Bible: The Authentic Source Texts

2 - What This Series on the Scripture Source Texts Will Be -- And Will Not Be

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
We owe it to our readers, at the very outset, to tell you what this series will be - and will not be.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part 2 of a series. Read part 1.

We owe it to our readers, at the very outset, to tell you what this series will be - and will not be.

In our first article, I called this series the most important this ministry has ever produced, on the most vital issue confronting the church.

Such a sweeping statement is thoroughly warranted. An absurd and ungodly theory of the nature of Scripture has become the accepted position of the Evangelical church, the basis of virtually all translations of the Bible, and the shaky underpinning of most present-day preaching. The results have been devastating. I will refer to it from this point onward as the Darwinistic theory of the Biblical text. This is a highly accurate description. We shall find many disturbing parallels between the church's compromise on the Bible and the church's compromise with Darwinian evolutionism.

The subject we are addressing in this series is not a small one, and the Lord willing we will take 5-10 days a month to cover it over the course of several months, perhaps most of this year. I believe we owe it to our readers at the very outset to tell you what this series will be - and what it will not be.

What This Series Will Be

This series will be, first and foremost, a defense of the Biblical doctrine of the providential preservation of the original text of Holy Scripture. It will be a defense of the Received Text as the authentic original text of the Bible - both the Old and New Testaments. It will be a refutation of those who say that any other text is permissible for use in Bible translation - and those who hold that position have, sad to say, become the majority in the Evangelical church. This series will also be a call to Christians and the church to return to the authoritative source texts.

What This Series Is Not

Having briefly stated in broad terms what this series will be, let me also state what it will not be.

First of all, we will not emulate those who have employed dishonesty and deceit to make a case for the Received Text. A number of men (and women) have done this in their books and public statements. Gail A. Riplinger and Peter S. Ruckman are two such individuals that Christians must note and avoid. They, and others, have misquoted those who originated and promulgated the Darwinistic theory of the Biblical text, and have also quoted them out of context in ways that are clearly deceptive. Some of these Received Text defenders have even ascribed a Holy-Spirit-inspired status to the King James Bible. That is nothing short of blasphemy.

These ungodly writers - and more honest writers who cite them in their own materials - have needlessly discredited the legitimate case for the Received Text. They have made the task more difficult for honest defenders of the authentic text. As Martin Luther said of those who employed ungodly methods in his time to supposedly advance the Protestant cause, "May the Lord deliver me from my 'friends' as well as my enemies." We do not need to bear false witness to make our case, or endorse those who do so. There is ample evidence, but we must present it honestly. This we shall endeavor to do.

Secondly, this series will not be an argument for any special status for the Authorized (King James) Bible. Defense of the Received Text has, in the vast majority of cases, been positioned as a defense of the King James Bible. Making the two synonymous is a fundamental error. True defense of the Received Text does not entail defense of the King James Bible, or of any particular translation of the Word, in English or any other language. The issue we must focus upon in our time is the defense of the identity of the authentic original-language source texts. These texts, and no others, must be used to produce faithful translations of Scripture in all languages and in all generations. There is no possibility of a fully faithful translation of God's Word without exclusive use of the Received Text.

Furthermore, this series will not be a defense of continued everyday use of the King James Version by the church. The King James Version is undoubtedly the best English translation of the authentic original text of God's Word that has ever been produced. God has used it greatly over the centuries, and still uses it today. But if we are to continue to be truly faithful to Christ's Great Commission, we must face these facts:

  • Just as Koine Greek was the "world language" when the New Testament was first written, English is the "world language" of the present era. English is the most-spoken language on the planet. Over 1.5 billion people speak English. Of those, 400 million speak it as their first language. The remaining 1.1 billion speak and read English as the world language of education, commerce, global communications, mass media, and the Internet.
  • Large portions of the King James Bible are in fact unintelligible to most of these 21st-century English readers - even in Britain, Canada, and the United States, and more so in the rest of the world.

As the best translation of the authentic Bible in English has become less and less intelligible to successive generations of English readers, three terrible things have happened:

  • The Word of God translated from the authentic original has become less accessible to the people. In effect, the authentic Bible has been increasingly chained-up, just as Roman Catholicism once literally chained-up its corrupt version of the Bible, written in unintelligible Latin.
  • People who desire the authentic Word are becoming increasingly reliant upon trained scholars to explain it to them. This is not a mere matter of reliance on the faithful exposition of the Scriptures by God-ordained pastors and teachers, but rather a return to a pre-Reformation reliance on what is, in effect, a priest-class as the only ones sufficiently expert to understand Scripture.
  • Individuals by the millions, and churches by the tens of thousands, are abandoning the main existing translation of the authentic Bible for the corrupt translations of recent times.

For these reasons, and many more that we shall discuss later, it is time for a new faithful English translation of the Bible - not from the corrupted texts that have been used for the vast majority of translations during the past 130 years, but from the Received Text which is the authentic original Word of God.

Such a translation effort must be spurred by the same motive that drove faithful men of the past to translate the Received Text into English in the King James Bible and its predecessors. It is the same motive that must drive the translation of the authentic Word into any language. It is the responsibility of faithful men to place the Word in, as John Wycliffe put it, a language understood by the people, so that they may read and comprehend Holy Scripture for themselves, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

What I have just said will no doubt disappoint some readers. We regularly receive critical mail from people who defend the King James as the "only" Bible, and will not admit the possibility of any new English translation, even from the Received Text. Some even accuse me of not being a Christian because I hold the above position, and some of them have used language that is anything but Christian. Such criticisms are self-condemning.

Other sincere King James Bible adherents do raise some very legitimate concerns about the possibility of a 21st-century English translation of the Received Text. One of these is the question of how to indicate the distinction between singular and plural pronouns. Modern English translations largely obscure these important distinctions, while the King James translators kept them visible by rendering, for example, the Greek second person singulars as "you" and the plurals as "ye". We will address this and other concerns in due course. In the meantime, I hope for our readers' patience as we move toward those issues in an orderly fashion.

Next: Conservatives' Prevailing Attitude Toward the Biblical Text


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