Saturday, March 15, 2014

My View on the King James Only Controversy

I am from the Bible-Belt, where the King James Version is truly the king of the versions. It's a common belief that the King James Version is the inspired version of the Bible in English, but I find this belief to be totally against the evidence. Over time, I have grown to like the King James Version less and less, and I honestly don't care for it very much because of the following it has. Here are some reasons why I don't think that the King James Version is inspired or the only reliable Bible translation.


Like every other translation of the Bible, the King James Version is plagued by human error. The King James Version is translated from the Hebrew Masoretic text of the Old Testament and the Textus Receptus Greek New Testament. Here are a few mistranslations:

1. "James" is not in the Greek New Testament: it is actually "Jacob". The Greek says Iakobos, which is the Greek transliteration from the original Aramaic name Yakob.

2. Acts 12:4 should not have "Easter" in it, but Passover. The Greek, being translated from an Aramaic original, transliterated the Aramaic word paskha into Greek letters. The correct translation is not "Easter" but "Passover".

3. III John 1:1 should not read "I pray above all things that thou mayest prosper" but "I wish in all things that you prosper". This mistranslation has lead to false teachings, notably the prosperity preaching we see all over the televangelist community.

4. Monogenes should not be translated as "only begotten" Son. Monogenes means "only" or "unique" Son.

Faulty Base Text

I personally do not agree that the New Testament was written in Greek, but even those who do believe it was originally written in Greek will agree that the KJV New Testament is based on a very flawed text, which is from the 14th century and not from early manuscripts like today's translations from the Greek texts.

1. I John 5:7 appears in no Greek manuscript before the 14th century. It is only found before in some late manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate. Peshitta omits it also.

2. John 7:53-8:11 are not in many manuscripts. This passage is omitted in the oldest manuscripts. This story also appears in some manuscripts of the Gospel of Luke. The Peshitta, Old Syriac, and Diatessaron all omit this also.

3. Acts 8:37 is absent in all manuscripts before 600 AD. Peshitta omits it as well.

Not the First Translation

The KJV is not the first translation of the Bible into English. It is also not a very original translation, as it is heavily based on previous versions. Actually, over 80% of the KJV's New Testament is copied from the Tynedale New Testament! Here are some pre-KJV English Bibles:

1. The Wycliffe Bible (Circa 1385)

2. The Tynedale Bible (Never completed, translator executed in 1536)

3. Coverdale's Bible (1535)

4. Matthew's Bible (1537)

5. Tavner's Bible (1539)

6. The Great Bible (1539)

7. The Geneva Bible (1560)

8. The Bishop's Bible (1568)

9. Douay-Rheims Version (1609)

Modern Translations Are Not Heretical

It is a widely acknowledged fact that no textual variant of Scripture effects any major Christian doctrine. For example, many people accuse the NIV of denying Jesus's deity by using "who" instead of "God" in I Timothy 3:16. The oldest manuscripts do not say "God", but "who". The NIV clearly states the deity of Christ more than the KJV!

"While we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ..."- Titus 2:13, New International Version

"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ..."- Titus 2:13, King James Version

"Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours..."- II Peter 1:1, New International Version

"Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ..."- II Peter 1:1, King James Version

Modern Translations Do Not Endorse Homosexuality

The King James Version condemns homosexuality, but not as clearly as our modern translations. Let's compare the KJV with the NLT in a few verses relating to homosexuality.

1. Romans 1:26-27

"For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the women, burned in their lust one toward another' mean with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet."- King James Version

"That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved."- New Living Translation
2. I Corinthians 6:9

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind..."- King James Version

"Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men."- New Living Translation

Textual Variation

A common accusation aimed at the NIV and other modern translations is that they are removing verses of the Bible, but these verses were most likely not penned by the apostles and prophets! I John 5:7, for example, was never a part of the original Bible and did not come from the pen of the Apostle John! Is this to say that we can't be certain what is and what isn't original in our Bibles? Absolutely not!

From much study and research, I have come to the conclusion that the Aramaic Peshitta is God's perfectly preserved New Testament. Even if the Peshitta isn't the original and the Greek is, scholars are of the opinion that we can rest assured in the reliability of our Bible's. The New Testament's text is just a little over 1% uncertain, giving us 99% that is certain to have come from the pens of the original authors.

Why Should the King James Be the Standard?

Since I have established issues with the KJV-Only reasoning, I need to ask why we should set the King James Version (or any translation) as the standard for truth. God has provided us with many tools through which we can study the original Bible in it's original languages. All Bible's are interpretive and all reflect the translator's biases in some form, so we should go back to the original's as much as possible in order to get the truth. The Bible in it's original languages, Hebrew and Aramaic for the Old Testament and Aramaic or Greek (which ever you believe it was originally written in) for the New Testament, is the inspired Word of God. Any translation is only the Word of God in as much as it agrees with the original manuscript.

I am not an expert in the languages of the Bible. I want to learn Greek (even though I don't believe the Greek NT to be the original, but a fantastic witness), Hebrew, and Aramaic so that my understanding of the Scriptures won't be confined to translations, interlinears, or dictionaries. We should all study the original languages of Scripture in whatever way we can. You could even just check the accuracy of a translation using your Strong's or Vine's Lexicon! We should not limit ourselves to mere translations and set them up on pedestals.

I hear people say many times that they are leery of modern translations since "one word can change the entire meaning of the verse". This is true, but how can we be so certain that the King James didn't get it wrong and the modern translations got it right? III John 1:1 is a case of the King James Version being corrected by the modern translations.

All translations should be subject to scrutiny and study. You can use many tools in order to figure out the accuracy of a translation. There are various Study Bibles, concordances, lexicons, and other things that you can use to check out how accurate a translation is. Someone might say, "Well, if the Bible could be mistranslated, how can we be certain how much is the Word of God?" This is not something you need to be afraid of. Most of our translations are very accurate, including the King James, New International, and New American Standard.