KJVO-ism Gone to Seed: The “Rey Jaime” Version

From Douglas K Kutilek <dkutilek@juno.com>
Excerpted (with permission) from:

“AS I SEE IT”

Volume 4, Number 5, May 2001

(See additional info re. “AISI” at the end of the article.)

One of the surest methods of discovering and exposing theological error is to press a doctrine to its fullest extent, following to the end its logical deductions, and then examining where your journey has taken you. If it results in complete absurdity, then the doctrine is obviously and inherently flawed. This has been done in regard to “King James Only-ism,” not by its adversaries, but by some of its proponents.

KJVO partisans insist that the KJV is the only valid translation of the Bible in English, and that it is indeed their “final authority,” superceding and surpassing in authority even the original Greek and Hebrew texts from which it was made. Pressing this conclusion to its ultimate end, some KJVOers have logically and reasonably concluded (granting their basic premise for the sake of discussion) that not only is the KJV the “final authority” in English, it should also be such in all other languages as well. As a consequence, they conclude, no non-English version has any authority where it differs from the KJV, and since ALL foreign language versions differ in lesser or greater degrees from the KJV, the task at hand is to provide KJV-based and KJV-conforming translations in various languages. In other words, the original Hebrew and Greek language texts are not valid bases for translations of the Bible into Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese, and the thousands of other languages spoken on earth. Only the KJV is such a valid basis. This they logically and reasonably conclude, granting a priori their basic premise of the infallibility of the KJV. (We must note in passing, that the great pioneers in modern missions Bible translating, namely William Carey and Adoniram Judson, and others of similar stripe, based their versions on the Greek and Hebrew, not on the KJV English. Misguided dupes, I suppose).

As a consequence, some unnamed individual or individuals (and I have been unable to discover his/their identity), took upon themselves to translate the KJV New Testament into Spanish–this in spite of the fact that there exists in Spanish a Bible version that has been blessed for centuries by God to the conversion and edification of millions. I speak of the venerable Reina-Valera version (1602), which pre-dates the KJV, and was in fact consulted by the KJV translators as they went about their work! see the next to last page of “The Translators to the Readers” in the original edition of the KJV; it should be noted as well that in that same preface to their work, indeed on the same and the preceding page, the KJV translators declare that they worked directly from the Hebrew and Greek originals, not basing their translation on any existing translation–exactly the opposite of the policy of the translators of this new KJV-conforming Spanish version. If the KJV is perfect, shouldn’t those making “KJV equivalent” versions follow the same translation policies?).

The Reina-Valera, based on the same Hebrew and Greek texts as the KJV, has been linguistically up-dated several times, most notable among them 1909 and 1960. In its 1960 revision, the R-V is the standard version used by most evangelical and fundamentalist missionaries and national churches in the Spanish-speaking world.

Returning to the subject of the Spanish “KJV”–The title page of this undated translation of a translation reads: “El Nuevo Testamento de Nuestro Senor y Salvador Jesus Cristo” (“The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, ” words translated directly from the title page of the 1611 KJV New Testament), which is followed by the words: “Biblia autorizada del Rey Jaime 1611” (“Authorized Bible of King James 1611”). Below this is a literal translation of most of the explanatory gloss provided on the 1611 KJV NT title page: “Traducida del original Griego y diligentemente comparado y revisado con las traducciones anteriores por mandato especial de su majestad” (“Translated out of the Original Greek:
and with the former Translations diligently compared and revised, by his Majesty’s special Commandment”). Only the introductory word “Newly” is left out of the formula. How absurd all of this is!–This new Spanish version was NOT “translated out of original Greek” but out of the “original English”! And King “Jaime” has been moldering in the grave for the better part of four centuries–he made no such command regarding this Spanish version! And this version dates from the late 20th century, not the early 17th century. And what former translations were diligently compared and revised? “Oh judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts and men have lost their reason!

On the backside of the title page inter alia, are quoted in Spanish two passages from the OT, Psalm 12:6-7; and Proverbs 30:5. I assume that these were made directly from “the original English” since they do not conform to the 1602 or 1960 R-V wording. The Psalm 12 quote is particularly notable where it differs from the R-V. On the basis of gender agreement, it is clear in the old Reina-Valera version that the promise of preservation in verse 7 (“los guardaras”) refers back to “the poor” (“los pobres”) and “needy” (“los menesterosos”) of v. 5, not “the words” (“las palabras”) of v. 6. And in this regard, the Reina-Valera agrees with the Hebrew text (see the commentaries of Delitzsch or Gill, loc. cit., for the particulars). The translation in this new version alters “los guardaras” to “las guardaras” to make the referent of the promise of preservation the “words” of v. 6, in harmony with the standard KJVO mis-interpretation of this verse, but contrary to the original Hebrew text inspired by the Holy Spirit.

At the bottom of the backside of the title page, we are informed that this printing was done on the authority of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Abingdon, Virginia (no doubt there is a hint of Landmarkism in there). Correspondence sent to the address given was not answered.

How the translation of the KJV English into Spanish is actually carried out is a wonder to behold; we are compelled by limitations of time and space to note only some of the more “amazing” results:

–Where the KJV has “Holy Ghost” (e.g., Matthew 1:20) this version has “Fantasma Santo.” “Fantasma” is the Spanish word meaning “apparition, phantom, spectre, ghost.” It is derived ultimately from the Greek word phantasma, which is not the word used for the Holy Spirit, that word being pneuma, whether translated “Spirit” or “Ghost” in the KJV (the KJV by using two separate words to translate pneuma when referring to the Holy Spirit creates in English a distinction not found in the Greek). The Greek word phantasma does occur twice in the NT, Matthew 14:26; Mark 6:49, wherein the disciples mistook Jesus walking on the water for a ghost/spook. I guess the thinking in regard to “Fantasma Santo” is that since the KJV makes a distinction between “Holy Spirit” and Holy Ghost,”–even though there is no such distinction in the Greek–so the Spanish KJV should also! Yet they fail, in contrast, to distinguish “eternal life” and “everlasting life” in John 3:15,16 [in Greek they are identical; Jack Hyles once preached a sermon trying to distinguish one from the other; it was nothing short of preposterous]. And in I John 2:24, where the KJV in this one verse uses three different English words, namely abide, remain, and continue, to translate the same Greek word, meno, the Rey Jaime uses only two different Spanish words, permanecer and continuar. If the KJV is really their “final authority, they should have found a third Spanish word to use.

–At 2 Timothy 3:16, the “Rey Jaime” version literally translates the KJV’s “given by inspiration of God” by “dada por inspiracion de Dios.” Of course, here the KJV is a five-word paraphrase of the single Greek word, theopneustos, which the NIV more literally and accurately translates as “God-breathed;” Reina-Valera here has, adequately though not quite literally, “inspirada divinamente” (“divinely inspired”). The translation principle followed in this place in the Rey Jaime is apparently, “where the KJV paraphrases, the Spanish version must literally translate the KJV’s paraphrase.

–Matthew 27:44 in the “Rey Jaime” version has “Tambien los ladrones . . . lo mismo echaban en sus dientes,” which is a literal rendering of the KJV’s , “the thieves also . . .cast the same in his teeth.” Here, the KJV’s phrase “cast . . . in his teeth” is a very free paraphrase (at best) of two Greek words, oneidizon autoi” which literally mean “[they] were reproaching him.” I have no explanation for this paraphrase in the KJV (it is also found in some earlier English versions). It certainly is not literal, yet the Rey Jaime literally translates it into Spanish. I wonder just how obscure this must be to the Spanish reader.

–At Matthew 1:23, the Reina-Valera version reads, “la virgen” (“the virgin”); the new Rey Jaime, conforming to the KJV, reads instead, “una virgen” (“a virgin”). What is notable here is that the Greek text of Matthew 1:23, and the Hebrew text of Isaiah 7:14 from which Matthew quotes both have the definite article, so the R-V translation “la virgen/ the virgin” conforms precisely to the inerrant original text in both Testaments, while the Rey Jaime (and KJV) do not.

Not only do the translators of the Rey Jaime assume the inerrancy of the KJV, they also assume their own inerrancy as interpreters of the KJV. This is evident from several passages:

–At Mark 2:23, the KJV mentions the picking of “corn” on the Sabbath. In 1611 British English, “corn” meant “grain” (of whatever sort, but usually wheat, rye or barley), not specifically what we in America today call “corn” (think “Iowa in July”). As Americans who misunderstood the KJV’s use of “corn” as though it was the 20th century American meaning of the word, the Rey Jaime translators give “maiz” (“corn,” that is Indian corn; the Latin name being Zea mays). What is especially egregious about this mistranslation based on personal ignorance is that they have introduced into their version what is an actual historical error. You see, what we Americans call “corn” is a native American plant and was completely unknown in the Old World in general, and in Palestine in particular, until some while after A.D. 1492 when Columbus made his first voyage to the New World. To insert this plant into a first-century Palestine narrative is as much a historical error as if we found Paul driving to Damascus in a Chevy or Peter watching “The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather” on TV while on the rooftop of the house in Joppa.

–The KJV’s archaic “prevent” as in “we. . . shall not prevent them,” in I Thessalonians 4:15, is widely recognized, even among many KJVOers as meaning, precede, or, go before. Apparently this fact is not as widely known as we had assumed, for the Rey Jaime gives “no nos impediremos a los” (“we will not impede, prevent”–in the modern sense– “them”). Such crass stupidity as is displayed here is criminal. They are, after all, pretending to be translating the Word of God. Those who undertake such a task should at least labor to discover what it actually means before attempting to translate it.

–2 Thessalonians 2:7, KJV, reads in part, “He who now letteth, will let.” “Let” is recognized as having meant in 1611, “to hinder, restrain” (as the Greek original has it) rather than our modern sense of “to allow.” Yet with a depth of ignorance that absolutely takes your breath away, the Rey Jaime’s “unlearned men” give the reader “el que ahora se deja se dejara”–“he who now allows, will allow.

–The treatment of Acts 28:13 is if anything even worse. The KJV’s obscure “we fetched [original KJV, “fet”] a compass” is literally given by our blunderers as “buscamos un compas” which means “we looked for a compass” (yes, the instrument for finding magnetic north). The Greek here is a common verb, meaning “to go around, to come around” and has nothing whatsoever to do with any kind of instrument. The KJV’s rendering is apparently an archaic idiom which adequately expressed in its day the meaning of the Greek, but certainly does not mean what the mis-translators of the Rey Jaime version suppose it to mean. Is this not to handle the word of God deceitfully?

What need have we of other witnesses?

Let us hear the end of the matter: never was any Bible translation so badly conceived or so badly–dare I say wickedly?–carried out. Such a performance can only make the Bible a laughing stock, and expose the perpetrators of such a monstrosity to fully deserved ridicule and derision. Such a production neither benefits man nor glorifies God. To offer this as an improvement on the Reina-Valera, or even a substitute for it is sheer folly. The R-V, because it followed the Greek instead of the English, makes none of the blunders discussed, nor dozens more which could have been noted.

Yet, such a deplorable production is the logical outcome of imputing to the KJV an inerrancy it does not possess, of denying to the original Greek and Hebrew the inerrancy and authority they do inherently possess (and virtually vilifying them in the process), and of presuming on the correctness of one’s understanding of centuries-old English without the correcting and guiding hand of the original text. Traced to its ultimate logical outcome, KJVOism leads to absurdity. I therefore reject it as a colossal error and fraud.

—Doug Kutilek

“AS I SEE IT”
Volume 4, Number 5, May 2001

“As I See It” is a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek. Its purpose is to address important issues of the day and to draw attention to worthwhile Christian and other literature in order to aid believers in Jesus Christ, especially pastors, missionaries and Bible college and seminary students to more effectively study and teach the Word of God. The editor’s perspective is that of an independent Baptist of fundamentalist theological persuasion….

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