A new Bible student primer

As you my readers provide feedback, I will endeavor, if I feel the the feedback warrants it, to address expressed concerns. My problem of course being that the Word is so expansive I may never be able to address all concerns. I do not know all the answers, only God knows all, but when I do think I can address the point, to the best of my ability I will address it. Today I address the fact that those of us who have been around Bible teachings and discussions for a long time, we have a certain short hand and knowledge about the Bible and we tend to forget that the uninitiated will not understand the basic keys that are helpful in understanding what we are saying about the English text. Some publisher conventions are specific to the KJV (King James Version) others are not. For example The English text is of necessity a translation of earlier text because at the time the Bible text was written there was no English language. Even the book of Revelation was first written down centuries before a language that even remotely resembles what we know today as English was spoken and the English Language is still developing today. This becomes significant because that book ends with an admonition not to add or subtract from the Bible. There are those that think this applies to the KJV. The joke being if it was good enough for the apostle Paul it is good enough for me. Paul would not read or understand English unless God provided him with a universal translator and that is still a science fiction concept because as of yet it does not exist. God knows all so he can understand you whatever is your native tongue but not so the writers of the Word.
More about that later. Western civilization is egocentric in many respects. We think that man has been expressing himself in the same way though out history. Even as we see this information age change so quickly. The way we date things, for instance, has only been around for a relatively short while. The rules about when leap year occurs were not finalized till the 1500’s. A system was developed to make it easier to express addresses in scripture but it has taken centuries to get it developed. The texts often called originals had no chapters or verses. Now we do not have any originals still around that we know of. The first five books of the Bible were written down in a form of writing per the text by Moses. Since Moses was trained to read and write as an Egyptian it is possible it was first recorded in Hieroglyphics. As I said we have no originals so that is pure speculation. A language that was soon developed and that others have speculated is the original language of the old testament that was around say by the time of Isaiah was a form of Aramaic, Chaldean, or some call it Hebrew. A language particular to the Judeans. This was translated into Greek rather early as it, the Septuagint, was known about and ascribed to be a product of 70 translators in a Greek speaking center of learning in Egypt named after Alexander the great, called Alexandria. One expert says the Greek old testament was complete by the year we would call 285 BC (BC meaning before Christ). This would be about 100 years after when some date the completion of what is identified as old testament. Alexander was a Macedonian who conquered most of the known world, which later the Romans conquered as well. But because it was first conquered by a Macedonian, the common language for finance and trade was Greek not Latin.
What ever language was the original, it was still in the form of a language that God inspired Men to write it down and thus the laws of languages apply. This is important to note because there are those who say the entire Word must be taken literally. All languages have constructs in them called figures of speech. We mostly use figures of speech without being aware of them. Bullinger identified 212 used in the Bible. Most scholars in the English Language who hold doctorates in English are (I have been told) only conversant in about 30 figures so this is an area of scholarship that has been largely ignored. Many of the figures Bullinger identified although used in the English language do not have English names. I will only address a few in my blog as there are a few that dramatically affect the understanding of the scriptures to a much greater extent than some of the others. Back to the development of that shorthand.
About 1450 AD the printing press was invented. This made copying the text much easier and soon the push began to make copies available to people in their own language. Martin Luther was key in this so German was one of the first languages that Greek and Latin copies were translated to. Chapters had been introduced about 1250 AD but verses were not added till around 1550 AD. AD stands for the Latin words Anno Dominni which can be translated Year of the Lord. 1550 is also about the time our current calendar system was being completed and corrected. I think the politically correct bunch (wanting to minimize the effect of the Bible on our dating system) are pushing CE meaning Current Era though why the current era should start at a time that misses the birth of Jesus by 28 months due to a miscalculation but is the given reason (the birth of Jesus) for assigning a year 1, I am not sure how they justify without giving credit to the Bible. The important thing here is to realize that Chapter and Verses are without divine authority. Punctuation is also a Johnny come lately idea and is sometimes used to change the meaning of the verse by the placement. It is by a comma placement that if you do not know when Paradise is available, you would misread the KJV text in Luke chapter 23 verse 43. Paradise was the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve shared. Man was kicked out and won’t be allowed back in till after the resurrection of the just for the millennial (1000 yr) reign of Christ. So it should be punctuated to read “Verily I say unto you today, thou shalt be with me in paradise.” Jesus promises the malefactor he would be in the resurrection of the just. This is the best he (the malefactor) could hope for since being born again was not yet available. In case you missed it any dates you see to fix when things happened are assigned by our standards today not by people then. A person living in say 325 ad if you could go back and make yourself understood by them would be mystified to find out you thought the year was 325. January as the name of a month was started about 41 years prior to the birth of Christ but I am sure the Romans started their dates another way than by estimating how many years were referenced to a certain event in the middle east.
WE got side tracked again. Once chapters and verses were in use, and the general public had access to the scriptures, people wanted a way to discuss the Bible and a short hand was devised. First the names of the 66 books were abbreviated. At first a host of lengths but eventually it was whittled down to 2 letters for each book. The chapter and verse were put on either side of a colon thus Genesis chapter 1 verse 1 became Ge 1:1. The rest of the books are abbreviated thus: Exodus Ex Leviticus Le Numbers Nu Deuteronomy De Joshua Js Judges Jg Ruth Ru First Samuel I Sa Second Samuel II Sa First and second Kings I and II Ki first and second Chronicles I and II Ch Ezra Ez Nehemiah Ne Esther Es Job Jb Psalms Ps Proverbs Pr Ecclesiastes Ec Song of Solomon SS Isaiah Is Jeremiah Jr Lamentations La Ezekiel Ek Daniel Da Hosea Ho Joel Jl Amos Am Obadiah Ob Jonah Jh Micah Mi Nahum Nh Habakkuk Hb Zephaniah Zp Haggai Hg Zechariah Zc Malachi Ml Matthew Mt Mark Mk Luke Lk John Jn Acts Ac Romans Ro first and second Corinthians I and II Co Galatians Ga Ephesians Ep Philippians Pp Colossians Cl first and second Thessalonians I and II Th first and second Timothy I and II Ti Titus Tt Philemon Ph Hebrews He James Jm first second and third John I II and III Jn Jude Ju and Revelation Rv. In the five books that only have one chapter no chapter number or colon is used thus Ob 1 is Obadiah verse 1. Thus we see all 66 books have their unique two letter abbreviation and that roman numerals further define the short hand I for first II for second and III for third. There is more to it , I told you a colon separates chapter and verse, some other punctuation has meaning as well. A dash – between numbers means what is referenced starts with the first number and continues till the second. If no verses are indicated (i.e. there is no colon) then whole chapters are indicated, if the dash is between verses then you read verses in the same chapter. If there is a reference that includes colons on either side of the dash, then you change chapters but you still read consecutively. If you want to site several verses in the same chapter, but they are not consecutive then you separate the verse numbers with commas. If you want to stay in the same book but change chapters you separate the references that have the colons with semicolons. Thus the gospel of John chapter 1, verse 1, verse 14 through verse 18, and chapter 3, verse 16 is written Jn 1:1,14-18;3:16. This system works for discussing the Protestant 66 book Bible, I am not sure of the abbreviations of the other writings called the apocrypha that a Roman Catholic Bible would contain because they are not referenced in the research tools that have been developed to the extensive state that the KJV research tools have been. After all, Roman Catholics were not officially encouraged to even read the scriptures till the 20th Century, much less study it to find out what the truth recorded.
I turn now to publishing quirks employed in the KJV. I guess the first question why is it called a version. The first draft of a translation and maybe a few more drafts of a translation would be called a translation. But once the work has been completed and the result codified into a set text, then it is properly called a version. We have a multitude of other translations of the English text that are published now and can be called versions. Many of these like the King James are built on earlier peoples work in translating, The king James has been around so long that certain myths have been circulated about it. One that I would like to put to rest is that the king that authorized that it was to be done was such a scholar that he was an active participant in the translation. That was just not so. In early copies of the KJV Bible, the men who did the work were listed along with their credentials as to why they were involved in the process. Listed things like where they were trained and where they currently taught either Greek or Aramaic. That the King’s motivations for authorizing the translation were not that altruistic may be based on fact but to infer that he had inserted passages so that his desire for a divorce from his current wife would be easier to honor is just absurd. The translators for example were not working from Greek or Aramaic texts that they themselves were producing. These Greek and Aramaic texts are still around today and have been codified as versions themselves in Greek and Aramaic. That they predate 1600 when this work was set out to be accomplished is well documented. The publishers of the Greek interlinear that I rely on notes 8 “critical” texts where copies and fragments of copies were gathered and compared through the centuries and judgments made on what was reflective of the original text and what might not be. It was noted if there was a letter missing or added that might indicate an error might be present. That is one of the reasons we have so much agreement in the texts as we do, for the volumes of text have more agreement than discrepancies. If the king had been so bold as to try to affect what the Bible actually said any such additions or omissions to the text would be readily apparent to the subsequent scholars who examined the work and the errors would or at least could be corrected. Obviously that has not happened and The book that claims to be the truth Jn 17:17 is still around.
The KJV translators and publishers made an attempt to identify when they added a word that they felt clarified the meaning of the text by use of italics. In the KJV a Word that appears in italics is not put in the text that way to give it emphasis, but to show it was supplied to allow the perceived meaning to flow in English better. Sometimes the added Word makes sense and should be supplied and sometimes it does not. The problem comes in that this rule was not universally followed and thus my post about the small correction. There are other corrections that have been noted through the years but as I shared in that post you can’t make changes in the text once it becomes a version. A case in point the first word “was” in Ge 1:2 should be the word became. It is not in italics, it was translated from a word but there is no word “was” that stands alone in Aramaic or Greek. The Word from which the “was” is translated from is the word that is translated as the past tense of to become and should be translated that way. The second Word “was” in the verse is in italics but this time is properly supplied.
In some KJV the paragraph Symbols are placed up to about acts and then do not appear in the rest of the text, they are publisher add ins and are without authority. Center references that report this verse is related to this other location. again sometimes correct sometimes not, they are void of authority. Some publishers add in extensive footnotes sometimes very helpful, sometimes not. The Companion Bible is a great case in point. The notes in this Bible are primarily the efforts of one very prolific published writer, whose body of work has not been duplicated and a lot of it has never been shown to be wrong. But He was against the practice of speaking in tongues and some of his other work has been questioned. As I noted with the exception of Jesus no one is perfect. Speaking in tongues is a practice that I find very much supported by scripture but not as is practiced by some charismatic groups. Sometimes their doctrines concerning tongues goes directly against what is clearly defined in I Co 12-14. and the recommended behavior of believers found else where in the Bible as a whole. Jesus addressed one example when facing the temptations in the wilderness. You as a follower of God do not dare Satan to end your life but some groups play or handle poisonous snakes when they get ready to speak in tongues. A small word “if” not translated from the Greek tenses of the verbs present cause this misconception, as well as not seeing the parallels to Jesus refusing to jump down from the high place that the devil took him as a part of the temptation. The true God asks us to live for Him not do things in a way that could shorten our time to serve.
Sometimes different fonts are used whenever a name for God is in the text. Also, paying attention to whom a passage is addressed to, may clear up a misconception. Ro through II Th are written directly to the Christian church as a whole. Other parts of the Word are written to church leadership or the people in the old testament or to those who are still here after the gathering together. Learn to pay attention to what is said and sometimes to what is very pointedly not said. Remember the basic message to us in this day and time is called the Gospel, the good news and that the truth makes you free. Don’t let religion that has a name that sounds Christian burden you down to the end that your life is miserable. Your life should have rewards in it that allow you to always live with the attitude of gratitude for all the blessings you have received from our heavenly Father and His son, our Lord and Savior.


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