Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Is There Really a Hell?

Nathan JonesMP3By Nathan Jones

Is there really a Hell?

Liberals hate Hell. Church leaders hate Hell. So what do they do with something they hate? They eliminate it! Now the national media is in on the fun saying there is no real Hell. A recent issue of Time magazine even had as its cover story the question, "What if there's no Hell?" which focuses on a 40-year old evangelical preacher by the name of Rob Bell. Bell is the head of a megachurch in Michigan called Mars Hill Bible Church which boasts of 7,000 members attending its services each Sunday. Rob Bell and others are leading the charge in the new apostasy movement in saying there's no Hell for anyone.


Rapture Ready Radio Live

On Tuesday, April 26th, I was interviewed by host Matt Buff and Chris Quintana of the Rapture Ready Radio Live Tuesday radio show, broadcast on BlogTalkRadio. During the second half hour of their two hour live show we took a look at the tough questions concerning Heaven and Hell, did Jesus go to Hell, and what was the point of the Resurrection. Do not miss a minute!


Play MP3

(My apologies for not having a written transcript of this interview available. Please visit this article for supplemental material.)

Friday, May 27, 2011

From Islam to Christianity: Mohammad Versus Jesus

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan


What are the differences between Mohammad and Jesus?

Dr. Mark Gabriel was brought up in Egypt as a Muslim in a devout Muslim family. He had the entire Quran memorized by the time he was 12 years old! He attended Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the Harvard of the Arab world, where he graduated second in a class of 6,000. He then became a professor of Islamic history at the University. He also became a Muslim Imam, the equivalent of a Christian pastor, at a Mosque in Giza where the pyramids are located.

But, when Mark began to publicly question some aspects of Islam he was suddenly arrested, tortured, and nearly killed before he was rescued from prison by a politically powerful uncle. When he returned home he met a Christian pharmacist who gave him a Bible. He started reading the New Testament and encountered Jesus and a sense of inner peace like he had never experienced before.

When Mark revealed that he had become a Christian, his father tried to kill him to save the honor of the family. He finally fled to South Africa where he was given refuge by a Christian family. Assassins pursued him to South Africa and nearly killed him. He then fled to the Congo and finally came to the United States where he was granted religious asylum.

Mark travels extensively, telling the truth about the religion of Islam. Mark is also the best selling author of three books published by Charisma Press: Islam and the Jews, and Jesus and Mohammad, Islam and Terrorism, a must read for anyone who wants to understand the war against terrorism in which the West is engaged.


Dr. Mark Gabriel


The Islamic View of Jesus

Dr. Reagan: Mark, let's talk a little about the Muslim view of Jesus. I read in the paper where a Muslim Imam was invited to speak at a large Christian church in the Chicago area. And, when he got up to speak, the very first thing he said was, "I want you to know that we Muslims love Jesus as much as you Christians do." Was that an accurate statement or not?

Mark Gabriel: Absolutely it's not! The statement of this man is a deceitful statement. Why? Because the image of Jesus Christ in the brain of Muslims in the Quran and in the Hadith which are the teaching of Mohammad is totally different than the biblical Jesus. The Quranic teaching and the Islamic teaching about Jesus is that Jesus is the son of Mary and he was born from Mary through a miracle performed by Allah. He cannot be the Son of God. He cannot be God. He didn't shed his blood. All the biblical views about the identity of Jesus Christ are misinterpreted by the Quran and by the Islamic teaching. When this man makes a statement like that, he absolutely deceives the Christian congregation and church, just as the Muslim imam did after September 11 when he deceived the world through the secular media by claiming that Islam is a peaceful religion. It's the same.

Dr. Reagan: Let me make sure I understand this. They do believe in a miracle birth for Jesus, but the Mary that they identify is confused, because isn't Mary the mother of Jesus identified in the Quran as Mary the sister of Moses?

Mark Gabriel: Exactly. It's one of the historical mistakes in the Quran.

Dr. Reagan: Yes, there are a lot of mistakes made from the Old Testament. I get the impression that in his travels Mohammad probably talked to a lot of Jews and Christians and heard these stories, but he got them all mixed up.

Mark Gabriel: There are historical mistakes and linguistic mistakes. As we talk about the contradictions in the Quran we also have to talk also about the historical mistakes.

Dr. Reagan: So, they view Jesus' birth as miraculous in some way or other, although it is from the wrong person. And, then they argue that Jesus was not God in the flesh, but basically just a great prophet, right?

Mark Gabriel: Yes. Jesus was considered one of the last of the greatest prophets like Mohammad, Moses, Jesus and Abraham. Muslims consider Jesus to be one of the greatest prophets but Mohammad being the final and greatest prophet.

Dr. Reagan: Do Muslims from the Quran deny the Crucifixion?

Mark Gabriel: Absolutely, chapter number four explains this dismissal. It says Jesus never died, nor was He ever crucified. When the Jews tried to crucify Him, Allah took Him to Heaven and He's still alive in Heaven today.

Dr. Reagan: Do Muslims believe that there will be a Second Coming of Jesus?

Mark Gabriel: They do believe about the Second Coming of Jesus, yes, but the Islamic view about the Second Coming of Jesus is totally different than the biblical view. All of what Islam says about Jesus' Second Coming is that He's going to do some things.

One of these things Jesus will do when He returns is that He's going to come and kill all pigs around the world. This is from the Hadith, the word of Mohammad. Jesus is also going to come to break all the crosses around the world. He is going to stop collecting taxes from Christians. And, He is going to bring justice to the world. This is the only good point. Mohammad just picked up bits from the Bible and this is their view and their belief about His Second Coming. It's unbelievable!


Jesus vs. Mohammad

Dr. Reagan: Mark, in your book called Jesus and Mohammad: Profound Differences and Surprising Similarities, there are some similarities between Jesus and Mohammad?

Mark Gabriel: There are some similarities and they're funny similarities when you hear about them. It's not similarities like concerning the goodness of God. No, they're just normal similarities like the way he grew up and the way he acted when he was a little child.

For example, the Bible gives us prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. On the Islamic side, they claim there is a prophecy about the coming, final prophet. When Jesus was a little boy and went to the Temple at the time and Simeon prophesied over Him. Islam claims there was another Arabian guy, the cousin of his first wife, who they say also prophesied about Jesus going into the Temple and debating with the Jewish religious leaders. Mohammad also went to the religious center of Mecca and debated with religious people. So, there are some similarities like that.

Another example is Jesus chose 12 disciples to spread His message. Mohammad also chose 12 we can say friends, or 12 leaders, to lead his army and his military in exporting Islam out of Arabia.

Dr. Reagan: So, really, there are some similarities that are not really all that significant, but the contrasts are something else. To get into those contrasts, tell us a story of the Muslim woman that you met in South Africa.

Mark Gabriel: Jesus Christ came to bring hope, to bring forgiveness, to bring peace and love. Mohammad came to bring revenge, hatred, loss, killing and bloodshed. It's very obvious. For example, the Bible tells us in John 8 about the woman who committed adultery and was brought to Jesus by the Jewish people in Jerusalem. The Jewish people knew at that time that this woman according to the Law of Moses would be stoned. They really came to test this great preacher and teacher. Jesus instead commanded them, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her" (Jn. 8:2-11). Because they knew the fact about themselves that they were sinners, they just left her in front of Jesus, and they just walked away. Jesus then came to the woman and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She replied, "No one, sir." He said to her, "Then neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin." In other words, Jesus by what He did and said to this woman fulfilled His word that the Son of Man came, not to kill or destroy, but to give life. Jesus is the Way. He is the Truth. He is the Life. He came to bring life.

Dr. Reagan: What happened when a woman in adultery was brought to Mohammad?

Mark Gabriel: History repeated itself in an amazing way when 600 years later Mohammad received a Muslim woman who committed adultery. The reason why the Muslims brought her to him was because the Islamic judgment of adultery wasn't established yet in Islamic law. So, Mohammad asked the woman, "Did you really commit adultery?" She answered, "Yes, Prophet, and I am pregnant now." He then commanded her, "Fine, go back home, wait till you deliver the baby, and wait with your baby, nursing him or her for two years, and then bring your baby and come back to me." She did. She delivered the baby, she nursed the baby for two years, and she carried her baby back to Mohammad. She gave the baby a little piece of bread to eat it just to show Mohammad that the baby could now eat and that he was not in need of nursing anymore. Mohammad then took the child from her and commanded his friend to dig a hole in the ground. They put her in the hole so that only her head was above the ground. They proceeded to stone her, killing her in front of her own baby.

When I was in South Africa, I was living with a Christian family and they invited me to go meet with a Muslim woman they had met who was living in abject poverty. She was greatly honored when she found out I had been a professor at Al-Azhar University. As she began to bestow her honors I said, "You don't understand, I'm not a Muslim anymore. I have become a Christian." She was rather astonished and upset. She asked me why I would leave the Islamic religion and so I told her the story. I also told her the different stories about Jesus and Mohammad in how they handled adulterous women, and the woman just began to weep and weep and weep. I asked her why she was sobbing. She replied, "I am that woman. I am that woman. I am living here in abject poverty because I have committed adultery. My family is trying to kill me and so I am hiding out. I want Jesus. I don't want Mohammad." Through the telling of that story she accepted the Lord Jesus Christ. She delivered her baby. Her baby was baptized in the Baptist Church, and we just praised the Lord for that.


Plea to Muslims

Dr. Reagan: Mark, what would you say to any Muslim?

Mark Gabriel: I would like to say to any Muslim man or woman in any place around the world that Islam will not give you peace. Mohammad will never lead you to a right way to connect with God and to experience His love, His forgiveness and His peace. Only Jesus Christ can give you peace in your life and can forgive you of your sin. He can do this because He is the Lord of Lords. He is the Prince of peace. He is the forgiver. He is the one who came to tell us about the secret of Heaven. He is the one who came to connect us with God the Father.

Muslims, man or woman, please think carefully about your life and the conditions you live under. Look at the miserable lives which Muslims are living in any part around the world filled with hatred, bloodshed, killing, conflict and terrorists. There is only one way for you to get out of this mess, and that is just to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and your Savior.

By meeting with Jesus face to face, you are going to experience the gift which you are going to receive through Him. Your sins will be forgiven, your heart will fill with love, and you are going to experience the forgiveness. You are going to feel and experience the freedom from sin and from the bondage of Satan. You are going to find your way to God and you are going to find you are in the right place. I pray for you in the power of my Lord Jesus Christ, who is able to reach your heart in the same way He did with me.


[Editor's Note: This interview has been edited for publication. The full transcript is available by clicking the pdf icon above.]

Thursday, May 26, 2011

From Islam to Christianity: Quran Versus the Bible

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

What are the differences between the Quran and the Bible?

Dr. Mark Gabriel was brought up in Egypt as a Muslim in a devout Muslim family. He had the entire Quran memorized by the time he was 12 years old! He attended Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the Harvard of the Arab world, where he graduated second in a class of 6,000. He then became a professor of Islamic history at the University. He also became a Muslim Imam, the equivalent of a Christian pastor, at a Mosque in Giza where the pyramids are located.

But, when Mark began to publicly question some aspects of Islam he was suddenly arrested, tortured, and nearly killed before he was rescued from prison by a politically powerful uncle. When he returned home he met a Christian pharmacist who gave him a Bible. He started reading the New Testament and encountered Jesus and a sense of inner peace like he had never experienced before.

When Mark revealed that he had become a Christian, his father tried to kill him to save the honor of the family. He finally fled to South Africa where he was given refuge by a Christian family. Assassins pursued him to South Africa and nearly killed him. He then fled to the Congo and finally came to the United States where he was granted religious asylum.

Mark travels extensively, telling the truth about the religion of Islam. Mark is also the best selling author of three books published by Charisma Press: Islam and the Jews, and Jesus and Mohammad, Islam and Terrorism, a must read for anyone who wants to understand the war against terrorism in which the West is engaged.


Dr. Mark Gabriel


The Quran

Mark Gabriel: The Quran, as Muslims believe, is considered the holy book of Islam. The size of the Quran is exactly like the size of the books of the New Testament. The book contains 114 chapters which in the Arabic language are called Surahs.

The book is considered as the Muslims believe the word of Allah, which was revealed directly from Allah to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel.

Dr. Reagan: The Bible has lots of stories. It tells this story and that story and the relationship with God. The nature of God is taught through stories. But, you don't find that in the Quran, do you?

Mark Gabriel: No. Actually, the Quran wasn't really organized logically. Usually when the Quran discusses a specific story for example like the story of Abraham, or the story of Joseph, or the story of Moses, you are going to see that this story is all over the Quran.

Dr. Reagan: All over, it's like somebody shot a shotgun?

Mark Gabriel: Exactly. When the Quran was translated into English or another foreign non-Arabic language, they just transferred the meaning of the Quran to the English or other language. But, if you try to study and learn about the Quran from the English translation, you are going to miss more than 60% or maybe 70% of the real meaning of the Quran.

Dr. Reagan: I find it one of the most difficult books I've ever tried to read in my life because it is so disjointed. There is a sentence here, and then the next sentence may not have anything to do with that sentence and the one after it may not have anything to do with it.

Mark Gabriel: Exactly.

Dr. Reagan: It's like in American literature we have what's called "stream of consciousness writing," where the person just writes whatever pops into his mind. He may be talking about a carnival here and about going to church there and whatever and it just has no relationship one to the other. It's very difficult to follow.

Mark Gabriel: Exactly.

Dr. Reagan: The Quran is supposed to be the words of Allah?

Mark Gabriel: Yes.


The Hadith

Dr. Reagan: The Hadith is another book in the Islamic theology. What is the Hadith?

Mark Gabriel: The Hadith is the other words of Mohammad. Hadith means what Mohammad said and what he did. It's the record of Mohammad — his life, his activity, his word, his action, his teaching. The Muslims call it the Hadith.

Dr. Reagan: So one, the Quran, is supposed to be the words of God, and the Hadith contains the words of Mohammad?

Mark Gabriel: Hadith is the words of the prophet Mohammad.

Dr. Reagan: Are they considered to be equal?

Mark Gabriel: Muslims are required to believe in both books. For Muslims, it's not enough to just believe in the Quran and decline or deny the Hadith. According to the Islamic law, if any Muslim is going to deny any of the basic teachings of Islam he will be a convert. He will be out of Islam. And, Hadith is one of the most basic in the Islamic faith.

Dr. Reagan: Another difference between the Quran and the Bible is that the Bible was written by individuals like Moses, or Paul in the New Testament, where they sat down and they wrote letters or they recorded histories. But, Mohammad never did really just sit down and write the Quran or write the Hadith, did he?

Mark Gabriel: No. For example, with the Quran he was usually in trances and he would make statements and people would write those down, and all of that was compiled later on after his death. The Hadith is just statements that were compiled by compilers. They might be statements that wives remembered or friends remembered and they just kind of put them all together.


Contradictions

Dr. Reagan: In the Quran as well as in the Hadith there are a lot of contradictions. For example, you can find verses in the Quran that talk about loving Jews and Christians and treating them with respect. Then you can find verses that talk about killing them. How do you account for these contradictions? Did Allah change his mind?

Mark Gabriel: Muslims justify these contradictions by an Arabic term and the Muslim and Islamic principle. They call it naskh or nesk or neska. This principle means that a future verse is going to cancel out the previous verse. So, a later verse would cancel out an earlier verse that might contradict it. But, if you ask them why did Allah do that, they will say that he did that for the benefit of Muslims and for the benefit of the people.

Like, for example, when Mohammad started to preach about his religion to the people in Arabia at that time, there were alcoholics. They loved alcohol and they could not live without alcohol. Mohammad discovered it was going to be too difficult to give them a command to stop drinking alcohol and to obey his command. So, what he did was he just gave them a halfway command. He said to them something like, "No problem, keep drinking alcohol, but when you are going to come to pray at the mosque, you have to stop drinking alcohol until you've finished your prayer. After you've finished the prayer, then you can go back and drink alcohol again." After awhile he came back to them and said, "No, this doesn't work. No alcohol is going to be allowed anymore." Later, another verse came and cancelled out that previous verse. The Muslims became very upset and very angry asking, "But how come we can't do that?" So, a later verse basically says, "Okay, don't worry, be patient, believe in Allah, believe in his prophet Mohammad, believe in his Quranic word and if you are going to have the ability, and you are going to stop drinking alcohol in your life, well Allah is not going to forget that. He will reward you with a river of alcohol in Paradise on the day when he sends you to Paradise."

Dr. Reagan: So, we go from just drinking alcohol occasionally to not drinking it during prayers to not drinking at all to you're going to have a river of alcohol in heaven?

Mark Gabriel: Exactly. This is the development of the contradiction of the teaching of the Quran.

Dr. Reagan: Do you find the same in the attitude toward Jews and Christians?

Mark Gabriel: Absolutely. It was an ongoing development that took place between Mohammad and the Jews and Christians. Firstly, Mohammad started as adoring the Christians and the Jews, saying wonderful things about them such as, "People of God" and "the people who carry His word" and "the people who protect His word." Later, Mohammad added like, "Yes, you are these people, but listen, I am the final prophet who came with the final testament. You have to believe in me." He made these claims when he started to debate the Jews and Christians and reach out to them. They refused. They asked him for a sign. The Quran records that they asked him for a sign so that they could believe. Mohammad of course could not give a sign and so he went back to Allah and cried before Allah, "Help me to perform a miracle or give a sign to these people so that they can follow me!" Allah became very upset with Mohammad and said to him, "Okay, listen, go back to these Jewish people and these Christian people and tell them, 'Allah gave you plenty of miracles in the Old Testament and you always rebelled against him. No more miracles! There is only one way to submit to Islam — to accept Islam or to pay the tax, and if you refuse to do so you will be killed.'" So, it was a development of contradictions in the teachings of the Quran towards the Christians and the Jews.


In the second half of this interview with Dr. Mark Gabriel, we'll ask him what the Muslim view of Jesus is and compare and contrast Mohammad against Jesus.


[Editor's Note: This interview has been edited for publication. The full transcript is available by clicking the pdf icon above.]

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

From Islam to Christianity: The Mark Gabriel Story

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

What happens when a Muslim converts to Christianity?

I had the opportunity to ask this and many other questions of Dr. Mark Gabriel, an Egyptian and former professor of Islamic history at Al-Azhar University in Cairo. He was also an imam who had the entire Quran memorized by the time he was 12 years old. His questioning of Islam led him to endure intense persecution, but to find his salvation in Jesus Christ. This is his story.


Dr. Mark Gabriel


Islamic Upbringing

Mark Gabriel: I was born in the south part of Egypt, and my family moved to Cairo when I was almost 14 years old. My parents were strict Muslims and very devout, not the secular type of Muslim that we often encounter in this country.

I had an uncle who was mostly a cleric and an imam also. He was the one who first began to inspire me to memorize the Quran. He took me when I was five years old, and he started helping me in memorizing the Quran. By the time I was 12 years old I had the entire Quran memorized. I spent almost seven years exactly to finish memorizing the entire book. The size of the Quran is exactly like the size of the New Testament. By the time I was 12 years old I had memorized it by heart in the classical Arabic, because the language of the Quran is classic Arabic and not dialect Arabic — the Arabic you speak on the streets.

It wasn't until after I had finished my secondary school and started high school that I began to understand the meaning of the verses and teachings of the Quran. But, it was a development you see from the time I finished the Quran when I was 12 years old until I finished my bachelor's degree. It was a development taking place in understanding the meaning of this book. But, when I finished my bachelor degree, I finally then had the proper understanding of the meaning of this book.

Dr. Reagan: Now, why was it important for you to memorize the Quran as a child? Why did anybody put any importance on that? Is that something important in Islamic society?

Mark Gabriel: Mainly, it's Islamic culture, and it hasn't been just from the past ten years or fifty years. It's a part of Islamic culture from the very earliest time of the first century of Islam. Muslims started to take care to pass the Quran from generation to generation by memorizing the book by heart.

Dr. Reagan: Were you ever exposed to any Christians while you were growing up, either missionaries or Coptic Christians, who represent the basic Christianity of Egypt?

Mark Gabriel: Absolutely. I saw Christians living in my neighborhood and country of Egypt as a minority. The Christians of Egypt don't have really any power to influence Muslims. This is the reason why I wasn't influenced by this type of Christianity during my life, because the Christianity in Egypt is so traditional. More than 90% of Egyptian Christians are traditionally a very liturgical type.

But, there was one incident that happened when I was a child of 15 with a Christian Coptic priest from that church. What happened at that time really left a huge influence over my spiritual life.

I became really upset and very angry at Christians and Jews because of the teachings I had started to receive everyday in my school, especially when I was in my secondary school at Al-Azhar Islamic Institute. One day I found a Christian priest in that church who was using the road outside of my house, going from his place to his monastery everyday. And so, I would stand in front of my house and I began to hit him with stones. I injured him in his head terribly and they took him to the hospital.

This priest when he got out of the hospital, he came to find out what was going on with me and why I was treating him that way. He came back and found me because he knew my house and he even knew my family. This man did not come for revenge or to treat me in the same way, but he came to advise me that there is a fire inside me, and he said that fire was going to burn me before burning others. He also came to tell me that he forgave me even though I injured him, and he just came to show me that he loved me. He forgave me when he said, "There is no reason for you to hate me or treat me that way." This really influenced my spiritual life even after I grew up and became one of the best students at my university.


Islamic Reaction to Questioning Islam

Dr. Reagan: You were basically sitting on top of the world as a professor of Islamic history at Al-Azhar University. You were also a Muslim imam at a mosque in Giza, right?

Mark Gabriel: Yes, Giza City.

Dr. Reagan: You had all the academic prestige in the world, and yet one day you made a comment recorded in your book Jesus and Mohammed that you were a person who questioned things, and you were told at the university, "you don't question." Yet, you kept on questioning, and one day in a conversation with colleagues you made this statement: "We say the Quran is directly from Allah, but I doubt it. I see in it the thoughts of man and not the words of God."

Mark Gabriel: This is what happened in the meeting between me and the other professors from the university. They had just met with me to discuss what was going on and what they had heard from the students. They were thinking that I was under the pressure of some former Christian influence. They just wanted to find out why I am doubting Islam, so I made that statement to them. They became very upset with me and they kicked me out of the university. The university fired me.

On that same day in the evening time I was kidnapped by Egyptian secret police because they accused me of having converted from Islam. They put me in a little cell in the headquarters of the Egyptian secret service in the center of Cairo. They put me in there for three days with no food or water.

On the fourth day they started to interrogate me. They took me to one of the offices, maybe on the sixth or seventh floor, and interrogated me during the day. On the fourth day they started giving me food and water again because they wanted to stimulate me and get whatever information they could. They found out during that time that they could not get what they were looking for. They started interrogating me during the evening time which was a time of torture. They burned me with cigarettes on different places on my body like on my hand. They beat me. They put me in cold water. They put me in a little tank filled with water and they put hungry rats inside that tank with me. All night the rats were just swimming over the water around my head, though the rats didn't bite. The next day they took me out and I was surprised that I was still alive. I did not know what was next.

Next, the interrogators put me in a little cell with a vicious, hungry dog. After they put me in the room and closed the door and I just sat in the middle of the room thinking that I was going to be eaten by the dog. I was so surprised when the dog came up and just sat at my right hand side and began licking me on my ears.

Dr. Reagan: They must have thought that you were Satan or something to have such power.

Mark Gabriel: They said that! They said, "Is this a human being or something else?" They believed that there was some spirit or some ancient power in me.

Dr. Reagan: At that point didn't they decide to turn you over to some guys in a cell and tell them that you had renounced Islam and let them kill you?

Mark Gabriel: Yes. Their understanding was that I had been questioned by professors at the university and I had been fired by the university. To them it meant that this guy was just out of Islam and had converted. In fact, they wanted to find out what missionary had converted me, though I hadn't been converted. I had no idea about Christianity at that time, or about Christ. I never even discussed Christianity, but in Egypt when someone decides to leave Islam they will automatically accuse him that he came under pressure of the Church or some Christian, and say he converted you to Christianity.

Dr. Reagan: How in the world did you get out of that situation without losing your life?

Mark Gabriel: I was crying to the God who created me at that time. I didn't know who he was. After 15 days, my uncle who was working as the Vice President of Egyptian Parliament and was visiting Russia at that time, when came back he heard about my kidnapping. He then came with permission from the government and he came with his car and he took me out of the prison.


Family Reaction to Questioning Islam

Mark Gabriel: One year after I got out of prison and back home my father tried to kill me. I had been searching for God and trying to find out who God was. I had received a Bible from a Christian pharmacist. When I started reading the Bible, I started to find out the truth about Christ. After I gave my life to the Lord, I lived for one whole year as a secret believer. When my father heard about my conversion, he shot at me with his own gun. He tried to kill me. He felt that there would be a shame that was going to be over him, his life, the family and even the community.

After my father shot at me and tried to kill me for what he saw as me running away from his faith, I went to my sister. At my sister's house I put the whole situation in front of the Lord, and the Lord led me to get out of Egypt. That same evening my sister helped me by bringing my passport and other stuff.


On the Run From Islam

Mark Gabriel: I fled from my family to South Africa by road traveling from Cairo to South Africa. It took three months over the road. I was the first Egyptian who did an overland journey between Cairo and Johannesburg.

In South Africa I met with many Christians and many churches there started to hear about my story. The public media in South Africa published articles about my story. After I wrote my first book while in South Africa, my activity became very well known and the Muslim community felt threatened by my activity there and by my book being released in Johannesburg in 1996. They tried to end my life there three times.

Dr. Reagan: So, just because you questioned Islam, this "religion of peace" kidnaps you, tortures you, tries to kill you, and even sends assassins to kill you in South Africa. That's some "religion of peace" isn't it?

Mark Gabriel: Yes, this is how the world has been really deceived by the secular world media. Islam is not a religion of peace.


The Appeal of Christianity

Dr. Reagan: What appealed to you about Christianity?

Mark Gabriel: Before I met Christ, I lived for 34 years under Islam, believing in Islam, serving Islam, learning about Islam, teaching about Islam. I lived another year without faith after I found myself out of Islam. So, I lived for 35 years searching for peace, searching for the true God, who was going to show me that he loves me more than anything in this world. Through the Quran, through the teaching of the prophet of Islam, I never experienced something like that.

Before I was given a Bible from the doctor of a pharmacy, I had lived for a whole year searching for God and asking myself who God could be. I had terrible headaches. Everyday I went to the doctor at the pharmacy to get headache tablets. She finally gave me a Bible along with the headache tablets. I took the Bible in one hand and headache tablets in the other hand.

When I started reading the Bible, I met the Lord Jesus Christ face to face through the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter five. He was telling me about love. I was to love my enemy, not kill my enemy. The word of the Bible, the word of Jesus Christ, that evening came to me just like a beautiful rain. I began to find the peace and forgiveness that had eluded me all those years. I felt for the first time that my sins had been forgiven, and I had been justified by the blood of Jesus.

You see, I had lived for 35 years with the guilt of my sin, the guilt of living as a lost person. In Islam I didn't know who was going to forgive my sin. I didn't know who was going to rescue me from the punishment of Allah. I had no assurance that I could be in a right place to live there eternally. In Islam you never really know for sure whether you are saved or not. Muhammad didn't know whether he was saved or not. Isn't that something?


Testifying to Islam for Christ

Mark Gabriel: When I finally made it to the United States, I was given religious asylum in this country. I had a remarkable experience in Washington D.C. after somebody told me that there was going to be a Muslim imam who would be speaking at George Mason University. I went there and found out this man had been a Baptist pastor from Texas. He had converted to Islam and he was now preaching for Islam at George Mason University by sharing his testimony.

After the pastor turned imam finished his speech, he requested that if there was anyone who had a question to raise his hand. I found that my hand was the first hand up. First of all I identified myself as a former professor of Islamic history at a university. The imam was so impressed by that he said something like, "Oh, honored professor, please come up here and take over the podium." The next thing I knew, I was on the stage at the podium in charge of the whole meeting and asking him the questions.

I asked him, "Sir, when did you make that decision to leave Christianity to become a Muslim?" He answered, "Eight years ago." I thought, "This is like myself." My next question was, "Since you converted to Islam and you left Christianity, were any churches or any Christians ordered to kill you because the Bible said that the penalty of Christian apostasy is death?" He replied, "No." I asked, "Did the F.B.I. persecute you here, or arrest you here, or torture you here because you left Christianity to become a Muslim?" He confirmed, "No." I said to him, "Sir, I am a human being like you, and I have the right to make a decision to change my religion or my faith like you, and I was a Muslim like you. I was an imam, as you were a pastor, and I made the same decision you made, but the difference between me and you is how I was treated by Islam. I was fired from my university. I was kidnapped by the secret police. I was tortured. I lost my family. I lost my country. The sword of Islam is on my neck wherever I go. Why? Because the Quran says that the penalty for Muslim apostasy is death." He was shocked.

Dr. Reagan: Isn't it amazing how the Lord works! You showed him immediately the differences between Christianity and Islam in that if he leaves Islam every Muslim will try to kill him and kick him out of his family. When he left Christianity, none of that happened to him. And yet, Islam is supposed to be the "religion of peace."

Mark Gabriel: The imam is still enjoying his life in America because of the freedom brought to this country through the Christian and the biblical principles.

Dr. Reagan: I'm struck by the point that you made a few moments ago about no one in Islam knowing for sure whether they are ever saved or not. Unless they die as a martyr, they have no assurance of salvation.

Mark Gabriel: Yes, that is absolutely true.

Dr. Reagan: There is no assurance, and again, even Mohammed did not know for sure whether he was saved or not?

Mark Gabriel: Yes.

Dr. Reagan: That is a horrible thing to think you have to earn your salvation. No matter how hard you work, you still don't know.

Mark Gabriel: Exactly.

Dr. Reagan: What a glorious thing it is for a person living under works to encounter the grace of God.

Mark Gabriel: Absolutely! I was questioning the doctor of pharmacy who had given me the Bible after Muslim fanatics in Egypt attacked a Christian church. I was so upset by the attack. I was such a baby Christian. I asked her, "Why can't your people defend your church and your people?" What she said to me was, "Mark, I want to say something to you. Our God, He is not in need for us to defend him, or to kill others to defend him, or to defend His church. Our God is strong enough to defend Himself, His name, and His people."


[Editor's Note: This interview has been edited for publication. The full transcript is available by clicking the pdf icon above.]

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The King James Code

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

There has been much hoopla recently considering Bible codes. Some claim they exist. Others deny it. But there can be no denial that the King James Bible contains a code that was devised by the translators themselves, and which, unfortunately, has been carried over into almost all translations since that time. I say unfortunately because I believe the King James Bible code has robbed the Bible of some of its meaning and impact.


The Reasons for the Code

The code was based upon the Jewish tradition of never pronouncing the name of God. The rabbis felt that God's name was so holy that when they came to it in the Hebrew scriptures, they refused to pronounce it. They would, instead, substitute for it the Hebrew word, Adonai, which means Lord.

Another motivation for refusing to pronounce the Lord's name was to keep from violating the third commandment, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain" (Exodus 20:7). They believed that if they never pronounced God's name, they could never violate this commandment.


God's Personal Name

The name of God is Yahweh. Bible scholars refer to this name as the "tetragrammaton" (meaning "[a word] having four letters"). No one knows for certain that this is the true name of God, but that is the consensus of opinion by scholars. The reason there is doubt is because the name is rendered in Hebrew as YHWH. There were no vowels in biblical Hebrew, so the correct pronunciation cannot be determined from the text, and since the Jews developed a tradition of not pronouncing the name, its pronunciation was lost over a period of time.

When transliterating Hebrew into English, another tradition developed of substituting the letter J for Y. Thus, Yerushalayim became Jerusalem, Yosef became Joseph, Ya'acov became Jacob, and Yeshua became Jesus. The translators also converted the Hebrew W into V. So, they took YHWH and transformed it into JHVH, and then they added vowels to produce Jehovah as the name of God. But again, the consensus of scholarly opinion is that the name of God was pronounced Yahweh. And therefore, a term like Jehovah-jirah (Genesis 22:14), meaning "The Lord my provider," should really be pronounced Yahweh-yirah.

In the King James Bible, the translators actually used the word Jehovah for the name of God in four places (Exodus 6:3; Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 12:2; and Isaiah 26:4). They used the name three times in titles given to God, such as "Jehovah-jirah" in Genesis 22:14 (see also Exodus 17:15 and Judges 6:24).


The Revelation of God's Name

Yahweh first appears in the Bible in Genesis 2:4 where it is used in conjunction with Adonai. It appears in the Hebrew text as Yahweh Elohim (Yahweh God) and is translated into English as LORD God. The first use of the name alone is in Genesis 4:1 where Eve is quoted as saying the birth of Cain was due to the help of Yahweh. In English translations, the statement appears as follows: "I have gotten a manchild with the help of the LORD."

In Exodus 3 we are told that God spoke to Moses from the burning bush and told him to go to Pharaoh and demand the release of the children of Israel from captivity (Exodus 3:1-12). Moses responded by asking what he would say when Pharaoh requested the name of his God (Exodus 3:13). God told Moses to tell Pharaoh that he had been sent by "Yahweh the God of your fathers." The English translation is "The LORD, the God of your fathers" (Exodus 3:15).

Later, God spoke to Moses again and said, "I am Yahweh, and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai [God Almighty], but by My name, Yahweh, I did not make Myself known to them" (Exodus 6:2-3). The English translations usually read: "I am the LORD, and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, I did not make Myself known to them." Notice how much more meaningful this statement is when the actual name of God — Yahweh — is used. In fact, the statement really doesn't make any sense unless Yahweh is used.

This statement in Exodus 6 makes it clear that God did not reveal his personal name to anyone before the time of Moses. Therefore, when the name is used in Genesis, it appears there because those passages were written by Moses who applied the name retroactively to a period of history when it was unknown.


The King James Code

Now, to avoid the use of the sacred, personal name of God, the King James translators developed a code that is still used in most versions today, even the modern ones. The code is as follows:

1) Elohim is rendered as God (Genesis 1:1).

2) Yahweh is rendered as LORD — all in capital letters (Genesis 4:1).

3) Adonai is rendered as Lord — a capital L followed by lower case letters (Genesis 18:27).

4) Adonai Yahweh is rendered as Lord GOD (Genesis 15:2).

5) Yahweh Elohim is rendered as LORD God (Genesis 2:4).

So, every time the personal name of God — Yahweh — appears, it is rendered as LORD unless it appears in conjunction with Adonai, in which case it is rendered GOD. But either way, its presence is always indicated by all capital letters.

To say the least, it is very confusing. And, as I have already indicated with Exodus 6:2-3, the code can rob the passage of its meaning.


A Solution

It would be a blessing if modern translators would drop this confusing and misleading code and simply translate the personal name of God as Yahweh.

I'm glad to report that the new Holman Christian Standard Bible, published in 2004 and sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention, uses the name, Yahweh, in crucial places where it is necessary for a passage to make sense. The first edition did this in 78 places. The second edition, which appeared in 2009, expanded the use of Yahweh to 495 places. The tetragrammaton actually appears 6,828 times in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Think of it this way — Would you want someone who loves you to always call you by a title? Would you want them to say, "I love you madam," or "I love you mister"? Or would you want them to use your name?


Intimacy Requires a Name

God has a personal name. The biblical writers who had a personal relationship with Him used that name repeatedly in adoration and praise of Him. Why shouldn't we? He desires intimacy with us (John 4:23).

Before I had a personal relationship with God's Son, I always called him by His title, Christ (Messiah). But once I came to know Him, I started calling Him by His personal name, Jesus (Yeshua). Which do you think He would prefer to hear: "I love you, Christ" or "I love you, Jesus"? I don't think there is any doubt.

"God spoke further to Moses and said to him, 'I am Yahweh... My name is Yahweh.'" (Exodus 6:2-3)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Nicaragua Mission Trip Update

Nathan JonesBy Nathan Jones

On May 11-16, 2011, just as the dry summer months abruptly morphed into the rainy "winter" season in Nicaragua, I left the familiar of the United States and traveled to an entirely different world. My purpose in going to Nicaragua was to bring your blessed encouragement and support to one of Lamb & Lion's newest and youngest supported evangelists — 30 year old Donald Dolmus.


The differences between the two nations are at first starkly obvious. Nicaragua is a nation which has been crushed economically under the politically oppressive years of Daniel Ortega's socialist government, a government openly hostile to the United States and Israel. Socialism has left the people in abject poverty, second only to Haiti as the poorest Gulf of Mexico nations. Their people are denied land ownership due to outrageous interest rates and well paying jobs are rare. Many sell food like rosquillas (kind of like pretzels) on little tables on the side of the road to make ends meet.

Signs of this depression can be found everywhere throughout the country by the almost total lack of maintained infrastructure, like good roads and water/sewage. When the garbage on the sides of the roads builds up too much, it is burned, producing smoking fires everywhere. Like the worst inner city neighborhood, their entire capital of Managua reels under high crime and violence, and so all homes are encased in wrought iron and barbed wire with only a tin roof to keep out the rains.

Nicaragua also suffers spiritually under gross apostasy, and there the similarities to America are striking. Catholicism in its purest idolatrous practice dominates the culture, and the Protestant denominations are rife with Kingdom Now and "name it and claim it" false theology.

And yet, despite all the hardships the Nicaraguans endure, their people are a warm and friendly bunch, especially Donald. Donald has a lovely family. His supportive wife Linda keeps a good house and his little son Isai is just the cutest little guy. Donald himself has a fairly good job at a local bank, and is a great husband and father.


Dolmus Family

In response to his growing dismay over the sorry state of the Nicaraguan church, Donald began using any free time he could to devote to his preaching and online ministry En Defensa de le Fe (In Defense of the Faith) at www.endefensadelafe.org. He's using his bilingual talents to translate a good number of our ministry's articles and repurposed them on his website, extending our ministry's outreach far into the Spanish speaking world. He was encouraged by his friend Carlos, who himself has three blogs supporting Israel and teaching on the Millennial Kingdom.

En Defensa's website statistics reveal that in the Spanish speaking world there's a deep hunger for learning about Jesus' soon return. One such person is Roger Lopez, a humble janitor at Donald's bank who making only $150 per month spends what funds he can scrape together to buy materials on Bible prophecy. I got the pleasure of meeting Roger and deliver one of Dr. Reagan's God's Plan for the Ages books which he received with such joy. He showed me his binder of printed Lamplighter magazines and how though not knowing English, he uses a dictionary to translate word for word into Spanish. Now that's a passion for God's Word!


Roger Lopez

Donald's church, Camino de Santidad (Way of Holiness), is like an oasis in an ocean of doctrinal confusion. The congregation just loves Pastor Mario and praise his devotion to sound biblical teaching.


Pastor Mario

That teaching sure shows as the congregation sat so attentively to Donald and my Saturday Bible prophecy conference. While I spoke on Heaven and Israel, Donald translated, as well as preached himself on Replacement Theology. They sat for two hours per sermon listening, a timespan few Americans would endure. They followed up by a deep Q&A time and held the most vibrant prayer time afterwards. That church sure knows how to worship!


Dolmus Conference

I left Nicaragua feeling an "eternity" moment. You know, that coming time when all of God's people despite origin, tribe and tongue will dwell together as brothers and sisters in Christ one day. It'll be a blessed time where we all share the one thing that unites us — our passion for our Lord Jesus Christ. I got a taste of that in Nicaragua, and I hope you do too in getting to know Donald Dolmus and his wonderful Bible prophecy ministry.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Celebrating 400 Years of the KJV: Response to Defenders

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

As you can see, there has been a flood of new translations since 1950, and the listing above does not contain paraphrases that range from the conservative (The Living Bible) to the liberal (The Message). Nor have I listed a number of very liberal translations. When you consider the sudden appearance of all these translations, there can be no doubt that people are seeking Bibles they can easily understand.

All these new Bibles have promoted King James users to dig in their heels. They greet every new version with derision and harsh criticism. Often their attacks get out of hand as they dub the new versions "Satan inspired." Some even argue that the King James Version is a sacred, inerrant translation and that it is therefore the only "perfect" translation that exists today.31 Any survey of the history of English Bibles like the one I have presented above makes the King James perfection claim a laugh.

The more responsible critics usually point to what they call the "erosion" of the New Testament by the modern translations. They argue that the Greek text for the New Testament that was compiled by Erasmus (1466-1536) and published in 1516 is the only proper basis for a New Testament translation, and they point out that it was what was used for the King James Version. This text became known as the Textus Receptus.

They then attack the modern translations for abandoning the Textus Receptus and relying instead on the Greek text compiled by B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort and published in 1881. They argue that although the Westcott and Hort version is based upon much earlier manuscripts than those used by Erasmus, the manuscripts are unreliable because they are "Catholic manuscripts." This accusation is based on the fact that one of the manuscripts was found at a Catholic monastery in the Sinai desert and the other at the Vatican in Rome.

These attacks on the Westcott-Hort text are really irrelevant, for although the Westcott-Hort text was the "standard" critical Greek text for a couple of generations, it is no longer considered as such, and it has not served as the New Testament text for any of the modern translations. The standard text today is the Nestle-Aland text (1st edition in 1898; 27th edition, 1993).

The truth of the matter is that none of the Greek texts are perfect. They represent a pasting together of segments of the most ancient manuscripts. Erasmus did his best, but there have been thousands of manuscripts discovered since he put together his compilation, and many of those are much older than anything he had to work with. Furthermore, none of the differences in the compilations have any effect on the basic doctrines and truths of the New Testament.

The King James defenders need to keep in mind that the major purpose of the new conservative translations is twofold: greater accuracy and easier to understand language. How can you fault those aims? Here's how one person has summed it up:32

We must remember that the main purpose of the Protestant Reformation was to get the Bible out of the chains of being trapped in an ancient language that few could understand, and into the modern, spoken, conversational language of the present day. William Tyndale fought and died for the right to print the Bible in the common, spoken, modern English tongue of his day...

Will we now go backwards and seek to imprison God's Word once again exclusively in ancient translations?


Thanks to the King James Version

The King James Version was a great Bible for its day and time. It has served the English speaking peoples well for several centuries. The time has come to lay it to rest with honor and dignity and with heart-felt thanks. It has stamped our language indelibly. It has inspired many generations. Most important, it has opened the door to God for millions of people by delivering them from spiritual darkness into the light of the glory of Jesus Christ.


Notes

30) Jeffcoat, "English Bible History," page 9.

31) For an example of a "KJV Only" article, see: James L. Melton, "How I Know the King James Bible is the Word of God," www.avi611.org/kjv/knowkjv.html.

32) Jeffcoat, "English Bible History," page 9.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Celebrating 400 Years of the KJV: Modern Translations

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

The King James Bible remained supreme for a peak period of 250 years, from 1700 to 1950. During that time it became the only book in the world to exceed one billion copies.23

The first serious challenge to the King James Version appeared in 1885 when the English Revised Version was published in England. Its stated purpose was "to adapt the King James Version to the present state of the English language... and to the present standards of biblical scholarship."24

The English Revised Version was noted for being the first Bible to ever be published without the Apocrypha (14 intertestament books). Until that time, all Bibles, both Protestant and Catholic — including the King James Bible — had been published with the Apocrypha.

American scholars followed suit in 1901 with the publication of the American Standard Version. It was nearly identical to the English Revised Version except for the much more frequent use of the term Jehovah in the Old Testament.25

By the mid-20th Century the wording of the King James Version had become antiquated to the point that many words were unintelligible and others actually meant the opposite of their original meaning. This serious problem prompted an explosion of new translations and paraphrases during the second half of the century.


Recent American Translations

The Revised Standard Version of the New Testament appeared in 1946. The Old Testament text came out in 1952.26 This version was denounced by conservatives as a "liberal translation." Particularly controversial was its translation of Isaiah 7:14 where the word previously translated as "virgin" was changed to "young woman." This Bible was quickly adopted by most of the mainline denominations.

In 1971 the complete New American Standard Bible was published.27 It constituted an extensive revision of the American Standard Bible of 1901. It was quickly adopted by Evangelicals because it is considered by many to be the most accurate word-for-word translation that has been produced in the English language. It was updated in 1995 to make it more readable.

The New International Version was published in full in 1973.28 It offered a "dynamic equivalent" conservative translation, meaning it sought thought-for-thought accuracy rather than word-for-word. It was also aimed at a junior high school reading level. It was ridiculed by Fundamentalists as the "Nearly Inspired Version," but it has quickly become the best-selling modern-English translation.

The New King James Version appeared in 1982.29 It attempted to keep the basic wording of the old King James Version in order to appeal to King James loyalists. It replaced most of the obscure words and the Elizabethan "thee, thy, and thou" pronouns. There was also an attempt to update grammar, spelling, and word order.

The dawn of the 21st Century saw the publication of the English Standard Version in 2002.30 It represents a major attempt to bridge the gap between simple readability and the precise accuracy of the New American Standard Bible. And like the old Geneva Bible, the English Standard Version has been issued in the form of a phenomenal Study Bible (2008) that is full of charts, maps, diagrams, and explanations that run 2,750 pages in length!


In the final segment, we'll continue celebrating 400 years of the King James Bible by responding to those who believe this version is the only viable translation.


Notes

23) Jeffcoat, "English Bible History," page 7.

24) Wikipedia, "Revised Version," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revised_Version, page 1.

25) Ibid., page 2.

26) Wikipedia, "Revised Standard Version," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revised_Standard_version.

27) Wikipedia, "New American Standard Bible," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_American_Standard_Version.

28) Wikipedia, "New International Version," http://en.wikipedia/wiki/New_International_Version.

29) Wikipedia, "New King James Version," http://en.wikipedia/wiki/New_King_James_Version.

30) Jeffcoat, "English Bible History," page 9.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Celebrating 400 Years of the KJV: Development

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

Queen Elizabeth was succeeded in 1603 by Prince James VI of Scotland who became King James I of England. The King inherited a church that was deeply divided between the Conformists and the Puritans. To try to settle the differences, the King called a conference in January 1604. The conference failed to produce peace between the contending groups, but it produced a call for a new authorized version of the Bible.

The plea was accepted by King James. Like Elizabeth, he hated the Geneva Bible, but he recognized that the Bishop's Bible was inferior. He desired to have a high quality English Bible that all his subjects could embrace.

A group of 47 translators were assembled, all from the Church of England. Detailed instructions were issued to guide the translation. Marginal notes were outlawed, except for the explanation of Hebrew or Greek words. The translation had to reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England.18

The translators were authorized to consult other English translations, and they did so. In fact, their work turned out to be more of a revision of existing translations than it was an original translation. They acknowledged this fact in the preface they attached to the Bible:19

Truly (good Christian reader) we never thought from the beginning, that we should need to make a new Translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one... but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principal good one...

Again, like all the previous English versions, the King James Bible retained 85 percent of the New Testament text of Tyndale. And biblical expert Edgar J. Goodspeed contends that 19/20ths of the King James Version was borrowed from previous translations.20

In obedience to their instructions, the King James translators did not provide any marginal interpretations of the text. They did, however, provide 9,000 cross references and 8,500 notes regarding alternative renderings or variant source texts.


The Ascendancy of the King James Bible

The King James Bible did not become the predominant Bible overnight. Scholars stuck with the Latin Vulgate and abandoned it slowly over the course of the 18th Century. The general public clung to the Geneva Bible for decades.


KJV Title Page

The turning point for acceptance of the King James Version occurred after the death of King James in 1625. His successor, Charles I, appointed an Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, who immediately banned the printing of the Geneva Bible in order to bring about a uniformity of Bibles. At first, this caused no problem because copies could easily be imported. But Laud later issued a further edict forbidding the Bible's importation. The last printing of this great Bible was done in Amsterdam in 1644.21

With no continuing competition, by 1700 the King James Version had become the sole English translation for use in the Protestant Churches.


KJV Hebrews

Over the years that followed, the King James Version went through many revisions. Most of these were to correct spelling errors and typographical errors. By the mid-18th Century the misprints had reached scandalous proportions. It was then decided that an attempt should be made to produce a standard text.

The first attempt was by Cambridge University scholars in 1762. Another effort was made in 1769 by Oxford University, and that edition became the standard text that is still in use today.

The Oxford edition of 1769 differs from the 1611 text in 24,000 places. Spelling and punctuation were standardized. The "supplied" words not found in the original languages were greatly revised and extended as a result of cross-checking against the presumed source texts. And in many places minor changes to the text itself were made.22


In the next segment, we'll continue celebrating 400 years of the King James Bible by looking at the more modern translations.


Notes

18) For a list of all the instructions given by King James to the translators, see, "History of the King James Version," www.bibleresearcher.com/kjvhist.html, pages 2-3.

19) Edgar J. Goodspeed, "The Translators to the Reader: Preface of the King James Version of 1611," http://watch.pair.com/thesispreface.html, page 5.

20) Ibid., page 4.

21) Dr. Herbert Samworth, "The King James Bible," http://www.solagroup.org/articles/historyofthebible/hotb_0015.html, page 3.

22) Wikipedia, "Authorized King James Version," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorized_King_James_Version, page 20.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Celebrating 400 Years of the KJV: Earlier Translations

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

The King James Version of the Bible was published 400 years ago in 1611, and it served the English-speaking world very well during the 250 years of its peak acceptance (1700 to 1950).

It was not really a new and fresh translation of the Scriptures. Rather, it was primarily a revision of previously existing translations. And for that reason, it cannot be fully appreciated apart from a history of the English translations of the Bible.


The Latin Vulgate

The first point that needs to be made clear is that the Bible used in the Western world for almost 1200 years prior to the King James Version was the Latin Vulgate (vulgate means the Latin that was commonly spoken).1 This translation was produced between 382 and 405 A.D. by Eusebius Hieronymus, better known as St. Jerome (c. 347-420 A.D.).2 He worked from Greek texts to produce his New Testament translation. When translating the Old Testament he resorted to Hebrew texts and is generally regarded as the first to do so. All previous translations of the Old Testament had been based on the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures which was produced in the 3rd Century B.C.3


St. Jerome

By the time of the King James Version, Latin had ceased to be the common language of peoples in Western Europe. It was understood primarily by the educated, and Latin Bibles were confined to libraries and churches. The average person was illiterate and had little knowledge of the Bible. Basically, all they knew about Christianity is what the Roman Church taught them, and much of that was thoroughly unbiblical.


The Wycliffe Bible

The story of English translations begins in the 14th Century with an Oxford professor and theologian by the name of John Wycliffe (c. 1328-1384).4 He was a dissident Catholic who produced hand-written translations of the Scriptures in English, all of which were translated from the Latin Vulgate. Here is a sample of his translation in 1380 of John 3:16 —

For god loued so the world; that he gaf his oon bigetun sone, that eche man that bileueth in him perisch not; but haue euerlastynge liif.5

Wycliffe's efforts to get the Scriptures into the language of the English-speaking peoples enraged the Vatican. The Church fought against the Bible being translated into vernacular languages for fear it would undermine unbiblical traditions like indulgences. The rage of the Vatican was so great, that 40 years after Wycliffe had died, the Pope ordered that his bones be dug up, crushed, and scattered in a river.6 The opposition of the Church throughout this period was, in fact, so virulent that in 1517 seven people were ordered to be burned at the stake for teaching their children to say the Lord's Prayer in English rather than in Latin.7


Johannes Gutenberg

In the midst of all this struggle to get the Bible into the languages of the people, a profound event occurred that had to represent the perfect timing of God. A German printer and publisher, Johannes Gutenberg (c. 1398-1468), invented a printing press with movable type.8 Significantly, the first thing he printed was a copy of the Latin Vulgate Bible.

Looking back on this development today, it is obvious that God was preparing the way to get His Word into the hands of the common people.


William Tyndale

The next key individual in the effort to produce an English Bible was a remarkable man named William Tyndale (c. 1494- 1536).9 In fact, he ultimately proved to be the most important person in the whole process, as we shall see.

Tyndale was a genius who was fluent in eight languages. He was the leading scholar of Greek at Cambridge University when he decided to translate the New Testament into English. When he could not get the approval of the Church for his project, he moved to the Continent and took up residence in Germany where he finished his translation in 1525. Four years later he began translating the Old Testament.

Tyndale's translations were the first in English to be based directly on Greek and Hebrew texts. His English New Testament was the first to be printed, making it available for widespread distribution. Copies were smuggled into England, resulting in Tyndale being declared a heretic. He further enraged English authorities when he wrote and published an attack in 1530 on King Henry VIII's divorce.

In 1535 Tyndale was betrayed by a friend and arrested in Brussels, Belgium, where he was imprisoned for a year before he was tried for heresy and then was strangled and burned at the stake. His last words were, "Lord! Open the King of England's eyes." Within four years his prayer was answered when the King ordered four translations of the Bible to be published in English, all of which were based on Tyndale's work.10


The Coverdale Bible

During the year Tyndale was imprisoned, two of his disciples completed translating the Old Testament into English. They were Myles Coverdale (c. 1488-1569) and John Rogers (c. 1500-1555). Although Tyndale has based his translation of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) on Hebrew texts, Coverdale and Rogers translated from Martin Luther's German text (completed in 1534) and the Latin Vulgate.

Coverdale and Rogers took what they had done and combined it with Tyndale's complete New Testament and his partial Old Testament translations to produce what came to be called the Coverdale Bible.11 It was published in 1535.


The Great Bible

Meanwhile, King Henry VIII had broken with Rome in 1534 over his divorce of Catherine of Aragon, and he was anxious to provide an official Bible for his new Anglican Church. Accordingly, the Archbishop of Canterbury hired Myles Coverdale for the task, and he produced in 1539 what came to be known as the Great Bible.12 Its name was based on its size since it measured over 14 inches in height.

This Bible was the first "authorized edition" to be published in England. The King ordered that it be distributed to every church and chained to each pulpit. He also ordered that a reader be provided so that the illiterate could hear the Word of God.13


The Matthew-Tyndale Bible

Coverdale's collaborator on the Coverdale Bible, John Rogers, who operated under the pseudonym, Thomas Matthew, continued working on the Old Testament, determined to produce an English text based solely on Hebrew sources. He combined his work with the New Testament produced by Tyndale and published the Matthew-Tyndale Bible in 1549.

This was the first English language Bible to be based entirely on Hebrew and Greek texts.

Four years later, in 1553, the eldest daughter of King Henry VIII ascended the throne determined to restore England to Roman Catholicism. She was crowned Queen Mary I, and she immediately launched a severe religious persecution which ultimately resulted in almost 300 dissenters being burned at the stake, including John Rogers.14 "Bloody Mary's" attack on the Reformers prompted a mass exodus to Europe.


The Geneva Bible

Many of those who fled Mary's fury went to Geneva, Switzerland where John Calvin granted them asylum. There they began working on a new English translation. William Wittingham (c. 1524-1579) headed up the effort and oversaw the work of a skilled team of translators and biblical scholars which included Myles Coverdale.

In 1560 they produced the Geneva Bible which became one of the most historically significant translations of the Bible into English.15 It served as the primary Bible of the Protestant Reformation Movement and was the Bible used by William Shakespeare, Oliver Cromwell, John Milton, John Knox, John Donne, and John Bunyan. It was the first Bible to be brought to America, being transported across the ocean on the Mayflower.

The text of the Bible was not much different from the English versions that preceded it. In fact, more than 85% of the language came from Tyndale. What set it apart was its format and the study aids that were incorporated into it:

  • It was the first English Bible with text that was divided into numbered verses.
  • Extensive cross-referencing of verses was supplied.
  • Each book was preceded with a summary introduction.
  • Visual aids like maps, tables, and woodcut illustrations were added.
  • It contained topical and name indexes.
  • It featured an elaborate system of marginal notes designed to explain the meanings of verses.

Because of all these features, the Geneva Bible has often been referred to as the first study Bible. It was enormously popular, and it quickly replaced all other Bibles. Its popularity continued for decades after the King James Version was released in 1611.


The Bishop's Bible

But the Geneva Bible was not popular among the rulers of England. Queen Mary had been succeeded by her sister, Elizabeth I, who returned England to the Protestant fold, but Elizabeth was a devout believer in the Divine Right of Kings, and the marginal notes of the Geneva Bible were strongly opposed to both monarchy and the institutional church. This led to the production in 1568 of a new authorized Bible called the Bishop's Bible, which was a revision of the Great Bible of 1539. The Bishop's Bible was never able to gain much acceptance among the people.16


The Douay-Rheims Bible

Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic Church had decided to give up its resistance to translations. Realizing they had lost the battle, they decided that if the Bible was going to be available in English, they might as well produce an official Catholic version.

They used the inaccurate Latin Vulgate as their source text, and in 1589 they published what was called the Douay-Rheims Bible.17 The New Testament was published in 1582. The Old Testament was completed over 30 years later in 1610. This version contained notes that were very polemical in nature, designed to counter the claims of the Protestant Reformation.


In the next segment, we'll continue celebrating 400 years of the King James Bible by looking at the development and popularity of this version.


Notes

1) Wikipedia, "Vulgate," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulgate.

2) Wikipedia, "Jerome," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerome.

3) Wikipedia, "Septuagint," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septuagint.

4) Wikipedia, "John Wycliffe," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wycliffe.

5) John L. Jeffcoat III, "English Bible History," www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history, page 10.

6) Wikipedia, "John Wycliffe," page 13.

7) Jeffcoat, "English Bible History," pages 1-2.

8) Wikipedia, "Johannes Gutenberg," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Gutenberg.

9) Wikipedia, "William Tyndale," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Tyndale.

10) Ibid., page 4.

11) Widipedia, "Coverdale Bible," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coverdale_Bible.

12) Wikipedia, "Great Bible," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Bible.

13) Jeffcoat, "English Bible History," page 4.

14) Wikipedia, "Mary I of England," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_I_of_England.

15) Wikipedia, "Geneva Bible," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_Bible.

16) Jeffcoat, "English Bible History," page 6.

17) Wikipedia, "Douay-Rheims Bible," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douay%E2%80%93Rheims_Bible.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Too Many Disasters - What are the Prophetic Implications?

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan


The world has been reeling the past few months from disasters — both natural and man made. First came the outbreak of revolutions all across the Middle East. And then came the gigantic earthquake in Japan and the subsequent tsunami and nuclear melt-down crisis.

Our office has been inundated with requests that we produce articles concerning the prophetic implications of these events. My response has been that there is no need for new articles because we have been talking about these events for years, pointing out that the Bible clearly prophesies that in the end times there will be wars between nations and rebellions within them (Matthew 24:7) and that there will be an increase in the frequency and intensity of natural calamities (Matthew 24:7-8 and Luke 21:11).

In short, we are seeing Bible prophecy fulfilled before our very eyes.

The Bible makes it clear that God has spoken through signs of nature throughout history. He pounded ancient Egypt with plague after plague until Pharaoh was willing to release the children of Israel from captivity (Exodus 7-10). Before they occupied the Promised Land, God warned the children of Israel through Moses that if they were not faithful to Him, He would afflict them with natural disasters like drought and crop failures. In the book of Joel we are told about a locust invasion that God sent to call the Jewish people to repentance. In like manner we are told in the book of Haggai that when the children of Israel ignored rebuilding the Temple after their return from Babylonian captivity, God sent drought, hail, and mildew until they turned to Him in repentance.

On the day that Jesus was crucified, the significance of the event was underscored by a great earthquake and darkness (Matthew 27:45-54). And we are told that when Jesus returns, the earth will be afflicted with huge hail stones and will experience the greatest earthquakes in its history, causing every mountain and island to be moved (Revelation 16:20-21).

In like manner, the Bible teaches that wars and civil unrest are often punishments of God for rebellion against Him.

One of the greatest examples of this truth is to be found in the book of Habakkuk. The prophet had grown weary of calling the people of Judah to repentance, and so he began to cry out to God to vindicate his message by putting the nation under some sort of discipline. The Lord responded by telling him that He was sending the Babylonians to attack the nation. The prophet was astounded at this news. His response was to point out to God that although his nation was bad, it was not as bad as the Babylonians. He asked, "How can You punish those who are evil with those who are more evil?" The Lord's response was the same one He has given throughout all of history to anyone who questions Him: "The righteous shall live by faith" (Habakkuk 2:4). In other words, "Stop questioning and start trusting."

Jesus is about to return. God is proclaiming that fact through signs of the times that are prophesied in His Word. God does not want the return of Jesus to surprise anyone because He does not wish that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). The chaotic events that characterize the world today are designed to motivate people to repentance so that they will be ready for the return of God's Messiah (Isaiah 26:9b).