Exact Equivalence in Traditional KJV Editions Preserves Inerrancy
Minor Literality Differences in the Oxford & Cambridge Editions
Throughout the essays of the present website we present evidence that the traditional Greek Received text and the Hebrew/Aramaic Masoretic Text preserve inerrancy. In Essay 4-i we dealt with differences among various editions of the Greek Received Text, concluding that differences among matured editions are those of literality that result from combining the human factor with the divine, the devine one ensuring an exact equivalence among them that preserves inerrancy. Here we make a case for exact equivalence extending to English translation of the inerrant textual basis in the Oxford & Cambridge editions of the KJV, differences again being those of literality caused by the human factor. We deal with later editions in which some variance occurs even within either one of the two types, but we address differences between the two that have appeared in their history.
We begin with the Old Testament to bring into our discussion of literality differences, the Masoretic Text, of which there are no basically-different editions, though there is a little manuscript variance. The KJV Old Testament is based on the Bomberg 1524-25 Edition of the ben Chayyim text, and by examining the two KJV editions we get an indication of how well translators have preserved equivalence in them, and also an indication of the accuracy of the ben Chayyim. We'll see that differences of literality in translation have no effect on equivalence, supporting preservation of inerrancy in both KJV editions and the ben Chayyim. Differences in the editions are primarily those of spelling, usually of names & capitalization, and sometimes punctuation, none of which has any effect on text inerrancy by exact equivalence.
The Old Testament
1. 2 Chronicles 33:19 - Speaking of a repentant formerly-evil king Manasseh
Oxford: His prayer also, and how God was entreated of him, and all his sins, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled...
Cambridge...and how God was entreated of him, and all his sin...
While grammar (pointing) favors singular sin, there's not the slightest difference in the sense of meaning here, sin & sins being two common different ways of saying exactly the same thing. The result is a slight difference in literality so that the Oxford presents the plurality of the errors of this king, while the Cambridge treats them collectively.
2. Nahum 3:16 - Variance in English literality
Oxford: Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven; the canker- worm spoileth, and fleeth away.
Cambridge...the cankerworm spoileth and flieth away.
is a term referring to the larva stage of a moth or locust, and in this
stage it creeps, though it will eventually fly away, and the Hebrew
verb here does mean to fly. The verse speaks of merchants
figuratively, as like the cankerworm that spoils goods (takes them
without compensation), then flies away. Here grammar (spelling of the
Hebrew) favors flieth, but fleeth teaches exactly the same thing, despite a small difference in literality due to the human factor being combined with the devine.
3. Ezra 2:2 - Changing English spelling convention
Oxford: Which came with Zerubbabel; Jeshua, Nehemiah...Mizpar...
In translating Hebrew into English, proper names can only be transliterated, which is the practice of representing Hebrew letters with English ones, and the English sound often approximates that of the Hebrew, but not always. A transliteration system will vary over the centuries until consistency is eventually established, so spelling varies at times between two different English editions. At times a final anglicized form of the transliteration develops, as in the case of Mosheh that eventually became Moses. In the present case, there is a degree of similarity in English pronunciation of an s and a z in a name, but eventually use of s for the Hebrew letter samech would be preferred. This changing language convention is part of the human factor that does not affect equivalence and inerrancy produced by the divine factor as the two are combined in the generation of scripture.
4. Joshua 13:18 - Changing Hebrew spelling convention
Oxford: And Jahaza...
Cambridge: And Jahazah...
A final Hebrew letter heh is at times dropped in the Hebrew, which would likely cause some variance in the English transliteration. There is no effect on equivalence.
5. Psalm 107:27 - Different ways to represent plurality
Oxford: They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man and are at their wit's end.
Cambridge: ...at their wits' end.
This variance in punctuation is the result of the Oxford speaking of the plurality of wits in a singular collective sense, while the Cambridge offers the common plural sense. There is no effect on equivalence.
6. Joshua 19:2 Context controls the choice of conjunctions
Here we discuss an example of occasional complexity associated with minor literality differences, and here too there is no effect on equivalence.
Oxford: And they had in their inheritance Beer-Sheba, and Sheba, and Moladah.
Cambridge: And they had in their inheritance Beer-Sheba, or Sheba, and Moladah.
Here we have an issue of ambiguity in the Hebrew text that doesn't affect its inerrancy since this just illustrates language known to Hebrews, but not to Gentiles, and we can defer to Hebrew scholars to resolve it. The basic problem is that the number of cities given to Simeon and his descendants as an inheritance totals 13 in verse 6, whereas Sheba as a city separate from Beer-Sheba would make the total equal 14 cities. Hebrew scholars Kimchi & Ben Melech say that the name Sheba refers to the city Beer-Sheba so that the total of 13 cities is correct. Indeed, Sheba is simply the Hebrew for the number 7, which it has in common with Beer-Sheba, in reference to the fact that Abraham originally donated 7 lambs to seal the ownership of a well - the name means well of seven). Further, the cities inherited by the tribe of Simeon are noted again at a much later date in 1 Chronicles 4:28-32 where the name Sheba does not appear, so this is indeed a name associated with Beer-sheba. Here in 1 Chronicles the names of certain of the cities are changed somewhat, indicating up-dating of spelling, with the passage of time which evidently resulted in the elimination of Sheba as a secondary shorter name linked to Beer-Sheba.
Some scholars think the Oxford and Sheba is erroneous, and the Cambridge or Sheba is correct. Hebrew grammar does not identify the conjunction here, so or or and can apply grammatically. Actually, either one is correct since here and selectively joins Sheba to Beer-Sheba, in contrast with other uses of and in the passage. This joining is very clear contextually in that these two names are the only ones related by language among the 13, and they uniquely appear together, like a pair. Thus context eliminates a need for grammatical differentiation, which could well be the very reason why there is no such differentiation in the Hebrew since pronounced contextual emphasis characterizes this language. Of course, joining Sheba to Beer-Sheba is also in accord with knowledge of Hebrew scholars that the two names specify one city. Actually, all those who trust the accuracy of God's Word need only see that treating all of the names as separate cities would suggest that the number 13 in verse 6 is erroneous, which is not acceptable, and it is obvious that Sheba as a name relates to Beer-Sheba, resolving the difficulty in the number of cities so that textual inerrancy is not violated. A very minor literality difference, with an associated ambiguity, causes no actual problems, and is in accord with exact equivalence.
7. Jeremiah 34:16 - A printing error has no effect on equivalence
The KJV Oxford & Cambridge editions differ very slightly here, the
man his servant, and every man his handmaid,
had set at liberty… being identical to the Oxford,
except that in the latter he replaces ye; both preserve contextual sense, for the people are indicated
by he or ye.
The Cambridge ye
is the people, and in the Oxford, he in, every
man his servant, and every
man his hand- maid, whom
set at liberty, is the
people. Ye is
correct Hebrew, and he is
printing error, yet the renderings are equivalent, and use of he
meets the requirement of exact equivalence needed for inerrancy.
Evidently, even a printing error in the KJV may at times be
providentially offset so that there is no error in the sense of meaning. We have here what looks like an ultimate type of exact equivalence in that a literality difference existing as a result of the human factor being combined with the divine, seems to be controlled by the divine factor to ensure exact equivalence of inerrancy. This combined influence is discussed in Essay 4i.
The New Testament
1. Matthew 2:7 - Spelling of a verb
Oxford: Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them...
Cambridge...inquired of them...
Both terms have the same sense of meaning, and this is just a case of changing spelling convention in the English in which inquire has become the dominant form. The British still prefer enquire. Clearly, there is no effect on equivalence.
2. Matthew 4:1 - Variance in capitalization
Oxford: Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness...
Cambridge...of the Spirit...
It is evident from the context that the Holy Spirit is the personage meant here, and the first letter is never capitalized in the Greek, so there is no problem here in regard to equivalence. It is just that, out of reverence, we prefer to see the term capitalized, so this is a case of preference in the English that has no effect on equivalence.
3. 1 Corinthians 4:15 - Variance in spelling of a term
Oxford: For thou ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ...
Cambridge...ten thousand instructors
This is a case of changing spelling convention in the English, the ers suffix commonly indicative of plurality being changed to ors in some cases. Again, there is no effect at all on equivalence.
4. Revelation 2:6 - Variance in spelling of a name
Oxford: But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolatanes...
Cambridge...of the Nicolaitans...
Both spellings of this name have applied historically to refer to one sect of people, and either one can be said to be correct, so there is no effect on equivalence
5. Revelation 21:20 - Variance in spelling of a name
Oxford: The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte...
Cambridge...the seventh, chrysolite...
This is another simple variance in English spelling convention, chrysolite now being the preferred spelling, while either spelling might apply when the two editions were published. The general form of the term can only apply to one mineral, so both spell- ings clearly refer to the same substance, and there's no effect on equivalence. Again, we note that changing language convention is part of the human factor that does not affect equivalence, and thus does not affect inerrancy produced by the divine factor as the two factors are combined in the generation of scripture.
Some additional examples of exact equivalence are noted in Essay 12.