The Theological Illusions of King James Onlyism by Kevin Bauder (part 2)

One Bible Only? Examining Exclusive Claims for the King James Bible may just be the best book on the King James Only debate, period.  The posts in this series are tracing the arguments of one of the editors, Kevin Bauder, in his conclusion to the book: “An Appeal to Scripture”.  Bauder explains several theological arguments that KJV Onlyists resort to, in an effort to continue propagating their belief against a mass of contrary evidence.  Bauder illustrates how these arguments really are illusions that don’t stand up to scrutiny.

Part 1 set the stage, and now we get to the first of the theological arguments for KJV Onlyism.

The first illusion is the appeal to faith. According to its leading defenders, the King James-Only movement is fundamentally a “faith position.” Genuine, biblical faith, however, must rest in the promise of God. To be believed, the promise of God must be clearly revealed in the pages of Scripture itself. The question is not whether the Bible contains a promise that God will preserve His Word. King James-Only advocates go much further. They insist that God has preserved His words and preserved them exactly in a singular, identifiable, and accessible form. So the question is whether the Bible contains a promise that God will preserve, word for word, the text of the original documents of Scripture in a particular manuscript, textual tradition, printed text, or version. As this book has shown, the Bible contains no promise whatsoever that includes the preservation of all the words of the autographa (without addition or deletion) in a single, publicly accessible source. Without such a promise, the appeal to faith does not rest in the promise of God, but in the untestable and unverifiable speculation of the King James-Only advocates themselves. Until they can produce a Scripture that (properly and contextually understood) does promise all that they assert, they have no legitimate right to appeal to faith.

(Bolded emphasis mine. Excerpted from pg. 158, One Bible Only? Examining Exclusive Claims for the King James Bible, edited by Roy Beacham and Kevin Bauder; Kregel Publications: Grand Rapids, 2001.)

?This is the rub in my opinion.  The various texts that apply to a doctrine of preservation, do not make the explicit claim that all the words of Scripture will be preserved in an accessible form.  For at least 1500 years, most KJV Onlyists allow that the words of Scripture weren’t together in a printed text or version that is accessible too.  Especially when one considers what E.F. Hills points out that several of the TR passages are preserved in the Latin language texts rather than the Greek language texts, and the New Testament was purified when the two streams were brought together.

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15 thoughts on “The Theological Illusions of King James Onlyism by Kevin Bauder (part 2)

  1. James Snapp, Jr. June 18, 2010 / 10:33 pm

    Bob,

    Once you acknowledge that “Certainly the whole story isn’t percentage of acceptable variation,” you grant that Bauder’s statement is essentially wrong. He’s not just “overreaching;” he’s incorrect. Let’s move along to the objection that KJV-Onlyists use an appeal to faith.

    I think the KJV-Onlyists are completely guilty of making a faith-based appeal. Their leaders believe that God providentially guided the Reformation-era editors of the Greek text to use mainly Byzantine copies, and to edit their contents in such a way as to yield a Greek text identical in all meaningful ways to the contents of the autographs. Nowhere in Scripture is such a specific thing prophesied or promised; there is no claim in Scripture that God will preserve His words in a specific group of manuscripts. This point seems entirely reasonable.
    But who is not guilty of making a faith-based appeal?

    If the premise is granted that God has preserved all of His words somewhere, in any extant manuscripts at all, there are a limited number of possibilities: are all of God’s words
    (A) in the Byzantine MSS?
    (B) In the “Western” MSS?
    (C) In the Alexandrian MSS?
    (D) In the “Caesarean” MSS?
    (E) In the non-Alexandrian Egyptian MSS?
    (F) In a combination of MSS, sometimes in one group and sometimes in another group?

    (And if the answer is “F,” then which of the five previously-mentioned texts – Byzantine, “Western,” Alexandrian, Caesarean, or non-Alexandrian Egyptian – is the purest? Let’s pause for a moment to frame that question in concrete terms: take the flagship MS of the Gospel of Mark from each of those five groups: Codex A, Codex D, Codex B, Codex 1582, and Codex W. Which of the five contains the least significant deviations from the original text? I leave this question as something for your consideration, proceeding to consider the subject from another angle.)

    If the premise is granted that God has preserved all of His words somewhere – sometimes in one text-type, and sometimes in another text-type – so that the whole original text can only be seen in a single volume today after a text-compilation has commenced, then today the only possible place where we can find the entire original NT text in a single volume is in a printed Greek New Testament, of which there are currently three major compilations in print:
    (A) The Textus Receptus,
    (B) the Byzantine Text, and
    (C) the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland text.

    Bauder claimed that until the KJV-Onlyists “can produce a Scripture that (properly and contextually understood) does promise all that they assert, they have no legitimate right to appeal to faith.” But if the premise is granted that God has preserved His words somewhere, and if the premise is also granted that we can’t just adopt one manuscript’s text but must resort to compilation to reconstruct the original text, then it seems to me that there are only five possible positions, and every one of them involves an appeal to faith: either

    (A) God has preserved all His words in the Textus Receptus, or
    (B) God has preserved all His words in the Byzantine Text, or
    (C) God has preserved all His words in the NA-27 Text, or
    (D) God has preserved all His words in a compilation yet to be completed, or
    (E) God has preserved all His words, but they will never be perfectly compiled by people.

    The person who believes that God has preserved all His words somewhere in the extant MSS must believe one of those five statements. Which one is the statement that can be scientifically proven, and does not require any faith?

    Faith is always in the equation, Bob. The KJV-Onlyists believe that a text compiled centuries ago is what God wants the church to use as the NT base-text today. The advocates of most of the modern versions have believed that God wants the church to use more recent text-compilations as the NT base-text today (either an edition of the NA text, or, in the case of most of the modern English translations, some modified approximation of it that has never been printed as a Greek New Testament). But both of those views require an element of faith too.

    And even if 5,000 copies of New Testament material disagreed at only 40 places, it would still require faith to believe that a compilation of their contents would or could produce the original text, because comparative compilation can only reconstruct the archetype-text, and there is no way to prove that the archetype-text is identical to the autograph-text. Faith is always in the equation, so why should such a thing be considered objectionable when it is in the KJV-Onlyists’ approach, but fine and dandy elsewhere?

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

    • bibleprotector June 19, 2010 / 7:19 am

      As a King James Bible Onlyist (KJBO), I do not agree entirely with the assessment given. For example, it is not accurate to say that I “believe that God providentially guided the Reformation-era editors of the Greek text to use mainly Byzantine copies, and to edit their contents in such a way as to yield a Greek text identical in all meaningful ways to the contents of the autographs.”

      Obviously God’s Word was sufficiently supplied to various Christians through history. That means that if a person only heard the insular Latin of Ireland, then God was able to communicate there by the Scripture, not matter the quality of the readings or translation.

      Thus, the emphasis is not merely on Reformation-era editors who favoured Byzantine copies (which certainly yielded greater accuracy), but that the Reformation scholars were not simply interested in the Greek only, but in gathering (recovering the true readings) the Scripture, even if their studies meant looking at the Latin (and they did). As well, the Reformation scholarship was not backward-looking, as though their aim merely was to reconstruct an identical copy in the same language of what actually was inspired in the original languages, but rather for the giving of the very sense of the Scripture in the common mother tongues.

      Therefore, the Reformation scholarship ultimately produced one principle translation in one language, which itself would match what was inspired as given in the Autographs.

      “If the premise is granted that God has preserved all of His words somewhere” … but according to the KJBO, it is not a valid premise to limit God’s Word to one original language manuscript family/tradition, for that God’s Word was scattered, and present imperfectly in so many copies, versions and translations. Therefore, to attempt to limit one particular original language family or tradition of Scripture copies as having all of God’s words is not necessary. As long as God’s Word, holistically, was generally present and specifically recoverable.

      “If the premise is granted that God has preserved all of His words somewhere – sometimes in one text-type, and sometimes in another text-type – so that the whole original text can only be seen in a single volume today after a text-compilation has commenced, then today the only possible place where we can find the entire original NT text in a single volume is in a printed Greek New Testament, of which there are currently three major compilations in print”.

      The whole original text today is extant, but not in an original language volume. The KJBO does not look to a printed Greek NT for the “whole original text”. The KJBO looks at the KJB as an independent variety of the Received Text, indeed, as the exemplar of it.

      “it seems to me that there are only five possible positions”. The KJBO does not agree with any of those positions, for that the Word of God, being scattered in earth, was neither limited to the Textus Receptus, nor to any other original language edition, family, hypothetical construction or future development. The gathering in Textus Receptus editions was only part of the construction of the King James Bible itself.

      The compiled text which the KJBO upholds is the KJB alone, not merely the TR.

    • Andrew Suttles June 22, 2010 / 10:48 am

      When I read the textual commentary provided by the UBS for the selections they put in the main body of the text for their printed GNT, I didn’t notice ‘faith’ (and by ‘faith’, I assume you mean either a ‘special revelation’ or ‘blind faith’) as one of the criteria. The men are weighing internal and external textual evidence. If you disagree with their findings, you should state why you disagree.

      To state that one believes that the KJV is the only Bible in English ‘based on faith’ is to say nothing at all. I can make a translation of my own and claim it is the only preserved English translation and that I KNOW this ‘by faith’, but that assertion must be subject to scrutiny.

    • Andrew Suttles June 22, 2010 / 10:58 am

      bp –

      I can’t follow whether you are talking about the critical Greek New Testament that was developed over time by Ximenes, Erasmuc, Estienne, and the Elzevirs or are you talking about the King James Version? You seem to be responding arguments for the superiority of the critical scholars of a family of 17th century critical GNTs (Reformation-era editors) with arguments regarding the translators of the KJV.

      You say that Reformation scholarship produced ‘one principle translation in one language’. Which one is that? Luther’s German translation? Olivetan’s French Bible? The Bible for English speaking reformers – the Geneva Bible? These are the primary 3 and I’m they don’t agree on all points. I don’t think I’m following you here.

  2. Bob Hayton June 19, 2010 / 10:44 am

    I agree that faith in God’s promise requires us to hold 1) God has preserved His words 2) God saw fit to preserve the message of Scripture purely 3) Such Scripture as has been available to the Church is sufficiently clear on the important matters of faith and salvation.

    What Bauder claims is illegitimate is to frame the debate in such a way as many KJV Onlyists do when they claim that theirs alone is the position of faith and others do not believe. They claim if you believed God’s promises, you would conclude that the KJB or the TR is THE WORD OF GOD and all others aren’t equal to it. But Bauder rightly points out that the promises don’t speak to where the preserved words are nor how available or identifiable that preservation would be.

    I can grant a position that uses faith. I can’t grant a position which makes faith pivotal in the position in such a way as to exclude other positions entirely from being faith-positions.

    Bibleprotector advocates that one edition of the KJB is virtually identical to the original autograph. Some would say the same thing but add that the Bible promises that this would be the case, and to not agree with this position is to be skeptical of God’s promises. Bauder points out that God’s promises don’t require such a perfect edition, and so claiming they do require that is invalid.

  3. Steven Avery July 17, 2010 / 5:45 am

    Hi Folks,

    The Reformation Bible .. ‘one principle translation in one language’ would definitely not be the Olivetan or Luther editions .. far too early.

    Stephanus and Beza would be far more applicable and these texts and the closely related Elzivir were translated throughout the world into dozens of languages. (e.g. See The reformation of the Bible, the Bible of the Reformation by Jaroslav Pelikán for a discussion of these editions.)

    In English, the Geneva 1599 and the KJB have virtually an identical textual base, so those would represent the same edition. Clearly, the KJB received the historical translational approval with led to its supplanting the Geneva.

    And the KJB position is that the Common English Bible is the apex of the Reformation Bible.

    As for the difficulty in the precision-pointing of one Greek edition, that is a difficulty would only apply to the TR-proponents (e.g. Waite-Cloud).

    Shalom,
    Steven Avery

    • Bob Hayton July 22, 2010 / 1:06 pm

      Steven,

      How do you decide when the Geneva and KJB have different readings? Why wouldn’t the Estates-General translation of the Dutch language which came out after the Elzevir’s editions, be a manifestation of the Reformation Bible? And if it is, how can you decide when it differs from the KJB? The KJB and Geneva follow more closely with the Stephanus 1550 which was hailed as the standard text in England. The Elzevir’s text was the standard on the continent of Europe. Granted the differences are slight, but who’s to say which reading we go by? If the KJB goes by the wrong reading at some point in its text, do we amend it and admit the error or are we compelled to uphold the KJB as perfectly inerrant? I’m not familiar enough with your views to know what you would say.

      I appreciate your interaction with many of our posts here, too. I’ve been focused on my newborn’s birth and my wife’s health lately and haven’t wanted to jump in to all the comments over here quite yet until today. Thanks for understanding.

      In Christ,

      Bob Hayton

    • Chris Cole July 25, 2010 / 8:21 pm

      The KJV supplanted the Geneva Bible because King James banned the publication of ANY English translation OTHER than the KJV. The preferences of the Protestant clergy and believers was suppressed by the power of the state. I think that one fact alone should give pause to the KJV-onlyist.

    • Bob Hayton July 25, 2010 / 8:31 pm

      Chris,

      It is true that the King did not like the Geneva Bible notes which argued against the divine-right of kings (if I remember right). So that is why he insisted on no notes in the Authorized Version except for translation notes.

      Good point you bring up, brother.

      Thanks,

      Bob

    • Erik July 25, 2010 / 8:58 pm

      The situation with the Geneva was an extension of existing Crown policy. Under Henry VIII, the Great Bible was authorized by the Crown for reading. Since all of England was required by law to be part of the Church of England and the Crown was now the head of the Church, only the Bible authorized by the Crown could be read in the Church.

      Elizabeth authorized readings from the Bishop’s Bible, and then James authorized readings from the King James Bible (although the Common Book of Prayer had the Psalms from the Great Bible until 1665).

      James’ authorized version was unique because it was translated as a committee rather than being an individual work (after all Bishop’s was based on Great, which was based on Matthew’s which was based on Tyndale/Coverdale).

      That’s what you get when you have a state religion.

  4. Steven Avery July 22, 2010 / 1:38 pm

    Hi Folks,

    Congrats on the newborn, and best wishes to family health.

    Yes the Dutch Bible is a Reformation Bible, it is one of the Bibles mentioned in the Jaroslav Pelikán book. The Geneva 1599 is textually close to identical to the KJB.

    As you say the differences are sleight, if a text follows Stephanus and Luke 2:22 has “their purification” that would be an impurity, as the apex of the Reformation Bible inspiration and preservation can be seen in the KJB. Nonetheless it is still the Reformation Bible.

    Shalom,
    Steven Avery

    • Bob Hayton July 22, 2010 / 1:46 pm

      Thanks for the kind wishes. How exactly do you come to conclude that the KJB is “the apex of the Reformation Bible inspiration and preservation”? And if someone concludes the same for the Geneva or the Estates General translation, would they be wrong?

    • Steven Avery July 25, 2010 / 9:04 pm

      Hi Folks,

      While I have never heard of anyone with those positions, they would still be affirming the same essential text, against the corruptions that abound, and I would consider them strong allies. As far as I am concerned, we would discuss the nuances as friends and allies, if such a person ever existed.

      Shalom,
      Steven Avery

    • Bob Hayton July 25, 2010 / 9:42 pm

      Is the KJB a good Bible among many Reformation Bibles? Or is it THE chief Bible that the Reformation era produced and hence THE only Bible which is perfect in its text?

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