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THE YEARS SINCE McCLURE’S “TRANSLATORS REVIVED”

When Alexander McClure wrote “The Translators Revived” in 1858, he could not possibly have foreseen the coming events which began when the 1881 translation first appeared. This version was the joint effort of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and the revision committee was headed up by Brooke Foss Westcott (Regius professor of Divinity at Cambridge), and Fenton John Anthony Hort (Lecturer on New Testament at Cambridge), and had its origin in an action taken by the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury in February 1870. There were two revision companies in England and eventually two were formed in America.

In May of 1870, the Convocation of Canterbury laid down some basic rules which were to be observed by the translation groups. These rules were as follows:

    [1] To introduce as few alterations as possible into the text of the Authorised Version.

    [2] To limit, as far as possible, the expression of such alterations to the language of the Authorized and earlier English Versions.

    [3] Each company to go twice over the portion to be revised, once provisionally, the second time finally, and on principles of voting as hereinafter is provided.

    [4] That the Text that is to be adopted be that for which the evidence is decidedly preponderating; and that when the Text so adopted differs from that from which the Authorised Version was made, the alteration be indicated in the margin.

    [5] To make or retain no change in the Text on the second final revision by each Company, except two thirds of those present approve of the same, but on the first revision to decide by simple majorities.

    [6] In every case of proposed alteration that may have given rise to discussion, to defer the voting thereupon till the next meeting, whensoever the same shall be required by one third of those present at the meeting, such intended vote to be announced in the notice for the next meeting.

    [7] To revise the headings of chapters and pages, paragraphs, italics, and punctuations.

    [8] To refer, on the part of each Company, when considered desirable, to Divines, Scholars, and Literary Men, whether at home or abroad, for their opinions.

THE RESOLUTIONS OF THE CONVOCATION OF CANTERBURY

In addition to the rules just mentioned, the Convocation also passed five resolutions that were to govern the actions of the translation Committees. These resolutions are as follows:

    [1] That it is desirable that a revision of the Authorised Version of the Holy Scriptures be undertaken.

    [2] That the revision be so conducted as to comprise both marginal renderings and such emendations as it may be found necessary to insert in the text of the Authorised Version.

    [3] That in the above resolutions we do not contemplate any new translation of the Bible, or any alteration of the language, except where in the judgment of the most competent scholars such change is necessary.

    [4] That in such necessary changes, the style of the language employed in the existing Version be closely followed.

    [5] That it is desirable that Convocation should nominate a body of its own members to undertake the work of revision, who shall be at liberty to invite the cooperation of any eminent for scholarship, to whatever nation or religious body they may belong.

WHAT WAS INTENDED WAS NEVER DONE!

What the Convocation set out to do, and what was finally published have some grave differences, which will be pointed out in the pages to follow. First of all, it should be noted that Bishop Westcott did not conform to the desires of the Convocation, in that he insisted upon one particular Text to the exclusion of the Texts used by the translators of the KJV. That Text, he frankly admitted, was Codex Aleph, or Sinaiticus. The other manuscript which was highly esteemed by Westcott and Hort was Code B, or Vaticanus. This Text (Codex Aleph) is a single Greek manuscript which was copied about 400 A.D. and is not the best available Scriptural evidence.

Read the words of Prebendary Scrivener, who was also on the Revision committee, as he writes of this choice of manuscripts. “..entirely destitute of historical foundation..” Westcott made the assumption that “oldest” was “best”, which, in the case of Biblical manuscripts, is simply not so! Upon making this decision, he and Hort set aside a mountain of evidence that had come to light since the 1611 Authorized Version, and had this material been consulted they would have found that most of the intrusions into the Text were unwarranted, unnecessary and unscriptural!

In addition: by inserting the words “many ancient authorities omit...” or “the best manuscripts read thus...” they automatically put themselves in the place of judge as to what actually constituted God’s Word, and in many cases they chose an inferior reading to that which is in the Authorized Version. What the Convocation desired, and explicity stated in both the resolutions and rules portion, was simply set aside or excused, and insertions were made into the text which were based upon manuscript evidence that was less reliable than the Textus Receptus.

WHAT IS GOD’S WORD?

If thought is expressed in words, then to know the mind of God we must know his Word. It has been very popular in the 20th century to hold any version that comes along with the same veneration and belief as the King James Bible. Words are of extreme importance, for God used the language of men to express Himself... first in the language of the Hebrew nation, then in the Aramaic and Greek of the New Testament. That language has been translated into almost every language on earth, and it is remarkable that each rendering has remained as close to the original autographs as it has.

Because God only dealt with one nation in the Old Testament, the language of that people was used, but when we come to the New Testament we find that there was a language in use that was as close to being universal as any language had ever been, and that language is Greek.

Every time a translation is done from one language to another, something is inevitably lost. In many cases a Greek word requires an entire sentence in English, and yet the translators of the King James Version were adept enough to be able to find just the right word to express the fullest, richest meaning of the Greek Text.

Surely reason would tell us that every version that has been printed cannot be God’s Word! Many of the so-called versions are not translations at all, but merely personal interpretations, and even the plain meaning of simple versions are obscured and mutilated to the extent that they often mean just the opposite of the intended Word of God. As said before: language is the expression of thought, and to know what God transmits from His mind to ours, we have to know what God’s Word really is.

Alexander McClure’s “Translators Revived” was not written to begin a KJV cult, nor was it his intention to proclaim the KJV as a faultless production. The purpose of McClure was to show the nature of the translation, and the character of the men who participated in the actual work of translation. In this there can be no doubt that he succeeded, and the evidence can be weighed by all who care to read his writings.

IS THE KJV GOD’S WORD?

Much derision and scorn is heaped upon those who hold in high esteem the work of the King James translators. One group, made up of mostly younger men who are fairly recent graduates of Bible Colleges or Seminaries, even use the term, “The King Jimmy Bible”, which ought to tell us something of the lack of concern over which Bible is, indeed, the very Word of God!

As has been, and will be, pointed out, there are numbers of books which have “BIBLE” printed on the cover, but what is inside may often be as far from the truth as the east is from the west. For that reason, the reader is encouraged to thoroughly read the next few pages before getting into the main body of McClure’s outstanding little treatise, for there are some things said that may cause a change of mind when carefully weighed in the scales of TRUTH.