King James Bible and Revelation 17:6

The title page to the 1611 first edition of th...

The title page to the 1611 first edition of the Authorized Version Bible. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In another venue, I ran across another misguided criticism of the King James Bible.

Somebody objected to the use of the word “admiration” describing John’s attitude in looking upon the Great Whore of Babylon.

And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.- Rev 17:6

It’s amazing that so many people today who hardly know any Biblical languages think they can criticize the gigantic intellects of the KJB translators, who lived in a time where they were not distracted by hours of movies and TV programs and national sports competitions and World Cups, but learned those languages as children and continued through their academic careers.

The translators for the modern English translations, on the other hand, do have several years of language instruction behind them, but they still cannot compete with the fluency of those KJB scholars.

Almost none of the other English-language translations have that wording. They replace it with “great amazement”, “complete amazement”, “greatly astonished”, “marveled”, “great wonder”.

The mistake all these people are making is that they are trying to save the Bible from saying something wrong. The Bible has no need of this.

This is a mistake they also make in Revelation 13, when they put the mark of the Beast “on” the right hand or forehead. That’s because the first word listed in English as a translation for the word in Greek in almost all lexicons, is “on”. But the King James Bible translation committees knew their Koine Greek much better than today’s dumbed-down college graduates, and doctors in divinity. They realized that the “mark” was not external; the Greek word was for an incision, or a groove, a rut, something cut down into the skin.

A tattoo might partially fit that bill, but since the KJB scholars were actually fluent in their Greek and could compose prose and carry on casual conversations in it, they knew that the better fit in English is “in”.

Now we have this word “admiration” in Revelation 17:6. The modern translators want to save John (and their Bible) from any positive reaction in John to the Great Whore.

But that’s not necessary, in my opinion. As I write, I know of two opinions explaining John’s admiration. A fellow KJB Bible believer offered his interpretation, who agrees that God speaks with “one voice”, just as Paul wrote that he would have the church speak “with one voice”.

His belief is that John was admiring at the calamities this Whore would suffer from the judgments of God. I do not find that satisfactory.

Remember, John is not exactly perfect! Duh! See what we find in Revelation 19:10:

And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See [thou do it] not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

So what I think about this word “admiration” here is that John had a reaction that the rest of the chapter describes as almost universal on the Earth.

It’s not a stretch. We see today in the United States all across the country, especially every July 4th, there are evangelicals, Baptists, Christians of all doctrines, who speak of how much they admire the “exceptionalism” of the United States. They hold her up as nation “chosen by God”, and repeat the mantra that it is a “Christian nation“, despite the fact that she has forgotten God, and is backslidden, and has become a proselytizer of wickedness, and just like the Great Whore, has dazzled the world through the sorceries of her media and entertainment.

See, it is too easy to admire the United States, and the products of its culture and its materialism. Even among those who complain the most about it, who enjoy the abundance of its riches, will lament its demise when it goes.

Certainly God “setteth up one, and putteth down another”, and He most assuredly blessed the nation for the Christian core of its culture and life at its founding. But it is no longer. It is no longer Christian any more than the Israel of Ahab and Jezebel was godly.

I think John was quite likely overcome in the hypnotic dazzle of the effect of this Great Whore, and we see in the very next verse that the messenger of God gently brings him back to reality:

Rev 17:7  And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.

This is actually one of the greatest strengths of the KJB: these men of God revered the Word so much that they just translated the word “as is” without trying to guess at what it “really” meant in their own minds. Instead of making a best guess at the Hebrew word for “behemoth”, which they did not know, they transliterated it. No “hippo”, no “rhino”, none of that. Now we understand he was talking about a dinosaur.

“Wherefore didst thou marvel?” Not quite a rebuke, and using the word “marvel” instead of “admire” now to reduce the sting. “God knoweth our frame”, and he is quick to understand and forgive much worse.

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.- Isaiah 55:7

 

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