Ruckman’s view of Greek and Hebrew lexicons

In recent years Gail Riplinger has been writing extensively concerning rejecting Greek and Hebrew lexicons. But is this new? If not, who started it?

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 any lexicons whatsoever, 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. … You are safe in correcting a lexicon with the Holy Bible (AV). (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Hebrews. 1986, p. 62)

You say, “The Greek lexicon said…” But fortunately, God the Holy Spirit has a reputation for overruling the Greek lexicons. (Ruckman, Peter. The Christian’s Handbook of Biblical Scholarship. Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1988, p. 341)

The English word, therefore is absolutely correct, and the fact that it does not match any Hebrew text, as defined in any Hebrew lexicon, means nothing at all. (This is merely one more case – among scores – where we see the hand of God in the AV (1611) committee manifested to contradict and overthrow all rules of grammar, scholarship, translation, exegesis, and interpretation. When in doubt ignore the “originals” and go by the infallible, absolute, perfect and authoritative Living Word of the Living God. (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Exodus. Pensacola, FL: Pensacola Bible Institute, 1976, p. 540)

Grammars are not allowed either

As we have often stated, Ruckman likes to make the rules that everyone else has to abide by. Not only does the KJV correct lexicon definitions, it also corrects Greek and Hebrew grammars:

Moral: Where the Hebrew rules of grammar violate the Reformation Text, correct the Hebrew with the English. (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Exodus. Pensacola, FL: Pensacola Bible Institute, 1976, p. 144)

The AV (1611) is quite able to critique any book on Greek grammar that Robertson or Gregory ever wrote. (The Book of Acts. 1974, 1984, p. 256)

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:

Observe how the “King’s English” serves as its own dictionary and interpreter … (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)

Our main point is that Ruckman taught that the KJV corrects the lexicons and serves as its own dictionary long before Mrs. Riplinger ran with it and made a bigger deal out of it, writing a massive 1,200 page tome Hazardous Materials: Greek & Hebrew Study Dangers. In the back of said book, Ron Forte, Ruckman’s bookstore manager, is thanked for offering “corroborating advice and proofreading help along the way.” (Riplinger, Gail. Hazardous Materials: Greek & Hebrew Study Dangers. Ararat, VA: AV Publications, 2008, p. 1202)

Paranoid Ruckman

If the previous quotes are not enough to convince the reader that Ruckman is paranoid of Greek and Hebrew study aids in conjunction with the study of the KJV text, we submit the following quotes, in which the first adds “TR manuscripts” to the long list of what he does not want you to consult:

…it certainly would not be any “Textus Receptus” Greek manuscript or any Greek dictionary or lexicon. Those would be the LAST places any Christian should go to find the solution for ANY problem in the New Testament. (Bible Believers’ Bulletin. June 2004, p. 14)

Again, we shall place all of the Greek Lexicons and Grammarians in the trash can – with the Commentaries, expositions and exegetes… (Ruckman, Peter. The Books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. 1973, 1980 reprint, p. 561)

Why is Ruckman paranoid? Ruckman is attempting to discourage the utilization of anything that could possibly cause someone to question the inerrancy and infallibility of the KJV. This requires the closing of the eyes and the plugging of the ears to anything that might possibly bring such a premise into question. 

Ruckman and Riplinger seem to operate under the premise that the authors of all Greek and Hebrew lexicons and grammar aids were not sound in all their doctrines and practices, therefore they all had an agenda to manipulate and distort anything and everything to ensure it lined up with their personal beliefs, regardless of any ethical considerations or any evidence to the contrary of their definitions. Therefore no Greek and Hebrew lexicons and grammars can be trusted, and you should never consult them to very any matter in the KJV.

Although it may be rare, cases of manipulating dictionary definitions are not unheard of. As this book is being written, conservative news sources have been reporting how some dictionary editors have started to manipulate definitions in the matter of gender, with the obvious motive of reflecting the latest liberal agenda. However, this would not mean we should reject all definitions as suspect, to the point that dictionary use is abandoned altogether. 

One criticism of lexicons of Bible terms surrounds the use of secular and pagan literature in search of the contexts in which various terms are used in the process of providing or refining definitions. One of the complications facing lexicographers of Bible terms is the difficulty in locating certain rare terms within ancient but sound Christian literature. The use of secular or pagan literature would likely be a last resort, or simply to reinforce a term already located and defined from sound literature. Another complication confronting lexicographers are the cases of hapax legomenon. In the case of the Bible, hapax legomenon refers to terms that appear only once in the Old or New Testament. There are hundreds of these. Their limited use in the Scriptures in some cases could indicate words that were rarely used in ancient literature, which in turn make them harder to define, and hence resorting to secular or pagan literature as a last resort could be unavoidable.  

Ruckman will at times use the very lexicons he condemns in order to defend disputed passages in the KJV, as in “The Analytical Greek Lexicon, 1970, p. 116, says ‘SINCE.’” (The Scholarship Only Controversy. pp. 196-197)  And because he sometimes inconsistently resorts to a lexicon to defend the KJV, he has labeled others as liars, when they make charges against him as follows: “…if you follow the ‘thinking of Peter Ruckman’ you ignore Greek and Hebrew Lexicons. He lied again.” (The Scholarship only Controversy. p. 77) On a technicality, Ruckman is correct in that he doesn’t always ignore lexicons (especially when it favors a KJV reading), but this also reveals his inconsistency in the matter. Its almost as if Ruckman was describing himself when he wrote the following: “You invent standards as you go, and switch them when they fail to prove a point.” (The Scholarship Only Controversy. p. 284)

It should be noted that lexicons and grammars existed before 1611 and were referred to in the KJV translation notes. This can be verified in Translating for King James: Notes made by a Translator of King James’s Bible, edited by Ward Allen. The following are some examples of Greek and Hebrew lexicons and study aids mentioned in the “References cited in John Bois’s notes” of said book:

Lexicon Graeco Latinum. Ex R. Constantini aliorumque scriptis… collectum, etc. ([Geneva], apud 10. Crispinum, 1568). (Allen, Ward, ed. Translating for King James: Notes made by a Translator of King James’s Bible. Vanderbilt University Press, 1969, p. 114)

Thesaurus Graece Linguae ab Henrico Stephano constructus (Graz, Akademische Druck-U. Verlagsanstalt, 1954). (Ibid., p. 118)

Scholia Graeca Thucydidis (Venetiis, in Aldi Neacademia, mense octobri 1503). (Ibid., p. 119)

Commentarii linguae Graecae, Gulielmo Budaeo … (Parisiis, 1548). (Ibid., p. 121)

Joannes Mercerus. Thesaurus Linguae Sanctae: sive, Lexicon Hebraicum. (Lugdini, apud Bartholomaeum Vincentium, 1577).  (Ibid., p. 121)

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

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3 Responses to Ruckman’s view of Greek and Hebrew lexicons

  1. Nate Beck says:


    I would have to agree with your specific criticism of Mr. Ruckman and Ms. Riplinger regarding their comments on lexicons. However, you have not been completely fair either.

    As for the KJV having a “built-in dictionary”, there are many examples I could give where a hard word has indeed been defined in the context of the King James translation, which would support those who make the claim. You haven’t given any examples that prove the claim wrong, however.

    Now I personally do not like Mr. Ruckman, or Mrs. Riplinger. But I also know they are not always wrong either. If you are going to preach the truth and criticize others, at least do it fairly and point out where they are right as well. Otherwise, you are not doing this in the spirit of Christ!

    • Webmaster says:

      I only mentioned the “KJV built-in dictionary” briefly, so I didn’t attempt to refute it. My main point is that it appears that Ruckman was the first to teach it before Mrs. Riplinger ran with it and made a bigger deal out of it.

      I looked at some examples of KJV words that Riplinger claims are defined by the KJV itself. In the examples I checked out, it seemed she already knew the meaning of the word in question, so to find a synonym within the context of cases she likely cherry-picked would have been easy. However, if a person did not know the meaning in advance of a word in question, and finds a term or two in the context that he thinks defines it, he could be badly mistaken (and could lead to a false doctrine). He should double-check his assumptions, and not assume that Riplinger’s formula will never let him down.

      I can think of many cases where it seems the KJV does not define a word. For example, the word “hallowed” in Matt. 6:9 (the Lord’s prayer). Where in the whole chapter is “hallowed” defined? On p. 65 of Riplinger’s book “In Awe of thy Word” she claims “The KJV gives the perfect definition of all of its own words.” All? Ruckman implies “all” or “every,” in the quotes supplied, but Riplinger uses this all-inclusive statement outright. All-inclusive statements are hardly ever technically correct.

  2. Nate Beck says:

    Truly said my friend.

    All I am saying is that there are many times that a difficult word does seem to be defined in the context, but this is not always the case, as you pointed out with Matthew 6:9.

    A good example where a word is clearly defined in the context in the KJV is Genesis 17:10-11, where the word betwixed in verse 11 is defined with the synonym “between” in verse 10. I could offer many other examples, but I do not think we should be overly dogmatic about it.

    Thank you for your response and time my friend.

    May the Spirit of truth always be your guide,

    In Christ Jesus our Lord,

    Nate Beck

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