For most of the past several years of my new life in Christ, I have been what is commonly called a KJV-onlyist. I believed that for the English speaking peoples, only the King James Version represented the pure, unadulterated, preserved and inerrant word of God. Every other translation was flawed and inappropriate for use by a Christ-loving Christian. I think I even had a page on an old website which was titled “Errors in the King James Bible” but was otherwise blank.
That was then.
I sought the Lord about the matter, discussed it with elder brethren, and have come to the conclusion that it is illogical to claim that the KJV is perfect and that everything else can be tossed out.
The easiest way to demonstrate this simple truth–that multiple version of the Bible do more to bring clarity rather than confusion–is to show that there are, in fact, errors in the King James Bible. I realize that by doing this, many otherwise loving, Christ-honoring brethren will either break fellowship with me or label me an apostate. That is not my intention, nor do I wish to break fellowship. However, a Christian must be willing to bend and even break to conform to scriptural truth, and if it can be shown that people are fallible translators (even those men of King James’ time), Christians would be wise to make use of more than one translation rather than being unswervingly loyal to one.
I’ll look at just two of the errors here:
Much has been written from the Onlyist camp vindicating the King James Version’s use of “Easter” in Acts 12:3,4:
And because he saw it please the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him to four quarternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
Easter is a pagan fertility festival which celebrates Ishtar (or, originally, Astarte). The modern celebration of Easter with its eggs, rabbits, etc., are all holdovers from those ancient days, and the festival of Easter is easily shown to have nothing to do with the Lord Jesus Christ or His victory over death.
In the Bible, it is used for the Greek word pascha, which in every other occurrence in the New Testament is translated “passover.”
Dr. Samuel Gipp in his The Answer Book claims that the word “passover” is always used of the day preceding the “days of unleavened bread” which Acts 12:3 mentions. Thus, if the Feast of Unleavened Bread had arrived, it wouldn’t make sense for Herod to say he was going to wait for Passover to humiliate Peter before the Jews. He would have been waiting an entire year!
With the evidence presented by Gipp, the King James Version certainly is vindicated.
Unfortunately, he only presents the verses which agree with him. A very cursory search through my King James Version yielded an interesting result in Ezekiel:
In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten. 45:21
Here, the Bible plainly equates the Passover Feast with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Passover may specifically begin the week, but the entire week still is the Passover, “a feast of seven days.”
Thus, it is perfectly acceptable that pascha be consistently translated “passover,” as it should be.
Peter was arrested during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (which, according to Ezekiel, can be called the Passover), and Herod was going to wait until the feast ended to bring forth Peter.
Dr. Gipp points out that Herod may have been wanting to wait until Easter, a pagan festival, to humiliate Peter so as to not let the Jews “have all the fun” with killing men on festival days. However, this point does not stand whatsoever in the King James Version, which states that he would bring Peter before the people after Easter!
For Gipp’s point to stand, the word “passover” would make more sense there, for after the Passover week would come Easter! If Herod indeed was waiting as Gipp claims, he would miss his big day according to the King James.
The existence of the word “Easter” in perhaps the most widespread Bible version does great harm to the Church, for each year countless believers bring themselves under the traditions of a pagan festival, perhaps justifying themselves by pointing to “Easter” in the Bible.
How many? Of what?
The Bible contains many parallel accounts within itself–the four Gospels being the ones we’re most familiar with. But there are parallel passages in the Old Testament as well. I want to look at one pair of those parallel verses here:
And the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew the men of seven hundred chariots of the Syrians, and forty thousand horsemen, and smote Shobach the captain of their host, who died there. 2 Samuel 10:18
But the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew of the Syrians seven thousand men which fought in chariots, and forty thousand footmen, and killed Shopach the captain of the host. 1 Chronicles 19:18
Second Samuel points to “the men of seven hundred chariots” being killed by David, while 1 Chronicles has “seven thousand men which fought in chariots.”
According to David Cloud in his book Things Hard to Be Understood published by Way of Life Literature, it is possible that the account in 2 Samuel referred only to the drivers of the chariots but that there could be up to 10 (or more) others in the chariot as well, such as archers, shield-bearers, etc. These men, along with the drivers, would account for the “seven thousand” in 1 Chronicles. Whether that explanation works, I don’t know. It seems dubious to me, and the seeming contradiction is probably a copyist’s error.
However, what Cloud does not even mention is the second apparent contradiction in the verse. In one instance, “forty thousand horsemen” are killed while the mentions “forty thousand footmen.” These two verses seem to be given as a summary of the Syrian casualties, but which is accurate? And if they are both correct (i.e., Cloud’s explanation is correct, and both 40,000 footmen and 40,000 horsemen were killed), why give it to us in a manner so confusing? It is worth noting that if this indeed is an error, it has crept into other translations as well, including the 1889 Darby Bible.
So, what then?
The King James Version has errors. Does that mean that the Bible is untrustworthy? Perish the thought! No doctrine is affected by these, or any other, errors that I am aware of. What this simply tells us is that the tools God has used to manage His written word on Earth are fallible. We are only men, after all, tainted by sin.
The King James Version has been revised several times in the past to resolve thousands of errors, and perhaps it should be again. Other translations have thought to capture God’s holy word in English as well. Will we ever have a perfect translation? Perhaps we will only in Heaven. But, God has given us enough material for us to study and to learn His ways. And we must do so diligently.