AxPx Guest Post: A Response to Dr. Bart D. Ehrman’s Critique of the KJV Bible

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re going to start posting “Guest Posts” here and there. Sometimes we’ll get emails or comments that are just too long to address or post under the comments area. Hopefully, this is a way to continue the conversation of a particular topic. The opinions held in these articles don’t necessarily reflect the opinion of theaxpx.com or The AxPx Podcast. Read, enjoy and comment away! ]

Regarding:  “What Kind of a Text Is the King James Bible?”

In Response To: A Lecture by Dr. Bart D. Ehrman, given at the William H. Hannon Library at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, 1/24/13, for the traveling exhibition Manifold Greatness: The Creation & Afterlife of the King James Bible aired on the AXPX podcast 1/26/2013, go to:  (http://www.theaxpx.com/the-axpx-podcast-14-what-kind-of-a-text-is-the-king-james-bible-a-lecture-by-dr-bart-d-ehrman/ 

 A Guest Blog Post by Tom Duregger

 

I found the lecture to be cordially entertaining mockery for the uninformed.  His humorous approach would have been worth it, had he completed the story which would have been fitting for an Exhibition whose purpose was to highlight the greatness of what the KJV Bible set in motion.

It seems that he implied and left his audience with the impression that the KJV Bible in widespread usage today was that Original 1611 KJV “Olde English” publication which was, compared to what it has become, only the “rough draft” written in an “unfixed” language.

My aim here is not to critique what was said; to do that, one could write a book.  Instead I would like to highlight few important things that could have been said, which might have provided a context for his humor and left the listener with hope and satisfaction with some of the long term positive effects that were initiated by the first edition of the 1611 King James Bible. Now keep in mind that the KJV Bible has never been copy written, it was and is in the public domain.

Over a span of 158 years, between 1611 and 1769 there were continuous updates: edits, corrections, and revisions to the original work. The KJV itself was being continually edited to fit the language of the day because the English language itself was continuously changing and morphing.  The English language was not, as it is today, “Fixed” or in another word, “Defined”.  There was not in existence a comprehensive dictionary used by the masses for the purpose of cementing the language into place, like we have today.  Editing, printing, and publishing was done in small shops so that widespread instant “standardization” with the enforcement of copywrite was not what was happening. Bookmakers/printers catered to the desires of their customers, as it is today.

Then, in the year 1769 something wonderful happened, a pinnacle of editing was reached:

The 1769 edition contained 24,000 updates when compared with the original 1611 edition. Mass production printing and distribution was possible and this edition was well received.  It is this edition which was acclaimed as a “Masterpiece of the English Language”.  Not the original 1611 Edition, but the 1769 edition, which has only had 6 changes since then.  I have a Holman KJV Bible which I had bought in 1971, it was the 1801 Edition and most likely contain the 6 changes referred to.

This made possible a second wonderful thing to happen in the year 1828:

Noah Webster “Fixed or Defined” the English language in 1828 with his An American Dictionary of the English Language.   (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webster%27s_Dictionary) Noah Webster was motivated to provide a comprehensive dictionary that would enable the common man to study the current edition of the KJV Bible. Noah Webster’s dictionary preceded the Oxford English Dictionary by 100 years being completed in 1928.

This made possible a third wonderful thing in the year 1890:

The Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, generally known as Strong’s Concordance, is a concordance of the King James Bible (KJV) that was constructed under the direction of Dr. James Strong (1822–1894) and first published in 1890. Dr. Strong was Professor of exegetical theology at Drew Theological Seminary at the time. It is an exhaustive cross-reference of every word in the KJV back to the word in the original text.

Unlike other Biblical reference books, the purpose of Strong’s Concordance is not to provide content or commentary about the Bible, but to provide an index to the Bible. This allows the reader to find words where they appear in the Bible. This index allows a student of the Bible to re-find a phrase or passage previously studied. It also lets the reader directly compare how the same word may be used elsewhere in the Bible. In this way Strong’s Notes provides an independent check against translations, and offers an opportunity for greater, and more technically accurate understanding of text within the context of the passage.

Strong’s Concordance includes:

For more, go to: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strong%27s_Concordance)

The Strong’s Concordance is another powerful tool of Bible Study for the common man.  A history changing event in the way the Scriptures are studied.  The pinnacle of revision of the 1769 Edition of the KJV, the fixing of the language by Noah Webster made it possible for James Strong to produce an English Concordance of the Bible which has endured time.

The fixing of the language by Webster, which solidified the 1769 edition of the “1611 KJV Bible” for all time, and the use of the Strong’s Concordance facilitated the loving creation a fourth great thing:

The Nave’s Topical Bible. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nave%27s_Topical_Bible

Nave’s Topical Bible was originally produced by Orville J. Nave, A.M., D.D., LL.D. (1841-1917) while serving as a Chaplin in the United States Army.  He referred to this work as “the result of fourteen years of delightful and untiring study of the Word of God.”  Nave’s topics were originally published in the early 1900’s.

The Nave’s Topical Bible is a type of Bible concordance with over 20,000 topics and subtopics, referencing over 100,000 Bible verses. The text is indexed by Nave’s 5000+ main topic headings and includes verse references fully quoted in line using the KJV, except when there are over 150 verse references, in which case only the reference is presented.

Online version: http://www.naves-topical-bible.com/

 In Summary:

The KJV Bible, which was a contemporary English version in its day, and necessarily morphed in its composition over the next 158 years, in order to remain relevant to its readers as the language changed, had a tremendous positive effect on society, releasing the power of the Scriptures to the common man. The Scriptures are the source of all good and moral law for all time, and when the people can study the Scriptures in their own language, it is good for society, and bad for tyrants.

As all good, righteous law emanates from God’s Word, which defines the limits and responsibilities of individuals, cultures, and nations.  Self governance (the governing of the self, by oneself) relies upon the Words of the Creator and Natural Law (Ref: http://www.lonang.com/.  Making the Scriptures available to the common man has been greatly furthered by the KJV over these past 500 years.

Together with Noah Webster’s Dictionary, The Strong’s Concordance, and the Nave’s Topical Bible, “Searching the Scripture” was made available to the common man. That is why the so called “1611 King James Bible” in the centerpiece which caused Manifold Great and wonderful things to happen…

It is my opinion that the lecture given by Dr. Erhman was antithetical to the good intentions of the creators of the Manifold Greatness exhibit as his comments were limited to a mocking of the language of the Original 1611 manuscript compared to today’s English language.

Dr. Ehrman could have drawn direction for his lecture from the exhibitor’s website in order to get a feel for what they were attempting to communicate and complement those thoughts with his remarks.

However, Dr. Ehrman obviously chose not to comment in a complementary fashion.  Since this event was held at a Catholic institution, many attendees would not have been very familiar with the KJV Bible (An Anglican(British)/Protestant endeavor) even though the modern Catholic Douay-Rheims 1899 version reads very similarly the 1769 KJV Bible.  An interesting fact that most Catholics would be unaware of, and may have actually enjoyed finding out.  Picking fun at the Protestant KJV was easy to do, given the audience and their unfamiliarity with the “Modern(1769)/Protestant” KJV.  Academic trust was betrayed, by my way of thinking.

For those who attended the event expecting a speaker who would be expounding upon the development and impact of the KJV Bible in a positive way must have gone away “scratching their heads” after the lecture, and then hopefully move on to enjoy what must have been a fantastic exhibit.

I will never cease to be amazed at how lucrative the churning of religion can be for those who pursue an academic career.

 

Check out the following promotional memo from the University’s Website:

 

“From January 24 through February 22, 2013, the William H. Hannon Library at Loyola Marymount University will be host to the traveling exhibition Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible.

The exhibition, which was created to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the first printing of the King James Bible in 1611, tells the story of the origins, creation, and impact of one of the most influential books in history. Manifold Greatness not only highlights the dramatic history behind the making of this great book, but also includes its influence on English and American literature, and its multifaceted impact on culture and society to the present day. Even many of those whose lives have been affected by the King James Bible may not realize that less than a century before it was produced, the very idea of the Bible translated into English was considered dangerous and even criminal. Many may also be unaware of the meticulous work of some four dozen of England’s top scholars, who labored for years to complete the translation, now named “the King James Bible” after its royal sponsor, James I.

Equally compelling is the story of the book’s afterlife—its reception in the years, decades, and centuries that followed its first printing, and how it came to be so ubiquitous. This breathtaking panel exhibition focuses on the human side of this major cultural landmark and explores the book’s social, cultural, literary, and religious influence over four centuries, from Pilgrim’s Progress to Handel’s Messiah to the Apollo 8 astronauts as they read from Genesis—in the King James Bible translation—while they orbited the Moon.

The traveling exhibition will be on display in the level three atrium at the William H. Hannon Library at Loyola Marymount University from January 24 through February 22, 2013. A complementary rare books exhibition called Singular Wisdom: The King James Bible and Early Printed Bibles, with treasures from LMU and on loan from the William Andrews Clark Library at UCLA, will be on display in the adjacent Archives & Special Collections gallery from January 14 through May 12, 2013.

Admission to the exhibitions and all related programming is free and open to the public. Directions to the William H. Hannon Library and parking fee information can be found here.

Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible was organized by the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C., and the American Library Association Public Programs Office. It is based on an exhibition of the same name developed by the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, with assistance from the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas. The traveling exhibition was made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.”

 

Awesome Free Bible Study Software with texts which include Strong’s Numbers, etc.:

Go to: http://awakenedchurch.com/e-sword/cbb/free-bible-study-software-anyone

 

Passage Comparison, a passage referencing “mining”:

 Job 28:1-11  KJV-1611:

 

(1)  Surely there is a veine for the siluer, and a place for golde where they fine it.

(2)  Iron is taken out of the earth, and brasse is molten out of the stone.

(3)  Hee setteth an ende to darkenesse, and searcheth out all perfection: the stones of darkenesse and the shadow of death.

(4)  The floud breaketh out from the inhabitant; euen the waters forgotten of the foote: they are dried vp, they are gone away from men.

(5)  As for the earth, out of it commeth bread: and vnder it, is turned vp as it were fire.

(6)  The stones of it are the place of Saphires: and it hath dust of golde.

(7)  There is a path which no foule knoweth, and which the vulturs eye hath not seene.

(8)  The lyons whelps haue not troden it, nor the fierce lyon passed by it.

(9)  Hee putteth foorth his hand vpon the rocke; hee ouerturneth the mountaines by the rootes.

(10)  Hee cutteth out riuers among the rockes, and his eye seeth euery precious thing.

(11)  He bindeth the flouds from ouerflowing, and the thing that is hid, bringeth he foorth to light.

 

 Job 28:1-11 KJV 1769-1801 (Current rendering of the KJV):

 

(1)  Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they fine it.

(2)  Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone.

(3)  He setteth an end to darkness, and searcheth out all perfection: the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death.

(4)  The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant; even the waters forgotten of the foot: they are dried up, they are gone away from men.

(5)  As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire.

(6)  The stones of it are the place of sapphires: and it hath dust of gold.

(7)  There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen:

(8)  The lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it.

(9)  He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots.

(10)  He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing.

(11)  He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light.

 

Job 28:1-11 KJV+ (+ means with Strong’s #s) 1769-1801 (Current rendering of the KJV):

(In the recommended software, you just hover over the Strong’s # and the definition comes up)

 

(1)  SurelyH3588 there isH3426 a veinH4161 for the silver,H3701 and a placeH4725 for goldH2091 where they fineH2212 it.

(2)  IronH1270 is takenH3947 out of the earth,H4480 H6083 and brassH5154 is moltenH6694 out of the stone.H68

(3)  He settethH7760 an endH7093 to darkness,H2822 and searcheth outH2713 H1931 allH3605 perfection:H8503 the stonesH68 of darkness,H652 and the shadow of death.H6757

(4)  The floodH5158 breaketh outH6555 fromH4480 H5973 the inhabitant;H1481 even the waters forgottenH7911 ofH4480 the foot:H7272 they are dried up,H1809 they are gone awayH5128 from men.H4480 H582

(5)  As for the earth,H776 out ofH4480 it comethH3318 bread:H3899 and underH8478 it is turned upH2015 as it wereH3644 fire.H784

(6)  The stonesH68 of it are the placeH4725 of sapphires:H5601 and it hath dustH6083 of gold.H2091

(7)  There is a pathH5410 which noH3808 fowlH5861 knoweth,H3045 and which the vulture’sH344 eyeH5869 hath notH3808 seen:H7805

(8)  The lion’sH7830 whelpsH1121 have notH3808 troddenH1869 it, norH3808 the fierce lionH7826 passedH5710 byH5921 it.

(9)  He putteth forthH7971 his handH3027 upon the rock;H2496 he overturnethH2015 the mountainsH2022 by the roots.H4480 H8328

(10)  He cutteth outH1234 riversH2975 among the rocks;H6697 and his eyeH5869 seethH7200 everyH3605 precious thing.H3366

(11)  He bindethH2280 the floodsH5104 from overflowing;H4480 H1065 and the thing that is hidH8587 bringeth he forthH3318 to light.H216

 

Job 28:1-11 ESV (English Standard Version):

 

(1)  “Surely there is a mine for silver, and a place for gold that they refine.

(2)  Iron is taken out of the earth, and copper is smelted from the ore.

(3)  Man puts an end to darkness and searches out to the farthest limit the ore in gloom and deep darkness.

(4)  He opens shafts in a valley away from where anyone lives; they are forgotten by travelers; they hang in the air, far away from mankind; they swing to and fro.

(5)  As for the earth, out of it comes bread, but underneath it is turned up as by fire.

(6)  Its stones are the place of sapphires, and it has dust of gold.

(7)  “That path no bird of prey knows, and the falcon’s eye has not seen it.

(8)  The proud beasts have not trodden it; the lion has not passed over it.

(9)  “Man puts his hand to the flinty rock and overturns mountains by the roots.

(10)  He cuts out channels in the rocks, and his eye sees every precious thing.

(11)  He dams up the streams so that they do not trickle, and the thing that is hidden he brings out to light.

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