John Vaughn: Whither from Here? A Way Forward on the Text and Version Issue

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Bert Perry's picture

A bit off topic, and I've confessed I'm a Geneva Bible (1599) /KJV (1611, not that modernistic 1769 most of 'em use, ha!)/NKJV/Luther Bible guy myself (working on attempting a touch of Hebrew and Greek in my copious free time between working and a family of eight), but it strikes me from a bit of observation that that the ESV resembles an eclectic text NKJV to me, and the HCSB appears to be a slightly more word for word translation than the 1980s NIV, and without the destruction of trust that Zondervan/IBS has done by releasing the TNIV (New Gelded Version) and the 2011 NIV.

Is that reasonably close?  How would others describe these translations?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mike Harding's picture

NKJV is a majority text translation; NASB and ESV are eclectic text translations based on Nestle Aland 27 and UBS 4th.  Most fundamental and conservative evangelical scholars recommend the NA/UBS Greek texts.  The Majority Text is superior to the TR. TR-only makes no sense from an historical/text-critical perspective, unless one believes that the original in some cases is a late 16th century, non-majority reading.  Impossible to sanely make that case in my understanding.  Combs' articles on this issue in the DBTS Journal are compelling.

What the magazine should have done is to have a scholarly presentation for the majority text and one for the eclectic text and then present the best translations from those two textual families along with their strengths and weaknesses.  They missed on this one for reasons that are beyond me.  The best case I have ever read for the present use of the KJV was written by Dr. Kevin Bauder on the 400th anniversary of the KJV.  I have no problem with those who choose to use the KJV for the reasons Kevin explained or for that matter the reasons that John Vaughn explained.  I do have a problem with the constant restrictions imposed by Fundamental organizations that essentially eliminate the use of other accurate English translations.  Such restrictions often impede a clear understanding of the meaning of God's word.  Also, there is no need in the 21st century to publicly read the Bible out loud and sound like you have a lisp.  Wotteth not?  Witherith should we go from here?  Hard to defend that.

Pastor Mike Harding

TylerR's picture

Editor

Verily, thou speakest the truth! Thou hast done well, by referring thine brethren to Bro. Combs' articles . . .

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

AndyE's picture

Mike Harding wrote:

NKJV is a majority text translation;

I'm not so sure about that.  The NKJV includes the Johannine Comma, which is not a Majority Text reading.  In fact, my understanding is that the NKJV translators used the same textual basis as the KJV (see http://bible-researcher.com/nkjv.html).  As far as I know, there is no English translation based on either the Hodges/Farstad or Pierpont/Robinson versions of the Majority Text.  I think that would be a worthy undertaking, even though I believe the eclectic text is superior.

Bert Perry's picture

I actually take no strong position on the textual controversy, but isn't one of the controversies over the TR the appearance (fact?) that Erasmus appears to have translated a few passages from the Vulgate back into Greek to get a Greek manuscript that included all of the Vulgate as he read it?

One can infer two reasons for a TR translation for this.  First, if the Vulgate as Erasmus read it is representative of the Vulgate as Jerome translated it, we would infer that Jerome had before him a Greek manuscript that did have these passages, we would infer ancient evidence for a lot of these controversial passages.  Second, the TR, in some form or another (not necessarily in Greek), does appear to be the basis for the historic translations used in Western Europe, and hence the great missionary pushes to the world.  So we might--by faith as Beacham and Bauder note in "One Bible Only"--infer that God stamps His approval on TR for these reasons.

"If", of course, we can infer that the passages were not accidentally added between Jerome and Erasmus.

Just as one might, to a degree by faith, infer that the Alexandrian/eclectic varieties are superior by dint of age and fewer copies made, or that majority is superior by proximity, number, or use by Greek speakers, no?

I really appreciated what Chip said about the controversy, though; if you go from TR to NA, in original or translation, the big theological issue is that you've got to find a few new texts to demonstrate points.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mike Harding's picture

Andy,  I talked with James Price about this who was one of the main editors.  I recall him telling me that they put the majority readings either in the text or the margins.  I think you are right though.  Thanks

. Combs does say TR base.

Pastor Mike Harding

Anne Sokol's picture

eek. As in dr. James Price of Tn Temple? He is so wonderful, humble and brilliant! He attends our home church in TN now, and Vitaliy was one of his final students-- they really enjoy each other. They always have us over when we're back in the Us. And he is or was? working on some project of making Bible translation much easier / computerized or something brilliant like that. A really amazing man.

AndyE's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

One can infer two reasons for a TR translation for this.  First, if the Vulgate as Erasmus read it is representative of the Vulgate as Jerome translated it, we would infer that Jerome had before him a Greek manuscript that did have these passages, we would infer ancient evidence for a lot of these controversial passages.  Second, the TR, in some form or another (not necessarily in Greek), does appear to be the basis for the historic translations used in Western Europe, and hence the great missionary pushes to the world.  So we might--by faith as Beacham and Bauder note in "One Bible Only"--infer that God stamps His approval on TR for these reasons.

According to Bruce Metzger (The Early Versions of the New Testament: Their Origin, Transmission and Limitations, p. 359; The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, p. 76), the text of the Vulgate appears to be Alexandrian, rather than Byzantine or TR.  The same holds true for many of the other ancient versions (e.g., Coptic and old Syrian).  This in turn highlights one of the problems with the majority text position -- (1) the Byzantine text type does not appear as a distinct type in the Greek text OR the ancient translations until quite late (4th-9th centuries) and (2), if you count the extant ancient translations (which far exceed the number extant Gk mss), the so-called majority text is no longer Byzantine but Alexandrian.  I don't agree that counting mss is the best method of textual criticism but the wide-spread geographical evidence from the various versions argues for a non-Byzantine text type as their ultimate source.

Rob Fall's picture

I was not speaking to you specifically.  I was speaking more generally.

I think what's happening is folks aren't grasping the basic problem.  I see this period of time as a time of transition from a period with "authoritative" translation to a time when men look to the original language for the ultimate authority in their exegesis.  This transition will take a generation or so.  Ultimately, I see the KJVOs leaving the FBFI as the organization will not take a strong enough KJVO position to satisfy them.

Ron Bean wrote:
No Surrender Demanded

I did not mean to imply that we ought to quit preaching from the KJV.     

Personally I've done the Bible Version pilgrimage, including KJVP, TRO, to Majority Text. I currently preach from the ESV and study from a 1599 Geneva.

What I was trying to address is the almost passive-aggressive stance of some KJV people in which they will tolerate those who use other versions but expect/demand the KJV in public meetings in which they are involved.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Jay's picture

Rob Fall wrote:

I think what's happening is folks aren't grasping the basic problem.  I see this period of time as a time of transition from a period with "authoritative" translation to a time when men look to the original language for the ultimate authority in their exegesis.  This transition will take a generation or so.  Ultimately, I see the KJVOs leaving the FBFI as the organization will not take a strong enough KJVO position to satisfy them.

But if the KJVO types are the only ones giving money to support the FBFI...they'll be able to effect change.  That's why the consistent ties to Crown, WCBC, and especially Sexton bother me so much.

After visiting Faith in Taylors, SC this summer, it seems to me that Vaughn's church and the home of Frontline is becoming more KJV only, not less. They had Crown College in on the Sunday night I was there, and the Sunday School class I attended made a comment about "those ESV churches."

Organizations drift.  Either to the right or to the left, they will move over time.  In a day like today's, where there is now open hostility to Scripture and the faith, people will hold more tightly to the things they hold dear, especially to something like a Bible (or translation) they've used all of their lives.  That's normal and expected.  Question is - how do you catch that drift, arrest it, and bring it back in line when you're the person doing the drifting?

This is not to attack Dr. Vaughn or the people at his church.  It's just the way things go.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Rob Fall's picture

I am not saying your concern is not a valid one.

However, I've been in the FBF orbit since 1972.  I was saved through the ministry of Grace Baptist Church of Anderson, Indiana.  GBC was pastor at the time by Don Camp.  I first heard about the NASB from Pastor Camp when he recommended it from the pulpit one Sunday.  I returned home to San Francisco later that summer and joined Hamilton Square then pastored by Arno Q. Wenigar, Sr.  I can remember when the FBF Bulletin's News column was written by G. Archer Wenigar.

My POV is hedged by the fact the FBF is a fellowship of individuals not churches.  So, how much influence will Faith have on the FBFI after John Vaughn passes?  Have you taken a look at the current make up of the Executive Board and the Advisory Board?  I don't know the position of all the men listed.  But, I know for sure David Innes and Mike Sproul on the EBoard and the late (he passed after the July\Aug issue went to press) Tim Sneeden on the AdBoard are not KJVO.  Then you have at least two of the major feeder schools for the FBFI, MBU and BJU.  Neither are KJVO.  So, yes, there will be a season of tension.  But, in the long run as the influence of Hyles and the East Texas branch wanes in the FBFI, the KJVOs will no longer find a welcome in the organization.

Jay wrote:

 

Rob Fall wrote:

 

I think what's happening is folks aren't grasping the basic problem.  I see this period of time as a time of transition from a period with "authoritative" translation to a time when men look to the original language for the ultimate authority in their exegesis.  This transition will take a generation or so.  Ultimately, I see the KJVOs leaving the FBFI as the organization will not take a strong enough KJVO position to satisfy them.

 

 

But if the KJVO types are the only ones giving money to support the FBFI...they'll be able to effect change.  That's why the consistent ties to Crown, WCBC, and especially Sexton bother me so much.

After visiting Faith in Taylors, SC this summer, it seems to me that Vaughn's church and the home of Frontline is becoming more KJV only, not less. They had Crown College in on the Sunday night I was there, and the Sunday School class I attended made a comment about "those ESV churches."

Organizations drift.  Either to the right or to the left, they will move over time.  In a day like today's, where there is now open hostility to Scripture and the faith, people will hold more tightly to the things they hold dear, especially to something like a Bible (or translation) they've used all of their lives.  That's normal and expected.  Question is - how do you catch that drift, arrest it, and bring it back in line when you're the person doing the drifting?

This is not to attack Dr. Vaughn or the people at his church.  It's just the way things go.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Shaynus's picture

My prediction: when people start going to jail over not performing same-sex marriages in this country, this issue will look silly. 

Rob Fall's picture

agree with you.

Shaynus wrote:

My prediction: when people start going to jail over not performing same-sex marriages in this country, this issue will look silly. 

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Rob Fall's picture

I left off Larry Oats from my list of EBoard members.  And we can add Pillsbury and Northland BBCs and Calvary Baptist Seminary (Lansdale) to the list of schools.  Though, these last are or will no longer be major feeder schools.  In their day, their grads did find a place in the FBFI.

Rob Fall wrote:

SNIP

My POV is hedged by the fact the FBF is a fellowship of individuals not churches.  So, how much influence will Faith have on the FBFI after John Vaughn passes?  Have you taken a look at the current make up of the Executive Board and the Advisory Board?  I don't know the position of all the men listed.  But, I know for sure David Innes and Mike Sproul on the EBoard and the late (he passed after the July\Aug issue went to press) Tim Sneeden on the AdBoard are not KJVO.  Then you have at least two of the major feeder schools for the FBFI, MBU and BJU.  Neither are KJVO. SNIP

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Anne Sokol's picture

i just have a few odd comments to make on this subject. I attended Dr. Minnick's church when he did a great series on this.

Shaynus wrote:
My prediction: when people start going to jail over not performing same-sex marriages in this country, this issue will look silly. 
Sadly, probably not. Man, Ok, so here in Soviet times, people were paying fines, going to jail, etc. big time, but did they have these issues? Oh, yes. No makeup, no this, no that... I think it's human nature no matter in what time we live.

It's hard to just make Christ the banner and not cling to some issue or belief. It's hard for Just Him to be enough for us.

I have noticed that usually people holding an aberrant position tend to scream about it and be very "sure." So it's easier for them to get in the public eye and be heard/seen and viewed as leaders.

Those who hold correct(er?) positions tend to be very gracious, quieter, and don't even talk much about issue at hand ... because to them, it's not an issue.

So, in my own experience, I had to learn to speak up graciously, but speak up, because others sure were screaming about and teaching and promoting ____ view. I really appreciate those who are able to do this, and able to organize information in order to have a correct message to deliver to people. To give a voice those who know the truth but don't know how to explain it with good backing/research.

Next: no one is 1611. Go the the little room in the BJU library and there's a big 1613 (or some year near there) Bible, and see what you understand. I did this. Oh. My. Word.

This issue has even touched my romantic life. When I was single working at BJ, I briefly dated a guy in the PCC area (of FL). They were KJVO. I used NASV. He spoke with his parents about this and they decided I could use my NASV in my private reading but never publicly talk about it. Buddy, how happy am I that this relationship ended quickly. But it's sad you know, too, as a Christian generally, how we are divided over these issues in such a stupid way.

My problem is having too many versions. For study, I like NASV; for reading through big portions, i like NIV or NLT, (I also like Amplified but too huge to use), but in general, I am losing my ability to recall where this or that verse is in the Bible and even to recall the verse. Because I did all that in the KJV, and now, I never read that. I never know in what version to memorize now. I'm thinking of just going back to the KJV because of the rhythmic language. the NASV is kind of long and clunky for long memorization, though I've done it ...

Shaynus's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:

i just have a few odd comments to make on this subject. I attended Dr. Minnick's church when he did a great series on this.

 

Shaynus wrote:

My prediction: when people start going to jail over not performing same-sex marriages in this country, this issue will look silly. 

Sadly, probably not. Man, Ok, so here in Soviet times, people were paying fines, going to jail, etc. big time, but did they have these issues? Oh, yes. No makeup, no this, no that... I think it's human nature no matter in what time we live.

But the Russian Christians going to jail weren't arguing about the King James, right? The question isn't what Christians on the other side of the world will be fighting about while we're going to jail, it's about what we'll be fighting about. 

Bert Perry's picture

.....I've got to note that persecution in itself is not a guarantee of better doctrine, as I'm told of all kinds of interesting theologies coming out of developing countries where Christians do face death.  It's like ignoring critical theology to focus on trivialities is part of our nature or something.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

DavidO's picture

I draw the line at fighting over what's worth fighting about.

Biggrin

 

Anne Sokol's picture

Shaynus wrote:

But the Russian Christians going to jail weren't arguing about the King James, right? The question isn't what Christians on the other side of the world will be fighting about while we're going to jail, it's about what we'll be fighting about. 

Well, as Bert said, my point is more that those who are being persecuted also fight among themselves about seemingly petty issues. The fact that we'll both be in the same jail cell, hopefully singing the same hymns or 7/11 praise choruses or Getty songs ( Biggrin ) doesn't cancel out matters of conscience or necessarily clarify erroneous doctrinal beliefs.  

Rob Fall's picture

the article cited was the Intro to the current Frontline magazine.  This issue's theme is the translation debate.  So for a better read on the direction of the FBFI, here is a listing of the pertinent articles:

September/October FrontLine Contents:

Remembering the Difference between Doctrine and Preference
Kevin Schaal

We cannot hold as doctrine something that the Bible does not teach.

http://www.proclaimanddefend.org/2014/10/21/remembering-the-difference-between-doctrine-and-preference/

We cannot hold as doctrine something that the Bible does not teach.

The Doctrine of Preservation
David R. Shumate

The debate about texts and translations should be viewed as an opportunity.

Major Positions on Preservation
David Shumate

Why the Differences between Bible Versions?
Kevin Schaal

This is a fair question, but, really, the answer is not a secret.

The Making of the King James Version
John C. Mincy

How did such a great work happen?

Lessons from the Preface, “The Translators to the Reader,” of the KJV 1611
John C. Mincy

The translators expected much opposition to the KJV.

FWIW:

  • Kevin Schaal, Chairman, FBFI Executive Board (EBoard)
  • David Schumate, Secretary, FBFI EBoard
  • John Mincy, Emeritus EBoard member

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Shaynus's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

.....I've got to note that persecution in itself is not a guarantee of better doctrine, as I'm told of all kinds of interesting theologies coming out of developing countries where Christians do face death.  It's like ignoring critical theology to focus on trivialities is part of our nature or something.

OK: this issue will seem silly to those who care about critical theology vs trivialities? I guess that was implied in the statement. To him who has ears. 

Barry L.'s picture

JohnBrian wrote:

 

Mike Harding wrote:

It is a very beautiful, literal, and accurate translation of God's Word.  Could become the next KJV in the years to come.

 

I grew up on the KJV and whenever I need to search Bible Gateway for a verse I usually use the KJV because I am more familiar with it. When I was pastoring, my preaching Bible was a Thompson Chain that my wife bought for me years ago, after the TC that was my dad's (given to him in 1966) wore out. I mentioned in a Sunday service how much I would like to have a TC- NKJV and a few weeks later one appeared on the front pew of the church anonymously (although I knew which couple had placed it there).

I presently carry a thinline NKJV to church, but since my eyesight is getting worse with each passing year, I generally use the ESV on my phone during the service. I guess I could leave my Bible at home but I'm sure that I would feel undressed walking into church without a Bible in my hand.

I agree with Mike that the ESV is likely to become the primary Bible in the not too distant future.

It's got quite a ways to go.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2014/march/most-popular-and-f...

Dean Taylor's picture

isn’t good form to comment at this point in the discussion.  I really want to speak to this article, though, and had to join SI first :).

Key factors, I believe, in determining the value of a translation of the Scriptures, are (1) accuracy and (2) clarity.  A translation should accurately reflect, to the degree linguistically possible, inspired truth in its original form. It should also be understandable to the people reading it.  One would think Gospel-spreaders everywhere and fundamentalist Baptists in particular would not only “not prohibit the mention of other translations nor prescribe a particular translation” but should enthusiastically promote the dissemination of the Scriptures in the spoken language of 21st century Americans and other English-speaking people groups.

Having shepherded our church through the transition from solely using the KJV to embracing good current English translations, I know that implementing this kind of change in a context of traditionalism is not easy and comes with a price.  But I view it as necessary to ministering effectively in our surrounding community and to future generations. 

Maybe the Frontline articles and the response to them will become a catalyst.  Possibly younger and/or visionary members of the FBFI constituency will advocate moving toward a position of not only tolerating/accepting the use of accurate current English translations, but welcoming and encouraging it.  I hope so. 

              DeanHTaylor.com 

Rob Fall's picture

you read the other articles in the issue.  As they are all written by members of the Executive Board, I'd say they represent as an official position as one is going to get at this time.  The tenor of all of them is anything but KJVO. 

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Mike Harding's picture

Rob,

I know all the authors reasonably well.  None are KJVO in the least.  My view is that Fundamentalism needs to embrace the use of good, reliable, accurate, up-to-date translations (NKJV, NASB, ESV).  We keep caving to the KJVO crowd by insisting that one must use the KJV exclusively in our preaching, writing, verse citation.  Practically speaking, the KJVO position ends up being our position.

Pastor Mike Harding

Rob Fall's picture

and I agree Fundamentalism is practicing functional KJVOism, at least in fellowship gatherings and publications.

Mike Harding wrote:

Rob,

I know all the authors reasonably well.  None are KJVO in the least.  My view is that Fundamentalism needs to embrace the use of good, reliable, accurate, up-to-date translations (NKJV, NASB, ESV).  We keep caving to the KJVO crowd by insisting that one must use the KJV exclusively in our preaching, writing, verse citation.  Practically speaking, the KJVO position ends up being our position.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Jay's picture

Rob Fall wrote:

and I agree Fundamentalism is practicing functional KJVOism, at least in fellowship gatherings and publications.

And it is long past time for Fundamentalism to take the plunge and allow the use of other translations in their public gatherings and publications.  Just do it, break the ice, and get it over with.  The longer they put it off, the worse and more painful the consequences of delay.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

Per Jay's comment, I would argue that fundamental churches not only need to recognize and use the newer translations, but also to denounce the tactics of many KJVO activists.  If enough KJVO activists are reminded that insulting Westcott, Hort, and Aland is not an argument, then maybe we can love and enjoy the KJV without it becoming a point of division.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Bert Perry wrote:

Per Jay's comment, I would argue that fundamental churches not only need to recognize and use the newer translations, but also to denounce the tactics of many KJVO activists.  If enough KJVO activists are reminded that insulting Westcott, Hort, and Aland is not an argument, then maybe we can love and enjoy the KJV without it becoming a point of division.

I think this strategy will eventually work for those who are just hanging on to the KJV for reasons of tradition, etc., but of course for those who hold to the KJV over textual reasons, they already realize what you are saying here.  Even if you haven't run into them, there are those who aren't English inspiration, devotees of Riplinger, or whose main argument is trying to discredit Wescott and Hort, etc., but who believe the texts behind the KJV (and they do believe there are differences between the KJV texts and those of the NKJV) are the only good texts.  I'm not in that camp, but I am acquainted with them (I was in a church that changed to that position), and just telling them to in essence "get over it" is not going to work.

If your church is like that, I suggest you find another one rather than cause trouble over the KJV issue.  For some, this is just not going to go away, and if your belief is different and you are not the pastor, I think separation is the better course.  And if you are denouncing activists, you should be just as careful with what you are accusing them of as you expect them to be with KJV arguments.  Not all KJVO types are the same, and arguing against a straw man is never helpful.

Dave Barnhart

Bert Perry's picture

Dave, you're misreading me.  I have no trouble with people who come up with real reasons why they believe any manuscript or family of manuscripts is a better rendition of the New Testament.  If you tell me you prefer the Alexandrian/eclectic texts because they're older, no problem.  If you tell me you prefer the Majority Text because it's more numerous, comes from closer to the original documents, may be more consistent, and was used by native Greek speakers, no problem.  If you tell me you prefer the Textus Receptus because (in one of its 32-odd variants) of its association with western European churches and some hints that the ancients may have had access to such manuscripts, no problem.

For that matter, if you tell me you prefer the KJV because it resonates in the English-speaking world (or at least did), because its differing pronouns and verb endings enhance understanding, or simply because you're used to it, no problem.

What I object to is the kind of thing one will see from Ruckman, Sorenson, Chick tracts, and the like; when there is no real appeal to ancient documents to demonstrate any claim about the manuscripts, where transparently false claims are made about them (e.g. "6000 of them are identical"), or when character allegations are presented against those who spent their lives giving us the Scriptures as if that somehow proved they altered the text, or when differences in translation are presented as a defect in the more modern translation without any appeal to the original text, then I've got a problem.  

Make sense?  And we need to come out against that sort of thing, because it's falsehood that (a) undermines the authority of all manuscripts and hence the Bible and (b) tells the world that Christians don't care much about the truth.  And those are real, big problems.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

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