Welcome message

Dear friends,

Welcome to my blog. I am honored to have you visit. I hope you'll find my articles a blessing. I welcome your input and especially comments and questions.

I write as a Christian from Jerusalem, Israel about Biblical subjects.

I am particularly interested in the subjects of children, families, women's issues, corporal punishment, science and nature as these subjects relate to the Holy Scriptures.

For more information, see my website: www.biblechild.com

With every good wish - Samuel Martin

Thursday, November 03, 2011

“If the King James Version was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me” & Newsletter for November


The Newsletter of the
“New Foundation for Biblical Research.”

A project of the Century One Foundation, Inc. (www.centuryone.org)
© Samuel Martin

Samuel Martin – Project Director – www.facebook.com/byblechyld

 

November 2011


  1. “If the King James Version was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me”
  2. The results of my first drawing on my blog are in
  3. Rev. Kenneth Bailey – Bringing a Middle Eastern perspective to Biblical studies

If the King James Version was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me

I can always remember my father telling me about his uncle Virgil. He never told me too much about where he lived, but I always understood that he had migrated out of Oklahoma with my father’s family in the period of 1935 known to those migrants as the ‘Dust Bowl,’ where central eastern Oklahoma was a severely affected area of soil degradation and a severe drought situation during that time.

During that time, some 2.5 million people left the Plains States and many of them left for the West. My dad’s family was a part of this migration of peoples during that time.

Dad’s Uncle Virgil was a Nazarene preacher. He came from this very conservative mind set which was fiercely independent, honest as the day is long, people who were ready to give to their country and did not like to take anything back, people who took care of their own, worked hard and only wanted a fair day’s pay for their work, were exceedingly fair, loved God and neighbour and who had the Bible as ‘God’s Word.’

Of course, when we speak about these dear people, who are my own relatives, when we are talking about the Bible, we are talking about the King James Version of the Bible.

Let me add something here about my own view of the King James Version of the Bible. I love this version. Today it is not my favourite one (everyone who reads anything I write probably knows that my favourite these days is the ESV). The King James Version is something that I grew up with. It was the first Bible my grandmother gave me. Two of my most special Bible’s I have are King James Bibles. They are my Thomas Newberry Study Bible and The Companion Bible by Dr. E. W. Bullinger.

Speaking about the Newberry Study Bible, the late British Emeritus Professor F.F. Bruce said:

"Thomas Newberry, the editor of The Newberry Study Bible, was born in 1811 and died in 1901. For most of his life he belonged to the Open wing of the Brethren movement. He resided for many years at Weston-super-Mare, England, and from there he exercised a long and fruitful expository ministry, both oral and written. He was a careful student of the Bible in Hebrew and Greek. Evidence of his minute attention to the sacred text lies before me as I write, in a beautiful copy of Tischendorf's transcription of the New Testament according to the Codex Sinaiticus, presented to him by friends in London in 1863, which is annotated throughout in his neat handwriting. It was after twenty-five years devoted to such study that he conceived the plan of putting its fruits at the disposal of his fellow-Christians in The Newberry Study Bible." - F.F. Bruce[4]

Bruce also added:
"Newberry had no axe to grind. He was a careful and completely unpretentious student of Hebrew and Greek texts, whose one aim was to make the fruit of his study available as far as possible to Bible students whose only language was English. His procedure tended to make the Biblical text self-explanatory as far as possible; he had no thought of imposing on it an interpretive scheme of his own."- F.F. Bruce[6]
After almost 150 years passing, Newberry’s Study Bible is still one of the best. They are not so easy to find, but my friends at www.archivesbookshop.com (ask for Chris) may be able to help you find one.

Of course, my most treasured possession from a Biblical point of view is my late father’s Bible, which is a King James Version National Bible.

The Bible in my family was, is and always will be simply “God’s Word.”

So, it is this King James Version of the Bible that for my family (and millions of other families around the globe, but particularly in the Western world) growing up was unquestionably known as “God’s Word.” Anytime my relatives talked about Scripture, this is how it was referred to with no ifs, ands or buts and it was always the King James Version that they had in mind.

Let’s also not kid ourselves. The King James Version may no longer be the best selling Bible version in America (in 2010), but today it still occupies the number two (New King James Version) and three (King James Version) positions on the list of best selling Bibles in the USA according to the Christian Booksellers Association figures for 2010.

However, starting around the time that my own father was starting to become a young adult (1950), changes were on the horizon concerning the Bible in America. The foundations for this had been laid some 50 years earlier.

In 1901, the American Standard Version had come out and had become a standard Bible used particularly in the seminary or university settings, but due to developments in Bible scholarship at that time (for example, the Dead Sea Scrolls were found offering some new insights into the field of Bible translation), a fresh revision of Scripture to take into account all of the latest developments was proposed. After a long period of development covering some 25 years, this new version came out officially in 1952. It was known as the Revised Standard Version.

This new version was certainly applauded by many in the academic world. Here now we had the Bible being “revised” and brought up to date reflecting the best and latest scholarship by the world’s top religious scholars (who were the very top experts assembled from around the world to undertake this ground breaking project). New readings of Scripture from the discoveries found in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in other Bible manuscripts were included in this new version. The academic world was abuzz with excitement.

During this time, I can remember the recollections of my father about this issue. At that time, he had finished two years of community college and had joined the US Air Force with the plan to become a weather forecaster. Two weeks after joining the service, the Korean war broke out. My dad’s plans were thrown into uncertainty as it looked now that airmen were not the priority, but rather infantry soldiers were needed for the war.

Because my father had had two years of community college prior to enlisting, he was tested and then selected to go to the University of New Mexico for one year at government expense to undertake an accelerated course in meteorology. While he was in New Mexico, he and a distant relative of his (who was coincidentally also serving as a weather forecaster in the same unit) started to attend church services at a Baptist church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

My father at that time had no specific interest in going into the ministry, but as he and his relative began to be known at the church as the “university crowd”, they began to receive assignments from the church leadership to conduct Bible studies for youth and to take part in what they called “Training Union” courses.

For my dad, this was a time when he was about 20 years old and with these new duties in his mind came responsibilities. So he began to purchase some books about the Bible. I can remember rehearsing this story in a lecture he once gave where he talked exactly about this time in his life. These included a Bible Dictionary and Encyclopaedia (his first one was the International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia – ISBE for short).

He then began to take an interest in the Bible in a much greater way at this time. Shortly thereafter, dad was sent to Greenland for one year to learn arctic meteorology and was left in great isolation and this gave him a great deal of time to study the Bible independently.

During this period, we began to note that communications were beginning to become more common place. Radio was still the main media source of news for most people. Newspapers were very important sources as well and the subject of the Bible was now in the media, especially this new “Revised Standard Version” of the Bible. Yes, there was great excitement surrounding this new Bible for many academics and scholars of Scripture, but for the common everyday man on the street, this development represented a threat. One such person was my dad’s Uncle Virgil.

Uncle Virgil and the King James Version

Uncle Virgil as I said earlier was a Nazarene preacher. From all the stories I have heard about him, he was a very tall man and had a commanding presence. Nazarene church teachings were very, very conservative and oriented around the ideas of Pentecostalism and Holiness. The Nazarene Church was strongly oriented around the teachings of John Wesley. [Comment: I am by the way not singling out the Nazarene Church in this article. I only mention this story because it is a factual part of my own upbringing and I imagine that many reading this article will immediately substitute their own denominational experience for my own herein referenced. My Uncle Virgil was a dear God fearing Christian man who was doing the best that he could to live a “Christ-like” life. The values and virtues espoused by the Nazarene Church are very close to my own and the purpose of this article is only to illustrate the ongoing influence of the King James Version on our culture in the Western World].

Make no mistake about it, the Nazarene Church in this period was very conservative when it came to the Bible, which in their mind was simply “God’s Word.” The Church in general did not question too much the origin of God’s Word, they just basically accepted it as they had received it and the Bible that occupied this position was the King James Version of Scripture.

Uncle Virgil was a part of this system. It was a system which did not question Scripture, but rather focused on adhering more to the existing teachings that were found in the Holy Bible. It was this system that my dad was going to find a very hard time engaging with from an academic point of view.

“Don’t confuse us with all these new fangled ideas about God’s Word”

In 1954, my father finished his military service and was discharged and returned home to the central region of California where he grew up. During this time at one family gathering, he had an opportunity to share with some of his family members (including his own mother) some of his new found information about what was taking place in the academic world associated with the Bible. On one day, this exchange included his Uncle Virgil.

After opening up the subject for discussion, dad was given a good scolding by Uncle Virgil for introducing such silly and nonsensical information about “God’s Word.” The discussions, which were very short, ended with the following statement said in all seriousness from Uncle Virgil saying: “All of your new information does not impress me. In fact, if the King James Version was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.”

This by the way is not an isolated statement said by a one off person. Oh no! Anyone who has grown up in this type of a fundamentalist Christian environment may be very familiar with this type of talk and thinking. In fact, in rehearsing this article with one dear friend, she commented that she had heard the exact same phrase come from her parents who were also a part of another very conservative American denomination.

Let’s stop and think about that statement because it was said in all seriousness. Never mind if prior to 1611 (four hundred years ago now), the King James Version did not exist!

This statement to some is called on numerous websites as an “old joke.” But for those of us who have grown up in these fundamentalist type households, we know the truth. Anytime you were talking about the Bible, you were talking about it as “God’s Word.” And up until fifty years ago in America, the King James Version of the Bible was the only Bible really in mainstream America (and really in Western civilization) that was so universally accepted as “God’s Word.”

I love the King James Version

The King James Version, I reiterate here, is one that is so special and close to my heart, but it, like all English Bibles today, has its limitations. This is especially the case concerning many of the texts relating to corporal punishment of children in the book of Proverbs. But, to my dad’s Uncle Virgil, God rest his soul, this Bible had no limitations and certainly no deficiencies! After all, it was God’s Word, which means that it is perfect. Yes, perfect!

I challenge any person to pick up a Gideon Bible and in the beginning there is a section which says: “What the Bible Says about Itself.” You can read the passages quoted. One of them in Psalm 19:7 which in the KJV says: “The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul…”

[Now I have to say here and everyone who knows me and reads my material knows that I am very conservative when it comes to Scripture. However, I am not bound by a particular Bible version especially in today’s English speaking world where in my humble opinion, all Bible versions have serious issues that force a closer reliance on the original languages as best as we can understand them. Thank God, today we, more than any other time in history, have the most powerful tools of understanding available to help us all better understand that good Old Book known as the Holy Scriptures.]

To him and many dear pastors and peoples trained up in seminaries sponsored or affiliated with certain Christian denominations, church leaders promote the King James Version because it is a part of their Church’s individual history and to see change in such structures is often a slow process that moves like molasses in Minnesota in the winter time. Churches, seminaries and church structures are often not generally amenable to change. They are certainly not interested in seeing “revised” Bible versions. This for some people is just too much. They are much more focused on preserving the old line! Hence, after almost 60 years since the RSV first came out in 1952, the KJV and NKJV still occupy the number two and three slots of best selling Bibles in the USA today.

As I said earlier, I love the King James Version and I read from it regularly, but we really need to embrace modern tools that help us to understand Scripture better. We are in an age of discovery, knowledge sharing and information and many advances have been made in Scriptural understanding in the last 150 years.

Just as today we are now communicating with I-Phones and the Internet and are no longer communicating with tin cans connected by a piece of string, let us also embrace the very best 21st century Biblical scholarship when it comes to Scripture and hold the King James Version in the proper reverence that it deserves.

Of course, we are not talking here about fundamental doctrines of Christianity which every Christian shares, but Bible knowledge is increasing and we need to use the modern tools we have today to help us better understand that good Old Book.

We, I believe, need to embrace these changes and to realize that change is a good thing relative to the increases in understanding we have about points of Scripture which may need illuminating for us. These changes are for good and are only going to help us better understand that good old book: The Holy Bible.

Note: The historical reconstruction in this post above utilized an audio cassette taped lecture by may late father from the Foundation for Biblical Research from 1976 titled: "A Brief Background of the Director."

2. The results of my first drawing on my blog are in

I am pleased to announce that the results of the first drawing I held on my blog (www.samuelmartin.blogspot.com) are in.

I was giving away two books. The first book is:

Corporal Punishment in the Bible: A Redemptive Movement Hermeneutic for Troubling Texts by Professor William Webb

I have really rejoiced in first learning of this book (thanks Doug) and then reading it myself. I am so pleased to give it my most positive unqualified endorsement.
It has been such a blessing for me to get to know Prof. Webb in several personal contacts and I do look forward to reading all of his other books.
I do hope it will be very soon where we will hear a small communication from his wife, whose spirit I feel is really close at hand in Professor Webb’s book. I hope to post that on my blog very soon. http://samuelmartin.blogspot.com/2011/10/v-behaviorurldefaultvmlo.html
 
For more links, reviews and other information about Professor Webb and his book see: http://redemptivechristianity.com &                                http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/review/code=2761

I really think this is a wonderful book and I hope you will support it. I know you will be blessed by it as I have been Get your copy here - https://shop.ivpress.com/epages/IVP.storefront/en/addtobasket/0-8308-2761-7

Congratulations to B.C. from Eastern Oregon who won this book by Prof. Webb.

Congratulations also to G.S from South Carolina who won a copy of my own book

Stay tuned for more drawings of great books via my blog and newsletter.

3. Rev. Kenneth Bailey – Bringing a Middle Eastern perspective to Biblical studies

I’ve been talking lately about Rev. Kenneth Bailey’s books and here is a link to all of them from Inter Varsity Press on one page. http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/author.pl/author_id=1185.

Rev. Bailey’s books bring a very unique perspective to New Testament studies: a Middle Eastern one. Do yourself a favour. Consider adding these wonderful books to your library. Honestly, you will be so glad you did. His studies on the Prodigal Son, Jesus and Paul through Middle Eastern eyes are so eye opening. I know that most of you who read my newsletter will rejoice in these books. I am so please to be mentioning them because I know they will bless you in your study of that good old book: The Holy Scriptures.

Until Next Month,

Samuel Martin

5 comments:

Crystal said...

Yep- I come from a Holiness background, and all other translations are considered evil, unfortunately. In my own experience the Holy Spirit has enlightened me of several passages. What an amazing feeling to finally see the words of their Hebrew and Greek origin to be exactly the sentiment I'd discovered years before I had such study tools like the blue letter Bible and eSword. Other than the revelations found in your own book was Helen Wessels work about what the Bible really says about childbirth. My 4th child was born peacefully, painlessly, and calmly at home- blowing the pain-filled woman's curse out the window.

Samuel Martin said...

Crystal.

nice to hear from you.

I'll have to write more in the future about some of the tools I use in my own Bible study being that you mentioned some of yours.

Of course, the most interesting thing is that most of the older more established scholarly tools for Bible research are based on the King James Version!

All the best and thanks again for writing.

sam

Samuel Martin said...

Crystal,

Going to post something in response to the last sentence of your comment. I hope you enjoy it.

Reading your blog about your kids and the whole diaperless program was very cool.

Maybe I'll pass a paper by you one day because I want to write something about family life in ancient times and it needs a mom's perspective.

Thanks

Sam

James D. Tabor said...

Such a lovely, informative, and moving account of your father Samuel. God bless you for remember him in this way, and thus honoring both him and his ideas. I miss him still so very much and wish he and I could have shared much more over the years.

Amanda said...

I just lost a "friend" last week over this very topic. She asked why call yourself a Christian if you didn't believe what the bible said. I said because I love Jesus but many parts of the bible have been mistranslated. She threw out that King James was accurate and God's word has been preserved so that wouldn't happen. I pointed out the same text as Crystal above about the supposed curse on women.