Dr. Robert Sumner passed away in December 2016. The Biblical Evangelist newspaper is no longer being published and the ministry of Biblical Evangelism has ceased operation.

The remaining inventory of his books and gospel tracts was transferred to The Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles and may be ordered here.

Is “KJV Only” Riplinger A Reputable Scholar?
Rev. Doug Kutilek

Is “KJV Only” Riplinger A Reputable Scholar?

by Rev. Doug Kutelik, 11303 Springwater

Drive, Clearwater, KS 67026

[Editor’s Note: The head of a Christian organization wrote me inquiring about ‘woman preacher’ Gail Riplinger, asking, “Have you looked into this woman? I have noticed some previously good preachers falling prey to her heresy. She and her teachings are dangerous at the least.”

[I replied, “I'm with you all the way on this one. As a Bible scholar/teacher she is as phony as a $13 bill. She joins the ranks of other women preachers: Mary Baker Eddy, Ellen G. White, Myrtle Fillmore, etc., not to be trusted. She is a good example of receiving an honorary degree from the same school as a horse – and the horse was more deserving [at least he was faithful to a good man of God]. I am sorry; I am not being very kind, but I have no confidence in her whatsoever and she has done much more harm than good.” And we suggested he check with a true scholar, our friend and former associate, Doug Kutilek.

[While we have commented about her on numerous occasions, some time back Doug wrote an article, “Riplinger’s Blunders: Believe It or Not,” which we will reproduce here for the benefit of others who might be confused by this false woman preacher. He wrote:]

Just once before I die, I want to pick up a book that advocates KJVOnlyism and find that the author at least gets his facts straight. Of the armload I have examined so far, not one of them is even moderately factually accurate. I suspect this consistent display of blundering inaccuracy is because none of the KJV-Only (KJVO) advocates do any serious original research, but merely rely on the unreliable "Pied Pipers" of their movement – [Seventh-day] Adventist Benjamin G. Wilkinson, J. J. Ray, Peter S. Ruckman and David Otis Fuller. And G. A. Riplinger's New Age Bible Versions is as pathetically bad as the run-of-the-mill.

Let me address her absurdities uttered regarding the Septuagint Greek translation of the Old Testament (being typical of the whole). We are told, "It appears that Origen was the author of this A. D. document" (p. 537); and again, "The existence of an entire Greek Old Testament predating the life of Christ has no extant documentation. In fact, only a few scraps containing a few Old Testament chapters in Greek have ever been found" (p. 538). Here is affirmed the preposterous idea that the Septuagint Greek translation was manufactured in the third century A. D. by Origen, and that it was not in existence at all before Origen's day, and certainly not in the time before Christ.

This bizarre and provably false view was the brainchild of Peter Ruckman, as anyone passingly familiar with KJVO literature knows. Ruckman fabricated this view as part of his program of making Origen the universal bogey man and fall guy in matters regarding the text of the Bible. I found nowhere in Riplinger's book where Ruckman is cited as a source (though the address of his bookstore is given on the last page), but this peculiar distortion was derived directly or indirectly from him. And it is completely devoid of any basis in fact. (Ruckman presents his fabrications on the issue in his usual way in his completely mis-titled, The Christian's Handbook of Manuscript Evidence, pp.40-54, and again in the equally mis-titled, The Christian's Handbook of Biblical Scholarship, pp.74ff; the reader will immediately recognize the same line of argument in Riplinger, though she never acknowledges any dependence.)

What evidence is there that the Greek translation of the Old Testament commonly called the Septuagint existed long before Origen's time, indeed in pre-Christian times? Much of every sort. First, Ben-Sirach, the grandson of the author of Ecclesiasticus (a.k.a. The Wisdom of Ben-Sirach), in his “prologue” to the book, written ca. 130 B.C., speaks of the translation of the Old Testament. Ben-Sirach had just completed the translation of his grandfather's book, originally written in Hebrew and now translated into Greek. He wrote in defense of his work (and I quote this book of the Apocrypha according to the translation in the King James Version): "Wherefore, let me entreat you to read it with favor and attention, and to pardon us, wherein we may seem to come short of some words which we have laboured to interpret." And then he excuses himself, by drawing a parallel between his translation and a then-existing translation of the Old Testament, "For the same things uttered in Hebrew, and translated into an other tongue, have not the same force in them; and not only these things, but the Law itself, and the Prophets, and the rest of the Books [he employs here the standard Jewish designations for the three divisions of the Old Testament], have no small difference, when they are spoken in their own language." He assumes that the readers are familiar with the OT Scriptures in translation, and it is natural to assume that since his translation is from a Hebrew original into Greek, that the translation of the OT he mentions is also from Hebrew into Greek.

The famous Letter of Aristeas, though acknowledged by all as containing a significant amount of legendary and fictional material on the origin of the Septuagint translation, nevertheless, in its general outline is accepted by all competent authorities as based in fact, viz., that a Greek translation of the Law of Moses was made under Ptolemy Philadelphus in the 3rd century B.C. in Alexandria, Egypt, and that the translation was carried out by Jewish scholars. This letter was written to explain the origin of a Greek translation of the Law, and was written long before the time of Origen, for it was known and believed by the Alexandrian Jewish writer Philo (born ca. 20 BC; died ca. 55 AD), and also by the Jewish historian Josephus (d. ca. A.D. 100) and is likewise quoted and accepted as factual by Christian writers Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus, both in the mid-2nd century AD, along with others. No one would write a letter to explain the origin of a translation that didn't exist (assuming Ruckman's theory were true), and certainly no one would quote a letter and believe its contents regarding a translation which did not exist.

Philo quotes the OT in Greek hundreds of times, always from a text corresponding to the LXX (with such variations as would naturally occur when quoting from memory, paraphrasing, etc.).

Jewish historian Josephus (died ca. 100 AD) knew of the Letter of Aristeas and was familiar with the LXX translation.

The Apostles quote or allude to the OT hundreds of times with most of these references corresponding precisely to the LXX (see Thomas Hartwell Horne, An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, vol. 2, part 1, pp. 281-333. Baker reprint, 1970).

Among the Greek-speaking Jews of the Diaspora, the LXX was uniformly used in the synagogues when the Law and the Prophets were read each Sabbath day, at least until revised translations appeared in the 2nd century AD.

Christian writers in the 1st, 2nd, and later centuries commonly quote the OT in a Greek version. That version: the LXX.

In the 2nd century A.D., in reaction to the adoption by Christians of the LXX as their standard OT, with its proof texts concerning the Messiah, at least three revised versions of the LXX were made for use by the Jews. The versions of Aquila, Theodotion and Symmachus were all revisions of the LXX, made in the century before Origen's labors. You cannot revise something that doesn't exist.

And the ultimate nail in the coffin of the absurd Ruckman-Riplinger theory regarding the date of the making of the LXX is the fact that we possess pre-Origen and even pre-Christian manuscripts of the OT in a Greek translation, which being the LXX. Papyrus manuscript 458 dates to the 2nd century B.C.; manuscript 963 was written in the early 2nd century A.D.; manuscript 966 dates from the late 2nd century A.D.; in 1952, a Greek scroll of the Minor Prophets was discovered in a cave in Palestine, and is dated to the mid-1st century A.D.; along with other fragmentary early manuscripts. Of course, none of these manuscripts is a complete LXX, which is not in the least surprising, and does not in anyway discredit the fact that a complete LXX existed before Origen. By way of comparison, the oldest manuscript of any part of the NT, P52, is a mere fragment of John 18, which would easily fit in the palm of the hand, but no one doubts that it testifies to the one-time existence of the complete Gospel in that manuscript. Similarly, these now-fragmentary manuscripts bear eloquent witness of manuscripts of complete books, and collectively, a complete OT in Greek, just as the single footprint Robinson Crusoe found on the beach testified to the presence there at some time of a complete man.

All of this information and very much more is readily available in such standard works as The Text of the Greek Bible by Frederic Kenyon; An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek by H. B. Swete; The Septuagint and Modern Study by Sidney Jellicoe; and The Text of the Old Testament by Ernst Wuerthwein, as well as the standard editions of the works of the ancient authors quoted. No one who has "done his homework" would ever fall into the absurd error of Ruckman-Riplinger in denying a pre-Origen, pre-Christian date of the LXX Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament.

Riplinger's performance shows no improvement elsewhere. On p. 685, in note 87, we are presented with four arguments why the LXX "cannot be the word of God." These are 1) It contains the apocryphal books, and Jesus never quoted the Apocrypha, and the Jews rejected those books; 2) There is a conflict between the common name of this translation, LXX, which means "70" and the "fable" of Aristeas, which ascribes the work to 72 translators (6 from each of the 12 tribes), and besides, according to I Chronicles 16:4, "only the tribe of Levi were permitted by God to write scriptures"; 3) Any Jew living in Egypt was in disobedience to God; and 4) Origen's six-column OT paralleled the LXX with the Greek versions of Theodotion, Symmachus, and Aquila, "all three Gnostic occultists." I would be embarrassed to open my mouth and express any criticism of the LXX if this were the best I could do.

Of course, reason #1 is irrelevant for two reasons. First, there is no proof that the LXX in its original form contained any of the Apocryphal books. The quote from Ben-Sirach's prologue notes a translation of the complete OT, with no hint that it contained anything additional; indeed, any translation of the OT in Greek at that date could not have contained many if any of the Apocryphal books, since they date to the years following Ben-Sirach's prologue. Furthermore, not until the invention of the book (as opposed to the scroll) was it even physically possible to include the Apocrypha in one volume with the OT books, and this invention occurred in the late 1st or early 2nd century A.D., hundreds of years after the LXX translation was made. True enough, some now-existing LXX manuscripts include some of the Apocryphal books, but so do most 17th century editions of the KJV (including all editions before 1627). To be consistent, then, neither the LXX nor the KJV can be the Word of God because of the presence of the Apocrypha in existing copies of each. And, employing the same logic in reverse, since the Jews did accept the LXX translation, it must be considered validated and acceptable.

2. I confess to complete ignorance how the first part of this reason in any way discredits the LXX translation per se. So what if there is a variation between the Aristean legend's "72" and the common designation of this translation? There are similar divergences in the lists of KJV translators, with the numbers and names varying between 47 and 54. Is the KJV thereby invalid, too? And as for the Levites alone being allowed to write (i.e., copy) scripture, first, the Law required the kings to each make his own copy of the Law (Deuteronomy 17:18), and no Israelite king was from the tribe of Levi; and second, Riplinger's proof text, I Chronicles 16:4, teaches absolutely nothing along these lines. That verse reads in part, "And he [David, not God] appointed certain of the Levites ... to record ..." which word (record) Riplinger seems to take in the sense of "write, copy out." This appointment, first, was made by David, and not God; and, second, the word "record" here (borrowed, by the way, by the KJV translators from Jerome's Latin Vulgate, which has recordarentur, meaning, ‘to call to mind') has nothing to do with scribal activity, certainly not copying Bible manuscripts or making translations. The Hebrew word (in all manuscripts, with no variation) is a hiphil (causative) infinitive form of the verb ZKR, ‘to remember,' and occurs again in the titles to Psalm 38, and 70, where it is translated "to bring to remembrance." In I Chronicles 16:4, the word, therefore, carries the idea, “to bring something to the remembrance of” either God or man (the context is not decisive) and is irrelevant to the issue of scribal activity. And for those still skeptical, the English word "record" did have the meaning "to call to mind, to recall, recollect, remember" during the period the KJV was made (see the Oxford English Dictionary).

3. Riplinger assumes for the sake of argument that the Aristeas legend is true regarding the departure of 72 Jews from Palestine to Egypt to carry out the translation work. And since any Jew returning to Egypt was out of God's will (Deuteronomy 17:16 is half-quoted as proof text), any translation done by such Jews would be invalid and unacceptable. Well, any Jew who rejects Jesus as Messiah is out of God's will, yet we are dependent on unbelieving Jews for virtually if not actually 100% of the manuscript copies of the Masoretic text upon which our English Bibles are based. Are all our Hebrew Bibles to be rejected because the scribes were Jews outside of God's will? And what shall we say of Joseph and Mary, who in obedience to God's expressed command, took the infant Jesus to Egypt and dwelt there for a time – were they "out of God's will"?

4. We are told to believe that the LXX is not God's word because Origen published it in parallel with three other Greek versions allegedly the work of "Gnostic occultists." This is the ultimate "guilt by association" argument (besides almost certainly misrepresenting in part the theological viewpoint of at least one and possibly all three of these translators). I have seen comparable parallel Bibles: the KJV printed in parallel with such "tainted" versions as the Revised Standard Version, the Living Bible, and the New English Bible. To consistently apply Riplinger's argument, the KJV, because of the horrible company it keeps in some parallel Bible editions, is most assuredly not the word of God.

In happy contrast to all of this rubbish by Riplinger, consider the words of the KJV translators themselves regarding the LXX. Miles Smith, final editor for the KJV translators, in his "Translators to the Readers" published in the original edition of the KJV wrote: "No cause therefore why the word translated should be denied to be the word, or forbidden to be current [i.e., fit for use], notwithstanding that some imperfections and blemishes may be noted in the setting forth [i.e., translation] of it ... The translation of the Seventy dissenteth from the Original in many places, neither doth it come near it for perspicuity, gravity, majesty; yet which of the Apostles did condemn it? Condemn it? Nay, they used it (as it is apparent and as Saint Jerome and most learned men do confess) which they would not have done, nor by their example of using it, so grace and commend it to the Church, if it had been unworthy the appellation and name of the word of God."

We gladly concur with the sound and sensible words of the KJV men themselves, and reject as ignorant, misguided and misinformed the words of a pretended defender of the KJV.

My criticisms of Riplinger's handling of the question of the Septuagint don't represent a tithe, nor even a tithe of a tithe of the serious factual errors that dwell on page after page of her book. She misuses terms, misrepresents manuscript evidence, exaggerates evidence that seems to support her view, suppresses evidence that contradicts it, repeatedly abuses Scripture and contorts its meaning, employs defective logic, repeatedly fails to document evidence, displays gross ignorance of both Greek and Hebrew, selectively applies criticisms to the NASB/NIV that equally apply to the KJV, and everywhere relies on unreliable authors for information. Riplinger's writing is worthier of a cab driver than a serious and careful student of the Bible. Anyone who reads Riplinger and hails her work as an excellent contribution in defense of the KJV, by such praise merely reveals the deplorable depths of his own ignorance.

[Editor: Our brother’s words should settle forever the question of scholarship for Riplinger! While it does not relate directly to the above, perhaps, our friend Dr. Donald A. Waite had been a big supporter of Riplinger. He asked her about rumors she had been married thrice and divorced twice. She denied them. A friend gave Waite copies of the court records. The charges were true.]