Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Does Psalm 12: 6-7 speak of the King James Translation?

Apparently it does. This is a lengthy diatribe but I watched a YouTube video this morning of a guy claiming to prove that all “modern translations” of the Bible are false and that we can only trust the "King James Bible". I wasted an hour of my life on this drivel and that really set me off. The speaker, one Dr. Douglas Stauffer (more on him in a minute), is some sort of evangelist for the King James translation. Here is the video:

I don’t pretend to be an expert at translation nor an authority on history but the King James Bible certainly seems to be less a divinely inspired preservation of the Bible into a particular language than it is a translation commissioned for largely political reasons. That doesn’t mean that the KJV isn’t a good translation, just that when you look at the origins of how it came about and the general questionable character of King James you have to question the reverential treatment this particular translation receives from believers. When Dr. Stauffer lumps the “New World Translation” of the Watchtower Society (i.e. the Jehovah’s Witnesses) in with other English translations in an effort to smear all “modern” translations, he instantly loses a great deal of credibility. The mormon church only uses the King James, is that a sign that everyone who uses the King James translation are heretics also? Dr. Stauffer also takes one verse and then refers to a footnote that he states shows that all “modern” translations deny the deity of Christ. Oddly enough, I can read the NIV or the ESV or the NKJV and come away convinced of the deity of Christ. Not because they are faithful to what the King James says but because those doctrines are translated from the original languages and are crystal clear in English. Jesus didn’t say “Thee” and “thou” and “forsook” for crying out loud!

There is a world of difference between using the King James translation because you prefer it or because you think it is a better translation versus insisting that the King James translation is the only legitimate translation of the Bible into English. Anyway, back to Psalm 12: 6-7. In the English Standard Version:

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. (Psa 12:6-7 ESV)

The King James translation reads:

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever. (Psalm 12: 6-7 KJV)

You can just see the infernal influence on the ESV, can’t you?! The point of Dr. Stauffer is that God is promising to keep His Word preserved for all generations, and in our generation that is preserved in English in the King James (a claim he makes, followed by the obligatory “Amen?” which I find to be a cheap bit of showmanship). The “modern translations” change this and don’t retain this language of preservation. I guess that raises the question, since God apparently promised here to preserve the Bible in English, what about English speaking Christians prior to 1611? They didn't have the "King James Bible". I guess they were out of luck.

I went to several different pages with Dr. Stauffer’s bio and all of them repeated the same info regarding his academic qualifications: he has a B.A. from an unnamed Bible college, a Th.M. in Theology, also from an unnamed school, and a Ph.D. in Religion from, you guessed it, an unnamed school. I know better than to compare and contrast academic qualifications to see who has the better degrees but when you have someone claiming as Dr. Stauffer does that not only are all translations of the Bible into English other than the King James erroneous but a ploy of Satan, I think it is worthwhile to see if the individual making these claims is someone who has the academic qualifications to make those claims. He discounts virtually every Biblical scholar who has ever lived and that is an outrageous claim.

I went to the list of scholars who worked on the ESV and I picked one guy because I know some of his work, Dr. Beale (I have his enormous volume A Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament that Dr. Beale co-authored with D.A. Carson. It looks really cool on my bookshelf). Here is the info on Dr. Beale:

Dr. Gregory Beale
Professor of New Testament
Wheaton College
B.A., Southern Methodist University
M.A., Southern Methodist University
Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary
Ph.D., Cambridge University

Going to Dr. Beale’s bio at Wheaton, we see a little more detail. For example, here is the detail on his Th.M. and Ph.D. work:

Ph.D. - Divinity, University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England (concentrated in Greek and Hebrew exegesis) 1981.

Th.M. - Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas, U.S.A. (concentrated in Greek, Hebrew, biblical and theological studies; graduated with honors in the Department of Semitics and Old Testament) 1976.

Sounds like Dr. Beale is a credible and qualified scholar in the area of ancient languages and he is also someone who by all accounts is an orthodox believer, someone I would love to spend an afternoon drinking coffee with. In contrast we have Dr. Stauffer:

Dr. Douglas Stauffer
President, Key of Knowledge Ministries
B.A., Unknown
Th.M., Unknown
Ph.D., Unknown

Qualifications for translating from the original languages? Unknown.

I am not trying to be snarky or uncharitable here because I find linguistic snobbishness to be ugly and unseemly for a believer but the entire “King James Only” movement is frankly a dangerous one. I am not saying these people are not brothers, I am sure many of them are sincere believers. I am concerned that they are creating a division in the Body that is unwarranted and are creating a barrier to God’s people in their study of God’s Word by striking fear into believers that leads them to believe that they can only trust one particular translation of the Bible.

Ultimately I think it is important that we are testing our translations. Just because a translation boasts an impressive team of translators doesn’t mean it is correct. On the other hand, just because a translation is familiar to us and sounds Bible-y because it uses archaic English doesn’t mean it is a better translation. The most important criteria in translation should be to get an accurate translation, not to get the end result we desire. We should read the Bible for what it says, not for what we want it to say. I think we should use lots of reliable translations. If you use the NIV, then cross-reference back to a more literal version like the NASB. ESV or KJV.

Let me leave you with a couple of pertinent quotes at around twenty minutes.

“We ought to take the Bible when English was at its peak”

Why exactly was English at its peak in the 1600’s? I would actually prefer that we take the Bible as it is translated into the language of the people of God, whether German or Chinese or English.

Regarding the argument that the King James is archaic and difficult for people to understand:

“Let’s learn the language of the Bible.”

The language of the Bible? I thought the language of the Bible was Hebrew and Greek, not the English dialect from the 1600’s. I wonder if any non-English translations are considered valid for Dr. Stauffer?

You will watch the video in vain if you are expecting Dr. Stauffer to deal at all with the actual original languages. I am assuming he doesn't because he can't. He struggled with pronouncing the word emeritus, so I am guessing his Greek is a bit rusty. Even when he takes Dr. James White to task for his book The King James Only Controversy, his complaint is that what Dr. White says doesn’t agree with the King James translation, as if that is our measuring stick. I am comfortable in saying that Dr. Stauffer has never challenged Dr. White directly, instead preferring to go from fundamentalist church to fundamentalist church dismissing his book and going back again to “Well this is what the King James says”. It is a circular argument. I believe that only the King James is accurate so I base what I believe only on that translation so therefore any other translation is wrong because it doesn’t say the exact same thing as the King James.

This is troubling stuff.

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Jeremy Lee said...

I watched 11 minutes and 29 seconds of the video and couldn't take it any more. The first ten minutes is filled with lies, half-truths, and unfounded assumptions, which is sadly typical for many KJVO advocates.

The most ridiculous thing I heard is that the new versions undermine Jesus' deity because they call Joseph Jesus' father. Dr. Stauffer anticipates the argument that the KJV calls Joseph his father, but only points out one verse in which Jesus supposedly corrects Mary for calling Joseph his father. However, he fails to account for Luke 2:41 "Now his parents went to the Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover" (KJV). Luke 2:27 also calls Joseph Jesus' parent and therfore his father. If the new versions are at fault for this so is the KJV.

It is unfortunate that this argument continues on and on because the King James is truly a great translation that God has used greatly in the past and now to bring people to faith and to encourage faith. In addition, this argument scares so many from using easier to read translations fearing they are disobeying God, yet their faith is hindered by a lack of understanding of God's truth.

Arthur Sido said...


I suffered through the whole thing but I had to keep pausing it because it was so ridiculous. The level of emotionalism that runs rampant in KJVO people is incredible and makes it virtually impossible to have a rational conversation. I like the KJV too but to say that God promised to preserve it specifically in a Psalm but yet is unable to preserve it from the machinations of men subsequently is so illogical but yet makes perfect sense to those who have bought into the nonsense peddled by the KJV-Only snake-oil salesmen. said...

I stumbled onto your blog because I started researching Stauffer (I'm hesitant to call him Dr, because like you, I can't find his credentials.) My parents receive a pamphlet from Southwest Radio Ministries, and this month's pamphlet was written by Stauffer on how NIV is inspired by the devil. Just glancing over it, I noticed a lot of problems.

I spent the next two hours pouring over it, pulling up the original verses. In four pages of tightly written drivel, I didn't find one verse that he hadn't either taken out of context, or written about just from sheer opinion.

I have never heard of this guy before. But after watching the video you linked, and reading the pamphlet he wrote, I honestly believe he's one of the most dangerous Christians I've heard in a very long time.

Arthur Sido said...


Thanks for the commment.

There are few subgroups that I understand less than the rabid KJV Only crowd. It is so illogical, so contrary to common sense that it is hard to have a conversation. Many of them have lots of prepared sound bytes but have apparently never given the topic much thought.

Anonymous said...

I need to speak with someone about Doug Stauffer's troubling background that would expose him for who he really is, for I have personal knowledge and experience with his true self. He's definitely not who he claims to be nor is he safe or trustworthy.