Is the King James Version the only reliable English translation?
Frontispiece to the King James’ Bible, 1611, shows the Twelve Apostles at the top. Moses and Aaron flank the central text. In the four corners sit Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, authors of the four gospels, with their symbolic animals. At the top, over the Holy Spirit in a form of a dove, is the Tetragrammaton “יהוה” (“YHWH”). (Via Wikipedia)
Question: Is the only reliable English translation of the Bible on earth today the King James Version?
Unfortunately, I seriously doubt that any advocate of what has come to be known as “KJV-onlyism” would find such an answer at all sufficient.
Note: This subject is far too large for this brief answer. This subject will be added to continuously and this answer page will be updated accordingly.
Firstly I must point out that I am in no way opposed to anyone who uses the King James Version, which should really be called the Authorized Version or Authorized King James Version, especially those who do not attempt to exclusively force that single translation on others.
However, there are some quite glaring reasons why we should not believe that the KJV is by any means the only English translation we should be reading.
Actually, the names listed above weren’t even in use originally. The first printing of what is now referred to as the KJV was in fact called, “THE HOLY BIBLE, Containing the Old Testament, AND THE NEW: Newly Translated out of the Original tongues: & with the former Translations diligently compared and revised, by his Majesties special Commandment.” Unfortunately that is one of the smaller blunders KJV-onlyists have to make in order to uphold their beliefs.
One primary question any KJV-only advocate must answer before a conversation can be had is, “Which version of the King James is the only one we can use?” This is because there are several versions of what is generally referred to as the KJV, not just the 1611 Authorized Version as many people incorrectly believe.
Even if you say the 1611 version is the only one you’ll accept as the accurate word of God, you have another problem. Namely, which version of that version do you accept?
Via Southern Methodist University’s Bridwell Library:
The original print run of the King James Bible is unknown. However, not all were bound at once, and some bound later combined sheets from different print runs. Subsequent print runs, even in 1611, frequently represented different editions. Take for example the notorious he/she debate. In one edition of the 1611 Bible, Ruth 3:15 reads “he went into the city,” he referring to Boaz; while a second reads “she went into the city,” referring to Ruth. It is now known that the “he” Bible is earlier than the “she” Bible. Both variants continued for many years, and still appear in competing versions of the Bible today.
So setting aside all of the revisions and variations which have been printed since 1611, the “original” isn’t even known. Why on earth would you rely on this text above all others to the point of claiming that one popular modern translation, the English Standard Version (ESV) is, “just another attempt of Satan to malign and twist the Word of God into a lie”?
If claims like the above and the many other ludicrous assertions plastered all over the internet trouble you, the only way you can hope to resolve it is through education.
Thankfully, there are many honest, truth-seeking Christian scholars out there who want nothing more than to get as close to the original manuscripts penned by the original authors as humanly possible. We can benefit from using the hard work of these people in order to significantly decrease the time we have to spend getting at the truth.
One book I can recommend is the King James Only Controversy by James White or, if you don’t have the money to spend, you can visit the website of Alpha and Omega Ministries, of which James White is the director, to check out some free resources on refuting KJV-onlyism.
James White has also participated in some discussions which I think are very much worth watching if you want to learn more on this issue:
Here’s a clip from White’s radio show when a KJV-only advocate called in and demonstrated some of the most mindblowingly nonsensical logic possible:
Here’s a somewhat old clip which covers some of the many arguments and refutations:
The matter essentially boils down to the following: do you want to be reading the most accurate translation of the oldest manuscripts we have found? Or, would you rather read a translation which was written before some Greek constructions were even properly understood?
If you answered yes to the first question, you will likely want to pick up some other translations to supplement the King James.
I truly believe that one should not stick to a single Bible translations as none are perfect. One must realize that the concept of inerrancy (at least according to us at Seek Theos) does not apply to the English translation you have before you. The Holy Spirit did not inspire men to write in English many centuries after the originals were penned. Also note that this does not mean that your particular interpretation of scripture is inerrant, nor is the interpretation of any other man.
I believe that in order to get to the position of KJV-onlyism one must either (a) ignore the facts, (b) use fallacious logic, (c) use double standards (although that ties into item (b)) or (d) just plain to refuse to listen to anyone, read anything, or examine any and all arguments.
Don’t allow yourself to fall victim to one of the above. Do the research for yourself and examine it all from a completely unbiased, rational perspective and I think you’ll be amazed by the conclusions you come to.