NKJV Whopper no. 4.
2 Corinthians 2:17.
“For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”
2 Corinthians 2:17 NKJV
“For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.”
It is the switch from ‘corrupt’ to ‘peddle’ the word of God, with which I take issue.
The NKJV here has lined itself up with the NIV, NASB, ESV, NEB, RSV and NWT of the so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Greek word translated ‘peddling’ and ‘corrupt’ is καπηλυοντες.
Eminent Greek scholar A.T. Robertson, no friend of the A.V., gives ‘corrupting’ as his primary translation of the word. (1)
Also, John Bois, one of the A.V. translators writes,
“ v.17. καπηλεýοντες] [being a retail dealer, playing tricks, corrupting] i.e. νοθεýοντες [adultering]. κÜπηλος is derived απο του καλλονειν τον πηλον [from glossing over lees] by corrupting and adulterating wine.” (2)
The idea is that men corrupted wine in order to make greater profit from the sale of it. I believe ‘corrupt’ to be correct for two reasons: one, because the Holy Bible says so, and two, because it best fits with the context of the verse. Paul is contrasting the corrupt handling of the scriptures with the sincere handling of the scriptures.
“…but as of sincerity…”
It is strongly probable that men perverted the word of God in Paul’s day in order to peddle it as it is true now. It is difficult not to imagine that constant bible ‘updates’, bibles with specific ‘target’ markets, and a multiplicity of varieties of presentation are not, at least some of the time, produced merely for the financial profit of the publisher.
Because of copyright law, changes to the text of the previous bible must constantly be made. If the modern versions, including the NKJV, have spoken truly of ‘peddlers’ who corrupted the scriptures for financial gain in the first century, then the same peddlers, by their own admission, are likely still with us. If not, their text is redundant. The peddlers of scripture in the first century and at the present are corrupters of the word of God. Nigel Harris in the Monarch Standard gives some telling insights into the money-making motives of some modern bible publishers and salesmen.
“Today the largest Christian publishers are owned by secular corporations or have shares held by Wall Street investors. As ministries turn into big business, theological integrity can easily give way to marketing considerations…. The attendant cut-throat competition, coupled with theological looseness, can lead to promotion of a new watered-down, pop Christianity.
“The Zondervan guide gives lots of advice to secular retailers it wants to encourage to stock bibles – from talking displays and flip charts to sales patter with the express purpose of making the bible more a consumable item than a once-only purchase. The guide provides the advice of a salesman, ‘Bill Reynolds, a Holman Bible rep for 32 years, points out two other incentives for beefing up the Bible department – repeat sales and add-on purchases. “Bible sales should never end,” he says. “Once you help a person you plant a seed for another translation or style…” For ‘…add-on purchases…’ we can read spin-offs!” (3)
Personally, I think that such an attitude to the Holy Scriptures is as sinful as can be. Such a man would, given the right profit margin, no doubt sell his own grandmother. To return to our text: the change from ‘corrupt’ to ‘peddling’ has a serious consequence. The use of the word ‘peddling’ distracts attention from the corrupting that was going on. The truth according to the Holy Bible is that men were perverting the word of God in the first century when Paul so wrote to the Corinthians. There were therefore, such things as corrupted first century manuscripts. This truth from the 1611 Bible is extremely damaging to the modern translators’ contention that fourth century manuscripts are, of necessity, more pure because of their age. The oldest manuscripts now available may be more corrupt than others from later centuries which were copied from more accurate exemplars. F.H.A. Scrivener has stated,
“It is no less true to fact than paradoxical in sound that the worst corruptions, to which the New Testament has ever been subjected, originated within a hundred years after it was composed: that Irenaeus [A.D. 150] and the African Fathers, and the whole Western, with a portion of the Syrian Church, used far inferior manuscripts to those employed by Stunica, or Erasmus, or Stephens thirteen centuries later, when moulding the Textus Receptus.” (4)
(1)A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Harper & Bros. N.Y. & London, 1931) Vol. 4, p. 219.
(2) Ward Allen, Translating for King James (Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 1970) p. 51
(3)Nigel C. Harris (Ed.) The Monarch Standard, Aug. 1999, Issue 23. pp. 6 & 8.
(4) Cited in J.W. Burgon, The Revision Revised (Conservative Classics, Paradise, PA) p.30. Originally published 1883.