1.      Introduction:

Biblical translation on the internet – Focus on KJV:

When looking on the internet for Bible translations, one might come across the debate over the usage of the King James Version of the Bible. People are passionate with their own reasons to why you should or should not use the KJV. Websites give varying perspectives and arguments to support their stance but the arguments are not always good or free from bias. Ultimately, each person should make their own decision about the KJV Bible. In order to do this, one must know which online sources to trust and which to avoid. This wiki seeks to give information that help with that process. It will provide a taste of the information one might come across on the internet and how to evaluate that information. Background to arguments will also be provided and explained for the reader to understand strengths and differences of both sides. The goal of this Wiki is to provide the reader with the skills needed to evaluate the history and arguments behind the English Bible on their own.

2.      History:

One idea behind the different translations of the bible is the evolution of language. Words gain and lose meaning which cause certain text to lose their original meaning. For example, our modern culture does not use the words “Thee, Thou, and Art” the way that was use centuries ago. The complexity of reading the KJV is hard for those who did not grow up reading it as their first bible. As new and less complex translations are developed they allow a wider range of readers to take part in not only reading the bible but understanding it. This was done with the sacrifice of word-for-word translation and poetic devices. With simpler translations, there has been a backlash from those who prefer the original language and form of the KJV.

 

3.      Evaluating validity and reliability of webpage:

 Writer: Knowing the author of the article or website is very important. What are the credentials they hold and are they qualified to speak about the subject? It is a good sign if they provide contact information; this means they are open to further discussion or questions.

Sources: Does the webpage provide a reference list? Is credit given where it is due?

Bias: Does the content of the page reflect a bias? How evident is the bias? If the author is upfront about their background and bias then this should be taken into account. It is possible to represent your bias while trying to be fair to opposing views. Sometime the name of the online author might give hints to the character. A writer calling themselves “Mrs. KJV-4-eva” should give away how serious or reliable a person might be.

 Purpose: If the webpage does no clearly state its purpose, look for hints in the web graphics or text. Hate images or theological banners advocating certain beliefs are red flags to both purpose and bias of the webpage.

4.      Supporting arguments and controversies:

 Strong arguments: A solid argument will support its conclusions using good rhetoric and valid references. Giving credit to opposing views and explaining why the opposing views are wrong is also a sign of a good argument. Below are just some examples of arguments, representing both sides.

  • Better linguistic knowledge: One argument that is promoting new translations that move away from the KJV states that we have better linguistic knowledge about ancient languages than the KJV translators had. We have new theories and methods that allow for a more accurate translation of the text.  While the translators of the KJV did the best job they could with their resources, today’s scholars have more resources that allow them to make educated and better conclusions about translations.
  • Meaning-Meaning: This argument is in response to the formal-formal statement made by KJV supporters. Since the formal-formal translation simply seeks to copy the words, it can potentially miss bigger meanings or context specific passages. The KJV tried to translate the manuscripts they had word for word, but they also failed to look at what the original Hebrew really meant.  All the idioms, expression, and scopes of the meanings differ from one language to another. Translators who are experts in ancient languages should translate the meaning of the text so that the average reader can understand.
  • Meaning-Meaning not good:  This argument is in response to the meaning-for-meaning stance above and in support of a word-for-word (formal) translation. Supporters of the KJV would say that interpreting and changing the words of the original text is taking things too far. When a reader is examining the Bible they will be studying the interpretations of the translators and not the words of the original authors. Where the text is vague, the KJV-ist will persist in leaving it vague. The idea behind this is that who can say what the author meant? The author may have wanted certain things to be vague and we would not know more about his intention than he would.

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Weak arguments: Arguments can fail for a number of reasons. They usually result from an uninformed or overly passionate writer. When the writer is uninformed they tend to make conclusions from guesswork or because something “sounds right.” When the writer is overly passionate, even if they know what they are taking about, they might forget to give opposing arguments a chance or properly support their findings. Below are some examples and where you can go to read more about them.

  • “The more the better”: “The King James Bible translates from manuscripts that were used more widely, more copies exist! That means more people agreed on them and the texts that we have fewer copies off stopped getting used because people disagreed with them.” – This argument is weak because even if one version was copied more times, does not make it less prone to mistakes.  In fact, the more the manuscript was copied, the more prone it was to mistakes and errors.  For example, two copies were made from the original text, A and B.  A was copied three times whereas B was copied ten times.  The ten copies of B are just as likely to be filled with errors as A, and perhaps have more errors than A.  If we do not have the Original or the A or B we cannot assume which version had the most accurate transcription.  Numbers do not imply accuracy or “the better” text.

  • “The older the better”: Some anti-KJV advocates claim that the newer translations are better because they use older manuscripts.  This might be a part of a good argument, but one cannot rely on the age on the manuscript alone to determine its value.  For example, let assume that two copies were made of the original, A and B.  Nevertheless, the transcriber of A was less proficient and made many mistakes as compared to the transcriber of B who made the more accurate transcription.  Nevertheless, B was lost and only the later transcriptions of B are present.  These B transcriptions are, in fact, younger than the A but were based on a more accurate transcription of the original and thus are more accurate than the older A version.  Age is not everything!  Age is only important if the competing manuscripts are based on somewhat equally accurate sources.

Common fallacies: The “worst of the worst” when it comes to arguments. Unfortunately they are sometimes frequent types of arguments. Each entry will have an example. If you come across any of these arguments in your research it should raise a red flag to the trustworthiness of what you are reading and the site.

  • Ad Hominem: This reasoning focuses more on the man behind the argument, either to attack or praise them. Sometimes this avoids the original argument altogether and seeks to “win” by making the other look bad or themselves look good.

Attack: Text’s used in later Bible translations are wrong! They use different manuscripts that are written by pagans! They are heretics like Origen whom God hates for destroying his word.

Praise: The KJV translators loved and had respect for the Word of God. God inspired them to write the correct words in the translation. Since they are men of God, then they translated everything correctly.

  • Circular Reasoning: This “reasoning” is fallacious because it assumes that the conclusion is true (premises providing the proof). Here is a common representation of this found online:

Mr. A: The KJV is the best Bible version.

Mr. B: Why should I believe that?

Mr. A: Because it is the word of God.

Mr. B: Why should I believe that?

Mr. A: Because the KJV is the inspired word of God.

  • Ignorance: Simply put, ignorant arguments are not based on facts.  If the source sounds like it bases its opinions on feelings, preferences or outdated information, it is an IGNORANT argument.  Many of the categories above, such as circular arguments, are also ignorant because they never use factual evidence. Sometimes it easy to miss these arguments, especially if their views coincide with yours.  Thus, never rely on only one source.  If it sounds odd, it probably is.

 

5.      Fringe and wacky sites: Here are some examples of websites that have clear bias and are riddled with bad arguments. On top of that, they are usually inflammatory and vulgar.  You will find many of these online but here are just a couple.

This website claims that scholars who spend lifetimes studying ancient languages can’t actually translate the Bible for you from its original language. These scholars are” fart smellers” according to them.  Not too sure what their main purpose is beside hating and flaming, though the writer claims to know so much about linguistics.

The King James Bible is Gods interpretation of what He said so they better stop replacing it!!  This website not only prefers the KJV, but it is on the verge of saying that the KJV is better than the originals it was copied from!  They use quotes such as “If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.” (1 Cor 14:27) to argue that there should only be one translation and that translation is the Word of God and the interpretation by God.  Even more shockingly it claims the translation to be better than the original: If you really want a nugget (never mind the Greek) search for every time the word translate or translation is mentioned in the King James Bible.  You will find that every time, the translation is better than the original, try it and see.”

This website loves to point fingers at Satan and his followers (aka anyone supporting non-KJV scripture). It claims it has “authority” in its argument yet it only cites lay people. This site is also a prime example of circular reasoning.

6.      Recommendations:

This site provides images and charts to help the reader sort through different translations of the Bible. The writer includes his own commentary section separating his bias from the rest of the content and allows the reader to make their own conclusion and do their own research.

This website does a good job of providing answers to the main questions surrounding the controversy.  It has a scholarly feeling and it does not dismiss the importance of KJV but rather illuminates its shortcomings and its strengths.  The authors make it clear that they have no problem with people using the KJV, they simply disagree with idolizing or making it appear as the only true bible without flaws.

Even though this website is clearly conservative in its views, it does a good job on evaluating the KJV.  They admit that it has faults and that those must be addressed by using the more authentic manuscripts.  This website actually is laying out their idea of how to make the best translation of the bible available so far that is based on the conservative principles as seen in KJV.

7.      Conclusion:

Hopefully this resource makes it clear how complex the issues behind picking an English Bible are. One should not jump to conclusions about their English Bible preference and take the time to learn about different views and examine arguments. The end goal is to be able to decide on which English Bible translation you are comfortable with and understand why you prefer it.

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