King James Only Controversy

If you say that the King James Version (KJV) is the best translation, then I ask, “What makes you think so?” If you declare the KJV to be the best translation because you say it is and then judge all the other translations by it, that’s circular reasoning, which is absolutely ridiculous in this situation. If you declare that God inspires the KJV and it’s far better than all the other versions, then I ask, “How do you know?” Again simply comparing KJV to other versions and using KJV as the standard is circular reasoning, and therefore, invalid. I say KJV is the best version, therefore, KJV must be the best version. This reasoning lacks wisdom.Let’s look at the facts.

There are thousands of languages in the world. By the year 600 AD, the Gospels had only been translated into a few languages. By 1456, when moveable type was invented, only 33 languages had rendered any part of the Bible. By the year 2000, the entire Bible had been translated into 371 languages and portions of the Bible were translated into 1,862 languages and dialects.
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It is said that the Septuagint is the oldest translation of the Bible (285-246 B.C.). Accordingly, it was made for Jews. And it is commonly agreed that it was made for the Jews in Alexandria. Seventy-two elders (six from each of the twelve tribes) constructed it. They translated the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek because the common language of Alexandria was Greek. Over the years, many Jews had either grown rusty or had forgotten their Hebrew and wanted a translation so that they could understand the Scriptures. Hence, the Septuagint was created: a Greek translation from the Hebrew of the Old Testament.

The Old Testaments of our day are taken from the Masoretic text, which was written in Hebrew. This is the only existing representation of the Old Testament in Hebrew other than the Dead Sea Scrolls. The oldest fragments date from the 9th century AD, but the oldest complete texts come from the 10th and 11th centuries AD. It differs from the Septuagint in many ways. Yet, in the New Testament, when the Old Testament is quoted, it is almost always from the Septuagint.

The early Christian churches loved the Septuagint and thought it to be divinely inspired. Therefore several of the Church fathers claimed the Septuagint presented the Word of God more accurately than the Hebrew Bible. Almost all the early Christians, after the first century, had no understanding of Hebrew. For that reason the Septuagint was their only source for the Old Testament. The Jews, over time, came to hate the Septuagint and believed that the day it was made was similar to the day that the golden calf was made.

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Over the next few centuries, there were other translations made into other languages because Christians desired to read the New Testament in their common languages. For example: Egyptian Christians--Coptic; Eastern Germanic--Gothic; Armenia--Armenian Version; Georgia--Georgian Version; Ethiopians--Ethiopic Version; Arabia--Arabic Versions; Nubia--Nubian Version; Syria--Syriac Version and The Latin Versions. Copies were made and copies of the copies were than created and they were spread throughout the lands. The original language of the New Testament was Greek.

The bottom line is extremely important to understand. All of these translations, including the Septuagint, had many problems and inaccuracies resulting from the repeated copying. We can determine that by simple comparisons.

Yet all of these translations proved to be invaluable in the proclamation of the Gospel. It appears that just as God uses imperfect people to carry forth His perfect message, He has also allowed imperfect translations to carry forth His perfect message.
The Septuagint became confusing and unreliable because of the many differing copies that were made. This caused confusion and strife.

Origen, in the third century, attempted to purify it by making an edition that is called the Hexapla. The Hexapla was prepared in six (hence the name) columns containing different versions of the Scriptures. These included a Hebrew text, four different Greek versions (a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew text and versions by Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion), and the Septuagint.

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During the first few centuries, many of the Christians that spoke Old Latin translated the New Testament manuscripts from Greek into Old Latin.

For the same reason that Origen made the Hexapla, Pope Damasus, in 383, called upon Jerome, the most learned Christian scholar of his day, to produce a uniform and dependable Old and New Testament in Latin. Jerome took into consideration the Septuagint, but placed a much higher value on the Hebrew text. This resulted in the Latin Vulgate.

Jerome’s new translation was not accepted immediately. Many were angry and criticized him for making it. Augustine thought the Septuagint was the inspired version of the Old Testament and superior to the Hebrew text. He was not pleased with Jerome for using the Hebrew over the Greek as his source of translation.
Nonetheless, Jerome’s Latin Vulgate became the standard for nearly a thousand years throughout Western Europe.

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John Wycliffe (1330-1384) desired to make a translation into English that the ordinary reader could use. Of course, the traditionalist of the day thought his new translation should be condemned and tried him for heresy.

In 1488, the first Hebrew Bible was printed in its original language
by moveable type that had just been invented.

Also in 1516, a Roman Catholic priest named Erasmus compiled a Greek New Testament from the few manuscripts available to him and it was the first ever published. Erasmus’s Greek New Testament came from what is called the Majority Text. There are currently approximately 3,900 manuscripts, but few were known by Erasmus. He used less than six of the manuscripts available -- all from the Byzantine text-type. They were all dated twelfth century or later and none of them were complete copies of the New Testament. In addition, he used sections from the Latin Vulgate that he translated into Greek. Erasmus dedicated his New Greek New Testament to Pope Leo X.

William Tyndale [1492-1536] conceived the idea of making an English Bible based on the original languages. But again, the traditionalist objected to his new Bibles and convicted him of heresy. Consequently, on October 6, 1536, they strangled him to death and burnt his body.

Tyndale’s possessive influence spread to others like Miles Coverdale who printed the first complete English Bible in 1535. Then John Rogers printed The Matthew’s Bible in 1537. Others followed -- Taverner’s (1539), The Great Bible (1539), Edmund Becke’s Bibles (1549; 1551), Geneva Bible (1560), The Bishops’ Bible (1568) and The Rheims - Douay Bible (1582-1610).
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The King James Version KJV 1611 Bible’s New Testament is based upon the newest copies of the Greek, which are referred to as the Received Text or the Textus Receptus, by Erasmus (1516).

In other words, the KJV 1611 Bible’s New Testament came from Erasmus’s 1516 Greek Scriptures of the New Testament that had been translated into various Bibles before the KJV 1611.

King James, who had a personal interest in Biblical study and translation, endorsed the idea of a new English translation of the Bible.


In 1604, a translation committee of fifty “learned men” was appointed with a list of rules and procedures that were to be followed in the making of the new version of the Bible. The rules of procedure specified that the Bishop’s Bible was to be followed with as little altered as the original would permit. Also, other translations should be used where they agreed better with the text.

King James himself appears to have taken a leading role in organizing the work of translation.

The translators of the KJV 1611 Bible N.T. also used other Greek manuscripts that originated from Erasmus’s Greek New Testament all of which were published less than one hundred years from Erasmus’ first edition. These men also used English translations that originated from Erasmus’ Greek New Testament. For examples, The Great Bible, Tindoll’s Version, Matthew’s Version, Coverdale’s Version, and the Geneva Bible were all used as sources.

The Old Testament of the KJV 1611 came from the Hebrew text, called Masoretic from 900 AD and beyond, and was built on careful study of ancient manuscripts by the Jewish scholars called Massoretes. The basis of the Masoretic Text existed prior to the writings of the New Testament and was considered to be the official Hebrew Old Testament. The KJV 1611 Bible was not a new translation but only a revision of those translations that were already in existence. Verifiably, this was evidenced by the original 11 page preface of the KJV 1611.

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Translations like the New American Standard Bible and the New International Version of the Bible are based on Greek manuscripts that date from 100 AD to 600 AD (Alexandrian text-type). Keep in mind that these were unavailable to Erasmus.

It is quite amazing in that we do not have any of the original manuscripts (Autographs) but what we do have are two separate sources coming from the original autographs. One source within 100-600 years from the original and the other came from a pathway of translations covering 1600 years. When we compare the two, they are almost identical. According to the preface to the New King James Version of the Bible, the Textus Receptus, the Alexandrian text-type and the Byzantine text-type are 85% identical.

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The fact is that all manuscripts and versions have errors. Mostly, these are minor discrepancies of which the majority are minor spelling variations or word order modifications. Yet the doctrinal positions of the Body of Christ are boldly seen in each translation and no doctrines have been done away with as a result of the differing translations or errors within them. The question is -- do we have the Word of God without errors? The answer is... YES! The question is -- how can that be if they all have errors?

Take this as an illustration. If 25 people tried to copy the Declaration of Independence and each of the 25, when finished, made no less than 20 errors and then someone lost the original copy, would it be possible to determine exactly what the original had said, by using the 25 imperfect copies? YES ... How then?

They would not all have made the same mistakes in the same places. Therefore, a careful comparison and correction would reestablish
the original content.

2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.

Paul was speaking to people about the original manuscripts (Autographs). This can simply be understood by applying the Law of non-contradiction to all known non-autograph manuscripts with the only possible exception being if God inspires imperfect manuscripts and translations as He does imperfect Christians.

This is not to say that the end results of all the translations, even with their minor differences, for the most part, are still not part of God’s sovereign plan.

For example, compare the KJV - NASB - RSV

RSV John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (All versions say the same.)

 

KJV 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; 4) And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: (All versions say the same.)

NASV Romans 10:9
That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; (All versions say the same.)

I think the various translations are not only good, but point to the very fact that God has inspired all Scripture.

Think about it for a minute. You have a number of men from various geographical locations and assorted religious backgrounds in diverse times in history spanning 2000 years. All of these men endeavor to translate the Greek manuscripts and the copies of the copies and the end result is that not one doctrine of the Christian faith has been destroyed by a translation.

That shows that what we have is what God wants us to have.

eVeNWITH ThE’ VAReOUS mis steakes” with IN.

The above is an absurd example of errors that can still be understood, yet nothing in Biblical manuscripts, in regard to errors and variances, comes even close to being as ridiculous as the above example.

Now that a foundation of truth has been laid, let me make the point of this section. But first keep in mind that I use the KJV of the Bible and like it, as I do other versions. I will not lower myself to a rock-throwing contest of pointing out vers-by-verse problems within the translations. Obviously, the Gospel shines brightly thorough all translations to every person that is not adversely brain dead.

Most promoting this error, whom I have met, are sincere straight shooters that conduct themselves as gentlemen. To the effeminate, modern Christian ears, their words sound harsh. Generally, they are bold witnesses for the Lord, exhibiting dogmatic doctrine. Many of them that I have known have a sincere heart for the things of the Lord.

But, many of them are ignorant, placing their faith in a few modern day deceivers. They, like any cult, “follow the leader,” and are unable to consider any other information or opposing views.

This is coupled with the old satanic trick of acute conspiratorial paranoia. They think that they are the only ones that hold the real divine truth and other Christians with other Bibles are enemies to the truth.

They actually believe that there is some major conspiracy propagated by the various denominations to undermine God’s Word by various translations.

These people wallow in fear and ignorance, not knowing Greek themselves, and often advocate that the English 1611 KJV is more inspired than the Greek.

The names and the faces have changed, but it’s the same old satanic plot that has been used for 2000 years to cause disunity within the body of Christ. It’s responsible for (almost word for word) the founding of various cults. For example: think of Mormonism and their claims against the Body of Christ. Also, consider the ones that worshiped the Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate. Observe what they did to John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, and many others. Likewise, the same hateful ignorant spirit is in many of the King James-only bunch.

The KJV-only followers should be thankful to the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church because they were the churches, through their pope’s, priests, bishops and monks, which have been guided by God to copy and preserve the manuscripts that the KJV 1611 came from.

If you are a “King James only” and believe that the KJV is inspired Scripture and all other translations are not, I have a question for you. How do you know that? If you say, “God told me,” you must be relying on something other than the evidence of manuscript history or maybe you had an experience like Joseph Smith.

If you are a “KJV-only” and believe that the KJV is inspired Scripture and the other translations are not, I have another question for you.

How do you know that? If you argue, “It’s been what God has used
for four hundred years,” then what about the Septuagint?
It has been around for over 2200 years?

What about the Latin Vulgate that has been around for over 1,600 years? Or what about Greek Orthodox Scriptures that have been around for a long time or the many
English Translations even before the KJV?

NOTE: It’s interesting to see the KJV 1611 version has 49 books in the Old Testament, not 39 as our translations do. If the 1611 version was inspired by God, why delete 10 books contained within the original 1611 as many of the recent KJV versions do? Which part of the KJV 1611 is inspired, all or part?

Keep in mind that the KJV today looks very different than that of the original 1611. Editions with changes in the text came out as soon as 1612, 1613, 1616, 1629, 1638, and 1769. If you say that the KJV is the fulfillment of 2 Timothy 3:16, I have to ask the question - which edition? If you say that the original 1611, then I say, “Why use the others?” If you say that the different editions are “advanced revelation,” was the original sub-standard?

One guy quoted Psalm 12:6 and said that the KJV has gone through seven purifications. Then he was asked, “Are you saying that the original 1611 was impure? If so, why would God inspire an impure translation?” Why do people believe in the infallibility of the Pope? Why do people believe in the infallibility of the KJV? There is where the answer is: ignorance and pride in what they don’t understand.

2 Timothy 2:14
Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless, and leads to the ruin of the hearers.

How many problems do we have with the translation of...

Matthew 22:39
And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. NIV

Has our perfect God used the imperfect Roman Catholic Church over the years?
Has our perfect God used imperfect humans over the years?
Can our perfect God use imperfect manuscripts and versions?
Can our perfect God work His perfection through imperfection?

Romans 10:14
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

It does not say how shall they believe without a 1611 KJV Bible.

What they do hear is an imperfect preacher with imperfect doctrine as a general rule.

You show me two preachers that agree on everything and I will show you a Biblical miracle.

Nevertheless, this is the method God has chosen to use. I am quite sure that He is also able to work though variations within manuscripts and translations for His Glory. He has worked through variations within churches and believers for thousands of years.

Ephesians 4:1-3
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2) with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, 3) being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

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I want to thank Bruce M. Metzger for his book:
The Bible in Translation.

It has been extremely helpful to me in compiling the historical information within this section.

I highly recommend all Christians to read his book.


 

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