Is the word “ship” wrong in the gospels of the King James Bible?
There are many today who do not believe that any Bible in any language (including “the” Greek and “the” Hebrew) IS now the complete, inspired and inerrant word of God.
The various lists of alleged errors in the King James Bible is seemingly endless. Of course, not all these “gnat strainers” are in agreement with each other as to which list of alleged textual or translational errors are correct, but they all do share two common characteristics. They all believe - 1. The King James Bible has lots of “errors” in it, and 2. NO Bible in any language IS now the inerrant word of God.
If a King James Bible believer knocks down one of their silly arguments, they just let it slide off like water on a duck’s back, and blithely go on the the next “alleged error” in their futile attempts to overthrow the authority of The Book.
One such petty example of alleged translational error that occasionally comes up is the use of the word “ship” instead of “boat” in the King James Bible.
Here is one such criticism:
“Boat for ship. In the New Testament, the words designating the vessels which were used on the lake of Tiberias, are generally rendered ship. This is wholly improper. Those vessels were boats, either with or without sails. No ship, in the present sense of this word, could be used on a small lake. Besides, we have evidence from the facts stated in the evangelists, that the vessels were small; otherwise they would not have been “covered with the waves,” Matt. 8.24; nor “rowed” with oars, Mark 6.48. In Luke 5, it is said that both ships were filled with the fish taken in a net, so that they began to sink. Surely these were not ships. In John 6.22, 23, these ships are called boats, which is the most proper word.” [End of comments]
Now, to address this baseless criticism.
First of all, there are two distinct Greek words used in the New Testament. The most common word is ploion #4143 and every time is used (67 times) in the King James Bible, it is correctly translated as SHIP. This is both true in the four Gospels as well as in Acts and Revelation. As we shall soon see, many other bible versions both old and modern also translate this same word as “ship”.
The second word that is used is not the same one mentioned in this man’s criticism found in John 6:22, 23. This is the other Greek word ploiarion #4142 and it is only used 6 times in the New Testament, and it is translated in the King James Bible as “a small ship”, “little ships”, and “boat”. Seek Mark 3:9; 4:36; John 6:22, 23, and John 21:8.
In fact, both words are used in Mark 3 and 4 where we see a clear distinction between what in the Greek and the English of the KJB is called a “small ship” and a “ship”.
In Mark 3:9 Jesus spake to his disciples, that a SMALL SHIP (ploiarion) should wait on him, because of the multitude.
Then in Mark 4:1 the Lord enters into a different ship (ploion) where He again teaches the multitude, and in Mark 4:36 both Greek words are used when we read: “And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in THE SHIP (ploion). And there were also with him other LITTLE SHIPS (ploiarion).
At this point, let’s look at what several dictionaries and encyclopedias have to say regarding the meaning of the English word “ship”. Then we will take a look at what other Bible translations have done with this same Greek word that is always translated as SHIP in the King James Bible.
Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary - Main Entry: 1 ship Pronunciation: 'ship, Etymology: Middle English, from Old English scip; akin to Old High German skif ship 1 a : a large seagoing vessel b : a sailing vessel having a bowsprit and usually three masts each composed of a lower mast, topmast, and a top gallant mast 2 : BOAT; especially : one propelled by power or sail
Cambridge Dictionary of American English - “Ship - A BOAT, esp. one that is large enough to travel on the sea.”
Encarta Online Encyclopedia - “Ship, vessel that is buoyant in the water and used to transport people or cargo from one place to another via rivers, lakes, or oceans. Traditionally, ships were distinguished from boats by size—any buoyant vessel small enough to fit on board a ship was considered a boat. HOWEVER, COMMON USAGE HAS BLURRED THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN BOATS AND SHIPS, AND TODAY THE DIFFERENCE IS ARBITRARY."
Diury’s Modern English-Greek and Greek-English Desk Dictionary 1974. This is a modern day Greek dictionary that has nothing to do with the Bible. It merely defines how the modern Greek language is used today. On page 647 is lists the word ploiarion and defines it as “a small ship, A BOAT” (the exact use in the KJB), and on the same page it lists the word ploion and defines it as “a ship, vessel or BOAT”.
The King James Bible and several others have consistently translated this word as “ship”, whereas the modern versions like the NKJV, NASB, NIV have both “boat and ship”.
Likewise, when we look at this modern Greek dictionary in the English section to see how they say “ship” we find one word only - you guessed it - it is the same word ploion which the KJB always correctly translates as “ship”
Now, let’s take a look at other Bible translations and how they have rendered this same word ploion.
We often read in the King James Bible that the Lord Jesus and his disciples “entered into a SHIP”. (Matthew 4:21; 8:23, 24; 14:22; 15:39; Mark 4:1; Luke 5:2,3 etc.) Some 44 times the KJB and others translate this word as SHIP in the four Gospels. Not only does the King James Bible translate this word in the gospels as “ship” but so too do the following Bible versions:
The Anglo Saxon Gospels 1000 A.D. - "scyp", Wycliffe 1395 (Matthew 4:21, 8:23, 24, Acts, James and Revelation - Wycliffe translated it in the gospels as both "ship" and "boat"), Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535 - "And he entred in to a shyppe", the Great Bible 1540 - "he entred into a shyp", Matthew's Bible 1549, Bishops’ Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, the Beza New Testament 1599, King James Bible 1611, Whistons N.T. 1745, Wesley’s translation 1755, Worsley Version 1770, The Revised Translation 1815, The Morgan N.T.1848, Etheridge Translation 1849, The Hewett N.T. 1850, The New Testament Sawyer Translation 1858, the Julia Smith Translation 1855, The Revised N.T. 1862, Anderson N.T. 1864, the Emphatic Diaglot 1865, American Bible Union 1865, The Alford N.T. 1870, The Smith Bible 1876, The Revised English Bible 1877, Darby's translation 1890 (in all places where the KJB has it), William Godbey Translation 1902, The Sinaitic N.T. 1918, the Douay 1950, Lamsa’s 1936 translation of the Syriac, The Word of Yah 1993, God's First Truth 1999, The Tomson N.T. 2002, The Evidence Bible 2003, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, the Concordant Version 2006 - "And as He is stepping into the SHIP, His disciples follow Him.", Bond Slave Version 2009, The Public Domain Version 2009, the Online Interlinear 2010 (André de Mol), Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010, the English Jubilee Bible 2010 - "and when he was entered into THE SHIP", The Aramaic N.T. 2011, The Work of God's Children Bible 2011, and the BRG Bible 2012 - "he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in A SHIP with Zebedee their father, mending their nets" (Matthew 4:21, etc.)
And this Interlinear Greek New Testament -"in the SHIP with Zebedee their father"
Modern versions like the NKJV, NASB, NIV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, and Holman Standard translate this same Greek word as “ship” more than 20 times in the New Testament, but only in the book of Acts, James 3:4 and Revelation. Yet it is exactly the same Greek word that we find in the Gospels that the KJB and many others translate as SHIP.
For example, the NKJV 1982, NASB and NIV all translate this same Greek word as “ship” in Acts 20:13, 38; 21:2, 3, 6; 27:2, 6, 10, 15, 17, 19, 22, 30, 31, 37, 38, 39, 44; and in James 3:4, Revelation 8:9 and 18:17 and 19.
The King James Bible is always right.
All of grace, believing the Book.
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