I do not want to get into this. For years I have used only the King James Version (KJV). In high-school I wrote (and presented) a scathing lecture on modern Bible versions based solely on Gail Riplinger’s book (whatever it was called). I went to Bible college and sat in Kirk DiVietro’s Theology classes (they were great classes). I saw his personal copy of James White’s book The King James Only Controversy. I think it had more notes in red ink in the margin than there was actual text in the book.
And yet, around the time of my college-years, I became afraid of looking further into the KJV-Only stance. I’m (unfortunately) the type of person that if I found a golf-ball sized lump on my leg, I would avoid going to the Doctor for fear that there might be something wrong. In the same way, I never wanted to research Bible versions, so I have just gone along with it. I’m perfectly happy reading a KJV. No one disputes that it is a worthy translation. But it is also a point on which many in my denomination "hang their hat", so to speak. If I went out and bought a NASB as a gift for my son, for example, I could expect a serious "talking to" and some unfriendly labels placed on me and my family behind my back from other church-goers. I suppose the time has finally come to make a decision.
Studying this issue will cost me time that I don’t have. It will take effort that I don’t really want to give. I could be doing other things… You know? Spending time with my family… Making money… Reading my Bible. But I’m not doing this just for me. My kids are going to rely on my views in the formation of their own as they get older. My wife relies on me to discern truth. I can’t in good conscience continue without a definite view on this. Either modern Bible versions are as trustworthy as the KJV, or they aren’t. With a little study and a lot of prayer, I hope to come as close to the truth as I can.
Here’s some preliminary thoughts… I want to attack this on two fronts. First, textual-what texts are the bibles based on, and how do we determine which are more accurate? And two—one main attack from the KJV-Only side is that modern bibles attack the word of God by watering down doctrine. If it’s true that word-substitutions are made in only one direction that this could be a good case. However, if modern versions don’t actually water down doctrine, then they should have enough portions that are translated more conservatively to bring some kind of balance.
The King James Version is superior to all other modern-day Bibles
- The texts that the KJV are based on are superior
- What texts are the KJV based on?
- How are these texts superior?
- The theology of modern-day Bibles is watered down
- What doctrines are watered down? Examples?
- Do examples occur in the "other direction"?
- Word-for-word translations are better than phrase-for-phrase/thought-for-thought translations.
- Psa. 12-7 says of God’s words, "Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation forever. ".
- Or does it say that of God’s words? Is the pronoun "them" here mistranslated and should be "him", referring to the poor and needy?
- I don’t know any Hebrew, but people who do say that the pronoun is masculine, but that the words of God are in the feminine form. Therefore it could not refer to "them".
- Interestingly, the Bishop’s Bible translates it as "the Godly". Since the KJV was supposed to defer to the Bishop’s Bible in their translation choices, could it be that they had a good reason for rendering it "them"?
Modern-day Bibles are superior to (or at least as good as) the King James version
- The texts that modern-day Bibles are based on are as trustworthy or even more trustworthy than the texts that the KJV are based on.
- "Dynamic Equivalency" is a superior method of translation.
General thoughts to later possibly be collated into a coherent essay
It would be interesting to see a very detailed history of how churches throughout the ages were able to access God’s word. The KJVO position seems to leave the impression that there has been an unbroken chain of Bible’s in the believers’ hands since the point at which they were written. However, unless I misunderstand, a full copy of a Greek NT did not exist until Erasmus collated them into a whole in the 1500’s. What did this mean for the doctrine of Bible-preservation before the 1500’s? You would have to answer the God’s word had been preserved in a loosely scattered state throughout thousands of partial documents written on papyri, vellum, etc. But isn’t this the concept that the same position rejects?
Although it may not be representative of the KJVO position as a whole, there is a small portion of writing that says that the "error" that has crept into the modern versions is of demonic influence. If you take an objective look at people and churches that use modern versions, do you see evidence of the fruit of these clever demonic ploys, or does their fruit seem to be the fruit of the Holy Spirit? Are there perhaps small factions of the KJVO position that seem to fit the bill of "demonic fruits" better? This can be illustrated in a syllogism:
- Errors creeping into the modern versions are the work of satan
- satan’s goals are to hurt man, hurt God, and hurt God’s relationship with man
- Therefore, people using modern Bible versions should have trouble getting saved and should not grow as Christians
Most KJV-Only proponents distance themselves from Ruckmanism by stating that the KJV is not inspired in itself but is based on preserved Greek texts. However, in order to defend the KJV translators’ decisions on which Greek variants to use in which places, these choices must have been guided by God. Isn’t this inspiration? Do God’s claims that Scripture is inspired extend to translations many years later?
"Psalm 108:5 promises that God will preserve His Word “unto a thousand generations.” For this reason, He would never allow it to be suppressed or withheld from His people as the Roman Catholic hierarchy did for 1400 years. It is reasonable to assume that God removed these manuscripts from circulation because they were not His Word. " If this is true, how do we interpret the fact that these mss were eventually found? That God tried to remove them from circulation, but was not powerful enough? They made their way back into circulation through "providential happenings" out of God’s control? I don’t see anywhere in the Bible that says that satan is omnipotent.
So, take the verses such as Luke 2:22 which show that the KJV and later editions of the TR went against the Majority Text. You can defend the decision to take the reading that "makes more sense" as much as you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that it goes against the reading that existed in the majority of Antiochan mss down through the years. But doesn’t this contradict the underpinning of the KJVO position, that the KJV is 100% based on the text that was 100% preserved by God? So it’s more like 99.9%?
Modern textual critics believe in a sort of "text-entropy". As copies of texts are separated more and more from their originals, they gain certain spurious additions and lose portions at random due to scribal error. But, then, how can it be that the "majority text" which is still a very diverse collection of mss, from different geographies and languages has the most coherent structure, but the ancient texts, which should be closer to the original and should be more in agreement, are actually less so?
(Possible answer to above is that the Byzantine texts are from a period in history known as the Period of Standardization from 325 – 1500 A.D) (From God to Us p. 164) where the Bible text was standardized and copied more professionally, under less duress and persecution).
KJVO make a big deal about "dynamic equivalency" and formal translations. We need the exact words God gave us. But how do they defend the translation of pascha as Easter? Any book I’ve seen says, "It’s not a mistake, they meant to do that, we just don’t know why, maybe it was to distinguish between this or that feast." I guess the formal translation argument doesn’t apply here.
Is the LXX the perfect word of God? If not, how did early Christians read the Old Testament? Remember, one of the underpinnings of KJVO is that every single word of God is available to every Christian throughout every age.
A quick note on italics in the KJV. These are totally inconsistent. For example, in Matthew 26:7, it reads "as he sat at meat." The Greek words for "sat at meat" is ἀνακεῖμαι. It means to recline, but can have a sense of "dining together", so "sat at meat" is fine. The KJV translators italicized "at meat" because the words were added for clarity, however in translating the very same Greek word in Luke 7:37, "at meat" is not in italics. Not to mention that the KJV translaters supplied the word "box" after alabaster and didn’t italicize it in either place.