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Posts Tagged ‘Wheaton College’

On October 8 I posted that I attended a conference at Wheaton College where they celebrated the 400-year anniversary of the KJV and honored Dr. Leland Ryken, who is retiring this year after 44 years of faithful teaching at Wheaton. Ryken has written much about the Bible as literature, so that was the focus of the conference. I thought it was interesting and enjoyable to hear Ryken’s strong advocacy of modified literal translations and his strong dislike for dynamic equivalent translations. His words against the latter were mainly from a literary point of view.┬áHe also cited many other literary experts who remark on the literary failures of “modernizing translations.” It’s nice to hear of other proponents who are promoting the types of Bibles we produce here at BI.

Ryken pointed out in the opening session that the KJV is only good literature because the Bible is good literature. Without that the KJV would have never become the classic that it is. He went on to praise the literary genius of the KJV translation. It preserves the variety of styles and genres of the original writings. The translators did not begin with a target audience and try to make all books conform to that. Instead, they let each book express its own literary quality. Contrary to popular thought, they did not spruce up Tyndale but actually at times simplified his work. The style of the KJV is dignified and elegant but not eloquent simply for the sake of being flowery. It is “solemn and majestic simplicity.”

Mark Noll, a prolific author as well, gave a couple of sessions. He spoke in one about the KJV in America. He noted that, contrary to expectation, the KJV became the Bible of the early colonists. Two other speakers wondered at such a development, because they knew of the pilgrims love for the Geneva Bible, which is what they took across the Atlantic with them. Noll pointed out that the king controlled the presses in England, and the presses produced only KJV Bibles. So that explains why the colonists switched to the KJV!

Noll pointed out that President Barack Obama is the first president not to quote from the KJV when giving a Bible quote. Interesting! Probably more a reflection on the modern times and the changing face of English Bible translations in America than it is a reflection on President Obama.

Noll argued that the KJV Preface’s words about the “meanest translation being the Word of God” could be applied today and that the KJV translators would have done so. I questioned him on this during the Q/A, noting especially the Cotton Patch Version. He said that the KJV translators borrowed at times from such translations as the Douay-Rheims Bible, the Bible of the Catholics, and other versions of the day that we might not regard too highly. So he thinks his statement is justified.

My favorite session was Alister McGrath’s “KJB: The Making of a Classic Translation.” In contrast to all other presenters, McGrath never looked down at his notes, because he apparently had none. It was all in his head (and on powerpoint). He zipped through the historical circumstances surrounding the KJV production, noting the various political and religious factors that precipitated a new translation.

His comments on the linguistic aspects of the KJV were quite interesting. He noted that English in the Middle Ages was the language of the peasants, not the ruling class (Anglo-Norman) or the academy/church (Latin). But with the Protestant Reformation came the theological importance of the vernacular. Everyone ought to have access to the Bible, not just the churchmen and scholars!

He noted the 15 rules that Richard Bancroft drew up for the translation process. The key theme was this: make the text accessible. One reason for the intelligibility of the translation is due to the fact that the translators read their translations to one another to test them out. They added punctuation to add in the public reading of Scriptures (which is why the KJV has more punctuation than punctuation rules would prescribe).

The translators sometimes translated too literally, but with use the renderings became accepted English. Matthew 2:10’s “they rejoiced with exceeding great joy” captures the Greek well, but it was not good English at the time. Other expressions (the powers that be, a man after God’s heart) were also integrated into accepted English.

I was struck by the fact that the KJV often used older forms of English, not those current in the early 17th century. They did so to give the translation a more majestic sound. McGrath cited such examples as “goeth” instead of the then current “goes”, and “his” as the 3rd person neuter possessive pronoun instead of “its.”

McGrath explained that the KJV’s publication was not a major event, mainly because King James was not well liked at the time. But the turning point came during the Puritan Commonwealth and then the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

McGrath pointed out two issues with the KJV today: outdated English and change of word meanings. He also cited C.S. Lewis who noted that the beauty of the translation may actually veil the horror of the scenes described by the translation. For example, the shocking awfulness of the crucifixion lose some of its piercing edges by the Elizabethan English.

His concluding points were that the KJV is classic and a landmark, but it needs revision.

I went away from the conference with a renewed sense of appreciation for the KJV as well as a mind full of ideas to apply to my ministry at BI. Now I need the Lord’s grace to know how to apply them!

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My last post was written from Illinois. Later that day I traveled to Iowa for a few days, then up to Minnesota for Sunday meetings, then back to Michigan to prepare for my Open House yesterday evening. It’s been a crazy few weeks! I had an oil change done on my car on September 19 in Chicago, and I’ve already put on 2,000 miles since then, so much of the past few weeks has involved driving.

Wheaton College. I attended a conference celebrating the 400th year anniversary of the KJV and to honor Dr. Leland Ryken on Sept. 22-23. I wanted to put a long post about that conference, but I can’t seem to find the time. So I’ll just give some brief comments. I thank the Lord for allowing me to run into a couple that I knew from my days at BJU, so we had a great time hanging out together. I also enjoyed rubbing shoulders with Leland Ryken, Mark Noll, David Lyle Jeffrey, Alister McGrath, the CFO of Wheaton, and others. Ryken is retiring from Wheaton after 44 very productive years (in addition to his teaching and other activities, he has written around 3 dozen books; and one or more are in the works!). The conference focused on the literary value of the KJV, though Ryken pointed out that the KJV is only good literature because the Bible is good literature. I attended most of the lectures and found the ones done by the above four presenters to be extremely informative and enlightening. I was also blessed by the college chapel, since the organ accompanied singing from the hymnal that day, maybe because of the special guests and conference. I’ll share more about what I learned about the KJV in another post.

Faith Baptist Bible College. Since I was passing through Iowa to visit supporters in Cedar Rapids, I decided to extend my travels across the Hawkeye state by visiting FBBC. Dr. Maxwell (with whom I spoke for about an hour) and the others were very gracious. I sat in on a Hebrew class, a Greek class, the college chapel, and the seminary chapel. I also watched them rout a visiting Christian college in soccer. I also connected with some fine young people, some of whom are planning on coming in the direction of BI!

My meeting at Fairmont Baptist Church in Fairmont, MN, was a great blessing. The people’s welcoming of me and response to the Word and to my ministry were very encouraging. The Lord has really blessed Pastor Prigge and his people. I also enjoyed presenting at First Baptist Church in New Ulm, MN, that evening. Pastor Fuller and his small group asked very insightful questions about my ministry.

This past week was spent working with my mom (who flew up from SC) to prepare for an Open House at my new place. I wasn’t able to get fully unpacked, but we were able to get the house into fine shape to receive guests. Around 40 people came to rejoice with me in what God has provided. It’s such a blessing to have a comfortable place where I can return after my trips and where I can receive guests.

I leave this afternoon for a missions conference at Community Baptist Church in South Bend, IN. This church has already shown a heart for the ministry of Bibles International, so I look forward to telling them more. I’ll be presenting my ministry on Monday night, speaking in a Spanish class earlier that day, and speaking at a senior men’s fellowship on Wed morning. Then I’ll head back home.

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