Monday, November 7, 2016

good-bad-ugly-02Several decades ago, the “Spaghetti Westerns,”  starring Clint Eastwood, pushed him to the top after his role ended in 1965 as Rowdy Yates in Rawhide.  I’ve borrowed the title of one of those movies due to its statement rather than its cinematic story.

I have several English copies of the Bible.  I have a King James Version that I’ve used since the seventies.  My last purchase was the International English Bible (  Although I have followed the cultural practice which most preachers in the Church of Christ observe, it is not a biblical one.  One reason is that the New Testament was not bound together as twenty-seven books until the second century.  Another is because chapters and verses did not exist in the first century, but appeared after 1551.  Third, even Jesus himself, in quoting from first covenant scriptures, seldom gave the name of the book being referred to.  Usually the quoter introduced a passage with, “In a certain place” (Hebrews 2:6; 4:4).  Jesus often quoted a passage without giving its location (Matthew 24:29).

In some King James translations there is a middle column supplied by the publisher.  The column is not inspired by the Holy Spirit, but is a “help section” provided by man.  Some translations contain footnotes.  These too are the works of men.  To “smooth out” a word or phrase from Greek into English, the King James committee supplied “helpful” words in italics to enhance understanding.  Sometimes this “help” did not achieve its purpose.  That’s when the bad took place.  The ugly developed when the reader accepted the italicized addition as God’s word.  When that happened, what was supplied to help went from good to bad to ugly!  As long as the reader recognized it as supplied by uninspired men, he could read the text with or without the addition to see if it actually helped.  As long as that knowledge prevailed, no harm was done.  When doctrines were created from italicized words, it just got uglier!  An example would be the acceptance and interpretation placed upon the word “unknown” in 1 Corinthians 14:2, 4, 13-14, and 27 in the KJV.  The KJV was praised because those added words were italicized to indicate their human origin.  However, the KJV committee was not consistent in this!  This led to another good to ugly sequence when newer translations were rejected because they did not follow the KJV committee’s inconsistency.  Also, the 1611 style reading was deified by some as though it was God’s original language.

I like the International English Bible.  It is easy to read.  It is accurate, although like all translations, it is not perfect.  It does shed light on passages that are not easily understood in the KJV 1611 vocabulary.  In the IEB, when the speaker is quoting from the Old Testament, the passage is highlighted and the source of that statement is put at the end of the quote.  For example, in Matthew 24:29 Jesus quotes from Isaiah 13:10.  He follows up with a quote from Isaiah 34:4.  This “help” means I don’t have to go to a middle column, that uses a much smaller font, to see what the source of the footnote number is all about.  That is the “good” part!

So, what is the bad and ugly part?  Over time, if the reader comes to believe that the Holy Spirit provided the book, chapter, and verse citations, then you have the beginning of the bad part.  Isn’t it strange how the devil can take something that is “good” and change it into a thing that is “ugly”?  When a reader sees the “book, chapter, and verse” citations, not as a man made help, but as a God demanded pattern, and binds his misconception on others, then the devil’s “ugly” is successful!  That’s how an innocent tradition becomes vain (Matthew 15:9).   The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!