Problems with the book "The King James Only Controversy, Can You Trust the Modern Translations?"
By Tom Whitney (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This is undoubtedly the best book available supporting the position that no English translation is perfect or infallible. It approaches the subject on a scholarly level that could be convincing to the unlearned or to those who hold to the author's position. However, it does have problems that need to be addressed.
This article has been written to show some these problems. My intention is to ultimately write a book containing not only these problems, but additional information so that the reader will get a side of the "KJV only controversy" that Mr. White hid from his readers. Through this, the reader will see that Mr. White can not be trusted as a "scholar" to support his position.
In many books that argue a specific point, an author usually accuses his/ her opponent(s) of doing certain things that ultimately discredit them from consideration. The author specifically points out these things and gives examples to prove his point. Two examples of this would be Pickering's "The Identity of the New Testament Text" and Burgon's "The Revision Revised". However, in many cases, an author is guilty of doing some of the same things he accuses his opponents of doing in the same book(s) he wrote to discredit his opponents.
Everyone has/uses biases and assumptions, whether valid or not. These biases and assumptions shape the way one thinks and are sometimes used to argue a point. Mr. White has a definite bias regarding textual variants, textual transmission, translation, etc. (see Chapter 3 of his book). This bias is based on several opinions or theories he holds to. He could argue that his biases are based on "sound principles", but this is beside the point. Mr. White has a theory on textual variants that he assumes is correct based on his learning. When a variant is presented to him, he automatically explains it through this theory (bias). When a "KJV-only" person is presented with a variant, he automatically explains it through his belief (bias). Both have a "bias" as the standard, and always go by that bias when confronted with issues of translation, variants, etc.
If anyone would read his book several times through, a very definite set of problems surfaces over and over again. These problems caused me to question Mr. White's honesty, integrity and character. These problems are listed below.
- The author has a double standard when dealing with groups or individuals.
- The author misrepresents people.
- The author frequently does not give full/objective evidence when defending his position or attacking his opponents.
4. The author's assumptions are based on scholarship that is humanistic.
- The author has no proof for many of the statements he makes.
- The author has no tangible final authority.
7. The author has little biblical or scriptural foundation for his beliefs.
A Biblical foundation?
Upon reading his book, one finds that most of his opinions and arguments are based on either some authority other than the bible or his own personal beliefs. He has the arrogance to make the following assumptions. These assumptions contradict clear passages in the bible whether in English, Greek, or Hebrew (Genesis 3 for example).
- Satan never in 6,000 years of biblical history influenced anyone to change anything God said.
- No intentional textual corruption ever survived to make it into any existing greek texts.
- Only the original writings of the biblical authors were inspired and inerrant.
With these assumptions, he has the liberty to thrust on the laity his theory of transmission/preservation. This theory is based on the following points:
- People make mistakes and so we will find mistakes in the text of the bible.
- People who copied texts sometimes added words (whether conscious of it or not) to make a passage match another passage.
- People added to a text (whether conscious of it or not) to honor God or Jesus.
- People sometimes combined two readings to make a fuller reading.
- The transmission of the biblical text is the same as any other book.
- The older reading is probably the better one.
- If a reading has no variants, it must be the original.
Most of these points are based on a humanistic approach (Westcott and Hort) to textual transmission (TO ERR IS HUMAN, Chapter 3), and the belief that God used this to preserve His Word. Does anyone notice in all of this a lack of a biblical foundation? White does use 1 Thes 5:21 (Prove all things) as a support for his questioning of how we got the KJV (13), but he uses a humanistic approach as his method of proof. Are we not to prove all things with the Word? Are we not to live by the Word of God as Jesus stated? Why would I use a secular theory to judge the bible? Is this the scriptural thing to do?
Regarding White's belief about no one being influenced to try and corrupt the biblical text, White does not tell the reader about those in the early church who were concerned about corrupters of the Word. I will give a couple of quotes to demonstrate this.
Gaius (AD175-200) speaks of the source of corruptions that survive in the early papyri:
"The Divine Scriptures these heretics have audaciously corrupted.laying violent hands upon them, under pretense of correcting them." Burgon, The Revision Revised, p. 323
Eusebius (Eccleastical History), citing Clement of Alexandria:
"The worst corruptions to which the New Testament has ever been subjected originated within one hundred years after it was composed."
He did not tell the reader about some contemporary scholarship's comments on early textual variations/changes.
Colwell (What is the Best New Testament Text?, p.119)
"The first two centuries witnessed the creations of the large number of variations known to scholars today.in the manuscripts of the New Testament most variations, I believe, were made deliberately."
G.D. Kilpatrick (Atticism and the Text of the Greek New Testament, pp 125-131)
"Deliberate changes in all text types appear to antedate A.D. 200..as distinct from errors..all categories of deliberate alteration.are present in both groups.Tatian is the last author of make deliberate changes.the vast majority of deliberate changes were older then A.D. 200.they came into being in the period A.D. 50-200."
With these statements and the bible itself as witness to the possibility, how could White believe only what he stated in Chapter 3 of his book, and that no one was ever influenced to make changes to corrupt a text, and that this corruption was never passed on in the manuscript tradition?
Note that I am not saying that all of White points are not valid. Some people in the past may have done the things White mentions regarding textual transmission, but the humanistic approach is not the only approach, and God has as much of an interest in preserving His Word as He does preserving our souls, since it is the word of God that gave us the faith to believe the gospel. (Romans 1:17) They are both intertwined and thus must be preserved equally by God, and in a perfect state (Psa 12:6,7; 1 Thes 5:22-24). Why would God use a humanistic method to preserve His Word when He doesn't use it to preserve our souls? Did God use a humanistic method to preserve the children of Israel's clothing in the wilderness? Is he using a humanistic method to preserve the world for judgment? Will He use a humanistic method to preserve Israel from Satan's wrath?
White accuses his opponents of using double standards (107). Does he use double standards in his book? White attacks Erasmus for being a catholic who believed in some heretical catholic doctrine, but then uses Jerome and Augustine as authorities (12, 13). He doesn't tell the reader that Jerome and Augustine were catholics who believed the same heretical doctrine that Erasmus did. He also doesn't tell the reader that one of the committee members for a United Bible Societies' text* (a text similar to the Nestle-Aland text) is a catholic (Carlo M. Martini). He implies that we should not trust a catholic scholar (especially Erasmus pp. 84-85), but does not tell the reader that catholic scholars accept Nestle's text (25th edition) as the standard for their bibles (Jerusalem and New American) and that the catholic church uses translations based on this text. Based on his implication stated above, if the catholic church accepts it, why should we?
* The Greek New Testament, Edited by Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, and Allen Wikgren, Third Edition, United Bible Societies, copyright 1966, 1968, 1975
He frequently does not give full/objective evidence when defending his position or attacking his opponents.
I will give several examples below:
- He says that his opponents use tradition (9-10) to support their views, but does not tell the reader that the committee who produced Nestle's 27th edition wrote the following, "The criteria used for determining the text are traditionally those of internal and external criticism,." (49) Is their tradition superior? What basis (biblical?) do we use to determine if their tradition is better than ours? Since they do not tell the reader what these criteria are, how can we know that they are superior? How can we apply them "with an appropriate sense of balance?" if we don't know what they are, Mr. White?
2. He does not tell the reader that there are Greek authorities that contradict his Greek authorities. He stated that the word only-begotten (m o n o g e n e s) is an inferior translation. (259) He gave three authorities he believes are final. I have Greek authorities that contradict his authorities. Who's right?
m o n o g e n h s-only begotten, only born, from m o n o s and g e n o s.
Moulton, "The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised, " 1978, pp. 272
m o n o g e n h s-only born, i.e. sole:-only (begotten, child)
"Strongs Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible", p. 49
What is interesting about this is his support for translating m o n o g e n e s as "unique." He does not give other authorities that have a different translation for g e n os. That is, he says that only begotten is from the greek words m o n o and g e n os, and should be translated as "unique." He says that only begotten is inferior (in a footnote on page 259) because he has support from three authorities that give a different translation. I have two lexicons that give different translations for g e n os than the ones he uses, who's right?
g e n os, offspring, progeny, family, kindred, lineage, race, nation, people, kind, sort, species
Moulton, The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised, 1978, p. 79
g e n os (g i n o m a i ), race, offspring, family, stock, nation, kind, sort, species
Thayer, Thayer's English Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, 1978, p.113
White's translation may also have a doctrinal motive that may lie in his reformed beliefs (Calvinistic). To get rid of references to the Incarnation being what is meant by only begotten, some scholars translate the word differently (White) or try and make only begotten mean something else. Take, for instance, W.E. Vines explanation of only begotten:
"In John 3:16 the statement, 'God so loved the world that he gave his Only Begotten Son,' must not be taken to mean that Christ became the Only Begotten Son by Incarnation."
"The Expanded Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words," p. 812
This may also be the reason Thayer translates m o n o g e n h s as "only son".
Thayer, Thayer's English Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, 1978, p.417
Another example of not giving full/objective evidence is found on pages 113-114 regarding the translation of the greek word k a p h l e u o n t e s into "corrupt". White's greek support on page 125 is not objective. The following greek authorities give translations that differ from White's authorities.
"k a p h l e u o n t e s, nom. pl. masc. part. pres. . k a p h l e u w
k a p h l e u w , fut. e u s w , to be a retailer, to huckster; to peddle with; to deal paltrily with, or to corrupt, adulterate."
Moulton, The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised, 1978.
"Hence some suppose that k a p h l e u e i n t o n l o g o n t o u q e o u in 2 Cor. Ii. 17 is equiv. to to trade in the word of God, i. e. to try to get base gain by teaching divine truth. But as peddlers were in the habit of adulterating their commodities for the sake of gain .k a p h l e u e i n t i was also used as synonymous with to corrupt, to adulterate; and most interp. rightly decide in favor of this meaning (on account of the context) in 2 Cor. ii 17, cf."
Thayer, Thayer's English Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, 1978.
Vine has some interesting comments to make about the word k a p h l e u w . He states that "hucksterizing" would be a more appropriate translation, but also states that the word involves, "the deceitful dealing of adulterating the word of truth.to make base gain." "The Expanded Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words," p. 234
I find it surprising that "scholars" such as Dr. Bruce Metzger would say that White's book is "scholarly and accurate, and its examination of opposing viewpoints fair." Either Metzger did not really read the book thoroughly, or he is a liar.
His chapter "Problems in the KJV" (223-242) is filled with misleading evidence. I will give several examples below.
"observed" should be "protect"
Moulton, The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised, 1978,. page 392, has "to observe strictly" as a translation.
"pineth away" should be "stiffens out" or "becomes rigid"
Moulton, The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised, 1978, page 281, has "to pine".
Thayer, Thayer's English Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, 1978, page 432, has "pine away".
Vine, The Expanded Vines, 1984, page 1236 has "pine away".
"possess" should be "gain"
Vine, The Expanded Vines, 1984, page 865 has "(k t a o m a i ), to procure for oneself, acquire, obtain, hence, to possess (akin to B, No. I), has this meaning in Luke 18:12 and I Thes. 4:4;"
"profession" should be "confession"
Moulton, The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised, 1978, page 288, has "assent, consent, profession, 2 Cor 9.13, ..He 3.1, 4.14; 10.23."
Thayer, Thayer's English Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, 1978, page 446, "in the NT profession.the substance of our profession, which we embrace with hope, Heb. X.23;"
"errors" should be "committed in ignorance".
Moulton, The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised, 1978, page 4, has "error, sin of ignorance".
Thayer, Thayer's English Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, 1978, page 8 has, "to err, sin through mistake."
Of course these sources have other possible translations; but the point is that White was misleading and not objective.
When White attacks/defends people, he gives limited material/quotes. This could possibly give the reader an impression about a person that may not be that case.
WESTCOTT and HORT
His comments about Westcott and Hort in the End Notes of Chapter 5 (122) give the reader the impression that he thinks their theories are still valid. He does not tell the reader of the statements made in the 26th edition of Nestle/Aland that have a different view.
"Similarly the idea of a 'Neutral Text' has been retired. Neither Codex Vaticanus or Codex Sinaiticus (nor even p75 of two hundred years earlier) can provide a guideline we can normally depend on for determining the text. The age of Westcott-Hort and of Tischendorf is definitely over!"
NOVEM TESTAMENTUM GRAECE, Nestle-Aland, Deutsche Bibelstiftung Stuttgart, p. 43
So much for: "Westcott and Hort correctly identified the need to examine the relationships of manuscripts, and demonstrated that it is simply not enough to count manuscripts, but instead to weigh manuscripts."
The Nestle-Aland committee doesn't "weigh" manuscripts anymore, Mr. White. Where have you been?
White is guilty of the worst misrepresentation regarding Dr. Ruckman. He uses only seven of Dr. Ruckman's books to support his attack on him, and then is very selective on what he gives (109-121). If this is all Dr. Ruckman ever said, then we may have reason to doubt him, but as White frequently does, there is much more to the man and his books than we would be led to believe. White quotes from Dr. Ruckman's book "Custer's Last Stand", and gives the reader some places where Ruckman was being "mean and nasty" to Custer and other "scholars". The problem with his quotes is that he does not give any of the material in the book that is valid. He leaves the reader with the impression that all Ruckman could do was call people names without any "logical" evidence to support his views. Below are some quotes from the book that White did not give. You will see that the book is not quite what White makes it appear to be, and in fact, has damaging evidence that neither White or Custer will talk about.
Under "THE FAMILY CLASSIFICATION HOAX", page 21, we read,
"We have reconstructed text types and families and sub-families (the "we" is a reference to the vast majority of Conservative scholars) "but when we have found that a particular manuscript would not fit into any of our nicely constructed schemes, we have thrown up our hands and said it contained a mixed text (M.M. Parvis, The Nature and Task of New Testament Textual Criticism, 1952, JOURNAL OF RELIGION, XXII).
"Rather than lining up in 'clear streams' or 'text types' (as objectively defined entities) the EARLIEST MANUSCRIPTS are dotted helter-skelter over a WIDE SPECTRUM OF VARIATION" (Wilber Pickering, Identity of the New Testament Text, 1977, p. 57)
Under "THE SO-CALLED "LATE" READINGS OF THE BYZANTINE RECEPTUS, page 24, we read,
""Miller's figures represent precisely what he claimed that they represent-'the true state of the case' is that the TRADITIONAL TEXT ('BYZANTINE') receives more support from the EARLY Church Fathers than does the critical text (essentially W-H) used by the English Revisers" (Pickering, Ibid., p. 70)
Under "THE HERETICAL AND HETERODOX NATURE OF THE SO-CALLED "FAMILY" OF ALEXANDRIAN MANUSCRIPTS, pages 25- 26, we read,
"The impurity of the Texts exhibited by Codices B and Aleph is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of FACT" (Burgon, The Revision Revised, p. 315). "These are two of the least trustworthy documents in existence.by far the FOULEST TEXT that had ever seen the light" (ibid, p. 316).
Under "THAT "DERIVED TEXT" THAT CAME FROM CONFLATED READINGS", pages 32-33, we read,
"The Western Family (Custer, p. 10) conflates in John 5:37, and the Alexandrian "family" conflates in Colossians 1:12 and 2 Thessalonians 3:4. Who didn't know that the Western text again "conflates" neutral and Syrian reading in Matthew 4:13, John 5:37, and Acts 10:48, while Vaticanus "conflates in Mark 1:28, Mark 1:40, and John 7:38."
What is really quite amusing is that White accuses Gail Riplinger of doing something in Chapter 5, that he does to Dr. Ruckman in the same chapter! After showing some problems with Riplinger's book, he writes that Riplinger makes Westcott and Hort look bad by some things they wrote (100), and that:
".she is attempting to vilify Westcott and Hort and to destroy any last vestige of credibility these men might have in her reader's mind."
White then proceeds to quote Dr. Ruckman (109-121), but only gives quotes that put Dr. Ruckman in a bad light, avoiding any documented evidence that contradicts his views. He is basically vilifying Dr. Ruckman to his reader to destroy Dr. Ruckman's credibility. The man is a hypocrite.
White makes scores of statements without proof. He not only does this in the body of his work, but also does it in his reference section at the end of each chapter. Anyone really seeking the truth would not be so sloppy. When reading each paragraph, I would constantly ask "Says who?"
A case in point can be found in chapter 3 of his book. In this chapter, White gives us an overview of Greek and Hebrew and then an overview of textual criticism. He explains details about Greek and Hebrew that have no support to them (20-21). We are suppose to just believe him I guess. I will go to each chapter/section in his book and list 3 statements he made that he does not support. I realize that this will be lengthy, but it is needed to prove my point.
"The sales clerk never saw it coming. He had just finished unpacking the new shipment of study Bibles and setting up the new display. He had been working at the Christian bookstore only a week. All seemed well. And then it happened. She seemed like any other lady looking for a Bible for her grandson..."I would like a real Bible, "she says..."the Bible God honors, the King James, the A.V. 1611."
"Scenes like this are repeated almost daily across the English-speaking world."
"Responsibility must be laid at the door of the KJV Only camp for the destruction of many Christian churches."
"We have heard of small groups that go even further, claiming that the KJV was written in eternity, and the Abraham and Moses and the prophets all read the KJV, including the New Testament!"
"One will, it is said to say, often hear more about the KJV than about the Lord Jesus from these people."
"Any difference between the KJV and these translations is considered a "change" an "omission," or "deletion".
"Terms such as "Traditional Biblical Texts" abound in KJV Only literature."
"KJV Only individuals are not generally interested in church history as a subject."
"Many Christians believed the Septuagint to be an inspired translation of the Hebrew Old Testament."
"Hebrew is an ancient tongue, and as such is rather 'concrete' in tone."
"Greek is a more technical language, a more precise language than either Hebrew or English."
"That is, we know beyond all doubt what was in the original writings of the biblical authors in the vast majority of cases."
"Even 'liberal' scholars will admit the outstanding purity of the NT text and the validity of the belief in the tenacity of that text."
"Some hoped to gain favor with the king and advancement in their positions through their work on the translation itself."
"It is very common for KJV Only advocates to attack such men as Westcott and Hort for being 'baby sprinklers,' yet the KJV was born in the heart of such a system of theology."
""None of these scholars insisted that the KJV was 'it.' They did not believe that the KJV was completely without error, or that even the TR was infallible and inspired."
"Protestants, however, should be quick to question any such notion of absolute religious certainty."
"These kind of arguments fill the pages of Peter Ruckman's books."
"The Bible is plain in presenting the 'now and the not yet' aspect of salvation. We are saved, and yet we are being saved, and we will be saved as well."
"Instead, the KJV translation is rather unusual, since it borrows a phrase that is not found until verse 5 in the Greek and transposes it into verse 1."
"KJV Only advocates will often attack the use of the term 'grave' by modern translations,"
"The majority of KJV only publications focus upon the New Testament, and I shall follow that lead."
"A small minority of scholars prefer the 'Majority Text' approach, believing that the reading found in the majority of manuscripts has the most right to be call the original."
"After the faith became legal at the beginning of the fourth century, more accurate methods of copying and more professional copyists helped the 'freeze' the reading of the text, keeping variation that was due to unprofessional scribal work down to a minimum in the centuries that followed."
"We should also note that even many conservative scholars see in this passage a dual fulfillment, one that was relevant in the day of Isaiah that did not involve a virgin birth, and the greater fulfillment in the virgin birth of Christ centuries later."
"Gail Riplinger lists it as denying the deity of Christ, though no explanation is given as to how this comes from the text itself."
"(a fact that KJV Only writers do not wish to communicate in their works)."
"Some defenders of the AV insist that all one has to do is have a good dictionary at hand and all will be well when encountering such terms."
"For example, the British mind certainly is accustomed to the saying, 'God save the king,' but the Hebrew mind never thought of such a thing."
"Most people who are not committed to the KJV Only position will admit that the AV needs some level of revision."
"But God blessed the Septuagint too. And the Vulgate."
"B.F. Westcott and F.J.A. Hort were not fundamentalist Baptists."
"Some defenders of the AV 1611 would like to think that this is just what modern scholars believe, but such is utterly untrue."
End Notes for Chapter 5
"In the sense that Westcott and Hort correctly identified the need to examine the relationships of manuscripts, and demonstrated that it is simply not enough to count manuscripts, but instead to weigh manuscripts."
"Dr. Ruckman's materials are marked by this kind of 'looseness' when presenting facts."
"As the KJV Only movement thrives most in conservative, independent Baptist circles."
Now many of us know that some of these statements are true/false without having to see proof because we have studied and know what he is talking about. But for those who don't, they would just have to believe him without question. If I kept saying to myself, "Says who?" when I was reading his book, I am sure that others have said the same thing when they read his book.
Correspondence in vain
I corresponded with Mr. White about his book. I asked him some questions regarding his book and his beliefs that were essentially designed to set him up. When I got to some of the before mentioned points in this article, he cut off communication saying that I was like Dr. Ruckman and wasn't worth the time. I never called him a name or cut him down. The man, when confronted with evidence that contradicts what he wrote, threw out a flurry of statements like "you can't trust any quote Dr. Ruckman has in his books," and then cut me off. The impression I got from him is that he thinks that his position is absolutely correct and any other position is inferior, the same attitude he accuses his opponents of having. He also admitted to me that his Reformed beliefs have influenced his views on the bible. If this is the case, then should we not question his motives?
Can we trust a Hyper-Calvinist with the Bible issue?
Mr. White is a hyper-calvinist. He is a member of a reformed baptist church. Go to his web site and see (Alpha and Omega Ministries). We need to take this into consideration when reading his book. Since he admitted to me that his beliefs have influenced his views on the bible, we need to take what he writes with caution as we should with any other hyper-calvinist. I personally believe that he thinks his view of biblical transmission is the predestinated way that God did it and no other way is valid.
His comments about those who attack Calvinism in his book show his Calvinistic leanings. Here is one example (123):
"See pages 230 through 233, where Palmer's Reformed beliefs are not only misrepresented but mercilessly ridiculed."
He also refers to the Calvinist Bob Ross or Calvinistic publications (Pilgrim Publications for example) in his book (121, 126) as legitimate sources.
Some may say that this is a personal attack on Mr. White, but this is not the case. Read the book The Other Side of Calvinism, by L. Vance (Vance Publications, Pensacola, FL), and you will get an idea of the power this false doctrine has over the mind and spirit of a man, and how it influences his thoughts and actions in a certain direction.
Be careful with James White, reader.
Romans 16:18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
This concludes the article. It is my hope and prayer that those reading it will investigate what was written and come to their own conclusions based on prayer and study.