Saturday 12 May 2018

The King James Bible is not a 'translation' - it is divinely inspired scripture, a direct apprehension of truth

I have said this before her, but it is probably worth repeating that I regard the Authorised Version of the Bible - or 'King James' Bible, as truly divinely inspired. Indeed, very obviously so!

This means that the KJB should never be treated as if it was a 'translation' of an 'original' text - and that the KJB has equal and independent validity with any other inspired version of the Bible Texts.

This means that Biblical 'scholarship' - non-religious academic speciality, dating back to around the early 1800s, and which uses the same methods as were developed for dealing with ordinary, not-divinely-inspired historical texts, is worthless nonsense.

Indeed, Biblical Scholarship is worse than nonsense, it is profoundly and actively wrong; and has been extremely damaging to the Christian religion.  

When I read the King James Bible, I am getting the word of God as refracted through the minds and pens of Men - it is (therefore) a communication of truth, not itself the truth... But I am Not reading a secondary/ translated version of a primary-communication. I am instead reading words that were produced by an inspiration of truth that was as direct as the people who wrote the original texts.

I am not saying that the KJB, or any other version, is infallible - I am saying that the KJB has equal validity with any other divinely-inspired version such as the original, and (probably) the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and Luther's Bible.

This means that when I cannot understand a part of the KJB - or when I suspect an error or omission on the part of the authors of the KJB, it does Not help to look at the original language version - since this is no more valid, no more likely to be correct, than the KJB.

Instead, with a divinely inspired text, the reading needs to be done in a state that is receptive-to, empathic-with, inspiration. So that reading the text will lead me to a direct understanding... So that reading the KJB I will be as directly aware of the truth and reality of what is being said, as were the KJB authors, or the author of the first known text. 

Such a way of reading is limited by my own range of sympathy, my own seriousness, my capacities, my goodness... so there is nothing 'infallible' about my reading. Nonetheless, it is the only proper way of reading scripture - I must know it for and from myself.

If I merely read an interpretation of 'what the Bible means' (whether popular low brow or scholarly and done by a great 'expert') - then this is analogous to reading a prose summary of some great poetry... like reading 'Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare' instead of experiencing the play, or reading a Hamlet soliloquy done-into bureaucratic bullet points... it is something altogether different and qualitatively inferior.

If you are an English speaker, you have the great (potential) privilege of being able, in principle, to read one of the true, direct, inspired versions of the Bible. If you are serious about your faith; it does not make much sense to read translations (of which there are hundreds, and more every year) when you can read the real thing - except insofar as translations of the Bible may help prepare you for reading the directly-inspired word of God.


Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

It seems that it would be helpful to compare the KJV with the original (or Vulgate, LXX, or Luther), since all are equally inspired and it is unlikely that they would all have the same errors.

Desert Rat said...

I am sure you are aware of Joseph Smith's bible translation which made alterations in many passages of the KJV. How do you regard those?

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - Well, no. That isn't how it works, in my view. Each inspired version is equally valid in context, but that does not mean that we can use cross correlations and checks between them to elucidate. It is better, and intended, to use internal comparisons to check and correct.

I think we really need to put aside the idea that errors in specific verses of an inspired scripture make a difference - in practice - to what is needed.

We don't really have this problem with - say - Shakespeare's Plays; which were recognised as great in Folio, and before any scholar had done an 'edition' of them.

In the fourth gospel, the important 'messages' are given many times over, in different ways, from different directions - in context, the method is severalfold error proof.

But of course, we need a serious personal revelation of the validity of the scripture before we can benefit from it, and before it would be worth benefitting-from. This tells us that the text is sufficient in its accuracy where that matters.

@Desert Rat - Yes, I have a copy and have looked through it. I regard it as more of an interesting commentary than an alternative - certainly that is how the CJCLDS regards it.

Aside: The Book of Mormon itself is an interesting case. I have a personal revelation that it is valid, and is what it claims to be. But the CJCLDS historically hardly used the BoM for teaching and study - although it seems to function very well in this capacity, by the personal accounts of my Mormon penfriends.

The appearance of the Book of Mormon was mainly regarded a sign from God that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and that God had begun a new dispensation (by expanding the canon of scripture); and it was a means of conversion in that people were asked to study the BoM and pray for revelation as to whether or not it was true.

The story of how the BoM was discovered and translated was, for 3/4 of church history, more important than the specific content of the text - which was seldom mentioned.

It was not until about 30 years ago, when Ezra Taft Benson was President, that the Book of Mormon began to be used as the 'keystone' of Mormonism. For example, it had not been noticed until the 1960s that the BoM contained chiasmus - - which many (including myself) see as a striking confirmation of its validity.

I find this an interesting comparison, and instance of how a scriptural text functions in context. Perhaps the use of the Old Testament by most modern evangelical protestants is analogous - not much attention is paid to its specifics, esepcially by recent converts.

Protestant scholars, and 'mature' converts, however, often become very expert on the OT and develop complex ways of relating it to the Gospels and Epistles (an example is my friend Alastair Roberts, a Calvanist Anglican - - it can be very exciting to hear him talk/ write of the Old Testament and its multiple foreshadowings and internal macro-micro resonances).

Martin said...

I'm interested. What makes the KJ version be inspired and not, say, douay rheims or some other version. Were we without an inspired version until the KJ? thanks

Bruce Charlton said...

Martin - Ultimately, this is something that you have to discover and confirm yourself, from direct experience.

But also

sykes.1 said...

What about the Geneva Bible? That was the Bible in widespread use before the KJB, and it was the Bible universally used in the English colonies in America. And then there is the New King James Bible.

If I were to regard any English bible as divinely inspired, it would be the Orthodox version of the Septuagint, readily available as "The Orthodox Study Bible," Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 2008. Don't read the Introduction. You won't like it.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Sykes - If you genuinely believe that - then you should behave accordingly.

TheDoctorofOdoIsland said...

The characterization that Mormons have only recently come around to thinking of the Book of Mormon as an essential text is pretty common, but I've never bought into the idea. Only baptizing children after they've reached 8 years of age is an important part of LDS life, and that teaching is grounded firmly in the Book of Mormon. There are other things, like the church's generations-long focus on missionary work, a natural consequence of the need to spread the message of the Book of Mormon- and certainly something the book strongly encourages by myriad examples. If things like this aren't the keystone of our religion then what is?

- Carter Craft

Bruce Charlton said...

@Carter, I noticed this myself (i.e. that the BoM did not seem to have served as a major source of doctrine and teaching for the first 3/4 of church history) - and I used to say to people that D&C was a better way to understand Mormonism than reading the BoM (which is what most people trying to understand Mormonism, includng myself, try to do).

My impression was later confirmed and documented by Terryl Givens as just a plain fact. President Benson's instructions to 'food the world' perhaps had the nature of a new revelation (although I don't suppose the change in policy came out of the blue, and doubtless there was a groundswell of BoM study and usage before that).

I don't regard any of this as a challenge of any kind to Mormonism, which has from the beginning explicitly expected continuing revelations - which is why there are living prophets.

Anonymous said...

Alexander Scourby's reading of the KJV is a wonderful resource. He read and recorded the full KJV (twice actually!), and it is readily available on both YouTube and Soundcloud.

I prefer the Soundcloud version because it is broken up by chapter and so easier to navigate.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Samuel - I'll take a listen - for the past decade I have appreciated Max McClean's reading 9s0 on Bible Gateway.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Carter, as I documented on my old blog, prior to Ezra Taft Benson, general authorities cited the BoM in their talks only about as much as the Pearl of Great Price, and far less than either the NT or D&C. The BoM rocketed to prominence in 1985, the year Benson took the reins, and has stayed there, now being the most-cited book of scripture in most General Conferences. The change in focus that Benson wrought has so far been a permanent one.

Daniel Voce said...

Bruce, thank you for elaborating your reply to my question here. I personally find reading different versions illuminating, but agree about the King James Version being divinely inspired and also inextricably entwined with modern English. One can hear shades of it in everyday speech even in the most bureaucratic of organisations and this has to be a source of hope.

Chiu ChunLing said...

Notwithstanding that the KJV may have authority on par with other original scripture, I cannot go so far as to say that reading another inspired text might be helpful when only one text does not settle a question.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - It might, but such scholarship has no intrinsica authority. Eg an adept in the ancient Hebrew or Greek languages has no necessary advantage in understanding the Bible. Attention and eneuine motivation are the main weapons for understanding - scholarship only when it is subject to them.