Is the King James Version Bible the best translation available for Christians?
Delivered to the Saints-
King James Version Only
King James Only is a growing movement, claiming that God has preserved His word infallibly through the King James Bible alone. This view causes divisions and superiority in the body of Christ and must be addressed.
Please note that my contention is with those who hold that the King James Version of the Bible is the only inspired word of God. I do not hold any contention with those who prefer the Greek manuscritpts in which the textus receptus (TR) was made from(Byzantine text), the TR its self or prefer the KJV.
But what is their evidence on making such a radical claim? Let’s examine them:
- The Textus Receptus is a superior text, and the older manuscripts we have are “corrupt.”
- First we need to Ask what is the Textus Receptus and how was it put together? Desiderius Erasmus compiled a Greek New Testament that provided the textual base for the vernacular translations of the Reformation period. He actually went through a few versions (1516, 1522, 1527, 1535) before we have what we know as the “TR” the final copie(s?) were altered by Stephanus and later by John Calvin’s successor Theodore Beza. So the question would be, which TR is the “prefect one”?
- Next question would be: “do the TR and the KJV agree?” Sadly the answer is no, they differ in many places Beza admits to changing the text in Revelation 16:5 to make it sound better.
- How many Greek manuscripts did Erasmus use to compile his translation(s)? in his earliest copy he was rushed and only had Five but in his later copies he had only Ten. Most were from the twelfth century, some of which were missing huge chunks, especially in revelation (he used the vulgate to make up the differences). Today we have 5,700+ Greek Manuscripts from the New Testament.
- Why are the older manuscripts corrupt? The TR was translated based on ten manuscripts from the Byzantine text family tradition, while more modern translations (NASB & ESV) put more weight on the Alexandrian text family tradition. While it is true that the Byzantine text family are more in quantity they are also a lot later in date (9th through the 17th+ centuries vs as early as the 3rd century) the thought from modern textual critics is that the earlier the copies, the shorter the time for copying mistakes to happen. The thought from KJV only advocates is that the earlier copies are corrupt because Origen came from Alexandria and he had weak views of the deity of Christ, but they fail to notice that Clement of Alexandria (150-225) was a defender from Gnosticism and Alexander was a defender from the Arian Heresy and was on the council of Nicea (Nicean creed). Also Athanasius (296-373 was the strongest defender of the Deity of Christ) Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) an anti-Arian. Other factors that deal the quantity of manuscripts are dry vs moist areas contribute to the preservation of the manuscripts and also Islam taking over certain areas and destroying manuscripts had a great effect on the manuscripts we have today, Islam did not invade Byzantium until much later.
- The King James Bible was used greatly by God for 400 years.
- The Latin vulgate was used for over 1,000 years (this is the argument Erasmus received from the church)
- What will happen when other versions become the most used in the future? (KJV is no longer the most used translation)
- There are massive differences between the KJV and “modern translations”.
- Yes there are, but that doesn’t makes one more correct than the other. We must ask “WHY are the differences there?” modern translation (some) try and get as close as they can to the Autographa (original) but KJV only advocates only care what the translators back in 1611 rendered the text.
- There are also massive differences between the KJV and the Greek text. For instance 1 John 5:7-8 KJV (Comma Johanneum) only found in one other Greek manuscript before 1520  the rendering of Revelation 16:5 and last 6 verses in revelation KJV arn’t found anywhere.
God promised a pure translation. (Psalm 12:6-7)
- I Believe of the Bible as is said in the Westminster Confession of Faith says “being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic; so as in all controversies of religion the Church is finally to appeal to them” but the question is HOW did God do that? The important thing to remember in this controversy is that NO essential doctrine hinges on the differences between copies. I believe that God has kept his word pure through translation and we see this by the “embarrassment of riches” we have in New Testament manuscripts that by Gods providence he has protected and worked through fallible humans that we have only petty differences and that we can have the confidence in the word of God because we know He can sovereignly deliver to us a text. The discipline of textual criticism has proven this fact.
- What is the “perfect” translation before 1611? If you follow the Logic you would have to assume that the 1611 KJV would match the Textus Receptus, but it does not, you would also figure the KJV would match a Byzantine Greek text … it does not or maybe Byzantine with the TR? … it does not.
- The King James Bible doesn’t have a copyright on it because God owns it.
- This I think just comes from wishful thinking (but I guess it all does) but it is a funny one and you would think there wouldn’t be a comeback for a claim like this… but there is, the KJV originally was published with the “Cum Privilegio” (with privilege) which was the equivalent to our modern copyright.
More fun Facts:
- 1611 KJV included the Apocrypha
- English Bibles before KJV: Tyndale NT 1525, Coverdale Bible 1535, Matthews Bible 1537, Geneva Bible 1560, Bishops Bible 1568, Douay-Rheims 1582
- The Preface to the 1611 King James Bible the translators said that they weren’t perfect and that one should read a variety of difference translations.
- Beza interpreted Hebrews 6:6 with a Calvinist bent.
- Erasmus had great pressure from the Church to include the Johanneum Comma even though it was not found by him (or us) in the Greek.
- The “Textus Receptus” carried around by students in KJV only colleges is not the TR it is the King James Version of the Bible Translated into Greek (this is why they still think the TR and the KJV are the same.)
KJV Only is a conspiracy theory that holds no backing and presupposes the validity of itself to make the position legitimate, this is called circular reasoning.
Thanks be to God that we have faithful men of God that commit themselves to the discipline of Textual Criticism (like Daniel B. Wallice; Bruce Metzger; Darrell Bock; James White and others) so that we may understand what God has given us.
The King James Only position comes in all difference flavors I only addressed what i thought to be the normal KJVO position, if I have misrepresented you please let me know and I will correct it.