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Review of The Defined King James Bible
by Rick Norris
D. A. (ed.). The Defined King James Bible.
Collingswood, NJ: The Bible for Today Press, 1998.
According to the title page, this is the Authorized King James Bible [Cambridge 1769 text]: "Unaltered, Large print, with uncommon words defined." D. A. Waite, Jr., footnote author and editor, wrote that this Bible "attempts to define archaic, obsolete, or uncommon English words that occur in the text" (p. vi). Pastor Tow also confirmed that one of their purposes was "to make available to the reader a Bible with a ready reference to modern equivalents of archaic and difficult words conveniently located on each page" (p. 1661).
The definitions are generally good. The footnote author sometimes gives several definitions and says that the "reader will have to determine for himself which definition best fits a particular context" (p. vii). Did the footnote author imply or acknowledge that the KJV is not a perfect translation when he wrote: "In almost every case, the KJB [King James Bible] translators selected the best or one of the best English words possible at that time to convey the meaning of the Hebrew or Greek that they were translating" (p. vii)? Does that mean that in some cases another English word would be clearer, better, or more accurate?
In my opinion, some words are defined that did not need to be defined. Some examples are words such as err, dart, slay, snare, tarry, whosoever, and smite. A few of the definitions seem to be misleading or questionable. For example, where the KJV translators translated the Hebrew word for God [El] at Psalm 80:10 as "goodly" and gave the following marginal note in the 1611 edition-- "the cedars of God," the Defined KJB's footnote for "goodly" is "good-looking; of good quality, fine; good-sized" (p. 821).
The Defined KJB seems to be intended to promote the KJV-only view. One clear example of the KJV-only bias is the footnote defending the KJV's "Easter" at Acts 12:4. This footnote claims that Easter refers to "Ishtar--ancient pagan festival," but it does not mention that this is the same Greek word translated "passover" in other verses.
Many of the definitions agree with the ways that God's preserved Word in the original languages are translated in other good English translations. Since an accurate definition or a synonym may be properly substituted for a word, this defined edition of the KJV seems to provide evidence for the need for and accuracy of updated English translations such as 1833 Webster's, 1842 revised edition of the KJV by Baptists, the NKJV, the MKJV, and the KJ21.
In the preface of his edition of the KJV, Noah Webster observed: "Whenever words are understood in a sense different from that which they had when introduced, and different from that of the original languages, they do not present to the reader the Word of God."
On many pages, six to twelve words are defined. When the editors claim that the average KJV "readability is grade level 5.63," how did they find so many archaic or difficult words in the KJV that needed defined?
For the 4th printing of this Bible, a revised second edition for the N. T. was made. This second edition defines many words that were not defined in the first edition. Some examples are the following: "fast" (Matt 6:16), "swine" (Luke 15:16), "ware" (Acts 14:6), "minded" (Matt 1:19), "vipers" (Matt 23:33), "cubits" (John 21:8), "serpent" (Matt 7:10), "novice" (1Tim 3:6), "closet" (Matt 6:6), "centurion" (Matt 8:13), "justified" (Rom 5:1), "sanctified" (1Cor 1:2), "regeneration" (Titus 3:5), and "sedition" (Acts 24:5).
For the word "Ghost" (Matt 1:18, etc.), the first editions had the footnote "spirit" with a small "s." The second edition has the corrected footnote "Spirit." The second edition also adds the same footnote for "Jesus" at Acts 7:45 that is found in both editions at Hebrews 4:8: "i.e. Joshua (Heb. equivalent of Jesus)." The third printing of this Bible had several pages out of order (pp. 505-520), but this was corrected in the fourth printing.
Another interesting point to consider concerning this Bible is the words the editors choose not to define. Since the English word baptize has several differing definitions [immerse, pour, or sprinkle], why did the editors not identify which of these meanings is the correct definition of the original Greek word? Does S. H. Tow, a Presbyterian contributing editor, understand the word baptize to mean "sprinkle?" Why was the important word baptize not defined?
One unique aspect of this edition of the KJV was the editors' decision to include the headings or titles of some of the Psalms in the first verse of the Psalm. For example, Psalm 89:1 begins: "<<Maschil of Ethan the Ezrahite>> I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever" (p. 826).
The main objectionable feature of this Bible is the inaccurate and misleading KJV-only articles that are added as appendixes, especially the article by S. H. Tow. The NKJV is placed on a supposed "corrupt tree" made by supposedly "corrupt translators--heretics & unbelievers," was supposedly based on a "corrupt text"-- "Codex Sinaiticus" and "codex Vaticanus," and supposedly with "every vital doctrine attacked" (p. 1695).
How many false and perhaps libelous claims were made on this one "corrupt tree" chart? Tow seems to bear false witness against the NKJV and its translators by accusing them of dishonoring God's Word and God's Son (p. 1681), of undermining "God's Word with deadly footnotes" (p. 1682), and of being "pro-Gay" (p. 1682) and "pro-Catholic" (p. 1683). Tow seems to advocate a double standard since he does not apply the same standards of doctrinal purity or soundness to the Roman Catholic Erasmus and to the Church of England translators of the KJV that he applies to others.
Tow claimed that the Church of England theology of the KJV translators that includes false teachings such as baptismal regeneration, episcopal church government, etc. was "pure and godly" (p. 1680). Is Tow being partial or showing respect of persons to the KJV translators (James 2:4, 9)?
Tow's article seems to be packed with inaccurate, misleading, and even false claims about other translations of God's Word. Does love for the KJV justify printing inaccurate and even false claims about other translations? Should falsehoods and false witness be used supposedly to defend the truth?
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The above article was posted on this Web site June 18, 1999.
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