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Was it a Camel – or a Rope? Luke 18:25

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The deviancy of new versions can be revealed in many ways...

Before a group of us left a local church, because of the arrogance of the young pastor, he was noted to question the reliability of the King James Bible (KJAV). He would begin with “I doubt if any of you have heard this before...”, or, he would just say that certain parts of the Bible should be changed or omitted.

At the time, no-one understood where he was ‘coming from’, but eventually he lost some of the members (including us) and uttered an unseemly rebuke to a deacon in front of the entire church one Sunday, because he was refusing the new teachings. The young man eventually left to ruin another church, but only after sowing confusion amongst the congregation by using ‘facts’ gleaned from new versions of scripture, or from Higher and Lower Critics.

One of those things he said should be altered was Luke 18:25 (and repeated in Matthew 19:24 and Mark 10:25). This passage, he said, is wrong, because ‘latest research’ shows that the word is wrong – instead of ‘camel’ it ought to read ’rope’. But, where did that gem come from? Not from the KJAV! It comes from the reasoning of Higher Criticism and the damage done by new bible versions.

In fact, the idea that the word should not be ‘camel’, but ‘rope’ comes a long way, over a span of almost 2000 years, from a man named Cyril of Alexandria. Such was his notoriety, even the Roman ‘church’ refused to hold him in any esteem until relatively recently. The place he lived should give a big clue – he came from the land of the Gnostics, from whom came the corrupt sources used by the two Romanists, Westcott and Hort, who started the whole camel-train (pun intended) of new ‘bible’ versions that have destroyed the faith of so many people.

The proud boast of new versions is that they rely on ‘older manuscripts’ originating in Alexandria for their corrupt information. But, Cyril lived 300 years after the death of Christ, so how could his views be ‘older’ than the original manuscripts written by the apostles and disciples! From 412-444, we was Patriarch of Alexandria, a title that also added the extra title of ‘pope’. At that time in history there was no real meaning behind this title. This was at the start of the illicit Roman rule over churches.

In those days, Alexandria shared the ruling limelight with Antioch and Rome, even though no local church was entitled to have such limelight, all being equal status. Cyril was central to the First Council of Ephesus (431) and often led the way in arguments over scripture. Superficially, Cyril appeared to have the churches on his side, but Emperor Theodosius referred to him as a “proud Pharaoh”. The Nestorian bishops at the Council of Ephesus labelled him an heretic and a “monster born and educated for the destruction of the church” (E Gibbon, ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”, p 47). Historians differ in their view of Cyril, but many see him as an arrogant and violent man.

The Nestorians had their own heresy to contend with, but it is interesting that they applied the same warning to Cyril, who fought against several heresies. Some of his activities however could be questioned, such as evicting Novationist Christians and Jews from Alexandria. (The Novationists refused to re-admit Christians back into fellowship if they had denied their faith or sacrificed to idols when persecuted).

Cyril’s reasons for throwing them out is open to debate, but he was also loosely involved in the murder of a Greek philosopher, Hypatia, by Coptic monks. For a number of similar reasons Rome did not include his name in their Tridentine Calendar until 1882.

It seems that Jews killed many Christians in Cyril’s day, so Cyril expelled either the murderers or all the Jews; no-one is certain which. Either way, he took the authority of the civil authorities by doing so. His part in the murder is questionable, but he was responsible for naming the killer a ‘martyr’, when all of Alexandria knew he was, in fact, killed for his act of violence. (It was in Cyril’s day that a priest began to preach that Mary was the ‘mother of God’. Nestorius supported the priest, but further defined the heresy, and this is why Cyril opposed him with his own definition of Mary).

Cyril believed and taught that God’s power was so great that it spread-out to touch the human race, making humans deific, immortal and transfigured. In this way, then, Cyril believed the right thing about Christ, but then expanded the person of Christ so that His character and deity also applied to all men. Cyril also fought hard for Mary to receive the title of ‘Theotokos’, used by Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic churches. The title means ‘God-Bearer’ or ‘mother of God’... a title given by men when God Himself never gave one to Mary.

Through his demands for this he is credited as the real basis on which Mariolatry is founded, something for which he was commended at the Council of Constantinople. Rome finally made him a ‘Doctor of the Church’. His background, then, may, or may not, be questionable... but his treatment of Luke 18:23 CAN be opposed.

Cyril’s Wild Guess

Cyril insisted that the text: “... it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” is wrong. He said that the word ‘camel’ is wrong and should read ‘rope’. It is true that in Greek the words for camel and rope are similar... but why on earth should a scribe mistake words that were common-place to him? Cyril merely made a guess that the word was somehow mis-written by sloppy scribes! He had no actual textual proof at all!

Would we today, in English, mis-copy the word ‘camel’ for ‘rope’? Hardly! If a word is mis-copied it is usually for a word looking the same – but even then someone reviewing the copy would pick up on it and query the change.

Another idea is that the ‘eye’ was actually a small gate in the walls of Jerusalem, and a camel would have to stoop after having his load removed from his back, to enter the city. But, no such gate has been proved to exist, and anyway, why on earth would a camel driver go to that kind of trouble when there were other larger gates in the walls? Absolute nonsense... and another wild guess!

What of ‘rope’? No manuscript was discovered to support the idea that the word had been mistakenly copied. There is a possible connection between the Aramaic word for ‘rope’ which also means ‘camel’. But, again, why should people writing in their own language copy ‘rope’ as ‘camel’? It does not make any sense. Also, the word for ‘camel’ is Greek, kamelos, not Aramaic, so the argument is fruitless.

There is no word for ‘rope’ in the New Testament, but only in Isaiah, where the word is Hebrew, ‘aboth. This proves the insertion of ‘rope’ is done without linguistic reason. However, it is said that the ‘mistake’ occurred when the Greek text was copied in Latin, where kamilos was confused for kamelos.

But there are several words in Latin for ‘rope’ (e.g. chorda, funis, restis) so why choose one that ‘looked like’ the Greek, kamelos? And if you search for the supposed Latin word, it will not be found, though there are 13 nouns and two verbs for ‘rope’! Then, if we search for the Greek for ‘camel’, we find the Latin equivalent is ‘camelus’. (Note for critics – yes, I translated the Greek into Latin, and also the transliteration into English, and English into Latin, etc). So, where does kamilos comes from? Camelus does NOT look like Kamelos... unless the scribe had a squint or both eyes missing!

Note also that transcription from Greek to Latin took place between the second and fourth centuries AD, and the Latin texts became corrupted ( Before Cyril read the Latin version, there was only one in existence. In his time there were many... but he did not know which were faithful copies from the Greek. The ‘official’ Latin version by Jerome did not come about until after half-way through Cyril’s life.

So, what seems to have happened is that Cyril received a copy of the Latin version of the Greek, and used the corrupt translation of ‘camel’ into Latin (maybe). This meant that the original Greek was sound, but the Latin was in error! The idea that the original was in error is just a guess! And as the Latin came about in response to the spread of Roman Catholicism and Roman military might, one ought not to rely on such propaganda sources. Another reason exists for accepting ‘camel’ as the accurate copy!

Modernist theologians claim that verse 25 is a poor translation, because ‘camel’ is not meant. However, we find a similar saying in the Babylonian Talmud. The Talmud is not edifying in a spiritual sense, so should be avoided, but the fact that a similar saying is found in its pages proves that ‘camel’ is indeed the correct translation. In the Talmud the saying is “They do not show a man a palm tree of gold, nor an elephant going through the eye of a needle.”

Another similar example is found in a midrash on the Song of Songs (we find the idea of Midrash in the Psalms, too; it is a method of exegesis or explanation). It says, “The Holy One said, open for me a door as big as a needle's eye and I will open for you a door through which may enter tents and [camels?].” This speaks of the way God can save a sinner, even though it seems impossible to man (as Matthew 19:26 elucidates), thus the eye of a sewing needle allowing a camel or tent to pass through, is impossible... but that God specialises in the impossible.

Higher and Lower Critics Misuse Sources

Modernists (including the young pastor), poisoned by Higher and Lower Criticism, want to plant doubt in the minds of believers by saying “Hath God said this?” It is very clear from the two examples, that ‘camel’ is a correct translation. The modernist idea is that the ‘eye’ was a small gate in the wall of Jerusalem – but, thus far, no evidence has come forward to prove it ever existed.

Nor is there manuscript evidence to support the supposed meaning of ‘rope’. Scholars admit that the proposed change of word goes against proper methods of textual examination.

The man who introduced the doubt about ‘camel’ has a rather dubious past, but, in this case, the problem is more to do with his casting doubt on the original authentic sources of scripture, coming from Antioch, Rome and Jerusalem. It cannot be a coincidence that he lived in the very same place that created the Gnostic manuscripts that defied the authentic manuscripts coming from the Apostles and disciples, and is the author of this seemingly small proposition – that ‘rope’ is meant’ rather than ‘camel’.

It is not small, but part of the greater satanic conspiracy to plant seeds of doubt in people’s minds, concerning the accuracy of scripture, by attacking the words of the KJAV. This notion is now being taught in churches worldwide, via the doubts brought about by new bible versions. The idea that ‘rope’ should replace ‘camel’ is a Textual Critical notion, based not on proven textual sources, but on the whim of Cyril of Alexandria, who could not provide any linguistic proof at all for his preference.

Is it hard for a rope to get through the eye of a needle? Of course it is. Is it hard for a camel to do so? Definitely. Indeed, it is absurd – which is why Jesus meant it to be a stark statement, one that had similarities with existing, contemporaneous Jewish sayings of His time. And, as I have already said, a scribe would have to be both stupid and blind to copy ‘rope’ as ‘camel’. No, Cyril wanted to change the words 300 years after the statement was made by Jesus and confirmed by the apostles and disciples and generations of churches that followed the authentic texts. Copied faithfully and accurately by genuine believers.

So – Camel it is!

© January 2013

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Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
United Kingdom