An Analysis of Dr. D.A. Waite’s King James Only Seminar, Slides #109-153: Translation Technique

vintagepenPart VII – Translation Technique (Slides #109-153)

The final section that I have noted deals with the supposedly superior translation techniques employed by the King James translators. One must note that this particular issue is an entirely different one (together with the superiority of the translators) in the stream of elemental KJVO argumentation. This deals with the actual King James Version of 1611, whereas other arguments are more biblical, historical, and doctrinal. Here is where a true King James Onlyist may differ from a Majority/Byzantine preferred, though both may have used similar arguments prior to this. It is also where the moderate King James Onlyist finds little to differ with Ruckman, for the two will always say that the King James rendering is the best, and consequently, only acceptable rendering in every single case.

It is rather interesting to note this, for those in Waite’s camp, who would at least acknowledge the existence of errors in textual transmission (they would say the church recognized and corrected them through the ages), avoid at all costs acknowledging the existence of translational errors in the Bibles of today. How this differs from Ruckmanism is hard to tell – the Ruckmanite believes God did something akin to inspiration during the Hampton Court conference. Those who distance themselves from such a position still give to the King James Version the result of said position.

If everything the KJVO argued for until now were true – that is, God did indeed promise “verbal, plenary preservation”, that there has always been an availability of God’s words “intact”, and that represented by different Bibles at different times leading up until now –  I don’t know how a translational deficiency would affect the rest of the position. Yet, that is how King James Onlyism seems to work. It’s zero tolerance. One strike and you’re out. It’s all or nothing, and remember “things that are different are not the same.” 

So Waite is, in essence, defending two positions: verbal, plenary preservation and the perfection of the KJV as a translation. 

Now it is not my desire to show poor scholarship on the part of the King James translators and their techniques – I couldn’t if I tried. There’s no doubt that what they did was astounding, and the greatest teamwork the world has ever seen. In slides #110-114, Waite explains the methodology that was used, and I have no accusation against it. There has to be, however, a little context. The King James was not an entirely new translation, but a revision of prior English Bibles, mainly the Bishop’s Bible. The Tyndale, Coverdale, and Geneva were consulted as well. Though their scholarship, as a team, outweighed the prior English Bibles, context necessitates that we keep in mind they were building on the scholarship of others. What holds us from saying we haven’t advanced past 1611? 

Slides #115-142 show the difference between dynamic equivalence and formal equivalence. Dr. Waite is overly simplistic in this area and misleading. Slide #116, for example (titled, “SUPERIOR Translation Technique of The KING JAMES BIBLE):

1. Uses “Verbal Equivalance”

2. Uses “Formal Equivalence”

3. Rejects “Dynamic Equivalence”

I don’t exactly know why (or remember; perhaps Waite explained and I didn’t write it down) he used verbal equivalence and formal equivalence as two separate things. The two are typically interchangeable. But #3 is what I believe is way too oversimplified and misleading. If the KJV “rejects” dynamic equivalence, would it use it? Certainly not according to the definition of “reject.” The same thing is found in slide #117 (“VERBAL EQUIVALENCE):

1. Translated WORDS From Hebrew & Greek Into English.

2. Was Used by the KJB.

3. Is Rejected By Modern Versions.

Once again, oversimplified and misleading. Sure, verbal equivalence was used by the King James, but 100% of the time? Certainly not. And sure, some (I would say a few) of the modern versions “reject” verbal equivalence, but most of them embrace it wholeheartedly! He’s not telling the whole story, and unsuspecting church goers who listen to him should not expect to be given any counter food-for-thought. The ESV, NKJV, and NASB are all well-known for their commitment to literal, verbal translation. The NIV and HCSB are known for being “balanced” – not too literal and not too figurative. While they both use dynamic equivalence more than the others (and more than I am prefer), they cannot be accused of “rejecting” verbal equivalence. Waite overstates his case.

Sides #119-121 are also telling. Dr. Waite boldly proclaims the horrible attributes of dynamic equivalence. But his own generalization put his position in jeopardy. He says dynamic equivalence “ADDA to God’s Words”, “SUBTRACTS from God’s Words”, and “CHANGES God’s Words.” He gives a 7-point alliterated list (his book has many more “D” words) about the evils of dynamic equivalence in slide #121: it is DIABOLICAL, DECEPTIVE, DETERMINED, DISHONEST, DEIFYING of MAN, DISOBEDIENT, and DISPPROVED by GOD. All of this, of course, begs the question, if dynamic equivalence is this bad, does it disqualify the King James Version since it uses it?

During the seminar, I noted that Waite himself admitted that the KJV used dynamic equivalence in some places. In fact, I recall an article (I think it was on David Cloud’s website but I couldn’t find it since then) in which Waite answered a common objection about dynamic equivalence in the KJV. A well-known example is the fact that the KJV’s use of “God forbid” when the literal rendering (employed by most modern versions) is “may it not be!” Waite’s answer was that it was “only used 14 times.” Again, we see the tremendous double standard here. Is the KJV only 14 times diabolical and deceptive? Is it “dishonest” when it translates Mark 27:44 as “they cast the same in his teeth?” Is it “disobedient” when it translated days into “years” at Amos 4:4? Is it “disapproved by God” since it doesn’t literally say “Mary was having it in the stomach” but says “with child” in Matthew 1:23? Is it evil to add “hath he quickened” in italics at Ephesians 2:1 with no textual support? Perhaps it’s just a matter of degree. The KJV is less diabolical and determined and dishonest and disobedient, according to the standards given by Dr. D.A. Waite.

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3 comments so far

  1. ModernBibleReader on

    Waite consistently paints every modern translation with the same dynamic brush, saying all of the NASB, ESV, NKJV, etc use dynamic equivalence. The NIV does use it some, but the others are quite literal. Waite obviously knows this. He also says the KJV does not use dynamic equivalence, but then why are there so many weights, measures, money equivalents, etc in 1611 terms? That’s dynamic equivalence as much as using something understandable to modern readers for phrases like “your neck is like a guard tower”.

    Waite also plugs his “Defined KJV” at almost every turn, but the “KJV Study Bible” beat him to it by about a decade (coming out in 1988). It has word definitions in the margins, and that system has been used in other Thomas Nelson KJV editions. People already had a “defined” Bible if they wanted one. This starts to beg the question about what a translation actually is, if the translation needs a translation to make sense.

    Waite frequently talks about the bogus idea that the KJV is more readable than modern versions. This comes from a computerized program that counts syllables, and was never intended to scan 1611 English. The program doesn’t take into account the garbled word order, word endings we don’t use, and obsolete/rare/strange words that don’t have many syllables. The results of this program are often touted by Waite, TBS, and others as proof the KJV is readable. (In this context, it’s interesting to read JB Phillips’ preface from 1941 (!) that says young people find the KJV unintelligible.)

    I think what’s going to happen is simply that anyone under 40 has grown up in a world with multiple translations, and just don’t get the point of KJV only. Once there are no people left who grew up with the KJV and saw modern Bibles introduced, I think this movement will be an historical curiosity.

  2. Damien T Garofalo on

    ModernReader,

    thanks for coming over. Judging from your comments, you know your stuff. Check out our new KJVO team blog at http://kjvodebate.wordpress.com and contribute if you’d like.

    Thanks for the info about readability. I’ve been wanting to tackle that issue, for I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the KJV passing some sort of “Test” that “proves” it’s more readable. The funny thing about that, though, is when a modern version user claims his is more readable, the KJVO usually responds with something like that doesn’t matter, God’s Word is God’s Word whether it’s readable or not. So why would they have to prove readability? And in a reality, why would a computer program have to prove it for them?

    Thanks again for coming over.

  3. Woody Armstrong on

    But he’s right about the King James Bible Being the word and the word’s of God!
    RYFTKOHIAH.WordPress.com


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