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Insights from the KJV Translators Themselves

Most KJV Bibles sold today no longer have the longer introduction to the translation originally penned by the KJV translators.  Most English Bibles today have an introduction to the translation that comes from the KJV itself.  The KJV translators penned their introduction to explain and defend their translation.

One must bear in mind the time period of the 1611 translation.  Imagine if President Obama told the church here in the United States that he wanted one Bible “to rule them all” (to quote from Lord of the Rings)?  How would Christians react to Obama?  Even if Obama had the top scholars appointed to translate the Bible, most would view the translation with intrepidation.  I would.  I would figure that Obama would want the translate to be one sided, to avoid truth, to delete core doctrines and to make it as far from teaching the truth as possible while still sounding like the Bible.  What is true today was true of the Christians living under King James.  They viewed the “Authorized Version” with much fear.  In fact, the KJV would not become the preferred English Bible for about 50 years after its publication.  The Geneva Bible and not the King James Bible was brought over to the new world by the first English settlers to America.

The KJV scholars added the long introduction then to both promote their translation and defend it against those who questioned it.  After all, when the KJV was published in 1611 there were already good English Bibles on the market.  The KJV was not the first nor the last (and the KJV translators recognized that fact).  Though the KJV Bible would become the greatest of the English translations for many years to come, in 1611 it was just another Bible translation being offered now by the King himself of the British Empire.

I recently read the longer introduction that you can find in modern English on Amazon.  I learned much from it.  I only want to highlight a few of the KJV translators words.  Their words are good to read in our day of KJV onlyism.  After reading the KJV introduction, I have no doubt in my mind that these Anglican men would not be KJV only if they were alive today.  In fact, they would laugh at the arguments used by KJV only “scholars” who claim that the KJV is the final Word of God, that (as some radical KJV only men teach) the KJV was inspired just as the Apostle’s were inspired, that the KJV is a perfect Bible translation without any errors, that the Anglicans involved were fundamentalist in secret who believed in the Received Text (the Greek text of the KJV) as the perfect Word of God, etc.

First, the KJV translators believed the originals were inspired but recognized variants in the copies.  They stated:

because the original thereof is from heaven, not from earth, the author is God, not man; the composer is the Holy Spirit, not the wit of the Apostles or Prophets; the penmen were such as were sanctified from the womb, and endued with a principle portion of God’s Spirit; the content is truth, piety, purity, and uprightness; the form is God’s word, God’s testimony, God’s oracles, the word of truth, the word of salvation, and so forth.

The translators did not teach anywhere in their writings that the Received Text is the “inerrant and infallible Word of God” (inerrant would not have been used for people simply said the Bible was true in those days and people understood what they meant without qualification).  In fact, they believed the originals alone to be the ones inspired by God Himself.  The copies are copies of the originals but we no longer have the originals (praise be to God lest someone would have worshiped them as the children of Israel worshiped the golden calf in Exodus 32).  The KJV translators could not have visioned that someday their own translation would become a golden calf to many.

They went on to write:

For nothing perfect has proceeded from the hands of men except what came from the hands of the Apostles or Apostolic men, that is, from men endued with an extraordinary measure of God’s Spirit, and privileged with the privilege of infallibility.

So what about the errors in the copies?  KJV onlyism teaches that no errors exist but what did the KJV translators write about this:

The Septuagint dissents from the Original in many places, and does not come near it in terms of clarity, gravity, and majesty.  Yet did any of the Apostles condemn it?  Condemn it?  Nay, they used it.

Notice that the KJV translators approved of the Septuagint as a translation while understanding that it was not the original.  The Apostles quoted extensively from the Septuagint in the Greek New Testament despite the fact that the Septuagint is just a translation from the Hebrew text.

Secondly, the KJV translators saw the value of having Bibles in our tongues.  They wrote:

Truly, without translation into the common language, the unlearned are like children at Jacob’s well, which was deep, without a bucket.  Or they are like the person mentioned by Isaiah who, when a sealed book was presented to him with the command, “Read this, I ask you,” he had to reply, “I cannot, for it is sealed.”

And yet the KJV translators acknowledged that even the lowest English translations were still good!  Modern KJV onlyism tells us that only the KJV is the truth of God and hates all other English Bibles but they would not be joined by the KJV translators.  They wrote:

Now we answer our adversaries.  We do not deny – nay, we affirm and avow – that the very lowest translation of the Bible into English, set forth by men of our profession, (for we have not yet seen any of their translations of the entire Bible) contains the word of God, nay, is the word of God.  The King’s speech, which he utters in Parliament, when translated into French, German, Italian, and Latin, is still the King’s speech, though it be not interpreted by every translator with identical grace, nor altogether so appropriately phrased, nor so exactly expressing  the sense at every point.

And what of their own translation work?  They wrote yet again:

For nothing perfect has proceeded from the hands of men except what came from the hands of the Apostles or Apostolic men.

The intent of the KJV translator was such:

Our intent was to make a better translation out of a good one, or to make , from many good ones, one especially good one, not to be justly objected against.

And yes the KJV translators did do biblical criticism (lower criticism) contrary to the KJV onlyism view that textual criticism is evil altogether.  They wrote:

These languages therefore – that is, the Scriptures in those languages – we set before us to translate, being the languages in which God was pleased to speak to his Church by the Prophets and Apostles.

Without a second thought, we consulted the translators or commentators in Chaldean, Hebrew, Syrian, Greek and Latin, and the Spanish, French, Italian, and German.  We revised what we had done, and brought back to the anvil that which we had hammered.

Lastly, the KJV translators spoke about the variants in the biblical texts.  In fact, the first published 1611 Authorized Bible had marginal notes to show differences in the text as well as alternate translations of the text.  How can this be if the KJV is the inspired Word of God as KJV onlyism teaches?  Nearly all KJV Bibles today exclude the marginal notes so KJV only “scholars” often will attack modern Bibles such as the NKJV or the ESV for either including marginal notes, “deleting” verses such as Acts 8:37 or 1 John 5:7-8, or adding textual notes about the translation or variant readings.

The KJV translators wrote:

Some individuals, perhaps, would prefer to have no margin notes about alternative meanings, lest the authority of the Scriptures for deciding controversies might be somewhat shaken by that show of uncertainty.  But we consider their judgment unsound in this point.

The translators go on to speak of how difficult the work of translating is.  They speak of how there are often many words that can be used in English for one Hebrew or Greek word or the opposite where a Hebrew or Greek word only appears once in the text and is how to translate into English.  A case in point would be the KJV use of “Godhead” in Romans 1:20 and Colossians 2:9.  This is a poor translation here.  Another place would in the KJV where they erred would be Acts 19:2 or Titus 2:13 or 2 Peter 1:1.  The inclusion of 1 John 5:7-8 in the KJV is also a variant reading that should not be there.  Modern English Bibles (excluding the NKJV for tradition only) have changed 1 John 5:7-8 back to its original.

Conclusion

My point here is to show that the KJV translators were not infallible men.  They were godly Anglican men who loved the Word of God.  I am blessed by that fact.  I pray the Lord would move again on the Anglican Church to produce such godly men.  That said, the KJV translators recognized their work as the work of men.  A very good work but a translation nonetheless.  The KJV ranks as a work of art.  It truly is the Word of God.  But it is not perfect.  No Bible translation is.  The KJV served the Church in the English speaking world for many years.  It was published in 1611 and revised just two years later in 1613.  The final revision of the KJV was in 1769.  This is the KJV used today and not the 1611.  Of course, the men who did the work in 1604-11 were now dead.  Their work though stands as a testimony to their faithfulness to God.

Today we have probably too many English translations and they exist sadly for one reason: money.  Crossway doesn’t want to pay Zondervan for usage of the NIV so they translate the ESV.  All English translations today but the KJV are owned by a publishing house.  For example, Crossway owns the ESV.  Lockman owns the NASB.  Zondervan owns the NIV.  Thomas Nelson owns the NKJV.  Tyndale House owns the NLT.  Holman owns the HCSB.  This doesn’t prove that these English Bibles are corrupt but only that they are produced by publishers for avoiding royalties to other publishers.

I prefer the ESV but I am not ESV only by any means.  I recognize that no English Bible is perfect.  I also am grateful that God is sovereign in salvation and He often uses even the worst translations to draw sinners to salvation.  I read of a Jehovah’s Witness coming to faith in Christ through reading Philippians 3:9 in the New World Translation which is not good at all.  I was saved reading from the NIV and it was the first Bible I owned and read after coming to faith in Christ at age 17.  I honestly thought, when I came to faith in Christ, that there were two English Bibles in the world: the KJV and the NIV and I understood the NIV so I went with it.

God is able to save sinners through the gospel (Romans 1:16-17; 1 Corinthians 1:21).  People hear the gospel in many ways (Romans 10:17) but the gospel must flow from Scripture.  Some preachers use the KJV and others use the NLT but the Lord is the one who saves sinners (1 Corinthians 3:5-9).  Our job is to plant the seed of the gospel (Mark 4:14).  The Spirit of God brings the fruit.  The Spirit draws sinners to salvation by the grace of God (John 6:44; Acts 16:14-15).

So my advice is to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2).  Perhaps this comes through a KJV or an NIV or a ESV but preach the Word of God!  Be faithful to study the Word and to live the Word (James 2:14-26).  The Word is able to save our souls (James 1:21).

May God be glorified through His holy Word.  Amen.

 

Book Review: ESV Readers Edition

The ESV Reader’s Edition is a nice addition to the ESV line of Bibles.  I purchased mine from Lifeway Christian Bookstore.  Mine was about $26.

The layout of the ESV Readers Bible is that it comes with only the text of Scripture.  For example, I have the Bible before me and I have it opened to Psalm 41.  This edition has Psalm 41 over the words but no verses.  It is like reading a novel.

Now does this help?  I am use to reading the Bible with verses that I find myself trying to figure out what verse I am in.  Sometimes I have been reading from this ESV and have had to pick up my ESV pitt minion to see where I am reading.  I know that I am reading from Leviticus but what verse?  Yet on the other hand I enjoy reading a Bible that just flows.  I don’t get sidetracked by cross references or by even the verses themselves.  I just read.  The other advantage would be that you don’t find yourself counting verses.  I just read chapters and not verses.  This allows for longer Bible reading.  My plan is to read the Bible through in this edition.

Overall this is a unique Bible and one that I do recommend.  It has semi-large print (about 8.5) which makes it easy to read.  This, of course, would not be a preaching or even study Bible.  It is made simply to read from.  I do encourage all disciples to read this edition of the ESV and enjoy!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/19/2015 at 10:52 AM

I am ESV Only!

The following is a satire of the modern King James Only movement and shows its weaknesses.

I am ESV only!  I believe that the men of God who gave us the English Standard Version were commissioned by God to do this work.  For many years the KJV has served the Lord for His purposes in the English language but now, by the providence of God, we have a new translation that corrects the errors that have been appearing in the KJV through various publishers such as the liberal Zondervan or Cambridge.  The Lord has given us renown scholars who love the Word of God, believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Word, and who believe that the work of translation should be free from errors.  The men of God who have given us the ESV will no doubt receive their rewards for their good work.

I believe the ESV to be the pure Word of God based on the promise of God in Psalm 12:6-7 (ESV).  The Lord promised in Psalm 12:7 (ESV) that He would keep His Word and He had preserved His Word in the ESV.  I believe this because:

  • The vastly superior manuscripts used by the ESV scholars to translate both the Old and New Testaments.
  • The superior usage of the English language in the ESV as compared to other English “translations.”
  • The blessing of God upon the ESV as seen by many prominent ministries around the world.
  • The sound doctrine that the ESV produces such as the deity of Christ and the blood of Christ.
  • The fact that so many souls have been saved by reading from the ESV.

There is no doubt that other Bible “translations” are not inspired by God.  The NIV attacks the blood of Christ and omits many verses.  The NASB likewise is too wooden to read, is used by liberal preachers and teachers, and does not contain the superior doctrine as found in the ESV.  The KJV is too archaic, has many errors in translation and is not based on the best Hebrew and Greek texts.  The NKJV is similar to the KJV in terms of its Hebrew and Greek texts.  The ESV alone stands as the pure Word of God for us in English.

The very name, English Standard Version, shows how great the ESV is.  It is THE English standard for all Bible translations to be compared by.  If you are using a corrupt bible such as the NIV or the NKJV, the ESV should be the final authority by which you judge all other “bibles” by.  The Bible for us in English today is the ESV and the ESV alone.

So why did God give us the ESV?  God has always had a language that He spoke through.  In the Old Testament, God spoke to the world through Hebrew.  In the New Testament, Greek was the dominant language and so God gave us the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint) and the New Testament authors wrote in Greek as well as read from the Old Testament in Greek.  Over the centuries other languages have seen God’s hand upon them such as Latin and German.  Today, the language that dominates the world is English.  English remains the international business language and though Chinese is the largest spoken language on Earth, English remains the dominant business language.  Therefore, God has given us the ESV as THE standard by which we judge all other Bibles.  The ESV should be the standard to judge even Spanish, Chinese, or other languages and their Bibles.

And how do I know that the ESV is the standard?  Because of its name and because of the promise of God in Psalm 12:7 (ESV)!

One final question: Can you be saved and not use the ESV?  I answer perhaps.  There is no denying that salvation is the gracious work of God (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV!).  But it is true that other “bibles” may lead the new Christian astray.  Jesus warned us in Matthew 24:5 (ESV!) that false christs would come.  Jesus also said that His sheep hear His voice in John 10:27 (ESV).  What voice would that be if not the ESV?  The ESV faithfully teaches sound doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16 ESV) and we learn about Jesus in truth from the ESV (John 20:31 ESV).  The ESV doesn’t attack the precious blood of Christ nor His deity as other false translations do.  The ESV faithfully has been used by many street preachers and this shows that God is using the ESV for His glory.  Furthermore, the ESV translation committee give all glory to God right there in the opening of the ESV!  How much more proof do you need?

I urge you to get an ESV today!  In God’s providence, the ESV is protected by Crossway Books.  This enables the ESV from falling into wicked hands like the KJV has with Zondervan and Cambridge.  While it is true that Cambridge (and a few others) are publishing editions of the ESV now, those are protected by Crossway Books overseeing that only the ESV text they produced is used.  This again is proof of Psalm 12:7.

While certain wicked Arminians and Calvinists have claimed the ESV as their own, the ESV belongs to the people of God.  I pray that many fundamentalist Baptist will repent of using false “bible” translations and begin to use the wonderful ESV.  The ESV, perhaps, will be the Bible that God uses to bring in the end of the world!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/24/2014 at 6:36 PM

A Couple of ESV Bibles To Consider

Two ESV study Bibles are coming out that you might want to consider.  The first one is the ESV Key Word Study Bible.  This Bible is very helpful with the original languages of Hebrew and Greek.  The notes focus on the original languages and you’ll find thousands of the original language words defined for you (like a Strong’s Concordance) in the back along with many word studies.  I have an NIV and NASB edition now but will look forward to getting my hands on an ESV edition.

The second ESV study Bible set to come out in June of 2014 is the Fire Bible.  Currently the Fire Bible is out in the NIV (1984) and the KJV.  The ESV Fire Bible will be the first Arminian study Bible found in the ESV.  The Fire Bible has notes that are Arminian in its soteriology but Pentecostal in its pneumatology.  While not all Arminians would agree with the notes in the Fire Bible, an Arminian would gladly accept the study Bible’s notes on salvation and perseverance.

Overall it looks like some good ESV study Bibles are heading our way should the Lord tarry.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/27/2013 at 11:56 AM

Posted in Bible Reading, Books

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A Must Have Link

This link is a must read link.  This link compares the NIV 2011 with the NIV 1984.  It is very interesting to see the differences.  I have been reading here and there in my Bible reading time from the NIV 2011.  I have found that I actually do enjoy it.  I admit that I am a traditionalist when it comes to Bible translations and I prefer the masculinity of say the NASB or the NKJV over the NIV but I have not been at all bothered by the inclusion of women into the text where it is fitting that the Bible writer is addressing both genders.

I will continue to prefer the ESV over the NIV mainly for my love for an essentially literal text but I do see positives in the NIV 2011.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/24/2013 at 9:00 AM

Posted in Bible Translations

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ESV Clarion Reference Bible

I am excited to see that Cambridge is publishing the ESV Clarion Reference edition.  I went on ahead and pre-ordered this Bible. I am that excited about it!  This edition will feature the clarion lay out which features paragraph format of the books of the Bible and only one column per page with side references.  The words of Christ are in black.  This edition is printed on Bible paper which means no bleeding or seeing the words from the other side of the page.

I use my Cambridge Pitt Minion ESV Bible all the time.  I own the pitt minion in the KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, and the ESV.  They are solid Bibles though my ESV is starting to show some where as I use it almost all the time.  The negative of the pitt minion is small writing.  Most people who look at my Bible will comment on how small the print is.  The ESV clarion edition will be a much improvement for my eyes.

Isn’t it wonderful to be able to hold and read the Word of God.  When I consider that our Chinese brothers and sisters will often take one Bible and an entire church will pass that one Bible around to read, hold, and to even copy by hand just so that they can own the Word of God, it makes me rejoice that I am able, by God’s mercy and grace, to be able to purchase a solid Cambridge Bible.  Let us pray that other disciples of Jesus would be able to have a Bible of their own so that they too can grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/25/2012 at 7:47 PM

What I Would Change in the ESV

I love the ESVas a Bible translation.  It is my reading, studying, evangelizing, praying, and blogging Bible.  I admit that I own several Bibles including the ESV.  On my desk right now I have an NASB and four ESV’s so I would say that the ESV is by far the one translation I turn to the most.  My ESV even goes with me to work and stays by my side nearly everywhere I go.  I want the pagan men and women that I work with to see the Word of God out front and I pray that they see the Word of God at work in my life (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

The ESV, however, like all Bible translations is not perfect.  It does have its faults.  I have very few problems with the ESV as say I have with the NIV or the NLT.  I prefer an essentially literal translation and I believe that most serious students of the Word of God would agree that there is something comforting about simply being able to read a text from the Bible and know that the translation is seeking to be faithful to the translation of the Hebrew and Greek texts and not seeing to add its own perspective to the text.  Again, no translation is perfect.  All are translated by people who, I hope, seek to translate the text accurately into the English language (or whatever language they are seeking to translate it into).  One need not know Greek to know that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are seriously bias and flawed in their translation, the New World Translation.  The ESV is a faithful translation as far as I can tell.

But what would I change about the ESV if Crossway was listening to me?  Here are a few of my own thoughts.

1.  Italicized Words.

I would do as the NKJV or the NASB do and words that are added for clarity would be put in italics.  Even the original KJV did this.  It helps the Bible reader to know that this word is not in the Hebrew or Greek text.  To me it’s just another area of showing the reader that you desire to be faithful when translating the Word of God.  Not one dynamic equivalent translation uses italics properly because of the number of words added to the text for clarity.  The ESV is a faithful, essentially literal translation and should reflect this with words in italics.

2.  Translate the Greek word Dulos as “Slave” and not “Servant.”

In his book, Slave, by Dr. John MacArthur, MacArthur shows how important the usage of the word “slave” was in the New Testament.  It was the favorite term by Paul the Apostle for himself (see Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:10).  It was also used by Jesus to refer to His followers in Luke 17:7-10.  The word was a common word in the Roman times and it carried with it the idea of being purchased by another for work to them.  We have been purchased by God through His Son (1 Corinthians 6:20).  Our duty is to serve God loyally as His slaves.  The Holman Christian Standard Version (HCSB) translates the Greek word as “slave” in its New Testament.  I would love to see the ESV follow suit and do the same.  That is the best translation of the word.

3.  The Word of Christ in Black.

This is a personal preference to end with.  I prefer a Bible that has all the words in black and avoids putting the words of Christ in red.  I know some Bible readers enjoy the words of Christ in red but to me, its confusing.  First of all, the words of Christ are not over the words of say Moses or Paul or Peter.  They are all inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16).  By placing the words of Christ in red it seems as if the words of Christ are over the other words of all others.  The words of Jesus are important but so are the words of the New Testament letters or the words of Luke in Acts.  Secondly, when I was a boy it seemed all I would ever get at church for Christmas from my Sunday School teachers were KJV award Bibles.  I must have had ten of them!  They all had the words of Christ in red.  I would open that Bible and somehow the words of Christ seemed to me to be mystical or unique because of the red writing.  They scared me.  They, of course, were not my main problem but my sin was but that is another question altogether.  My point is that even as a boy, the words of Christ in red threw me off.  It seemed they were above all others and they are not.

Conclusion

Just my own thoughts.  You are free to disagree.  The best translation is a used translation.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/20/2012 at 4:59 PM

Posted in Bible Translations

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