“Were the KJV translators "liars" for saying that "the very meanest [poorest] translation" is still "the word of God"?
As for the Preface to the Reader found in the King James Bible, many anti-KJB folks like to use certain quotes from the KJB translators (usually taken out of context) in an effort to prove that the translators themselves would approve of the multiple, conflicting and contradictory Bible Babble Buffet versions seen on the bible market today.
It should first be pointed out that we do not hold the King James Bible translators as our final authority. Neither their Prefatory remarks, nor their individual or collective theology (though I personally agree with much of it) nor their personal lives nor opinions form any part of our Final Written Authority.
They were not always right in what they said or did, just as king David, Solomon, Peter, Paul or John were not always right in what they did or thought. They were sinful and imperfect men, but they were all God fearing, blood bought children of God who believed they were handling the very words of the living God.
It is the TEXT of the Authorized King James Holy Bible that we believe and defend as the complete and 100% true words of God. If God cannot use fallen, sinful man as His chosen vessels in the process of preserving His inspired words, then we never would have had the inspired originals to begin with! Think about it.
They ask: “Were the KJV translators "liars" for saying that "the very meanest [poorest] translation" is still "the word of God"?
This quote is always taken out of context by the KJB critics. Throughout the Preface there are repeated references to the contrast between between the Bible translation work of Christians of the Reformation faith and those of the Catholic church.
The whole quote in context is this. “Now to the latter we answer, That we do not deny, nay, we affirm and avow, that THE VERY MEANEST TRANSLATION of the Bible in English SET FORTH BY MEN OF OUR PROFESSION, (for we have seen NONE OF THEIRS of the whole Bible as yet) containeth the word of God, nay is the word of God.”
It should be clear that Miles Smith (the man who wrote the Preface) is referring to the Douay-Rheims ENGLISH NEW TESTAMENT here, which was published by the Roman Catholics in 1582, the Old Testament not appearing until 1610, some five or six years AFTER the King James Bible translators began their own work of translation. Thus the reason for Smith's notation that they had "SEEN NONE OF THEIRS OF THE WHOLE BIBLE AS YET."
Even the Catholics themselves acknowledge that the King James Bible translators severely criticized and mocked the Catholic versions. Here is their own Catholic Cultur.org site where they talk about their Douay-Rheims bible.
Here in their own words they mention: "Further, the translators of the KJV make specific reference to the Douay version in their translators' preface, where they devote space to attacking the word choices made by the translators of the Douay. "We have shunned the obscurity of the Papists, in their [use of words like] AZIMES, TUNIKE, RATIONAL, HOLOCAUSTS, PRAEPUCE, PASCHE, and a number of such like [words], whereof their late Translation is full" ("The Translators to the Reader," King James Version, 1611 ed.).
“Men of our profession” refers to the Protestant, Reformation Christians and the “theirs” refers to the Catholics. In the previous paragraph to this quote we read them say regarding “the translations of the Bible maturely considered of and examined” that “all is sound for substance in one or other of OUR editions, AND THE WORST OF OURS FAR BETTER THAN THEIR AUTHENTICK VULGAR” (which refers to the various Latin Vulgate versions)
The context of the Preface by Miles Smith shows the contrast between early English Protestant translations and the "Bible" of the Roman Catholic Church. Translations like Tyndale's 1525, Coverdale's 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew's Bible 1549, the Bishops' Bible 1568 and the Geneva Bible 1587 and such were translations "set forth by men of our profession" and thus, "containeth the Word of God, nay is the Word of God."
Throughout the Preface there is a constant contrast between "our" and "their" translations, and between Protestant thought and Catholic thought. They also state in their Preface - "also on the other side we have shunned the obscurity of the Papists, in their asimes, tunike, rational, holocausts, praepuce, pasche, and a number of such like, whereof THEIR LATE TRANSLATION, and that of purpose to darken the sense, that since they must needs translate the Bible, yet by the language thereof, it may be kept from being understood.”
In another part they stated: "So that if, on the one side, we shall be traduced by Popish Persons at home or abroad, who therefore will malign us, because we are poor instruments to make God’s holy Truth to be yet more and more known unto the people, whom they desire still to keep in ignorance and darkness”.
The translators of the AV saw their task as the perfecting of the earlier English translations that followed the Traditional Greek texts as found in the Reformation bible translations of Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549, the Bishops’ Bible 1568 and the Geneva Bible.
The supreme irony today is that these same modern versions most anti-King James Bible folks are promoting are in fact the new “Catholic” bible versions. See "Undeniable Proof the NIV, NASB, ESV are the new 'Catholic' versions" here- Please read both parts
All of grace, believing The Book,
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