Why the Most Recent Critically Based “Better” Version Fails the Church

The most recent critically based “better” version fails the Church because:

  1. it is not the theological or exegetical standard.

So let’s say we capitalize the pronouns referring to Deity, add some italics, and change the name of God by transliteration and not translation in the new version. Are we to gather because this the “better” version that all other versions in the MVO family must make changes to rise to the new standard? While one new version makes changes, there are plenty remaining that read differently and are not in translational alignment. In reality, all a new version gives the reader is more optional readings to consider, muddying the interpretive water while hoping to achieve a larger market share for its investors. There is no recent critically based “better” version that occupies the place of theological or exegetical standard. Indeed, one more version solidifies the truth that with the disparagement of the King James Version, the design of the critical camp was to guarantee that the Church would never again have a standard sacred text. The best arguments for another non-standard is the introductions to all the versions in the MVO family. After all, they are all the finest translations, that the finest modern scholars, with the best access to manuscript evidence, can produce.

  • it’s creators only pretend it is infallible Scripture. “Pretend” is defined, “to give a false appearance of being, possessing, or performing.”

The most recent critically base “better” fails the Church because it gives the false appearance of being the Word of God, of possessing self-attesting, self-authenticating, self-interpreting, inspired, infallibility, and of performing the unifying work of a standard sacred text. Once the Church pretends it has the Scripture, the essential realities that make Scripture God’s infallible Word are no longer necessary. Those transcendent qualities and characteristics are disregarded, the inauguration of the modern version’s acceptance grounded in an academic consensus to pretend it is the Scripture. Because pretending begins with a willingness to suspend reality, once the pretend Bible is adopted, all reason based, systemically formulated empirical arguments to the contrary are as irrelevant as saying the water in the little teacup in front of the teddy bear is really tea and that the stuffed bear actually requested a cup of tea. This is the apologetic and polemic sphere in which the defense of the pretend Scripture resides. The best argument for the pretend Bible is by analogy. Water is a liquid and so is tea or, theologically speaking, the Bible contains elements of God’s Word. As for the talking stuffed bear, the Evangelical text critic will do the talking for everyone around the table. After all, he or she is preeminently skilled in pretending.

And you are required to pretend the new bible is Scripture because of legacy institutions’ information dominance assuring you that pretending is acceptable and normative. Introductions to the new bibles assure the reader that novel literary and translational conventions are an improvement of the prior iteration. Not even in the Reformation Bible tradition did most recent mean better when considering the inability of the Bishops’ Bible to surpass the utility and popularity of the Geneva Bible. There are abundant reasons even within the multiple version only universe why novel renderings and translational conventions have been avoided. Why is 151st Psalm only found in the NRSV? Why the inclusion of the long reading of Mark 16 when the critical philosophy rejects the pericope as Scripture? Why is El-Shaddai translated “Almighty” and not “the breasted God?” Because even for the MVO advocate, some additions, subtractions, and translational changes are too extreme for people to pretend it is or is not Scripture. And it is the capability of the market, or Church, to pretend, that governs the shape of the modern translation. After all, the version is only as good as its marketability.

  • It is merely another addition to the pantheon of versions contributing to the theological and ecclesiastical malaise characteristic of multiple version onlyism.

It is impossible that the most recent new version is superior to the King James Version for the following reasons:

  1. It has not been vetted; it has only been endorsed. No one knows how the new version will withstand historical critical scrutiny. Will it show some utility or drift away as an anomaly?
  2. It cannot rise as the superior translation and remain part of the multiple version only library of bibles. The fact that it is not a standard restricts its ascendancy within the translational ranks to versional widespread mediocrity.
  3. And because of this versional mediocrity it is illegitimate to say that the chosen means of translation and adjusted literary convention is better than its predecessors.
  4. It is essentially the same as the other formally equivalent modern translations of the bible, hemmed in by the same underlying textual principles and methods. The most recent version is not better because all the previous modern versions have not been better because of the common malleable textual base.
  5. The new version cannot be spoken of in autographic terms because empirical evidence cannot connect the version and underlying text with the autograph. One can only say “Thus saith the Lord,” when reading the new version by pretending the Lord said it.
  6. The new version will add to the cacophony and impossibility of corporate responsive reading.
  7. The new version will lead to further confusion in the church as pastors replace the last best version with the most recent best version in the pews. This action will demonstrate that it is not the Scripture that governs the church but the man who governs the bible. Under the guise of Evangelicalism, the pastor functions more like a little pope than the undershepherd.
  8. The new version will lead to further schisms in the church as sides are taken based on the testimony of endorsers and personal opinion on which of the MVO versions are the best.
  9. The King James Version brought exegetical, theological, ecclesiastical, institutional, and societal stability to the English-speaking world. Another new version among the many is not going to reverse the present trend toward diminished exegetical grounding, theological ambivalence, ecclesiastical fecklessness, institutional deterioration, and societal chaos in the church and culture.
  10. With the world going to “hates in a hat basket,” publishers and apologists throw the church a lifeline that is moored to nothing. “Grab ahold,” they say, “I’ll pull you to safety.” But you find that the so-called lifeline is perpetually changing, always lengthening, and while you pull with all your might, you remain in the raging seas of contemporary culture and sinking. Publishers and apologists for new bibles are in the business of giving false hope, a cruel and despicable trade when what we all need is the sure and certain promises of God in His Holy Word.

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

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