Little Less than God

This post was inspired by Julie’s post on the KJV at T&S. (I was going to link to it, but their server seems to be down as I write this.)

The “official” English language Bible in the Church today is the 1979 LDS King James Version. This project was initiated by Harold B. Lee, who was a protege of J. Reuben Clark, Jr. In 1956 President Clark published his book, Why the King James Version, which, although not widely read, was very influential in the modern development of the KJV as the Church’s de facto official English translation. This book was a collection of notes assembled by President Clark essentially as a lawyer’s brief against the Revised Standard Version (and, by implication, other modern translations). Although President Clark’s son was a classics professor at BYU and knew Greek (I have in my library a collection of Cicero’s orations that once belonged to J. Reuben Clark III), President Clark did not take advantage of his son’s knowledge, relying instead on secondary Protestant sources.

I can understand President Clark’s conservative reaction against modern translations. The specter of higher criticism had been a significant issue at BYU in the early years of the 20th century, and there were many KJV expressions that had acquired a distinctive LDS resonance (such as “the dispensation of the fullness of times”) that was lost in the RSV wording. I continue to use the KJV as my principal English Bible, both at Church and at home, using other translations mostly for reference.

Having said that, however, I believe much of President Clark’s venom against the RSV was misplaced and shortsighted. For instance, I have a difficult time getting worked up about the fact that the RSV replaced the word “charity” in 1 Cor. 13 with “love.” If only he had consulted his son, he might have seen that at the very least the RSV translators had sound reasons for the choices they made.

Following in President Clark’s footsteps, there is a tendency for LDS curriculum writers to consult non-LDS biblical scholarship only in extremis, and then to consult only dated, highly conservative sources (such as the commentaries of Keil and Delitzsch). While it is true that in many respects Mormon views of scripture (such as the unity of Isaiah or Pauline authorship of Hebrews) will only find support in the most conservative sources, much of Mormon theology is hardly “conservative” by traditional standards. By failing to read widely in other translations, commentaries and studies, we run the risk of missing significant insights of great interest to us as Latter-day Saints.

To illustrate, consider KJV Psalm 8:5: “For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels [‘elohim], and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” Under the influence of the Septuagint’s angelous, the King James translators have rendered ‘elohim as “angels.” Compare with this the RSV rendering: “Yet thou hast made him little less than God [‘elohim], and dost crown him with glory and honor.”

The word ‘elohim is ambiguous, and could be translated “God” (as in the RSV), “the Gods,” “the gods,” “a god” (as in the NEB), “the angels” (or any other of a number of names for lesser divine beings), or “divine,” among other possibilities. In my own (admittedly biased) view, the Septuagint is an interpretive rendering reflecting a conscious theological attempt to distance God from man. By giving a fresh rendering of the Hebrew, the RSV better conveys the original intent and is a much stronger translation than the KJV.

Further, this passage from the Psalms is quoted in Hebrews 2:7. The KJV reads as follows: “Thou madest him a little lower [brachu ti] than the angels [angelous]; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands”. Compare with this the RSV: “Thou didst make him for a little while lower [brachu ti] than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honor”. The RSV relegates “and didst set him over the works of thy hands” to a footnote for textual reasons (which is precisely the kind of thing that so riled President Clark).

The KJV understands brachu ti as meaning “a little lower,” while the RSV takes those words as meaning “for a little while.” The main argument for the KJV interpretation is the fact that the Hebrew expression in Psalm 8:5 (the Hebrew enumeration is actually 8:6) clearly means “a little lower,” referring to class. But the author of Hebrews was not quoting the Hebrew text, but rather the Septuagint. The Greek expression brachu ti generally refers to time, and many translators and commentators take it that way in Hebrews. The RSV is not only a better representation of the Greek, but once again it provides a more intriguing reading in terms of the Mormon theology of divinization. (Some commentators seek to avoid this implication by reading the passage as referring to Jesus only.)

One of the great Mormon “heresies” is our positive view of man, that we are of the same species as God and, as his children, have the potential to become like God. Here are two related passages where the concept is obscured (perhaps intentionally) in the KJV, but is at least arguably made manifest in the more faithful treatment of the RSV.


  1. Kevin Barney says:

    The server is back up. Julie’s thread is at

  2. Jared E. says:

    Great Post.
    And to think that we could avoid most of these problems if we would all collectively learn Greek/Hebrew. But then again, that would probably cause a whole slough of new problems. But what would comparative religion be like if everyone did speak the languages?

  3. i think you mean “slew”. but a “slough” of problems is an interesting thought.

    great post. i didn’t know that Clark played such a key role in our using the KJV. do Fox/Quinn talk about it in “The Church Years”? I’d like to read a good biography of Clark.

  4. Jared E. says:

    I actually did mean slough, i.e. quagmire, bog, mire, all of which aptly describe doctrine-definitional problems in our religion.

  5. my mistake, jared.

    “a whole slew of new problems” is a very common phrase, which “a whole slough” brought to mind immediately. “a whole swamp/bog/bayou/backwater of new problems” = a new wording I’d never heard, but a very vivid image indeed. (hence my comment.)

  6. Kevin, given your post, I’m surprised you would continue to use the KJV for your own reading or study, as opposed to another version that offers a better translation or an interlinear Greek-English NT.

  7. I thought one of the most interesting commentaries in Prince’s McKay biography was that there was a division of self identificaiton at headquarters between the “McKay men” and the “Clark men” and that the Clark men eventually secured the institutional dominance.

  8. Costanza says:

    Quinn’s biography of Clark, especially the later edition, is really quite good,even though Quinn, like every historian, has his own particular axe to grind. Quinn also deals at length with the McKay men/Clark men division. Kevin, I really like your argument in this post. Do you think that many members of the church are more “fundamentalist” than they need to be when approaching the bible? In my experience, many members parrot the “as far as it is translated correctly” line, but then basically read the bible the same way that my conservative protestant friends do. At BYU, for example, I never encountered the documentary hypothesis or the synoptic problem; we read the texts as if these issues did not exist. Maybe others had different experiences (I really hope so), but I didn’t encounter these concepts until I was in graduate school. How do you think the introduction of these issues at BYU and in Institute classes impact the issues you discuss in your post?

  9. Costanza says:

    I meant “how would these issues impact the discussion, IF they were introduced at BYU, etc.”

  10. Julie M. Smith says:

    “For instance, I have a difficult time getting worked up about the fact that the RSV replaced the word “charity” in 1 Cor. 13 with “love.””

    I would have thought that Moroni 7:47 would have made this a no-brainer.

  11. Kevin Barney says:

    Dave, I guess I still read the KJV mostly because I use it in teaching in Church classrooms. But I read both Hebrew and Greek, so it is no problem for me to doublecheck things.

    Costanza, I think some of our people have a tendency to approach the Bible as if it were inerrant, which I think is a mistake. I wrote an article on the Documentary Hypothesis in Dialogue, and I took the position there and continue to take the position that we are needlessly defensive on this, the Synoptic Problem and other such issues.

  12. Kevin Barney says:

    There is also a good discussion of President Clark’s book and influence in Phil Barlow’s Mormons and the Bible.

  13. J. Reuben Clark III

    I took a class from him, really enjoyed it. He was a delightful man, and the main force behind the Lee Library getting its name (out of an expressed desire to do his best to get his mail not misdirected).

  14. BTW, I really enjoyed this post and shared it with friends.

  15. Hebrews 2:11 also is interesting from an LDS perspective (again, its meaning masked in the KJV): “For indeed he who makes holy and those being made holy all have the same origin, and so he is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” (NET Bible translation) Although it doesn’t explicitly say so, this whole section of Hebrews suggests that humans, because of the atonement, will ultimately share the same immortal destiny that Jesus does.

  16. Kevin, though the there are some decent renderings of the psalms in the KJV (e.g., #23 stands out), I think that they are generally the best example of the worst that the KJV has to offer. Psalm 8 is a good example. Psalm 1 in the KJV is trite and insipid compared to (say) the JSP which renders it beautifully.

    It’s been about 27 years since I read Why the King James Version?. I remember many of the short sited arguments about specifics. But what I mostly took away was how well he argued in laymen terms that the textual basis for the Alexandrian texts is just as bad as the textual basis for the Byzantine; i.e., the textual basis for the entire New Testament is very poor. But maybe there’s just cognitive seepage between Joshua Clark’s book and some of the other stuff I was reading at that time.

  17. Question: I understand the Church retains the KJV as its official Bible-of-choice, at least in part, because of its supposed “doctrinal superiority” to other versions. I believe someone in Julie’s thread linked to an online Church statement to this effect (I’m too lazy to check and confirm this). I am wondering if anyone can provide specific textual examples of this alleged doctrinal superiority.

    Aaron B

  18. The 2nd paragraph of my comment #16 should begin, “It’s been about 17 years…”

  19. I linked to the FP statement on the T&S thread.

    1992 statement

    Here are some of Clark’s examples of alleged doctrinal superiority (Franklin S. Gonzalez repeated some of them in the June 1987 Ensign):

    1. Jude 5-6: “5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. 6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”

    RSV reads: “5 Now I desire to remind you, though you were once for all fully informed, that he who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels that did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling have been kept by him in eternal chains in the nether gloom until the judgment of the great day.”

    Clark writes: “No one with an understanding of the great truths announced in Abraham 3, would have eliminated ‘first estate.’ The expression ‘nether gloom’ may be good mythology (we do not know), but it does not describe any Christian concept.”

    2. Elimination of the word “miracles.” Clark writes: “A careful checking of the Revised Standard Version, shows that of 31 times the word miracle occurs in the New Testament of the King James Version, it has been twice omitted in the new Version, with rephrasing to avoid its use; it has been changed to sign 22 times; it has been retained only 7 times, and curiously, all these seven have to do with Paul and his writings….
    [T]here is of course an obvious difference in meaning in English between the word sign and the word miracle which no one can overlook. The signs of the coming of our Lord are wars, etc. etc., but these are not miracles. As Burgon points out, a miracle may be a sign; but a sign is not necessarily a miracle. Almost all of our Church members have seen instances of miraculous healings. These have not been signs, save in the sense that they are evidences of God’s power. To eliminate miracles from the records of God’s dealings with men, is to eliminate the virgin birth of the Christ, and the resurrection. Miracles have been in the past and are today of frequent occurrence among the Saints. We must not lose that truth.”

    3. Romans 9:4-5: “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.”

    RSV reads: “They are Israelites, and to them belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen.”

    Clark states that the KJV provides an “unequival testimony” of our Lord’s godhood.

    4. Matt 1:25: “And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.”

    RSV omits the words first born, thus casting doubt on Mary’s virginity.

    5. Mark 1:1: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

    RSV has a marginal note stating that “Other (some) ancient authorities omit the Son of God.” Clark believes this casts doubt on Jesus’ deity.

    6. Luke 22:19-20: “19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”

    RSV reads: “19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body.'” The marginal note reads: “Other ancient authorities add ‘which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.'”

    RSV eliminates v. 20, placing it in the marginal note as follows: “And likewise the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.'” RSV thus omits “which is shed for you.” Clark thinks that if the shorter RSV reading is adopted, we lose the second half of the sacrament.

    7. Luke 22:43-44: “43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

    RSV v. 43 is similar, but v. 44 reads: “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down upon the ground.” It includes a marginal note stating: “Other ancient authorities omit verses 43 and 44.”

    8. Luke 23:34: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

    RSV marginal note reads: “Other ancient authorities omit the sentence And Jesus . . . what they do.” Clark writes: “Here, as in many other places, the Revised Standard Version translators range themselves with the earlier Extreme Textualists with all their anti-Christ expressions, if not feelings. (Supra, pp. 334 ff.)These words are quoted throughout Christendom as personifying the perfect love and forgiveness, the toprung of charity. We cannot lose them.”

    9. Matt 18:11: “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.”

    RSV eliminates v. 11, while adding a note reading: “Other ancient authorities add verse 11, For the Son of man came to save the lost.” Clark writes: “Thus is eliminated the great declaration of the divine mission of Jesus, the Christ.”

    10. Mark 16:9-20. RSV places these verses in a marginal note with the heading: “Other texts and versions add as 16. 9-20 the following passage.”

  20. I recently read the gospel of Judas and shared it with some Mormon friends who had trouble stomaching it, in part because of it’s language. It sounded made up to them bc it lacked the KJV language and was even harder to understand bc it wasn’t in the scriptural language they knew.

    I think we have come to believe that there is only one way to express spiritual-scriptural ideas. And that’s tied up in KJV/BoM language. Like you noted Kevin, certain phrases have spiritual punch and make us feel truth. I think it works for some people and others who are unaffected by that kind of language are well, bored. Or ticked. Or both.

  21. The LDS position on the KJV has seemed to me a proselyting-motivated stance. For the English-speaking world, the KJV has long been the default Bible. To use something else would be a deliberate, probably agenda-motivated choice. But we don’t do that (unlike some religions you may have heard of). We just take the Bible as is, and agree or disagree openly with what we read there. Leaving our hands off the Bible, it is hoped, will calm anxieties about our use of strange, additional scriptures.

    The interesting examples from the RSV that Brother Barney gives are appealing to me more because they accord with LDS doctrine than because of indications they are closer to original meaning. Such indications I am in no position to evaluate or even identify independently.

  22. I’m a bit leery of the sentiment that scripture is supposed to sound a certain way and that gives it the feel of truth or increases the punch. Relying on the scriptures because of the emotive import of linguistic forms that have no foundation in the original is a purely asthetic concern; make no mistake: this is not an issue of religion

    Amri, I’m curious whether your friends think that the Official Declarations or John Taylors account of Joseph Smith are made up because they don’t use Jacobean English.

    I should also like to point out that (aside from portions which actually quote the KJV directly) the Book of Mormon is not written in anything approaching the style of the KJV. Pick two or three chapters of Alma at random and then compare it to a few chapters from the KJV old testament–it’s a style from an entirely different world (specifically, 19th century America).

  23. DKL, so because I’m better than anyone else I feel flattened by the response to only one kind of spiritual language. I don’t mind if it’s there as long as we’re a little more expansive in our language.
    I agree that the KJV and BoM have very different language but I think those two and a third Chicken Soup for the Soul/Mormon movie (on the way home or our heavenly father’s plan)/slightly protestant feel good language is what constitutes our spiritual language. I go to church and it seems that everyone uses that language to express spiritual feelings and when it’s not used somehow it’s intellectual or non-sensical or worse, without the Spirit.
    Maybe because I’m impossibly self-absorbed, but I get bored by this kind of language all the time and feel spiritually stunted by it. Like I said I don’t mind if it’s there just as long as we could have a lot more variety. And I’m partially blaming J. Reuben for this.

  24. A question: I am not familiar with the copyright status of other translations. Would it even be feasable for the church to get copyright permission for an LDS version of another translation?

  25. Kevin,

    You state that you “have a difficult time getting worked up about the fact that the RSV replaced the word ‘charity’ in 1 Cor. 13 with ‘love.’ If only he had consulted his son, he might have seen that at the very least the RSV translators had sound reasons for the choices they made.”

    I’ve always thought the rendering of ‘charity’ as ‘love’ in this verse is preferable. After all, the Greek word it comes from is ‘agape’ (Nestle-Arland text) which literally mean ‘love’. Can you provide a reasonable argument for why you would choose ‘charity’ over ‘love’ for this verse?

    Also, post #10 suggests that the ‘charity’ rendering gains credence based upon Moroni. Isn’t it more likely that the translation of the Moroni verse was influenced by the KJV rendering?

  26. Kevin Barney says:

    Jared, you misunderstood me. Unlike Pres. Clark, who got all hot and bothered that the RSV replaced “charity” with “love,” I have a difficult time getting worked up about it [because I agree with the RSV translation].

    Actually, the KJV renders agape sometimes with “charity,” and sometimes with “love.” Different committees translated different sections of text, and this is one of those places where one committee used one translation and another used a different one. If the other committee had been given charge of 1 Cor. 13, the KJV itself would have used “love” in this passage.

  27. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks Justin for posting those examples from Pres. Clark. As I have time, I’ll try to comment on them (given the limitations of being at work without any resources). First up, Jude 6 (no. 1 on the list above).

    I think the problem here is that we Mormons, due to the BoA usage, have turned “first estate” into a technical theological term of art, whereas in fact it was never meant to bear that kind of weight. The Greek word used there is the familiar *archE*. There is some ambiguity as to whether it refers to a place or a realm of responsibility, but it is possible to finesse the ambiguity in English (witness NET “our domain” and RSV “our position”). Either way, the allusion is clearly to the sons of God of Gen. 6 who left that place/responsibility. This should be clear enough in the KJV itself, for the next clause is “but left their own habitation”; so the “first estate” is paralleled by “habitation.” Just because we have our own developed use of that wording does not change what the allusion was in the original context of the passage.

    Maybe it’s a matter of taste, but I think the RSV’s “nether gloom” is a more descriptive rendering than the KJV’s “under darkness.” These renderings are attempts to represent *hupo zophon*. The word *zophos* is used in Homer to describe the nether darkness of Tartarus, and the use of the preposition *hupo* “under” just drives that imagery home. This is essentially the same concept as our “Outer Darkness” (or what more mainstream Christians would call “Hell”), so the complaint that this isn’t a Christian concept rings hollow to me.

  28. Jared E. says:

    I didn’t understand you, I didn’t mean to suggest you agreed with President Clark. I have just always thought this rendering of agape as ‘charity’ to be more of an antiquated colloquialism peculiar to the KJV. I was really wondering what some modern justifications for the ‘charity’ rendering are or are there none?

  29. Kevin Barney says:

    I haven’t looked into this, but it is possible that “charity” had a broader semantic field in the 17th century than it does today, when it primarily means almsgiving. Charity derives from Greek *charis* “grace” (indeed, “grace” also derives from Greek charis, indirectly through Latin *gratia*), and as agape in this setting might best be conceptually rendered as the “pure love of Christ,” it may be that “charity” was a more appropriate rendering at the time than it would be today, but has become more narrow over time due to linguistic drift. But I’m just thinking out loud here.

  30. Amri, what I meant was that I’m leery when people object to changing from the KJV because they feel that it’s language is more convincing, and then treat this as though it has some bearing on the religious significance of the text. I’m fine with esthetic concerns; I prefer reading a nicely bound Book of Mormon to a dog-eared paperback–but reading a a nicely bound volume doesn’t make me feel a stronger sense of its truthfulness.

    Last year at this time, I would have conceded that it is advantageous for the church to have a single translation that everybody used. But the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that it just doesn’t matter. For many passages, we have the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the JST offering divergent readings, and this doesn’t cause chaos. And, of course, the Bible is replete with contradictions anyway. What harm can it do to have people in the same congregation using divergent translations, when the Bible is so divergent from itself?

    Anyway, I don’t see why the scriptures committee just don’t come out with a RSV, NRSV, and NIV versions of the LDS scriptures, in addition to the KJV ones. I can hear the objection now: “A Bible, a bible, we’ve got a damned Bible.” But this way, people people could chose themselves, and isn’t that why we’re here anyway? If I had my way, they’d use the JSP for the old testament (which is closest to the KJV doctrinally given its tight reliance on the Masoretic text) for the Old Testament and either an RSV or NRSV New Testament, but that may be too exotic (though it may work as an alternative to 4 or 5 other translations).

  31. In Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, charity clearly had the broader connotation Kevin describes in #29, but that probably has a lot to do with the KJV. Which suggests that the drift to the almsgiving connotation has been since then. But this doesn’t directly address the question of what the connotation was in the 17th century—perhaps the recent drift I’m claiming is a drift back to the original connotation….

  32. Kevin Barney says:

    Re: Clark’s complaint no. 2 on miracles, I haven’t taken the time to examine all of the passages he alludes to. But these need to be examined on a case by case basis. I did look at one (while watching Spike’s The Ultimate Fighter (g)), in Mark 6:52. In that passage no word for “miracle” appears in the Greek text at all; the KJV translators simply added it. So where the KJV has “the miracle of the loaves,” the Greek simply says “about the loaves.” This isn’t even a case of evaluating the textual evidence; there is no textual evidence for “miracle” in this passage. The KJV translators felt they had to add something like that for the text to make sense in English, but there are other ways to convey the Greek in sensible English.

  33. Kevin Barney says:

    On Clark’s third objection, the Romans 9 passage, this raises a difficult question: should the punctuation be a comma, thus predicating “God” of Jesus, or should the punctuation be a full stop, making the doxology to God independent of Christ. The KJV represents the former, the RSV the latter.

    The earliest manuscripts were not punctuated, so this is a question where style and theology rise to the top of factors to consider rather than textual evidence.

    The Church Fathers almost universally understood the verse in the former sense, and there are indeed stylistic reasons for holding to the former (KJV) view. But this is a minority position; most scholars believe, based largely on Paul’s theology (since he nowhere else predicates the term “God” of Jesus), that there should be a full stop and that the doxology represents an independent thought.

    I would have no problem at all with President Clark arguing for the KJV reading on the basis of evidence, but I don’t care for him arguing for it simply based on his desired result (and ignoring the evidence).

    Also, query whether Clark’s desired result is the one most consonant with Mormon thought, which rejects the Trinity and tends to be subordinationist. BRM at least would probably prefer the RSV reading as a theological matter.

    Further, this critique reflects a theme in Why the King James Version? of accusing the RSV (and other modern translations) of going out of their way to denigrate the divinity of Christ. But this simply isn’t true. When you compare the KJV with other translations on key christological passages, the KJV doesn’t always come through with the highest christology.

  34. Kevin Barney says:

    On Clark’s fourth objection, that in Mt. 1:25 the omission of “firstborn” intends to cast doubt on Mary’s virginity, first, the textual evidence for the omission of prototokos “firstborn” is absolutely overwhelming. Second, omitting that word does not, as a matter of logic, cast doubt on Mary’s virginity. It is abundantly clear from the context that this was Mary’s firstborn anything, whether the word is used in this verse or not.

  35. Kevin Barney says:

    On Clark’s fifth objection, he complains that the RSV contains a marginal note at Mk. 1:1 (which in the KJV reads “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”), noting that “Other (some) ancient authorities omit the Son of God.” Clark says this casts doubt on Jesus’ divinity.

    But note that the words are included in the main reading. The note simply reports a true statement, that some manuscript evidence omits those words. Is it preferable to hide that information from the reader?

    I personally think the words were original, but omitted accidentally by periblepsis (the scribe’s eye skipping from the genitive -ou ending of one of the words in the sequence to another; the GR reads IEsou Christou huiou theou). My secretary does this all the time. I really don’t understand the complaint, I guess.

  36. Kevin Barney says:

    On Clark’s point no. 6, he is worried about losing the second half of the sacrament, but it is secure in the parallel Gospel texts; the only question is whether the verses were original to Luke, which is a complicated textual question.

    On Clark’s point no. 7, again, the RSV simply reports the omission of some verses in some manuscripts in a marginal note (which is true); the main text is not appreciably different than the KJV.

    On point no. 8, similarly, Clark ignores the actual evidence and simply tosses around his insult of the “Extreme Textualists,” following the 19th century writings of Burgon.

    On point no. 9, again, Clark simply ignores the strength of the textual evidence for omitting the verse.

  37. Kevin Barney says:

    Finally, in his point no. 10, Clark complains about the RSV following the short ending of Mark. Here is what I wrote on this in my Footnotes project:

    The text of Mark ends here in a number of important early mss. This was probably the original ending of the Gospel. Some mss. add a short section following v. 8, that reads something as follows: “But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And after this Jesus himself sent out by means of them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.” Most of these witnesses then continue with the material from vv. 9-20. One ms. gives the longer ending in an even more expanded form. The longer endings probably arose because of the perceived abruptness of the original ending. There are three possible explanations for the original ending: (1) it may have been intentional (this is the most likely); (2) it may have never been finished; or (3) the last leaf may have been lost just before copying (assuming that the original was written on a codex and not a scroll).

  38. Kevin Barney says:

    For those who are interested in exploring other translations than the KJV, here is a resource that might help you think through the issues involved in choosing a translation.

  39. Jonathan Green says:

    Kevin, thanks for that last set of comments. Very enlightening.

  40. Indeed. Thank you very much Kevin. I am really quite new to Biblical criticism and am learning a ton.

  41. Kevin (#38): Great comments. The translations of Rom 8:26-39 at the site you linked to were very interesting. I looked carefully at verse 31 since there’s a slight JST change and although most translations only differed by what English verb tense they used, the NCV made a rather dramatic change making the second part a statement rather than a question. Here the meaning doesn’t seem all that different either way, but since all other translations punctuate this as a question, I’m wondering whether there’s a compelling textual reason to believe this (and the other verses) is a question rather than a statement?

    If this is something that is clear to an expert in Greek but not a novice, I’m more inclined to trust reputable translations in my reading, but if there’s no compelling reason to punctuate one way or another, I’m more inclined to study passages in Greek myself, even though I am a only a novice in Greek (at best!)….


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