Friday in the wild: August 15, 2014

August 15, 2014

It’s that time of the week again! Friday, that is, when I give a little love to my parochial little slice of the Internet by sharing some of my favourite links for the week.

Last fall, KJV-onlyist and net.crank Steven Anderson sat down with James White for a two-and-a-half-hour interview about the translation and transmission of the Bible, for a documentary titled New World Order Bible Versions. He promptly abused the interview by using a snippet of it in the trailer, making White look ominious, with spooky music and everything.

However, he did promise to make the full interview available, and as White says, he kept his word. I’ve been holding off watching the documentary until this came along. It looks like Anderson is trying to position himself as the next Gail Riplinger or KJV-only darling. Frankly, I’ll always fondly remember him as the perpetrator of the infamous “pisseth against the wall” sermon, or the crackpot who antagonized border guards and screamed like a little girl when he got detained and tazed. Fast forward to about 1:00, and enjoy:

Read the rest of this entry »

Westcott and Hort, the most evillest evil villains in history ever

February 21, 2011

Five years ago, I wrote a post about my experiences with KJV-only nitwits, basically outlining how they use the 19th-century biblical scholars and textual critics, Brooke Foss Westcot and Fenton John Anthony Hort, as a sort of dumping ground for every imagined evil possible.

Now we can add yet another sin to the cup of wrath stored up for them:

[19th-century Baptist preacher Charles] Spurgeon was and is one of my favorites. Although he claimed to be calvinist [sic] he also believed in free will and sinning away the day of grace. He also claimed that calvanism [sic] started with westcott [sic] and Hort. He defintely [sic] was not a calvinist [sic] that thought you didn’t have a choice in the matter

No. really.

Although it’s difficult to know where to begin dismantling this pack of nonsense, the word “anachronism” does float through my mind. “If it started with Westcott and Hort, why is it named after Calvin?” also occurs.

The poster claims that she thinks she saw this “in his Soul Winning [sic] book.” Not likely. I think Spurgeon knew better.

No– no– notorious

September 12, 2009

I’ve said many times that I have somehow become the intellectual equivalent of the opposite of a “chick magnet.” That is, instead of naturally attracting supermodels or society’s most brilliant thinkers, I seem to naturally attract kooks, cranks, and assorted weirdos.

My previous post managed to attract no less than its subject: Periander A. Esplana, the author of the mathemagical “miracle” that supposedly proves the divine origin of the 1611 KJV, even though it doesn’t actually work with the 1611 KJV. And then the roof fell in. My blog is strictly small potatoes, so it’s rare that I get even a handful of comments on any one post. But my previous, as well as its counterpart on the backup blog on WordPress, have already garnered a total of 29 comments as of now – including further rants by Esplana himself. (Nothing really seems to bring out commenters like a KJV-only post. I figure they must be trolling Google Blog Search just to find something to get indignant about.)

Meanwhile, Esplana has also discovered the Bible Version Discussion Board where, posting as “sciencephilosophyreligion,” where he continues to hawk his math trivia. Not only that, but he has taken his rebuttals to posts on that forum, and for some reason thrown them into an ebook instead of posting them to the forum directly, as though putting his opinions into a PDF file makes them seem more legitimate.

Espana continually crows that no one can answer his “Bible Formula Challenge.” Of course, I do have an answer. It’s two words, in Latin:

non sequitur.

This phrase means does not follow: in other words, the argument doesn’t lead to the conclusion.

The letter count of the first and last verses of the Bible simply doesn’t matter. Is it a statistical curiosity? Sure. Is it an interesting bit of trivia that the letter and vowel counts of Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21 sum up to the same count in 1 John 5:7? Sure, why not? But what Esplana and other math magicians fail to show is how this proves the divine origin of the KJV. Scripture itself never says that the proof of its divine origin lies in letter counts. God commands faith, but he doesn’t point to 18th-century typography as proof of his existence.

Before Esplana can convince me that letter counts are proof of the divine origin of the Word of God, he has to demonstrate that it’s proof of anything. On the contrary, it’s completely arbitrary, and I won’t let numerological nitwits like Gail Riplinger, Peter Ruckman, or Periander Espana bind my conscience contrary to the Word of God.

KJV-only silly math rides again!

August 15, 2009

It’s Crank Week, take 2!

If you put Harold Camping into a particle accelerator and fired him at near-lightspeed into Gail Riplinger so they fused together, what would you get? None other than Peter S. Ruckman, of course. Dr. Petey’s biblical hermeneutic, and I use that term most generously, combines the bombastic nuttery of Riplinger with the incomprehensible pseudo-mathematical hermeneutic of Camping.

Here’s a real gem of an “argument” I found courtesy of the evil Alexandrian Cultists plotting to overthrow Christianity at Bible Versions Discussion Board, from the June 2009 issue [PDF] of Dr. Petey’s newsletter, the Bible Believers Bulletin:

Now, do you want a bomb to put in your pocket to shut the mouths of these stupid idiots who deny the four Scriptural truths written in “the scripture of truth” (Dan. 10:21). Well, here it is: it is delivered by a Filipino Christian who came out of Manila. This is Periander Aban Esplana, who was 35 years old when he wrote it. His work is callled “The Bible Formula.” . . .

Bro. Espiana’s AV 1611 “Mathematical Formula” turns out to be anohter one of several hundred “advanced revelations” that were totally missed by A. T. Robertson, Kenneth Wuest. . . . The “formula” is as follows:

A. At the beginning of the Bible in Genesis 1:1 – 10 words, 44 letters 17 vowels, and 27 consonants – IN ENGLISH, not ANY Hebrew manuscript.

B. At the end of the Church Age in 1 John 5:7 – 22 words, 88 letters, 34 vowels, and 54 consonants IN ENGLISH, not ANY Greek manuscript.

C. At the end of the Bible in Revelation 22:21 – 12 words, 44 letters, 17 vowels, and 27 consonants – IN ENGLISH, not in ANY Greek manuscript.

The AV 1611 Mathematical Formula is as follows:

A-44 plus C-44 equals B-88

A-17 plus C-17 equals B-34

A-27 plus C-27 equals B-54

That is, the WORDS found in Genesis 1:1 added to the WORDS found in Revelation 22:21 (the beginning and the end are summed up in 1 John 5:7 by the Trinity.

The LETTERS found in Genesis 1:1 aded to the LETTERS found in Revelation 22:21 produce the total LETTERS in 1 John 5:7.

The VOWELS found in Genesis 1:1 added to the VOWELS found in Revelation 22:21 give you the total VOWELS in 1 John 5:7.

The CONSONANTS found in Genesis 1:1 added to the CONSONANTS found in Revelation 22:21 equal those CONSONANTS found in 1 John 5:7.

Got it? Explain it. Not one Hebrew or Greek manuscript found in 2,000 years displays that mathematical miracle.

King James only! King James Onlyism! Heresy! Oh, God, save us from RUCKMANISM! Oh, what a cultic RUCKMANITE!”

Ahh, go stick you [sic] left hind leg in your right ear.

I’ll repent of that advice when you send me the EXPLANATION for that ADVANCED REVELATION God gve you through a 35-year-old Filipino. In the meantime, act like a gentleman, even though you are NOT. Go “strut your stuff” before some cloned robots like yourself, and don’t waste our time. We havethe holy scriptures“; you don’t.1


Paging Harold Camping.

But what’s to explain? Before someone can even begin to “explain” this pseudo-mathematical loblolly, Dr. Petey has to explain a few things himself. To wit:

  • Who is Periander Aban Esplana, and why should I care?
  • Why should I expect this apparent mathematical coincidence to have any significance at all?
  • Why should we accept that 1 John 5:7 stands for the “end of the Church Age”? I suspect Dr. Petey takes some incomprehensible, hyper-Dispensationalist nitwittery for granted, but I remain not-convinced.
  • Does the letter Y count as a consonant or a vowel?
  • Does it work for spacing and punctuation as well, or just letters?
  • Is this “mathematical miracle” truly unique, or would I find another one if I started searching for it elsewhere in the Bible – or, for that matter, any other English text that I happened to download, like the ridiculous “Bible codes” that were so popular 10 years ago?

More to the point, as I asked in another recent post: What possesses people to start hunting for these arbitrary patterns in the Bible and then ascribing some sort of theological meaning to them? Did it go something like this? “If only there were the same number of letters, consonants, and vowels in the first and last verses of the Bible, and when you added them together, you got the exact letter, consonant and vowel count of 1 John 5:7! That’d sure show those Bible skeptics, wouldn’t it. Say, I think I’ll try it. Whaaa -? Gasp! I – I don’t believe it, it’s absolutely true. It’s a miracle! I’ve got to call someone about this. Operator, give me the number for Bible Believers Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida, and right away, the future of the human race is at stake!” Only, of course, it would be in Tagalog.

Well, you knew I was going to do some fact-checking, didn’t you? In fact, Dr. Petey’s/Esplana’s word/letter count is quite correct.

But wait a minute. It’s correct based upon the 1769 KJV – the revision of the KJV text made by Benjamin Blayney that is usually published today. But didn’t Dr. Petey say this an “AV 1611” mathematical formula? Does the logo on the Bible Believers’ Bulletin not have “AV 1611” on it? Yes, it does.

No fair pulling a bait-and-switch and substituting the wrong Bible! Let’s see if this “mathematical miracle” works on the edition of the KJV that Petey says it’s supposed to. After all, as KJV-onlyists constantly harp, there’s no real difference between revisions of the KJV apart from corrections of spelling or punctuation. Well, suddenly, now we have a “proof” of the KJV’s inspiration that relies on the precise spelling of the text, so let’s see how it stacks up.

I looked up the images of the original KJV on SCETI, one of my favourite Web sites for this kind of work. Here’s the text as it originally appeared in 1611, along with the word, letter, vowel, and consonant counts:

In the beginning God created the heauen, and the Earth. (Gen. 1:1)

Whoops. Thanks to the peculiarities of early-17th-century typography, there’s a superfluous vowel in there. That means that this verse has a count of 10 words, comprising 44 letters, of which 18 are vowels and, obviously, 26 consonants. On to the last verse of the Bible:

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Rev. 22:21)

This verse is letter-for-letter identical in both editions. Count: 12 words comprising 44 letters, of which 17 are vowels and 27 consonants.

So the total for the first and last verses of the Bible are: 22 words, comprising 88 letters of which 35 are vowels and 53 consonants. It’s all up to you, Iohn:

For there are three that beare record in heauen, the Father, the Word, and the holy Ghost; and these three are one. (1 John 5:7)

So sorry. That’s 22 words, 89 letters, 36 vowels and 53 consonants.

I guess we’ll just have to chalk this one up as yet another crackpot KJV-only goofy proof . . . of nothing.

You gotta laugh


1 Peter S. Ruckman, “A Mathematical Bomb for ‘Cloned Robots,'” Bible Believers’ Bulletin, Vol. 33 No. 6 (June 2009) (accessed 14 August 2009), 13, 19. Available at; Internet. Emphasis in original.

Nothing says fun like a free car

August 14, 2009

Got an amusing email overnight from a KJV-onlyist named Keith Whitlock, who wrote:

Thought you might be interested in a little laugh. Got a nice BMW in restoration right now. If you can come up with any errors in the KJV or any lies in Gail’s works I’ll deliver it to your door. Great deal, Eh? Good luck!

Glad to oblige, Keith. For reasons I explained in my previous post on Gail Riplinger, I don’t have a paper copy of New Age Bible Versions and cannot give a precise citation for this quote, apart from a chapter number and a corresponding footnote. I’m sure you won’t have any trouble finding the exact location from the information I provide, nonetheless.

Concering the papyrus P75, Riplinger writes the following in Chapter 35 of New Age Bible Versions:

[Bruce M.] Metzger says, “Papyrus 75 supports the majority text dozens of times. In relation to the [majority] text, P46 (about A.D. 200), shows that some readings . . . go back to a very early period . . . P66 [has] readings that agree with the [majority] . . . text type.” (emphasis added)

Riplinger cites this excerpt in footnote 38 of chapter 35 as coming from Metzger’s book Manuscripts of the Greek Bible, pp. 64, 108. The full citation for this book is in footnote 9:

Bruce Metzger, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981) . . .

Let me note, first, that Riplinger mis-cites this quotation. None of it appears on page 108 of Manuscripts of the Greek Bible, and some appears on page 64. So it’s a very badly formed citation – typical of Riplinger’s sloppy writing . but it isn’t, technically, a lie.

This is, however.

Note the section that I’ve emphasized, above. This phrase, “Papyrus 75 supports the majority text dozens of times,” does not exist – on page 64, 108, or anywhere else in Manuscripts of the Greek Bible. It simply isn’t there. And in any case, it contradicts what Metzger says about P75 elsewhere in the book, for example:

Textually the manuscript is of importance in showing that the Alexandrian type of text characteristic of the fourth-century codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus was current at the beginning of the third century . . . Furthermore, not only is the text of P75 Alexandrian, but it is closer to B [Vaticanus] than that of any other manuscript, while the influence of the readings of the Western type is almost non-existant. (Manuscripts of the Greek Bible, 68)

So, in short, Gail Riplinger manufactured a quotation from Bruce Metzger to say the exact opposite of what he actually says in the same book.

Certainly sounds like a lie to me.

So, Keith, once you’ve finished that restoration job, I’ll let you know where to deliver it. I guess we’ll see if you have the stones to be a man of your word. I doubt it, though. Riplinger sycophants and the KJV-onlyists who make the biggest boasts also usually have the biggest problem with integrity.

Postscript, 11:30 pm: Earlier this evening, after posting the first draft of this article, I emailed Whitlock back with a link to this post, adding:

Let me know when I can expect my car.

I reserve the right to make any further communication public.

To which Whitlock responded:

You do that. and in writing.

I am, of course, happy to oblige, so here it is. A couple of minutes later, Whitlock added:

So the Butcher never said P75 supports the Textus Receptus/Majority/ Byzantine? I’ll check it out. Anyway, what is your favorite color? Don’t get your hopes up.

(Believe me, I haven’t.) And then, a couple of hours later, he added:

P75 does support the TR in dozens of places. Kiln and Pickering researched that. Why don’t we ask the Butcher himself? I’ll email him.

Note the not-so-subtle shift of categories, from the content of Metzger’s book to the factuality of Riplinger’s fictitious quotation? These people don’t even try to be sneaky about their deception. I responded:

Hi Keith. I wondered how long it would take you to fabricate an excuse not to honour your offer after making it. Didn’t take long, did it? Not even three hours, and you’re already lying to my face.


Gail the Ripper said that the words:

p75 supports the Byzantine text dozens of times

appear in Bruce Metzger’s _Manuscripts of the Greek Bible_ on page 64 or 108. Those words do not appear in that book on those pages or elsewhere.

Gail the Ripper made up a quotation.

Therefore, Gail the Ripper lied.

It is disingenuous of you to try to claim now that my beef was with whether or not P75 supports the TR, when you know full well my beef is with manufactured quotations.

Try again. Can you find the following words in the 1981 edition of _Manuscripts of the Greek Bible_ by Bruce Metzger:

p75 supports the Byzantine text dozens of times

What’s that? They’re not there? Then man up, and give me my car.

I’m still not holding my breath, mind you. You have to wonder whether honesty is even in these dolts’ vocabulary.

You gotta laugh.

Post-postscript, 1:30 pm Aug. 15: Overnight I got three more emails from Keef, who really needs to learn to plan ahead instead of filling up my inbox with crap he could have sent in a single message.

Sent at 1:04 am:

KInd [sic] of weak eh? Allow me time to research the Butcher’s book and/or ask Gail about it. It is possibly a mistake not a lie. Gail is a woman of God not a liar.

Got any more “lies” What [sic] is the dictionary definition of a lie. [sic] To deceive correct. [sic] The chapter of her book is about the earliest papyrus manuscripts and their support of the KJV type manuscripts of which P75 is one.. [sic]

Metzger died in 2007. Did you catch that?

Actually, I did; note, however, that the Keefster was the one who offered, earlier last night, to “email the Butcher” himself. Confused, would we?

Then, at 1:41:

Got any more lies for me? Could you be fair and allow me the time to check it out myself? I’ll have to use inter-library loan. That may take a couple of weeks. I could ask Gail and she would set it straight but I need the practice ” iron sharpens iron” [sic]

The BMW is a 1974 2002. All new paint, interior, souped up engine & suspension, nice stereo. A really fun car.

Maybe J R could be of assistance

Is it just me, or are Keefer’s emails getting more incoherent as the night waxes late?

I’m not sending him any more lies. I’ve already met the terms of his challenge, and now he’s trying to backpedal.

The backpedalling continues at 2:29:

Up kind of late eh? I hope it is not because of me.

No, at this point I’d already been in bed for an hour. As I said, incoherent. Unaware of this, Keef continues:

Relax, if I find out that Gail’s qoute [sic] is a lie intended to deceive you as regarding the witness of ancient Papyri P75 for the common text, you will get your BMW.

Scott, this offer has been open to everyone for a few months. So far no one has been successful. You will not be either.

But I will welcome any honest attempt. What I really want is attempts to discredit the KJV.

Keefo is backpedalling so fast, I hope he’s installed rear-view mirrors on his bicycle.

My response, this morning:

You KJVers wouldn’t know “honesty” if it bit you in the ass, but thanks for playing MY game, Keefie. Have a day, thanks for the blog fodder, and enjoy your fictitious car.

It was fun when it started, but with Keef’s emails becoming consistently more whiny and desperate for attention, it’s time to move on.

Post-post-postscript, 1:40 pm: And while I’m writing this, I get yet another email from Keef, pleading with me to stay on the line. I swear this guy is worse than one of those phone psychics. Anyway, he writes:

Such verbal grace seasoned with salt. People consider “men” who beat up, slander and levy false accusations against little old ladies anything but stony.

Do your anti villification laws apply just to Canadians? Did not the Canadian Protestant Association endorse Gail’s NABV?

Here is a picture of the car in restoration. I’ll keep you all updasted on it’s progress.

And, of course, the email had a HUGE jpeg of his totally, sincerely, no-I-mean-you-can-really-have-this one-hundred-percent-genuwine BMW attached to it, just to be extra annoying.

Now, unless I get yet another email before I sign this off, I’ve had enough fun with the idiot man-child.

Any moment now.

Nope? Oh well.

This is shaping up to be Crank Week on the blog

August 9, 2009

I started the week with the numerological eccentricities of Captain Camping, and so I may as well finish it off with another bit of mathematical nitwittery, this time courtesy of the King James nuts.

This is Steven L. Anderson, a self-proclaimed “Baptist” “pastor” from somewhere near Phoenix. He rose to Internet infamy a while back, thanks to his unintentionally hilarious “sermon” in which he denounced all non-KJV Bibles for omitting the phrase “pisseth against the wall” from numerous locations. He has since posted dozens of clips from his asinine preaching. Unfortunately, ignorance begets ignorance, and Anderson now also has a small cadre of “young Baptists” who imitate his style.

More recently, Anderson diversified his career by adopting a “patriot” stance, which meant cruising around looking for police, border guards, or other authority figures to harrass, then post YouTube videos accusing them of harrassing him. This reached its climax a few months ago where he pushed a little too far at an internal checkpoint, and received a well-deserved tasing from the border patrol. Meanwhile, since he hasn’t appeared in court, gone to jail, or been shot, so I’m guessing that his fifteen minutes are up and he’s abandoned grievance-mongering as a career opportunity, and has gone back to posting blithering nonsense on YouTube again.

Here is the latest idiocy Stevie has posted:

For those who can’t be bothered to watch – and I can’t blame you – he prompts the congregation to count up the number of verses in the gospel of Mark in the New International Version of the Bible, according to the last verse number of each chapter. Added together, these total 678. He then points out that though the NIV includes the longer ending of Mark, it is a disputed passage, and significant enough that it warrants a textual note in the middle of the text rather than a footnote. This ending contains 12 verses.

And what is 678-12? You do the math, and cue the spooky music.

I hardly know where to begin commenting on this codswallop.

First: so what? There is precisely one context in which the number 666 has a negative connotation: that is John’s cryptic identification of the Antichrist in Revelation 13:18. Outside of that context, 666 means . . . six hundred and sixty-six. As Freud is rumoured to have remarked, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Second, so what? Chapter and verse references are not part of the original, inspired text; they were added to the New Testament in the 13th and 16th centuries by Stephen Langton and Robert Estienne, respectively, to make it easier to look up specific passages. To ascribe any specific theological meaning (e.g. “The NIV is evil!”) to these divisions would be equivalent to saying that revelation was added to the Bible during the Middle Ages.

Third, Anderson’s math is selective. There are all sorts of footnotes throughout the Gospel of Mark noting minor textual variants: a word here, a word there. Add them together, and they probably make up the equivalent of two or three verses. But Anderson doesn’t focus on what is actually not there; he inexplicably subtracts what is there.

Finally, Anderson’s math is wrong. There are, in fact, five complete verses found in the KJV’s Gospel of Mark that are not in the NIV: 7:16, 9:44, 9:46, 11:26, and 15:28. The remaining verses are not renumbered (since concordances and other helps wouldn’t work if they were), so adding up the last verse numbers of each chapter doesn’t give an accurate count of the entire book. Of course, if his total comes to 661, Stevie can’t rant and rave about the “mark of the beast.”

I want to know what dimbulb actually thought counting verses in the NIV, to try and total the Spooky Number of Evil, actually proves something. Also, if you’re going to be obsessive and superstitious, is it too much to ask that you be accurate, as well?

A fresh case study in KJV-only dishonesty

August 8, 2009

A few years ago, I wrote a post about the history of my exposure to KJV-onlyism: especially the way I have seen the movement’s nonsensical claims, when left unchecked, tend to escalate into greater heights of foolishness.

This post generated about 9 or 10 comments. For a relatively low-traffic blog such as mine, that’s a pretty decent number. Of course, being a low-traffic blog, once a post disappears from my front page, by rights it’s pretty much forgotten, even by me.

Nonetheless, every so often a new comment will pop up on even a 3-and-a-half-year-old post like that one. This happened about two weeks ago, when a poster calling himself/herself “KT” (I assume the latter) wrote:

Oh just thought someone might like to know that in the book The Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft (I know I shouldn’t have it…) the Hermes Club is noted and it was clearly occultic through and through and praised in this secular book. W & H [i.e. B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort] were members according to your article. I don’t think from the looks of things they were doing too much stuff on Greek and Roman culture in this club!!!

The second edition of The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft1 is available from and has a limited preview of the contents available. While it did not include any pages from the H’s, it did at least have the complete index, so I was able to look up any references to the Hermes Club. There were none, although there are multiple references to Hermes, Hermes Trimestigus, and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. This aroused my suspicion. Nonetheless, that didn’t mean the book said nothing about the Hermes Club, only that it hadn’t been indexed.

A quick check of the local public library’s online catalogue confirmed that it holds both the first and second editions of The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, by Rosemary Ellen Guiley, so I requested both, and waited for them to be transferred to my local branch. I had the opportunity yesterday to sit down with these volumes and inspect them for myself.

I wasn’t surprised with the results. Neither edition mentions the Hermes Club of which B. F. Westcott was a member while an undergraduate. There are multiple mentions of the Greek god Hermes, of course, usually in an entry on some aspect of Greek pagan mythology: not at all surprising in a book on this subject matter. But how can The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft note that it was “clearly occultic and praised through and through” if it doesn’t mention it at all?

The following excerpt, however, is notable information from the entry on the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which may shed some light on how KJV zealots think:

The key founder of the Golden Dawn was Dr. William Wynn Westcott, a London coroner and a Rosicrucian. In 1887 Westcott obtained part of a manuscript written in brown-ink cipher from the Rev. A. F. A. Woodford, a Mason. The manuscript appeared to be old but probably was not. From his Hermetic knowledge, Westcott was able to decipher the manuscript and discovered it concerned fragments of rituals for the “Golden Dawn,” an unknown organization that apparently admitted both men and women.

Westcott asked an occultist friend, Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, to flesh out the fragments into full-scale rituals. Some papers evidently were forged to give the “Golden Dawn” authenticity and a history. It was said to be an old German occult order. Westcott produced papers that showed he had been given a charter to set up an independent lodge in England. The Isis-Urania Temple of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was established in 1888, with Westcott, Mathers, and Dr. W. R. Woodman, Supreme Magus of the Rosicrucian Society of Anglia, as the three Chiefs. The secret society quickly caught on, and 315 initiations took place during the society’s heyday, from 1888 to 1896.2

Well, there you go. Guiley says nothing about the Hermes Club co-founded by Brooke Foss Westcott, but it has plenty to say about the Hermetic Order co-founded by William Wynn Westcott. Obviously our friend KT is not telling the truth. Whether she is lying, or reporting unreliably because of sloppy reading, I leave to the Loyal Readers to decide for themselves.

But KT is merely following in the footsteps of KJV-only high priestess Gail Riplinger, who never met a fact she couldn’t distort. Gail the Ripper also cannot keep her Westcotts straight. She attempts to connect B. F. Westcott with occultic practices, writing: “Westcott took the wand and relayed it into the 20th century.”3 In a lengthy footnote, she then explains how

[t]he articles on Hermetic doctrine in Blavatsky’s Theosophical Dictionary “were contributed at the special request of H. P. B. by Brother W. W. Westcott.” She mentions B. F. Westcott, the subject of this last chapter, several times in her other books. B. .F. Westcott’s son points out that his father’s signature was almost always read as W., not B., preceding his last name. . . . The similar identity of these two is not a matter of historical record.

Only at the end of this footnote (and never in the main body of the text) does Riplinger admit:

The connection between B. F. Westcott and the activities attributed to the possible allonym W. W. Westcott are speculation on my part.4

Well, there you have it. In the alternate universe where KJV-onlyists spend their waking hours, similar means same. What matters is not factual accuracy, but how well a factoid supports KJV-onlyism. Supporting the system trumps integrity. So what if the lives of Brooke Foss and William Wynn Westcott are well known, and there’s no way they are the same person. Hey, close enough.

So what was the Hermes Club? If we are to believe Riplinger, it was an occultic secret society, as she writes in a section titled “Hermes: Alias ‘Satan'”:

As a Cambridge undergraduate, Westcott organized a club and chose for its name “Hermes.” the designation is derived from “the god of magic . . . and occult wisdom, the conductor of Souls [sic] to Hades . . . Lord of Death . . . cunning and trickery.” . . .

Author of the Occult Underground cites Hermes as the entry point of scholars and philosophers into the occult. Westcott’s “Hermes” club met weekly for three years from 1845-1848, discussing such topics as, the “Funeral Ceremonies of the Romans,” “The Eleatic School of Philosophers,” “The Mythology of Homeric Poems,” “the Theramines” [sic] and numerous undisclosed subjects.5

Sounds spooky, until we realize that Riplinger is trumping up charges again. All too frequently, reality is quite boring, which is why we need conspiracy theorists to invent a more interesting one. Riplinger frequently cites the biography of Westcott written by his son – usually wildly inaccurately, but I assume she at least takes it seriously as a reliable source. Here is what Arthur Westcott has to say about the Hermes Club:

Westcott’s most intimate friends during his career as an undergraduate were J. Llewelyn Davies, C. B. Scott, and David J. Vaughan. These four, together with W. C. Bromhead, J. E. B. Mayor, and J. C. Wright, were the original members of an essay-reading club, which was started in May 1845, under the name of “The Philological Society.” At a later date the society took the name of “Hermes.” The society met on Saturday evenings in one or other of the members’ rooms, when a paper was read, and a discussion, not infrequently somewhat discursive, ensued. The following were the subjects of papers read by my father: – The Lydian Order of the Etruscans; The Nominative Absolute; The Roman Games of (or at) Ball; The so-called Aoristic Use of the Perfect in Latin; The Funeral Ceremonies of the Romans; The Eleatic School of Philosophy; The Mythology of the Homeric Poems; The Theology of Aristotle; Theramenes.” . . .

At times the philosophic gravity relaxed, as witnesses the following entry in the minute-book under date 8th May 1848: “Mr. Vaughan having retired to his rooms, and Mr. Davies within himself, the rest of the society revived the ludus trigonalis [i.e. a Roman ball game], and kept it up for some time with great hilarity.” Presumably Westcott took his share in this hilarious revival, though it did not form part of the discussion on his paper concerning Roman Games of (or at) Ball. . . .

The last recorded meeting of the society took place on 15th May 1848. . . . Whether the society survived to discuss the character of Philopœmen or not is not apparent. Probably not, for the four faithful members of the club had now graduated. There is an entry in the minute-book which indicates that in March the end was near. Above the initials B. F. W. occur these words: “Let me here offer my heartfelt tribute to a society from which I have derived great pleasure, and, I trust, the deepest good – not least under the feelings of today.” The subject that evening had been “The Condition of Women at Rome”; but the discussion had wandered over a wide field, and, in its latest stages, was concerned with a comparison of Plato and Aristotle.6

Well, that’s a lot less spooky. The Hermes Club was simply an essay-reading club, formed by some schoolmates, to discuss topics of interest to classics students. When most of them had graduated, the group dissolved. Of course, essays on Roman ball games and Latin verb tenses don’t quite convey her negative sentiments, so she simply omits them from her citation.

Riplinger’s latest tree-slaughtering missive, Hazardous Materials, promises more of the same. The Highland Host has been reading it (under duress, I am certain) and posting some of his impressions. In his latest, he accurately notes that Riplinger’s usual modus operandi is simply to cast her enemies in as bad a light as possible. The general thrust of this new book appears to be to try and discredit any study of the original biblical languages. The most recent issue of the Riplinger Report, her email newsletter, touts HazMat thusly:

Learn about the corrupt source of new versions and the problems with: . . . Greek-English Lexicons by Moulton, Thayer, Danker, and Liddell. . . .

All Greek-English New Testament lexicons plagiarize the first Greek-English lexicon written by Scot and Liddell. He [sic] harbored the pedophile author of Alice in Wonderland (who yet today remains a suspect in the Jack the Ripper case). This lexicographer permitted him to take improper photographs of his daughter Alice, for whom he [sic] named the famous child’s story.

I’ll leave the historical inaccuracies regarding the relationship between Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, Alice Pleasance Liddell, and her father Henry Liddell to others. I shall pause only to snigger that Riplinger actually takes the claims that Dodgson was Jack the Ripper seriously. I do wonder why she sees the need to discredit Liddell and Scott, as this is the standard lexicon of classical Greek, not the koine dialect of the Bible. Perhaps she feels that studying Aeschylus in the original is just as fruitless. (I wonder which translation of Seven Against Thebes is the inspired one?) But go back up to my citation of the Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, and note that W. W. Westcott consulted with a Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers.

Spooky. Is there a relationship? Can Riplinger trump one up quickly enough for her next book?

Hey, close enough.


1 Rosemary Ellen Guiley, The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft (New York: Facts on File, Checkmark, 1989).

2 Ibid., 156.

3 G. A.  Riplinger, New Age Bible Versions (Munroe Falls, OH: AV Publications, 1993). I do not own a paper copy of this work. Shortly after its publication, and presumably with the approval of the author, a KJV-onlyist fan of Riplinger made an electronic copy of NABV available on his bulletin-board system, which was active for most of the 1990s. Any page numbers I refer to therefore correspond to the electronic copy, and I will also include a chapter number to assist in locating the source of the citation. This quotation appeared on page 852 (in Chapter 30).

Any KJV-onlyist feeling I should cite a more authoritative edition of NABV is invited to remedy the situation, at his expense.

4 Ibid., 866-68 n. 128.

5 Ibid., 809-10 (chapter 30).

6 Arthur Westcott, Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott, vol. 1 (London: MacMillan, 1903), 46-48.