My Thoughts. . .

Monday, August 26, 2019

In the book of Deuteronomy, God warned Israel,

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.”  (Deuteronomy 4:2, Cf. 12:32).

Despite one’s attempts to heed such warnings, that adding has already been accomplished.  We simply accept it without realizing it.  Some have innocently made the King James Version of the Bible into an infallible translation.  In their mind it does not add to nor delete from God’s word.  In their view it is a word for word translation from the Hebrew and Greek languages.  Some don’t realize that the translation committee was from the Church of England.  The head of that church was King James.  As members, they were influenced by that church and its doctrinal practices.  They refused to translate some words, instead substituting an English spelling of the Greek or Hebrew, to enhance that church’s religious beliefs.  They also added words to the text but italicizing them.  The reader is supposed to believe they italicized all added words.  They didn’t.  The translators felt those additions would help the reader understand the passage.  Sometimes those additions create more problems in understanding than helping.

The KJV also added chapter and verse divisions to make it easier to locate different subjects.  It also added headings to help the reader understand what that chapter or section contained.  Human endeavor may produce some noble goals but not always accomplish them.  The manuscripts available at that time were very late works, dating from 1516 called the Textus Receptus.  Despite the shortcomings of those human scholars, the King James Version finally established itself as the most popular English translations of that time.  In the twentieth century older manuscripts were found with some dating back to the end of the first century.  These older manuscripts did not have the added material that was found in the Textus Receptus.  This difference meant that scribal additions, which had been penned into the text, were missing from the older manuscripts.  The King James Version also added some traditional Jewish “fears” that were incorporated into the text through substitutions.  These additions were later brought over into future English translations.

An example of this shortcoming in the Old Testament is the personal name of God.  In Hebrew it is spelled out as YHWH or JHVH with the vowels.  The Jews came to believe that God’s personal name was too sacred to be pronounced.  They substituted the Hebrew word adonay (“Lord”) and capitalized it each time they came to one of the 6,519 times Jehovah or Yahweh was found.  Most future English translations continued this traditional trend.

Although the King James Version adopted this tradition by substituting “LORD” in the place of YHWH/Yahweh or JHVH/Jehovah, it created its own inconsistencies.  If the name Yahweh or Jehovah was too sacred to pronounce and must be substituted with the expression LORD, why include “Jehovah” in Exodus 6:3; Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 12:2; and Isaiah 26:4?  If it wasn’t too sacred to translate it in those four passages, why would it be wrong to do the same in the remaining 6,515 times?  This inconsistency causes people to be apprehensive about reading God’s name aloud.  It is a Jewish tradition being made into scripture and accepted by some as God’s command!

Folks may not be guilty of adding to the word by substituting “LORD” for “Jehovah” when reading the Old Testament but may unconsciously accept a dangerous precedent which leads folks to believe tradition is God’s word.  Translations like the American Standard Version and International English Bible display “Jehovah” instead of “LORD” in those 6,519 text.  Both are consistent in not following that Jewish tradition but staying true to the Hebrew Bible.

The problem arises when people refuse to accept the corrections needed in the King James and continue to treat those corrections as efforts to destroy the Word of God.  They elevate the King James Version up as THE standard which all future versions must be judged by.  Condemnation is often levied at newer translations when in reality they are following the precedent set by the KJV itself.  Remember, it is a Church of England Bible and mirrors the beliefs of that church.  It was rejected when it was first published just as people rejected the ASV, NASV, RSV, NIV, and NKJV when they were first introduced.

These human mistakes do not negate the KJV from being God’s word.  The problem is when one makes the KJV, with all its shortcomings, THE ONLY true Bible and the rest are heretical because they are not a word for word rendering like they believe the KJV is.  One is not in danger of losing his soul because he believes he should not orally voice God’s name Jehovah or Yahweh.   That person has every right to his convictions as long as he does not make everyone else conform to his convictions.  Neither should one who has no problem in vocally reading “Jehovah” or “Yahweh,” attempt to bind his belief upon the person who refuses to do so.

I continue to use the KJV because people my age are familiar with its passages.   Everyone has his preferences.  We are to respect one another in that regard (Romans 14:1-9, 13, 19).  I also use other translations when they do a better job of bringing out what is being written and because younger people are more familiar with them.  In our convictions to be Bible believers, let us not forget that there is freedom in Christ!