What About The English Word CORN in the King James Bible?
I recently had an email exchange with a man I know who is a Wycliffe missionary working in Papau New Ginea. He and his family are translating the Bible into the Koluwawa language. My wife and I help support them in their work and wish God’s blessings upon them and their labors to bring the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to the native Koluwawa speaking people.
Over the years we have from time to time discussed the Bible version issue and whether or not there exists such a thing as a Bible that can truthfully be called the complete, inspired, infallible and 100% true words of God. My position is that there is and it is the King James Bible. His position is that there is not, but we need to do the best we can to communicate God’s “message” in the language that the target audience will understand.
This article is in response to some of the objections my missionary friend Brad brought up. Brad writes: “You talk about "His preserved words." My concern for the accurate preservation of God's Word is exactly why I can never be a KJV-onlyist. Take for example the word "corn." Matthew 12, Mark 2, and Luke 6 in the KJV all have Jesus walking through the "cornfields." But "corn" in modern American English does not mean what it meant in King James English. The term "corn" was good, accurate translation when it was used in the KJV, but if you ask a person on the street today to give you all the words and ideas they can think of that associate with the term "corn," you're going to hear about maize and ears of corn and popcorn and caramel corn, etc. You'll even hear something about corny jokes and corned beef and foot corns before you hear anyone say that it is an archaic general term for "grain" (if you hear them say that at all). The meaning that Jesus walking through the cornfields had for readers of the KJV 350 years ago is not preserved for readers today when that same form "corn" is retained. But your position holds that you must preserve the form "corn" because it is inerrant and inspired, and in order to hold that position, you must either face the fact that you are retaining a form that no longer carries the meaning originally intended, or you have to deny that the meaning has actually changed in the face of extremely strong evidence to the contrary.” [End of quotes from Brad]
So what do we do with the word “corn” as found in the King James Bible?
Well, the short answer is - We keep it, just as it stands.
People who do not believe that there ever existed and does not exist now any Bible in any language that is the preserved, inspired, complete and 100% true words of God seem more concerned about “communicating in the target language” their assumed meanings of a few individual words like “corn”, “conversation”, “let” and “gay” than they are about whether or not literally thousands of God inspired words, whole phrases or entire verses (anywhere from 17 to 45 in the N.T. alone) belong in the true Bible or not.
I and many others firmly believe that the sovereign God of history has indeed fulfilled His promises to give us “the book of the LORD” which we can hold in our hands, read and believe every word. This real and tangible Book is the Authorized King James Holy Bible. It is the Standard and final written authority by which all other “bibles” are to be measured.
God put His pure words in the end times universal language of the English tongue. The true Bible comes from England, not the United States of America, nor Rome, nor Spain, nor Germany nor from Papau New Ginea. All we need to do to understand the meaning of those few English words that some people label as “archaic” or misunderstood, is to simply look them up in a dictionary and learn what they mean.
In the old days they used to call this “getting an education”. Students look up and learn new words and meanings every day of their lives. Technical names, scientific terms, medical and musical terminology and slang are picked up on a regular basis.
Don’t even Bible teachers have to teach the meaning of words like Amen (So be it - Greek, from a Hebrew word meaning Truth or Certainty", Hallelujah - (Hebrew/Greek meaning Praise to Jehovah), “the rapture” (from the Latin rapt meaning to be carried away), “Trinity” (Latin meaning a unity of three) or “Messiah” (from the Hebrew meaning ‘anointed’)?
Or even the simple word “Bible”. How many people know what this word literally means and where it comes from? All we need to do is a little study if we do not understand the meaning of a Bible word. We do not need to dumb down the greatest book ever written. People actually read these modern language, conflicting and contradictory “updated” bible versions and believe them less and less every day.
Corn - what does it really mean and how many Bible translations use this useful and accurate word?
If you bother to actually look up the English word “corn” to see what it means rather than assuming you already know what it means and that the King James Bible is “deficient or out of date”, you will learn some very interesting details about this wonderful, all embracing, generic English word “corn”.
Webster’s Dictionary tells us that the word “corn”comes from the Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old High German & Old Norse korn grain, Latin granum. And it means: a: the seeds of a cereal grass and especially of the important cereal crop of a particular region (as wheat in Britain, oats in Scotland and Ireland, and Indian corn in the New World and Australia) b : the kernels of sweet corn served as a vegetable while still soft and milky.
Another English dictionary tells us that corn is:
1.a cultivated American cereal plant (Zea mays) of the grass family, with the grain borne on cobs enclosed in husks; maize
2.the ears or kernels of this cereal plant
3. British - THE SEEDS OF ALL CEREAL GRASSES, AS WHEAT, RYE, BARLEY, ETD; GRAIN.
4. ANY PLANT OR PLANTS PRODUCING GRAIN
5. the leading cereal crop in a particular place, as wheat in England or oats in Scotland and Ireland
So we see that the simple word “corn” can refer to any type of grain crop including Indian maize, or wheat, barley, oats or rye. It is a general term for any kind of cultivated grains.
One of my nieces, a wonderful and highly intelligent young Christian woman, told me about how when she was in 4 H clubs they used to make what they called “Corn Dolls”. These are actually made out of wheat sheafs or any other kind of grain. You can read about them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corn_dolly
Brother Herb Evans also wrote an article about the English word "corn" and he gives several very good examples from the King James Bible showing that the Bible is its own best commentary.
Brother Herb writes: "When Corn is Barley and Wheat"...they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of BARLEY harvest...And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean EARS OF CORN...And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men [reapers], saying, Let her glean even among the SHEAVES...And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them...So she gleaned in the field...and BEAT OUT that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of BARLEY...So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of BARLEY harvest and of WHEAT harvest...Behold, he [Boaz] WINNOWETH BARLEY to night in the THRESHINGFLOOR...And when she held it, he measured six measures of BARLEY, and laid it on her...And she said, These six measures of BARLEY gave he me... Ruth 1:22; 2:2, 14-23; 3:2, 15, 17
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a CORN OF WHEAT fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." John 12:24 (End of notes by Herb Evans)
How many English bible translations use the word “corn” besides the King James Bible? The answer may well surprise you. Beginning with the liberal RSV of 1946 some English bible translations began to remove the word “corn” and substitute the generic term “grain”, apparently unaware that the word “corn” is itself a generic term for any kind of edible grain. Now the word “corn” is also omitted by the NRSV, ESV, NKJV, NASB and NIV.
However, the word “corn” is found in the following English language Bible translations throughout history. The Wycliffe Bible 1395,- "and bigunnen to plucke the eris of CORN, and to ete." (Mat. 12:1), Tyndale 1525 - example: Matthew 12:1 “In that tyme went Iesus on the Sabot dayes thorow the CORNE and his disciples were anhogred and begane to plucke the EARES OF COORNE and to eate.”, Coverdale 1535 - "to plucke of the eares of the CORNE", the Great Bible (Cranmer) 1540 - "on the Sabboth dayes thorowe THE CORNE.", Matthew's Bible 1549 - "on the Saboth dayes thorowe the CORNE", the Bishops’ Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1557 to 1602 - "through ye CORNE, & his disciples were an hungred, & bega to plucke ye EARES OF CORNE", the Beza N.T. 1599, the Douay Rheims bible 1610, Mace's N.T. 1729 (10 times), Whiston's Primitive N.T. 1745 - "through the CORN", John Wesley’s translation of the New Testament 1755, Worsley Translation 1770 - "began to pluck THE EARS OF CORN", The Revised Translation 1815, Webster’s bible 1833, the Living Oracles 1835 - "began to pluck THE EARS OF CORN", Youngs ‘literal’ translation (88 times!)- "go on the sabbaths through the CORN", Darby’s translation 1870 (82 times) - "The firstfruits also of THY CORN, of thy new wine, and of thine oil" (Deut. 18:4), the Revised Version of 1881 (99 times!) - "and began to pluck EARS OF CORN", the American Standard Version of 1901, Rotherham’s Emphasized bible 1902 (98 times!), Julia Smith Translation - "in the sabbaths through the standing CORN", the New English Bible 1970, the Jewish Publication Society bible of 1917 (82 times!) - "So God give thee of the dew of heaven, and of the fat places of the earth, and plenty of CORN and wine." (Genesis 27:28), the Hebrew Publishing Company’s 1936 translation, James Moffatt Translation 1926 - "they started to pull some EARS OF CORN and eat them."
J.B. Phillips New Testament 1962 - "Jesus passed through THE CORNFIELDS on the Sabbath day." (Mat. 12:1), Lamsa's 1933 and Murdock's and Etheridge's translations of the Syriac, the World English Bible - (example: “For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle the ox when he treads out THE CORN." 1 Corinthians 9:9), the New Life Bible 1969 - "He was so hungry he was ready to eat the outside part of the ears of THE CORN the pigs ate because no one gave him anything." (Luke 15:16), the Jerusalem Bible 1968 and the New Jerusalem bible 1985, the Amplified Version 1987 (5 times) - "Where is CORN and wine?" (Lamentations 2:12) and "You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the CORN." (1 Cor. 9:9) the Revised English Bible 1989 - "began to pluck some EARS OF CORN and eat", the Living Bible 1981 (see Mat. 12:1 and other verses); the 21st Century KJV 1994, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, the Complete Jewish Bible 1998 - "the earth will answer THE CORN, wine and oil" (Hosea 2:22), the Updated Bible Version of 2004 - "So your barns shall be filled with CORN" (Proverbs 3:10, and "You shall not muzzle the ox when he treads out THE CORN" (1 Cor. 9:9 and 1 Tim. 5:18), The Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011 - “twenty loaves of se’orim (barley), and [roasted] EARS OF CORN in his sack.” (2 Kings 4:42 etc.)the Lexham English Bible of 2012 - "they ate from the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and roasted CORN." (Joshua 5:11), Knox Bible 2012 (numerous times) - "They tell me there is CORN for sale in Egypt" (Genesis 42:2)
Other English Bibles that still use the word CORN are The Word of Yah 1993 -"through the CORN...and began to pluck THE EARS OF CORN and to eat.", The New Jewish Version 1985 - "1 Samuel 17:17, 1 Samuel 25:18 - “Jesse said to his son David, “Take an ephah of this parched CORN and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers”, Interlinear Greek N.T. 1997 (Larry Pierce) - "went through the CORNFIELDS", Lawrie Translation 1998 - "Jesus went on the Sabbath day through THE CORNFIELDS", The Complete Jewish Bible 1998 - “the earth will answer the CORN, wine and oil, and they will answer Yizre'el (Hosea 2:22), God's First Truth 1999 - " In that time went Jesus on the Sabbath days through THE CORN and his disciples were an hungered, and began to pluck THE EARS OF CORN, and to eat.", the Tomson New Testament 2002 - "At that time Jesus went on a Sabbath day through THE CORN, and his disciples were an-hungered, and began to pluck THE EARS OF CORN and to eat.",The Evidence Bible 2003, The Apostolic Polyglot Bible 2003, Bond Slave Version 2009, Faithful New Testament 2009, Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010 - "At that time Yehoshua (יהושע) went on the Yom Shabbat through THE CORN", The New European Version 2010 - "not muzzle the ox when he treads out THE CORN", Conservative Bible 2011 - "At that time Jesus went through a CORNFIELD on a Sabbath day", Far Above All Translation 2011 - "through the CORNFIELDS...and began to pluck THE EARS OF CORN", The Revised Douay-Rheims Bible 2012, and The New Brenton Translation 2012 - "I have heard that there is CORN in Egypt" (Genesis 42:2 etc.)
The International Standard Version 2014 - “They are cut down like heads OF CORN.” (Job 24:24)
Lexham English Bible 2012 - Joshua 5:11 - “On the next day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate from the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and roasted CORN.”
Modern English Version 2014 - Psalm 4:7 - “You have placed gladness in my heart that is better than when their CORN and their new wine abound.”
MEV 2014 - Isaiah 17:5 - “It shall be as when the harvestman gathers the CORN and reaps the ears with his arm, and it shall be as he who gathers ears in the Valley of Rephaim.”
MEV 2014 - Isaiah 36:17 - “until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of CORN and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards.”
Surprise! Even Peterson’s 2002 The Message contains the use of the word “corn” to describe any type of edible grain.
Micah 7:1 - “I'm overwhelmed with sorrow! sunk in a swamp of despair! I'm like someone who goes to the garden to pick cabbages and carrots and CORN And returns empty-handed, finds nothing for soup or sandwich or salad.’”
Hebrews 6:7 “Parched ground that soaks up the rain and then produces an abundance of carrots and CORN for its gardener gets God's "Well done!"
When people tell you that such and such a word in the King James Bible is either “archaic” (How can it be archaic if it is used every day by thousands of Bible believers?) or misunderstood, it is all a smokescreen and a shallow excuse for their not submitting to any Book as God’s final authority for both faith and practice.
Not one of these people who claims that either the underlying texts or the English translation should be “revised” actually believes there exists such a thing as the complete and 100% true Holy Bible in any language.
For me and thousands of other Bible believers the choice is very clear and simple. If we have to choose between the absolute Truth of God’s preserved words in the English language, though it may be harder to understand in certain places, or the multitude of conflicting, contradictory and often false modern language versions, we will take our stand on that old Book that has stood the test of time and the enemies attacks - the King James Holy Bible.
“Kept by the power of God through faith” - 1 Peter 1:5
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