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KJV Only Arguments
Part Two

The following discussion is continued from: KJV Only Arguments: Part One. My comments to which the e-mailer is responding to are in purple and enclosed in double "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. The e-mailer's comments are in black and enclosed in single "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My responses are in red.


> > Actually, "The concept of the Greek being more reliable than the translation" is based on the fact that God chose to inspire His Word in Greek (and Hebrew). It is a simple as that.<<

> Don't forget the five Aramaic chapters of Daniel. You are basing your ideas on the supposition that God chose to inspire some originals, then let them vanish without a trace, but quit working with the translations. Why do you hold this view? Is it because of some scripture that you've read? If so, which?<

God did not leave them vanish without a trace. There are thousand of manuscripts showing what the originals said. Also, I do believe in a general providence of God in overseeing the transmission process of the manuscripts. The chapter "The Majority Text vs. The Critical Text " in my Differences Between Bible Versions book discusses this issue.

As for a Scripture verse, see the following. Psalm 12:6,7 declares, "THE WORDS OF THE LORD ARE PURE WORDS: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, THOU SHALT PRESERVE THEM from this generation for ever" (KJV; see also Matt 5:18; 24:35; Luke 16:17).

OTOH, I personally do not know of any Scripture verse teaching God would inspire ONE Bible versions and only one for each language the Bible is translated into.

[snip my comments]

> Did you know that the KJV was written in what we can actually call "Biblical English"? It was NEVER spoken in England. It is absolutely unique from every other form of English there ever was. During the 15th and 16th centuries, English changed dramatically, and these centuries formed the latter part of the border between Middle and Modern English. The great usher of this change was William Shakespeare, but there were many others. The main feature of the change was a huge introduction of Latin vocabulary into the language. This is one of the reasons why English is 70% Latin. The French overlay onto the Germanic base by William the Conqueror, forming Middle English, was the other reason.

Anyway, while Shakespeare and others wrote their works, they essentially created new a new language. Much like what is happening to German today (Ich liebe Camping, Snowboarding, und Fallschirmspringen = I love camping, snowboarding, and skydiving). After all, they wrote for the nobility, and ALL the nobles spoke Latin and French fluently.

The KJV was a part of this generation of artworks. Go get some letters to and from King James out of one of his biographies. They didn't talk like that. The KJV is DIFFERENT from Shakespeare in that the language is actually very Greek & Hebrew. A number of expressions in the KJV that people think are just the older English are actually Greek expressions literally translated.

What I am trying to say is that in 1611 the people had to learn the language of the KJV as well. The effect though, is that the readers were learning a biblical language, but it didn't take as long to master as learning ancient Greek. If you preserve the language of the KJV and preserve the tools to teach the language, then you are really keeping people as close as possible to the original language without having to learn the Greek itself. The KJV was never in common vernacular. It was a unique language that had to be "learned" by normal English-speakers even in their day.<

It is true that Shakespeare, the KJV, and other sources contributed to the development of the English language. And I would also agree that the KJV would have some grammar and syntax that would be more like Hebrew or Greek than English to do the places where it is very literal.

However, your average person of the day could have read it with little difficulty. It was not written in a style that had to be learned. As I said previously that simply is not the case today. Furthermore, there are many words in the KJV that would have been common at the time but which are obsolete or have changed meanings by today.

I am now reading through Exodus in the KJV via Henry’s commentary. As I am I have been underlining such words. Maybe I will post a list of them when I get though with Exodus.

In any case, speaking of Shakespeare, I thought you might be interested in the following little tidbit:
Though not one of the translators, William Shakespeare was called in as a consultant on the poetry of the Psalms. In appreciation of his contribution, the translators decided to honor the poet in a unique yet cryptic way. If you turn to Psalm 46 in the King James or the New King James Versions, then count down forty-six words, you will meet the word "shake." Count up forty-six words from the end and you will meet the word "spear." Also, in February 1611 when the King James Version was first published, Shakespeare (1546-1616) was forty-six years old. (He would turn forty-seven in April of that year). The four forty-sixes are simply too many to be coincidental, so the story must be true (Arthur L. Farstad. The New King James Version in the Great Tradition. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1993, p.23).

Try it; it works! Only do not count the "Selah" at the end when counting up.

> > The NT was written in "koine" Greek. This was the language of the people, what the everyday person spoke at the time. This is why the discovery of ancient papyri, written by the common person, has given us a better understanding of Biblical Greek. With this evidence, and, yes, by comparing the use of words within the NT itself, it is rather easy to identify the meanings of words.<<

> This is a rather simplistic understanding of the situation based on a rather optimistic assumption. People like to use the word koine when they want to stress continuity between the various dialects. The various dialects of the classical period were indeed smoothed over, but new ones were born. NT Greek is quite different from, say, Epictetus, or even Josephus (who was a Palestinian Jew!), as well as the Septuagint. The differences with Epictetus are largely because he was a Gentile and wrote secular works. Josephus wrote on a higher literary level. The Septuagint is even more semitized that NT Greek as it is entirely translation Greek. Since we have had all these examples for centuries and have leaned away from using them, why is it that we have gotten so excited over the Papyri? The Papyri were written in Egypt by Gentiles on a lower literary level than the Bible about secular and pagan matters!

Let me field a quote:
The pendulum has swung rather too far in the direction of equating Biblical with "secular" Greek; and we must not allow these fascinating discoveries to blind us to the fact that Biblical Greek still does retain certain peculiarities, due in part to Semitic influence (which must be far stronger in the New Testament than in an equivalent bulk of colloquial or literary "secular" Greek, even allowing for the permeation of society by Jewish settlements), and in some part to the moulding influence of the Christian experience, which did, in some measure create an idiom [=style] and vocabulary of its own. (Moule, 3-4; brackets and parenthesis NOT mine).<

Your comments here conflict with all that I was taught about NT Greek when I learned Greek at Denver Seminary, along with my studies before and since. Now, it is true that there are different styles of Greek in the NT, from the very simple Greek used in the words of Jesus to the more stylistic Greek of Luke as seen in his narratives in his Gospel and in Acts. Such differences reflect the styles of the particular speaker or writer.

Also, given the different nature of the writings, yes there would be some differences between the NT and the papyri. But overall, the NT Greek would reflect that spoken by the average person and average Greek speaking person would have had not problems reading the NT documents.

> > Important to note here is that he KJV was translated prior to the discovery of the papyri, so the translators did not have the benefit of the knowledge gained from these discoveries. Also, again, the NT was written in the Greek of the common person. But the KJV is no longer the English of the common person.<<

> This is a continuation of what I was saying above. The papyri should be looked at as just one of many factors contributing to our knowledge of the language. Each factor, if not treated properly, can SKEW our understanding of the language. I could maintain that the papyri are weighted more heavily than they should be, and therefore, post-papyri lexicons give a too-secularized definition of many words. These are the kinds of problems you run into when you are talking about a language that has been dead for 1500 years. There just isn't a native speaker around to clear this up. This is what I mean by Greek being a stumbling block as well as stepping stone. If you rely too heavily on the Greek, then you also get all of the misjudgments and mistakes of the scholars that are teaching it too us. I am not against the Greek, but we have to look for the hand of God in all aspects of Biblical transmission, both in the Greek and in the translations.<

The NT writers would have, for the most part, used words in a manner that the average person would have understood them. But again, given the "religious" nature of the NT and some unique concepts presented in it, yes, at times the NT writers would have invested newer connotations to words. But overall, it is "gutter Greek" as one of my Greek professors put it.

[snip my comments]

> I have been really stunned at the number of differences between the KJV & NKJV. Unlike many KJV onlyists, I have not considered many of the NKJV differences of the NKJV to be satanic or inferior. I have not finished my study, but do not at this time conclude that the NKJV changes are in general "worse", but one must admit, that the changes are there, and in many places are major (if not actually worse).<

Yes there are changes. But I for one, for the most part, consider them to be improvements over the KJV. Of course, my evaluation is based on comparing the texts to the Hebrew or Greek. And there are definitely improvements when it comes to ease of reading and the elimination of archaic words.

> > So yes, there are some difficulties in translating Greek or Hebrew into English. But I do not see how such difficulties means we should stick with an out-of date translation rather than updating the translation to reflect our better knowledge of the Greek and changes in the English languages.<<

> Who says our knowledge of the Greek is better? Just because new events in scholarship come up doesn't mean we know it any better. I have already illustrated how the papyri, in the wrong hands, could be dangerous. I could also review the cannons of textual criticism that were formalized in the 19th century and illustrate how many of them are wrong and based on whim or bogus reasoning.

This is the basic difference between the Christian and Humanistic world-views, if you ask me. Christianity maintains that things get worse over time, but since the Enlightenment, we believe that everything is getting better. I believe that Biblical scholarship has taken a turn for the worse in the last three centuries.<

Christians maintain things get worse? That is a very general statement that would depend on the subject matter at hand, not to mention ones theology.

As for the "the cannons of textual criticism" if you are referring to CT principles I would agree. But I would disagree if you are referring to MT "canons. I discuss these differences on my site. Also, I have currently been in a e-mail discussion with a couple of people on this very subject which I might post if I get their permission.

[snip my comments]

> Show me a Biblical promise that God will inspire the original writings but not the preservation of them. Or even the preservation of them in other languages.<

See my comments above.

> > As for the idea of there being a Hebrew original for Matthew; the evidence for this is very slim. The idea is based on one sentence of the Church Father Papias (c.60 - c.130 AD).<<
[snip the rest of my comments]

> I personally do not believe that Matthew is a Hebrew book. I was not trying to maintain that it was. I was trying to illustrate a principle. Let's just say that it definitely was written in Hebrew, translated into Greek, and then the Hebrew was lost at an early date. Where would you be then?<

There is no sense in speculating about something that most likely did not happen.

> > There is a big difference between textual variants in Greek manuscripts and the differences between the five editions of the KJV (1611, 1629, 1638, 1762 and 1769). The differences between Greek manuscripts arose because of mistakes on the part of scribes in copying by hand the original manuscripts, and copies thereof. Textual Critics then compare the 5,000 plus manuscripts in order to reconstruct the original reading.<<

> For one, you are defending the unity of the KJV here. The KJV is MUCH more unified than the Greek. I know that the differences among KJVs is basically spelling. Actually, if you have information that I don't I would hope that you could forward me some. If you know of changes in the KJVs that are NOT just spelling or typographic changes, or repairs of typographical errors, please let me know. I am collecting such differences. Still, you've said that the KJV could not be inspired because there are different version that consist basically of spelling changes. You can see how strange things would get if I applied the same standard to the Greek. There are HUGE differences in the Greek texts. If these differences were evidence that the Greek was not inspired, then you would be in trouble.<

My point is simply you need to tell me which KJV you are going to say is the one inspired one if you are saying God inspired the translating. And, of course, copies of the KJV have not suffered form the same transmissional difficulties as the Greek manuscripts as the KJV was translated after the invention of the printing press while the manuscripts were written before then.

[Note: Subsequent to this discussion, someone pointed out to me the following Web page:  KJV  Revision is no "Myth". It demonstrates the KJV in use today is not the 1611 KJV and that the differences are more than "just spelling or typographic changes, or repairs of typographical errors."]

> > In the case of the five editions of the KJV, the differences are mainly because the English language changed over time.<<
[snip the rest of my comments]

> As far as I know, the updating of the KJV did not involve the actual (intentional) changing of words or restating of verses. Only spelling was changed. As I said above, please tell me if you know of greater changes.<

The way to answer this would be to get a facsimile of the 1611 KJV. I personally do not own one so I cannot help you here. I simply know that there were revisions done. Of what magnitude I cannot say for sure. So you may be right.

[snip my comments]

> The updating in the NKJV was of a greater scale then the inter-KJV revisions. I think you know that. The NKJV is basically a new translation that considered the KJV text as well as the TR. If the KJV updates would have continued for ever within the same parameters of the existing revisions, they never would have wound up the NKJV. You can't change the spelling and typography again and again until you get an NKJV. The NKJV has large numbers of verses where words have been changed and whole verses have been reworded. Again I am not saying (at this point) that the NKJV did an inferior job. I am saying that it is a new translation. It is a revision by the most liberal sense of the word. A large scale revision from the ground up that held to different basic principles of revision than the KJV revisions.<

Possibly true. But it does not negate that fact that the KJV simply sues out-of-date English and is difficult for most people today to read.

> > To answer you question about which Greek text is inspired, I believe the Majority Text (MT) most represents the originals. It is similar to, but not identical with, the Textus Receptus (TR) that the KJV and NKJV are based on.<<
[snip the rest of my comments]

> There are 1,838 differences between the TR and MT. Check this site for more info. 

If you are truly an MT man, then you need to put down the NKJV. The TR and MT are more different than you seem to think.<

Robinson and Pierpont write in the Introduction to their MT Greek text:
There are approximately 1500 differences between any Receptus edition and either the present text or that of Hodges-Farstad [also a MT Greek text]. Nevertheless, all printed Receptus texts do approximate the Byzantine Textform closely enough (around 98% agreement) to allow a near-identity of reading between any Receptus edition and the majority of manuscripts, Due to the greater quantity of manuscript evidence presently available, however, no one today should choose to remain bound to any early printed Greek text based upon a relative handful of manuscripts (Maurice A. Robinson and William G. Pierpont. The New Testament in the Original Greek According to the Byzantine/ Majority Textform. Atlanta: Original Word Publishers, 1991, pp.xvii-xviii).

I would agree with Robinson and Peirpont on all points. BTW, the reason they talk about "any Receptus edition" is because there is disagreement as to exactly which Greek text is the Textus Receptus. I discuss this point on the following page of my site: Questions on Greek Texts.

Furthermore, the KJV is not really based on any of these Receptus texts as its reading differ slightly from them. It is only recently, I believe, that someone has tried to reproduce the Greek text that the KJV is based on.

George Berry’s Interlinear New Testament, which I own, footnotes the differences between these different Textus Receptus texts, along with a few other published Greek texts. Having studied the variants in this interlinear, I can say, that in most cases the differences are very minor and would not show up in translation. The same can be said for the differences between the TR and the MT.

Moreover, when there are significant variant the NKJV footnotes them. So I do not need to abandon my NKJV. I simply need to read the footnotes. I have a chapter in my Bible versions book on probably the two most significant variants between the TR and MT.

[snip my comments]

> The relationship of the manuscript tradition and the inspiration of the originals is as follows: If God inspired some originals, but let them get lost and was not working with the manuscripts that were copied from them, then you can forget about having a reliable Bible. Between then and now any number of things could have happened to those manuscripts, and scholarship is only able to provide a decent guess as to what might have happened. Not only must God be working with the manuscripts, but he must be working with you as well, or you will not understand the scripture no matter what language you read it in. 1 Corinthians 2:14.<

God did not let the originals get "lost" they would have worn out through use. See the following page for more on this and related points: Introduction to Textual Criticism.

And again, I do believe in a general providence of God in the transmission of the manuscripts. See the above mentioned article on the MT vs. CT for more on both of these points. As for your last point I would agree that the only way a person will believe God’s word is for God to be "working" with that person.

> > Fourth, my position is and always has been that Christian theology should be based on the Hebrew and Greek texts, not on any English translation.<<
[snip the rest of my comments]

> I agree that we should not abandon these languages. I think that we should also keep Latin, Coptic, Georgian, and Gothic manuscripts in consideration. Also, the English, Russian, German, etc.<

Such versions only have secondary value to the Greek manuscripts.

> > Lastly, according to one pamphlet I have, the NKJV is written at an eight grade reading level. Another pamphlet I have rates the NKJV at "9.1 Grade Level." Either way, the NKJV should be easily understandable to most English speaking readers.<<

> I read often in KJV only literature that the KJV has a 10th grade level. People get what they want to out of those surveys and I don't trust them either way.<

If you place the KJV at tenth grade then would have to lower the "grading" of the rest of the versions accordingly. But the main point is, the KJV is more difficult to read than any other currently available English version.

> > OTOH, the KJV is rated at a twelfth grade reading level in the first pamphlet and at "14.0 Grade Level" in the second (indicating a college sophomore level; "How to Choose the Right Bible." Spring Arbor Distributors, 1990 and "Bible Translation Comparison." Family Bookstores, respectively).<<

> Again, it depends on which pamphlet you read. Still, the god of the modern translations is ease of reading. I am not too concerned about having the easiest Bible to read. If I did, I would go get a Living Bible. When I was fifteen, I took two weeks of my time to learn to drive a stick-shift. Now I buy cheaper cars that get better mileage and perform the way I want them to.<

There is very little relationship between the Living Bible and the NKJV. They utilize two different translation principles and Greek text types. See the chapter "Classification of Bible Versions" in my book for more on these points.

As for your stick-shift analogy, it would only be relevant IF a stick and an automatic cost and performed the same. In this case, the automatic would be preferable due to it being easier to drive (especially for those who could not get the "hang" of driving a stick or are unable to do so due to physical limitations). Meanwhile, the only reason to use a stick would be if some enjoyed driving it more than an automatic (I would fall into this latter category in my younger days).

Similarly then, the NKJV and KJV are of equal accuracy. But since the NKJV is much easier to read and many simply find the KJV too difficult to read, the NKJV would be preferable. The only reason for anyone to read the KJV would be if he enjoys reading the old-style English-style found in it.

> I stuck it through with my KJV and learned a brand new language in order to be able to read it. I now have a Bible that reflects aspects of the Greek language that modern editions do not. Übrigens, the RV and NASB are written in this language. This has been the language of the Bible until into the 20th century.<

There is simply no reasons whatsoever "to learn a brand new language" to red an English translation of the Bible. The NKJV and MKJV are every bit as accurate as the KJV but both are much easier to read. And if you want a version that reflects the Greek even more so than the KJV, try the LITV. It is more accurate than the KJV but still somewhat easier to read.

> > Given that even most high school graduates, unfortunately, are not actually able to read at a twelfth grade level and even fewer English readers can read at college levels, it should be apparent the KJV is inaccessible to the majority of English readers. So your last point becomes an argument against the KJV and for the NKJV.<<

> Here we get bogged down into details. Of the modern translations, the NKJV is one of the least readable. If ease of reading is your platform, then you need to get a Bible that is easy to read like the TEV [Today's English Version] or something.<

Now you are engaging in straw-man tactics. If you have spent any time at all on my site you would know very well that I do not in any way recommend the TEV (which I term the Good News Bible - GNB) or similar versions. My comments about the Living Bible would apply here.

For the record, my basic principles for translating the Bible are as follows (in decreasing order of importance):

1. Utilize a "formal equivalence" transition principle (like in the KJV and NKJV).
2. Translate the NT from the TR or MT (I prefer the latter but would settle for the former).
3. Use modern-day English (not "thee's" and "thous's" etc.).

> > I do not consider textual criticism to be a "hopeless attempt to use worldly reason." God has given us an intellectual and over 5,000 Greek manuscripts for a reason. Using sound textual methods, determining the original text of the NT is not "hopeless" but can be assured to a very high degree.<<

> "Sound textual methods"? If you are not put off by this post and still wish to talk about this, then I'll have to expose modern scholarship for what it is. I'll be pressed, being here in Germany with out the sources I would like, but I'll do my best. Anyway, a very high degree of accuracy is quite a ways away from faithful preservation. That's my point.<

By "sound textual methods" I am referring to MT principles; not CT ones that you are probably thinking of. I do my own "exposing" of the latter on my site.

[snip some of my comments]
> > Moreover, if you were to add up the sales of all Critical Text - dynamic equivalence versions, the combined sales would probably be far superior to that of the KJV, or even the KJV and NKJV combined.<<

> Actually it isn't the KJV (as of 25 years ago) had sold a billion copies. The next best-selling book was Websters' dictionary with 400,000,000. All of the other Bibles combined to not beat out the KJV. The statistics you are reading are annual sales of the last 15 years or so.<

> > So if we are going to use "proliferation" as a criteria, then the logical conclusion would be that God has abandoned the Textus Receptus and formal equivalence, and turned to the CT and dynamic equivalence.<

> Or that God is telling us that we are becoming apostate.<

You cannot have it both ways. You cannot say that God "proliferating" the KJV is proof of its inspiration and then say the proliferation of the NIV is proof of our apostasy.

> > Moreover, it would also be important to ask what percentage of KJVs being sold are actually being read.<<
[snip the rest of my comments]

> The Bible in general is a book that is bought but not read. I understand what you are saying though. Part of the KJVs sales come from the fact that the multi-billion dollar heretical cult called the Mormons uses it as her standard text. Mormons ship millions of copies around the world annually. Still, though, God often uses weird events like that to turn out a number that he wants us to pay attention to.<

Nowadays, the KJVs sales are falling and she is no longer being read. When she was being sold, she was being read. This I attribute to apostasy. The KJV is no longer the most sold, nor the most read. The most sold and read Bibles are based on an Arian/Libertine/Gnostic text. What does that tell us? Look at our country.<

I attribute the reason the KJV is not being read while the others are to the simply fact that the majority of English-speaking people find the KJV too difficult to read but they can easily read the others.

I will use my own mom as an example of both of these points. When she was a teenager her mother bought her a KJV. She tried reading it but found it too difficult. So she gave up on Bible reading altogether for a number of years. Then someone gave her a GNB. She was able to read it and did so for many years.

I then had my little book on Bible versions published. After reading it, she realized the problems with the GNB and switched to the NKJV, which she found had no difficulties reading. And she has been reading it ever since.

I have had many people write me and tell me similar stories. Please see the items listed under "Correspondences" on my Bible Versions Controversy page for some samples of these e-mails.

The point is, the KJV has turned many a person off of Bible reading altogether and/ or is has turned many a person onto unreliable versions like the NIV or GNB. It is for these reasons that I am opposed to a KJV Only position like you espouse. I simply believe it makes much more sense to encourage people to read a version that is just as accurate as the KJV but which they can read without difficulty. The NKJV fits this bill nicely, so would the MKJV which I also recommend.

Now if someone like yourself has "learned" to read the KJV, then fine, keep reading it. I never discourage someone from reading the KJV if they tell me they are able to read it. But the letters that I get tell me that you are in the minority.

[snip some of my comments]
> > Also, many more Greek manuscripts have been discovered since the about twenty that were used in developing the TR.<<

> Modern textual criticism laughs at the TR that the NKJV was based on. This is what I meant by looking for new standards of assessing scripture. The approach that you are taking leaves no room for the TR or the NKJV. You are reading literature that is based on the arguments set forth by the people who developed the CT. The CT people believe that translations are unreliable and that God did not keep his hand on the later manuscripts. They believe that God inspired only the originals, which are gone, and that our task is to use scholarship in order to reconstruct those texts. One of the cannons of textual criticism is that older readings are favored over newer ones. Another is that a copyist is more likely to add or conflate than he is to delete. Therefore, a manuscript with additional verses is deemed to be corrupt more often than one where the verses are not present. This is even the case when the verses that have been "added" seem always to be Trinity and deity of Christ verses.<

Again, you are engaging in straw-man argumentation here. If you would familiarize yourself with my site you would know that I do not espouse or agree with CT principles like the ones you mention.

[snip some of my comments]
> > However, as use as a standard version, I would predict that the KJV will basically pass away, especially as the current generation of users also pass away.<<

> I hope Jesus comes back before the KJV passes away, but I agree here. The KJV is on its way down, and so is Bible based Christianity.

"Bible-based Christianity’ is on its way down because people are not reading the Bible; or if they do it is with an unreliable version like the NIV. Again, IMO, one reason (among many) for this phenomena is the continued promotion of the KJV. As I said, the KJV has turned many people off of Bible reading altogether and/ or onto NIV type of versions.

So it is my prayer that versions like the NKJV, MKJV, and LITV find much greater distribution and use.

> Got to run. Hope you enjoy the post. I have made a number of statements that will probably sound a little harsher than my first post, but assure you that my mood is the same. I have just been a little more hurried than before. Write back if you have questions, as I did not respond to all of your note and probably made some mistakes in my arguments. I don't even have time to review this before sending it.

Your Brother,
Jonathan<

I think we have covered this subject about as thoroughly as we will be able to. At this point, we will probably just go around in circles. But thanks for presenting your views in a rather civil manner.

God bless.

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

The above e-mail exchange was posted on this Web site May 14, 1998.

Bible Versions Controversy: KJV-Onlyism
Bible Versions Controversy

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