Thursday, April 01, 2021

More false friends

“False friends” is a term primarily used in linguistics to mean words in different languages that look or sound similar, but differ significantly in meaning. gives the example of the English word gift (which means a present) and the German word gift (which means poison). (So you might not want Germans to English-gift you a German gift). In Authorized: the Use & Misuse of the King James Bible, Mark Ward tweaks this to refer to words in the King James translation of the Bible whose common use in modern English have a different meaning than in the KJV. In reference to the King James Bible, I have further tweaked “false friends” to refer to writers or speakers who claim to be supporters of the King James Bible – usually extremely strong claims – yet whose support may actually cause damage to the King James Bible and its reputation.[i] In this regard, I have written about Jack Hyles, Nic Kizziah, Timothy Morton and “The Carpenter”, Peter S. Ruckman, and Matthew Verschuur. Gail Riplinger, author of New Age Bible Versions, can be added to the list, though I have as yet to write anything about her.

These kinds of false friends profess absolute support for the King James Bible, while making false, misleading, or unsubstantiated claims about it.[ii] A different type of false friend is those writers who love to proclaim, “I love the King James Bible, but...” In this case, I believe their claim of friendship itself is false, or at the least deceptive.

Rick Norris, author of The Unbound Scriptures, can be considered in this group. He says, “I have read the KJV over 50 years, and I accept and defend the KJV as what it actually is.” Yet in his writings, it is hard to pick out positive statements about the King James translation. Most of his information about the KJV is decisively negative. He will say it is “King James Only” that he opposes, not the King James Bible. If so, why does he never write positive things about the King James translation of the Bible?

Norris has written at least two books,[iii] and maintains a website called, Bible Version & King James Only Controversy Information. Norris’s modus operandi quickly becomes obvious to those who inspect his books, website, and writings at online discussion forums. First, there are the “Hath God said” sidewinding rhetorical questions designed to lead to a conclusion for which he does not have evidence. Then there are the maybes, seems likes, likelys, and probablys interspersed with innuendo and implication, so that the evidence given and points made really do not clearly give the evidence or make the point (if the reader is paying attention). Finally, there is the multiplication of quotes. A few may be relevant, followed by other writers repeating and quoting the same thing he has already referenced – so that most of them add no real evidence and are ultimately the equivalent of hearsay in court testimony. Matthew Verschuur is spot on with this description:

“Of course, when it comes to facts, Rick Norris goes into quotefest mode. He cites everything he can lay his hands on, filling whole paragraphs with quotations.”[iv]

This method makes Norris’s material look well documented and wearies the reader into subjection.

Here is an example of how he dealt with a discussion of the word “bishopric” in Acts 1:20 – which he claimed Archbishop Richard Bancroft or some prelate changed after the KJV translators finished their work. The evidence is second-hand. Two of the complainers have some relevance; in at least they claim someone who could have known about it told them this. However, he multiplies quotes of people who are merely citing the two more original claims, as if this somehow establishes proof. When stymied on presenting first-hand evidence instead of “probably,” “he could have,” or “may have had,” Norris moved on to deflection, asking, “Do you claim that a standard authority for the meaning of English words [The Oxford English Dictionary] is wrong in suggesting that Wycliffe, Tyndale, and Coverdale used the rendering ‘bishoprick’ with a different meaning than the later meaning asserted by Richard Bancroft and some of the KJV translators?” He asserted “John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, and Miles Coverdale may have used [emp. mine, rlv] this rendering in a different sense with the meaning ‘office’ or ‘overseership.’ The Oxford English Dictionary gave this as an ‘obsolete’ meaning of the word and cited Acts 1:20 in Wycliffe’s Bible and the 1535 Coverdale’s as examples of this use (Vol. II, p. 224).” [emp. his]

In my discussion, I made no mention of the Oxford English Dictionary, but he framed his question in a way to imply I thought the OED was wrong. On the other hand, he ignored that I said that the word “bishopric” has a semantic range that covers from “office” to “bishop/overseer of a realm.”

Further, if he had any solid evidence from the OED, why did he not write “John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, and Miles Coverdale used” instead of “may have used”? Continuing, I asked Rick Norris if he disagreed that the semantic range of the word bishopric included “office” and “bishop/overseer of a realm.” I also asked whether he claimed that the Oxford English Dictionary suggests that the word bishopric did not hold in its range of meaning “bishop [overseer] and rice or ric [realm, province, dominion, power]” before or in the days of Wycliffe and Tyndale? When asked, he changed to presenting long lists of semi-related quotes, and when pressed, he clammed up.

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

[i] Such a false friend might be defined thusly: a person attached to the King James Bible by high feelings of affection and great regard, who is a supporter of it (as opposed to others) yet whose actions toward it tend to harm rather than support and promote.
[ii] Bryan Ross asserted “It is not productive for King James Bible Believers to assert things which can easily be proven inconsistent by further comprehensive study of the historical and textual facts.” p. 5).
[iii] KJV-Only Myths About Archaic Words: What does that word in the KJV mean? (Lulu/Unbound Scriptures Publications, 2008/2009) and The Unbound Scriptures: A Review of KJV-only Claims and Publications (Unbound Scriptures Publications, 2003). It appears he only sells the latter on his web site.
[iv] Yes, the same Matthew Verschuur named in the first paragraph.

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