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Friday, April 30, 2021

New categories for the Bible Versions Debates

Continuing the thoughts begun yesterday in Recategorizing “KJV Only”

There is a crying need to categorize the various views about the Bible in a way that is accurate, clear, concise, consistent, complete, and equitable. It appears that much of the previous categorization is either designed for or at least lends itself to polemic purposes.[i] There are problems with the categorizations that have been foisted upon us. These should be addressed.
  • accurate – the designations should precise, with as little room for error as possible
  • clear – the designations should be easy to understand rather than confusing
  • concise – the designations should be simple rather than complex
  • consistent – the designations should adhere to similar principles of description for all views
  • complete – the designations should encompass the range of differing views [ii]
  • equitable – the designations should fairly represent opposing and differing views [iii]
In categorizing the views that people hold about which Bible version or versions to use, some have created categories or lists of so-called “King James Onlyism.”[iv] This focus while ignores other possibilities and other views. More recently, Christian McShaffrey has written (perhaps only a bit tongue-in-cheek) about ESV-Onlyism. Talk of “Onlyism” has mostly morphed into a polemic device, should probably be jettisoned. Any strict or exclusive view about Bible versions and textual criticism could be described as some form of “Onlyism.” However, this term (for the most part) does not provide light on the issue, and tends to add heat.
 
What information should be prioritized in order to properly understand different approaches and beliefs about Bible versions? I look forward to any irenic and intelligent input of ideas that might be informative. Here are some ideas that came to mind as I thought about the subject. I do not claim these are exhaustive, or that my own biases do not affect how I express these things. I hope they might be a catalyst towards building more useful categories. This all presupposes that anyone actually wants to understand and accurately demonstrate the various views about Bible versions.
 
Primary considerations underlying a system of categorization should be, or include, first::
  • views concerning the first writing, autographa
  • views concerning copies of the first writing, apographa
  • views concerning translations of the writings, allographa
Views concerning the first writing, or autographa, may include:
  • the first writings are inspired and inerrant
  • the first writings are inspired, but not inerrant
  • the first writings are neither inspired nor inerrant
Views concerning copies of the first writing, or apographa, may include:
  • We have copies of the originals that contain scribal errors
  • We cannot reliably know what copies contain the original writing[v]
  • We can reconstruct and know substantially what is the original from collating and comparing existing manuscripts
  • We have copies that faithfully represent the word of God in the first writings
Views concerning translations of the writings, or allographa, may include:
  • all translations reproduce scribal errors and introduce translation errors
  • translations may reproduce some scribal errors and introduce translation errors, but can be considered essentially the word of God as originally written
  • translations can accurately and faithfully reproduce the original words, representing the word of God as originally written
In addition to these considerations, another will be the difference between preference and dogmatism (as “I prefer this” vs “this is right”).  Perhaps these approaches could be distinguished as “Exclusive,” “Semi-Exclusive,” and “Open.” Exclusive would limit itself to one designated view, dismissing the claims of other views. . Semi-Exclusive would make some exclusive claims, limiting itself to a similar range while allowing for some diversity with that range. Open would remove most barriers, allowing for openness to and the correctness of other views (such as saying it does not matter which Bible translation one uses; use whatever you prefer).


[i] I once thought their categorizations were useful, but have since decided that they do not give a fair representation of the views included – as well as not giving any other views. If everyone held KJV views, there would be no King James Version Debate! 
[ii] For example, the categorizations primarily referenced in discussions only relates to the King James Version. 
[iii] Names like “Burgonism” and “Ruckmanism” might serve some legitimate purpose, yet are more likely to stymie rather than further discussion. 
[iv] Categorizations like those of Bob Griffin and James White or John Ankerberg and John Weldon suffer from including people who prefer the King James Version and those who call for its exclusive use under the broad banner of “KJV Only” – when in fact their approaches and views are completely different. 
[v] “We do not have now—in our critical Greek texts or any of our translations—exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote. Even if we did, we would not know it.” – Daniel B. Wallace, “Foreword,” Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism, Elijah Hixson, Peter J. Gurry, editors, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2019, p. xii.

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