In the last two posts we have discussed some of the problems with holding to the KJV as the only translation that should be used today. The first post addressed the general background of the translators who worked on the KJV. The second post looked at differences between the 1611 KJV and the modern KJV. Today I want to address some of the common arguments that are used by those who hold to the KJV only position.
1. There has to be a Bible version that is completely inerrant, hence God gave us the KJV.
There are multiple problems with this. First, is it true that God has to give us an inerrant translation? No, God never promised us an inerrant translation. He promises His Words are perfect and inerrant (which is in the form of the original text). However, saying that God has to now provide an inerrant translation is a statement that forces God into a box by saying God must preserve His Word in the way we deem best. However, in God’s sovereignty, He has preserved His word through multiple existing manuscripts, not in one single translation. God has the right to preserve His Word however He wants. And for us to say God has to use one single translation to do that is to import our own presupposition into the discussion.
Second, if this proposition is true, what Bible translation was to be used before the KJV was put into place? Remember, the KJV actually is reliant upon other English translations for word choice and grammar. So, if those previous versions were not inspired, why is the KJV using those other English version which are not inerrant? Further, what about all those poor people before the KJV? Did God abandon them by not giving them His Word?
2. Changes from the 1611 to the modern KJV only include, spelling, punctuation, and do not affect the meaning of the text itself.
I have written elsewhere about the differences between the 1611 and modern KJV were more than just spelling. But there are other concrete examples of errors as well. For example, the KJV translators were working from Second Bomberg edition for their Old Testament text in Isaiah. In Isaiah 13:15 the KJV translates, “every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword.” However, the Hebrew word in the text which they were using reads, “every one that is captured will fall by the sword.” (cf. William Combs’ article, 155-56).
Additionally, in Hebrews 10:23, the Greek manuscripts from which the translators were working read “the profession of our hope,” yet the translators wrote it as, “the profession of our faith” (Combs, 158). These are just a few examples of the mistakes of the translators.
One could make the argument that the KJV translators were inspired and were actually “correcting” the Greek and Hebrew, but again, that would be putting a questionable presupposition ahead of the evidence for no good reason.
3. The New Versions of the Bible are Part of a Conspiracy Which Corrupts God’s Word
Is it a conspiracy? Often KJV only advocates will go to verses like 1 Tim 3:16, which says “God was manifest in the flesh…” The NASB translation reads, “He who was revealed in the flesh.” The name of God is removed! Or, so some claim. Is this evidence of a conspiracy?
Not at all. The newer versions are just utilizing the better Greek manuscripts that have been found over the 300+ years since the KJV. Notably, the newer Bible versions also have places where they magnify God and Christ to a greater extent than the KJV does. Note John 1:18, which says in the KJV, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son…” Notice what the ESV says, “No one has ever seen God; the only God…” Similarly, Revelation 1:8 in the KJV reads, “saith the Lord,” while the NASB reads, “says the Lord God.” In other words, there is evidence that the KJV is trying to limit the deity of God in certain passages! Obviously, the KJV was not intentionally trying to remove “God” from the text. They just didn’t have all of the evidence that was possible.
In sum, there is no evidence of conspiracy. Translators of the KJV and the modern versions are doing the best they have with the resources available to them to relate the text as it was originally written.
Note: This post originally appeared July 14, 2014.
photo credit: Brett Jordan via photopin cc