"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 11, Number 10, October 2008
“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.”
“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]
A. T. Robertson on Romans 8:16: Scholarship Enough for Mr. Cloud?
In the previous As I See It (11:9), I responded to a published charge by David Cloud that I wasn’t scholar enough to even suggest that the KJV was in error in four times referring to the Holy Spirit as “it.” Bruce Oyen, one of our readers, directed our attention to the remarks of A. T. Robertson (1863-1934) at Romans 8:16 on the subject--
The Spirit himself (auto to pneuma). The grammatical gender of pneuma is neuter as here, but the Greek used also the natural gender as we do exclusively as in John 16:13 ekeinos (masculine he), to pneuma (neuter). See also John 16:26 (ho--ekeinos). It is a grave mistake to use the neuter "it" or "itself" when referring to the Holy Spirit.
A. T. Robertson
Word Pictures in the New Testament
vol. IV, p. 374
Note those words again: “It is a grave mistake to use the neuter ‘it’ or ‘itself’ when referring to the Holy Spirit.” Not just a “slip,” a “blunder,” or a “goof,” but “a grave mistake.”
Is Robertson “scholar enough” to satisfy Mr. Cloud? (Would anyone be who refused to embrace the folly of KJV inerrancy?) During his 46 years of teaching Greek to seminary students, Robertson wrote the massive A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (1,454 pp.; 1st ed., 1914; 4th ed. 1923)--the largest grammar of the NT done by any single author, and on which he spent 25 years of his exceptionally productive life; it was the chief labor of a dozen of those years. He also wrote A Short Grammar of the Greek New Testament (249 pp; 1st ed, 1908; 3rd ed., 1912), a commentary on the entire Greek NT (Word Pictures in the New Testament in 6 vols.), 2 books on NT textual criticism, and another 34 books besides these, most on various aspects of the interpretation of the NT. Surely this is enough scholarship to qualify him to express an authoritative opinion about the KJV’s practice of calling the Holy Spirit “it.” And he calls the KJV’s practice “a grave mistake.”
We hasten to add that we do not naively expect any change of view on Mr. Cloud’s part, now that he has been presented with sufficient scholarship. He would have to actually be open to facts and evidence for that to happen, and he has shown himself consistently impervious to such things. (For a brief summary of the life and labors of A. T. Robertson, see our article “A. T. Robertson: Pre-Eminent Baptist Scholar,” AISI 2:7, July 1999).
How the Gifts of the Spirit Were Conveyed: A Confirmatory Quote
In As I See It 7:1 (January 2004), we ran an extensive study, “How Were the Charismata Transmitted in New Testament Times?” Our conclusion there was that, apart from the sovereign and direct Divine bestowal of the gifts on Pentecost (Acts 2) and at the house of Cornelius (Acts 10), all other cases for which we have evidence in the NT point to the direct laying on of Apostolic hands as the only way the gifts were conveyed.
Recently, we came across a pertinent quote from John Lightfoot (1602-1675), member of the Westminster Assembly, and during his lifetime the pre-eminent Hebrew scholar in England (he assisted Brian Walton in the production of his famous London Polyglott Bible). In comments on Acts 8:14, Lightfoot first quotes church “father” Epiphanius [ca. 315-403], then gives his own view:
Epiphanius here very appositely tells us, Philip, being but a deacon, had not the power of imposition of hands, so as by that to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost. It was the apostles’ peculiar province and prerogative, by laying on of their hands, to communicate the Holy Ghost, that is, in his extraordinary gifts of tongues and prophecy; for as to the spirit of sanctification, they never dispensed that.
A Commentary on the New Testament
from the Talmud and Hebraica
Volume 4, p. 96
(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979 reprint)
Lightfoot (and Epiphanius) here affirm what we concluded independently: the charismata were transmitted through, and only through (with the two exceptions noted) apostolic hands.
And, building on that fact, we further conclude that since the office of apostle ceased in the first century, there have been no means on earth consistent with NT teaching for the transmission of the gifts for 1900 years, and therefore, all the charismata have been extinct since the passing of the Apostles.
“Easter”: Some Notes on Acts 12:4, KJV
The word pascha, found twenty-nine times in the Greek NT (all printed editions), was borrowed from Aramaic (the equivalent OT Hebrew word is pesach). All but three of these twenty-nine references are in the Gospels (Matthew four times, Mark five times, Luke seven times, John ten times; besides these, also Acts 12:4; I Corinthians 5:7; Hebrew 11:28--Strong’s concordance under “passover” will give all the references except Acts 12:4; the Word Study Concordance, a.k.a., The Englishman’s Greek Concordance, will of course list them all together).
Pascha in the NT often refers to 1. the Jewish festival celebrating the historic deliverance of Israel from Egypt, as recorded in Exodus 12. Sometimes in the NT, it refers to 2. the Passover lamb eaten at the festival’s beginning. Then, by extension, the term pascha came to include not just the day on which the Passover lamb was killed and eaten, but also 3. the feast of unleavened bread which began on the Passover proper and continued for seven days; Luke 22:1 makes this usage abundantly clear: “Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover” (NKJV). [And, incidentally, pascha is in no way related to the common Greek word pascho, “to suffer”]
Twenty-eight of the twenty-nine times pascha occurs in the Greek NT, the KJV translates it “Passover”; in Acts 12:4, but only there, it is translated “Easter.” Baptists and others have long criticized the KJV at this point. Henry Jessey (1601-1663), a pre-eminent linguist and scholar among the English Baptists of his day singled out this as one of several mistakes in the KJV (see the 1671 biography of Jessey by Andrew Whiston(?), p. 49). Many other conservative scholars from the 17th to the 20th centuries could be cited who criticized or corrected the KJV at this point (Matthew Henry, John Gill, Adam Clarke, Albert Barnes, et al.)
As background to how “Easter” incongruously ended up in the KJV at Acts 12:4, we need to consider how the Aramaic/Greek word pascha was rendered in a variety of ancient versions, modern versions, and English versions prior to the KJV, as well as the origin and development of the words “Easter” and “Passover.”
The ancient Latin versions, both the Old Latin ones (as far as I was able to examine them), and the Vulgate, uniformly (all 29 places in the NT) transfer or borrow the word into Latin from the Greek, i.e., pascha, as was similarly done with baptize, ecclesia, and some other Greek NT words. It is no surprise that Latin (as Greek) had no native word for a Palestinian Jewish feast, and was compelled to borrow it instead. Then, from the near-universal influence of the Latin Vulgate in Medieval central and western Europe, the Vulgate’s pascha was borrowed into all the developing Medieval Romance languages (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Romanian, etc.) as well as the Germanic ones (Old English, Low and High German, Dutch, Icelandic, etc.). [see, inter alia, “Pasch” and “Easter” in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED)]
Both Wycliffe’s 1380s NT, and the Rheims NT of 1582, being translations from the Latin Vulgate, rather than from the original Greek, not surprisingly transfer the word from the Vulgate into their English versions (Wycliffe variously spelling it “pask” and “paske”; Rheims uniformly has “pasche”).
The ancient Gothic version of Ulfilas, made in the latter half of the 4th century is an interesting case. Gothic was a Germanic language, indeed the earliest attested by several centuries. The Gothic version, which originally included almost the whole Bible (but now is extant in fragmentary form) was made in the region north of the Black Sea, directly from the Greek text in the NT. It is much more inclined to translate as far as possible rather than transfer Greek words into Gothic than is the Vulgate with Latin (in the passages where both are extant, the Latin Vulgate borrows 64 Greek words into its translation, while the Gothic borrows but 28). In making his translation, Ulfilas was nevertheless unable to discover any Gothic/Germanic equivalent for pascha,--certainly no word cognate to “Easter”--and so he, too, like Jerome later, transferred or borrowed the word into his translation. The fragmentary remains of the Gothic version include nine of the twenty-nine NT occurrences of pascha, and in every case (unfortunately Acts 12:4 is one of the missing passages), Ulfilas employed paska in his version.
Pascha was borrowed as a Biblical and theological word into the various forms of Medieval German, and its Hebrew equivalent--pesach--even appears in Luther’s OT translation at Exodus 12:11 as Passah (both his first and last editions, 1534 and 1545 respectively), though his NT practice was quite different, consistently using some form of Ostern (see below). (Lack of access to the several pre-Luther German versions, all based on the Vulgate, prevented me from examining their treatment of pascha).
The German word Ostern is obviously cognate with our English word (and the KJV’s word at Acts 12:4) Easter, and so the origin and etymology of both can be considered together. The article “Easter” in M’Clintock-Strong’s Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature (vol. III, p. 19), dependent on the English translation of Calmet’s Bible dictionary, informs us:
Easter is a word of Saxon origin, and imports a goddess of the Saxons, or, rather, of the East, Estera, in honor of whom sacrifices being annually offered about the Passover time of the year (spring), the name became attached by association of ideas to the Christian festival of the resurrection, which happened at the time of the Passover: hence, we say Easter-day, Easter-Sunday, but very improperly; as we by no means refer the festival then kept to the goddess of the ancient Saxons. So the present German word for Easter, Ostern, is referred to the same goddess, Estera or Ostera.
The entry “Easter” in the OED indicates that Bede in the 8th century traced this name to the goddess of the vernal (spring) equinox; OED adds that she was probably originally a dawn-goddess. (While a connection between the name of this goddess and the pagan ancient Middle Eastern goddess Ishtar / Astarte seems temptingly easy to make, I am unaware of any evidence supporting such a connection).
Because of the close co-incidence in time of the pagan Saxon festival of Estera (vernal equinox--around March 21) with the Christian celebration of Christ’s resurrection (three days after the Jewish Passover, and shortly after the spring equinox), the pagan name was transferred, after the conversion of the Saxons to professing Christianity (following the arrival of Austin in Britain in 597), to the now-celebrated Christian festival. Then, by extension, the term was applied to include the co-incidental Jewish festival of Passover. (see OED, “Easter”).
That “Easter” was formerly (four centuries and more ago) used for Passover, resulted in the, to us, rather bizarre sounding term “the Jews’ Easter” (see John 11:55, in the translations of Tyndale, the Great Bible, and Geneva NT of 1557). We can no more imagine such an incongruity of terms as “the Jews’ Easter” than we can imagine the “Jews’ Christmas.” At any rate, “Easter” was, for a time (long past), used for both the Christian celebration of Christ’s resurrection, and the Jewish celebration of the deliverance from Egypt.
It was in this latter sense--“Passover”--that the extant Anglo-Saxon translation of the Gospels (no other part of the NT exists in this language, including, unfortunately, Acts 12:4) employed the term Eastro / Eastron / Easter / Eastre / Eastra (variously spelled) in all 26 Gospel occurrences of pascha. This translation pre-dates 1000 A. D. and was the work of unknown translators. At first blush, it may seem odd that some form of “Pascha” was not simply transferred from Latin into Anglo-Saxon, but evidently “Pasch / Pask” was not borrowed into Anglo-Saxon religious vocabulary until after 1100 (see OED “Pasch”).
The Norman Conquest of 1066 brought massive changes to the Anglo-Saxon language, and the Anglo-Saxon version in a few generations became all but unintelligible. Hence, Wycliffe’s version of the 1380s was necessary. As noted earlier, Wycliffe, working from the Latin Vulgate, uniformly employed “pask(e),” the original Greek word pascha, transferred (via the Latin Vulgate) into his Middle English version, rather than the old Anglo-Saxon term Easter.
Tyndale’s English version appeared in 1526 (with later revisions; I consulted also the 1534, 1535 and 1536 editions); he almost universally used “ester” [=”Easter”] alone or in combination with “lamb(e)” or “fest” rather than “pascha” as in the Vulgate and Wycliffe (the exceptions are Matthew 26:17 in the 1534, 1535, and 1536 editions, which have “pascall lambe”; Mark 14:12, “pascall lambe” in all editions; and John 18:28, which has “pascha”  and “pascal lambe” [1534, 1535, 1536]). It is evident that neither the Vulgate (which Tyndale certainly knew) nor Wycliffe (which he more than likely did not) did not influence him at this point, since he diverges from their practice. And though the Anglo-Saxon Gospels uniformly had “Eastro,” etc., it is very unlikely that this usage influenced Tyndale, since that version was long-neglected and extant in so few manuscript copies as to be all but inaccessible, even if he knew about it. Who or what influenced Tyndale to almost always translate pascha by “ester(-)”?
We need not look far for an answer. Besides the Greek text of Erasmus (3rd edition, 1522), Tyndale had for consultation in making his English version the Latin Vulgate and Erasmus’ own Latin version, but especially Luther’s German NT of 1522, the famous Septemberbibel translated while Luther was in protective custody in Wartburg castle. The influence of Luther’s NT translation on Tyndale’s NT in general is pervasive--the format, the introduction, the order of the books, and often in the translation itself. When it came to rendering the Greek word pascha, Luther always has “Ostern” [=”Easter”] alone or in combination with “-lamb(e)” or “-fest”--Ostern / “Easter” (16 times), Osterlamb(e) / “Easter-lamb” (12 times), and Osterfest / “Easterfest” (once-Luke 2:41). (I consulted facsimiles of the 1534 Bible, his first complete Bible, and the 1545, the last issued under his supervision; they were exactly alike in all 29 passages under consideration. I am still searching for a facsimile reprint of the 1522 NT. I have no reason to think it differed from these two Bibles).
To illustrate Luther’s influence over Tyndale’s version at this point, be it noted that in the 16 places where Luther has “Ostern,” Tyndale has “ester” in 13 of them; in the 12 places where Luther has “Osterlamb(e)” Tyndale has “ester lambe” in 11 of them, and has “pascal lambe” in the other. In short, Tyndale seems to have regularly (though not quite universally) taken his translation cues from Luther in how he translated pascha into English.
Why Luther chose “Ostern” to render pascha is another matter. In making his German translation, Luther had a penchant for using German terms most likely to be understood by common people, rather than the technically correct terminology of trained theologians, and I suspect that since “Ostern” as the designation for the time of Christ’s resurrection was better-known to the masses than the Jewish term pascha was, he used it even though it strictly had reference to a Christian festival, rather than a temporally co-incidental Jewish one. (As noted, in apparent conflict with his NT practice, Luther, at Exodus 12:11, used Passah, that is pesach, the Hebrew word). At any rate, Luther’s version directly and extensively influenced Tyndale in this matter.
In the OED entry “Passover,” the first, the earliest cited occurrence of this English word is in Tyndale’s English translation of the Law of Moses which was published in 1530, at Exodus 12:11, 21,. It seems, then, that Tyndale himself coined or created the term, perhaps under the influence of the explanatory gloss in the Vulgate at Exodus 12:11, where Jerome explains for his readers the meaning of the Hebrew word pesach (which he transliterates from an unpointed text as phase), “id est, transitus,” “that is, passing over.” It is notable that this was before Luther’s German version of Exodus appeared 1534, and therefore was without any influence from him, unlike Tyndale’s NT version of 1526, where Luther’s influence is pervasive. In spite of his practice in the OT, for whatever reason Tyndale, under the influence of Luther’s version of the NT, chose to leave unrevised his usual rendering of pascha, that is, “Easter,” in the various editions of his NT until his death.
The use of “Easter” to translate pascha in English versions of the NT began to fade very quickly after Tyndale coined the word in his Torah version of 1530, as is evident from an examination of English versions after Tyndale. The Great Bible (also known as Cranmer’s version), which was published in 1539 (just 9 years after Tyndale invented “Passover”) translates pascha by “Easter” 15 out of 29 times, but employs “Passover” 14 times. And while the Geneva NT of 1557 (translated by William Whittingham) has “Easter” or “Easter lambe” 25 times (and “pascal lambe” and “Passover” twice each), yet when the whole Geneva Bible translation was issued in 1560, every NT reference had been uniformly revised to read “Passover.” The Bishops’ Bible of 1568 followed suit, and in every case but 3 (John 11:55, twice, and Acts 12:4) likewise has “Passover.” Why in these 3 cases they kept the rendering “Easter” is not at all clear. And finally, the KJV in 1611 reduced these 3 to just 1, Acts 12:4, which is no more explicable than the three-fold retention of “Easter” in the Bishops’ Bible.
The notable 19th century reference work, M’Clintock-Strong’s Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, in the article “Easter” (vol. 3, p. 12) comments on the presence of “Easter” in the KJV here and here only: “The occurrence of this word in Acts 12:4 . . . is chiefly noticeable as an example of the want of consistency in the translators . . . . It would seem from this, and from the use of such words as ‘robbers of churches,’(Acts 19:37), ‘town-clerk’ (19:35), ‘sergeants’ (16:35), ‘deputy’ (13:7, etc.), as if the Acts of the Apostles has fallen into the hands of a translator who acted on the principle of choosing, not the most correct, but the most familiar equivalents.” At any rate, it is clear that 28 of 29 times, the KJV translators got it right, including altering 2 out of 3 remaining uses of “Easter” in the Bishops’ Bible.
Adam Clarke (1762-1832) in his famous commentary at Acts 12:4, besides presenting extensive evidence from ancient versions on the matter, forthrightly declares, regarding the KJV’s use of “Easter” instead of “Passover” here: “Perhaps there never was a more unhappy, not to say absurd, translation than that in our text. . . .Every view we can take of this subject shows the gross impropriety of retaining a name every way exceptionable, and palpably absurd.”
For anyone who will objectively view the evidence, it is obvious that the English word that adequately, accurately and unambiguously conveys the sense of pascha in English is “Passover,” rather than “Easter,” and not in 28 out of 29 occurrences in the NT, but in all 29. The KJV revisers, like all other fallible translators, at times failed to accurately translate the original text into English. “Easter” in Acts 12:4 is one of those failures.
Those who have made an idol of the KJV need to recognize their folly in this regard. While the KJV is a commendable version that served well its generation, it was in no wise perfect or the “final word” in English, and most assuredly not “God’s word preserved for us in the form that we should have it,” to the exclusion of any and all other versions. Like the Tyndale, the Coverdale, the Great Bible, the Geneva, the Bishops’ and the Rheims versions before it (as well as those versions that followed it) the KJV is subject to revision, improvement and correction on the basis of the original language texts. To affirm otherwise is to impose on the Bible a doctrine which it nowhere teaches.
Note on sources (besides works mentioned in the body of article)
--On the Gothic (where the information was the least-accessible) see:
Braune, W., u. Helm, K., Gotische Grammatik. Tuebingen: Max Niemeyer, 1956.
Metzger, Bruce M., The Early Versions of the New Testament. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977. Chapter VIII, “The Gothic Version,” pp. 375-393
Streitberg, Wilhelm, Die Gotishe Bibel, zweiter teil. Heidelberg: Car Winter, 1965. Fifth edition. Reprint .
Wright, Joseph, Grammar of the Gothic Language. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924.
Bible texts consulted included facsimiles of Luther’s Bibles of 1534 and 1545, of Tyndale’s 1526 and 1536 NTs, and the Geneva Bible of 1560. The other versions were consulted in printed transcriptions of Wycliffe, Tyndale 1534, 1535; the Great Bible of 1539 (1540 edition); Geneva NT of 1557; Bishops’ of 1568 (1602 edition), and the Rheims NT of 1582 in The English Hexapla (London: 1841) and The New Testament Octapla edited by Luther Weigle (New York, n.d.). The Anglo-Saxon Gospels were consulted in the printed edition of Benjamin Thorpe (London, 1842).
The Book: A History of the Bible by Christopher de Hamel. London: Phaidon Press Ltd., 2001. 352 pp, paperback. $29.95
Perhaps a more precise by-line for this over-sized book (9.5” x 8.25”) would be: “A selected study of the transmission of the Bible, from the production of the Vulgate to present day, with particular attention given to the Vulgate in Medieval times, the translation of Luther, and the Bible in English.” Only regarding the transmission of the Vulgate is the presentation anything like comprehensive.
The account begins with the making of Jerome’s Latin Vulgate version between 383 and 415 A.D., and its displacing of the prior Old Latin versions. In the pre-printing era, Jerome’s Vulgate was far and away the dominant version in Europe, and exists in more manuscript copies than the Greek Bible (LXX and/or NT), or any other ancient version, indeed, than all of the others combined. The Latin Vulgate was “THE Bible” in Western Europe for a millennium and virtually all vernacular (“common language”) versions during that period were made from it, rather than from the Greek and Hebrew originals (our own “take” on the Vulgate can be found in, “The Latin Vulgate Bible Translation in Historical Perspective, part I,“ As I See It 5:4, April 2002; and “The Latin Vulgate Bible Translation in Historical Perspective, part II,“ As I See It 5:5, May 2002). Various trends in manuscript copying (from small to huge sizes, from the most austere, text-only, to the highly ornate and heavily illustrated editions), to attempts at editing and “standardizing” of the text are noted, and very heavily illustrated with excellent full color photos of pages from various surviving manuscripts.
After introducing Jerome’s work in extensio, the author reaches back to the Hebrew and Greek originals and gives some accounting of their compilation and transmission, but here falls repeatedly into blunders regarding the canon of the OT, opting for the standard but demonstrably false liberal schemata of a three-fold canonization: Law, 400 B.C., Prophets, 200 B. C., Writings 90 A. D. All the ancient actual evidence supports a closed, settled, fixed canon, including all the 39 books of the OT, no more, no less, several centuries before the Christian era. The fiction of a three-fold, very late settling of a fluid OT canon is a long-told liberal fable that though oft-repeated is as false as the day it was first fabricated. (See Roger Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church. Eerdmans: 1985). The author likewise blunders by the adoption of similar liberal assumptions concerning the NT canon, opting for dates decades too late for the writing of the Gospels, among his several errors.
In describing the earliest extant originally complete Greek Bibles (manuscripts Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus chiefly) he also errs in describing their present contents (being apparently unaware that Alexandrinus is incomplete, missing numerous pages in the NT, and in the OT). He also mischaracterizes the Sinaiticus manuscript as a “model of accuracy” when in fact the scribes who copied it were remarkably careless, however good their Vorlage may have been. He also misidentifies the location of the “woman taken in adultery” account (which is absent from some 200 of the 2,000 or so manuscripts of John) as John 8:3-11, instead of 7:53-8:11.
The most extensive part of the account is the history of the Vulgate during the Middle Ages. The photos of selected manuscripts from this era are indeed spectacular (by far the best I’ve ever seen), and convey to the reader something of the effort expended in making these copies of the Bible (which were usually intended for the personal libraries of the nobility, or of monasteries, or of cathedrals. The cost of such put them far beyond the personal possession of the masses, to say nothing of the general incomprehensibility to all but the learned of the Latin language). The plates of various pages from Medieval and modern manuscripts are in full color and are often quite spectacular. The energy, effort, time and money invested in the copying of the Scriptures during the Middle Ages was indeed incredible. In one case, a scribe and his assistant spent 4 full years in making a single massive folio edition of the Vulgate, complete with colored illuminations; upon completion, the scribe undertook to make another like copy!
Many of the Medieval Vulgate Bibles were Bible text only; others included accompanying commentaries, usually taken from the writings of the church fathers. Some “Bible” manuscripts were hardly Bibles at all, being chiefly picture books of Biblical scenes with little or no accompanying texts (the section describing such was to me the most tedious and least profitable portion of the book).
The account given of Medieval vernacular versions is limited to the Wycliffite translation made in the 1380s (precisely what part Wycliffe played in the production is uncertain). This chapter was of great interest, as were the numerous photos of pages of the various extant copies. That the author makes no mention of any other pre-Gutenberg vernacular versions--in Anglo-Saxon, Bohemian, Spanish, German, Provencal, Italian, et al.,--is a sizeable omission. These could and should have been at least briefly surveyed.
The account of Gutenberg and his printed Bible was exceptionally informative (e.g., copies printed on paper weigh 30 lbs., those on parchment, almost 50 lbs.!), and exhausts all contemporary information about the project, and its reception. About the only thing missing is any accounting of what Vulgate manuscript(s) Gutenberg used as his exemplar(s).
Coming to the Reformation era, note is taken of the printing of the Hebrew and Greek originals (Socino, Complutensian Polyglott, Erasmus), and their translation into German by Luther--a photo of a page of Luther’s own personally annotated 1494 Hebrew OT is included. The author fails to note that for the “Prophets” portion of his 1534 complete German Bible, Luther was largely dependent on the prior German version produced by Anabaptist scholars. The author also erroneously says (p. 232) there was no copyright in the early 16th century, a statement disproved by the “cum privilegio” on the title page of Erasmus’ Greek NT, 1516 (p. 225). The briefest attention is given to Reformation-era printed Bibles in Italian, Spanish, and French. The English versions of the era are dealt with in greater detail (the “prize” among the photos here is the only known title page of Tyndale’s first edition, included in the third known and only complete copy of Tyndale’s first NT, discovered in a German library only as recently as 1995!).
The KJV and subsequent English versions are given a chapter by themselves, though the survey is only of selected English versions, and is far from complete. The author inexplicably claims that the KJV wasn’t altered for 250 years (he was apparently unaware of revisions in spelling, punctuation, italics and to some extent text, in 1613, 1629, 1638, 1762, 1769, 1824, and many other editions; indeed, there has never been one standard edition of the KJV). Various editions of the English Bible--some huge, some immensely illustrated with woodcuts and engravings, some on the other hand thimble-sized, are noted. This is followed by a chapter addressing the subject of mission field Bible versions, including Eliot’s 17th century Algonquian version, the versions of India produced by Carey and others, versions for Pacific islanders, and more.
The final chapter of the book discusses modern discoveries of ancient Bibles--the papyri manuscripts of the Greek Bible from Egypt, the Hebrew manuscripts from the Judean desert and the Cairo synagogue, and manuscripts of early Bible versions in Syriac, Ethiopic, and more. Frankly, the author makes some surprisingly misguided and uninformed remarks about the Diatessaron of Tatian (a continuous text Gospel harmony), the Syrian canon, and the bogus, so-called “Gospel according to Thomas” and other pseudepigraphal works of the 2nd to 4th centuries, and more. This chapter contains more factual errors and invalid opinions than the rest of the book combined, and the book would have been materially improved if this chapter had simply been left out entirely--or corrected with a firm and informed hand.
The notes and documentation--shoved to the back as per usual--are worthy of reading, and cited a substantial number of scholarly works with which I was previously unfamiliar.
The author is the Fellow Librarian of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, has a doctorate from Oxford University, and supervised for a quarter century all sales of Medieval and illuminated manuscripts at Sotheby’s, London.
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design by Jonathan Wells. Washington, D. C.: Regnery Press, 2006. 273 pp. paperback. $19.95.
In As I See It 4:2, we reviewed a previous book by Dr. Wells, Icons of Evolution, which we strongly recommended. Our conclusion is that this current work merits similar high praise. Dr. Wells (Ph.D. in biology from UC-Berkeley and Ph. D. in theology from Yale) is a leading figure at the Discovery Institute in Seattle and a major proponent of “intelligent design” (ID). ID is a more-than-decade-old movement that affirms that certain aspects of the physical universe cannot be explained in terms of mere mindless, directionless, accidental development--Darwinism--and therefore demand the work of an intelligent designer. These include irreducible complexity, the remarkable series of precisely convergent matters that make earth habitable, the origin of information in DNA, and the origin of life itself. Included among adherents of ID are some old-earth creationists and theistic evolutionists.
Wells presents (and documents--there are 47 pages of notes and citations of sources, in the back of the book) the scientific failure of Darwinism. Paleontology--fossils,--allegedly one its strongest “pillars,” provides none of the support claimed and much to the contrary, nor does embryology. Nor does genetics, the most recent focus of the search for hoped-for confirmatory evidence. With such a crushing vacuum of supporting evidence, evolution nevertheless is the dominant philosophy of the educational and scientific ruling elite--those in government-funded university professorships and institution directorships. The vested interest of these individuals in maintaining their status and salaries has often led them to tyrannical opposition, including suppression, intimidation, discrimination, slander, and threats against those who dare to have the audacity to even suggest that Darwinism may be flawed. Wells cites a number of cases where the most innocuous hints that Darwinism could and should be tested and challenged (rather than being mere dogmatically accepted on the basis of authoritarian decrees of the intelligentsia) have resulted in professors being fired, teachers being reprimanded, editors being dismissed, and school boards threatened with lawsuits. Rather than refute ID (and creationists) with facts, evidence, and proof, the standard response by the Darwinian “priesthood” to such challenges is ridicule and suppression by force. It would seem, would it not, that if the Darwinists really have the facts on their side, they would welcome any opportunity to present the facts for all to see and evaluate for themselves, and thereby discredit the critics of Darwinism? But the Darwinists, judging from their actions, wish their view imposed on others by force, rather than that their minds be won over by evidence and argument. Curious, indeed.
Wells, as with others in the ID movement, wishes to keep ID focused in the realm of the physical universe, and expressly distances ID from Biblical creationism, and young-earth creationism. This, of course, does not mean he is hostile to the Bible, but only wishes to leave it out of this argument. I do, however, think it a bit disingenuous to write: “Note: Intelligent design theory does not claim . . . that the intelligent cause must be a ‘divine being’ or a ‘higher power’ or an ‘all-powerful force.’ “ (p. 169). Logic compels the conclusion that if an intelligence created DNA, or designed the flagellum of micro-organisms or placed earth in its remarkably ideal position to support life and facilitate scientific investigation of the universe, then that intelligence must be exceedingly intelligent indeed, and unprecedentedly powerful, and there is no English word to describe such an intelligence except “God.” No, God is a necessary deduction if ID’s claims are true. And ID advocates should not pretend otherwise.
Those unfamiliar with the evolution-ID debate will find this a very helpful volume, and even those up on the topic will find much here that is new information.
This is one of a series of “Politically Incorrect Guides” published by Regnery Press (in AISI 9:6 we very favorably reviewed The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science by Tom Bethell; others are on American history, Islam, feminism, etc.). All are politically conservative, and those I am familiar with are friendly toward the Bible and Christianity.
“Darwinism will lose, most importantly, because of the evidence. Even though Darwinists have had almost 150 year to find some, the evidence for their view is underwhelming, at best. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be reading almost every month about some discovery or other that finally ‘proves’ it.”