Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The King James Only Controversy

Over a decade and a half ago I read James White's book "The King James Only Controversy - can you trust modern translations?" I had stumbled across it while perusing the books at a Christian bookstore and decided to buy it as I'd heard a bit about the controversy, although I rarely ever met any King James version only (KJVO) advocates. I think a lot of the reason I bought the book was for my own benefit - I wanted to know more about the Bible and why some people thought that the KJV was the only English version that we should use. I also wanted to increase my understanding of the issues related to the original manuscripts that translations are based on and how trustworthy they are.

In more recent times I've been finding that I'm regularly bumping into KJVO believers. While it isn't a salvation issue, I do think it's an important issue. Personally I usually use NIV version as I find it to be a good version, but I'm happy to look at other versions, and I think it's unhelpful to tell people that they have to read a book that uses outdated English that is difficult to understand. In fact at times, due to the change in language over the centuries since the KJV was written, some of the words and phrases in the KJV sound absurd to us today. For example the KJV uses the phrase "gay clothing" whereas most modern versions correctly say "fine clothing" due to the obvious change in the meaning of the word gay in today's vernacular. (See KJV Archaic Words).

Also in more recent times I've been blessed to listen to some of James White's videos online. He is a gracious and highly intelligent man that I highly respect. He has also had public debates with Muslims on a number of occasions and does so with hum.

A few weeks ago I watched this video - Should we exclusively use the King James Bible? I found it really helpful. It's a debate between James White and Jack Moorman. Interestingly, just several days after watching this debate I met someone at a church meeting who I discovered was a KJVO person, and I was able to share some of the things I'd learned from watching this debate.


With the above meme you'll find that the Greek words kai ho erchomenos (καί ὁ ἐρχόμενος) ("and shalt be") are erroneously in the King James Bible Dictionary:

But καί ὁ ἐρχόμενος is NOT in modern Interlinear Bibles or Greek texts that stay faithful to what the original manuscripts actually say. The actual Greek manuscripts have ho on (the one being) kai ho en (and having been) ho hosios (the Holy One). As stated in the meme above that I made - there is not one Greek manuscript in the world that has the Greek words "and shalt be" in Revelation 16:5.

You've also got words that should be in the KJV, but aren't. In the meme below the words "through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages" are missing:

Some questions I have for KJVO people are:

- Which KJV Bible do you follow?
  • The original 1611 version which almost no one uses and is almost unreadable due to the archaic typesetting? (E.g. They used the letter v for the letter u.)
  • The 1760 revision?
  • The 1769 Blayney revision? (This is what most KJV people use, and it's often referred to as a 1611 KJV because it's considered that it's not a new translation but is a new edition).
  • The 1769 Blayney Cambridge version?
  • The 1769 Blayney Oxford version? (There are over 100 differences between the Oxford and Cambridge versions).
  • The 1769 version with no italics for words added by the translators?
  • The NKJV? 
- If the English in the KJV is inspired then why didn't God enable the translators to get it right the first time and not have so many different versions that could cause confusion?

- Why are you believing something about the KJV that the original 47 translators of it never believed? (They never believed that the KJV translation was inspired or innerant in terms of the English words, nor did they believe that their translation was the final translation that would ever be needed in English.)

- Doesn't it strike you as odd that there are absolutely no KJVO people who are scholars with relevant qualifications? (I've searched in vain to try and find even one KJVO scholar with even a degree in biblical exegesis and biblical Greek. I'm not saying that KJVO are lacking in intelligence - it just seems to me that they are lacking in solid critical thinking skills or haven't yet applied those critical thinking skills to this issue. The closest I could find to a KJVO scholar is "Dr" Sam Gipp, who I discovered doesn't have real qualifications).

The bottom line is that modern Bible translations such as the NIV, NASB, and ESV are based on far more manuscripts than were available when the KJV was translated. These manuscripts enable the translators to know with much greater accuracy what the original autographs actually said. We can trust God's Word, and should not think that we have to use only the KJV.

One of the key issues in this whole debate is the fallacy of begging the question / circular reasoning (i.e. assuming what you're supposed to be proving). An example of begging the question is when KJVO people argue that it's terrible that modern translations have removed so many verses (which is one of the main accusations KJVO people use against modern translations), but from a non KJVO perspective it could just as easily be argued that it's terrible that the KJV added so many verses that weren't in the original texts!

KJVO people make the KJV their ultimate standard a priori and anything that doesn't fit into that paradigm is critically explained away, but they will not apply the same kinds of critical arguments to the KJV itself. This is a form of double standard, as illustrated well here by James White:

"Gail Riplinger appeared with Dr. Joe Chambers on June 4, 1994 on a radio program in Charlotte, North Carolina. Again Mrs. Riplinger allowed the interviewer to make reference to her academic credentials without once mentioning the fact that her field of study is not at all related to the Bible, history, or any type of linguistic or textual study. Again Mrs. Riplinger brought up Virginia Mollencott, but then, when a caller brought up the charge of homosexuality that history places against King James I of England, she was vociferous in her defense of King James. The interviewer rightly pointed out that James had nothing to do with the translation itself: of course, Virginia Mollencott's unannounced lesbianism had no impact upon the NIV, either, though Mrs. Riplinger would inconsistently deny this." (From 'New Age Bible Versions Refuted', by James White).


KJVO LIE: Westcott and Hort (who made an updated Greek New Testament in 1881) were spiritists / involved in the occult. (This lie seems to come from Gail Riplinger - see the video below - 'Gail Riplinger vs James White', and the above article 'New Age Bible Versions Refuted').

TRUTH: Westcott and Hort were not spiritists or involved in the occult in any way. Also this rumour overlooks the fact that the Greek used for modern Bible translations today differs significantly from Westcott and Hort's.

For Further Reading / Research:


  1. Some good thoughts here.

    The true debate in the King James only crowd is which texts are legit. The old versions all are translated from the textus receptus (sp??) O_@

    The newer bible versions are translated from the dead sea scrolls and other partial manuscripts found here and there that they believe are older.

    Many believe, however, that these older and partial manuscripts were manuscripts that contained errors or were perverted. This being the reason they were buried and not preserved.

    Either way, if you listen to the arguments it's obvious that the more modern translations definitely loose something when the message talks about the gooy white of a marshmallow in Job! (I mean it's insignificant but really... a marshmallow!)

    There is little doubt in my mind that some translations are not completely trustworthy. Satan will always try to pervert the Word of God slowly over time by little minute changes here and there that may seem insignificant at the time.

    The real question I have to the KJVO crowd is this... do you honestly think that satan wasn't already doing that when King James commissioned to translate his version of the bible?!

    According to my research Sir John Dee, Francis Bacon, and a couple others who helped translate the KJV (originally) were all high ranking black magic Enochian occultists. You really think they didn't change ANYTHING?

    King James was reportedly a member of the knights of malta, a group decending from morovius who claimed to be a direct descendant of Marry Magdalene and Jesus. (Yeah that ridiculous davinchi code garbage)

    This is why King James claimed he had a "divine right" to rule and he commissioned for his version of the bible to be translated to support that "Divine" right. The knights of malta also are into enochian occultism which would make sense why King James might have brought some occultists in to his group.

    I personally have started reading the Geneva bible in the 1560 version which pre-dates the 1611 KJV (obviously). I know you said these archaic tones are near impossible to understand but they are really not. i have grown relatively proficient in reading it and read it aloud in front of our church group when called upon to rad a verse.

    I have already found several differences between the GNV and KJV that I feel are significant and a deviation from the original idea of the scriptures.

    Is the GNV pure? I have no idea. All I know is there is no other older translation in English so that's as far back to the original as I can get without learning greek and hebrew.

    1. Thanks for your comment. You've raised a lot of issues. I encourage you to watch the debate that I've linked to in the article. Which version talks about marshmallows? Is that 'The Message' paraphrase? I don't even think that counts as being called a Bible. The GNV is a very loose translation that is getting close to being a paraphrase too. It's aimed at kids or those who aren't proficient in English. The Dead sea scrolls and other manuscripts that have been found after the KJV was written have greatly increased the accuracy of our modern Bibles. The idea that they aren't accurate is a kind of conspiracy theory that doesn't hold water on close inspection.

  2. The KJV is a poor translation. The KJV's archaic words, such as “jangling”, “subtil”, “privily”, and “holpen”, might sound “educated Shakespearean” but they are actually Middle English slang terms, the modern equivalent of the Living Bible or the Good News Bible.

    The 1611 version, and all other editions of the KJV that were published for the next fifty years, contained the Apocrypha. The 1769 Blayney revision was the first edition of the KJV that did not include them.