Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Whose Words Are You Reading In Your Bible?

You have probably heard this before, but the journey that led to the creation of the Biblical Heritage Center began when I prayed the prayer below in August 1980. I was preparing to begin classes at a Bible College and become an ordained minister.

 Dear God, please show me what you want me study in my Bible.

Immediately, these words popped into my mind:
Unless you know how words work
you can’t understand the words of the Bible.
If that was the answer, it made absolutely no sense to me -- so I forgot about it! After that I graduated from the Bible College, became an ordained minister and founded a church.
Four years later an advertisement for a new book came in the mail -- “Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus.” I ordered it and as soon as I finished reading it I remembered the answer to that prayer. That was the moment I decided to find out “how words work.” I spent an entire month in a university library doing research which led to the creation of my Law of Language.
A word is a symbol or group of symbols (or sounds)
with an attached bundle of associations which are products
of a Source’s culture, time period, place and personal experiences.
Below are explanations of key words:
1. Symbols: Letters of the alphabet and punctuation marks.
2. Source: The person writing or speaking the word.
3. Time Period and Place: When and where the Source wrote or spoke the word.
4. Culture: Knowledge, beliefs, morals, laws, religion, customs, concepts, habits, skills, institutions, and any other capabilities of a given people in a given period.
5. Personal Experiences: Experiences in the Source’s life that affect the meanings of his or her words.
6. Receptor: The person or group to whom the Source communicated his or her words.
7. Goal: Discover the Source’s meanings of the words.
The model above is used to create a Linguistic Profile for the words we are examining. I created the Law of Language to discover what the words of Jesus meant to him. So, I opened up my Bible, applied the Law of Language to the words of Jesus and created a Linguistic Profile.
1. Symbols: English language.
2. Source: Benjamin Blayney, chief editor of the project.
3. Time Period & Place: 1760-1769 Oxford University, Oxfordshire, England.
4. Blayney’s Culture: 18th century British.
5. Blayney’s Personal Experiences: Oxford University Master's Degree (1753); became a fellow and vice-principal of Hertford College (a constituent college of Oxford) (1768); employed by the Clarendon Press of Oxford University; member of the clergy of the Church of England.
6. Receptors: English markets and customers of Clarendon Press.
7. Goal: Correct errors, intentional mistranslations and other differences in editions of the King James Bible printed after 1611.
I was not reading the words of Jesus – I was reading the words of Benjamin Blayney’s translation team. I had always been told that my King James Bible was written in 1611, but now I discovered I was actually reading a 1769 Revised King James Version.
If they hadn’t revised it I could have been readings from the 1631 edition printed by Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the royal printers in London. It was called the Wicked Bible, Adulterous Bible or Sinners' Bible. Below are a couple of verses from it.
● “Thou shalt commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14 & Deuteronomy 5:18)
● “Behold, the Lord our God hath shewed us his glory and his great-asse . . . .” It should have read “Behold, the Lord our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness . . . .” (Deuteronomy 5:24)
Obviously, that caught the attention Bible readers in 1631 – and it created a huge scandal. Historians discovered information that led to the conclusion a competitor planted a typesetter in the print shop to make those changes so Barker and Lucas would lose their “royal contract.”  The scheme worked.
But, the Wicked Bible remained in circulation with a number of other versions for over 130 years until the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge produced the version of the Bible I was reading. Whose words are you reading when you read the Bible?
I will create a Linguistic Profile for Jesus in my next email. Please share and discuss this information with others. Try making some Linguistic Profiles. Thank you for reading Exploring Our Biblical Heritages emails!
Jim Myers
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Visit the BHC website and discover much more. 
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