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Posts Tagged ‘KJV Bible

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.

 

Oh Bother!

There is a medium sized KJV only Baptist church not too far from my home.  I enjoy visiting the church from time to time.  I have even considered attending there though there are several things that keep me from attending (and one will surprise you).  First, the church is KJV only.  I am not.  Far from it.  Secondly, the church is very premillennial, pre tribulation.  I am not.  Thirdly, the church is anti-Calvinistic.  I am not.  While I am not a Calvinist, I don’t teach that Calvinism is a heresy or that Calvinists are worshiping a false God.  That may surprise some folks.

That said, the church is a joy to me.  The preacher preaches the Word of God (albeit from the KJV Bible) and he is not ashamed to preach hard against sin.  The church does many out reaches to prisons, schools, etc. including street preaching.  They even have a men’s class devoted to theology on Saturday evenings and then they take the men to the streets to share the gospel.  The preacher strongly preaches that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) and he preaches hard against works to save us (John 6:29).  I rejoice in that.  While the gospel presentation is not always to my liking (they often do the sinner’s prayer for salvation), they do preach against sin and preach repentance including the Lordship of Christ (which is debated in KJV only churches often times).

I visited there tonight and listened to an evangelist teach on Noah’s ark.  It was good.  Not earth shaking.  Not too technical but on an average Christian level, it was informative.  The brother was an older brother (71) and said he had a Ph.D.  He clearly taught a young earth creationist view which is my own as well.  Along the way in his teaching he made two remarks about the KJV being the only Bible and he said that Noah’s ark would be discovered by the act of God during the tribulation period to awaken the Jews to the truth of the Bible and point them to Jesus as the Messiah.  He did say that was his opinion but he preached it as gospel.  Again, his presentation was good.  I appreciated him much.  I wish more churches would tackled the issues of the flood, evolution, etc.  We need to know that Genesis is true.

At the end, I approached the brother to ask three questions about his presentation.  He answered them all but he made another comment about the KJV Bible being the only Bible and how he couldn’t recommend Answers in Genesis because of this issue.  I told him I disagreed with that view.  He looked at me like I had grown another head.  He begin to ask me why I denied the Bible?  I told him I didn’t come to debate him and as a visitor, I wanted to respect him.  He continued to ask me questions so basically the following conversation happened like this:

Me:  So which Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God?

Evangelist:  The 1611 is.

Me:  Do you use the 1611 edition?

E:  No.  I can’t read the old English.

Me:  So you use the 1769 edition?

E:  Well yes.

Me:  And why is the 1769 edition the Word of God compared to the 1611?

E:  They are the same.

Me:  If that is true why not use the 1611?

E:  The English is different but the Bible remains the same.

Me:  Which edition of the KJV is the Word of God?

E:  Mine is.

Me:  On what basis?  How do you know your Bible is the Word of God?

E:  Why do you want to cast doubt on the Word of God?

Me:  I’m not but if the KJV is the Word of God then which edition is the Word of God and who now publishes the inerrant and infallible Word of God?

E:  My KJV Bible is the Word of God.  Period.  As long as it is a KJV it is the same and is the Word of God.

Me:  Not true.  The Cambridge edition differs from the Oxford and the Oxford differs from the Trinitarian Bible Society and the TBS differs from the Zondervan.  They all differ.  So again, who is right and by what authority do you determine who is right?

E:  This is pointless.  I will not listen to you cast doubts on the Word of God.  You need to lay aside these arguments and do the work of the Kingdom.

The conversation ended with him doubting my salvation.  I told him that we are not saved by faith in a Bible translation but faith in Christ.  We also disagreed over the deity of Christ in the modern translations as I told him that the ESV was stronger on the deity of Jesus than the KJV.  He disagreed but had no answer.  I pointed him to one passage such as Romans 9:5 and told him to compare the modern “corrupt” translations with the KJV.  The ESV is stronger both there and in many other New Testament texts on the deity of Christ.

I admit that I was shaken leaving and so was he.  I didn’t mean to disrespect him.  The pastor of this church knows where I stand on this issue.  He knows that I don’t hold the KJV to be the only Bible to be used today.  I respect the KJV and praise God for the truth of the gospel found there.  I don’t deny that God used the KJV powerfully for His glory.  That said, I am not KJV only.  I love the KJV but I don’t hold that the KJV is the only Bible in the English speaking language.  That is a ridiculous claim.

Sadly, many will hear this brother teach on Genesis and tear him apart not because of his views on science or creationism but because he is dogmatic on the KJV Bible.

In closing, I highly recommend people to read Dr. James White’s book The King James Only Controversy for more information.  We can trust the modern translations.  While some are better than others, we can trust that God has preserved His Word.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/17/2016 at 9:52 PM

Two Issues With KJV Onlyism

There is a podcast that I listen to while driving my truck that I enjoy until the teacher goes off on a rampant about the King James Version Bible (KJV).  He is a KJV only follower and he is convinced that there is a conspiracy on the part of the “modern translations” to corrupt the Word of God, to dethrone Jesus, and to exalt either Satan or humanity above the Lord God.  He is convinced that the KJV is the “pure Word of God” and that it alone is the inerrant and infallible truth of God for us in the English language.  He is not an extreme KJV only follower in that he holds that the Hebrew and Greek texts that underline the KJV are the superior texts (the Textus Receptus).  I can tolerate his ramblings only because I enjoy his other teachings but I will admit that it is pushing me to the edge.

I decided, in regard to this man’s teachings, that I would download a teaching he gave on four reasons for the superiority of the KJV.  His four points were: A Superior Text, Superior Translators, Superior Theology, and a Superior Translation.  To highlight them, he basically said that the TR was the inerrant Word of God, that the KJV translators were vastly superior men of God than modern translators (and were nearly perfect fundamentalists in his eyes), that the KJV translators and the KJV itself offer sound theology to the church, and the KJV is simply the best English translation ever produced (and probably ever will be produced).

So let me take a shot here at the KJV.  Let’s look at just two passages that Dr. James White points to also in his book The King James Only Controversy.  The first is Acts 12:4 where the KJV reads:

And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

The ESV reads:

And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people.

The Greek word for “Easter” in the KJV is the word pascha.  The word is translated in the KJV as “Passover” (see John 19:14 for example) in every case but here.  The ESV is consistent and translates it as Passover throughout.  Why did the KJV translators (with their superior theology and being nearly fundamentalists) translate it as Easter?  The KJV only theory is that this shows the providence of God but this is incorrect.  There is no basis for Easter being the word here as the context shows.  Herod is trying to please the Jews (v.3) and the Jews celebrated Passover not Easter.  Easter, as we know it today, would not appear for hundreds of years following this text.

The second passage that I want to focus on in the KJV is Acts 19:37 where the KJV reads:

For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.

The NIV reads:

You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess.

For some reason the KJV translators translated the Greek word for “temples” as “churches” despite no reason to.  Dr. White believes this to be a case where their own tradition stood in the way of the translation.  The New King James Version (NKJV) corrects the KJV here.

In conclusion, the KJV is not a vastly superior translation.  It is a good translation and one that I honor though I do not use.  I don’t doubt that the Lord used the KJV to glorify His name.  I also don’t doubt that many souls have been saved because of the preaching of the gospel from the KJV.  But the KJV is just a translation.  It is a good translation that falls into line with good English translations such as the ESV, NASB, or the NKJV.

One final point.  I still have yet to learn which edition of the KJV is the “pure Word of God.”  Is it the Cambridge edition?  The Oxford edition?  The Zondervan edition?  Is the one published by Thomas Nelson or one perhaps published by the smaller Bible publishers?  They are all different and we need to know which one is the pure Word of God.  This is vital!

 

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/22/2014 at 11:57 AM

“Essentially Literal” and the KJV

Many KJV only supporters attack dynamic equivalent translations such as the NIV or NLT.  They also attack the ESV or the NASB despite the fact that these translations are essentially literal texts.  The argument is that the KJV is the perfect word of God.  The KJV translators were perfect men it seems when it comes to the KJV only material I have read or listened to.  In every way, the KJV only believers suppose that the KJV is the most superior Bible translation in English and some hold that it, and not the Hebrew or Greek texts, is the Word of God for us today.

However, even the KJV is an essentially literal text.  The ESV is famous for this slogan, “Essentially literal” because the ESV seeks to be a balance between a strict literal text and a dynamic equivalent.  The ESV translators recognized that it is impossible to translate every text literally.  We have 2000 years of differences between the Hebrew or Greek languages into English.  Obviously to translate the text the translator should do their best to translate the text but it is impossible to translate a text always literally since the hearer would not understand the literal translation.

That the KJV was not a literal translation can be proved.  Compare Matthew 27:44 with the Greek text.  The ESV correctly translates the Greek word as “reviled him” but the KJV says, “Cast the same in his teeth.”  The word “teeth” is not found in the Greek NT.  2 Samuel 8:18 in the KJV substitutes the Hebrew word for “priests” with “rulers.”  The same Hebrew word is translated correctly by the KJV in Exodus 19:6 but different here in 2 Samuel 8:18.  Obviously, the KJV translators allowed some freedom here.  The KJV even takes a cultural saying and adds it to the Bible in 1 Samuel 10:24 with the words, “God save the king” (which is a British expression) when in fact the Hebrew is simply an expression of “long live the king” as seen in the ESV.

Dr. James White points out further that the KJV’s worst example of taking liberty with the Greek text is the expression “God forbid” in the KJV such as in Romans 3:4, 6, 31; 6:2, 15; 7:7, 13; 9:14; 11:1, 11.  The Greek text nowhere has the word “God” in any of these passages.  Instead the ESV correctly translates the word “by no means.”

There are many more examples but one more will do.  The KJV’s translation of Easter at Acts 12:4.  The ESV translates the word correctly as “Passover.”  Many attempts have been made by KJV only supporters to show why Easter should be the correct translation.  Both the context (Acts 12:1-5) and the Greek itself show that the correct word is Passover.

My point in all this is simply to show that the KJV is a translation.  It is not, as KJV only supporters say, a perfect, preserved translation (and which edition is the preserved KJV?).  The KJV contains errors as do all translations.  The duty of the faithful Bible student is to work through the texts and seek to have the essential literal reading.  This requires work.  This is why the Bible teacher should labor in exegesis using Bible commentaries and the original languages.  Praise God that we have many of these tools available for us today online.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/30/2013 at 10:48 AM

Why Did the KJV Translators Translate the Apocrypha?

Some KJV only believers believe that God inspired the KJV translators to translate the KJV so that He restored His Word perfectly in the English language in the King James Version.  The AV then is the standard for judging Scripture.  Even if the KJV is different from the Hebrew or Greek texts, the KJV is to be accepted since the KJV is the inspired, inerrant, and preserved Word of God.  While this is an extreme view, there are some KJV only followers who hold to this including Dr. Peter Ruckman of Pensacola Bible College (Pensacola Christian University), Jack Chick (of Chick Tracts), and Sam Gipp.  I have met a few of these folks doing evangelism.  They are an odd sort.  No matter what “errors” you show in the KJV text (such as Easter in Acts 12:4), these KJV only believers will argue that the KJV is absolutely correct in all things.

To prove this, some resort to saying that the KJV translators were men of flawless theology and were geniuses about biblical language (which is pointless if in fact God was inspiring them).  Often these men are presented as evangelicals or even fundamentalists Baptists.  In reality, the KJV translators were Anglicans.

Photo-1-First-Edition-King-James-Bible-16114These men practiced Anglican baptism (sprinkling and infant baptism) along with other Anglican practices.  They even translated and published the Old Testament Apocrypha.  If they were “faithful” fundamentalists, they would have avowed against Anglican teachings (liberals) and would have rejected the Apocrypha (Catholics).  Yet they did not.

I do believe the KJV translators were very capable men.  They knew the biblical languages and created a Bible translation that was a literary work that remains incredible.  I suppose the language of the KJV Bible will never be duplicated.  It is a work of art.  The beauty of the Psalms in the KJV is wonderful to read.  I don’t doubt one minute that the KJV translators did a marvelous job and their work would be the standard for Bible translation for years to come (including the modern translations who follow their examples in the NKJV, NASB, and ESV.  The ESV even commends the example of the KJV translation committee in setting the standard for English Bible translations.

Yet if the KJV is inspired of God, why did He also inspire the KJV translators to give us the Apocrypha and why doesn’t the KJV only movement also use and promote the Apocrypha?  Nearly all KJV only followers would denounce the Apocrypha but why if the KJV is from God and He gave us the inspired words in English in the KJV?

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/24/2013 at 11:28 AM

Short Note on Bible Translation Issues

As I working the other day, I heard a KJV only preacher preaching on the radio.  In the midst of his sermon, he stated that we must hold firmly to the KJV since all the other Bibles deleted thousands of verses.  KJV only followers often will spout out that the NIV, for example, deletes many verses.  They will turn to Acts 8:37-38 and ask you to read it in your modern translation.  Verse 37 is often not found in the modern text (exceptions would be the NKJV and the NASB which puts it in brackets).  The KJV follower will then turn to Acts 8:37-38 and read it from their Bible.  They will often say that this verse is deleted in modern Bibles because it denies infant baptism and affirms believers baptism.

The poor soul now feels betrayed by their modern Bible.  The learned KJV only supporter will often then turn to other passages to build their case that modern Bibles have deleted many precious truths from God’s Word.  Only the KJV upholds these and leaves them in the text.  This would range from 1 John 5:7-8 (the Trinity) to salvation in Acts 15:11.  The KJV only supporter will point out that only his people doesn’t delete passages of Scripture.

Now this post is to be short for the sake of time but the science of textual criticism is not an easy task.  As I have pointed out before, the KJV translators worked with very few Hebrew and Greek manuscripts though they did have some.  The KJV translators utilized what they had but they also relied on various English texts including Coverdale, Bishop, Geneva, and other Bibles.  They compared their own translation of the Hebrew and Greek with the other English Bibles and also used the Latin Vulgate.  They relied upon Erasmus’ Greek text.  The point is that even the KJV translators were practicing the science of textual criticism.

Textual criticism is not a bad term.  We have various textual critics in many other books.  For instance we have textual critics of William Shakespeare.  Their task is not to rewrite Shakespeare but to seek to determine what is original.  Since the time of Shakespeare, various portions of his works have been written and spread abroad but what did Shakespeare originally say?  What did he originally write?  That is the goal of the textual critic.  The textual critic is not seeking to judge the work but to determine what was originally said.  This is no easy task.

Now imagine a biblical textual critic having to work through over 6,000 Greek manuscripts that have various variant readings.  While 95% of the Greek texts variants have nothing to do with theology, they are still there.  The work of the textual critic is to try to determine what has been added and what was deleted.  They, like the Shakespeare critic above, are not there to judge the text but to try to see what is original and what is not.  This is no easy task.

When it comes to variant readings, I do wish the ESV would have the amount of footnotes the NKJV has on this or put them in brackets as in the NASB.  For the average Bible reader, they simply have no answer to why Acts 8:37 is not found in the ESV or the NIV nor is an answer given in the text.

On a closing note, the original 1611, which I have here with me, included marginal notes on variant readings.  This is an embarrassment to the KJV only believer.  Why would God allow the KJV translators to put marginal notes that included variant readings if in fact He was given us His perfect word in the KJV?  If Psalm 12:6-7 applies to the KJV then why the marginal readings?  Of course, the correct answer is that the KJV translators recognized correctly that there were variant readings and included these as good translators should do.  This was just a case of imperfect translators seeking to translate the Word of God into English and they determined to be faithful to this task.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/12/2013 at 10:19 AM

Psalm 12:6-7 and KJV Onlyism

Psalm 12:6-7 (KJV) reads:

6  The words of the Lord are pure words:
as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
7 Thou shalt keep them, O Lord,
thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

Adam Clarke comments:

Verse 6. “The words of the Lord are pure words ” – None of his promises shall fall to the ground; the salvation which he has promised shall be communicated.

Silver tried in a furnace of earth ] A reference to the purification of silver by the cupel. This is a sort of instrument used in the purification of silver. It may be formed out of a strong iron ring or hoop, adjusted in width and depth to the quantum of silver to be purified, and rammed full of well pulverized calcined bone. The metal to be purified must be mingled with lead, and laid on the cupel, and exposed to a strong heat in an air furnace. The impurities of the metal will be partly absorbed, and partly thrown off in fume. The metal will continue in a state of agitation till all the impurities are thrown off; it will then become perfectly still, no more motion appearing, which is the token that the process is completed, or, according to the words of the text, is seven times, that is, perfectly purified.

Verse 7. “Thou shalt keep them-thou shalt preserve them ” – Instead of the pronoun them in these clauses, several MSS., with the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the Arabic, have us. The sense is equally good in both readings. God did bring forth the Israelites from Babylon, according to his word; he separated them from that generation. and reinstated them in their own land, according to his word; and most certainly he has preserved them from generation to generation to the present day, in a most remarkable manner.

Puritan Matthew Henry on Psalm 12:7 wrote:

This intimates that, as long as the world stands, there will be a generation of proud and wicked men in it, more or less, who will threaten by their wretched arts to ruin religion, by wearing out the saints of the Most High, Dan. 7:25 . But let God alone to maintain his own interest and to preserve his own people. He will keep them from this generation, (1.) From being debauched by them and drawn away from God, from mingling with them and learning their works. In times of general apostasy the Lord knows those that are his, and they shall be enabled to keep their integrity. (2.) From being destroyed and rooted out by them. The church is built upon a rock, and so well fortified that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. In the worst of times God has his remnant, and in every age will reserve to himself a holy seed and preserve that to his heavenly kingdom.In singing this psalm, and praying it over, we must bewail the general corruption of manners, thank God that things are not worse than they are, but pray and hope that they will be better in God’s due time.

Charles Spurgeon wrote on Psalm 12:6-7:

Verse 6. What a contrast between the vain words of man, and the pure words of Jehovah. Man’s words are yea and nay, but the Lord’s promises are yea and amen. For truth, certainty, holiness, faithfulness, the words of the Lord are pure as well-refined silver. In the original there is an allusion to the most severely-purifying process known to the ancients, through which silver was passed when the greatest possible purity was desired; the dross was all consumed, and only the bright and precious metal remained; so clear and free from all alloy of error or unfaithfulness is the book of the words of the Lord. The Bible has passed through the furnace of persecution, literary criticism, philosophic doubt, and scientific discovery, and has lost nothing but those human interpretations which clung to it as alloy to precious ore. The experience of saints has tried it in every conceivable manner, but not a single doctrine or promise has been consumed in the most excessive heat. What God’s words are, the words of his children should be. If we would be Godlike in conversation, we must watch our language, and maintain the strictest purity of integrity and holiness in all our communications.

Verse 7. To fall into the hands of an evil generation, so as to be baited by their cruelty, or polluted by their influence, is an evil to be dreaded beyond measure; but it is an evil foreseen and provided for in the text. In life many a saint has lived a hundred years before his age, as though he had darted his soul into the brighter future, and escaped the mists of the beclouded present: he has gone to his grave unreverenced and misunderstood, and lo! as generations come and go, upon a sudden the hero is unearthed, and lives in the admiration and love of the excellent of the earth; preserved for ever from the generation which stigmatised him as a sower of sedition, or burned him as a heretic. It should be our daily prayer that we may rise above our age as the mountain-tops above the clouds, and may stand out as heaven-pointing pinnacle high above the mists of ignorance and sin which roll around us. O Eternal Spirit, fulfil in us the faithful saying of this verse! Our faith believes those two assuring words, and cries, “Thou shalt,” “thou shalt.”

The trend above is that Psalm 12:7 is not promising that God would give us an inspired, preserved Bible translation.  Yet KJV only believers believe that Psalm 12:7 is referring to the preservation of Scripture.  One KJV only site stated it as thus:

Psalm 12:6-7 teaches us that God has preserved His perfect Word perfectly for His people. God inspired His Word perfectly, inerrant, infallible and He also preserved the same Word for His people throughout the ages so that every generation can assuredly say, “Thus saith the LORD!” with absolute confidence.

KJV Only Logic At Work

Since KJV only believers believe that Psalm 12:7 promises that God would preserve His Word and they believe that He has done this in the King James Version of the Bible, they make some strange claims about the KJV.  One KJV only teacher said that there were seven English translations before the KJV.  The KJV was the seventh in the line and thus fulfilled Psalm 12:6.  Further, there have now been seven revisions of the KJV with the last being in 1769.  He writes that the 1769 edition is the final, inerrant, infallible Word of God that was prophesied about in Psalm 12:6-7.

What the writer above failed to mention was that the 1769 edition has various editions in it.  The Oxford edition is different from the Cambridge edition and the Cambridge edition is different from the Zondervan edition.  Dr. James Price writes about this problem:

“The differences that exist among current editions of the King James Version are much like the differences that exist between the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the Scripture.  The differences among the King James editions are not as numerous as those in the Hebrew and Greek texts, but they are of the same kind.  Those who place final authority in the English words of the Authorized Version do so to avoid the problem of variant readings in the Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible.  To them, any degree of uncertainty is intolerable – a Bible with flaws is no Bible at all.  But they have the same problem with variant readings in the current editions of the Authorized Version.  They still must ask what English variant is the authentic one, but they do not have a flawless Standard English text of the King James Version to which they can appeal for final authority.  To resolve the differences, they still must appeal to the Hebrew and Greek texts to determine which English words are authentic.  Their retreat to a preserved, authoritative translation has solved nothing; they still have the uncertainty inherent in variant readings in the English texts, and the problem cannot be blindly ignored.”

There are currently 689 variant readings among the major KJV Bible editions.  The variants are not simply different spellings either.  The Oxford edition of the KJV at Matthew 4:1 reads, “Jesus was led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”  This lack of capitalization suggests that Jesus was led by His human spirit and not by the Holy Spirit as seen in Matthew 4:1 in the ESV.  The Oxford edition also has Psalm 51:11 which is normally translated in such translations such as the ESV as “Holy Spirit” as referring to the Person of the Holy Spirit but the Oxford edition of the KJV has it translated as “Take not thy holy spirit from me.”  By the way, the New World Translation (the JW’s Bible) does the same as the Oxford edition.

So which KJV edition is correct about Matthew 4:1 or Psalm 51:11?  If the Oxford is not then how can the KJV onlyist point to Psalm 12:6-7 and assure us that their edition of the KJV is the “preserved Word of God”?

Further, what was the preserved Word of God when David wrote Psalm 12:6-7 under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? What was the preserved Word of God during the time of Jesus?  What was the preserved Word of God in 500 AD?  If the KJV only logic is true and God has to purify His Word seven times to finally get to the KJV and then He had to purify the KJV seven times to give us a perfect English translation, does this not mean that He did not keep His words as David promised when he wrote Psalm 12:7 if the KJV only view is true?  The Lord did not keep His Word if in fact it was so corrupted that He needed to purify it with seven English editions before the finality of the King James Version.

Lastly, what final authority did the KJV translators appeal to?  Was it an English edition before theirs or was it the Hebrew and Greek texts?  Miles Smith, one of the executive editors of the KJV wrote:

“The Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New are the two golden pipes, or rather conduits, through which the olive branches empty themselves into the golden bowl.  If truth is to be tried by these tongues, then whence should a translation be made out of them?  These tongues therefore, we should say Scriptures in those tongues, we set before us to translate, being the tongues in which God was pleased to speak to his Church by his Prophets and Apostles.”

The KJV translators did not have many copies of the Hebrew or Greek texts but they used what they had and at times placed their own words into the text despite no such readings in the Hebrew or Greek texts.  The KJV translators did do textual criticism (despite the claims of KJV onlyist to the otherwise) but also compared their translation with other English editions to determine what was the better readings.  They also relied heavily upon the works of William Tyndale to help them translate the texts.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/11/2013 at 10:00 AM

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