IS AN INERRANT KING JAMES BIBLE HOW GOD PRESERVES HIS WORD FOR US?

IS THE KING JAMES BIBLE THE ONLY BIBLE THAT PRESENTS GOD’S WORD?

For some, the mandatory usage of The King James Bible is a hedge against secularism and apostasy. In our world today, many conservative churches continue to argue vehemently that the KJV is the only trustworthy source, for it is the only Bible deemed to have the “imprimatur” of the Lord. [1]

They feel God not only supernaturally inspired the original autographs of the biblical writers, but they also believe He supernaturally inspired its preservation by keeping all errors out of the King James Bible. As one advocate told this author, “Without God’s inspired preservation, the inspiration of the autographs is meaningless.”  The Word of God and the King James Bible are synonymous. Really? Is the KJV God’s only “authorized version?”

For conservative Evangelicals, there can be no compromise. (I hesitantly label these brothers and sisters Fundamentalists to contrast but not to disparage.)  These brethren believe The King James Versionand only this versionconstitutes the Word of God.  All other versions contain errors and fall short. [2] This judgment is not based on literary quality. It is judgedthat this Bibleis the only writ that the LORD in Heaven supports. Those who advocate a different English Bible are often considered reprobates and apostates.  Since God inspired the KJV – and only the KJV – true Christians must accept its full inspiration unflinchingly.

Closely tied to the commitment to the King James Bible, is the advocacy of a belief in “the Young Earth” – a view that the world was created just a bit over 6,000 years ago. The Bible does provide a chronology within its genealogies in Genesis chapters 5 and 11. And this chronology was supported by the research of Bishop James Ussher, not long after publishers released the KJV to the public. This traditional conservative position demands that the universe (including humanity) was created in six, twenty-four-hour days, precisely six millennia ago. It took place on the first Rosh Hashanah, in 4004 B.C., when God created all that is.  To believe otherwise – that the world is billions of years older than this – is to trust in secularism and evolutionary science, while denying the Word of God is literally true. Until little more than a century ago in America, most Evangelicals believed this. Science became our enemy.

It is often argued as a justification for this restrictive view that the people of God must have an absolute and unchanging Word from God – and that Word must be without the human capacity for error.  In other words, for the people of God to be wholly equipped as His Saints, the Scripture must be accurate, in whole and in part, as well as free from any taint of obscurity.

HOW HAS GOD PRESERVED HIS WORD FOR US?

THE SEPTUAGINT – THE SEVENTY, ABBREVIATED LXX

Undoubtedly, the preservation of God’s Holy Word involves conceptual complexities.  Since it was written by human authors and has been passed down by human means, God’s Word must be seen to be a human enterprise. And yet, just as Christ Jesus was both human and divine, the Word of God in Scripture also provides God’s revelation to us. So, since all Evangelicals agree that the Bible is the Word of God, how can we articulate the method by which God preserves His Word through time? There are, indeed, numerous issues to address when attempting to arrive at a satisfactory resolution to the Bible’s dual nature – that is, its human and godly character. But at this juncture, allow me to provide what may seem to be an overly simplistic explanation of the two competing perspectives that conservative Christians hold concerning the preservation of the Word of God in the Bible:

  1. Alternative one:The Spirit of God preserves the Word of God presented through the Bible by inspiring only one specific version which believers must declare is God’s Word.This text was published at one particular time in one particular language with no changes allowed whatsoever. And it has been decided by some that God preserves His Word in English through the KJV. Tradition mandates this version is the only acceptable, inspired translation.
  2. Alternative two:The Spirit of God providentially preserves the Word of God presented through the Bible from the work of scholars who study the text, applying reason and science to detect the authentic, original words and meaning as intended by the author. If God preserves His Word in this manner, human agents (i.e., scholars), must demonstrate evidentiallywhich text or meaning is most authentic to what was first written millennia ago.

The methodology of alternative one is this:  Corrections to spelling or grammar must be rejected, archaic language must be accepted and not modernized. Newly discovered manuscripts that might identify the original wording should be ignored.  Hence, discoveries like the Dead Sea Scrolls are to be dismissed. A new codex, like Codex Sinaiticus  (dated to the fourth century A.D.), is disregarded. Thus, defending the Bible means blocking all attempts to alter it while overturning all claims to flaws in its contents, whether it’s spelling, grammar, historical accuracy, or scientific knowledge. Finally, newer versions are banned since they alter the words of the accepted version. The Bible should be “frozen” as is, in the version tradition demands.

The methodology of alternative two is this: Scholars detect, through reason and investigation, which wording (i.e., “reading”) is most likely to be authentic to the original work. Newly discovered manuscripts provide new insights into the wording of the original.  Publishers may employ scholars to research and translate the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts that clarify the language of the Bible conveying a meaning of God’s Word that is able to communicate effectively to us today. A good example:  Erasmus used seven manuscripts in creating the TR.  A modern Bible utilizes approximately 5,900 manuscripts. Many linguistic tools exist to help the textual critic determine with high probability, the authentic language of the author. And newly preferred words clarify its meaning for modern readers.  Such texts point out spurious additions or changes through time. Therefore, we can conclude, “The more manuscripts, the better. We are better able to discern the original.”

Corruptions Came into the Masoretic Text 19 Centuries Ago – Intentionally

The argument Rebooting the Bible puts forth that the King James Version was created using the Masoretic Text (MT), and therefore, was corrupted long before today. It happened nineteen centuries ago. This corruption was intentional.  It was carried out by those rabbis who survived the destruction of Herod’s Temple. Roman authorities granted them permission to create an academy in the town of Jamnia (Javneh), on the coast near Tel Aviv. There, changes were made to the original Old Testament, that focused on two areas: First, the Messianic passages of the Old Testament; and secondly, two chronologies in Genesis, chapters 5 and 11. As this book will lay out carefully, the rabbis, headed by Rabbi Akiba ben Yosef, sought to recreate Judaism while at the same time quashing the rival cult known as Christianity. Rabbinic authorities decided to obscure specific passages that supported Christian evangelists who preached Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah.

THE PHARISEES – THE ORIGINAL RABBIS OF THE 2ND CENTURY

At Jamnia, these rabbis created an alternate Vorlage, or original scripture, from which a new Greek translation would be created that contradicted the Greek Septuagint, hoping to replace this Greek Bible used by Christian apostles and teachers, especially for the Jewish communities globally.  After three centuries had elapsed, and with some help from the Christian patrons Origen and later Jerome, the rabbis ultimately succeeded, at least to a meaningful extent. This would lead to one Latin and three new Greek versions based upon this Vorlage.

The “revised” Vorlage differed from the original Bible, compiled (so tradition tells us) by Ezra and then safeguarded by Nehemiah and the other courageous Jews that returned from the Babylonian Empire in the fifth century B.C. (circa 445 B.C.). This new rabbinic (corrupted) Hebrew Vorlage was created about 100 A.D., while the later Greek versions were originated before the end of the second century A.D., and the Latin Vulgate, approximately 400 A.D. The Septuagint’s Pentateuch was finished 380 years before the rabbinic Vorlage and 680 years before the Vulgate. [3]

A FRAGMENT OF THE SEPTUAGINT

You see, the Septuagint had been translated in Alexandria, Egypt, from the authentic Hebrew Vorlage brought from Jerusalem for the translation. Why did the Hebrew Vorlage differ? For the rabbis, the prophecies concerning the Messiah as translated in the Septuagint easilyapplied to Jesus. They rejected Jesus was the Messiah. Nevertheless, Christians believed it was obvious that Jesus had fulfilled the propheciesof Moses, David, Isaiah, and the other ancient prophets. Additionally, because the tradition of the Jews held that the Messiah would arrive near the time Jesus appeared on the scene, the timing of the Messiah’s arrival had to be altered so that Jesus would not be identified as the Christ. Thus, over one thousand five hundred years (1,500) were cut out of the original Genesis genealogies/ chronologies. And another 130 years or so were deleted by the rabbis in the timing laid out in Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 “weeks” of years. [4]  Their efforts amount to a conspiracy to disqualify Jesus as the Christ. To accomplish this, Rabbi Akiba and his disciples at Jamnia obscured the Messianic prophecies and the chronology of Genesis from Adam to Abraham. [5] Given the New Testament authors used the Septuagint 90% of the time when quoting the Old Testament, perhaps ironically, Christianity preserved the meaning of the original Hebrew in these specific passages (and quite a few others as we will show).

Getting back to whether the King James Bible stands as the sole trustworthy version of the Bible, REBOOTING THE BIBLE will demonstrate that the MT was more than tampered with about 1,511 years before the KJV was completed in 1611. And since the KJV Old Testament is based on the MT, it is incoherent to hold the view the KJV was flawlessly inspired by God.Once demonstrated that the razor-sharp prophecies of Messiah were surreptitiously dulled in the “revised” Hebrew Vorlage at Jamnia, to argue the KJV remains free from taint becomes more than moot. This is so because the variances introduced go to the heart of Christianity’s claim that Jesus is the Christ.

WHAT OLD TESTAMENT BIBLE IS CLOSEST TO THE ORIGINAL HEBREW AUTOGRAPHS?

A second important point is this: If Evangelicals wish to select the Bible that most closely conveys the original work of its Hebrew authors, it is the Greek Septuagint and not the Hebrew or Latin versions that we should adopt as our primary text. This is despite the fact that all Protestant Bibles (and most of the Latin Vulgate) began with what would become known as the altered rabbinic Masoretic Text.This doesn’t mean that the Septuagint has no blemishes nor does it mean that the Hebrew should be abandoned. Not at all. Only specific passages differ between these other versions. But they are concentrated in two critical places: Messianic prophecy and ancient biblical chronology. If Protestants should seek the authentic Word of God, it requires we lay claim again to the Greek Bible of the early Church, its exclusive Bible for over 500 years before the Vulgate slowly began to replace it in the Western Church. Once we do, we possess the authentic biblical witness to the year of Creation as set forth in Genesis, the date of the Great Flood, the birth of Abraham, and, with the analysis this author provides in the pages that follow, the year of the Exodus and the Conquest of Canaan.  This book will break the code on how the Septuagint unlocks these mysteries and offers a complete chronology reaching from Jesus Christ to Adam.

[NOTE: While academics can (and should) debate the original wording of the Septuagint, research shows that academics almost never assume any ulterior motives influenced the changes made in the proto-Masoretic as this author asserts.  My point in response:  One cannot determine the original wording of the passages in question, without suspecting that there was a rabbinic conspiracy to alter the text as this book contends.]

It is not my intention to weaken the faith of conservative Christians. Instead, I wish to strengthen it by showing beyond a reasonable doubt that the Bible offers clarity on who the Messiah is and when he would come offering the Kingdom of God to the Jews. And please note, this book does not criticize the KJV New Testament since its citations of the Old are almost always drawn from the Septuagint and not the Hebrew.

In short, the Septuagint was the Bible for the Church’s first five hundred years.  If we believe God has preserved His word, why did He wait another 1,000 years before He began to preserve it in the King James Bible? This logic demands that there was no sure word from God for the first 1,500 years in the life of the Church. Then an inspired inerrant text became available: the KJV. This is an incredibly incoherent argument.

And another fundamental point concerning the Septuagint is this: When we drop the silly argument that the KJV is inerrant, we can arrive at the value of the Septuagint.  It becomes vital in the preservation of God’s Word in the Old Testament. It is, in fact, the most important source we have to help establish what God’s Word actually was when it was first penned in Hebrew.

This book will argue forcefully that the rabbis at the end of the first century A.D., and on into the second, were deliberate in their attempt to weaken the Christian message of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, favoring instead the newly scribed Oral Tradition (a huge addition to the original Mosaic law). This Oral Law remains subject to criticism being that it is without biblical support. No such law existed dating from the time of Moses.  Where this “oral law” appears referenced in the New Testament, Jesus condemns it, calling it only the “tradition of men,” specifically of the Pharisees (who would become the rabbis of the second century).

More on the preservation of the Word of God in other articles this next week.


NOTES

[1] Technically, an imprimatur is a license by the Roman Catholic Church to license a religious or ecclesiastical book. I use the term loosely to underscore an officially approved Bible by Fundamentalist churches rather than Catholic.

[2] There are 450 languages into which the Bible has been translated and 500 versions of the Bible in English alone. Is only one English version acceptable? 

[3] The remainder of the Septuagint Bible (which included several additional historical books like 1, 2, and 3 Maccabees) was finished ca. 125 B.C.

[4] This was accomplished in the Sedar Olam Rabbah as we will discuss.

[5] Oftentimes, Evangelicals assert that a “council” was held at Jamnia where the official canon was decided. This book makes no such claim, only that the rabbinic academies were responsible for the canon determination and the changes.

 

REBOOTING THE BIBLE IS AVAILABLE IN PRINTED FORM AND KINDLE.  450 PAGES. PRINTED 2019.