Friday, May 27, 2011

What About Logic and King James Onlyism?

On a fundamentalist blog comment thread, someone wrote this:

On a side note, I am curious about the "logic" of taking "logic" lessons from anyone in the KJV only camp. Seems a little "illogical" don't you think?

Nobody answered his question, so I will. A King James Only position is the only logical position to take on the English Bible today. Yes. Any other position is illogical. Of course, I'll explain. I decided to write on this, because it is a thought I had not explored on this issue on my blog. I thought the irony here was too good to pass up. I spent some time of thought while doing other things trying to find a way for some other position to be logical, but I couldn't, which is the irony here.

First, one observation about the comment. There is no "KJV only camp." There are KJV only Presbyterians, KJV only Charismatics, KJV only Baptists, KJV only fundamentalists, KJV only Calvinists, KJV only revivalists, KJV only independents, KJV only denominationalists, and then numbers of different type of KJV onlyists. I think that many fundamentalists and evangelicals do think there is a KJV only camp, that somehow you can lump all KJV onlyists into its own separate group, as if this is the defining theological point of those who are KJV only. Not even close. KJV only is a position, but it is not a camp or a group.

I'm pretty sure that the guy who wrote the comment thought he was making a funny, providing some entertainment to the cronies, which is a common type of attitude that I've seen for multiple version people. Mockery is one of their favorite tactics or arguments. But in this case, he really is gnawing on his own foot as he tries to ridicule as a form of criticism.

Before I go to the logic here, I took logic in college and then taught it twice. That does not make me some expert, but it does mean that I know what I'm talking about. Now to the analysis.

Consider the following statement.

One set of words in one set order is the Bible.

This is to say that God inspired only one Bible. God did not inspire two Bibles. And yes, I recognize that the one Bible was Hebrew and Greek, not English. The English Bible is a translation (I say that for a preemptive strike against doofus comments) from the Hebrew and Greek (KJVO people know that!). It is also to say that Scripture is Words, the very ones that God inspired. Different Words in a different order are not the same Words in the same order. When the order is changed from what God inspired, it is not what God inspired.

Let me give you an example from the English that we can all understand.

Sentence 1.

In the morning, the boy ran to the park.

Sentence 2.

Early a boy ran to the playground.

Those two sentences are similar, but they are not the same. You may say that 'you know that.' Good. Because that's how simple this all is. Again, to help you understand, let's say that God inspired "sentence 1." Sentence 2 could not be God's inspired Word no matter how close it is to the original. Inspiration relates to the words, not to concepts or ideas.

Now consider the next statement.

Only one book is one set of words in one set order.

Two different books will have a different set of words and in a different set order. They cannot be the same. I think you understand.

OK. So let's put this together now into a logical syllogism with the two statements.

One set of words in one set order is the Bible.
Only one book is one set of words in one set order.
Therefore, the Bible is only one book.

If you put letters in, it reads like this:

All M is P,
All S is M,
Therefore, All S is P.

Both premise must be true for the conclusion to be true. Is the Bible one set of words in one set order? Yes. Is one set of words in one set order only one book? Yes. So the conclusion is true. Let's put it to the test.

All men are mortal.
All Greeks are men.
Therefore, all Greeks are mortal.

So multiple version people are saying that KJVO is illogical. A big laugh about that one too. I mean, it's so obvious. Right? Wrong. All KJVO people are saying is that the Bible is one book, not two. It has to be one book. So a multiple book idea is not true. That's mainly what this is all about. Multiple version people require people to believe that different words in a different order are still the same book. And we have to believe that, why?

So who is illogical?

21 comments:

Kent Brandenburg said...

Whoever wrote me about the syllogism here---thanks. I corrected it. Here is how it should have been written. I was writing a hundred miles an hour, but this is correct.

Don Johnson said...

Well, Kent, I think your logic is still off.

"One set of words in one set order is the Bible."

That can only be true of the originals in the original languages. The moment you have any deviation (copyist error, translation), you don't have the same set of words you started with.

"only one book is one set of words in one set order."

Isn't this true of every book?

So... maybe your view is logical, but this syllogism ain't!

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Kent Brandenburg said...

Don,

Thanks for coming by. I know that the following kind of statement can be tough for some to hear, but here it goes---you are proving the point. The syllogism is valid, and each premise is true, so it is logical.

If the Bible is one book and one book is one set of words in one given order, then onlyism is all that is logical. Multiple versions could not be logical. The point was about logic alone, Don. Your view is illogical, which is not possible for a biblical view. All biblical views are logical.

jg said...

Brother Brandenburg, we've never really interacted much on this subject, and I'm willing to take some time to do it here, if that's ok with you.

The comment you cited from SI is silly, of course. And I absolutely reject the idea often proposed by many anti-KJVO people that this doesn't really matter. Of course it matters. I was just engaged in a discussion of Acts 15:23 with someone who was using the ESV and the absence of the word "and" (kai) impacted the meaning significantly.

But I'd still like to tackle A) one of your assumptions and B) your logic.

Assumption first:
"Inspiration relates to the words, not to concepts or ideas."

I do not believe this assumption is well-founded. Inspiration relates to both.

That inspiration relates to words is evident from multiple passages that any well-taught church member or first year student in Bibliology could cite. In John 10:34-36, Jesus builds His argument on a single word from Scripture.

Nevertheless, it is evident from Scripture that it is also inspiration of concepts and ideas. In II Cor. 3:6, Paul emphasizes that trying to divorce the letter (or words) from the spirit of the words is ridiculous.

Romans 16:26 tells us that the Scriptures are to be made known to all nations. Since all nations do not speak Hebrew and Greek, it cannot be made known to them unless it is translated.

Translation, by definition, changes the words (and here is where I take aim at your logic, too, by the way).

"outos gar egapesen o theos ton kosmon" is not the same as "For God so loved the world." Those words are different. They may mean the same thing, but they are different words.

If inspiration relates only to words, then the translators have produced a corruption, because they have changed the words (and the order, see for instance I Peter 1:1-2, where eklektois is put in a different verse entirely). This change is valid only if the words in the translation accurately carry over the "concepts or ideas".

Obviously, because we believe in verbal inspiration, we are looking for more than a carrying over of concepts and ideas. We want to see words in the translation which, as closely as the relative languages allow, reflects the very words of the original. Formal equivalence is better than dynamic equivalence, but we have to carry over "concepts and ideas".

But however well our translation succeeds, we cannot escape your logic. Two things that are different cannot be the same. "kosmos" is not "world". It may convey the same (or very similar) concepts and ideas, but it isn't the same. Despite what I said above, your logic is fine. It is your application of it with which I take issue here.

"One set of words in one set order is the Bible.
Only one book is one set of words in one set order.
Therefore, the Bible is only one book."

If, as you say, the one inspired set of words is in Hebrew and Greek, then we could say:
"One set of Hebrew and Greek words in one set order is the Bible.
Only one book is one set of Hebrew and Greek words in one set order.
Therefore, the Bible is only one book (and it is Hebrew and Greek words)."

Where does KJVO come into that logic? That logic is entirely acceptable and valid for supporting an "onlyism" position on the text of the original languages, but it doesn't address translation at all.

Don Johnson said...

Kent, you are missing what I am saying. If your first proposition is true, then only the originals are the Bible. Everything else since wouldn't be the Bible, and certainly translations wouldn't be the Bible since they change everything - they change the words themselves, the word order, etc. That would mean the KJV isn't a Bible.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Kent Brandenburg said...

Don and JG,

It's late here and I'm going to bed, but I understand that a translation isn't the original words---I wrote that in my post as a preemptive strike---but the KJV comes from one set of Words in one set order. An only position has settled on one set of words in one set order. What other English translation comes from that one set of Words in that one set order? Answer: None. Hence, the KJVO position. Again, I'm talking only logic here, not the validity of textual criticism or the doctrine of preservation. I'll talk more tomorrow.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Don,

I published your comment and somehow it's not here and now it's disappeared---sorry about that---but what you said was essentially the same thing as your last comment.

I don't think I have a different answer for you. God inspired one book, that's the problem with multiple versions. If one book is the Bible, the other ones are not, and I am talking about the original languages. It's not logical to have two. I know you get this.

I'll comment to JG later. Gotta go.

jg said...

"What other English translation comes from that one set of Words in that one set order? Answer: None."

This statement was lacking from your original post, I think. I wouldn't have disputed your logic if you had included it.

Of course, the existence of the NKJV in modern times and the Geneva Bible previously provides reason to question the accuracy of your statement. But if we stipulate that statement, your position is entirely logical.

And obviously, many will dispute your underlying conclusion as to what text reflects the true words and word order. But as you have said, you are talking only logic here.

I haven't yet read enough of your material on preservation to intelligently discuss that topic with you.

I understand there are a few verses where the NKJV appears to depart from the traditional texts. But is there a reason, other than antiquity, that you reject the Geneva Bible?

Kent Brandenburg said...

JG,

Thanks.

I wouldn't use the language, reject the Geneva, although that is in the end what I do. It does not come from an identical text to the KJV, as does not, as you observed, the NKJV. A choice is made no matter who the person is, but a more-than-one-Bible position itself is not logical based on sound premise.

It's Memorial Day here in the U.S.

jg said...

Thank you for explaining. I was unaware of any issues with the underlying text of the Geneva.

I'm not entirely convinced that the NKJV issues aren't translational, rather than textual. I had the privilege of personally knowing one of the translators. His position on preservation was not yours or mine, but he was very troubled by the wholesale rejection of the traditional texts. It was the intent of one translator, at least, to provide a new translation that was true to those texts. For the most part, as far as I can see, they succeeded in that.

Here, yesterday was simply called a "Bank Holiday". The banks were closed, but a lot of people have to work. Most holidays here have no meaning attached to them, it is just a day when people get a day off.

We do have Remembrance Sunday on the Sunday closest to 11 November, and they hold a minute of silence on the 11th (whatever day of the week it falls) at 11:00 -- even in the supermarket, all of a sudden it is suddenly silent. It isn't a holiday, though.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi JG,

I don't think it is just translational for the NKJV, and this is coming from someone that at one point said that, as far as I knew, it was the same text, but I had not looked into it in enough depth at that point. The Geneva is obviously from TR editions.

Thanks for the memorial info. My son will be in England for over a month starting the end of June, at the Royal Military Academy.

Duncan MacGreggor of the Clan MacGreggor said...

Don,

Just an observation on your logic.
In one post you spoke of copyist errors (something that the Romanists did to Jerome's Vulgate, and which Erasmus proved with his diglot). However, as a Remnant Christian I take the position that there are no copyist errors. If we have even one copyist error, who is then to say that there is some other mistake? Who becomes that final authority to say that this passage or that is not an error? If it goes far enough we can re-create the heresy of Rudolf Bultmann and William Barclay that the Bible is a collection of myth, legend and saga with a "kernal of truth" called "kerygma" that we must find by "de-mythologising" it. Ultimately, this heresy is rooted in the belief that there is no perfect preservation - thus the originals are inspired, but we do not have them, so what is it that we read?

To any who read this post:
The whole point of being KJVO is that the KJV is based on the right Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. That which came of Westcott and Hort (which all modern versions are based on) is a mutilated text by the Gnostics. An example of this may be found in Romans 7:14 where the Gnostics changed only one letter of the word "carnal" to fit their beliefs. If it is read as in the TR, it is the word "sarkikos" which means "fleshly" or "controlled by the flesh." If it is the CT, it is read as "Sarkinos" (note, only one letter is changed) which means "made of flesh." There is a great deal of difference between being made of flesh and being fleshly - the same as being in the world and being of the world. Had Paul used Sarkinos, it would mean that there is no escaping the condition of Romans seven. However, because Sarkikos is here, and in other places, contrasted to Pneumatikos (spiritual, controlled by the Spirit), it means that God intends for men to live above Romans 7.

Anonymous said...

I was actually looking for a contact number or person/Facebook, something to ask about Cadet Spirit Band at West Point, but as a Christian I found your KJ/logic discussion interesting. I'm wondering how you take your position considering the vast number of Greek/Hebrew manuscripts--the very thing that indicates that we have what the apostles, etc. actually wrote--the manuscripts' basic agreement with each other, though not perfectly identical, identical in all crucial areas. Also, if someone had taken your position in 1599 of the Geneva Bible, someone later could come along and say "but better manuscripts are available." Could not the same be said of King James? (Again, my actual search was to find a contact person--even cadet--to ask about the Cadet Spirit Band at USMA-WP, if possible! :)

Kent Brandenburg said...

Anonymous,

I was a biblical language major in college and started taking Greek in high school and took 8 years of it, and two years of Hebrew (the latter isn't much). There is a lot to unpack in your comment, but there is a 7% difference between the words of the critical text, which is the basis of the modern versions, and the textus receptus text behind the King James Version. That much difference is the equivalent of whole NT books. That amount of difference does mean something and relates to the authority of the Bible.

The historic Christian position is that God preserved every Word and those who believed that also believed that it was the textus receptus in the Greek. That is Latin for received text. Received by whom? Received by God's people, by the churches. If they received those as God's Words, as guided by the Spirit of truth, and those were God's Words to His people for hundreds of years, they shouldn't be changed based upon post-enlightenment rationalism.

God's Word is one set of words in one set order. There is a logical fallacy to a multiple-version position. That's the main point of the post.

Thanks for commenting!

Duncan MacGreggor said...

something else,

If you ever get a chance to find "A Lamp in the Dark" it is a DVD that outlines the history of Remnant Christianity through the centuries as it relates to their belief in the Bible, its authority, etc. In the latter half it speaks of Westcott, Hort, and others involved in editing the Critical Text. Many of these men were involved in the occult, in the Oxford movement, and were trying to get Britain to be Romanist again (which is one reason that Charles should not become king - the constitution forbids a Romanist from being a monarch or PM and he is married to a Romanist).

1611 said...

But however well our translation succeeds, we cannot escape your logic. Two things that are different cannot be the same. "kosmos" is not "world". It may convey the same (or very similar) concepts and ideas, but it isn't the same. Despite what I said above, your logic is fine. It is your application of it with which I take issue here.

"One set of words in one set order is the Bible.
Only one book is one set of words in one set order.
Therefore, the Bible is only one book."

If, as you say, the one inspired set of words is in Hebrew and Greek, then we could say:
"One set of Hebrew and Greek words in one set order is the Bible.
Only one book is one set of Hebrew and Greek words in one set order.
Therefore, the Bible is only one book (and it is Hebrew and Greek words)."

Where does KJVO come into that logic? That logic is entirely acceptable and valid for supporting an "onlyism" position on the text of the original languages, but it doesn't address translation at all.

--I don't think it would support onlyism of the original languages in the sense you hope for...there are many NT quotes where Hebrew had to be translated. And in the OT when Pharoah spoke to Moses he probably didn't speak Hebrew but Egyptian, so our Hebrew MS are immediately a 'translation'.

Kent Brandenburg said...

1611,

My post came with certain assumptions, and I have talked about them in the comment section. We use only the King James in the English because it is the only English translation from Hebrew and Greek words that were received by the churches. That is what KJVO is to me. I know it's something different to other KJVO, but I'm lumped in there, so I'm defending the logic of it.

1611 said...

I was actually commenting on JB's assertion the original languages with no translation would fit the logic...but my understanding is they technically do have translation in both testaments.

jg said...

1611: "I was actually commenting on JB's assertion the original languages with no translation would fit the logic...but my understanding is they technically do have translation in both testaments."
I would view this as not relevant to the question at hand.

The Scriptures tell us that "All Scripture" is God-inspired, and that the words of Scripture are the very words of God.

If, in fact, the Scripture is recording a translation, nevertheless the Scripture is inspired. I'm prepared to say that God's Spirit can inspire a 100% faithful translation into the Hebrew or Greek.

God's Spirit can also inspire a 100% faithful translation into another language, as well. The difference is that we are told that God DID inspire the Hebrew and Greek (including any translations they contain), but not that He would inspire translations of those languages into other languages at some point in the future.

Jake Danger said...

I am confused. I assume you accept the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. So, which Bible verse says "The King James Version is the sole legitimate Bible translation for all English-speaking peoples"? Also, which version is the sole legitimate version for Chinese=speaking peoples, for example, and how would a Chinese know which version that is?

Jake Danger said...

"One set of words in one set order is the Bible." -- Fuzzy Logic blog

"For is the kingdom of God to become words or syllables? Why should we be in bondage to them if we may be free, use one precisely when we may use another no less fit, as commodiously?" - Quote from the original preface to the KJV, written by the KJV translators themselves. So it seems they did not agree with KJV-onlyism. So much for logic.