Sunday, July 31, 2022

Why will ye die?

1. There is a Rock in a weary land,
Its shadow falls on the burning sand,
Inviting pilgrims as they pass
To seek a shade in a wilderness.

Refrain 1:
Then why will ye die?
Oh! why will ye die?
When the shelt’ring Rock is so near by?
Oh! why will ye die?

2. There is a Well in a desert plain,
Its waters call with entreating strain,
“Ho, ev’ry thirsting sin-sick soul,
Come freely drink, and thou shalt be whole.”

Refrain 2:
Then why will ye die?
Oh! why will ye die?
When the living Well is so near by?
Oh! why will ye die?

3. A great fold stands with its portals wide,
The sheep astray on the mountain side,
The Shepherd climbs o'er mountains steep,
He’s searching now for His wand’ring sheep.

Refrain 3:
Then why will ye die?
Oh! why will ye die?
When the Shepherd’s fold is so near by?
Oh! why will ye die?

4. There is a cross where the Saviour died,
His blood flow’d out in a crimson tide
A sacrifice for sinful men,
And free to all who will enter in.

Refrain 4:
Then why will ye die?
Oh! why will ye die?
When the crimson cross is so near by?
Oh! why will ye die?

The Sheltering Rock apparently first appeared in Harvest Bells No. 3, 1887 (I don’t have this book to check). In Harvest Bells, Nos. 1, 2 and 3 Combined, underneath the song title the following Bible verses are presented: Isaiah 32:2; 12:3; 65:10 and Col. 1:20. To hear this song, listen at a revival of The Sheltering Rock, sung at Haw Creek Baptist Church, near Cumming, Georgia (starts at 22:25).

Someone wrote of the last line in the refrain, “Ponder that question, if you dare!”

The words and music of this song were written by Baptist evangelist William Evander Penn. He was born in Rutherford County, Tennessee, August 11, 1832, the son of George Douglas Penn and Telitha Patterson. He united with the Beachgrove Baptist Church on October 3, 1847. Penn studied law and opened a law office in Lexington, Tennessee around 1852. He married Corrilla Frances Sayle in 1856. In 1866, the Penns moved to Jefferson, Texas, where he established a law office. The Baptist Church at Jefferson licensed him to preach, and on December 4, 1880 the Broadway Baptist Church in Galveston, Texas ordained him. He began preaching revivals in 1875, and continued until his death April 29, 1895 in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Penn was nicknamed “the Texas Evangelist,” but he held evangelistic meetings in many other states, as well as England and Scotland.

Penn wrote hymns and compiled several hymnals for use in his meetings, all titled Harvest BellsHarvest Bells: a New Collection of Devotional Hymns and Tunes, for All Religious Meetings especially adapted for Revival Services, 1882, with J. M. Hunt; Harvest Bells No. 2: a New Collection of Religious Songs for Sabbath Schools, and Prayer and Revival Meetings, 1885; and Harvest Bells No. 3: a Rare Collection of New and Beautiful Songs by over one hundred different authors of words and music: for Sabbath Schools, Revivals and Other Religious Meetings, 1887, with Horace N. Lincoln. Around 1891 Harvest Bells, Nos. 1, 2 and 3 Combined was released (Baptist and Reflector Book House was advertising this at least by January 1892). These were released in shape and round notes, and at least some in words only editions. In 1900, Mrs. Penn, with the help of W. H. Morris and E. A. Hoffman, published New Harvest Bells: for Sunday Schools, Revivals, and all Religious Meetings; containing Selections from the Most Popular Song Writers of the Day, together with the Unpublished Songs of the late W. E. Penn. Penn wrote an autobiography, which was included after his death in The Life and Labors of Major W. E. Penn (St. Louis, MO: C. B. Woodward Printing, 1896).

W. E. Penn begins as an evangelist


Weekly Democratic Statesman (Austin, Texas)
Thursday, August 19, 1875, page 2

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Ye scholars, hearken (again)

1. Ye scholars, hearken unto me,
Ye, who against my Bible be;
Ye work and toil, the “King” to foil
Therefore, its beauties do not see.

2. Ye scholars, on your letters high,
Do cause us plebes to weep and sigh;
Why fight ye so, to such lengths go
To smite the Bible hip and thigh?

3. Ye scholars, with a single eye,
Would like to wave the “King” good-bye;
Both halt and lame, ye ply your aim
New Bible versions to supply.

Using Solomon’s wisdom

On a bus two women were fighting over the last available seat. The conductor tried unsuccessfully to reason with them and resolve the problem. Suddenly the bus driver shouted, “Let the ugly one have the seat.” Both women stood for the rest of their bus ride.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Polycarp to the Philippians

Polycarp to the Philippians

Christian and other historians recognize the early Christian leader Polycarp a disciple of John, the apostle. He lived AD 69 to AD 155,[i] and was the bishop of the church of Smyrna (cf. Revelation 2:8-11). He died as a martyr. When charged to deny Christ, he replied, “Eighty and six years have I served him, and he never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?”

Polycarp wrote a letter to the Philippians, which date of writing is estimated to have occurred in the range AD 110-140. The letter has a number of interesting features.

Polycarp wrote at the invitation of the Philippians.

  • 3:1 “These things, brethren, I write to you concerning righteousness, not at my own instance, but because you first invited me.”

Polycarp defers to the accuracy and authority of Paul.

  • 3:2 “For neither am I, nor is any other like me, able to follow the wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, who when he was among you in the presence of the men of that time taught accurately and stedfastly the word of truth…”

Polycarp recognized the power of Paul’s letters to build a church up in the holy faith.

  • 3:2 “…also when he was absent wrote letters to you, from the study of which you will be able to build yourselves up into the faith given you…”

Polycarp alludes to and/or quotes apostolic writings. (a few examples from the translation by Kirsopp Lake)

  • 1:3 “by grace ye are saved, not by works” Ephesians 2:8.
  • 2:3 “Judge not that ye be not judged, forgive and it shall be forgiven unto you, be merciful that ye may obtain mercy, with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” Matthew 7:1-2; Luke 6:36-38.
  • 2:3 “Blessed are the poor, and they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.” Matthew 5:3, 10.
  • 3:3 “which is the mother of us all” Galatians 4:26.
  • 4:1 “we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it” 1 Timothy 6:7.
  • 5:1 “God is not mocked” Galatians 6:7.
  • 5:2 “we shall also reign with him” 2 Timothy 2:12.
  • 5:3 “every lust warreth against the Spirit, and neither fornicators nor the effeminate nor sodomites shall inherit the Kingdom of God” Galatians 5:17; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.
  • 6:1 “ever providing for that which is good before God and man” 2 Corinthians 8:21.
  • 7:1 “For everyone who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is an anti-Christ” 1 John 4:3; 2 John 1:7.
  • 7:2 “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” Matthew 26:41.
  • 8:1 “who bare our sins in his own body on the tree” 1 Peter 2:24.
  • 9:2 “love this present world” 2 Timothy 4:10.
  • 10:2 “having your conversation blameless among the Gentiles” 1 Peter 2:12.
  • 11:2 “not know that the saints shall judge the world” 1 Corinthians 6:2.
  • 12:1 “Be ye angry and sin not,” and “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath” Ephesians 4:26

In these quotes, Polycarp shows himself familiar with the Gospels, as well as the letters of Paul, Peter, and John. In chapter 12 he refers to “the Scriptures” as a recognizable body of truth in which they would be well-versed (which includes Paul, which he quotes as Scripture).

The letter of Polycarp is not equal to the Scriptures, and his writing makes that clear. It is nevertheless worthwhile as a testimony to his beliefs, and to readings already recognized as Scripture during his lifetime.

[i] The exactness of the dating for his birth and death may be disputed.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

“Moe” and “More”

I find delightful the study of changes in the English language, and especially regarding words of the Bible. As I continued to study the 1611 printing of the Bible, I found F. H. A. Scrivener calling attention to the use of “moe” in the 1611 Bible (which had previously escaped me). Scrivener calls it the “quaint” word for “more.”

The several editors, especially those of 1762 and rid of the quaint old moe for more (spelt mo in the Bible of 1638)... (The Authorized Edition of the English Bible (1611), Its Subsequent Reprints and Modern Representatives, London: Cambridge University Press, 1884, p. 104)

Joshua 10:11

I searched and found “moe” used in some twenty-nine instances, maybe moe. It was a legitimate form of the word, though perhaps “quaint” at the time of the 1611 translation – at least “quaint” by the time Scrivener wrote in 1884. Perhaps the typesetters preferred it when the line space was crowded? Or, maybe it was a carry-over from the 1602 Bishop’s Bible? (I found one place where the KJV had “moe” where the Bishops did not, and another place where the KJV had “moe” and the Bishops had “mo”.)

The use of “moe” was not exclusive, and the word “more” was used moe than “moe.”

2 Samuel 2:28

Numbers 22:15 is my favorite, the verse that uses “moe” and “more.”
And Balak sent yet againe Princes, moe, and more honourable then they.
Even if the spelling is out of style, the pronunciation of “more” with a long “o” and no “r” – mō – is not uncommon in these parts.

Numbers 22:15

Another still common word in 1611 that was updated is “fet”. It means to bring or bring back, and in modern printings appears as “fetched.”

2 Samuel 11:27

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Foolishly foraging for faults

Recently read.

The King James Bible is “full of silly and weird errors” – basic grammatical errors, misspellings, as well as incorrect punctuation and capitalization. “2nd graders could probably have translated it better.”

Well, well. How brilliantly expressed.

Proverbs 15:7 The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so.

When people establish themselves as the authority, then all sense goes out the window. Only they can be right, and all others must be wrong. The spellings, punctuation, grammar for which they contend are set in stone. It always has been and always must be how they say it is. 

Here are a few of the quibbles.

  • Fryingpan is wrong, should be two distinct words, frying pan. Leviticus 2:7; 7:9.
  • Marvelously is misspelled marvellously. Habakkuk 1:5.
  • Tomorrow is misspelled as two words, “to morrow.” Exodus 32:5 (and elsewhere).
  • Today should be one word, not “to day.” Deuteronomy 29:13 (and elsewhere).
  • Boaz is called “Booz” in the KJV. Matthew 1:5; Luke 3:32.
  • Pastor is a New Testament office, but Jeremiah (10:21, and elsewhere) uses pastor where most all other translations use “shepherd.” 

“To day” and “to morrow” were distinct words and the standard form at the time King James Bible was translated. The words are still the preferred forms in some non-American English. Same for other word complaints.

If you use Microsoft Word, try changing the spell check from US English to UK English – or Canada, New Zealand, or Zimbabwe. You just might find what you consider “standard” English is only your standard. ’Mericans use “color” while Brits use “colour” – counselor vs. counsellor, defense vs. defence, eon vs. aeon, meter vs. metre, paralyze vs. paralyse, program vs. programme.

Booz (βοοζ) is the spelling in the Greek text, from whence the New Testament is translated.

Crack open a commentary, concordance, or dictionary. A “pastor” is a shepherd. That is what the word pastor means, and is the foundation of its use for the New Testament office, or calling.

It is shocking what people will resort to in order to complain about the King James Bible! Seems to me they make themselves look foolish while trying to make the King James translation look foolish.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

A steep fall from a grand precedent

Robert Alter writes:

“...why have English translators in our age fallen so steeply from this grand precedent [the King James Bible, rlv]? To begin with, I would note a pronounced tendency among them to throw out the beautiful baby with the bathwater...This impulse is misconceived on two grounds. First, the Bible itself does not generally exhibit the clarity to which its modern translators aspire: the Hebrew writers reveled in the proliferation of meanings, the cultivation of ambiguities, the playing of one sense of a term against another, and this richness is erased in the deceptive antiseptic clarity of the modern versions. The second issue is the historical momentum of the commanding precedent created by the King James Bible. It has been such a powerful presence for four centuries of English readers that a translation of the Bible that proceeds as though it simply didn’t exist becomes hard to read as a version of the Bible that has any literary standing...Equally important as a reason for the gravely flawed modern translations of the Bible is a problem of what might be characterized as the sociology of knowledge. Modern translators of Scripture are almost all rigorously trained at a few premier universities that have well-established programs in biblical studies...The general commitment, however, to eliciting clarity from much that is obscure has the unfortunate consequence for translation of introducing clarifications that compromise the literary integrity of the biblical texts. One manifestation of this tendency, to which I have already alluded, is the practice of repeatedly assigning the same Hebrew term different English equivalents according to the contexts in which it appears, a practice that sometimes may be unavoidable but often is not. Another consequence of the impulse for clarification is to represent legal, medical, architectural, and other terms from specific realms of experience in purportedly precise modern technical language when the Hebrew by and large hews to general terms (the priest in Leviticus, for example,  ‘sees’ the symptoms of a skin disease while in the modern translations he ‘inspects’ them).” pp. 10-11

“The degree of temporal distance from inversion at which we stand may actually be an advantage for Bible translation because the switching of expected word order can give the translation a slightly antique coloration and create some resistance to the unfortunate impression conveyed by modern translations that the Bible was written the day before yesterday.” pp. 31-32

Robert Alter, in The Art of Bible Translation, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019, Alter, an award-winning biblical translator and acclaimed literary critic, is professor of the Graduate School and emeritus professor of Hebrew and comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of numerous books, including The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary.

What a weird world

A French man wants to appear to be an alien. I guess it is “his truth” of who he thinks he is. Problem is, after he has so transformed himself to appear according to “his truth,” people react to him as if he is alien! Now he complains that people are judging him. Is not that part of what he wanted, for people to judge him to be an alien? What you want is not always what you want.

Monday, July 25, 2022

9 Spelling Differences, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Bochim, a place of weeping

“And they called the name of that place Bochim...” Judges 2:5

Oh! for grace to make every place a Bochim in the recollection; and especially at the table of Jesus, may my soul always find these ordinance-seasons heart-melting seasons. Here would I frequently attend, to have my soul thoroughly awakened, and my stony heart made flesh. Here would I go, to gather a holy hatred to my sins, which brought Jesus to the cross. Here would I be found waiting, that when any new temptation may arise, I may cry out, with a vehement indignation, “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” How can I “crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame?” Precious Lord Jesus! do thou help me to keep the eye of my soul stedfastly fixed on thee, and all the affections of my soul to be going out in desires after thee; to be “always bearing about in my body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of the Lord Jesus may he made manifest in my body!”  

Robert Hawker (1753-1827)

Sunday, July 24, 2022

It’s good to thank the Lord

“It’s good to thank the Lord” can be found on 92A in the Trinity Psalter Hymnal, author unknown. The metrical psalm, in Hallelujah Meter (H.M. or, is based on Psalm 92:1-15 and sung to the tune Darwall’s 148th. John Darwall (1732-1789) wrote the tune.

1. It’s good to thank the Lord
To praise your name, Most High!
To show your love at dawn, 
Your faithfulness all night! 
The ten-stringed lyre
With sweet-voiced lute and rippling harp 
Your praise inspire.

2. Your deeds, Lord, made me glad. 
I’ll joy in what you’ve done.
How great your doings, Lord
How deep your thoughts each one! 
Fools won’t be shown;
The foolish can’t accept this truth, 
To him unknown!

3. Though sinners grow like weeds, 
Ill-do-ers blossom may,
They’re doomed to be destroyed. 
You, Lord, exalted stay. 
Lord, your foes fall.
See! How your foes, vain evil men, 
Are scattered all!

4. You’ve raised, like ox, my horn, 
Poured fresh oil on my head.
You made me see the spies 
And hear what plotters said. 
Like thriving palm
The righteous grows, like cedars tall 
On Lebanon.

5. Those planted by the Lord 
Shall in God’s courts be seen;
When old they’ll still bear fruit 
And flourish fresh and green, 
And loud proclaim
How upright is the Lord, my Rock; 
No wrong in him!

Saturday, July 23, 2022

5 pro-freedom technologies, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Friday, July 22, 2022

William G. Pierpont

Dwayne Green podcasts on YouTube often have very compelling biblical topics. A few days ago, I listened to “The Byzantine Text with Dr. Maurice Robinson, and the contribution of William G. Peirpont.” I’m not an advocate of the Byzantine Text, holding instead the Textus Receptus, but I find Robinson intelligent and well-spoken, who provided a number of interesting thoughts about his and Pierpont’s creation of The New Testament in the Original Greek: According to the Byzantine-Majority Textform (1st print edition, Atlanta, GA: The Original Word Publishers, 1991). Maurice Robinson is quite well known, but William Pierpont not so much – so it was rewarding to find out more of this somewhat enigmatic person.

If you are interested in knowing a little about William Pierpont, listen to Dwayne’s podcast and look at the following links.

The Wichita Eagle, February 21, 2003, p. 2-B

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Taking the Bible “literally”

Mark Wingfield of Baptist News Global reports on a Gallup poll that shows Belief in a literal interpretation of the Bible at all-time low among Americans. He seemed a bit giddy that the “conservative evangelical view of the Bible” might be is out of step with the U.S. population. Those who hold the Bible is the “actual word of God, to be taken literally” dropped from 24% in 2017 to 20% in 2022. 49% of the people polled say that the Bible is “inspired by God, not all to be taken literally” (a gain of 2% since 2017). Those who believe it is “fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man” are at 29% – up from 26% in the 2017 poll.

It struck me as a bit odd that Wingfield did not link to the Gallup poll. I went searching and found a Gallup story about the poll HERE. At the bottom of that report is a link to a PDF download of “complete question responses and trends.” On the second page of that download, one can see how the question was asked:

Which of the following statements comes closest to describing your views about the Bible -- the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word, the Bible is the inspired word of God but not everything in it should be taken literally, or the Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by man?

The question wording is a bit suspect in how well it represents the way conservative Bible believers would express their view. I suppose an upside is that Gallup has apparently been asking the same question since 1976, making a direct comparison over the years possible. However, the wording of the question can skew the answer and introduce error into the findings of the poll. For example, I believe the Bible is the inspired inerrant word of God, preserved pure in all ages. I believe it is the Christian’s sole rule of faith and practice. Nevertheless, though I believe and teach that we can believe and trust every word, I do not think all of it is to be taken “literally.” The normal grammatical-historical method of interpretation understands the use of figures, allegory, and such like are not taken interpreted literally in the sense many people are likely to understand the word literally. This distinction may cause a number of strong Bible believers who hold inspiration and inerrancy to choose the second option since they do not take everything “literally.”

The 1st and 2nd options can send a mixed message, turning on how the respondents take the word “literally.” On the other hand, it seems the third question sends a clear message to all those who would agree on denying the authority of the Bible. And I doubt any of us would disagree this is a rising trend among U.S. residents.

Proverbs 30:5 - Every word of God is pure…

John 14:6 - Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Words in the KJV that people don’t know

Do you know why there are words in the KJV that people don’t know? Simply because we stopped reading the Bible, we stopped preaching the Bible, and we stopped studying the Bible. The Multiple Version Onlyists divided the church on the version issue with their misguided and endless insistence on multiplying versions which has lead to greater and greater biblical illiteracy. Churches, individuals in churches, generations of Christians do not share a common biblical language. They don’t know what each other are saying and they don’t know what the Bible is saying...the reason why the KJV is archaic is not because it is archaic in itself but because for the last 150 years scholarship and her ecclesiastical acolytes have variously redirected the attention of God’s people to other Bibles and as such the language of the standard sacred text has fallen out of use both in the church and day-to-day living.
Peter Van Kleeck Jr., in The Failure of Mark Ward’s Arguments Continue to Mount

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Christian urban myth: Authorized Version and Copyrights

One Christian urban myth promulgated by people on “our side” (defense and support of the King James Bible) goes something like this:

Modern English translations are corrupt (financially and linguistically) because they are copyrighted; the King James Bible is pure (financially and linguistically) because it is not copyrighted.

Peter Ruckman may be the primary or original source for this misinformation. As early as 1964 he wrote:

“The King James Bible is the only Bible in the world that anyone can reproduce, print, or copy without consulting anyone but God. All other ‘bibles,’ without exception, are copyrighted COMPETITORS whose motive was to destroy the A.V.” (The Bible Babel, Pensacola, FL: Pensacola Bible Press, 1964)

Leaving the issues of modern translations, corruption, and purity, I wish to address the often-touted myth that the King James Bible is not copyrighted. This contains a mixture of truth and error. In the United States of America and many (most? all?) other countries, the King James or Authorized Version is not and cannot be copyrighted. It is in the “public domain.” Anyone can print and publish a King James Bible. However, the same is not true in the United Kingdom. While “copyright” may not be the correct terminology to refer to English law in this regard, the King James or Authorised Version is protected in that Kingdom. A Cambridge Bibles page explains it this way:

“Rights in The Authorized Version of the Bible (King James Bible) in the United Kingdom are vested in the Crown and administered by the Crown’s patentee, Cambridge University Press.”

Unlike Americans, New Zealanders, and others who quote the KJV with abandon, writers in the United Kingdom need permission to quote the text in commercial publications. Here are some of the restrictions/requirements:

  • Reproduction of the scripture text is permitted to a maximum of five hundred (500) verses for liturgical and non-commercial educational use.
  • Scripture quotations in materials not being made available for sale (such as church bulletins, orders of service, posters, presentation materials, or similar media) do not require a complete copyright notice but must include the initials “KJV” at the end of the quotation.
  • If the verses quoted amount to a complete book of the Bible or represent 25 per cent or more of the total text of the work in which they are quoted, the following acknowledgement must be included:
  • “Scripture quotations from The Authorized (King James) Version. Rights in the Authorized Version in the United Kingdom are vested in the Crown. Reproduced by permission of the Crown’s patentee, Cambridge University Press.”
  • Scripture quotations that exceed the above general guidelines require permission granted in writing from the Crown’s patentee.

Oxford University, as well as Cambridge, has the right to print the KJV. In “A Short History of Oxford University Press” they explain:

“The University also established its right to print the King James Authorized Version of the Bible in the seventeenth century. This Bible Privilege formed the basis of OUP's publishing activities throughout the next two centuries.”

Theodore P. Letis, a supporter of the TR and KJV, wrote:

“This Bible had the Cum Privilegio (‘with privilege’) printed on it, which meant that the Crown of England, as the official head of the state church, held the copyright to this Bible, giving permission only to those printers which the Crown had chosen.” (Revival of the Ecclesiastical Text and the Claims of the Anabaptists, Institute for Reformation Biblical Studies, 1992)

Daniel Stride offers this explanation of “copyright.”

The King James Bible isn’t conventionally copyrighted, in the way many of us think of copyrights. The work actually predates the concept of copyright by nearly a century (copyright started with the Statute of Anne in 1710). What you’re actually seeing is a unique, and thoroughly antiquated, publishing monopoly that functions as a copyright by other means.

Statements about the King James and copyright are not as cut-and-dried as some folks suppose. There exists a lot of misinformation about the KJV and copyrights. Whether spread by supporters or detractors of the KJV, what is wrong is wrong. Often sincere folks repeat information that they have read and believe because they trust the source. Many other folks ought to know better. If and when they know better, they ought to do better!

[Note 1: it is likely that some folks who are not King James defenders also share this misconception about the King James and copyright.]

[Note 2: there are some other English Bibles available without copyright restrictions (e.g., American Standard Version, The (Noah) Webster Bible, World English Bible). This is not an endorsement of them, but simply recognition of a fact.]

Further reading:

Monday, July 18, 2022

The Spirit and the Word

But I answer, that the testimony of the Spirit is superior to reason. For as God alone can properly bear witness to his own words, so these words will not obtain full credit in the hearts of men, until they are sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who spoke by the mouth of the prophets, must penetrate our hearts, in order to convince us that they faithfully delivered the message with which they were divinely entrusted. This connection is most aptly expressed by Isaiah in these words, “My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever,” (Isa. 59:21). Some worthy persons feel disconcerted, because, while the wicked murmur with impunity at the Word of God, they have not a clear proof at hand to silence them, forgetting that the Spirit is called an earnest and seal to confirm the faith of the godly, for this very reason, that, until he enlightens their minds, they are tossed to and fro in a sea of doubts.
John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, 1.7.4.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Beset with snares on every hand

Mary’s Choice of the Better Part

1. Beset with snares on every hand,
In life’s uncertain path I stand:
Saviour divine! diffuse thy light,
To guide my doubtful footsteps right.

2. Engage this roving treacherous heart
Wisely to choose the better part; [orig. To fix on Mary’s better part]
To scorn the trifles of a day,
For joys that none can take away.

3. Then let the wildest storms arise;
Let tempests mingle earth and skies:
No fatal shipwreck shall I fear,
But all my treasures with me bear.

4. If thou, my Jesus, still be nigh,
Cheerful I live, and joyful die:
Secure, when mortal comforts flee,
To find ten thousand worlds in thee.

Philip Doddridge authored this hymn, which was published posthumously in 1755 in Hymns Founded on Various Texts in the Holy Scriptures, by Job Orton (J. Eddowes and J. Cotton, 1755).

According to John Julian (A Dictionary of Hymnology, p. 138),
Beset with snares on every hand. P. Doddridge. [Mary’s choice.] This hymn is not in the d. mss. [Doddridge Manuscript]. It was 1st published by J. Orton in the posthumous ed. of Doddridge’s Hymns, 1755. No. 207, in 4 st. of 4 l., and headed ‘Mary’s Choice of the Better Part;’ and again in J. D. Humphreys’s ed. of the same, 1839. Although used but sparingly in the hymnals in G. Britain, in America it is found in many of the leading collections, and especially in those belonging to the Unitarians. The [translation]—‘In vitae dubio tramite transeo,’ in Bingham’s Hymno. Christ. Lat. [Hymnologia Christiana Latina], 1871, p. 109—is made from an altered text in Bickersteth’s Christian Psalmody, 1833.”
The hymn (found with names such as, “Beset with snares on every hand,” “Choosing the Better Part,” “Mary’s Choice,” and “Mary’s Choice of the Better Part”), in Long Meter, is often set with Hebron by Lowell Mason. Some beloved hymns by Doddridge are “Grace ’tis a charming sound,” “Hark, the glad sound, the Saviour comes,” “O God of Bethel, by Whose hand,” and “O happy day, that fixed my choice.”

Philip Doddridge (1702–1751) was an English Nonconformist minister and hymnwriter. In addition to his hymns, his published works include The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul, The Family Expositor, Three Sermons on the Evidences of the Gospel, Ten Sermons on the Power and Grace of Christ, and A Dissertation on the Inspiration of the New Testament. Doddridge died October 26, 1751, at age 49 while in Lisbon Portugal. He was buried at the British Cemetery there.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, February 25, 1752, p. 1
(The October 14 death date is in error.)

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Allison’s Sacred Harp Singers, and other music & worship links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Loss of faith in the Hebrew and Greek

“The basic distinction between the Renaissance and the modern translators is one of fidelity to the original. Partly the loss of faith in the Hebrew and Greek as the definitive word of God has led to the translators’ loss of contact with it, but more responsibility lies in the belief that a modern Bible should aim not to tax its readers linguistic or interpretive abilities one bit. If this aim is to be achieved then it seems clear that a new Bible will have to be produced for every generation—each one probably moving us further away from the original text, now that the initial break has been made.”

Gerald Hammond, The Making of the English Bible (Manchester, UK: Carcanet Press, 1982, p. 12)

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Building the house of God in troublesome times

Ezra 5:2 - Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.

Building the house of God arises from God’s revelation, 5:1.
  a. Haggai 1:1 
  b. Zechariah 1:1

Building the house of God requires leadership and cooperation, 5:1-2.
  a. Men of God rise up and encourage God’s people to work. Haggai 1:4-5, 7; 2 Timothy 4:2
  b. Leaders stand with God’s men (e.g. Zerubbabel, governor; Jeshua, priest) 5:2
  c. Workers started and did not cease, 5:5

Building the house of God incites opposition, 4:1-2, 5; 5:3.
  a. Zechariah 3:1

Building the house of God emphasizes the servant nature of the workers. Phil. 2:5ff.; Matt. 20:25-28; John 15:5; Zech. 4:6.
  a. Names are unimportant, 5:4, 10-11; Gen. 24:2, 9-10, et al.

Building the house of God exhibits the sovereignty of God, 5:12-13; 6:14, 22; Zechariah 4:6. God uses the wicked, indifferent, and others as:
  a. instruments of judgment, 5:12
  b. resources of blessing, 5:13-14

1 Timothy 3:15 - but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

Matthew 16:18 - And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

1 Corinthians 3:9 - For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Language that can carry the freight the Bible requires

“In Luke 1.57…It is difficult to imagine anything being better done, but it was not thought good enough for the 20th-century translators of the New English Bible. They settled on: “Now the time came for Elizabeth’s child to be born, and she gave birth to a son.”

“That is a descent to dreariness, to a level of banality below Tyndale’s, perhaps even unaware of what the second Oxford company’s subtle minds had given them. The modern world had lost the thing that informs every act and gesture of King James’s sumptuously decorated Hatfield House, of the King James Bible, and of that incomparable age: a sense of encompassing richness that stretches unbroken from the divine to the sculptural, from theology to cushions, from a sense of the beauty of the created world to the extraordinary capabilities of language to embody it.

“This is about more than mere sonority or the beeswaxed heritage-appeal of antique vocabulary and grammar. The flattening of language is a flattening of meaning. Language that is not taut with a sense of its own significance, that is apologetic in its desire to be acceptable to a modern consciousness, language, in other words, that submits to its audience rather than instructing, informing, moving, challenging, and even entertaining them, is no longer a language that can carry the freight the Bible requires.”

Adam Nicolson, King James Bible: The lost art of translation

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Cherubims and Seraphims

Q. The words cherubim and seraphim are plural. The King James Bible adds an unneeded “s” to these words. Isn’t that an error?

A. No, it is not an error. It is true that the King James Bible does not reflect the common modern spellings of these words. However, it reflects the standard English usage at the time of the translation of the King James Bible. Here are some samples of how these words were spelled in Bibles prior to the 1611 King James translation.

Genesis 3:24
  • 1382 Wycliffe, cherubyn
  • 1530 Tyndale Pentateuch, Cherubin
  • 1535 Coverdale, Cherubes
  • 1537 Matthew, Cherubin
  • 1539 Taverner, Cherubin
  • 1541 Great Bible, Cherubins
  • 1560 Geneva, Cherubims
  • 1568 Bishops, Cherubins
1 Samuel 4:4
  • 1382 Wycliffe, cherubyn
  • 1535 Coverdale, Cherubins
  • 1537 Matthew, Cherubyns
  • 1539 Taverner, Cherubyns
  • 1541 Great Bible, cherubyns
  • 1560 Geneva, Cherubims
  • 1568 Bishops, Cherubims
Isaiah 6:2, 6
  • 1382 Wycliffe, serafyn
  • 1535 Coverdale, Seraphins
  • 1537 Matthew, Seraphins
  • 1539 Taverner, Seraphins
  • 1541 Great Bible, Seraphins, Seraphyns
  • 1560 Geneva, Seraphims
  • 1568 Bishops, Seraphims
Other languages

Genesis 3:24
1 Samuel 4:4
  • Olivetan French, Cherubins (hard to read in the printing I checked; looks more like “Cherubis” but may have a mark over the i that represents the n)
  • Reina Valera Spanish, Cherubines (now querubines)
  • Latin Vulgate, cherubin (Douay-Rheims, cherubims)
Isaiah 6:2, 6
  • Olivetan French, Seraphins
  • Reina Valera Spanish, Seraphines (now serafines)
  • Latin Vulgate, seraphin (Douay-Rheims, seraphims)
Early in the 17th century, preference began to change from “cherubims” to “cherubim” (and similarly with “seraphims”). We see that illustrated in the popular hymn by Reginald Heber:

Holy, holy, holy! all the saints adore thee,
Casting down their golden crowns, around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
Which wert and art and evermore shalt be!

The spellings of “cherubims” and “seraphims” seem fairly fixed from at least the time of the Geneva Bible to the King James. In modern times, “cherubs” and “seraphs” have been replacing “cherubim” and “seraphim” as the plural form. However, it appears most Bibles and theological works continue to use “cherubim” and “seraphim.”

The English usage seemed to be mediated through the French from the Latin and Greek. Though the words are plural in Hebrew, English translators, at least as far back as Coverdale in 1535, saw a need to represent the plural in the standard English plural form ending in “s”. When translating into English, the foreign language does not automatically govern the pluralization of words. We Texians eat “tamales” and “kolaches”. Mexicans say tamal (singular) and tamales (plural). Texians say tamale (singular) and tamales (plural). “Tamale” would be wrong if we made Spanish grammar rules the standard for English singular/plural. Czechs say kolach (singular) and kolache (plural). Texians say kolache (singular) and kolaches (plural). Both “kolache” and “kolaches” would be wrong if we made Czech grammar rules the standard for English singular/plural. However, since we speak and write in English, the English form is correct for English. In fact, while both cherubim and seraphim are probably widely understood as plural, in modern Bibles they nevertheless could be “false friends” (using Mark Ward’s inexact terminology). People would expect a plural word in English to end in “s” may misunderstand cherubim and seraphim as singular, while cherubims and seraphims will obviously be recognized as plural, even if it does not comport with the more common current usage. Though there may be, I am not aware of any other words in the English language that use an “-im” ending to designate plural.

I first heard this “complaint” probably forty years ago, and it is still out there. Nevertheless, to charge the KJV with being in error because of the “s” on “cherubims” and “seraphims” reflects more on the complainers than the translation.

Some comments on these words, gleaned from various internet sources:

Cherubim are supernatural creatures associated with the throne of God. One of these being is called כרוב (kerub). The two spellings כרובים and כרבים alternate without a discernable rule.

From the verb karabu, to bless, or its adjective karabu, to be mighty.

The verb שרף (sarap) means to burn — to literally burn with fire, rather than metaphorically with passion or something like that — with an emphasis on a burning up or a destruction by means of fire.

The word שרפים (seraphim) is a plural word; single would be שרף (sarap), or Seraph.

From the verb שרף (sarap), to burn.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Dragging in the name of God

Martin Luther, about untruths being propagated in the name of God: “The name of God is dragged into the affair and must make the villainy look like godliness, and the shame like honor. This is the common course of the world, which, like a great deluge, has flooded all lands. Hence we have also as our reward what we seek and deserve: pestilences, wars, famines, conflagrations, floods, wayward wives, children, servants, and all sorts of defilement. Whence else should so much misery come? It is still a great mercy that the earth bears and supports us.” -- From Luther’s Large Catechism.

“Liberals embrace progressive social causes (which to the untrained eye appear patently unbiblical), then occupy space in the trojan horses of these movements in order to see the church give credence to the cause, and for involvement with the cause to give worldly credence to the church.” -- Bill Hartley