April 21, 2011

Inerrancy = Perfect Preservation of the Bible? Part 1

For some reason the issue of the continued perfect preservation (or lack thereof) of the Bible has been popping up quite often in my life. Of course, this issue is tied directly to KJV (that stands for King James-I-persecuted-Protestants-but-still-somehow-was-elevated-to-Pope-status-among-crazy-American-21st-century-Evangelicals Version) primacy. The following is a recent discussion I had with some friends of mine regarding the larger issue of biblical preservation seen through the lens of the KJV issue. I rarely get into theological debates and rue the thought of arguing for the fun of it (something I did often in college :) - but sometimes there is a chance to influence, a chance to persuade - in this instance I saw a chance and I went for it. Enjoy.

Friend #1 
I have yet to find an error in the king James Version. The same cannot be said of any other version I know of.. The KJV has many presumed errors & problematic texts... But these all can be explained with some deep study...... 

I disagree that the original Hebrew is the only text without error.. Simply because there are no originals there are only copies of the originals.

So be careful with that ESV.. It isn't translated from the same manuscripts as the KJV. 

Friend #2 Response 
Some would call this tragic. Others wouldn't. I personally use KJV, but will, on occasion, refer to ESV or NIV for something that's easier to understand. I think the only real "version" without error is the original one... and that's not the KJV, its the original Hebrew and Greek text. While I do think the seemingly endless reproduction of different versions of the Bible that are required to have changed "X" number of words is a little bit of a bastardization of the text, a money plot by publishers, and just might sometimes get a little close to straying away from the original Hebrew message, I do think some people may need to refer, as I do, to a commentated source in order to understand something every once in a while. Judaism has done this without making 54 different translations... its the Talmud, and contains a commentary on the original and a commentary on the commentary., for applications sake.
that being said, I'm only comfortable saying the absolute FIRST text, in the original old Hebrew and Greek, is the divinely inspired, error free, word of God, to the horn of the yod.

Friend #1 Response 
The KJV says God preserved his words through the generations, the inspired inerrant scripture CAN'T be just the words on the paper of the original autographs... I can show you some shocking verses if you want...  
My Interjection

If you don't mind - could I interject?  First of all the OT in all modern English translations as well as the KJV is translated from the Masoretic Text (10th cent. AD document). Second the KJV was translated in 1611 when only a few Greek NT texts were available. Since 1611 - something like 2700 Greek manuscripts have been found and deciphered - many of them much older and more complete manuscripts than what the translators of the KJV possessed. 

So what does that mean? Modern English translations like the ESV, NASB, NIV are far and away closer to the original Hebrew and Greek texts than the KJV, because they have the added benefit of 400 years of archaeological discovery and textual critical work. Not to mention that they take into account the evolution of the English language. For example - which one of these texts makes more sense to a 21st cent. reader “But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort” or “But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace” (example indebted to one of my favorite teachers) They both are from Acts 17:5 - but the second translation (NIV) is clearly easier to understand for people that live under the US government and not under the monarchy of King James. 

Furthermore - there is absolutely no reason to believe that in 1611 - God decided to pass down the perfect, uncorrupted text. This is the key issue. To state that the KJV is the uncorrupted text is without textual basis and frankly a little prideful - what about the previous 1600 years when English was not the main universal tongue? Did they not have a perfect translation? Was God waiting to reveal the perfect English translation to us Anglo-Saxons?  

to be continued... 

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