A New Look at an Old Book: Part VI of an Ongoing Critique
And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people, Nehemiah 13:24.
When Nehemiah and Ezra discovered that the children could no longer understand the language of the bible, what did they do? Did they consult CS Lewis as Dr. Ward suggests that we all do?
The truth is that if we have to have translation at all we must have periodic re-translation. There is no such thing as translating a book into another language once and for all, for a language is a changing thing. If your son is to have clothes it is no good buying him a suit once and for all: he will grow out of it and have to be reclothed. (From CS Lewis Modern Translations of the Bible, 1947 as quoted in chapter 5 of Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible: KJV.)
Actually, when Nehemiah and Ezra realized that the children of the principal men could no longer read the 1000 year old bible that their grandparents had grown up with, they spanked the daddies. You might object that the original Hebrew was not a translation, but was the bona fide original. By what principal of CS Lewis's reasoning would that matter? The children couldn't understand it. It's just that plain.
Is there anyone who would possibly argue that after hundreds of years had passed with Israel living under two different kingdoms, that their language was standard from village to village. Is there anyone so inclined to believe that the children of the Jews scattered throughout Europe, Asia and Africa during the time of the writing of the book of Acts all spoke with a common Hebrew?
Of course not, what they had was a common bible to which every Jew was expected to train his children regardless of how far their individual dialects had drifted. That means that a Jew in 20 BC was reading a bible in a dialect that was over 1500 years old while speaking a completely different dialect of Hebrew. It unified the Jews. Dividing languages is a punishment from God designed to limit the scope of man's power. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech, Genesis 11:7.
The very first thing that the Lord did to unify the church on the day of Pentecost was to overcome the diversity of language. A unified language is one of the greatest tools to unifying people. Dividing language is one of the greatest tools to divide them. Regardless of how far distant the various tribes and families of Israel were flung, they had a unifying bible in the dialect of a language that in all likelihood, no single person spoke or had spoken in 1000 years.
The King James Bible has fulfilled this role for the 400 years of the broad spread of the English-Speaking people throughout the world. In chapter 5, Dr. Ward points out that English has become multi-faceted throughout the centuries and that the English of the various parts of the world has evolved independently of the other English dialects. Has any particular dialect of English so evolved that the King James Bible is now virtually unintelligible to those who speak that dialect? No it has not.
Dr. Ward tried very hard to pull the wool over our eyes and make us think that the shifts in word meanings had changed enough that readers of the King James Bible were being led astray from the intention of the text. Chapter 5 of his book which discusses the vernacular spread of English is a serious chapter that deserves serious rebuttal. His previous charge that certain words of the King James Bible were certain to be misunderstood, and his labeling them as "false friends" is most certainly silly. Just read the first 5 posts in this series.
The very best Baptist churches the world today are in the Philippines. The odds that a church is a King James Only church is higher when visiting the Philippines than in any other country of the world. Has this led to a people struggling in ignorance as they presume that their bibles are saying one thing while in actuality the text is saying something different? No, it has led to one of the greatest missionary movements in modern times. Throughout the breadth of Asia, the Filipinos have carried the truth of Jesus Christ to nation after nation.
I have personally witnessed a Vietnamese pastor realize the folly of having used an NIV to teach his college level people English when his three elementary school children far exceeded the older students after having been taught English out of a King James Bible by Filipino missionaries. I have spent many years down south where mush mouthed, undereducated southerners both African-American and white could clearly understand that bible. English speakers throughout the Caribbean whose dialects are delightful but definitely different, read that book quite well.
The King James Bible is the unifying force of the English speaking public throughout the world and throughout the centuries. I have fellowshipped with Europeans, Australians, Africans, Pacific Islanders, Asians, and people from every corner of the Americas, as well as having read the writings of men in the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. In each case the King James Bible was our unifying link to fellowship in Jesus Christ. God used that same system with the Jewish people for thousands of years, does Dr. Ward believe that he is smarter than God?
In reality, the fathers who have sent their children to all of the bible colleges that have traded in the King James Bible because little poopsie stuck out his lower lip and pouted that it was too hard for him need a spanking. I firmly believe that Jesus Christ will give it to them.