KJV-Only – Which is the Best King James Bible?

We’ve written on the Bible translation debate before (search the site for more). If you’ve read the previous articles, you know we take a moderate view — both the KJV-Only people are wrong, as well as those defending the corrupt Alexandrian texts from which most modern versions derive. A moderate approach proves correct as those claiming the acceptability of any modern translation clearly haven’t done their homework, while those claiming the inspiration and inerrancy of the KJV have no proof.

We recently ran across an explanation highlighting the position of KJV-Onlyism in it’s various forms, and it’s a good summary of the various positions, both the moderate and extreme views. It may surprise you to learn even among those proclaiming KJV-Only considerable debate exists.

CLASS ONE: KING JAMES BIBLE FAVOURED (PREFERRED)

History: Because for many years the King James Bible was used, and due to tradition and conservative forces, that Bible has continued to have been used in certain movements and ministries, though not exclusively, and often modern versions might be used in conference, and there is a willingness to adopt modern King James Bible editions or versions.

  • Inspiration: The Autographs are 100% infallible, inspired and perfect.
  • Preservation: Overall the Word of God is preserved through time.
  • The KJB text: The KJB text is at least 99% correct.
  • The text in English: Overall the text of the Word is probably in English versions.
  • The KJB translation: Very good, but there are occasional areas which can be improved.
  • The KJB language/style: Generally good, but the archaic language is a stumbling block to new believers, which requires or allows for updating the language or other good versions to bring out the meaning better.
  • The perfection of the KJB: The KJB is faithful and reliable, but not perfect.
  • Other versions: Some other versions are valid or acceptable.
  • Other languages: The Word of God should continue to be translated into other languages.

The future of the KJB: The KJB will probably continue to be upheld by an extreme minority, but generally, with the changing language, new discoveries and progressive revelation of the Church, changes are inevitable.

Which edition of the KJB: Any current one.

CLASS TWO: KING JAMES BIBLE DEFENDED (TR ONLY)

History: Because for many years the King James Bible was used, and due to tradition and conservative forces, that Bible has continued to have been used in certain movements and ministries. The principles of modernism are deficient, which means that the King James Bible must still continue to be the Bible for the present time.

  • Inspiration: The Autographs are 100% infallible, inspired and perfect.
  • Preservation: Overall the Word of God is preserved through time, specifically in the King James Bible.
  • The KJB text: The KJB text is correct.
  • The text in English: The Bible text is fully presented in English.
  • The KJB translation: Correct, but it is impossible to translate 100%,even though what it does translate is indeed valid.
  • The KJB language/style: Very good, but if the English language changes,alterations on the current English of the KJB may be necessary.
  • The perfection of the KJB: The KJB is faithful and reliable, and will never lead anyone astray.
  • Other versions: No other present English versions are acceptable.
  • Other languages: The Word of God can continue to be translated into other languages if they are done from the basis of the TR or from the KJB.

The future of the KJB: The KJB will continue to be used by a faithful minority of believers, and may, in the unknown future before the return of Christ, be yet altered in regards to the English only, and not the underlying texts.

Which edition of the KJB: Cambridge Edition best, but any edition.

CLASS THREE: KING JAMES BIBLE PURIST (ENGLISH PRESERVATIONIST)

History: Because for many years the King James Bible was used, and due to tradition and conservative forces, that Bible has continued to have been used by true believers. The principles of modernism are deficient, and the King James Bible is the providentially appointed correct Bible for the world.

  • Inspiration: The Autographs are 100% infallible, inspired and perfect.
  • Preservation: The Word of God is preserved through time, specifically in the King James Bible.
  • The KJB text: The KJB text is correct.
  • The text in English: The Bible text is fully presented in English.
  • The KJB translation: Fully perfect, equivalent to the originals in English.
  • The KJB language/style: Exact, no updating or changes are to be accepted.
  • The perfection of the KJB: The KJB is inerrant.
  • Other versions: No other present English versions are acceptable.
  • Other languages: With the world becoming conversant with English, the King James Bible alone is now to be promoted as the only form of the Bible for the whole world.

The future of the KJB: The KJB will continue to be used by a faithful minority of believers, and that by true revival, be restabilised as the Bible of the true Church throughout the Earth.

Which edition of the KJB: The Cambridge Edition generally, the Pure Cambridge Edition specifically.

CLASS FOUR: KING JAMES BIBLE EXTREMIST (SOME IS USED AS SLANDER)

History: Because the Apostle Paul used the King James Bible, so should true believers today.

  • Inspiration: The Autographs are irrelevant. The King James Bible itself was made by inspired men from 1604-1611, and is advanced revelation.
  • Preservation: The King James Bible is the Word of God.
  • The KJB text: The KJB text is correct.
  • The text in English: The Bible text is fully presented in English.
  • The KJB translation: Superior to the originals.
  • The KJB language/style: Exact in all editions.
  • The perfection of the KJB: The KJB is inerrant in all editions.
  • Other versions: No other present English versions are acceptable.
  • Other languages: Since the KJB is necessary for salvation, it is the Word for the world.

The future of the KJB: The KJB will continue to be used by a faithful minority of believers, until it is finally destroyed by the New World Order, etc.

Which edition of the KJB: Any edition, but the Cambridge Edition preferred.

That’s a good summary of the various positions, and highlights some common viewpoints. We’ll add one more class, Class Zero (those holding the superiority of the “modern” versions).

CLASS ZERO: ANY TRANSLATION IS ACCEPTABLE

History: The King James Version was good for its time, but it’s difficult to read thus people today should abandon it and use modern translations exclusively. Additionally, the Alexandrian texts are superior scholarship over Textus Receptus.

  • Inspiration: The Autographs are 100% infallible, inspired and perfect, but due to textual variants scholarship determines what the autographs are.
  • Preservation: Overall the Word of God is preserved through time.
  • The KJB text: The KJB text is far from the best translation, and modern versions are superior.
  • The text in English: No better than any other language.
  • The KJB translation: Good for it’s time, but now archaic.
  • The KJB language/style: Used in 1611, but must be updated for today’s reader.
  • The perfection of the KJB: The KJB was good for its time.
  • Other versions: Other versions are valid or acceptable, and preferred.
  • Other languages: The Word of God should continue to be translated into other languages.

We’re somewhere between Class One and Class Two. After studying the Alexandrian and Textus Receptus (as well as Westcott and Hort), it’s obvious Textus Receptus forms the correct textual base, but the KJV isn’t a perfect translation (none is). Class zero lacks historical evidence as it was only in the last century or so the Alexandrian manuscripts became popular.

Some of those who believe KJV-Only claim it’s God’s perfect Word, so much so we no longer have need of Greek or Hebrew. This claim becomes repeated often, but we’ve yet to see any evidence supporting it. How did God authenticate the KJV as the perfect translation? If the KJV is the perfect Bible, did the church lack God’s word for 2,000 years?

Class three and four positions lack evidence as well. Anyone performing translation work knows it’s impossible to translate one language to another perfectly. If the Greek is perfect, it’s impossible for a translation to be (additionally, Greek is a precise language, English much less so). Thus, the KJV can’t be inerrant compared to the original Greek and Hebrew.

Of course, those thinking the modern translations (based on the corrupt Westcott/Hort editions) are equally wrong. The newer translations all follow Westcott/Hort, some more, some less. (Note: Westcott/Hort’s Greek text is commonly called Nestle/Aland or UBS [United Bible Society] now — look in the introductions to see which text your translation used).

In the end, you need balance. The KJV is an excellent translation, but it’s neither inerrant nor perfect. Any translation (done correctly) from the Textus Receptus text would be acceptable. If you’ve used the New King James version, it’s a valid update to the venerable King James. While it’s not perfect (no translation is), it avoids the corrupt Gnostic influences of the Alexandrian texts Westcott and Hort used.

Recommendation

We’re supporters of Textus Receptus, but not necessarily “KJV-Only”. Any translation using Textus Receptus would be acceptable. Unfortunately most of the modern translations use the corrupt Westcott-Hort texts. If the old language of the KJV gives you problems, try the 1967 Scofield KJV version (not “Old Scofield” or “Scofield III” — they don’t have language updates). It has language updates right in the text, for example:

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent precede them which are asleep. (1 Thessalonians 4:15)

“Prevent” in 1611 means what “precede” means today. The 1967 Scofield makes the change right in the text, while giving the original KJV word in the marginal notes. As a side note, you can always tell a KJV-Only person who hasn’t done their homework if they cite this verse as an example of corruption in modern versions. Precede is the correct translation, as meaning come before. Prevent in 1611 meant pre-event, or come before, not hinder.

Only let your conversation conduct be as it becometh the gospel of Christ; that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; (Philippians 1:27)

“Conversation” had a wider meaning in 1611, meaning conduct. Once again, the 1967 Scofield updates prove correct.

Naturally, for some KJV-only people, using Scofield’s 1967 version is heresy as anything not 100% original KJV is unacceptable (they debate among themselves the Oxford verses Cambridge rendering of the KJV, among other issues). Unfortunately, they’re quite wrong. An examination of typesetting techniques of 1611 reveal some interesting characteristics as words spelling or grammar could be changed for no reason other than to fit on the line better.

Several versions of Scofield’s work exist — the 1967 used to be called “New Scofield” when it was originally published, with the reprint titled “1967 Scofield”. Check and be sure the above verses exist as we’ve noted to be sure you’re getting the version with language changes.

Hardcover ISBN: 0195277104 ISBN-13: 9780195277104

Leather ISBN: 0195277147 ISBN-13: 9780195277142

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