The Most Difficult "s" in the King James Bible
In this following blog post there will be many links to previous posts. My experienced readers will remember that the links sometimes will draw a blank. That happens when the website is being overtaxed. Just hit the link again one or two times and it will populate. Please take the time to consider the points that I make here. There is a little more work here than what is usual.
Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set, Proverbs 22:28.
There is a general sense among adherents of the King Jame Bible that the actual punctuation marks, capitalizations and spelling of key words are an unsettled issue. With such an attitude a bible editor blythely goes about changing little things here and there. He comforts himself that the original King James Bible was perfect, but since then many errors have crept in. He sees himself as a faithful man seeking to make the bible even more perfect.
The idea that his reasoning is identical to every other bible corrector doesn't occur to him. After all, doesn't every blah, blah, blah statement of faith declare that the originals were perfect but that man has lost them in transmission? What is missing in all of the generic statements of faith on the bible and of the modern editors of the King James Bible is the remembrance of the promise by Jesus Christ to preserve every jot and tittle of the word of God.
Isn't it rich that within the ranks of King James Bible users are people who suspect that in minor points their bible is not quite perfect and that minor changes to individual letters here and there are perfectly acceptable as long as the editor pays homage to the overall book and believes in the original? If you had a priceless ancient tapestry on your wall you would doubtless be sensitive to anyone horseplaying near it. You would be nervous every time someone had a beverage near it and you would absolutely forbid anyone to work on it to try to improve it.
Would you allow curious children to pull on loose threads? No, you would not. You would know that to pull on loose threads would eventually lead to the unraveling of the whole thing. Therein is the analogy to the King James Bible. In the two years of blogging that I have done on this site, I have detailed the steady progress made over the centuries to purge the many printing errors that crept into the King James Bible.
The King James Bible started with an original manuscript which was hand delivered to the King and purchased by the King's printer for 3500 Pounds Sterling. I have written about it here. If you could find that original manuscript you would find the way things were punctuated, spelled and capitalized were different than the rules we use today. To accept a King James Bible as perfect in the 21st century is to accept a change in those rules of punctuation which clarify the written word. I have written about that here.
Today, there are two major strains of orthography that dominate the varying texts of the King James Bible. There is the Oxford set of orthography which chooses to capitalize a number of "s"s differently than the the Cambridge Text. Oxford's orthography can be directly traced back to the scholarship of F.H.A. Scrivener a partner of Westcott and Hort in the Revised Version of the Bible.
That is not some closely guarded secret. It is something that Scrivener declared plainly in his Appendix "C" of his 1873 Cambridge Paragraph Bible, and it something that internal letters from the Cambridge editors discussed in the 1980s. That is discussed here, here, here, and here. Today, when editors tweak their little tweaks, they tweak with Scrivener's tweaks. They think that they are enhancing the integrity of the text. They are undermining it.
Another issue that this blog has sought to clarify is the need for uppercase "S"s and lowercase "s"s. Until the last thirty years or so, that has been seen as needless. Most of my friends and most readers of this blog merely endure my excursions into that territory. Nevertheless, the ignorance of man does not negate the will of God. There is a difference. The difference is important and modern editors are siding with Scrivener who is a proven enemy of the truth when editing their texts.
In review, before I get to the "s" that inspired this blog post, I will refer my readers to a three part series about the "s" of Genesis 6:3. I think that in everything that I have written on the subject I have never stated the entire issue as clearly as I was graced to do there; 1, 2, 3. If you will read or review those three posts you can see the case for using lowercase versus uppercase "s"s in regards to distinguishing the Godhead.
When a lowercase "s" is used, it is not a slight against the deity of Jesus Christ. It is a ready tool for the Holy Ghost to instruct us in the fullness of the Godhead. When modern editors such as Local Church Bible Publishers tamper with the "s"s and reach back to Scrivener's innovations to supposedly improve on ancient landmarks that have been with the English Speaking world since the 1600s, they stray into territory that is a grief to the Spirit of God.
And the spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house, Acts 11:12. Without any doubt, that particular "s" on the word "spirit" is the single most difficult "s" in the entire word of God. I have stared at it blankly for years not knowing how to defend it until recently. Scrivener bade us capitalize it and accordingly Oxford did so in 1893, Cambridge did so in 1985 and Local Church Bible Publishers followed suit two decades later.
I feared to see it changed. Ward and Bois, two living translators who helped publish the landmark 1638 Cambridge Edition made it a lowercase "s". 134 years later, F. S. Paris left it a lowercase "s" when he became the first editor for one of the Universities entrusted with the word of God to attempt to implement modern orthography. 7 years later, Blayney left it unchanged. That is an ancient landmark set by our fathers.
We know that Scrivener wanted to use an uppercase "S" and we know that eventually he won out in major publishing houses. However, when A.W. Pollard did his epic research into Scrivener's editing practices, he recounted for us how Scrivener got sidetracked into making too many edits. He recounted this in his book Records of the English Bible. Pollard is the man who rescued the Cambridge Text during the WWI years. Pollard resolutely reestablished that "s" as a lowercase "s".
Before we plunge into the doctrinal justification for making that "s" a lowercase "s", let's look at the justification used to make it uppercase. While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them, Acts 10: 19,20. For all intents and purposes, that looks like a slam dunk proof that Acts 11:12 should be uppercase. After all, Acts 10: 19,20 is the narrative of what happened to Peter as told by Luke, and Acts 11:12 is Peter himself recounting the same narrative, or is it?
If it is the same, it would be very hard to justify making one of them to be uppercase and the other to be lowercase. For years I have left it alone in fear of moving a landmark, but I could not defend it. That begs the question, if it is the same in both cases, what is it telling us as opposed to what it is saying if one is uppercase and the other is lowercase? To understand that we need to review the lessons of the blog posts on Genesis 6:3.
When a lowercase "s" is used in regards to deity, it is to distinguish Jesus Christ in the Godhead both in the Old Testament and in the New. Jesus did not yield his Spirit back to the Father in Luke 23:46. He yielded back his spirit. Was that spirit God? Yes, it is the spirit of Genesis 6:3, a spirit that has been a lowercase "s" in every major publication of the King James Bible other than the American Bible Society which changed in somewhere around 1850. Why would Jehovah God, the creator of the ends of the earth portray his spirit with a lowercase "s"? Because Jesus is the Lord. Go read the gospels. They always portray the spirit of Jesus Christ with a small "s". That is part of the miracle and wonder of a King James Bible.
In the Pure Cambridge Text of the King James Bible, Peter says that it is Jesus who told him to go with the men. In the Oxford, Scrivener, modern Cambridge, Local Church Bible Publisher text it is the Spirit of God, the third member of the trinity who told him to go. We have the actual narrative of Luke's to show us that indeed the Spirit of God did tell him to go, Acts 10:,19,20. Was the Spirit of God the first to tell Peter? No he was not.
And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven, Acts 10:13-16. The first that Peter ever heard that he should not account Gentiles or beast to be unclean was from the Lord himself. He did not first hear it from the Spirit of God. When Peter recounts the entire scene, he tells us that it was the Lord's personal spirit that first told him. The New versions would have us believe it was the second person of the trinity who told him. That is the difference.
One of the jobs that the Spirit of God was given was to remind the Apostles of what the Lord had said. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you, John 14:24. While Peter slept, the Lord through his spirit told Peter what to do. As was his wont, Peter didn't get it. Then the Spirit came and told him the same thing. That is the narrative that Luke gives us and that is exactly how Peter recounts it in Acts 11:12 if you have the right edition of the King James Bible.