The Importance of Exact English
Updated: Feb 15, 2020
Our brother Paul Scott has been giving us excellent lessons on the English Language as used in a King James Bible. The more that we come to understand how exact our bible is, the more we can glean from it. Also, we are more sickened by the silly word changes made by modern versions. However, having an exact bible will avail us nothing if we don't know how to read it.
Both Brother Scott and I have this in common, we use the Oxford English Dictionary (Unabridged) as a tool in understanding English words as they were used in 1611. It is standard fare in Fundamentalism to use the 1828 Webster's Dictionary, but Noah Webster was hamstrung by the obvious disability of having recorded his definitions 217 years after the King James Bible was written. He is often in error.
The other common source for definitions is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. Enterprising students eagerly look up the corresponding Greek or Hebrew number that Strong assigned to each word and they turn to the back of the concordance to get what they think is the real meaning. The problem with that little trick is that James Strong was a liberal Unitarian who despised men like Moody or Spurgeon and used the limited skills he had in the classical languages to make sure that future students only saw the definitions that he wanted them to see. He corrupted his dictionaries and boasted that he had done it. A student using a James Strong definition is swallowing a fish hook baited by hell.
What the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) does is far more instructive. The OED seeks to give definitions to English words as they are used through the centuries. After a word is given and defined, the OED will then give many examples of how that word was used in various centuries. It is not infallible, but if used as a tool it is far more helpful and accurate than Webster.
Still, the single greatest way to understand any word used in the King James Bible is to look it up in every place the bible uses that same word in the same context. Then the student can go to his local library and look up the word in the OED and find how it was used in the late 16th century or early 17th century.
The King James Bible uses the word "Amongst" twice. Today it is considered antiquated and Webster sees no difference between "Amongst" and "Among". There was a difference in 1611 and there is a difference today.
To say that something or someone is amongst, is to say that they are being dispersed or intermixed into that crowd with whom they are amongst. Jesus Christ walked among men. He never walked amongst them. He was not becoming like them. They were all around him but he kept his identity separate. When Abraham bought a gravesite for Sarah he said, That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a buryingplace amongst you, Gen. 23:9. He used the word "amongst". In other words he told the people that even though he and Sarah were from another land and had lived separate from them, in death their bodies would decay into the same earth as everyone else's did. In death we will disperse and intermix with you. Our position will shift.
The other usage is far more interesting. Where did Adam and Eve hide after they had sinned? And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden, Gen. 3:8. If we are to follow the same line of logic, Adam was dispersing and intermixing himself with the trees. His position shifted to be like them.
That seems odd until the Book of Ezekiel is brought into play. Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs. The waters made him great, the deep set him up on high with her rivers running round about his plants, and sent out her little rivers unto all the trees of the field. Therefore his height was exalted above all the trees of the field, and his boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long because of the multitude of waters, when he shot forth. All the fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young, and under his shadow dwelt all great nations. Thus was he fair in his greatness, in the length of his branches: for his root was by great waters. The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his boughs, and the chesnut trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty. I have made him fair by the multitude of his branches: so that all the trees of Eden, that were in the garden of God, envied him, Ezekiel 31:3-9. Those trees are demonic. Adam had taken on a fallen nature and become like them.
One little word with a slight change from normal should instantly alert every student of the word of God.