KJV for academic study (long)

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Heel4Christ, Jan 17, 2007.

  1. Heel4Christ

    Heel4Christ
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    Hello I am a student at UNC-Chapel Hill. This is my last semester, and I picked up a course for fun to learn about what the world thinks of Jesus. The course is called "Jesus: History, Tradition and Myth." Obviously the Bible is required text for the class, but in the required text section it says: "Most other versions, however, are not
    appropriate for academic study (including the KJV, Good News Bible, and Living
    Bible)."

    I asked her why the KJV was inappropriate for academic study and here is what she said:

    "The issues with the King James Version (KJV) are actually more complex and are rooted in the problem of Greek manuscripts (hand-written copies) of the New Testament. We do not have the original copies of the New Testament; rather what we have are copies of copies of copies... In fact we have thousands of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, some fragmentary, some more complete, ranging in date from the late 2nd century through the 15th (essentially until the invention of the printing press). It is nice to have so many copies, but the problem is that no two of these copies totally agrees with another (in other words, there are variations in wording - some minor, some more significant). There are certain scholars, know as textual critics, who study these manuscripts to reconstruct what they consider to be the earliest layer of the Greek text (in other words, what is most likely original). This reconstructed text is what most modern translations are based on, including the the NIV, RSV, and NRSV. This is not the case, however, with the KJV. The KJV is translated from the limited Greek manuscripts available in the 16th century, which, as it happens, did not include what scholars have come to view as the earliest, most significant manuscripts for the New Testament text (at the time, these manuscripts had not yet been discovered). In essence then, the KJV is based on a later layer of the Greek text, one that involved significant alteration from the earlier layers. One other issue with the KJV involves the English language - English of the 16th century is quite different than modern English. Some words at that time had entirely different meanings than they do now, which makes a modern reading of the text somewhat challenging.

    So, the KJV is a great literary product of its time, but it is simply not the most
    accurate version of the New Testament from a historical perspective, primarily due to the relatively late Greek manuscripts it utilized as a basis for its translation.
    Communities that continue to use it typically do so because they value its traditional authority."

    Then I asked her to give an example of the significant alterations and she replied:

    "One change that is reflected in the KJV is when a scribe assimilates one text or passage to another - this could either be accidental or seen as a potential 'correction' by the scribe. An example of this involves the parallels between Ephesians 1:7 and Colossians 1:14. In the Greek text that serves as the basis for the KJV, a scribe added the words 'through his blood' to Col 1:14, based on the parallel in Eph 1:7. Earlier manuscripts for Col 1:14 do not include those words. Moreover, if they were there originally, it is difficult to imagine why one would remove them; it is more likely they were added due to the parallel phrase in Ephesians. In this case then, the KJV includes words in Colossians that were not likely part of the original letter. Their presence or absence may have an impact on how one understands Colossians.

    Another, similar type of change is known as 'harmonization' - when a scribe edits a text to harmonize its content with another text. Matt 15:8 in the KJV includes the phrase, 'this people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth'. This phrase is not found in earlier manuscripts of Matthew. Again, there is a more logical reason for its later inclusion (rather than exclusion) - a scribe might be inclined to draw a fuller parallel with the verse Isaiah 29:13 in the Greek version of the Old Testament (the Septuagint).

    One of the more obvious differences in the KJV and the earlier manuscripts is its
    inclusion of Mark 15:9-16:20, widely recognized by New Testament scholars as a secondary, non-original ending to that Gospel. The evidence for this includes both the Greek vocabulary of the section (which is quite different from the remainder of Mark and thus indicative of a distinct author) and its absence in many of the earliest Greek manuscripts."

    I don't mean to stir up a hornets nest. I just am looking for an honest reply on the KJV and it's reliability
     
  2. av1611jim

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    Too bad all those millions of christians who have trusted the KJV for lo these 400 years were so deceived into thinking they could trust something so unreliable. They are probably in hell now.
     
  3. Dr. Bob

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    I think the AV1611 (Anglican Version) is accurate as far as the underlying Greek text. When someone holds it up, I think it is a good English translation of God's Word and derives "inspiration" (as does any translation) from the accuracy of each verse to the original.

    That it might/might not have copyists' errors, addenda, et al? It does. Nothing man-made is perfect and the further away one gets from 100AD, the more opportunity for inadvertant (and intentional) change.

    This is why no 2 of the thousands of Byzantine family Greek NT are identical with each other.

    I would not put down the AV because of its Greek basis. Good understanding of the Word of God demands we examine the actual WORDS He inspired. I use both a modern blending of the 5500 Greek texts and those of the 1500's when only a few texts were used. Slight differences with NO doctrinal significance.

    I do opt to use the more complete blending of Greek texts than that of Erasmus or Stephanos, but that is my choice. And use English translations based on BOTH sets of texts (NKJV for the limited blend; NASB for the complete blend of Greek)
     
  4. Deacon

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    Rest assured that "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness," (2 Timothy 3:16, ESV).
    For personal devotional study any translation can be profitable.

    "I asked her why the KJV was inappropriate for academic study..."
    The key word in your opening post was “academic”.

    Today, we have the great advantage of being able to examine thousands of manuscripts to discern if an err occurred in a copy.
    In 1600, the sampling was limited.

    The greater the number of manuscripts, clearer things get;
    the earlier the date of the manuscript, the less possibility of error upon err;
    the broader the distribution of manuscripts, the ability to get samples relatively untarnished by errors in other locales.

    For academic study, you want the text that has all the advantages scholars can provide.

    Rob
     
  5. mcdirector

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    Just out of curiosity (and as an aside from your topic), what did she feel was appropriate for academic study? NASB? ESV?

    I agree with Rob, so much has come to light. AND we have learned so much more about language and history and the nuances of language and the interactions of people. This does not take away from the KJV in any way shape or form.
     
  6. Keith M

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    Jim, as has been pointed out in these forums ad nauseum, the KJV as well as the MVs present the plan of salvation so that anyone who believes can be saved. God has preserved His word through various English Bible translations from the earliest to the most recent. No one is saying KJV readers are condemned to hell because they read the KJV. There will be many in heaven who read the KJV, but there will also be many who read other versions, believe it or not! Would you care to comment on how many people you think are condemned to hell because they read MVs?
     
    #6 Keith M, Jan 18, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 18, 2007
  7. Rippon

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    I don't want to demean the wonderful efforts of Jerome . However , the Vulgate has even more errors than the KJV and has been around more than four times as long . Many souls came to a saving knowledge by reading it or hearing it preached . The Lord has preserved His Word . All the essentials are in place . I remember reading years ago from Josh's book " Evidence That Demands A Verdict " that even if every Bible ( Old Testaments and New ) would vanish from the face of the earth -- we have practically the whole canon contained in the works of the Apostolic Fathers .
     
  8. franklinmonroe

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    Dear student,

    The short answer is: it seems by your account that your professor is essentially correct in her answers.

    The long answer is: the debate about the KJV's reliability rages daily, and will likely go on for another 400 years.

    The fact is, the KJV is somewhat a rare representative of both an extremely old English translation, and a very narrow, unique underlying Greek text (in the New Testament). There are other early English versions, but they are not as readily available as KJVs (i.e. Tyndale, Geneva). There are a more contemporary English Bibles, or New Testaments, based upon the same Greek text (some not so modern, such as Webster's). Some of these are edited or 'updated' KJVs (i.e. 20th Century KJV, KJV3) with the most common being the NKJV (but also the LITV and some others).

    You did not ask about the Good News Bible, and Living Bible, so I assume you knew, or found out, that these are paraphrases (like The Message and others), and thus are not appropriate for your academic course.
     
    #8 franklinmonroe, Jan 18, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 18, 2007
  9. Heel4Christ

    Heel4Christ
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    This is what she said:
    "The New Testament—a modern translation of the New Testament is required. There are, of course, many versions of the New Testament. For this course, I recommend you use the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). The RSV and NIV are also acceptable. Most other versions, however, are not appropriate for academic study (including the KJV, Good News Bible, and Living Bible). Please e-mail me at the start of the course if you have questions about a particular version."

    To an earlier post that asked why I said academic study, these were actually the proffessors words originally.

    Dax
     
  10. rbell

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    I have a lot of trouble with the KJV being put in the same class as the Living Bible.

    A terribly unfair comparison, IMO.
     
  11. Keith M

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    Amen! The KJV and other literal translations (and some that are not so literal), stand heads and shoulders above the paraphrases.
     
  12. mcdirector

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    Well, rbell, I do agree. The KJV is a scholarly work. I might not think it the most scholarly, but the others are not scholarly at all. It's been a while since I looked at the Living Bible, but I believe Taylor readily admitted that.

    Now, I am just as curious as to how the prof picked the NRSV, RSV and NIV. Perhaps my preference for the NASB and ESV is showing ;)
     
  13. franklinmonroe

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    I think that the professor disqualified the KJV and the paraphrases for completely different reasons. The result was that they all reside on the same list, but it does not mean that they were in any way being compared together. That is my explanation.
     
  14. franklinmonroe

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    I don't know how it all got started, but it seems the RSV, and subsequently the NRSV, have been the choice of academia for quite some time.

    Frankly, I am surprised the NIV is acceptable for this course study. Perhaps, it has to do with accessibility. I would have guessed NASB, NEB, or NAB would have been the preferred secondary options.
     
  15. gb93433

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    Before that they trusted God.
     
  16. mcdirector

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    But if accessiblity is the issue, the KJV should be ok. I was surprised by the NIV too in the same list with the RSV and the exlusion of the NASB. BUT I have to remind myself that we are talking secular academia and not religious academia.
     
  17. Rippon

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    The NIV is being slighted here , I believe . It certainly is more form-driven than the NEB and even its more conservative modern counterpart - the REB . I would say that the NAB is a tad more free than the NIV as well . The NIV holds up rather well in comparison with the RSV .
     
  18. dcorbett

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    As soon as the NIV puts back all the missing verses.....well, we won't go there again, will we?? :BangHead:

    I know that the "learned" professor got some of that info from Wikipedia,
    which allows virtually ANYONE to submit information.

    Read "The Final Authority" and tell me which version is most accurate.

    I will stick with my KJV and let God be my interpreter.

    Debbie Mc
     
  19. av1611jim

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    Amen amen amen amen and a hearty AMEN to that one sister!!!!:thumbs: :thumbs:
     
  20. av1611jim

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    double post......sorry.
     

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