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Looking At "Which Bible?"
THURSDAY, AUGUST 16, 2007
Posted by: Scott McMahan | more..
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I've been curious about the Bible versions issue for many years now. I
have tracked down a copy of "Which Bible?" (abbreviated WB) which was
edited by David Otis Fuller. I am not sure if this book is still in
print, or not, or if the book in print now has the same text in the
original book. I tracked down the second edition from the mid 1970s.

WB is the foundation of the modern movement that insists on the
continued use of the King James Bible and deprecates modern
translations. Most of the talking points that have grown up around
this movement are taken from WB, including the "good" and "bad"
manuscript traditions.

At least half of WB is a reprint of Benjamin G. Wilkinson's book "Our
Authorized Bible Vindicated". The original book can easily be found
online now, so it's easy to compare the text of WB to the text of the
original. Notably, WB never mentions who Wilkinson is. Wilkinson was a
Seventh-Day Adventist, the Dean of Washington (D.C.) Missionary
College. (Which is now Columbia Union College, www.cuc.edu.) The text
of the book has been edited, most notably in the removal of the
footnotes where Wilkinson cites Ellen G. White on several
occasions. (It is my understanding that an earlier book by J.J. Ray
was simply a reprint of Wilkinson's book, but I have not tracked this
down.) I could talk in great detail about what Wilkinson introduced to
the movement to continue using the King James Bible, and how his
material altered their views significantly. But I don't have time to
get into it now. In a nutshell, before WB, the main argument was
against the English translations themselves (such as the RSV); but
after WB, the objection shifted to the underlying Greek
texts. Wilkinson introduced concepts like the larger-than-life
caricatures of Westcott and Hort as anti-Christian arch-enemies, the
two streams of texts from Antioch and Alexandria, and other concepts
that have defined the movement since the 1970s.

I admit I am baffled by how much of a grip these concepts have on some
Christians. Look at it this way: What if Christians found out that the
doctrines of a Seventh-Day Adventist had been brought into
fundamental, evangelical Christianity through someone who
intentionally tried to pass off the SDA as a Christian, and altered
his text? In any other situation, this would be unacceptable. But for
the Bible text issue, it's taken as a matter of course. Where is the
outcry? The same pastors who will denounce the SDAs as a cult will
turn around and uphold using the KJV for reasons advanced by
Wilkinson. How strange this issue can get: the heavily Calvinist KJV
Bible is defended by Independent Baptists who roast John Calvin and
his doctrines, and do not believe TULIP; but the Reformed believers
take up this material and use it to defend the correctness of the
KJV's doctrine, even though both groups disagree on what correct
doctrine is.

I know there is a KJV defense beyond Wilkinson, but without
Wilkinson's contributions, it isn't enough of an argument to call for
the rejection of modern conservative translations like the New King
James and NASB. The people who want to use the KJV want to use it and
nothing else. There are very valid points about dynamic equivalence
translations (I wish I had time to review the translator's comments
about a modern edition of Les Miserables I found to show how
translators sit in judgment over a text), but they're not enough to
completely rule out the NJKV and NASB.

Even the staunchest KJV defender needs to take a look at the SDA roots
of the movement and have some sympathy for the person who comes to the
movement and does research and digs this information up, which is not
hard to do. I find that, too often, believing the entire KJV defense's
arguments is a prerequisite for orthodoxy in many cases. Please
understand why reasonable people will disagree on this topic.

I'm still looking at this issue, and wish I had more time to get into
it and explore it and write about it. But, unfortunately, I don't
right now.

Category:  King James Plus

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