Which “was” Means “Was,” and Which “was” means “Become?”

According to Melton (2001) “The italicized words in the King James Bible are words that were added by the translators to help the reader. This is usually necessary when translating from one language to another because word meanings and idioms change. So, to produce a more readable translation, the King James translators (1604- 1611) added certain words to the Bible text. However, to make sure that everyone understood that these words were not in the available manuscripts they set them in italics” Retrieved From: https://www.biblebelievers.com/jmelton/italics.html

For you dear souls who had to endure those who rejected the use of the KJV of the Bible, going along with whatsoever they otherwise chose, you might have missed the class: “How to USE the KJV of the Bible.” There were hundreds of these classes taught.

In Genesis 1:2 the KJV translators (and William Tyndale) stated: “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (KJV).

As a practitioner of Hermeneutics, I was initially trained in the science of interpretation using the KJV of the Bible. As students not yet trained in Bible Languages, we were only able to “look up” words from the English Bible. However, when the teacher called our attention toward the details of the English text itself, one of the “first-things” he emphasized was the use of “italicized words.” I had truly never previously noticed them, nor had I ever before considered their use as “helpful” for the reader; especially, had I never considered them a “factor” in Bible Interpretation.

However, according to the “Wholistic” approach to Bible Interpretation, I was encouraged to “include everything” the text had to say. So, with that brief lesson in mind, let us evaluate as “common folk” this good Bible passage in Genesis.

The text itself states: “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

The reader notices “two” occurrences of the term “was:” First, a “standard font” form of the term as in “the earth was without form and void.” Second, an “italicized font” form of the term as in “and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”

When one “looks up” the definitions of these two different usages of the term “was:” Both the standard font, and the italicized font forms, then one quickly notices the definitions to be quite different, even opposite of one another. But, trusting the KJV translators (and William Tyndale) to “say what they mean and mean what they say,” one does well to “notice” the difference and to receive the help that the KJV translators (along with William Tyndale) are offering the reader, or interpreter by their deliberate (and, according to some, divinely inspired) use of both “italicized and standard fonts;” namely, that the italicized form of “was” means “be,” and the standard form of “was” means “become.”

So, when you hear someone state: “Was means Was,” then you’ll also notice that they probably don’t find the KJV translators’ use of both “standard and italicized” fonts helpful.

Just remember, however, that the italicized form of “was” as it appears in Genesis 1:2 is a simple form of “be,” and the standard form of “was” in Genesis 1:2 means “become.”

A. The standard font of “was” is from Strong’s number H1961.

B. The italicized term “was” is derived from no known lexicographical source.

C. The italicized form “was” was added to be “helpful to both the reader and practitioner of Hermeneutics;” especially, practitioners of the Historical Wholistic kind of Hermeneutics, and users of the KJV.

 

 

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