Number of Visitors to site

Your 'avatar' tells me you follow my blog

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

John Peryn - "this one thing I do."

John Peryn - also spelt Perrin, Perin, Peryn, Pirryn, Pern or Perne. He was born at some point in the sixth decade of the 16th century, 155?. There is no apparent certainty as to his birthdate, so we don’t know at what age he started his education at Merchant Taylors' School - being resident in London. The school was at that time the largest in the country. His probable peers there were his fellow translators Thomas Harrison and Lancelot Andrewes.

The advantage of learning classics at Merchant Taylor’s school is clear. The school’s first headmaster, Richard Mulcaster, set out to “establish a rigorous curriculum which was to set the standard for education in Latin, Greek and Hebrew” in England. His goal was that English as a language might claim its place side by side with Latin.. He said:

I love Rome, but London better, I favour Italy, but England more, I honour Latin, but worship English.
We get a glimpse of this unique English foundation for later learning, where the emphasis on languages ancient and modern was so emphatic, that the timetable excluded both mathematics and science!! These latter were presumably seen as relatively unimportant compared to the supreme task of learning the ways of the world from the ancients (a reflection of other cultures. Clarity was obtained by reading the original languages, with the meaning less clouded through loss in translation.

One of the school inspectors of Merchant Taylor’s, Northwood, described how the school classroom operated:

The headmaster was required to open his [Latin] copy of Cicero at random and read out a passage to the Sixth form. The boys had to copy the passage from dictation and then translate it, first into English, then into Greek and then into Latin verse. After this, they had to write a passage of Latin and some verses on some topic chosen for the day. This was for the morning; in the afternoon the process was repeated in Greek, based on the Greek Testament, Aesop's Fables, "or some other very easie Greeke author". The standard in Greek was not as high as in Latin, but Hebrew was also taught.

Thus was the teenager John Peryn inculcated with the need to develop a scholarly approach to Greek and Latin, before he took his education to the third stage at Oxford.

Peryn matriculated at St John's College in 1575. Both Merchant Taylors' and St John's were founded by the same person: Sir Thomas White.

Sir Thomas White

After four years Peryn graduated in Classics. St. John’s had begun only twenty years earlier for the purpose of educating Roman Catholic clerics to support the Counter-Reformation under Queen Mary. It existed primarily to produce Anglican clergymen in the earlier periods of its history. St John's also became well-known for effective teaching of both law and medicine. During the four years following his graduation, Peryn no doubt taught in the University, receiving his Master’s degree in 1579. Further teaching and study for six years saw him graduate in Divinity, which focused on the study of religious Greek and Latin texts. With the passing of another seven years he accepted a doctorate in Divinity, 1596. By this time, he was Regius Professor of Greek. This was a post he actively held for six years until 1605, at which point he was nominated to the Second Oxford Company of translators by King James.

St. John's College, Oxford.

The Regius Professorship of Greek is a position at the University of Oxford, founded by Henry VIII, fifty years before Peryn was given the chair. The King established five of these in Oxford - in Divinity, Medicine, Civil Law and Hebrew. These Professorships were created with royal approval, also at the ancient universities of Oxford, Cambridge, St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dublin. Peryn held his post – in theory at least - from 1597 to 1615.

When nominated to the Second Oxford Company of translators by King James, he found it too burdensome to continue to actively teach, and was able to opt out of his duties for a period starting January 1605.(2) He was more interested in helping to ensure an intense focus and a high standard of excellence for the new translation. Perhaps, too the formidable reputation of Lancelot Andrewes as a linguist was an inescapable challenge to his integrity as a scholar. So, he left College teaching to other fellows, and channeled all his energies in one direction. It seems no replacement for Peryn was found until 1615 when John Hales was appointed. This is a good example for us, in the need to give God’s Word priority in our lives. St Paul’s example to us was encapsulated in his, “this one thing I do,” rather than in saying, ‘these fifty things I dabble in’! Peryn found himself an unusually willing “workhorse” of the translation committee. (1)

Peryn also held other posts at the time of the commission. He became a canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, in 1604.(3) A canon is a priest or minister who voluntarily subjects himself to an ecclesiastical rule (Gk. kanon = rule). The title now relates particularly to cathedral churches, the seats of Anglican bishops. A canon and his fellows make up a chapter, headed by a dean, and together they are responsible for administering the affairs of a cathedral. Thomas Ravis, a fellow translator, was dean of the chapter in 1596 and was still leading it when Peryn was appointed in 1604. But, did Peryn resign this position, as well as ceasing to teach in the lecture room? (1) Not according to British History Online.

Peryn is said to have become vicar in Worthing, Sussex around this time, through the influence of Lancelot Andrewes (1) However, at that time the community had no Anglican church, the nearest being St Mary’s church Broadwater, which was adminstered by a rector, not a vicar.

Peryn died not long after the KJV was published, on 9 May, 1615. He was probably one of the unsung heroes, among the translators of the King James Version.

1. Nicolson, Adam. (2003) Power and glory: Jacobean England and the making of the King James Bible, Lon: Harper. p. 154.
2. David Norton, A Textual History of the King James Bible (2005), p. 12.

This is 8/52 Previous Next Index

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Receiving God’s gift of righteousness

But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee. 1 Samuel 13:14

Samuel the prophet and king maker, announced King Saul's rejection for his repeated and wilful incompetence as a King. In his place would come, not Israel’s choice but God’s choice, King David. Saul had built a monument to his own supposed greatness (1 Sam. 15:12), whereas David made himself vulnerable to human vindictiveness, confessing publicly to an entire nation (Psalm 51: 4) his dreadful fall, into adultery and murder.

The psychology of love

In commenting on the verse above (1 Sam. 13:14), Harry Ironside says:

David's songs of joyous confidence in the God of his salvation . . . have been loved by pious Jews and devout Christians throughout all the centuries since.
How, then, can we say - of those who still sing the words of God in the Christian era - that they are not saved? St. Paul said the pious Jew had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge (Rom 10:2). This was because he was still seeking to establish his own righteousness and did not trust the name of Jesus as the Son of God, or call upon Him to be saved (Rom 10:9). This is a conundrum. How can someone love the Word of God and not be saved? Is it possible?

St. Paul is saying (in the epistle to Rome) that in the light of all God has revealed in the New Testament, if a person does not love Jesus as His redeemer and saviour and friend, he must be trying to 'get in good with God' by his own efforts, or think himself worthy of God's acceptance, on the basis of his merits. The religious Jew has no sacrifice to offer, no Temple to claim God's presence in, and no Messiah to be his intermediary. Yet, he loves singing the Psalms, apparently!

But, does the unsaved Jew love to sing the Psalms because he loves the secure feeling that following a ritual gives him? Or, because he loves the aesthetics of the liturgy? If he's not saved, then do we not have to say he does not love the God of whom he sings? This makes me ask, What does it mean to "love" something or someone? It is to experience deep affection or intense desire for another, including "to love God." Or in another definition, it is to have an intense emotional attachment to something, as "he loves his house." Yet a third emphasis may mean to be highly or immoderately fond of some art form, as "he is in love with Japanese painting." Is the pious Jew or churchgoer in love with God, when he seems to love singing, or is he merely in love with the experience of being in community, of engaging in moving music, or because he gets a buzz from using a pattern of evocative poetic words?

The Christian and blind justice

The same questions have been asked about Christians too, who seem to love singing hymns on Sunday, yet more or less forget God during the week. The Apostle Paul's resolution of this puzzle, is to say, in effect, 'You don't love God until you hate sin, and search for true righteousness in your life (Rom. 10:3).' 'You don't find that righteousness until you recognise your need for a righteous quality outside of yourself.

The prophet Samuel passed by the attractive sons of Jesse in looking for another King to anoint, because he knew appearances are deceptive, and said,

The LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. KJV 1 Sam. 16:7
We sometimes hear the saying, “Justice is blind.” It’s a similar thought to Samuel’s. Good looks, influential friends, fashionable dress, outgoing personality – all these may hide rather than reveal true character - best to be blind to all of that! Such qualities may lure a jury into making a superficial and distorted judgement, in favour of a guilty defendant. But not God, He sees us through and through. He knows we need a righteous quality outside of ourselves, if we are going to survive judgement day, some day.

This righteousness from God results from believing Jesus is who He said He is ("My Lord and my God," John 20:28). It comes from believing that He, as the only sinless human, was yet treated as a sinner by His Father and for our sakes (2 Cor 5:21). It results from believing that God raised Him from the dead, in order to show divine approval of His sacrificial death (Rom. 4:25). When we believe these things in our individual hearts, Paul says we receive a quality of righteousness from God Himself - His righteousness - as stated in Romans 10:10

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Look at the context of Romans 10, and you'll see it's all about God's righteousness versus our righteousness. Oil and water don't mix. Our righteousness doesn't wash with God. We receive His righteousness when we hear this Word, believe it, and receive it ("submit to it" Rom 10:3). In practical terms, we are saved, when we confess it to others, Rom. 10:9. Paul says when we believe this message in the heart, we "receive the Spirit." Gal 3:2. This is the oil of God's anointing, 1 John 2:20. He says the result of this anointing is "the righteousness of the law" will be "fulfilled in us," Rom 8:4. It must be fulfilled in us, because Paul says we have, in the act of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ - in that act we have "become the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Cor 5:21. This is what the preacher John Wesley experienced in Aldersgate St. London, when he found his heart "strangely warmed" by the testimony of Martin Luther, who had made the same discovery.

The gift of righteousness

John Wesley was a good churchman, a missionary, a pious and religious man, and a preacher - yet he had not understood this Gospel!! You may be in the same position as he was. If so, you need to be born again. This reminds me of the godly bishop Handley C.G. Moule (1870) who preached the need to be born again one Sunday morning, and said, "You may even be a deacon in this church, yet not be born again!" For such evangelical words, John Wesley was denied many an Anglican pulpit, because it cast doubt on the teaching that we are born again when we are baptised in water as infants. But, Jesus never meant us to take his words about the new birth as referring to literal water, in John 3: 5.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
No, He was referring to the moral cleansing which takes place when God's righteousness is received as a gift (Rom 5:18). We are born again, not by water, but as St Peter says,
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.1 Pet. 1:23
and as St James says,
Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth . . . James 1:18a
Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as producing that new birth, and describes His coming on the future day of Pentecost as the experience of an inner living water:
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)John 7:47-39.


This is the Gospel. All else is fake Gospel. Jesus invites us:

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Rev 3;20.
The door is your heart. When you believe the Gospel about God's righteousness (not yours) - and how you obtain it - you ask the risen Lord Jesus Christ to come in to your heart. Take God at His word: He will. You may not feel any different; that will come later. Confess who Jesus is to you, to your wife, your friend, your neighbour - and the experience will produce a saving relationship, first with God and then with others:
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Rom 10:9
Do it today:
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Cor 6:2.

Francis Dillingham, the “great Grecian.”

Personal background

He was born in Dean, Bedfordshire. His birthdate seems to be uncertain. After the 1611 translation was finished, he took a ‘living’ in Dean, Bedfordshire where he was born. We know little of his early years. Dillingham matriculated in 1583 and became fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge, during the years 1594 and 1601. He was a member of the first Cambridge company (1 Chronicles, II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs). Edward Lively was the planner and organisor, upon whom all the Hebrew group there depended. Among the names of the able translators, Francis Dillingham’s stood out.(1)

A moderate Puritan

One of the co-translators in this company was Thomas Harrison(2) and both men studied together at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

This was a seminary recently founded for Puritan ministers, whose Master was Laurence Chaderton, also a member of the same company of translators. These men believed the Church of England needed more radical reformation than most were prepared to give it. They opposed the wearing of special priestly dress, and replaced the altar with a communion table. Candles were ‘out’; neither a cross, nor a crucifix. Kneeling to receive the communion elements was frowned upon. Rather, “they took [it] sitting on benches around the communion table . . . passing both from hand to hand.” Anything not prescribed in the New Testament was suspect, and was seen as unhelpful to true spirituality. Frances Dillingham and Thomas Harrison were “young apostles . . . burning with the idea of a renewed, reformed and holy world.”(3)

His debating powers

Francis Dillingham made a famous name in Cambridge for his mastery of Greek, though he was set to work on the Hebrew Old Testament, when translating the KJV. Thomas Fuller wrote of Dillingham in The History of the University of Cambridge since the Conquest,

"My father was present in the bachelor's school, when a Greek act was kept between Francis Dillingham and William Alabaster, to their mutual commendation . . . a disputation so famous, that it served for an era or epoch, for the scholars in that age, thence to date their seniority."

William Alabaster wrote an epic poem (book length) in Latin to Queen Elizabeth 1st, which was praised by Edmund Spenser, esteemed by many as Englands’ greatest poet. The poet Robert Herrick called Alabaster’s theological writings “the triumph of the day,” and “one only glory of a million.” Dillingham evidently moved in exalted company.

The term “bachelor” (in the quotation above) originally referred to someone apprenticed to a knight. Later, in the University setting of the Middle Ages, it came to describe an apprentice-educator, the first step (hence ‘graduation’) towards becoming a master (a teacher). Thomas Fuller was referring to the ceremony, which marked the final steps of seniority - in the creation of masters and doctors - where the students were treated to a special dialogue between the two ‘fellows’ of Emmanuel College. Says Olga Opfell

The Greek Act, always the climax of the academic year. New rushes were laid on the floors, new gravel was put on the quads, the streets were swept. People appeared in best dress, processions were formed, bells tolled. Sometimes the tedium of disputations was lightened by comic touches. But all was seriousness when Dillingham maintained his thesis in a famous debate with William Alabaster of Trinity.”

This particular dialogue stood out from the rest - before or since - because it showed an unusual mastery of Greek. The two men engaged orally, based on a script they had previously written and memorised. [Such writing was a growing University discipline since the recent availability of printed books].

Dillingham took the debating art to a higher level again, extemporising his speech at will to out-match a similar attempt by his colleague to improvise. He was so skilful In doing this, that the event was celebrated after by referring to him as “the Great Grecian.” The ceremony became remembered more by the dialogue, than for the main reason for being there!! Think of the analogy of a brilliant pianist who plays a piece from memory, but then improvises on the main themes, without diminishing the quality, as a way of entertaining his audience. Or a famous President, who reads his State of the Union speech off the word screen, then seamlessly ad-libs to make it that much more exciting for the listener. Anyone who has studied a little Greek will know just how difficult ad-libbing would be, when Greek is not his first language.

His knowledge of Koine Greek

Erik DeVietro (in the KJV Only debate, 2.54 pm, July 17th, 2010) doubts whether scholars like Dillingham would have understood the nuances of Koine Greek (as compared to Classical). This is a furphy. The chief sources used to interpret the common Greek of the ancient world (after Alexander the Great) were then well-known: (1) the OT Septuagint in Greek; (2) the New Testament itself, and (3) the Patristic writings (early Christian):
“Christian writers in the earliest time tended to use a simple register of Koiné , relatively close to the spoken language of their time, following the model of the Bible. After the 4th century, when Christianity became the official state religion of the Roman Empire, more learned registers of Koiné influenced by Atticism came also to be used.”
“Atticism” was the more difficult classical Greek of earlier centuries, with which Dillingham would also have been thoroughly familiar. If there was ever a body of men working together, who had studied not only Classical Greek, but the ‘church fathers’ - and knew them intimately - the KJV translators were that body. They thus had easy access to the meaning and nuance of Koine Greek words every time they read an early Christian Greek author. What is, for the vast majority of contemporary scholars, a secondary source of Greek knowledge, for them was a first-hand source. Some of them lived in the tomes of early Greek and Latin writers. The later discoveries of how that language was used in newly discovered early papyri, has since enhanced this knowledge through the writing of such scholars as Adolph Deissmann. Yet, even of this Moulton says of his work:
Deissmann's discovery gives me a thrill which I should like to pass on to you. It proves nothing else than this: that the Book is the only book written in the language of daily life, in the very language in which the people talked at home, in the very language in which they communicated their deepest thoughts one to another.
In other words, Dillingham found an intelligent reading of a Koine Greek writer to be a ‘breeze,’ compared to such Greek Tragedian poetry of Aesychylus and Sophocles, with its rarer words and more complicated syntax!!

The status of Christian marriage

Francis Dillingham was a diligent writer of divinity, on both polemical and practical topics. He published a Manual of the Christian faith, drawing his material from a knowledge of the church fathers. He also tackled a variety of treatises relating to contentious points being argued in the Protestant controversy with Rome.

The marriage of clergy was forbidden under the Lateran Council, 1123. Early Anglican Church clergy under Henry VIII (1530) were still required to be celibate, under threat of imprisonment or death. This requirement was later revoked, yet some Anglo-Catholic priestly orders require their members to remain celibate to this day, as do orders of all brothers and sisters. The debate was very much alive in Dillingham’s day. He said, “Papists teach that ministers may not have wives. Is this catholic? Many hundred years after Christ priests had wives.” (1) Thus, although unmarried himself, he advocated in 1609 marriage for clerics, publishing A Golden Key, Opening the Lock to Eternal Happiness. The key was Paul’s words in 2 Cor. 6:14 “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.”

A house divided cannot stand. How should that house then stand where man and wife are divided, one drawing this way, another that that? . . . The misery of the age is that . . . men enquire after wealth, not after religion in a woman. Hence it is that some live discontentedly, and come in the end to great misery (1)
He taught that a prudent and wise woman would know that her husband is her head, and so she would subject herself to him (Eph. 5:24). “No marvel then, though many men have not their wives in subjection, for they have married fools which know not their place. . . . A wise woman, saith Solomon . . . buildeth the house, but the foolish destroyeth it with her own hands." Says Gustavson, “Though Dillingham doubtless hoped his sermons would change the ways of love, unwise luckless men have gone on wooing and wiving foolish females to this day.”

Defender of the Protestant faith

One of the most important figures in the Counter-Reformation reaction to Martin Luther was the Jesuit scholar Cardinal Bellarmine who became personal theologian to the Pope. His Disputationes established him as Rome's foremost apologist on doctrine and papal power. James insisted every subject in his realm needed to swear an oath of allegiance to himself, as Sovereign head of church and state - the Pope ridiculed him for it. The controversy with King James 1st as to who was head of the Church in England made his writing very important to Dillingham, who studied it carefully and picked up every concession he could find to the Protestant faith, in Bellarmine’s writings. However, the latter was moderate in his defence of papal power. For example, he denied the Pope had the right of temporal power (outrageous! thought the Pope). His eschatology, too, was quite friendly to the premillennial faith!

The third section discusses the Antichrist. Bellarmine gives in full the theory set forth by the Church Fathers, of a personal Antichrist to come just before the end of the world and to be accepted by the Jews and enthroned in the Temple in Jerusalem—thus endeavoring to dispose of the Protestant exposition which saw in the pope the Antichrist.

Dillingham’s privileged life

Dillingham was fortunate enough to gain a rich benefice at Wilden. Livings like Dillingham’s were rare. To achieve this he doubtless had to write excellent letters to influential persons, and perhaps tap family connections. Senior clergy were often near the poverty line, and complained they had insufficient income to meet the basic needs of their families, and even less to build an essential library. Not so Francis Dillingham; he died a single and wealthy man in 1625.

1. Paine, Gustavus S. (1977/1959) The men behind the King James Version, MI: Baker, pp. 69, 58 -61.
2. Thomas Harrison: see my blog entry Jan. 2nd 2011.
3. Nicolson, Adam. (2003) Power and glory: Jacobean England and the making of the King James Bible, Lon: Harper. p. 131.1.

This is 7/52. Previous Next Index

Monday, 14 February 2011

Yesterday’s tithing is today’s taxation

The international Gideons’ organisation, has a local camp which I belong to in the Northern Beaches of Sydney. We are gearing up for the annual district convention, when a couple hundred Gideons (that includes spouses) descend on our camp from around New South Wales. Among other things, we share what God has been doing among us, as we place Scriptures in schools, hospitals, hotels, and so on – in fact, in all the ‘traffic lanes of life.’

It’s my job to motivate my brothers to try to obtain speaking ‘pulpit’ spots on the Sunday of the Convention w/e, in the 50+ churches which are situated in our area. In preparing for this, I have been getting to know some of our churches a little better. I have noticed in getting alongside my brothers in the charismatic movement, that a large part of their financial success in ministry stems from their strong teaching on tithing, which is presented as a mandatory discipline for every church member. One local minister (1) recently gave me a little book he has written, which sets out the need for tithing, to inter al. support the minister. I have been studying the topic in the light of his book. Also just nearby, we have the local campus of the Christian City Churches (c3) at Oxford Falls, founded by Phil Pringle. It is now a powerful and growing movement, with a global reach involving several hundred congregations.

Three Sundays ago, Phil was talking to ‘church’ about tithing. I viewed this via a video clip on their website. Phil said, in effect, that giving a tenth (‘tithe’) is a sacred principle of Christian self-discipline. This principle should not be touched, that is, should not be questioned -- any more than Adam and Eve had the right to question God’s command not to touch the tree in the middle of the garden, in Genesis 3! I ask myself, does this insistence stand up to a close Biblical examination as to what the Bible teaches about motives and methods of giving?

To answer this question, we should not appeal to “authorities’ for an answer, because some godly men have taught it as mandatory, while others flat-out deny its authority. For example, Arthur Pink wrote a very clear brief for tithing (2), and the British Evangelist Tom Rees promoted it strongly, saying “The Sabbath was given by God . . . . In every age God has demanded one-seventh of man’s time. . . . . The Lord’s Day and the Lord’s tithe stand or fall together . . . . The New Testament assumes that all . . . obedient Christians will. . set aside at least . . one-tenth of their income for the Lord.” (3) If this statement is true, it has the force of law for the Christian. It follows that if the church member fails to reserve a tenth of his weekly income and to set it by store (into the local church’s funds), he is being disobedient to a clear command of Scripture.

Now, if it were so clear – that it is a timeless law to be obeyed, why is there not unity among Christian writers and teachers, to that effect? Disobedience to a God-given clear command is a serious sin. In contrast to Arthur Pink's approach, John MacArthur explains in Giving: God’s Way (4) that nowhere in the New Testament are we taught such a commandment as the need to tithe. Whereas, if it is a commandment, it should have been clearly taught at some point after Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came to indwell the believer (Rom. 8:9). The fact is, it was merely a Mosaic Requirement and had a temporary effect only, eventually giving way to a larger commandment, as CS Lewis (5) expressed it in his book Mere Christianity

I do not believe one can settle how much he ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than you can spare.

If you believe that tithing is a timeless principle – and therefore applicable today – then you presumably believe the pre-Mosaic instances of tithing establish this principle. Let's look at them; there are two instances:

(a) Gen 14: 20. Abram gave a tenth (“tithe”) of the spoils of war to the King of Salem (Melchizedek), who had blessed Abram for his victory over the five Kings, and had also been a passive supporter of Abraham’s war;

b) Gen 28:22 Jacob promised God a tenth of all his possessions if He brought him safely home from Haran, after having to flee to avoid the nasty consequences of his deceiving his brother Esau. These are the only places where tithing is mentioned, pre-Moses.

Tithing was practised all over the ancient world, from Egypt to Mesopotamia and beyond. In every case, it had a religious connection, but nowhere in the OT does it suggest tithing was specifically revealed by God. Where Scripture is silent, we should be silent. It was a means of State taxation upon Israel and in other nations, as a way of maintaining whatever the established religion was, at a particular time and place.

In these two cases, MacArthur sets out (4) what was going on:

When Abram saw God’s representative, he naturally wanted to express thanks to God for the victory. So, what did he do? “He gave tithes of all” (v. 20). Did God tell him to give a tenth? No. it was spontaneous. . . . In fact, this is the only recorded time he ever gave a tithe during his 160 years on earth. . . . And it was free, voluntary, totally motivated by his heart, not by divine command. He chose to give. And he gave what was common to give, a tenth, representative of his giving all that he had.” P 56 - 57.

Abram wanted to say ‘thank you’ to Melchizedek, for his blessing and support. He did it in the conventional way. It was taken out of the spoils, and it was not a tithe of his regular income.

As to Jacob at Bethel:

“Do you realise that Jacob was really trying to do [in Gen. 28:20-22]? He was trying to bribe God. “Hey, God, give me a safe trip [and bread and clothes], and I’ll let you be my God. I’ll even build an altar and give you a tenth of everything I have. . . . . The offering was completely voluntary. There was no obligation, and in fact . . . in this case the tithe was displeasing to God because of the reason Jacob gave it . . . . Abraham and Jacob were not conforming to divine fiat, but were namely giving a tenth as a symbol of giving all. There is no case for tithing as a pre-Mosaic requirement of God.”(4)

The tithe was not actually giving at all, any more than when we leave money to someone in a will, we have given it. No, it was taken from us and we simply ensured it got steered in a particular direction. So, the tithe was a form of taxation, whilst voluntary gifts are called “offerings” - hence the expression: “tithes and offerings.” The first was an involuntary tax to meet the needs of Israel as a nation State; the second was a gift to God in thanks for His goodness and merciful kindnesses. As MacArthur points out, if we are going to teach tithing as a standard of giving, then we had better set the benchmark where the Old Testament sets it, at approx. 25%! Study it, and see if this is not correct! The 25% is made up as follows: There was (a) a tithe to support the Levites’, Lev 27:30, plus (b) a festival tithe (tenth). This was in the form of produce taken to Jerusalem, which was to be eaten by the worshipper’s family, friends, servants and the priests in the sanctuary. It was a kind of ‘community tax,’ Deut 12:10-18; and, (c) every third year (on an annual basis, that’s 1/3rd of a tenth) there was a welfare tithe, to support the stranger, the fatherless and the widow, Deut. 14:28. That’s 23+%. In addition to all that, there was an additional Temple tax at certain times, Neh. 10:32-33; and a Sabbath rest imposed on the land every seven years, when all debts had to be cancelled, Exod. 23:10-11. (4)

Again, John MacArthur (4) helpfully explains this: the New Testament parallel to the tithe is not our setting money by store into the local church fund (1 Cor. 16: 2) but it is akin to paying taxes to the government of the day - this has the very same effect as when Israel paid the tithe to its theocratic government. The action glorifies God, because we honour His servants. Yes, they are His servants!!

For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. KJV Romans 13:6

Paying taxes ‘does us good,’ like taking medicine. Why? It makes us realise our weakness, and how much we love money! So, the Apostle says, Rom 13:1- 6 “He is the minister of God to thee for good.” (v. 4). The tithe has nothing to do with giving. It has everything to do with taking! But, the Scriptures are clear that whether the Government is wise in its spending or not, taxes (“tribute”) must be paid in full.

In conclusion, take a look at MacArthur’s ten principles of giving:

• Giving is investing with God.
• Giving is to be sacrificial
• Giving is not only a matter of what we have, but a matter of the heart.
• If you can’t handle money, you can’t handle spiritual riches either.
• The amount given is between you and God.
• Giving is to be in response to need.
• Giving is to demonstrate love not law.
• Giving is to be planned.
• Giving is to be generous.
• Giving always results in God’s blessing.

First, we may give into the church as a response to teaching, which says, “This is what you must do! – give at least ten per-cent!” But, in doing this we might well say, “But, I have already given over 30% to the taxman – you’re going to have to make do with rather less, as a result!” Ah, yes, but think of that 30% (or whatever) as your obligatory tithe to the State, like Israel’s tithe to its government. Alternatively, when it comes to giving to maintain the Church fellowship, to promote evangelism and cross-cultural mission, then we should respond to teaching which says, “The LORD deserves everything we have (left!), so let’s give more than we can spare!” If we do it the first way, we will lose the reward that comes from giving willingly (1 Cor. 9:17). It's all too easy to give reluctantly, out of a mere duty to obey a legal code. “Ah, well! I’d better be obedient!” Whereas God said through Paul:

KJV 2 Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

If we do it the other way, we may be very conscious we are ‘giving more than we can spare.’ This is when we give in such a way that we know we are going to have to go without that fancy holiday, or that new jacket, or that DVD movie-series, and so on.

Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, is reported to have said, in words to this effect,

A man may be consecrated, but still undisciplined in his habits and life-style. And the last area of his life to be entirely handed over to the LORD is his bank account.

Perhaps that’s why many Christian leaders revert to a Mosaic legalistic approach, so the church coffers will be filled, regardless! Maybe it’s much easier to appeal to a legal code, than appeal to the sacrificial love of “the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20). He gave Himself at the Cross so that He could - as the saying goes - pay a debt He did not owe, to satisfy the debt we owe, which we will never be able to pay!

In conclusion, the Apostle Paul said, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." (1 Thess 5:21). So, don't take my word for it. Let's study it direct from the Bible, and ask God the Holy Spirit to enlighten us further, as to what should be our motives and methods, as we think through this sensitive area of the Christian life.

1. Appel, T.W. (2004) Father's financial favour. CA: Christian Services Network. p/b
2. Pink, Arthur W. (1981) Tithing, MT: Gospel Mission Press
3. Rees, Tom, (n.d.) Money Talks, Hildenborough Hall,
4. MacArthur, John F. (1981) Giving: God’s Way, ILL: Tyndale. Pp. 56-57; 57-58; 60 -64; 82 - 101.
5. Lewis, Clive S. (1952) Mere Christianity, Lon: Fontana

Sunday, 13 February 2011

"Remove not the ancient landmark."

"Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set." KJV Pro. 22:28

Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us KJV 1 Sam. 7:12

The prophet Samuel had called Israel to repent of their idolatrous connections with paganism and serve Jehovah only (1 Sam. 7:3). Amazingly, Israel responded - they repented and renewed their commitment to the LORD. Prayer was key to Samuel's secret of success, as emphasised in verse 5, 8 and 9. And so the Philistines were discomfited after having dominated Israel for 20 years (7:2). It was but a temporary reprieve (9:16), yet a significant one. Samuel records this victory by setting up a stone, and calling it ‘Ebenezer,’ meaning in Hebrew, a "stone of help."

Setting up a stone was practiced in the ancient Middle East, either to place a boundary marker on a property, or to inscribe details of battle-victory on a stone, which marked the place of conflict. It thus bore witness to future generations who would view it, or read it. Joshua did this very thing to mark out Israel's tribal boundaries. Also, in Josh. 24:27 we read he set up a stone to help Israel remember and to recognise what God had done through his leadership, a stone of revelation for new readers. A new generation later looked at the stone, which spoke to them words of challenge and comfort; it reached them from the past and helped to shape their future:

So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day . . . And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there . . . [and] said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.

The stone wasn't seen as just a dead, inanimate thing; it was existentially prominent and it personified the message it spoke. It inspired, excited and spoke to the viewer about his own future. Vernon McGee asks: "Friend, has God brought you to this point? Is He leading you today? Is He guiding you? If He has, you can say, “Hitherto [up to this point, up to the present time] God has helped us.”

I think of the King James Version (1611) of the Bible as that "Ebenezer" - that stone of help. It is a witness to me that I live in a culture which has inherited some wonderful benefits of past spiritual victories, against superstition and error. It witnesses to a day when men in humility refused to impose their theories on the Hebrew and Greek Text, or use the Bible so they can show others how clever they are. It also witnesses to a previous century of dreadful bloodshed (the sixteenth century) where supposed Christians shed each other's blood for refusing to believe a loaf of bread and a cup of wine could be turned - in a moment and by a priestly formula - into the actual physical body and blood of Jesus Christ. All heaven wept at the sight of the flesh of godly men (like Bishops Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer) melting off them, as the fire from the faggots did its agonizing, slow but deadly work. The KJV witnesses to the refusal to put church tradition on a par with Scripture, and it witnesses to the need for each individual to bow humbly before God with an open Bible in his hands, saying, "Father, teach me what it means, please! I want you to teach me first-hand, and show me everything I need to know." The KJV witnesses to a perfectly preserved Hebrew and Greek Text, which is as accurate, for all practical purposes, as the Originals from which it came. It witnesses to an amazing group of 50 or so mighty scholars who spent most of their study hours (most of their hours!?) reading Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic and Latin. They believed the ancient book, the Bible, was different from every other book, and so it should be treated differently from every other book! It witnessed to a scholar who thought it a necessary thing to memorise the New Testament in the Greek text, word for word, and who thus knew every word by heart. What we might say beauty and sexuality is, when combined, to a man looking for personal fulfilment in human relationship - so the KJV's beauty and accuracy is, to a man looking for truth in spiritual relationship. Are you that man?

Let me finish with another quotation (four paragraphs) from McGee, which speaks to me:

"A businessman said sometime ago, , “You know, the use of time might be likened to the terminology of banking. Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note, but today is cash. Spend it wisely.”

"Do you recognize God in your life? That is what Samuel meant by that Eben-ezer stone. It was a stone of revelation. Someone once said, “I am very interested in the future because I expect to spend the rest of my life there, and I want to be reasonably sure of what kind of a future it is going to be.”

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Dr. R. A. Torrey always said that Romans 8:28 was a soft pillow for a tired heart.

"We all need an Eben-ezer stone. I trust that you have one in your life."

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Please become a “follower” of my Blog

I am working hard to write helpful blogs, so as to “stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance.” (2 Peter 3:1). Sometimes you click on my webpage, sometimes you don’t. However, I aim to write something every day for you to read, or at least very frequently. I aim to write quality blogs, commenting on what God has said to me recently from the Bible, or what God might have to say about some current event, a public event which many people are concerned about. I write about the incomparable King James Version of the Bible, which we are celebrating during this 400th year of its existence. I invite you to write a comment below my blogs, telling me if you agree, or if you think I am off-track, or hopelessly out-of-date! (I know where you are coming from, believe me!).

Will you access my blog regularly, to see if I have something valuable to speak into your life? You say, ’That’s all very well, but I don’t have that sort of valuable time - surfing the Net looking for things. My book shelves have a lot of unread books waiting for me to read, don’t you know?! Do you really expect me to go out there into Bloggesville, looking for reading material, just because you wrote it!?’

Yes, I do, for these reasons:

(1) You don’t have to “go out there” to find it – if you take a few simple steps, you make it come to you!! You don’t even have to open the page. You can just read the headline, plus maybe a sentence or two, and decide, ‘Yes, I’ll open the page” - but only if it catches your attention.

(2) You’ll read something I have only just written. That’s immediacy! Now, isn’t there added value in that, other things being equal? The page in the book on your shelf is now several months or years old. Nothing wrong with that, but “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation!” (2 Cor. 6:2).

(3) Everything goes in threes, so I’m thinking hard – there must be another reason! – Oh, yes! Feedback. Your author on the book shelf may be dead (I’m not!); or, he may not have his own website, yet! (On the other hand he may have! So . . . have you left a comment on his website about his book? Why not?). Or, you may not know him, whereas you know me. Interaction stimulates the brain! Sharing the good things of God enlivens the spirit!

But, you say, ‘how do I easily access your blog, without all the fuss of typing in the address each time and clicking my way to your website?

Spend four minutes listening to Lee LeFever who will help you see it’s worth the while - watch “CommonCraft.” He explains things with a cool efficiency, and it’s worth every minute of your time!

The rest of this blog explains further, how you can access my webpage.

First, you subscribe (it’s free) to a “Reader.” “Google Reader” is a good choice to start, as you are probably already using the google search page – thus you have a ready-made starting point. There’s a simple beginner’s video good to watch (just a couple of minutes), to show you how the google reader works. If you’ve forgotten already what Lee LeFever said, and need reinforcement, then try this one: Or,

If you would rather hear a girl’s voice instead of a man’s, then instead of (or in addition to) listen for a couple of minutes to a good up-to-date introduction.

So, now you’ve done what the videos above told you to do. You’ve subscribed to my blog. So, you will get an update automatically every time I add something to it. You will be immediately notified when you click on your google reader to see what’s new. On your Reader you can either read the blog in full, or just read headlines. There’s no need to go to my website unless you like to use hyperlinks etc. So, in short, you don’t go to it – it comes to you.

If you subscribed as above, no one knows you have, and it’s private. However, if you would like to encourage others to read my blog, then it’s natural to put up your logo (a photo of you or symbolic image, whatever – its called an ‘avatar’) near the top of my webpage. If you have your own blog (there are over 50 million of them now!!), putting your avatar up on my page will encourage me to access your blog too!

Second, how do you become a “follower?”

To become a follower, all you do is click on the word FOLLOWER at the top of my blog page. . . .

The Followers widget (see illustration below) is an important tool to help me grow my blog’s audience. Readers often visit a blog, enjoy it - but then fail to return! If you use the followers widget you will be telling me you get ‘feed’ from me to your PC, and you are keeping an eye out for something interesting and helpful.

Look for the sidebar widget at the top and click on the Follow button. It looks like this:

widget: Followers

By clicking on it, you can then choose which account to use, to follow the blog. If you have subscribed to Google Reader, click on Google, for example. Here’s what it looks like after you click “Follow”

‘Blogging for dummies.”
If you would like to think about starting your own blog, then it’s not as difficult as it might seem, especially because there are some simple videos on hand, which will help a lot. Take a look, for example, at some videos tailor-made for someone who wants to know how to get started. And all you Mums out there, who like to share maternal insights - take a look at Mamablogger for some hands-on help in getting started.

Uploading a “followers” photo to my blog.

I’ll write another blog later which explains how to upload a photo.

Friday, 11 February 2011

“The Philistines be upon thee, Samson!”

KJV Judges 16:16 - 17. And it came to pass, when she [Delilah] pressed him [Samson] daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death; That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb.

Samson was a Nazirite separated unto God. By that means, all confidence in fleshly pursuits was denied him, whether that meant drinking wine (natural joy), or cultivating physical attractiveness (long hair removed his natural dignity), or touching a dead body (keeping clear of all corrupting influences). This situation brought about intense internal conflict ("his soul was vexed unto death") between what he knew God wanted for him, and what he wanted for himself (sexual fulfilment). His strength lay in his birthright, one of bestowed weakness; but such was the seductive power of Delilah that she was able to distort his judgement as to what were life's true values. One woman did what a thousand men could not!! He who could singlehandedly slay a thousand men (15:16), was himself slain - in effect - by one woman (16:30). This shows women to be, though ostensibly weak, actually very powerful.

There must be so many women who are able to ask the man in their life, "How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me?" (16:15) Sexual love without life-long commitment exalts emotion above intellect, and debilitates the will. Samson being outwardly powerful, was yet inwardly weak. And Delilah seems to have been one who could reduce strong men to mere puddles on the floor - such is the power of beauty and sexuality combined.

We should run from anything that tends to bind us, or bring us low, however innocent it may appear on the surface - lest we be caught up in an alluring web of fact or fantasy:

Whatever dims thy sense of truth
Or stains thy purity,
Though light as breath of summer air,
Count it as sin to thee

Thursday, 10 February 2011

In the footsteps of St. Paul

We are going through Paul’s second letter to Corinth in my home church at the moment. I am interacting with our pastoral worker in considering the accuracy or otherwise of the New International Version (NIV) - which is our ‘pew Bible’ just now. This coming Sunday we are considering 2 Corinthians 1:8 – 2:17.

I did some spade work yesterday on this passage, to discover how the NIV translators used the modern eclectic Greek Text, as well as to see whether they took liberties with that Text when attempting to produce ‘dynamic equivalence’ for today’s reader. The dynamic equivalent approach supposedly makes the English Text more interesting and relevant to the modern reader.

Here are the results of my study, with comments:

Chapter 1: 12 - 24
v. 12 “holiness” (NIV) v. “simplicity” (KJV). The United Bible Society editors of the Greek NT agree with the AV reading here for three reasons: (a) “simplicity” is more suited to the context. (b) Paul uses the word in the Gk. Text in four other places elsewhere, in 2 Cor. Therefore he probably wrote “simplicity” here too. (c) Also, they agree with the KJV because if the Gk. word rendered “holiness” was the word Paul wrote, it would be a hapax legomenon (used nowhere else). I add to that, the NIV translator ‘bought’ into Hort’s view that Codex B supports “holiness,” so that’s good enough for him!! The later UBS editors are more sophisticated than that, maybe - they feel able to depart sometimes from Hort’s dogmatism about Codex B, should they feel the need (Nevertheless they do usually follow B).

v. 17 “according to the flesh”(KJV) v. “worldly”(NIV) The Text entirely agrees Paul used the Gk wd. Sarkikos (carnal) not kosmikos (worldly). Paul also uses sarkikos in Col 2:18 and 1 Pet 2:11. [For these uses NIV translates “unspiritual” and “sinful.”] Sarkikos cannot ever mean “worldly,” and Paul would have used kosmikos if he had intended that!! That’s carelessness.

KJV Revelation 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Chapter 2:1-17

v. 4 “not that ye should be grieved” (KJV) v. “not to grieve you” (NIV) - passive v. active. Paul used the passive voice here. So what? The only reason for ever using the passive voice in the sentence is to show what the main focus of thought is. Here the subject (main thrust) of the sentence is not Paul’s conduct, but their emotional state. So, he wants to emphasise to the reader he’s focusing on their emotional state, not the intent of his heart. Using the active voice here suggests Paul thinks the believers will feel he is deliberately “getting at” them. He’s not. The grief comes not from him, but the intransigence of erring Corinthians in the church, who twist his words and oppose his strict view of sexual morality. NIV has not respected this distinction. Therefore it has not respected what Paul actually said!

v. 6 “inflicted of many” (KJV) v. “inflicted on him by the majority” (NIV). If NIV is right here, then a majority decision is the right way to decide church matters (take a poll!). Whereas, Paul referred to “the many,” which could mean “the rest” (Kruse, Tyndale IVP), or “many” (AV). NIV did not need to make this textual decision for the reader, which may prejudice them towards deciding church matters by a show of hands.

v. 12 “a door was opened” (KJV) v “the Lord had opened a door”(NIV). Paul wanted his readers to know the main thought in his mind (in this verse) is what resulted from him living a guided life, that is, a door was opened. This is passive in the Gk., not active voice! Whereas NIV assumes Paul at that point is more interested in what the Lord is doing, than in the results of what He’s doing! (See comments on active and passive in 2:4). If we are going to carry across the meaning of what Paul said, we should honour the syntax that he uses - assuming the Holy Spirit used it for an important purpose.

[Compare post-modern deconstruction where every Text is fair game for imposing our own meaning – ‘who knows what the author meant anyway?’ the post-modernist says. We reply, the Holy Spirit is within us to interpret the Scriptures to us. But, we will not do justice to that if we rely on translators’ opinions of what it “must have meant,” rather that what the writer actually said!]

14. “causeth us to triumph in Christ” (KJV) v. “leads us in triumphal procession.”(NIV) Note both renderings have interpreted the Text, using words which are not there.

[Very difficult not to do that! How does the reader know when words have been added? The translator once-upon-a-time put the added word in italics (they don’t bother anymore, because, well, who cares?!). He did this so the English reader knew it did not represent any word in the Greek Text.]

Dean Alford pleads for “triumphs over us in Christ.” The NIV has added to Paul’s words (“procession”) assuming that’s what he meant. Whereas Kruse has an additional note (IVP, 1989) showing there are four possible ways to interpret what Paul is saying. Therefore, the translator must not blatantly add to the Text words, which may prejudice the true meaning. No doubt the KJV translators knew what Alford knew, that Cleopatra of Egypt used the very word Paul uses, when she responded to Augustus’ giving her terms of surrender, saying to him, “I will not be triumphed over!” Meyer agrees with Alford, saying v. 14 means:”who ceases not to exhibit us, His former foes, as overcome by Him.” Did the KJV men think, ‘it is more than possible Paul uses the active here for an intended passive meaning - so we will give it the sense: ‘because He triumphs over us, we will triumph.’? Thus the rendering, “who causeth us to triumph.” The NIV had no right to use the word “procession” here, as if it’s certain that’s what Paul was referring to. A scholar RP Egan is (quoted by Kruse) saying (in Novum Testamentum) that there is no association in this verse with the Roman triumphal procession. Thus, better to be cautious and give a minimal rendering, and not go holus-bolus for one interpretation, lest we add to the word of God what is not actually there.

17 “corrupt” (KJV) or “peddle” (NIV). A fellow blogger MAV (See heading "Knowledge of Greek") alludes to the KJV translator’s notes of John Bois, for insight here. There are various shades of meaning in kapelountes (corrupt). It refers to a retail dealer, or someone playing tricks, or corrupting something. For example, MAV says “It was commonplace for wine merchants to water down their wine, mixing it with new harsh wine in order to pass the product off as vintage quality which would be more expensive. . . . Bois notes the double meaning involved of both deceitful adulterating and cheating. You could peddle the word for profit without necessarily seeking to adulterate it. Thus, the most important notion is not the profit made from the adulteration, but the corruption itself. Thus the AV translation is to be preferred over against that of the NIV and NKJV . . . . The early Church Fathers understood the verse to refer to those who corrupt God's word. Athanasius wrote: 'Let them therefore be anathema to you, because they have, 'corrupted the word of truth.' (Defence Against the Arians, III:49.)” MAV gives more references in support.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Henry Savile – Savoir-faire extraordinaire.

Sir Henry Savile was born 1549 in Yorkshire, in a family of poor gentry, and died 1622. We know the name "Savile" through his family connection to the London tailors "Savile Row." His family owned the land outside London, where Savile Row was later built. He was an English scholar, educated at Brasenose College, Oxford, where he matriculated aged [no, not 21 but] 12!

Both Arts and Science

He early established a reputation as a Greek scholar, and as a mathematician too. He was unusual in believing Oxford was backward in pursuing scientific studies. He became known for expounding the Text of Ptolemy, the Almagest in such a way as to somewhat anticipate what Copernicus would later set forth. This work described the complex motions of the stars and planetary paths of an earth-centred world of astronomy and geometry. He said, "the undergraduates at Oxford did not understand the importance of mathematics, let alone astronomy, mechanics, optics or trigonometry. They had no teachers who could guide them in this way. . . . The study of mathematics, Savile argued, turned a man into an educated, civilised human being." (1) In 1578, Savile was sent - along with a small party of other brilliant young intellectual and aristocratic Elizabethans - on royal commission to the continent of Europe, to collect manuscripts and books to stock Oxford's libraries. Along the way he made some Italian and German pen-friends, a few of whom later wrote Latin accolades to him, celebrating time well spent together. Says A.N.(1):

Any idea that the culture from which the King James Version emerged was parochial or insular, the great statement of an embattled nation cut off from the corrupt and worldly currents of a degenerate continent, could not be further from the truth. A river of European influences run through it, and through no more open a conduit than Henry Savile.
Ptolemy's Almagest (

McClure explains the educational importance of tasting new cultures: At age 29, "he travelled in France and elsewhere, to perfect himself in literature; and returned highly accomplished in learning, languages, and knowledge of the world and men." Four years had passed.

The lure of languages

In 1582 Savile was chosen by Queen Elizabeth 1 to be her private tutor in Greek and mathematics. She was 49 years old. Had we nothing else to go on, sheer logic would demand – from what we know of Elizabeth - that she would only have chosen the very best. Thirty four years earlier, her tutor Roger Ascham, had said of the “shockingly clever” 15 year old girl:

She talks French and Italian as well as she does English and has often talked to me readily and well in Latin, moderately in Greek. When she writes in Greek and Latin nothing is more beautiful than her handwriting.(2)

Says McClure: "It is to her highest honour, that when she had been more than twenty years upon the throne, she still kept up her habits of study, as appears by this appointment." Three years later Queen Elizabeth made Savile Warden of Merton College, Oxford. He then sought and obtained the coveted position of Provost, that is, "Chairman of the Governors" of Eton College, even though he was not an ordained clergyman, a qualification normally required. Savile was evidently a man who used his brilliant mind, handsome looks and wide interests to the full, in achieving his personal goals.

A Latin Translator

Savile translated the twelve books of the Histories of Cornelius Tacitus from Latin, adding his own notes. Tacitus was a Roman historian who wrote in a satirical way to expose the all-too-human motives at work in the hearts of Roman emperors who lived in the first (New Testament) century. He wrote forcefully in a condensed and rapid style, and in the highest tone. The second century was “the silver age” of Latin, where “there is excellent writing; but often there are also artificialities and conceits, a striving for effects and a passion for epigrams.” (3) Only a scholar of the very first rank would attempt to do justice to such difficult material.

Savile also published, from the manuscripts, the writings of Bradwardin Against Pelagius in Latin. He also translated other learned works in English and Latin.
In love with John Chrysostom?

Savile edited the complete works of Chrysostom, the fourth century bishop of Constantinople, whose Greek writings were favoured - only second to Augustine, by the Reformers. They were admired for their straightforward integrity and vital preaching of godly Christian conduct. The eight volumes, published in 1610–1613, cost Savile £8000 out of his own pocket [Add a few noughts, for today’s inflated values]. It has been called ‘the one great work of Renaissance scholarship carried out in England.” (1) A little before the publication of the eight massive volumes, Sir Henry lay sick through overwork. Lady Savile said, that if her husband died, she would burn the volumes for killing her husband. To this, John Bois, who had done much of the translation work from the Greek meekly replied, that “so to do were great pity.” His wife's response was, “Why, who was Chrysostom?” “One of the sweetest preachers since the apostles’ times,” answered the enthusiastic Bois. Whereupon the lady was much appeased, and said, “she would not burn him for all the world.”

Savile also translated from Greek The Prelections on the Elements of Euclid.

Do greatness and goodness go together?

As an educator, Savile was not viewed with affection by his students - neither the younger ones at Eton nor the young adults at Merton - for more obvious reasons. McClure explains Savile was no admirer of geniuses, but preferred diligence to wit, when he said:

Merton College (

“Give me the plodding student. If I would look for wits, I would go to Newgate; --there be the wits!

As might be expected, he was somewhat unpopular with his scholars, who saw him as too severe when urging them on to greater diligence. Newgate was the notorious London prison [made famous in Dicken’s novels] where the accused were sent for being too ‘clever’ by far.

Early bereaved of his only son, Savile devoted most of his wealth to the promotion of learning. He founded the first chairs in geometry and astronomy at Oxford. But, we might ask whether he was also a good man? His wife - Margaret, daughter of George Dacrews - had an insider’s answer! Her husband was so totally immersed in book-learning, so constantly in his study, that she felt neglected as to her personal needs. “Sir Henry,” she said, “I would that I were a book, and then you would a little more respect me.” On a wider front, he offered academic support to those who felt justified in organising armed rebellion against Elizabeth's reign. He was not in fact convicted of part responsibility for the conspiracy of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. Essex failed in his attempt to remove the ageing Queen from the throne. But, was Savile really suggesting it was necessary to redeem Elizabeth's Queendom from tyranny and bondage?! (4) Whichever, his fellows at Merton thought he was not good, when they accused him of accepting bribes for College leases, which he then turned to his own private use. (4) All this was passed over by his fellow Etonians at his funeral, when Savile was styled, “that magazine of learning, whose memory shall be honorable among the learned and the righteous for ever.” As to be expected, Nicolson pulls no punches, saying of Savile that although he was brilliant, he was self-serving and vain-spirited. (4) KJV Isaiah 2:22 Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?

The work of Bible translation

Savile was a member of the Second Oxford Company of eight men. These scholars were responsible for translating the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the book of Revelation. He was a highly accomplished Latin scholar, and with no slight knowledge of Greek. But, when it came to choosing between alternative text renderings in the NT manuscripts, Savile would probably not have been looked to for guidance in his company. For this they would have relied on John Harmer (more of him later), who was admirably well-read in ‘the Fathers.’ Knowledge of how the early Christian writers read the Text in the first three centuries is important, where manuscripts disagree in any way from the Text used by Erasmus. It was called “the Received Text” (TR) because it was accepted as having been reliably handed down to them from the Apostolic age.

McClure has the last word again: “Sir Henry Savile was one of the most profound, exact, and critical scholars of his age and meet and ripe to take a part in the preparation of our incomparable version.”

(1) Nicolson, Adam. (2003) Power and glory: Jacobean England and the making of the King James Bible, Lon: Harper. p. 164, 167,
(2) Schama, Simon (2000), A History of Britain, At the Edge of the World, Lon: BBC Worldwide. p. 334.
(3) Warrington, John (1969) Everymans Classical Dictionary. Lon: Dent.
(4) Nicolson, pp. 170 -172, 166-168.

This is 6/52. Previous Next Index

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

'We asked for rain, LORD, but this . . !?

The floods have lifted up their voice

A series of floods hit Australia, beginning December 2010, primarily in the state of Queensland. The floods forced the evacuation of thousands of people from towns and cities. At least 70 towns and over 200,000 people were affected. Damage initially was estimated at around A$1 billion. The estimated reduction in Australia's GDP is about A$30 billion. Three-quarters of the state of Queensland was declared a disaster zone. The 2010–2011 floods killed 35 people in Queensland. As of 26 January, an additional nine persons are missing. The Queensland floods were followed by the 2011 Victorian floods which saw more than 50 communities in western and central Victoria also grapple with significant flooding.

Now we have a new and impending disaster. Cyclone Yasi originated from a tropical low near Fiji. The system intensified to a Category 3 cyclone on 31 January 2011. Late February 1st, the cyclone strengthened to Category 4, then early today the cyclone intensified to Category 5. By the time Yasi crossed the Australian basin, preparations for the storm were under way. Media outlets referred to the storm as "what could be the state's worst cyclone in history."

The "perfect storm" - a cyclone as big as Tasmania!!

Why the name YASI?

Yasi is a video game recently developed by independent enthusiasts for a video game console. YASI means Yet Another Space Invader. Because of its great size, many fear that the tropical cyclone could cause damage more severe than Cyclone Larry in 2006 and Cyclone Tracy, which nearly destroyed Darwin, in 1974. Thousands of residents in the path of the storm were urged to evacuate by Premier Anna Bligh.

Premier Bligh at the helm
"This is the most severe, most catastrophic storm that has ever hit our coast," the Premier told the ABC. "We've seen a number of worst case scenarios come together." Yasi is expected to come in over a coastal stretch of 500 kms in the tropical far north down to Mackay. It will reach inland to Mt Isa, and may even find its way to Alice Springs. This was part of an area devastated in 2006 by Cyclone Larry. "We are facing an event that will be terrifying," the Premier said. “A very large stretch of highly populated coastline is at risk.” 30,000 people have evacuated elsewhere, knowing they would otherwise be at the mercy of storm surges, as they move inland destroying property and taking the water higher by several metres than the highest level of any normal tide. “Cyclonic winds will . . . become more extreme about 8pm or 9pm. They'll be more than 280km an hour and last to lunchtime tomorrow," she said. "Whether it's cyclonic, storm surge or torrential rain, we are facing an extreme event that won't be over in 24 hours but will take several days.”

The Premier continued, "I think all Queenslanders thought we had been tested to the limit of our ability in the last five weeks but it seems there's another test yet to go through and we will face it like we have with every other, with resolve and resilience. Electricity and mobile phone coverage is likely to go out. People do need to prepare themselves for a very tough 24 hours." Anna Bligh is urging residents to be battle ready. "Frankly, I don't think Australia has ever seen a storm of this size, this intensity in an area as popular as this stretch of our coast. . . . They need to prepare themselves mentally; this is not an event that'll be over in an hour sometime tonight."

Has someone got a grudge?

Commenting on two powerful weather systems attacking Queensland, the Premier admitted yesterday, it "would be easy to think somebody up there has got a grudge against us." She described the two weather systems (Anthony and Yasi) as "David and Goliath". She warned to take steps yet again against the havoc created by these powerful weather systems.

Where is God?

Where is God, the sovereign ruler and controller of all these natural events? If He exists (as some say), why does He send these things, or at least why does He allow them to happen? Well, when did you ever give God quality-time in your thoughts, or in your daily habits? According to the Bible, God uses natural events to gain our attention. The classic example of this is illustrated in the life of the wealthy patriarch Job, from the land of Uz. The poetry of the Old Testament book of Job aims to teach us that God allows calamitous events to get our attention, to acknowledge His existence, and to turn our hearts and minds to His will and purpose for our lives. As CS Lewis (1) said, "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

What’s with Job?

Job’s sufferings were caused by the worst of disasters. He lost his cattle-wealth and many servants, through the incursion of marauding Sabaeans. (Job 1:15). Then he lost his camel-wealth, taken away by Chaldean invasions, as well as all his servants. (1:17) Next, a great wind struck his house and buried his ten children under the rubble, 1:19. This was not punishment for being a bad character, for the writer emphasises Job lived a “perfect and upright” life, 1:1. Job refused to curse his Maker for His allowing such bad events, but instead acknowledged that God was good in giving him life and property in the first place. They came directly from Him, so He had a right also to take them away, 1:21. However, this didn’t resolve Job’s problem: “Why did God allow this evil to overtake his life?” (Job 2:10). Job’s three friends tried to help find a way through, but in the process accused him of living an evil life (thus receiving his ‘deserts’ through the calamities that struck him). Job knew this accusation was rubbish (Job 15:4-5; 16:1-4; 17:10), but gradually realised that through all his sufferings God was refining his character, teaching him humility before the mystery, and showing him that it was still wise to trust an all powerful Creator (Job 42:1-5).

Justifying the ways of God

‘Theodicy’ is the attempt to justify the ways of God to fit in with a human sense of what it is reasonable. There is some pain that seems totally unreasonable. There is no perceived good, as to its possible outcome. In Job 2:7 we read Job was struck with leprosy or elephantiasis – or maybe, just one of numerous skin diseases. Whichever, Francis Anderson (2) shows how the symptoms mount up as the book proceeds:

Some kind of acute dermatitis spreading everywhere and developing infections with darkened (30:28) and peeling (30:30) skin and constantly erupting pustules (7:5) would manifest the pruritus and purulence highlighted in 2:7. . . . Anorexia, emaciation (19:20), fever (30:30) fits of depression (7:16; 30:15) weeping (16:16), sleeplessness (7:4), nightmares (7:14). These and other general sufferings, such as putrid breath (19:17) failing vision (16:16), rotting teeth (19:20) and haggard looks (2:12) . . . add up to a hideous picture of a man tortured by degrading disfigurement (Is 52:14) and unendurable pain, a bleak reminder that a man is flesh, made out of the soil of the ground.”

So, where is God in all of that? Job’s answer seems to be, ‘I don’t know. But I’ll trust Him anyway, because my sufferings have given me a new understanding of two facts: God’s greatness and power, and my own unworthiness.’ (Job 42:3, 6) The book goes deeper and explains Job’s sufferings as a result of malevolent spiritual beings in the heavenly places seeking to discredit Job’s reputation as a godly person. (1:11) These evil angels once fell in pride, and exist still to lead humans astray, any way they can. Their captain and controller is called ”the Adversary” (Satanas) and “the Accuser” (diabolos) , who will one day be destroyed (Rev. 20:10). Job, it seems, was never let in on this secret, which helps to explains the mystery of suffering. The marauding terrorists, the whirlwind, and the destructive bacterium – all these natural causes are part of the weaponry used, in the fight between God and His purpose on the one hand, and Man and his moral responsibility on the other. True, we're not really satisfied with the explanation – we would like to know much more! But, it’s worth taking seriously, and giving it some deep thought! CS Lewis gave us an interesting entree into this, when writing The Screwtape Letters.

Whom should we blame?

It is tempting to make God directly responsible for the bad events that sometimes oppress us. When Isaiah the prophet said,

Isa 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things
It seems that John Calvin, in emphasising that God is sovereign, taught that in some sense God causes bad things to happen. He creates calamity and darkness, says Isaiah!? This is a problem for many. The way through the difficulty is to realise that in the Bible, there are two forces at work. For example, when King David took a census of his nation, he was motivated by pride, to exalt himself. A humanist would say, ‘There, that’s simple, isn’t it? ’ But the Bible shows it is actually complicated. Read KJV 2 Samuel 24:1
And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them [Israel] to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

The Hebrew text omits the subject "he" in the phrase "he moved David." This deliberate ellipsis by the writer invites us to consciously consider who or what moved David. The verse says it was the anger of the LORD moved him. We have to read 1 Chron. 21:1 to understand how that anger was expressed.

Compare the verse with KJV 1 Chronicles 21:1

And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel
. So, we see there were three forces at work in all this: There was David himself, motivated by pride. Then there was God directly allowing Satan to provoke David with prideful thoughts (2 Sam 24:1). Satan was working directly upon David, to produce the desired outcome (1 Chron. 21:1). We should infer from these parallel accounts that the prime mover in all this is Satan, whilst he gets permission (as a penalty for Israel's faithlessness to God) to stir up David. The motivating forces in Job's case were more subtle than that.

Where do I look for help?

St. Paul tells us in his letter to Rome:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.KJV Romans 8:28

The words in bold represent the traditional Greek Text of Rom 8:28. This Text was accepted as inspired and accurate through eighteen hundred years of church history. It focuses on our trying to understand the meaning of bad events, as well as good ones. The apostle Paul says we don’t know how to pray as we ought (8:26), but we do know that everything has a positive meaning and purpose. So, we can pray for patience and wisdom in trying to cope with adversity and suffering. The thought is not that God is working directly in a tsunami or in Cyclone Yasi, or in the series of recent floods. God is behind it, and controls it, but it does not help us to think like that, that is, to hold God accountable for human suffering. That was the mistake made by Job’s three “comforters.” On the other hand, it is not wrong to have a sense of some malevolence at work, in causing human suffering. That is certainly the message of the book of Job (1:12; 2:6), like it or not. That’s true in human relationships too. Government politicians in times of acute international crisis are very aware (and some have said so) that they are not in control of events. These events at such times seem to be happening around them as if they are mere spectators, not participants. Neither are the military in control, even if their muscle makes them feel they call the shots ! So the KJV rendering of Rom. 8:28 asks us to back off from holding God directly responsible for bad events.

Which Bible is more accurate here?

The modern critical Text of this verse has a different focus. It invites us to make God directly and immediately responsible for everything that happens to us. As represented in the NIV it says:

NIV Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Nothing wrong with the truth, that God is at work in everything that happens to us. But, to me, in the way it’s put, it seems to show an indifference to human suffering! It’s too easy to slap someone on the back and quote the verse, as if it is an obvious truth, saying, “Come on! Don’t worry! Be happy!!” But, it is not obvious that a loving God is at work, when you are actually going through incredible suffering. Then, to be told it is God making you suffer, that He’s the one working it, so he can bring good outcomes! How does this help? It seems insulting to the sufferer. He needs a gentler message, like, “If you keep loving God anyway, hang in there, and eventually you will see something positive will come out of all this.”

NIV lovers may be totally unconvinced by my reasoning. No worries! My rationale for the traditional rendering is not the main reason why I believe the KJV is accurate ‘Scripture’ here, whilst the NIV’s wording is inaccurate - that’s to say, why I believe St. Paul wrote the first rendering, but didn’t write the second. The main reason is the manuscript evidence itself, which weighs very heavily in favour of the traditional Text:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. KJV Romans 8:28

Even the UBS (4) editors of the Greek Text agree with this, (their advice is followed by the NRS):

Although the reading God works (P46 A B 81 cop(eth) Origen-pt) is both ancient and noteworthy, a majority of the Committee deemed it too narrowly supported to be admitted into the text, particularly in view of the diversified support for the shorter reading [i.e. leaving out “God” in “God works”]

The editors then go on to list manuscript support for the shorter reading, which includes several Uncial MSS. 99% of the 700+ preserved manuscripts (MSS) of the letter to Rome write it as we find it in the KJV! The evidence also includes almost the entire body of cursive MSS, a large number of Versions, that is, the Old Latin MSS, the Vulgate, the Syriac, the Coptic (part), the Armenian, the Georgian, and the Slavic,. Then fifteen (15) ‘church fathers’ are listed who all quote it in the traditional way, and all of the several hundred Lectionaries. In contrast, evidence in support of the NIV rendering is very thin. Only four MSS and two Versions are listed in the UBS Greek Text footnotes (4). No early Christian writers bear witness to “God works” in Rom. 8:28. This is a phenomenon which speaks for itself, unless we are deaf to the message.

Going back to Cyclone YASI - that ‘space invader.’ If you happen to be in the path of it, may you and yours be kept safe. You may feel able to send up a prayer, “What are you trying to teach me from this, LORD God?” Also, I hope this blog entry encourages you to read the book of Job, and look for Biblical answers to your questions.

(1) Lewis C.S. (1940) The problem of pain
(2) Andersen, F.I. (1976) Job, An introduction and commentary Lon: IVP. pp. 91-92
(3) Metzger, B.M. A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament Lon: UBS. The ref. has omitted Greek lettering, for the sake of clarity.
(4) UBS Greek New Testament. (1983/1994)4th Rev. Ed. UBS = United Bible Societies Editors: Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland,Carlo Mantini, Bruce Metzger, Johannes Karavidopoulos. Rom 8:28