Monday, August 19, 2013

Silly Arguments Part IV

Why hello there, face-palming Picard! This must mean it's time for guessed it...silly argument!

Once upon a time in the world of a social media website that shall remain nameless, I saw this argument made for the King James Bible and why we should use it alone.
psalm 12-6 purified 7 times. it was the 7th translation, it took 7 years, and english is made of 7 languages
This is a popular argument used by KJV-Onlyists, in an attempt to try to prove some level of divine connection with the KJV. I've already touched on the silliness of KJV-Onlyism before, but let's take a moment to examine this claim.

Firstly, no one at the time of the KJV translators thought this. Unlike the apostles, who realized when Christ had fulfilled a passage of scripture, we don't see any record of the KJV translators leaping up from their tables and declaring, "Psalm 12:6 has been fulfilled!" This mentality is about as recent as KJV-Onlyism (and that's very recent).

Secondly, the KJV is actually the tenth English translation, not the seventh. They are, in order:

  1. Wycliffe
  2. Tyndale
  3. Coverdale
  4. Matthew
  5. Great Bible
  6. Taverner
  7. Geneva Bible
  8. Bishops' Bible
  9. Douay-Rheims Bible
  10. King James Bible
This is not even counting the individual translations found in England before Wycliffe, and others found throughout the history of the other publications.

Thirdly, I have no idea what this individual means regarding English having "seven languages." English itself is the language, and if this is referring to dialects, well...there are countless English dialects to say the least. I did a Google search on this, and found out that what this person meant to argue, I think, is that the Bible, at the time of the translation of the KJV, has been translated into seven languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Old Syriac, Old Latin, German and English. This likewise is not true - by the time of the translation of the KJV, the Bible had likewise been translated into: Gothic, Armenian, Coptic, Old Nubian, Ethiopic, Georgian, Old Church Slavonic, Old French, Czech, and Hungarian. That's about seventeen languages, folks - and I'm sure if I did a little more digging, I'd find plenty more languages that holy writ had been translated into by 1611.

Fourthly, and most importantly, Psalm 12:6 is not speaking about translations! That's completely ripping it out of context. Let's examine the context quickly - here's the Psalm in full:
Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts, those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?” “Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. You, O Lord, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever. On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man. [Psalm 12:1-8]
The Psalmist begins by describing a situation not too pretty - the godly one is gone, the faithful have vanished (v. 1), and everyone utters lies to their neighbors, using flattering lips and "a double heart" (v. 2). The Psalmist turns against these people, hoping that the Lord would cut off all the flattering lips and boasting tongues (vv. 3-4). The Lord Himself then promises His intervention in the matter, and says He will place the poor and needy in safety (v. 5). 

We then reach verse 6, where we read that "the words of the Lord are pure words"...but let's stop a moment - what "words" are we talking about? Are we talking about the entire Bible? Actually no...we're talking about the words the Lord just spoke. That is, the words pertaining to the protection of the poor and needy. The psalmist is contrasting them with the words of the haughty and boastful in verse 4. This is emphasized in the next part of the verse, where it says the Lord's words are "like silver refined in a furnace...purified seven times." Let's ask quickly: do God's words need any sort of refining? Actually no - they're already refined, as they're already pure. That's the point the psalmist is trying to make: the Lord's words don't need refining, in contrast to the words of the liar and the boastful, whose words would need plenty of refining. The phrase "seven times" (referring the number of perfection) is simply emphasizing how pure the silver is (and hence God's word). This is continued in verses 7-8, where the psalmist confirms that God will protect the poor and needy against the wicked and the vile - hence how we know that God's words truly are pure.

In short, Psalm 12:6 does not teach KJV-Onlyism.