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

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. (Proverbs 19:18 - King James Version) - Some comments on this verse

Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. (Proverbs 19:18 - King James Version)

I think we've all looked at this verse and struggled with it. It is not an easy passage to overcome for many advocates of corporal punishment. It just seems so clear, unassailable and plain. I mean it is so black and white.

So, let's look at this verse a little bit deeper because there is much more here than meets the eye.

Let us understand a couple of things about this verse.

First the original language of the verse is Hebrew. Let's look at the Hebrew now:

יסר בנך כי יש תקוה ואל המיתו אל תשא נפשך׃

Now, let us understand that there is a divergence of opinion concerning what this verse means and there is one word herein that really is the problem. It is the word - המיתו (hmito).

Now, this word is translated one of two ways. It is either "his crying" or "his death."

The King James Version favors the first meaning:

Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. (Proverbs 19:18 - King James Version)

However, in fact, when we look at the more modern scholarship on this verse we can see a different viewpoint. Before we get into that though, let’s consider the flow of how this material was first written down and how it is reaching us today. First, let's look at the King James Version of the Bible. 

A little background about the King James Version

The book of Proverbs is a part of the King James Version and it is found among what we might call "Wisdom books." These also include Psalms and Job.

So, these books were originally composed in Hebrew and transmitted down through the ages in various textual traditions arriving today at what is known as the Masoretic text(I am going to refer to some terms here which can be Googled for more information). There are other textual traditions, but the Masoretic text is the most authoritative, standard one.

Along the way, the Old Testament was translated into Greek in Egypt. This is known as the Septuagint. This was several hundred years before the birth of Christ.

Then, after this other translations of the original Hebrew came along in other languages. Some of these main ones are: Aramaic, Armenian, Arabic, and Ethiopic and, of course, for us Westerners, the most important was the Latin.

This started about 400 or so years after the time of Christ and largely is the work of St. Jerome, who came to the Holy Land and undertook his translation into Latin, known as the Vulgate.

For many centuries, the Latin Vulgate was the Bible of Europe. Only after the Protestant Reformation and the opportunity and desire for increased Bible study did some new translations of the Bible start to appear.

We can mention many of them, but the most enduring of these is, of course, the King James Version. It was first published 401 years ago in 1611.

The King James Version has an amazing history and involved the commissioning of 54 separate scholars who contributed to its production. At the time it was produced, it was an amazing piece of scholarship, a great achievement.

However, this version had its limitations. It relied on the available scholarship that was present at that time, which was very limited. I mean we are talking about a literary production some 160 years after the first books were printed. Literary pursuits were still not in the possession of the common man on the street. It was slowly moving in that direction.

When we think about the opportunities that these 54 scholars had to compare materials, we can see the limitations right away. How could these people travel to other libraries in Europe easily and compare texts? Books were still rare. What if they did not know French or German? I mean a person can see how limited the whole process was. They were relying on a few manuscripts of the Bible and had limited opportunity to compare and check multiple versions in different languages. This is all totally contrasted to today.

Now, getting back to this verse from Proverbs, let us consider some modern versions and how they translate this passage.

Let's look at my favorite these days, the English Standard Version (ESV).

    Discipline your son, for there is hope;
        do not set your heart on putting him to death. (Proverbs 19:18 ESV)

How about some others?

If you Google "Proverbs 19:18" you will get the following as the first page that comes up. I am going to now quote selected modern versions from this list. You'll notice a trend. http://bible.cc/proverbs/19-18.htm

Description: http://bible.cc/parallel7.gif
New International Version (©1984)
Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.
New Living Translation (©2007)
Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives.
English Standard Version (©2001)
Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.
New American Standard Bible (©1995)
Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
Chasten your son because there is hope and do not cast out your soul to his shame.
GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
Discipline your son while there is still hope. Do not be the one responsible for his death.
American Standard Version
Chasten thy son, seeing there is hope; and set not thy heart on his destruction.
Douay-Rheims Bible
Chastise thy son, despair not: but to the killing of him set not thy soul.
Darby Bible Translation
Chasten thy son, seeing there is hope; but set not thy soul upon killing him.
English Revised Version
Chasten thy son, seeing there is hope; and set not thy heart on his destruction.
World English Bible
Discipline your son, for there is hope; don't be a willing party to his death.
Young's Literal Translation
Chastise thy son, for there is hope, And to put him to death lift not up thy soul.

What you find in this list is a totally different understanding of this verse. It really follows what the ESV is saying. So the reading "his death" is vastly favored over "his crying" by modern scholars. This is very important.

Now, this text reaches these versions following the same stream as the King James Version, but you have to add what has taken place since 1611 and there is, in fact, quite a lot in the field of Bible knowledge advancement that has happened since then that adds to our knowledge and this is why we see 12 modern versions all translating this passage the same way because the academic evidence is so compelling in favor of this reading against what the King James Version has. 

What has happened since 1611 in Bible Knowledge?

The issue of accessibility to the Bible in modern Languages
o   Since the invention of the Printing Press/Movable Type, books in general (including the Bible), have become cheaper/more accessible to people in the last 300 years.
The Industrial Revolution
o   The development in the world with more modern conveniences, leisure time and the explosion of scholarship that originated in Europe and America since the beginning of 1800 has meant dramatic increases in the level of learning in all fields and the field of the Bible is no exception.
New Discoveries in Biblical Knowledge – Some Highlights
o   1859 – The Discovery of the previously unknown Sinaticus Manuscript (one of the earliest known almost complete versions of the New Testament in the original Greek language dating back over 1,600 years) by Constantine Tischendorf in the Sinai Peninsula at the St. Catharine’s Monastery.
o   1896 - The discovery of the greatest literary treasures in the Jewish world was brought to light in Cairo, Egypt by the great Hebrew scholar, Solomon Schechter of Cambridge University. Previously unknown documents from numerous Biblical and Talmudic books came to light.
o   1947 – The Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Judaean foothills by a shepherd and the subsequent coming to light of a literal treasure trove of ancient Biblical manuscripts with examples present from almost every book of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) that were previously unknown.
o   The rise of archaeology in the last 150 years which has helped illuminate the pages of the Bible as never before.
§  The discovery of the Moabite Stone
§  The discovery of the ancient tablets at Ebla
§  The discovery of thousands of ancient cuneiform texts in Iraq

The ability of the most accomplished scholars in the world of the Bible to meet and share research on the Bible and present these findings to the world in the most up-to-date and scholarly accurate Bible translations that have ever been undertaken.
o   The Authorized Version - 1911
o   The Revised Standard Version – 1952
o   The New Revised Standard Version – 1989
o   The New International Version – 1978
o   Many others could be mentioned – All with increased levels of new scholarship and the highest levels of academic research present to bring the Bible into the modern world.

While these developments are historical facts, many in the Christian world have not embraced these new historical facts.

Many in the Christian world continue to utilize and hold onto antiquated and academically disadvantaged Bible versions with the King James Version being the main Bible version in question.

So, today, we have the problem of relying on a Bible translation that was published in 1611 being the authoritative source for English speaking people throughout much of the Christian world in the 21st century and today many religious brethren are relying on this Bible version to help them to understand some Bible passages which in some cases are over 4,000 years old.

While much has indeed happened in the Biblical world in the sense of new scholarship, note the following:

“The King James Version, renowned for centuries for its majestic, rhythmic prose and poetry that can entrance those it doesn’t befuddle, was long the best-selling English version. It’s still the second-best-selling Bible in the country [USA], according to CBA (Christian Booksellers Association).”[1][1]

Note what a leading executive from the Zondervan Publishing company, one of the largest Christian publishers in the world, said in the same article: 

“We’re always looking for better ways to engage people in the Bible,” said Paul Caminiti, a vice president for Christian publisher Zondervan, headquartered in Michigan. “Plain-text Bibles are well over 1,000 pages. We’re talking about 66 different books of the Bible, and a book that was written to a culture that is 2,000 to 4,000 years old. It can be challenging for people to jump into.”[2][2]

Mr. Caminiti is right. It can be challenging for people to jump into. But, I think it is safe to say that it is harder to jump into a culture that is between 2,000 to 4,000 years old using tools which themselves are 400 years old. This is where we have major challenges. But, sadly, some well-intentioned brethren just jump right in to the Bible without taking into consideration any serious examination of the Bible that they are studying and teaching others from.

As a final thought, I would like to mention the following. One of the great textual critics of the last century, Professor Scrivener knew a little bit about the history of the Biblical text and in this case we are here discussing the New Testament. 

In his book, "Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament", he mentioned that he and his colleagues reviewed 3,791 separate Biblical manuscripts of the New Testament (in the books final edition - the fourth, which was prepared in 1894). 

Now, if Professor Scrivener living over 100 years ago could have done this, imagine what you, I and especially today's Biblical scholars can achieve? Read any introduction of a modern Bible version and compare it to the introduction of the King James Version and you'll appreciate the difference and the need for us to rely on modern Bible versions and the information we find therein. 

Get my ebook free here -http://parentingfreedom.com/samuelmartin.pdf

For more information about ordering my book in hard copy, "Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking (or Smacking) Controversy", in the USA please call 1 800 204 2063 to order your copy or the Archives Bookshop website to order yours online:




angel said...

are you personally for or against spanking?

Samuel Martin said...

Against - You are welcome to write me and get my free ebook on the subject - info@biblechild.com