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 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

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

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  1. Nate Beck says:

    Hello,

    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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