Ecclesiastical Text Theory — Refuted?

The Evangelical Textual Criticism blog pointed my attention to a lengthy article by Adam at the Old Testament Studies blog which refutes  the “Ecclesiastical Text theory”.  The article covers quite a bit of ground as it attempts to refute a recent article by Kent Brandenburg on the LXX argument.  Adam interacts with the Scriptural evidence for preservation, and shows how a proper exegesis does of them does not demand the preservation of a word-perfect, accessible text.  Adam then discusses targumming, the LXX, and gets into some OT textual criticism.

I recommend the article as a good reference for discussion.  The question remains, did he really refute the Ecclesiastical Text theory?  For additional discussion here, perhaps we should switch from calling a reasoned, Greek studying, KJV-onlyism, TR-onlyism and instead call it the “Ecclesiastical Text theroy”.  I think that might be preferred by people of that persuasion, what do you think?

Thanks go out too, to the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog for linking to our little blogging establishment again in their post about Adam’s article.

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Preservation: How and What? (part 3) by Aaron Blumer

A quick note letting everyone know that part 3 of Aaron Blumer’s series on Preservation: How and What? is up over at Sharper Iron.  He continues his look at what the Bible teaches about preservation, and he pays special attention to arguments from the book Thou Shalt Keep Them edited by Kent Brandenburg (Pillar and Ground Publishing).

The King James Translators & the Septuagint (LXX)

It seems this has been a recurring theme on our blog of late, but discussions here and elsewhere have been focusing in on this point: Did Jesus and the Apostles use the Septuagint in their ministries and in quoting from the Old Testament? I was recently reminded that the translators of the King James Bible, themselves would answer “yes”. See their words below from “The Translators to the Reader“.

While God would be known only in Jacob, and have his Name great in Israel, and in none other place, while the dew lay on Gideon’s fleece only, and all the earth besides was dry; then for one and the same people, which spake all of them the language of Canaan, that is, Hebrew, one and the same original in Hebrew was sufficient. But, when the fulness of time drew near, that the Sun of righteousness, the Son of God should come into the world, whom God ordained to be a reconciliation through faith in his blood, not of the Jew only, but also of the Greek, yea, of all them that were scattered abroad; then lo, it pleased the Lord to stir up the spirit of a Greek Prince (Greek for descent and language) even of Ptolemy Philadelph King of Egypt, to procure the translating of the Book of God out of Hebrew into Greek. This is the translation of the Seventy Interpreters, commonly so called, which prepared the way for our Saviour among the Gentiles by written preaching, as Saint John Baptist did among the Jews by vocal. For the Grecians being desirous of learning, were not wont to suffer books of worth to lie moulding in Kings’ libraries, but had many of their servants, ready scribes, to copy them out, and so they were dispersed and made common. Again, the Greek tongue was well known and made familiar to most inhabitants in Asia, by reason of the conquest that there the Grecians had made, as also by the Colonies, which thither they had sent. For the same causes also it was well understood in many places of Europe, yea, and of Africa too. Therefore the word of God being set forth in Greek, becometh hereby like a candle set upon a candlestick, which giveth light to all that are in the house, or like a proclamation sounded forth in the market place, which most men presently take knowledge of; and therefore that language was fittest to contain the Scriptures, both for the first Preachers of the Gospel to appeal unto for witness, and for the learners also of those times to make search and trial by. It is certain, that that Translation was not so sound and so perfect, but that it needed in many places correction; and who had been so sufficient for this work as the Apostles or Apostolic men? Yet it seemed good to the holy Ghost and to them, to take that which they found, (the same being for the greatest part true and sufficient) rather than by making a new, in that new world and green age of the Church, to expose themselves to many exceptions and cavillations, as though they made a Translation to serve their own turn, and therefore bearing witness to themselves, their witness not to be regarded. This may be supposed to be some cause, why the Translation of the Seventy was allowed to pass for current. Notwithstanding, though it was commended generally, yet it did not fully content the learned, no not of the Jews. For not long after Christ, Aquila fell in hand with a new Translation, and after him Theodotion, and after him Symmachus; yea, there was a fifth and a sixth edition, the Authors whereof were not known. These with the Seventy made up the Hexapla and were worthily and to great purpose compiled together by Origen. Howbeit the Edition of the Seventy went away with the credit, and therefore not only was placed in the midst by Origen (for the worth and excellency thereof above the rest, as Epiphanius gathered) but also was used by the Greek fathers for the ground and foundation of their Commentaries. Yea, Epiphanius above named doth attribute so much unto it, that he holdeth the Authors thereof not only for Interpreters, but also for Prophets in some respect; and Justinian the Emperor enjoining the Jews his subjects to use especially the Translation of the Seventy, rendereth this reason thereof, because they were as it were enlightened with prophetical grace. Yet for all that, as the Egyptians are said of the Prophet to be men and not God, and their horses flesh and not spirit [Isa 31:3]; so it is evident, (and Saint Jerome affirmeth as much) that the Seventy were Interpreters, they were not Prophets; they did many things well, as learned men; but yet as men they stumbled and fell, one while through oversight, another while through ignorance, yea, sometimes they may be noted to add to the Original, and sometimes to take from it; which made the Apostles to leave them many times, when they left the Hebrew, and to deliver the sense thereof according to the truth of the word, as the spirit gave them utterance. This may suffice touching the Greek Translations of the Old Testament.

So we have a clear admission by orthodox Protestant scholars of the early seventeenth Century, that the LXX was used by Christ and the apostles. Subsequent scholarship has given additional insights into this, and confirms the notion that Greek translations of the Old Testament books were often used by the Apostles and quoted from in the New Testament. For more evidence on this point, see this comparison of NT quotes and the LXX vs. the Hebrew. See also this Trinitarian Bible Society (which incidentally only publishes the KJV for its English Bible) article on the value of the Septuagint [HT: Pavlos].

Imperialism and King James Only Continued

Erik posted over on Fundamentally Changed about Imperialism and King James Onlyism. It created somewhat of a furor, to say the least.  I believe we were all shocked at the response to the post.

Bob followed up on the post here.

These guys, in bringing this issue up, caused me to think about something of which I had never before considered.  While the subject was under discussion I was reading and was surprised to find a possible connection to it all that goes back to the days of King James, himself.

I found the following in the book “God’s Secretaries: The Making of The King James Bible” by Adam Nicholson.

Note that there is an underlying current of English supermacy in the pageantry and play acting of King Jame’s wife.   In fact, one can take away a fairly strong sense of racism after having read this.

Then consider this drawing that represents one who had a part in the pageantry which the queen presented for the pleasure of her husband.

If imperialism does have anything to do with the King James Only movement it is no surprise.  After all, look at the context in which the King James Version came into being.

What do you think?

My apologies for the poor scans.  I did my best 😦

Imperialist Influence on the Rise of KJV Onlyism?

Erik over at Fundamentally Changed recently raised the question of the possibility that KJV onlyism is rooted in an imperialist mindset.  Many people who prefer the KJV have a high view of the importance of America and Britain in world history.  They believe that God chose English as a special language that he knew would become universal, and so God codified His Word in that language.

Many have claimed in the comments at Sharper Iron’s filing post on this, as well as on Erik’s original post, that they’ve seen no evidence of such imperialism as an argument in KJV Only literature.  I beg to differ.

Benjamin Wilkinson’s book Our Authorized Bible Vindicated (1930) was certainly influential in the rise of the modern KJV Only position.  His work was leaned on heavily (some would say plaegarized) in J.J. Ray’s God Only Wrote One Bible (1955).  And Wilkinson’s work was quoted (with some revisions and deletions) in David Otis Fuller’s book Which Bible? (1970).  Those two books were very instrumental in the rise of the modern KJV Only movement.  Ray’s work influenced Peter Ruckman and Fuller, and Fuller’s work influenced leaders of the other wing of KJV-onlyism.  Doug Kutilek documents this in a post on the rise of the KJV-only movement here.

Before providing this quote, some of which is reproduced in a 1999 work by Jack Moorman published by The Dean Burgon Society called Forever Settled, I should stress that Wilkinson’s work is certainly only one influence among many for the birth of KJV-onlyism.  And the imperialist claims are just one idea among many that he trumpeted.  KJV-onlyism probably does have ties to Burgon’s and others argument against the RV in the late 1800s.  And it also probably has some connection with older Reformation-era views of the perfect-ness of the printed Greek and Hebrew texts the church had in their possession.  But many observors of KJV onlyism have seen that in fundamentalist circles, the older leaders were not KJV-only, men like John R. Rice.  And the leaders in the generation after them were converted to KJV onlyism later in their ministries, men like Jack Hyles.  Several influential KJV authors also were converted later in their ministries to KJV Onlyism, men like David Cloud and D.A. Waite.

Now, enough about this.  Let me provide the quotes from Wilkinson which I shared on Erik’s post.  I think it proves at the least an imperialist influence on the rise of KJV-onlyism. The following comes from Wilkinson’s work published in 1930, available online here.

God who foresaw the coming greatness of the English-speaking world, prepared in advance the agent who early would give direction to the course of its thinking. One man stands out silhouetted against the horizon above all others, as having stamped his genius upon English thought and upon the English language. That man was William Tyndale. (pg. 33)

The hour had arrived, and from the human point of view, conditions were perfect, for God to bring forth a translation of the Bible which would sum up in itself the best of the ages. The heavenly Father foresaw the opportunity of giving His Word to the inhabitants of earth by the coming of the British Empire with its dominions scattered throughout the world, and by the great American Republic, both speaking the English language. Not only was the English language by 1611 in a more opportune condition than it had ever been before or ever would be again, but the Hebrew and the Greek likewise had been brought up with the accumulated treasures of their materials to a splendid working point. The age was not distracted by the rush of mechanical and industrial achievements. Moreover linguistic scholarship was at its peak. Men of giant minds, supported by excellent physical health, had possessed in a splendid state of perfection a knowledge of the languages and literature necessary for the ripest Biblical scholarship. (pg. 42)

The birth of the King James Bible was a death stroke to the supremacy of Roman Catholicism. The translators little foresaw the wide extent of circulation and the tremendous influence to be won by their book. They little dreamed that for three hundred years it would form the bond of English Protestantism in all parts of the world. One of the brilliant minds of the last generation, Faber, who as a clergyman in the Church of England, labored to Romanize that body, and finally abandoned it for the Church of Rome, cried out, — “Who will say that the uncommon beauty and marvelous English of the Protestant Bible is not one of the great strongholds of heresy in this country?”

Yes, more, it has not only been the stronghold of Protestantism in Great Britain, but it has built a gigantic wall as a barrier against the spread of Romanism.

“The printing of the English Bible has proved to be by far the mightiest barrier ever reared to repel the advance of Popery, and to damage all the resources of the Papacy.”

Small wonder then that for three hundred years incessant warfare has been waged upon this instrument created by God to mold all constitutions and laws of the British Empire, and of the great American Republic, while at the same time comforting, blessing, and instructing the lives of the millions who inhabit these territories. Behold what it has given to the world! The machinery of the Catholic Church can never begin to compare with the splendid machinery of Protestantism. The Sabbath School, the Bible printing houses, the foreign missionary societies, the Y.M.C.A., the Y.W.C.A., the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, the Protestant denominational organizations, — these all were the offspring of Protestantism. Their benefits have gone to all lands and been adopted by practically all nations. Shall we throw away the Bible from which such splendid organizations have sprung? (51-52)