Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The King James only controversy

The King James controversy has been raging for years I am told. Frankly I never noticed. Probably because it has never been an issue with me or the church I pastor. A little over a year ago a close friend and his family switched churches because of distance restrictions and his new church only uses the KJV and frankly teaches this is the only inspired interpretation/translation. On their web site, even before you get to anything they believe about the Lord you will see a statement that their church adheres only to the King James bible. I felt I had to do some digging and would like to post just a few things I found.

Lets assume for the moment that the KJV is in fact an inspired translation of the original languages. I say ‘an” rather than the only here because I have yet to hear anyone else ever make this claim. If it is an or the only inspired translation, than we can expect one sure thing. It would be perfect in every way of interpretation. We know this because The Holy Spirit does not make mistakes. So lets see if this holds true.

At last count some have come up with just a little over 5,000 inaccuracies. Granted some are spelling and others grammatical so we will just look at what I see as genuine translation errors. First, where ever the words baptizo and baptisma appear, the words are transliterated as baptize and baptism respectively. Why not translate these words literally as immerse and immersion? Well, it was to avoid any controversy over the Anglican practice of effusion which is a pouring and not an immersion. Here was have the translation being influenced by church practice and not the church being influenced by what the word actually says. Basically what we have is an Anglican translation that was very much an answer to the newly translated Douay-Reims bible of the Catholic church. But lest continue.

The original 1611 version included the Apocryphal books most non catholic assemblies reject as uninspired. This can only be attributed to the fact that King James I was at the time a baptized Catholic. The 1611 KJV was translated from one ancient Greek MSS called the Textus Recepticus, assembled by the scholar Erasmus to translate a more current Latin Bible than the Vulgate. However the Textus Recepticus compares no more than six (6) Greek manuscripts from the 11th through 15th centuries. One of these manuscripts, the Miniscule 2 is noted for having a lot of errors.

The dedicatory note prefacing the 1611 version states that it compared the English translations of the time. in fact the Bishop’s Bible (an updated Tyndale) was a baseline English translation used for careful comparison as the translating panel of 56 scholars worked their way through the foreign text. Tyndale’s text is credited for effecting about 85% of the King James text. Basically it is a revised Tyndale version at best.

Have you ever noticed the difference between Old Testament and New Testament naming of the same character? I suppose the translators of the KJV did not recognize that the Hebrew and Greek names might regard the same persons. Jacob becomes James (more likely to honor the current King), Zechariah becomes Zecharias, Jonah becomes John, Elijah becomes Elias and Joshua becomes Jesus.

Then there is the “ghost” haunting the pages of the New Testament. How or why the translators used the Germanic “Ghost” so often rather than the more accurate “Spirit” baffles most scholars. The Germanic word Ghost means a guest, but that is not what the original Greek word meant. Then there is the appearance of the word “Easter” in Acts 12:4 in reference to the Passover of the Jews. The term itself is of pagan origin and at its best refers to a Christian celebration. How could it ever be confused with the Jewish Passover, which would have been the legitimate translation.

To repeat my original thought, if this were in fact an inspired translation we would expect not to find such errors. I personally like listening to someone read the King James. It’s poetic language just seems natural when quoting scripture. But to demand that this is the only translation anyone use, or to say all other translations are either faulty or inadequate smacks of ignorance. As one biased fellow once actually said, “if it was good enough for the apostle Paul, it’s good enough for me”. Let me know what you think.


  1. The only true way of reading and understanding the scriptures is learning Hebrew and Greek and digging into the culture at the time it was written. Any other method leaves you with a bias that will lead to a misunderstanding.

    Good Blog


  2. Sorry I did not get back sooner, I have been swamped. You are correct of course but the regular everyday Believer is just not equipped or ready to learn the originals. they are at the mercy of the translators who I am finding more and more are as biased as anyone

    Good to hear from you