Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Transmission of the Old & New Testament Translations

Problems with the King James Version: What Were the Translators Translating?

by Bart Erhman
January 11, 2023

I’ve mentioned several problems with the King James Version in previous posts. Arguably the most significant set of problems has to do with the text that the translators were translating. The brief reality is that in the early 17th century, Greek editions of the New Testament were based on very few and highly inferior manuscripts. Only after the King James was translated did scholars begin to become aware of the existence of older, and far better, manuscripts.

The manuscripts of the New Testament (and of all books from antiquity) were copied — prior to the invention of printing — almost always by scribes who did their best to make faithful reproductions of the copies they were copying, and many of them did a remarkably good job. Others did a not-so-good job. Since mistakes can get replicated over time, and introduced over time, in general it is a good idea to consult the *earliest* manuscripts for determining what an author of a book wrote. The later manuscripts tend to be worse (that’s not an *absolute* rule, but a relatively good one).

As we saw in the previous post, the first edition of the Greek NT to be published after the invention of printing was by the Rotterdam humanist Erasmus, whose 1516 edition went through several revisions over the years. Other publishers based their own editions on Erasmus, rather than doing a careful study of the surviving manuscripts themselves. Eventually it became such a standard text that it came to be known as the Textus Receptus (the “received text” – that is, the text everyone used). Erasmus’s edition was based just on the few Greek manuscripts at his disposal, which were late medieval and that had the typical kinds of mistakes that one can find in late medieval manuscripts.

As a result, translations into English of the Greek New Testament, based on Erasmus’s editions and those that replicated, more or less, his text, include translations of passages that were almost certainly not originally in the New Testament, but that had come to be added later by scribes. The most famous of all is the so-called “Johannine Comma,” a reference to 1 John 5:7-8, the only passage in the New Testament that explicitly affirms the doctrine of the Trinity.

In the Latin Vulgate – the Bible of Western Christendom for centuries – 1 John 5:7-8 states that “there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit. And these three are one.” This then is the doctrine of the trinity: there are three divine beings in heaven and even though there are three of them, they are actually only one. One God, in three persons – the doctrine of the trinity. Nowhere else in the NT is the doctrine explicitly stated (although Father, Son, and Spirit are mentioned in the same breath elsewhere. But not the doctrine itself, which includes the idea that: “these three are one.”)

When Erasmus produced his first edition of the Greek NT, he left that verse out, since it was not in the Greek manuscript he was using. What happened next is a matter of debate. Some scholars have argued that the account of events widely known in the scholarly literature is apocryphal. But the way the story normally is told is as follows:

Church theologians were incensed that Erasmus had left the Trinity out of the Bible and attacked him for it. He explained that he could not find the verse in any of the Greek manuscripts he had consulted, and what he was producing was, after all, a Greek New Testament. He did agree, though, that if someone could show him a Greek manuscript that had the verse, he would include it in his next edition. And so, someone (literally) produced a manuscript – adding the verse by translating it in its proper place from the Latin.

And so Erasmus was true to his word, and included it in his next edition. It was this subsequent edition that was used by other publishers of other editions of the Greek NT, and these were the editions used by the translators of the King James. And so you will find the verse in the King James.

As more and more manuscripts were discovered, it became clear that in fact the verse was not part of the original text of 1 John, and so modern translations do not include it. When these translations started to appear at the end of the 19th century and into the 20th, there was considerable uproar when it was recognized that they did not include the leading proof text for the Trinity, and translators were roundly accused of being anti-Christian, liberal, untrustworthy, and even demonic tools of the Devil. But they were in fact simply translating the text as it had been handed down in the textual tradition. Sometimes readers don’t want the Bible as it was originally written, but only the Bible as they are familiar with it.

That is why those who insist on following the King James version insist that the story of Jesus and the Woman taken in Adultery (John 7:53-8:11) and the final twelve verses of Mark’s Gospel (Mark 16:9-21) were originally in the NT. They weren’t. They are *terrific* stories, but, well, they were added by later scribes.
The KJV has lots of other problems like this. Like the later additions to the text, it too is powerful and moving. But that doesn’t mean it is accurate, if what you want is to know what the authors themselves actually wrote.

* * * * * * * *

The History and Popularity of
English Bible Translations

by Robert
March 2015

There was a time when no one could read the Bible in their own language. Now, Wycliffe Global Alliance statistics show that most of the world’s population has a complete Bible available in their native language. The English-speaking world can choose from dozens of translations. With so many out there, it makes me wonder: which ones do people choose?

There are several ways to answer this with data at varying levels of availability and reliability. The most accessible data comes from Wikipedia. Statistics from any online source will be skewed toward younger portions of the population, hampering the accuracy but useful all the same. The visualization below shows Bible translations through time using this list of English Bible translations and view statistics for each detail page.

click here to enlarge

The rise in the number of translations each decade since the 1950s is interesting. With each new version comes increased difficulty for one to stand out in the crowd. Those that have risen above the rest are the Wycliffe Bible, the King James Version (or Authorized Version), and the New International Version. The English Standard Version also deserves mention due to its rapid climb in popularity since its first publication in 2001.

John Wycliffe is famous for bringing the Bible to laypeople, an action which paved the way for the Protestant Reformation. Therefore, it remains a prominent interest when studying the history of the Bible. The King James Version stands out not only for its history and literary achievement but also for its continued popularity. We should expect that modern readers would gravitate to a version like the NIV with more familiar language, yet the KJV stays high up the charts while its language is from a bygone era.

It’s also important to explore how well this holds up compared to other data sources. One widely accessible source is Google Trends. The chart below examines search rankings for the five most popular versions.

Overall, the rankings match reasonably well with Wikipedia page views, with some interesting exceptions. While the NIV beats the KJV on a decade-long average, they have switched places since 2012 and the KJV continues to gain steam. The ESV continues climbing slowly and steadily. Other differences are likely accounted for in the methods used to track statistics and the time frame differences (90-day Wikipedia views vs. month-to-month search trends).

This only accounts for internet users at large who express some interest in each version through a page click or search term. It says nothing about what people actually buy or read on a regular basis. Bible websites and apps like YouVersion would have data on readership but would still be limited to tech-friendly demographics.

A better source would be the Barna Group, an organization which conducts scientific studies of religious interest. In a 2014 study comissioned by the American Bible Society, they found the same overall rankings for the top four versions based on survey responses. In this case, not only did the King James Version come out on top, it did so by a wide margin.

So, which English bible version is most popular? With three ways to answer that question, the King James Version is at or near the top of every list. Finding which one belongs in second, third, or fourth place will depend on where and when you look for data.

I gravitate towards sources which are easily accessible like Wikipedia. As we’ve seen, an easy answer won’t always be the right answer, but at least it’s something. Data concerning translation work worldwide is much harder to compile and analyze.

As the mission spreads throughout the globe, aided by the continued advancements in technology, I hope to see data that shows fewer and fewer people groups and languages without access to the scriptures.