"AS I SEE IT" 

Volume 15, Number 5, May 2012

 

“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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Demise of the Middle Class and Death of a Society

 

“The middle class is the backbone of democracy--in fact democracy cannot exist without a flourishing middle class.  Perhaps the simplest definition of the middle class is that of a group of citizens who own something, who have some stake in individuality, in freedom, in good government, in the protection of civil rights and in the nation as a whole.  Democracy is essentially a giant co-operative in which all the citizens have a stake.  The middle class is the strongest bulwark against any totalitarian form of government.  That is why it is the first victim of totalitarian government, whether Fascist or Communist.  A man with a stake in the nation is independent.  He resists being pushed about and being regimented.  A man without economic security, dependent on the state to care for him whether it be to provide jobs or to pay him a dole when he is out of a job is helpless.  He can only continue to vote for the kind of government which provides him a roof over his head, a miserable wage and food for the mouths of himself and his children. . . . The real problem, the real pressure arises from a growing [dependent class], dispossessed of all property, and dependent upon the heavily taxed and waning economic strength of private ownership and initiative.  That means simply a growing population with votes which expects to be cared for by the state.  It can presently and quite simply vote democracy out of existence.”

Louis Bromfield

Pleasant Valley, pp. 123-4, 125

(Harper & Brothers, 1945)

 

Rome collapsed despite every desperate measure when she reached the point when two-thirds of her population became indigent and took to huddling in the cities to live off of state charity. . . . Higher and higher taxes to support Joe and his friends are imposed upon those who through caution or enterprise and thrift still have a job or a little money.  Individual enterprise is throttled because income and capital are too heavily taxed or because the risks of investing money at such a calamitous time are too great.”

Ibid., pp. 237, 239

 

[Louis Bromfield (1896-1956) was a famous American novelist of the 1920s and 30s, but is now almost entirely remembered for the innovative agricultural practices which he employed to restore three rundown and ruined farms in north central Ohio in the 1940s and 50s.  He chronicled his agricultural achievements in a series of books, of which Pleasant Valley was the first, and Malabar Farm the most famous--Editor]

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From the Cynic’s Dictionary

 

“Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.
 
Finally, a word to describe our current political situation.”

---copied

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“Heirs of the Ages”

 

“While driving one day, I passed a worn-out farm.  Deep gullies were cut through the fields where the dirt had been washed away by the rains.  The creek had been allowed to change its course in the bottom of the field and had cut a new channel, ruining the good land in its way.  Tall weeds and brambles were taking more strength from the soil already so poor that grass would scarcely grow.

 

With me as I viewed the place was a friend from Switzerland, and as he looked over the neglected farm, he exclaimed, ‘Oh, it is a crime!  It is a crime to treat good land like that!’

 

The more I think about it, the more sure I am that he used the exact word to suit the case.  It is a crime to wear out and ruin a farm, and the farmer who does so is a thief stealing from posterity.

 

We are heirs of the ages; but the estate is entailed, as large estates frequently are, so that while we inherit the earth, the great round world which is God’s footstool, we have only the use of it while we live and must pass it on to those who come after us.  We hold the property in trust and have no right to injure it or to lessen its value.  To do so is dishonest, stealing from our heirs their inheritance.

 

The world is the beautiful estate of the human family passing down from generation to generation, marked by each holder while in his possession according to his character.

 

Did you ever think how a bit of land shows the character of the owner?  A dishonest greed is shown by robbing the soil; the traits of a spendthrift are shown in wasting the resources of the farm by destroying its wood and waters, while carelessness and laziness are plainly to be seen in deep scars on the hillsides and washes in the lower fields.

 

It should be a matter of pride to keep our own farm, that little bit of the earth’s surface for which we are responsible, in good condition, passing it on to our successor better than we found it.  Trees should be growing where otherwise would be waste places, with the waters protected as much as possible from the hot sun and drying winds, with fields free from gullies and the soil fertile.”

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House in the Ozarks

edited by Stephen W. Hines

(Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), pp. 47-8

 

[This brief article--see the review of the book from which it is quoted elsewhere in this issue--gives a good Biblically-consistent perspective on the whole question of man’s relationship to his environment: we are permitted to utilize the resources of God’s creation, but not for merely selfish ends, not as owners, but as temporary and accountable trustees and stewards who have an obligation to conserve and improve that which is briefly in their hands, what Aldo Leopold called “wise use conservation.”--Editor]

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More on the Recent English Septuagint Translation

 

Two of our valued subscribers brought to our attention additional information about the recent project to produce a new English translation of the Septuagint to which we alluded in our previous issue.  Full information on this English Septuagint version (including the text in electronic format) is available at http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets which we will here briefly summarize.  This project, undertaken by a team of Septuagint scholars in the 1990s under the auspices of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies, was titled, appropriately, when finished, The New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS).  In 2007, it was published by Oxford University Press (a second, corrected edition appeared in 2009).  The names of the participating scholars are given, along with guidelines followed, and much additional information.  The volume is currently in-print and remarkably inexpensive (I found a new copy via Amazon for less than $22, shipping extra).  As soon as I have opportunity to examine this version, I hope to review it here.

---Editor

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And Just So You’ll Know

 

“The subjunctive mood is one of the great shifting sands of English grammar.  Its complexity over the centuries is such that the standard reference work on historical English syntax by F. Th. Vassar (4 vols., 1963-1973) devoted 156 pages to the subject . . . and listed more than 300 items in its bibliography.”

 

The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage, p. 746

edited by R. W. Burchfield

Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.  3rd edition

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Matthew 28:1-- A Reader’s Question:

“The First of the Sabbaths” or “the First Day of the Week”?

 

“Mr. Kutilek,


I have been looking at comparative readings of Matthew 28:1 between various translations (Holman, Douay-Rheims, ASV, Darby, KJV, etc.) in contrast to Young's Literal Translation.  Young's uses the singular phrase "toward the first of the sabbaths...", whereas the others generally phrase the passage as "toward (or on) the first day of the week", or "the day after the sabbath."

 

Do you know why Young's translation is so marked[ly] different than the others?  I would appreciate any insight or observation you can provide on this small issue. 

 

I have read much of your commentary on the kjvonly.org site, and found it to be extremely illuminating and informative. 

 

Thank you.

 

M. Y----- “  

---

 

My reply--

 

“Mr. Y-----,

 

Young's translation of this phrase is quite literal, though rather incomprehensible; the Greek phrase itself (eis mian sabbaton) is an idiom which means "toward the first (day) that follows the weekly sabbaths," i.e., what we call Sunday.  Jews have long counted the days of the week-- "the first" (after the sabbath), "the second" etc. to avoid mentioning the names of pagan gods which are a part of the names of the various days of the week in Gentile cultures--Sun-day, Moon-day, etc.

 

I was surprised to find that both John Broadus and A. T. Robertson (in their respective commentaries on Matthew’s Gospel), who generally take notice of such things, completely pass up discussing this idiom.  But the old 17th century commentary of John Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, 4 vols. (Baker, 1979 reprint of 1859 edition) gives numerous examples from ancient Jewish literature demonstrating this idiomatic usage.  D. A. Carson in his more recent commentary on Matthew (in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary series edited by Frank Gaebelein) references Lightfoot's discussion.

 

It is a common aphorism regarding Bible translations that they should be “as literal as possible, but as free as necessary.”  It is evident from this brief analysis that at times a rigidly literal translation (such as Young’s) can completely fail to be intelligible or to convey to the reader the correct sense of the original.

 

Doug Kutilek

 

PS. I attach the latest issue of my free monthly cyber-magazine "As I See It."  Sent free on request.” 

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BOOK REVIEWS

 

The World War II Bookshelf: Fifty Must-Read Books by James F. Dunnigan.  New York: Citadel Books, 2004.  302 pp., hardback.  $22.95

 

While we have the promise of the Old Testament prophets, that during the earthly kingdom of the Messiah, “nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3), and that “He will proclaim peace to the nations” (Zechariah 9:10), yet until that time, we have every reason from all of history to believe that war will be a common, a characteristic, feature of human experience, and that George Santayana was sadly but precisely correct when he affirmed that “only the dead have seen an end to war,” (Soliloquies in England.  Scribner’s, 1924, p. 102).  And because war is an ever-present prospect or reality in the present age, we will be wise to study war in all of its aspects, so that we may, as far as it lies within our powers, prevent war when possible, and wage it with the greatest speed and efficiency when it is unavoidable by any means other than capitulation.

 

The greatest of wars in human history, so far, is that commonly designated “World War II,” which is generally considered as having extended from 1939-1945 (some date its beginning to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931).  More nations were involved, more men were under arms, more death and destruction were inflicted than during any previous war, and by a very substantial margin.  And there was no greater world-transforming event in the 20th century than World War II. 

 

It is no surprise that in the 70+ years since that war began, more books have been written about it than any other war, the relevant literature in English alone (to say nothing of German, Russian, French, Italian, Japanese and other languages) numbering in the tens of thousands of volumes.  Where to begin in the study of this conflict, its causes, conduct, conclusion and consequences? (the same quandary faces us when we commence the study of any broad subject, whether involving history, biography, science, the Bible, whatever). 

 

In such cases, it is almost always profitable to consult a widely-read “specialist” in the topic at hand.  James F. Dunnistan is one such expert whose focus is on military subjects, particularly the Second World War.  From his own study and reading, he recommends fifty books or, rather, titles, which in one case encompasses 78 books in a series, and 16 in another, and at least one 6-volume set, plus two “bonus” recommendations of books he authored on the subject; in short, enough to keep even a very diligent reader continuously occupied for two or three years.

 

The books selected include “big picture” overviews of the war, regional studies of the war in Africa, in Asia, in Eastern and Western Europe, the war at sea, in the air, on land, guerilla movements, technological advances during the war, many technical official government publications and statistical analyses (not “enthralling” reading, but necessary for an accurate understanding of the war), atlases and more, and not just from the American or Allied point of view, but also from the German, Russian (who suffered 20 million deaths in the war) and Japanese perspectives.  Biographies, histories of specific battles (with exceptions) and units, and specialized works on the minutiae of the war are by design by-passed in this listing, not that there are not thousands of such books certainly worthy of attention; most of my reading about World War II is from these works of more restricted focus).

 

My own reading of books on World War II must extend to perhaps 40, maybe 50 or more volumes (counting general histories, biographies, topical studies and books on specific incidents, events, and such), most of them decidedly worthwhile, even excellent.  Even so, I find that I have read through but three of the titles listed here, and possess another dozen and more of them, some of which I hope to read shortly.

 

Fourth century A.D. Roman military writer Flavius Vegetius Renatus in his highly important and long-influential work, Epitoma Rei Militaris (“A Summary of Military Matters”) struck at the heart of the matter: “He who wants peace, let him prepare for war.” 

---Doug Kutilek

---

 

A quote from The World War II Bookshelf--

 

“The Japanese quickly learned that once the American combat troops got ashore, the Engineer Amphibious Brigades and SeaBees made it impossible to throw the Americans out.  In fact, the U. S. Marines have never been thrown off a beach, and during World War II that record was never seriously threatened.  A lot of this had to do with the support combat troops received.” (p. 78)

 

As the war was ending, “The French were trying to cut a deal with the Russians to form a new alliance to oppose America and Britain” (p. 215).  And this after we, at great expense in blood and money, rescued France from the Germans--for the second time in three decades!  Such treachery!  Utterly appalling.  Is it any wonder that many people have disdain for the French government?--Editor

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Little House in the Ozarks by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Edited by Stephen W. Hines.  Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991.  315 pp., hardback.

 

Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) is most famous for the series of “Little House” children’s books, written in the 1930s and 40s, which recount her life growing up as a pioneer girl in several locations on the American frontier in the post-Civil War era.  But in the decades preceding the writing of these books, Mrs. Wilder was a prolific and widely-published author, albeit mostly within the confines of the Ozarks.  As an active farm wife, she was a regular columnist in or contributor to several local publications, as well in some state-wide (Missouri) periodicals and even in national denominational Christian publications.  Being published in periodic literature (notoriously ephemeral), these writings are all but wholly unknown even to those who are avid readers of the Little House books.  From among these essentially inaccessible writings, the editor has made a selection and arranged them topically in a dozen chapters.  Most of the essays are quite brief--only a page or two, rarely three or four or a bit more.  They focus on life in rural America in the 1910s and 20s, treat of the hardships but also the joys and benefits of small town and rural life, domestic relations, the issues of the hour (World War I, woman’s suffrage, neighbors good and bad), the value and dignity of labor, matters of character, ethics and education (she advocated home-schooling), and family and friends.  Throughout, they are marked by a tone and perspective of a Biblical world-view, with Scripture not infrequently quoted (and occasionally misquoted) or alluded to, and always accepted as authoritative.  While these writings will never be the basis for a television series, they may be read with interest and profit, giving insight into life in Middle America, what, now nearly a century ago.  Can it have been so long?

---Doug Kutilek

---

 

Some quotes from Little House in the Ozarks--

 

“This particular boy was late at school one icy winter morning, and the teacher reproved him and asked the reason for his tardiness.  ‘I started early enough,’ Tom answered,’ but it was so slippery that every time I took one step ahead I slipped back two steps.’  There was a hush of astonishment, and then the teacher asked, ‘But if that is true, how did you ever get here?’  ‘Oh, that’s easy,’ replied Tom.  ‘I was afraid I was going to be late and so I just turned around and came backwards.’ “ p. 101

 

“We discovered this year that the two of us [i.e., Laura and husband Almanzo, she past 50, he past 60], without any outside help, had produced enough in the last year to feed thirty persons for a year--all the bread, butter, meat, eggs, sweetening, and vegetables necessary--and this does not include beef cattle sold off the place.” p. 155

 

“We must be ready to meet and take advantage of opportunities as they come, or we will lose the chance.  We cannot have any hold on them once they have passed by.  Nor is time and endeavor spent preparing ourselves ever wasted, for if we are ready, opportunity is sure to come.”  p. 235

 

“The Man of the Place and I have realized with some shock of a surprise that we do not need to buy anything during the coming year.  There are some things we need and much that we would like to get, but if it were necessary, we could go very comfortably through the year without a thing more than we now have on the place.  There is wheat for our bread and potatoes, both Irish and sweet; there are beans and corn and peas.  Our meat, milk, cream, butter, and eggs are provided.  A year’s supply of fruit and sweetening are at hand and a plentiful supply of fuel in the wood lot.  All this, to say nothing of the surplus.  During the summer when I have read of the high wages paid in factories and shops, there has been a little feeling of envy in the back of my mind; but I suppose if those working people had a year’s supply of fuel and provisions and no rent to pay, they would think it wonderful good fortune.” p. 254

 

“In buying a cheap popularity, people sometimes bankrupt themselves in things the value of which cannot be estimated.  If popular favor must be paid for by the surrender of principles or loss of character, then indeed the price is too high.” p. 277

 

“What a joy our memories may be or what a sorrow!  But glad or sad they are with us forever.  Let us make them carefully of all good things, rejoicing in the wonderful truth that while we are laying up for ourselves the very sweetest and best of memories, we are at the same time giving them to others.” p. 315

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I Promised My Dad: an Intimate Portrait of Michael Landon by His Eldest Daughter by Cheryl Landon Wilson, with Jane Scovell.  New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992.  224 pp., hardback.

 

While helping sort through the tornado-wrecked remains of my brother-in-law’s mobile home a couple weeks ago, I found this volume, which actually belongs to my mother-in-law, and being in the midst of reading the book by Laura Ingalls Wilder reviewed above, one thing led to another, and I decided to read this one about the actor-director-writer who brought the “Little House” books to television.

 

Eugene Maurice Orowitz (1936-1991)--for such was the birth name of the actor known as “Michael Landon”--was born in Queens, New York but grew up in Collingswood, New Jersey, across the river from Philadelphia.  His father was a Jewish actor / theater manager and his mother was an ethnically Irish Catholic dancer who was seriously unstable mentally.  To say that the marriage was a terrible mismatch would be a gross understatement.  Home life for Eugene and his sister was horrible, and for Eugene, life in the neighborhood and in school was no better, he being just about the only Jewish kid around (though receiving very little religious training as a youth, he did complete the bar mitzvah ceremony in his teen years).  The one bright spot in high school was his unexpected ability to throw a javelin, at which he was very good, so good in fact that he landed an athletic scholarship to the University of Southern California, on the opposite side of the continent.  But an injury to his shoulder brought his athletic hopes to a quick end. 

 

He had some small interest in trying his hand at acting, and decided to adopt a less ethnic stage name, and so “Michael Landon” was “born.”  Over the next several years, he got a number of small roles in TV dramas, and was the lead in a cheesy B movie “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” which led to a brief recording career.

 

His big break came in 1959 when but 22 when he was cast, along with three other largely unknown actors, as one of the Cartwrights on the highly successful TV western “Bonanza.”  He was of course the feisty, hot-headed youngest son “Little Joe.”  That show ran until 1973, when Landon launched “The Little House on the Prairie” series which ran into the early 80s (and still is a mainstay in syndication), and for which he did almost everything--acting (as ”Charles Ingalls”), writing, directing, and producing.  When this series ended, it was followed by another successful show, “Highway to Heaven” (1984-1989) in which Landon starred as a probationary angel Jonathan Smith (sort of like Clarence in “It’s a Wonderful Life” but not scatter-brained) who helped people with their problems.  After this show ended, Landon worked on several projects and had another series in the preliminary stages when he was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in April, 1991; he died less than four months after diagnosis.  He was 54.  Thus the professional life.

 

The “personae” of first Little Joe Cartwright, then Charles Ingalls, and finally Jonathan Smith were all decent, honorable, honest individuals, concerned with doing right, being fair, helping the weak.  Yes, both “Little Joe” and “Charles” had sometimes hot tempers.  But “The Little House on the Prairie” over which Landon had virtually absolute content control was consistently pro-family, pro-God, church and the Bible, pro-honesty, pro-morality, and such.  It never had profanity, or vulgarity, or lewdness, and was never ambiguous about right and wrong (with the exception of “Mr. Edwards’ “ indulgence in liquor).  And since Michael Landon by choice always played decent, honorable characters, one might suppose that that was the way he was in real life.  Perhaps that is how he wanted to be perceived, or wished he were, but what you saw was not entirely what you got.

 

In an article written for Life magazine, Landon wrote about the lasting effects on him of the near-fatal accident suffered by step-daughter Cheryl while a college student in 1972.  She alone of the four occupants of the car survived--just barely--a horrendous crash.  Landon wrote: “Since that day, every script I’ve written and every series I’ve produced . . . have expressed the things I most deeply believe.  I believe in God, I believe in family, I believe in truth between people, I believe in the power of love, I believe that we really are created in God’s image, and that there is God in all of us.” (p. 201).  These things were evident in the content of his TV productions, but in his personal life, he fell considerably short of these things.

 

At 19, he had married a woman 7 years his senior who had an eight year old son, whom Landon adopted; the couple adopted two other children, one of whom was inexplicably returned to the adoption agency after a year.  This marriage lasted six years. 

 

While married to this first wife, Landon began a relationship with a bit-part actress whom he met on the set of “Bonanza.”  They had a child together while they were still married to other people; divorces followed and Landon and she were married shortly thereafter.  Wife number 2 had a nine-year old daughter (the author of the book here under review) whom Landon sought to adopt, but could not since her biological father would not agree to it.  Nevertheless, she always called him “Dad” and he treated her as his own daughter.  Landon and his second wife had four children together in their 18-year+ marriage.

 

Circa 1980, as the “Little House” series was nearing its end, Landon began a relationship with a make-up artist in her 20s who worked on the series.  This led to divorce from his second wife, and a strong sense by their five children of betrayal and abandonment by their father (which feeling is still evidenced in this book).

 

Marriage to the third wife lasted until Landon’s death and produced two children.

 

In the few months of his illness, Landon changed the provisions of his will and greatly reduced the amount of his sizeable estate that went to his children by all but the last wife.  This caused considerable emotional pain to those children.

 

While Landon is portrayed in the book as a loving father and committed family man most of the time, his step daughter acknowledges that he as lifelong habits drank and smoked too much.  Exactly what “too much” means, I can’t say, but it must have been substantial, and I suspect may have contributed to his final, fatal illness.  This book having been written and published less than a year after the actor’s death, it is clear that the author and her siblings hadn’t entirely sorted through their emotions and thoughts regarding Michael Landon.  I wonder what they think now, after 20 years’ reflection.

 

While disappointed about the “real” Michael Landon being too little like the honorable characters he portrayed, I am not “surprised”; the ancient Greek word for actor is “hypocrite”--somebody who pretends to be who and what he is not.

 

There is a bright note in all of this.  The author indicates, “Mom found solace [after the divorce] in God.  She became a born-again Christian, and so did [my siblings] Leslie and Michael, Jr.” (p. 167).  I hope that that is true.

---Doug Kutilek

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The English Bible: A History of Translations by F. F. Bruce.  London: Lutterworth Press, 1961.  234 pp., hardback.

 

[Note: this review was written July 5, 1980, when I was 27, but is here published, sparingly revised, for the first time--Editor]

 

After several contacts with the writings of F. F. Bruce, the reader comes to expect thorough research and quality in anything written by Bruce.  The English Bible is not a disappointment in this regard.  It is generally a popular (as opposed to technical) treatment of the subject.  The narrative of the accounts of the English Bible from the earliest beginnings, while not lively, is kept generally interesting and informative.  One defect is the lack of a bibliography or suggested further readings (though such can be found in Bruce’s The Books and the Parchments (third edition, 1963, pp. 269-70).

 

Beginning with the “committee” translations of the Geneva Bible (1560), a list of the contributors and a sketch of their qualifications for their task should have been included.

 

On the Authorized Version, Bruce failed to note calls for its revision within the very century of its publication, by, among others, the eminent John Owens.  Further, he fails to note the quasi official revisions in the KJV punctuation and spelling carried out in the 18th century.

 

With regard to the English translations of the 16th and 17th centuries, this reader is struck by how important some knowledge of the political and religious history of England is to gaining a proper understanding of the context of each translation.  (A note on p. 111 contained the interesting information that the very first Bible printed in America was an Algonquin NT (1661) and OT (1663), translated by one John Eliot, printed in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  I had no idea that the Indians so early had a Bible in their own tongue).

 

Surprisingly, Bruce states that the last explanatory notation in the Rheims-Douay Catholic version, “with but little modification of language,” “strikes a sympathetic chord in the heart of any Christian reader,” (pp. 123, 4).  The surprise is because that note reads in part, “we thy poor creatures . . . are so afflicted for confession and defense of the holy Catholic and Apostolic truth, contained in this thy sacred book, and in the infallible doctrine of thy dearest spouse our mother the Church . . . .”  Is Bruce serious?  I personally find it totally revolting to consider the Church of Rome to be other than what it actually is--the greatest enemy of vernacular Bibles, a great corrupter of the doctrines of the Bible, and historically the worst persecutor of those who refused to submit under its iron heel; and far from being worthy of defense, it deserves rather rebuke and rejection.

 

Bruce’s survey of versions after the AV, especially the very numerous 20th century translations is valuable.  However, Bruce naively describes one renderer of the NT into modern English as so doing “with no theological or ecclesiastical bias,” (p. 157).  No one can so translate the NT; everyone has presuppositions and doctrinal biases.  That same translator claims to have aimed that his version would be “a succinct and compressed running commentary (not doctrinal)” to be used side-by-side with older translations.  Unless a commentary is strictly limited to questions of grammar and philology, it cannot be non-doctrinal in viewpoint.

 

Bruce is far too easy on the apostasy and unbelief of, among others, Moffatt; he also seems to be unaware of the very low quality of both the scholarship and English style of the New World translation of the “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”  He does include numerous valid criticisms of the Revised Standard Version, though on the whole is very favorable toward it.  He notes that many of the attacks on the RSV were based on the “unorthodoxy of some” of the translators.  “Some” is an understatement; 30 of 31 RSV translators rejected the Bible doctrine of inerrancy.  Waters from a foul source will certainly be foul as well (incidentally, Bruce holds to the “limited inerrancy,” i.e. limited errancy view of Scripture).  Further, Bruce naively (or blindly?) says of the RSV translators that rather than being theologically biased, “for the most part  they leaned over backwards so as not to let their varying theological opinions colour it, “ (p. 196).  If this were true (and it is not), why is the Deity of Christ denied, either in the text or the margin in Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13; and 2 Peter 1:1, in every case in clear violation of established rules of Greek grammar and patterns of NT usage?  Similarly on Hebrews 1:8.  Unconverted men who do not respect the document before them as the infallible word of God, and who are spiritually blinded by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4) cannot be expected to produce an “unbiased” or fully reliable translation.  Whatever the merits of the RSV, it is in just such crucial passages as those above that they falter and fail.  And it is no surprise.  And that the RSV translators should downplay and obscure or eliminate OT messianic passages wholesale is likewise not startling.  It is expected from such men.

 

Bruce very greatly praised the just -released (1961) New English Bible, and is a friend and colleague of many of its renderers.  The NEB translators, he fails to note, were even less orthodox than the RSV men.  (The NEB OT has been subsequently issued; it is virtually the product of one man, G. R. Driver, and his students.  Conjectural emendations of the base text are very freely made without textual justification, and are rarely even noted in the margin.  Dr. Stephen A. Kaufman of Hebrew Union College, himself an adherent of Reformed (liberal) Judaism, has described the NEB OT as “virtually worthless” as a translation.  It smells from end to end of Driver’s warped and peculiar (and anti-orthodox) views.

 

Due to its date, Bruce’s book of course is lacking in discussions of the NASB, NIV, TEV, LB, and other translations.  For basic information on these, Kubo and Specht’s So Many Versions? should be consulted.

 

Bruce is helpful in giving background information.  But his conclusions and recommendations must be weighed very cautiously.

---Doug Kutilek

 

[Note: a third edition of the above work, re-titled as History of the Bible in English, was published in 1978 (274 pp.) and brings the subject up to date as of the mid-1970s.]

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