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04 July 2015

The King James Version and a Bogus Meme



I haven’t seen it lately, but this meme was one of the favorites circulated on fb by so called “Freethinkers” and Atheist.   

Whoever invented the picture meme is a genius. It’s probably the most effective way to get your point across apart from an essay or YouTube.  

The problem with memes is that it doesn’t give you the whole story, and at best it simply gives a summary of the overall argument.

If the meme said the King James Version was not an accurate translation I might have agreed.  Many Biblical scholars and textual critics have problems with the KJV too. 

One such scholar is Daniel Wallace; the Executive Director for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, and a leading expert in New Testament criticism. He wrote an excellent 4 part essay on the history and development of English Bible. I will post the link at the end this article.

For starters, it wasn’t 8 men from the church England: 

James (king James) assigned six panels of scholars to do the work: three for the Old Testament, two for the New Testament, and one for the Apocrypha. Two teams met at Oxford, two met at Cambridge, and two at Westminster Abbey. Altogether, there were forty-seven (47) men who worked on this new version.  –Daniel Wallace  (bold type mine)

However, the meme did get one thing right. The original manuscripts for the both the Old and New Testament haven’t been found. This doesn’t prove the extant copies are not reliable; in fact, there are over 5,600 copies not 8000 of the New Testament alone, more than any other ancient manuscript in history. This is supposed to be the Achilles Heel because, “no two are alike...”. 

This is also true.  But what the meme doesn’t tell you is the variants contain in the copies are mostly spelling errors or changes in word order, none of which affect major theological doctrines, nor does it affect Biblical inerrancy. For instance, Greek is a highly inflected language. It does not depend on word order for emphasis, instead case endings determine the subject and direct object of a verb, etc. As far as misspellings -- who likes a grammar cop?

Another little fact the meme doesn’t tell you is no mother language fits perfectly into its receptor language. When translating a text from Kione Greek to English there are a range of words which may be used. Take ανθρωπος / man, for example. It could mean mankind, person, people, human being. There are often several English cognates for any given word in Greek. Because of this, context "rules" as the old saying goes.

Another omission the meme doesn’t tell you is the difference between verbal inspiration and inerrancy. For example, Lansing is the capitol of Michigan is a true statement, therefore, inerrant. Verbal inspiration is a little more complex than space would allow here, much less for a meme.

The KJV may not the best translation according to some, partly because no one speaks in Elizabethan language these days. Regardless of the translation, any serious critic of the Bible, including Bible students, will have at least two good translations on hand along with a decent Hebrew and Greek lexicon to deal with these issues.

Finally, the King James meme is based on willful ignorance. It is a sloppy, oversimplification of a vast and complex subject obviously meant to discredit the Bible.  This doesn’t mean you have to be an expert in textual criticism to have an opinion; however, you should at least make an attempt to read the latest articles on the subject to make an informed argument, even when using a meme.

Most so called “Freethinkers” and Atheist are not interested in honest discussion about the Bible. The purpose for this bogus meme is to refute the veracity of Scripture and to shore up their own misconceptions. They claim to be critical thinkers or open minded about ideas, when in reality they are not interested in having a rationale debate. They claim what Christians believe about the Bible is insane, but it seems to this writer those who publicize the King James meme have themselves -- “abandoned reason for insanity”. 

Link to The History of the English Bible by: Daniel Wallace. 

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