[Partially edited 9/18/13 and 9/19/13]


I love me job teaching at Northern..  I'm here because, more than 30 years ago I went through an early mid-life crisis.  I asked myself what I *really* wanted to do in life, and figured out that, what I really wanted to do was spend my life studying and talking about the great ideas, important works like Herodotus' history, Plato's diaglogues, and the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides.  And, most of all, I wanted to be able to study and talk about the books of the Bible. 

Well, that's what I get to do--and it's a joy.  But it's sometimes frustrating as well.  "The writing of many books is endless," says Ecclesiastes, "and much study is a weariness of the flesh."  Paul warns about those who are "every learning and never able to come to the knowlege of the truth."  But, most troubling of all, Paul's warning about those who, while professing themselves wise, become fools.  Unfortunately, that's a description of a fair portion of the academic community, particularly those of us who deal with the New Testament.  

Probably no books have been studied by more scholars than the books of the New Testament, particularly the  four gospels.  Year after year, there are hundreds of scholarly articles and books published that deal with about aspects of the gospels.  Has this led to a better and better understanding of these books?  To more and more certainty?  No!  Almost reverse!  New Testament scholars can't seem to come to any consensus at all.  When it comes to the gospel of Luke, for instance, we've got some writers (e.g., Conzelmann) claiming that Luke's gospel is essentially a pro-Roman apology, a gospel intended to show that Christianity was no threat to the governmental structure of  Rome.  There are others (e.g.,  Cassidy) who claim that Luke intends to show Jesus was as a revolutionary figure, a man whose teaches challenge every aspect of Roman society. There are writers (e.g., me!) who talk about as Luke as intended primarily for a gentile audience, while others argue that Luke was written mostly for Jews, or (at least)f for Jewish Christians. 

Why do we have such different in interpretation?  Because there is no truth?  Because it's impossible to figure out Luke's meaning?  Not at all.  Partly, scholars differ because there is so much in these gospels that every time you come to them you find something else.  So we are like proverbial blind man with elephant:



IT was six men of Indostan
 To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
 (Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
 Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant,
 And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
 At once began to bawl:
"God bless me!—but the Elephant
 Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
 Cried:"Ho!—what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
 To me 't is mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
 Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
 And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
 Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
 Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
 And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
 Is mighty plain," quoth he;
"'T is clear enough the Elephant
 Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
 Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
 Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
 Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
 About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
 That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
 Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

So, oft in theologic wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant

Not one of them has seen!

[Note: I am not sure this last stanza is in the orgininal Saxe poem.  It doesn't scan right, and it's missing in many of the online versions of the poem.]

Former NSU United Campus Ministries leader Jim Reeves was working on a book on Luke that pointed to a quite obvious solution to the Blind Man/Elephant problem when it came to Luke.  His ideas was that the Gospel was partly written to gentiles, but also partly addressed to Jews.  It's partly critical of Rome, but partly written to show where Roman government and Christianity can be compatible.

But Jim's rather obvious-when-you-think-about-it, common sense approach to the New Testament is rarer than it should be.  But it's not just because of the tendency to miss the forest for the trees that has limited the usefulness of  scholarly study in clarifying things.  Scholars, beginning in the 18th century, and even more in the 19th and 20th centuries, made a series of fundamental mistakes in their approach to the Bible.  And, particularly, they made some serious mistakes in their approach to the gospels.

The problem with scholarly mistakes is that, rather than being corrected, they tend to be amplified.  Being a scholar means never having to admit you're wrong no matter how wrong you are.  It also means you don't have to listen to people who don't have your credentials, because they are obviously ignorant.   Be not called Rabbi, Rabbi. . .

Now when it comese to details, scholars can and do accept correction fairly easily.  But where they often won't even consider alternative ideas is in their overall paradigms, the models they use to organize their materials. 

Having a good paradigm is exceedingly useful.  For my History 121 class, for instance, the Parkes civilization recipe (civilizations need to provide physical security, ethical guidance, and emotional fulfillment) works really well.  But a faulty paradigm can lead to all sorts of problems, and it can make it harder to find the truth rather than easier.

One particularly harmful paradigm in the Hegelian model of human progress.  His dialectic (the thesis vs. antithesis leading to synthesis as the core mechanism of human progress) led to some hugely destructive political movements.  Both the Nazis and Communists based their thinking on Hegel.

In Biblical studies too, Hegel's followers made a mess of things.  F.C. Bauer and those who followed his thinking, tried to use the Hegelian model to explain Christian history.  Bauer argued that, when Jesus began his teaching, the dominant idea (the thesis) was that salvation came through following the law.  The antithesis, well expressed by Paul, was that salvation came by Grace through faith.  Anything in the Christian tradition that showed pure salvation by grace through faith theology was (therefore) early. Anything that showed a blending of works and faith was late.  Galatians?  Early, and genuinely Pauline.  Romans?  Early and genuinely Pauline.  Philipians?  No--too many specific instructions.  The law creeping in again: probably not Pauline.  The Pastorals (I and II Timothy and Titus)?  Too much emphasis on the specifics of Christian conduct.  Definitely not Pauline.

Any evidence for this?  None at all.  But The Bauer paradigm somehow got adopted by a great many New Testament scholars, and, once adopted, it became very difficult to break.  Gradually, more conservative scholars have won back ground for the Pauline writings, and a majority of scholars would now admit that books like Colossians and Philippians are Paul's.  But there's still a lot of resistance to accepting the pastorals as Pauline despite the lack of any real evidence that they are not.  When asked why he didn't think Paul wrote the pastorals, one very prominent Bible scholar simply replied, "No scholar with a recognized chair in New Testament studies believes Paul wrote pastorals."  To which the very appropriate reply  is, "What has that got to do with truth?"

As far as the Gospels are concerned, the Bauer paradigm has created some problems, but there are some worse paradigm problems. 

The early 19th century was rather skeptical of just about all the ancient writers, and the Bible in particular was, for many, a problematic book.  The miracles in particular seemed to much of the scholarly world stories that had to be dismissed as mere superstition.  But portion of the Biblical texts were still acceptable.  Many scholars loved the idea of Jesus, not as a miracle worker, but as a great teacher.  There were a whole series of what we call the "liberal lives of Jesus," books that admired Jesus, but rejected the stories of miracles and the idea that Jesus was somehow the incarnate son of God.

But what rational basis could there be for such picking and choosing of gospel material?  We view as genuine what we like and reject what we don't?  That's not very scholarly.  Johannes Weiss and Albert Schweitzer championed a different paradigm, the consistent eschatology paradigm.  This paradigm argued that the early Christians, wrongly, believed that Jesus was going to come back to this earth right away. When that didn't happen, there was a great disappointment at the delay of the parousia [the fancy scholarly name for Christ's return].  Christians had to somehow rationalize a situation that they hadn't anticipated.  The consistent eschatology paradgm says that any portion off the New Testament that suggests Christ is coming back right away reflects the actual earliest teaching of the church.  Anything that suggests a delay to the parousia and prepares Christians for an extended period on this earth before the coming of Christ's kingdom is late.

Now, once again, there was no evidence for this.  It's just a model, but, like the Bauer paradigm, it caught on to such an extent that it still lingers everywhere--despite considerable scholarly work that shows that consistent eschatology is a bad was of trying to understand the church.

Consistent eschatology first of all ignores the likelihood that early Christians differed in their end-time views.  Christians today are all over the place, some believing Christ will return in their lifetimes, others thinking Christ's return may be delayed for centuries.  Why should we not think early Christians also differed in how soon they expected the return?  Further, what makes us think that the passages in the New Testament that associate first century conditions with the "last days" are wrong?  The Christians today who believe in the soon return of Christ believe they are living "in the last days."  But most of them think that there will be a rapture of the church, a seven year tribulation, and a 1000 year kingdom before the general resurrection and they day of judgment.  So the "last days" they speak of aren't really "last" at all.  Likewise, when the early Christians talked of living in the "last days," isn't their plenty of evidence to show that they did in fact live in what, from the traditional Jewish perspective, were the "last" days, the times when the gentiles would begin to accept the Gospel.  The prophet Joel talks about the "last days" as the time when God would "pour his spirit on all flesh," e.g., not just the Jews.  Isn't that what happened?  Oh, yes, other days followed: but the advent of Christianity did mean a radical change.  E.R. Dodd's argues that early Christians had what he calls a "realized" eschatology.  They believed that end-times prophecy was fulilled in the life of Christ and in the growth of the church.  They weren't at all "disappointed in the delay of the parousia"--Christ was present in the church!

New Testament scholarship seemingly got on sounder footing during the early years of the 20th century with the rise of source criticism.  The source critics argued that comparing the gospels, especially the synoptics, one to another was a valuable tool for understanding their basic messages.  It was especially important to figure out which of the gospel writers borrowed from the others and what it was they borrowed.

The source critics argued that the similaritie of the synoptics were so great that they couldn't possibly be simply separate accounts of the same story.  The verbal similarites of so many passages make it clear that someone was copying someone else.  But who copied from whom? 

B.F. Streeter wrote a great book, The Four Gospels, in which he persuasively argues what comes to be called the four-document hypothesis.  Streeter's picture is basically this:

Now Steeter makes a great case, and both conservative and liberal scholars have tended to accept his solution to the synoptic problem.  But figures like Bultmann began to insist on a more radical approach to explaining the gospels, what came to be called form criticism.   The form critics divided the gospels into sections they called "pericopes," cuttings. The pericopes pretty much correspond to the subheadings in most Bibles, so there's not much new here.  What's new is what happens next.  The form critics then attempted to classify each pericope by type (a healing pericope, a saying pericope, etc.).  Behind each pericope was a small kernal that really went back to Jesus.  The story then developed around this kernal like a pearl around a grain of sand.

Now all this is fun, I suppose, but form criticism is based on a  hypothtical phenomenon that can't be demonstrated to have occured anywhere at anytime.  No classical scholar would dream of using such a technique in approaching other works from the ancient world.  Very odd to develop a scholarly technique that applies to only one book!

Further, the form-critical approach tends to treat the Gospels as strings of beads: and this they are clearly not. As we've seen with Matthew and Luke,  the gospels are well-structured books with every line working in harmony with the authors overall message. Form criticism tends to overlook the big picture: we're missing the forest, not for the trees, but because we're only looking at the leaves.

The next major 20th century fad in Gospel studies was redaction criticism.  Redaction criticsm assumes that the 4-document hypothesis is basically correct.  If so, say the redaction critics, we should carfully divide the Marcan source material in Matthew and Luke from the "redaction" material, Matthew and Luke's additions.  Want to know what Matthew and Luke are up to?  Look at how they've changed the Marcan stories.  One can also look at the changes Matthew and Luke have made to Q.  And you can even do source criticism with Mark!  If you're clever enough, you can divided Mark also into source and redaction material and figure out Mark's meaning by looking at what he's added to his original sources. 

Redaction criticism was the way to make your mark in NT studies in the 1960's and 1970's, but in the 80's a significant number of scholars began to question the basis for the whole thing.  Redaction criticism tries to explain the theology of Matthew or Luke by alleged changes they have made in Mark.  But what if Mark isn't first?  The whole thing collapses--and, indeed, the weight of evidence now is that Mark is not first.

First of all, what limited evidence we have from the ancient world points to Matthew's gospel af the first written.  Eusebius of Caesarea records a tradition that Matthew wrote in Hebrew and that the other apostles used his wrtten material and "interpreted" (translated?) as they would.  Voltaire, a shrewed literary critic, but (also) a skeptic who had no particular reason to favor church tradition, thought that Matthew was first.  Griesbach, one of the finest of the 19th century textual critics and the man who originally popularized the term synoptic, likewise thought that Matthew wrote first. Intiaially, the main reaons for insisting that Mark was first had nothing to do with evidence.  The 19th century liberal interpretation of the life of Christ insisted on a more human Jesus--and, to a large extent, Mark's Jesus does seem more human than the the Jesus of Matthew and Luke. 19th century writers thought that it was the church that later turned the great teacher into the divine son of God.  So: Mark first--again, a paradigm-driven choice.

So which gospel really did come first?  Some modern scholars have moved back to the Griesbach hypothesis, the old view that said Mark simply combined Matthew and Luke. Some others have defended the view that the gospels are independent: there's no literary connection at all!  Well, that I find hard to believe: too much verbal similarity.  But I find even harder to believe in Marcan priority.  Look through the opening chapters of Mark and you'll see the difficulties.

Mark begins with the words, "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God.  As it is written in the prophet...."   Now this is a  *very* abrupt beginning.  It sure looks to me like an attempt to shorten Matthew up.  Get rid of the genealogy and cut to the chase.  As it turns out, Mark is the one gospel that is comfortable to read aloud at one sitting.  Not too many years ago, there was a very successful one-man-show version of the Gospel of Mark.  I can't imagine an audience sitting through a one-man show version of Matthew or Luke!  As we go a bit further, we see Mark saying that, after Jesus was baptized, he goes into the wilderness and is tempted by Satan.  That's it.  Both Luke and Matthew give us longer stories.  So where did they get the information to fill this tantalizing gap?  Well, from Q.  But wait: Luke and Matthew tell the story differently.  So they must have had different versions of Q, Q1 and Q2.  But this is a problem.  The four document hypothesis is plausible because it's the simplest explanation that accounts for the facts.  But if you have to posit two different version of Q, it's not such a simple solution anymore.

Look also at Mark 1:22, "And he taught as one having authority and not as the scribes."  Well, we've seen that verse in Matthew.  Where?  Well, at the end of the Sermon on the Mount where it makes an awful lot of sense.  Why would Mark bother to say this?  As a summary, it makes sense: as an original?  Not so much.  Similarly,  Mark 4:2 says that Jesus taught them many things by parables--and gives one, the Parable of the Sower.  Matthew has a whole series of parables.  Mark looks like he's summarizing.

So Matthew is first?  Well, it doesn't always look like that.  There are places where Mark's version of the story looks like the original, and other places where Luke's version would seem to be first.  No wonder the scholars are confused!

Behind all this, an odd blindness--a refusal of most scholars even to consider the most probable relationship among the gospels.

Quite a number of years ago, I taught at a little Christian school in California.  The headmaster had an idea for a Christmas play.  He shared his idea with Mary Hesser (thd drama teacher) and me.  He asked Mary to write two acts of the play, and me to write two others.  As I wrote my part of the play, I borrowed some material from a friend of mine had written on a different occassion.  The whole thing came together exceptionally well.

A years later, we had all gone our separate ways.  I ran into Frank, the headmaster, and he talked about how great the play had been.  He thought we ought to put together the script and submit it for publication.  But nobody had a complete copy of the script: there had never been one!  Now at this point, I had the play pretty much in my head as did Mary and many of our young student actors.  I could have written a version of the play.  So could Mary.  So could Frank.  Now if all three had done that, I don't think *anyone* could have told you the relationship between the scripts.  What came from Mary?  What from me?  What from Frank?  What parts were stolen from my friend Michael?

Something like this, I think, is what happens in the case of the gospels.  Biographical evidence from the New Testament letters puts Paul, Peter, Luke, Timothy, and Mark in Rome in the 60's.  Paul specifically instructs Timothy to bring "the books, but especially the parchments.  Paul also makes a specific request that Mark come "for he is profitable to me in the ministry."  Almost certainly, this is the period in which the written gospels are coming together: perhaps not quite in final form, but close to it.  Paul and Peter both know they are likely going to be martyred, and they take steps to preserve the gospel message.

Note how well this scenario explains the phenomena we see among the gospels.  The writers are all authritative figures, and that give them the flexibility to share and adapt among themselves: Matthew, Luke, Mark free to tell stories in different ways.  But there's no one else with authority to challenge there accounts later, no one, for instance, who dares tamper with the received texts to try to harmonize the different accounts.

This idea, that gospels are the products of cooperative effort of Peter, Paul, Luke, Mark almost never even considered by scholars, though it accts for all the evidence and does this in the simplest way possible.  It certainly passes the Ockham's razor test!.

Why is it that the most obvious possiblity is seldom even considered?  The scholarly community has a deep-seated disbelief in Jesus portrayed in Gospels, and is consequently always trying to find an alternative Jesus, a "historical" Jesus.  They claim to be telling us what Jesus really like: in recent years, he's been portrayed as a magician, a political revolutionary, a social reformer, a Galilean peasant, a proto-pharisee, and an essene: but never as the figure the gospels portray him to be.

The clue that something is wrong is that the "Jesus" who emerges from each of these studies is almost always philosophical agreement with scholar doing study.  What happens generally is that each "new" Jesus gets tremendous acclaim in the media who is always looking for an alternative to the Biblical Jesus.  But, since there's no real evidence, a revival scholar will soon come up with "new" historical Jesus, and the process starts all over.

What would be amusing if it weren't so sad is the way the Jesus Project scholars have approached the "historical Jesus" question.  A bunch of New Testament scholars got together and systematically went through the New Testament.  With each passage, they voted: Jesus probably said this, Jesus may or may not have said this, Jesus didn't say this. 

This isn't as silly as it sounds.   It's sillier.  And sad, too.

I look at the work of John Dominic Crossan--a meticiulous scholar who has bombed through all sorts of Jesus material.  He's got a book where he carefully assembles all the evidence, putting it into "strata," with each of four layers indicating his view as to the reliablility of the material.  The first strata has in it hypothetical documents (Q), lost documents we know next to nothing about, and material from some of the gnostic gospels: heretical works invented to provide proof for ideas not in the canonical new testament.  John's gospel?  Much of it relegated to the 4th strata, not reliable at all.

Now all of this is a waste of time.  It's pretty easy to show that the only source material worth looking at for the life of Jesus: the cannonical gospels.  One can believe or disbelieve their accounts of Jesus, but there's just no other evidence worth considering--though it's easy to make a ton of money pretending there is.

By the way, much of the above work goes under the name "higher" criticism.  Those who deal with hypothetical source construction think their methods somehow deeper and more profound than the more typical approach to the New Testament, taking the text as it stands and trying to see what it meant to its original auidience.

But while, in my opinion, the so-called higher critics have only been darkening council by words without wisdom, other New Testament scholars have made remarkable progress.  Among the most impressive achievements of modern New Testament scholars, their work in textual criticism.

One of the problems with ancient writings is that, over time, texts tend to be corrupted.  It is nearly impossible to hand-copy a text permanently.  Scribes misread (or mishear) their original.  They may have to work from a defective texts.  If you've ever played the "gossip" game, you know how easily an original message can be distorted.

Now that doesn't mean scribes don't do their best.  In good times, those that trancribed religious texts would go so far as to use the numberical value of words as a kind of double-check on their work.  But not all times are good.  There are ages  when  copying books is expensive or when books are destroyed by govenment authorities--or when people simply don't care about a particular book enough to make the sacrifice to preserve it.  Much fine literature from the ancient world has disappeared, and many works survives only in incomplete manuscripts.  Much of Tacitus, for instance, survives only in a single manuscript that is (very unfortunately) missing some of the material we'd most like to see.

The books of the New Testament faced some particular difficulties.  Roman authorities confiscated and burned Christian books again and again, and many Christians had to give their lives to protect their copies of the scripture.  When persecution finally ended during the reign of Constantine, things got much better.  There were subsidies for producing beautiful editions of the Bible.  But already (c. 325) there was a bit of a problem.  The copies of Biblical books were not precisely the same.  What exactly was the original text?

In the eastern Roman empire, scholars got to work, and came to something of a consensus.  We have a Byzantine manuscript tradition that consists of the best educated guesses of the Byzantine scholars. 

But with the invention of the printing press 1000 years later, all of a sudden technology made it possible to print many, many, identical copies of the Greek New Testament.  So the question becomes: what should be the model that we reproduce over and over and over again?  Initially, the published editions of Erasmus, Stephanus, etc. followed pretty much the Byzantine manuscript tradition.  This standardized Greek text came to be called the Textus Receptus, the "received" text.  It's certainly a good text, and some conservative scholars still think it's the best text to work from.

But in the 19th century, scholars were disatisfed.  Maybe they could get closer to the original texts.

Now this kind of work had been going on since the Renaissance, the work of textual criticism, trying to get as close as possible to the original author's text.  But, usually, there aren't enough sources to be really sure.  Even with the plays of Shakespeare, textual critics have it rough.  Do you take the Folio reading or the Quarto reading?  Not always easy to decide.

In the case of the New Testament, though, there were hundreds of manuscripts.  This made the text critics work both harder and easier.  Easier, because there was a lot more material to work with.  Harder, because there were a lot more alternative to consider.

At first, the textual critics thought the best they could do was recreate the equivalent of a 4th century New Testament text.  We can know pretty much exactly what the New Testament books would have looked like in the time of Constantine, but that's about it. But, little by little, the textual critics perfected their techniques.  New manuscripts turned up, and fragments of papyrus rolls turned up--some of them dating back to the early 2nd century AD. 

The ultimate result?  The Nestle-Aland editions of the New Testament. The textual critics haven gotten us more closely to the exact original text of the NT than anyone would have thought possible 200 years ago.  For no other works from the anicent world do we have such an accurate and reliable text. [In class, I pass out a page of the United Bible Socities' Greek New Testament and the Metzger commentary that goes with it.] 

Now note the painstaking work of these critics, the immense amount of work they went through just to figure out whether Paul's introduction says "hemin" (to us) or "humin" (to you). 

But after figure out as much as possible exactly what Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, etc. wrote, what do we do with this wonderful text  Well, we translate it.  As accurately as possible?  Well....

Modern Translations....

Now for a long, long time, the KJV of the Bible reigned supreme in English-speaking churches.  But toward the beginning of the 20th century, scholars claimed the KJV wasn't accurate enough. The KJV translators didn’t have as accurate a text to work with as we do, so they thought they could do a better job than the KJV translators.  And they certainly tried!

In the early 20th century, translators used the Westcott and Hort edition of the Greek NT.  They produced Revised Version and the American Standard translations of the Bible.  But these translations, since they were literal, weren’t any easier to understand that the KJV, and much of the beauty of the language was lost.  They didn’t really catch on very well.  In 1952 or so, translators came up with a new translation, the RSV.  But this translation, because it was literal, was hard, and much of the beauty of the language was lost.  Besides, there were translation choices that really offended conservatives, and so this version didn’t really catch on either.

In the early 1970's, we got one more translation: NASV.  NASV was a literal translation, and hard–though actually fairly good at capturing the beauty of the language.

And then we got–well then we got an tidal wave of translations: every time one looks around, there’s new translation.  Are they any good?  For the most part, no.  

I wrote a conference paper several years ago called “Why Johnny can’t translate”–I’ll summarize briefly for you what’s wrong with modern translations.  Essentially, my argument is that modern translations tend to be poor because *none* of them has editors who understand language.

There’s a little book by Arthur Quinn (Figures of Speech) that lists ways of using language effectively.  Quinn gives lots of examples–most frequently, Shakespeare and the KJV of the Bible. Here are some of them:

1.  Polysyndeton

Polysyndeton involves repeating conjunctions, e.g., starting every sentence with an "and." Quinn says this “creates an air of mystery, and, done properly, it has a hypnotizing power.”  Here's the KJV:

And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here [am] I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only [son] from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind [him] a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said [to] this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.

Now look at what the NIV does to this passage:

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”“Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Look at Matthew 23:5-11 and check your version to see what it's done.

2.  Asyndeton

Asyndeton is the leaving out of an expected conjunction. It suggests a faster pace, or, perhaps a deeper kind of unity, e.g., Linncoln's "of the people, by the people, for the people."

The KJV of Exodus 15:9 is a good example:

The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.

Here's the NIV version:

“The enemy boasted, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake them. I will divide the spoils;
I will gorge myself on them. I will draw my sword and my hand will destroy them.’

Here's the KJV of I Corinthians 13:13:

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.

The NIV:

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

3.    Parenthesis

Parenthesis involves taking time out in mid-thought for a different thought.  A good example is the KJV of  Ezekiel 16:23-24:

And it came to pass after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord GOD;)  [That] thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and hast made thee an high place in every street.

4.    Polyptoton

Polyptoton is the seemingly unnecessary repetition of a word.  The KJV of Colossians 2:20 is a good example:

If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why as though living in the world…

5.      Repetitio

Repetition of repetition.  Here's the KJV of Genesis 5:9 and Ephesians 4:8:

Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants…

He lead captitivity capitive
So notice what we've got.  We dis the KJV because, supposedly, the KJV translators didn't have our advantage of an exact text--and then we paraphrase, so what we provide Bible-readers is only a paraphrase--not close at all to the original, and not nearly as effective in its use of language.

Professing ourselves to be wise.....