"AS I SEE IT" 

Volume 10, Number 4, April 2007

 

“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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Samuel Johnson on the Credibility of Miracles

 

“I [i.e. biographer James Boswell] mentioned [David] Hume’s arguments against the belief of miracles, that it is more probable that the witnesses to the truth of them are mistaken, or speak falsely, than that the miracles should be true.  JOHNSON. ‘Why, Sir, the great difficulty of proving miracles should make us cautious in believing them.  But let us consider; although GOD has made Nature to operate by certain fixed laws, yet it is not unreasonable to think that he may suspend those laws, in order to establish a system highly advantageous to mankind.  Now the Christian Religion is a most beneficial system, as it gives us light and certainty where we were before in darkness and doubt.  The miracles which prove it are attested by men who had no interest in deceiving us; but who, on the contrary, were told that they should suffer persecution, and did actually lay down their lives in confirmation of the truth of the facts which they asserted.  Indeed, for some centuries the heathens did not pretend to deny the miracles; but said they were performed by the aid of evil spirits.  This is a circumstance of great weight.  Then, Sir, when we take the proofs derived from prophecies which have been so exactly fulfilled, we have most satisfactory evidence.  Supposing a miracle possible, as to which, in my opinion, there can be no doubt, we have as strong evidence for the miracles in support of Christianity, as the nature of the thing admits.”

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Quoted from, The Life of Johnson by James Boswell

Modern Library edition (New York), p. 269.

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Miracles Jesus Did NOT Perform

 

The New Testament records that Jesus was truly a worker of miracles, and that He repeatedly performed acts that are beyond any human power or naturalistic explanation.  In my own study of the Gospels, I have found (counting parallel passages as one) 24 references to miracles of healing (either individual or mentioned as a group), 10 expulsions of demons, 9 nature-related miracles (calming a storm, etc.), 4 physical resurrections of those dead, and 6 general references to miracles.  There are additional references in Acts and the Epistles to Jesus’ miracles (e.g. Acts 2:22; 10:38).  A. T. Robertson’s widely-used A Harmony of the Gospels has a not quite complete list of Jesus’ miracles (p. 294)

 

In the midst of this mass of undeniable and public signs, wonders and powers, there are also recorded some miracles that Jesus did not perform when asked to, or when He could have.  Note, I do not say miracles He could not perform, but miracles He did not perform.  Sometimes we can learn a great deal about someone by what he does not do, perhaps even as much as we learn from what he does do, and this is indeed the case with Jesus. 

 

And, incidentally, if the Gospel narratives about Jesus’ miracles were mere fabrications, it is a moral certainty that they never would have included a single instance where Jesus failed to perform a miracle; after all, if you are concocting stories about a religious leader to make him appear as a great wonder-worker, you aren’t going to mention any failures to perform as expected; such would be omitted, suppressed, or otherwise excluded (has anyone ever heard of a case publicized by his followers in which modern charlatan Benny Hinn failed to perform a miraculous healing on demand?).  The fact that there are repeated incidents in the Gospel accounts where Jesus does not perform miracles when called upon to do so is another testimony to the truthfulness of the Gospels as written.

 

During the Temptation

 

Immediately following His immersion at the hands of John the Baptist, Jesus was led by the Spirit--entirely within the perfect will of God--into the desert, to fast for 40 days and to endure the repeated temptations of Satan himself (Matthew 4:1-11).  As a desperately hungry, even starving, man after 40 days of fasting, Jesus was challenged by the Devil to demonstrate His identity as the Son of God by miraculously transforming stones into bread, to satisfy His hunger.  There is no sin per se in eating--a man must do it to live.  And there was no physical limitation to what Jesus as creator could do with His own creation.  But at that moment, the perfect will of God for Jesus was to continue to experience intense, unsatisfied hunger, and have the spirit absolutely rule over even the legitimate needs of the body, and so no miracle was performed.  The Devil also tempted Jesus to perform a self-glorifying death-defying leap from the highest spot on the temple walls, with a miraculous last-second escape from harm (not unlike the last miracle Jesus refused to perform from the cross; see below).  But Jesus was not a sensationalist, one who used cheap tricks to fascinate and entice the gullible.  His appeal would be to the hearts of men, not to their external senses.  This requested miracle likewise went unperformed.

 

In the Temple

 

John 2:13-22 reports a confrontation early on in Jesus’ ministry between Himself and religious authorities in Jerusalem over the unbridled and shameless commercializing of the sacred precincts of the temple.  Jesus, outraged by those using God to “make a buck” off worshippers, overturned the tables of the money changers and drove the livestock and their hawkers out of the temple (I think it interesting that Jesus did not release the doves, but rather ordered their owners to carry them out immediately.  Had He released the doves--which would thereby have likely become irretrievably lost--,the owners might have had a legal claim against Him for financial loss).  In response to His apparently “presumptuous” act, the Jews (which in John usually means the Jewish leaders) demanded that He justify His shocking actions by some confirmatory miracle: “What sign [of authority] will You show us for doing these things?” (v. 18, HCSB).

 

Right then and there, Jesus could have presented His “credentials” by calling down fire from heaven, or causing an earthquake, or striking them with blindness, to prove that He was acting at God’s instigation.  But He performed no miracle then and there (unless personal restraint in the face of provocation be accounted miraculous).  Instead, He promised--cryptically--a sign that He would later fulfill: “Destroy this sanctuary, and I will raise it up in three days.”  The Jews of course thought He was speaking of the temple of stones and wood near which they stood; later they would twist these His words into a threat to desecrate the temple (see Mark 14:58).  But of course He spoke with reference to the temple which was His body, which temple they, not He, did indeed destroy, and which He most assuredly did “raise up” the third day, as He said.  The performance of so stupendous a sign as self-resurrection vastly outclasses healings, nature miracles or anything else Jesus might have done that day.  And yet when the sign of His resurrection did occur, the greater part of the Jews did not believe even that (cf. Luke 16:31).

 

Confrontations with Religious Adversaries

 

In Matthew 12:38-40, Jesus is confronted by His regular nemeses, the scribes and the Pharisees, who said, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”  “Give us a miracle, here and now,” they were insisting.  But again Jesus refused.  Indeed, He denounces their infantile--and evil--pre-occupation with signs (and is there not a lesson here for those who make so much of the so-called “signs and wonders” Christian movement?).  He said, “An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”  Once again a future, not present, sign, and once again the sign or miracle of His own physical resurrection.  Jesus does not leave the reference as cryptic here as in John 2, for he explains: “For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.” (v. 40).

 

In Matthew 16:1, the Pharisees once again, this time accompanied by the Sadducees (the former acknowledging the historical reality of miracles, the latter utterly denying the possibility of the same) demand a sign.  Once again (v. 4), Jesus denounces this carnal craving for mere miracles as the earmarks of an evil and adulterous generation, and once again He performs no “miracle on demand,” but reiterates that which He will give later: the sign of the prophet Jonah.

 

In Samaria

 

Luke uniquely reports an incident in Samaria (Luke 9:51-56).  Jesus was not welcomed into a particular village, and so James and John, those vehement, hot-blooded “sons of thunder,” wanted to invoke immediate Elijah-like retribution and vengeance on these who had affronted Jesus  “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?”  They got no fire, but rather a rebuff from Jesus.

 

A Refusal to Feed the Multitude

 

The one miracle of Jesus’ ministry that is reported by all four Evangelists is the feeding of the 5,000 men, along with many women and children.  In John’s follow up to this miracle (and Jesus’ walking on the waters of the Lake of Galilee in the night afterward), he tells of yet another request for a miracle.  In the synagogue at Capernaum, a large crowd flocked to Jesus to witness--and hopefully enjoy--a repeat of the preceding day’s free feast.  Puzzled by how Jesus got across the lake without the use of a boat, they asked Him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” (John 6:25).  Jesus, ignoring that question, rebuked them by addressing the real heart of the matter in His reply (v. 26): “I assure you: you are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled.”  What He is saying is that though they saw a sign, that is, witnessed the miracle of the loaves and fish (and suspected another--a miraculous crossing of the lake), they had utterly failed to see beyond the superficial level of a free lunch that fed the body.  That the miracle bore abundant testimony to the true identity of Jesus had completely escaped them; they sought no more than another labor-free buffet.  Jesus urged upon them that they should “believe on the One God has sent.”

 

In response to this, they demand from Him another miracle: “What sign then are You going to do so we may see and believe You?  What are You going to perform?”  They then appealed to the daily miracle of manna in the wilderness to try and provoke Jesus into feeding them again (vv 30, 31).  The obvious answer to their demand was that they had already seen the sign the previous day and it had not resulted in faith; why should they imagine that daily repetitions of the same miracle would have a different effect?  The daily miracles in the desert during the 40 years’ wandering had not resulted in faith on the part of their ancestors! 

 

Jesus performed no miracle to satisfy their demand, but delivered His “bread of life” message which was no doubt by design aimed at weeding out the false disciples, the mere enthusiasts, by demanding of them a commitment they were not willing to make.  Were He a mere crowd-pleaser, there would have been another miraculous feast that day, and the next, and the next.

 

At the Arrest in Gethsemane

 

In Gethsemane, after Jesus’ thrice-repeated agony in prayer, the armed company under the authority from the high priest came to arrest Jesus. 
In the confrontation that followed, Peter--armed and dangerous--lashed out with violence, amputating the right ear of one of the high priests’ servants, a man named Malchus (Peter, no doubt aiming for the middle of the man’s head, was evidently not an accomplished swordsman!).  Jesus healed the ear, as Dr. Luke tells us, and told Peter to put the sword away.  Jesus then informed him, “Or do you think that I cannot call on My Father, and He will provide Me at once with more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).  At Jesus’ beck and call were multiplied thousands of angels--His angels (Matthew 24:31)--to rescue Him, should He choose to save His own skin, even at this late hour in the chain of events.  Yet such was not His will, nor the Father’s, and they were not summoned, no miraculous deliverance was provided, and He was not spared the cross. 

 

It is worth noting John’s report of the actions of the armed cohort that came to seize Jesus.  When He boldly came out and identified Himself, they fell backward on the ground, out of evident fear that He would and could perform some powerful miracle to defend Himself.  By this time, the Sanhedrin was fully aware of Jesus’ miracle-working power, though they ascribed it to diabolical sorcery, and had no doubt warned those sent to arrest Jesus to expect some such trouble and display.  John 18:3-6.

 

Before Herod

 

Herod Antipas was truly the son of his father, Herod the Great who had sought to kill the infant Jesus.  Antipas was an adulterous drunkard who in a lecherous and boastful mood made a foolish vow to a dancing girl, and more foolishly, no, rather, more wickedly, fulfilled his vow to save face, thereby beheading John the Baptist, and securing for himself eternal ignomy.  This same Herod was in Jerusalem at the Passover when Jesus was condemned.  The Roman governor Pilate, seeking to “pass the buck” and extricate himself from the uncomfortable circumstance of being pressured by public opinion to condemn a man he knew to be innocent, sent the bound Jesus to Herod, hoping that Herod would assume responsibility for this man who was technically under Herod’s jurisdiction (Luke 23:6-12).  Herod had heard reports about Jesus and His miracles, had wondered if He were not John the Baptist risen from the dead, and had long wanted to meet Him.  Here was his opportunity.  But in the pettiness of his blighted soul, he wanted little more from Jesus than some cheap entertainment, for “he was hoping to see some miracle performed by Him” (v. 8).  Not a thought about how Jesus might help him find peace with God and cleanse his self-condemning soul of the guilt of John’s murder, or his adultery, or his drunkenness.  Jesus showed him no miracle--he didn’t deserve one, and would not have been persuaded by one, of whatever sort it might be.  Herod kept asking Jesus questions, which were answered only with stony silence, a silence as deep as the quiet of John’s now-empty prison cell.

 

On the Cross

 

It was not enough that the Jewish leaders had by hook and crook arrested, “tried,” condemned and secured the Roman execution of Jesus.  They even showed up at the place of execution, Golgotha, to taunt the condemned man: “He saved others”--so He claimed!--“let Him save Himself if this is God’s Messiah, the chosen one!” (Luke 23:35).  Matthew’s account tells us that these mocking rulers and leaders even pledged themselves to believe on Him if He would come down from the cross (Matthew 27:42).  The Roman executioners, too, ridiculed Him, as did the thieves crucified along with Him (Luke 27:36-37, 39).  And just as He could have summoned angelic deliverers in Gethsemane, so they remained on the ready.  But there would be no miracle of self-deliverance that day, but rather the far greater “miracle” of sinner-deliverance by His remaining on the cross until that work was truly and completely “finished.”  Christ has once suffered for sin, the perfectly just One for those of us who are wholly unjust, that He might bring us to God--a thing more splendid, more remarkable, more spectacular than 10,000 crowds fed, 10,000 lepers cleansed, or 10,000 storms stilled.  And all because of a miracle He did not perform when challenged to do so.

 

These then are miracles Jesus did not perform when He might have.  Certainly, they were within His power, but not within His--or the Father’s--will.  Jesus’ refusal to perform miracles when those miracles would have served merely to entertain or fascinate the beholders, and would not have been effectual in stimulating them toward genuine faith, should warn us that miracles are not a cure-all for unbelief.  The real power in the conversion of sinners is the message about Christ crucified, faithfully and fervently proclaimed.  Miracles may at times indeed only serve as a distraction from this far more important matter.

---Doug Kutilek

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Wiersbe on Worship Once Again

 

“I rarely participate in ‘prophetic conferences,” not because I question either their content or intent, but because I often fail to detect that necessary ingredient of worship.  The emphasis is on God’s ’program’ and not on God’s Person.  The book of the Revelation is frequently presented as the revelation of future events, and not, as it is in truth, ‘the revelation of Jesus Christ.’ . . . . When worship and prophecy are divorced, the result is mere religious curiosity; . . .”

Warren Wiersbe, Real Worship

(Nashville: Oliver-Nelson, 1986), p. 81

 

“Cheap worship that only seeks to ‘get by’ could never win the approval of the Lord.”

Ibid., p. 83

 

“A singer has no more right to sing a lie than a preacher has to preach a lie.  Let our singing be theologically sound as well as technically adequate.  No amount of beautiful harmony can atone for theological heresy.”

Ibid., p. 117

 

“If there is no message in the song, or if the message does not square with orthodox biblical doctrine, then there is no place for it in Christian worship.”

Ibid., p. 138

 

“Most local churches cannot afford to call gifted and trained musicians to direct a ministry of music, and some churches that can afford it have overdone it.  I have attended some services where the pastor, as he stood to preach, could well have said, ‘We interrupt this concert to bring you a sermon.’ “

Ibid., p.140

 

“We have been living on substitutes for so long that if a revival of worship ever did come, many of God’s people would probably see it as threat to the gospel!”

Ibid., p. 162

 

“The best preparation for public prayer is private prayer and meditation on God’s Word.  When the minister is in a truly spiritual frame of mind, the prayer will come, and the preparation will help to focus it on the requests that matter the most.  I have personally profited greatly from the reading of the prayers of great Christians, and I recommend it as a private devotional exercise.”

Ibid., p. 169

 

“I can never understand why the platform people must talk to each other and even be flippant with each other when they are supposed to be leading us in worship.”

Ibid., p. 170

 

“The public reading of the Word of God is too serious a matter to be left to unprepared people at the last minute.  It was said that people learned more from Campbell Morgan’s reading of Scripture than anybody else’s preaching of Scripture.  It must grieve the Spirit of God when the Holy Scriptures are read as carelessly as we hear them in some worship services.”

Ibid., p. 173

 

[Editor’s note--we have excerpted in three different issues of As I See It numerous notable quotes from the book, Real Worship by Warren Wiersbe (Nashville: Oliver-Nelson, 1986), but must add, in all candor, that there was a surprisingly large amount--in some instances involving Bible interpretation, in some practical application, in others perspective and approach--that we dissented from, more so than any other book by Wiersbe that we have read.  Our enthusiasm for the book--initially quite high--waned the further we got into it.  We would estimate that we agreed with it on a ratio of about 80/20.  The selected quotes, obviously, come from the 80%]

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Doxologies in the Writings of the New Testament

 

The dictionary informs us that in English “doxology” means “praise to the Deity” and “an utterance expressing pleasure in or thanksgiving for some event or occurrence” (see Webster’s Third New International Dictionary).  In Paul’s canonical writings in the New Testament, he repeatedly breaks out--from a heart overflowing with a deep sense of the Divine presence--into spontaneous utterances of praise to God, thanking and praising Him for the abundance of His mercies and blessings upon the children of men.  Other NT writers similarly have included doxologies in their writings.  One characteristic of genuine spirituality is a sincere, compelling urgency to utter praise to God.  There is much phony and contrived “doxology” in contemporary religious services and meetings, often to attract attention to the speaker, rather than to give real praise to God.   The doxologies in the writings of the NT are as far removed from the often bogus charismatic mantras “Thank you, Jesus,” and “Glory to God!” as anything can possibly be.  We do well to examine these apostolic doxologies, to discover the true nature of God-honoring “words of glory” (so the word “doxology” literally means in Greek).

 

Let it be noted that there is OT precedent for NT doxologies.  In the Psalms, for example (and we make no claim to being exhaustive here), we find several such “words of praise” to God, at the conclusion of the several “books” of Psalms (Psalms is divided into five sections or “books, namely 1-41; 42-72; 73-89; 90-106; 107-150.  Each of these sections of Psalms has an appended doxology (which is not an integral part of the particular Psalm that precedes it; awareness of fact  is especially important in the interpretation of Psalm 72, for example), closing the respective section of the ancient “hymn-book” of the Jews.  Those doxologies are:

 

May the LORD, God of Israel, be praised from everlasting to everlasting.  Amen and amen.” Psalm 41:13 (all quotes according to the Holman Christian Standard Bible)

 

May the LORD God, the God of Israel, be praised, who alone does wonders.  May His glorious name be praised forever; the whole earth is filled with His glory.  Amen and amen.” Psalm 72:18, 19.  (This is followed by a colophon, describing the whole of the preceding Psalms, “The prayers of David son of Jesse are concluded” which is not part per se of Psalm 72, and does not reflect on its authorship).

 

May the LORD be praised forever.  Amen and amen.” Psalm 89:52

 

May the Lord, the God of Israel, be praised from everlasting to everlasting.  Let all the people say, ‘Amen!’  Hallelujah!”  Psalm 106:48

 

Psalm 150 in its entirety constitutes the doxology to the fifth “book” in Psalms (107-149)

 

We have located ten doxologies In the writings of Paul and eight more in the writings of other authors of the NT.  Since these words of praise are often spontaneous interruptions in reasoned apostolic arguments, we will quote in some cases the context, then highlight with italics, the doxology.

 

Romans 9:5: “The forefathers are theirs, and from them, by physical descent came the Messiah, who is God over all, blessed for ever, Amen.

 

Romans 11:36: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever.  Amen.

 

Galatians 1:4, 5: “who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

Ephesians 3:20, 21: “Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think--according to the power that works in you--to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.

 

Philippians 4:20: “Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever.  Amen.”

 

I Timothy 1:17: “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.  Amen.”

 

I Timothy 6:15, 16: “[He is] the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, the only One who has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom none of mankind has seen or can see, to whom be honor and eternal might.  Amen.

 

II Timothy 4:18: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil work and will bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom.  To Him be the glory forever and ever!  Amen.

 

Thus Paul.  The other NT doxologies are as follows:

 

Hebrews 13:20, 21: “Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus--the great Shepherd of the sheep--with the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.  Amen.”

 

I Peter 4:11b: “. . . if any serves, [his service should be] from the strength God provides, so that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.  To Him belong the glory and the power.  Amen.

 

I Peter 5:10, 11:”Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little.  To Him be the dominion forever.  Amen

 

Jude 24, 25: “Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now, and forever.  Amen.

 

Revelation 1:5b, 6: “To Him who loves us and has set us free from our sins by His blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father--to Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen.

 

Revelation 5:13b: “I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and dominion to the One seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever.  Amen.’ “

 

Revelation 7:10-12: “And they cried in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’  All the angels stood around the throne, the elders, and the four living creature, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, saying, ‘Amen.  Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and strength, be to our God forever and ever.  Amen.’ “

 

All of these “words of praise” are for the glory of God, not the glory of the sinner uttering them.  It truly is ALL about HIM!!!  And each is signed and sealed with a solemn “amen!” (it was these concluding “amens” that first drew my attention to their existence and extent).

 

May our praise to God be abundant, frequent, sincere, and genuine.

---Doug Kutilek

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Is the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia Corrupt?

 

It was the general practice before the 20th century to base Protestant translations of the OT on the Hebrew text published in the so-called Second Rabbinic Bible, namely, that Hebrew text published in Venice in 1524-5 by Daniel Bomberg (his first rabbinic Bible came out in 1517).  In this particular edition, in folio, the Hebrew text is accompanied on each page with a parallel Aramaic targum (ancient traditional and authoritative Jewish translations) to the various books, along with numerous medieval Jewish commentaries (see T. H. Darlow and H. F. Moule, compilers, Historical Catalogue of the Printed Editions of Holy Scripture in the Library of the British and Foreign Bible Society, vol. II, part II, p. 704 for a description of this edition).  While not the first printed complete Hebrew Old Testament text (that appeared in 1488 in Soncino--see Darlow and Moule, ibid., p. 702), Bomberg’s Hebrew text was one constructed out of late Medieval Hebrew manuscripts in the line and tradition of the Masoretes, those devoted Jewish Scribes who copied and preserved a standardized Hebrew text of the OT.  Bomberg’s text was reproduced repeated in various editions for centuries, with lesser or greater accuracy.

 

In the 20th century, with the publication in 1937 of what is known as Biblia Hebraica, edited by Rudolph Kittel, it has been the accepted practice to base Masoretic text editions on Codex Leningradensis (“L”), which dates to 1008 A. D. and is the oldest complete Hebrew Bible known, several centuries older than any of the manuscripts used by Daniel Bomberg.  Codex L is in the mainstream of Masoretic tradition, representing the Ben Asher line of manuscripts.

 

In the December 2006 issue of “The Landmark Anchor,” (vol. 4, issue 7), a publication of Landmark Baptist College in Haines City, Florida, there is an article by one Dr. H. D. Williams, identified as “Vice-President & Missionary/ Representative of the Dean Burgon Society,” on pp. 8-9.  That article is titled “Recognizing and Producing a Good Bible Translation” with what are claimed as ten indispensable guidelines which supposedly must all control any modern Bible translation projects (ostensibly in languages other than English, since the English Bible, we are assured by some, has reached it’s final, perfect, authoritative form in the KJV which must never be altered).

 

Though we would like to respond to several of these proffered guidelines for translators (including nos. 4 and 5, which insist on “Verbal Plenary Preservation” and “Verbal Plenary Translation” respectively--capital letters in original; the former we understand and reject as unfounded in Scripture or in history, the latter we have never heard of before, and can scarcely imagine what is meant, since it is not explained), we will limit our remarks to guidelines 6 and 7.   These read in part: “The translators must use the original language Words (Hebrew/ Aramaic/ Greek) that underlie the King James Bible.  The Words underlying the KJB are known as the Textus Receptus and the Masoretic Hebrew.  These exact Words are found in Scrivener’s Annotated Greek New Testament and the Masoretic, Ben Chayyim, Second Great Rabbinic Bible (not the first) edition Hebrew text published by Daniel Bomberg.  They are the Words received by the churches through the centuries. . . .Care must be taken that the Ben Asher Masoretic Hebrew text is not used.  This is based upon the corrupted Leningrad Manuscript (1008 A. D.).  Variations of the Ben Asher text are also known as the Biblia Hebraica edited either by Rudolph Kittle or by the editors at Stuttgart, Germany.”

 

We will leave aside any discussion of the failure of the KJV NT itself to conform in all details to any of the historic “textus receptus” editions (from Erasmus’ 1st edition in 1516 to the Elzevirs’ 3rd edition in 1641), or even to so late a reconstructed text as Scrivener’s edition of 1881, having addressed the matter elsewhere (in AISI 9:8, we demonstrated that the KJV is at odds with every textus receptus edition, including Scrivener’s, at Acts 19:20; Scrivener himself affirms in an appendix to the Cambridge edition of his Greek NT that in at least 60 places, the KJV translators followed no printed Greek NT available to them, opting instead to follow exactly the reading in the Latin Vulgate).  Instead, we will deal with the claims regarding Hebrew texts, and expose the inconsistency and inaccuracy of Dr. William’s remarks here.

 

First, it is simply false to claim that the KJV OT always follows the Ben Chayyim text.  Dr. James D. Price, executive editor of the New King James Bible OT, went carefully through the entire KJV OT (excluding the Apocrypha), closely and in detail comparing every place with the Ben Chayyim text where there were questions affecting the translation.  He discovered that in as many as 228 places, the KJV does not follow the Ben Chayyim text--the Second Rabbinic Bible--, but instead follows a variant reading found in the Greek Septuagint, the Peshitta Syriac, the Latin Vulgate, the Aramaic Targum, some combination of these, or even in a few cases, medieval Jewish rabbinic exegesis otherwise unsupported, or even without any support whatsoever from texts, versions or commentators (see James D. Price, King James Onlyism: A New Sect, pp. 278-9).  If indeed the Ben Chayyim Hebrew text is a perfect, pristine, error free reproduction of the original text of the OT, then in at least 228 places, the KJV OT is not the Word of God--judging it by one of Dr. Williams’ own indispensable standards of excellence!

 

Furthermore, Dr. Williams’ condemnation of the Ben Asher text is a blatant public display of his own abject and inexcusable ignorance (what in colloquial military parlance is known as a “gross public dumb”) in an area of information in which he pretends to expertise.  Again referencing Dr. James D. Price, we note that the differences between the Bomberg text generally followed by the KJV OT on the one hand, and the most recent edition of the Ben Asher text, Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (1967/1977) on the other, are overwhelmingly matters of accents and spelling, which almost never affect the interpretation or translation.  These are no more important than the difference in English between “gray” and “grey,” or between “favour” and “favor.”  In only nine places in the whole of the Hebrew OT did differences between Ben Chayyim and BHS affect the translation--only nine!! (see Price, pp. 222-3, where the nine passages are listed).   A far cry from the 228 or more places where the “verbal, plenarily preserved” KJV departs from “verbal, plenarily preserved” Ben Chayyim Hebrew text!!!

 

So, judged by the standard the KJVer’s themselves raise, the KJB is not a trustworthy translation, since it abandons the supposedly “standard” Ben Chayyim Hebrew text in hundreds of places.  And further, since BHS--based on that allegedly notoriously corrupt manuscript “L”--is virtually indistinguishable in content from the Ben Chayyim text, except in nine places affecting translation (and frankly having an inconsequential difference in all of these but 3, which are themselves scarcely more than insignificant), any translation based closely on BHS should be considered a good translation!!  (Informed scholars consider manuscript L to be an excellent and superior representative of the Masoretic text form of the Hebrew OT, and certainly more authoritative that the later medieval manuscripts used by Daniel Bomberg).

 

Articles like the one by H. D. Williams of the Dean Burgon Society discussed here somehow regularly “pass” for real “scholarship” in KJVO circles.  Is it any wonder that with a steady diet of such nonsense those ensnared in this modern folly continue to wander in darkness, gullibly and naively embracing a lie, for no other reason than a woman’s reason (to reference Shakespeare): “I think it so, because I think it so”?

---Doug Kutilek

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