Galatians 6:11 "Ye see how LARGE A LETTER I have written unto you with mine own hand."
Galatians 6:11 "Ye see how LARGE A LETTER I have written unto you with mine own hand."
ιδετε πηλικοις υμιν γραμμασιν εγραψα τη εμη χειρι
A certain Theodore Mann tells us in his article, 'Problems with the KJV', that the King James Bible is in error when it says "how large a letter". He writes: "How large a letter" should be "large letters." Paul is speaking about the size of the letters he is writing, not the length of the epistle."
The purpose of this little study is to examine whether Mr. Mann is correct or whether he is simply offering his own opinion. Keep in mind that Mr. Mann does not believe ANY Bible in any language is the complete and inerrant words of God. Scholars as well as Bible translations differ greatly in what they think this phrase means and how to translate it.
In similar fashion James Snapp is in the process of writing his own peculiar Greek New Testament that follows neither the Traditional Textus Receptus, the UBS Critical Greek text nor the so called “Majority” texts, but is composed of his personal opinions about what he thinks are “the original readings” and ends up reading like NO other Bible in history.
James writes: “The second kind of flaw in the KJV consists of instances where the KJV’s rendering does not convey the meaning of the original text. In Galatians 6:11, the KJV says, “Ye see how large a letter I have written” but Paul is referring to the large lettering, not to the extent of his epistle.”
Has James Snapp ever in his life seen a single word of this "the original text" he seems to be comparing the King James Bible to? Not a chance. But that doesn't seem to stop him from trying to give you the impression that he has a copy of "the original text" right there in front of him with which he compares all the bible versions out there, finds the King James Bible to be "flawed" and "corrects" it according to his own understanding.
Many modern versions like the NKJV, NIV, NASB, RSV and ESV take this phrase to mean that the apostle Paul was writing the epistle, in large letters, like A, B, C, D etc.
The NKJV along with the NASB, NIV, ESV say: "See WITH WHAT LARGE LETTERS I have written to you with my own hand!" The NIV has: "See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!"
Other versions like Darby's 1870 translation, Mace N.T. 1729, Sawyer N.T. 1858, Anderson 1865 and Lamsa's translation of the Syriac Peshitta 1933, Conservative Bible 2011 say: "See HOW LONG A LETTER I have written to you with mine own hand."
Then Mr. Darby footnotes: "Or perhaps, 'in what large letters'. It was long for the apostle to write with his own hand, as he generally dictated to another."
The Work of God's Children Bible 2011, The Hewett N.T. 1850 and The Douay-Rheims version say: "You see WHAT A LETTER I have written to you with my own hand."
Coverdale's Bible translation of 1535 says: "Beholde, WITH HOW MANY WORDES I haue wrytten vnto you with myne awne hande."
The Kenrick N.T. 1862 - "See IN WHAT CHARACTERS I have written to you."
The Pioneers’ New Testament 2014 - “Look with what LARGE WRITING I wrote to you all with my own hand.”
The Modern Literal New Testament 2014 - “Behold, how-large the letters of the alphabet, I write to you with my own hand.”
"HOW LARGE A LETTER"
Among those Bible translations that agree with the King James Bible rendering of "Ye see HOW LARGE A LETTER I have written" are the following: Tyndale 1534 - Beholde HOW LARGE A LETTER I have written vnto you with myne awne honde.", the Great Bible 1540 - "Ye se HOWE LARGE A LETTER I haue wrytten vnto you with myne awne hande.", Matthew's Bible 1549, the Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587 - "Ye see HOW LARGE A LETTER I haue written vnto you with mine owne hand.", The Beza New Testament 1599, The Bill Bible 1671, Whiston's N.T. 1745, Wesley's translation 1755 - "how LARGE A LETTER", The Clarke N.T. 1795, The Revised Translation 1815 - "HOW LARGE A LETTER I have written", The Kneeland N.T. 1823, Webster's 1833, Living Oracles 1835, The Pickering N.T. 1840 - "HOW LARGE AN EPISTLE I have written you", The Longman Version 1841, The Hussey N.T. 1845 "how large a letter" Notes - "In subsequent letters Paul usually employed an amanuensis (secretary)", The Morgan N.T. 1848 - "You see HOW LARGE A WRITING I have written to you", The Commonly Received Version 1851, The Boothroyd Bible 1853, The Clarke N.T. 1913, the Bible in Basic English 1961, The Word of Yah 1993, the 1994 KJV 21st Century, the 1998 Third Millennium Bible, God's First Truth 1999, The Tomson New Testament 2002, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, the Bond Slave Version 2009, the English Jubilee Bible 2010 - "how LARGE A LETTER", the Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010.
The Modern Greek translation Bible also takes the view of the King James Bible. It says: "Ιδετε ποσον μακραν επιστολην σας εγραψα με την χειρα μου.” = "You see how LARGE A LETTER I have written to you with my own hand."
The Bible Commentators
Bible commentators are all over the board when it comes to either what the text should BE or what it MEANS once they settle on the text. But there are many Bible commentators who have sided with the King James Bible on this one.
Adam Clarke comments on the phrase "how large a letter" saying: "There is a strange diversity of opinions concerning the apostle's meaning in this place. Some think he refers to the length of the epistle, others to the largeness of the letters in which this epistle is written. It appears plain that most of his epistles were written by an amanuensis, and simply subscribed by himself; but the whole of the Epistle to the Galatians was written by his own hand...As to writing it, the uncial character was that which was alone in use in those days, and this character is as easily made as the capitals in the Roman alphabet, which have been taken from it. I conclude, therefore, that what the apostle says MUST BE UNDERSTOOD OF THE LENGTH OF THE EPISTLE, IN ALL PROBABILITY THE LARGEST HE HAD EVER WRITTEN WITH HIS OWN HAND; though several, much larger, have been dictated by him, but they were written by his scribe or amanuensis."
John Wesley tersely comments: "Ye see how large a letter - St. Paul had not yet wrote a larger to any church. I have written with my own hand - He generally wrote by an amanuensis."
Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testaments remarks: "Scholars advocate opposing views on what is meant by this; for certainly, it may be translated otherwise than in English Revised Version (1885). MacKnight rendered it thus: THE PHRASE IS RIGHTLY TRANSLATED 'HOW LARGE A LETTER.' The first word properly signifies of what size; and the second denotes an epistle, as well as the letters of the alphabet.
As in all cases where two translations are possible, the context and other overall consideration must be resorted to. Of relevance here, it seems, is the opinion of Ramsay, who said, "Those who suppose that a trifling detail, such as the size or shape of Paul's handwriting, could find room in his mind as he wrote this letter are mistaking his character.
We have followed the opinion of Hendriksen who wrote: "If, of all Paul's letters that have been preserved, Galatians was the very first one that he wrote, as we have assumed, he could perhaps have written, `SEE WHAT A BIG LETTER I WROTE TO YOU'."
Most current scholars go the other way, however, taking an alternate rendition and interpreting it to mean Paul's eyesight was bad, or his handwriting was characteristically large, thus forming a kind of signature, or even that he was somewhat illiterate! It seems to this student that such guesses have little in their favor." (End of Coffman's comments)
Barnes' Notes on the New Testament says: "How large a letter. Considerable variety has existed in regard to the interpretation of this phrase. The word here used and translated how large \~phlikoiv\~ means, properly, how great. Some have supposed that it refers to the size of the letters which Paul made in writing the epistle --the length and crudeness of the characters which he used. Such interpreters suppose that he was not well versed in writing Greek, and that he used large letters, and those somewhat rudely made...Others suppose that he means to refer to the size of the epistle which he had written. Such is the interpretation of Grotius, Koppe, Bloomfield, Clarke, Locke, Chandler, and is, indeed, the common interpretation, as it is the obvious one. According to this, it was proof of special interest in them, and regard for them, that he had written to them a whole letter with his own hand. Usually he employed an amanuensis, and added his name, with a brief benediction or remark at the close."
John Calvin comments: "To convince the Galatians more fully of his anxiety about them, and at the same time to ensure their careful perusal, he mentions that THIS LONG EPISTLE had been written with his own hand."
John Gill comments: (Caps are mine) "how large a letter", or "with what letters"; which some understand of the largeness of the characters he wrote in; others of the deformity of them, he not writing a good hand, being an Hebrew, and not used to writing Greek; others of the grand and sublime matter which it contained; though neither of these seem to be the apostle's meaning; BUT HE INTENDS THE LENGTH OF THE EPISTLE, which he mentions, as an instance and expression of his love to then, care of them, and concern for them: inasmuch as he took so much pains to write SO LONG A LETTER to them, in order to set things right in their view, and recover them from error: not but that he had sent as long, or longer letters to other churches, as to the Romans, the Corinthians, and Hebrews: but then it is to be observed what follows:
I have written unto you with my own hand. The epistle to the Romans was written by Tertius, though dictated by the apostle, (Romans 16:22) as very likely the others were by Timothy, or some other amanuensis. The apostle only put his name, and wrote his salutation, which was his token, in all his epistles, of the truth and genuineness of them; (2 Thessalonians 3:17) , but this was not only dictated by him, but wrote with his hand, which very probably the Galatians knew; and since it was not usual for him to do so, it was the greater proof of his affection for them; that amidst so much work, and such labours as he was employed in, he should sit down and write SO LONG AN EPISTLE to them. "
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown likewise comment: "If English Version (King James Bible) be retained, the words, "how large a letter will not refer to the length of the Epistle absolutely, but that it was a large one for him to have written with his own hand."
William Burkitt’s Expository Notes - “in order to the reclaiming of these Galatians, who were deeply tinctured with error, as well as dangerously tainted with sin, he redeems time for, and undergoes the fatigue and trouble of, writing this whole epistle to them with his own hand: You see HOW LARGE A LETTER I have written to you with mine own hand.”… St. Paul here sticks not to tell the Galatians, and the whole world, the pains he had been at in writing THIS LARGE EPISTLE with his own hand to them; yet it was not to commend himself, but to excite and encourage them.”
John Eadie’s Commentary on Galatians - “The idea of the English version, that the first words assert the length or size of the epistle, is maintained by many, as Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Beza, a-Lapide, Bengel, Borger, Schott, Olshausen, Neander, Baumgarten-Crusius, Hofmann, and Turner; and they, of course, hold in general that the entire epistle was written by his own hand. The Authorized Version, “how large a letter,” follows some of its predecessors, as Tyndale, Cranmer, and the Genevan. To sustain the Authorized Version, it may be said that γράμματα, something written, may be rendered epistle, as the Latin literae. 1 Maccabees 5:10; Acts 28:21; Ignat. ad Rom. viii. It may denote not only writings, letters or despatches, but a single letter or epistle-Thucydides, 1:30, where γράμματα is identified with ἐπιστολή in the preceding paragraph, and 7:8, where a similar identification occurs. "
Finally, Martin Luther, in his well know Commentary on the Book of Galatians, says: "Ye see HOW LARGE A LETTER I have written with mine own hand." With these words the Apostle intends to draw the Galatians on. "I NEVER," he says, "WROTE SUCH A LONG LETTER WITH MY OWN HAND TO ANY OF THE OTHER CHURCHES." His other epistles he dictated, and only subscribed his greetings and his signature with his own hand."
What we see in the study of Galatians 6:11 is that Mr. Mann, James Snapp and other self appointed King James Bible correctors are merely offering their own OPINIONS, and stating it as an indisputable fact that the King James Bible is in error.
The facts are that many others with equal or superior learning disagree with their opinions, and translate the phrase exactly as it stands in the King James Bible - "ye see HOW LARGE A LETTER I have written unto you with mine own hand."
There are NO ERRORS in the providentially preserved and pure words of God as found in the Authorized King James Bible.
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