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“Holding forth the Word of Life” Philippians 2:16
“Holding fast the Faithful Word” Titus 1:9
A Response to William W Combs of Detroit Baptist Seminary
The Westminster Larger Catechism says, “The Holy Scriptures are to be read with an high and reverent esteem of them; with a firm persuasion that they are the very Word of God.”1 The question is raised: Is it a sin and a heresy for a Christian to esteem the Holy Scriptures so highly as to regard the Hebrew Masoretic Text (MT) and Greek Textus Receptus (TR) underlying the King James Version (KJV) to be the very Word of God without any mistake, without any doubt? William Combs, Professor of New Testament of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary (DBTS), in his article “Errors in the King James Version?” thinks so; he maliciously calls it a “new heresy…, a heresy that has now invaded fundamental circles.”2
Besides the false and malicious accusations by anti-KJVists like Combs, there appears to be considerable ignorance and misunderstanding as regards the nature of the Holy Scriptures in the original languages, the verbally and plenarily inspired Scriptures which God has verbally and plenarily preserved, namely the Hebrew MT and the Greek TR and the translations that come from them, especially the KJV. The biblical doctrine of Verbal Plenary Inspiration (VPI) is clearly taught in many an evangelical Systematic Theology textbook,3 and the term VPI explicitly describes what biblical inspiration means in the context of the liberal/neo-evangelical versus fundamentalist battle for the Bible in the last century.4 However, there is hardly any teaching on Verbal Plenary Preservation (VPP) in the Systematic Theology textbooks of the last century—post-Warfield. Many evangelicals today do not believe that God has promised to preserve His inspired words. VPP to them is not taught in the Bible. The Bible to them was only inerrant in the past but is no longer inerrant today.5
VPI demands VPP. For what good is it to the Church to have only a Bible that was infallible and inerrant in the past but no longer infallible and inerrant today? That is why the Statement of Faith of Far Eastern Bible College (FEBC) does not stop at VPI but goes on to affirm VPP, “We believe in the divine, Verbal Plenary Inspiration (Autographs) and Verbal Plenary Preservation (Apographs) of the Scriptures in the original languages, their consequent inerrancy and infallibility, and as the perfect Word of God, the supreme and final authority in faith and life (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20–21; Ps 12:6–7; Matt 5:18, 24:35).”6
What is VPI? Here is my definition:
VPI means the whole of Scripture with all its words to the last jot and tittle is perfectly inspired by God without any error in the original languages and in all its prophecies, promises, commandments, doctrines, and truths. These inspired and inerrant words are not only the words of salvation, but also the words of history, geography and science. Every book, every chapter, every verse, every word, every syllable, every letter is infallibly inspired by the Lord Himself to the last iota.
Now, what is VPP? I define VPP as follows:
VPP means the whole of Scripture with all its words even to the jot and tittle is perfectly preserved by God without any loss of the original words, prophecies, promises, commandments, doctrines, and truths, not only in the words of salvation, but also the words of history, geography and science. Every book, every chapter, every verse, every word, every syllable, every letter is infallibly preserved by the Lord Himself to the last iota.7
If the Scriptures are verbally and plenarily inspired and we have them today, every last word of the Scriptures to the jot and tittle, then where are they? Combs and DBTS come short here when they identify the infallible and inerrant text to be only the Autographs which scholarly consensus admits are no longer existent.8 And if the original text is non-existent, there is really no way whereby Combs and his colleagues can assuredly ascertain to what extent the copies or the translations reproduce exactly or accurately the original text. It is just not possible based on their naturalistic text-critical presuppositions and hypothesis of a lost or non-existent original text. This is acknowledged by the leading textual critics themselves.9
In the light of Reformed theology and Reformation history, the FEBC by the logic of faith identifies where and what is the original text that God has initially inspired and providentially preserved, infallible and inerrant: “We believe the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament underlying the Authorised (King James) Version to be the very Word of God, infallible and inerrant.”10
As far as English translations of the Bible go, we consider the old to be better than the new. “We uphold the Authorised (King James) Version to be the Word of God—the best, most faithful, most accurate, most beautiful translation of the Bible in the English language, and do employ it alone as our primary scriptural text in the public reading, preaching, and teaching of the English Bible.”11
Does the KJV of the Holy Scriptures contain errors then? Combs in his paper titled, “Errors in the King James Version?,” argues for errors in the KJV.12 He also went on to say that all copies and translations, being not the original manuscripts or autographs, must “have mistranslations, miscopying, or misprinting, however minor, and are not therefore inerrant.”13 He considers a believer who regards the KJV as the very Word of God without any textual and translational error to be a heretic, and even names D A Waite, President of the Dean Burgon Society, as one.14 To Combs, the only believers who are sound and sane, godly and orthodox are those who believe that all texts and translations today contain errors! It would do well for Combs to read more Reformed theology and Reformation history before he plays the pope to denounce as heretics all who believe in the present infallibility and inerrancy of the inspired Scriptures and identify those inspired Scriptures to be the providentially preserved Hebrew MT and Greek TR underlying the Reformation Bibles best represented by the KJV.
Before we discuss further, we need to qualify and explain our terms especially as regards the KJV as “the Word of God,” lest we be misunderstood or misrepresented.
Firstly, when we speak of “the Word of God,” we are referring to either one of two things: (1) the Holy Scriptures in the original languages in both the autographs (originals) and apographs (copies), and/or (2) the Holy Scriptures in the versions or translations which come in different languages whether ancient or modern. Having said this, we agree with the DBTS doctrinal statement that translations partake of inspiration in an indirect fashion only “to the extent that they reproduce the text of the original manuscripts.”15
Secondly, it goes without saying that the 100% perfect Word of God must be the divinely inspired or God-breathed (theopneustos) Hebrew and Aramaic words of the Old Testament and Greek words of the New Testament as penned by the specially appointed prophets and apostles without any mistake or error (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:21). These same inspired words in the original languages have been preserved by the special providence of God through the ages so that in every generation God’s people might have all of God’s words available and accessible to them for their spiritual life and growth (Ps 12:6–7; Matt 4:4, 5:18; 2 Tim 3:17). By the logic of faith, based on the twin doctrines of VPI and VPP, we identify the Hebrew and Aramaic words of the MT and the Greek words of the TR to be the infallibly and inerrantly inspired words that God has single-handedly preserved by providentia extraordinaria (extraordinary or special providence).16 By the logic of faith, we further consider the divinely inspired and preserved Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek words underlying the time-tested and time-honoured KJV to be completely authentic, authoritative and definitive.
Thirdly, it must be emphasised that God’s infallible and inerrant nature demands that His inspired and preserved words be infallible and inerrant as well. God is perfect and makes no mistakes. The inspired and preserved words of God likewise must also be perfect and without any mistake. These infallible and inerrant words are thus strictly the originally inspired and providentially preserved Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek words and not translated words in other languages. We however agree with Combs when he says that “translations can be said to be inspired in a limited, derivative sense.”17 We also agree that as a whole “they cannot be said to be inerrant in any full sense.”18 We also reject the notion that a translation can be superior to the original language Scriptures. Only the original language Scriptures can be deemed absolutely and totally infallible and inerrant. This is articulated by the Dean Burgon Society in their “Articles of Faith” II.A, which states,
the King James Version (or Authorised Version) of the English Bible is a true, faithful, and accurate translation of these two providentially preserved Texts [Traditional Masoretic Hebrew Text and Traditional Greek Text underlying the KJV], which in our time has no equal among all of the other English Translations. The translators did such a fine job in their translation task that we can without apology hold up the Authorised Version of 1611 and say ‘This is the Word of God!’ while at the same time realising that, in some verses, we must go back to the underlying original language Texts for complete clarity, and also compare Scripture with Scripture. 19
Therefore, although the infallible and inerrant words are strictly the original language words God has inspired and preserved, the translated words in other languages may be deemed “inspired,” “preserved,” “infallible,” and “inerrant” but only in a derivative and qualified sense, insofar as they agree with the words in the original languages. So, the translations do not stand independently but are dependent on the original language Scriptures, and faithful and accurate translations of them are to be highly esteemed. As such we do not think it pastorally wise to cast doubt on the trustworthiness and reliability of faithful and accurate translations like the KJV as many an agnostic and deistic scholar today are wont to do. The late Lynn Gray Gordon, a faithful Bible Presbyterian minister and former General Secretary of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions (IBPFM), had rightly disclaimed the KJV as an “inspired version,” but nonetheless upheld the KJV to be “free from error in thought, fact and doctrine.”20
Furthermore, we believe the Reformation versions of the Bible like Tyndale’s, Coverdale’s, the Geneva, and the KJV due to their underlying texts (Hebrew MT and Greek TR) and word-for-word (formal or verbal equivalence method) translation are to be regarded as the “Word of God,” the best of which is the time-tested and time-honoured KJV. The faithfulness and accuracy of the Reformation versions notwithstanding, it is important that the original language Scriptures be the Scriptures that determine the precise and fulness of meaning of the words of God. As such, we disclaim the pejorative label “KJV Onlyism” hurled indiscriminately by anti-VPP/TR/KJVists at Reformed and Reformation saints who defend the KJV based on the Traditional and Reformation Texts that God has providentially and supernaturally preserved as promised in the Sacred Scriptures and affirmed in our Reformed and Reformation creeds. Let it be known that we see ourselves rather as “KJV Superiority” than as “KJV Only” defenders. Waite, who holds a ThD degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and a PhD from Purdue University, has written a most timely book that defends the “KJV Superiority” position calling for Christians to retain or return to the good old KJV by arguing for its superiority in four areas—superiority in its (1) texts, (2) translators, (3) technique, and (4) theology.21 We reject the extreme “super superiority” of the KJV-Only position propounded by radicals such as Peter Ruckman.22
Fifthly, the inspired Scriptures that God has preserved must mean that the sole and supreme authority of Christian faith and practice must rest only on these very infallible and inerrant Scriptures or Source Texts (i.e. the autographic text as found in the preserved and uncorrupted apographs) which we aver are in our hands today. This is apparent in the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy:
The authority of Scripture is a key issue for the Christian Church in this and every age. Those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are called to show the reality of their discipleship by humbly and faithfully obeying God’s written Word. To stray from Scripture in faith or conduct is disloyalty to our Master. Recognition of the total truth and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture is essential to a full grasp and adequate confession of its authority.
- God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God’s witness to Himself.
- Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it affirms; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises.
- The Holy Spirit, Scripture’s divine Author, both authenticates it to us by His inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.
- Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.
- The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible’s own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.23
In light of the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy, it can be readily seen that the authority of the Bible is inextricably tied to its inerrancy. Contemporary evangelical scholars claim the Bible to be inerrant only in the past but no longer inerrant today. They believe that since the inerrant autographs no longer exist and no two copies of surviving manuscripts are identical, all extant manuscripts, texts and translations today contain mistakes and are corrupted to some degree or other, there is simply no such thing as a Perfect Bible today. It goes without saying that such a view or teaching undermines the total inerrancy and absolute authority of the Holy Scriptures, and consequently destroys the very foundations of the Christian Faith.
FEBC believes that the autographs are not lost; they exist today in the faithful and trustworthy apographs or copies (and copies of the copies, and copies of the copies of the copies …) of the autographs that God has providentially preserved throughout the ages. These autographs are today found in the uncorrupted apographs which may be deemed “the autographic text” (or the “authentic” text in the WCF) which is the totally infallible and inerrant text, verbally and plenarily inspired and preserved, and consequently the Church’s sole and supreme authority of faith and life.
Now, article 10 of the Chicago Statement says,
We affirm that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original.24
However, the question remains: how do we identify or ascertain the autographic text? Is it through the supposedly “scientific” method called “textual criticism,” or the theological method which is “textual reception” (Acts 2:41, 8:14, 11:1, 17:11; 1 Thess 1:6, 2:13)? The Chicago Statement is rather ambiguous here. If the Chicago Statement allows for the so-called scientific method of textual criticism in ascertaining the autographic text, then it would contradict its very first article which states, “We deny that the Scriptures receive their authority from the Church, tradition, or any other human source.” The dependence on the textual critics today and their rationalistic textual-critical method is one such “human source.” Textual critics and textual criticism undermine the very authority of the Holy Scripture the Chicago Statement seeks to protect. The framers of the Chicago Statement in their exposition of the Statement unfortunately speak of the need for textual criticism and by so doing contradict their very own statement on the inextricable link between biblical inerrancy and biblical authority.25 It appears they have not thought through enough the doctrine of divine providence and biblical preservation.
As far as Combs is concerned, he does not believe that God has infallibly or inerrantly preserved His inspired words to the jot and tittle by special providence as promised in Matthew 5:18 and many other like passages.26 He said without equivocation, “the words of the autographs have not been inerrantly preserved.”27
This paper thus seeks to refute Combs’s allegation of errors in the Bible we have in our hands today. It is a defence of the total inerrancy and absolute authority of the Holy Scriptures in the original languages as faithfully recognised and received as the inspired words of God by the Reformers and Reformation saints, namely, the Hebrew MT and the Greek TR which are so readily available and easily accessible today because of God’s infallible preservation of His inspired words. This paper is also a defence of the KJV and any faithful and accurate version/translation in whatever language that is based on and accurately translated from those original language texts which we deem by the logic of faith to be the autographic Old Testament and New Testament texts.28
Now, let us deal with the three types of “errors” Combs has found in the KJV: (1) textual errors, (2) translation errors, and (3) transmission errors.
Combs begins by defining what he means by “textual errors.” He says, “By textual errors I mean those where the reading found in the translation is not in agreement with that of the autographs.”29 Now this definition by itself is quite inane because it begs the question, “Where are the autographs”? Combs believes that “the autographs are not available, … the original scrolls and codices have long since perished.”30 Now without the autographs, the original scrolls, how is Combs going to identify textual errors in the KJV, or for that matter any other version? How does he know whether a textual error is truly a textual error if he does not know what the original text is in the first place? But Combs has what he thinks passes for an answer; he assumes that “most reasonable people would be willing to concede that where all extant manuscripts are in agreement, we can safely conclude that we do have the text of the autographs.”31 Combs went on to say, “Based on this criterion, the KJV does contain indisputable [textual] errors, since … it contains readings that have no basis in any manuscript.”32 But the question remains: How does he know that all extant manuscripts are in agreement when he himself says that in the over 5,000 manuscripts no two are alike?33 Furthermore, not all manuscripts have been studied and there are manuscripts still uncovered or yet to be discovered. Combs’s criterion, based on his own reasoning without any biblical premise, is thus disputable.
Nonetheless, Combs tries to prove his point by citing Isaiah 13:15 as an example of a textual error. In light of what he is trying to prove, Isaiah 13:15 is a strange example indeed. This is because there are no textual errors in Isaiah 13:15 to begin with. All manuscripts agree including those who affirm the inerrancy of Hebrew text underlying the KJV. The critical Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia and the traditional MT of Ben Chayyim read the same as regards the Hebrew word in contention which is saphah. The KJV translates the word saphah as “joined” which Combs says is a “textual error.” According to Combs, “There is no support for this reading in any Hebrew manuscript, text, ancient version, or rabbinic tradition.”34 Now Combs is not making sense here, for the question here has nothing to do with the text but the translation. Combs assumes that the KJV translators mistook the word saphah for saphah which is not found in any manuscript since they translated the word as “join” (saphah) instead of “capture” (saphah), and so to Combs “an indisputable error” in the KJV.
Based on Combs’s definition of “an indisputable error,” it is clear that there is no textual error here, and there is no translation error here either. The autographic text indeed reads saphah, and saphah means to “sweep,” “snatch away,” “catch up.”35 Saphah also has the sense of joining together. R D Patterson in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament commented, “The basic image of the root seems to be that of sweeping—both the process of heaping things together and of sweeping them away.” He went on to add that “The root is usually used in a hostile sense, particularly in contexts of judgment.”36 Saphah is found in precisely such a context of judgement in Isaiah 13:15b, “every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword.” As such, the rendering “joined unto them” certainly fits the meaning of the word saphah, for it has the connotation of putting things together for the purpose of judgement. Nineteenth century Presbyterian theologian Albert Barnes for example certainly understood it this way for he commented,
Every one that is joined unto them. Their allies and friends. There shall be a vast, indiscriminate slaughter of all that are found in the city, and of those that attempt to flee from it. Lowth renders this, ‘And all that are collected in a body;’ but the true sense is given in our translation. The Chaldee renders it, ‘And every one who enters into fortified cities shall be slain with the sword.’37
John Calvin likewise commented,
… the verb saphah signifies likewise to add, … that it denotes companies of soldiers, as in taking a city the soldiers are collected together in the form of a wedge, to ward off the attacks of the enemy. But it will perhaps be thought better to understand by it the confederates or allies who were joined to Babylon, and might be said to be united in the same body, in order to show more fully the shocking nature of this calamity.38
Harvard scholar Edward F Hills wisely advised,
We must be very cautious therefore about finding errors in the text of the King James Version, and the same holds true also in the realm of translation. Whenever the renderings of the King James Version are called in question, it is usually the accuser that finds himself in the wrong.39
Combs then went on to deal with “textual errors” in the TR. He brought up two examples from the Book of Revelation, namely, 17:8 and 16:5 in that order. For Revelation 17:8, he says, “No manuscript reads, ‘and yet is’; all have ‘and shall come.’”40 Combs overstates for it is not true that “no manuscript” reads “and yet is.” Paradoxically, Combs himself contradicts this by admitting there is at least one manuscript (Codex 1r)—the actual manuscript Erasmus used—though the actual text was embedded in the commentary of Andreas of Caesarea, somewhat like the Study Bibles we have today. It is significant to note that Erasmus used that manuscript because he saw it as a very old manuscript possibly from the time of the Apostles for the manuscript bore the name of Hippolytus of Rome (AD 200–250)41 who was a disciple of Irenaeus. Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp and Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle John. In light of God’s special providence, there could be an apostolic tradition here that has preserved the autographic text of Revelation, the Spirit guiding Erasmus to the correct text.42
Combs says that it is “an indisputable error” in the KJV if all extant manuscripts are in agreement. Well, all extant manuscripts are not in agreement here. There are at least four variant readings: (1) kai parestai, (2) kai parestin, (3) kai palin pareste, and (4) kaiper estin.43 Combs who favours the Critical Text prefers kai parestai, while those who favour the TR will go with kaiper estin which is the reading found consistently not only in the Greek text of Erasmus, but also Stephenus, Beza, Elzevir, and Scrivener. Interestingly, the two other variants namely parestin and pareste—both the present tense of pareimi—are closer to the reading of the TR than the Critical Text. There is thus more than meets the eye, and Combs assumes too much to conclude that Revelation 17:8 contains “an indisputable error.” Even Hills whom Combs cites was not very sure himself that it is a mistake.44 If it was indeed “an indisputable error” as Combs thinks, that kai parestai was mistaken for kaiper estin in the first edition of Erasmus’s Greek Text, then surely it would have been corrected in the second, but it is interesting to note that all subsequent editions of Erasmus read the same as either kai per estin (with the space between kai and per) or kaiper estin (without the space), both meaning the same. It looks like Combs is faulting the TR for a textual error which was not there in the first place, for the reading of Codex 1r was not kai parestai, but kai per estin or kaiper estin.45 Neither should the reading of kaiper as one word (without the space) be seen as an error for in classical Greek literature it often appears as one word, especially in Greek Tragedy.46
Hoskier after his collection and collation of over 200 manuscripts for the Book of Revelation had this to say about Erasmus’s Text, “I may state that if Erasmus had striven to found a text on the largest number of existing MSS [manuscripts] in the world of one type, he could not have succeeded better.”47 I agree with this observation of Dean Burgon Society scholar Jack Moorman, “Here then is a powerful example of God’s guiding providence in preserving the text of Revelation.”48 In light of God’s special providential preservation of His inspired words, we reject Comb’s claim that Revelation 17:8 as found in the TR is a textual error.
Combs says there is “an indisputable error” in Revelation 16:5 where the KJV reads, “And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.” He says the words “shalt be,” should read “holy one.” He says there is no evidence whatsoever for the reading “shalt be” which translates accurately the Greek esomenos. According to Combs the right word should be hosios (“holy one”) and not esomenos.49
It ought to be noted that Beza said he was certain about the reading esomenos in Revelation 16:5 in light of the internal evidences and the ancient manuscript he had in his possession. To be sure, Beza was not a Bible corrector but a Bible believer and defender of the Faith. As such, he would have known only too well the warning of Revelation 22:18–19 against adding to or subtracting from the Holy Scriptures. There must have been compelling reasons for him, with a high view of Scripture, to restore to the Holy Scriptures the true reading which his predecessors had apparently overlooked. He gave his reasons as follows,
“And shall be”: The usual publication is “holy one,” which shows a division, contrary to the whole phrase which is foolish, distorting what is put forth in scripture. The Vulgate, however, whether it is articulately correct or not, is not proper in making the change to “holy,” since a section (of the text) has worn away the part after “and,” which would be absolutely necessary in connecting “righteous” and “holy one.” But with John there remains a completeness where the name of Jehovah (the Lord) is used, just as we have said before, 1:4; he always uses the three closely together, therefore it is certainly “and shall be,” for why would he pass over it in this place? And so without doubting the genuine writing in this ancient manuscript, I faithfully restored in the good book what was certainly there, “shall be.”50
Besides the ancient Greek manuscript that Beza had, it ought to be noted that Beatus of Liebana in the eighth century, in his compilation of commentaries on the Book of Revelation has the Latin phrase, qui fuisti et futures es, for Revelation 16:5 which was found in the commentary of Tyconius which goes back to the fourth century.51 It is entirely possible that there were either early Greek manuscripts or Old Latin versions as early as the fourth century which contained the reading esomenos.
It is also significant to note that the reading hosios preferred by Combs is a harder reading. Robert L Thomas, Professor of New Testament at The Master’s Seminary, citing Swete commented, “Taking hosios as parallel with dikaios creates an intolerable harshness, however, and taking the adjective as a predicate adjective with ho on and ho en breaks the pattern of the Apocalypse in not assigning the expression a predicate nominative or adjective.”52 We note that the reading ho esomenos, the future participle of eimi in its masculine, singular, nominative form with the definite article fits well the pattern of the Apocalypse and functions well as an adjectival participle to describe dikaios—the Righteous One who shall soon come to judge a most wicked world.
Although it is admitted that ho esomenos is not the reading found in the Majority Text, we are wont to agree with Hills that such minority readings “seem to have been placed in the Greek TR by the direction of God’s special providence and therefore are to be retained.”53 It is also admitted that the reading of ho hosios in Stephen’s edition of the TR differs from Beza’s ho esomenos. So what do we do with the rare occasions when the several editions of the TR differ from one another? Hills replied,
The answer to this question is easy. We are guided by the common faith. Hence we favor that form of the Textus Receptus upon which more than any other God, working providentially, has placed the stamp of His approval, namely, the King James Version, or, more precisely the Greek text underlying the King James Version.54
The reading of Revelation 16:5 in the Greek Text underlying the KJV is thus not proven as “an indisputable error” as Combs would have us think. There are enough reasons for us to receive it as an authentic reading in the light of God’s special providence as seen in both the internal and external evidences.55
Combs says another “indisputable error” is found in Romans 7:6. This has to do with the reading apothanontos (genitive singular) vis-à-vis apothonontes (nominative plural). Stephen’s TR reads apothanonthes modifying katergethemen (“we are delivered”), whereas Beza’s and Scrivener’s read apothanontos modifying apo tou nomou (“from the law”), which is the reading underlying the KJV. It must be said that the King James translators in their translating work checked with other editions of the TR, and knew of other readings in that tradition. It is clear that they did not always follow Beza because as Scrivener noted they did depart from Beza on some occasions because they were intent on making the best choice.56 In this case, they chose to follow Beza for reasons not made known to us. We unfortunately do not know nor have many of the manuscripts used by them. It is quite possible they had Greek manuscripts and/or ancient versions which supported Beza’s reading. They probably took into account the context of Romans 7 which says that law as our husband has died so that we might be married to another (Rom 7:1–4).57 The law and its curse have died so that we might be married to Christ for life. Calvin understood verse 6 thusly, “The law, as far as we are concerned is abrogated, so that we are not oppressed with its intolerable burden, and do not find its inexorable rigour overwhelming us with its curse.”58
Theologically speaking, the reading apothanontos is hardly “an indisputable error.” It is “an indisputable error” only to Combs because of his text-critical presuppositions, but if one adopts a theological sola fide approach to the text based upon the biblical doctrine of VPP and special providence, there is no reason why we cannot receive the reading underlying the KJV as authentic.
The final example of “an indisputable error” in the Greek text underlying the KJV that Combs brought up is found in Acts 9:6. He says that the words, “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him,” “are not found in any Greek manuscript,” and therefore should not be in the Bible.59 Combs claims that Erasmus himself said he inserted that reading on the basis of Acts 26:14. But Acts 26:14 hardly reads the same as Acts 9:6. It is unlikely that there was any conjectural harmonisation on the part of Erasmus here considering the internal evidence. As for external evidences, Erasmus’s reading finds support in Greek Codex 221c which dates back to the 10th century and the Greek/Latin Codex Ottobonianus 629 which is 14th century. The reading is also found in the Old Latin manuscripts (ar, c, h, l, p, ph, t) which date back to the second century, and in the Latin Vulgate manuscripts which date back to the fourth and fifth centuries. It is also found in the Old Syriac, Coptic, Georgian, Slavonic and Ethiopic versions, and in the fourth century writings of Church Fathers like Lucifer of Cagliari (370), Ephraem (373) and Ambrose (397).60 It is possible that these ancient versions were translated from Greek manuscripts which had those words. Many Greek manuscripts have yet to be studied and their contents revealed, and whether those will be studied and revealed without bias by the pro-Alexandrian critical scholars remains to be seen. We do not hold our breath.
As far as we are concerned, guided by a biblically-based worldview, we agree with Harvard theologian and textual scholar E F Hills who was astute to observe that the relatively few Latin Vulgate readings
which though not part of the Traditional Greek text, seem to have been placed in the Textus Receptus by the direction of God’s special providence and therefore are to be retained. The reader will note that these Latin Vulgate readings are also found in other ancient witnesses, namely, old Greek manuscripts, versions, and Fathers.61
Therefore, our confidence in the TR lies not in the work of the textual critics but in the special providence of God who had throughout the ages kept His inspired words pure in the Byzantine or Majority manuscripts, and then in the Printed Texts of the 16th Century Protestant Reformation which have been received by the faithful church to be the infallible and inerrant, authentic and authoritative words of God to this day.
Combs proceeded next to criticise the KJV for its translation errors. He pointed out three examples which to him are “clear errors, which no amount of finessing can mitigate.”62 Let us now examine these “errors” so called.
Combs says the “most indisputable translation error” in the KJV is found in Hebrews 10:23 where the word “faith” should actually be “hope.”63 He points out the actual Greek word is elpis (i.e. “hope”) and not pistis (i.e. “faith”). This is not denied by KJV defenders. The inspired and preserved, infallible and inerrant word is the Greek elpis which occurs a total of 54 times in the New Testament and is translated as “hope” in the KJV on 53 occasions (not 52 as Combs says), and once as “faith” in Hebrews 10:23. The old translations like Wycliffe, Bishop, Geneva, and Tyndale render it as “hope.” In view of this, Combs concludes that the KJV translators made a mistake here but says he does not know why the KJV translators failed to notice the error.
In response, let me raise a couple of questions: (1) Is it possible that Combs himself due to his prejudice against the KJV is mistaken (as he is with regard to the number of times elpis is found in the New Testament), and (2) can “faith” be an acceptable translation of elpis? Both questions can be answered in the affirmative.
Instead of looking at it as a translation error, it is possible that the KJV translators purposely departed from the usual word “hope” and translated it as “faith” because they saw in “faith” a better term than “hope” in the context of Hebrews 10:23. All grammarians know that the meaning of a word is determined by how it is used in its context. Now, in Hebrews 10:23, the genitive elpidos modifies homologian (“confession” or “profession”). I submit that it is precisely because of the noun homologian that the KJV translators chose to render elpidos as “faith” rather than “hope” for we do not normally confess or profess hope, but faith (Rom 10:9–10; 1 Tim 6:12). Furthermore, hope itself might not include faith, but faith certainly encompasses hope for Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Contextually, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb 10:12–21) and His promises (Heb 10:23) is what gives us the sure and steadfast hope of salvation. The Puritan writer, Matthew Poole, expressed this thought well when he commented,
The profession of our faith; an outward exhibition to the world both in word and deed, as we have it sincerely in our hearts, solemnly owning it in the ordinances of God in his church, of the hope we have in Christ our High Priest, and of all that he hath purchased for us, and promised to perform in us and to us, chap. iii. 1, 6; iv. 14; vi.11; Rom. x. 9, 10; 1 Pet. i. 3, 21.64
Although it may be legitimate to render elpis as “faith” in Hebrews 10:23, does the word itself etymologically allow for it? I believe it does. Consider the verb form of elpis which is elpizo which has been rendered by the KJV translators as “trust” 18 times (Matt 12:21; Luke 24:21; John 5:45; Rom 15:12, 24; 1 Cor 16:7; 2 Cor 1:10, 13, 5:11, 13:6; Phil 2:19; 1 Tim 4:10, 5:5, 6:17; Phlm 22; 1 Pet 3:5; 2 John 12; 3 John 14), and “hope” 13 times (Luke 6:34, 23:8; Acts 24:26, 26:7; Rom 8:24, 25; 1 Cor 13:7, 15:19; 2 Cor 8:5; Phil 2:23; 1 Tim 3:14; Heb 11:1; 1 Pet 1:13). As can be seen, elpizo is not only rendered “I hope,” but also “I trust” which certainly has the sense of faith. According to Spiros Zodhiates, a Greek scholar who is Greek himself, “Elpis may be defined as desire for future good, accompanied by faith in its realization.”65 It is thus entirely legitimate for elpis in Hebrews 10:23 by virtue of the verbal noun homologian to which it is connected to be understood precisely as trust or faith—a trust or faith which is full of hope since it is based solely on the Lord Jesus Christ and His promises.66 As such, it is hardly a “most indisputable translation error” as Combs would like us to think.
Combs cites Acts 19:37 as another problem. He says that the word translated “robbers of churches” in the KJV “is simply an erroneous translation,”67 it should be “robbers of temples.” There is no dispute that the inspired and preserved word is hierosulos and found not only in the Greek TR but also all other manuscripts. It is also without dispute that hierosulos literally means “a temple robber.” It is certainly not erroneous to translate hierosulous in Acts 19:37 as “robbers of temples,” but is it indisputably erroneous to translate it as “robbers of churches” taking into consideration that “temples” and “churches” may be understood synonymously as referring to sacred places of worship?
Let us first of all look at how the word hierosulos is used in ancient Greek literature. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says that the word has been used of (1) “the removal of gold vessels from the Jerusalem temple by Lysimachus, 2 Macc. 4:42,” (2) “anyone who steals sacred books or funds from the Jews,” (3) “those who destroyed the golden eagle above the temple gate,” and together with (4) those who are thieves, kidnappers, adulterers and murderers.68 This tells us that the word has a wider sense than just a robber of pagan temples.
Let us now look at how the Reformation translations rendered this verse. The Wycliffe Bible has it as “for ye han brouyt these men, nethir sacrilegeris, nethir blasfemynge youre goddesse;” the Geneva has, “For yee haue brought hither these men, which haue neither committed sacrilege, neither doe blaspheme your goddesse;” and Tyndale’s Bible reads, “For ye have brought hyther these me whiche are nether robbers of churches nor yet despisers of youre goddes.” The KJV agrees with Tyndale’s. It is significant to note that whereas the KJV translators followed Tyndale as regards “robbers of churches,” they did not follow likewise for “despisers of youre goddes” but instead rendered blasphemountas ten thean humon more literally as “blasphemers of your goddess” following the Wycliffe and Geneva Bibles. I believe this shows that the KJV translators (1) were mindful of the Greek text, (2) consulted previous translations, and (3) did not follow Tyndale slavishly.
Why then did the KJV translators render hierosulous as “robbers of churches” and not “robbers of temples”? It is possible that the KJV translators in their considered opinion or for some exegetical reason saw hierosulous not just in the narrow sense of pagan temples but also other religious places of worship which include churches. The word can also refer to any sacrilegious act or person (so Wycliffe and Geneva). Insofar as Acts 19:37 is concerned,
the town clerk takes the apostles under his protection. They are neither hierosuloi nor do they blaspheme Artemis. Here the term is general. They are not offenders against religion, and have not committed sacrilege.69
Therefore, hierosulos is not as narrow a term as Combs thinks, and can thus be translated in a number of ways, “a sacrilegious person,” “a robber of temples,” or “a robber of churches.” The meaning that Acts 19:37 is trying to convey is that Paul was not a sacrilegious person for he had neither desecrated nor robbed from sacred places be they temples or churches.70 Some might consider “robbers of temples” to be a better translation than “robbers of churches,” but the latter is hardly “erroneous.”71
The KJV translators would only be in error if they had translated hierosulous in Acts 19:37 as “robbers of banks” or “bank robbers.” Did they even come close? God forbid!
Combs went on to cite what he considers “another clear example” of a translation error in the KJV, this time in Acts 12:4. He criticises the KJV for translating pascha as “Easter.” According to Combs, what happened in Acts 12 “has nothing to do with Easter, the Christian celebration of Christ’s resurrection,” but a pagan festival in honour of “Esotre,” the goddess of spring.72
However, there are others who think otherwise. Nick Sayers, for instance, explains,
In most languages the word for Easter is exactly the same as the word for Passover, so the relationship between the feast of Passover, and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is directly linked. A few examples are; Latin Pascha, French Pâques, Italian Pasqua, and Dutch Pasen. All these words mean both Easter and Passover, only the context formulates the difference. With the exception of English and German, all other European languages do not have separate words for Easter and Passover, but simply use a single term derived from Pesach, the Hebrew word for Passover.
In one way, this is an advantage to the believer, who immediately associates Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb. Whether reading the New or Old Testaments, the association between Christ and the Passover is clearly seen. This was also the case in the original Greek language which uses the Greek word Pascha for both Passover and the resurrection of Christ. This has been the same for 2000 years in the Greek. Even if you look up a modern Greek dictionary it will tell you that Pascha means both Easter and Passover.
Tyndale was responsible for the insertion of both Easter and Passover in the English Bible. In his 1525 New Testament, Tyndale used the English word Easter to translate the Greek word Pascha. Pascha, being formerly transliterated in Wycliffe’s version, was for the first time in a Bible translation, translated into a unique English word.
Until 1611, English-speaking people had always associated the word Easter with the celebration of Passover and the prophetic implications which occurred at Christ’s death and resurrection. They saw that the Old Testament shadow was the Passover and that the New Testament fulfilment was Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection called Easter. The King James Bible finalised 86 years of change in the use of Easter and Passover. After seeing what Tyndale had begun and the refining of the word Easter within almost a century of various translation attempts, the KJV translators caused the semantic range of Easter to be translated only once as Easter in Acts 12:4. This was because in every instance in the New Testament except Acts 12:4, the Greek word Pascha represented the pre-resurrection Passover, i.e. the Jewish celebration. In other words Christ had not yet died as the Passover lamb for the whole world. But in Acts 12:4 it is a post-resurrection Passover, where Christ had died and was risen. Since the time of the King James Version until the early twentieth century, the term Easter was commonly identified by believers solely as the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Before Tyndale, Easter was the chief word used for the Jewish Passover by Christians. This is because Easter and Passover are the same season, Jews celebrating the shadow, and Christians celebrating the fulfilment. The word Easter has illustrated to the Englishman much more than simply the Passover celebration, but through Tyndale’s addition of Easter, construction of the word Passover, and later with the King James’ translators correctly re-applying Easter only once in Acts 12:4, it gives significant insight into revealing the fulfilment of the Passover in Christ. It exalts Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection above all.
Luther’s translation was a strong influence on Tyndale’s New Testament. Because of persecution in Catholic England, Tyndale left England for Germany. It is strongly believed that he met with Luther in Germany in 1525, as many of Tyndale’s beliefs were, in essence, Lutheran. By the end of the year, Tyndale had printed the New Testament in English. It is likely that Tyndale’s use of Easter in his New Testament is also indebted to his knowledge of Luther’s German translation, which uses Oster (pronounced Ouster) in the same way as Tyndale uses Easter. Because the English Anglo Saxon language originally derived from the Germanic when the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes came to England in the 5th and 6th centuries, there are many similarities between German and English. Many English writers have referred to the German language as the Mother Tongue! The English word Easter is of German/Saxon origin and not Babylonian as Alexander Hislop falsely claimed, …. The German equivalent is Oster. Oster (Ostern being the modern day correspondent) is related to Ost which means the rising of the sun, or simply in English, east. Oster comes from the old Teutonic form of auferstehen/auferstehung, which means resurrection, which in the older Teutonic form comes from two words, ester meaning first, and stehen meaning to stand. These two words combine to form erstehen which is an old German form of auferstehen, the modern day German word for resurrection. The English Easter and German Oster go hand in hand.
Tyndale with his expertise in the German language knew of the Easter-Oster association. Luther obviously defined Oster both as a synonym for the Jewish Passover and a phrase used for the resurrection of Christ.
The etymology of Easter is easily traced to the German word for resurrection, not to some fabricated pagan goddess, for which there is not a crumb of evidence.73
Since there is no true English equivalent for the term pascha,74 I consider both “Passover” and “Easter” to be equally acceptable translations, taking into consideration how both terms have developed through time. Whichever term is used, it is for the exegete to explain the anachronism and the meaning of the term within the etymological, historical, and theological contexts of the divinely inspired and preserved word in the original language.
I echo the sentiments of Sayers against those who spare no effort to undermine the faithfulness and accuracy of the KJV,
What a shame that believers devote so much time arguing against Easter, something that Christ himself instituted, or waste so much time attacking the KJV Bible.
It also seems strange if not blasphemous that we as Bible-believing Christians could think that the King James Version translators would insert the name of a pagan deity in place of the word Pascha. …
To think that the world’s most famous translation could get it so wrong here is sheer ignorance on our behalf. To believe that Tyndale, Cranmer, Martin Luther, Coverdale, Matthews, the translators of the Great Bible, and the Bishops’ Bible, the King James Bible, were referring to a pagan god of the spring called Ishtar is so absurd that it becomes humorous when examined.75
In this section, Combs took pains to highlight “a number of well-known printing errors in various editions of the KJV over the years.”76 KJV-Superiority defenders do not deny that there were/are printing errors in the KJV. These printing errors do not impinge upon the infallibility and inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures since the infallibility and inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures are strictly tied to their inspiration (VPI) and preservation (VPP) by God in the original languages, and we identify these original language Scriptures to be the Hebrew MT and the Greek TR of the Great Protestant Reformation.
KJV critics often ridicule the KJV by calling it the “Adulterer’s Bible” and “Murderer’s Bible” because of printing mistakes in the 1631 edition which omitted the word “not” from the commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exod 20:14), and the 1795 edition which read “Let the children first be killed” instead of “Let the children first be filled” (Mark 7:27). I am glad Combs brought this up because it illustrates how the Bible is still infallible and inerrant despite the printing or copying mistakes. Man makes mistakes but not God, and He has infallibly preserved His inspired words to the jot and tittle “by His singular care and providence” (Matt 5:18, WCF 1:8). It is only when we have a Perfect Standard—a presently infallible and inerrant Bible in the original languages—that such human mistakes are easily and quickly detected and corrected so that today the KJV is no longer an “adulterous” or “murderous” Bible. Since 1611, other necessary corrections have been made to the KJV, and most were done by 1769. It goes without saying that with new editions, new mistakes could appear, and corrections would have to be made again. For instance, in the first printing of The Defined King James Bible in 1998, the word “bondwoman” was erroneously printed as “bondman” (Gal 4:23, 30, 31).77 This of course has been corrected in subsequent printings.
Now, although Combs is quick to see printing errors in the KJV and is able to correct them to make them right, he is clueless about identifying the words God has originally inspired since he avers that God did nothing miraculous in preserving His inspired words.78 Combs went on to say that “we presently possess over 5,000 copies, or partial copies, of the Greek NT, and no two of these manuscripts agree exactly.”79 Historically, the saints prior to the text-critical era never thought of the Scriptures in such a way. They never thought of the original language Scriptures that they had in their hands, namely the apographs, as imperfect, fallible or errant.80 That would be fatal to their cause, for it would have destroyed the very foundational doctrine of Sola Scriptura, not to mention Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria. The view that only the autographs are infallible and inerrant and nothing else is a new doctrine conceived by 19th century Protestant scholastics of whom B B Warfield was chief.81
The Reformed pastors and scholars in Reformation and Post-Reformation days had always believed and affirmed the infallibility and inerrancy of the autographs as well as the apographs, the very Scriptures they had in their possession which be the sole and supreme authority of their faith and practice as opposed to the Roman Catholic view of papal infallibility and supremacy.82 Francis Turretin, 17th century Professor of Theology in Geneva, made it very clear what the Reformation saints believed to be the inspired Scriptures,
By the original texts, we do not mean the autographs written by the hand of Moses, of the prophets and of the apostles, which certainly do not now exist. We mean their apographs which are so called because they set forth to us the word of God in the very words of those who wrote under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit.83
Historical theologian Richard A Muller of Calvin Theological Seminary wrote in no uncertain terms,
The Protestant scholastics do not press the point by their nineteenth-century followers that the infallibility of Scripture and the freedom of Scripture from error reside absolutely in the autographa and only in a derivative sense in the apographa; rather, the scholastics argue positively that the apographa preserve intact the true words of the prophets and the apostles and that the God-breathed (theopneustos, q.v.) character of Scripture is manifest in the apographa as well as in the autographa.84
By the same doctrine and spirit, we oppose the modern assault on the present infallibility and inerrancy of Scriptures by the text-critics and their rationalistic rules of textual criticism. Warfield’s appeal to textual criticism and textual critical scholarship is a return to the Romish days and ways that only the “ecclesiastics” and “scholars” are qualified to determine what is and what is not God’s word. The denial of the present infallibility and inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures effectively destroys the doctrine of Sola Scriptura and Biblical authority, and makes the text-critical college the authority over the inspired Scriptures God has single-handedly and supernaturally preserved to the jot and tittle (providentia extraordinaria). We deny that the textual critics and their man-made rules of criticism have any authority over the Holy Scriptures God has verbally inspired and verbally preserved.
Combs not only maliciously labels as heretics all who believe in the present infallibility and inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures and identify the inspired and preserved Scriptures to be precisely the Hebrew MT and Greek TR on which the Reformation Bible—the KJV—is based, he went on to advocate that there is nothing wrong with believing that the Bible is no longer totally infallible and inerrant. He says, “There is nothing deceptive or hypocritical about referring to our Bibles as authoritative Scripture, even though they are not absolutely perfect.”85 Combs’s thesis is utterly deadly. Let me say that it is the height of deception and hypocrisy to claim that the Bible is absolutely authoritative without it being totally infallible and inerrant.
The battle for the Bible today is the battle for its present infallibility and inerrancy and absolute authority. Without the Lord infallibly preserving His inspired Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek words by special providence to the last jot and tittle, the Reformation, Evangelical and Fundamentalist claim of Biblical infallibility, inerrancy and authority is empty and in vain. “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps 11:3). But glory be to God who “has magnified His Word above all His name” (Ps 138:2); “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul” (Ps 19:7); “The Word of our God shall stand forever” (Isa 40:8); “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt 5:18).
We cannot and dare not deny nor be uncertain about the Bible nor the Christian Faith by being agnostic about the present perfection of the Holy Scriptures which be our sole, supreme and final authority of faith and practice. If we do, how then can we preach with authority, “Thus saith the Lord,” “It is written”?
There is a vital need today to re-live and recapture the faith of the Reformers and the spirit of the Reformation in this postmodern, emergent and neo-deistic church age. Unless and until we are sure and certain about the very Foundations of our Faith—the Living Word and the Written Words of God, we have no apologia against the constant attacks on the Historic Christian Faith by the likes of Dan Brown, Bart Ehrman, Brian McLaren, and a host of neo-orthodox, neo-evangelical, neo-fundamental scholars today. Worst of all, we will have no gospel to preach. The bright side is, the victory is already won, as Calvin was wont to say, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31); “For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth” (2 Cor 13:8).
1 Westminster Larger Catechism, Q 157.
2 William W Combs, “Errors in the King James Version?,” Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal (1999): 162.
3 E.g. J O Buswell, A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion (Grand Rapids: Zondevan, 1962), 1:185–8; Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago: Moody, 1989), 162–6; Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 73–76. Charles Ryrie explains well the process by which the term VPI came to be in Basic Theology (Wheaton: Victor, 1986), 67.
4 See Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), and George M Marsden, Reforming Fundamentalism (Grand Rapids: William B Eerdmans, 1987).
5 According to Daniel B Wallace, in his article on “Inspiration, Preservation, and New Testament Textual Criticism,” Grace Theological Journal 12 (1991): 43, “the doctrine of the preservation has neither ancient historical roots, nor any direct biblical basis.”
6 Constitution of the Far Eastern Bible College, Article 4.2.1.
7 Timothy Tow and Jeffrey Khoo, Theology for Every Christian (Singapore: Far Eastern Bible College, 2007), 77–8. This is a restatement and reaffirmation of the Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 1 and paragraph 8 which states, “The Old Testament in Hebrew … and the New Testament in Greek …, being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical.”
8 Combs agrees that the autographs are not available, “Errors in the King James Version?,” 154.
9 See E Jay Epp, “The Multivalence of the Term ‘Original Text’ in New Testament Textual Criticism,” Harvard Theological Review 92 (1999): 245–81.
10 Constitution of the Far Eastern Bible College, Article 18.104.22.168. For articles on how we arrive at this conclusion, see Jeffrey Khoo, “A Plea for a Perfect Bible,” The Burning Bush (January 2003): 1–15; “Sola Autographa or Sola Apographa?” The Burning Bush (January 2005): 3–19; and “Inspiration, Preservation, and Translations,” The Burning Bush (January 2007): 4–24.
11 Ibid., Article 22.214.171.124.
12 William W Combs, “Errors in the King James Version?,” Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 4 (1999): 151–64.
13 Ibid., 151.
14 Combs, “Errors in the King James Version?,” 151, 162. He wrote these condemnatory words, “My only reason for pointing out these particular errors in the KJV is … to disprove this new heresy on a perfect, inerrant translation.” He maliciously accuses D A Waite and the Dean Burgon Society for this new heresy. It is clear that D A Waite, the President of the Dean Burgon Society and those connected to that Society do not espouse the heretical views of certain fundamentalists who believe the KJV to be doubly inspired, advanced revelation, and superior to the original language texts.
16 “A … distinction can be made between (1) providentia ordinaria, ordinary or general providence, by means of which God conserves, supports, and governs all things through the instrumentality of secondary causes in accord with the laws of nature; and (2) providentia extraordinaria, extraordinary or special providence, according to which God performs in his wisdom special acts or miracles (miracula, q.v.) that lie beyond the normal possibilities inherent in secondary causality and that can, therefore, be termed either supra causas, beyond or above causes, or contra causas, against or over against causes. Providentia ordinaria corresponds with God’s ordained power (potentia ordinata, q.v.) and providentia extraordinaria with God’s absolute power (potentia absoluta, q.v.).” Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms, s.v. “providentia,” by Richard A Muller.
17 Ibid., 152–3.
18 Ibid., 153.
19 Dean Burgon Society, “Articles of Faith, Operation, and Organization,” http://www.deanburgonsociety.org/DBS_Society/articles.htm, accessed on February 11, 2009. Emphasis mine.
20 Lynn Gray Gordon, The World’s Greatest Truths (Singapore: Far Eastern Bible College, 1999), 26.
21 D A Waite, Defending the King James Bible, 3rd rev ed (Collingswood: Bible For Today, 2006), xi.
22 Ruckman says, “the King James Authorized Version of the Bible is superior to any set of Greek or Hebrew manuscripts, including the so-called ‘originals.’” Peter Ruckman, “The Super Superiority of the King James Bible,” Bible Believers’ Bulletin 32 (January 2008): 2.
23 “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978),” http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Chicago_Statement_on_Biblical_Inerrancy, accessed on February 27, 2009.
25 According to them, “Since God has nowhere promised an inerrant transmission of Scripture, it is necessary to affirm that only the autographic text of the original documents was inspired and to maintain the need of textual criticism as a means of detecting any slips that may have crept into the text in the course of its transmission.” See “Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy with Exposition,” in http://www.bible-researcher.com/chicago1.html, accessed on April 11, 2009.
26 See George Skariah, “The Biblical Doctrine of the Perfect Preservation of the Holy Scriptures,” ThD dissertation, Far Eastern Bible College, 2005.
27 William W Combs, “The Preservation of Scripture,” Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 5 (2000): 37.
28 For an exposition of the Biblical doctrine of the verbal and plenary preservation of the Holy Scriptures, see Tow and Khoo, Theology for Every Christian, 77–118 and Jeffrey Khoo, Kept Pure in All Ages: Recapturing the Authorised Version and the Doctrine of Providential Preservation (Singapore: FEBC Press, 2001). See also Dennis Kwok and the Faculty of the Far Eastern Bible College, VPP of the Bible: A Course on the Doctrine of Verbal Plenary Preservation, ed H D Williams (Cleveland: Old Paths Publications, 2008) which is freely downloadable from http://www.biblefortoday.org/VPP_Course/course_introductaion.htm.
29 Combs, “Errors in the King James Version?,” 154.
33 Combs, “Errors in the King James Version?,” 160.
34 Ibid., 155.
35 BDB, s.v. “sapah,” 705.
36 TWOT, s.v. “sapa,” by R D Patterson.
37 Albert Barnes, Notes on the Old Testament, Isaiah (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1950 reprint), 1:255. John D W Watts commented, “Each [joined] to his own people presumes a population that has migrated to the great cities in search of jobs or buyers for goods or as mercenaries. They return to their villages in times of trouble.” Isaiah 1–33, Word Biblical Commentary (Waco: Word Books, 1985), 24:198.
38 John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981 reprint), 1:424.
39 Edward F Hills, Believing Bible Study (Des Moines: Christian Research Press, 1977), 83.
40 Combs, “Errors in the King James Version?,” 155.
41 Henk Jan De Jonge, “Novum Testamentum A Nobis Versum: The Essence of Erasmus’ Edition of the New Testament,” Journal of Theological Studies NS 35 (1984): 409.
42 Combs called Erasmus a “Roman Catholic” in an attempt to cast doubt on his credibility. Well, Luther was a “Catholic” too, but opposed to the false teachings of Rome. Erasmus was opposed to Rome too, and it is said of both of them in their Reformation work, “Erasmus laid the egg , but Luther hatched it.” See S M Houghton, Sketches from Church History (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1980), 78.
43 See the critical apparatus of Constantin Tischendorf, Novum Testamentum Graece (Lipsiae: Sumptibus Adolphi Winter, 1859), 656.
44 Hills was uncertain and simply suggested that it “seems to be a misprint” (emphasis mine). Edward F Hills, The King James Version Defended (Des Moines: Christian Research Press, 1984), 202.
46 LSJ, s.v. “kaiper,” 859.
47 Cited in J A Moorman, When the KJV Departs from the “Majority” Text, 2nd ed (Collingswood: Bible For Today, 1988), 16.
48 Ibid., 26.
49 Combs, “Errors in the King James Version?,” 156.
50 As cited in Thomas Holland, “Manuscript Evidence,” http://www.purewords.org/kjb1611/html/rev16_5.htm, accessed on 9 March 2009, emphasis mine.
51 Ibid. See also Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 211, for information on Beatus of Liebana.
52 Robert L Thomas, Revelation 8–22: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody, 1995), 255–6.
53 Hills, The King James Version Defended, 200.
54 Ibid., 223.
55 See also Moorman, When the KJV Departs from the “Majority” Text, 102.
56 F H A Scrivener, The New Testament in Greek (Cambridge: University Press, 1881), 648–55.
57 “The evidence we do have tells a lot about the work but not enough to clear up all mysteries about how the work was done; speculation and guesswork will be unavoidable as we try to establish just how the text [i.e. KJV] was created.” David Norton, A Textual History of the King James Bible, 4.
58 John Calvin, The Epistles of Paul to the Romans and Thessalonians, in Calvin’s Commentaries trans R Mackenzie (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973 reprint), 141.
59 Combs, “Errors in the King James Version?,” 157.
60 Kevin James, The Corruption of the Word (Williamsburg: Micro-Load Press, 1990), 210; and Moorman, When the KJV Departs from the “Majority” Text, 61.
61 Hills, The King James Version Defended, 200.
62 Combs, “Errors in the King James Version?,” 157.
63 Ibid., 158.
64 Matthew Poole, A Commentary on the Holy Bible (Peabody: Hendricksen, nd), 3:856.
65 The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, s.v. “elpis,” by Spiros Zodhiates.
66 According to Liddell, Scott and Jones (LSJ), elpizo can mean the “reason to expect or believe,” Greek-English Lexicon, s.v. “elpizo,” 537. Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker (BAGD) say that elpizo can come with the indication “of the person or thing on whom (which) the hope is based,” in A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, s.v. “elpizo,” 252; also Louw and Nida (LN), “elpis …: derivative of elpizo … that which constitutes the cause or reason for hoping—‘the basis for hope, the reason for hope.’,” in Greek-English Lexicon, s.v. “Hope, Look Forward To,” 1:296.
67 Combs, “Errors in the King James Version?,” 158.
68 TDNT, s.v. “hierosulos,” by Gottlob Schrenk.
70 See John Calvin, The Acts of the Apostles 14–28, in Calvin’s Commentaries trans John Fraser (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991 reprint), 166.
71 This writer rejects Peter Ruckman’s view that the KJV presents “advanced revelation” in Acts 19:37. See Combs, “Errors in the King James Version?” 158, footnote 21.
72 Ibid., 159.
73 Nick Sayers, “Why We Should Not Pass-over Easter,” Contending Earnestly for the Faith (March 2008): 2–7, available at http://www.christian-witness.org/pdf/cetf/cetf43.pdf, accessed on 15 April 2009. Noteworthy is Sayers expose of the false link between “Easter” and paganism as popularised by Alexander Hislop. See also Thomas Holland, Crowned with Glory: The Bible from Ancient Text to Authorized Version, Swordsearcher Version 5, Brandon Staggs, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, 2005; also available at http://av1611.com/kjbp/faq/holland_ac12_4.html, accessed on 15 April 2009; Jack Moorman, “Easter, or Passover,” in http://www.feasite.org/Tracts/fbconies.htm#Easter, accessed on 15 April 2009; Will Kinney, “Is ‘Easter’ an Error in the King James Bible,” in http://www.geocities.com/brandplucked/Easter.html, accessed on 15 April 2009. Terence H Brown of the Trinitarian Bible Society however is of the opinion that “Passover” is to be preferred to “Easter,” see his article “The Use of ‘Easter’ in Acts 12:4,” in http://www.trinitarianbiblesociety.org/site/articles/easter.asp, accessed on 15 April 2009.
74 Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, s.v. “Pasch, Paschal Controversy,” by Thomas M Finn.
75 Nick Sayers, “Why We Should Not Pass-over Easter,” 7.
76 Combs, “Errors in the King James Version?,” 159.
77 The Defined King James Bible (Collingswood: Bible for Today, 1998), 1542.
78 Combs, “Errors in the King James Version?,” 160.
80 See my article, “Sola Autographa or Sola Apographa?: A Case for the Present Perfection and Authority of the Holy Scriptures,” The Burning Bush 11 (2005): 3–19.
81 See my article, “Can Verbal Plenary Inspiration Do Without Verbal Plenary Preservation?: The Achilles’ Heel of Princeton Bibliology,” The Burning Bush 13 (2007): 25–43.
82 Geoffrey Chapman, Catechism of the Catholic Church (London: Cassell Imprint, 1994), 205.
83 Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, trans George Musgrave Giger (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1992), 106.
84 Dictionary of Greek and Latin Theological Terms, s.v. “autographa,” by Richard A Muller.
85 Combs, “Errors in the King James Version?,” 163.
Dr Jeffrey Khoo is Principal of Far Eastern Bible College, and an Elder of True Life Bible-Presbyterian Church.
– Published in The Burning Bush, Volume 15 Number 2, July 2009.