Reviewing Mark Ward’s article, “Borrowing from the KJV Bank and Trust”.

The article “Borrowing from the KJV Bank and Trust” by Mark Ward is full of all kinds of problems. For example, the major thematic framework Ward uses to talk about the King James Bible is by Tolkien’s ring analogy, and not by a Biblical analogy. (The title of the “bank and trust” is mixed metaphor to this theme.) As usual, Ward does what Burgon accused the Infidels in his day of doing, which is, to treat the Bible as just a natural, human book, in this case, Ward views the King James Bible’s existence as being a natural, human phenomenon. He deliberately doesn’t recognise any providences, prophecies or anything else about its coming to be or its future, and in fact mocks the idea of supernaturalism altogether as if that angels sang as the KJB came abroad in some beatific birth. The KJB, in Ward’s view, is rhetorically the product of realpolitik, gritty urban chance and human contrivance. Of course the KJB appeared in a time of opposition — opposition from the Romanists, and opposition from the hyper-Puritans — but that is not to be analogous to the oppositions to modern translations (given that, of course, people will be inclined perhaps to resist something because it is new — but this is an entirely natural argument). And seeing that Ward thinks that things must be won by parley, it seems he is actually advocating a strange doctrine of “victory thorough adversity”, or to paraphrase it according to Heraclitus, “War is the parent of all things, some translations are made commercial successes, and some are critically acclaimed though parley.” Rather, the parley is for the truth of the KJB to stamp out opposition, just as the KJB was said to be able to do to others in 1611, so likewise it would equally best newfangled works of today. Ward then says that the KJB is the LXX of today, as if the KJB, which was the product of much deliberation and many former works, is the same as the LXX which was made hastily as the first ever translation. And so he misuses the analogy, for the KJB translators never thought that their work was just another LXX (unsound, needing much correction, etc.). No, that view is an entirely modern, unhistorical one, as championed by the likes of Mark Ward. Many indications from the KJB’s dedication and preface show that the KJB men thought that their work was right and proper, not needing intermeddling. The major problem is that Ward thinks that the increase of knowledge of these days must therefore require the modern man to leave the KJB behind. This principle of Infidelity is actually rejected in Scripture, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7). For, once having accomplished the pinnacle, no new things can ever exceed it. Mark Ward also ignorantly, and one would almost have to say deceptively, claims that the KJB in most common use today is from 1769. This is simply not the case in any way. In fact, the editions of the KJB in use today derive from editorial work AFTER 1769, so that the standard Oxford edition available today comes from or after Queen Victoria’s time. Also, this wrongly implies that somehow the text and translation of 1611 is different to 1769 or today, which is simply not the case. The most common Cambridge editions today come from the twentieth century. Ultimately, Mark Ward argues for a plurality where the KJB is “tolerated” as one of many translations, and should be recognised (seemingly reluctantly) for its success, dominance and historical place. It is pretty obvious that Mark Ward is making a case not to annihilate the KJB. But since when has that even been an option? Since when has there been a genocidal intent against it? (In this he bewrays the true intention of his side in this “parley”.) He seeks to impose a plurality, as if he is saying, “Oh, you can have the KJB, but as long as you accept all these other translations as well — the KJB is just one of many.” In that view, the KJB cannot be removed but it can be destroyed by being made less special. Mark Ward would do better to apply his skills in the mathom house to the language, philological history and provenance of the modern English Red Book translation, which ironically, has its best text in a single volume as published by HarperCollins.