Est. May 2008

19 April, 2017

A Little Research Goes a Long Way

(click to enbiggen)
If you're going to put together a meme, it's good idea to make sure you've got your facts straight before you publish, or somebody like me is going to fact-check it and post the right information.

This picture, from my Facebook feed, is a prime example.

Let's take a look, shall we?
"The King James version of the New Testament was completed in 1611 by 8 members of the Church of England."
Actually … no. The King James was completed in 1611, but there were 6 committees made up of 47 scholars who all happened to be members of the Church of England.
"There were (and still are) no original texts to translate. The oldest manuscripts we have were written down hundreds of years after the last apostle died. There are over 8,000 of these old manuscripts, with no two alike."
This is a bit too complicated to reduce to a meme. We do not, in fact, have the original autographs of the books; this is because most of them were written on papyrus, which doesn't last all that long anywhere other than a hot, dry climate. What we do have, though, is old manuscripts, manuscript fragments, and the early church fathers.

To begin, let us accept the scholarly evidence that the apostle John was the last apostle to die, and that he died in or around AD 100. Our oldest manuscript fragment is the Ryland's Papyrus, dated to approximately AD 125 – 175. If John died in AD 100, that's 25 to 75 years after his death – not 'hundreds'.

The early church father Clement of Rome quotes seven books of the New Testament in around AD 95, five years before the apostle John's death.

Ignatius of Antioch – a student of the apostle John – quoted seven to 16 New Testament books – in AD 110 – 115 (again, 10 to 15 years after John's death, not 'hundreds'.

Polycarp, another student of John, companion of Ignatius, and eventual bishop of Smyrna, quoted 14 to 17 New Testament books, @ AD 110 (10 years after John's death, not 'hundreds'.)

In order for these men to have quoted New Testament books, there had to be New Testament books to quote, which means they existed at least prior to AD 90 (and likely earlier).

There are , in fact, approximately 25,000 manuscripts and fragments of the Bible. For the Old Testament, we have manuscripts and fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls (the most famous is the copper scroll of Isaiah) which have been dated to between 150 BC and AD 70). As I noted before, the oldest New Testament fragment is the Ryland's Papyrus, yet in addition to that we have approximately 5000 Greek manuscripts and fragments, 10,000 Latin ones, and 9300 in Syriac, Coptic, and other languages from the second through fourth centuries.
"The King James translators used none of these, anyway. Instead, they edited previous translations to create a version their king and Parliament would approve."
Um … no again. The 47 scholars who put together the King James version of the Bible translated from the Greek (for the New Testament), Hebrew and Aramaic (for the Old Testament) and from Greek and Latin (for the Apocrypha). As far as I've been able to discover, the only thing King James did was he "… gave the translators instructions intended to ensure that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology and reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England and its belief in an ordained clergy." (from Wikipedia, grounded in other sources)

And how long did it take me to find all of this? About 15 minutes Googling the appropriate topics.

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