"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 13, Number 9, September 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.]
“You Can Observe a Lot Just by Watching”
A few months back, I was compelled by circumstances beyond my control to undergo an extended stay at the Atlanta airport, some 7 hours in all. Hartsfield-Jackson being the world’s busiest airport in terms of passengers and flights, is an unending and teeming concourse of passing humanity, and so after some sitting and reading, after some walking, after exhausting most remaining possibilities for passing my time, I decided to indulge my craving for Popeye’s chicken (a three-piece combo, with sides of beans and rice, a biscuit, and a medium beverage--unsweetened tea), and become a devoted observer of the surging sea of passing humanity.
Here was a considerable cross-section of the human race--sure, most were from the States, but not a few were foreign nationals in the country for business, pleasure, or education. East Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Korean), residents of the Indian sub-continent, sub-Saharan Africans, Europeans (usually easily distinguished from Americans by their shoes), and no doubt visitors from Latin America and other diverse points. These must have come from a hundred different countries. And of the Americans, there were people of every region, description, age, ethnicity and social standing.
As I slowly ate my three-piece chicken dinner (I let it cool down a bit first--it was blisteringly hot when first purchased), it struck me that virtually every soul in this entire complex (most airport employees possibly excluded) desperately wanted to be somewhere else--New York, Chicago, Orlando, Paris, even Wichita (where I in fact would already have been hours earlier, had not my 6:00 a.m. flight out of Jacksonville, North Carolina been cancelled). Was this not something of a commentary on the lack of contentment of mankind, never pleased with where we are, what we have or what we are doing?
Or perhaps it is more an indication of the incredible mobility we have today--in the morning on the coast of North Carolina, by nightfall in rural Kansas, and if one so desired, in Alaska or Hawaii or South America the next day. In the 18th century, George Whitefield crossed the Atlantic a remarkable 13 times--by ship, taking anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks each time. I’ve crossed the Atlantic--at 36,000 feet and 550 miles per hour more or less--110 times, with actual time over the briny deep a mere 4 hours each time.
There are all kinds of passersby--those with a “missions”: eyes forward, pace steady but rapid, boarding pass with gate number in hand, monitors checked as they are passed. When I am in full travel mode, this is me. I always first of all, whether I have two hours or twenty minutes between flights, determine and reconfirm my designated gate, quickly and efficiently and without interruption arrive at the objective, then rechecking the monitor to be sure that the flight has not been moved elsewhere. Then and only then, if so inclined, I may stroll the nearby corridors (to exercise the legs before the enforced immobility of the flight), never straying far from the gate, and never going anywhere at all in the last 10-15 minutes before boarding time. I know--obsessive. But I have never missed a flight because of my absence at boarding time.
There are also those with a “tight” connection who rush furiously through the terminal, like O.J. Simpson (in the old Hertz commercials, not the recent vintage O. J. attired in prison garb). They dash past slower traffic and by-standers, furtively skirt electric carts or janitorial personnel emptying trash bins, and mutter short prayers that they will be able to get to their assigned gate before boarding has ended or the flight departed. (I have actually been in this travel mode on occasion--I’m reminded just now of incidents in St. Louis, in Frankfurt, in Chicago, and in Minneapolis, in the latter of which I once traveled on foot from E corridor (international flights) to the far end of A corridor for a flight to Kansas--a distance of about a mile--in under seven minutes while toting a carry-on, in part thanks to moving sidewalks. Not bad for a semi-geezer in his mid-50s! And yes, I made that flight with several minutes to spare).
And there is the shell-shocked traveler who with a blank, emotion-drained stare, slowly wanders through the terminal toward an uncertain destination, utterly overwhelmed by it all.
There are the usual families heading for their long-planned summer vacations, kids in tow, who are often laden with backpacks, dolls, or junior-sized wheeled luggage (and why some parents seated at their gate were allowing their small children to play--wallow, actually--on floors of the terminal building, floors bearing the bacteria from 100,000 shoes and a thousand destinations, shoes that had been in and out of restrooms, . . . I’ll not say more).
There were elderly individuals and couples, some riding in electric carts, others pushed in wheelchairs, still others on foot, slowly but steadily shuffling off to their gate for their flight, to where? To see the grandkids? To a family gathering, a graduation, or a wedding perhaps? To a funeral of a recently-deceased lifelong friend? The possibilities were many, but for these travelers, future trips are likely to be few.
There are naturally numerous uniformed flight crews--pilots, co-pilots, flight attendants (whom I still out of old habit want to call “stewardesses”)--and ground personnel, all heading to their planes or duty stations, or, if their work day is done, anxious to head home, and escape from “the traveling public,” at least until tomorrow. Here they number in the tens of thousands, making this place function.
Because of the abundance of military bases in the southeastern U.S., the continuing deployment of troops to the Middle East, and the time of year (late May), there were military personnel in abundance, sometimes single, often in pairs, sometimes in large groups of ten to twenty, some heading for summer training (National Guard, Reserves or ROTC cadets), some were heading home on leave after long months in Iraq or Afghanistan, some were coming to Atlanta as the collecting point for full chartered flights heading to the war zones. Many were in uniform, though usually not the Marines (they generally travel in mufti, but the standard issue high and tight haircuts, and often bulging muscular biceps are a give away). I recognize some of the army unit patches, but most, no. As opportunity presents itself, I thank them for their service to the country.
And there was the occasional husband and wife pair of frankly massive size, teletubby-esque in proportions and dimensions, profusely perspiring as they strained, with a bewildered look on their faces, down the corridor to their connecting flight with its tiny commuter plane seats to somewhere.
And there are the angry passengers who missed a connecting flight, sometimes because of delays on their in-coming flight (not always the airline’s fault), sometimes because they failed to arrive at the gate in a timely manner, or failed to take note of a gate change (in such cases, clearly their own fault, as was true with these particular ones). All their wrath and all their fury is poured out verbally on the employees at the transfer desk, who must spend their whole working day dealing with people who want immediate resolution to their travel problems. Some of these dissatisfied customers are irate beyond all rationality, and utter threats to never fly Delta again, to sue the airline, and more. No arrangements for a later flight will assuage their anger, and so a 5-minute rebooking transaction takes half an hour, as they “vent.” When it is my turn, I say to the young lady behind the counter--“All I need is to get a boarding pass for my flight to Wichita.” She generates it, and as she hands it to me, I say, with a big smile, “I hope the rest of your day is better.” She gives me a relieved smile back. I have learned that there are indeed many times in life when things which cannot be changed must be endured, and it is better to do so calmly if possible.
The mix of “fashion choices” on display is remarkable. There is the occasional business-suited man, or the well-groomed woman dressed to the nines and wearing abundant jewelry (not my notion of comfortable travel attire), but more common is the casually-dressed individual with comfortable athletic or hiking shoes, jeans or slacks, a comfortable cotton shirt and such. And there is the stray individual who, even in mid-afternoon, looks as if he (or she) slept in his clothes, failed to run a brush or comb through his hair, neglected to shave and nevertheless decided to go to the airport in that condition. And then there are those inexplicably wearing flipflops, or sausage-skin-tight spandex pants that are being stretched beyond the limits of the factory warranty, or the incredibly immodest attire of others. Had these folks somehow overlooked the fact when they chose their outfit for the day that they would be “out in public” and seen by thousands? If some of these folks are trying to “make a fashion statement,” I cannot for the life of me discern what it is they are trying to say, except perhaps, “No, I didn’t think this through.”
And there are the travel diehards, who are adamant about not having to wait for their luggage at their destination, or who refuse to pay $25 to check a bag, and so are hauling a mountain of luggage and travel bags, backpacks and more which they intend to carry on board, and somehow wedge into the overhead compartment, leaving precious little space for those who actually limited themselves to “one carry-on and one personal item.”
Some travelers are seen again, and again, and again, as they pass by, now this direction, now that, heading to this shop, that restaurant, a “necessary” stop, or just moving about to exercise or to alleviate the boredom until flight time, which seems agonizingly slow in coming.
Well, now my chicken has been eaten, the bones well-cleaned, the beans, the rice, the biscuit are polished off, and my refill of tea is, like the first, drained to the bottom. A few swipes with the napkin to clean up the greasy smears on the counter, a wet-wipe to remove the grease from my hands, and I am ready to put away my pen and notebook, pick up my carry-on, deposit the debris from lunch in the waste bin, and head off toward my departure gate. I’ve occupied a half hour in the eating and observing process, and am left with several more hours until boarding, and then on to my final destination for the day. But not my final destination.
“Purified Seven Times”
A Case of Defective Exegesis and Improper Application
One of the near-universal but untested assumptions of “King James Only”-ites is that Psalm 12:6, 7 has specific reference to God’s perfect preservation of Scripture in the copying and translating process, and that more specifically this refers to the King James Version, and in truth only to the KJV and no other Bible version in English or any other language on earth. This interpretation is both grossly arbitrary and wholly unsound.
That passage reads (KJV, all spelling, punctuation and italics as in original 1611 edition):
The wordes of the LORD are pure wordes: as siluer tried in a fornace of earth purified seuen times.
Thou shalt keepe them, (O LORD,) thou shalt preserue them, from this generation for euer.
We will here mention only in passing one particular misinterpretation by KJVO zealots of this text, to wit, that the promise of preservation in v. 7 refers back to the “words” of v. 6, when in fact it refers (as the Hebrew and the context show) to the persecuted believers of v. 5 (“For the oppression of the poore, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise (saith the LORD,) I will set him in safetie from him that puffeth at him”; for proof of my analysis, see the commentaries of John Gill or Franz Delitzsch on this Psalm; or, more fully, my article “A Careful Investigation of Psalm 12:6, 7,” The Biblical Evangelist, October 14, 1983. That article does need some modification, expansion and revision--which I hope to undertake shortly--but is essentially correct as written).
By remarkable extrapolation, the faulty foundational interpretation imposed on this text by KJVO partisans is alleged to first refer to the written word of God, then to its perfect transmission to posterity, which culminates most particularly and in fact uniquely in the English translation of the Scriptures known as the King James Version. An arbitrary explanation? Completely so. Nothing in the text nor context speaks of the copying or translating process at all, and certainly nothing about any English Bible version, nor indeed a particular one among them. Even so, it is somehow “found” in the text, resulting in an interpretation as exegetically forced as the Mormons finding the combining of the Book of Mormon with the Bible in the two sticks of Ezekiel 37:16-19.
Our attention here will be directed to the “use” made by KJVOers of the simile in v. 6 “as silver tried in a furnace of earth purified seven times” as though it were a reference to seven stages in God’s providing a “pure Bible” to the English-speaking people (and only to the English-speaking people) in the form of the KJV.
(One must ask--if the Word of God was verbally and plenary inspired, as indeed the Bible teaches, and then verbally and plenarily preserved in the copying and transmission process, as the novel doctrine created by KJVOers in the 1990s claims [see “The Error of ‘Verbal Plenary Preservation’,” As I See It, 12:11], why would there be any need to purify the Bible even once, much less “seven times”?)
As far as I can discover, the first writer to abuse Psalm 12:6--“purified seven times”--as though it were actually a promise / prophecy regarding the process of transmission of the Bible from antiquity to the modern era, was Peter S. Ruckman, Sr. A correspondent (whom we leave anonymous at his request, but who has made a systematic study of Ruckman’s published books) wrote to us:
Peter Ruckman seemed to use a form of the “purified seven times” claim in his commentary on the book of Psalms. Commenting on that phrase from Psalm 12:6, Ruckman indicated that the word “went out in seven installments” that included the Hebrew O. T., the Aramaic, the Greek N. T., the old Syriac translation, the Old Latin translation, the German translation of Martin Luther, and the AV of 1611 (I, pp. 70-71; see also his The Christian’s Handbook of Biblical Scholarship).
We don’t own Ruckman’s commentary on Psalms or otherwise have direct access to it, but do have his The Christian’s Handbook of Biblical Scholarship. Those “seven installments” in which God’s word went out are indeed alleged to be (The Christian’s Handbook of Biblical Scholarship, p. 125 in 1987 edition; p. 129 in 1988 edition):
1. the Hebrew part of the OT
2. the Aramaic part of the OT
3. the Greek NT
4. an “old Syriac” translation of 1.-3.
5. an “old Latin” translation of 1.-3.
6. a German translation of 1.-3. made during the Reformation
7. the KJV, allegedly “from the end of the Reformation”
Several of these are “problematic,” since number 4., the Peshitta Syriac version (no doubt what Ruckman has reference to) differs in literally thousands of places, all told, from the Masoretic Hebrew text, the textus receptus Greek NT, and the KJV. For example, the Peshitta Syriac does not contain I John 5:7, John 7:53-8:11; Acts 8:37; and other passages, and in fact did not include Revelation and several other NT books at all!
And number 5. the Old Latin version, in the OT was not made from the Hebrew text but was made from the Greek Septuagint translation, which version is to Ruckman and the whole of the KJVO herd “anathema.” And in the NT, the Old Latin manuscripts differ in many hundreds of details from the textus receptus Greek edition. Examples: all Old Latin manuscripts read “Isaiah the prophet” rather than “the prophets” at Mark 1:2; all read “men of goodwill” like Greek manuscript Vaticanus and the Vulgate, rather than “goodwill toward men” in Luke 2:14; all lack “after the spirit” in Romans 8:1 and lack “and in your spirit which are God’s” at I Corinthians 6:20; etc. (see my article “The Truth About the Waldensian Bible and the Old Latin Version,” Baptist Biblical Heritage 2:2, Summer, 1991)
Number 6. Luther’s German version, does NOT precisely conform to the Masoretic OT, the textus receptus NT, or the KJV. Among other things, it does not have I John 5:7 (see “Ruckman on Luther and I John 5:7: Dolt or Deceiver?” As I See It, 4:8, August 2001).
And there is no definitive edition of the KJV, with even the two editions issued in 1611 differing between themselves in over 2,000 places. Differences between these two and later KJV editions are many times greater.
One is hard-pressed to see a perfect and pristinely pure text in steps 4.-7. since these do not agree precisely or in all details with each other or with 1.-3. (whatever printed editions one may claim as the “true original” of the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek)
Somewhat surprisingly, the KJVO acolytes of Ruckman seem not to have followed their chosen “Pied Piper” in his abuse of this text (though they have gone in lock-step with him on many others), but have struck out in a different path of text abuse. It is common place among KJVO authors to find the “purified seven times” phrase limited to seven steps in the purification and perfection of the Bible in English, always culminating in the KJV as the crown of perfection. One problem: there is continual disagreement among authors as to the identity of these supposedly Divinely-foretold steps.
I enquired of Rick Norris of Statesville, North Carolina (who knows KJVO literature far better than anybody else of my acquaintance) if he could shed some light on KJVO misuse of “purified seven times” and he promptly and graciously sent me the following:
William Byers claimed that the KJV is the seventh translation in the English language from the pure text and is thus "purified seven times" (The History of the KJB, pp. 9, 23, 97-98). Byers wrote that the Geneva Bible was the "sixth translation" (p. 9), but later he wrote that "Geneva is five" (p. 97). Byers wrote: "Let's just count those English translations that came of the pure text of Erasmus: Tyndale's is one; Coverdale's is two; Matthew's is three, the Great Bible is four; Geneva is five; the Bishop's is six; and the King James is seven" (p. 97).
Although beginning his list with
Wycliffe's Bible, Timothy Morton made a similar inaccurate claim to that of
Byers when he wrote: "Each of these Bibles was (and still is) a valuable
translation, but the King James of 1611 is the purest--the seventh and final
purification" (Which Translation Should You Trust, p.
9). Morton listed "Wyclif's Bible (1382), Coverdale's Bible
(1535, using Tyndale's New Testament from 1525), Matthew's Bible (1537), The
Great Bible (1539), The Geneva Bible (1560), and The Bishops' Bible
(1568)" (p. 9).
Douglas Stauffer maintained that "the King James Bible became the seventh purification of the English translation in fulfillment of this prophecy" [Ps. 12:6] (One Book, p. 282). Stauffer listed: 1. Tyndale (1525), 2. Coverdale (1535), 3. Matthew (1537), 4. Great (1538), 5. Geneva (1560), 6. Bishops (1568), and 7. King James (1611) (pp. 282-284).
William Bradley stated: "The King James Bible was the seventh major English translation of the Scriptures" (To All Generations, p. 29). Bradley also began his list with Wycliffe's Bible and included Tyndale's, Coverdale's, Matthew's, Great, and Geneva Bibles, but he omitted the important Bishops' Bible of which the KJV was officially a revision. In his later book, Bradley actually listed a total of eight English translations in two consecutive paragraphs [Wycliffe's, Tyndale's, Coverdale's, Matthew's, Great, Geneva, Bishops', KJV], which actually made the KJV the eighth translation (Purified, p. 116). Nevertheless, Bradley claimed: "When the seventh major English translation of the Bible was published, the Word of God in English was complete; it was perfect" (Ibid., p. 131).
Ed DeVries also asserted that the KJV is "the seventh major translation of the Bible in the English language" (Divinely Inspired, Inerrantly Preserved, p. 28). In his list, DeVries listed Wycliffe's, Tyndale's, Matthew's, Great, Geneva, Bishops', and KJV, but he omitted the important 1535 Coverdale's Bible.
Phil Stringer also proposed: “It took several decades and seven major translations (Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthew’s, Great Bible, Bishops, Geneva, King James) in order to get the pure Word of God in English” (Carter, Elephant in the Living Room, p. 47).
Gail Riplinger also adopted a variation of this same KJV-only claim. She contended that “the English Bible was ’purified seven times’ and that “the KJV is its seventh and final purification” (In Awe of Thy Word, p. 131). In her book, she maintained that “the English Bible’s seven purifications are covered, including, the Gothic, the Anglo-Saxon, the pre-Wycliffe, the Wycliffe, the Tyndale/Coverdale/Great/Geneva, the Bishops, and the King James Bible (p. 33) [see also pp. 131, 843, 852]. She proposed that “the KJV was the seventh polishing of the English Bible” (p. 137).
As a survey of this sampling of typical KJVO literature shows, there is nothing like a consensus among these writers on details except that Psalm 12:6 is a promise, a prophecy of the purification of the English Bible in seven steps which somehow amazingly, no matter how variant, always culminates in the KJV as the seventh and final “purification.” It is immediately obvious that this claiming of seven steps in the “purification” of the English Bible is a “just so story” designed to shoe-horn the history of the English Bible back into the previously utterly forced twisting of Psalm 12:6. And of course, we must ask again: why did or would a “perfectly preserved Bible” (so they claim Psalm 12:7 teaches) need purification?
All the lists are defective. First, what is the Gothic version doing in Riplinger’s line of English Bibles? Gothic was a Germanic language spoken in the region north of the Black Sea in the 4th century A. D. and later, and the Gothic version made zero contribution to later English Bibles. Besides, it is known NOT to have included John 7:53-8:11, and therefore would not be a “pure” Bible by KJVO standards.
All but Riplinger omit the Anglo-Saxon version, though the Anglo-Saxon language IS part of the parental heritage of English, and the Anglo-Saxon version of the late first millennium did impact, however remotely, later English versions. On the other hand, to include it is problematic: it only consisted of the Gospels, and was made from a Latin version (partly conforming to the Latin Vulgate, partly conforming to the Old Latin), not from Greek.
Riplinger mentions a “pre-Wycliffite” version. Since she already mentioned the Anglo-Saxon, she can’t mean that, and there is nothing like a complete NT or whole English Bible version between the Anglo-Saxon and Wycliffe, except some partial paraphrases, metrical Psalms, and fragmentary translations. Perhaps she just made it up, like so much else that she claims as fact.
One wonders why Wycliffe is included in most lists--his version was based on the Latin Vulgate of Jerome and not at all on the Hebrew or Greek. Wycliffe’s version is considered (relatively) pure by KJVOers, yet Jerome’s translation from which it came is deemed an abomination by them (by contrast, see my articles “The Latin Vulgate Bible Translation in Historical Perspective,” parts I & II, As I See It, 5:4; 5:5, April & May 2002). Furthermore, Wycliffe and his assistants produced two versions, one largely literal or “formally equivalent,” the other more literary or “functionally equivalent” (stylistically like the NASB and NIV, respectively). Which one is the “pure” version? Or should both be counted?
Tyndale is included by all (lumped together with 3 other versions by Riplinger, no doubt to preserve the total of “seven”), though he published a decidedly incomplete Bible (only NT and Pentateuch), and furthermore, he made two revisions of his NT, making three editions in all. Why count just one of them--were not the 2nd and 3rd editions’ “purifications”?
Coverdale is in most lists, but the major part of his OT was based on Latin and German versions, not on the Hebrew. How can such a Latin- or German-based Bible be considered “pure”? Matthew’s Bible and the Great Bible suffered the same problem in the OT as Coverdale--for large sections of the OT, the Hebrew text was NOT used as the basis for translation. Yet these are included in the “purification” line.
And as for the Geneva Bible, be it noted that there was a Geneva NT (1557) made before the whole Bible was issued (1560) and the two NTs involved are clearly distinct translations. Shouldn’t these then be counted as two revisions in the line leading to the KJV? And then we have to consider Tomson’s revision of the Geneva NT, first issued around 1576, which became the usual form of the ”Geneva” NT thereafter And there appeared in 1599 and afterward editions of the Geneva with the Tomson NT but with a translation of Revelation by Junius, making four separate editions of the Geneva NT alone. Our total has already far surpassed “seven” revisions in the KJV line, and there is yet more to consider.
One glaring omission from every list offered in the literature cited above is the Rheims NT of 1582. The reason for the omission is obvious: it was a Roman Catholic translation made from the Latin Vulgate--horrors! But the Anglo-Saxon and Wycliffe versions were also made from the Vulgate, yet somehow they are “pure.” But far more notable: the King James translators themselves esteemed the Roman Catholic Rheims NT highly, and adopted its readings in nearly 3,000 places in their NT!!! (I demonstrate this in “Is the King James Version a ‘Roman Catholic Bible’?” As I See It,” 6:2 February 2003). The KJVOites are at odds with the KJV translators--the former uniformly dismiss the Rheims NT as corrupt, while the latter valued it enough to follow it 3,000 times in their translation! Beyond doubt they (the KJV translators) would have included the Rheims in any list of English versions leading to their own.
If Psalm 12:6 actually prophesied a seven-step purification of the English Bible, the seven historic steps should be immediately obvious to anyone who studied the matter, and all authors should be in agreement, just what we do not find! And if the 1611 Bible was that final, pristine, perfect seventh English version, why don’t we still use that edition today?
(There is actually another misuse of “purified seven times” met with in pro-KJVO literature, namely that the seven steps of purification were various editions of the KJV, beginning in 1611, with various revisions and corrections, supposedly culminating in the 1769 Oxford edition, supposedly purified from every spot and wrinkle, and preserved and in use today. Unfortunately for this theory, as for the other, the facts are very much and entirely otherwise.)
Let us return to consider the actual words of the text. We must note how dull indeed the KJVOers show themselves to be in their utter failure to recognize in Psalm 12:6 a simple simile: ”as silver purified in a furnace of earth purified seven times.” A simile is a “figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another of a different kind, as an illustration or ornament. . . . They . . . are normally introduced by as or like” (The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage, edited by R. W. Burchfield; 3rd edition, p. 714). In our Psalm, the “purity” of the words uttered by God in v. 5 is compared to the purity of silver that has been repeatedly refined. It is NOT the words that are said to have been purified, but rather the silver which is so treated.
Further, that the word “purified” refers to the silver and does NOT refer back to the “words” of the first clause of v. 6 is crystal clear in the Hebrew where “purified” is the word mezuqqaq, a masculine, singular participle, agreeing with “silver” / keseph, a masculine singular Hebrew noun, whereas “words” in v. 6 (both times) is feminine and plural. Hebrew characteristically has agreement in gender and number, and if “purified” referred to the “words,” they should agree in gender and number, but they do not agree in either. Therefore, it is obvious that there is not any declaration of any kind in this verse that the “words” had been, or would be (claiming the words are prophetic, as KJVOers actually claim) “purified seven times.”
Some may perhaps object to our “simile” explanation and say that the comparative word “as” in the KJV is italicized and not in the original Hebrew (many KJVOers wouldn’t adopt this counter argument, since they believe the italicized words in the KJV are as inspired and preserved as the rest of words in the KJV). We readily admit that indeed, the “as” is not in Hebrew, and therefore the Hebrew, rather than presenting a simile, is employing a metaphor, which is in essence a simile without the “as” (see The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage, edited by R. W. Burchfield; 3rd edition, p. 491). It is still figurative and only a dullard of monumental proportion would interpret it literally, and claim a seven-fold purification of the words, rather than of the silver of the simile.
It amazes me that people who claim so vehemently to love the Bible, who defend its integrity and insist on its Divine inspiration and inerrancy would be so utterly careless in the study of it so as to convert a mere simile (or metaphor) into a promise of the purification of the English Bible in seven steps (which seven they are utterly unable to agree upon). This is Bible abuse pure and simple. By such blatant perversion of the text, they show themselves to be mere agenda-driven dogmatists, like Jehovah’s Witnesses at the door, rather than serious and solemn students of the Word.
In AISI 13:8, the first sentence of the next to last paragraph of our article “God ‘Rocks’:” on Isaiah 44:8 should read: "So, then, the puzzling KJV “translation” of the Hebrew tsur by “God”. . .” We inadvertently wrote “rock” for the correct “God.” About half of the copies of that issue were sent out before the error was brought to our attention by a reader.
A Long, Deep Furrow: Three Centuries of Farming in New England, by Howard S. Russell. Hanover, N. H.: University Press of New England, 1976. 672 pp., hardback.
[Note: some of my readers might wonder why I frequently review books about agriculture, nature, and such in a largely Bible-oriented publication. The answer is really quite simple--the world of the Bible was one characterized by agriculture and animal husbandry; these activities and livelihoods occupied the great majority of the populace of ancient Israel in the OT and of the Roman Empire in the NT. Agriculture and livestock themes pervade both Testaments. Jesus very frequently told agriculturally-based parables. To more fully understand the mindset and thinking of the people of Bible times, it is imperative that we have some knowledge, at least by proxy, of all that is involved. In our present age, the great majority of people, especially in the West, have little or no knowledge or understanding of these things, crowded as they are into large cities. If most of my readers were farmers, foresters, gardeners, or keepers of livestock, attention to these topics might be less necessary. I wrote at some length on this topic in “Agriculture as a Means of Grace,” As I See It 2:4, April 1999]
It is a truism that “farming is everybody’s bread and butter,” and from the beginning of European settlement in New England in 1620, agriculture has been an essential part of the success of the colonies and later States.
When it comes to agriculture, New England has on the whole rather poorer resources in soil (literally the “foundation” of all agriculture) than almost any other region of the country (except perhaps the deserts and wholly mountainous regions of the West). The soil is rarely deep, rarely rich, and often rocky. Nevertheless, subsistence gardening and farming was the hallmark of agriculture there early on, of necessity. Forest clearings originally prepared by the Indians (peoples decimated by imported European diseases) were at first used by the transplanted Europeans, who grew familiar European crops but also quickly added native American plants (Indian corn, beans, squash, sunflowers, potatoes and more). The Europeans also brought livestock to the New World--cows, goats, pigs, horses, sheep, poultry--something “brand new” to the Indians whose only domesticated animal was the dog (“tastes like chicken”).
The three centuries that followed 1620 were characterized by continuous change and adaptation of agricultural practices, as fertility was exhausted by too little soil enrichment, timber was felled (for both domestic consumption--construction and fuel--and foreign export to timber-starved Europe, and to clear more land for farming), improved means of transportation were gradually developed (roads, canals, railroads) which meant easier access to markets but also greater competition from richer lands and farms in New York, Pennsylvania and beyond), and more. There was a transition from general farming to specialization (milk, butter and cheese; sheep; potatoes; fruit; onions; tobacco; horses; poultry and eggs; etc.). Population growth compelled repeated migration westward for many as there was inadequate land in New England for all to farm. Wars, economic disruptions, new and better farming tools and machinery, the industrial revolution, weather calamities, the adoption of coal instead of wood as fuel, and many other factors all had an impact on the development and continuous evolution of New England agriculture over time.
New England farm land has in part reverted to forest, in part been covered over with cities, and in part continues to be farmed today. Obviously, one over-arching aim of agriculture must be its perpetuation ad infinitum, or, as it is called, sustainable farming. Much of New England had been farmed more or less continuously for now, not just 300 years, but nearly 400. Done wisely, with continual adaptation and re-adaptation as circumstances dictate, it can continue to yield its necessary fruits forever. Current farming practices and future farming prospects, not only in New England but nation- and world-wide, can learn from the long view of past centuries.
I wanted to acquire and read this volume when it was first published 34 years ago, but never found a copy for sale. With the advent of internet booksellers, I have been able to satisfy this long-delayed want.