"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 9, Number 2, February 2006
“I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know.
For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me;
Inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.
I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply.
I will show partiality to no one. Nor will I flatter any man.”
[“As I See It” is a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek. Its purpose is to address important issues of the day and to draw attention to worthwhile Christian and other literature in order to aid believers in Jesus Christ, especially pastors, missionaries and Bible college and seminary students to more effectively study and teach the Word of God. The editor’s perspective is that of an independent Baptist of fundamentalist theological persuasion.
AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at: DKUTILEK@juno.com. You can be removed from the mailing list at the same address. Back issues sent on request. All back issues may be accessed at http://www.KJVOnly.org
“I Have Found the Coin Which Was Lost”
Some weeks ago, my wife and I were taking a walk on a country road not far from our house. The road is one of those regular once-every-mile north-south roads that make traveling in rural Central Kansas a breeze (we have them east-west, too). It was unpaved, but had had much sand applied to it over the years. Along the edge, in the low ridge of sand pushed up by the most recent road grading pass (a couple months earlier), I spotted a small and dirty disc-shaped object. I picked it up, expecting it to be some kind of machinery part or construction scrap or something similar, perhaps even just cardboard or plastic. But in fact, when I wiped away the surface grime, I immediately recognized that it was legal tender, a genuine American quarter dollar, badly pitted and corroded by its time in the repeatedly worked and reworked road sand, to say nothing of passes by farm machinery and countless trucks and cars of all descriptions. When I got home and was able to inspect the quarter more closely, I was able to read the date: 1940. No discernable mintmark. A silver quarter. With a higher melt value, being 90% silver, than its face value, indeed, probably 5 or 6 times higher than on its face.
How long this coin had been lying in the road, and how it got there to begin with, I can only speculate, but with reasoned speculation. First, being silver, it has likely been lost in the sands since before 1970, in as much as after the introduction by the U. S. Treasury in the mid-1960s of “sandwich” coins of no bullion worth, virtually all silver coins were out of circulation by 1970, being snapped up by collectors and investors by the billions of dollars’ worth. And it could have been on the road since, of course, its year of creation, 1940. So at least 35 years, and possibly as many as 65, passed as the coin lay undiscovered and unclaimed in the dirt.
The year of its issue, the war in Europe had already begun and the year following, the war would engulf the United States as well. The war came and went, the atomic age dawned, the cold war broke out, the post-war boom of babies and business passed by, as well as Korea and the dawn of the television age in the 50s, then the 60s with its missile crises and civil rights and Vietnam and assassinations, and the 70s with Watergate, and the disaster that was the Carter Administration, and the “Morning in America” of the Reagan years in the 80s, the first Gulf War, the scandal-a-week Clinton administration, 9/11 and the second Gulf War. And the quarter may have lain unclaimed through it all. It was truly “out of circulation.”
And just how did this quarter arrive in that spot? The road is and has been a little used farm road, and even now, with encroaching suburban development, traffic remains very light. Perhaps the coin jostled out of the pocket of a farmer as he drove a tractor from one field to another. Or perhaps a high school boy hired to buck bales of hay lost it while riding from field to barn on a wagon loaded with alfalfa. Maybe a school child waiting for the bus to take him to school in town 5 miles away was playing with it as he waited, tossing it and catching it and tossing it and catching it, and tossing it and. . . and dropping it in the sand, and in spite of a frantic search, being unable to locate it before the bus arrived. With teary eyes, he tells the bus driver his calamity, and could he please just wait a minute as he looks for it. Finally, the driver says they simply can’t wait any longer, so the boy boards and the door is shut, the bus picks up speed, and the coin lies lost. He’d have to go without lunch that day. Tomorrow, he’d surely be more careful.
When it was coined, that quarter would buy a gallon of gas, or a loaf of bread (with change back) or a quart of milk, or a dozen eggs and more, or a burger, fries and soda at the hamburger stand. Or a school child’s lunch. Today, it would have to have the company of several--in some cases several “severals” of its fellow quarter dollars to buy any of these.
And now that it is found once again, it will remain out of circulation, kept as a reminder that things of value can be lost, and though lost, are not worthless, indeed, may become worth more than they appear on their face.
Reading about George Whitefield
I don’t know precisely when I first heard the name of George Whitefield (1714-1770), the remarkable Anglican evangelist of the 18th century who shook both the British Isles and the American colonies for Christ. But as I have learned more about him over the years, I have come to recognize him as one of the most remarkable men in all of history.
Of George Whitefield, Charles Haddon Spurgeon remarked, in 1879: “There is no end to the interest which attaches to such a man as George Whitefield. Often as I have read his life, I am conscious of distinct quickening whenever I turn to it. He lived. Other men seem to be only half-alive; but Whitefield was all life, fire, wing, force. My own model, if I may have such a thing in due subordination to my Lord is George Whitefield; but with unequal footsteps must I follow in his glorious track.” (C. H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography, London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1898. Vol. II, p. 66. Italics in original). For a man as surpassingly great and useful in the hands of God as Spurgeon to declare that he patterned his life after Whitefield is a recommendation of the highest order, and compels the thinking man to give careful attention to who and what this George Whitefield was.
There are indeed a number of remarkable parallels between the lives of Spurgeon and Whitefield--both were noted for their extraordinary speaking abilities and the ease with which their voice could be heard, even when addressing multiplied thousands; both experienced early and lifelong acclaim as preachers; both drew and held large crowds in London (Spurgeon as a long-term pastor, Whitefield as an occasional preacher whose London sojourns characteristically lasted months rather than years); both were moderate Calvinists who freely offered the Gospel to all; both extensively itinerated in the British Isles (though Spurgeon never traveled to America); both experienced panics in the audience in church buildings where they were preaching which resulted in the deaths of some auditors; both founded orphanages and published extensively (though with Spurgeon it was sermons, address and devotional literature, while with Whitefield it was chiefly journals); both labored incessantly, were frequently gravely ill and incapacitated due to their unremitting toils, became obese late in life and died in their mid-50s. Like Whitefield, Spurgeon named his London meeting house a Tabernacle.
Thirteen times Whitefield crossed the Atlantic (he died in America, in Newburyport, Massachusetts, just north of Boston, and is buried there); fifteen times he conducted extended preaching tours of Scotland; annually, when in country, he itinerated through England; repeatedly he visited Wales and was not remiss to labor in Ireland.
He delivered a reported 18,000 sermons--often 15 to 20 per week, commonly addressing multiplied thousands in the open air, and of course with no “sound system” except his own lungs, throat and mouth. His sermons were regularly 1 to 2 hours in length, he being attired in a heavy wool robe, even in the hottest and most humid locations. The physical drain of such exertions is almost unimaginable. In my years of ministry, I have on rare occasions experienced briefly “Whitefieldian” type labors. During one three-week trip to Romania, for example, the third week-end of this trip I preached eight times: twice on Friday, once Saturday and five times on Sunday, this after two week-ends of less frequent preaching and two full weeks of teaching Biblical Hebrew 8.5 hours each week-day, with another week of intensive Hebrew to follow. Of course, I had nothing like the number of listeners as Whitefield, nor were the sermons as lengthy, nor (need I add?) were the visible results even remotely comparable. Such intensive labors were for only a matter of days and a few weeks, not for years on end as Whitefield. I arrived back home in the States horribly ill, and required three months to recuperate fully from the physical exhaustion and sickness. How Whitefield was able to endure decades of such ceaseless intensive work I cannot begin to explain. The toll on his body was heavy; he commonly vomited up blood after completing a sermon.
The life of Whitefield reads like grossly exaggerated fiction, but it is amazingly true! His epitaph could read “In labours more abundant.” I cannot begin to think of a single person in all of Christian history since New Testament times who spent himself so recklessly and without restriction for the sake of the Gospel. His toil in the ministry is just astonishing. How he could have preached so often to so many, with such marked success in converting souls defies any merely human explanation. He was singularly endowed with the power of God.
The resources available to the reader to learn about this extraordinary man are many--
During his lifetime, especially early on during his ministry, Whitefield published journal accounts of his labors, accounts which proved popular (Benjamin Franklin printed several editions) but also quite controversial due to their frankness. The best edition of these, along with some previously unpublished journals is George Whitefield’s Journals published in London by The Banner of Truth Trust in 1960, 595 pages. A remarkable account.
Whitefield was also a very extensive letter writer. Some of his correspondence was published during his lifetime, but many more letters appeared in print after his death. Hundreds of them from the period 1735 to 1742 appeared in volume 1 of The Works of the Rev. George Whitefield, M. A., edited by John Gillies (ca. 1771; more letters from later periods were published in volumes 2 and 3 of Gillies’ edition). This volume was reprinted in facsimile with added notes and 27 additional letters by The Banner of Truth Trust in 1976. In all Gillies is reported to have published 1,400 letters authored by Whitefield. Additional letters are found scattered in the various biographies of Whitefield.
Whitefield began early on publishing his sermons, but later suspended the practice. In all, he saw some 75 sermons into print, all of which are collected into a single volume, Sermons on Important Subjects (London, 1825; new edition). At least one additional sermon, his farewell sermon in London in November 1769, is not in this collection, but is found in Select Sermons of George Whitefield (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1958); this book contains in all just six of the sermons of Whitefield. In the 1834 edition of Gillies’ biography of Whitefield (noted below), fully one-third of Whitefield’s 75 published sermons are reproduced.
Among the flurry of Whitefield biographies to appear in the years immediately after his death was the previously-mentioned Memoirs of Rev. George Whitefield by John Gillies, a Scottish preacher who knew Whitefield thirty years, and was his literary executor. Gillies published in 1771 a 6- (some say 7- or 8-) volume set, The Works of the Rev. George Whitefield, M. A. This set is said to be rather poorly (and obviously hastily) compiled, of which the biography was one volume. An edition of Gillies’ biography, with some 25 of Whitefield’s published sermons added, as well as a lengthy letter to John Wesley, was reprinted in 1834, and again in 1981. This latter reprint was the first biography of Whitefield I read, and though it was a rather dry account, it nevertheless created in me an admiration for Whitefield that has only grown through the years. The author did have the distinct advantage of having access to the great majority of Whitefield’s published and unpublished writings--journals, letters, pamphlets, and sermons. All subsequent Whitefield biographers are indebted to Gillies’ account.
Luke Tyerman’s The Life of the Rev. George Whitefield (London, 1876) in 2 vols. was THE Whitefield biography before Dallimore’s appeared. J. C. Ryle, among others, very highly praised it. Unfortunately, it has so far eluded my repeated searches, at least at a price I could justify.
Canadian Baptist pastor Arnold A. Dallimore labored 20 years in researching and writing, George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival, 2 vols. (London: The Banner of Truth, 1970, 1979). I bought both volumes, vol. I used, and vol. II new, on July 20, 1983, as my responsibilities teaching summer school at Baptist Bible College, Springfield, were ending, with a view to have something worthwhile to fill my attention during the month of August. I completed volume one on August 15 and volume two on September 18, 1983. And very much a life-transforming experience it was for me. This is the definitive biography of Whitefield, and should be sought out at all costs. (Dallimore later wrote biographies of both Charles Wesley and Charles Spurgeon, both of real merit).
The Whitefield biography I read most recently, and which indeed motivated me to write these things, is George Whitefield: A Light Rising in Obscurity by J. R. Andrews (Sovereign Grace Union, 1930; this book first appeared in 1864), which is a “popular” account in 445 pages, without index (but the table of contents is detailed), footnotes or bibliography, and is among the most strictly chronological treatments. I acquired my copy as long ago as July 1983, but only now took it up to read. It has merit.
Left to be read on my shelves is George Whitefield: A Biography, compiled by Joseph Belcher (American Tract Society, 1857), another apparently “popular” treatment, of some 514 pages. I purchased it just 2 years ago in my excursion to Kregel’s now-defunct used bookstore (“The Adventures of Douglas in Bookland,” AISI 6:11, November 2003). It will likely occupy my attention next.
And then there is the brief (11 pages) biographical sketch, “Memoir of the Rev. George Whitefield,” by Samuel Drew, prefaced to the 1825 (complete) edition of Whitefield’s sermons, Sermons on Important Subjects by George Whitefield (London).
Nineteenth-century Anglican Bishop J. C. Ryle wrote a brief account of Whitefield’s life, which appeared as chapter III, “George Whitefield and his Ministry,” pp. 31-63 in his Christian Leaders of England in the Eighteenth Century, 1868. This is also reprinted, but in edited form, in Select Sermons of George Whitefield (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1958).
There is a so-so but extended account of Whitefield in the unsigned article “Whitefield, George” in Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, edited by John M’Clintock and James Strong (1887), vol. X, pp. 982-984. H. K. Carroll wrote a succinct account of Whitefield for A Religious Encyclopedia--a.k.a., Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge--edited by Philip Schaff (New York, 1891), vol. IV, pp. 2511-2512. Carroll revised and shortened this entry, but with a much expanded bibliography, for The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, edited by Samuel M. Jackson (1912), vol. XII, pp. 341-2.
Among periodicals, it should be noted that the April 1970 issue of The Banner of Truth magazine (no. 79) was devoted to Whitefield, as was issue 38 (vol. XII, no. 2) of Christian History (1993). Both may be consulted with profit.
The close personal friendship between Whitefield and American statesman, printer, scientist, author and virtual “Renaissance man” Benjamin Franklin, is one of the most interesting relationships in Whitefield’s life. They met in Philadelphia during Whitefield’s first American visit in 1739. Franklin was impressed by Whitefield’s oratory (though never embracing his theology), became the American printer of Whitefield’s journals and sermons, and a financial supporter of Whitefield’s charitable endeavors (Franklin’s account of how Whitefield’s preaching led him to empty his pockets into the offering plate is a classic). Franklin in his Autobiography, chapter 8, has an account of his friendship with Whitefield that is not to be missed. Naturally, standard Franklin biographies, such as those of Carl Van Doren (1938) and Walter Isaacson (2003) will address the relationship of Whitefield and Franklin, but the best accounts are those found in volume 2 of Arnold Dallimore’s biography, chapter 32, “Whitefield and Franklin,” pp. 441-454; and the slightly more recent “A Most unlikely Friendship--Benjamin Franklin and George Whitefield,” by David T. Morgan in The Historian: A Journal of History, vol. XLVII, no. 2, February 1985, pp. 208-217, who covers the subject in nearly the same order, citing the same sources (and a few others besides) and to the same extent and conclusion as Dallimore.
Finally, for all things Whitefieldian, the piece de resistance is Richard Owen Roberts’ Whitefield in Print (1988, 806 pp.), which purports to be an exhaustive bibliography of everything in print by and about Whitefield. I have seen and held a copy of this work and have found it for sale more than once, but its price--listed at $75--has caused me to hold back. There are most assuredly dozens perhaps hundreds of works about Whitefield mentioned here about which I know nothing.
But by all means, get acquainted with Whitefield through some one or more of the works I note here, emulate his labors for Christ, follow him as he followed Christ. Catch some of the fire and fervency of soul. Such greatness demands our study
Some quotes from George Whitefield by J. R. Andrews--
“. . . We can preach the Gospel of Christ no further than we have experienced the power of it in our own hearts.” (p. 86)
“ . . . Nothing sets a person so much out of the devil’s reach as humility.” (p. 171)
To John Wesley: “If we . . . agree, as we already do, in giving an universal offer to all poor sinners that will come and taste of the waters of life, I think we may manage very well. . . .” (p. 210)
“We are immortal until our work is done.” (p. 238)
“Whitefield and Wesley, be it remembered, would never have been the men they were if ecclesiastical restrictions had been allowed to interfere with their work.” (p. 241)
“After all, those who live in peace must agree to disagree in many things with their fellow-labourers, and not let little things part or disunite them.” (p. 247)
“I would have my worldly affairs so ordered, that let death come when it will, I may have nothing to do but to die.” (p. 248)
“I see nothing else in the world that can yield any satisfaction besides living to God, pleasing Him, and doing his whole will.” (p. 327)
John Newton: “I bless God that I have lived in his [i.e., Whitefield’s] time. Many were the mornings I have got up at four to attend his Tabernacle discourses at five; and I have seen Moorfields [the region of London around the Tabernacle] as full of lanterns at these times as I suppose the Haymarket is full of flambeaux on an opera night. As a preacher, if any man were to ask me who was the second [best] man I ever heard, I should be at some loss; but in regard to the first, Mr. Whitefield exceeded so very far every other man of my time that I should be at none.” (pp. 396-7)
“. . . and as to what my enemies say against me, I know worse things of myself than they can say concerning me.” (p. 412)
“Before a sermon, he would, if practicable, remain in private for an hour or so with [Samuel] Clarke’s Bible, Matthew Henry’s Commentary, and Cruden’s Concordance; these were his constant companions on such occasions. The early hours of the morning were often devoted to mental preparation, and he not infrequently told his congregation that he got his sermon whilst most of those who heard him ‘were fast asleep.’ “ (p. 423)
“One great secret of Whitefield’s power as a preacher was his tender intense love to souls, which involuntarily led him to weep much when speaking to perishing multitudes. His weeping silence at times was most affecting; few could withstand it.” (p. 427)
Preserved, But How?
That Scripture has been preserved by God is not in dispute--after all, we still do have Bibles today, at not less than 1,900 years’ distance (or more) from their original writing, do we not? And not just in translation but in the original languages, too. But the question is--how has God preserved His word? Has that preservation been “verbal” and “plenary,” that is, without the least copyist’s, printer’s, or translator’s error or alteration in transmission (as the radical KJVO extremists demand of God, and pervert Scripture texts to support), or has it been in another form? In recent correspondence, I addressed these matters:
“January 6, 2006
To add to what Jim May has written you on the question of Divine inspiration of Scripture, let me first say that I agree with what I understand to be your position, namely that there is no SPECIFIC Divine promise of the preservation of Scripture in the Bible (all "proof-texts" claimed in support of “verbal plenary preservation” [VPP] are misused or misapplied in my opinion).
Indeed, it seems that God expressly declares His foreknowledge that men would be inclined, wittingly or unwittingly, to corrupt the written Scriptures, as is evident from the warnings in Deuteronomy 4:2 & Revelation 22:18, 19 against doing so. And God does not say He will absolutely prevent men from altering the Bible, only that they will receive Divine retribution when they wittingly do so.
Yet, in spite of the worst that persecution and willful destruction of Bibles by kings (Jeremiah 36), emperors, inquisitors and papists, Bolsheviks, and even Jack Hyles (who publicly desecrated an NIV translation) can do, as well as the corruption of the Scriptures by copyist ineptness or deliberate alteration (with either the "best" of motives--pious scribes "protecting" orthodox doctrine by resolving perceived difficulties [as in Luke 2:33; cf. KJV vs. the correct NIV] , or the worst--the heretic Marcion and President Jefferson literally cutting out of the Bible whatever did not suit their fancy), God has indeed preserved His word in tact.
We learn of God's preservation of Scripture chiefly from history, rather than the record of revelation. And therein we find that we do still have the Bible, indeed, the whole Bible, in spite of massive human opposition. There is no book in history that was so diligently hunted out and destroyed as the Bible, and yet, of no book from antiquity do we have so many manuscript copies, so many good and early and numerous translations, so many resources to reconstruct its precise wording. Nothing in antiquity even comes close. Most classical literature is reconstructed from a small handful of manuscripts--often only 3 or 4, and in some cases only 1. Even the Iliad, the most popular book in pagan antiquity, is preserved in just 700 manuscripts, some selected quotations and translation into one language. The Bible is preserved--speaking of the NT alone--in over 5,000 Greek manuscripts, at least 20 versions predating 1000 A.D., and those translations in over 12,000 total manuscripts, all told, besides some 85,000 quotations in the writings of authors before 800 A.D. So, we can discern from history that God has indeed preserved His word, and we can reconstruct with great precision the precise words of the inspired original, and where any question remains as to the precise wording, we know that no doctrinal matter of issue or moment hangs in the balance, and rarely even the interpretation of a given verse.
However, we also discover that God's preservation has been providential and general, rather than verbal and specific as the neophyte doctrine of "verbal plenary preservation" (VPP) demands. Were the latter true (whether promised in Scripture or not), we should expect to find a large mass of manuscripts and translations that were exactly alike in all details from the apostles to the present day (in fact, from Moses to the present day). And that of course is what we do NOT find. Every manuscript has differences, divergences and variations from every other manuscript in matters of detail, no version agrees precisely with the original text, and no two versions agree precisely with each other, indeed, no two editions of the same translation agree with each other in every detail. Therefore, we are compelled to conclude from historical evidence, that VPP is not operational, but that preservation of another sort is at work.
Some insist that VPP is a necessary logical corollary of verbal plenary inspiration of the original Scriptures (and VPI assuredly IS taught, and repeatedly, in the Bible). But is having a copy of the Scriptures that is exactly like the original necessary to salvation or Christian assurance, growth and maturity? Obviously not, any more than having verbally inspired preachers is necessary to sinners being saved under their ministries. No preacher is infallible in his interpretation of Scripture, and yet somehow sinners are converted under such imperfect preaching. Similarly, the Hebrew manuscripts in Jesus' day, and the copies of the Greek version of the OT quoted by Christ and the Apostles varied among themselves, yet they were still sufficient for all spiritual purposes. So it has always been even unto our own day. If I read from a version--let's say a copy of the KJV--which has printers' errors in it, is my soul in peril because of those blemishes, though the copy is otherwise doctrinally sound and the essential truth of the Scriptures is preserved therein? Or consider another case: Wycliffe's version was a less-than-perfect translation of the less-than-perfect Latin Vulgate (not a textus receptus or majority text version, by any means, indeed often--shudder, shudder--Alexandrian), and yet it was sufficient for the enlightenment, salvation and spiritual maturation of multiplied thousands in Medieval England.
In short, VPP is not necessary. Nor Divinely promised. And therefore not to be expected or looked for. And it is, in fact, not found in history.
I attach several quotations regarding God's preservation of Scripture, quotes taken from a diverse group of Christian writers over the past 300 years.
Adam Clarke on the Divine Preservation of Scripture
[Editor’s note: Adam Clarke (c. 1760-1832) was likely the most learned man ever in Methodist circles, having a solid familiarity with the better part of a dozen languages and a broad and extensive knowledge of literature, not only relating to the interpretation of Scripture, but in many other fields of study as well. His most famous work, a commentary on the whole Bible, is a trove of a diversity of information (a curiosity shop, of sorts)--though his comments are admittedly not always judicious. His total literary output is simply remarkable. Out of this background of wide and detailed learning, joined with a fervent and devout Christian spirit, he addresses the question of variant readings in Bible manuscripts and translations, and how these affect the matter of the doctrinal authority and preservation of the Bible:
“Notwithstanding all the helps which various MSS. [manuscripts] and ancient versions afford for the illustration of the sacred text, the reader must not imagine that, in those MSS. and versions which do contain the whole of the sacred text, there is any essential defect in matters that relate to the faith and practice, and consequently to the salvation, of the Christian:--There is no such MS., there is no such version. So has the Divine Providence ordered it, that, although a number of mistakes have been committed by careless copyists, as well as by careless printers, no one essential truth of God has been injured or suppressed. In this respect, all is perfect, and the way of the Most High is made so plain, even in the poorest copies, that the wayfaring man though a fool, utterly destitute of deep learning and critical abilities, need not err therein.
All the OMISSIONS of the ancient manuscripts put together would not countenance the omission of one essential doctrine of the Gospel, relative to faith or morals: and all the ADDITIONS countenanced by the whole mass of MSS. already collated do not introduce a single point essential either to faith or manners, beyond what may be found in the most imperfect editions, from the Complutensian editors  down to the Elzevirs . And though, for the beauty, emphasis and critical perfection of the letter of the New Testament, a new edition of the Greek New Testament, formed on such a plan as that of Professor Griesbach, is greatly to be desired, yet from such a one infidelity can expect no help; false doctrine no support; and even true religion no accession to its excellence; though a few beams may be thus added to its lustre.
The multitude of various readings found in MSS. should no more weaken any man’s faith in the Divine word, than the multitude of typographical errors found in printed editions of the Scriptures. Nor, indeed can it be otherwise, unless God were to interpose, and miraculously prevent every scribe from making a false letter, and every compositor from mistaking a word in the text he was copying. It is enough that God absolutely preserves the whole truth, in such a way as is consistent with his moral government of the world. The preservation of the jots and the tittles in every transcriber’s copy, and in every printer’s form, by a miraculous act of almighty power, is not to be expected; and is not necessary to the accomplishment of the purposes of providence and grace.
On this subject the intelligent reader will be pleased with the opinion of that very eminent critic, Dr. [Richard] Bentley. Speaking in reference to those who were needlessly alarmed at the multitude of various readings collected by Dr. [John] Mill, and said to amount to 30,000, he says: ‘Not frighted with the present 30,000 readings, I for my own part, and as I believe many others, would not lament if, out of the old MSS. yet untouched, 10,000 more were faithfully collected: some of which, without question, would render the text more beautiful, just, and exact, though of no consequence to the MAIN religion: nay, perhaps, wholly synonymous in the view of common readers, and quite insensible in any modern version.’ Philaleuth. Lipsiens. p. 90.”
[Adam Clarke’s Commentary (Nashville: Abingdon Press, n.d), vol. V, “Mathew to the Acts,” p. 14-5; all italics and CAPITAL LETTERS in original. Note how effectively Clarke, in remarks almost two centuries old, long ago answered the concerns which some have re-raised in recent days regarding the presence of differences in modern Greek texts and Bible translations as compared to the printed Greek texts of the Reformation era and the KJV English translation. Those who traffic in alarmist rhetoric regarding these things--and, yes, I do speak specifically of Ruckman, Waite, Cloud, Moorman and other such--actually subvert the faith of many by stirring up unnecessary concerns and fomenting unnecessary doubts regarding the trustworthiness of the Bible currently in hand. Answers to their stated concerns in these matters have been readily available for a century and well more, not just from Clarke, but from Bentley, Horne, Dagg, Scrivener, Dabney, Burgon, Kenyon, and others (see As I See It, 2:3, "The Preservation of Scripture," [with quotes from Burgon, Scrivener and Dagg]; 4:2, “T. H. Horne’s Expert Opinion on the Preservation of Scripture”; 4:7, “The Providential Preservation of Scripture: the Views of Bentley, Dabney, and Kenyon”).
It is high time that these unwitting enemies of faith be silent and cease their witless attack on the Bible as providentially preserved for us by God.--Editor]
From What Hebrew Text was the KJV OT Translated?
[It is commonly claimed by KJVOnly partisans that the KJV OT was translated from, and exclusively translated from, the form of the Masoretic Hebrew text as found in the Second Rabbinic Bible printed by Bomberg in 1524/5. As is commonly the case with such claims by “Onlyites,” the truth lies somewhere else--Editor]
F. H. A. Scrivener, one of the most respected authorities on the history of the King James Version, wrote: “Respecting the Hebrew text which they followed, it would be hard to identify any particular edition, inasmuch as the differences between early printed Bibles are but few. The Complutensian Polyglott, however, which afforded them such important help in the Apocrypha, was of course at hand, and we seem to trace its influence in some places.” [The Cambridge Paragraph Bible of the Authorized English Version (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1873), xxv.]. This statement indicates that the King James translators used several of the existing printed editions of the Hebrew Bible. Of those available, Bomberg’s second edition was the most prominent.
Ernst Würthwein, an authority on the text of the Hebrew Bible, stated: “The Second Rabbinic Bible of Jacob ben Chayyim, published by Daniel Bomberg in Venice, 1524/25, is outstanding among the earliest printed Bibles in many respects. It was not the earliest, yet it was the most important of its period, and it remained the standard printed text of the Hebrew Old Testament until the twentieth century.” [The Text of the Old Testament, translated by Erroll F. Rhodes (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979), 37].
Emanuel Tov, a Jewish authority on the text of the Hebrew Bible, declared: “The second Rabbinic Bible became the determinative text for all branches of Jewish life and subsequently also for the scholarly world.” [Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992), 78].
Therefore, it is safe to conclude that Bomberg’s second edition was the principal source for the King James translators. However, the translators did not use that edition exclusively. It is known that they followed other authorities. I have catalogued over 200 places where the KJV departs from Bomberg.
---James D. Price
Former Academic Dean and
Professor of Hebrew and OT,
Temple Baptist Seminary;
Executive Editor and Chairman of the
Executive Review Committee of the