I must admit, I am partial to the King James Bible for its accuracy, beauty, and its ability to let the non Hebrew and non Greek reading student when to look beyond and to recreate events necessary for full understanding and without which knowledge, leads to confusion. A case in point is the third chapter of the Gospel of John
It is clear, that Jesus is speaking in private with Nicodemus. It is night and no one is with them. The setting has been set for. Art is at work, but contrary to natural perception, art can be accurate and truthful. Art may select of certain events and order them to grap our attention to the truth of a situation.
But here we have to stop and speak of a grave lack in the modern English language as well as many others. Greek and Hebrew does not have this lack. In modern English, "you" can be the subject of a sentence, the object of a sentence, or any other "case", and it can be singular or plural. You can never know if the person being referred to is one or many. On the other hand, "old English made distinctions. "You" is only the object of a sentence (direct or indirect) and that only in the plural, when more than one person is being spoken to.
Here, for exampe is how it works out in Old English.
Singular: Thou hearest me. I hear thee (when I am speaking to one person) Plural: Ye hear me. I hear you (when I am speaking to more than one person).
Most modern translations miss the nuances.
Jesus is spreaking alone at night with Nicodemus. Suddenly He speaks in the plural. He actually did so, as supported by the Aramaic/Hebrew, and the Greek, and echoed faithful by the King James Version. But what does it mean? How could he do such a thing speaking to one man?
The English Standard Version misses the whole point of what Jesus is saying:
"Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony."
Likewise does the New American Standard Version miss the point:
"Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony."
The New International Version sees the difficulty but attempts get out of it by interpreting it as if Jesus is generalizing it to all the Jews of his day whom Nicodemus supposedly represents:
"I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony."
But this could not explain another fact. Jesus ceases from speaking in the first person singular- "I". He now is speaking in the first person plural - "we"
But the King James Version allows for the correct understanding to come through (if we would only understand King James English!).
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?"
Jesus is alone and in conversation with one man. This is how it happened. But suddenly Jesus is no longer speaking merely to one man, but He is speaking through this one man to the many, not even in the generation of this one man, we could surmise that from the general emphasis of the Gospel of John. He is speaking to the succeeding generations of Jews to come, but not only Jews, we can also surmise this by the same general inclusive aspect (the "world") of the Gospel. And it is no longer Jesus alone who is speaking. It is now "we" are speaking. Who might this "we" be? Jesus is alone with Nicodemus. It is now the Church which is speaking through Jesus to all those who have refused (who will refuse) the message or not refused but not yet responded.
This is totally in accord with other New Testament passages that indicate that Jesus can and is responded to, or not, by succeeding generations according to how the believers themselves are being dealt with. Jesus comes alongside and within the believers until the end of the ages.
"It is Jesus whom thou art persecuting.*", says the Risen Christ, in self-identification, to Paul on his way to persecute the believers in Damascus. And when was it that Jesus was failed, neglected, abandoned, by others, or conversely, treated well, honorably, compassionately? It was when those who had become his followers, his companions were thus treated.
All this, the Hebrew/Aramaic, Greek, and the King James versions capture.
All this allows for another reconciliation of knowledges to take place. We are amply told in the New Testament, that it is according to the light received that we are judged, that the one who has been given much is the one from whom much will be required, and we are told that how we relate to Jesus Himself, and to the followers of Jesus, and how we relate to others in need, is how we will ourselves be judged on the final day. And yet we are told, so we understand, that if we do not believe in Jesus, we are out of the circle of acceptance by God. We try to reconcile the two positions which are, if not opposed then tangential or inimical to reconciliation. But the King James version, as well as the Greek and the Hebrew, allow us to see that it is not those who do not believe in Jesus who are not accepted by God (which include the fetuses, the aborted, and children born with just a brain stem shortly to die, the retarded idiots beating their heads against walls in mental institutions), but the ones who refuse to believe, refuse to come to Jesus, refuse to come to the light, who are not accepted by God the Father. This elevates the Biblical doctrine of the Atonement of Christ on the Cross, to the place where it ought to be, in all its power and effectiveness through all the generation that have gone by and all the generation to come, until He come again.
- ܐ݈ܢܳܐ ܝܶܫܽܘܥ ܢܳܨܪܳܝܳܐ ܗܰܘ ܕ݁ܰܐܢ݈ܬ݁ ܪܳܕ݂ܶܦ݂ ܐܰܢ݈ܬ݁܂
εγω ειμι ιησους ον συ διωκεις
Often, authenticity can be determined by the "3-D" fit of the saying or the event related. Here, Jesus' response to the question of Paul, "Who art thou, Lord?", in all three languages, totally fit grammatically and contextually to mean both, "You ask, who it is that is appearing to you, Paul? It is Jesus.", and it means, "It is Jesus whom you are set out to persecute in Damascus. Know, you persecute them, you persecute Me." It is art and craft here, and it is real life, in the creative totally resolving, convincing way that truth has a way of being.