"AS I SEE IT" 

Volume 9, Number 5, May 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.”

                                                                                                                    Job 32:17-21

 

“That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.”

Earl of Kent

Shakespeare’s King Lear

Act I, scene iv, ll. 32-34

 

[“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

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Hebrew New Testament Translations:

A Comprehensive History--Part III

by Doug Kutilek

 

Twentieth Century and Later Hebrew Versions

 

Not much general information is readily available about Hebrew versions of the NT in the 20th century (DM’s publication date of 1911 is notable in this regard).  I am unaware of any new Hebrew versions between 1900 and 1950.  It seems that Delitzsch’s version (revised a time or two in this period; see below) and Salkinson’s (certainly) both continued to be published throughout the 20th century in the form they assumed in the 1880s and 1890s.  Delitzsch seems to have found numerous publishers (my several copies have been from a diversity of publishers), while Salkinson has been published by the TBS in conjunction with the Society for Distributing the Holy Scriptures to the Jews (London) (Brown, p. 130), or by the latter alone, after 1966.

 

The Twentieth-Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge notes in a very brief entry “Hebrew translations of the New Testament” (vol. I, p. 149), that a revision of Delitzsch’s version (the textus receptus-based edition) had been undertaken by Catholic scholar J. M. P. Bauchet, revising it toward the critical text.  Two editions of Matthew (one with Hebrew vowel points and one without) are reported to have been published in 1950, as well as a pointed edition of Mark.  Whether or not more of this revision ever appeared, or even the whole NT, I have no information.

 

A Hebrew version of the NT in Modern Israeli Hebrew (yes, it is very different from Biblical Hebrew, both in vocabulary and syntax) was published in 1976 by the United Bible Societies.  According to a letter from Erroll F. Rhodes, “Senior Historical Researcher” at the American Bible Society, dated February 4, 1986, this translation was made by a trans-denominational group of 15 Hebrew scholars (everything from Baptist to Catholic), under the supervision of Rev. Magne Solheim, and generally follows the Nestle-Aland 26th/ UBS Greek New Testament, 3rd ed. Greek text.  I have read some from this version (in an edition with exceedingly small type): Revelation twice, and here and there elsewhere, and it seems to be a generally accurate version, though I could not give it strong endorsement without greater acquaintance with it.  A correspondent in Israel has informed me that some very minor revisions have been made in this translation in more recent editions.  No other modern Hebrew version is known to him.

 

A more recent revision of Delitzsch’s version, one carried through to completion, was undertaken in the 1990s and was chiefly carried out by Dr. Gershon Nerel, who gave a thorough account of this revision in “The ‘Flagship of Hebrew New Testaments: A Recent Revision by Israeli Messianic Jews,” in Mishkan, vol. 41(2004): 49-56.

 

In that article, Nerel informs us that a 12th edition of Delitzsch’ Hebrew NT, revised by Gustav Dalman (who had previously completed the 11th edition upon Delitzsch’ death in 1890), was published in Berlin in 1901.  A concordance, prepared from this edition by J. Goldin and P. Re’emi, was published in 1974.  Thirteenth and 14th editions (of unspecified date) were also published (the 14th was reprinted in Tel Aviv in 1962), with a 15th edition (reportedly based on the 10th edition) being published in 2000 in Jerusalem.  This latter incorporated a limited few linguistic corrections.

 

Besides these Delitzsch revisions, Nerel reports a revised edition of the Salkinson Hebrew NT has appeared (1st edition, 1996; 3rd, 2000), done by Eric Selig Gabe of London, and allegedly by design bringing the Salkinson version into conformity to the textus receptus (which edition of the textus receptus is not stated).  On my most recent trip to Romania (April/May 2006) I was able to acquire a parallel Romanian-Hebrew (Salkinson) NT published by The Society for Distributing Hebrew Scriptures which contains a note that the Romanian translation is that of Cornilescu (1924), the standard Protestant Romanian version, which version was “revised according to the original texts by the Revd. Dr. Eric S. Gabe (1997).”  Nothing is stated, however, about any revision by Gabe (or anyone else) of Salkinson’s Hebrew version.  An examination of this edition reveals that in the text it does not conform to the textus receptus, but rather follows the “critical” text at Matthew 1:25; 6:13; John 5:4; Acts 8:37; Romans 8:1; I Corinthians 6:20; Colossians 1:14; I Timothy 3:16; and I John 3:1 (to note some quickly checked references); it does follow the textus receptus, however, e.g., at Mark 1:2; John 3:13; and John 7:53-8:11.  In comparison with an earlier edition of Salkinson’s version (with parallel KJV), dating to 1968 or earlier, published by The Society for Distributing the Holy Scriptures to the Jews, reveals that in only the Mark 1:2 reading do the 1968 and 1997 Salkinson editions differ and only here of passages checked does this 1997 edition of Salkinson move in the direction of the textus receptus and away from the critical text.  It seems, therefore, that whatever revisions may have been made by Gabe (or someone else) in Salkinson’s Hebrew version, they were quite limited, and the revision could not be accurately characterized as conformed to the textus receptus.  The two editions, 1968 and 1997, are also otherwise virtually identical in format-- arrangement of text on the page, page numbers, marginal notes and even catchwords, though it is clear that for the 1997 edition (very crisp and clean), the Hebrew text has been entirely reset, the edition of 1968 Hebrew text has been entirely reset, the 1968 edtions

appearing by contrast rather worn and in places scarcely legible.

 

Nerel presents the motives behind his own revision of Delitzsch, chiefly the shift in meaning of words in living Hebrew which has made the original Delitzsch version sound quaint or even profane in modern Israeli usage.  To remedy and remove these distractions to the reader, alternate renderings, but based (as Delitzsch did) on the vocabulary of the Hebrew Old Testament and Mishnaic Hebrew, were substituted.  Nerel compares this to the revisions made by the New King James Bible in the old KJV. 

 

While the continued use of Biblical and rabbinic Hebrew patterns of vocabulary and syntax in this latest revision of the Delitzsch version makes it “archaic” in some respects, the fact that it is in the same syntax and vocabulary as the Hebrew Old Testament--which remains very much intelligible to modern Israelis--helps draw associations and connections in the reader’s mind between the Hebrew OT and this Hebrew NT version.

 

The work of producing the Negev Delitzsch version spanned a full decade (1993-2003).  Nerel and his wife Sara were the chief laborers in the project, though they had numerous collaborators over the years.  The basis for revision was the 8th Delitzsch edition, and the standard was a textus receptus edition (that found in the Jay Green Interlinear Greek-English NT).  In addition, several Hebrew versions were consulted, including Salkinson, the Hebrew translation of a Peshitta Syriac NT edition published in 1986 (see below), the Hebrew translation of 1838 produced by the London Jews’ Society (see our previous article), another Hebrew version published by the LJS in 1886 of which we otherwise have no knowledge, and yet another Hebrew version published in 1991 otherwise unknown to us.

 

Besides revising Delitzsch’s translation, the formatting was also altered.  Where Delitzsch had used occasional brackets and parentheses to indicate words or phrases that were of dubious authority (i.e. inadequately supported by manuscript evidence to be considered authentic portions of the original Greek NT), these makers have nearly all been removed (to eliminate “distraction”).   In addition, some variant readings in the margin were eliminated, and occasional conflate readings have been placed in the text where the Greek readings were divided.  In all some 300 changes in terms used and in punctuation were made.

 

The Negev version has been set up to conform in pagination to the 8th edition, has 483 total pages, and is bound hardcover.  The edition is bound with the Snaith edition of the Hebrew OT.  10,000 copies were printed, and were offered for free distribution. (I wish to thank Dr. Nerel for kindly providing me with an electronic copy of his article).

 

I have not seen or made use of this Negev Version, though from the published account of it, my one major criticism would be in the choice of a base text.  I am very much inclined (as are most conservative scholars well informed on the subject) to accept the Greek texts used originally by Delitzsch (1st ed.) and Salkinson as much closer to the original form of the Greek NT than any of the editions of the so-called textus receptus (1514-1641) which were at best provisional, preliminary attempts, based on the most limited of resources and knowledge, at reproducing in print the original text of the NT.  All subsequent evidence has demonstrated that the textus receptus must be revised in numerous places to bring it into conformity with what the evidence declares to be the precise original form of the NT.  To continue to base any translation in any language on any edition of the textus receptus is a monstrous anachronism of the worst sort.

 

Given that the textus receptus is not a suitable basis for a translation today, the remaining choices are two: either some form of the so-called “critical text” (such as Nestle-Aland) or some form of the “Byzantine” or “Majority” text (either Hodges-Farstad or Robinson-Pierpont).  The latter would differ from the textus receptus in some 1,800 places, the former in about three times that many (though many of these alterations in the underlying Greek would in no wise affect the translation, or would do so in the most minor of ways).  While I conclude that the critical text is preferable to the Byzantine text, either would be a marked improvement over the textus receptus as the base text for a revised Hebrew translation.

 

One curious book I have in my library is a parallel Syriac-Hebrew New Testament., which is indeed more curious than valuable.  The title page reads: The New Covenant, commonly called the New Testament.  Peshitta Aramaic Text with a Hebrew Translation.  It further states that it was “edited by the Aramaic Scriptures Research Society in Israel” an organization of which we have never otherwise heard, and states that it was published by “The Bible Society” in Jerusalem in 1986.  In a letter dated April 21, 2006, Dr. Gershon Nerel informed us that one Joseph Atzmon who participated in the translation of the Modern Israeli Hebrew version noted earlier also worked on the Hebrew version of the Peshitta NT.  The paper and binding of this parallel version are of the poorest quality, the kind commonly met with in Soviet bloc countries in the 1980s and earlier.  The Peshitta Aramaic text (or, rather, Syriac, but in Hebrew script) presented is of no authority or importance.  It has been repeatedly altered, with numerous readings and passages altered or inserted, against all manuscript evidence for the Peshitta version--e.g., John 7:53-8:11 is inserted, albeit in brackets, though it is found in no known Peshitta manuscript.  So also, Acts 8:37 is inserted, in brackets, though no Peshitta manuscript contains this verse (indeed, neither do the great majority of Greek manuscripts).  Worst of all, I John 5:7, again without a single Peshitta manuscript in support--and with virtually no support in the Greek manuscripts,--is intruded into the text, and here without even brackets to identify it as an insertion by the modern editors.  In their preface, the editors acknowledge that they have freely altered the wording of the text in numerous places (though they mention none of the insertions noted above)--so why call it the Peshitta if it is not an honest representation of that important ancient version?  This Syriac text is accompanied by an essentially literal translation into Modern Israeli Hebrew--in essence, a translation (into Hebrew) of a translation (into Syriac) of the originally Greek New Testament.  This Hebrew version is perhaps useful for practice in rapid Hebrew reading, or for assistance to the student versed in Hebrew who is trying to learn Syriac, but little else.

 

Conclusion

 

Robert Dick Wilson (1856-1930), the famous Princeton Seminary OT scholar and linguist, speaks in his published address, What is an Expert? of his own profitable experience employing a Hebrew version of the NT: “When I was in the seminary, I used to read my New Testament in nine different languages.  I learned my Hebrew by heart, so that I could recite it without the intermission of a syllable.” (quoted by Henry W. Coray, in Which Bible? edited by David Otis Fuller, 5th edition, p. 43).  Wilson then, while reading the NT in eight other languages actually memorized it in a Hebrew translation.  Considering the time frame involved, it is not clear whether this Hebrew version was that of the L. J. S. of 1838, the B&FBS edition of 1866, or the newly-appeared Delitzsch version of 1878ff (or possibly even some other, earlier version).  More likely one of the latter two, I think.  At any rate, to commit to memory a Hebrew version of the entire NT is a remarkable achievement.

 

I personally have been reading off and on Delitzsch’s Hebrew version (chiefly) for more than a quarter century and find it valuable in 1) keeping up and expanding one’s knowledge of Biblical Hebrew, since it was made chiefly in that dialect in vocabulary and syntax; 2) helping one see the Semitic background and patterns of thought that mark much of the NT (Matthew, much of Luke , some of Acts, and the writings of John, especially Revelation, translate quite easily into Hebrew); 3) stimulating the mind to grasp in Hebrew what has become overly familiar in English; 4) as a tool for evangelizing such lost sheep of the house of Israel, and anyone else, who are familiar with the Hebrew language.  Once, in the early 1990s, on a plane from Frankfurt to Budapest, I overheard one of the male flight attendants (they were a Polish, Warsaw-based cabin crew) mention--in English--that his brother had been to Israel and was studying Hebrew.  Before the flight ended, I offered him my copy of a Hebrew-Romanian NT which I had with me for his brother.  He readily accepted this, and in the conversation that followed, I learned that he--the attendant--had visited a Baptist church’s baptism service in Warsaw.  (And God immediately provided me a replacement copy of this bilingual NT through a Romanian pastor who “happened” to have two copies).

 

As noted, I prefer Delitzsch to Salkinson because of its much greater literalness, and find it much easier reading, coming from a background of OT Hebrew studies as I do, than the modern Israeli version. 

 

Not a few editions of the Hebrew NT are also bound up with a Hebrew OT, and there are parallel editions of the Hebrew NT with some other language.  I have them in English-Hebrew, Romanian-Hebrew and as noted above even Syriac-Hebrew, and am aware of their existence in German-Hebrew, French-Hebrew, Russian-Hebrew and numerous other diglot editions.

---Doug Kutilek

 

[Additional note--Dr. Maurice Robinson of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary has brought to my attention published photographs of the title page and a page of the text (showing Luke 2:15-25) of the 1668 Hebrew translation of the NT by Hebrew Christian Giovani Batista Giona (a.k.a. Johannes Baptista Jona) published in parallel with the Latin Vulgate text from which it was made.  Those photos were published on pages 22, 23 of the “foreword” of New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures: Rendered from the Original Language by the New World Bible Translation Commttee, A.D. 1950.  Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 2nd edition, revised May 1, 1951.  The interest of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 1668 Hebrew NT must be due to the fact that the translator used the word YHWH/”Jehovah” in his translation of Luke 2:23,24.  Dr. Robinson kindly sent me a copy of these pages for inspection.  The Hebrew translation is in many ways a forerunner of Delitzsch (often paralleling his later version precisely); the Hebrew text is supplied with vowel points]

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Bibliography

 

Brown, Andrew J., The Word of God Among All Nations: A Brief History of the Trinitarian Bible Society, 1831-1981.  London: Trinitarian Bible Society, 1981.

 

Coray, Henry W., “The Incomparable Wilson: the Man Who Mastered Forty-five Languages and Dialects,“ in Which Bible? edited by David Otis Fuller.  Grand Rapids: Grand Rapids International Publications, 1975.  5th edition.  Pp. 39-48.

 

Dalman, Gustav, “Hebrew Translations of the New Testament,” in The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, edited by Samuel M. Jackson (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1963 reprint).  Vol. II, p. 148.

 

Darlow, T. H., and Moule, H. F., compilers, Historical Catalogue of the Printed Editions of Holy Scripture in the Library of the British and Foreign Bible Society.  Two volumes in four parts.  London: British and Foreign Bible Society, 1903-1911.  Reprint, Martino Fine Books, Mansfield Centre, Connecticut, n.d. Vol. II, part II, pp. 705-736.

 

Delitzsch, Franz, The Hebrew New Testament of the British and Foreign Bible Society.  Leipsic, 1883.  I have not seen this book.

 

__________, Paulus des Apostels Brief an die Roemer . . . in das Hebraeische uebersetzt, usw.  Leipzig, 1870.  I have not seen this book.

 

Driver, S. R., “Two Hebrew New Testaments (Delitzsch’s and Salkinson’s),” The Expositor, third series.  Vol. III (1886), pp. 260-275.  I have not seen this article.

 

Gartenhaus, Jacob, Famous Hebrew Christians.  Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979.

 

Gill, John, Gill’s Commentary.  Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980 reprint.  Vol. V, “Matthew to Acts.”

 

Horne, Thomas Hartwell, An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, 4 vols. in 5 parts (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House,1970 reprint of 8th ed. of 1839.  Vol. II, part 2, pp. 106-7.

 

Jackson, Samuel M., editor, The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, edited by Samuel M. Jackson (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1963 reprint). 

 

Loetscher, Lefferts A. editor, Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 2 vols.  (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1955), “Hebrew Translations of the New Testament,” vol. 1, p. 149.

 

M'Clintock, John, and Strong, James, preparers, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature.  12 vols. (New York: Harper and Bros., 1894). 

 

Nerel, Gershon, “The ‘Flagship’ of Hebrew New Testaments: a Recent Revision by Israeli Messianic Jews,” Mishkan, vol. 41 (2004): pp. 49-56.  Has very extensive documentation of recent writings dealing with the Hebrew NT.

 

Pick, Bernard, “Hebrew Version of the New Testament,” in Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, prepared by John M'Clintock and James Strong (New York: Harper and Bros., 1894).  Vol. XII, pp. 534-536.

 

Pick, Bernard, “Salkinson, Isaac E.” Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, prepared by John M'Clintock and James Strong (New York: Harper and Bros., 1894).  Vol. XII, p. 812.

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BOOK REVIEW

 

The King James Version in History by Kenneth L. Bradstreet.  Enumclaw, Wash.: Winepress Publishing, 2004, revised ed.  199 pp., paperback.

 

The author, at the time of writing, was a state legislator in Michigan, and came from a background of both Bible college and seminary training (with some Greek).  He is self-styled fundamentalist, acknowledging great personal admiration for and dependence on the late John R. Rice, whom he quotes extensively.

 

The chief contribution of Mr. Bradstreet, which he does commendably, is to set in political, historical and religious perspective the events surrounding and leading up to the creation of the KJV revision of the Bishops’ Bible of 1568.  He traces English religious history from Henry the 8th through Mary and Elizabeth to the Stuarts (James I, and his descendants), noting what forces conspired to produce the KJV.  In 1603 when James the VI of Scotland became James I of England, the official Bible of the Anglican Church was the Bishops’ Bible, by all accounts an inferior production and unpopular with the masses.  The people’s Bible was the Geneva Bible of 1560, produced by exiles from the terror of Mary I, and loved much for its extensive explanatory notes.  James I, hating vehemently the Genevan notes (which denied the “divine right of kings,” a doctrine James enthusiastically embraced), seized on the suggestion offered him of replacing the Geneva Bible with one that would prove more popular than the Bishops’ and devoid of those offending notes that marred (in his view) the Geneva.

 

Bradstreet, experienced first-hand in the ways of politicians, concludes that King James I was first, last and always a self-serving politician.  That is how he arrived on the throne of England (there were others with hereditary claim to the throne at least as strong as his).  That is how he manipulated those around him while king.  He would say whatever he needed to say to whomever he needed to say it to retain and enhance his personal power.  Bradstreet compares him to Bill Clinton in this regard.

 

Bradstreet sets before us the religious climate of 16th and 17th century England.  The dominant and controlling party was High Church Anglicanism, which is virtually indistinguishable from Roman Catholicism except when it comes to recognizing the authority of the Pope.  A smaller and weaker but vastly more spiritually-mind faction within the Church of England was the Puritans, who could be characterized as “stay-in” evangelicals.  Beyond these, and much persecuted, were the separatists--evangelical/fundamental “come-outers” who separated from the Anglican Church because of its spiritual and doctrinal corruption.  Nearly all the KJV translators were from the High Church Anglican party, with some very few from the Puritans.  There were no separatists/ fundamentalists among the 47 translators.  By way of contrast, among the Westminster Assembly of Divines (which met in the 1640s), virtually all were Puritans or Separatists, and doctrinally much more compatible with today’s fundamentalists than the KJV men.

 

The modern KJV-only notion that the KJV translators were spiritual giants is demonstrated by Bradstreet as very far from the truth.  Nearly the whole were High Church Anglicans who believed in salvation by sacraments, administered by the Church through licensed clergy, and that apart from these--sacraments, Church and clergy--there was no salvation.  Fundamentalists would call such a view grace-denying heresy.  Indeed, the KJV men did not view their labors as a spiritual but an academic exercise.  Furthermore, several of the leading scholars among the KJV translators were active and willing participants in the persecution of separatists and other religious dissenters of the day.

 

Bradstreet himself engages in some of the fulsome praise commonly heaped on the KJV (p. 107), praise which the facts will demonstrate is largely misplaced.  In reality, especially in the NT, the KJV men made a very limited contribution to the English Bible.  Depending on the passage, the KJV NT is about 90% or more straight from Tyndale’s versions (1526-1536), with an additional 5-8% taken from other versions--Geneva, Bishops’ and the Catholic Rheims, chiefly, leaving just 2-4% to the KJV revisers--and not a few times their changes are for the worse and not the better (Tyndale, Cranmer, the Geneva all have “love” for agape in I Corinthians 13, while the KJV, following the Bishops’ and Rheims, has “charity” --in imitation of the Latin Vulgate’s charitas; at Hebrews 10:23, all English versions other than the KJV follow the Greek and have “hope” whereas the KJV reads “faith,” a manifest blunder; the KJV refers to the Holy Spirit as “it” at I Peter 1:11 (and three other places), which no previous version did; etc.).  The much acclaimed cadence and beauty of expression of the KJV is almost entirely due to the labors of Tyndale two generations before, and he, not they, should get whatever accolades are due.

 

Bradstreet shows (pp. 96ff), beyond reasonable quibble, that “appointed to be read in the churches” on the title page of the original KJV meant that a royal order was made that the KJV was to be the official Bible in English churches and that the KJVO claim that the KJV was never “authorized” by Parliament (but instead, “authorized by God”) is beside the point.  No such Parliamentary action was taken simply because none was necessary--the king had already compelled the KJV to become the Bible used in English churches by his own authority.

 

Bradstreet shows that none of the “proof-texts” employed by KJVOers to prove “infallible preservation” of Scripture in the copying, printing and translating process specifically identifies what the supposed preserved text, version or edition is, so applying the claims to one version, in one language, and one particular edition of that version, namely the English KJV, is absolutely arbitrary and devoid of any basis in God’s Scriptural promises.

 

Bradstreet expounds the KJV translators’ own views of their work, pointing out their admission that any reasonably accurate translation, marred by mistakes and faults though it may be, is nevertheless deserving of the name the word of God, and is valuable for all spiritual uses.  He points out that the KJV translators expressly denied finality or perfection for their version, and notes the thousands of marginal variant renderings supplied by those translators as self-evident proof of the KJV translators’ denial of perfection.

 

Bradstreet notes the terrible dilemma faced by KJV perfectionists in deciding on which one edition is the “perfect” one since differences among the various editions (and no “original translators’ manuscript” to appeal to) number up to 75,000, of which hundreds affect the sense and meaning of the passage.

 

While we very much appreciate Bradstreet’s strong and reasoned opposition to KJVOism, there are certain disappointments in the book.  Bradstreet uncritically accepts the standard KJVO claim of the unchallenged superiority of the scholarship and linguistic attainments of the KJV translators--that they were the greatest assemblage of Bible scholars and linguists ever (pp. 107; 110).  While granting that they were collectively and individually well-versed, by the standards and state of knowledge of that day in Hebrew and/or Greek, it must be recognized that the state of knowledge in 1600 in these disciplines was greatly inferior to that of later centuries (the modern revival of interest in these tongues was scarcely a century old), and of today, with the accumulated 4 additional centuries of discovery, study and knowledge.  The truth is, as Bradstreet does point out, not a single KJV translator produced a relevant standard scholarly work.  He does not go into details, but he could have noted that no grammar or dictionary of Hebrew or Greek, or scholarly edition of the original language text in either language came from their labors.  None of them produced a standard scholarly (or devotional) commentary on either testament or book of either testament, nor did any of them produce a scholarly Latin version of either testament--and it must be noted that there were swarms of such books being produced in the period before and after them, by Calvin, Beza, and many others.  I affirm without the least fear of contradiction that the Westminster Divines in the 1640s were at least the equal (and almost certainly the betters) of the KJV men in scholarly and linguistic attainments, and vastly their superiors in spiritual standing. 

 

If you think I am too harsh in my analysis, consider the opinion of noted Baptist pastor of the first half of the 19th century Spencer Cone:

 

"When he [Spencer Cone] heard [at the American and Foreign Bible Society meeting on April 26, 1838, at Oliver Street Baptist Church in New York City] so much said as to the 'forty-nine' translators (of King James), heard them so lauded to the skies, he asked--'Who knows that they were such very learned men?'  He had looked into the matter, and could not discover that they were men of such extraordinary and transcendent talents.  Where were their learned works--their critical and extensive knowledge? . . . . He was not disposed to award King James's translators the high wrought eulogies he had heard pronounced on that floor.  He could not discover foundation enough for them." (Life of Spencer Cone.  By his sons.  New York: Sheldon, Blakeman & Co., 1857.  p. 356.)

 

And it can be easily demonstrated that the translators of the English Revised Version (1884) and American Standard Version (1901) academically out-classed the KJV in every aspect except possibly the use of Latin.  Of the ERV/ASV translators, literally shelves full of their published works are still in print and of significant value and merit 120 years after their translation work ceased.  I would estimate that at least 80 volumes of their works are on my own shelves (a far from complete collection of their permanently worthwhile writings) and are among the most valuable and useful volumes I own.  The oft-repeated claim that the KJV translators were the best scholars ever is simply bogus and provably false.

 

And as an aside, Bradstreet indicates by implication (p. 78) that he has accepted the (false) claims regarding the supposedly corrupt personal lives of Westcott and Hort.  For the truth about Westcott, the reader should read the excellent series of articles by Jim May on Westcott at www.kjvonly.org which exposes the vicious slander of Westcott made by D. A. Waite and others.

 

The author is by his own admission not well-versed in the technicalities of NT textual criticism, which fact lead him into some mistakes, including an unfounded “suspicion” regarding critical texts, and an inclination to favor the textus receptus (with some voiced reservations).  He also accepts unchallenged (p. 137) the standard but false KJV-only interpretation of Psalm 12:6,7 as though the passage promised the preservation of the words of v. 6, rather than the correct (according to the Hebrew), “poor” and “needy” of v. 5.

 

Bradstreet incorrectly states that there were more Bible versions on the market in the 16th century than today (p. 20), and that more new translations appeared during the brief reign of Edward VI (1547-1553) than any period in history (p. 36).  Judging from the detailed information in A. S. Herbert’s Historical Catalogue of Printed Bibles, it is evident that no new English versions were issued during Edward’s reign, though numerous new editions of existing versions did appear, likely more than any other comparable period in the 16th century.  The author also incorrectly refers to printed editions of the Greek New testament as “manuscripts” (p. 25) or “versions” (pp. 120, 140), and he gives as overly-long the period between the KJV’s translation and its arrival as the most-widely-used English version (he says 50 years, p. 23; 40 or less is certainly correct, since no Geneva edition was printed after 1644).  It is alleged, without documentation, that printing the Geneva Bible in England was forbidden after 1616 (p. 93).  Yet A. S. Herbert lists London editions of the Geneva NT from 1619 and a Psalter from 1628.  The relative size of quarto and octavo format books are transposed (p. 100).  The one time Bradstreet does discuss Greek (p 120-2), he errs in his transliteration of me genoito (KJV “God forbid”).  The first word is commonly represented as me, not may, as he gives it, and the Greek “g” (gamma) NEVER has the sound of an English “j” (though that is how he represents its sound).  He does not indicate that the form genoito is the optative mood, a point which is germane to the discussion

 

The book closes with a full reproduction of the original “Translators to the Readers” taken from the original KJV (but not printed in KJV editions generally since the 17th century), which every English-speaking Christian needs to be closely familiar with.  I have said repeatedly that if all KJV-only partisans would simply read, understand and accept the claims and comments of the KJV translators themselves, the entire controversy would die.

 

The book has no general bibliography (though sources are occasionally footnoted), nor an index.  Both, especially the former, would have distinctly improved the usefulness of the book.

 

The author is on the right side of this issue, but the book could be improved materially.  On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate the book as a 6.5 to 7.

---Doug Kutilek

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