Naturally, lexicons and grammars as all other works of men are not perfect, so they are not above criticism. Criticisms of certain lexicons or specific definitions can be found going back hundreds of years. However, what is different now is that some such as Gail Riplinger advocate never using lexicons and teach that the KJV can correct them, and that the KJV contains its own built-in dictionary. The question once again is—who started this?
Who started disparaging all lexicons?
Ruckman has been mocking lexicons in his writings going back to the 1960’s. (Keep in mind that Riplinger’s first book on the KJV came out in 1993). Notice for example this statement from the first edition of Ruckman's The Book of Genesis:
All the frantic slamming and banging around in the lexicons and versions (since 1611) produce nothing but an intolerable morass of garbled nonsense. (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Genesis. 1969, p. 384)
The following is a sampling of quotes regarding Ruckman’s views on lexicons from the early 1970’s to the 1980’s:
…the poor translating committee that consults the lexicon in an effort to correct the A.V. 1611?
(Ruckman, Peter. The Christian’s Handbook of Manuscript Evidence. 1970, p. 151)
Therefore, the Lord has slammed the door shut, in 1611, on two types of study and learning which men adopt in order to “better understand the word.” [Ruckman explains that one of those types of study is linguistics, which could imply lexicons] (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Proverbs. 1972, 1980, p. 115)
Do you see how often the infallible English can straighten out the Greek lexicon? (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Hebrews. 1986, p. 17)
It just happened to be right no matter what any lexicon said. (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Hebrews. 1986, p. 62)
…God the Holy Spirit has a reputation for overruling the Greek lexicons. (Ruckman, Peter. The Christian’s Handbook of Biblical Scholarship. 1999, p. 457)
One of the obstacles that Ruckman feels stands in the way of a belief in the inerrancy of the KJV are lexicons and grammars prepared for the benefit of Bible translators and Bible students. This is why lexicons are referred to in such a disparaging manner. As already stated, naturally lexicons and grammars (as all other works of men) are not perfect, so they are not above criticism. However, when a discrepancy between the KJV and a grammar or lexicon shows up, Ruckman teaches that the KJV can never be wrong. To teach that when there is a discrepancy between the KJV and a lexicon the lexicon automatically has to be wrong is a simplistic approach and is not only unscholarly but also self-serving. If there is a discrepancy between the KJV and a lexicon or grammar it does not automatically mean the KJV is wrong, but by the same token the opposite is not automatically true either. Since I’m in no position to be able to judge the accuracy of lexicon entries, I have a personal policy of giving the KJV the benefit of the doubt. This is done with the understanding that the translators were not infallible. Ruckman often portrays authors of lexicons and grammars as participating in a conspiracy of sorts to portray the KJV as in error in various passages. It should be noted that lexicons and grammars existed before 1611 and were referred to in the KJV translation notes. Ruckman and Riplinger will at times use the very lexicons they condemn in order to defend disputed passages in the KJV.
When Ruckman deals with cases in which the KJV did not translate a given word with the same case, number or gender as in the original languages, he frequently points out that modern translations do the same at times. This is true; however, these modern translations are not regarded by anyone as infallible or inspired; therefore, it seems unfair for Ruckman to use this fact as an alibi. Ruckman would be better off explaining that the nature of languages sometimes makes it difficult to follow precisely the tense in the original languages.
The KJV as a dictionary
In an effort to discourage people from using lexicons, Riplinger has also written extensively that the KJV contains a built-in dictionary. Ruckman had already been teaching something similar since the 1970’s:
The “King’s English” serves as its own dictionary (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Exodus. 1976, p. 220)
You must always remember the King James Bible is several hundred years ahead of modern science, and where the King James Bible uses a word it is careful to define the word. (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Revelation, 1982, p. 26)
For proof that the KJV translators themselves used multiple lexicons, we recommend the following book: Translating for King James: Notes Made by a Translator of King James's Bible