BOWMAN, BIBLIOLATRY AND THE BIBLE
A SHORT CRITIQUE OF:
Robert M. Bowman, Jr.'s Anti-King James Bible Propaganda
Copyright, KönigsWort Incorporated
Stephen Alexander Coston, Sr.
Mr. Robert M. Bowman, Jr., author, lecturer and anti-cult apologist has decided to add his own commentary to the ongoing debate over the "Bible." His offering is available on the Internet (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/959901/posts) and is entitled "WHEN THE BIBLE BECOMES AN IDOL: PROBLEMS WITH THE KJV-ONLY DOCTRINE." The material in this treatise was allegedly covered in a lecture on this topic given at the March 1998 ACAP meeting.
Bowman's bibliography includes the standard pro-scholarship fare, James White's latest book (The KJV-Only Controversy), and D. A. Carson's now out of print apologetic (The King James Version Debate). Supposedly he also consulted and/or read Burgon's classic (The Revision Revised) along with "Daniel" [should be "David"] Otis Fuller's excellent book (Which Bible?), Pickering book (The Identity of the New Testament Text), and the Hodges-Farstad edition of the Greek New Testament. Be this as it may, the information contained in Bowman's work consists of little more than a lamentable apologetic as a whole, marred by defective logic, erroneous conclusions, and a plethora of faulty facts.
In order to establish the
foregoing assertion I shall examine Mr. Bowman's treatise point by point in
this treatise. I am not necessarily writing for the technician in this
article, but rather for the layman. Hence, for a more comprehensive and
technical investigation of the general theme of this work I heartily refer the
interested reader to my refutation of James White's work on the "KJV-Only
The question of precisely how I came to know of Mr. Bowman's article and my subsequent rationale for composing this rejoinder merits some brief discussion. Although I will not be naming any names specifically (so as not to embarrass anyone) I want to reconstruct for my reader a chain of events which prompted me to this undertaking. Sometime early in 2001 I was invited to a "Bible" study by a person who, genuinely or not, believed I would benefit from an in-depth study of the "Scriptures." I picked up the advertisement for the study which stated that basic rules of "biblical interpretation" would be employed, and that this would enable one to become an "independent student of the Bible."
It all sounded well and good so I eventually came to attend the meeting. I soon discovered that it was an "any translation goes" type of study, and that the teacher freely consulted "the Greek" and consequently felt no inhibition to alter the readings of the King James Bible at his whim. Needless to say my observations were not compatible with the ideology of the group. At one point I was given Mr. Bowman's work which I assumed was designed to show me the "error of my ways." This anticipated outcome, however, was a total failure.
I eventually made the following offer, if the leader would give me one verse of Scripture that would indicate that preservation does not imply production (that not only is His word extant but the average believer may know and recognize every single word as being God-breathed or not), and that God's declared sustentation of His word is collective (athenaeum) not specific or restricted to any one book; then I would answer three of his best arguments against the King James Bible. This offer was bluntly refused, rather, it was stated to me that a simplistic and trite acceptation of an ambiguous "promise" of preservation was too colloquial and unsophisticated an argumentation to be given any serious credence.
Sensing that my work was cut out for me I loaned the leader a copy of my answer to James White along with a draft rejoinder to Mr. Bowman's article. He accepted the manuscripts and stated he would read them. The next day he phoned me and left a message on my answering machine to the effect he had posted his reply to my materials on his web site and left his phone number in case I was unable to locate it. I returned his call informing him that I had indeed read his very brief response (which had no Scripture listed whatsoever) and that in view of the fact that he was denying to accept any response from me to his article (this was actually part of the title "No Response Accepted" and apparently the only such article on his site which repeatedly advertises that "responses, comments and questions" are "welcome") I should then expect the return of my loaned manuscript.
He then attempted to quibble with me over his errant assumption and/or delusion that I was attempting to "respond" to his paper; which I informed him that I was simply returning his call as a courtesy (he specifically left his phone number) as I had previously been unable to locate his web site.
Moreover, his presumption that I was "responding" to him were the product of the quite erroneous belief that there was indeed something to "respond' to in is article, which I was not in concurrence with. In my estimation it was an embarrassing and sad attempt to justify a position which has no Scriptural warrant. It was so pathetic in scope and cachectic in details that I did not consider it to be a profitable investment of time to respond to as apparently he was set in his beliefs and obviously was having severe difficulty in justifying them from the "Bible."
I indicated that if my continued participation in the "Bible" study was felt to be disruptive (I wouldn't compromise in my faith in the KJB) then I would gladly leave if they returned the loaned manuscript. My next visit to the "Bible" study was simply this: I entered the room in which the members were all sitting across the room facing the door. Little was said. My manuscript was neatly packaged and waiting at the door. My exit was evidently a foregone conclusion. Nothing like a "Bible" believer to ruin a "Bible" study!
This isn't the first time I experienced the "left foot of fellowship" nor will it be the last. Over the years I have learned that no matter how kind and accommodating you are, no mater how polite or gracious you may be, there are certain standard clichés and epithets which will inevitably be leveled at any "KJB-Only advocate" to coin the phrase of my detractors. I am no exception, and you my "Bible" believing friends are not alone!! These appellations will at one time or another be added to your profile by the "original only advocates" or "scholarship-only advocates." At some point in your dealings with others this will become a reality and it seems there is no escape, its just the way it is unfortunately. It is the stock and trade of the movement that has no "Bible" in their ongoing attempts to discredit all who challenge their chosen ambiguity and scholastic preferences.
I have found that their pejoratives have their proper application in not necessarily a deeply held belief that you are "of the devil" (although some may say this), but are in all reality an escape mechanism or delay tactics. Any serious investigation into their validity usually reveals that they have little, if any, basis in objective reality. Yet, sadly, it is the generally accepted pattern which is indicative of an overall desperate strategy of unfounded criticism designed to distract, detract, and distort the real issue which is did God preserve His word as outlined in Scripture or not? Should one answer absolutely in the affirmative to the negation of any or all modern translations he or she will soon find themselves cajoled, ridiculed as unloving, divisive, or militant, and a veritable host of other linguistic schemes which are but rabbit trails. You often feel like a dog chasing his tail!
All too soon the discussion, especially when it is not going their way, will be abruptly halted or stifled, and you then subsequently blamed for starting arguments, being a heretic, etceteras and etceteras, so on and so forth, ad fastidium.
In fact this was what was distinctly implied and stated in the "response" I received from the "Bible" study leader. Supposedly, according to him, I didn't stick to any point; I demanded at the outset that they believe what I believed; and presented "massive amounts of information that go beyond the topic at hand and require more time than is available…"; unnecessarily complicated issues and obscured context; violated "normative rules of language"; interrupted others constantly; and was argumentative &c. Typical, just typical. Of course it does no good to object to such castigation's because it only "proves" in their minds that you are argumentative!
If you are a "Bible"
believer and have ever attempted to share your convictions with others you've
experienced first hand the above. After this latest occurrence I decided that
it would be beneficial to compose a short study and expose of the basic
philosophy of those who oppose us. This work is primarily intended for the
benefit of the average layman, to equip him with some tools with which he may
better respond to the accusations commonly leveled at him, and so he can make
his case to the few who will genuinely listen. I am not writing for the
benefit of the "scholar" nor am I attempting to convince anyone who is
an "original/scholarship only advocate." This is just me putting down a
few stray thoughts for the benefit of my brethren, and if the occasional
interested reader wants to take a stab at a reply, more power to ya! Go for
Providential Preservation Extant In Fact or Present In Theory:
Before any discussion can properly ensue one must first deal with the basic question and underpinning issue with respect to the topic of preservation, and this is the question of preservation. Did God do what He promised He would do in the manner that is outlined in the "Bible"? We are not interested in theory, conjecture, speculation, or the opinions of the "learned men" we are primarily concerned with how this theme is treated in Holy Writ.
Firstly, let us give the opinion of our critics on this matter, after all it seems only fair. It is conceded that our detractors hotly contend and often earnestly assert that God has indeed "preserved" His word, but it is not in any one particular translation. Rather, it lies somewhere in the mass or morass of manuscripts, parchments, texts, translations and versions collectively. No modern "Bible" or mere translation can be infallible. They are accurate, and very close to the "original manuscripts" which alone are infallible, inerrant and inspired. We do have God's "message," but only the "originals" were without error.
Perhaps the best way to approach this issue is by contrast and inquiry, rather than relying on a purely dictatorial approach. Along these lines the following inquiries are provided to stimulate discussion and provoke thought regarding the philosophy outlined above by our opponents.
Question [A]: Regarding John 14:23/Luke 4:4 etc, how can we keep Jesus' words and the words of the Father if we don't first have and recognize where they are? If they are in the morass of manuscripts we firstly don't have them, especially if all translations have errors, and we certainly aren't equipped to recognize them if this is the case.
Question [B]: On John 4:24/John 17:17, how can we worship God in truth with His word which is truth, if our versions don't contain all the truth, being mixed with errors? God never promised to inspire and preserve merely doctrines, a "message" or belief systems, He said W O R D S! Furthermore, God didn't inspire nor promise to preserve man made methods of interpretation. Why bother to inspire His word in the first place if he didn't preserve it intact, isn't Inspiration without Preservation useless?
Question [C]: If God's word will judge us in the latter day (John 12:48) will it be a fallible translation or an inerrant word which will judge us? It wouldn't be fair to judge us by a book we never had access to would it?
Question [D]: If God's word produces the new birth (James 1:21 cf. I Peter 1:23) how can a defective translation alone save us? Also, if our faith is derived from hearing the word of God, can a defective word only produce defective faith? One may be saved in spite of a modern translation's faults, but one can be saved from a tract, but a tract is not the Bible although it may contain some of the "Bible".
Question [E]: Furthermore, if Jesus' name is so precious to God, and it is (Phil. 2:9/Eph. 1:21), and if God's own name is even exalted above all blessing and praise and it is (Nehemiah 9:5); and if God has magnified His word above His own name (Psalms 138:2) and He did; then how can it be such a trivial issue to defend God's inerrant word as a present possession?
Question [F]: Can two inspired accounts differ (Jer. 36:32)? If so, how can you attempt to prove errors in the KJV by appealing to differences in editions or printing errors?
Question [G]: What was "original" the words spoken by Paul or as written by Tertius (Romans 16:22)?
Question [H]: Are not copies in Scripture - Scripture, and if Scripture are they not Gods's word; and if God's word are they not inerrant, inspired and infallible? II Tim. 3:1-15; Proverbs 25:1; Proverbs 31:1; John 17:17 (Christ quotations from the O.T., in the N.T., were most likely from copies by the way). When I read of "Scripture" it is always used of copies or translations (Mark 12:10; Acts 8:32; Acts 17:11; etc).
Parenthetically, some further discussion of the "original-only" theory is in order if we are to understand Mr. Bowman's and his allies' orientation on this issue, the etiology of which is the driving force behind his and their observations.
General Adaptations and Summary Of "KJV-Only" Authors Remarks On The Relevance and Question Of The "Original Manuscripts."
...and Providential Preservation
Never once are the "original manuscripts" determined to be the only real or authentic "word of God." We read where Christ read the scriptures, we can point to where the Bereans studied the scriptures (Acts 17:11), and it is self evident that the Ethiopian eunuch had them open on his lap (Acts 8:32), and it is a fact that Christ rebuked the people for not reading them (Matthew 21:42). The word "scripture" as defined in the context of 2 Tim. 3:15 was something that Timothy had known all of his life, and what he had surely was not the "original autograph" of Moses, Isaiah, David, Jeremiah, Malachi, Zephaniah, Samuel, Asaph, Ezekiel, or Daniel. These were copies and they are Scripture! One might well ask the question: Are errant translations then profitable for doctrine, reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness?
It is commonly assumed that "scripture" has reference to the "original autographs" yet virtually each time the word is used in the "Bible" it is the copies or even translations of the Scriptures that are in view, e.g., it is the Scriptures that the people had access to: Please see Dan. 10:21; Matt. 22:29; Luke 4:21 - 24:27, 32, 45; Jn. 2:22 - 5:39; Jn. 10:35; Acts 8:32, 35; Acts 17:2; 2 Tim. 3:16 - 3:16.
Scripture then, in the proper Biblical sense, refers to what the people had access to, what was at hand, what was current, what they could then actually read and hear. It was extant, it could be produced and handled and known. Copies and translations then are holy, true, not broken, and worthy of belief (2 Tim. 3:15 cf. Rom. 1:2; Dan. 10:21; Jn. 10:35; Jn. 2:22; Lk. 4:21).
When we consider 2 Tim. 3:15-17, the words "is given by inspiration of God" are translated from one Greek word "theopneustos" (this word is commonly interpreted as meaning "God breathed.") The words "is profitable" are translated from the Greek word "Ophelimos". These two words are joined by the Greek conjunction "kai." Hence, we can clearly see that all scripture (graphe) is said to be "God-breathed and profitable."
Therefore, while the Scriptures were inspired in the past their profitability is applicable to the present, and yet both facts are cojoined together in an same grammatical construction.
So the work of past inspiration is what makes the Scriptures profitable in the present reality. Conversely, the Scriptures cannot be profitable in the present reality if the divine blessings of inspiration have not been preserved. Past inspiration is inseparably linked to present profitability!
Let us consider for a moment the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus surely had copies of copies of the "original manuscripts" when He preached (see for example Luke 4:16-21).
Jesus never, ever, talked of the "original autographs" and He never said this or that was an addition or an omission, or a better rendering would be. He didn't come to destroy the law but to fulfill (Matt. 5:17). He believed every letter in his copies was the word of God (Matt. 5:18). He warned us that Satan would sow corrupt scripture to produce religious fakers (Matt. 13:24-25). Granted this may be considered an argument from silence, and if this were the totality of our case it might be cause for concern, however, we have in addition to this the positive and clear assertion of many other Scriptures with clearly show that Christ's handling of the Scriptures was diametrically opposed to that of modern day critics.
Throughout Jesus' ministry He made frequent reference to Scripture and often said "it is written." Christ spoke of those scriptures as currently existing even though the original autograph manuscripts of those Scriptures had turned to dust centuries before. In referring His listeners to Scripture, Christ was referring them to the scrolls which were currently available to them to read, not some unreadable, unseeable "originals."
Therefore, the word which God promised to preserve cannot be the original autograph manuscripts because we don't have them. The word which God promised to preserve cannot be Jesus Christ since He has no need of being preserved. The word which God promised to preserve cannot be "God's message" because "God's message" doesn't qualify as being the word of God, at least not with the definition that many employ, other than a notice or communication sent from one individual to another (see any dictionary).
What most critics mean when they say "message" is a thought or idea or concept, and such a definition frees them from any responsibility or specific words and permits him to make whatever alterations he pleases so long as he retains the central thought. For the critic then, the preserved word of God is the central thought or theme of God's revelation INDEPENDENT FROM THE SPECIFIC WORDS OF THAT REVELATION. The reader is heartily encouraged to read Norman Ward's excellent treatise Famine in the Land as well as his other books which address this question.
The word of God is specific rather than conceptual which is apparent in the way in which the Bible speaks of the word of God. It can, according to Scripture, be heard (Romans 10:17), read (Acts 8:30), cut (Jeremiah 36:23), burned (Jeremiah 36:23), written (Matthew 4:10), held (Luke 4:17), found (II Kings 22:8), searched (Acts 17:11), studied (2 Timothy 2:15), known (2 Timothy 3:15), etc.
In the words of Jesus Christ (Matt. 4:4) "It is written…" The word that God promised to preserve must therefore be the written record of His revelation to man; the Bible, not some nebulous, intangible, conceptual Bible but a holdable, readable, Bible consisting of the specific individual words of God.
If we are to know the truth which will set us free (Jn. 8:32), and if the word is truth (Jn. 17:17) then we must be able to know and recognize the word! Certainly the God who Gave The Word could Preserve it in One Book instead of a library! Preservation presumes production!!!
Some have stated that they would rather be in the word than in Heaven, because after all Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away!
Additionally, if we're not supposed to add or delete from God's word, then logically we should have and know it (Deut. 12:32; Prov. 30:6 and Rev. 22:18-19) otherwise these warnings are meaningless.
When one says that God's word is not in one copy or in one translation, but collectively God has His perfect word preserved, I could just as well say that all of God's words are contained in Webster's Unabridged Dictionary or better still in Strong's Concordance, since we believe that all the words of the Bible are to be found in it. If this theory is correct a believer would have to have every manuscript and every version of the Bible to have the "collective" word of God, yet he would still be hopelessly confused about which words were the true word of God due to the magnitude of the words he had to collect.
Since the versions and scholars can't agree, the texts differ and interpretative formulas are not infallible, the believer is left in confusion. Consider this, is the mark of the beast 666 or 616 (see Rev. 13:18?), or is salvation an instantaneous event or a process (I Peter 2:2). The differences do indeed matter.
I would grant you that modern versions contain the word of God, but that no more makes them The word of God any more than if I found a dollar bill in a sewer made it a bank. Tracts contain the word of God, commentaries, theology books, even the dictionary, but the word of God is infallible, inerrant, inspired and preserved, and none of those works can make this claim. Most modern seminaries doesn't teach this because they are in the business of teaching man's wisdom by and large (I Cor. 2:9-13). The established religious institutions of Christ's and Paul's day were flawed much in the same way as many of our current institutions of higher learning, Christian or otherwise.
For our daily walk in this present world we need a Bible now. We don't need fragments or portions of the Scriptures nor do we need Bibles filled with errors or mistakes. We need to know where the word is, study the word and love the word.
When it comes time for judgment, would God be just to judge the unsaved at the White Throne Judgment from the words written in the "Bible", when man only had a "Bible" that was untrustworthy and full of error? How would man be accountable for the Word of God and answer to that Word of God, when he could not be sure whether he was reading the Word of God, or the word of man?
It is often argued that the individual reader should decide on his/her own what the correct reading is (James White); however, it is highly debatable if the average reader is qualified to accomplish this feat. Also, nowhere in Scripture are we enjoined to go about to and fro rummaging around in the manuscript bins of colleges and museums making decisions about matters we are woefully ill-equipped to make. Our own speculation is a rather poor guide to determine what God ought to have said or not.
David Norris has well noted the lack of faith inherent in common statements of "faith" on the "Bible" issue.
'We believe in the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures as originally given, their verbal inspiration by god and their supreme authority as the only rule of faith and practice.'
"What these people are really saying is that, whilst the words originally written down by the prophets and apostles were free from error and inspired, the Bible we have in our hands today has errors in it and so cannot be relied on completely, and some parts are not inspired."
With respect to the ongoing search to "recover the original text" it has been well noted that no one will know when this goal has been achieved as there are no "originals" to compare our reconstructed texts, and if we did possess the "originals" the search would be in vain.
The groundwork underlying the philosophy, and it is a philosophy, that we need to "recover the original text" is based upon the rationalistic and humanistic methodology commonly employed in secular textual criticism, hence indirectly denying the very inspiration and preservation of the texts presumed by modern critics to be the "word of God."
Many modern day authors who promulgate the new translation theory are quite fond of quoting scholars and noted authors as being on their side in this dispute. They are quite eager to portray the "KJV-Only advocates" as being a trivial novelty, a nuisance, a recent construct in the history of the faith. However, time and time again they have been disproved in their remarks, yet happily continue to make such sentiments publicly.
Further still, preservation didn't die or end with the "original manuscripts" rather this is where it began, and God has indeed kept his promise. We are not talking about inspiration or double inspiration, but preservation! The arguments employed in establishing this concept of preservation beyond the "originals" is primarily fourfold: There is the Biblical argument firstly which is gleaned from the various and sundry texts which not only imply but directly affirm this dogma.
Second, there is the theological argument which consists of identifying, classifying, and expounding on the changes, omissions and additions inherent in the minority texts and their new version offspring. Precisely how overall doctrines are weakened collectively and even removed at a verse level is a popular tool in expounding on this point.
Third is the practical argument which presents a straightforward statistical, numerical or percentage based evaluation of the body of manuscripts (minority v. majority or Byzantine). Concomitantly reference is commonly made to the citations of neglected sources such as Church Father quotations, and early Lectionary readings which are voluminous and undercounted. Moreover, the importance of the Old Latin is investigated.
Fourthly, there is the historical argument that basically acknowledges the reality that the Church by and large throughout its history has always, at least from the testimony of the extant manuscripts left to us, used the Byzantine text as preferable to the minority texts. The theory developed to enervate this point (Lucian's supposed recension) is properly attacked as an argument without realistic foundation in this line of argument.
This brief summary above is not exhaustive, yet it does allow one a glimpse of the argumentation that exists contrary to the popular new versionism that pervades the "Bible" market today.
It should be noted that some have attempted to speculate on why God did not choose to preserve the "original manuscripts" by stating that man would worship them. This is fallacious for man worships things all the time that he doesn't know, understand, or necessarily have. Many people have as their "god" money, power, sex, cars, toys, etc. Some don't have any yet still lust for them, others have some yet want more.
But this is made even more clear when we consider what the word of God has to say on the matter. The first text is Acts 17:22-23:
"THEN Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you."
Here is a case of people ignorantly worshipping a false god that they physically didn't even have a statue relic, or visible representation of, yet they worshipped anyway. The next text is found in John 4:22:
"Ye worship ye know not what: we know that we worship: for salvation is of the Jews."
Here true worship in the true "religion" is contrasted with false and ignorant worship of something that is relatively unknown and certainly not possessed! So clearly, the opinion that God didn't preserve the "originals" simply to avoid them being worshipped is fallacious indeed. Actually the reason is quite simple, God didn't preserve the physical "original autographs" themselves because he didn't need t! The apographs (copies) themselves have preserved His word as outlined in the scriptural passages above.
Now, let us consider one last question:
Question [I]: When you correct the "Bible" Mr. Bowman, are you are not correcting a book that is supposed to correct you are you not ( Hebrews 4:12)?
If you call a book the "Bible" (b i b l o V ) you are calling it the "word of God" and if the "word of God" it then must be "inerrant;" if so, and if no translation is "inerrant" or "infallible" then properly you cannot call it the "word or God" or properly the "Bible." Therefore, I believe you should henceforth revise your vocabulary and refrain from calling any translation the "word of God" that is, if you are going to be logically consistent with the meaning of language.
The next chapter in this work is
where we will examine the alleged "problems" with either the King James
Bible, or those seeking to defend it from people allied with Mr. Bowman.
Problem 1: The KJV originally contained the Apocrypha. Thus, the Bible that KJV-Only advocates use omits thousands of verses originally contained in the KJV (just over 5,700) – far more than the few verses found in the KJV but omitted in the NASB, NIV, and other modern translations (such as 1 John 5:7). It is true that the Apocrypha was widely regarded by Protestants in 1611 not to have the status of full canonicity. However, in the original 1611 edition no disclaimer was included in this regard (one was added in later editions). Furthermore, if the Apocrypha were to be included today, KJV-only advocates would vehemently object to its inclusion – a sure sign that its inclusion in the 1611 edition is a significant difference.
Answer: It is true that translators of the King James Bible (KJB) included the Apocrypha but it is certain that they did not consider it to it to be canonical Scripture. Also, the fashion in which it was included was consistent with historical precedent, and furthermore, the manner of its inclusion (between the Testaments), along with the clear statements of the translators themselves that the inspired text consisted of the Old and New Testaments in their Preface, is further evidence that it was not considered part of the inspired text. Hence, since it was never intended to be part of the inspired text, it was not logically omitted from same, and Mr. Bowman'' first point crumbles to pieces. However, if the foregoing is to cursory a forensic rejoinder for the skeptics, I shall include the following material to further bolster my points above.
Firstly, let us consider first of
all His Majesty's own stated opinion on the Apocrypha:
King James's Position: "As for the Scriptures, no man doubteth, I will believe them; but even for the Apocrypha, I hold them in the same account that the ancients did: they are still printed and bound with our Bibles, and publicly read in our Churches; I reverence them as the writings of holy and good men: but since they are not found in the cannon, we account them to be secundae lectionis, or ordinis, which is Bellarmine's own destinction; and therefore not sufficient whereupon alone to ground any article of Faith, except it be confirmed by some other place of Canonical Scripture."
Secondly, let us reflect on the position of the Anglican Church regarding the Apocrypha at the time under consideration:
The Church Of England's Position:
[39 Articles of Religion of the Church Of England, A.D. 1571].
"Article VI. Of The Sufficiency Of The Holy Scriptures For Salvation: Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought requisite as necessary to salvation. In the name of holy Scripture, we do understand those Canonical books of the old and new testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church … "
And regarding the Apocrypha, the Anglican Church "… does not apply them to establish any doctrine."
Thirdly, it should be remembered that the tradition of the Apocrypha being bound in Holy Writ was a long established practice, well before King James' ascension to either the Scottish or English thrones.
Moreover, the Geneva Bible of 1602, so commonly associated with the Puritans bound the Apocrypha within its text, in much the same fashion as the King James Bible. The remarks on the Apocrypha in this edition are virtually identical to the sentiments of both King James and the Church of England as can be clearly seen below:
These books that follow in order after the prophets unto the New Testament are called Apocrypha, that is, books, which were not received by a common consent to be read or expounded publicly in the Church, neither yet served to prove any point of Christian religion, save in as much as they had the consent of the other Scriptures called Canonical to confirm the same, or rather whereon they were grounded: but as books proceeding from godly men, were received to be read for the advancement and furtherance of the knowledge of the history and for the instruction of godly manners which books declare that at all times God has a special care of his Church and left them not utterly destitute of teachers and means to confirm them in the hope of the promised Messiah, and also witness that those calamities that God sent to His Church were according to His providence who had both so threatened by His Prophets, and so brought it to pass for the destruction of their enemies, and for the trial of His children."
When Mr. Bowman asserts "…in the original 1611 edition no disclaimer was included…" he is telling a half truth at best. First, as noted above, the Church of England's position on the Apocrypha was well known, hence no one would expect the inclusion of the Apocrypha was any sign of their acceptance of the work canonically speaking. This is especially so in light of the well known custom of prior translations including the Apocrypha, also as noted above. Second, if he had taken the time to read the Translators To The Reader he would have known clearly what they accepted as the canonical text. Regarding the "Scriptures" they write:
"If you aske what they had before them, truly it was the Hebrew text of the Olde Testament, the Greeke of the New. These are the two golden pipes, or rather conduits, …"
Fourthly, in the 1611 King James Bible, the Table Of Contents clearly separates the books of the Old and New Testaments from the Books called "Apocrypha." The Apocrypha is clearly not included in the cannon.
Additionally, if the addition of the Apocrypha invalidates the King James Bible (KJB) then it must also invalidate the very Greek Manuscripts which most modern versions are based on, namely Vaticanus (B) and Sinaiticus (Aleph). If the critical reader will take the time to consult references works which catalog the contents of these MSS you will discover, much to your displeasure, that they not only include the Apocrypha, but they place these books mixed in with the Old and New Testament cannon as part of the inspired text!
Therefore, by Mr. Bowman's own
logic, the Greek texts underlying the modern versions with their resultant
textual deviations from the Textus Receptus (Text Received/TR) are
invalidated, and he is left only with the TR upon which to found his doctrine.
His conclusion that the KJB omits the Apocryphal verses is misplaced in that
the Apocryphal books were never part of the inspired text.
Problem 2:. Even excluding the Apocrypha, the KJV of 1611 differed slightly from editions of the KJV in common use today.. We are not referring here to spelling changes and the like, or to misprints in later, single editions. Usually the changes are improvements – for example, Matthew 26:36 now properly reads "Then cometh Jesus," where the original KJV read "Then cometh Judas." Not all the changes are for the better, though – for example, Matthew 23:34 in the KJV originally read "strain out a gnat," which is correct, while subsequent editions of the KJV to this day have "strain at a gnat." These facts prove that the extreme KJV-Only belief that even the slightest deviation from the wording of the KJV results in a false Bible is completely unrealistic. Please note that we are not claiming that the differences are vast or troubling from our perspective. We are simply pointing out that the position that the wording of the 1611 KJV is inviolable logically requires that modern editions of the KJV not be used.
Answer: It is widely understood that there were printing errors in the early editions of the AV1611, but these were printers errors, not properly part of the text, and considering the fact that the English language at that precise time had no hard fast rules of spelling, grammar and/or punctuation, any errors can only be judged from the point of hindsight (i.e., by standards developed later on in the development of the language); and consequently are not properly applied to the KJV. On Matt 26:36, Mr. Bowman's notes state that the "original" KJV read "Then cometh Judas."
KönigsWort Incorporated owns a
word-for-word reprint of the 1611 Authorized Version, and it reads in Matthew
26:36 "Then commeth Iesus with them…"
Mr. Bowman is incorrect on this point. His next text is Matthew 23:34 (which
should be 23:24) and is similarly flawed. Our 1611 reprint reads "Ye
blind guides, which straine at a gnat, and swallow a camel."
Again, we see the erroneous nature of his alleged facts. While some editions
may have contributed to this charge, it is nevertheless, an erroneous
assertion practically speaking.
Problem 3: The translators of the KJV did not believe in the KJV-Only doctrine.
a. They asserted that "the very meanest [i.e., most common or rude] translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession . . . containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God." In other words, any translation of the Bible by Christian scholars is the word of God.
b. They understood their work as a translation of the original Hebrew and Greek text, contrary to some extreme KJV-Only advocates who maintain that the original Hebrew and Greek text is nonexistent and irrelevant
Answer: Yes the KJV is a translation, but where in the word of God does being a translation invalidate a work from being the word of God? If this be true than even the beloved "originals" would be condemned (see Acts 8:32,33 cf. Isa. 53:7,8, Heb. 3:7-11 cf. Psa. 95:7-11; Heb. 10:15 etc). Even the "originals" contained translations (see Matthew 1:23 and Matthew 27:46).
As far as translations go, consider case of Hebrews 10:15 when the writer writes in Greek from the Hebrew, ("the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us .. he had said…"), it is obvious that the Holy Ghost is also a witness, when the Hebrew was translated into Greek. If this be true from Hebrew to Greek, why not from Greek to English, and Spanish, etc? the reference, by the way, is from Jer. 31:33-34, which unquestionably was originally written in Hebrew. Yet this author feels confident that Mr. Bowman is of the opinion that only the "original manuscripts" were the inerrant, inspired, infallible word of God. If this be so, how can he then reconcile this with the word of God's concept of what a translation is?
There are many "translations" on the market by self-professed "Christian" "scholars" yet many include annotations to the text that are anti-Trinitarian and even oppose the Deity of Christ (see ASV 1901, note on John 9:38).
Many Biblical authors do not state that what they are writing at the time is ipso facto inspired, yet their works are included in the Cannon of inspired Scripture. Simply because the KJV translators never made the claim doesn't mean it isn't true as a strict matter of logic. This is the classic argument from silence.
However, one can well consider why they didn't make the claim, for it would not necessarily be their work which was inspired, but the words of God; hence why they never made the claim. Additionally, if you take the time to read the Translators To The Reader, they clearly state that God's word is inspired (see Bowman's sub-point "a". I would agree that it is not the translators, but the text of the KJV that is inspired, and I believe this is the point which he was awkwardly attempting to make.
I might ask Mr. Bowman, where in Matthew, Mark, Luke or even Jude does the writer profess to be "inerrant" before or after what they wrote? John said the "Things" were true (John 21:24), but never professed inerrancy in his own words one time. When did the original author of Esther, the Proverbs, Jonah, I Peter, Joshua, or 2 Samuel ever profess to be inspired, infallible or inerrant?
c. The KJV originally included marginal notes containing alternate renderings – making it clear that the wording of the KJV is not above correction or improvement. They admitted that there were Hebrew words that appeared only once in the whole Old Testament whose precise meaning was a matter of conjecture or debate.
d. They also included variant readings – an extremely important point that contradicts the KJV-Only doctrine that the slightest variation from the KJV text results in an unreliable or false Bible. In at least one instance they placed half a verse in italics because they were unsure whether it was original (1 John 2:23b).
Answer: This questions creates the unfounded assumption or impression that the marginal notes of the KJB translators was intended to be part of the text, or that they advocated Alexandrian readings found in modern versions. This simply is not the case. The marginal readings were intended to explain the Hebrew and Greek words (based on the Textus Receptus not the minority Greek and non-traditional Hebrew texts) as specified by King James ("No marginal notes at all to be affixed, but only for the explanation of the Hebrew or Greek words, which cannot without some circumlocution so briefly and fitly be expressed in the text."). This was a textual commentary of sorts consisting primarily of synonyms for words in the text. The marginal notes were never intended to be considered as part of the text, hence why they were separated from the text in the first place.
With regard to italics, see Matt. 4:4 cf. Deut. 8:3, in Greek one will find the word Rhema, which is translated word. In regards to I John 2:23b, it has manuscript attestation even though it is in italics, and modern versions actually accord it full status. It also was in the predecessors of the KJB.
Also, while it is claimed that the KJB translators had an inadequate knowledge of "textual variants" the marginal notes invalidate this. Many who advance this point then illogically criticize them for displaying this very knowledge in the marginal notes.
Contrary to popular belief the readings of Vaticanus were known to Erasmus who rejected them.
With respect to Problem 3e, this
is merely a sophisticated variation of 3b, for it is acknowledged the KJV is a
translation. If different renderings invalidate a work, then when the N.T.,
doesn't exactly word-for-word translate the O.T., even in the "original"
(and it does not always) then it also is invalidated. 3f and 3g are closely
allied to 3b and 3g et al.
Problem 4: The KJV Bible itself does not teach the KJV-Only Doctrine.
Answer: This logical fallacy (argument from silence) has been dealt with previously (see Problem #3 above).
a. No verse of the KJV indicates that there can be only one translation in any language. Much less does any verse of the KJV teach (as some KJV-Only advocates maintain) that there can be only one language version of the Bible at a time and that the only Bible in the world today is the KJV.
Answer: This is side-stepping the issue. The issue is preservation, and preservation in Scripture is never ever linked with errancy! Preservation presumes possession, for without possession then inerrancy is not a reality but merely a theory, a hypothesis lacking documentary evidence. This ignores the basic underlying premise in Mr. Bowman's listing of "problems" for no where does he define what he means by "Bible" nor does he inform us as to precisely where the word of God is, only where he thinks its not.
He does not, and cannot demonstrate from Scripture that only the "originals" are inspired; and/or that preservation is linked with errancy and does not intend possession: Psalms 12:6,7; Matthew 24:35; Isaiah 59:21; I Peter 1:23-25; Luke 4:4; Proverbs 30:5; Isaiah 40:8; Psalms 100:5; Luke 16:17; John 10:35; Psalms 119:140-160; Psalms 19:7. As this topic has sufficiently been addressed earlier in this manuscript I will move on to the next assertion rather than belabor the point.
b. The KJV does clearly teach that God's word is pure and that God promised to preserve his word. But in no verse does the KJV indicate that this preservation would occur without variant readings or renderings. To say that God's word is "pure" is not the same thing as saying that there can be no variations from one version of the Bible to another. It is, rather, simply to say that what God has said is absolutely reliable. But we must still determine precisely what God said. Did he say what is in the Apocrypha? Did he say 1 John 5:7? The purity of God's word is an axiom, but it does not automatically answer these questions.
Answer: "Infallible" and "Reliable" are two entirely different things, and "Pure" means "Pure" no matter how you slice it. Determining "…precisely what God said…" is the question in vogue, and either we can or we can't. Modern scholarship hasn't solved this puzzle, and the modern translations are irreconcilable. This bit of humanistic poppycock is contrary to the scriptural example of how Christ treated the scriptures of his own day. Of God's word is preserved, then the next logical question is Where is it? Mr. Bowman fails to answer this question other than resorting to equivocation and negative assertions. Where exactly is the inspired, inerrant, infallible, extant, plenary word of God Mr. Bowman, we want to know?
With respect to I John 5:7, Mr. Bowman simply does not have all the facts to call it an error. I humbly suggest the reader log on to http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/1john572.htm, as well as read Michael Maynard's historical defense of the verse. It should be noted that Mr. Bowman does not employ I John 5:7 or I Timothy 3:16 to a significant degree in his works defending the Trinity.
c. The KJV does teach that no one should add to or subtract from God's word. This does place a serious responsibility on the textual scholar and the translator; but it does not tell us which English version is correct about disputed verses such as 1 John 5:7.
The injunctions against adding and subtracting from
Gods word (Deut. 12:32; Prov. 30:6 and Rev. 22:18-19) presuppose that we can
recognize the words in the first place. If we are unable to clearly recognize
them then it is possible to unintentionally add or subtract from God's word.
This is the uncertainty which Mr. Bowman promotes for he is either unable or
unwilling to clarify where exactly the pure, inerrant, inspired, infallible
words of God are.
Problem 5. The KJV-Only doctrine contradicts the evidence of the KJV Bible itself.
a. If the KJV-Only doctrine were true, we would expect that quotations from the Old Testament (OT) appearing in the New Testament (NT) would be worded exactly the same. But this is usually not the case in the KJV. Granted, God might legitimately inspire the NT authors to reword certain OT verses. But this explanation does not cover all the evidence.
b. The fact is that the vast majority of OT quotations in the NT differ at least slightly. Why would God inspire NT authors to reword OT statements routinely if there is only one legitimate wording for each OT verse?
c. In some cases in the NT the OT quotation is presented as what a person in NT times actually read, or could read, in his copy of the OT. For example, several times Jesus asked the Jews if they had never read a particular OT text – and then quoted it in a form that differs from the KJV (Matt. 19:4-5 [Gen. 1:27; 2:24]; Matt. 21:16 [Ps. 8:2]; Matt. 21:42 and Mark 12:10 [Ps. 118:22-23]; Matt. 22:32 and Mark 12:26 [Ex. 3:6]). If the Bible is properly worded in only one way and any variant is a corruption of the Bible, then Jesus was asking them if they had read something which, according to KJV-Only reasoning, they could not have read. Elsewhere we are told that a person read an OT text, where the KJV of that OT text differs from what appears in the NT quotation (Luke 4:17-19 [Isa. 61:1-2]; 10:26-28 [Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18]; Acts 8:32-33 [Isa. 53:7-8]). These facts prove that the OT text which the Nazareth synagogue, Jesus himself, the rich young ruler, and the Ethiopian ruler had differed in wording from the OT in the KJV.
Answer: If the differences in quotations between the N.T., and the O.T., invalidate the KJB they also invalidate the Greek copies from thence they came, for this is a characteristic feature of the Greek manuscripts themselves; hence, by Mr. Bowman's logic the "originals" would similarly suffer the same fate. Two inspired accounts can indeed differ (Jer. 36:32).
In that both the O.T./N.T are
God's words, he as the author of both has the freedom to quote at his own
discretion. We, however, have no such freedom as to pick and choose which
words of God we will accept and or reject. If God lost the end of Mark (I
assume Mr. Bowman hasn't found it yet), then what else did He lose? If word
differences (such as that between Matt. 21:42 cf. Psa. 118:22-23 -
rejected/refused) invalidates the KJB, then it also invalidates the Hebrew and
Greek Manuscripts, yet the Holy Spirit as author has the freedom to alter His
own words which is a long established literary principle.
Problem 6. The KJV-Only doctrine is not the historic belief of the Christian faith. In the history of Christianity only two other versions of the Bible have ever been treated as the Bible, and even in these two cases not to the exclusion of other language versions. But those two versions were the Greek Septuagint (OT) and the Latin Vulgate, both of which (especially the latter) are typically rejected by KJV-Only advocates as perversions of the Bible. The Vulgate was treated as the only valid Bible for centuries by the Roman Catholic church in order to maintain uniformity in Bible reading and interpretation. Yet KJV-only advocates commonly regard the Septuagint and the Vulgate texts as false versions or "perversions" of the Bible. To be consistent, then, they must maintain that for over half of church history (over a thousand years) there was no Bible available to anyone outside a tiny number of scholars (if to anyone at all). In Protestantism the belief that the Bible may exist in multiple versions even in the same language has freed the Bible from the monopolistic control of the clergy or the theologians. The KJV-Only doctrine is a reactionary movement, limited almost exclusively to a segment of American fundamentalists (with much smaller followings in other English-speaking countries).
Answer: It is not a matter of whether or not a belief system is necessarily historic, but whether or not it is found in Scripture that validates or invalidates it. After all, baptismal regeneration was a historic feature of a great many Church fathers, so was totally nude immersion of both females and males? Historic Christianity has, on the other hand, always shared a belief in the infallibility of Scripture, which I also share.
The Greek Septuagint is
problematic in extant documents with respect to assigning a B.C date thereto;
and the Old Latin (150 AD), not Jerome's Vulgate (405 AD), agrees with the TR
or the KJB. Mr. Bowman's recounting therefore of the transmission of the text
in historical documentary terms is overly simplistic, and resultantly his
inquiry derived from same is resultantly flawed. The emotional appeal to the
numerical superiority of a particular persuasion is dubious at best, for
Scripture accords greater weight to the narrow road as opposed to the wide
road which leads more often to destruction. Readings from the KJB have been
found in the most ancient manuscripts available to us.
Problem 7. The KJV-Only doctrine does not fit the facts about the transmission of the Bible.
a. According to at least some versions of the KJV-Only doctrine, God preserved the Bible against any and all deviations, so that the true Bible has always been the same. But there is no evidence that this has happened. In fact the Bible and portions of it have been freely copied, re-copied, and translated with great freedom in the first five centuries of the church and in the last five centuries (so far). This resulted in many variations and deviations from the original text.
b. The copies of the first 1500 years or so of church history were all produced by hand, and no two extant manuscripts are completely alike. It is unrealistic to expect that before the printing press an absolutely unchanging text would be preserved by anyone – and the evidence from the extant manuscripts proves that in fact it did not happen.
Answer: Despite the fact that we are not instructed in Scripture as to how precisely God preserved His word, the fact remains nevertheless that He did so, if we are to believe God on the matter. Mr. Bowman, on the other hand, resorts to a tedious discussion about copies and translations and variant readings. The documents available to our Lord Jesus Christ were likewise copies of copies, yet He never attempted to correct them, or discuss variant readings, or speak of more accurate renditions (Lk. 4:16; Matt. 19:3-5; 21:16,42; Jn. 5:39; Matt. 4:4-10; Jn. 10:35 etc).
Our Lord did, however, correct the Pharisaical interpretations, but not the Scriptures. The Apostles likewise quoted Scripture Acts 1:16; 4:25; 28:25; and Hebrews 1:1,7. Should we not follow the example of our Lord as well as that of his Apostles?
As far as the transmission of the text is concerned, a cursory examination may well be in order. Historically, we know Moses' scroll was committed to the priests who deposited it near the sacred Ark of the Covenant. Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the Ark, to put the book of the law in or near the Ark (Deut. 31:25,26 cf. Joshua 1:8; I Kings 2:3 and Nehemiah 8:1). According to Joshua 24:26 Joshua we see after having made additions to Moses's scroll, he had the scroll replaced in the sanctuary of the Lord. In time there was another addition to the scroll (I Sam. 10:25). The scrolls more or less stayed in the sanctuary until the permanent erection of the Jewish Temple where they then resided (2 Kings 22:8 cf. 2 Chronicles 34:14). The process of writing continued with other books or scrolls added (I Chron. 29:29; 2 Chron. 9:29, 12:15; Isa. 30:8; Jer. 36:1,2) Between the time of Moses's earliest writing and the completion of Malachi (1450 bc and 450 bc respectively) there are approximately 1,000 years wherein God communicated with men by the supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit having God's communication to man being written down. From the beginning this collection was regarded as simply one book, called the "Book of the Lord" (Isa. 34:16).
After the originally written 10 Commandments were destroyed they were written again, and there was a simple rule for the copying process (Deut. 10:4). Another example of where a writing was destroyed and later rewritten is in Jeremiah 36. This time additional words were added to the second copy. Furthermore, there is allusion in Scripture that every king of Israel was to have a copy of either Deuteronomy or the Pentateuch on hand (Deut. 17:18 cf. 2 Chronicles 23:11) so the copying process was involved to one degree or another with practically every major part of the Old Testament, if not the whole. The Levites are noted in Scripture to have had access to the books (2 Chron. 17:7-9). In the beginning the Levites had a major role in the copying process (Deut. 17:18), but later on other scribes played a role (Jer. 8:8; Ezra 7:11; 2 Chron. 2:55). Not only did Jesus Christ accept the copies of the Old Testament he worked with, but the Old Testament likewise accords copies of copies with the status of being the very word of God.
For example, in 1 Kings 2:3 David commands his son Solomon to keep what was written in the law of Moses. King Solomon probably only had a copy such as that mentioned in Deut. 17:18,19, but that copy was still deemed the word of God.
It is obvious now that we do not have the "originals" and it is widely presumed that they were either lost or captured in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BC. Solomon's temple was completely destroyed in the havoc and carnage of that event (2 Chron. 36:17-19). Yet despite this tragedy the copies already made from the scrolls in the temple evidently survived (Dan. 9:2, 11). Furthermore, in 537 BC the Jews started to return from their captivity and Ezra re-established worship in Jerusalem (Ezra 6:18 cf. Nehemiah 8:1). Copies must still have been available for this to occur.
We know certain things about those who standardized the Hebrew text, namely the Massoretes. They introduced vowel points, fixed accents and worked with the text in various linguistic ways. They were very meticulous, counting verses, words, and even letters. They followed strict Talmudic rules when necessitated only clean materials, strict counting of columns and letters in manuscripts and a near fanatical zeal for identifying and rectifying scribal errors. All columns had to match, only special ink was used, no word or letter transcribed from memory, if even a letter was omitted or wrongly inserted or if even one letter touched another the sheet had to be destroyed; and three mistakes on a page meant that the manuscript was disposed of completely.
With respect to the Greek copyists we know comparatively less, with slightly more information known about later scribes in certain geographical regions and sects. And it is often overlooked that more copies of Scripture have perished than have survived, so our understanding of the actual early text is limited to what is extant. Yet all of this information is only supportive of the primary fact that Scripture asserts, namely that God preserved His word. Copies, at least from a Biblical point of view, have been and can be viewed as the word of God.
Mr. Bowman wants to make an issue out of where this is, yet he does not first deal with the underlying and foundational premise that it did indeed occur. His view is mainly theoretical and philosophical rather than an extant reality for he nowhere appeals to a specific location for the word of God or where it resides beyond an esoteric library of manuscripts, copies and translations. Rather, he criticizes those who claim a specific repository for the word of God in a single book. He also chastises those who hold a translation can be the word of God, yet in Scripture we know that a translation can indeed be God's word. For example, In Acts 22 Paul speaks to this Jewish audience in the Hebrew language, see verses 1 through 21, (Acts 21:40, 22:2), yet this speech is recorded in the N.T., only in Greek. There is no manuscript of this text extant which records Paul's dissertation in Hebrew which it was originally delivered in. Rather, Luke recorded the whole discourse in Greek. If Hebrew can be translated into Greek without error, as was evidently done here, then it can be done from Greek to English and so on.
Employing Mr. Bowman's reasoning, the copies of the Hebrew manuscripts which Christ quoted, being copied and recopied for many hundreds of years must, humanistically speaking, have contained scribal errors, spurious interpolations, additions, corruptions and deletions (variations as he calls them). Therefore, did Christ have the infallible, inspired, inerrant word of God or not? If He did, then copies of copies can indeed be considered the infallible, inspired, inerrant preserved word of God. The psalmist (Psa. 119:152) believed that he still had the words of God, even after several hundred years of being copied by hand.
Since we do not have the "original manuscripts" we must accept God's promise that He would preserve His word. Mr. Bowman nowhere states where this word is although he claims he believes God's promise of preservation.
This particular question has been answered so often and by better men and women than I so I would preface my remarks with the caution that they are only provided herein as a cursory example of the fact that there are answers to Mr. Bowman's alleged "problems" and I would encourage the reader to seek out additional source materials that more fully expound on this question; for to deal with this question in any detail, this present work would be expanded well beyond a simple short rejoinder.
c. In the case of the New Testament, the distinctive Greek text tradition on which the KJV was based, known as the Byzantine text, does not appear to have existed in the early church. The best evidence we have so far suggests that the Alexandrian text tradition is the earliest. This claim is vigorously rejected by KJV-only advocates, and the arguments pro and con are many and the issue too complicated for most non-scholars to follow and appreciate. However, a simple observation can here be made even here. For the KJV-only doctrine to be correct, in every place where the Byzantine and Alexandrian texts differ, the Byzantine must always be right. To base one's doctrine on such an unprovable and dubious assumption is not wise.
Answer: Despite the issue being "too complicated for most non-scholars to follow and appreciate" this does not hinder Mr. Bowman from arguing his non-KJB position. He claims that it does not "appear" that the distinctive Byzantine text was in existence in the early church. This is little more than an assumption and more probably a glorified opinion. Burgon and Miller long ago traced Byzantine readings to early times, and Pickering has corroborated some of their research.
Moreover, this type of
argumentation ignores the testimony of the early versions and fathers, who
existed before the text underlying the modern versions. Mr. Bowman asserts
quite hypocritically that one cannot base one's position on "unprovable"
and "dubious" assumptions. However, in contradiction he bases his own
philosophy on the transmission of the text, the preservation of Scripture, and
the application of God's word on "unprovable" and "dubious"
assumptions of his own which have been outlined above.
Problem 8: One need not adhere to the KJV-only doctrine to respect the KJV as God's word. Many evangelical Christians greatly revere the KJV, read it, quote from it, believe it, and seek to live by it, who do not subscribe to the KJV-only doctrine.
Answer: This does not address the question, Mr. Bowman's view depreciates God's clear statements that He preserved His word. Granted it doesn't say how He will do it, but this doesn't mean He didn't do it. According to Mr. Bowman we can't trust God because the copies have errors, and they were translated with more errors being introduced, and then the translation theory produced yet more errors, and so on. All translations have errors, he might say, and only the "originals" were inspired; yet Holy Scripture knows or mentions specifically nothing of "originals." Rather, copies are referred to a "scripture." He claims God has "preserved" His word, but he doesn't know where it is precisely, and he must admit no one has it (all translations have errors he would say) hence the logical outcome or byproduct of his theory invalidates the foundational philosophy.
To respect the KJB as God's word
one must accept it as such, with God's word being defined as inerrant,
inspired, and infallible. Mr. Bowman does not believe this of the KJB, hence
his assertion is double-speak.
Problem 9: One need not adhere to the KJV-only doctrine to express criticisms of other translations. Many evangelicals who do not hold to the KJV-only doctrine have specific criticisms of other translations. For example, many evangelicals are critical of gender-inclusive translations such as the NRSV. Many evangelicals have pointed out weaknesses or problems in the NIV. Sober criticism of other translations assumes a humble perspective that recognizes that no translator or translators have produced a perfect translation and that translators who make mistakes are not necessarily corrupting God's word.
Sure, you can criticize another translation without
being one of those unloving KJB-Only people, but this is not the issue. One
can criticize God without being a Christian, or criticize the devil and be an
atheist. You can criticize foods you've never tasted and you can criticize
books and movies you never read or seen. This means nothing, and has no
application to the question at hand.
Problem 10: Advocacy of the KJV-only doctrine is no guarantee of doctrinal truth or interpretive accuracy. A variety of Christian sects of American origin embrace the KJV in more or less exclusivistic fashion.
a. Arguably the "Ruckmanites," a fundamentalist Baptistic movement that looks to Peter Ruckman as its primary spokesperson, is a distinct subgroup of American fundamentalism with almost cultish characteristics. Their basic theology seems sound enough, but it is overlaid with such extremism and legalism in its view of the Bible as to undermine its evangelical view of salvation.
Answer: How does this address the question of preservation, and this is the ultimate question, not necessarily the KJV. One might apply this criticism to the beloved "originals" in that likewise there is no guaranty of doctrinal truth or interpretive accuracy made of them either! There was and are sects of Judaism just as there are in Christianity. This is a straw man argument and contributes nothing to the central issue of preservation or the locality of God's word.
Also, Ruckman is not the issue, nor is any other man. There are cults which use modern versions, does this discredit them also? This is another straw man argument.
b. Mormonism uses the KJV as its official Bible, even though Joseph Smith produced an "inspired" revision of the Bible (which some Mormons also use). The Mormons have a strong commitment to the KJV because it was the Bible of the early LDS prophets, the Book of Mormon quotes (indeed, plagiarizes) whole chapters from the KJV, and Mormons have found it convenient to use the KJV in evangelizing especially in English-speaking countries.
c. Many Oneness Pentecostals hold to a form of the KJV-only doctrine, especially on a popular level among pastors and laity. In their case they find it convenient to stick with the KJV because in certain places its wording is more compatible with the way the Oneness doctrine is articulated than modern translations (e.g., Col. 2:9; 1 Tim. 3:16). Oneness Pentecostals often object to arguments based on the Greek or Hebrew as vain attempts to improve on the Bible.
The following is a very brief excerpt from my
treatise answering James White:
MORMONS and THE KING JAMES BIBLE
Mr. White alluded to the fact that Mormons will use the King James Bible, and brought up an instance when he was confronted by a Mormon regarding his use of a modern version termed by the Mormon "The Bloodless Bible," referring to the common omission of "… through his blood…" in Colossians 1:14.
What Mr. White forgot to mention was that the Mormon most likely was not objecting to this omission due to the same reasons those in the "KJV Only" movement do (manuscript evidence, Christology, Soteriology, and etceteras), but did so because of historical Mormon dogma peculiar to that cult.
You see Brigham Young said in the Journal Of Discourses, Volume 4, page 219 that by the shedding of a persons blood for personal sin he will atone for that sin. Read just about any expose of Mormon dogma and you will find this skewed perception of blood atonement identified.
As far as the level of similarity goes between the "KJV-Only advocates" and the modern critics of the King James Bible, it certainly seems that there is far more agreement between the critics and the Mormons then there is between Bible believers and Mormons. Notice the following:
Clause VIII of the Articles Of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints which reads: "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God." While critics of the KJB may object to the Book of Mormon, they certainly echo the bit about it being "translated correctly". Hence the argument is turned back upon them.
With respect Point C, the same information holds true with the United Pentecostal Church, who readily correct the KJV when it does not suit their particular anti-Trinitarianism.
Regarding the concept of abuse which would be the case in Mr. Bowman's citation of the Mormons and Oneness Pentecostals, it should not be forgotten that the word of God has been abused by certain religious groups, people and/or heretical cults. This is no good reason to disqualify it from being considered the inerrant, inspired, infallible word of God. If this logic be upheld then we must abandon not only most of the Apostle's teaching, but the very word of God they were moved to convey to their audience:
(The word of God has at one time or another, by one group of people/persons or another been corrupted and perverted - 2 Cor. 2:17/Jer. 23:36; the Gospel has been perverted - Gal. 1:7; Prophecy has been abused, exorcisms has been abused, and good works have been misused - Matt. 7:22 cf. Matt 24:11 2 Cor. 11:13, and 2 Pet. 2:1; truth and sound doctrine has and will be rejected - 2 Tim. 4:3,4).
It, therefore, should be abundantly clear that the argumentation employed in this manuscript is faulty, and its premise is flawed. By the way, neither the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) nor the United Pentecostal Church (Oneness or "Jesus Only") groups endorses the King James Bible as the inerrant, inspired, infallible, preserved word of God. Mr. Bowman subtly hints at this when he notes Joseph Smith undertook his own revision of the KJB, and the "Oneness Pentecostals" supposedly "…hold to a form of the KJV-only doctrine…" I've done counter-cult ministry to both groups and never have I encountered an individual from same who accepted the KJB as their final authority.
When exactly does the "Bible" become an idol? Mr. Bowman does not directly answer this question except to infer guilt by association as the title of his manuscript suggests that the "KJV-Only" people do by their "misdirected dedication" to a "translation" which Mr. Bowman asserts is fallible.
Do we make an idol out of the
KJB? No, but we do believe it, we do read, memorize, study, and strive to
apply it in our daily lives. We do not correct it, rather it correct us. We
follow the example of Jesus and treat it as the word of God, just as Jesus did
with His copies of Scripture. If that is making an idol out of the book then
God help us all!
Problem 11: The KJV-only doctrine requires that we have some sort of faith in the KJV translators. KJV-only advocates constantly complain that if we don't have one sure Bible, the KJV, then we have to trust what scholars say about the text and its translation. But they are placing their faith solely in the KJV translators. A genuinely Protestant approach to the Bible requires that we not trust any one translator or translation team. Lay Christians can compare different translations to help get at the truth about any passage – or at least to become aware of possible disputes over the meaning of the passage.
Answer: The KJV is not the issue, it just happens to be a convenient extant target. The issue is preservation, and because Mr. Bowman will not point to any particular translation as being the word of God, his target is constantly changing, shifting, and is therefore chameleonic. He seemingly wants to have his cake and eat it too, claiming on one hand God has preserved His word, but not wanting to produce it in any extant form. Preservation with no production is like an empty bottle of water, the label says there is water in the bottle but the thirst is never satisfied when only stale air reaches parched lips. Inspiration Without Preservation Is Useless!
If our "faith" is in the KJB Translators (which it is not) then where is his faith? Since God did not tell Mr. Bowman that the word of God is not in the KJB, who told this to him, where did he learn it from? Man that is who, hence Mr. Bowman's faith is in man rather than God. Maybe his faith is in scholars or in himself, it certainly is not in the KJB alone, a book he would not hesitate to correct in a moments notice.
How does Mr. Bowman decide which
words are true, which words are man's and which are God's? Unless he claims
divine inspiration for himself, it final authority is in some word of man,
book of man, or philosophical construct of man.
Point 12: Advocates of the KJV-only doctrine all too commonly exhibit a spiteful and disrespectful attitude toward other Christians. Advocates of a hard-line KJV-only position commonly label all other translations (even the NKJV) "per-versions" of the Bible. They typically accuse anyone defending these other translations of lying, denying God's word, calling God a liar, and having no faith. While there are gracious, charitable advocates of the KJV-only doctrine, in general its advocates have earned a reputation for vicious name-calling, condescension, and arrogance. To quote the original 1611 edition of the KJV, these people "strain out a gnat and swallow a camel." While zealous to defend the KJV, they betray its teachings by failing to exhibit love toward fellow believers in Jesus Christ. All too often they imply that to be saved one must not only believe in Christ, but must also adhere to the KJV as the only Bible. A doctrine that fosters such bad fruit must be bad. There is nothing wrong with loving the KJV and believing it to be the best translation of the Bible. There is something very wrong with condemning other Christians for not sharing that opinion.
Answer: This argument is emotional and regardless of the poor behavior of some it doesn't not invalidate the doctrine as a whole; if it did then the bad conduct of a few Christians would invalidate the whole of Christianity! Moreover, this argument is somewhat hypocritical in that it neglects to take into account that certain antagonists on his own side have exhibited less than charitable behavior to "KJB-Only" people. Would this then discredit his own movement?
I do object to the "New King
James Version" not only because it departs from the true text, but because
it is a money making venture, capitalizing on the association of King James,
who had nothing to do with the text, and would have opposed it if he had known
about it (see his rules for translation). It is a marketing ploy to gain funds
in one sense.
The title of this work implies that it is idolatry to defend the KJV as the inerrant, inspired, infallible word of God, and I object to that premise. By now it should be abundantly clear that Mr. Bowman's article is seriously flawed to say the least. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).
Rather than embark on a lengthy and tedious reiteration of what I have already written, I will simply ask the reader to ponder on what he or she has read, test it with Scripture, and if you can't make a defense of your position from the "Bible" then perhaps you ought to return to your first love! Adieu!
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