As those of you who actually have good reading/hearing comprehension skills still intact already know, I love and study from the King James version of the Bible – and have for 40 years. It is, to this day, my preferred version of the Bible. That said, I do not believe it is perfect. Nor do I believe there is any legitimacy to the claim that it is “the most literal word-for-word translation we have in English” as many would have us believe. I mean, how can anyone make such a claim when the Holy Name of YHWH has been replaced about 6,972 times with a generic title!? You can not claim to be a “literal word-for-word” translation when you are not literally translating the words! Common sense right? You’d think so. Naturally, whenever I say such things, I’m immediately attacked by KJV Only types. Over the course of such engagements, I’ve noticed a somewhat annoying trend among these people – and that is the tendency toward circular reasoning – and often based solely on things, which themselves were not “inspired” by the Holy Spirit, but rather by translator (biased) insertions, politics and good marketing.
For instance, the KJV Only type makes the KJV the standard by which everything else is judged. Hence, you will hear claims that the other translations omit various verses and words from the Scriptures. But what if it is the KJV that added them? Perfect case in point would be the Comma Johanneum. Assuming this issue is legit, then it is the KJV (likely based on the addition of this verse in the third edition of Erasmus’ Textus Receptus) that is guilty of adding to the text something that doesn’t belong there, while the others are being more true to the original source material. Thus, we don’t have a case of omission, we have a case of greater accuracy in another translation. The same is true of the addition of italicized words, which while most of the time are usually just innocent enough additions for grammatical reasons, some can change the entire meaning of not just a sentence, but of a chapter and in at least two cases that I can think of (in Hebrews 8), the message of the entire Bible. But when these people are confronted with such things, the KJV Only circular reasoning kicks in: KJV = THE ONLY TRUTH -> ergo evidence that refutes this preconceived notion must necessarily be false.
Also, when many of these people hear that the KJV is also known as the “Authorized Version,” few (apparently) ever bother to ask, “Who ‘authorized’ it and what does that even mean anyway?” Of course, many in the KJV Only camp assume YHWH Himself authorized it and thus it is the only Bible we should be reading. But that’s not where the title came from, nor did it even originate with King Jimmy (even though he was the one who authorized/commissioned it). It came to be known as the “Authorized Version” simply because it was the English version of the Bible that eventually became “authorized” by the Church of England to be the standard lectern Bible read in their churches. In short, it replaced the Bishop’s Bible as the new one they authorized to be used in that denomination. It has nothing to do with a command/decree/sanction by YHWH or Jimbo.
Then, when people learn that the “Authorized Version” was derived from the Textus Receptus (aka the “Received Text”), they will associate it as being received directly from YHWH… of course. But that’s not where the name came from. It came from the publisher’s Preface in the 1633 edition of Desiderius Erasmus’ work, produced by Bonaventure and his nephew Abraham Elzevir who were partners in a printing business at Leiden. The original text in the Preface read as follows:
Textum ergo habes, nunc ab omnibus receptum: in quo nihil immutatum aut corruptum damus,
The translation of which is, “so you hold the text, now received by all, in which (is) nothing corrupt.” This of course, having been written by PUBLISHERS, is a great marketing ploy, but also certainly assumes much. Eventually, the two words “textum” and “receptum” were modified from the accusative to the nominative case and rendered as “Textus Receptus” and over time, became retroactively applied to Erasmus’ work and thus as the foundation upon which the KJV and other translations sit.
Flash forward to the 21st Century, and now we have KJV Only types trying to tell me that the KJV is the only AUTHORIZED version of the Bible, because it is based on “text received” by Divine providence (some even going so far as to add that it was “purified seven times” based on an extremely loose, out of context quote from Psalm 12:6). SMH Worse still, these Authorized types consistently blab on about the Authorized 1611 KJV, while usually holding up either a 1769 Oxford revision or more often, the 1873 Cambridge edition, which collectively have more than 24,000 revisions of the original 1611 text, with “Iesous” being changed to “Jesus” and at least 14 books removed. So much for “perfection” I guess. I mean, sure, the vast majority of the revisions were updates in spelling and punctuation and the correction of “printing errors,” but come on. If you are going to be hyper-dogmatic, since when does perfection need numerous revisions, changes, additions and omissions? I’m just holding these people to the same standard they impose upon everyone else. Especially if the original was allegedly “authorized” and “received” by the Divine hand of YHWH Himself.. and purified seven times no less. After all (according to the KJV Only camp), “God is faithful to preserve His word and He did so with the King James Bible!” right? Anyway… as I’ve said many times before, my issues are less with the King James Bible itself and more with those who quite literally worship it and whether they’ll ever admit it or not, have engaged in AVolatry (Authorized Version idolatry). OK. I’ll get off my soap box now. I’m sorry, but these people just drive me crazy.
Putting my “issues” aside, the real reason for this post is, in the past, many have heard me say that I am a big advocate for “parallel Bibles” and the need to compare translations while always keeping a good Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek concordance handy nearby. Thus, I’m often asked what other English translations I recommend. While there have been some exceptions in the past, I generally stay away from making such recommendations. Yes. There are some translations I do enjoy more than others and have used in my regular studies of comparing with the KJV or in my blogs or PowerPoint presentations, but to mention them as a recommendation would imply an endorsement… which naturally, then later gets spun off into some ridiculous diatribe by some less-than-honest (usually a KJV Only type) critic stating, “Skiba doesn’t believe in the inerrant Word of God. Instead he studies from…” This will then be followed by some other statement of false witness meant to cast a bad light on me, my beliefs and study habits, all of which are designed to slander my name, character and testimony and on and on it goes.
So, rather than give any “endorsement,” for any particular translations, let me just say you really need to do your own research in this regard. There are lots of resources out there to help you do this. And as much as I sort of hate to admit it, the KJV Only camp does sometimes provide some good guidance in this regard. But be careful to note that not all modern English translations come from Wescott and Hort – as they often claim. At any rate, look into the origins of the manuscripts being used and do some background checking on those doing the translations. When you do, you will become… shall we say… quite enlightened by what you will find – and this includes an understanding of people such as Desiderius Erasmus (the humanistic Catholic scholar of Textus Receptus fame) and of course, Wescott and Hort (the controversial duo from whom came many – but NOT ALL – modern English competitors with the KJV) among others.
This wiki page is a pretty good starting platform from which to launch yourself into some very interesting research regarding the history of various translations, the men involved and the manuscripts used: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_Bible_translations
- Rob Skiba