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Sunday, August 28, 2011

400th Anniversary of the King James Bible

Regardless of your religious affiliation or beliefs, you simply must admit that the Bible, for better or for worse, is easily one of the most influential books in human history. In 2011, we celebrate the 400th anniversary of this book. Here's some info about this book. This post will grow over time, so don't try to read it all the way through. Just scroll through and hopefully you'll find something interesting. Also, if you have some information not listed here, let me know and it may be included.

KJV Facts

  1. The most popular Bible translation; an estimated 1 billion or more copies have been published.
  2. The translation was brought upon by King James I of England.
  3. First published in 1611 A.D. (some believe between May 2nd - May 5th).
  4. More than 169 original 1611 King James Bibles are in existance today.
  5. Gothic text and Jacobean spelling was used in the original 1611 version, which is noticeably different than 21st Century English.
  6. 80 books were included (39 in Old Testament, 14 in Apocrypha, and 27 in New Testament).
  7. Contains 788,258 total words, of which 14,565 are unique.
  8. The title was not originally called the "King James Version", but "THE HOLY BIBLE, Containing the Old Testament, AND THE NEW: Newly Translated out of the Original tongues: & with the former Translations diligently compared and revised, by his Majesties special Commandment".
  9. 1814 A.D. is the earliest recorded date of it being called "King James Version" or "Authorized Version".
  10. The original book was very large: approximately 17" tall, 30" wide when opened, and it weighed up to 30 pounds.
  11. The first 1611 Bibles were expensive and were chained to the front pulpit of churches, to prevent from being stolen.
  12. Prior to the 1611 King James Bible, most churches did not have Bibles.
  13. The King James Bible is the first English Bible ever printed in the United States- first printed by the King's Printer in England, then printing and distribution spread throughout the world.
  14. Public officials on all levels of United States government, including presidents, have taken their oath of office with the King James Bible.
  15. A committee of 54 translators worked for 7 years to complete the King James translation.
  16. The system of chapters was introduced in A.D. 1238 by Cardinal Hugo de
    S. Caro, while the verse notations were added in 1551 by Robertus
    Stephanus, after the advent of printing. 
  17. A Bible in the University of Gottingen is written on 2,470 palm leaves.
  18. According to statistics from Wycliffe International, the Society of
    Gideons, and the International Bible Society, the number of new Bibles
    that are sold, given away, or otherwise distributed in the United
    States is about 168,000 per day.
  19. The Bible can be read aloud in 70 hours.
  20. There are 8,674 different Hebrew words in the Bible, 5,624 different
    Greek words, and 12,143 different English words in the King James Version.
  21. A number of verses in the Bible (KJV) contain all but 1 letter of the
    alphabet: Ezra 7:21 contains all but the letter j; Joshua 7:24,
    1 Kings 1:9, 1 Chronicles 12:40, 2 Chronicles 36:10, Ezekiel 28:13,
    Daniel 4:37, and Haggai 1:1 contain all but q; 2 Kings 16:15 and
    1 Chronicles 4:10 contain all but x; and Galatians 1:14 contains all
    but k.
  22. The Bible is the best selling and most distributed book of all time. Estimated more than 6 billion copies published.
  23. Originally written in 3 languages: Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic.
  24. Written over a span of 1,000 or more years.
  25. Written by more than 40 authors, including kings, prophets, poets, musicians, and fisherman.
  26. Books include letters, poetry, songs, legal documentation, eyewitness accounts, biographies, historical literature and documents.
  27. Translated into 2,454 languages of the world's estimated 6,500 total languages.
  28. It is commonly believed that the writing of the Old and New Testament was inspired by God.

    Bible Translation Timeline

    1400 B.C.: Ten Commandment tablets given to Moses by God.

    500 B.C.: Old Testament Hebrew manuscripts completed.

    200 B.C.: Old Testament and Apocrypha Greek manuscripts completed.

    100 A.D.: New Testament completed.

    382 A.D.: Latin Vulgate manuscripts produced.

    1384 A.D.: First complete Bible ever reproduced. By John Wycliffe. A handwritten copy of all 80 books: the 66 old and new testaments, plus apocrypha.

    1456 A.D.: First printed Bible, the Gutenberg Bible. It used independently placed characters called movable type, which revolutionized book publishing.

    1560 A.D.: The first Bible in English, the Geneva Bible.

    1611 A.D.: The first King James Bible, commissioned by King James I of England.

    1769 A.D.: The English is edited and updated to reflect the evolving language.

    1885 A.D.: Apocrypha was removed, leaving 66 books.

    1947 A.D.: Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered which helped validate the accuracy of the Bible.

    1982 A.D.: New King James Version published to modernize the English.

    BIBLE STATISTICS (King James Authorized):
    Number of books in the Bible: 66
    Chapters: 1,189
    Verses: 31,102
    Words: 783,137
    Letters: 3,116,480
    Number of promises given in the Bible: 1,260
    Commands: 6,468
    Predictions: over 8,000
    Fulfilled prophecy: 3,268 verses
    Unfulfilled prophecy: 3,140
    Number of questions: 3,294
    Longest name: Mahershalalhashbaz (Isaiah 8:1)
    Longest verse: Esther 8:9 (78 words)
    Shortest verse: John 11:35 (2 words: "Jesus wept"). This is the King James Bible. Some Bibles might be Job 3:2 (Job said.) but King James has that as "Job answered" which is longer than Jesus wept.
    Middle books: Micah and Nahum
    Middle verse: Psalm 103:2-3
    Middle chapter: Psalm 117
    Shortest chapter (by number of words): Psalm 117 (by number of words)
    Longest book: Psalms (150 chapters)
    Shortest book (by number of words): 3 John
    Longest chapter: Psalm 119 (176 verses)
    Number of times the word "God" appears: 4,094
    Number of times the word "Lord" appears: 6,781
    Number of different authors: 40
    Number of languages the Bible has been translated into: over 1,200

    Number of books: 39
    Chapters: 929
    Verses: 23,145
    Words: 602,585
    Letters: 2,278,100
    Middle book: Proverbs
    Middle chapter: Job 20
    Middle verses: 2 Chronicles 20:17,18
    Smallest book: Obadiah
    Shortest verse: 1 Chronicles 1:25
    Longest verse: Esther 8:9
    Longest chapter: Psalms 119
    Largest book: Psalms

    Number of books: 27
    Chapters: 260
    Verses: 7,957
    Words: 180,552
    Letters: 838,380
    Middle book: 2 Thessalonians
    Middle chapters: Romans 8, 9
    Middle verse: Acts 27:17
    Smallest book: 3 John
    Shortest verse: John 11:35
    Longest verse: Revelation 20:4
    Longest chapter: Luke 1
    Largest book: Luke

    Notable Quotes

    "That book [King James Bible], sir, is the rock upon which our republic rests."
    - Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States

    "The King James Version is a Magna Carta for the Poor and Oppressed: the most democratic book in the world."
    - Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States

    "Indeed, it is an incontrovertible fact that all the complex and horrendous questions confronting us at home and worldwide have their answer in that single book [King James Bible]."
    - Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States

    "The scholars who produced this masterpiece [King James Bible] are mostly unknown and unremembered. But they forged an enduring link, literary and religious, between the English-speaking people of the world."
    - Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of UK

    "There is no doubt in my mind that the King James Bible not Shakespeare set this language on its path to become a universal language on a scale unprecedented before or since."
    - Melvyn Bragg, British Broadcaster and Author

    "The King James Bible is a cornerstone of our culture and our language. Whatever our faith, whatever we believe, we have to recognise that the rhetorical power of this book, and in particular its power to fuse history with poetry, connects at the most fundamental level with our own history and poetry."
    - Andrew Motion, British Author and Poet Laureate

    "The translation was extraordinarily well done because to the translators what they were translating was not merely a curious collection of ancient books written by different authors in different stages of culture, but the word of God divinely revealed through His chosen and expressly inspired scribes. In this conviction they carried out their work with boundless reverence and care and achieved a beautifully artistic result...they made a translation so magnificent that to this day the common human Britisher or citizen of the United States of North America accepts and worships it as a single book by a single author, the book being the Book of Books and the author being God."
    - George Bernard Shaw, Irish Author, Nobel Peace Prize Winner

    "Over the past several centuries it's been the single book in most households, an enormous force in shaping the development of the English language. Carried around the world by missionaries, it provided the base by which English is about to become the lingua franca of the world in the next century. Exploring it during this shoot [Ten Commandments] was one of the most rewarding creative experiences of my life."
    - Charlton Heston, American Actor

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Bible! A Bible! We Have Got A Bible, And There Cannot Be Any More Bible.

Many who reject the Book of Mormon do so on the grounds that the Bible is perfect, complete, and it is all we will ever need. This is part of the idea of Biblical Inerrancy. It is the idea that the Bible came to us through centuries of translation free of error or linguistic corruption. The Bible is allegedly free of error and it is all we will ever need.

However, one must wonder to which Bible they refer. Not all Bibles are the same, but are they all perfect and complete? There is the Armenian Bible, which includes books like Aseneth and Joseph that are not found in most European Bibles. There is also the Catholic Bible which typically includes apocryphal books not found in Protestant Bibles. Then there are two versions of the Ethiopic Bible (the narrower or wider canon) with several books not familiar to most Christians, such as Sirate Tsion (the book of order).

Even if we decide that a particular collection of books is somehow more perfect or more complete than others, we must face problems of translation. Once again, it becomes unclear which translation of these books is the most complete.

Bart Ehrman, for example, was a Biblical scholar and inerrantist at the start of his career studying the New Testament at the Moody Bible Institute. He eventually conceded that there were 200,000 to 400,000 variant readings of the New Testament. He wrote, "There are more variations among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament."

Also, the Bible has no original manuscript evidence, just the word of the translators, and many changes have been made without checking with any original manuscript, since the originals were supposedly destroyed, lost, etc.

However, the majority of Bible scholars agree that 95% of the Old Testament is correctly translated, and 99% of the New Testament is correctly translated. That is, there may be many, many variations between manuscripts, but early Christians were able to tell which are more likely authentic versions. This is discerned by looking at correlations between other very early writings which directly quote the original texts, and whether or not the manuscripts agree with each other.

That means that 50 pages of the Old testament and 3 pages of the New Testament were mistranslated. And these are not 53 consecutive pages, but simply that much total material. Some say that these errors are simple spelling errors and word order variations with no effect on the doctrine. While that may be true in some cases, there are also widely recognized instances of doctrinal alteration.

For a milder example, various translations of 1 Samuel 13:1 run as follows,

1. Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,

New International Version:
1. Saul was thirty years old when he became King, and he reigned over Israel forty-two years.

New English Bible:
1. Saul was fifty years old when he became King, and he reigned over Israel for twenty-two years.

Contemporary English Version:
1. Saul was a young man when he became king, and he ruled Israel for two years.

The Jerusalem Bible:
1. . . . [The entire verse is missing, replaced by an ellipsis.]

New Revised Standard Version (here it is the same as the Revised Standard Version):
1. Saul was . . . years old when he began to reign, and he reigned . . . and two years over Israel.

Good News Bible:
[The verse is missing: Chapter 13 begins with verse 2.]

It is explained in footnotes in some editions that the available Hebrew text for this verse is missing a couple words. The first number is missing entirely, and in the second number, it's clear that it ends with a two but the first digit is unknown.

What's important here is not the fact that the translations differ and involved some degree of apparent  guesswork, but that the available Hebrew text itself clearly has problems. How can it be maintained that it has been preserved without error, without any loss or corruption, when there are many examples like 1 Samuel 13:1 that clearly show corruption of the text, and even the loss of entire words?

Old Biblical manuscript. Clearly in perfect condition.

This verse is not of particular doctrinal significance, but if rejection of sacred scripture in modern times, such as the Book of Mormon, is based on the non-Biblical notion that the Bible is complete and perfect, and that no further guidance from God is needed, then such a position needs to be reevaluated.

A more severe example is a verse in 1 John 5:7-8, which reads,
" For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one."
The infamous Comma Johanneum, is accepted as a later insertion by virtually every scholar. It is most interesting that it is the only explicit reference to the Trinity in the New Testament, yet it is not part of the original epistle, but dates from probably the fourth century. This is clearly an alteration of doctrinal significance.

A somewhat humorous example is Hebrews 1:3, which reads, "reveals (phaneron) all things" in the Codex Vaticanus, while most manuscripts read "sustains (pheron) all things". This is particularly interesting because there's a scribe's marginal note in the CV that reads "Fool and knave, leave the old reading, don't change it!", indicating contention over an intentional change in the passage.

A matter of smaller doctrinal significance is Matthew 5:22,
"But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."
The phrase "without a cause" appears in some early manuscripts and some writings of early church fathers, but this phrase does not appear in the earliest manuscript (Papyrus 67 dated AD 125-150) nor in the earliest church father writing (Justin dated about 165 AD) of Matthew 5:22. Virtually all scholars believe that this phrase was added by the third century. (It is notable that this phrase is in the King James Bible but it is not in the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 5:22.)

There is also the controversial case of The Sinners' Bible. This was an edition of the Bible published in 1631 by Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the royal printers in London, which was meant to be a reprint of the King James Bible. The name is derived from the compositors' mistake: in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:14) the word not in the sentence "Thou shalt not commit adultery" was omitted, thus changing the sentence into "Thou shalt commit adultery". This blunder was spread in a number of copies.

Verse 14.

The fact that this edition of the Bible contained such a flagrant mistake outraged Charles I of England and George Abbot, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who said then:
"I knew the tyme when great care was had about printing, the Bibles especially, good compositors and the best correctors were gotten being grave and learned men, the paper and the letter rare, and faire every way of the beste, but now the paper is nought, the composers boyes, and the correctors unlearned."

Latter-Day Saints are commonly derided for their belief that the Bible is not perfect and inerrant, but they must not be the only ones who feel this way, because every year it seems a new translation, or a new edition, of the perfect Bible is released, somehow improving on the past perfection. Every new work of translation and every commentary written is prima facie evidence that the translators or commentators believe the bible to be true only as translated correctly. If this were not so, then why would they bother translating it?

That said, I do believe in the Bible. I do believe it is the word of God, so far as it is translated correctly. My belief that the Bible is not inerrant is not an indication of my lack of faith in God. It is merely an indication of my lack of faith in people. Errors occur in translation, whether by accident or design, and plain and precious truths are lost in the process.

These significant errors are few enough that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has adopted the common practice of simply using an existing edition of the Bible (in our case, the King James Version) with a few explanatory footnotes. Nevertheless, those few errors are of some doctrinal significance and it stands to reason that if there is a God, he would want to rectify those errors.


Latter-day Saints do not rely on scripture—biblical or otherwise—for their knowledge of Christ. They rely instead upon that which provided the scripture in the first place: revelation by the Holy Ghost. They treasure the scriptural witnesses, but do not require perfection from any mortal or mortal work to have faith in the revelations of God.

And when we remember that, we might remember that God has never said that He will cease speaking to us. We might realize that it's possible that if there is a God, He can still send prophets and new revelation and new scripture just as He did in the past (like the New Testament, which was all new scripture to a people who thought they already had the complete word of God).

This is not something new. It is something old restored.

Mark of the Beast and the EES

A team of engineers today announced a discovery that could change the world of electronics forever. Called an "epidermal electronic system" (EES), it's basically an electronic circuit mounted on your skin, designed to stretch, flex, and twist — and to take input from the movements of your body.

EES is a leap forward for wearable technologies, and has potential applications ranging from medical diagnostics to video game control and accelerated wound-healing. Engineers John Rogers and Todd Coleman, who worked on the discovery, tell io9 it's a huge step towards erasing the divide that separates machine and human.

[Full Article...]

I'm not saying that this new technology fulfills scripture. I'm not saying that it is the mark of the beast or that those who receive it are evil or worship the devil, etc.

I'm just saying it's something interesting to think about. Rev. 13:16 says,
"16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:"

Again, not making any claims. Just something interesting to ponder.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bible Cosmology

Critics of the Bible often point out the fact that it promotes a primitive and inaccurate cosmology that would not be present in a book inspired by an omniscient god. Such an inaccuracy, they say, is certainly proof that biblical authors were not inspired by a god who created the universe and, therefore, since that is one of the central attributes of the christian god, that god does not exist.

However, much like the biblical account of the creation, a proper understanding of the Hebrew language goes a long way in answering some of these issues.

In this post, I am not attempting to answer every issue regarding Bible cosmology, and other issues will be addressed in future posts.

My Earth, it has four corners...

There are many verses in the Bible which refer to the Earth as having corners. If the Biblical authors understood the Earth to be a sphere, then clearly they would know that it has no corners. These verses seem to show their belief in a flat, squared Earth. One such verse is Isaiah 11:12, which says,

“And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”

Verses like this are most likely being used metaphorically for several reasons. First is the fact that the Hebrew word used for “corners” is “kanaph”. This word refers to compass points, meaning that the verse more likely refers to nations in all directions.

In addition, this usage of “four corners” must be intended as a metaphor because even if biblical authors did believe that the Earth was flat, other biblical verses make it clear that they would have believed it to be a circle, not a square, such as Isaiah 40:22,

“It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:”

Finally, this idiom, “the four corners of the Earth,” is one which is still in common use today, despite our modern knowledge of the universe. If we still use this phrase today, despite our relatively advanced knowledge, then it is not inconceivable to think that they would use it regardless of their cosmological views.

Pillar's and Foundations

The Bible also refers to the Earth's foundations and pillars in ways that seem to hint at geocentrism. It seems to teach that the Earth is stationary atop some kind of support system. In the entire Bible, there are only a few words used for “foundation”: Makown, mowcadah, yacad, and yecuwdah.

Makown is used to mean a home or living area, as in Psalms 33:14, which says,

“From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.”

Therefore, it is not used to refer to a physical support system holding up a structure.

Mowcadah is a word used to refer to a physical support structure, as well as being used in an abstract way, such as in Isaiah 58:12,

“And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.”

Here, it is clearly being used in an abstract sense, meaning that there is no reason that this word must necessarily refer to a literal support system.

Yacad is also used in both a concrete and an abstract sense. In 1 Kings 5:17, for example, it is used literally.

“And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house.”

And in 1 Chronicles 9:22 and 2 Chronicles 3:3, the same word is used in a way that is not only metaphoric, but also has nothing to do with the idea of a foundation.

“All these which were chosen to be porters in the gates were two hundred and twelve. These were reckoned by their genealogy in their villages, whom David and Samuel the seer did ordain in their set office.”
“Now these are the things wherein Solomon was instructed for the building of the house of God. The length by cubits after the first measure was threescore cubits, and the breadth twenty cubits.”

Here, again, we see that it is possible for this word to be used to imply a physical foundation, but the versatility of the word also means that this interpretation is not necessary.

Yecuwdah is also used literally and as a metaphor, such as in Isaiah 28:16,

“Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.”

At first, this may seem like a literal usage, until one considers the implication that the city of Zion would then be built on the physical, tangible body of Jehovah. Clearly, this is not a literal use.

One of the two words used for “pillar” is “matsuwq”, which, like the words for “foundation” may be used for “pillar”, but a physical pillar is not necessary, such as 1 Samuel 14:5,

“The forefront of the one was situated northward over against Michmash, and the other"

Ammuwd is used in the Book of Job, such as Job 26:11,

“The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof.”

However, this is very poetic, stylized language and unless we believe that a pillar can be “astonished”, we must conclude that these are, or may be, metaphors.

In any case, these verses are more likely used as a metaphor for the same reason as those referring to the four corners of the Earth. Other verses, which are demonstrably correct, describe the Earth as being without support in space. Job 26:7 says,

“He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.”

Finally, this sort of language is also in common use today, despite our knowledge, so it is not inconceivable that it was used in the same sense by Bible authors.


It is on the critic to support the claim that the Bible teaches a false cosmology. While it is admitted that the words used by Bible authors may have been used literally, we have no certain reason to believe that this was the case, and we even have a few verses, such as Isaiah 40:22 and Job 26:7, which appear to show otherwise.
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