From the Elders’ Desk: Slave

Monthly Reading Recommendation
July 2016

by John MacArthur

From Our Elders:
In 1603, King James I became the first monarch to rule over Scotland, England, and Ireland, succeeding Queen Elizabeth I. Queen Elizabeth is notorious for replacing her half-sister, “Bloody Mary,” the severe persecutor of Protestants who would not conform to Roman Catholicism. As an answer to the rift between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism at the time, Elizabeth I established what is now known as “Church of England” (CoE), a vain attempt to marry the two religions together. When King James was crowned, many Protestants met his coronation with great enthusiasm, believing that he would advance the Reformation in England. That did not happen, and not only that, but King James would also set the course to produce his own Bible translation project, the Authorized Version (later known as the KJV) to refute the study notes and teachings found in the standard English translation of Protestants at the time, the Geneva Bible. Very simply, the Geneva Bible frequently contradicted the teachings of the CoE, which was considered to be intolerable. King James’ translation would then forever change the landscape of true Christianity. The translation crippled Protestant Evangelicalism, and assigned a slow death certificate to the extreme discipline and commitment to Christ exemplified by the Puritans.

As the translators of the KJV 1611 translated manuscripts from the original translations of the Bible, there were several notable words they found distasteful, contradicting the established method of church government, theology, and Christian living of the CoE. Words such as baptizo (immerse), diakonos (servant), and doulos (slave), never found themselves to be appropriately translated. Even to this day, modern publishing houses, either for the sake of tradition, or fear of losing sales, have maintained the traditional renderings found in the KJV 1611. In MacArthur’s book, Slave, a work long overdue, he addresses one of those key mistranslations and reveals how what might seem to be an innocent term “bond-servant” can profoundly and negatively affect how we conduct ourselves as Christians.

Matt Tarr

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