A Top-Down Approach
Many capable people (scholars and non-scholars) have written for and against the inspiration of the KJB. Most have taken the bottom-up approach, i.e., arguing from the grounds such as the textual problem, the inspiration and the preservation of the scriptures, and working their way up to their conclusions. In this short article, I will take the top-down approach which I believe will get us quicker to the conclusion than otherwise.
The ultimate issue in the KJB debate is the final authority on all matters of faith and practice. Dr. Peter S. Ruckman, in his booklet, Why I believe the King James Bible Is the Word of God, stated:
"The subject of final authority is a crucial subject absolutely--crucial to anything going on in America or the world today. If there is one issue that is important anywhere in the world today, it is the issue of final authority -- absolute truth."
1. God is actively guiding His church/people through the history, even today.
2. Godís guidance is largely delivered through His word, i.e., the Holy Scriptures. All forms of Godís guidance detected by men need to conform to the teaching of the Bible.
3. God is not the author of confusion, and thus, His word is sure.
4. As a consequence of premises 1-3, there must exist written documents which can be properly called Godís word so that Godís people can use to determine exactly what Godís word is.
5. The autographs of all the Holy scriptures have been lost. The existing manuscripts have varying readings. The majority of Godís people do not understand the original language and do not have access to the manuscripts.
6. If the only way for the body of Christ to have access to the exact word of God is via the reconstructed biblical texts by the scholars, then the final authority will rest on the shoulders of the scholars.
7. Let us suppose the conclusion of statement 6. Since no consensus exists among the biblical scholars as to what the pure texts should be, there is really no way for the body of Christ to determine exactly what Godís word is, either corporately or individually as a member of the body.
8. Statement 7 clearly contradicts statement 4. Since statement 4 is clearly true, statement 7 must be false.
9. In addition, the conclusion of statement 6 sets up the scholars as the final authority on all matters of faith and practice for the body of Christ. Such authority is obviously untenable. The scholars exhibits the following characteristics which prove that they are definitely not the final authority: There is no consensus, the opinions always change over time, locale, and people, and human judgments are always error-prone unless the judgments are part of the inspired scriptures. Thus, if the conclusion of statement 6 is upheld, we have the naturally implication that the scholarsí opinions are inspired. Not a single scholar will dare to agree with this implication anyway. To summarize, I would say that the option of making reconstructed texts by the scholars in general the word of God is obviously unworkable.
This does not necessarily imply that a particular reconstructed text by a particular group of scholars which stays constant over time cannot be the word of God. To clarify, I would say that the scholars as a group within the body of Christ cannot be accepted as having the supreme position to reconstruct the word of God. However, God can still use a particular group of scholars (such as the KJB translators) over a definite period of time to produce a document which can be called the word of God. Any such document must stay constant, after a short period of time of composition.
10. According to Deut 30:11-14, John 5:39, Acts 8:32,35, 17:11, II Tim 3:15-16 and many others, common people, especially Godís people must have access to the exact word of God at all time soon after the scriptures were first written.
11. Since the NT quotations of the OT texts are the Greek translations of original Hebrew or Aramaic texts, there is a demonstration by the Bible itself showing that translations can be inspired and there were translations which were inspired.
12 As a consequence of the scriptures cited in statement 10, common people must have access to the exact word of God. Godís word must exist in the form of a translation because the majority of people today do not understand the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.
13 As a consequence of the scriptures cited in statement 10, common people must have access to the exact word of God continuously over the history. In other words, Godís word cannot disappear for more than an extended period of time.
14. Statement 13 implies that all the NT readings which disappeared for an extended period of time are not Godís word. This implies that the Alexandrian texts, the Western texts, and every text/reading which does not agree with the Byzantine texts are not Godís word. (See also Appendix B).
15 Godís word must exhibit the characteristics of Godís word: inerrant, self-consistent, and bringing glory, praises, and honors to God.
16. The Septuagint cannot be the word of God, see the appendix A. The Septuagint also has many definite differences from the traditional Masoretic text and its earliest manuscript appeared only after 350-400 AD. Either the Masoretic text is the word of God or the Septuagint is the word of God and both cannot be the word of God simultaneously. The Masoretic text has a long un-broken tradition while the Septuagint has a very doubtful origin and the earliest manuscripts that contain the Septuagint also contain the apocrypha as part of the inspired scriptures. Based on statement 15, the Septuagint cannot be Godís word. A minimum requirement for Godís word is that the text cannot contain God-dishonoring apocrypha.
17. From statements 10-16, the only candidates for Godís word are those texts which are based on the Masoretic texts in the OT and the Byzantine Texts in the NT. Thus, the KJB is a candidate for Godís word.
18. No one on earth has ever conclusively proved, using scriptures and logic, that there is an error in the King James Bible. Thus, the KJB is a strong candidate for Godís word.
19. Since, we must have Godís exact word today, and English is the universal language for a long period of time now and there is no end in sight for its dominance, there must exist a copy of Godís exact word in the English language.
20 Among all the English versions today, every version except the KJB contains at least one error which can be conclusively proved to be an genuine error, the only candidate for Godís word today is the KJB.
21. Thus, KJB is the word of God until proven otherwise.
If God has no power to preserve His word after inspiring it, then our God is incompetent (which I dare not agree).
Perfect preservation is the same as the inspiration of the translation. A translation which is perfectly preserved is equivalent to an inspired translation. If one wants to avoid translation issues then he has to go to manuscripts. All scholars agree that we do not have perfect manuscripts. Thus God did not preserve His words through any single manuscript. Now here comes a critical problem: Who is going to decide what God has preserved in all the extant 4000+ manuscripts? Who has the final authority (or should we say inspiration) to decide what is inspired and what is not inspired?
The issue of final authority is this: The Bible teaches sola scriputra (Bible is the final authority on everything). The equally important question (if not more important) is What is the inspired scripture?
In conclusion, God must have supernaturally inspired some translations so that people of God have access to His word. Otherwise, there is no final authority and there is no sure word of God. We cannot accept biblical scholars today as the final authority
Let's define what the LXX, also known as the "Septuagint," is supposed to be. An ancient document called "The Letter of Aristeas" revealed a plan to make an OFFICIAL translation of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) in Greek. This translation was to be accepted as the official Bible of the Jews and was to replace the Hebrew Bible. Supposedly this translation work would be performed by 72 Jewish scholars (?), six from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The supposed location of the work was to be Alexandria, Egypt. The alleged date of translation was supposedly around 250 BC, during the 400 years of silence between the close of the Old Testament in 397 BC and the birth of Christ in approximately 4 BC (due to a four-year error in the calendar).
It has become known as the Septuagint, "The Interpretation of the 70 Elders." Also it is represented by the Roman (?) numerals whose combined value is 70, hence L-50, X-10, X-10. Why it isn't called the LXXII I'll never know.
This so-called "Letter of Aristeas" is the sole evidence for the existence of this mystical document. There are absolutely NO Greek Old Testament manuscripts in existence with a date of 250 BC or anywhere near it. Neither is there any record in Jewish history of such a work being contemplated or performed.
When pressed to produce hard evidence of the existence of such a document, scholars quickly point to Origen's Hexapla written around 200 AD, or approximately 450 years later than the LXX was supposedly penned, and more than 100 years after the New Testament was completed. The second column of Origen's Hexapla contains his own (hardly 72 Jewish scholars) Greek translation of the Old Testament including spurious books such as "Bel and the Dragon," "Judith" and "Tobit" and other apocryphal books accepted as authoritative only by the Roman Catholic Church.
Proponents of the invisible LXX will try to claim that Origen didn't translate the Hebrew into Greek, but only copied the LXX into the second column of his Hexapla. Can this argument be correct? No. If it were, then that would mean that those astute 72 Jewish scholars added the Apocryphal books to their work before they were ever written. (!) Or else, Origen took the liberty to add these spurious writings to God's Holy Word (Rev. 22:18). Thus we see that the second column of the Hexapla is Origen's personal, unveilable translation of the Old Testament into Greek and nothing more.
Eusebius and Philo, both of questionable character, make mention of a Greek Pentateuch. Hardly the entire Old Testament and not mentioned as any kind of an officially accepted translation. Is there ANY Greek manuscript of the Old Testament written BEFORE the time of Christ? Yes. There is one minute scrap dated at 150 BC, the Ryland's Papyrus, #458. It contains Deuteronomy chapters 23-28. No more. No less. In fact, it may be the existence of this fragment that led Eucebius and Philo to assume that the entire Pentateuch had been translated by some scribe in an effort to interest Gentiles in the history of the Jews. It most certainly cannot be a portion of any pretended official Old Testament translation into Greek. We can rest assured that those 72 Jewish scholars supposedly chosen for the work in 250 BC would be just a mite feeble by 150 BC.
Besides the non-existence of any reason to believe such a translation was ever produced are several hurtles which the "Letter of Aristeas," Origen's Hexapla, Ryland's #458, and Eucebius and Philo just cannot clear. The first one is the "Letter of Aristeas" itself. There is little doubt amongst scholars today that it was not written by anyone named Aristeas. In fact, some believe its true author is Philo. This would give it an A.D. date. If this were true, then its REAL intention would be to deceive believers into thinking that Origen's second column is a copy of the LXX--a feat that it has apparently accomplished "in spades."
If there was an Aristeas, he was faced with two insurmountable problems.
First, how did he ever locate the twelve tribes in order to pick his six representative scholars from each. Having been thoroughly scattered by their many defeats and captivities, the tribal lines of the 12 tribes had long since dissolved into virtual non-existence. It was impossible for anyone to distinctly identify the 12 individual tribes.
Secondly, if the 12 tribes had been identified, they would not have undertaken such a translation for two compelling reasons.
(1) Every Jew knew that the official caretaker of Scripture was the tribe of Levi as evidenced in Deuteronomy 17:18, 31:25,26 and Malachi 2:7. Thus, NO Jew of any of the eleven other tribes would dare join such a forbidden enterprise.
(2) It is obvious to any reader of the Bible that the Jews were to be distinctly different from the Gentile nations around them. Unto them was given such distinct practices as circumcision, Sabbath worship, sundry laws of cleansing and their own homeland. Added to this is the heritage of the Hebrew language. Even today, practicing Jews in China and India refuse to teach their children any language but Hebrew. The Falasha Jews of Ethiopia were distinct among the many tribes of their country by the fact that they jealously retained the Hebrew language as an evidence of their Jewish heritage.
Are we to be so naive as to believe that the Jews who considered Gentiles nothing more than dogs, would willingly forsake their heritage, the Hebrew language, for a Gentile language into which would be translated the holiest possession of all, their Bible? Such a supposition is as insane as it is absurd.
"What then," one might ask, "of the numerous quotes in the New Testament of the Old Testament that are ascribed to the LXX?" The LXX they speak of is nothing more than the second column of Origen's Hexapla. The New Testament quotations are not quotes of any LXX or the Hexapla. They are the author, the Holy Spirit, taking the liberty of quoting His work in the Old Testament in whatever manner He wishes. And we can rest assured that He certainly is not quoting any non-existent Septuagint.
Only one more question arises. Then why are scholars so quick to accept the existence of this LXX in the face of such irrefutable study to attain a passing knowledge of it, and many more to be well enough versed to use it as a vehicle of study. By comparison a working knowledge of Greek is easily attainable. Thus, IF THERE WAS an official translation of the Old Testament into Greek, Bible critics could triple the field of influence overnight without a painstaking study of biblical Hebrew. Unfortunately, the acceptance of the existence of the Septuagint on such thin evidence is based solely on pride and voracity.
But stop and think. Even if such a spurious document as the LXX really did exist, how could a Bible critic, who, in reference to the King James Bible, say that "No translation has the authority of the original language," and claim in the same breath that his pet LXX has equal authority with the Hebrew "original"? This scholarly double-talk is nothing more than a self-exalting authority striving to keep his scholarly position above those "unschooled in the original languages."
Facts and Fiction; used by permission)
We must first ask ourselves, does the Bible teach that God has promised to preserve His word? I contend that it does, and does so quite emphatically! I believe when God promises something, He keeps and performs that promise. In Psalm 12:6-7 God says: "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever." Here is a plain and simple statement concerning the doctrine of Bible preservation. Notice that God has not just promised to preserve His word, but has promised to preserve it from "this generation (the time of David) for ever." God has promised that every generation from the time of David until the end of eternity will have a preserved authoritative Bible. In Psalm 78:5-7 God states that he has established His testimony and appointed His law for the purpose of teaching each succeeding generation. Every generation has the promise of a preserved Bible, that they "not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments." "Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven," says the psalmist in Psalm 119:89. God's word has been settled, kept pure, preserved, according to this verse. Some have argued that it is settled in heaven, but not on earth! How foolish! God's word is a revelation from God to man. It is man that needs God's word, mankind right here on earth, not God, or the already redeemed in heaven. God has promised to preserve His word from generation to generation. Those generations are generated right here on earth, not in heaven! In Matthew 4:4, when Jesus was tempted by the Devil, He replied, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." How can a man live by the Word of God, if he doesn't have it? In order for men and women to live by the Word of God, it must be available to them, God must have preserved it! By the way, I don't want to get too technical with you, but the word "written" is in the perfect tense, meaning that it was written in the past, and has continued right down to the time of Christ, and of course down to this present time also. In other words, God has preserved it!
Let's stick to the truth! There have been many strange statements made of late by both sides of this debate that need to be addressed. The proponents of the Critical Text often assert that the Traditional Text originated with the cleric Erasmus. There is a fundamental dishonesty inherent in that statement. The Traditional Text of the Greek New Testament existed in the vast majority of Greek manuscripts back to at least 450 A. D., and Traditional readings existed in the below mentioned versions and lectionaries back to at least 150 A. D. It must also be noted that the adherents to the Traditional Text sometimes attribute the Critical Text to Westcott and Hort, knowing full well that examples of this text existed at about 350 A. D. Both sides ought to be very careful concerning such statements. If we believe that our respective position is so weak that it cannot be supported by the facts, resorting to such deceitful tactics will do nothing to advance either position, and certainly will not honor and glorify God, which ought to be our ultimate goal!
The Traditional Text of the New Testament, sometimes called the Textus Receptus, or Byzantine Text, or Syrian Text, is incontestably admitted to have existed virtually unchanged from about 450 A. D. and reigned supreme, without serious challenge, until about 1850 when a copy of the Alexandrian text was discovered in St. Catherine's Monastery at Mount Sinai (another had previously been found in the basement of the Vatican library in Rome in about 1450.) Since 1880 the Alexandrian text has enjoyed a rapid rise to ascendancy in the English speaking Christian world. The Alexandrian, Caesarean, and Western Greek texts were virtually unknown for the fourteen centuries between 450 and 1850. If God promised to preserve His word unto all generations (Psalm 12), those generations between 450 and 1850 must be included in that promise. The argument of some that the Latin Vulgate (which primarily follows the Alexandrian text) was much more widely published and circulated during these fourteen centuries and therefore represents the "preserved text", begs the question: Does God preserve His Words, or the Words of a translator? The Latin Version was a translation done by men, and not the original language words inspired and preserved by God. If these men can claim preservation for a Latin translation, then they have no grounds for objection when others claim preservation for an English translation. The question is not "which language", the question is "which text." The only Greek text that has been in continuous use from the early second century to the present was, and is, the Traditional Text! The Traditional readings found in the Syriac Version, the Old Latin versions, and the Greek lectionaries provide strong evidence to the open minded and honest researcher as to the existence of the Traditional Text clear back to the mid-second century, or to about 150 A. D. It is quite clear then to the honest, open minded researcher that the Traditional Text is the only text that has been in constant, uninterrupted usage from the first century until the present time, and therefore is the only text that qualifies for the term "preserved."
An Understandable History of the Bible, by Samuel C. Gipp, Th.D. (1987). Bible Believers Baptist Bookstore, 1252 East Aurora Road, Macedonia, Ohio, 44056.
The King James Version Defended, by Edward F. Hills, Th.D. (1956). The Christian Research Press, PO Box 2013, Des Moines, Iowa 50310.
Which Bible?, edited by Dr. David Otis Fuller. (Third Edition, 1972). Grand Rapids International Publications, PO Box 2607, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49501.
The Christianís Handbook of Manuscript Evidence, by Peter S. Ruckman (1970), Bible Baptist Bookstore, P.O. Box 7135, Pensacola, Florida 32514.
The Christianís Handbook of Biblical Scholarship, by Peter S. Ruckman (1988) Bible Baptist Bookstore, P.O. Box 7135, Pensacola, Florida 32514.
Why I Believe The King James Bible Is the Word of God, by Peter S. Ruckman (1994) Bible Believers Press, P.O. Box 7135, Pensacola, Florida 32514.
Textual Criticism: Fact and Fiction: A Fresh Look at Bible Inspiration Preservation and Translation, by Thomas Cassidy (1995), First Baptist Church Publications, 8758 Troy Street Spring Valley, CA 91977.
Sojourners of the Lord