"AS I SEE IT" 

Volume 13, Number 1, January 2010

 

“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

 

All articles are by the editor (unless otherwise noted) and are copyrighted but may be reproduced for distribution, provided the following conditions are met: 1. articles must be reproduced in unedited, unabridged form; 2. the writer must be properly credited; and, 3. such reproduction must be for free distribution only.  Permission to distribute in any other form must be secured in writing beforehand.  Permission for reproduction in Christian print periodicals will generally be given upon request.]

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Sullen-Faced Philosophers

 

To quote from Boswell's Life of Johnson for April 17, 1778, quoting one Oliver Edwards, who had been at Oxford with Johnson some 49 years before:

 

"You are a philosopher, Dr. Johnson.  I have tried too in my time to be a philosopher; but I don’t know how, cheerfulness was always breaking in."

(Modern Library edition, n.d., p. 815)

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2 Kings 19:14 “Letter” or “Letters”?

 

In my reading of 2 Kings recently (I was going through it in a facsimile of Luther’s 1534 German translation, a facsimile of the 1602 Reina-Valera Spanish version and a modern Romanian translation), I came across a “variant reading” in the translations.  In 2 Kings 19:14, Luther has “And then Hezekiah received the letters [plural] from the messengers and when he had read them [plural], he went up to the house of the Lord and spread them [plural] out before the LORD” (“Und da Hiskia die brieve von den boten empfangen und gelesen hatte gieng er hinauff zum Hause des HERRN und breitet sie aus fur dem HERRN.” All spelling as in original). 

 

The Reina-Valera reads similarly: “And Hezekiah took the letters [plural] from the hand of the emissaries and as soon as he had read them [plural], he went up to the house of Jehovah, and Hezekiah spread them [plural] out before Jehovah.” (“Y tomo Ezechias las letras de mano de los embaxadores, y desque las uvo leydo, subio a la Casa de Iehova, y estendiolas Ezechias delante de Iehova.”  All spelling as in original).

 

The Romanian version, a 1989-90 revision of the standard Cornilescu translation (1924)--both here read identically,--has “Hezekiah took the letter [singular] from the hand of the messengers and read it [singular].  Then he went up to the house of the LORD and spread it [singular] out before the LORD” (“Ezechia a luat scrisoarea din mina solilor si a citit-o.  Apoi s-a suit la casa DOMNULUI si a intins-o inaintea DOMNULUI.”).  Interestingly, the earliest printed Romanian Bible (1688) reads “And Hezekiah took the books [plural] from the hand of the messengers and read them [plural].  And he went up to the House of the Lord and Hezekiah opened them [plural] before the Lord.” (“Si luo Ezechia cartile de la mina solilor si le citi pre eale.  Si sa sui in Casa Domnului si le deschise pre eale Ezichia inaintea Domnului.”  All spelling as in original).

 

As can be seen immediately, three times where Luther’s German, the Reina-Valera Spanish, and the 1688 Romanian version have plurals--“letters / books. . . them . . . them,” the 20th century Romanian versions have the singular: “letter. . .it. . .it.”  My memory of the KJV English seemed to be that it, too, had a series of singulars here.  And in this case, memory served me well.  The KJV reads (quoting the 1611 facsimile reprint precisely): “And Hezekiah receiued the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went vp into the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.”

 

[Note, in passing, that the name “Hezekiah” occurs twice in this verse in the Hebrew text, once in the first clause with the verb “took / received”, as the German, Spanish, Romanian and English versions all have it; it occurs a second time, in the final clause with the verb “spread out” where the Spanish alone of these versions places it.  The KJV English has removed it to the preceding verb “went up” where in Hebrew the subject is simply expressed in the verb, namely “he”, and instead has substituted a pronoun as the subject of the final verb, “spread out.” (This swapping in translation of the position of pronouns and proper names is a phenomenon that occurs elsewhere in the KJV.  See “ ‘Jesus’ Misplaced!” AISI 10:8).  The German and Romanian versions do not repeat the proper name “Hezekiah” a second time at all, letting the first occurrence stand as the specified subject for all the verbs, merely inserting a pronoun with the final verb.  These variations from the Hebrew original in the English, German and Romanian versions may be ascribed to mere stylistic preference, though only the Spanish of the versions here considered literally follows the Hebrew]

 

To what can we ascribe the translational difference between the plurals--as found in Luther’s German, the Reina-Valera Spanish, and the 1688 Romanian--versus the singulars as found in the KJV and the two recent Romanian versions?  Obviously, the Hebrew can’t have both singulars and plurals in these places, can it?  Let us, then, examine the Hebrew text, which is the standard for evaluating all translations.  First, we discover that there are no variant readings in existing Hebrew texts and manuscripts here.  A check of the text in Miqraoth Gedoloth (The “Rabbinic Bible”), the Hebrew texts of Letteris and of Friedlander (two Jewish editors of the 19th century), Christian D. Ginsburg’s 19th century edition (which gives the variant readings of various printed editions--he lists none here), Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica (both the edition of 1913, which uses the text as printed in the Rabbinic Bible; and that of 1937, which employs manuscript L as its base) and also Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (1977, also based on manuscript L) reveal no variation in wording in 2 Kings 19:14 in all these texts (the passage is not preserved among the Dead Sea scrolls).  I could examine and list the readings of several other printed editions in my possession, but to do so would no doubt be superfluous. 

 

So, the evidence of the Hebrew is uniform.  And just what is that evidence?  The Hebrew reads, literally, “And Hezekiah took the books [plural] from the hand of the messengers and he read them [plural] and he went up [to] the house of Yahweh and Hezekiah spread it [singular] out before Yahweh” (“vayyiqach Chizkiyahu eth-has-sepharim miyyad ham-mal’akim vayyiqra’em vayya’al beyth YHWH vayyiphresehu Chizkiyahu liphney YHWH.”)

 

The first Hebrew plural is the word “sepharim,” the plural of “sepher,” a grammatically masculine word variously translated in the  KJV as “book”, (think “scroll” rather than our bound modern codex / book) “letter”, “bill” and even, periphrastically, “learning” and “learned.”  In modern parlance, the English equivalent, especially in this context, could be “documents” or “missives” or “messages” or even “communiqués.”  The plural suggests that the written information occupied several leaves or pages or sheets or shards (these communiqués could have been written variously on leather, papyrus, wood or even possibly on shards of broken pottery--these latter was commonly used for written messages in this period).  The second plural is a masculine objective pronoun--“-em”, agreeing in gender and number with “sepharim,” attached to the verb “he read.”  The final word, where Luther et al. have their third plural in the verse, is actually a singular masculine objective pronoun, “-ehu,” perhaps a collective reference to the “documents” which occupied several pages.

 

Was there precedent for Luther, et al. to translate the two Hebrew plurals and one singular as three plurals (or, for the KJV, et al. to translate the two plurals and one singular as all singulars)?  Experience has taught me that such practices can often be traced to the influence on the translators of ancient translations, particularly the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, or more remotely the Aramaic Targums or the Syriac Peshitta.  Another possibility was the influence of some one or another Reformation-era Latin version, of which there were many.  All or most of these were known to and used by most Bible translators of the Reformation era and did exercise considerable influence on translations of that era.

 

The Septuagint reads “And Hezekiah took the books [plural] from the hand of the messengers and read them [plural].  And he went up into the house of the Lord and Hezekiah spread them [plural] out before the Lord” (“Kai elaben Ezekias ta Biblia ek xeiros ton aggelon kai anegno auta.  Kai anebe eis oikon kuriou kai aneptuxen auta Ezekias enantion kuriou”).  All plurals, and with the “Hezekiahs” in the same places as the Hebrew. (What is identified as the Lucian revision of the Septuagint, made in the 4th century A. D. and preserved in a mere handful of manuscripts, has singulars in each case--“book . . . it . . . it.” [Greek: biblion . . .auto . . . auto].  The basis for these altered readings in Lucian’s recension is not evident.  It is said that Lucian often made revisions for stylistic reasons, though he is reported to have made use of the three Jewish Greek versions of the 2nd century--Aquila, Theodotion and Symmachus--as well as the Hebrew text.  The question must be left open).

 

The Latin Vulgate is very much like the Septuagint: “Therefore when Hezekiah had accepted the letters [plural] from the hand of the messengers and had read them [plural], he went up into the house of the Lord and spread them [plural] out before the Lord” (“Itaque cum accepisset Ezekias litteras de manu nuntiorum et legisset eas, ascendit in domum Domini et expandit eas coram Domino”).  Three plurals, but with “Hezekiah” only once (the first Hebrew occurrence).

 

The Aramaic Targum Jonathan to Kings reads “And Hezekiah took the letters [plural] from the hand of the messengers, and he read them [plural], and he went up to the house of the sanctuary of the LORD and Hezekiah spread them [plural] out before the LORD” (“unesib Chizkiyahu yath ‘igratha’ miyyad izgadaya’ veqarinan useliq lebeyth miqdesha’ dayey upharsinan Chizqiyahu qodam yeya”).  Like the Greek and Latin versions, three plurals, and like the Greek, with “Hezekiah” where the Hebrew has it both times (Sperber does list one or two manuscripts to the Targum out of many which have “letter” [singular], though the difference amounts to a question of which vowel is supplied for the all-consonantal text; in all manuscripts cited, the possessive pronouns are plural).

 

The Peshitta Syriac version of Kings reads verbally very close to Targum Jonathan: “And Hezekiah received the letters [plural] from the hand of the messengers.  And he read them [plural] and he went up to the house of the Lord and Hezekiah spread them [plural] out before the Lord” (the text, without vowels--“vnsb chzqy’ ‘grt’ mn ‘yd’ d’yzgd’ vqr’ ‘nyn vslq lbyth dmry’ vprs ‘nyn chzqy’ qdm mry’”).  So then, all four of these ancient versions--the Greek the Latin, the Aramaic and the Syriac--uniformly present three plurals, where the Masoretic text has two plurals and a singular.  There are two possible explanations: in the Hebrew texts from which the translators of these four diverse versions worked--and all were made directly from Hebrew texts--there may have been three plurals in their exemplars.  Or, each may have understood the sole singular “it” to be a collective of sorts, referring to the several documents (plurals) in the Assyrian king’s communication with Hezekiah, as we would speak of a portfolio in the singular, though it contained numerous documents.  At any rate, the KJV’s departure from the Hebrew (converting two plurals into singulars, and relocating the name Hezekiah) was not due to any of these ancient versions. 

 

In as much as the KJV was formally a revision of the Bishops’ Bible (1568), but with reference to other English (and foreign versions), a glance at some of its English forbears could be instructive.

 

The first complete printed English Bible version was that of Miles Coverdale (1535), which he cobbled together from the NT (complete) and OT (partial) translations of Tyndale, filling in the remainder with his own version made from several Latin and German versions (he did not know Hebrew).  Coverdale’s version reads (according to the edition posted at http://www.studylight.org.--of necessity, I have used this site for the readings of the Coverdale and the Bishops’ Bibles):And whan Ezechias had receaued the letters [plural] of the messaungers and had red them [plural], he wente vp vnto the house of the LORDE, and layed them [plural] abrode before the LORDE.”  That this first printed English Bible, dependent as it was on, among others, Luther’s version and Jerome’s Latin Vulgate, has three plurals (and “Hezekiah” but once) precisely as these two versions have, is no surprise at all.

 

Matthew’s Bible of 1537 was the first to make use of Tyndale’s previously unpublished translation of the historical parts of the OT (including 2 Kings 19:14).  Sad to say, I have no access to this version, so I am unable to present Tyndale’s translation here.

 

The Geneva Bible of 1560 was one of the versions the KJV translators were expressly permitted to consult by King James I’s instructions to the translators.  The Geneva version of 1560 reads:  “So Hezekiah receiued the letter [singular] of the hand of the messengers, and red it [singular]: & Hezekiah went vp into the house of the Lord, and Hezekiah spred it [singular] before the Lord.”  Here, then for the earliest time we have been able to discover in English is precedent for the three singulars that the KJV has in this verse, and for the insertion of “Hezekiah” as the expressed subject of the second verb, as in the KJV, though the Geneva Bible does not remove the final “Hezekiah” from its place according to the Hebrew.  On what basis the Geneva Bible so translates, I cannot discover.  Calvin (whose expositions often influenced the Geneva version) made no exposition of 2 Kings, and in the parallel text in Isaiah 37:14, his Latin translation and his commentary have the plural throughout (more on that text below).  I suspect that some one or another of the scholarly Latin versions of the OT made during the 16th century (and there were more than half a dozen of them, by Pagininus, Leo Juda, Tremellius and Junius, and others) influenced the Geneva-- and later English versions--here, but I currently have no access to those texts to check.

 

The Bishops’ Bible of 1568 was originally intended as a Church-of-England-approved substitute for the unauthorized Geneva Bible which was popular with the masses.  Though the Bishops’ never became popular, it did serve as the formal basis for the KJV revision.  At 2 Kings 19:14, it reads:  And Hezekia receaued the letter [singular] of the hand of the messengers, and read it [singular]: And Hezekia went vp into the house of the Lorde, and layde it [singular] abrode before the Lorde.”  As with the Geneva, three singulars, and the name Hezekiah removed from the final verb to the third verb in the sentence, which is precisely what the KJV does.  In other words, the KJV’s treatment of the text is exactly that of the Bishops’ Bible, and it in fact reads verbatim the same as the Bishops’, with the exception of the final Hebrew verb, which for the Bishops’ “layde abrode,’ the KJV has “spread” (taken from the Geneva Bible).

 

Though the Douay (Roman Catholic) version of the OT probably appeared too late (1610) to influence the KJV translation of the OT (as the Rheims [Roman Catholic] translation of the NT had pervasively influenced the KJV NT [see “Is the King James Version a Roman Catholic Bible?” AISI 6:2 for proof]), yet its reading is not without interest in this context.  It reads: “And when Ezechias had received the letter [singular] of the hand of the messengers, and had read it [singular], he went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it [singular] before the Lord.”  Surprisingly, the Douay does not follow the Latin Vulgate here, having three singulars where the Vulgate has three plurals, though it does, like the Vulgate omit the second occurrence of “Hezekiah” from the verse.  The singulars in the Douay English version must surely be due to the influence of the Geneva and / or Bishops’ Bible upon the Douay translators. 
 

(As noted earlier, there is a parallel passage to 2 Kings 19:14, namely Isaiah 37:14, which in the Hebrew differs from 2 Kings 19:14 in only one detail--the pronominal suffix on the verb “read” is singular, namely “he read it.”  So, there, the series is “plural, singular, singular” rather than “plural, plural, singular.”  There are some variants from the Masoretic text among Hebrew manuscripts and versions of Isaiah at this point, but I will leave that subject aside fro another day, lest I weary the reader further).

 

So then, the sum of the matter: the KJV, following the lead of at least 2 earlier English versions, but no Hebrew or other translational evidence ancient or modern (the Lucian reading was almost certainly unknown to the KJV and other translators of that era), alters at least two Masoretic text Hebrew plurals to singulars, and moves the name of Hezekiah from one verb to another and instead substitutes a pronoun, all without a speck of Hebrew justification, indeed, fully in the face of the Hebrew text.  Other versions both ancient (the Septuagint, Vulgate, Targum and Peshitta) and Reformation-era (Luther, Reina-Valera, Romanian) more faithfully reflect the Hebrew text (with admittedly one alteration, ad sensum, of their own (if not based on ancient manuscript evidence now lost).  The translation which most closely follows the Hebrew is the Reina-Valera of 1602, and we would be justified in affirming that at this point, the KJV needs  to be revised to agree with the RV-1602, rather than the RV being conformed to the KJV (as some absurdly affirm, and have attempted to do).

 

There are certainly no earth-shattering theological or doctrinal issues involved in the undeniable failure of the KJV (and the earlier Geneva, Bishops’ and Douay versions), and two recent Romanian translations, to precisely and accurately present in translation the first two plurals found in the original Hebrew text, but there is instruction here, and that is this: when someone makes the extreme claim that the KJV is a perfect translation, that it perfectly preserves in English the content of the Hebrew original, mark it down: such a claim will not withstand the facts and evidence revealed by a close and careful microscopic comparison with the Hebrew text and other translations.  The KJV is here--and often elsewhere--shown to be just like every other Bible translation: the work of mere men, fallible men, errant men, uninspired men who, while on the whole producing a commendable and useful translation, yet nevertheless produced a translation that at times fails to accurately and precisely give the meaning and content of the original, verbally-inspired Hebrew (and Greek ) text, while at the same time other translations--in this case the versions of Luther, Reina-Valera and the Romanian 1688 (to say nothing of the ancient versions)--display in specific places greater accuracy and greater precision than the KJV in translating the original language text .  In short, the KJV is NOT, in any special or exclusive sense, “the Word of God preserved in English in the form God wants us to have,” and it certainly is NOT the standard by which all other translations are to be judged or to which all other versions are to conform.  The KJV is subject to revision, improvement, and correction just like every other translation ever made.  To pretend that it is somehow a cut above, on a higher plane, on an exclusive pedestal is to lie to oneself in the face of the facts, and to make an idol of what is after all, just a translation, not the inspired original.

---Doug Kutilek

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I John 5:7: An Outline Study of the Evidence

 

[Note: Anyone who has had an extended encounter with Jehovah’s Witnesses has no doubt heard them try to “make hay” over the issue of I John 5:7 as found in the KJV.  They will point out to the (usually uninformed) Christian that this verse is absent from nearly all Greek manuscripts and almost all ancient translations, and that it is omitted or marked as dubious in most Bible translations made in the past 200 years.  Having affirmed that (correctly, by the way), they will claim further (and absolutely falsely) that the doctrine of the Trinity is therefore invalid.  Such an encounter will often leave the uniformed Christian uneasy and possibly even filled with unnecessary doubts.  The following was prepared for presentation to a Sunday Bible class of laymen with no background in Bible manuscript studies, for the express purpose of informing them of all the facts in the case.  This is not “new” information, but has been known in part for 500 years and nearly all known for two centuries.  Much controversy surrounds this issue, nearly all of it generated by heated ignorance of the actual facts of the case--editor]

 

[For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.]  And there are three that bear witness [in earth,] the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

                                                                                                I John 5:7, 8  KJV

 

The words here enclosed in brackets are involved in controversy.  The Scofield Reference Bible (1917) notes:

It is generally agreed that v. 7 has no real authority, and has been inserted.

Two questions: 1. What does this note mean?  and, 2. Is Scofield right?

 

1.  Scofield is stating that this verse was not an original part of I John, that the Apostle did not write these words and the Holy Spirit did not inspire them, but that they were inserted into the text of I John at a later date.  This opinion is the view of the vast majority of experts on the subject of the original text of the New Testament.

 

2.  Is Scofield right?  To answer this, we must ask, what is the evidence?

 

First, some essential background information

 

            a. I John and all of the NT was originally written in the Greek language.

 

b. from the 1st century until the printing of the NT in the early 16th century (more than 1,400 years), all copies of the NT were hand-written manuscripts. 

                       

1. Scribes, subject to human limitations, made various mistakes in producing copies, most being accidental changes, though some were intentional.

                       

2. While God did not preserve the copyists from making any mistakes, He did providentially limit the degree of variation so that the doctrinal content of the NT was not affected by the variations introduced.

 

Note: The doctrinal teaching of all 2,000 or so printed editions of the Greek NT is identical.

 

3. Most scribal errors are immediately recognizable, and the text of the NT can be established with 99.5% certainty, and the remaining .5% does not affect doctrine.

 

Note: We have a much higher degree of certainty of the exact original wording of the NT than any other writing from the ancient world.  More than 5,000 Greek manuscripts have been preserved (one was copied less than 50 years after the original writing of John), plus translations into nearly a dozen ancient languages, and more than 85,000 quotations in Christian writers from the 1st to the 10th centuries.

 

The evidence regarding I John 5:7

 

1. Greek manuscripts-about 400 existing Greek manuscripts contain the book of I John.  Of these manuscripts, only 4 (manuscript numbers 61, 629, 918, 2318) contain the disputed words of v.7.  All four are very late manuscripts (16th, 14th or 15th, 16th, and 18th centuries A.D. respectively); none gives the Greek text exactly as it appears in printed Greek NTs, and all 4 manuscripts give clear evidence that these words were back-translated into Greek from Latin.

 

Four additional manuscripts (88, 12th century; 221, 10th; 429, 16th; 636, 15th) have the disputed words copied in the margin by much later writers, and the disputed words were all but certainly copied from printed editions, and therefore give no independent testimony.

 

2. Ancient writers: no Greek-speaking Christian writer or document before the year 1215 A.D. shows any knowledge of the disputed words.  Not once are these words quoted in the great controversy with the Arians (over the Deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity) in the 3rd and 4th centuries; this passage certainly would have been quoted if it had existed in any Greek manuscript of that period.

 

The disputed words are quoted as Scripture only by Latin-speaking writers, and only after the middle of the 5th century A.D.

 

3. Ancient translations: the disputed words are not found in any of the ancient translations of the NT made in the 2nd-10th centuries A.D.--Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, Ethiopic, Arabic, Slavic--except in Latin.  The words are found in some manuscripts (but not the earliest) of the Old Latin version, and in many manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate (but not the earliest).

 

Conclusion: the evidence of every kind is consistent and clear: the disputed words of I John 5:7 have no claim as an original part of John's letter, but were introduced into Greek from Latin in the very late Middle Ages.

 

How did the disputed words arise in Latin?

 

Some Latin-speaking scribe or preacher in North Africa in the 3rd or 4th century probably drew an analogy between the three witnesses of I John 5:8 (the Spirit, and the water, and the blood), and the three persons of the Trinity, and wrote out his idea in the margin of his manuscript.  A later scribe inserted the words from the margin into the text, and from there the insertion gradually spread to other manuscripts until they were included in a majority of Medieval Latin manuscripts of I John.

 

How did the disputed words find their way into printed copies of the Greek NT?

 

The first published Greek NT was edited in 1516 by Catholic priest, scholar, and humanist Erasmus in 1516.  This edition did not include the disputed words.  A revised edition in 1519 also did not include these words.  Erasmus was severely criticized by other Catholic priests for not including in Greek these words which were well-known to them from the Latin.  Erasmus said that the words were left out simply because he did not find them in any of the Greek manuscripts he had examined, and it is reported (though not confirmed) that subsequently he promised to insert them if they were found in even one Greek manuscript.

 

An Irish monk deliberately fabricated such a manuscript to meet Erasmus' requirement.  This manuscript (no. 61) was copied from another manuscript, which did not contain the words (so they were an obvious and deliberate insertion).  The page in manuscript no. 61 containing the disputed words is on a special paper and has a glossy finish, unlike any other page in the manuscript.  On the basis of this one 16th century deliberately falsified manuscript, Erasmus inserted the disputed words in his 3rd, 4th, and 5th editions of the Greek NT, though he protested that he did not believe the words were genuine.

 

Nearly all printed Greek NTs from Erasmus until the 19th century were simply reprints (with minor changes) of Erasmus' 4th or 5th edition, and so the words continued to be printed in Greek as part of I John even though there is no sufficient evidence for their inclusion.  Recent editions of the Greek NT (since about 1800) follow the manuscript evidence and therefore do not insert the words.

 

How did the disputed words find their way into English Bibles?

 

1. The earliest English New Testament, the translation of Wycliffe in the 1380s, was made from medieval Latin manuscripts, and so it includes the disputed words, though it reads "son" instead of "word."

 

2. Tyndale's translation of 1525 was based on Erasmus' 3rd edition and so it included the words.  In the 2nd and 3rd editions of his translation, Tyndale placed the disputed words in parentheses to show that their genuineness was doubtful.

 

3. Several editions of the NT edited by Tyndale's assistant Miles Coverdale also placed the disputed words in parentheses or smaller type or both to show that they were disputed.

 

4. Jugge's 1552 edition of Tyndale's NT omitted the parentheses and printed the words in standard type, a practice followed in later English Bibles, including the KJV (based on Beza's 1598 Greek NT, a virtual reprint of Erasmus' 4th edition).

 

5. Recent conservative translations of the NT (ASV, NASB, NIV, ESV, HCSB) delete the disputed words entirely or put them in a footnote because the evidence is conclusive that they were not an original part of John's letter.  [Verse numbers were not added until 1551 in a Greek NT based on Erasmus' 4th edition]

 

[6. German Reformer Martin Luther never included these disputed words in any edition of his German NT translation--NT 1522, Bible 1534 & 1545]

 

Conclusion: Yes, Scofield is right.  The words found as I John 5:7 in the KJV are not a genuine, original part of John’s letter, but are a later insertion

 

Question: If the words are not genuine, does this affect the doctrine of the Trinity?

 

Answer: not in the least.  Those Christian writers of the 2nd-4th centuries who compiled from Scripture the true orthodox doctrine of the Trinity (namely, that the one true God exists in three equal persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) did so without any reference to the disputed words.  If their biblical proofs were correct and sufficient and based on undisputed passages, and they certainly were, then the doctrine stands unmoved.

---

For further reading--notes on some literature on this question

 

Adam Clarke’s commentary from the early 19th century has a wealth of information about the issue of I John 5:7, albeit incomplete and occasionally erroneous.  Vol. VI, pp. 923-4, 927-933.  Both Clarke and Horne (the next item) give facsimiles of I John 5:7 from manuscript or early printed editions.

 

Thomas Hartwell Horne, An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures (Baker, 1970 reprint of 8th [1839] edition).   Vol. II, part 2, pp. 180-185, gives an extensive listing and characterization of the literature on the question of I John 5:7 as it existed in his and previous days.  In vol. IV, pp. 448-471, Horne gives a thorough presentation and analysis of the evidence and arguments both for and against the insertion of I John 5:7.  A very valuable treatment (needing some modest up-dating of evidence).

 

Henry Alford, The Greek Testament (Moody Press, 1958 reprint), vol. IV, pp. 503-505, where he gives a thorough presentation of all the evidence known in the mid-19th century.  His conclusion: “[I]t has been seen, that unless pure caprice is to be followed in the criticism of the sacred text, there is not the shadow of a reason for supposing them [i.e., the words of I John 5:7] genuine.” (p. 504; italics in original).

 

Brooke Foss Westcott, The Epistles of St. John (Eerdmans, 1966 edition), pp. 202-209.  Has extensive presentation of the evidence, including the readings, given in full for vv. 7, 8, of several Latin and Greek manuscripts, as well as 6 early printed Greek NTs.  Valuable.

 

Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (United Bible Societies, 2001.  Second edition), pp. 647-9.  Presents and analyzes the evidence.  The various editions of The Greek New Testament published by the United Bible Societies [1st ed. 1966; 4th edition, revised, 1993] on which Metzger’s book is based, present in concise form the manuscript, version and patristic evidence.

 

Doug Kutilek, “Ruckman on Luther and I John 5:7: Dolt or Deceiver?” As I See It, 4:8.  On Luther’s deliberate exclusion of I John 5:7 from all editions of his German NT translation published in his lifetime, and Ruckman gross misrepresentation of Luther on this point.

 

Note: John Gill (1697-1771) in his massive commentary gives some seriously erroneous information (which one finds sometimes quoted by KJVOnly-ites) about the evidence allegedly supporting the genuineness of I John 5:7.  Much of what Gill affirms is in error, including his claim that 9 of 16 Greek manuscripts cited by Stephanus include the disputed words.  Gill evidently got his information from Matthew Poole’s 5-vol. Latin commentary on the Bible--he shows frequent dependence on it--where Poole affirms the same mis-information regarding Stephanus’ manuscripts.  Stephanus cites 7 manuscripts as omitting the words in question.  From this Poole (or whoever he depended on) assumed that since Stephanus professed to present evidence from 16 total manuscripts, therefore the other 9 must have included the words.  But in fact, there were only 7 manuscripts cited for I John 5--and all lacked the words of v. 7 (see S. P. Tregelles, An Account of the Printed Text of the Greek New Testament [London: Bagster, 1854], p. 32).

 

There is also a document circulating via the internet that purports to give a very long list of Greek manuscripts and other evidence supporting the insertion of I John 5:7, but this has been discredited as erroneous, and disclaimed even by the strongly pro-Textus Receptus Trinitarian Bible Society.

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Griesbach on I John 5:7

 

Johann J. Griesbach’s conclusion (from Novum Testamentum Graece, 2nd edition, 1805; vol. II, Appendix “Diatribe in locum I Ioann. 5, 7. 8”, p. 25 [in Latin]) upon examining the feeble evidence appealed to in support of the insertion of I John 5:7:

 

“For if a few dubious, suspicious, and modern evidences, with such weak arguments as are usually adduced, are sufficient to demonstrate the authenticity of a reading, then there remains no longer any criterion by which the spurious may be distinguished from the genuine; and consequently the whole text of the New Testament is unascertained and dubious.”

Translation of the original Latin comment,

as given in Adam Clarke’s commentary

Vol. VI, p. 931. Italics as in Clarke.

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BOOK REVIEW

 

Churchill by Paul Johnson.  New York: Viking, 2009.  181 pp., hardback.  $24.95

 

Paul Johnson is a prolific British historian, whose works have included A History of the American People (reviewed in AISI 1:11), Elizabeth I; A History of the Jews; A History of Christianity; Modern Times (a superb history of the 20th century); and Intellectuals.  Here he briefly sketches the life and times of Winston Churchill, the greatest political figure in the West in the 20th century (Churchill alone of political leaders had a major impact in both World Wars, and in the Cold War).  Such a brief treatment of course cannot serve as a substitute for the longer and fuller treatments by William Manchester (in 2 volumes, alas only through 1940), Martin Gilbert and Randolph Churchill, and Lord Moran, among others, but for those who are unfamiliar with the towering figure of Churchill or who need a refresher course, Johnson’s small volume is exactly the remedy.

---Doug Kutilek

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