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#98 - Is the KJV really uncorrectable "perfection"?
by Robert Nguyen Cramer
This BibleTexts website administrator has very much enjoyed questions and insights that have been emailed to him ever since this site was launched in September of 1996. On this page I share with BibleTexts browsers a few of the questions, insights, and responses, so that we all can further learn from and with each other.
I ran across your page while searching for Biblical commentaries ... I did not go any further after reading that you "have corrected the KJV wording, etc." ... Sorry, but you cannot correct perfection ... "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children." Hosea 4:6 KJV. Hoping and praying that you will find the truth of God's Word.
Response #98 from BibleTexts.com:
Thanks for your email. You may be unaware of the fact that you yourself are using a corrected, updated edition of the King James Version. You quoted Hosea 4:6 as follows:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
The 1611 edition of Hosea (KJV 1611: "Hofea") shows that verse as follows:
My people are destroyed for lacke of knowledge: because thou hast reiected knowledge, I will also reiect thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the lawe of thy God, I wil also forget thy children.
The above text represents the exact spelling used in the original 1611 edition of the KJV, and your text differs from the spelling of the above text. The original KJV also included the Apocrypha (I. Esdras through II. Maccabees), which was placed between Malachi and Matthew. Does your edition of the KJV include the Apocrypha, as did the authentic KJV? (Of course the pilgrims at Plymouth, Massachusetts, did not even use the KJV, because they had gone to America to flee religious persecution by King James, and they preferred and used the Geneva Bible.)
It also should be noted that at the time that Hosea wrote, there was no KJV, not even a New Testament, and the Old Testament was only in Hebrew. I expect most members of your congregation might have difficulty reading or understandingly listening to the original Hebrew text of which Hosea was part.
As described in my webpage article, "The King James Version and its dependence on the Textus Receptus," at http://www.bibletexts.com/kjv-tr.htm:
Truly major differences between the KJV and modern translations of the New Testament are primarily due to the inaccuracy of the so-called Textus Receptus [TR], the Greek text upon which the KJV's New Testament was based. According to Bruce Metzger (The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 1968, pages 95-118), the TR was the primarily the work of a Dutchman by the name of Desiderius Erasmus who published his first Greek New Testament text in 1516. The first edition of Erasmus' text was hastily and haphazardly prepared over the extremely short period of only five months. (ibid., page 106) It was based mostly upon two inferior twelfth century Greek manuscripts, which were the only manuscripts available to Erasmus "on the spur of the moment" (ibid., page 99).
The Greek New Testament project was seen by its publisher, Johann Froben, as a considerable commercial opportunity. (ibid., pages 98 and 102-103) Accordingly Froben expeditiously negotiated with Erasmus. Froben rushed the first edition of the Erasmus' text to market, in his attempt to get it into circulation ahead of the much more methodically prepared Complutensian Polyglot Bible, which was due to be published soon. (In contrast to the five months that Erasmus used to hurriedly put his text together and get it printed and circulated, the Complutensian text required eighteen years of careful preparation before its first edition appeared.)
Even up to the fifth and final edition of Erasmus' Greek text in 1535, Erasmus fell prey to pressure and manipulation from church authorities to add to subsequent editions phrases and entire verses that he strongly (and rightly) suspected were not part of the original text. (Ibid., pages 100-101, which document how Erasmus was conned to include what is translated in the KJV in 1Jo 5:7-8, the following text: "in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth." Erasmus' 1535 edition still relied upon no more than six Greek manuscripts, the oldest (but least used!) of which was from the tenth century.
In the "Conclusion" section of the above-mentioned webpage article is found the following:
The original Hebrew and Greek texts are what actually constitute "the Bible." All other versions, whether in Latin, English, Chinese, or Aramaic, whether produced in 384 A.D. or in 1611 A.D. or in 1996 A.D., are merely translations indirectly derived from those original Hebrew and Greek texts. The BibleTexts Online Bible Commentary at http://www.bibletexts.com/bt.htm provides verse-by-verse textual corrections that are based upon the most current knowledge of those original Hebrew and Greek texts. Most of those corrections are relevant only to the KJV, because most modern versions such as the NRSV and the TEV were translated from Hebrew and Greek texts that are much more consistent with "the original texts" than those Hebrew and Greek texts from which the 1611 KJV was translated. In the KJV most of the substantive errors are due to the faulty Hebrew and Greek texts from which the KJV was translated. (See S&H 139:15.)
Objectively viewed, those Hebrew and Greek texts that most accurately represent the original texts should be used by translators and should serve as the final standard for biblical interpretation. In this context the words of Protestant Christian historian Ernst Wilhelm Benz provides appropriate perspective:
The translation of Holy Scripture into a vernacular language generally has been based upon the form of the language that was spoken at the time of the translation. Hence, the sacred language and the vernacular language initially correspond to one another, and the translations of the Bible thus represented a linguistically creative enrichment of the living popular tongue. Use of the Scriptures in worship services, however, generally led to the development of a "sacred" church language that no longer was able to keep up with linguistic development. It rather has remained fixated upon the ancient substratum of the language from the period of the translation of the Scriptures (eg., Old Church Slavonic in the liturgy of some Eastern Orthodox churches, or the King James Version of the Bible in early 17th-century English). Translation of the Scriptures into popular languages thus is a never-ending task... (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1978, Vol. 4, page 464)
Copyright 1996-2002 Robert Nguyen Cramer