The Turtle Observed Pineth Away - James White follies
James White, in his book the King James Only Controversy, pokes fun at the King James Bible's use of the word "turtle" when referring to the turtledove.
Mr. White says on page 235 in the section titled Problems in the KJV: "This is almost as humorous as Song of Songs 2:12, "The flowers appear on the earth: the time of the singing of the birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."
Then Mr. White comments: "Turtles are not known for their voices, and how these would be connected with flowers and the singing of birds is unknown. Of course, the passage is not referring to turtles at all, but to the turtledove, as the modern translations recognize."
Mr. White himself does not believe any Bible in any language or any text, be it Hebrew or Greek, is the preserved, inspired words of God. Mr. White used to work for the NASB committee and apparently doesn't mind representing a version like the NASB that says God was deceived by the children of Israel in Psalms 78:36, or that God doesn't take away life in 2 Samuel 14:14; or that there are two Gods, one not seen and one begotten in John 1:18; or that Jonah was not swallowed by a whale but by a "sea monster" in Matthew 12:40.
Likewise, the NASB departs from the Hebrew texts scores of times and is continually changing its underlying Greek texts from one edition to the next; but he does have a bee in his bonnet with the KJB's use of the word "turtle" instead of turtledove.
Such are the ways of those who attack God's pure words as found in the King James Holy Bible.
Here are a few facts James may not be aware of. The Hebrew word is translated both as turtle and turtledove in the King James Bible and several others too. One of the meanings of the word turtle is a turtledove, and the context always indicates that we are speaking about a bird and not the shelled reptile.
Here is another example of context clearly showing the Bible is speaking of a bird when it uses the word turtle. In Jeremiah 8:7 we read: "Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the TURTLE and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD."
It may surprise Mr. White, but not only does the King James Bible say "turtle" in the Song of Solomon 2:12 and in Jeremiah 8:7 but so also do Wycliffe 1395, the Douay Rheims 1582 - "THE TURTLE, and the swallow, and the stork have observed the time of their coming", the Geneva Bible 1599, the Bill Bible 1671, Webster's 1833 translation, the Calvin Bible 1855, The Jewish Family Bible 1864, the Revised Version 1885 - "the TURTLE and the swallow and the crane observe the time of their coming", the Lesser Bible 1853 - "and THE TURTLE, and the swallow, atad the crane observe the time of their coming", Noyes Translation 1869, the Lesser Bible - "and the TURTLE, and the swallow" (Jer.8:7) J.B. Rotherham's Emphasized Bible 1902 - "the voice of THE TURTLE is heard in our land", The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907, The Jewish Publication Society's 1917 translation - "the voice of the TURTLE is heard in our land", the 1936 Hebrew Publishing Company's "The Holy Scriptures", Young's literal translation 1898, the 1950 Douay version, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005.
Other English Bibles that also have TURTLE for turtledove are The Word of Yah 1993, the 1994 KJV 21st Century version, the 1998 Third Millennium Bible, the Holy Scriptures Jubilee Bible of 2010, the 2001 Urim-Thummin Version, The Holy Scriptures Jewish Publication Society 1997, the Revised Geneva Bible 2005, the Torah Transliteration Scripture of 2008, Bond Slave Version 2009, Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010, the Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011 - "the TURTLE and the crane", Conservative Bible 2011, The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011 - "the TURTLE and the crane" and The Revised Douay-Rheims Bible 2012 - "the TURTLE and the crane"
The Bible itself is its own dictionary, for those who have eyes to see and are using the right Bible. In Leviticus chapter 12:6-8 we see the law concerning the ritual purification of the woman who gives birth to either a son or a daughter.
Among the sacrifices she is to bring if able are "a lamb...and a young pigeon, or A TURTLEDOVE for a sin offering." And if she were too poor to bring the lamb, "then she shall bring TWO TURTLES, or two young pigeons" for the burnt offering and the sin offering.Smith's Bible Dictionary
Turtle, turtledove Turtur auritus (Heb. tor ) The name is phonetic, evidently derived from the plaintive cooing of the bird.
Some dictionaries do not even list "turtle", meaning the turtledove, as archaic.
Webster's 1913 Dictionary Turtle noun. Anglo Saxon. turtle, L. turtur; probably of imitative origin. (Zoöl.) The turtledove.
Definitions from The Online Plain Text English Dictionary: Turtle * (n.) Any one of the numerous species of Testudinata, especially a sea turtle, or chelonian. * (n.) The curved plate in which the form is held in a type-revolving cylinder press. *(n.) The turtledove.
The Complete Oxford English Dictionary gives dove as the first meaning of the word turtle and the reptile as the second meaning. Even Dictionary.com tells us that the word "turtle" means "turtledove". Type in "turtle". Then scroll down to Turtle #2. = turtledove.
A similar word in English that can have several meanings is the simple word cow. When we say cow, are we referring to the bovine creature that gives milk, or to a whale, a seal or an elephant? The context will usually tell us which one is meant. In every case where the word "turtle" is used in the King James Bible and all the others listed that have come both before and after the King James Bible, it is clear that the bird also known as the turtle dove is intended. Mr. White is again straining at gnats and mocking the time tested word of God as found in the King James Bible.
Here is the link to a short article by another King James Bible believer about the "turtle" being another word for the turtledove and how the English word itself is an onomatopoetic sound of the bird's call.
More about the winged turtle from the internet. Another Bible believer, John Hinton, posted this article at one of the Bible clubs.
Notes from brother John Hinton - the Turtle = the Turtledove
1839-40 W. Irving Wolfert (1855) The island abounded with turtle, and great quantities of their eggs were to be found among the rocks.
1870 YEATS Nat. Hist. Comm. Turtles abound in the enclosed seas of Central America."
Throughout the King James Bible's translation of Genesis, Leviticus, Numbers, and Luke, turtle is used in a word pair with pigeons. Leviticus 12:8 "And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean."
Does Mr. White think that this is a reference to reptiles as an alternative to birds? These verses make it obvious that they are alternative birds for sacrifice. We know through another contextual piece of evidence that this is not the shelled reptile. The tortoise is an unclean animal and would not be sacrificed.
Leviticus 11:29 "These also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and THE TORTOISE after his kind,"
It should be noted that White's precious Westcott-Hort perversions of Scripture, including the NIV, NASV, ESV and NKJV, translate this word as A LARGE LIZARD. It meant tortoise then and still does in Modern Hebrew. This error may have added to White's confusion, but it is still obvious that reptiles of all kinds are not acceptable creatures for sacrifice. [End of John Hinton's notes]
James White Follies - Mark 6:20 "observed" or "kept him safe"?
Mark 6:20 King James Bible - "For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and a holy, and OBSERVED HIM; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly."
NKJV - "for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and HE PROTECTED HIM. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly."
James White criticizes the rendering of this verse in the KJB in his book The King James Only Controversy. In chapter 9 titled Problems in the KJV on page 224 Mr. White begins a whole series of objections to various King James readings.
He starts off by saying: "Well Nobody is Perfect. The men who worked on the translation of the AV nearly four hundred years ago were great scholars. No one can possibly dispute that fact."
Well, James, if this is so, then why do you spend 19 pages in this chapter trying to show how they completely dropped the ball and committed many unpardonable errors in their translation? And if they were "great scholars" as you say, and you place yourself in an assumed position to correct their many errors, then what does that make You? The Greatest Scholar?
James continues: "BUT all great scholars know their limitations. They recognize their fallibility. And I really doubt they would take the slightest offense to a reasoned critique of their work. The first problem we will examine is to be found in Mark's gospel, chapter 6, verse 20:
KJV "For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and OBSERVED him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly."
NASB (NKJV, NIV, ESV) "for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and KEPT HIM SAFE. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him."
Mr. White continues: "Did Herod "observe" John, as the KJV says, or "keep him safe," as the NASB says? The Greek term simply does not mean "observe" but instead means "to protect." One might possibly suggest that "observe" once meant "to protect", but such seems a long stretch, especially since the KJV renders the same word "preserve" at Matthew 9:17 and Luke 5:38." [End of James White's comments]
Now, to address Mr. White's scholarly criticism.
The verb used here is sunteereo and is found only four times in the New Testament. Twice it is used in the sense of "putting new wine into new bottles and both are PRESERVED." Once it is used in Luke 2:19 where we are told: "But Mary KEPT all these things, and pondered them in her heart." The fourth instance is here in Mark where the KJB says Herod OBSERVED him.
Even the NASB give three different renderings to this single verb - "kept safe", "preserved" and "treasured".
All words in both Hebrew and Greek often have multiple meanings depending on the context in which they are used. According to various lexicons and other translations, the KJB reading of "observed him" is totally accurate.
Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon, the seventeenth edition 1887 on page 680 lists the verb sunteereo and gives the following meanings. Number one on their list is "TO WATCH CLOSELY"; then they list "to preserve, keep safe; and "to keep in mind". It also can mean "to watch one's opportunity".
Likewise A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, by William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, on page 800 lists among the various meanings of this verb: "to keep in mind, to be concerned about", and "to hold or treasure up in one's memory".
Joseph Henry Thayer's Lexicon the 19th printing 1978 also lists on page 606 one of the meanings of this verb as: "to keep a thing in mind (lest it be forgotten)".
Kittle's massive work, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Volume VIII page 143 also describes the verb teereo and its cognates as having the meaning of "to take note of", and "TO OBSERVE".
Moulton, The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised, 1978,. page 392, has "TO OBSERVE STRICTLY" as a translation.
The verb sunteereo can have the meaning of to keep something together in the mind, and thus mean "to observe" something or someone. There are many similar verbs found in the New Testament that all versions translate with the idea of holding something in the mind.
See for example Luke 14:1 "they watched him" (parateereo); 1 Corinthians 15:2 "if ye keep in memory" (kateko), and John 1:5, and Ephesians 3:18 "to comprehend" (katalambano).
Not only does the King James Bible say that Herod OBSERVED HIM, but so also do The Bill Bible 1671, Whiston's Primitive New Testament 1745, The Clarke N.T. 1795, Webster's 1833, The Revised New Testament 1862, the American Bible Union N.T. 1865, the Julia Smith Translation of 1855 -"and he observed him", The Smith Bible 1876, The Dillard New Testament 1885 - "he OBSERVED him", The Word of Yah 1993, The Revised Webster Bible 1995, The Evidence Bible 2003, the Bond Slave Version 2009, Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010 - "and OBSERVED him"
Many others give a similar meaning. Tyndale, Bishops' Bible, the Great Bible and the Geneva Bible say: "Herod GAVE HIM REVERENCE."
Thomas Howels 1795 A Translation from the Original Greek says: "PAID GREAT ATTENTION TO HIM"
The Newcome New Testament 1796 says - "he REGARDED HIM"
Noyes Translation 1869 says "WAS REGARDFUL OF HIM." Darby gives the marginal reading of "observed him".
The English Jubilee Bible of 2010 says "knowing that he was a just and holy man, AND RESPECTED HIM; and when he heard him"
The Wakefield New Testament 1820 also says "and HE GREATLY RESPECTED HIM"
Conservative Bible 2011 says: "Herod actually was afraid of John, realizing that he was a just and holy man, AND FOLLOWED JOHN'S PREACHING CLOSELY."
Among foreign language Bibles The Italian Diodati 1649 version says Herod " E L' OSSERVAVA" = "and he observed him. "Likewise the Italian Bible called Conferenza Episcopale says: "perché Erode temeva Giovanni, sapendolo giusto e santo, e vigilava su di lui". = But Herod feared John, knowing he was just and holy and he observed (or watched) him. The French Ostervald 1996 equals the sense found in the KJB saying: “un homme juste et saint; il le considérait” - he was a just man and holy and he considered him”, French Martin 1744 - “et il avait du respect pour lui” and he had respect for him”; and the Spanish Sagradas Escrituras of 1569, Cipriano de Valera 1602, the Reina Valera 1858 and 1909 also say "le tenía respeto"= " he had respect unto him."
James Murdock's 1858 translation of the Syriac Peshitta reads: "For Herod was afraid of John, because he knew him to be a just and holy man: and HE OBSERVED HIM, and gave ear to him in many things and did the things, and he heard him with satisfaction.
Matthew Henry comments on this passage: "He observed him; he sheltered him from the malice of his enemies (so some understand it); or, rather, he had a regard to his exemplary conversation, and took notice of that in him that was praiseworthy, and commended it in the hearing of those about him; he made it appear that he observed what John said and did."
Here Matthew Henry recognizes the alternative understanding of the passage, but he favors the rendering as found in the King James Bible.
Likewise John Gill is aware of both meanings of this Greek verb and comments: "and OBSERVED HIM" or "kept him" in custody, in prison, as the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic render it; and did not put him to death, but preserved him from the designs of Herodias against him. Or HE OBSERVED AND TOOK NOTICE OF WHAT HE HAD HEARD HIM SAY IN HIS MINISTRY; HE LAID IT UP, AND KEPT IT IN HIS MIND, AND MEMORY; the remembrance of which kept him in awe, and he durst not, and could not for the present, give heed to the solicitations of Herodias, or suffer her to take away his life: and he also observed his exemplary life and conversation, which was so just and upright, that his conscience would not admit him to give him up to her will and pleasure."
So we can see from this little study that when James White says emphatically, "The Greek term simply does not mean "observe" but instead means "to protect", he is merely giving us his own personal opinion, not hard facts. Others of equal or superior learning disagree with Mr. White's conclusions.
James White's Follies - Mark 9:18 "PINETH AWAY" or "STIFFENS OUT"?
Let's now look at the another objection James White brings up in the chapter of his book called Problems in the KJV.
On page 225 of The King James Version Controversy James White continues: "A similar less-than-perfect translation is found at Mark 9:18.
KJV "And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, AND PINETH AWAY: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not."
NASB "and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth, and STIFFENS OUT."
(Here the NKJV, NIV, NET, Holman, RSV, ESV and the modern Catholic versions like the St. Joseph NAB and the New Jerusalem bible all read "BECOMES RIGID".)
Mr. White continues: "It is difficult to get "stiffens out" or "becomes rigid" (NIV) from "pineth away". The KJV rendering is obviously less than adequate in comparison with the modern translations."
Now, to address this criticism.
First of all, the word used here is xeeraino (ξηραινεται) and has several meanings including "to wither away, to dry up, to be ripe, and to pine away".
To pine away simply means to fail gradually in health or vitality or to waste away through grief, pain, hunger, etc. The word is frequently translated in all versions as "to wither", as in the fig tree or other plant withers. If a plant withers, it gradually looses its strength and vitality and shrinks in size. It first becomes limp, and only after it is dead does it become dry and rigid.
The little boy brought by his father to Jesus in Mark 9:18 was not dead, but had for many years been afflicted by the unclean spirit and his strength was pining away, as the KJB correctly has it. As a matter of fact, I have two earlier copies of the NASB right here in my study, and the 1963 and 1973 editions of the NASB translate this phrase as "and stiffens out" but then in a marginal note both add "Or, whithers away".
Secondly, other scholars disagree with Mr. White as to the possible meanings of this word.
In Joseph Henry Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, 19th printing 1978 on page 432 Mr. Thayer says of the word xeepaino that "of members of the body, to waste away, to PINE AWAY" and then he lists Mark 9:18.
Moulton, The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised, 1978, page 281, has "to pine".
Vine, The Expanded Vines, 1984, page 1236 has "pine away".
Thirdly, not only does the King James Bible say that the boy who had the dumb spirit "pineth away", but so also do Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540 - "and gnassheth with hys teth, and pineth awaye.", Matthew's Bible 1549 - "and gnasheth with hys tethe, & PYNETH AWAY.", the Bishop's Bible 1568, the Douay-Rheims bible 1582- "the Geneva Bible 1599, the Beza New Testament 1599, the Bill Bible 1671, John Wesley's N.T. 1755- "AND PINETH AWAY", Worsley Version 1770, Thomas Haweis N.T. 1795, the Clarke N.T. 1795, Webster's 1833 translation, the Pickering N.T. 1840, the Longman Version 1841, the Hewett N.T. 1850, The Commonly Received Version 1851, The Boothroyd Bible 1853, The Revised New Testament 1862, The American Bible Union New Testament 1865 - "and pines away", the Anderson N.T. 1865, Noyes Translation 1869 - "gnasheth his teeth; and he pineth away.", the Ainslie N.T. 1869, the Davidson N.T. 1876, The Revised English Bible 1877, the Dillard N.T. 1885, Young's 1898, the Revised Version 1881, the American Standard Version 1901 - "AND PINETH AWAY", William Godbey translation 1902 - "and PINETH AWAY", Adolfus Worrell Translation 1904, Weymouth's translation 1912- "HE IS PINING AWAY" the Clarke N.T. 1913, Douay version 1950, The Word of Yah 1993, God's First Truth 1999, The Evidence Bible 2003 - "and PINES AWAY", the KJV 21st Century Version 1994, Third Millennium Bible 1998, English Jubilee Version 2010 - "and pines away" , The New European Version 2010 - "and PINES AWAY"
The Thomas Bible 1808 says "and is SHRIVELED UP"
The Morgan New Testament 1848 - "and he DECAYETH"
The Moffatt New Testament 1913, Pioneer's N.T. 2014 - "he IS WASTING AWAY"
J. B. Phillips New Testament 1962 - "it is simply WEARING HIM OUT"
The Apostolic Polyglot Bible 2003 - "HE WITHERS"
The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011 - "LANGUISHES AWAY"
The Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011 - "and is WITHERING AWAY"
The Catholic Connection
Again, notice the pattern found in the Catholic versions. Both the 1582 Douay-Rheims and the 1950 Douay read "PINETH AWAY", but now the more modern Catholic versions like the St. Joseph New American Bible 1970 and the 1985 New Jerusalem read like the NKJV, RSV, ESV, NIV, NASB, Holman's "BECOMES RIGID". The latest Catholic version of 2009 (Catholic Public Domain Version) has an unusual way of translating this word. It now says "he becomes unconscious".
There are two fairly well known translations of the Syriac, one done by Murdock in 1852 and the other done by Etheridge in 1849 and both have translated their text as "pineth away".
Other versions that read in a similar way to the King James Bibles "pineth away" are Daniel Mace N.T. 1729 - "and grows meager.", The Living Oracles 1835 - "his strength is exhausted", Sawyer's N.T. 1858 "becomes emaciated", Edgar Goodspeed 1923 - "he is wasting away", World English Bible 2000 - "AND WASTETH AWAY", Montgomery N.T., New Heart English Bible, Riverside N. T., Williams N.T., Hebrew Names Version 2014 - "and WASTES AWAY", and Green's interlinear with "wastes away", Darby's Transation and the Amplified Bible 1987 "is withering away", the Rheims bible of 1582 said "he withereth", Rotherham's Emphasized Bible 1902 "weareth himself out", James Moffatt N.T. -"He is wasting away with it.", J.B. Phillips Translation 1962 - "IT'S SIMPLY WEARING HIM OUT."
New Life Version 1969 "he is getting weaker", the Bible in Basic English 1970 "his strength goes from him.", the Worldwide English N.T. 1998 says: "HE IS GETTING WEAK AND THIN.", Apostolic Bible Polyglot English - "he withers", Jonathan Mitchell N.T. "he progressively withers", A Conservative Version Interlinear - "HE BECOMES LIMP", God's Word Translation 1995, Interlinear Greek N.T. 1997 (Larry Pierce) - "IS WITHERING AWAY", Faithful N.T. 2009 "and WASTES", Online Interlinear 2010 (André de Mol) - "is WHITERING AWAY", The Names of God Bible 2011 - "he becomes exhausted.", J.P. Green's literal and the Aramaic Bible in Plain English 2010 - "and he wastes away", Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011 - "IS WITHERING AWAY", The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011 - AND LANGUISHES AWAY", Conservative Bible 2011 -AND WASTES AWAY", The Knox Bible 2012 - "HIS STRENGTH IS DRAINED FROM HIM."
Among foreign language bibles there are several that agree with the sense found in the King James Bible. Both the Spanish Nueva Biblia Latinoamericana of 2005 and the 1997 La Biblia de las Américas, both put out by the Lockman Foundation, which brings us the NASB, say: "cruje los dientes y se va consumiendo" = "he gnashes his teeth and is consumed (or pines away)", the Portuguese de Almeida of 1681 has: "e range os dentes, e vai definhando" = "he gnashes his teeth and is becoming weak" and the Spanish Reina Valera Bibles 1909, 1960, 1995 say "y cruje los dientes, y se va secando" = "he gnashes his teeth and is withering away (or drying up)". The Spanish La Biblia de las Américas 1997 says: "cruje los dientes y se va consumiendo."= "he gnashes his teeth AND IS CONSUMING AWAY.", and the 2009 Romanian Fidela Bible says "şi îşi scrâşneşte" - "and he remains emaciated."
John Gill comments: "and pineth away; his flesh is withered, dried up, and consumed away."
Matthew Henry also says: "and though the fits go off presently, yet they leave him so weak, that he pines away, is worn to a skeleton; his flesh is dried away."
John Calvin translated the passage as: "And wheresoever it seizeth him, it teareth him, and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, AND LANGUISHED: and I spoke to thy disciples to cast him out, and they could not. " Then he comments: "The consequence was, that he was exposed to danger on every hand, and was thrown into violent convulsions, which left him lying on the ground, IN A FAINTING STATE, and like a dead man."
Actually the first major English translation to translate this word as "becomes rigid" was the liberal RSV, and since then the NRSV, NIV, NASB, ESV, Holman, NET and NKJV have followed this meaning.
Again, Mr. White is dogmatically expressing his own opinion as to the correct meaning of the word used in Mark 9:18, but many others throughout history and to this day disagree with his conclusions.
James White and men like him have NO infallible Bible in ANY language to believe in themselves nor to recommend to anyone else either. He has become his own authority as he selects the particular texts, readings and meanings he personally would like to put into his own bible version if he were to write one.
I think both he and a whole lot of other people as well would be much the better off if he were to take a very looooong Sabbatical, go off into the woods all by himself and finally write his own bible version. That is the only way he will be happy. Take all the time you want, James. We Bible believers are in no hurry to hear back from you any time soon.
All of grace, believing the Book God has honored far above all others - the King James Holy Bible.
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