Post Reply
Page 1 of 2  •  1 2 Next
Switch to Forum Live View KJV, an anachronistic version
4 years ago  ::  Jan 25, 2011 - 7:04AM #1
Dennis
Posts: 1,433

I note one week later, no one has really cared about the previous "new" threads. Silence speaks more than words, may times. 


This is meant to be a very brief summary in response to the idea that the King James Version of the Bible is the definitive version. In another forum, a respondent had argued that later versions were in some way, inspired by some figment of the imagination called “anti Christ.”


It is interesting how the Bible can be used (or misused) to satisfy certain needs of people. For instance, in Isaiah 14 we have an obvious “song of scorn” aimed at the king of Babylon according to the text (according to The Jewish Study Bible, the Assyrian king, actually). From one word in the text translated into the Greek as “Lucifer,” people sometimes use this to mean “the devil” or “Satan,” a personification of a reference to a Canaanite myth, influenced also by a Greek myth (which I mentioned in the “miracles“ thread.) Here is how the selection begins, according to the earliest extant copy of the Bible, from the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is called, verse four, a “parable against the king of Babylon.”


The king is dead, and we can begin with verse 9:


“Sheol from below is excited over you to meet you at your arrival. It stirs up the dead for you, even all the chief ones of the earth; it has raised up all the kings of the nations from their thrones. They will all answer and say to you, “Have you also become as weak as we are? Have you become like us?” Your pomp and the noise of your harps have been brought down to Sheol, the worm has spread under you and your covering is a worm. How you have fallen from the heaven, O day-star, son of the morning! How you have been cut down to the ground - you who laid low the angels. You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my thrown above the stars of God; I will sit upon the mount of gathering in the furthest parts of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will make myself like the most High.’ Yet you will be brought down to Sheol, to the uttermost parts of the Pit.”


The ancient reference, whether translated as “Lucifer,” “shining star” or “day-star,” is to a long gone king of antiquity who was oppressive. According to the text, regardless of the version, this parable typifies a theme of Isaiah and of much of both the Tanakh and the gospels, the reversal of fortunes; how the mighty shall be lowered, the lowly exalted. (Some call this theme “Song for a poor man.”) Yet, when taken out of context, some people personify the imagery of the poetry and create a god-like “force of evil” (evil angel?) from a sarcastic remark said about an evil king. In doing this, the message of the text is lost.


Is this ancient text relevant today? I would argue that the theme gives hope to those who are the “have-nots” of the world, while the satire and the sarcasm of the text is a stern warning to the “kings” of the world who exalt themselves above others, because their fate, as is the fate of all, is with the worms of the earth. They too will be brought down, if not during their life, certainly with their death. When, however, one takes one verse out of the text and makes it some kind of mythological notion of a “Satan/Lucifer” falling to earth, one completely strips the text of its meaning and relevance. Suddenly, a creature named “Lucifer” has fallen to earth and is possessing the souls of people… And, that has nothing to do with the story in the poem or even the imagery of it. The imagery hearkened the Canaanite, as well as probably the Greek, myth.


When we look at translations of the Bible, many people prefer the King James Version (KJV), a version that came to us because, more or less, the Puritans petitioned the king of England. It uses anachronistic English, like the use of pronouns “thou,” “thee” and so forth, which sound “church-like” and somehow holy to them. They think that this version is the “original” bible. It isn’t. It was taken, to some extent (though this wasn‘t authorized), from Erasmus’ Greek Bible, which in turn was, in many places, translated from the Latin Vulgate text, along with inferior Greek texts (one for the gospels, the other for Acts and the Epistles). The Greek texts he used were late medieval productions, twelfth century. In his day, Erasmus was accused of “tampering with the texts.” In other words, the KJV was produced largely from inferior texts of which the translator of these texts was accused of tampering and even, in the case of the committee‘s use of Wyclif‘s Bible, a “heretic!” As one scholar puts it, “The King James was not given by God but was a translation by a group of scholars in the early seventeenth century who based their rendition on a faulty Greek text” (Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus, p. 209). And, as the preface for the RSV (Revised Standard Version) notes, the KJV was indebted also to the English translation William Tyndale made, which was based on the Latin Vulgate. The Story of English (McCrum, Cran, MacNeil, p. 95) notes “Surprisingly, perhaps, for an age that was so familiar with Latin in Greek, the six committees were instructed to base their Authorized Version upon the previous English versions, translating afresh, but also comparing their work with the other vernacular Bibles, from Tyndale to Parker.” (These began with John Wyclif in the 1380’s and included Matthew’s, Taverner’s, Cramner’s, the Geneva and the Bishops’ Bible.) Even the versification of the Bible is rather late, around the 1500’s I believe, and are rather arbitrary in placement.


Let’s look at just one example of an anachronism. In Mark 10:14 (and copied by other gospels), the KJV states, “… Suffer the little children to come to me.” “Suffer” means to undergo pain. The context of this saying renders the word rather foolish. In the Jacobean period, the word meant “let.” The Greek, in fact, was “aoete” or “allow/let.“ In translations subsequent to the KJV the sentence reads, “… Let the little children come to me.” In other words, one does not have to “suffer” in order for the little children to come to Jesus; one merely lets them!


Modern texts update the anachronistic language, which was in common usage in the seventeenth century (thus wasn’t seen, by virtue of the words, as “holy”). Though the aforementioned example is truer to the Greek as to its meaning today, we find that versions subsequent to the KJV are also indebted to “the discovery of manuscripts more ancient than those upon which the King James Version was based…” (Preface, RSV). In other words, as a historical document, the KJV has serious flaws in it. The attempt to translate the Bible using the oldest textual material available is to be praised. There is nothing “sacred” about a particular version of the Bible over another one. It is ironic that evangelicals and fundamentalists consider the KJV the only version that they would use, since it is well documented that this particular King James was a homosexual, and homosexuality is one of those major “sins” they rail against! The irony of this should get a chuckle even from the evangelical, I would think!


 One should note that the Bible, as far as Jews are concerned, does not contain any of the Christian canon. The Bible is the Masoretic text. This text was done between 600-1000 ce and has been updated to reflect the same things the versions of the Christian Bible has. It was based on both Hebrew texts and the Septuagint, which was a Greek version of the Hebrew texts originally translated in Alexandria, in the diaspora, where Greek had supplanted Hebrew and Aramaic as the language Jews used. (There is plenty of myth that have grown from Aristeas’ letter about this translation.) Unlike many would like to think, the Septuagint (LXX) was not a Christian production, though the versions Christians used suffered from the same flaws all books that were copied by hand did, Jewish or Christian.


For any serious study of the Bible, one probably needs some of this historical perspective of the texts. The problems of variant texts was noted in the second century by Celsus, Dionysius and Irenaeus, by Origen in the third century. They noted that copyists changed the texts to suit their own theology, omitted parts, added parts, and so forth. In 1550, John Mill produced a version of the Greek New Testament, from over 100 Greek manuscripts and writings of the early church leaders which included quotes from the material. He discovered over 30,000 variants within the textual material!!! This did not include variants of word order. He published his translations with the variants. It was exhaustive work… He died of a stroke two weeks later.


One can only imagine the permutations a Christian who considers the English KJV production of Latin, of Greek, of Hebrew texts to be the “word of God” must go through to arrive at this… Presumably, Jesus spoke Aramaic and didn’t compose any of the Christian canon. These words were first recorded, from all that can be gleaned, on paper in Greek. Then, we have Latin, German, and English. Which “words” are the “word” of God? Which variants were the “words” of God? If they were meant to be the “word of God,” it seems as though God would have had, as one scholar (Laughlin) put it, have either created one with the various copyists and scholars writing the same thing or would have had the photocopier or the printing press invented earlier!


The KJV had its place, though. Many learned to read through this text. It was instrumental in literacy, though it has a lexicon of merely around 8000 words (compare to Shakespeare, a contemporary, who used around 25000 words). It also allowed people who could read English access to their own interpretation of what had been, for the most part, sole property of the priests. (This, as we saw in the original paragraphs, can be good or can be bad!)


If one looks at one text, for instance the KJV, as “the word of God” and sees others as somehow less inspired, one is floundering in a somewhat distorted picture of Christianity. I use the UBS Greek NT and, in English, the NRSV, but I complement this with the Scholars’ Versions of the gospels, the Paulines and certain books that didn’t make the canon. For the Tanakh (Jewish Bible), I use the Jewish Publication Society Bible and complement it with the extant Dead Sea Scrolls biblical texts (both in English).


Dennis Carpenter

Quick Reply
Cancel
4 years ago  ::  Jan 25, 2011 - 3:49PM #2
RJMcElwain
Posts: 3,001

From another point of view:  Given that there are dozens of translations of the Bible, all of which convey stories that, by all reasonable estimations, are 90% folklore and maybe 10% history, does it matter which translation anyone reads?

Robert J. McElwain

"The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." (Supposedly)Thomas Jefferson

"He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral."
St. Thomas Aquinas

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. Plato
Quick Reply
Cancel
4 years ago  ::  Jan 25, 2011 - 5:15PM #3
Dennis
Posts: 1,433

It's just a matter of knowing from whence translations come, Bob, which is why I posted to this religious literacy forum instead of the primordial goo of the Bible forum. Because it is largely a collection of folklore, wisdom sayings, poetry, etc, the version doesn't matter. I have even seen a comic book format in a dentist office, which is certainly apropos for most of the rhetoric of some of the others here and there!


In fact, archaic language for archaic folklore might be appropriate. With a background in lit, it would have been unheard of to have read Beowulf or Chaucer in an updated model! But, that being said, the English version Protestants should read would be Wyclif's version. Middle English would be a hoot!


Dennis

Quick Reply
Cancel
4 years ago  ::  Jan 25, 2011 - 7:44PM #4
teilhard
Posts: 52,221

IOW, indeed ...


The Modern-ist Material-ist Skeptic EQUALLY dis-respects ALL Sacred Texts in ALL Languages and Translations ...


Jan 25, 2011 -- 5:15PM, Dennis wrote:


It's just a matter of knowing from whence translations come, Bob, which is why I posted to this religious literacy forum instead of the primordial goo of the Bible forum. Because it is largely a collection of folklore, wisdom sayings, poetry, etc, the version doesn't matter. I have even seen a comic book format in a dentist office, which is certainly apropos for most of the rhetoric of some of the others here and there!


In fact, archaic language for archaic folklore might be appropriate. With a background in lit, it would have been unheard of to have read Beowulf or Chaucer in an updated model! But, that being said, the English version Protestants should read would be Wyclif's version. Middle English would be a hoot!


Dennis





Quick Reply
Cancel
4 years ago  ::  Jan 26, 2011 - 7:54AM #5
Dennis
Posts: 1,433

Continuing with the topic of  thoughts of people toward not only the KJV but the Bible, Laughlin charted "Typical Positions on Inspiration and Authority" in a helpful way:


Divine Authority


Fundamentalist Christian: "Bible is literally the Word of God, with every word inspired, authoritative, true and binding."


Evangelical Christian: "Bible as truly Word of God, inerrant in matters essential in faith and practice; the concepts are inspired."


Human Authority


Liberal Christian: "Bible is 'Word of God' in that God can speak with power through its inspired but human and flawed words."


Secular Humanist: "Bible is literary treasure, a great monument in the human spirit and imagination, thus 'inspired.'"


Secular Historical: "Bible as a valuable source of information about a bygone historical era, 'interesting.'"


Dogmatic Atheist: "Bible as a tired old book with no value, perpetuating ignorance, 'incapacitating.'"


One finds those who consider a particular version (especially) the KJV the "authoritative version" as fundamentalists or evangelicals. Practically all credentialed biblical historians fall more into the secular humanist or secular historical categories. None would fall into the "divine authorship category."  

Quick Reply
Cancel
4 years ago  ::  Jan 26, 2011 - 12:32PM #6
teilhard
Posts: 52,221

There are Sacred Texts, and there are Theological UNDERSTANDINGS of The NATURE (and History) OF The Sacred Texts and there are INTERPRETATIONS of The Sacred Texts which are greatly influenced BY those Understandings of The Nature (and History) of The Texts ...


Obviously, Faith Communities also have Understandings of The Nature of The Process (and History) of The TRANSLATION(S) of The Sacred Texts ...


So. e.g., in The Faith of Israel in The First-Century C.E., The LXX (The Greek Translation of The Hebrew Scriptures) was widely understood to be an "Inspired" Text ...


Jan 25, 2011 -- 7:44PM, teilhard wrote:


IOW, indeed ...


The Modern-ist Material-ist Skeptic EQUALLY dis-respects ALL Sacred Texts in ALL Languages and Translations ...


Jan 25, 2011 -- 5:15PM, Dennis wrote:


It's just a matter of knowing from whence translations come, Bob, which is why I posted to this religious literacy forum instead of


the primordial goo of the Bible forum. 


Because it is largely a collection of folklore, wisdom sayings, poetry, etc, the version doesn't matter.


I have even seen a comic book format in a dentist office, which is certainly apropos for most of the rhetoric of some of the others here and there!


In fact, archaic language for archaic folklore might be appropriate.










Quick Reply
Cancel
4 years ago  ::  Jan 26, 2011 - 2:02PM #7
Dennis
Posts: 1,433

Looking at this continuum of beliefs about the Bible, a modern view of the "dogmatic atheist" is probably to a great extent a reaction to the naive view that the Bible, especially the KJV, has some kind of "divine authority." We find the promulgators of this "divine authority" view as those who read, for instance, Romans 1 as "God's word" in the matter of homosexuality,  Revelation as the reason for supporting Israel's subjugation of Arabs in Palestine and the Pauline verses so often cited as an excuse for misogyny. (It is unconscionable that the Roman Church does not, as an example, allow women to be priests.) It is these readings of the Bible as the "literal" and "inerrant" "Word of God" which marginalizes these "believers" and renders, to people who don't really care about matters of the church as much as they care about rights of others, the Bible as "a tired old book with no value, perpetuating ignorance, 'incapacitating." In this case, the "dogmatic atheist" is closer to spirituality than any of those who see the Bible as THE source of "divine authority." Can anyone actually believe that a god, the god of this book, caused Saul the Messiah (Anointed) so much grief because Saul refused to kill everyone and all the animals after a victory over the Amelekites? Perhaps the belief in stories such as this as a historical fact is a reason the Bible helps to perpetuate ignorance and incapacitate.


Jan 26, 2011 -- 7:54AM, Dennis wrote:


Continuing with the topic of  thoughts of people toward not only the KJV but the Bible, Laughlin charted "Typical Positions on Inspiration and Authority" in a helpful way:


Divine Authority


Fundamentalist Christian: "Bible is literally the Word of God, with every word inspired, authoritative, true and binding."


Evangelical Christian: "Bible as truly Word of God, inerrant in matters essential in faith and practice; the concepts are inspired."


Human Authority


Liberal Christian: "Bible is 'Word of God' in that God can speak with power through its inspired but human and flawed words."


Secular Humanist: "Bible is literary treasure, a great monument in the human spirit and imagination, thus 'inspired.'"


Secular Historical: "Bible as a valuable source of information about a bygone historical era, 'interesting.'"


Dogmatic Atheist: "Bible as a tired old book with no value, perpetuating ignorance, 'incapacitating.'"


One finds those who consider a particular version (especially) the KJV the "authoritative version" as fundamentalists or evangelicals. Practically all credentialed biblical historians fall more into the secular humanist or secular historical categories. None would fall into the "divine authorship category."  





Quick Reply
Cancel
4 years ago  ::  Jan 26, 2011 - 2:14PM #8
teilhard
Posts: 52,221

Such an Alternative View of The Sacred Texts indeed is increasingly put forward (yes, in "Dogmatic" Fashion) by The Devotees of The Post-Enlightenment "Modern" (supposedly) Autonomous "Self," which is set-up to be Judge and Authority over and in ALL Things ...


(Interestingly, SUCH Devotion is every bit as "Anachronistic" as The "Dogmatic" Views supposedly ESCHEWED  BY Those Devotees ... !!!  IRONY ... !!!)


Jan 26, 2011 -- 2:02PM, Dennis wrote:


Looking at this continuum of beliefs about the Bible, a modern view of the "dogmatic atheist" is probably to a great extent a reaction to the naive view that the Bible, especially the KJV, has some kind of "divine authority."


We find the promulgators of this "divine authority" view as those who read, for instance, Romans 1 as "God's word" in the matter of homosexuality,  


Revelation as the reason for supporting Israel's subjugation of Arabs in Palestine and the Pauline verses so often cited as an excuse for misogyny. (It is unconscionable that the Roman Church does not, as an example, allow women to be priests.)


It is these readings of the Bible as the "literal" and "inerrant" "Word of God" which marginalizes these "believers" and renders, to people who don't really care about matters of the church as much as they care about rights of others, the Bible as "a tired old book with no value, perpetuating ignorance, 'incapacitating."


In this case, the "dogmatic atheist" is closer to spirituality than any of those who see the Bible as THE source of "divine authority."


Can anyone actually believe that a god, the god of this book, caused Saul the Messiah (Anointed) so much grief because Saul refused to kill everyone and all the animals after a victory over the Amelekites? 


Perhaps the belief in stories such as this as a historical fact is a reason the Bible helps to perpetuate ignorance and incapacitate.


Jan 26, 2011 -- 7:54AM, Dennis wrote:








Quick Reply
Cancel
4 years ago  ::  Jan 27, 2011 - 7:13AM #9
Dennis
Posts: 1,433

Off-topic, Teil. Focus.


Jan 26, 2011 -- 2:14PM, teilhard wrote:


Such an Alternative View of The Sacred Texts indeed is increasingly put forward (yes, in "Dogmatic" Fashion) by The Devotees of The Post-Enlightenment "Modern" (supposedly) Autonomous "Self," which is set-up to be Judge and Authority over and in ALL Things ...


(Interestingly, SUCH Devotion is every bit as "Anachronistic" as The "Dogmatic" Views supposedly ESCHEWED  BY Those Devotees ... !!!  IRONY ... !!!)


Jan 26, 2011 -- 2:02PM, Dennis wrote:


Looking at this continuum of beliefs about the Bible, a modern view of the "dogmatic atheist" is probably to a great extent a reaction to the naive view that the Bible, especially the KJV, has some kind of "divine authority."


We find the promulgators of this "divine authority" view as those who read, for instance, Romans 1 as "God's word" in the matter of homosexuality,  


Revelation as the reason for supporting Israel's subjugation of Arabs in Palestine and the Pauline verses so often cited as an excuse for misogyny. (It is unconscionable that the Roman Church does not, as an example, allow women to be priests.)


It is these readings of the Bible as the "literal" and "inerrant" "Word of God" which marginalizes these "believers" and renders, to people who don't really care about matters of the church as much as they care about rights of others, the Bible as "a tired old book with no value, perpetuating ignorance, 'incapacitating."


In this case, the "dogmatic atheist" is closer to spirituality than any of those who see the Bible as THE source of "divine authority."


Can anyone actually believe that a god, the god of this book, caused Saul the Messiah (Anointed) so much grief because Saul refused to kill everyone and all the animals after a victory over the Amelekites? 


Perhaps the belief in stories such as this as a historical fact is a reason the Bible helps to perpetuate ignorance and incapacitate.


Jan 26, 2011 -- 7:54AM, Dennis wrote:












Quick Reply
Cancel
4 years ago  ::  Jan 27, 2011 - 7:17AM #10
Dennis
Posts: 1,433

One of the reasons for seeing the KJV as the only “true” translation is a problem that has plagued much of Christianity. Using the archaic text is basically the same as clinging to the archaic worldview of the creedal formulas. It is a symptom of living in a fantasy world. Since one is using words that are not in use today, one can cling to the notion that this is how Jesus, in his role as “only begotten son of God,” spoke. Or spake. Or spakest. (Back to that in a moment.) Of course, the word “beget” is from the Old English “begietan,” which means to have sex with, as we find in “to get with child.” In other words, the ramifications of the KJV translation is “the only son God had sexually.” (The Greek is literally, “the son the only born he gave,” which implies and reinforces the view that the sperm - holy sperm in this case - contained the complete human, something we know is incorrect. Oops! Another problem for the literalist!) The Scholars’ Version translates it “an only son,” the NRSV “his only Son.” They have “just flat” taken the fun out of it!


Now I would like for the KJV aficionados to do a bit of conjugation of “speak,” since this is God’s Word speaking to them. When does one use “spake” versus when does one use “spakest?” According to three of my concordances no one ever just plain “spoke!” Can any of the KJV readers out there actually explain the rules for these particular verb forms, without looking them up? (Incidentally, my English grammars go back each decade from the present through the 1820's and "spoke" was the normal form.)

Quick Reply
Cancel
Page 1 of 2  •  1 2 Next
 
    Viewing this thread :: 0 registered and 1 guest
    No registered users viewing
    Advertisement

    Beliefnet On Facebook