Jerry & Jimmy: History Repeats Itself

Jerome’s fourth century Latin Vulgate was enforced by the medieval Roman Catholic Church as the only acceptable version to be studied to the exclusion of original language sources. Roman Catholic clergy studied Latin and gained some knowledge of Scripture, but were chiefly schooled in theology with little critique of it in light of Scripture. They accepted tradition and papal decrees as equally legitimate sources of divine revelation intended by God to inform the faith and practice of the Church.
The Renaissance emphasis of “ad fontes” brought original language scholarship into vogue among some Roman Catholic scholars. Comparison of the Latin Vulgate with original language sources led many to criticize the Latin translation, and comparison of medieval church tradition with Scripture and patristic writings also led them to criticize Roman Catholic doctrine and practice. Numerous calls for Reformation were diligently suppressed for centuries until the civil government began to side with the views of the Reformers in the sixteenth century, with an eye on the economic and nationalistic advantages that they saw could result as well.
Generally speaking, the modern fundamentalist proponents of the exclusive use of the King James Version of Holy Scripture repeat this history. Like medieval Roman Catholicism, many modern fundamentalist King James Onlyists similarly discourage or exclude all critical comparison of their favored translation with original language sources. This is inconsistent with the work of the Protestant Reformers who risked and sacrificed so much for years for the right and privilege to translate the original language sources of Scripture into the language of the common man. This rejection of modern translation of even the Hebrew and Greek texts which underlie the King James Version leaves the English Bible less readable to the common man, ministers and laity alike, who are not well-versed in reading the often archaic English of a version translated almost four centuries ago.

Modern extreme fundamentalists seem to refuse to learn the lessons of even their own Protestant heritage, and in this way, among others, repeat the mistakes of history. Fundamentalist discouragement of critical thinking and study is a tyranny comparable to that of medieval Roman Catholicism, while exposure to the views of the broader evangelical community in regard to textual critical and translational issues will inevitably prove both enlightening and liberating to the truth-seeking fundamentalist. Words Martin Luther directed toward the tyranny of the medieval Roman Catholic Church apply well to modern Protestant fundamentalist King James Onlyists: ” 90. To suppress them by force alone, and not to refute them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christian people unhappy. ” Although King James Onlyists don’t have the civil authority to literally force their followers to abstain from modern biblical scholarship and modern Bible translations, and do, in fact, offer reasons for this expectation, the social pressure exerted in their preaching and personal relationships, likewise “makes Christian people unhappy” who seek to honestly examine for themselves the competing claims of both sides of the English Bible Version debate.
Consider the following passage from William Tyndale: A Biography by David Daniell (copyright 1994 by Yale University). On page 287, Dr. Daniell writes, under the heading of Scripture as a Whole Book:
” . . . that there was a language called Hebrew at all, or that it had any connection whatsoever with the Bible, would have been news to most of the ordinary population. Religion was in Latin: the Mass was in Latin; all the other services, like baptism, were in Latin; everything the priest did was in Latin; the Psalms in the Mass were in Latin; the Bible-readings in the services, such as they were, were in Latin; the Bible, when visible, was a big Latin volume; some priests, and most laymen, had only a few words of Latin, if that.”
This was the passage that opened my eyes to the way the extreme King James Only movement repeats the history of the medieval Roman Catholic Church in placing obstacles between the laity and the Word of God. Indeed, considering the common discouragement of critical thinking and research among modern fundamentalist King James Onlyists, it is almost as if the fact that there is a language called Hebrew at all (or Greek, for that matter), or that it had any connection whatsoever with the Bible, would have been news to most of the followers of King James Onlyists.
Funny how history repeats itself. From St. Jerome (Jerry) to King James (Jimmy), there is nothing new under the sun.
Illustration of Tyndale by www.reformationart.com
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4 responses

  1. Just about 6 months ago I went to visit Dr. B J Wilhite in Fort Worth, Tx.

    He and I go way way back to the middle eighties when he moved to Washington D.C. to answer a “call” to lay the groundwork for calling this nation of the United States of America to pray again. We have become so wealthy even our poor are rich compared to the “third world”.

    I was invited and happily accepted an appointment to serve on his Advisory Board. A famous Texan was on it too, Ruth Cox. She was a former campaign manager of the then President Bush, H.W. when he ran for the Senate and lost; a fiesty woman short and sharp and snappy! Flambouyant!! that lady. I hope she is still alive, the dragon lady.

    Well I digressed, must have been my ego. Dang fingers I swear if you don’t, I will have too! grrrr

    Anyway, while staying with Bob and Velma Bob gave me a Bible to read, the Peshitta, an Aramaic version, I think to give me hope.

    Two things I learned from it I will mention that underscores your post here John.

    One, the Nicolaitanes, those evil beasts!!!! grrrrrr

    Revelation says this of them:
    Rev 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.

    NICO: CONQUEROR
    LAITY: PEOPLE

    Hmmmmm while reading, I thought, as the author in his preface explained why I should read the Peshitta. The understanding of that verse caught my attention.

    Second, CAMEL ROPE. Yes, I learned that camel hair was prized when it was made into fisherman’s rope for fishing the inland seas and the great Mediterranean Sea during the days of Jesus. I understand hemp is a pretty good rope these days? I digress again, grrrr. Hence the words by Jesus:

    Mat 19:22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
    Mat 19:23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
    Mat 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

    Well, as I posted earlier to your Onlyist post, my hopes of being a true KING JAMESER was dashed when David Barton said something to this effect: OF COURSE THE KINGS DON’T WANT OTHER BIBLE TRANSLATIONS OUT THERE WITH CRITICAL COMMENTARY OF SIMPLE DOWN TO EARTH MEANING.

    And now thinking, why would Latin Popes want us to understand the Bible in our simple minds thinking?

    Why? It’s easier to conqueror a stupid man than a smart one. Just ask Pol Pot why he first went after the intellectuals in Cambodia? Mao taught the bullet does it’s wonder work coupled with the improper use of it and fear, tyranny and terror! BANG! I understand you hear the report but then if they are a good shot you see light!

    Ecc 9:14 There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it:
    Ecc 9:15 Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.
    Ecc 9:16 Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.
    Ecc 9:17 The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.
    Ecc 9:18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.

    That peskee camel’s hair rope! grrrr, well it is easier for a swollen handed fisherman to slip a camel rope through the eye of the needle than for a rich empire builder minded man to give up his Adamic nature for Christ in Him, the Hope of Glory seeing he has everything he could ever want and can afford. Thus there is only weak HOPE IN HIM NOT STRONG HOPE like in one who has nothing, is nothing and intellectually can contribute nothing to intelligent rich guys games or middle class or upper middle class or lower middle class souls hope of reward for playing the game.

    It takes the Hand of God to defeat us!

    Oh thank you Hand of God, ouch!

    Heb 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
    Heb 12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
    Heb 12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

  2. The pen is, indeed, mightier than the sword. That’s why those whom God ordained to bear the sword sometimes get greedy and desire more power than they can be responsible stewards with. The way they obtain it is to eliminate the competition from the rank and file over whom they would be the unquestionable lord.

    Although the Roman Church was not itself a temporal civil power, but had managed over time to gain influence over those with temporal civil power, the analogy definitely fits. Those in leadership, even religious leadership, can sometimes only hold on to leadership by influencing their followers to avoid that which threatens their personal leadership. I admit that it often happens unintentionally, but is a natural tendency for those who try to build on a foundation of faulty ideas. While many are sincere, others are aware, and believe by such tactics they “do God a service.”

    I appreciate your reference to the Nicolaitans, the parts of which word have been interpreted by some to literally indicate the idea of “conquering the people.” I myself operated with this understanding, and likewise imputed it to the early stirrings of that which became the Roman Catholic hierarchy. But I think this is probably a misguided notion. If we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, we see that verse fourteen gives the added revelation that the Nicolaitans were those who at least ate food sacrificed to idols, and practiced sexual immorality. Several early writers had some good ideas about the historical group, but not a unanimous enough testimony to lend certainty. But at any rate, what we nowadays call “antinomianism,” the belief that since we’re no longer under the law we can live as we please, probably hits closer to the mark than does the idea of conquering the laity.

    Here’s a couple of links to fill you in:

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/hcc2.v.xiii.xi.html

    http://www.theopedia.com/Nicolaitans

    I believe the association of Nicolaitans with the idea of “conquering the laity” grew up among the early dispensationalist writers like Scofield. But homiletically, “conquering the laity,” certainly results to greater and lesser degrees when we make it too hard for them to get a clear view of what God is saying in his Word.

    I remember your description of the nuances of the Aramaic language that provide interesting alternative renderings to some New Testament passages. Certainly, those first century Jews who were at the time speaking Aramaic and writing in Greek may have tended to express both Hebrew and Aramaic ideas in Greek. But I can’t go with their claims about some sort of Aramaic autographa. And yes, I know you also stop short of that view as well, but I just thought I’d reiterate.

  3. yes I agree.

    The Syrians do things and read things I cannot unless I live there and learn how to read syriac, aramaic or arabic. I do believe God was intelligent enough to speak and write several languages at the same time or at least teach others to read and write and think perhaps?. It’s us who can’t do that that have the problem.

    Where did you say King James went?

  4. What do you mean, “Where did you say King James went?”

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