Updated: Feb 15
The Hooper Letter by itself should have sounded alarms in anyone who read it. Combined with the second Letter published in David Norton's book, A Textual History of the King James Bible (page 132), they show Cambridge University Press for what it is, a money making enterprise which owns the plates used to print the Cambridge Bible. Their grasp on the Bible itself goes no further. They are divorced from any historical, editorial or doctrinal understanding of the text they possessed.
Dr. Harden's letter to Cambridge University Press that triggered their response is no longer available. His recollection is that he had merely inquired as to why the "s" of I John 5:8 was lower case. From the letter in Professor Norton's book we can see that Cambridge had been considering changes for some time. In that letter the Cambridge Press mulls over what to do with their current edition. They bemoan the fact that they have no history of their text; saying, "No names seem to be attached to the enterprise, and no documentation can be found."
The common misconception among those of us who love the King James Bible is that somewhere in England are men with ink stained aprons laboring in back rooms while scholarly men in a front office labor over historical archives. In reality the offices are full of people who could just as well be printing the National Enquirer. They are business men who bought the KJV files from which they print. The Cambridge Press's letter to Norton is a cry for help from men in over his head.
Dr. David McKitterick wrote a three volume history of the Cambridge University Press that covered their history from 1534 to 1972. I wrote to him to see if he could shine any light on the current Cambridge text. He wrote back ruefully that it was too late to ask anyone at Cambridge. That great phalanx of editors, scholars and printers that had carried the King James Bible on their shoulders is gone.
If someone wants to find men who love their Bible and print it for love's sake, then the few Fundamental Baptist printers such as Church Bible Publishers is where they need look. It is to these men that I implore to understand that they need not look to anyone in an office at Cambridge to verify their text.
Imagine my dismay when I hear men in printing ministries gleefully waving the Hooper Letter as proof that their bible had always been wrong and that Scrivener was right. They don't realize that they are saying Scrivener is right, but nevertheless they are doing so. Scrivener has been dead since 1891 but the claw of his long dead hand has reached into their presses and smudged the "s" in I John 5:8 to compliment his hatred of I John 5:7. (See the last two posts.)
The integrity of the King James Bible rests on three biblical principals. Jesus Christ promised us that, Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away, Mark 13:31. Even more explicitly, Isaiah says, As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever, Isaiah 59:21. The first principal is that God promised to preserve every word of the Bible forever. That is in direct contrast to the evangelical concept wherein most of the bible is pretty well preserved, but not all.
The second concept is that the English of the King James Bible can be, and is just as accurate the original languages. God does not translate from one language to another, he interprets from one language to another. The interpretation of tongues is a Holy Ghost gift given to the church. The King James Bible is the Holy Ghost interpretation of the Word of God in English. Its history can not be understood outside of that. It has performed exactly as the Word of God would perform if we were all native Greek and Hebrew speakers. It has saved souls, wrought revival, and influenced the formation of governments on a scale that no watered down scripture could ever accomplish.
The third concept is more obscure to most King James Bible believers. Just who is in charge of keeping the Word of God pure? The knee jerk reaction to that is usually, the church. Which church should we trust? Which Independent Fundamental Baptist Church gets to call the shots? It was Baptists who convinced the American Bible Society to publish the only version of a King James Bible to capitalize the "s" in Genesis 6:3 in 1848 and their bibles still do so. Modern printers tell us that Scrivener was right and all of history was wrong about I John 5:8 and Acts 11:28. Must I, a bishop of a Baptist Church in my own right, bow the knee to either of them?
In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes, Judges 17:6. Israel solved that problem by getting a king. We might as well get one thing straight, a king gave us our bible, not a local church. That, after all, is the bible pattern. And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them, Deuteronomy 17:18,19.
We have a King James Bible. As troubling as that concept may be to Baptists, we got our Bible from a government at a time when the government was run by a king. That is the biblical pattern. It was the twin edicts of Henry VIII and Charles I that commissioned and authorized the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford to keep that same bible. Those two universities have been the guarantors of the King James Bible. Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou? Ecclesiastes 8:4. My readers can search all they want, but that is the biblical pattern for giving us a bible and for preserving that same bible. It has made the English speaking people and their bible unique among the nations of the world. Today, it is almost only Baptists who still see the value of what we have.
We are in crisis mode. For almost 300 years the two universities conformed one to another. In 1873 Cambridge invested in the Scrivener Paragraph Bible and realized quickly that it would not sell. They quickly reverted back to the Blayney text until WWI. In 1893 Oxford took steps that Cambridge wisely did not follow. Their text is a poor one and ill thought out. From WWI until 1985 Cambridge printed the AW Pollard edited text known today as the Pure Cambridge Text. That left only Cambridge as a keeper of the flame. What the Hooper letter represents is the beginning move for Cambridge in dousing that flame. We can effectively say, that the Cambridge University Press has abrogated its role as guarantor of the purity of the King James Bible.
We live in an age wherein if the old landmarks are to stay in place, Fundamentalist printers had better decide where they are in the first place. The Hooper letter is a poor place to start. Hooper didn't have a clue. What he did have is the power to uproot an ancient landmark that had stood for 347 years. That move has emboldened Baptists to make the same move.
We have been taught wisely to look for a parallelism for every bible truth. In other words, when we think we know what the bible is saying, we should look for the next passage to say it again in a parallel passage. Look at the verse that follow I John 5:6-8.
He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself [that is verse 6, the inward witness]: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son [That is verse 7, the heavenly witness of the Godhead]. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son [That is the witness of the actual flesh and person of Jesus Christ], I John 5:10,11.
Must we take this overt declaration of Jesus as the Son of God and subvert it? Must we admit that for three and a half centuries we have had a bible with a false message? Look at I John 5:8 in your bible. Is it a capital "S"? If so, a man has robbed you. Take a pencil eraser and gently erase that "s". Take a fine tip black pen and restore the lower case "s". Restore the witness that that vessel of flesh hanging on a cross 2000 years ago had three things come out of it, the water, the blood of God, and the spirit that he yielded to the Father in Luke 23:46. Restore what proved to the centurion that this man was the Son of God.
I would not want to be the ministry, nor the person who led the church astray on these things, neither in this life, nor at the Judgment Seat of Christ.