Gadfly and I

My friend and occasional fellow channel-rat ("occasional" because I am only an "occasional" IRC channel rat these days) Alan Kurschner posted a fine piece of reasoning about KJVO-ism at today. It recounts 10 good reasons to reject King James only (and it's sister, King James "mostly" as the "ecclesiastical" text) as the translation of the word of God in English, not to be tampered with.

He deals, for the most part, with the "majority rule" argument, and that's fine -- it's the prevailing wind in KJVO advocacy. But I think there's a far more compelling argument against KJVO which dueling about texts types doesn't approach. It has to do with how the Bible was actually circulated for 1000 years amongst Christians -- in Latin.

By a long shot, the primary mode of transmission of the Bible among people in the church was the Vulgate -- especially in the West. And the Vulgate is, frankly, a somewhat-inferior translation of the texts in whatever form Jerome found them. Yet in that form God's word changed the world.

B. B. Warfield notwithstanding, the most powerful argument against KJVO is that God's word doesn't rely on the integrity of the methods of men's dissemination of printed pages. The psalmist says, "For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven," but also, "I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me."

The trap the KJVO guy falls into in thinking that God doesn't have a plan for His word, doesn't have a purpose for His word. We can't fall into that same trap and then fight about who's hole we are in. He can have the hole.

This is not an argument against integrity in translation, or having right methods -- because we are receivers of the text, and we ought to receive it with some kind of faith-fortified, Christ-exalting humility. But the purpose of right methods is discipleship and evangelism (not necessarily in that order). Right methods ought to lead us to the right view of what God is doing and has done, rather than replacing one human work with another and then arguing which is really the least-errant.