The Preface and the KJV's Exclusivity and Authority

17 posts / 0 new
Last post
Offline
Since
Wed, 6/30/10
Posts: 8

Tags: 

Republished with permission from Theologically Driven.

Is Only the King James Version the Word of God?

The King James-only movement refuses to recognize any other translation in English as the Word of God. As I noted in previous posts here and here, the Preface to the 1611 KJV is an embarrassment to the KJV-only position because in the Preface the translators themselves absolutely reject the erroneous idea that any translation has such a unique position. Unlike modern KJV-only advocates, the translators themselves admired the work of previous translators of the English Bible.

And to the same effect say we, that we are so far off from condemning any of their labours that travailed before us in this kind, either in this land, or beyond sea, either in King Henry’s time, or King Edward’s, (if there were any translation, or correction of a translation, in his time) or Queen Elizabeth’s of ever renowned memory, that we acknowledge them to have been raised up of God for the building and furnishing of his Church, and that they deserve to be had of us and of posterity in everlasting remem­brance.

The Preface goes on to declare that other translations are also the Word of God, even if they contain minor errors. In fact, they acknowl­edge that errorless translation is impossible since translators are not like the apostles, who were superintended by the Holy Spirit in their writing.

Now to the latter we answer, that we do not deny, nay, we affirm and avow, that the very meanest [worst] translation of the Bible in English set forth by men of our profession…containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God: as the King’s speech which he uttered in Parliament, being translated into French, Dutch, Italian, and Latin, is still the King’s speech, though it be not interpreted by every translator with the like grace, nor peradventure so fitly for phrase, nor so expressly for sense, every where….A man may be counted a virtuous man, though he have made many slips in his life, (else there were none virtuous, for in many things we offend all) also a comely man and lovely, though he have some warts upon his hand, yea, not only freckles upon his face, but also scars. No cause therefore why the word translated should be denied to be the word, or forbidden to be current, notwithstanding that some imperfections and blemishes may be noted in the setting forth of it. For whatever was perfect under the sun, where Apostles or apostolick men, that is, men endued with an extraordinary measure of God’s Spirit, and privileged with the privilege of infallibility, had not their hand?

So according to the translators there is no justifiable reason why any good-faith translation should not be considered the Word of God, yet KJV-only proponents have denied that any English translation since 1611 is the Word of God. The KJV translators deny that their own translation is perfect (no errors) since perfection is only possible when men are under the direct, supernatural inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In order to prove that good-faith though imperfect translations are still the Word of God, the translators give an example of what they consider to be a translation with numerous defects, yet, in spite of those problems, can still be called the Word of God.

The translation of the Seventy dissenteth from the Original in many places, neither doth it come near it for perspicuity, gravity, majesty; yet which of the Apostles did condemn it? Condemn it? Nay, they used it, (as it is apparent, and as Saint Hierome [Jerome] and most learned men do confess) which they would not have done, nor by their example of using of it so grace and commend it to the Church, if it had been unworthy the ap­pellation and name of the word of God.

The translation of the Seventy is a reference to the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, translated several centuries before Christ, which is often quoted in the New Testament when the writers cite the Old Testament.

So again we see that the Preface to the KJV proves to be an embarrassment to the supporters of the KJV-only position since the very words of the translators themselves refute the erroneous claims of the KJV-only movement.

Is the King James Version the Final Authority?

The King James-only movement suggests that with the coming of the KJV there was no need for further translation work and that the pro­liferation of modern versions is harmful to the church. Yet the translators of the KJV faced the same objection. They note in their preface, “The Translators to the Reader,” that there was nothing unique about their work—it was only a continuation of the process of revision of previous translations and that making improvements in translations is a positive thing.

Yet before we end, we must answer a third cavill and objection of theirs against us, for altering and amending our Translations so oft; wherein truely they deal hardly and strangely with us. For to whom ever was it imputed for a fault (by such as were wise) to go over that which he had done, and to amend it where he saw cause?

But it is high time to leave them, and to shew in brief what we pro­posed to ourselves, and what course we held, in this our perusal and survey of the Bible. Truly, good Christian Reader, we never thought from the be­ginning that we should need to make a new translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one;…but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones one principal good one, not justly to be expected against; that hath been our endeavour, that our mark.

KJV-only advocates commonly speak of the King James Version as the final authority in English Bibles, as though the KJV text was fixed in 1611. But that is nonsensical in light of the historical facts. First, there is legitimate debate as to the original text of the original 1611 edition since there were apparently two versions printed in 1611, commonly called the “He” and “She” Bibles, from their respective readings in Ruth 3:15 (“he went into the city” and “she went into the city”). These two 1611 editions differ in about 450 places (see David Norton, Textual History of the King James Bible, pp. 173–79). Second, modern printed versions of the KJV are significantly different from the 1611 editions. This is because the KJV has been revised numerous times. Corrections were made in 1612, 1613, 1616, and 1617; more extensive revisions followed in 1629, 1638, 1762, and 1769. It is principally the 4th major revision by Benjamin Blayney in 1769 that is in use today.

There are literally hundreds of differences between the 1611 KJV and modern printed editions. Let me list a few examples (see F. H. A. Scrivener, The Authorized Edition of the English Bible, pp. 148ff.):

 

1611 KJV

Modern KJV

Gen 39:16 until her lord came home until his lord came home
Num 6:14 and one lamb without blemish and one ram without blemish
Deut 26:1 which the Lord giveth which the Lord thy God giveth
Josh 13:29 half tribe of Manasseh half tribe of the children of Manasseh
Judg 11:2 and his wives sons grew up and his wife’s sons grew up
1 Sam 18:27 David arose, he and his men David arose and went, he and his men
1 Sam 28:7 And his servant said to him And his servants said to him
2 Kgs 11:10 that were in the Temple that were in the temple of the Lord
1 Chr 7:5 were men of might were valiant men of might
2 Chr 28:11 fierce wrath of God is upon you fierce wrath of the Lord is upon you
Job 39:30 where the slain are, there is he where the slain are, there is she
Jer 34:16 whom ye had set at liberty whom he had set at liberty
Jer 38:16 So the king sware secretly So Zedekiah the king sware secretly
Jer 49:1 why then doth their king inherit God why then doth their king inherit Gad
Ezek 3:11 unto thy people unto the children of thy people
Joel 1:16 Is not the meat cut off before your eyes Is not the meat cut off before our eyes
Matt 12:23 Is this the son of David? Is not this the son of David?
Luke 1:3 perfect understanding of things perfect understanding of all things
John 15:20 The servant is not greater than the Lord The servant is not greater than his lord
Rom 3:24 the redemption that is in Jesus Christ the redemption that is in Christ Jesus
1 Cor 12:28 helps in governments, diversities of tongues helps, governments, diversities of tongues
1 Cor 15:41 another of the moon and another glory of the moon
2 Cor 5:2 For in this we groan earnestly, desiring to be clothed For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed
2 Cor 11:32 the King, kept the city with a garrison the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison
1 Tim 1:4 rather than edifying rather than godly edifying
1 Pet 2:1 and envies, and evil speakings and envies, and all evil speakings
1 John 5:12 he that hath not the Son, hath not life he that hath not the Son of God hath not life

As the translators of the KJV said in their Preface, “For to whom ever was it imputed for a fault (by such as were wise) to go over that which he had done, and to amend it where he saw cause?” And indeed the KJV has been amended numerous times since 1611. For KJV-only advocates to argue that they hold the 1611 KJV as their final authority is at best silly and ill-informed, and at worst, extremely dishonest.

[node:bio/wcombs body]

J Ng's picture
Offline
Since
Tue, 6/16/09
Posts: 159
Quote: There are literally

Quote:
There are literally hundreds of differences between the 1611 KJV and modern printed editions. Let me list a few examples (see F. H. A. Scrivener, The Authorized Edition of the English Bible, pp. 148ff.):

True, and that's why some KJBO celestials have opted to identify THE perfect edition thereof as the http://www.bibleprotector.com/purecambridgeedition.htm Pure Cambridge Edition of 1900 as that which is http://www.worldcat.org/title/forever-infallible-inerrant-remembering-go... ]verbally, plenarily preserved (VPP) .

Jim's picture
Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 6706
Vonlism

I'm declaring myself to be VO (Vulgate Only)

http://dbts.edu/blog/?p=2800

Quote:
From time to time, KJV-only advocates have argued for the superiority of the KJV based on the fact that it was the most commonly used translation of the Bible for more than three centuries. In other words, antiquity and long use are sometimes cited as proof that the KJV is the best translation of the Scriptures. However, such reasoning usually overlooks the fact that one translation has the KJV beat by more than a half millennium.

The logo for my position:

drwayman's picture
Offline
Since
Wed, 9/7/11
Posts: 40
What about non-English readers

My question for the King James only folks is, "Does that mean that only those individuals who read and understand the king's English will know the true Word of God? Doesn't God plan of salvation extend to those who don't read and understand the KJ version?"

Pedid por la paz de Jerusalén.

Jim's picture
Offline
Since
Wed, 5/6/09
Posts: 6706
What about non-English readers?

My answer from Vonlism: Learn Latin!

J Ng's picture
Offline
Since
Tue, 6/16/09
Posts: 159
drwayman wrote: My question

drwayman wrote:
My question for the King James only folks is, "Does that mean that only those individuals who read and understand the king's English will know the true Word of God? Doesn't God plan of salvation extend to those who don't read and understand the KJ version?"

Depends.

Of the two KJBO sites linked in my previous post:

1. The Aussie Pentecostalist KJBOs believe that the ignoramus foreigners should simply bow to the rule of Britannia and learn the lingo, but

2. The Singaporean Bible-Presbyterian "VPP" KJBOs hold that inerrancy resides in their chosen Greek and Hebrew texts; so:

- Those who have no Bible will have translations made out of something like the Trinitarian Bible Society's TR, such as the http://bibleversiondiscussionboard.yuku.com/topic/2199/at-long-last-a-pe... ]THE FALAM-CHIN KJV BIBLE
- Those who have an existing Bible made out of a "corrupt" text, like the Chinese Union Version, are exhorted to abandon it for one apparently made from an edition of the TR, such as the http://bibleversiondiscussionboard.yuku.com/reply/51991/1872-PMV-vs-CUV-... ]Peking Mandarin Version .

In neither case are people ever left without a perfect Bible--since, of course, there was the perfect Vulgate since the Council of Trent before that and the perfect Syriac Peshitta before that. ;P

Aaron Blumer's picture
Offline
Since
Mon, 6/1/09
Posts: 7302
Preservation in one "Reformation Era" text in each langauge

One view I've seen fairly often is that there is one perfect "Reformation Era"-text-based translation in each language and that this is the word perfect preserved translation in that language.
This is not my view, but it's somewhat plausible.

The more serious problem is that such a view must be supported by arguments external to Scripture yet many who hold it claim it is biblical doctrine and that to reject it is disobedience to Scripture.
As a view of history and translation principles, I don't have a big problem with it (though I think it fits the facts poorly). As a claim of biblical doctrine, I do have a big problem with it.

drwayman's picture
Offline
Since
Wed, 9/7/11
Posts: 40
One Reformation Era Text

Aaron said, "...many who hold it claim it is biblical doctrine and that to reject it is disobedience to Scripture." I agree with you Aaron about how one must appeal extrabiblically to hold such a belief.

Wouldn't that type of attitude lead to idolatry? IOW, making the person's belief about that text superior to anything. Not that the Bible becomes an idol but rather elevating one's belief in that certain text as the only true scripture is idolatrous.

Kind of like pet theological stances, one's belief in the theological stance as the only real, true, verifiable belief, discounting all other beliefs as unscriptural; hence, judging that person as being an inferior Christian or not a Christian at all. Now, I'm talking about theological stances within the realm of Christianity, those individuals who know that the scripture is infallible and that Jesus is the only way to salvation who have pet theological stances outside of those like whether women should be allowed to wear jeans, whether a Christian should drink, etc. I hope I'm explaining myself well.

Pedid por la paz de Jerusalén.

Aaron Blumer's picture
Offline
Since
Mon, 6/1/09
Posts: 7302
Some other word

I would not call it idolatrous, myself, because we're not talking about replacing God with another deity. But it's true that Scripture sometimes uses "idolatry" a bit more broadly (e.g. Col. 3.5). Still, I'd rather keep the focus on the bibliology problems. They're serious enough and more precisely where the problem is located.

Offline
Since
Tue, 5/8/12
Posts: 44
excellent point

Using the preface to the 1611 KJV is an excellent piece of evidence. Well done!

harmonno98's picture
Offline
Since
Tue, 2/7/12
Posts: 2
The author of the article made good points

I personally use the KJV and have memorized many verses over the years, and God has used it "mightily" in my life. Years ago I heard David Otis Fuller in person, speaking boldly, as only he could, about the KJV being the "best" English translation, and I still agree today. I don't think his a KJV only in the sense of discrepancies, but he majored on the sources...the manuscripts used! He cited the scholarship of the translators, but most importantly the source of the translations...which manuscripts? The received text copied by Erasmus was the source, and cited his scholarship as well, to the highest level. But it was the manuscripts that were the key for me, the textus receptus vs. the Sinaicatus-Vaticanus. The question for me is the sources of the English translations, and as I read many of the modern translations based on the "older", and therefore must be more reliable (Sinai-Vatican), there are so many deletions that many refer to the blood, or the deity of Christ.....not found in these "newer versions". Why would God do so, or sanction that? The best example off the top of my head is Eph. 1:7, where through his blood , is not found in the newer versions. Why?

Tom

Chip Van Emmerik's picture
Online
Since
Thu, 6/4/09
Posts: 1788
harmonno98, I appreciated

harmonno98,

I appreciated your input. Are you aware that, while Erasmus' work was used by the KJV translators, what is printed today as the Textus Receptus was produced after the 1611? There were places in the KJV where no Greek manuscript support could be found, so a Greek manuscript was produced from the English translation to provide a Greek compilation fully matching the English translation. Dr. James White has produced a series of videos detailing this and other issues for your consideration. You can find them http://effectualgrace.com/2012/03/01/king-james-onlyism-exposed-again/ here.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Offline
Since
Tue, 5/8/12
Posts: 44
I believe from the Vulgate

Hi Chip,

You're mostly correct but I believe the incidence to which you refer is when Erasmus couldn't produce a Greek text for some verses and they were translated from the Vulgate (rather than the KJV which came about a century later) into Greek.
You are right that James White is a good source on the subject.

Ephesians 1:7 has "through His blood", in the ESV. "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,"

J Ng's picture
Offline
Since
Tue, 6/16/09
Posts: 159
harmonno98 wrote:But it was

harmonno98 wrote:
But it was the manuscripts that were the key for me, the textus receptus vs. the Sinaicatus-Vaticanus. The question for me is the sources of the English translations, and as I read many of the modern translations based on the "older", and therefore must be more reliable (Sinai-Vatican), there are so many deletions that many refer to the blood, or the deity of Christ.....not found in these "newer versions".

That seems to be a bit of an oversimplification. To begin with, let me quote http://bibleversiondiscussionboard.yuku.com/reply/60360/Byzantine-Text-2... ]another "oversimplification," albeit less so than your original:

the Byzantine text is also called the Majority Text, depending which edition is being read, R-P or H-F. They don't differ by much between themselves, but do differ some 1830+ times from the Textus Receptus (any edition) or some 8000 times from the modern critical text Nestle/UBS or Westcott-Hort editions.

The primary issue is that the Byzantine is the type of text followed in general by the vast majority of manuscripts, while the critical text basically follows the Alexandrian text-type, based on at best around 40 or so manuscripts, including the earliest known (those all from Egyptian and related areas). The TR, on the other hand, is a creative mixture of mostly Byzantine and a number of non-Byzantine readings, including some ported over from the Latin Vulgate.

Obviously different people have vastly different ideas as to which of these texts is best....

In other words, the choices are not binary. It's not just the TR vs the Sinaiticus-Vaticanus; that's just to force the lay mind into a false dichotomy, demonize the one but exalt the other, and ta-da, the obvious choice is ... (drumroll, but you can fool so many people so much of the time). Fact is, no two TR editions are identical, and there's a whole buncha them. Same for the Critical Text. And then there's also the Majority Text editions to deal with.

Of course, some King James Onlyers have opted for a completely arbitrary text in order to obtain their needed sort of certitude; so like the Tridentine Council before them, they pronounce Verbal Plenary Preservation or some such perfective grace upon the Trinitarian Bible Society's printed TR, the Bomberg edition of the OT, the 1900 "Pure Cambridge Edition" of the KJB, or such like.

Quote:
Why would God do so, or sanction that? The best example off the top of my head is Eph. 1:7, where through his blood , is not found in the newer versions. Why?

A good question, and I'm not sure the Bible actually tells us why. In fact, within the Scriptures themselves, there are numerous instances of words left out or added or changed in quotation/translation (e.g. Isaiah 61 vs Luke 4), despite the presence of oft-quoted statements concerning the jots and the tittles, but this phenomenon never seems to bother our Lord or His prophets and apostles. So perhaps it may be a bit of making an Ararat outta an anthill?

jimfrank's picture
Offline
Since
Sat, 6/26/10
Posts: 142
Endless Arguments

This argument will not end until we all reach the Eternal State. Lately I've been discouraged about the work here and am reading 2 Timothy repetitively in order to restore perspective. Paul tells us, "But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels" (2 Timothy 2:23). The KJV Onlies argue, "This is the about the Word of God, what could be more important?" Ultimately we must choose sides, and once we do we must stick with it. Arguments concerning the Bible are certainly not "foolish and ignorant specultation(s)." However, there is no way this argument will ever be settled. It is profoundly sad that Fundamental Christianity remains divided over the very thing that should unite us, the Word of God.

Kevin Subra's picture
Offline
Since
Tue, 6/2/09
Posts: 192
Agree, But...

This is a divisive doctrine that can lead people astray. I've taught on the origin of the Bible several times over the years, including the KJVO position, and including some clear statements from the Preface that preclude the KJVO position. It's worth spending *some* time on it teaching believers so they are not led astray.

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Aaron Blumer's picture
Offline
Since
Mon, 6/1/09
Posts: 7302
The middle

With many of these kinds of issues, the value of the back forth is the potential to help the people in the middle. Rarely, if ever, does someone who has staked out a position on one of these change his thinking.... especially in the case of those who have built their ministries on their position on a matter of controversy.
But sometimes people who aren't sure what to think or who have a position but are not too "vested" in it, read a debate and can see that one side or the other has the better arguments, a better explanation for the facts (as in, the information both sides are agreed on), better handling of Scripture and a better spirit. In some cases they moderate their view a little. Others rethink the matter completely. It's worth it for these.

Help keep SI’s server humming. A few bucks makes a difference.