Book Review: Understandable History of the Bible

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by franklinmonroe, Aug 18, 2012.

  1. franklinmonroe

    franklinmonroe
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    I enjoy reading about the history of Bible, and I own several books on the topic. A couple of years ago I was able to obtain a copy of Dr. Samuel Gipp's Understandable History of the Bible (1987) at a very low price. I was aware of Mr. Gipp's KJVO position, but I was willing to read his book about the history of the Bible. Facts of history are facts, right? We can agree on the historical facts.

    I started to read this book and it didn't take me very long to realize that it was not a book about the history of the Bible (at least in the way most people would think when observing that title). Objectively, its not accurate history; and its not about "the Bible". [Oh, and a couple subjective gripes: its not well written, and its not well graphically executed (but I'm finding these typical of the KJVO genre).]

    Since it will take much more evidence later to prove my first assertion (that it is not an accurate portrait of history), allow me to begin to support my second assertion now (that his book is not really about "the Bible"). Merriam-Webster online should suffice and primarily defines "Bible" as --
    1a : the sacred scriptures of Christians comprising the Old Testament and the New Testament
    1b : the sacred scriptures of some other religion (as Judaism)
    Notice that the general definition 1a includes BOTH the Old and the New Testaments. Also, notice that in 1b the word "Bible" can accurately describe many different volumes. I have read books where the term 'the Bible' is used exclusively for the Hebrew Scriptures. In other history books 'the Bible' may cover the entire range of different biblical canons, languages, and texts. Additionally, when Catholics refer to 'the Bible' they picture something a little different than when the Eastern Orthodox refer to 'the Bible'. So, it is important for an author to inform the reader up front to how the term will be applied in any particular context. It is apparent that 'the Bible' is so broad a term that it cannot be used to represent a singular version.

    In the title and throughout the book he refers to "the Bible". A clip from Gipp's UHotB Preface (my underscore) --
    Where is the Bible? How did we get it? These questions, though simple, have baffled the mind of man for years. Even Christians today wonder if they really have the Word of God. Most Christians are interested in how the Bible came to us through history.

    Many authors, in an attempt to explain how we got our Bible, have clouded the issue in the gray language of the scholar's union, causing more puzzled looks than answered questions.

    You will find that this book is, as its name implies, An Understandable History of the Bible. ...
    Notice, he did not mention 'the King James Bible'; he merely writes "the Bible". But Gipp re-defines "the Bible" to only mean 'the King James Version' (or 'MT/TR') without bringing the fact to the readers attention. As evidence in support of my assertion, here are the first two sentences plus the final sentence of a marketing blurb for this book (copied from Amazon, my underscore) --
    This third edition adds insight and valuable information to the first and second editions of "An Understandable History of the Bible." Used by Christians around the world, it has been a valuable source for those who want to learn more about where the King James Bible came from. ...
    "Gipp’s Understandable History of the Bible" is an excellent resource for Bible students, pastors and Christians who have a desire to learn more about the history of the King James Bible.
    Notice, they didn't write that his book was about "the Bible" but rather it is about "the King James Bible". Well, that would be a little closer to reality. But not only did Gipp re-define "the Bible" to just indicate 'the KJV' but he really only deals with New Testament issues in this book (Westcott and Hort is one chapter for example, and may be more fully shown in later posts). So, in Gipp's book "the Bible" doesn't mean 'the Bible' in the normal sense: he means 'the New Testament' when used in the broader sense, or most often 'the KJV-NT' if being used in a specific sense.

    Personally, I don't recognize his usage as legitimate. I believe he has chosen to twist and misrepresent an English word to his own end. I think it makes him appear ridiculous and unscholarly (and possibly dishonest) in what seems to be his attempt at an academic or didactic work. He does NOT deliver on his promise that "You will find that this book is, as its name implies, An Understandable History of the Bible". In my opinion, the title (and premise) of the book are so unnecessarily misleading as to be an embarrassment to all Christianity.

    You can read a prior edition of Gipp's book online here --
    http://www.chick.com/reading/books/157/157cont.asp
     
    #1 franklinmonroe, Aug 18, 2012
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  2. Van

    Van
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    Liberals believe the current state of affairs is corrupt and therefore try to tear down what is, in favor of what is not. Thus through various mechanisms they are into culture change. A Christianized culture, where truth is valued, as well as freedom, would be undercut by the advocates of "change."

    And the first tool in the Liberal tool box is to use words that mean one thing as if they mean something else, i.e. they redefine the meaning of words to claim kinship with the current thinking yet undercut its very foundation, shared understanding via verbal and written communication.

    The second tool is they say the opposite of what they mean, so a liberal would say he is conservative, and conservatives would be depicted as extreme.

    So if the goal is to tear down truth, they would be liberals at work, probably calling themselves conservatives, but they would teach disinformation to undercut the cultural affection for truth.

    Hence the "Bible" becomes the KJV of the New Testament, rather than the 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament, preserved in their original language.

    Words have meaning and those that play fast and loose with word meanings have a goal of tearing away at the original author's intended message.
     
  3. franklinmonroe

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    I want to include here a snip from the beginning of the Introduction of Gipp's UHotB so that the extreme irony of it can be appreciated later. The Introduction was written by David Otis Fuller (my underscore) --
    There are just two kinds of Christians. (Are all saved or not? We cannot tell; only God knows the heart.)

    One kind is that earnest, honest number who are ever anxious to have the FACTS of a vital issue so they may talk intelligently and stand for the TRUTH.

    The second kind are that multitude of Christians (fundamentalists for the most part) who just do not wish to be confused by the FACTS.

    Lenin, one of the founders of communism, for once told the truth when he said, "Facts are stubborn things." Indeed they are. There are so many plain FACTS favoring the King James Version as being nearest by far to the originals (which it IS) and far, FAR more accurate and authoritative than all of the modern versions combined (which it IS), that it is indeed a riddle wrapped up in a puzzle how so many truly born again, blood bought Christians, when presented with the FACTS, become angry or sarcastic and just do not wish to be confused by the FACTS.

    IF, kind reader, you are the latter, may I be so bold as to suggest, if not urge, that you waste no time reading further. This book is filled from end to end with FACTS that are fully documented and they bring the whole Bible version issue into clear-cut focus. ...
    Mr. Fuller implies that "fundamentalists for the most part" may not be saved ("Are all saved or not?") since they are the second kind of Christian that "do not wish to be confused" by facts. It is reassuring to know that he doesn't condone angry or sarcastic rhetoric.

    By the way, the online edition lists 31 books in his Bibliography of which three are authored by David Otis Fuller. Also included are four Peter Ruckman titles, two by Edward Hills, a J.J. Ray book, and the 1930 Benjamin Wilkenson work. It seems he has no history books by history experts listed in his bibliography. The only relevant book to Gipp's published title seems to be Paterson Smyth's old (1922), brief 160-page How We Got Our Bible. My printed edition (422 pages of text) lists about 49 books and articles in the Bibliography; some of the additions include a book by Gail Riplinger and one by Laurence Vance.
     
    #3 franklinmonroe, Aug 19, 2012
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  4. Gregory Perry Sr.

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    It still boils down to....

    Guys....it still always boils down to this....the advocates of the Modern Versions/Critical Text embrace the version of the manuscript evidence that seems to support their position.......and the advocates of the KJV Only (in reference to english language translations) position embrace the version of the manuscript evidence that in turn supports the position they hold. The debate has become and always will be polarized and un-winable because neither "side" can nor should compromise their position (as much as I wish I could win you over) if they are to have any integrity at all. I have not read Sam Gipp's book and maybe never will. The position I concluded with for (myself) was based on basically the logic (and TRUTH)of a Perfect God causing His Perfect Word to be Inspired perfectly using imperfect men and then have it perfectly transmitted down through the ages again using imperfect men to perfectly transmit it exactly as He wanted it done while supernaturally protecting and preserving it word for word over time and from Original languages (of His choosing) into other languages (english included). He promised and accomplished its Inspiration and He promised and in some cases (still is) accomplishing its continued Preservation as it is even today continuing to be translated into other languages that are yet to have a complete copy of His Word. Inspiration was a "done deal" long ago...Preservation may still be happening. I personally believe I have a perfect Bible in my hand. I personally believe it was the Lord that showed me that and gave me faith to believe it. That's me. I didn't always believe that but I do now. If anyone cares to know, the trail that led me to that started with the King James (my godly grandmother gave me one)...then picked up a Good News For Modern Man. From there I went to the Living Bible and then to the J.B.Phillips Translation. I was then encouraged by my friends at Bob Jones University to hang my hat on the NASB...and finally after some personal investigation of my own into the issue of translations and a lot of comparisons I returned home to my reliable old King James Bible....and there I have been since the year 1980...and shall remain. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it! Peace ya'll!:thumbs:

    Bro.Greg
     
  5. franklinmonroe

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    Chapter 1: Time Trip!

    Gipp's first chapter is a brief 7-page fictional account (which probably has no place in a "history" book) to 'prove' the existence of God through the observation of the complex world ("Was it created by accidents?"). There isn't anything in this chapter that is really about the history of the Bible. I did find this paragraph interesting (page 3 of my edition, his bold) --
    But wait. If there is Something up there, if there is a Supreme Being, He must know us! He must know what is happening on this earth. He must know our problems and have the answers for them. And if this is so, and He sees our helpless state, He is indebted to us, His creatures. As our Creator, He must help us with our troubles, assist us through this life, and see to it that we find a way to reach Him. He must communicate.
    Is God really "indebted to us"? "Must" God help us?
     
  6. franklinmonroe

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    Chapter 2: Where Do We Go From Here?

    The second chapter of UHotB is even shorter than the first. It includes a brief account of Mr. Gipp's conversion experience. There is really no Bible history covered in this chapter.

    My only comment now concerning this chapter substantiates my earlier gripe of poor graphic execution. On page 10, the bottom of the page ends with a subheading and a blank line or two; the actual text of the subtopic beings at the top of the next page. Other typographic errors can be found throughout the book (a particularly noticeable one is in the Table of Contents under Chapter 11, subtopic 8).

    Also, the Table of Contents lists inaccurate beginning page locations, thus greatly limiting the TOC effectiveness. For example: in my edition Appendix A is supposed to be on page 420, but it is actually on page 424; and the subtopic King James Apocrypha is supposed to begin on page 329, but is actually starts on page 334.
     
    #6 franklinmonroe, Aug 19, 2012
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  7. franklinmonroe

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    Chapter 3: The Ground Rules

    The third chapter is about 16 pages in length. Here are Gipp's two "Rules" found in this chapter --
    1. It is always to be remembered that the Bible is a spiritual book which God exerted supernatural force to conceive; and it is reasonable to assume that He could exert that same supernatural force to preserve.

    2. Satan desires to be worshipped. He has the ability to counterfeit God's actions, and definitely will be involved actively in attempting to destroy God's Word and/or our confidence in that Word, while seeking to replace it with his own "version."
    There is no history of the Bible to be found in this chapter.
     
    #7 franklinmonroe, Aug 19, 2012
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  8. Yeshua1

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    Please realise the ONLY inerrant texts were the ORIGINALS openned down under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and God did indeed preserve them into what is now seen as being the greek/hebrew texts used to translate English version off from, so the Nasb/Niv just as much ' the word of god' to us today as the KJV was!
     
  9. Van

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    Yes, Franklinmonroe, when you find gratuitous attacks on the character and qualifications of opponents of a view being espoused, a red flag should drop.

    I agree, the argument for God from nature suggests God would communicate, but does not rise to the logical necessity of "must" communicate. Second, the assertion that our creator is "indebted" to us presents that God is "obligated" to help us. The only "obligation" I find in scripture is God's love for the world. So the "debt" is on the other foot, we are indebted to God for His love.

    I do not see a problem with the ground rules, but other factors contribute to the imperfections found in existent copies of God's inspired text, such as mistakes and efforts to make the message more clear. Scripture teaches we have three enemies, Satan, our flesh, and the world. I think it is safe to say all three have been involved in the corruptions of the text.
     
  10. Gregory Perry Sr.

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    Yes...and No

    Yeshua, I agree with the first part of your statement up until the part about the "Nasb/Niv just as much".....and further...the KJV has never gotten to the point where it ever "was" the Word of God....it IS...and always shall be!

    Bro.Greg
     
  11. Gregory Perry Sr.

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    And Another Thing...........

    IF...and I do say IF....God is or could be "obligated" for anything either toward us or in order to comply with HIS OWN laws then it would be ONLY by His divine, perfect and sovereign choosing. IT is NOT POSSIBLE for any man to "obligate" God to anything. If I am wrong then please prove it and correct me. The "whole duty of man" is to fear God and keep His commandments! (Eccl. 12:13,14)

    Bro.Greg:type:
     
  12. Van

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    Apparently you read my quote and understood it to say God is obligated to us. It says the opposite. :)
     
  13. Gregory Perry Sr.

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    Let Me Clarify....

    Van...I was actually responding both to Franklin's comment from Sam Gipp's book above AND your reponse as follows:

    Quote: originally posted by Van
    "Yes, Franklinmonroe, when you find gratuitous attacks on the character and qualifications of opponents of a view being espoused, a red flag should drop.

    I agree, the argument for God from nature suggests God would communicate, but does not rise to the logical necessity of "must" communicate. Second, the assertion that our creator is "indebted" to us presents that God is "obligated" to help us. The only "obligation" I find in scripture is God's love for the world. So the "debt" is on the other foot, we are indebted to God for His love."


    Quote:Originally posted by Van
    Originally Posted by Gregory Perry Sr. [​IMG]
    IF...and I do say IF....God is or could be "obligated" for anything either toward us or in order to comply with HIS OWN laws then it would be ONLY by His divine, perfect and sovereign choosing. IT is NOT POSSIBLE for any man to "obligate" God to anything. If I am wrong then please prove it and correct me. The "whole duty of man" is to fear God and keep His commandments! (Eccl. 12:13,14)

    Bro.Greg
    "Apparently you read my quote and understood it to say God is obligated to us. It says the opposite." :)

    For the record...if Sam Gipp believes God is in any way "obligated" to US...I respectfully disagree with him...even though I do believe that his position on the KJV is correct. I hope this clarifies what I was trying to get across.:smilewinkgrin:
    If not...I'll be back soon to edit this post!!!!:laugh:
    Bro.Greg
     
  14. Yeshua1

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    is the KJV the word of God to us, or is it the greek/hebrew texts themselves?
     
  15. Gregory Perry Sr.

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    A Question for a Question...

    I speak English and that is (probably) the only language I'll ever speak here.....how about you? I think it really is that simple brother. For me, the KJV meets that description and I have absolute confidence in it. I do find that expositions of the greek and hebrew texts are interesting and even sometimes helpful, but I do not find them absolutely essential to my spiritual life and growth. Simply yes...the KJV IS the Word of God....in English. The (actual) "originals" no longer actually exist. I believe God saw to that so they wouldn't fall into the hands of false religions like the catholic "church" and be worshipped as "relics" or such like..!

    Bro.Greg
     
    #15 Gregory Perry Sr., Aug 21, 2012
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  16. Yeshua1

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    What would be the closest to those originals? the greek/hebrew texts, or the KJV?
     
  17. franklinmonroe

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    Chapter 4: 100 Years War

    Finally, in this chapter Gipp makes some claims about history. Here's one of his claims (my underscore) --
    ... Up until the late 1800's there was, generally speaking, only one Bible, the Authorized Version. There had been others, but the translation instituted by King James I in 1603 A.D. and published in 1611 A.D. had become known not just in England, but throughout the entire world as the "Authorized" Version. It is a historical fact that the King James Bible had become known as the "Authorized" Version due to its universal acceptance among Christians of the world, and not due to a proclamation from King James himself.
    The assertion made is that the English translation of 1611 becaame known as the Authorized Version because of its global acceptance by Christians. Is this "a historical fact"? How does Gipp support his assertion? He doesn't! Oh, he follows the claim with four quotes, none of which actually support his reckless statement. Does Gipp intentionally attempt to 'bait-n-switch' his readers? The first (the quotes correspond to pages 34-35 in my edition) --
    Hills states: "Although it is often called the 'Authorized Version,' it actually was never authorized by any official action on the part of the Church or State. On the contrary, it's [sic] universal reception by the common people of all denominations seems clearly to be another instance of the providence of God working through the God-guided usage of the Church."
    Hill is making the point that the 1611 English Bible was universally accepted by Christians despite not having an official sanction. Point accepted! But that is an entirely different point than saying the reason it became called the Authorized Version was due to its acceptance. The second quote offered --
    Ruckman points out: "As anyone knows, the A.V. 1611 had no royal backing, no royal promoting, no act of Parliament behind it, and the University Press was allowed to print any other version of the Bible along with it."
    This quote merely states that the 1611 Bible had no official sanction, something apparently every person should already know. Nonetheless, Ruckman (not a historian) says nothing about how the name Authorized Version came to be used. The third --
    McClure states concerning the King James Bible: "Its origin and history so strongly commended it, that it speedily came into general use as the standard version, by the common consent of the English people; and required no act of parliament nor royal proclamation to establish it's [sic] authority."
    McClure's point is that the 1611 Bible became quickly accepted and authoritative; however, he doesn't actually provide any argument that this acceptance alone established the name Authorized Version. Finally, the last quote --
    Says Dr. Lee, Principal of the University of Edinburgh: "I do not find that there was any canon, proclamation, or act of parliament, to enforce the use of it. 'The present version' says Dr. Symonds, as quoted in Anderson's Annuals, 'appears to have made its way, without the interposition of any authority whatsoever; for it is not easy to discover any traces of a proclamation, canon or statute published to enforce the use of it.' It has been lately ascertained that neither the King's private purse, nor the public exchequer, contributed a farthing toward the expense of the translation or publication of the work."
    Lee's claim is that the 1611 English Bible was used voluntarily; he does not trace the history of the title of Authorized Version.

    These four quotes help establish two things: 1) that the 1611 Bible was NOT officially sanctioned; and 2) that the 1611 Bible was overwhelmingly accepted by English readers as the preeminent text of Scripture. None of the quotes support Gipp's assertion that the majority acceptance caused it to be referred to as the Authorized Version. Can we agree that on this topic Gipp did not support his assertion? Is it because he cannot support it, or because he is a poor writer/historian?
     
    #17 franklinmonroe, Aug 21, 2012
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  18. franklinmonroe

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    Chapter 4: 100 Years War cont'd

    Most fundamentalists today vehemently reject the thought that God has preserved His words in English. We have "the Bible" they say, but it isn't in any one English version. Most fundamentalists never truly realize the weight of their statements when they say that we have no perfect English Bible. Anyone who has studied even a little about Greek manuscripts knows that the Word of God isn't found in any of the Greek texts when translated literally.
    Huh? I believe I qualify as one that has studied "a little" about the Greek manuscripts, but I dont know what Gipp is trying to assert here. Is the Word of God supposed to be found in the Greek texts when they are NOT translated literally?

    Can anyone explain to me what Gipp means by this underlined statement?
     
  19. Van

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    I have not read anything but the quote above but I think he is saying if the original author intended a figurative meaning, then to take it literally would miss the inspired message from God. However, everyone who puts out falsehood drapes it in as much truth as possible.

    Here I think the effort is to claim mistranslations are merely figurative translations which are necessary in some cases. Too clever by half.
     
  20. franklinmonroe

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    Thanks for the reponse

    Of course, what you wrote is true. Even if a literal translation becomes incomprehensible in English, wouldn't the words still be the Word of God? If I view a certifiably accurate Hebrew text of Scripture, even though I cannot read and understand it myself, I would consider it the Word of God.

    But I have serious doubts whether this could be what he meant because this explanation does not reconcile the literally translated statement with his comment about the studying of Greek manuscripts; I'm not recognizing how he relates the two thoughts.
     
    #20 franklinmonroe, Aug 22, 2012
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