|In 1993, I (Timothy S. Morton) wrote and published
a book defending the KJB entitled Which Translation Should You Trust.
In 1996 Rick Norris of Fayetteville, NC took issue with many of the
claims found in my book and wrote me the letter below. We corresponded
a total of four times and each time I challenged Mr. Norris the clearly
state what his FINAL AUTHORITY was and where it could be found since he
denied it is the KJB. The reader will see in reading this correspondence
that he refused to answer—he has no tangible final authority. Mr. Norris'
response is typical for the "only the originals are inspired" and "no translation
can be inspired" crowd. They wish to steal the true Bible away from a believers
heart and mind and replace it with nothing but their "opinion," making
themselves their own final authority!
March 12, 1996
Dear Bro. Morton,
I have read and examined your booklet WHICH TRANSlATION SHOULD YOU TRUST? I am sure that your motives were good and that you think your information is correct. I have also been studying the Bible translation issue. I have read most of the KJV-only books presently available, including books by Hills, Fuller, Ruckman, Gipp, Waite, Burgon, Ray, Burton, Evans, Grady, McClure, Paine, Cummons, Carter, Riplinger, etc.
I would recommend that you examine for yourself the earlier English Bibles which the KJV was based on. Reprints of several of them are still available. Major university libraries may have copies of all of them on microfilm. I have obtained reprints of Tyndale's 1526 and 1534 New Testaments, Tyndale's Old Testament (the portion he translated before being killed), Matthew's Bible New Testament, a photocopy of 1535's Coverdale's Bible, 1557 Whittingaham's New Testament, an edition of a whoIe Geneva Bible, and a New Testament Octapla which contains Tyndale's N.T., Great Bible New Testament, Geneva Bible N.T., Bishops' Bible N.T., KJV etc. also have a reprint of the four gospels from Wycliffe's Bible and have examined a reprint of an entire Wycliffe's Bible. I have also examined other editions of these Bibles at major libraries and some of them on microfilm.
Enclosed are eight pages of information based on my study of these older Bibles for your consideration. I have also made a comparison of over 150 verses in these early English Bibles, the KJV. John Wesley's 1755 New Testament, a 1842 revision of KJV by Baptists, 1862 American Bible Union New Testament, and several present-day translations. These facts would contradict several of the claims in your booklet. Please check the evidence for yourself.
|The following two paragraphs are excerpts from a copyrighted partial manuscript Mr. Norris referred to in the above letter. The issues they bring up, along with the issues in the letter, are dealt with in my reply.|
...If God desired to inspire translations, why didn't He just inspire this first complete English Bible and be done with it? If the KJV-only theory is correct, why would God leave those who spoke English without an inerrant translation for seventy-six years (1535 to 1611)?
In a variation of this argument from a line of
good Bibles, William Byers claimed that the KJV is the seventh translation
in the English language from the pure text and is thus "purified seven
times" (The History of the KJB, pp.9, 23, 97-98). Byers wrote that the
Geneva Bible was the "sixth translation" (p.9), but later he wrote that
"Geneva is five" (p.97). Byers' claim is false since the KJV is not the
seventh English translation from the Received Text: Tyndale's New Testament,
Joyce's New Testament, Coverdale's Bible, Matthew's Bible, the Great Bible,
Taverner's Bible, Coverdale's Latin-English New Testament, Bishop Becke's
Bible (1551), Whittingham's New Testament (1557), Geneva Bible, Bishops'
Bible, and KJV. In addition, there were more than one edition of many of
these Bibles with many changes and revisions in them. Furthermore, each
Bible was not always an improvement over the one before it. Many times
the next Bible in the line made changes for the worse by adding words from
the Latin Vulgate. For example, the Bishops' Bible was a poorer translation
than the Geneva Bible. Is Byers suggesting that people have to have seven
translations into their language before they can have a reliable and accurate
one? Does he think that it takes God seven attempts before the Holy Spirit
can guide translators to produce an inerrant translation? Is he suggesting
that the KJV improves on the Hebrew and Greek? Although beginning his
list with Wycliffe's Bible, Timothy Morton made a similar inaccurate claim
to that of Byers when he wrote: "Each of these Bibles was (and still is)
a valuable translation, but the King James of 1611 is the purest--the seventh
and final purification" (Which Translation Should You Trust, p.9).
Dear Brother Norris:
I have read and examined your letter and partial manuscript and have found them to contain the same critical, humanistic mentality as scores of other works I have read. As we repeatedly mentioned in our book, we have found that those who follow this line of reasoning have no final authority other than their opinion. When one in confronted with dozens of conflicting "authorities," what is left to make a choice between them except one's opinion? You may insist that our position on the KJB is based on opinion and in a sense this is true, but our allegiance to the AV is built upon what God SAYS in it and what He has DONE with it, not critical, one-dimensional, worldly reasoning.
In your letter you recommend that I examine the earlier English Bibles which the AV was based on. Doesn't the title page of the AV say, "Newly translated out of the original tongues with the former translations diligently compared and revised"? Did not the resolution King James set forth say "That a translation be made of the whole Bible as consonant as can be to the original Hebrew and Greek"? Did not the first of the fifteen general rules he advanced say "...the Bishops Bible (is) to be followed, and as little altered as the truth of the original will permit"? Clearly the KJB is based upon the Hebrew and Greek texts. The translators were to change the texts of the earlier versions to suit the Hebrew and Greek texts they had, not vice versa.
The three quotes above from the period show the need for the KJ translation being undertaken. You quote Coverdale as saying he saw no problem with "many translations" and didn't think they would make "division in the faith." Maybe they wouldn't in 1535 but by 1600 they did. By 1600 several Bibles and Testaments were floating around and their was division. The Puritans insisted on the Geneva Bible while the Anglicans held to the Bishops Bible. John Reynolds and many others saw a problem and so did King James, thus came about the KJB, and it is still alive and well!
That you say I need to go to a large university to even have access to some of the pre-KJV English Bibles shows how the AV filled the void those versions left and subsequently replaced them all. I can buy a KJB at Wal-Mart, but a copy of the Great Bible or the complete Bishops Bible who knows where they can be found. Recently some reprints of Tyndale's NT and the Geneva Bible have been published, but they are in almost no demand and those that do buy them don't use them as Bibles. How do you explain this? The AV is only 51 years younger than the Geneva (probably the most popular before the AV) yet by 1650 the Geneva was rapidly passing into obscurity. Why did the AV supersede all of these versions? Did God have anything to do with it?
On page 79 you mention Wycliff's use of the words "penance" and "sacrament," but what's so surprising about that? Wycliff was born and raised a Roman Catholic. Furthermore, Wycliff didn't know Hebrew or likely Greek so he used the only text he had to work with (the Latin Vulgate). Even though the Vulgate by today's standards is a less than desirable text, it was all Wycliff had and the text God provided him to use. God honored and used his translation in spite of its errors and mistranslations, thus it was the word of God in English at the time. The English speaking Christians who had access to it understood it to be such.
Can the word of God have errors in it, though? Don't the terms word of God and errors exclude each other? No, I didn't contradict myself, I just understand your mentality, I used to think the same way myself. You have worked yourself into a logic-tight line of reasoning and leaving no room for God or faith to work. More on this in a minute.
I understand what you are saying in you manuscript. You believe if you can show any inconsistencies, errors, or mistranslations in any English Bible in the good "tree" (or "stream," etc.) link from the AV to the original autographs, you can discredit the links, the AV, and those who believe it. You say as much in the last two paragraphs on page 86. But this is just more humanistic, worldly, linear thinking. I noticed that not once in the eight pages you sent me did you appeal to ANY verse in ANY Bible as a basis for ANY of your arguments. Why is that? Could it be because you don't have an inerrant, infallible Bible? You arguments are based solely on your understanding of logic and reason and not on biblical principles God has revealed in His word (AV). You leave no room for God, His word, or faith to work. (Don't think I say this to suggest that I am immune to such tendencies, I had to deal with them when I was struggling with the Bible issue and am still struggling with them often in other areas today. This is just an observation, which is quite easy to see.)
For an example of your faulty reasoning look at the last sentence of the second paragraph on page 81. You say. "If God desired to inspire translations, why didn't he just inspire this first complete English Bible and be done with it?" I will admit from a worldly, "scholarly," logical perspective this looks like a plausible statement, but from the perspective of the Scriptures it is pure nonsense. Look at Isaiah 55:8-9 where God plainly states that He doesn't THINK like we think nor are His WAYS our ways. The truth is no one can predict what God is going to do in any situation unless He reveals otherwise! Think about that a couple days. If God wanted to give translations by inspiration, is the way you just stated the ONLY way He should or could do it? Is there no room for any other way? Can God only work within your pre-defined, logical parameters? I have made many such statements in the past and am still very prone to do so, but I am convinced they are blasphemous and Satanic and struggle to have "the mind of Christ."
Remember in Matt. 16 where the Lord rebuked Peter? Peter didn't think it was "logical" and reasonable for "the Christ" to suffer and die. To him (and likely the others) such talk was contrary to everything the Messiah stood for, but what did Christ reply to Peter? "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an OFFENSE unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of MEN" (Tyndale calls it "worldly things"). Peter is told his "rationale" is humanistic, Satanic, and just plain WRONG. There have been many times in which I deserved just as stern a rebuke by saying things like "If God" this or "God would surely" that or "What reason could God possibly have to..." and having not one promise from Scripture that He would or wouldn't do any of them. You said, "If God desired...why didn't He..." Can't you see it brother? We can't read God's mind or understand His methods unless He reveals them. The Bible is filled with God doing things in "illogical," unconventional ways. He simply will not fit in man's logic-tight reasonings, yours or mine.
Therefore, God COULD go through seven English translations before He settled on a final, lasting one for the coming universal language, and there is not one verse in either Testament that says He can't. His reasons for His methods are entirely His own, and we are on precarious ground when we insist otherwise.
In 1382 God's word in English was found in Wycliff's
Bible. It was the word God wanted them to have at the time in spite of
its later discovered weaknesses. The same can be said about the other English
Bibles until the AV came along and replaced them. It has stood since 1611
as God's pure word in English at God's good pleasure. All other versions,
older or newer, are inferior.
Your claim that their must be an unbroken chain of inerrancy from the AV to the autographs is not only humanistic thinking but also unsupportable from Scripture. If not, why don't you produce the Scripture? God has promised to preserve His word, but He has NOT revealed all the methods He may use to do it. He never promised ANY specific language a Bible anyway. That the English speaking people have one is purely by GRACE. God could have kept all the autographs and hid them somewhere IF HE WANTED, but history tells us He didn't choose to do that. He let the autographs disappear (illogical by human thinking) and used His people to preserve His word in the manner He wanted them to have it. This is the reasoning of faith that Edward Hills speaks of. Furthermore, No Bible God uses in any language has to be plenarily or verbally identical to the autographs for it to be His inerrant word. He preserves it the way He sees fit. (Reread pages 17-22 of our book for our position on this and CHECK THE VERSES!)
Concerning the KJB being the seventh English translation (pg. 83 of you manuscript), we can't speak for brother Byers, but we can speak for ourself. We began the paragraph you quote us from with, "Concerning the word being purified 'seven times,' it is INTERESTING TO OBSERVE that the KJV is the seventh MAJOR English translation." How convenient it was for you to omit major in the context you are speaking about. This leads you readers to believe we didn't know there were other translations. Why would we say "major" if we didn't know there were other minor translations not mentioned? You selective, biased quoting does not deliver the facts, but it does, I suppose, fuel your rhetoric.
We arrived at seven by counting only complete Bibles (Matt. 4:4), only Protestant Bibles (I know Wycliff's was from the Vulgate, but can you produce any Catholic priest that will endorse his translation? They dug up Wycliff's bones and burned them because of it), and only notable common Bibles. The same listing that we used (omitting 'Tyndale's NT) can be found in A Pictorial History Of Our English Bible published by Bob Jones University Press, pages 6-7 (Bob Jones is not "KJ-only" by anyone's definition I know) We well know there were other minor Bibles (such as Taverner's, etc. and likely others that since have been lost) that were published before the AV, but they add little or nothing to the Bible issue. Chamberlin has the AV listed as number seventeen!
You go on to ask is Byers (an imply us also since we made a "similar inaccurate claim") suggesting that it takes seven attempts for God to arrive at an inerrant translation. Come on, now. Do you really think he or we believe that? Can you produce any saved, sensible person who believes God is limited in that way? Your readers, especially those who take the time to check the works you are quoting from, will easily see that this is nothing but more rhetoric.
Finally, on this subject, you seem to forget that it was God who said He would purify His words "seven times." We Bible believers didn't just pull that idea out of the air. The full explanation and ramifications of Psalm 12 are known only to God, but, as we said, it is interesting to observe in light of God's method of producing the KJB.
Concerning Luke 2:33 we have known since 1611 that "his father" in place of "Joseph" is an error. It is an error whether it is in Tyndale's NT or the NIV, but who knew that in 1526? Again, "Tyndale and the others could only use the materials God provided them in the making of their translations. And they were faithful and God blessed their labors. Preserving His word is God's business and that he gave Tyndale texts that said "his father" is solely His concern. The same can be said for all you other "contradictions or inconsistencies." Tyndale and the other translators are innocent in this regard, but all of the modern translators are not. They had the truth before them in the AV and ignored it.
In a nutshell, the "hard-nosed," "all-or-nothing" mentality you follow simply doesn't fit God's methods. It will not give God any room to work except within its narrow, humanistic parameters. It is Pharisaical. It destroys men's faith in the Scriptures as found in the AV and other Bibles. It leaves believers without a final absolute authority in any language to be their guide. It is UNBELIEF. I know for I have been there. Our little book is an account through the Scriptures of our journey from unbelief to belief. How grand it is to HAVE an inerrant, infallible copy of God's pure word!
Finally, I will have to say you have not shown me anything that will cause me to reconsider my position. The only pre-KJ translation we have is Tyndale's 1526 NT and we just got it as a novelty. Even though it was likely considered the inerrant word of God in 1526 (and God used it as such), in 1996 it is found inferior to the AV and thus a dead translation. It is dead because along with the Geneva and others, it is no longer published (except as a novelty translation) and no longer used. After it served its purpose God abandoned it, much like He abandoned the idolized original autographs.
Here, in 1996, We are not much concerned about where the word of God was in 1300s, 1400s, 1500, anyway, or any period before, but we are very much concerned as to where it can be found TODAY! Each generation in the past had its own responsibility to God's word as He had given it for that generation, but since 1611, as history has shown, God has settled on the KJB. If we are to have the "mind of Christ," we need to receive what He has clearly given and reject what He has abandoned.
You make a big fuss about finding some remnants of the Vulgate in the early translations, but what's the problem? Is God not able to give any generation the Bible He wants them to have? Again, it's His business. Your insinuation, however, that the differences between these early versions and the modern versions is much the same compared with the AV is ridiculous. Here in 1996 we can look back and see how the English Bible was in a sort of a purifying mode until 1611, but since then it has steadily degenerated into corruption. All the modern versions are the proof. That is why we Bible believers believe a Bible that is 385 years old! We would much rather have a Coverdale or Geneva Bible than ANY new version with all their omissions, mistranslations, weakened translations, attacks on Christ, etc. if the AV was unavailable. For one example Tyndale got Acts 4:27 right where the NKJV didn't.
You and I have two different approaches, philosophies, mentalities, and Bibles. We each need to be certain of the source of each.
We will close now. we are sure you can take issue with many other statements found in our book, but if you wish to reply to this letter, please answer the three questions on page 9 of our book. They are reasonable questions and worthy of answers.
|For the benefit of our readers, we have included below a section of page nine of our book which asks the three questions mentioned in the last paragraph of our above letter.|
...If the reader has any doubt that what we have stated above is the position of many of the leading fundamentalists, he should get some of their books and check for himself. Or better yet, write one a letter and ask him three simple questions:
1. Do you believe the King James Version of
1611 is the pure, inerrant word of God and absolute final authority
2. If no, does your FINAL AUTHORITY exist on earth today in pure, inerrant, tangible form in any language?
3. If yes, what and where is it? And if no, why not?
As simple as these questions are, many of the leading "fundamentalists" in America refuse to answer them. They refuse because they cannot answer them and still appear as "defenders of the faith." The author has read the replies of some of them who responded to questions similar to these, and they dance around them without clearly answering one. All of their scholarly talk, appeals to Greek authorities and historic positions, and references to nonexistent "originals" is just a smokescreen to veil their unbelief. They simply do not believe an infallible Bible exists. Ironically, all of these questions can be answered by a Bible believer with no more than a grade school education (or even less) in one word. To the first he will answer "Yes," this also answers the others...