Back Cover Blurb
- "The King James Version is superior to all modern English translations of the Bible": so say many popularly written books and pamphlets.
- The King James Version Debate is the first book-length refutation of this point of view written for both pastors and laymen. The author concisely explains the science of textual criticism since the main premise advanced by KJV proponents is the superiority of the Greek text on which it is based.
- After showing the problems with this premise, the author refutes the propositions that:
- the KJV is the most accurate translation;
- it is the most durable;
- its use of the Old English forms (e.g., thou) makes it the most reverent;
- it honors Christ more than do other versions;
- it is most easily memorized; and
- it is most suitable for public reading.
- Concluding the book is an appendix in which, on a more technical level, the author answers "Pickering (Wilbur) - The Identity of the New Testament Text", the most formidable defense of the priority of the Byzantine text yet published in our day.
Amazon Customer Review1
- This book appears to have three main objectives:
- To refute the arguments commonly put forward by King James Version Onlyists (KJVOs) in support of the Received Greek NT text against the critical (or eclectic) Greek NT texts.
- To refute the arguments put forward by KJVOs in support of the King James Bible translation as the only correct translation.
- To dismiss any idea in the minds of students that the Received Text could possibly be superior to the critical texts or eclectic versions.
- With its systematic approach, the book achieves the first two objective fairly well although, in the first case, it omits certain facts which would otherwise weaken the argument. It fails to achieve the third objective. However, the chapter on translation is well worth reading.
- I am commenting on this book as a practicing Christian for almost four decades who has used Bibles translated from both the Received Text and the critical texts (I am not a KJVO) and who has worked both as a professional scientist and as a professional translator. I started looking at the Greek texts behind the different translations two or three years ago because I noticed that Christians who used the King James Version generally had considerably more confidence in their Christian faith than those who read other versions. I was intrigued2.
- The book starts by speculating on how early transmission took place by using a bit of story telling. With the absence of any factual support3 for this paragraph, the 'appeal to reason' is abandoned and the reader is unavoidably conditioned towards accepting the rest of the argument presented in the book.
- The book then fails to discuss the two enormous elephants in the room which are associated with Hortian-type textual criticism:
- The fact that this ideology is based on an unspoken assumption that we can draw conclusions about what the autographs contained by examining the surviving manuscripts from an historical perspective. Both the modern textual critic and the KJVOs base their arguments on this assumption, for which there is no basis4. In fact, we can show from Scripture very simply just how unreliable this type of reasoning is - consider the Pharisees' rejection of the Messiah based on their false assumption5 that He was born in Nazareth. Unless this problem is addressed, all the textual critical arguments presented in the book are irrelevant.
- The dichotomy between the Hortian critical method and Biblical exegesis. They are mutually incompatible since the one is wholly rationalistic6 (and atheistic in the sense that the Holy Spirit is not consulted7 throughout the entire process) and the other relies on a belief in the reliability of the Scripture (as presented in the critical texts) as the Word of God.
- As a scientist8, it seems to me that the Hortian ideology is entirely based on speculation and is therefore unsafe. As a professional translator whose work involves resolving textual anomalies of a similar nature to those found in manuscripts, I can see that the Hortian method is lacking in common sense9. As a Christian, I would expect there to be a considerable amount of prayer10 behind making textual critical decisions.
- When dealing with textual anomalies, it is essential to take into account the overall context, the message the author is trying to convey, the nature of the subject and (in the case of Scripture) the nature of the Author. There is enough manuscript support to do this and Erasmus, whose objectives were wholly constructive11, took this into account very well12. The Hortian ideology does not take any of these factors13 into account and the result is a text which is sometimes confusing and contradictory. This is why it is my view that the approach which Erasmus took14 is correct and Hort's method is incorrect - an unfortunate and destructive aberration.
- There is another problem. Because modern textual criticism uses an ideology which is not based on Scriptural principles15, a student at Bible college, university or seminary will invariably find his confidence subtly transferred from the Scriptures themselves to his teachers and professors of Greek16. This is most unfortunate. I understand this book is recommended to students to immunise them against the KJVO view and the Received Text.
- To be fair17, the book should also discuss Hort's personal beliefs18 (from his private correspondence) and how they could have influenced his determination to substitute his own New Testament19 for the Received Text (another elephant in the room perhaps?). His work, after all, has had a major impact on the Western Church. Other relevant facts should also have been included in the discussion, such as the fact that almost 50% of the text which was removed by Hort and Westcott has since been restored in the light of more recent finds20. In my opinion, this is a serious indictment against the reliability of Hort's method21.
- Although I profoundly disagree with the conclusions of this book, I am glad I was recommended it since it has helped clarify my thinking about this subject.
→ James Petzold
In-Page Footnotes ("Carson (D.A.) - The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism")
- The review is not by me, of course – only the footnotes are.
- I’m reviewing it as it’s the only superficially-sensible negative review.
- I’m wasn’t. I suspect “confidence” has a lot to do with only seeing things from your own point of view.
- So, you’d expect people one-eyed enough to be KJVOs to be confident in their faith. They’d be Koran-bashers if they’d be born elsewhere.
- I wasn’t overly impressed by Carson’s arguments, but saying that there’s no “appeal to reason” is untrue.
- Surely, this objection to some scene-setting in the first couple of pages is unfair. This is an example – obviously made up – of the sort of thing that might have gone on, given what we know from textual variations.
- I almost stopped reading at this point. Just why is there no basis for this common-sense procedure? How else would we come to any conclusions about anything historical?
- What has this got to do with it? We don’t need Scripture to tell us that false assumptions lead to false conclusions.
- But, you do need to demonstrate that the assumptions are false, which our reviewer hasn’t.
- This is a fair point.
- NT textual criticism developed from a methodology for determining the critical texts of classical works (see Wikipedia: Web Link), and consequently is undertaken by those with no vested interest in the “truth” of the texts themselves.
- Mind you, this may be a good thing. If scribes can’t even copy correctly without making subtle “corrections”, what hope is there for a doctrinally-committed textual critic?
- How does he know this? For modern scholars, if not Hort.
- And how would this be evidenced? That you claim your decisions are inspired because you consulted the Holy Spirit and he gave you the right answer?
- What’s the relevance of this?
Footnote 10: Footnote 11:
- Well, he can’t see any such thing.
- And who’s to say the objectives of modern textual critics aren’t “wholly constructive”? Or Hort’s, for that matter.
- Erasmus used whatever manuscripts he could get his hands on.
- Even a translator has to be somewhat wary of taking these factors into account – though he should, in order to produce a coherent narrative – but a textual critic has to be careful he doesn’t make the text say what he thinks it should, theologically-speaking.
- Does he know what approach Erasmus took?
- In any case, things have moved on from Westcott and Hort.
- I read a rant along these lines by some other reviewer. Just what are the “Scriptural principles” of textual criticism supposed to be?
- This is a quite general objection to all education. Why not just read your KJV on your own or with your in-crowd and misunderstand it how you like?
- Not the current colloquialism. He means “to give a balanced picture”.
- This is somewhat beside the point, and a fallacious ad hominem objection.
- There’s no mention of Brooke Foss Westcott in all this. From Westcott’s Wikipedia page (Web Link), it looks like he’s still a source of controversy, but it’s not as though he was an atheist, despite being Bishop of Durham!
- It’s also not clear what Hort’s theological views were from Wikipedia: Web Link
- Really!! As is noted by James R. White, if anyone had wanted to “corrupt” the Bible, they’d have done a better – ie. more consistent – job of it.
- Firstly, we’d need evidence for this assertion, though it’s interesting if true.
- If it is true, it shows the irrelevance of ranting on about Hort.
- The point is, I suppose, that it’s “fallible” and open to new evidence. Sounds scientific, to me.
Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Second Printing, 1980
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2017
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)