdabbs says:

      Which revision of the KJV you are suggesting people use? 1611 (original), 1769 (the one most used today), NKJV?

      • No one has the 1611 King James printing, and although I have it for E-sword, I would not recommend it for common use. There was no such thing as “standardized spelling” in the early seventeenth century, something that we take for granted today. Standardized spelling drives the Information Age.

        The (most widely used) 1769 edition is the same translation as the 1611, but with standardized spelling and grammar, and I would recommend it for this reason. Although you could read the 1611 aloud and it would be understood (ironically, perhaps even better than the unfamiliar eye that was reading it to them) the 1769 edition is essentially the modern completion of the King James, losing nothing in the process.

        The New King James Version is not really a King James Version, but attempts to borrow the name (and thus the popularity) of the translation formerly mentioned. I cannot recommend the New King James for multiple reasons:

        1) in terms of translation accuracy it takes steps backwards. For example, the “thees” and “thous” were invented for the King James English because they were deemed necessary for properly preserving the sense of the Hebrew and Greek text. When the NKJV removes this convention they have thrown away some of the accuracy that it could have had.

        2) in terms of honest translation and bias, the New King James has made various concessions for the “fly to heaven when you die” and thus it’s related “eternal conscious torment” doctrine. It’s flawed rendering of Luke 23:43 NKJV “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (which can be proved as definitively false) is reason enough for me to deem this translation as tainted food. A chain is as strong as weakest link. I used to assume that it was merely the same, with “thees and thous” changed, but the more I’ve looked at it the more I have found how it has been changed in terms of content.

        So, when I am referencing the King James text, you could use any King James printing, but I am assuming people are accessing the common 1769 printing with standardized spelling. The New King James is a different bible.

        Gen 1:2 KJV-1611
        (2) And the earth was without forme, and voyd, and darkenesse was vpon the face of the deepe: and the Spirit of God mooued vpon the face of the waters.

        Gen 1:2 KJV-1769
        (2) And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

        As you can see, it is the same bible, with the same words and the same meaning, and the same pronunciation, but our eyes have an easier time with the form of the second. The hearers will be unable to tell the difference, but he who reads it aloud to them will be able to tell.

      • Just an addendum for some of the bibles I have tested (from biblegateway.com):

        * The 21st Century King James Version works.
        * The Modern King James Version does not.

        There are differences, important differences. This isn’t about a silly tradition.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Ran a few chapters on the Flesch Kincaid Grade level test from the KJV and here are the results:

      Gen 1 – 9.3
      Gen 2 – 10.6
      Gen 3 – 12.75
      Gen 4 – 7.5
      Gen 5 – 16.3
      Num 1 – 16.2
      Num 2 – 9.45
      Num 3 – 14.0
      Josh 1 – 16.2
      Josh 2 – 13.0
      1 Kings 1 – 10.6
      1 Kings 2 – 10.9
      Jer 1 – 10
      Jer 2 – 8.5
      Malachi 1 – 6.95
      Malachi 2 – 8.84
      Matthew 1 – 23.9 (Geneaology)
      Matthew 2 – 14.32
      Acts 1 – 14.58
      Romans 11 – 8.42
      Galatians 4 – 8.74

      Here is the site I used – http://www.online-utility.org/english/readability_test_and_improve.jsp
      This is every search I did. I didn’t leave anything out because it was low. I used biblegateways KJV for the text.

      • … I just copied and pasted the text of Genesis 1 into that website, and it gave me a different result.

        Number of characters (without spaces) : 3,177.00
        Number of words : 802.00
        Number of sentences : 34.00
        Average number of characters per word : 3.96
        Average number of syllables per word : 1.30
        Average number of words per sentence: 23.59
        Indication of the number of years of formal education that a person requires in order to easily understand the text on the first reading
        Gunning Fog index : 11.03
        Approximate representation of the U.S. grade level needed to comprehend the text :
        Coleman Liau index : 6.26
        Flesch Kincaid Grade level : 8.90
        ARI (Automated Readability Index) : 9.02
        SMOG : 9.51
        Flesch Reading Ease : 73.29

        So this begs a couple questions:

        1. How is the same website, processing the same block of text, giving two different results?
        2. Does Genesis 5 really look like a senior college level reading to you? Grade 16? It uses words like years, begat, sons, and daughters…

      • Inserted same text into Microsoft Word from Office 2003, ran the readability statistics enabled from Tools -> Options -> Check spelling and Grammar, display readability statistics, inserted text of Genesis 1, it reported Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level 7.7 (3% passive sentences, 3.9 characters per word, etc…)

        So it seems the website gives both of us different results on the same text, and the same text gives different results with two different programs that are both claiming to use the same measure. So far with these tests we have three different results on the same chapter: 9.3, 8.9, and 7.7. Our witnesses are not in agreement.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Did it again, same result as I got before.

    • mattdabbs says:

      I am just using the scale you mentioned🙂

    • mattdabbs says:

      We must not be pasting it in exactly the same on the site or else we would get the same results. Here is the site again – http://www.online-utility.org/english/readability_test_and_improve.jsp

      Paste this in (should get 9.37)

      In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

      2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

      3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

      4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

      5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

      6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

      7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

      8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

      9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

      10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

      11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

      12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

      13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

      14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

      15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

      16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

      17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

      18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

      19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

      20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

      21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

      22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

      23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

      24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

      25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

      26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

      27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

      28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

      29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

      30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

      31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

      • Matt, although I appreciate your zeal in tracking down why the numbers are different, the process of debugging software would take a lot of space in this forum. I think that particular website might not be using the Flesch-Kincaid method entirely corectly. The only difference between our pasted text is spacing and the presence of verse numbers. Does the presence of verse numbers justify an additional year of schooling for understanding? (According to this site, it does.)

        So I have a more entertaining suggestion that might help to establish proper perspective: what happens if you cut and paste the explanatory text from the website itself into its own engine? This is the text being judged (boldface added for emphasis):

        This free online software tool calculates readability : Coleman Liau index, Flesch Kincaid Grade Level, ARI (Automated Readability Index), SMOG. The measure of readability used here is the indication of number of years of education that a person needs to be able to understand the text easily on the first reading. Comprehension tests and skills training.

        This tool is made primarily for English texts but might work also for some other languages. In general, these tests penalize writers for polysyllabic words and long, complex sentences. Your writing will score better when you: use simpler diction, write short sentences.
        It also displays complicated sentences (with many words and syllables) with suggestions for what you might do to improve its readability.

        The results?

        * Indication of the number of years of formal education that a person requires in order to easily understand the text on the first reading … Gunning Fog index : 12.84

        * Approximate representation of the U.S. grade level needed to comprehend the text : … Coleman Liau index : 13.67 … Flesch Kincaid Grade level : 12.18

        According to this website, it’s own instruction blurb requires over twelve years of formal schooling before it could be understood. And just in case you think it’s because of Proper Nouns like “Coleman Liau” and “Flesch Kincaid” try running the test with those specific words deleted, or replaced with names like “John” and “Susan”…

        The really funny part is yet to come, when it starts identifying sentences that ought to be “corrected” to make it easier to read. It had a couple suggestions, but it totally ignored the sentence fragment, “Comprehension tests and skills training.” Sentence fragments (or any improper grammar) does make a passage harder to read.

        Rather than spend the time to pick it apart, could we employ some common sense? For example, when you read Genesis 5 in the King James, does it really seem to you that one would require a four-year college degree to understand it (which is what that website suggested.)

        Gen 5:3-5 KJV
        (3) And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:
        (4) And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:
        (5) And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.

        … not to be attempted save for ambitious college seniors, juniors stay in class? Really? Sanity check, please. If the results of a third party test don’t make sense then let’s get back to basics instead, rather than getting distracted trying to debug someone else’s software.

        If you are considering readability, there are a multitude of factors: Is the vocabulary recognizable and/or self-defined? Is the grammar correct? Are the active and passive voices used appropriately? What is the natural rhythm of the passage? Is there proper use of alliteration and assonance? Is the phrasing consistent or disruptive? Does it at least read with the quality that would be expected of a professional novelist?

        This is an example of what I would call a “choppy” narrative (boldface added for a later point):

        Gen 13:5-9 NIV
        (5) Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents.
        (6) But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together.
        (7) And quarreling arose between Abram’s herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.
        (8) So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers.
        (9) Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”

        The starting. And stopping! of that passage seems so wrong. You don’t read novels like that, you don’t read instructional texts like that, and you wouldn’t speak to an audience like that either. It is disruptive to the thought process, ergo, harder to read.

        … I just noticed this now (my English teacher would have marked this in my essays) that verse 7 above is flawed: “Abram’s herdsmen” requires “Lot’s herdsmen” … not “the herdsmen of Lot.” My eighth grade history teacher even marked my paper once for mixing styles of terms. So this random selection served as an unintended example of bad sentence structure and/or writing style.

        Does this seem picky? Perhaps it might, but this is one example out of tens of thousands, and it does affect one’s overall impression of the scripture.

        All other things being equal, superior style and writing quality should matter. I am not saying all other things are equal (I consider accuracy to be of higher importance) but perhaps it should be considered than when God wanted something done, he wanted it done well. A lot of fine detail and workmanship went into the tabernacle, and the temple, because it was supposed to represent God. Anything inferior would have been discarded and destroyed.

        … so wouldn’t it also follow that the scripture, also called the Word of God, which also happens to be the same name that Jesus applied to himself personally, ought to reflect that same high standard? If God was behind such a thing, shouldn’t we expect it to be well done and very good? Not something slapped together with grammatical flaws and evidence of poor writing?

    • mattdabbs says:

      Seems to me he was saying that the verse-per-line formatting of the King James hurts the flow of the narrative passages and so it makes it harder to read than text in paragraph.

      • Andrew Patrick says:

        The verse formatting is not necessarily the content of the text, but the verse by verse format has been around for a long time, and it has proven to be very effective. And this isn’t something specific to the King James translation, Campbell was attacking pretty much every bible translation out there with this one. You don’t need a new translation for that, you could print the same text without verse markings (it would be dumb, I think, but you could do it…)

        As for whether the verse formatting makes narratives harder to read, I beg to differ from personal experience. I do a lot of reading, and the scripture-style verse by verse makes the reading much easier. If anything, bible styles that eliminate the verse structure in parts makes for harder reading: the style becomes no longer consistent, thus disruptive to thought flow, and it becomes more difficult to scan the page from top to bottom.

        But this allegation of “improper translating” of “gopher wood” has been bothering me. Is there anyone (reading these threads) that agreed with that? No one knows for sure what type of wood this actually was. Previous translations had “pyne tree” or “pine trees”, the Catholic bible chose to just say “timber planks”, and other scholars consider that it might be cypress, or cedar, or maybe not even referring to the species of the wood itself, but the local region the wood was to be harvested from.

        So if Campbell listed “gopher wood” (transliterating the word without ruling as to its specific meaning) as one of his reasons why the King James had inferior translation, then how did he decide upon “Cypress wood?” Did he claim to have special revelation, from God or an angel, either in person or in by vision? Alternatively, did he claim to have special knowledge from the Holy Spirit in this matter, and if he did, what evidence (by sign or miracle) did he provide so that we should believe him?

        This “gopher wood” was one of the two listed reasons (in both of those articles) why the King James text was supposedly so inferior and in need of replacement. So I really would like to examine this. Does anyone know what credentials Campbell claimed to be able to determine what this word specifically meant, that such folk including Albert Barnes, Matthew Henry, John Gill, and John Wesley all agreed upon … that the exact meaning was unknown?

        I don’t know that much about Campbell yet, but the bits you discover first start to serve as a barometer that affect future impressions. What I have heard so far is sounding a little ridiculous. It seems that what he says tends to have little merit.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Andrew,

      You wrote,

      “As for whether the verse formatting makes narratives harder to read, I beg to differ from personal experience. I do a lot of reading, and the scripture-style verse by verse makes the reading much easier. If anything, bible styles that eliminate the verse structure in parts makes for harder reading: the style becomes no longer consistent, thus disruptive to thought flow, and it becomes more difficult to scan the page from top to bottom.”

      Narrative reads most easily in paragraphs to contemporary readers because that is just what we are used to. I don’t see why there is a need to argue that stories read better with sentences in single lines, spaced apart from each other because that is how the KJV did it. I don’t think you could find very many people who would agree with you on that. Which reads easier from the Old Man and the Sea?

      This,
      He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. In the first forty days a boy had been with him. But after forty days without a fish the boy’s parents had told him that the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky and the boy had gone at their orders in another boat which caught three good fish the first week. It made the boy sad to see the old man come in each day with his skiff empty and he always went down to help him carry either the coiled lines or the gaff and harpoon and the sail that was furled around the mast. The sail was patched with flour sacks and, furled; it looked like the flag of permanent defeat.

      The old man was thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck. The brown blotches of the benevolent skin cancer the sun brings from its reflection on the tropic sea were on his cheeks. The blotches ran well down the sides of his face and his hands had the deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords. But none of these scars were fresh. They were as old as erosions in a fishless desert

      Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the .sea and were cheerful and undefeated

      Or…
      He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.

      In the first forty days a boy had been with him.

      But after forty days without a fish the boy’s parents had told him that the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky and the boy had gone at their orders in another boat which caught three good fish the first week.

      It made the boy sad to see the old man come in each day with his skiff empty and he always went down to help him carry either the coiled lines or the gaff and harpoon and the sail that was furled around the mast.

      The sail was patched with flour sacks and, furled; it looked like the flag of permanent defeat.

      The old man was thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck.

      The brown blotches of the benevolent skin cancer the sun brings from its reflection on the tropic sea were on his cheeks.

      The blotches ran well down the sides of his face and his hands had the deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords.

      But none of these scars were fresh. They were as old as erosions in a fishless desert

      Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the .sea and were cheerful and undefeated

      On the gopher wood thing, I would be more interested in a defense of unicorns in the KJV.

      • Andrew Patrick says:

        Do unicorns need defending? I thought that they were generally tough enough to be able to take care of themselves. Just reviewing what we can know about the unicorn from context:

        Numbers 23:22, 24:8 … they are noted for their strength
        Deuteronomy 33:17 they have horns that push, a greater horn and a lesser horn
        Job 33:9-10 they generally do not serve others or pull plows
        Psalm 29:6 they can be dangerous creatures
        Psalm 29:6 the young unicorn will skip like a calf
        Psalm 92:10 the horn of the unicorn is referred to as singular
        Isaiah 34:7 they are likened to bulls (but are not bulls)

        So you’re considering a strong mighty non-domestic animal with a single horn (and sometimes a secondary horn) that the scripture writers considered as a real animal. There could be any number of animals that might fit this description, but as an example of one of the better known varieties…

        Rhinoceros unicornis>>/b>

        … so I propose that the unicorn is usually able to defend itself. There are other species of unicorn, some of them that we also call “Rhino” today, and I have even seen a reconstructive sketch of a unicorn (from the bones) that had a humongous horn that looked almost the size of the rest of its body. Additionally, certain types of dinosaurs would also qualify as unicorns that might also fit the biblical description: any of these might have been meant as well (they are not necessarily rhinoceros).

        The exact nature of the animal is unknown, but from the description we are given, the unifying factor is that it is a strong mighty animal with a primary horn used for pushing or thrusting. That’s a unicorn, an animal with one horn. Not the new age unicorn, just like the dragons in the Bible aren’t Smaug.

        On a related note, are there any other animals that might need defense? Dragons, perhaps, or maybe even the lion? Did you know that the lion is considered a mythical animal … in China? That is why the Chinese lions look more look curly bearded dogs… those are the mythical versions of the lion, just like there are mythical versions of the dragon and the unicorn.

        Did you know that Chinese lions eat cabbages and oranges? As told to me by my friend that was explaining why all these vegetables were left in the street after a Chinese celebration, “What else would they eat?”

  6. Robert Floyd says:

    The whole question of inspired translations is an interesting one, as it lies at the heart of those who view the KJV as the only valid translation we can use (and using it as a baseline by which to determine the validity of other translations makes it, de facto, the “official” translation of God).

    What I wonder is this: what causes people to decided the 1611 translation is the only proper English language translation? Certainly, Campbell didn’t appear to hold that view, or he wouldn’t have published his own translation of the New Testament.

    If the 1611 KJV is, indeed, inspired, then we must accept Easter as a legitimate holy day, since it is mentioned in that translation. We must also accept that God never intended the mode of baptism to be clearly understood by people, or he would not have allowed the word to be transliterated instead of properly translated as “immersion.” And we must accept that, prior to 1611, the Word of God was not available to English speaking people, and that all translations prior to that were not valid.

    Finally, if the 1611 KJV translation, a project of the Church of England, was, in fact, inspired by God, does that not indicate God put his seal of approval on the Church of England as it existed at that time? If so, should we not reconsider our own religious heritage?

    I have no wish to mock people’s sincerely held beliefs about the nature and inspiration of translations. I merely want to be sure that all of us think through the consequences of our beliefs and assumptions, whatever they may be.

    • mattdabbs says:

      If we are open to God inspiring one we must be open to the possibility that he could do it again and again with some future translations. Yet those who claim God inspired the KJV often think it could only be a one time deal. That makes no sense.

      • It is possible that God might inspire multiple translations, or perhaps a future translation, so if keeping your mind open to this type of possibility you would want to have some methods of objectively testing a translation.

        However, it does make good sense that God would choose one translation only, even from prior examples we have in scripture. The Lamb came once into the world for the sacrifice of redemption from sins, God had one tabernacle, and he had one temple in Jerusualem. God specifically forbade other altars that people would build to make it “easier for the people” or to keep their loyalty to the current government.

        2Ki 10:29 KJV
        (29) Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan.

        If God did provide us with something good, or even perfected, for our use, how does it look if we forsake that for local altars that we might build that we deem more convenient? God did not even want other altars to himself being built when he had already provided the altar.

        … so I wouldn’t say that a single divine translation makes no sense. If considering this possibility, it actually fits many of the examples we have already.

      • mattdabbs says:

        God commanded them regarding location of worship. There is no such info on which translation to use. Big difference. More later.

      • Granted, but those examples were to illustrate that such would not be inconsistent with his character, rather than to say there was a specific command within scriptures that did not yet require translation. If we have some similar examples that demonstrate that spirit and intent, it leaves the realm of “makes no sense” and becomes a possibility.

      • mattdabbs says:

        Possible? Sure. Definitively determinable? Not so much

        Sent from my iPhone

      • Agreeing, that limited context does not provide a definitive determination, it merely allows for objective analysis to be applied later. In other words, it validates the question, rather than providing an answer.

    • Floyd, these are some very good questions.

      You are correct that there are some that do view the King James as the only valid translation suitable for use, but perhaps even with that there might be some differences in what is considered “use” or perhaps “useful for what?” I have seen some very antagonistic folks in that debate, some of which will use some pretty awful reasoning, and they themselves seem unreasonable. It is an interesting question, but unfortunately bad behavior on both sides tends to muddy the water.

      There are a few reasonable angles of why someone might start to consider the 1611 English translation as a proper translation, one of which being that it has a long history of acceptance, making itself a de facto standard from which to begin consideration. We have had it for a long time and it essentially was the bible we had in the English language and it went around the entire world. This bible defined the English language and served as a common standard for English where ever it was spread, and even our dictionaries based their definitions upon that text.

      But why does the name Campbell keep surfacing in this thread? Is this relevant somehow? I do not base my beliefs upon tradition… but wouldn’t a name like Campbell be an argument of tradition? How would this be any different than those that use a “tradition of our congregation” argument for “King James only?”

      Prefacing this with a disclaimer that I do understand the nature of the word “if” to establish an assertion for sake of argument, assuming your “if the 1611 KJV is inspired” to be correct,

      1) … why would we accept Easter as a legitimate holy day just because it is mentioned in translation? The only instance of Easter in my bible is not as a holy day, but a holiday. Easter is a very old holiday, rooted in the pagan fertility rites in recognition of the goddess: Ashtar, Ishtar, Easter, Aphrodite, Venus…

      I know folk that accept Easter as holy day … for the goddess, they are not Christian, nor do they honor the bible in any form. Likewise, I know people who accept the King James as inspired, and they do not accept Easter as a Christian holy day, and they are not being inconsistent.

      2) … I have never had any trouble understanding the word “baptism” from the King James? But looking at this question anyway,

      Mat 3:16 KJV
      (16) And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

      So from Mark it seems that baptism requires a large volume of water, and in Acts 8:36 the eunuch wants to be baptized when they reach water, because what they had in their canteen was not sufficient. In Romans 6:4 (also Col 2:12) it is used as a symbol of burial and death.

      There are many doctrines that we might wish were displayed “more clearly” or even the occasional passage that we might be frustrated at because some people have spun it a certain way, and might think “why did that have to be in the bible?” But that does not mean that it was not intended to be there, or that we should re-translate it to better oppose someone else’s interpretation, however flawed that interpretation may be.

      By the way, baptism is not immersion. Baptism requires immersion, but immersion is not Baptism. I think it was appropriate to have this unique word introduced into the English for this concept.

      3) This is something that I have heard before, and it tends to floor some of those rabid “King James Only” folks …

      And we must accept that, prior to 1611, the Word of God was not available to English speaking people, and that all translations prior to that were not valid.

      I am not even sure why this is used as an argument, because it is demonstrable that God’s word has not always been provided with equal access to all people at all times. In the Old Testament, there was a certain King (named Josiah) that found the scripture where it had been previously lost. Whole peoples have lived and died in this world without ever seeing a word of scripture or hearing the name of Jesus. The Catholic church itself went to great effort to conceal scripture from the laity.

      …. but there is a second part to that question, of whether any prior translations were valid. Perhaps “valid” is not the right term though. We know there were corrupted translations from very early – Marcion the heretic had a reputation for editing the scripture with a penknife. Would you consider a Marcion-modified scripture to be “valid?”

      There is another question here that lies invisible that has not yet been addressed, and that is whether a translation must be perfected in order to be valid, or whether God would have to make something perfect in one single instant of creation, or whether he would allow something to be perfected through a process.

      What are your thoughts here?

      a) Can a translation have some validity if it it imperfect in some way?
      b) Can an imperfect translation still have some usefulness?
      c) Is it possible that he might perfect something through a process, rather than making a bang-perfect-in-that-instant translation? Is any translation done in a single instant anyway? Do you judge a work from its beginning or its completion? If from its beginning, then did not God create mankind in a flawed manner, unable to reproduce? His work could not have been inspired since it had an error that needed to be revised, no? He had to add “Eve” as a fix for his mistake!

      The Church of England question is interesting though. I will briefly repeat it for discussion:

      Finally, if the 1611 KJV translation, a project of the Church of England, was, in fact, inspired by God, does that not indicate God put his seal of approval on the Church of England as it existed at that time? If so, should we not reconsider our own religious heritage?

      We have many instances where God has used a power to accomplish a goal without giving full approval to everything that power did. Were not the Persians useful for rebuilding the wall? The Jews preserved the scripture, but God did not put his approval on everything the Jews did. The Romans were the established government during the time of Christ. Solomon built the temple, but that does not mean that we should follow his example.

      But perhaps we should be reconsidering our religious heritage, Maybe our religious heritage should not be “The Church of England” or “The Church of Christ” or “The Roman Catholic Church” …. but the true church of Christ is that which is composed of the saints wherever they are. I do not think that Christ meant “I will build my denomination” or “I will build my franchise of worship halls.”

      … So getting back on topic, maybe it would be good to consider the implications of “Would God inspire a translation or translations” in addition to its actual merits. Perhaps some of the opposition that this topic receives could be defused if the implications were properly addressed and understood.

  7. 8) The rule of dependence upon the HOLY SPIRIT: Scripture tells us that we are to rely on the Holy Spirit’s illumination to gain insights into the meaning and application of Scripture (John 16:12-15, 1 Corinthians 2:9-11). It is the Holy Spirit’s work to throw light upon the Word of God so that the believer can assent to the meaning intended and act on it. The Holy Spirit, as the “Spirit of truth” (John 16:13), guides us so that “we may understand what God has freely given us” (1 Corinthians 2:12). This is quite logical: full comprehension of the Word of God is impossible without prayerful dependence on the Spirit of God, for He who inspired the Word (2 Peter 1:21) is also its supreme interpreter.

  8. Andrew, you have made your point abundantly clear – except that it is still not at all clear how even a good translation 400 years old in a language that is evolving rapidly, translated from languages that are being understood better as more and more evidence of meanings and usages of words comes to light can be superior to any new translation simply because it does not “sound like” the Bible you grew up with.

    Your writing is more and more like a scratched record that repeats the same thing over and over. So, good bye. I am leaving this conversation.

    • Andrew Patrick says:

      Jerry, if I understand your analogy of a broken record correctly, that implies that repetition results from a break in the record that prevent the track from moving forward. There have been a number of statement here that I have challenged, and what usually results is … silence. That is the break in the record that prevents any resolution.

      For example, I asked you a number of specific questions over a week ago that you did not answer. I assumed you already left the conversation long ago. If you would answer those questions, we could proceed forward, because I need you to actually commit to an answer (or answers) rather than putting words in your mouth or making your conclusions for you.

      I will tell you what reminds me of a broken record: when the same unsupported hackneyed rumor statements are repeated time and time again, from forum to forum, and when they are challenged the people go silent, rather than taking responsibility to answer the resulting questions. And when those people go silent, new folk arise to replace the gaps in the ranks, and the cycle repeats itself.

      That’s a broken record. So, I am hoping that you will not want to be one of those broken records. Instead of complaining, why not answer the questions that were addressed specifically to you? There are reasons I asked those specific questions.

      So until that time, the cycle will repeat itself:

      1. Unsupported statements
      2. Challenges to those statements
      3. A large gap of silence as the questions go unanswered
      4. Revert to step 1

    • Andrew Patrick says:

      By the way,

      1. English is not evolving rapidly. The spread of English about the world, the printing press, and the information age have made the globe smaller and acted as a stabilizing agent.
      2. If English were evolving rapidly, that is all the more reason to preserve the biblical dialect, for the same reason that Latin is used within the scientific community, for consistency.
      3. Hebrew and Greek are not understood better today than ever before, in spite of what the current scholars of Hebrew and Greek would like you to think. Scholarship then was better than scholarship now.
      4. Your implication that whether or not this is the Bible I “grew up” hearing is irrelevant (and not on target.) Can you show me any place where I say “This is the Bible I grew up hearing, therefore this is the bible that people should start reading?” Such reasoning is absent from my conversation.

      There must be some reason why you seem upset that you are not stating… and I would like to find out what it is.

      • mattdabbs says:

        Andrew,

        1 – This is an amazing comment. To say English has not evolved rapidly over the last 50 years would be hard to support. To say it hasn’t developed substantially, rapidly, etc over the last 400 years is a pretty incredible thing to say. http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/linguistics/change.jsp
        2 – What does this even mean? Translations done with words used with their contemporary meanings are very important. Are you saying the KJV preserves some sort of “biblical dialect”? Can you tell us what you mean by that? Again, an incredible statement.
        3 – I honestly can’t believe you are saying these things. I am scratching my head over how on earth you could substantiate that statement. Please tell me how this is true.

        I am going to say more about these three things when I have more time. Also, what questions are you saying have been left unanswered?

      • mattdabbs says:

        Let me dive in a bit further in my response to your first 3 points.

        1 – In one way I agree with you. English hasn’t changed rapidly over the last 400 years but it has changed significantly. Take slow change over 400 years and you end up with massive amounts of change. So we don’t have to say language is changing rapidly in order to say language has changed significantly, given enough time (400 years will suffice).

        We don’t have to go back to the printing press. The world wide web has changed everything. The spread of language, the adoption and addition of new words, definitions change quickly and things spread quickly. English has made a lot of changes over the last 20 years, 50 years and exponentially more over the last 400 years.

        You probably already know this but the 1611 KJV was actually translated to be archaic in its day. The translators followed the lead of Tyndale and Cloverdale from 85 years prior. It was purposely translated into language that was already out of date when it was first printed. Words die out. Words change meaning. Words can even mean the opposite today of what they meant 400 years ago (like “let”).

        I gave you a list of words above that you gave your definitions of.

        Halt – Lame Mark (9:45) – you said “Stopped”
        Lovers – Friends (Psalm 38:11, Lam 1:2,19) – you said those who love
        Suffer – Permit (Matthew 3:15, 19:14) – you said to endure or permit
        Mean man – Common man (Prov 22:29, Isa 2:9) – you said average man
        Pitiful woman – Compassionate woman (Lam 4:10) – you said woman deserving pity
        Shambles – Market (1 Cor 10:25) – you said place where things are sold
        Wax great – Grow large (Ezek 16:7) – you said to increase
        Cockle – Weed (Job 31:40) – you said weed
        Advertised – Advised (Num 24:14) – you said to make known
        Hosen – Robes (Dan 3:21,27) – you said leg wear
        Upbraids – denounces (Matthew 11:20) – you said to grab by the hair
        Somewhat – noteworthy (Gal 2:6) – you said same as the word means today
        Common – unclean (Acts 10:14-15) – you said regular
        Doves’ dung – seed pods (2 Kings 6:25) – you said dove poop
        Besom – broom (Isa 14:23) – you said a broom

        So you got a few of those right and others you had no idea, even in context!

        Here are some more words just to make the point that English has changed (from a list of several hundred examples from Jack Lewis’ book Questions you have asked about Bible translations).

        Sith – since
        Bruit – noise
        Thee-ward – Toward you
        Concourse – assembly
        Blaze abroad – spread abroad
        Leasing – lies
        Withal – in addition or besides this
        Bowels – affections
        Abjects – outcasts
        Daysman – arbitrator
        Simple – credulous
        Noisome – evil
        Naught – evil
        Savourest not – did not set their minds on
        Emulations – envy
        Vain jangling – vain speech
        Astonied – astonished
        Wot – know
        Away with – endure
        Upward – forward
        Approve – test
        Study – be deligent
        Implead – indict
        Reins – kidneys
        Convince – convict
        Suborned – instigated secretly
        Honest – excellent
        To offend – stumble
        Stayed – stopped
        Do you to wit – make known to you
        Forward – desire
        Chief estates – leading men
        Descry – reconnoiter
        Fell not out by the way – did not quarrel
        Tired – adorned
        Hap – chance
        Stomacher – clothing

        There are hundreds more. It is safe to say English has changed. Why keep affirming that nothing much has changed in 400 years when even a child could tell us there is a difference?

        2 – Please defend your point here. Please help us explain how new versions are inadequate because they don’t reflect some sort of “biblical dialect”? What is the biblical dialect and how do guys in 1611, following Tyndale’s lead get something that results in that special thing that makes everything since lacking in your mind?

        3 – “Hebrew and Greek are not understood better today than ever before, in spite of what the current scholars of Hebrew and Greek would like you to think. Scholarship then was better than scholarship now.”

        I really can’t believe you actually said that. There have been some huge leaps in our understanding of Greek and the availability of manuscripts since 1611.

        1) In 1611 they did not know the difference between Hellenistic/Koine Greek (that makes up the NT) and Classical/Attic Greek. That is a big deal. In fact, up until Deisman, they thought the NT was written in some sort of Holy Spirit Greek because they weren’t familiar with Koine Greek and that it was the common, every day Greek in the 1st century.

        Bottom line – we know more than we knew then. The facts bear this out. Why deny it?

        2) In 1886 Thayer listed 767 words that were at that time distinct to the New Testament. In other words, in 1886 there were still 767 words that we only had in the NT, and didn’t have examples of in any other Koine Greek document. That is significant when it comes to lexicography because context (even contemporary extra-biblical context) shows us how words were used in their day. The KJV translators had more hapax logomenon than we do today. That is signficant.

        D.A. Carson says there are now less than 50 words in the New Testament that we have not found in extrabiblical literature (KJV Debate, 95). That has a profound impact on the accuracy with which we translate the Greek New Testament.

        3) The Dead Sea Scrolls had not been found at the time of the KJV. They were found in 1947 and have shed tremendous light on the Old Testament (over 800 manuscripts were found dating roughly 1000 years earlier than any other OT manuscripts that had been found to that point).

        What is more, the manuscripts that were used in translating the 1611 KJV were no where near as sound as what we have today. Here is an excerpt from Carson,
        “The first edition of the Greek New Testament to be published was edited by…Erasmus (1469-1536)…To prepare his text Erasmus utilized several Greek manuscripts, not one of which contained the entire New Testament. None of his manuscripts was earlier than the twelfth century. For the Book of Revelation he had but one manuscript, and it was lacking the final leaf, which contained the last six verses of the book. Therefore Erasmus translated the Latin Vulgate back into Greek and published that. Hence in the last six verses of Revelation in Erasmus’ Greek New Testament, several words and phrases may be found that are attested in no Greek manuscript whatsoever…” (Carson, 33-34)

        Pretty amazing, huh? Erasmus work was reprinted by Stephanus, slightly reworked by Beza and then on to be used by the KJV translators. What Carson did not mention was the fact that Erasmus only had 7 Greek manuscripts to work with. Today we have thousands of texts, some going back as far as the 2nd century, nearly within the lifetime of the apostle John. While the KJV was revolutionary in its day, there are far more resources used in translation today.

        How can anyone claim we have a worse understanding of Greek today than they had in 1611? How can anyone claim we have worse textual evidence than they had? That just cannot be supported!

      • Andrew Patrick says:

        Could we take extra caution to make sure that our reading of each other is accurate? For example:

        Where you just wrote:

        How can anyone claim we have a worse understanding of Greek today than they had in 1611? How can anyone claim we have worse textual evidence than they had? That just cannot be supported!

        That would be an example of a “straw man” argument. I said that our understanding of Greek and Hebrew was better than than now, not that we had worse textual evidence then than now. The understanding of a language is not the same as the materials that the language is written upon. You are attacking an argument that no one has made, thus the “straw man” argument.

        Whether our textual evidence today is better than that of 400 years ago is still an object that would require some analysis (as some of those statements from Carson above were less than correct, and thus lends itself to bad conclusions) … but this article was not yet on the table until you brought it up.

        To avoid the risk of straw man arguments (or other misunderstandings) let’s take care to read with precision, and to ask for clarification when necessary? I can respond better to the rest later this evening.

      • mattdabbs says:

        What is the difference between what I said,

        “How can anyone claim we have a worse understanding of Greek today than they had in 1611?”

        And what you said,

        ” I said that our understanding of Greek and Hebrew was better than than now, not that we had worse textual evidence then than now.”

        You are missing the connecting piece here. The very reason we have a better understanding today than they did in 1611 is because of the textual evidence at our disposal both biblical and extra-biblical. The points go hand-in-hand. I try to be fair and careful with what I say. If I missed your point I apologize.

  9. Andrew Patrick says:

    Dear Matt,

    I have a couple posts to reply to here (both yours) … and I need you to please be careful and read what is being said, because neither of those more recent replies have been very fair or careful. I count you as a friend, but you must prepare to be upbraided (and in spite of your definition above, the word does not mean “denounced.”) I will do my best to be both thorough and specific (yet attempting to avoid unnecessary repetition) so as to work towards resolution.

    This is what you wrote for point 2:

    2 – What does this even mean? Translations done with words used with their contemporary meanings are very important. Are you saying the KJV preserves some sort of “biblical dialect”? Can you tell us what you mean by that? Again, an incredible statement.

    This is hardly an incredible statement Matt, and if you were reading this thread I already explained this. The King James introduced a dialect (that is oft mocked to day) using “thee” and “thou” and “ye” and “you” as to accurately reflect the underlying Hebrew and Greek source text. This is a specific dialect only found in a biblical context. This was already explained above. If the common people were able to learn this back in 1611 (they didn’t speak like that either) then it shouldn’t be that difficult to day.

    Or (rhetorically) would you make a case that the average modern man is mentally and intellectually inferior to the common man of the seventeenth century? Or are only the modern scholars so much smarter, while the average man is to be treated as if he is as dumb as a rock, unable to appreciate the difference between singular and plural, subject and object, … or even a prediction or willful action versus a compelled action or a commanded decree? George Orwell predicted how a population can be manipulated by eliminating the elements of language that are vital to thought…. 1984. Recommended reading. Double plus good.

    On a final note, any type of specialized writing requires its own dialect, whether it be a mathematics text or a Wii station manual. If a proper and true translation makes use of a specific set of words that are chiefly used within that context, it has formed its own dialect, and if it be proper and true, learning the specific dialect for the Bible should be at least as worthy as that required for operating your VCR or Windows 8.

    This is what you wrote for point 3:

    3 – I honestly can’t believe you are saying these things. I am scratching my head over how on earth you could substantiate that statement. Please tell me how this is true.

    … you could try reading the posts that were already written? In spite of a recent accusation that I am a “broken record” I have not been repeating myself, and I am loath to begin now.

    But… this question of yours is what I find … incredible

    I am going to say more about these three things when I have more time. Also, what questions are you saying have been left unanswered?

    I was specifically replying to Jerry Starling before, who had a whole pile of questions stacked up from over a week ago, even specifically labelled as such. Since you have interjected into his line of posting, are you prepared to state whether you accept or reject his statements? And if you accept his statements, are you prepared to answer the questions which he has left unanswered?

    Examples of questions Jerry left unanswered before he left the conversation include:

    * As an honest question, why did Alexander Campbell think that the King James version was Calvinist?

    * The King James bible is not the language of Shakespeare. When was the last time you tried to read Shakespeare?

    * So, as a question for you, was the spread of the Greek language across the known world prior to Christ and his apostles, was that of men, or was that of God?

    * Did you realize that your [Jerry’s] reasoning was based upon circular logic?

    * But how did you reach the conclusion that translation is not inspired? (multiple choice a-f portion omitted for brevity, please see original post.)

    * Straight question one: Do you accept the Hebrew text as inspired?
    * Straight question two: Do you accept the Greek text as inspired?
    * Straight question three: Do you accept the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib as a literal event?
    * Straight question four: Do you accept the account of the tower of Babel as a literal event?
    * Straight question five: Do you accept the apostolic speaking of tongues of Acts as a literal event?

    … and all of those were just from the May 24th, 2013 at 11:30 pm post. I even took extra care to explain that these were not rhetorical questions, and that they needed answers so that we could work towards resolution. How is it that you are asking … “what questions are you saying have been left unanswered?”

    Those were just questions to Jerry Starling. I had questions for Robert Floyd as well but it seems that he disappeared, and I have had questions for you as well, most of which you have not answered. Do you actually want a listing, or is this something that you would prefer to go back and look for yourself?

    Because when you have refrained from answering questions before, I have been willing to accept that as if you had conceded the point in question, but now it seems that you are disputing areas that we had already covered. We cannot have it both ways, because in a fair discussion of this sort, silence indicates tacit approval.

    I was hoping that this was meant to be a fair discussion (please wait for me to finish the next reply.)

    • mattdabbs says:

      Let me go point by point through your comment:

      Upbraid:
      Upbraid is how KJV translated ονειδιζειν (present, active infinitive of ονειδιζω) in Matthew 11:20. The word in context there means to denounce or reprimand.

      Biblical dialect:
      You wrote, “The King James introduced a dialect (that is oft mocked to day) using “thee” and “thou” and “ye” and “you” as to accurately reflect the underlying Hebrew and Greek source text.”

      That is inaccurate. They KJV translators did not introduce any dialect. They borrowed that from Tyndale’s 1525 translation. They probably made it more distinct in some of their spellings, but the thee’s, thou’s, etc were borrowed from Tyndale, not introduced in 1611 with the KJV. Here is an example:

      Matthew 1:21 from Tyndale’s 1525 translation – “She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Iesus. For he shall save his people from their sins”
      Matthew 1:20 from the 1611 KJV – “And she shall bring forth a sonne, and thou shalt call his Name Iesus: for hee shall saue his people from their sinnes.”

      Thee/Thou is a better representation of the Greek/Hebrew(?):
      You said that this “dialect” more accurately reflects the underlying Greek and Hebrew texts than (implying moreso than just translating those pronouns as you, he, etc). How so? You know this already…the NT was written in the most common Greek of the day. It wasn’t written in Classical Greek. It was written in Koine (common) Greek and was the language of the marketplace. They didn’t talk in thee’s and thou’s. So to say it is more accurate to use those words in translation than more common words of today like “you” just isn’t true. I can say that confidently for the very fact that Paul, Peter and the rest didn’t use any specially spelled pronouns for God, Jesus, etc.

      When you say “thee” and “thou” more accurately represents the underlying Greek/Hebrew texts you have nothing to base that on from the actual texts. If you are going to prove that, show me from scripture (greek and Hebrew) how that is the case.

      Specialized writing:
      You wrote, “On a final note, any type of specialized writing requires its own dialect,” Requires? That type of reasoning is non-sequitur. The conclusion doesn’t logically come out of the premise. If what you are saying is true, the Greek NT would stand apart from other writing of its day in its “dialect” but it doesn’t. People thought it did until the 1800’s when Adolf Deissman realized that this wasn’t “Holy Spirit” Greek but was Koine Greek. Until that point all they knew was Classical Greek and the NT was a little different. Until Koine Greek was discovered (through marketplace type documents…they documents of every day life – very opposite of specialized writings for a religious purpose alone, don’t you think?). Here is my point – the NT was written in the most common of common Greek of the day. To somehow logically infer or conclude that English translations must somehow be translated into a special biblical dialect is at odds with the original text! What makes the NT and its translations special is not a dialect (Grammar, word choice, spellings, etc – all that was very common Greek). What makes it special is God’s inspiration and it is up to us to translate it as accurately as we can.

      So sure have the opinion that a special dialect is special to you. But please don’t say it makes the KJV more accurate a translation because that implies that it reflects something in the Greek/Hebrew that just isn’t true.

      After reading all that, do you see why I find it an incredible assertion? It is incredible because it actually runs completely counter to the very nature of the Hebrew OT and the Greek NT texts themselves. It is incredible you would say that. Please tell me you will reconsider.

      Questions for Jerry:
      – “As an honest question, why did Alexander Campbell think that the King James version was Calvinist?”
      I addressed that in the comments above saying there were a few translational issues that might lend to Calvinism but there are in the NIV as well and there is no clear sign that KJV translators were actually trying to promote Calvinism. We are in agreement there.

      – “The King James bible is not the language of Shakespeare. When was the last time you tried to read Shakespeare?”
      Shakespeare and the KJV were written from the same period of development of the English language called “Early Modern English”. There are some similarities for sure.

      Questions for me:
      “Was the spread of the Greek language across the known world prior to Christ and his apostles, was that of men, or was that of God?”

      I believe God had a hand in that.

      “Did you realize that your [Jerry’s] reasoning was based upon circular logic?”

      How so?

      “How did you reach the conclusion that translation is not inspired?
      a) Do you have a scripture that says that translation is not inspired? – How would we even have that? Let’s flip that – Do you have a scripture that says a or all translations are inspired?
      b) Do you have special revelation from an angel or spirit that said translation is not inspired? – Of course not. Let’s flip that – Do you?
      c) Is it logically impossible for translation to be inspired? – The 1611 KJV translators specifically said they believed that multiple versions contained the very words of God. It seems you disagree with them. Read the “Translators to the Reader” – they actually disagree with you on multiple points regarding their own translation.
      d) Is it supernaturally impossible for translation to be inspired? – No
      e) Is it intrinsically against God’s character to inspire translation? – No
      f) Or have you heard others say that “translation is not inspired” when no one stood up to demonstrate the contrary? – There have been a million things said in this post and no one is going to get to all of them.

      Let me set one thing straight – just because there is silence doesn’t mean there is agreement. You wrote above,

      “Because when you have refrained from answering questions before, I have been willing to accept that as if you had conceded the point in question, but now it seems that you are disputing areas that we had already covered. We cannot have it both ways, because in a fair discussion of this sort, silence indicates tacit approval.”

      If that is your standard, you are going to have a very hard time having a discussion with people where the comments go to as great of lengths as these have. We are busy people with busy lives. We can’t and won’t address every point, every time. Silence doesn’t mean we agree. If I say I agree, then I do. If I disagree, I disagree. If I am silent, don’t assume anything by that.

      I don’t believe translations were inspired in the same way the original text was inspired. I believe God can certainly have a hand in translation. Call that inspiration to some degree? Maybe. I have to think about that one some more.

      * Straight question one: Do you accept the Hebrew text as inspired? – Of course
      * Straight question two: Do you accept the Greek text as inspired? – Of course
      * Straight question three: Do you accept the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib as a literal event? – Of course
      * Straight question four: Do you accept the account of the tower of Babel as a literal event? – Of course
      * Straight question five: Do you accept the apostolic speaking of tongues of Acts as a literal event? – Of course.

      • Andrew Patrick says:

        Matt, I am wondering why you are answering questions that were directed to Jerry? Regardless, answering those questions may be a good step in the right direction. I hope you understand that the reason for questions (and answers) is to establish a dialogue, where conclusions can be agreed upon because the founding principles have already been determined … in your own words. Therefore, if you are trying to exit with a last word by answering those questions, you are missing the entire point.

        But it seems I must clear away some of these minutiae that you raise:

        First, concerning upbraid… you listed “reprimand” and “denounce” as its definition, . Did you realize those words are unequal? You may reprimand your daughter, but that would be completely different than denouncing your daughter. Denounce is used for formal open condemnation, whereas a reprimand is meant for the purpose of reform, and can be completely private.

        Even if there are cases where both “upbraid” and “denounce” could be applicable, that does not mean they are the same. When I “upbraided” you I was taking you to task on a specific item, which is not the same as if I had “denounced” you, as in an an open condemnation or calling you evil.

        Language is not a rigid one-to-one equivalence without context, which is what you were trying to do. In fact, your entire “vocabulary challenge” was designed so that no matter which definition was given, you could find a different one somewhere. Why else would you use a word like “let” (there are two different words both spelled “let”) while omitting context?

        … and, perhaps I should mention this, your lexicon is not inspired. They are written by men, often for the purpose of interpreting Bibles after the fact. It is far easier to cast a spin by publishing a lexicon than it is to publish your own Bible translation.

        Second, concerning the special “thee” and “thou” dialect…”

        If you are going to pick at words to try to create a contradiction, you should take care to consider the meaning of the actual words being used.

        I had previously said:

        “The King James introduced a dialect (that is oft mocked to day) using “thee” and “thou” and “ye” and “you” as to accurately reflect the underlying Hebrew and Greek source text.”

        You assessed:

        That is inaccurate. They KJV translators did not introduce any dialect. They borrowed that from Tyndale’s 1525 translation. They probably made it more distinct in some of their spellings, but the thee’s, thou’s, etc were borrowed from Tyndale, not introduced in 1611 with the KJV. Here is an example:

        Matt, I am well aware of Tyndale’s language. Your criticism is off mark for two reasons:

        1) The King James introduced the dialect to the entire world. Tyndale’s translation was being hunted down and burned, the Great Bible did not move from the churches, and so forth.

        2) The King James is the logical extension (the properly finished work) of William Tyndale. It is oft observed that the King James is roughly 80% Tyndale. William Tyndale was the first translator of the King James version.

        Please try to read for meaning and intent when possible. We shouldn’t have to use board space on this type of thing to avoid becoming “offenders for a word” (Isaiah 29:21).

        Third, because you now want to debate the thees and thous of Hebrew and Greek…”

        Your wrote:

        You said that this “dialect” more accurately reflects the underlying Greek and Hebrew texts than (implying more so than just translating those pronouns as you, he, etc). How so? You know this already…the NT was written in the most common Greek of the day. It wasn’t written in Classical Greek. It was written in Koine (common) Greek and was the language of the marketplace. They didn’t talk in thee’s and thou’s. So to say it is more accurate to use those words in translation than more common words of today like “you” just isn’t true.

        … and you wrote quite a lot more like this, somewhat up in arms, very sure of yourself, but all of it was completely wrong (save for this next confusing sounding sentence)…

        You continued, but mixing up your topic:

        . I can say that confidently for the very fact that Paul, Peter and the rest didn’t use any specially spelled pronouns for God, Jesus, etc

        Matt, why did you say that? It is the Mormon church that uses “Thee” and “Thou” to address God in prayer, not Tyndale or the King James. See the Wikipedia entry under “Thou” …

        In that same article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thou

        Religious uses
        As William Tyndale translated the Bible into English in the early 16th century, he sought to preserve the singular and plural distinctions that he found in his Hebrew and Greek originals. Therefore, he consistently used thou for the singular and ye for the plural regardless of the relative status of the speaker and the addressee. By doing so, he probably saved thou from utter obscurity and gave it an air of solemnity that sharply distinguished it from its original meaning.[2] Tyndale’s usage was followed in the King James Bible, and remained familiar because of that translation.[14]

        If you get anything from that paragraph, understand that William Tyndale chose the convention because it allowed him to reflect the singular and plural of the Hebrew and Greek pronouns, not because it “sounded holy” or anything of the sort.

        So it would seem that William Tyndale (an actual bible translator of both Hebrew and Greek) understood this, the very thing which you are protesting. Moses and Paul both spoke with their Hebrew and Greek equivalents of “thee”, “thou”, “ye”, and “you.” But you chose to fight on this?

        You challenged:

        When you say “thee” and “thou” more accurately represents the underlying Greek/Hebrew texts you have nothing to base that on from the actual texts. If you are going to prove that, show me from scripture (greek and Hebrew) how that is the case.

        … first, a singular pronoun:

        In English,
        1Co 8:10 KJV
        (10) For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;

        In Greek,
        (10) εαν γαρ τις ιδη σε τον εχοντα γνωσιν εν ειδωλειω κατακειμενον ουχι η συνειδησις αυτου ασθενους οντος οικοδομηθησεται εις το τα ειδωλοθυτα εσθιειν

        Explained by Strong’s Concordance:
        σε Accusative singular of G4771; thee: – thee, thou, X thy house.

        … next, a plural pronoun

        In English,
        1Co 3:16 KJV
        (16) Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

        In Greek,
        (16) ουκ οιδατε οτι ναος θεου εστε και το πνευμα του θεου οικει εν υμιν

        … and explained by Strong’s Concordance:
        ἐστε Second person plural present indicative of G1510; ye are: – be, have been, belong.

        I am amazed at the amount of people who pride themselves on “reading the bible in the original languages” that persist in attacking “thee and thou” without understanding why they are there. It tells me that it’s an “Emperor’s Clothes” club… none of them actually understand the language they claim, but there is an agreed upon code that you don’t challenge that.

        Just for fun, here’s a website from someone who has noticed that his English bible lost the singular and plural of the underlying Greek pronouns (apparently he didn’t have King James) so he provides a translation into the Texan and Pittsburgh (and a modern UK) dialects:

        http://donteatthefruit.com/2013/05/texas-bible-second-person-plural-chrome-extension/

        “Do y’all not know that y’all are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in y’all? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what y’all are.”

        In this case, his translation is more accurate than the NIV. Is that sufficient, or do you also require a specific example from Hebrew?

        Fourth, concerning specialized writing…

        Where I said that “any type of specialized writing requires its own dialect…” you objected and said this was “non-sequitur” … “the conclusion doesn’t logically come out of the premise?” Except, Matt, that is the logical conclusion. That is what “specialized writing” means. What you meant to say was that the bible is not specialized writing.

        However, the Bible does have specialized writing, or else you wouldn’t have Nicodemus asking what Jesus meant by “born again” and the woman at the well wouldn’t have been confused about “living waters” .. and the koine Greek is special when compared to the classical Greek. You should realize that it makes no different what it is called… I could call it “New Testament Greek” or “Holy Spirit Greek” and like the proverbial rose, it would still smell as sweet and bear no impact on my ability to translate it one way or the other.

        You continued…

        What makes it special is God’s inspiration and it is up to us to translate it as accurately as we can.

        And, as demonstrated above, the original Hebrew and Greek distinguishes between singular and plural pronouns. So by your standard, just admitted above in that last statement, our English bibles ought to do whatever they can to translate it as accurately as possible. I maintain that “thee and thou” is preferable (and more universal) than trying to write in Texan or Pittsburgh.

        So, using the previous reversal of your “fact statement” that Hebrew and Greek has no singular and plural pronouns, and by your own stated standard that we should be translating as accurately as possible, please tell me you are reconsidering your stance.

        … at this point it seems that you got the impression that Jerry’s questions were for you (they were not) but let’s continue here, they may become profitable.

        * * * If you believe that God had a hand in spreading the Greek language across the world, we are allowed to speculate as to his reasons. It has been proposed that this may have even been for the purpose of allowing the spread of the New Testament. Even non-religious sources acknowledge that Alexander’s empire “paved the way for Christianity” (from song “Alexander the Great” by Iron Maiden.)

        The point being thus, that if God has used whole empires in preparation for specific events in times past, such as the Messiah and the spread of scripture around the globe, it is also worth considering that he is allowed to do this more than once. Modern English was being formed at the right place and time with other important events, to allow the whole scripture to spread across the now-larger known word.

        * * * How was Jerry’s logic circular? Matt, that was a question for Jerry, and if you don’t see that you need to read the post, rather than requiring me to rewrite what is already said above. He attempted to prove his conclusion by assuming the very thing he sought to prove.

        * * * “How did you reach the conclusion that translation is not inspired?”

        a) Since you asked, yes, I do have scripture that says that a specific translation is inspired. First read Acts 21:40, then read Acts 22, whole chapter … in the Greek. Or the English, either one. If you can’t figure this out, please ask nicely.

        b) I do not have revelation from an angel or spirit that any particular translation is inspired per se. However, there is evidence (objective criteria) that we can use to determine whether a thing bears marks of inspiration… or when it cannot.

        You answered:

        c) Is it logically impossible for translation to be inspired? – The 1611 KJV translators specifically said they believed that multiple versions contained the very words of God. It seems you disagree with them. Read the “Translators to the Reader” – they actually disagree with you on multiple points regarding their own translation.

        You’re sounding like a broken record, Matt… and also guilty of the straw man argument (again.) You are creating a false representation of things I have said (or sometimes even things I never said) and creating a different argument that you feel is easier to attack. That’s the definition of a “straw man” argument.

        All I asked is if it was logically impossible for translation to be inspired. For some reason you didn’t have a short answer here, but regardless, the important part was whether it was supernaturally possible for a translation to be inspired (which you do allow.)

        * * * Concerning Integrity * * *

        Addressing the question of whether silence denotes acceptance,

        If that is your standard, you are going to have a very hard time having a discussion with people where the comments go to as great of lengths as these have. We are busy people with busy lives. We can’t and won’t address every point, every time. Silence doesn’t mean we agree. If I say I agree, then I do. If I disagree, I disagree. If I am silent, don’t assume anything by that.

        First, that is not just my standard, it is also a legal standard, and it is also a biblical standard. Tacit agreement is a legal term meaning “agreement from silence” and Ezekiel warns us that the watchman that does not sound the alarm (that remains silent) is guilty of the blood that befalls that city (see Ezekiel 33:6).

        Second, as for integrity, if you have a busy life and have no time, then you also have no time to make false statements that are supported by nothing else but rumor. If you do find yourself making such statements, you have an obligation to follow through on them when challenged. For example, the “King James has 10,000’s of errors” statement… required you to at least provide an example upon demand, when challenged. If you have no time, do not make irresponsible statements.

        * * * What do you call inspiration?

        I am wondering about something you said here, and am hoping you can explain:

        I don’t believe translations were inspired in the same way the original text was inspired. I believe God can certainly have a hand in translation. Call that inspiration to some degree? Maybe. I have to think about that one some more.

        I would like you to look at this passage here:

        1Co 11:13-16 KJV
        (13) Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
        (14) Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
        (15) But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
        (16) But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

        If I understand you correctly, you allow that the Greek source text is inspired (with which I will agree) but that also includes this passage, in which Paul prefaces with “Judge in yourselves” and concludes with “but if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom” stating that this is his own private opinion and subject to their judgment.

        So besides this, this is the content from a letter that Paul is writing unto the churches, not an example of where the LORD thunders from Mount Sinai or instructs to copy down these words, and write them in a little book, to be sealed up until the time of the end. Do I understand correctly that you allow the entire book of 1 Corinthians to be counted as inspired scripture?

        So how would the writing of a letter be that different than the translation of that scripture over a length of time exceeding 100 years? I don’t see any mechanical aspects that would really differ between the two. If God takes a hand in these cases, it would be silent, and invisible, and judged by external criteria. If God takes a hand in Paul’s letter, he could just as easily take a hand in the translation of that letter, and if he did the former, it would make sense that he might also do the latter.

        * * * Re: Straight Questions … for Jerry * * *

        All of those straight questions were directed at Jerry, focusing on his statement that “Translation is not inspired” … because … “it is a work of men, thus subject to error.” This was circular reasoning, because if God does the translation through men, then this work of men can be free from error. But I have heard that mantra repeated so often, always without backing, as if it was supposed to be accepted as a truism.

        If you believe that the Hebrew text is inspired, then you must also recognize that the Hebrew text was also a “work of men” and in the instance we have of God writing something directly… Moses destroyed the original documents.

        If you believe that the Greek text is inspired, then you should recognize that the Greek contains translation of other languages, such as when Paul spoke to the multitude in Hebrew in Acts 22. Yet, that passage is recorded in Greek, which you have accepted as inspired. An inspired translation, from Hebrew to Greek. Translation can be, and has been, inspired in times past.

        If you accept the literal creation of Eve from Adam’s rib, then you also accept the concept of inspired translation. Eve was the translation of man, from male to female. Adam was not “superior” or the only “valid inspired original” and Eve was even an anticipated translation from the beginning. I could draw a similar example from creation with the butterfly, which is the intended translation of the original caterpillar. Neither one is inferior, both are inspired, but the butterfly is “only a translation.” Yet this was the intended result from the beginning.

        If you accept the Tower of Babel as literal, then you acknowledge that God is the master of language, and he can translate whole lifetimes of thoughts into different languages. It also might serve as an example that ideas transcend language, and that language is merely a chosen medium to present ideas. If God translated his ideas into Hebrew or Greek once, he can translate them into another language later should he choose. In other words, the Hebrew and Greek originals were translations from the beginning (of God’s thought.)

        … and I hope that the speaking of tongues in Acts is self-explanatory. They all heard the same speech in their own regional tongues. That is an example of translation. God translated the speech in their brains. If God can (and has) worked in such fabulous ways before, why is the subtle fashion called into such disrepute? God works subtly more often than not, examples omitted for sake of brevity. Showy miracles are the exception, rather than the rule.

        … and all that was simply to put that unsupported “Translations are not inspired” statement into context. Hopefully that will not remain as a mental block. We should also remember, that if God has given us something, we should be willing to accept it, and what he has cleansed and called holy, we should not call common or unclean.

        Act 10:15 KJV
        (15) And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

        So what objective criteria should we apply to determine whether something is from God? Matt, I did actually have questions for you (not those questions you took of Jerry’s) and since you seem to be in a question answering mood, perhaps you might now be willing to answer my questions for you? Remember, these are designed to lead to agreement through logical thought processes.

        Questions for Matt:

        1) There was a man named Cyrus, King of Persia. The naming of this Cyrus (who would become king) … was this of God, or was this of men? Was his name inspired?

        2) There was a man named John, who although he was his elder, said that Jesus was before him. Concerning the naming of John, was this of God, or was this of men? He was named when his father wrote “his name is John.” (Luke 1:63) That is, was his name inspired?

        3) In July 1415, Jan Hus (John Huss) was burned at the stake under charges of heresy. His last words were “You are now going to burn a goose, but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil.” This is recorded in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and other documents. His name meant “goose” … were these words of God, or were they of men?

        4) On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Thesis upon the door of the church in Wittenberg. Martin Luther referred to himself as the swan, and is still represented thus to this day. Concerning Martin Luther’s stand against the abuses of the Catholic church, was this of God, or was this of men? How did he manage to do something new, that is, to somehow stay alive when so many people wanted to kill him? He was neither roasted nor boiled, and died of old age.

        5) William Tyndale, bible translator, was executed by strangling and being burnt at the stake in 1536. When he was given an opportunity for final words, he prayed aloud, “Open the eyes of the King of England.” Up until this time the English authorities would burn English bibles and those who held them. Very shortly after his execution, Henry VIII (ever the righteous fellow) authorized the printing of English bibles. Was this of God, or was this of men?

        6) Following Henry VIII, England had two queens. The first, Mary, also known as “Bloody Mary, Queen of Scots” persecuted the Protestants to such a degree that England would never be Catholic, ever, again. Her successor, Queen Elizabeth, revised the laws of the English church, and instead they would now read that no doctrine should be preached unless it was from the scripture. Her successor James of Scotland, became King James I of England. At the request of the Presbyterian leadership, under James I, the English bible was refined and this became the bible that spread across the world. Although he was at odds with the Calvinist leaders, they respected him as an honorable king.

        Thus, the question, might James have been the real answer to Tyndale’s prayer, “Open the eyes of the King of England?” Henry was hardly a Christian example, and England had queens only until James I. Does God prefer to choose fitting servants? For when David was too bloody, did he not wait until Solomon to build the temple?

        7) Is it not written, that we should judge a tree by its fruits? How might that be applied when considering whether a work is of God, or of men? How would you apply that when asking whether a translation might be of God, or of men?

        … fin.

  10. Andrew Patrick says:

    Dear Matt,

    The threads here are getting tangled and harder to read with the indentations. This is meant to be chained from the June 5, 2013 at 10:31 am post that began, “Let me dive in a bit further in my response to your first 3 points…”

    You began by saying,

    In one way I agree with you. English hasn’t changed rapidly over the last 400 years…”

    … and although it seemed at first that you understood, then it seemed that you missed the point. The additional terms that are used with respect to science and technology do not change the base language. So what if we can speak of the automobile, the internal combustion engine, quarks named Charm and Beauty, or email and I-phones bought at the Apple Store? These do not change the essential nature of the English language, they are simply additional vocabulary. If anything, the language has become more complex with the addition of new terms and concepts.

    You added,

    You probably already know this but the 1611 KJV was actually translated to be archaic in its day.

    I was aware that the King James made use of archaic elements (like the aforementioned thees and thous) for the sake of accuracy of translation. As far as I am concerned, this is a bonus, not a black mark against the translation itself, nor something to be made fun of by ignorant naysayers who do not understand what they mock.

    You observed:

    Words can even mean the opposite today of what they meant 400 years ago (like “let”).

    You mean like in this famous passage?

    Gen 1:3 KJV
    (3) And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

    Apparently, the word “let” still meant “allow” back in the 16th and 17th centuries, it would seem. I have over 1200 verses here to choose from, and the word seems to mean “allow” in the majority of cases. “Let us go down” saith the LORD, and “Let me drink, I pray thee” says the servant to Rebekah, “And let him that is athirst come” says the Spirit and the bride.

    I am aware of one verse where the understanding of “let” is oft challenged, when used to translate ὁ κατέχων in 2 Thessalonians 2:7, “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way” but in this case, allow and prevent would have the same net meaning, because he who has allowed that evil to work until it is taken out of the way defines its scope by permitting and denying as he will. So in this case, the proper meaning of the passage is retained by this method of translation.

    It is true that there two different meanings for the word “let” .. one of which is to allow, and the other to hinder… (such as a “let” within the game of tennis) … but in this case this one sample passage is easily understood no matter which meaning of the word is assumed, because to negatively allow is the same as to positively deny. It this case, at least, it just happens to work out rather nicely. It is like it is written with intended double meaning…

    So if there be a lesson to be learned, it might be better to carefully analyze a passage that seems different, rather than assuming that the meaning has drastically changed, or that it is old fashioned, or even incorrectly translated. Let us think and confer carefully before denouncing.

    You then began a listing of words and definitions, and I use this loosely because you misrepresented my answers in a good many of these, with careless rephrasing and by omitting my context. I would require a lot of space to properly upbraid you at this point …

    Your conclusion was:

    So you got a few of those right and others you had no idea, even in context!

    Actually, Matt, my definitions were correct, and your definitions are the ones that are lacking. If you take issue with specific meaning, you need to come forth and be quite clear which ones you dispute, and be ready to back your contention.

    Let’s pick one out for an example:

    Doves’ dung – seed pods (2 Kings 6:25) – you said dove poop

    Your definition, Matt, and also the translation that is curiously shared by the NIV, is completely wrong. “Dove’s dung” is not “seed pods” and I have already used quite a bit of space on this forum explaining why it could not be so, and I repeat this at the risk of sounding like a “broken record.” No reliable translation renders this Hebrew as “seed pods” but admits that it is referring to the droppings, the waste product, of a bird. This is in the context of the besieged inhabitants eating the heads of donkeys and their own (human) children. It’s not supposed to be palatable.

    By the way, your unique NIV definition is also saying that the NASB and ESV mistranslated this word as well, or perhaps that they are using English that cannot be understood?

    2Ki 6:25 KJV
    (25) And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver.

    2Ki 6:25 NASB
    (25) There was a great famine in Samaria; and behold, they besieged it, until a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a fourth of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver.

    2Ki 6:25 ESV
    (25) And there was a great famine in Samaria, as they besieged it, until a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver.

    Considering the amount of text I used to address the absurdity of the NIV “seed pods” or the Message “field greens” before, I am amazed that you could make such a contention in good faith after all of that has been previously said, without some sort of explanation on your part. Or are you contending that they really meant “seed pods” and that “dove” used to mean “seed” and that “dung” is an ancient word for “pods?” Please explain yourself!

    I will not address all of your crazy definitions here, but one is on my mind I must say something about, where you contradicted my biblical-based definition with this:

    Pitiful woman – Compassionate woman (Lam 4:10) – you said woman deserving pity

    Compassionate women do not eat their own children. The only sense in which this could truly mean “compassionate” is if it is speaking somewhat tongue in cheek. “Deserving of our pity” seems to be the truer sense, because I can pity (rather than condemn) those women, which also embraces the concept that these women would not have naturally been brutal. The rendering of “compassionate” loses this sense and contradicts itself.

    Lam 4:10 NIV
    (10) With their own hands compassionate women have cooked their own children, who became their food when my people were destroyed.

    That’s rather nonsensical and bizarre to say the least. I dare say that the NIV definition loses the proper sense that the passage had before, something seems to be missing in the language. Compassionate women do not cook their own children! The very act requires the killing of compassion, of much of what we consider our humanity… which leads back to the deserving of pity. Perhaps these women might have possessed pity within themselves at one time, but that they lost.

    As for many of your other listings, it would be nice if you had quoted me in context, for example, concerning “upbraids” where I made use of metaphor (which seemed to have gone over your head, pun possibly intended.)

    The argument seemed to enter a “spam” phase here (which I will briefly condense):

    Here are some more words just to make the point that English has changed (from a list of several hundred examples from Jack Lewis’ book Questions you have asked about Bible translations).


    Thee-ward – Toward you

    There are hundreds more. It is safe to say English has changed. Why keep affirming that nothing much has changed in 400 years when even a child could tell us there is a difference?

    Matt… seriously… you used “thee-ward” as an example of “The English has changed so much that we cannot understand it?” As in “thee-ward” meaning “towards thee?” Yes, there are a few legitimate words and phrases that are archaic, but very few as such that cannot be easily understood, especially by a child that has no specific reason to avoid understanding, or to promote their own translations as a replacement. Shall I say, I grow tired of such vain jangling?

    .. but that was easily understood enough, wasn’t it? A child could understand that, in context… your examples omit context, and list words as if they were hard to understand when the meaning is self contained, such as “descry” is supposed to be harder than “reconnoiter?” I shall “de-scry” the terrain… kids know what “scry” means, and they might even be able to “descrybe” it to you if you asked. It is amazing how smart we can be when we have no motive to be dumb.

    Even a child could tell you that a girded “stomacher” is something that is worn over the stomach, something of high value when compared with sackcloth (see Isaiah 3:24). Why are people trying to make the simple more difficult? That’s a rhetorical question for you to seriously consider.

    Moving on, since you asked this to be addressed:

    2 – Please defend your point here. Please help us explain how new versions are inadequate because they don’t reflect some sort of “biblical dialect”? What is the biblical dialect and how do guys in 1611, following Tyndale’s lead get something that results in that special thing that makes everything since lacking in your mind?

    This is another example of a straw man argument. I did not say that new versions were lacking because they did not reflect some sort of biblical dialect, save that I did say that abandoning the “thee and thou” convention resulted in a loss of accuracy. If you are defining “biblical dialect” in any other sense than what I have previously explained (and defended) sufficiently in this forum already, then this is another “straw man” argument.

    If the topic is now moving to inadequacy of specific new versions, then let us please allow this to be addressed on its merits, rather than implying that this is based upon criteria such as a sound of speech, the presence of rhythm, or elegance of prose.

    Moving on, you say:

    I really can’t believe you actually said that. There have been some huge leaps in our understanding of Greek and the availability of manuscripts since 1611.

    When comparing the Hebrew and Greek scholarship between then and now, you are comparing people that could read Hebrew at age 5 and write essays in Hebrew at age 6, compared to … people that take a class in Greek and call themselves Greek scholars, claiming that they now “read Greek.” We are comparing 57 people who would all do their own translations, to folks who are brought onto “translation teams” that don’t understand the original languages. We are talking about serious translation done with care (i.e. “gopher wood”) compared with single mavericks that decide that they have special divine understanding (above all others before them) that this mystery wood is “cypress.”

    Simply put, scholarship now is in a sad state compared to scholarship then. So called scholars now are often unable (or unwilling) to understand the English language properly, so how can they be expected to properly translate Hebrew and Greek into English if they do not understand the English? Translation requires an understanding of both sides, source and target languages.

    But … (since you opened this can of worms) there is not much improvement in the availability of manuscripts. It is true that we are aware of many more manuscripts today than before, but that does not mean they are available. The majority of all known manuscripts have yet to be processed or analyzed, and probably will remain unknown until Kingdom Come (that is, the real Kingdom when Christ returns.)

    … and injecting this in regards to your last recent post, how do you know what type of non-biblical Hebrew and Greek texts they had available to themselves during the 1600’s? We are not even privy to their notes, let alone the libraries that they had at their disposal. I think you might be confusing the concept of “extant” with “existed.” In other words, you don’t know what resources they had then, so it may not be a fair assumption to say that you have better materials to understand the language now.

    But, even setting aside relative factors such as availability, an increased amount of manuscripts is irrelevant (and I emphasize irrelevant) because in spite of increased manuscripts, they have not introduced additional readings, but only reinforced what we already knew:

    1) That the King James source text is primarily a majority text, with few and specific defensible minority readings
    2) That the Critical text is based primarily upon minority readings, taken from a few extremely old documents that survived the Egyptian climate, that stand in opposition to the majority of all other manuscripts. The two chief documents usually cited are flawed on their face, contain numerous corrections and modifications, omit huge sections, and often contradict each other. You might recognize them better by their usual pseudonyms of “older and more reliable manuscripts” (as described in marginal notes.) One of these had been kept sequestered by the Catholic church for ages, and the other was rescued from burning (because the monks there recognized that the work was so flawed that it needed to be destroyed.)

    So I think you have been misled as to what significance (if any) there might be of “having more manuscripts at our disposal” … because the translators at that time were not lacking any of the available readings. Erasmus had access to the Alexandrian type texts as well, but he rejected them as inferior.

    You asked (perhaps rhetorically):

    Bottom line – we know more than we knew then. The facts bear this out. Why deny it?

    To the contrary, scholastic ability to analyze evidence (as opposed to accepting propaganda) seems to have taken several steps backwards.

    It seems you just contradicted yourself here:

    1) In 1611 they did not know the difference between Hellenistic/Koine Greek (that makes up the NT) and Classical/Attic Greek. That is a big deal. In fact, up until Deisman, they thought the NT was written in some sort of Holy Spirit Greek because they weren’t familiar with Koine Greek and that it was the common, every day Greek in the 1st century.

    First you say that they did not know the difference, and then you said that they recognized the difference. Even setting aside asking for proof of your first point, if they called it “Holy Spirit Greek” instead of “koine Greek” then by definition that is recognizing a difference.

    I realize this is running long, so I will try to be brief: please compare these two statements:

    By your author Carson,

    The first edition of the Greek New Testament to be published was edited by…Erasmus (1469-1536)…To prepare his text Erasmus utilized several Greek manuscripts,

    And by yourself just beneath:

    Pretty amazing, huh? Erasmus work was reprinted by Stephanus, slightly reworked by Beza and then on to be used by the KJV translators. What Carson did not mention was the fact that Erasmus only had 7 Greek manuscripts to work with.

    Yes, I noticed that Carson said “several” while you said “seven.” Several is not seven, except perhaps for large values of several when compared to small values of seven. If Erasmus did indeed select seven manuscripts that properly represented the libraries which he accessed elsewhere, this is more than “several” and Carson is using deceptive language to mislead his audience.

    Which brings us to another point, and that is that there is so much misinformation and misrepresentation running wild on this subject that it requires confrontation, and it has been present since the beginning. For example, when Wescott and Hort first compiled their critical text and sought a new Revised Version, they deceived (lied to) their translation teams and did not tell them that they had been given a different source text. At first many were shocked at how many differences there were, “How could the King James have translated this as that?” but many that found out left the committee, some others stayed in spite of this, and a few others seemed to have known all along.

    An honest translation of an honest text should not need to start out with lies and misinformation, nor should it require that we make the simple complex, or suppress honest objective discussion and analysis. With the bruit that has arisen you would think that I kicked over someone’s sacred cow, because out of ten points that I listed in response to the article subject of,

    “… Rules for Beginners Reading the Bible”

    … that one (1) of those was “Get a normal King James translation” (and then objections start)…

    What are the simple reasons?

    It has more accurate translation, it does not contradict itself, it is easier to read, fit for easy memorization, even poetic in beauty.

    And what I am hearing in response is a bunch of stuff like “It’s written in Shakespeare” (not true) and “it cannot be understood” (with given examples like dove’s dung) and claims that the underlying text is inferior (the underlying text is built on more reliable witnesses than the Critical text). If they spent half the effort explaining the text as you did trying to convince people that they could not understand it, you would have some seriously educated and well-equipped bible students in no time.

    As far as I am concerned, the chief issue is (and always has been) accuracy and faithfulness of translation. Beauty and ease-of-reading is just a bonus. Such topics (and proofs) of accuracy are not material to burden beginning bible readers, rather, it is something that they must rely upon the integrity of others to provide in good faith.

    But from what I have seen, the counter response to that one line of comment I made has been primarily emotional rather than reasoned. There has been a reluctance to answer questions, and rather a lot of repetition of rhetoric. Campbell seems to be respected for his opinion, regardless that his logic on this topic has been demonstrated as somewhat lacking.

    So as a very real question, what is the real issue why my simple advice sparked so much resistance? What is the real reason (or reasons) that no one has been willing to state thus far? I am not saying this is an easy question, and there may be more than one answer, but what is the real reason why this topic is not allowed fair review, why it seems to hit so many emotional nerves?

    If I knew of another English translation from faithful source text with accurate translation without known instance of error, then I would be able to recommend it as another translation. To date I only know of the King James Version and the King James 21st Century Version that fit these criteria. If I knew of another I would add it as well, but I cannot even add Tyndale or the Geneva bible to this list.

    If this topic is to continue, could we please make sure that the discussion follow proper rules of fairness? For example, if questions are asked, would it be reasonable that they be answered before launching counter-questions? If someone’s response is quoted, could it also be quoted accurately with appropriate context so no one is misrepresented?

    … because I would prefer not having to “grab people by their hair” to get their attention and set things right (why was I misrepresented concerning “upbraided?”)

    • mattdabbs says:

      Andrew,

      I can tell you we have better manuscript evidence (thousands of mss available today – yes, many, not all, are available) and you come back and say some of them aren’t available so we aren’t any better off. That makes no sense. The Dead Sea Scrolls alone have been an amazing help in better understanding the OT and its texts. Some of those texts put us 1000 years closer to the originals. But that is no advantage to us, of course. We have texts/mss of the NT from the 2nd century. The KJV translators had about a dozen texts from the 1300s. But there is no way you are going to say having thousands of texts that get us a 1000 years closer is better.

      I can say that we have a better understanding of Koine Greek (which they didn’t even know existed as such in 1611 – they only knew of Classical) but that doesn’t matter. I can say we have fewer hapax legomenon (words only used once) but the hundreds today than we had then. But certainly that doesn’t help us any. I can even tell you that in the Translators note to the reader that they debunk several of your points but I don’t think even hearing it from them will matter. I can say that there is no such thing as a biblical dialect, ask for you to demonstrate it from scripture and get no response. By your logic, you agree with my through your silence. You say the KJV is on a 5th grade reading level. I demonstrate it is more like 8-11 through running the numbers. You tell me the academically validated assessment tool doesn’t do it right or that since your numbers were of 0.10 from mine that it can’t be right.

      I give you a list of words that you get half right and then tell me my definitions are the ones that are wrong. If you want (as I did in one example in my previous comment) I can go through those words and demonstrate in scripture, through translating the Greek and Hebrew, that my definitions are correct. I would do it but it won’t matter. There is always an explanation. There is no concession.

      Let me conclude this discussion with this – this is all getting pretty silly. So I am out. If you want to call it concession, you can call it whatever you like. I have made my points above and you have made yours and people can read what was said and get some great information from both sides of things. That is a plus. Thanks for your time.

      • Andrew Patrick says:

        Dear Matt,

        It seems that you are are either misrepresenting what I have said, or reading too quickly to begin with. Logically, please explain how any amount of manuscript evidence is helpful when it remains unread. Also, please explain how any amount of read manuscript is going to change a translation when it neither affects the ratio of of readings, nor introduces any new readings of its own?

        If I have 4 texts that have one reading, and 100 of a second reading, nothing is changed if I expand this to 40 texts of the first reading, and 1000 texts of the second. This is a basic mathematical principle. Additionally, having an additional 10,000 unknowns in your sack of manuscripts changes nothing. The majority of those manuscripts remain unknown.

        And of all the ironic charges, to suggest that you would say something and get no response from me? That’s simply absurd. Sometimes I do take a day to answer, as I also have paying work, and sometimes it helps to be swift to hear, slow to speak, slower to wrath, but I am ready to give an answer.

        … you demonstrated that the King James reading level is 8-11? Matt, you found a skimpy online program that gave different results for the same chapter of Genesis, depending upon if the verse numbers were included. You weren’t able to find a favorable witness that gave you the same answer twice. The study that I was using covered each and every book of the Bible and had the lower reading levels that I cited (it was the more complete study.) Plus, I know from personal experience that (aside from getting mired in the chronology) I was able to read the Bible at a very young age. Whether I did finish reading it or not is another question, but it was not from lack of ability.

        … you are still persisting in your claims that I failed your definition test? You’re falling short here Matt, and I have already been insisting that you prove your statements, but you’re still arguing that “dove’s dung” means “seed pods” until observers become disgusted with the discussion. You have no room to claim that you “could show an example” when I have been almost pestering you to show an example.

        It’s a very old hackneyed claim that “Yes, I could provide an example, but I won’t, because you wouldn’t listen anyway” and you’re not the first person to try that tack. I expected better from you.

        This is a little off topic, but since you also said that your silence signifies nothing, I have something to say about unicorns. From the NIV,

        Deu 33:17 NIV
        (17) In majesty he is like a firstborn bull; his horns are the horns of a wild ox. With them he will gore the nations, even those at the ends of the earth. Such are the ten thousands of Ephraim; such are the thousands of Manasseh.”

        When was the last time you saw a wild ox that had one horn ten times greater than the other? I don’t think animals that lopsided occur in nature. Is this a mythical wild ox, the mythical lopsided flipping-over-on-its-side wild ox? God’s creatures are usually symmetrical.

        Yet the unicorn (or at least some varieties of unicorn) can have two mismatched horns, one greater than the other, in line with one another, like the comparative strengths of Ephraim and Manasseh. This was a prophecy, so the meaning should be accurate.

        So you can conclude that this discussion (that you started) is silly and bow out, but I think that would be a bit irresponsible, because there are some statements that you made that you have yet to support, neither have you retracted. I think it would be more profitable if we exercised sound, reasoned, responsible, respectful discussion.

        I know that this topic hits a sore chord with some people (for who knows what reasons) but that should not be an obstacle among us, should it? If that is the case, then we need to talk about this for that very reason alone, until people learn to stop taking offense at the subject of discernment between bible translations.

        Sincerely,
        -Andrew

    • mattdabbs says:

      One more thing – I apologize from any disrespect you might have felt from my choice of words.

  11. Robert Floyd says:

    As this discussion is winding down, allow me to pop in one last time and explain my silence. I’ve been following the comment thread with some interest. The arguments have been interesting (if largely circular). Andrew seems to be committing a fundamental logical flaw: assuming the conclusion. By using the 1611 KJV as the baseline and standard for determining the accuracy of all other translations, he’s assuming the KJV is, in fact, the only truly accurate translation. Hence, every variation must be explained as a flaw, either in manuscripts, scholarship or intention. But that’s not the main reason I’ve shied away from participating in the conversation.

    I’m not clergy and never have been. I work a full time job, am involved with my local congregation extensively (teaching classes, taking my turn in the pulpit and being in charge of worship planning), so I’m not able to spend a lot of time on comment threads.

    When I’m not working a secular job, I’m involved in prison ministry (and have been for about 27 years). What I encounter there are men who desperately want to know the truth about God, but who also have few of the tools that most of us are blessed to possess. Many of them earned their GEDs while in prison and have low reading levels. When they read out of their KJVs, it’s clear they don’t know the words nor their meaning. The language has put a formidable barrier in the way of them understanding the truth of God.

    When I teach them, I work from the ESV and encourage them to get that translation if they can (the prison stocks Gideon Bibles, which are always and only KJV: that’s a Gideon’s issue). I’m teaching them how to read scripture in big chunks and in context. The question I want them to learn to ask is not, “What does God mean?” but “What is God saying?” These are men who want to know God and serve him, but whose only other means of learning are from overworked chaplains, radio preachers (let’s not go there), newsletters from various organizations and volunteers like me.

    I used to enjoy conversations like this thread, and I can run logical rings around folks with the best of them. However, I’ve learned that we no longer have that luxury. This is a post-literate age. Between the failings of the educational system and Internet-mediated communication techniques, people are less and less able/willing to spend time parsing 400+ year old language to discern what God wants them to know. And I’m resolved not to put unnecessary barriers in the way of people learning about God.

    I’m 58 years old, college educated, able to read Shakespeare and understand it (and enjoy it), able to read, understand and enjoy the 1611 KJV (or other, older translations, for that matter). Theologically, I’m fairly conservative and am a part of a conservative congregation. I wish with all my heart that the world today was the one in which I grew up. However, it’s not. And, if we’re going to bring people to Jesus, we have to emulate Paul, who “became all things to all men.”

    Does that mean I’m going to conform to the current culture? Not at all! What it does mean is that I’m determined not to put any unnecessary obstacles in front of the Word of God. Forcing people to learn a new dialect/language when they have neither the time, education nor inclination to do so is not being faithful to God. I get one hour a week at each unit chapel to provide worship and Bible study to men who are struggling in many areas. We’re going to focus on what truly matters, and in a language that they can understand. Is that what I would prefer? No. But what I prefer really doesn’t matter in this situation (or any situation, really): what matters is how I can best serve God by serving “the least of these.”

    When we spend our time and energy discussing “dove’s dung,” is it any wonder the world is finding us less and less relevant?

    • mattdabbs says:

      Good thoughts there Robert. There are some very important issues scattered throughout these comments. There is also minutia. I have contributed to some of both. Bottom line – we can know the truth about God through the KJV or the NIV. Are we sharing it with people? Are we living in line with what we know? These conversations can be helpful but they can also stretch to a point of silliness and get all muddled up. Thanks for bringing this back to earth and back to real people who really need Jesus.

    • Andrew Patrick says:

      Hello Robert,

      It is interesting that you are still here, and it is a shame that you weren’t willing to explore some of the angles that you brought up. You had the better questions, so I hope you weren’t just putting them out there as hypothetical or rhetorical.

      However, if you are going to speculate about my logic or reasoning, you should address me directly. It is not very noble to cast an aspersion on the run and then say you don’t really want to get involved. Do I use the King James text as a baseline? After about fourteen years of testing, it is fair to use it as a starting point for analysis and comparison. There is a difference, Robert.

      Those Gideon Bibles you mention… may or may not be King James. I have found that they no longer label themselves, and many people do not know how to tell the difference between King James and New King James. It makes a difference when you start examining specific content. They are very similar in many aspects, but there are subtle changes that makes worlds of difference.

      The ESV bibles you mention would share many of the same subtle changes of the New King James Gideon lookalikes. As such, it does matter what you present as authoritative scripture. For example, Luke 23:43 will hold a completely different meaning: do repentant thieves go to heaven the day they die, or do even those with assurance from God himself await the resurrection to life?

      This is not an irrelevant question, because the associated corollary is “Does God punish people without the benefit of judgment” and “Does God keep people alive without end for the purpose of inflicting torment?” Now we are talking about the very nature of God and Christ, but even that single error (contained in the ESV and NKJV) is used to propagate the “immediate reward and infinite cruelty” doctrines.

      Nor is this the only such place where it comes down to real differences. Matt’s contention about “dove’s dung” (does he still think it meant seed pods, because the NIV is an unquestioned standard?) serves as an example because it is so easy to demonstrate. If “dove’s dung” can be turned to “seed pods” and no one bats an eye, then the coast to clear to change anything and everything … without being taken to task.

      Is it not written, that he who is faithful in that which is least will also be faithful with that which is much? See Luke 16:10, also illustrated in Luke 19:17?

      Luk 16:10 KJV
      (10) He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

      What I have seen happening here is a lot of excuses of why we should allow scripture to be unfaithful in the least, even in the much, and the handling of this question has also been unjust in much.

      Robert, you said that this is a “post literate age” … but that is a claim I cannot accept. It would be funny to take your claim and turn it around as an explanation for some people’s behavior, but this is the information age, and it is driven upon literacy. I also have trouble believing that the Holy Spirit cannot grant understanding when it is asked for in faith. Shall I provide verse for this also? Or can you already anticipate the scripture?

      If you are spending an hour a week and trying to put the bible into big chunks then you are working against the way that we (as humans) naturally learn reading. Even if I could fell a tree with a hammer given enough blows… that is not the best way to chop down a tree.

      It looks like I still need to address Matt (even some of his minutiae) but if you are truly concerned about giving people a bible that properly represents God, it seems to me that you would want to provide them something without spot or blemish, without lie or contradiction, that is properly worthy of bearing His name, for does He not also call himself the Word, and He places his word above His name (see Psalm 138:2). If you are in a position where you are instructing others, you are held more responsible, and thus need to understand the differences.

  12. Odell Scherb says:

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