Monday Musings for December 25, 2017

Good morning, Musers… and Merry Christmas! Today is the day!

About six months before Christ’s nativity, another prophet was born — John the Baptist… and he was a different kind of cat. Perhaps this is why some people recognized him as the messianic spokesperson back in the day… and perhaps this is why some people recognize him as a different kind of spokesperson even today.

A textual critic and a King-James-Onlyist were discussing the relative merits of various English Bible translations, when the KJV guy said, “Can I show you something that will settle this once and for all?” And the critic readily agreed. So the man opened his KJV bible and read aloud from Matthew 3… but with great emphasis on the words spoken by John.

“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Matthew 3:1–3, AV, emphasis mine)

“See that!” the KJV guy said. “If the King James version was good enough for John the Baptist, then it’s good enough for me!”

Now, many of us will recognize this as an old KJV joke — and it is. But do you know what’s not funny? For a full-blown KJV-Onlyist, that’s valid reasoning… since what we have in the KJV is what’s “inerrant” according to them — even surpassing the original manuscripts (aka the autographa).

I have little reason to believe that today’s questioner is a KJV-Onlyist, but I’m pretty sure he was tripped up by a KJV artifact… which is always my point when I talk about this. Why battle archaic language to get to God’s meaning when there are dozens of Bibles to choose from in contemporary English — and especially in a world where we can study Scripture’s original languages for ourselves — instantly and for free? (Visit

I stuck with the KJV for twenty years or so… but that was pre-internet. And back then, many of the “standard” study works were keyed to the KJV text. But that limiting world is gone. It’s been augmented by a world of searchable electronic texts… and it’s flooded with easier-to-produce content!

My working assumption is that God has a story to tell. So, where he tells that story in his word, why hobble our understanding by sticking with old habits? Why work under some sense that translating Shakespearean English into readily understandable English is somehow more valid than having an editorial committee of bonafide scholars translate it from the original languages for us… and provide the relevant textual critique in the margins?

I don’t see myself as being lazy here. I see myself as a tool user. But I also see myself as a person whom God placed in 2017 purposely… rather than in 1611. How about you?

To read the article referenced above, visit the link below.

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