My Position Regarding the King James Version

A good friend of mine, Shawn McGrath of Brethren Apolo­get­ics, recent­ly pur­chased for me a Thomp­son Chain Ref­er­ence Study Bible to thank me for the work I have done on the BrAp site. Accord­ing to not­ed King James defend­er Peter Ruck­man, how­ev­er, the gift which I have before me is “Satan’s Mas­ter­piece”: the New Amer­i­can Stan­dard Bible (NASB).

It is dif­fi­cult to reply to King James defend­ers because the focus of “the word of God” has been shift­ed from what the apos­tles, prophets, and oth­ers actu­al­ly penned to what a few dozen men in the 17th Cen­tu­ry pro­duced based upon the originals.

I will def­i­nite­ly be writ­ing more on the sub­ject here, but I am fight­ing a cold at the moment and need to go to sleep. How­ev­er, I want­ed to define my posi­tion thus far, which will serve as the foun­da­tion for future writ­ings so that peo­ple know where I’m com­ing from.

Please for­give the lack of organization/order in this. Cold med­i­cine + sick­ness + drowsi­ness, ya know.

  • The King James Ver­sion is a mar­velous trans­la­tion, eas­i­ly sur­pass­ing the vast major­i­ty of avail­able trans­la­tions sim­ply due to the fact it is a for­mal­ly equiv­a­lent ver­sion which is fair­ly con­sis­tent in off-set­ting “added-for-clar­i­ty” words by using ital­ics. That the King James Ver­sion is fair­ly lit­er­al and most­ly refrains from trans­la­tion-by-inter­pre­ta­tion great­ly helps in know­ing what “thus says the Lord.”
  • There are more lit­er­al ver­sions than the King James Ver­sion avail­able which, though less read­able, rep­re­sent even more faith­ful­ly the actu­al words of God in the orig­i­nals as reprseent­ed by the vast major­i­ty of man­u­scripts avail­able. The New Amer­i­can Stan­dard Ver­sion is per­haps the most pop­u­lar of these lit­er­al ver­sions, though like the King James Ver­sion, there are times in which there trans­la­tion-by-inter­pre­ta­tion is used, and not all added-for-clar­i­ty words are off­set. How­ev­er, the New Amer­i­can Stan­dard Bible lists tex­tu­al vari­ants in foot­notes. The King James Ver­sion does not do this, thus forc­ing the read­er to accept what it says rather than being able to weigh the evi­dence which God has pre­served for us for ourselves.
  • The Major­i­ty Text is to be pre­served over both the Tex­tus Recep­tus and the Crit­i­cal Text. Both the Tex­tus Recep­tus and the Crit­i­cal Text are sup­port­ed by few­er man­u­scripts than the Major­i­ty Text is, hence its name. That the Crit­i­cal Text has the sup­port of old­er texts does not nec­es­sar­i­ly lend to its cred­i­bil­i­ty, due to the area and nature of the man­u­scripts which it is derived from. Egypt had a high pop­u­la­tion of Gnos­tics dur­ing the ear­ly years of the church, and Gnos­tics were known to alter the bib­li­cal texts. Faith­ful Chris­t­ian lead­ers could rec­og­nize the altered texts based on their rar­i­ty or unfa­mil­iar­i­ty, as well as by com­par­ing them to the texts which were in wide cir­cu­la­tion with­in the church­es. So these altered texts were not wide­ly used, so they would­n’t wear out too quick­ly. The cli­mate of Egypt would also pre­serve them eas­i­ly. Mean­while, the faith­ful texts were copied dili­gent­ly and were wide­ly and often used. Thus, the Major­i­ty Text is derived from thou­sands upon thou­sands of man­u­scripts, while the Crit­i­cal Text is pre­served on a choice few man­u­scripts from Egypt which while they may have the ben­e­fit of age have sev­er­al notable alter­ations not present in the man­u­scripts pre­ferred by the ear­ly church.
  • Despite this, lit­er­al and for­mal­ly equiv­a­lent trans­la­tions done from the Crit­i­cal Text should not be dis­re­gard­ed, as the New Amer­i­can Stan­dard Bible which sits before me attests to.
  • Last­ly, an ide­al Bible would be one which is trans­lat­ed in as lit­er­al a man­ner as pos­si­ble, is based upon all avail­able man­u­scripts (Crit­i­cal Text, Tex­tus Recep­tus, and Major­i­ty Text), con­tains exten­sive tex­tu­al vari­ant notes (either in foot­note or appen­dix), and con­tains a wide vari­ety of explana­to­ry foot­notes and alter­na­tive or even less-lit­er­al ren­der­ings avail­able in foot­notes. Also, all added-for-clar­i­ty mate­r­i­al would be off­set, and the lan­guage of the text itself would be as acces­si­ble and gram­mat­i­cal­ly cor­rect as pos­si­ble. To my knowl­edge, such a trans­la­tion does not yet exist.

I don’t expect there ever to be con­cen­sus on the Bible ver­sions issue. How­ev­er, I implore every­one who believes the Bible to love the brethren. Scrip­ture nev­er gives as a rea­son for slan­der­ing or sep­a­ra­tion dif­fer­ences of opin­ions con­cern­ing Bible ver­sions. Give the argu­ing a rest, and love one another.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Use your Gravatar-enabled email address while commenting to automatically enhance your comment with some of Gravatar's open profile data.

Comments must be made in accordance with the comment policy. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam; learn how your comment data is processed.

You may use Markdown to format your comments; additionally, these HTML tags and attributes may be used: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Rick Beckman