Back

a virgin or the Virgin?

On pages 108 to 113 of her book New Age Bible Versions, Gail Riplinger has a section entitled "a virgin or the Virgin" in which she attempts to demonstrate how using a capital 'V' instead of a lowercase 'v' on the word 'Virgin' is some sort of New Age plot and/or deification of Mary, which "brings out all sorts of New Age theological possibilities." Forgetting for the time being the fact that Riplinger conveniently forgets or ignores the differences in capitalization in other instances (Morning Star / morning star, etc.), the following is my response to the information and argumentation she uses.

Origins

Like so many other places in her book, Riplinger resorts the the faulty logic that if two or more different people or groups use the same term, they must mean it in the same way. Context is completely ignored (for reasons I believe are obvious). By using her strange logic on a made up example: if some cult or pagan religion from history "the Trinity" to refer to a three-faced goddess, then we must conclude that everyone today who uses the term "the Trinity" must also be secretly meaning that same three-faced goddess (but only if Riplinger personally doesn't like their view on something). Of course, this is absurd - but this is how Riplinger "proves" the alleged connections of new versions (and new version supporters) with New Age teaching. Her discussion on how "Virgin" is used is no different - she starts this section by asserting that "'The Virgin' is a title which has been used since fallen man sought to construct his own god". Does she end up proving that use of a capital 'V' on "Virgin" by modern versions and non-KJV-only folk is a New Age No-No? Let's see...

Corralling the Catholics

I assumed, and rightly so, that it wouldn't be long in such a discussion until Catholicism is brought up. Of course, the Catholics are the first group she brings into the "guilty by use of similar term" argument. Her first approach is to try to show us how "the Catholic bible completely crops Christ and adopts 'goddess power'." The verse comparison is from Gen 3:15, where the KJV has "her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel" while the "Catholic Bible"1 has "she shall crush thy head and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel". I'm not defending Marian doctrine, and I know most Catholics believe Mary is the primary reference in Gen 3:15, but I don't see is anything about "goddess" in the text of the Douay-Rheims here. Nor do I see how this relates to use of a capital 'V' on "Virgin".

Next she quotes two Catholic priests (who she calls "Fathers", by the way ;) ) named "Vlasic and Slavko"2, who believe that passage is about Mary and even extend "she" to include the church.

Next is another table of verse comparisons, where some modern versions have "her" where the KJV has "it". Ah, here we go: let's see if I have this trail of "logic" right - since old Catholic Bibles refer primarily to Mary in Gen 3:15, and at least two Catholics have since extended the feminine aspect into an analogy including the Church, therefore "All new versions adopt this Catholic 'holy mother the Church' concept because of the word "her" in Eph 5:25, 26 and 27.

Am I the only one getting a headache trying to understand these astonding leaps in logic? I suspect not.

OK, let's see here. Besides the obvious fact that her logic has super rubber jumping shoes on and she does not provide any evidence that her conclusion can be drawn from her premise, let's look at a few things quickly:

1. "All new versions"? That is simply not true. A very quick check reveals that the LITV, the RV, the CEV, Good News, NCV, New Life Bible, World English Bible, the Bible in Basic English, NEB with Apocrypha, and others have "it" instead of "her". Side note, the Douay-Rheims (remember? from above?) has "it" like the KJV as well.

2. The Greek Textus Receptus (the Greek text used as the base for translation of the KJV) has "αυτης" ("her") and not "αυτος" ("it"). Whoops.

3. The context of the passage is about how the relationship between Christ and the church is how the relationship should be between husbands their wives. Last time I checked, most wives were gender-specific, and not gender-neutral.

4. The church is often personified as a female in scripture and called "her" in the KJV in Rev 19:8.

So, are we to conclude that the TR supports Catholicism and the Catholic concept of "holy mother the Church"? That the Apostle Paul and the Apostle John are in on the conspiracy to get people to worship some pagan "Virgin"? Of couse not. But this is how Riplinger's logic works. Or rather, doesn't work.

Pagan Ties

Now that Riplinger has pulled Catholicism into her argument, next she turns to ancient paganism. Get this: According to Riplinger, since Canaanites, Babylonians, Egyptians, Hindus, Romans and Greco-Romans each had at least one "the Virgin" in their pantheons, that's the reason that new versions omit "blessed art thou among women" in Luke 1:28. Yes, you read that right. That wasn't just a leap in logic, that was a world record long jump downhill in low gravity. Does she give any support for this assertion? No, she just assumes you'll believe her (assuming you even understand her point, which I'm still trying to sort out).

Next she says "Clearly, there is a distinction between Mary, the historical mother of Jesus Christ, and this Virgin of the heathen religions." Yay, something I totally agree with! Way to go Gail! I also believe there is a distiction between the Christian Trinity and the Trinity of heathen religions. I also believe there is a distinction between the Scriptures of Christianity and the Scriptures of pagan religions. I also believe there is a distinction between Christian baptism, and the baptism of heathen religions. Why can't Gail understand that if she can see a distinction between Mary and "this Virgin of the heathen religions", so can people who are not KJV-only?

Capital Punishment

Sorry to those who don't like puns. :) Next, Riplinger gets into the capital 'V' versus lowercase 'v' for "Virgin". She points out that in Isa 7:14, the KJV has "a virgin", and comments "However, the use of the word as a proper name or title, as the capital "V" indicates, implies that this virginity was perpetual. She again does not prove let alone try to support her assertion, we're simply supposed to close our eyes and ears to all other evidence and blindly follow her guidance. Is Ms. Riplinger really unaware (given her "six year research project" (page 4) involving a word-for-word collations of the 1611 KJV with other versions in which the Lord himself provided her access to documents she needed to do the study needed to write this book) that capital 'V' "Virgin" in reference to Mary is in the 1611 KJV and other Bibles or documents she would accept? Here's some info she either completely missed, or chose not to share:

"Virgin" is capitalized in Isaiah 7:14 in the 1611 KJV
Marginal note on Isaiah 7:14 capitalizes "Virgin" in the 1611 KJV
The KJV translators capitalized "Virgin" in the preamble summary of Matthew 1.
"Virgin" is capitalized in Matthew 1:23 in the 1611 KJV
"Virgin" is capitalized in the Calendar Almanac in the front of the 1611 KJV
The list of Holy days, from the Calendar in the front of the 1611 KJV shows two of the Holy days to be observed are "the Purification of the blessed Virgin" and "the Annunciation of the blessed Virgin"
From the first page of the Genealogies section in the front of the 1611 KJV. If capitalizing the 'V' implies the viriginity is perpetual, I wonder what capitalizing the whole word does. Something terrible, I'm sure.
From the Genealogies section, on the page that shows Christ's lineage.

Lest one think (after reading Riplinger's discussion) that the KJV translators were heathen goddess worshippers because they often capitalized "Virgin", I can assure you that they were not.

Next she implies that the reason "firstborn" is not present in some modern versions in Matt 1:25 was done to support Mary's perpetual virginity. First, the reason was due to manuscript evidence, not a conspiracy to support any doctrines about Mary. Second, the lack of (or inclusion of) the word "firstborn" does nothing to affect the doctrine of perpectual viriginity in the first place (removing "firstborn" doesn't support perpetual virginity, and adding it doesn't deny it). Third, if that was the reason, then why was "firstborn" left in modern versions in Luke 2:7 & 23?

Virgins Galore

Next, Riplinger shows how "'The Virgin' of the heathens has found its way into the NIV. The capitalization of the 'V' brings out all sorts of New Age theological possibilities." She follows this with a table of where the NIV has "Virgin" where the KJV has "virgin". She lists 2 Kings 19:21, Isa. 23:12, 37:22, 47:1, Jer. 18:13, 31:4, 31:21, 46:11, Lam. 1:15, 2:13, and Amos 5:2. Maybe she was hoping nobody would bother to actually look up those verses. None of them are referring to a single person, but allegorically to the entire people of a particular nation - and if she had used a 1611 KJV, she would have quickly realized (hopefully) how faulty her logic is (especially concerning the capitalization issue). Here, let's help her:

In 2 Kings 19:21, "The Virgin" is "the daughter of Zion".
"the Virgin" of Jer 18:13 is "the Virgin of Israel".
In Lam 2:13 the "Virgin" is the "Virgin daughter of Zion".
 
  • In Isa 23:12, the "virgin" is not capitalized and is "the daugher of Zidon".
  • In Isa 37:22, the "virgin" is "the daughter of "Zion".
  • In Isa 47:1, the "virgin" is "the daughter of Babylon".
  • In Jer 31:4 and 21, the "virgin" is the "virgin of Israel".
  • In Jer 46:11, the "virgin" is "the daughter of Egypt".
  • In Lam 1:15, the "virgin" is "the daughter of Judah".
  • In Amos 5:2, the "virgin" is "the virgin of Israel".

It appears obvious, at least to me, that the KJV translators (who knew a LOT more about translating and pagan religions than Riplinger does) had no problem or concern using "Virgin" and "virgin" interchangeably, and also recognized that its meaning (like practically every word in the English language) depends on context. But who needs context when we have Riplinger?

More Quotes

If Ms. Riplinger hasn't convinced you yet of "virgin=good, Virgin=bad", she next quotes a Catholic author and a New Age author about Mary and "the Celestial Virgin"'s role in salvation. Again, this is her simple ploy of "guilty by use of similar term" and I won't spend time examining these quotes in any detail. However, the next quote, by F.J.A. Hort has me scratching my head. She quotes Hort as saying "I have been persuaded for many years that Mary-worship and Jesus-worship have very much in common in their cause and their results." Besides the taking the quote completely out of context (see this article for a detailed discussion on this quote), there is nothing in the quote even remotely about "female personification of the divine principle". What is Riplinger talking about?

She then quotes two authors that discuss their opposition to the Catholic Church's view of Mary. She follows it up with two whole pages of quotes from reported appariations of Mary and compares them to scripture. Nice, but big whoop. Relevance, your honor?

Summary

Again, not only has Riplinger tried to make unjustified connections and ridiculous, unsupported leaps in logic, and unproven conclusions, but she has also opened the door for us to expose another pile of double-standards she employs in her fight against versions other than the KJV. Sadly, too few KJV-only supporters take her writing objectively and take a detailed look at her claims. Yes, there are some who worship Mary, and there are some who use a capital 'V' on "Virgin" to mean some sort of New Age concept - but negatively linking everyone together who have used 'V' on "Virgin" is like negatively linking everyone together who have used 'C' on "Church", regardless of what they refer to.


Footnotes
1 The "Catholic Bible" she refers to here is the Douay-Rheims, but her footnote instead names a book called The Unchangeable Church, Vol. 1.. This is perhaps simply a mistake in her footnotes. Several modern Catholic Bibles read like the KJV ("he/his" instead of "she/her") but the Latin Vulgate has the "she/her" reading.
2 Their names are actually Tomislav Vlasic and Slavko Barbaric. They are two controversial Franciscans involved with the supposed aparitions of Mary in Medjugorje (in Bosnia) in the early 1980s.

Back