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Scrivener's Abomination Part IV

Updated: Feb 15, 2020

This is the fourth and last installment.

To understand what it was that the printers did in 1985 and how that directly led the last bastion of a perfect bible in England to abdicate its text and seek out another, it is necessary to review a curious incident to which we are fortunately privy. Early in the 1980’s this author, Dr. Daniel Hardin and a couple of other preachers had a discussion over the difference in the Oxford use of the “s” in I John 5:8 and the Cambridge use of the same. Dr. Daniel Hardin is not a late comer to the issue of the King James Bible. My readers may remember that in the 1960s, 1970s, and in the early 1980s it was a mark of radicalism among preachers to be a King James man. They were eschewed at fellowships and generally painted with the brush of pro-divorce or called Ruckmanites in a derisive attempt to associate them with a Dr. Peter Ruckman of Pensacola, Florida with whom the mainstream had many differences besides just the King James Bible issue. It wasn’t until Jack Hyles came down squarely on the side of the King James Bible in the 1980’s that it became cool and fashionable to be a King James man in fundamental circles. Dr. Hardin never needed Jack Hyles or Peter Ruckman to see the issue. He was a country bred preacher from the hills of Kentucky who had been taught by God and God alone the value of the book.

Dr. Hardin is also a man of action. Whereas the rest of us were content to debate and ponder the issue, Dr. Hardin wrote directly to Cambridge. His letter to them is missing having predated the days of word processors[1]and so we can only speculate exactly what he asked them, but we do have their response. In a letter dated June, 3 1985 Jerry Hooper the Bible Director for Cambridge University Press (CUP) wrote back to Dr. Hardin.

I don’t know how to say this to you other than to be perfectly honest. We are very grateful to you even though you have put your finger on a matter of some embarrassment regarding the lower case ‘s’ in Spirit, reference 1Jn. , 5:8.

There is no way of knowing how many years this particular edition has carried the misprint. Our Bible department in England was astounded that this has never been noticed before. I assumed some mysterious theological question was involved and overlooked the obvious in my search of the commentaries.

The error of course, will be corrected in subsequent printings thanks to your sharp eyes. Again,

we are very grateful.

In Appreciation, I am sending you a copy of our Concord KJV Bible which does use the upper case ‘S’ correctly.

Here we see a worst case scenario. The printers are speaking without an editor. You will notice in Mr. Hooper’s polite but ill-informed letter that he searched commentaries to find out why Cambridge had been using a lower case “s” in I John 5:8. This is because the Cambridge University Printers (CUP) have no institutional memory of how their product came to be. They are men who day after day check into an office, push buttons and click mice with absolutely no understanding as to why anything read like it did. This is not an exaggeration on my part. I have corresponded with the printers at both Oxford and Cambridge and both were quick to tell me that the present occupants of their respective printing houses knew nothing of their own history. The Cambridge printers were kind enough to refer me to Dr. Norton who was their handpicked historian.

In the same email I referenced earlier David Norton in response to my inquiry about the origins of Cambridge’s current text wrote, “I don’t know of any such resources. CUP doesn’t have anything that I or the staff presently there could find, and it has lost all institutional knowledge about its own text.” In the rest of the email Dr. Norton also makes it clear that he thinks Cambridge is printing the Blaney text. Cambridge truly is ignorant to its text. Both they and their historian exhibit no knowledge of the three purifications that postdate Blaney. In his book on the history of the text Dr. Norton records the initial inquiry that he received from the Cambridge University Printers.[2] They make it clear that the aging of their film used in printing their bibles made it necessary to act. They speak of proofing KJV files that they have recently purchased. They then suggest that studying Scrivener’s notes might facilitate their understanding of the use of the “S”. This beggars the question, why the “S”? Since there has been only one correction made to the Cambridge text in the last 60 years or so and since that change was a result of Dr. Hardin’s inquiry and Cambridge’s alteration of their text, it appears that Cambridge now wanted to implement all of Scrivener’s mischief into the text. They had apparently fallen back on Scrivener when researching Dr. Hardin’s question and since their only source material was the errant pamphlet celebrating 300 years of printing the bible, they knew nothing of A.W. Pollard’s work. Their resultant outreach to Dr. Norton resulted in a complete overhaul of the KJV and the verse structure that God so evidently blessed and sanctioned (see chapter 2).

Who would have thought that changing one “s” in a text would ultimately lead to a brand-new text? Yet the letter “s” is the very first correction in the bible itself. All new versions add an “s” to the word heaven in Genesis 1:1 and in doing so they change the doctrine. Apparently the “s” is the soft underbelly of the scripture. Men who could never have been induced to attack I John 5:7 in the text of their bible were convinced to do so subtly through an attack on I John 5:8. I would encourage my readers to get a copy of In Awe of thy Word by Gail Riplinger and read her treatment of the letter “s”. The King James Bible is the sharpest sword ever given to man to pierce soul and spirit, Heb. 4:12.

Perhaps you wonder why this is important. We’ve dedicated a lot of space to the capitalization of one letter. Why is this different than a couple of old monks arguing about how many angels can fit on the head of a pin? It is because God reveals himself through his word. The more accurate a bible is, the more God can reveal about himself. We were promised in I Cor. 8:10-12 that we could know God as well as he knows us if we had a perfect bible. God knows us through his word. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, Heb. 4:12. The sharper my sword is, the deeper I can peer into God himself. A Cambridge Bible C1918-C1985 had an edge on its blade that allowed the very spirit that dwelt in Jesus Christ to be made manifest apart from his soul. That edge was dulled in 1985. The post-1985 Cambridge is a little duller and there is no longer a 100% agreement on every use of the word spirit that will allow a firm universal rule to be established.

The refinement shown in differentiating God’s use of the word spirit by the use of the lower or upper case “s” is unique among bibles and reached its sharpest and purest point in the Cambridge text. There is simply no other book on this earth by which a person could understand the Godhead and the incarnation better. The Cambridge text’s use of the “s’ is (or was) infallible and it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works, II Tim 16b, 17.

It was easy to foist the new versions on America and England as the 20th century progressed because no one had ever told the public that the issue was important. Even in Fundamental Baptist circles the issue wasn’t understood until the last couple of decades and even now some still don’t get it. Once the issue of the proper Greek text was understood there were many that bought into the New King James Bible because they never knew it was important. In fact, many of them were specifically told that it wasn’t important. Much of fundamentalism is still caught up in the game of substituting clever Greek meanings to King James Bible words because no one has ever told them how vile the writers of the lexicons and concordances really were. In fact, many of them were told that as long as they kept the underlying Greek or Hebrew text they could play with the translation at will.

Therefore, it is no great surprise to me when I tell a preacher that the use of the “S” is important that they tell me they were told it wasn’t important. I can assure my reader that whoever told them that did not get it from scripture. When those of Berea were called more noble in Acts 17:11, they were not called that because they recalled their teachers’ admonitions. They were not called more noble because they had prayed over the issues to become settled. In case my good readers don’t know this, prayer is when a person talks to God, bible study is when God talks to a person. The problem with the Cambridge printers having searched commentaries when Dr. Hardin wrote to them is that there is not currently a commentary on earth that could list the seven times that the word spirit is associated with Jesus Christ as God manifest in the flesh. They will not find any currently written commentary that can elucidate any rule as to when an “s” is capitalized and when it isn’t.

I have listed three rules. There are others that were not germane to this discussion, but in vain will my readers search for them in commentaries. To be more noble they must search the word of God. Preachers have not searched the word of God. They have asked each other. Some have tried praying until their hearts felt settled on the issue as if this was an infallible guide that trumped scripture. No matter how good your heart feels about something, it is wrong if it contradicts scripture in its proper context while speaking about the issue at hand. Please, my good readers, be not like the Charismatics I used to run into thirty years ago in South Carolina: “I don’t care what the bible says, I know what I felt!”

This brings us to the last purification of the Cambridge text of the King James Bible. I know of no written communication that tells us what was found. We only know of it because of the Macmillan Publishing Company’s own celebratory pamphlet[3] that accompanied their acquisition of the right to print Cambridge bibles in the United States tells us of the process. When Cambridge finished casting their new plates after WWI they were not so vain as to believe that they had not made any errors. They knew they had the best edited text of all time, but the bane of printing has always been the printing error. Since 1858 when Cambridge began stereotype printing, any error found could be permanently corrected. Now with the casting of the most highly edited plates to ever exist, Cambridge threw the process back to where it had started in Wycliffe’s time. They threw it back on the public at large. Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shall find it after many days, Eccl. 11:1. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? It hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come after, Eccl. 1:9-11.

I can only imagine what silver looks like when it has been purified six times. To my eye I’m sure it would look perfect. The silversmiths of old knew better. They knew that with one more purification in a furnace of earth, the finest and most imperceptible dross would burn out. Only someone who really cared for silver in its purest form, and only someone who could not rest to think that even the tiniest wisp of imperfection was contained therein; would subject his silver to one more round in the furnace. The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times, Ps. 12:6. The Macmillan publishers tell us that there was a standing offer for anyone in the public at large to find any misprint in the Cambridge bible “even to the dropping of a comma.” We have no record of who found what. We only know that prior to 1985 the Cambridge Bible was the exact pure representation of God’s word on this earth.

There are American publishers still printing a perfect bible. I have had fundamentalist printers wave Scrivener in my face as they corrected the “s” in I John 5:8. The list of those who still print a perfect bible is shrinking rapidly. The safeguards that Henry VIII left to the English-speaking people are rapidly fading. I believe that in the lifetimes of some of my readers their protection from foreign courts will erode. We may see the catastrophe of leaders for whom neither we nor our representatives had a vote. The Universities have appeared to abdicate their responsibilities. We need a printer who will not kowtow to Scrivener nor current fashion. We need someone capable of carrying the printing process far into the 21st century.

When will God quit using a bible? When the Holy Ghost no longer recognizes a bible as his work a bible becomes dead. Throughout the middle ages evangelists used partial translations of poorly copied Latin manuscripts and it is apparent that God blessed them. I think it is safe to say that where men sought diligently to honor God’s word, the Holy Ghost was not grieved and moved among the people. The history of the bible is a history of God blessing men’s scholarship and man’s mechanical skills to restore the word of God to its purest form. It is apparent that as men strove, God blessed. God can handle imperfection in the affairs of men. What grieves God is not taking too long to uncover the truth so much as turning back. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him, Heb. 10:38.

Imagine for a moment a great architect designing a pyramid upon which was perched a great stone ball. Imagine the labor of workers as they pushed that ball to the top of the pyramid. If you took a picture of that ball just five feet from the top, the picture would please the architect. Now imagine that same ball rolling down the other side. Take a picture of it just five feet from the top. Will the picture please the architect? Of course it will not. It will be a grief to him. Even though the ball is only five feet from the top in each picture, the architect has two distinctly different attitudes towards each picture. It is not the position of the ball that counts. It is whether progress or regression is in charge that counts. One picture is pleasing the other is grievous. The Holy Ghost is a person. He will not use scripture if it grieves him.

We live in perilous times. The Holy Ghost is grieved for many reasons. I challenge my readers to call any 15 fundamental churches that they would feel comfortable recommending. Ask the pastor of that church what a mature Christian family is. Ask him if he has any such families. A good pastor will have very strong opinions on what constitutes a mature Christian family. Almost all pastors have such families in their church. Now ask him if any of his mature Christian families are his converts. Ask him if he found that family lost and without Christ. Did he love them and labor to convince them of the merits of Christ and their own danger from God’s righteous judgment? After their conversion did he labor over them until Christ was fully formed in them? If my readers find one out of the 15 churches they call where the pastor has won a family to the Lord and they are currently serving under his ministry as fully mature Christians, they will beat the odds. The rarest thing in fundamentalism today is to find a pastor who is pastoring his own converts. Unless the Holy Ghost begins working in our churches again, this is the last generation of fundamentalism as we know it today. The first place I would look to change is how we treat the bible.

[1] Email exchange with Dr. Hardin

[2] McKitterick, David A History of Cambridge University Press Volume Three New Worlds for Learning 1873-1972, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK, 2004 132

[3] Mansbridge, F.R., Three Centuries of Cambridge Bibles 1936 This pamphlet is included in the aforementioned publication available through Vance Publications, 300 years of Printing the Bible Classic reprint 115

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