Are you using a counterfeit Bible? Terry Watkins of the fundamentalist Dial-the-Truth Ministries believes that a great deal of us may be using perverted, twisted versions of the Bible, and he has provided over two dozen checks for us to use to determine whether we’re using the real McCoy or not. I use the English Standard Version, and I’m curious: Will it pass the Terry Watkins test? I’ll examine the first five verses in this post and will pick up the rest at a later date. If you are a King James Onlyist, I sincerely hope you continue reading and that you do so with an open yet discerning mind.
The ESV reads, “Abraham said, ‘God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.’ So they went both of them together.”
It appears that isn’t good enough, though; apparently, it should only read “God will provide himself the lamb.” Any other rendering distorts the prophecy which is fulfilled in John 1:29: “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'”
However, the passage in John doesn’t explicitly label the Genesis passage as being prophetic. It seems more likely that, just as in the life of Joseph, these events in Abraham’s life are allusions to Jesus Christ. Abraham believed that God would provide a lamb for the sacrifice, and that lamb was to be His own Son, Jesus Christ.
No “distortion of the prophecy” appears here in the ESV, and its translation agrees with just about any other version, including literal translations.
The ESV reads, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!”
Terry accuses the modern versions of “confus[ing] the Lord Jesus Christ with Lucifer.” The reasoning begins with the assumption that the King James Version’s use of “Lucifer” in this passage is the correct translation. Given that, “replacing” the name of Lucifer with the title “Day Star” confuses him with Jesus Christ.
However, this doesn’t make any sense; there is already overlap in the titles ascribed to Lucifer and to Jesus Christ in the King James Version. Lucifer is described as the “son of the morning,” while Christ is titled the “bright and morning star” (Revelation 22:16).
Both titles are references to Venus, the “morning star.” This makes sense — allusions to the stars and heavenly bodies are used quite often in the Scriptures. The host of angels are called “morning stars” in Job 38:7.
Jesus shares many titles with other beings — both man and angel — He is a son of man and is the Son of Man, He is a son of God and is the Son of God, and so on. Lucifer and the other angels may be described as “morning stars,” but Jesus is the Bright and Morning Star. His titles are superlative, for He is worthy.
However, I believe the titles used in Isaiah 14 to describe the king of Babylon are entirely sarcastic. I prefer the translation of the ESV over that of the King James Version as I do not believe “Lucifer” to be a proper translation. The king of Babylon here is being mocked, taunted by the remnant of Israel, and they insult his fall from such a lofty position in a very poetic way: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!”
They are not literally calling him an angel or anything absurd like that; the whole verse is a scathing boast of how fall the man has fallen.
As a sub-complaint, Terry Watkins accuses modern versions of sending Lucifer not to Hell but to “the confusing ‘Sheol.'” Keep in mind that the Hebrews did not believe in a place called Hell; instead, they believed in a place called שְׁאוֹל which, not surprisingly, is pronounced “she’ôl.” A literal translation of this place name would be Sheol, not Hell.
Actually, a great variety of place names believed in by the Hebrews and early Christians are all translated as “Hell” in the King James Version. Gehenna, Sheol, Hades, Tartarus… How does anyone know which place is being spoken of if all they have is the King James Version?
Now, I’m confused… The King James Version reduces confusion by means of ambiguity?
The ESV says, “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something.”
The accusation here is that the modern version “rob[s] worship from the Lord Jesus Christ” — rather than reporting that Salome came to Jesus worshiping, the so-called counterfeit Bibles report that she merely knelt before Him. As is usual in this checklist, the King James Version’s translation is the gold standard, but even more authoritative is the Greek word itself: προσκυνέω (oh look, pi!). This word, pronounced pros-koo-neh’-o, is where we get the our word “prostrate,” as in “prostrate yourself before” someone.
And that is exactly what Salome is doing here: she is kneeling before Christ, prostrating herself before Him. If the King James Version’s translation of “worshiping” is the gold standard, then it must be admitted that worshiping can be achieved via the simple act of kneeling, which is what προσκυνέω means.
The modern versions aren’t robbing Jesus Christ of any worship; rather, they are being more specific in what Salome was actually doing. Here again we see that the King James Version’s “superiority” depends a great deal on ambiguity, and I can’t help but wonder why defenders feel the need to hide the rich specificity of the Scriptures from students of the Word.
The ESV says, “for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Like the previous one, this case of counterfeiting is a devious case of word swapping. Which word raises the ire of Terry Watkins? None other than “Covenant.”
The King James Version says “testament”; most modern versions, including literal translations, use “covenant.” Terry Watkins uses this occasion to make fun of modern versions because, while they use the word “covenant” here, they don’t market the New Testament as the New Covenant.
So what about this word swap? The Greek word in question is διαθήκη (dee-ath-ay’-kay) which, according to Strong’s Concordance, refers to a “contract,” with both “covenant” and “testament” being listed as specific translation possibilities.
In English, according to Noah Webster’s dictionary (in my opinion the most useful English dictionary for figuring out what words meant in the King James Version or other older English versions of the Bible), the word “testament” has two meanings: either a will (as in “last will and testament”) or one of the two major divisions of the Bible. Webster says that in that latter instance the word is equivalent to “covenant.”
I think I have to disagree with Webster on that one; there are numerous covenants in the Bible: there’s the covenant with Noah, with Abraham, with Moses, with David…
Jesus’ death initiates a new covenant, as described in the verse in question.
A covenant, according to Webster, is a meeting of the minds or more specifically, a contractual agreement. In our verse, Jesus is speaking of that which is described as the covenant of grace: the “contract” between God and man that God would grant complete salvation to men who believe in Jesus Christ, repenting according to the Gospel, thereby fulfilling the “contractual obligation” of this covenant.
Why Terry Watkins takes such issue the use of “covenant” instead of “testament,” I don’t really know; however, I have noticed that most King James Onlyists are also heavily Dispensational. Dispensational theology underemphasizes the richness of the scriptural covenants; indeed, depending on how militantly one stands against covenant theology, the very word “covenant” may put off some.
The ESV says, “but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’—”
Terry Watkin’s accusation here is that the punishment for blaspheming the Holy Spirit is changed from being “in danger of eternal damnation” to simply being “guilty of an eternal sin.”
However, the modern translation of the ESV doesn’t weaken the punishment at all; if anything, its language is more definite than the King James Version’s.
If I were “in danger” of falling off of a cliff, it doesn’t mean that I’ve actually fallen off of the cliff. And according to the King James Version, I can blaspheme the Holy Spirit, but that only places me “in danger” of eternal damnation — it doesn’t actually push me over the ledge, so to speak. Of the various possible translations of ἔνοχος (en’-okh-os), “in danger of” is perhaps the weakest. Other possibilities include “liable to” and “guilty of,” both phrases carrying with them far more certainty and definition than the phrase chosen by the King James Version translators.
According to the ESV, blaspheming the Holy Spirit makes you “guilty of an eternal sin” — do not pass go, do not collect $200: you are guilty, and for you there is no forgiveness.
More to Come
These were just the first five of many accusations brought against modern versions of the Bible, and I welcome your feedback on my admittedly brief assessments, regardless of which position you maintain.
For many of you reading this, King James Onlyism is not an issue; to you, I encourage you to say a word of thanks to Yahweh for that blessing. King James Onlyism is a radical movement with very dangerous beliefs that can severely hinder one’s growth in Christ. I know many people who are immersed in Onlyist beliefs, and I know many who have found liberation from them, just as I have. I know the joys that come with finding the freedom to use just about any version of the Bible for study, to not be bound to a translation that is not only out-dated but which has demonstrable errors in it. I wish that everyone can share in that joy, which is why I choose to respond to King James Onlyists as I have above.