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Old 07-12-2009, 07:51 AM
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Ripdood Ripdood is offline
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Default Webster's Dictionary 1828

As I have studied the various threads on the forum. I have noticed a trend that bothers me.

Time and time again members when discussing something, refer to the 1828 Edition of Webster’s Dictionary. While I have personally nothing against Mr. Webster or his dictionary, I do find it distressing that some quote it giving it the same level of authority with the Holy Word of God (the King James Bible).

As I pondered this I began to wonder about Mr. Webster. The following excerpts are from various sources on the Internet.

Mr. Webster’s biographical info:

Born in West Hartford, Connecticut in 1758, Noah Webster came of age during the American Revolution and was a strong advocate of the Constitutional Convention. He believed fervently in the developing cultural independence of the United States, a chief part of which was to be a distinctive American language with its own idiom, pronunciation, and style.

In 1806 Webster published A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, the first truly American dictionary. For more information on this milestone in American reference publishing, please see Noah Webster’s Spelling Reform and A Sample Glossary from A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. Immediately thereafter he went to work on his magnum opus, An American Dictionary of the English Language, for which he learned 26 languages, including Anglo-Saxon and Sanskrit, in order to research the origins of his own country's tongue. This book, published in 1828, embodied a new standard of lexicography; it was a dictionary with 70,000 entries that was felt by many to have surpassed Samuel Johnson's 1755 British masterpiece not only in scope but in authority as well.

One facet of Webster's importance was his willingness to innovate when he thought innovation meant improvement. He was the first to document distinctively American vocabulary such as skunk, hickory, and chowder. Reasoning that many spelling conventions were artificial and needlessly confusing, he urged altering many words: musick to music, centre to center, and plough to plow, for example. (Other attempts at reform met with less acceptance, however, such as his support for modifying tongue to tung and women to wimmen—the latter of which he argued was "the old and true spelling" and the one that most accurately indicated its pronunciation.)

Mr. Webster’s Religious Views:

Webster was a devout Christian. His speller was grounded in Scripture, and his first lesson began "Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink ; nor for your body, what ye shall put on ; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things."

His 1828 American Dictionary contained the greatest number of Biblical definitions given in any reference volume. Webster considered education "useless without the Bible". Webster claimed to have learned 20 different languages in finding definitions for which a particular word is used.

From the preface to the 1828 edition of Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language:

“In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed... . No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”

Webster released his own edition of the Bible in 1833, called the Common Version. He used the King James Version (KJV) as a base and consulted the Hebrew and Greek along with various other versions and commentaries. Webster molded the KJV to correct grammar, replaced words that were no longer used, and did away with words and phrases that could be seen as offensive. (I made this bold for a reason. A downloadable copy of his version is available here, if you wish to compare it). )

All editions of Webster's Dictionary published in 1913 and earlier, along with the Webster Bible and Dissertation on the English Language are available in the public domain.

Over and over we talk about how it is wrong to correct the Word of God whether by addition or subtraction. Here we have a man who is constantly quoted as an authority on terms and language in the English language as it appears in our Bible. The emphasized portion in the above quote shows the Mr. Webster corrected the King James.

Let’s take a look at an example of a Webster’s definition. (This one caught my attention this morning; it is not a reflection of the member who used it his post. Just an example)

Pastor - noun
1. A shepherd; one that has the care of flocks and herds
2. A minister of the gospel who has the charge of the church and congregation, whose duty it is to watch over the people of his charge, and instruct them in the sacred doctrines of the Christian religion.

Look at the definition, especially item 2. “instruct them in the sacred doctrines of the Christian religion” Where do we get our doctrine we live by brothers and sisters? Is it from religion or from the Holy Word of God?

Any book any person produces it is flavored with their own opinions, slant, and take on things; whether it is Ruckman, Riplinger, Spurgeon, Gipp, or any other popular Christian writer. We must take care not to impose too much authority on anyone’s interpretation of the Words of God. Any other author who is quoted or referenced here, it seems everyone knows much about the writer, Mr. Webster it seems is accepted without anyone ever checking into his background. His dictionary is a great Bible study tool, but it is only a tool not the Final Authority on Scripture. Only Scripture can define Scripture.

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