©2006 by T.L. Hubeart Jr.
Dear Anonymous "For the New Authorized Version Foundation" Person ("TLNF"):
I am in receipt of your lengthy letter about "AV7," and only now have the opportunity to respond in the detail needed.
I am not usually in the habit of entertaining unsigned correspondence because I like to know that I am communicating with a real person and not a phantom or a front for a "foundation" whose components at this point remain unknown to me. Additionally, when I receive messages that take the sometimes histrionic if not hysterical tack yours did (such as the repeated use of the word "flames" to describe criticisms I thought were relatively restrained), and go on at such length, they most often end up dispatched to the spam folder. I will take the trouble to respond to yours because I feel a reply to your many claims against what I wrote is only appropriate.
I should point out first that my critique of AV7 was never intended to be a formal statement, but was simply a collection of observations which I posted to my personal blog. A few weeks after doing so, I saw that the online encyclopedia Wikipedia had a link in another article intended to point to a Wikipedia entry for AV7, but (as often happens) no article had yet been started. I therefore started one with what I continue to feel (despite some defensiveness on your part, noted below) was an objective description of the volume. I linked to your site and, because of the paucity of information online about AV7, also to my blog entry simply as something by a person who had seen AV7 and could describe it. If I had known that it would cause anyone such significant offense, I probably would not have linked to my blog entry (though I would still have written it because I continue to feel it is fair criticism, as explained below). But I was trying to address an informational deficit that is not presently satisfied by your website, or any other source known to me at this writing.
I am not even sure whom I have offended, to be quite honest, because of the way you sent your e-mail. You sign yourself, "Sincerely, For the New Authorized Version Foundation." Since I was not sure if a signature was intended after the word "Sincerely," I checked the header information and found only "Return-Path: <firstname.lastname@example.org>". So I think a fair question at this juncture would be, "Who are you?" You know who I am, and were able to address me by name (though it is actually T. L. Hubeart Jr., not "Mr. T.J. Hubeart Jr" as in your header), because I sign what I write and thus take responsibility for it. Indeed, while writing this response, I found that you had decided to use my name publicly (or more properly your incorrect "T.J." version of it) at the URL http://www.av7.org/review.responses/ as part of your website.
(Screen shot above taken from the URL http://www.av7.org/review.responses/ on Oct. 16, 2006. Note the inaccuracies: my name is T.L. Hubeart Jr., not "T.J. Hubeart"; and the review was not entitled "Right as Rain," which is the name of the blog itself. [See this note about a subsequent update to this AV7 response.])
You are able to do that, I must respectfully point out, because there is an identifiable person (me) standing behind the writing you are attacking. No such thing is true of either your e-mail, "TLNF," or your public response to me--or in fact, as far as I have been able to find out, the AV7 publication, which is only attributed to your "foundation." I will return to this issue of personal responsibility later because I think it is a root problem you have in gaining credibility for what you want people like me (your intended readership) to accept.
In default of having a real name for you, I will designate you as "TLNF" in the responses below. It's not very personal, but your unsigned letter leaves me little alternative, unless I refer to you as "unnamed Foundation person" which makes you sound a bit like the David Hasselhoff character in the 1980s TV series Knight Rider (who as you may recall worked for the mysterious "Foundation for Law and Government")!
I apologize if this note of levity displeases you, but given that the phantom nature of your communication is rather odd, to put it mildly, I have to inject a little humor here before getting down to the heavy task of responding to your many, many pages of e-mail communication.
Additionally, at the end of your unsigned letter, you asked, "Finally, may I ask: how we can get the responses that we have provided to your criticisms posted so that they will be equally as accessible as your critical review?" I am not sure if you were asking me how to use Wikipedia so that you could edit the article on AV7 to link to a site containing your responses (which is exceedingly simple, as I see you have since managed to figure out), or if you were asking me to post your responses at my website or blog. After writing to me, you apparently decided to make them public yourself.
Some people who found themselves being named in articles posted online by unknown and unnamed individuals--as I have by you--might find the experience somewhat creepy and threatening. But I actually welcome your public release of what appears to me to be essentially the same document you sent me (other than a few prefatory paragraphs and some minor word changes). You were not entirely courteous in what you did, since as of this writing you have not included a link back to my original blog entry so that people who might not have seen it can be aware of what I wrote in its original context. Nor as of this writing have you gotten my name or review title correct on your site. But I can live with this--particularly because I think these easily-proven inaccuracies on your part tend to suggest to the reader your general level of reliability when discussing matters that are not so easily verified.
And I am also going to take a similar liberty and present publicly my reply to your response document, as this will allow me to add some images and formatting to make an inevitably lengthy document easier to read. Also, unlike you, I am presenting what I am answering unedited in a PDF file here on this page, so that anyone can see what I originally wrote, what you replied, and what I said back to you. They will then be in a position to evaluate who has made the better arguments. Also, in the interest of keeping this as concise as possible while addressing what needs to be addressed, I will be responding to the document you sent me rather than trying to chase after the changes you made to it before putting it online.
TLNF: You wrote: "AV7 is claimed to be ..." AV7 Follow-up comment #1: AV7 is indeed, exactly what it is claimed to be: "a computer-generated, updated, and enhanced presentation of the Bible; compiled by an automated system that is able to perform translations directly from Greek and Hebrew original language sources into word-for-word, direct equivalent English ... with a resulting literal translation that is fine-tuned through seven levels of processing to produce an accurate yet easy-to-read, present-day English text."
TH's Response: I have to ask, Why the contentious tone at the outset? You take issue with my use of the word "claimed" by firing back with "AV7 is indeed, exactly what it is claimed to be...." You may know that to be a fact, but since I do not have firsthand knowledge of the veracity of the claims made for AV7, it seemed only reasonable to report them with the proper attribution to the publishers. Why you would take umbrage at my failing to vouch for your statements is utterly beyond me.
TLNF: A few words of additional explanation: AV7 is definitely *not* claimed to be a "perfect" presentation and there is certainly no attempt to imply that.
TH's Response: Nor, in fact, did I intend to imply that this was one of your claims. Indeed, the word "perfect" nowhere appears in my blog entry, so I would hope that you are not attributing any such implication to me. (Then again, since your response document at this writing lacks any link back to my original blog post about AV7, maybe the idea was to falsely imply to any readers who had not seen what I wrote that this was something I had said--hence the quotes around "perfect"??)
TLNF: While the AV7 website is a work-in-progress and additional elements certainly will be added over time, the AV7 website does offer information and many features that are not found (as far as we know) on any other Bible version website. Regarding your comment about "sample chapters," the AV7 website certainly does include sample material at the following two links: http://av7.org/pdfs/keys.pdf -and- http://av7.org/pdfs/treasure.pdf In the near future, we will be adding downloadable sample chapters and we also plan to make available a downloadable e-book of the entire text. It would be helpful if you would describe more specifically what other things "one might reasonably expect." Specifically, what other features have you observed on other Bible version websites that are better than what is available on the AV7 website?
TH's Response: The combative tone is again noted. As far as "other features" that are "better than what is available on the AV7 website," I hardly know where to begin, or how to give an adequate answer without unfavorably comparing your website with others and thus adding to the offense you have obviously already taken. Let us look very briefly at two websites for popular contemporary Bible translations that offer a good many things that yours lacks.
The English Standard Version's website at esv.org is positively feature-laden compared with yours. There is a feature on the home page that allows the user to "Read, search, and compare the full text of the ESV Bible online." Another feature called "About the ESV" gives an overview of the purposes of the translation (as your site does) and also has a link to the translation team that worked on it (as yours--unless I've missed something--does not). There are endorsements, descriptions of available editions, and even a blog--none of which I noticed on your site.
The New International Version's website (http://www.ibs.org/niv/) is also rich with features, such as NIV passage or word search, a category on the home page called "NIV Bible Translation Background Resources," and a page called "About Us and What We Do" that gives the International Bible Society's purpose statement and also offers a 10 minute video about the Society in Flash Video, Windows Media Player, and Real Player formats.
I fear that to compare such sites with yours can only be to your disadvantage, and indeed you may object that some of these comparisons are unfair given that you probably do not have anything like the operating budget that drives the organizations that own these sites. I do think, though, that there is room for improvement in what you have currently that does not need to entail extensive expense:
You might disagree with nine-tenths of what I have said (and continue to say below) about AV7, but if you are wise, you will try to benefit from at least these suggestions, rather than retreating into a defensive ("It would be helpful if you would describe more specifically...") and embittered position.
TLNF: It would be helpful if you would be more specific in explaining what you think is "weird" and "ridiculous" about the AV7 compilation process. We do not claim, as you asserted, that this computerized compilation is entirely "untouched by human hands." Certainly your observation is true when you said: "computers alone cannot pick up all the nuances and senses involved in converting one language to another." However, the flaw in your criticism is that you have made an accusation based on an extremely incorrect assumption.
TH's Response: It "would be helpful" if you in your turn would make an effort to understand my comments rather than projecting things into them in order to take offense. Here is the full paragraph from my blog entry, with some added emphasis in bold/underlining pertinent to correcting your distortion:
Frankly, this impression of an automated retranslation of the KJV strikes me as rather weird. I suppose the intention is good--to present the "AV7" as something uncorrupted by human translators who might insert their own second-guessing into the updating (as clearly happened in the case of the NKJV, which turned out to be neither a true KJV update nor a new translation but sort of straddles the line between). But the very idea of a computerized translation of Scripture 'untouched by human hands'--if that is what the AV7's publishers are claiming this to be--is ridiculous. Anyone who has ever worked with translation software knows that computers alone cannot pick up all the nuances and senses involved in converting one language to another. And obviously the greatest translations of all, including the KJV, have all been performed by humans.
It will be clear to the unbiased reader that I was unsure of what you meant--hence my reference to the "impression" I came away with after reading your description and my qualification of the "untouched by human hands" phrase with the word "if" ("if that is what the AV7's publishers are claiming this to be"). I did not "assert" that AV7 was claimed to be "untouched by human hands"; I simply responded to your frankly inadequate description of how it is produced (of which more below). In your defensiveness, you assumed that I "asserted" something that I did not. My criticism was clearly a tentative response to the presentation you made, along the lines of "I can't be understanding this correctly--is this really what AV7's publishers meant to imply???"
TLNF: The *fact* is that the AV7 compilation process is based on an enormous array of translation tables that do, indeed, take into account many thousands of "nuances and senses;" and, unlike any Bible text previously compiled, this vast array of translation tables used to compile AV7 thoroughly documents every detail of its compilation, including documentation of the treatments of all those nuances and senses, word-for-word and phrase-by-phrase. Would that others might do likewise.
TH's Response: We're still waiting, TLNF, to see some sign of those "human hands".... In the meantime, I will gladly explain what I think is "weird" and "ridiculous" about the AV7 compilation process as described in the printed edition and on your website. A quote from p. 315 of your printed edition (from "How the AV7 text was compiled") may help to illustrate what I mean, for it says:
AV7 compilation is much more complex than indicated
in this overview, but this provides a brief description of the process.
Following are the seven stages of computer processing AV7 uses to convert the
Bible's original language source texts into the result shown above:
Stage 1 translates Greek and Hebrew to the literal English equivalent
Stage 2 converts literal English to a traditional 1611 English equivalent
Stage 3 converts archaic Olde [sic] English text to present-day English, replacing obsolete and archaic words, spelling, and syntax
Stage 4 corrects known grammatical and translation errors
Stage 5 adds technical enhancements into the master source files
Stage 6 incorporates many textual refinements to fine-tune the presentation
Stage 7 encodes the text for print font styles, sizes, and custom features
We have "seven stages of computer processing," which are evidently the actors of all the work: "Stage 1 translates...Stage 2 converts...Stage 4 corrects..." and so on. Earlier in this same article (p. 314), we read of AV7 being "computer-generated, updated, and enhanced"; of it being (emphasis mine) "compiled by an automated system that is able to perform translations directly from Greek and Hebrew original language sources into word-for-word, direct equivalent English"; of it then being "fine-tuned" through the seven levels of processing listed above. In your own words quoted above, you go further and cite "an enormous array of translation tables" that are the principal agents in making AV7 (since they "take into account many thousands of 'nuances and senses'" and the "array" of tables "thoroughly documents every detail of [the] compilation").
Where in any of this do we find any human intervention? Logically, one would think there would need to be some--hence the point in my blog entry stating that "computers alone cannot pick up all the nuances and senses involved in converting one language to another." You take obvious offense at what you call an "extremely incorrect assumption." But if it is incorrect, you are very careful not to provide any information that would allow the reader to correct it. If any identifiable individual who is not a computer is standing behind AV7 to ensure (as much as humanly possible) its accuracy once the computers are done "perform[ing] translations," you are incredibly reluctant to reveal that fact.
It is your process description which, I continue to maintain, truly sounds "weird" and even "ridiculous." (And apparently I am not the only one to find this a bit odd, since this thread about AV7 that appeared on baptistboard.com has an exchange where one user comments, "The website says it is computer generated!" and another responds, "Why do I find this particular post amusing???" [followed by a smiley icon].) Every other translation known to me has some identifiable human being or human beings behind it. Even in a case when new translation is not being done--as with a work that fairly recently came to my attention, the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible of Prof. David Norton of Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, which is a newly-edited KJV--, a person (in this case, Prof. Norton) associates verifiable credentials and public scholarly work with the end product. I can find out who Prof. Norton is, can cross-check his work against the text of the original 1611 edition of the KJV, and in fact took the liberty last year of e-mailing him about his companion book A Textual History of the King James Bible. As it happens, his work proves to be very sound.
From the above, I will let you infer what I think about the difference between the credibility of the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible and that of AV7 in order not to seem to "flame" you. I would hope that it would encourage you to reconsider the way you have presented your publication heretofore. It's certainly your right to decline to elaborate any further on your translation processes--but then you have no moral right to complain when someone like me offers criticism based on the paucity of information presented by you.
TLNF: While it is true that the AV7 text is different than the KJV text, these alterations have been done mainly to update archaic language and syntax, and also make revisions in those cases and places where the KJV has well recognized and acknowledged errors. A couple of examples (i.e. "God forbid" and "Easter"[)] are mentioned in the current published AV7 text.
TH's Response: Here you yourself have, to use your own words, "made an accusation based on an extremely incorrect assumption." Neither "God forbid" (Rom. 3:4 among other places) nor "Easter" (Acts 12:4) is a KJV "error"; instead, they are translations criticized due to misunderstanding by later writers. In order to save space here, please refer to the documented information on the following pages of my website:
I mean none of this to claim that translators today should feel obliged to maintain these renderings in their translations. A case could certainly be made for legitimate updating of language to include these two examples (especially "Easter"; "God forbid" is, I think, much more of a judgment call, and I believe my page on Rom. 3:4 demonstrates why literal substitutions are actually inferior to it). But although it is the easy way out, accusing the KJV of error in order to have a justification for your changes is simply wrong.
TLNF: The imposition of masculine pronouns and various other masculine gender idioms (such as "brethren") that were charactistic [sic] of medieval times and perpetuated in the KJV are just that, idioms that are simply not accurate literal translations of the original language source words as explained below....
TH's Response: This begins a lengthy discussion that essentially, in my view, amounts to an appeal to your "translation tables" and "proprietary AV7 concordance" to decide the dispute. As far as your points about Strong's Concordance, when you assert that this reference work "does not account for all of the nuances that need to be considered," I do not dispute that. Strong's is not a perfect tool, nor does it give all the answers regarding the original language texts of the Bible, but it is useful, has stood the test of time, and provides information that anyone can cross-check--unlike a "proprietary...concordance" which only those with access can consult. (It also agrees with other tools like W.E. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, which in its entry "Brother, Brethren, Brotherhood, Brotherly" says that adelphos "denotes 'a brother, or near kinsman'; in the plural, 'a community based on identity of origin of life'....") To me, Strong's is a known quantity, while the things to which you appeal are unknown quantities. And I choose to trust the known quantity over an inaccessible database, proposed by an anonymous writer like yourself representing a "foundation" I had never heard of before seeing your publication.
If you find that an unintelligible position, "TLNF," that's your privilege, but I have to believe that any reasonable person reading this page will find himself or herself more sympathetic with me on this than with you.
To return to the point I intended to make when I asked, "One has to ask on what basis the Greek word adelphos. . . has been changed in most passages from 'brethren' (KJV) to 'family' (AV7)?"--passing over all the smoke you tossed about regarding "medieval times," "the former impositions of masculine gender forms," and so forth--, I insist that there has been a meaning change made in AV7 that significantly damages the sense of the Scriptures. Perhaps you are genuinely unaware that the English language simply will not submit to being handled the way you have handled it in these passages and still provide the same meaning to the reader. This is what I am trying to tell you.
TLNF: "Now family, I know ..." merely indicates that the speaker was speaking to everyone in the audience, and not only to the men. That being the case, how do you conclude that this rendering "produces absurdity"?
TH's Response: Can you seriously need it explained to you that family has an entirely different connotation in English than brethren/brothers? Sheer common sense dictates that one recognize a difference. Uncle Fred and Aunt Tessa may be part of my family, but they do not stand in a fraternal relationship to me, nor do Grandma Fitzbane nor Cousin Gertie whom I last saw when I was five. So when, for example, Peter is appealing to his fellow Israelites, he speaks to them out of a brotherly standing, which has expository point in that, as Matthew Henry points out,
...he saw it needful to mitigate the rigour of the charge by calling them brethren; and well might he call them so, for he had been himself a brother with them in this iniquity....
The equal standing of Peter with the other Israelites is preserved by such translations of Acts 3:17 as these, just some that could be cited:
Utterly different is AV7's "Now, family,+ I know+ that it was through ignorance that you and your rulers did what you did." Here, the meaning of "brothers/brethren" maintained by the translations above and explained by Matthew Henry and other commentators (such as Barnes) is removed. The Christian reader wonders why, turning to such helps as Strong's, Vine's, interlinear New Testaments, and other translations to see if this is a justified change.
But no! The "Foundation" behind AV7 insists that the Christian reader cannot rely on Strong's, or implicitly on other sources, because "in most instances 'family+' is actually a more accurate translation of 'adelf*' than 'brethren' or 'brothers.'" The combined weight of all the other sources that the reader can check, including previous translators who might otherwise have been thought to be competent Greek scholars, is to be set aside in favor of your "proprietary AV7 concordance" and "many additional resources" (which are conveniently unnamed and unverifiable by the average person). Thus the world is invited to accept the proposition that "AV7 is unique in that it will always provide exhaustive documentation including abundant evidence of the need for and applicability of each and every revision and correction"--though of course the actual "evidence" short of appeals to proprietary databases and answers that are not yet written up on your website (but "many more will be added there over time"!) is surprisingly difficult to uncover.
I must tell you that I think most people will decline to accept your invitation, just as I have. "Now, family..." is emphatically not an acceptable updating of "now, brethren," any more than Beethoven's setting in his Ninth Symphony of Schiller's line "Alle Menschen werden Brüder" ("All men become brothers") can be changed without loss into "All people will become one big happy family." In both originals, the idea of fraternal relation is critical to the meaning and cannot be removed without bastardizing the idea.
In the interests of space, I will also apply the above remarks to your discussion of 3 John, verses 5 and 10. Your request that I provide "evidence in these verses that the writer's references herein are to be construed as exclusively to males to the exclusion of females" intentionally misconstrues the point I was making. KJV's word "brethren" includes everyone in a fraternal relationship, just as Alexander Pope's poem "An Essay on Man" is meant to discuss all humans and not just "males to the exclusion of females." Perhaps today's translator faces a problem in that terms like "man" and "brothers" no longer, apparently, can be taken in a gender-inclusive way because of the pressures of political correctness. (In this context, C.S. Lewis' remark that "At bottom, every ideal of style dictates not only how we should say things but what sort of things we may say" [Preface to "Screwtape Proposes a Toast"] certainly comes to mind.) Nevertheless, I see that even a translation that accepts this limitation, the New Century Version, straddles it more successfully than AV7, for in Acts 3:17 and the two 3 John verses, we find "brothers and sisters" given for adelphos. Whatever one thinks of the addition of the words "and sisters," this at least preserves the idea of fraternal relationship in these passages. AV7's ill-advised rendering, on the contrary, destroys that idea.
In short, I maintain that your translation of "family" in such passages is what I originally suggested it was, an "absurdity." But I trust I have said enough to persuade the unbiased reader on this point. If you are not persuaded, I fear that I can no more convince you than I can prove the difference between a violin and a kazoo to a tin-eared listener convinced that "both sound the same."
TLNF: First, there is no Greek word transliterated "huper." The Greek word to which you refer is "uper"....
TH's Response: This is a cute but misleading statement which ignores widely-known differences in transliterating from Greek to English. Your intent was obviously to take advantage of my admission in my post not to be speaking from a position of expertise in Greek, so that you would be able to misrepresent the facts. But unfortunately for you, I happen to know enough to see that your claim is so incorrect as to amount to deliberate distortion. For, as I will illustrate below with the support of scans from the following well-respected reference works--
1. Strong's Concordance ("Greek Dictionary of the New Testament" section, p. 74) gives the word as "huper":
Source: James Strong, The Comprehensive Concordance of the Bible (original edition copyrighted in 1890; reprint used: Iowa Falls, IA: Riverside Book and Bible House, n.d.)
2. Young's Analytical Concordance ("Index-Lexicon to the New Testament," p. 74) gives the word as "huper":
Source: Robert Young, Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible, Newly Revised and Corrected (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982).
3. Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary (NT section, p. 58) gives the word as "huper":
Source: W.E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, as reprinted in Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1985).
Additionally, The Strongest Strong's, the revision of Strong's edited by John R. Kohlenberger III and James A. Swanson (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), actually transliterates this word as "hyper" (p. 1650). But anyone who knows anything about transliteration knows that there is no universally accepted, one-to-one exchange between the Greek alphabet and the English alphabet. Strong explicitly states ("Greek Dictionary of the New Testament" section, p. 5, "Greek Articulation" paragraph 2) that "the Rough Breathing" mark in Greek--which we find prefacing this word--"is equivalent to the English h, by which we have accordingly represented it."
This representation of the mark is clearly legitimate, according to the four well-known reference works cited above; and for all I know your decision not to represent it as an English letter is also legitimate; there is obviously room for differences in transliteration, and you are certainly entitled to make use of them. What you may not do is pretend that "there is no Greek word transliterated 'huper'" when you know very well (or should have reason to know) that many respected references give exactly this transliteration. This claim of yours lacks credibility, and when I can so easily shoot down a claim so preposterous, it gives me reason to suspect your credibility in other areas that are not so easily checked (such as your appeals to your "proprietary AV7 concordance").
TLNF: Next, there is also no viable rationale or justification for the use of the word "Because" in this context (the word "because" has a different array of Greek sources). Moreover, the word string "Because that for" as used in the KJV is really a grammatical maze and conundrum....In comparing the AV7 with the KJV for this verse, the AV7 interpolatively added words "[It was]" (clearly identified as interpolatively added in brackets), actually makes a better connection to the preceding sentence than the convoluted KJV rendering: "Because that for ..." (which phrasing is also horrible grammar).
TH's Response: With exactly one part of the above statements do I agree: that the AV7 words "It was" were "clearly identified as interpolatively added in brackets." In reviewing my blog entry, I do not see that I ever said otherwise, and I also correctly represented the words italicized in your printed copy with italics in my blog post. (Again, I have to wonder if the idea was to suggest falsely to people who had only read your response that I was inaccurate on this point.)
The rest of your assertions seem to me somewhere between arguable and hogwash. First, can it really be possible that you lack the proficiency in the English language to know that the words "for" and "because" can function as synonyms? The American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth College Edition--to take just the first dictionary that comes to hand for purposes of illustration--defines "because" as "For the reason that; since." And when I find that various translations (Tyndale, Great Bible, Geneva, Bishops' Bible, KJV, RV, ASV, New Berkeley Version, NKJV) begin 3 John v. 7 with "because," and various others (Rheims 1582, RSV, Amplified, TEV) begin it with "for," I take both translations to be legitimate and find your appeal to your proprietary database ("the word 'because' has a different array of Greek sources") to be less than compelling.
I also find no reason to change my earlier criticism of the connection between verses 6 and 7 in AV7; your claim that AV7 "actually makes a better connection to the preceding sentence" is a matter of opinion with which I respectfully disagree (and hope you will respect my Christian liberty to do so--but if not, it still does not change my position). It is, by the way, interesting that you would add NIV in the comparison listing with AV7, given that in the words of Leland Ryken (ESV literary stylist) in his book The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2002), NIV is "on the 'conservative' or literal side of the dynamic equivalent half of the translation spectrum" (p. 54). I still think AV7 is wrong to destroy the connection between the verses, but no more wrong than NIV, although the latter is more of a dynamic equivalence translation than the former and so NIV's lapses from literal translation are more understandable than AV7's.
Your shakiest ground of all comes when you attack (or should I say "flame"?) the KJV's rendering as "a grammatical maze and conundrum" and "horrible grammar." With all due respect, this is an exceedingly ignorant criticism and I hope the following "may give you some reasons to reconsider your comment[s]."
"Because that" simply means, in today's idiom, "because" or "for." It would only be "a grammatical maze and conundrum"to someone who had no historical sense of English usage, and who would therefore not be aware that such allegedly "horrible grammar" is employed not only in versions before (since Tyndale) and after (RV in 1881, ASV in 1901) the KJV, but by many English writers in other contexts (emphasis in the following examples mine):
1. Because that I familiarly
Do use you for my fool and chat with you,
Your sauciness will jest upon my love,
And make a common of my serious hours.
(--Shakespeare, Comedy of Errors, II.ii.26-30)
2. And now it is half-conquer'd, must I back
Because that John hath made his peace with Rome?
(--Shakespeare, King John, V.ii.95-6)
3. For though many found fault with the conduct
of the war, yet no man hated the general; and there were more to be found of
those that went out of Rome, because that they could not forsake Pompey,
than of those that fled for love of liberty.
(--Plutarch's Lives, "Pompey," Dryden/Clough translation [Modern Library ed., Vol. II:, p. 120])
4. ...Consequently the degree of evidence
necessary to establish our belief of things naturally incredible, whether in
the bible or elsewhere, is far greater than that which obtains our belief to
natural and probable things; and therefore the advocates for the bible have no
claim to our belief of the bible, because that we believe things stated
in other ancient writings....
(--Thomas Paine, Age of Reason, Part II [in Paine: Collected Works, Library of America ed., p. 737]).
5. With the same view she represents an
accomplished young woman, as ready to marry anybody that her mamma pleased to
recommend; and, as actually marrying the young man of her own choice, without
feeling any emotions of passion, because that a well-educated girl had
not time to be in love.
(--Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Ch. 5 section 4)
6. While I was fearing it, it came,
But came with less of fear,
Because that fearing it so long
Had almost made it dear....
More examples could be offered but would only belabor the point: that "because that" was not "horrible grammar" but very acceptable to Shakespeare and many other eminent authors. Indeed, the Oxford English Dictionary (ed. 2), in its entry for "because," indicates that the term was
"Orig. a phrase, consisting of prep. and subst.; after which the cause or purpose was expressed by a subst. governed by of, a dative infinitive, or a subord. clause introduced by that or why."
Hence, far from being wanting in any way from a grammatical standpoint, "because that" (or "because why") was actually an earlier way of saying what we say today as "because" (dropping the additional word). That is not to say that "because that" would or should be used to translate the relevant Greek words here today, but it does demonstrate that your attempt to "flame" the KJV for its grammar choice in 3 John v. 7 is utterly without merit.
Regarding your statement:
Notice that the KJV subjectively adds several words in verse 7 that have no Greek basis (and also notice that the KJV fails to identify several words that it adds interpolatively here). There is no Greek basis for the words: "Because" or "that" or "his" at the beginning of verse 7....
--I also have to point out that you are utterly mistaken. In fact, if you were trying to refute my statement, "Someone's computer must not have been working very well when this passage was run through the 'automated system'!", you instead reinforced my impression that you are looking at flawed data and then drawing incorrect conclusions. Below is an image of this verse from Berry's Interlinear that will illustrate my point:
Source: George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear KJV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English (originally published in 1897; reprint: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, n.d.), p. 619.
Using your own transliteration of this, we see it matches up with the words used by the KJV roughly as follows:
uper[for] gar[because that] tou[the] onomatoV[name] exhlqon[they went forth] mhden[nothing] lambanonteV[taking] apo[of] twn[the] eqnwn[Gentiles]
And in fact, because there is a formal difference in the Greek New Testament, as shown at footnote "g" below from the same page of Berry's--
--we find that the "his" in KJV's "for his name's sake" also has a "Greek basis" that was in the text used the KJV men. (The E in the note stands for "Elzevir," denoting their edition of the Textus Receptus, which is generally closer to KJV than the Stephanus 1550 Textus Receptus used in Berry's main text.) The only word, in fact, that could be argued based on Berry to have been added in the English is "sake"--but this English word as it happens is vouched for by the Revised Version of 1881, which rejected the footnoted Elzevir reading above to give "for the sake of the Name," as shown below from the Interlinear Bible published by Cambridge University Press:
Source: The Interlinear Bible: The Authorized Version (King James Version) and the Revised Version. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, n.d.). Note that where there are differences between KJV and RV, the Revised Version is given in the upper line and the KJV in the lower one.
I am sure that there could be legitimate difference of opinion among Greek scholars as to whether the word you transliterate as "onomatoV" really does encompass the English word "sake." But no matter; enough has been said to suitably dispose of your claims of "interpolatively" added words and "no Greek basis." These have now been demonstrated to be at best dubious, at worst incorrect.
I pass over your "pattern analysis system" excerpt without comment. I have no doubt that you believe it to be "documentary evidence," but given the "documentary evidence" that I have just provided--which any fair-minded reader would have to say explodes many of your ill-considered claims above--, you will have to excuse me if I do not find your appeals to your proprietary system all that compelling.
TLNF: The literal meaning of the Greek word "ekklesia" is "the called of God" or "the body of believers" or "the assembly of believers." Other definitions include: "the clerical profession" and references to certain denominations and various forms of ecclesiastical organization and power, none of which have anything to do with the meaning of the word "ekklesia." Moreover, the word "church" in contemporary parlance has become so seriously diluted that it is almost universally understood by people today as referring to a building rather than to a body or assembly of believers. For many centuries from the earliest days of Christianity until about the time of King Henry VIII, the word "church" was apparently little known or used. In the earliest English texts, the word "ekklesia" was generally rendered as "congregation" until the Geneva revisers started using the word "church."
TH's Response: This paragraph is open to several objections, particularly regarding the fractured history lesson you give.
As far as the statement that "the word 'church' was apparently little known or used" until King Henry VIII's time, you are obviously fishing in waters that you have not explored very deeply. That no one used the word "church" in "the earliest days of Christianity"--since no one at the time of the apostles spoke the English language--is painfully obvious. But--
--the word "church" obviously had more currency than you assume it had.
Although you do seem to know that Tyndale and the Great Bible preferred the term "congregation" to "church," and Geneva reversed this, you have "apparently" not studied the matter in much more detail than this, and it shows in your prejudiced statements about how "it is almost universally understood by people today as referring to a building rather than to a body or assembly of believers." Have you any source for this rather sweeping claim, or is it another one of those things you simply decided was "apparently" the case? (On a personal note, when I worked as part of a committee last year to revise the constitution and by-laws for my Baptist church, one thing I never heard suggested was that we add explanatory language lest people become confused and think that the constitution was really being written for "a building" rather than for our congregation!)
I also note in passing that your word change here puts you in opposition to the KJV men themselves, who in their preface "The Translators to the Reader" noted that they had specifically avoided the term "congregation":
Lastly, we have on the one side avoided the scrupulosity of the Puritans, who leave the old ecclesiastical words and betake them to other, as when they put washing for baptism, and congregation instead of church; as also on the other side we have shunned the obscurity of the Papists, in their azimes, tunic, rational, holocausts, praepuce, pasche, and a number of such like, whereof their late translation is full....
But the whole business about "various forms of ecclesiastical organization and power" in your comments really does not say much for the soundness of your decision to replace the word "church," and instead suggests that perhaps personal bias played a part in the decision, which you vainly are attempting now to shore up by telling us what you think "apparently" happened.
One final thing: you write that "Among the first uses and translations of the word 'ekklesia' (in Acts 19:39 and 19:41), it is actually translated as 'assembly' in the KJV and others." It is worth adding that in the verses you cite, the "assembly" has nothing to do with the church, but is a gathering of the people of Ephesus in a public forum. The context obviously made a world of difference to the KJV men when they translated this word.
TH's Response: I had also criticized the rendering of Jude v. 4, where the change to "written off" in AV7 seemed to me unwarranted. Here for the reader who may not have seen a copy of AV7 is the way you present this verse:
For certain men crept in unexpectedly,+ who were long ago+ written+ off as ungodly men, turning the grace of God into filthiness+ and denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the interest of space, I will refer the interested reader to your document to read there your response, extensive but--to me--deficient of substance. Again we are referred to an excerpt from your proprietary databases; again the KJV must be accused of error ("the mistranslation 'ordained'"), evidently in order for you to declare AV7's rendering "more literally accurate." (One must ask, given all the errors of which you have accused the KJV even in the small sampling of verses covered in your responses, why on earth you based AV7, "the New Authorized Version," on what you must feel is an exceedingly flawed translation???) We are also told by you that
Actually, there is no Greek word that is correctly transliterated "prographo."
As with the word "huper" discussed above, the evidence is heavily against you as we find the original Strong's Concordance, Young's, Vine, and the 2001 Strongest Strong's by Kohlenberger and Swanson unanimous in transliterating the word in exactly that way (minor differences like lines over both "o"s in Strong's vs. only over the final "o" in Kohlenberger/Swanson aside). Here is a scan of the first of these:
(Source: Strong's Concordance, op. cit., "Greek Dictionary of the New Testament" section, p. 60.)
But I will forgo scanning further excerpts here, as I have already established in discussing the Greek word "huper" your utter lack of credibility and, indeed, straightforwardness when it comes to discussing transliteration.
As with the discussion of "family" vs. "brethren/brothers," above, I remain in utter astonishment at how you seem not to perceive the distance in meaning between "written" and "written off." They clearly do not carry the same connotation. And while the Christian reader who investigates the Greek word (in whatever transliteration it may appear) can certainly find that KJV's "ordained" is not a strictly literal rendering of "prographo," sources like Strong's (above) and Vine vouch for the sense of "to write previously" but not for "written off." As with the sound of the violin vs. that of the kazoo, there is a world of difference.
Matthew Poole's Commentary explains the phrase as follows:
Greek, forewritten, i.e. of whom it was formerly written, or foretold, viz. by Christ and his apostles; or rather, it is to be understood according to our translation, before ordained, viz. in the eternal counsel of God; God's decree being compared to a book, in which things to be done are written down.
Hence we see the connection between the literal "written" and the figurative "ordained" rendering of this word in the KJV. In the NAS and NKJV cited by you (and in some others, such as New Berkeley, Phillips, and the marginal note in NIV), the word is rendered "marked out." The Amplified, Moffatt, and TEV say the wicked men's doom was "predicted," and the RSV says they were "designated for this condemnation." There is a clear continuity of sense among all these versions.
An utter departure from this, one for which I can find no support other than your endless lists of computer database excerpts, is AV7's "written off." To say that a person is "written," "ordained," or "marked out" is emphatically not the same to say the person is "written off." Having in my younger years worked for more than one bank, I know that to "write off" something is to discharge it from the ledgers. There may in fact be some grounds for a Christian saying figuratively that the wicked men in this verse will be "written off" by God. But that is clearly not what Jude is saying here. He is in fact telling us of certain men marked by God for destruction--but that destruction is future, not present, so that they are able to act out their wickedness among believers.
If it were not that it would make this already lengthy document even longer, I would also explore the fact that the Greek word "krima" (Strong's G2917), which in KJV is rendered "condemnation," appears to be nowhere represented in AV7. Ah, but you will probably insist that "no Greek word is transliterated" as "krima," so I had better provide you with the Greek of the verse as it appears in Berry's for your reference; I have even circled the word for you so there can be no mistaking it:
(Source: George Ricker Berry, op. cit., p. 620.)
Perhaps when you were adding some words in italics, other words that were actually meant to be in the verse were inadvertently omitted??? I do not want to be unduly harsh with you, but really, when you accuse the KJV men so freely of "mistranslation," had you not better be sure that your own publication is unexceptionable?
In short, I must ask who vouches for the sense "written off," other than a lot of computerized tables in your database? What respected Greek scholar whose work we can check will publicly state that "written off" is a better rendering of this Greek word? If you are unable to show us some support other than data lists, I think you will find few people willing to simply take your word for it.
TLNF: Regarding the sequence in which the four Gospel records are presented in AV7, there is no officially mandated "canonical" order in which these books must be presented; but rather, their traditional sequence is simply that, a matter of tradition. That tradition notwithstanding, however, it has long been common practice among evangelical Christians to recommend to new believers and others who have never before read any part of the Bible to begin reading with the Gospel of John.
TH's Response: That's all very well, and had you bothered to explain what you were doing, I might not have seen this rearrangement as such a frivolous thing. But you did not, and it would seem that you took no thought of those Christians who are familiar with the "traditional sequence" and might expect to flip open AV7 to the book after Luke and find John's Gospel--only to discover that it is not there. I did this myself on first obtaining your book, was perplexed, and had to look to the Table of Contents for help (which might be a convenient place to explain your rationale in putting John first, eh?). But as with your statements about how AV7 was prepared--where you give an utterly inadequate explanation and then take offense at how I interpreted it--, your rearrangement of the traditional order of books might be well served by some rethinking.
TLNF: Certainly you are entitled to your opinion; however, your accusations that AV7 is not a reliable and trustworthy update of the KJV and your assertions that the revisions made in AV7 are "ill-advised" and "frivolous" surely seem drastically overstated, given the evidence presented here; and it seems that perhaps your criticisms are reflective of your own personal biases rather than being based on comprehensive research, evidence, and scholarship.
TH's Response: I trust that the detailed responses above will demonstrate to the unbiased reader that my criticisms are in fact based on eminently reasonable and well-supported grounds. Even if he or she may not fully agree, the reader will see that I have gone to considerable trouble to substantiate my conclusions about AV7--while your response document is essentially one long appeal to databases no one outside your "foundation" can access. And where you assert things that can be checked--such as that "there is no Greek word transliterated 'huper'"; that because that for constitutes "horrible grammar"; that "Easter" in the KJV is an error; and that "the word 'church' was apparently little known or used" until King Henry VIII's time--, I trust that I have proven with overwhelming evidence that your claims are fallacious.
Also, it would be worth your while to reflect on the impression either of us probably leaves behind in this exchange. I have taken personal responsibility for my side of it, and the reader knows whom to hold accountable (T.L. Hubeart Jr.) if anything I've written is misstated or incorrect. If desired, the reader knows what sources I have cited and can cross-check my accuracy. But where is the personal responsibility in your attack on me, which is not even signed by an identifiable person, which continually appeals to databases no one can check, and whose argument I would summarize as essentially "If you only knew what our database knows"? I would also like to gently suggest that the same lack of accountability is a major problem for your New Testament; if AV7 is not actually "untouched by human hands," as I speculated in my original blog entry, some identifiable individuals really need to take responsibility for producing it and endorsing it. If you truly believe in what you have published--and I am sure you do--, it is only appropriate for you to take ownership of it beyond claiming it on behalf of a "foundation."
And if you do not choose to admit frankly that at least some of the above suggestions are worth your attention, perhaps it is you and not I who are not open to, as you put it, a "reconsideration of the facts." Be careful that you do not become like the man that Epictetus describes (in his Discourses, I.5) as hardened to stone after being trapped in an argument, neither willing to concede anything nor to back down from an unsustainable position. Even if you feel that you have the truth of the matter on your side and simply did not properly articulate it in your response document, that should provide you with motivation, as we read elsewhere in the same author:
But the real guide, whenever he finds a person going astray, leads him back to the right road, instead of leaving him with a scornful laugh or an insult. So also do you show him the truth and you will see that he follows. But so long as you do not show him the truth, do not laugh him to scorn, but rather recognize your own incapacity. (--Epictetus, Discourses II.12.3-4, trans. W.A. Oldfather [Loeb Classical Library].)
I would like to have nice things to say about AV7, but at best I can only credit you (and that solely after giving you every benefit of the doubt) with sincerity and good intentions, for the reasons exhaustively discussed above. I hope and pray that you will take some of these criticisms to heart, and--rather than retreating into a defensive posture and complaining about how "flamed" you have been--consider how you can better and more solidly communicate with your intended readers.
I intentionally do not leave you with "a scornful laugh or an insult," but would encourage you to think about what I have said.
May God bless you insofar as you seek to truly serve Him.
T.L. Hubeart Jr.
(October 19, 2006)
[UPDATE, 10/21/06: Since this reply was made public, "TLNF" has made some revisions to the AV7 response page which make it read significantly differently than the version answered here. That response page also includes a note advising of these revisions. For comparison purposes, you can view a PDF version of the original letter as I received it here.--TH.]