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Old 07-22-2008, 02:18 PM
Connie
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Default Straining at or straining out gnats.

Since there has been an objection to including the discussion of "strain at a gnat" on the thread about a different translational question, http://av1611.com/forums/showthread.php?t=368&page=3
I decided to start a new thread on it. It might be best to let it drop altogether but I just reread Will Kinney's article on the subject and have more to say.

I read through his entire discussion and found ONE objective statement, only one and it is not emphasized at all even by him and not even brought up by anyone here. It occurs in his article in the midst of a sea of speculative comments, opinions, guesses and suppositions, and before a long section which does not address the topic at all but attacks the defenders of the new versions instead, which is irrelevant and an unseemly changing of the subject.

Here is the one piece of objective evidence in the whole article:

http://www.geocities.com/brandplucked/strain.html

Quote:
Secondly, and more interestingly, is the work published and edited by the Greek scholar, Ward Allen. In his work, The Coming of the King James Gospels, Mr. Allen and his co-editor Edward Jacobs compiled a work of what is called a collation of the translators' work in progress. From what I have gathered from reading this work is that a 1610 copy of the 1602 Bishop's Bible was taken from the Bodleian library which contained annotations and revision notes made and used by the translators of the A.V. 1611. Hence, what Mr. Allen and Jacobs have provided for us are some of the A.V. translators thoughts on the readings in the Bishop's Bible in the Gospels that had to be changed. One of the most spectacular markings in this entire work is Matthew 23:24. Here you have the Bishop's reading, "Yee blinde guides, which straine out a gnat, and swallow a camell." Of course, the only mark left on the verse is a note altering "out" to "at." So much for a printer's error. It was a deliberate rendition.
This is CRUCIAL but it is stuck in the middle of nothing but a bunch of wild speculations. Why??? Unfortunately the statement is not clear enough to ascertain exactly what the evidence is. Some notes made on a copy of the Bishop's Bible that supposedly indicate what the translators thought must be changed? can this be verified?

If the book by Allen and Jacobs were not $40 plus shipping I'd almost want to have it just to find the reference to this particular quote which I assume they document better, but that truly would be an excessive exertion for such a small point.

But why oh why oh why is so much effort spent on speculative defenses of "strain at" instead of this ONE AND ONLY objective evidence? If this is true, and I'd love it to be true, IT IS THE ANSWER you all want, and NOTHING else anyone has said is any kind of answer at all. It does not matter that the phrase has been accepted as a proverb about excessive exertion on behalf of small problems to the neglect of great problems, it does not matter that we can make sense out of "strain at" even though the earlier Bibles had "strain out" and it is consistent with the Greek while "strain at" is not, etc. etc. etc. NONE of that matters. That's all opinion and guesswork.

But this claim is OBJECTIVE. It is THE evidence needed to support "strain at" over "strain out." It would be far far better if a REASON were given for such a decision, but IF IT IS CLEAR that it was a choice made by the translators, and I do mean CLEAR, VERY CLEAR that it was intentional, that is objective evidence.

Last edited by Connie; 07-22-2008 at 02:26 PM.
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Old 07-22-2008, 04:24 PM
Connie
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Josh on the other thread has speculated that perhaps strain at used to mean strain out. Unfortunately there is NO evidence for such an idea and plenty against it. Three previous English Bibles all have "strain out," not "strain at." All the quotations given that use the term "strain at," including the commentaries of John Gill and Matthew Henry, use it in the sense of exertion or making an effort and NOT in the sense of filtering out something.

The proverb we are all familiar with has never meant filtering out to any of us and clearly did not mean that to those commentators either. We think of it in terms of exertion, making an effort against gnats, not filtering them out. Why Dr. Waite's Defined King James Bible has a footnote for "strain at" that says "i.e., out" I don't know. It seems to imply an equivalence but in fact there is no evidence that the terms were ever equivalent -- no evidence given by anyone in this discussion, no evidence in any of the links or references offered.

The two terms are not equivalent. We have accepted "strain at" for the last few centuries in the sense of making an exertion. That is not what the Greek says but if the translators wanted to preserve the commonly accepted sense nevertheless, and keep the meaning of exertion rather than filtering, and we can find out that in fact they did intentionally make that choice, then fine, but that doesn't make the terms mean the same thing.

Nobody ever read "strain at" to refer to filtering anything and you all know it.

Last edited by Connie; 07-22-2008 at 04:41 PM.
  #3  
Old 07-22-2008, 05:12 PM
Steven Avery Steven Avery is offline
 
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Hi Folks,

Connie, I agree that you are now focusing on the real important points. And your post on the other thread seemed to indicate exactly why "strain at" could easily be understood as the far more proper sense, showing the overwrought effort rather than purification or safety, thus the understanding that this fits what the Lord Jesus was saying the closest. I had held off on posting (I did post on an earlier thread on this forum on the gnats) and then your post expressed my thoughts albeit more clearly than I was thinking. And I have always focused on the little section from Jeffrey Nachimson as very helpful to getting the full historical perspective.

So as for the Ward Allen - John Bois book(s) referenced by Jeffrey (I think there are two that may be helpful, I am doing this from memory) on this issue I was also curious as to exactly what was said closer to firsthand and checked and noted the local university libraries where they are at (Worldcat is the best source for checking college and university libraries). Although it is possible some forum members can jump in with more immediate assistance. If not, I could make some real efforts to get to the one or two libraries during the next few days.

I'm not 100% sure that you are now a defender of "strain at" as the correct and proper interp, or close to that, yet that other post surely was a powerful indication that you do seem to have the gist of the matter .. strain at and strain out are not the same .. and strain at can be futile and unnecessary and overwrought efforts and thus (subject to verification) this would be a good base for understanding the physical, historical evidence of "strain at" being a deliberate and excellent King James Bible translational decision.

One point, when you say - "that is not what the Greek says" I am not sure that anyone has really looked closely at the contextual uses of the Greek word in Greek literature, the full range of semantic meaning. And even there, there may not be enough information to make any blanket statement authoritatively. And the one usage in the New Testament must be given proper contextual perspective, where 'strain at' makes a lot more sense than 'strain out'.

Generally, on such an issue, I would bypass a short note of D. A. Waite as of only minor interest, the combined internet sharing can go a lot deeper into such a matter, and you have access here to some of the most informed King James Bible defenders in the world. Matthew's knowledge of variants in editions, Brandon's page showing modern version variant omissions, Will Kinney's indepth analysis of various issues being examples.

Shalom,
Steven

Last edited by Steven Avery; 07-22-2008 at 05:32 PM.
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Old 07-22-2008, 06:03 PM
Steven Avery Steven Avery is offline
 
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Hi Folks,

The earlier post from Connie I was referencing :
http://av1611.com/forums/showpost.ph...7&postcount=38

Shalom,
Steven
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Old 07-22-2008, 06:57 PM
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Connie, I will begin by saying that I do not question the KJB, even in the face of stiff opposition. Secondly, I don't know my alpha from my omega, and I have no interest in knowing. Last, I am not expecting to change your mind here. You seek for tangible proof. If and when you find it, you will move on to the next puzzling passage. There are plenty to choose from, so you will not have to make a final decision on the accuracy of the KJB based on objective proof and logic for a long time to come.

What I do want to do is tell what I believe this passage is saying. The greek-geeks can slam me, and the confusionists can scoff at my naivete, but it does not matter to me. So here goes:

Long before I ever knew that there was a supposed error here, I saw the verse in this light. The Scriptures are always self-explanatory, therefore the message must be able to be derived from the context. The phrase "swallow a camel" is quite plain wording. Jesus said that the Pharisees could do something that was physically impossible, so it is symbolic hyperbole describing the fact that they allowed serious error to slip by unnoticed. On the other hand, swallowing a gnat is not difficult at all. For someone to choke on or gag on (strain at) a gnat when swallowing said gnat would be unusual. The Pharisees choked on (were strained to allow past, couldn't swallow) the tiniest of violation of rules while letting the important things, greatest commandments, be ignored. This can clearly be seen when the whole dialogue is read.

Yea, yea, I know that the greekies will say that the greek word translated "strain" means "filter" and not "choke" or "gag", but I read English, God gave me an English Bible, and the English can be understood to mean struggling with or, with the "swallow" later in the verse as a parallel, to choke or gag. Using my child-like, simple idea, the "at" works well. AND even if I couldn't figure it out, let God be true and every man a liar.

Now for those who think that this exercise is silly, and, yes, it is ripe for humorous comments, there is a deeper and far more important issue. Do we truly believe that every jot and tittle, every pronoun and preposition is there for a purpose, or do we settle for 99.44% pure and doubt God?
  #6  
Old 07-22-2008, 07:22 PM
Connie
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I can only answer you as I usually do, Brother Tim. Finding an error of any kind in the KJB does not at all to my mind mean settling for 99.44% pure and doubting God. Far from it. I consider the KJB to be God's word. This particular issue is, however, the very first I've run across that hints at a difference in actual meaning, although in practice we all grasp the proverbial sense of it nevertheless. Other changes I've thought might possibly be necessary don't involve a difference in meaning but simply the substitution of a contemporary English term that conveys exactly the same meaning to us now as the one that was used in 1611 did to the people then. NO change in meaning. I have to admit that I tend to judge the old words as I encounter them in the KJB as fine just as they are without any changes needed so that if I end up with a list at all it's going to be a very very short one.

Since we do grasp the meaning of the teaching about the gnat and the camel even if we do not have the precise context in mind that the original writers had, perhaps it's best not to consider that a change is needed at all. I'm still mulling this over.

I'm not interested in hunting down errors in the KJB for their own sake as you imply. This one struck me as a new kind of problem I would have to explain to people I'm trying to defend the KJB to, so I want to understand it well. What I'm interested in is finding the truth about the translation problems so that I can denounce the new versions intelligently enough to open people's eyes and defend the KJB intelligently enough to be convincing to true Christians who are under the spell of the new versions, and I know they exist. They are not all rebels as so many here seem to prefer to think. They are God's people doing their best under a handicap. I fully believe that the KJB is God's word in the fullest sense, and that the new versions are a horrific mutilation of God's word that ought to be challenged as effectively as we possibly can, and simply declaring that there are no errors in the KJB at all isn't going to serve that purpose. If I can find a way to defend "strain at" that makes sense, I will certainly defend it.
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Old 07-22-2008, 07:46 PM
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Connie, I really appreciate your intensity, and I agree that it is good to answer the concerns of those who are confused. I am not doubting you personally, or speaking to you as one who questions to validity of the KJB. I did not express that well in my last post. What I was trying to say, and your most recent post amplifies that even more, is that once you convince yourself enough to be able to confidently answer others, they will simply bring up another puzzle. If you think the "at vs. out" explanation will settle the problem, then they will just move to the "Easter vs. Passover" or the "love of money" arguments.

The bottom line is that if a person must be convinced through logical argument to trust in God's Word, then he or she will be convinced only until the next argument comes along. "for he that cometh to God must believe that he is," and I believe that goes for His Word as well. It is like the person that wants you to explain who Cain's wife was when you are trying to share the Gospel. If you get off message and patiently explain it, he or she doesn't then quietly listen, you just get another question, "but what about ...?"

By the way, if you would like to test out my point of endless questions from seemingly sincere Christians, I just finally left one forum where after months of discussing every argument under the sun, I was no better off. I'd gladly pass the baton to someone else. Also, I joined FreeSundaySchoolLessons' forum to be the token KJBer. Barry and GreekTim keep me very busy, and I could use some back-up. Sadly, it is really a waste of time, but I am sort of like a pitbull. Once I bite, you just about have to kill me to get me to turn loose. Actually, it is more like a dodgeball game where I am the only one in the middle and they are throwing balls at me from both sides. I keep thinking that because these are good, Godly people, that if I could just get my foot in the door, the light would come on, but it never happens.
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Old 07-22-2008, 08:14 PM
Connie
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I can't agree, brother Steven, that "strain at" is so obviously the better translation and I don't see how you derive that idea from the post of mine that you referenced.

What the passage is meant to teach us, or the moral of the story as it were, is pretty much the same in both cases (although Brother Tim seems to have his own individual way of arriving at it). That is, in either case the Lord is teaching us not to be myopically focused on small concerns when there are much more important ones that need our attention. That is true whether we are talking about excessive exertion to rid ourselves of gnats (I personally have always pictured swatting at them, which is all "straining at" them brings to my mind) or talking about anxiety not to swallow a nearly microscopic unclean beast. In both cases it holds up as a proverb about our priorities in the Christian life. So I can't rank one over the other as far as that goes.

I'm not sure I'm up to the depth of research you are suggesting, but if you happen to find a quote somewhere that would shed light on the translators' intention that would be very helpful.

Quote:
I'm not 100% sure that you are now a defender of "strain at" as the correct and proper interp, or close to that,
I'm not sure yet what I think, but if it can be shown for sure that the KJB translators themselves actually chose "strain at" I would concede that they must have had excellent reason for the choice, because I think of them as God-fearing honorable men of the highest scholarship, and men who consulted each other before arriving at their decisions too.

Quote:
...yet that other post surely was a powerful indication that you do seem to have the gist of the matter .. strain at and strain out are not the same .. and strain at can be futile and unnecessary and overwrought efforts and thus (subject to verification) this would be a good base for understanding the physical, historical evidence of "strain at" being a deliberate and excellent King James Bible translational decision.
As I say above, I don't see the importance you attach to this distinction. I've reread my post and I don't grasp your point. Futile effort holds up fine as a proverb, but so does using a strainer to get rid of a nearly microscopic unclean food while ingesting a huge unclean beast without a thought.

And the fact that three major English Bibles before the King James have "strain out", particularly the Bishop's Bible that the translators were laboring in fact to preserve to the utmost, is very convincing to me that "strain out" is a perfectly fine choice.

But it would be wonderful to find any comment by one of the translators saying that they choose "strain at" over "strain out" and giving their reasons, because all the reasons you or I can think of just remain conjecture.

Quote:
One point, when you say - "that is not what the Greek says" I am not sure that anyone has really looked closely at the contextual uses of the Greek word in Greek literature, the full range of semantic meaning. And even there, there may not be enough information to make any blanket statement authoritatively. And the one usage in the New Testament must be given proper contextual perspective, where 'strain at' makes a lot more sense than 'strain out'.
Again, I don't see at ALL that strain at makes more sense than strain out. The idea of swatting at gnats hardly makes more sense than catching them in a fine mesh, and it is nowhere near as apt for paralleling swallow a camel. It works well enough for conveying the instruction to us, both of them do, and otherwise it doesn't make MORE sense at all.

And if you are going to go down that path of questioning whether every stone was turned in the pursuit of all the nuances of the Greek, don't you have to be wary that anyone defending or rejecting many things in any Bible can say the same thing? What we don't know we don't know, but we do know that some worthy Bibles have said "strain out" and we do know that this describes what the Pharisees did.

Quote:
Generally, on such an issue, I would bypass a short note of D. A. Waite as of only minor interest, the combined internet sharing can go a lot deeper into such a matter, and you have access here to some of the most informed King James Bible defenders in the world. Matthew's knowledge of variants in editions, Brandon's page showing modern version variant omissions, Will Kinney's indepth analysis of various issues being examples.
I dunno, Dr. Waite is a major contributor to the King James Only debate so I can't just overlook a note like that. I acknowledge the immense value of the information at this site, and Bibleprotector's and Will Kinney's (and Dr. Waite's and Dr. Cloud's too) while reserving the right to raise questions and criticisms where they present themselves.

Last edited by Connie; 07-22-2008 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 07-22-2008, 08:45 PM
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Dr. Waite's son, D.A. jr is the footnote author of the Defined and put the Greek in where it "may" help, and writes "mistakes may have inadvertantly crept in" besides other disclaimers and defers to the translators. If you look on the page opposite of Genesis 1, you'll see The Golden Rule of Bible Interpretation. "When the PLAIN SENSE of Scripture makes COMMON SENSE, SEEK NO OTHER SENSE." I believe Brother Tim has done that with Mat 23:24, and that Dr. Waite would concur. I read part of Matthew Henry's commentary on this in this overdone thread, and he concurs that strained AT is the common sense rendering. COMMENTARIES-PROCEED WITH CAUTION!!!...

Matthew Henry:

2. They avoided lesser sins, but committed greater (Mt 23:24); Ye blind guides; so he had called them before (Mt 23:16), for their corrupt teaching; here he calls them so for their corrupt living, for their example was leading as well as their doctrine; and in this also they were blind and partial; they strained at a gnat, and swallowed a camel. In their doctrine they strained at gnats, warned people against every the least violation of the tradition of the elders. In their practice they strained at gnats, heaved at them, with a seeming dread, as if they had a great abhorrence of sin, and were afraid of it in the least instance; but they made no difficulty of those sins which, in comparison with them, were as a camel to a gnat; when they devoured widows' houses, they did indeed swallow a camel; when they gave Judas the price of innocent blood, and yet scrupled to put the returned money into the treasury (Mt 27:6); when they would not go into the judgment-hall, for fear of being defiled, and yet would stand at the door, and cry out against the holy Jesus (Joh 18:28); when they quarrelled with the disciples for eating with unwashen hands, and yet, for the filling of the Corban, taught people to break the fifth commandment, they strained at gnats, or lesser things, and yet swallowed camels. It is not the scrupling of a little sin that Christ here reproves; if it be a sin, though but a gnat, it must be strained at, but the doing of that, and then swallowing a camel. In the smaller matters of the law to be superstitious, and to be profane in the greater, is the hypocrisy here condemned.
  #10  
Old 07-22-2008, 09:59 PM
Steven Avery Steven Avery is offline
 
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Hi Folks,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Connie
I don't see how you derive that idea from the post of mine that you referenced.
From your post.

excessive attention to small things to be useful as a proverb nevertheless. ... The Pharisees even today filter their liquid food JUST IN CASE there might be an unclean bug in it .. a worry that one MIGHT be there that they can't see.

When this occurs, no gnat is actually being strained out, but a gnat (or a supposed sought-after gnat) is being strained at ... Thus it looked like you understood one essential distinction. Straining out a gnat presupposes that there even is a gnat, and that it is significant and it is helpful (purifying) to get rid of it .. straining at a gnat puts the emphasis on the effort, which can be largely futile and unnecessary. And this distinction in sense exists even if you substitute the word filter for strain, to see how it sounds if you eliminate the wider use today of 'strain'.

In addition you should keep in mind that proverbial senses often cross languages and time, and Jesus can be speaking in an idiomatic or proverbial sense that is quite similar to the sense we have in the clearer English 'strain at' today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Connie
passage is meant to teach us...not to be myopically focused on small concerns when there are much more important ones that need our attention.
True up to a point, however that does not sufficiently cover the futile efffort of "compass sea and land to make one proselyte" or "make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess".

In those cases the incredible amount of effort for no holy purpose is also being emphasized. Everything is topsy-turvy, the efforts are totally futile. The spiritual fundamentals are missed, there is greed and darkness at play, the house is decrepit and rotting, not just priorities askew.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Connie
I'm not sure I'm up to the depth of research you are suggesting, but if you happen to find a quote somewhere that would shed light on the translators' intention that would be very helpful.
Jeffrey Nachimson read that book as showing that "strain at" was a deliberate decision. That is light shed. Jeffrey has a lot of good scholarship so that sits on the table at the moment. You were mentioning the $40 of one book, I pointed out they are available at university libraries for checking. The likelihood is simply a confirmation of Jeffrey's note. To me that is super-icing on the "strain at" support. For you, I dunno.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Connie
I'm not sure yet what I think, but if it can be shown for sure that the KJB translators themselves actually chose "strain at" I would concede that they must have had excellent reason for the choice, because I think of them as God-fearing honorable men of the highest scholarship, and men who consulted each other before arriving at their decisions too.
Fine. As it stands right now, Jeffrey's understanding stands undisturbed, and it essentially settles the issue for you, you indicate. A deliberate decision of warrant by the translators. So at leisure take a look at the exact words in the books he mentions, since you would like confirmation that this was a deliberate translation decision by the true language experts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Connie
...I don't see the importance you attach to this distinction. ... Futile effort holds up fine as a proverb, but so does using a strainer to get rid of a nearly microscopic unclean food while ingesting a huge unclean beast without a thought.
"strain at" has the extra sense of futility and unnecessary effort to go with the disproportionality that exists in both phrases. Thus it adds a component that is also in the words of Jesus. There is absolutely no sense and purpose in cleaning the outside of a cup with excess and extortion inside. In fact it gives a false impression, it is a futile and deceptive and negative effort. "strain at" includes that negative sense of futility and worthlessness that "strain out" omits.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Connie
And the fact that three major English Bibles before the King James have "strain out", particularly the Bishop's Bible that the translators were laboring in fact to preserve to the utmost, is very convincing to me that "strain out" is a perfectly fine choice.
An excellent second-best translation. Not errant, simply inferior to "strain at".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Connie
it would be wonderful to find any comment by one of the translators saying that they choose "strain at" over "strain out" and giving their reasons, because all the reasons you or I can think of just remain conjecture.
The very fact of the demonstrated deliberate nature of the change to "strain at" has refuted the old-time canard that this was a printer's error never corrected. That was the key to the anti-KJB attack position and it was fully refuted (granted we would like a little confirmation of how that material reads). That was hugely helpful in the discussion.

I expect you will have that and our conjectures and explanations and understandings, no more and no less.

Shalom,
Steven
 

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