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The Text and "Tree" of the KJV

By Rick Norris

Do Believers Have the Intended Text of the KJV Translators Today?

In a book published by The Bible for Today, Kirk DiVietro stated: "The text of the King James Bible is the INTENDED text of the translators, not the physical text of a printing machine" (Anything But the KJB, p. 33).

Do KJV-only advocates actually know 100% what the intended text of the KJV translators was? Does anyone have a copy of the original handwritten manuscripts of the KJV translators in order to determine with 100% accuracy the intended text of the translators?

Paine pointed out the fact that the handwritten copy of the KJV from which the printers worked has vanished (Men Behind the KJV, p. 135). It has been lost or perhaps destroyed in one of the London fires. If no one has the original handwritten copy of the KJV and no one living today has ever seen it, how do we know if our present printed editions of the KJV are actually in perfect agreement with it? Without the actual intended text of the fallible and uninspired Church of England translators of the KJV, do KJV-only advocates have a perfect standard? Does it now become necessary to consult the earlier good English Bibles or the underlying Hebrew and Greek texts?

As noted in the above section, it is a documented fact of history that Archbishop Richard Bancroft was charged with introducing at least fourteen changes into the text of the 1611 KJV. Do KJV-only advocates know what these changes were and whether these changes were directly inspired by the Holy Spirit? Someone asked me if I have a list of these changes. I don't have one although it may be that some old book still in existence lists them.

Paine wrote that one of the changes was Bancroft's insistence on using "the glorious word bishopric even for Judas, in Acts 1:20" (Men Behind the KJV, p. 128). This change was perhaps to provide support for the Church of England allowing some ungodly men to remain as bishops.

Another one of the changes is supposed to have involved Acts 19:37. McClure noted: "Bancroft, that he might for once stick the name [church] to a material building, would have it applied, in the nineteenth chapter of Acts, to the idols' temples! 'Robbers of churches' are strictly, according to the word in the original, temple-robbers; and particularly, in this case, such as might have plundered the great temple of Diana of Ephesus. Let us be thankful that the dictatorial prelate tried his hand no farther at emending the sacred text" (KJV Translators Revived, p. 221).

Since the changes involved an attempt by Bancroft to promote the church government view of the Church of England, it might be possible to determine some of the other changes. If KJV-only advocates were really defenders of the intended text of the KJV translators, they would be determined to find out what all fourteen changes by Bancroft were so they could correct them.

"Considering the Tree of Good Bibles"

Most likely, many are aware of the tree of good Bibles in Ruckman's book Bible Babel (p. 82) or one of the similar trees, lines, or streams of good Bibles in other books by defenders of the KJV. This argument sounds great, but does it prove that the KJV is the only translation that should be used today?

If the tree or root is holy, all the branches are also holy (Romans 11:16). God's Word indicates that whatever is affirmed of one branch of a tree must be affirmed concerning all the branches of the same tree. If one branch must be inspired, inerrant, perfect, incorruptible, or preserved, all the branches must have these same qualities. Would defenders of the KJV claim that Tyndale's, Coverdale's, Matthew's, Great, Geneva, Bishops' Bibles are inspired, inerrant, perfect, incorruptible, and preserved? If they claim one branch (one translation--the KJV) has these qualities, to be consistent and Scriptural they must claim the same for all the branches.

Of course, many know that this presents a serious problem since all these branches (translations) are not identical; therefore, they cannot possibly all be inerrant and perfect. How can one branch (the KJV) be the final standard beyond which there is no other for evaluating all the other branches (translations)?

A branch cannot bear fruit of itself (John 15:4). A branch does not bear, produce. or support the trunk or the root (Romans 11:18). A branch is not of the same importance as the trunk of the tree. The branches of a tree (individual translations) have no life of their own and cannot produce fruit if they are separated from the tree of God's Word in the original languages.

If they cut one branch (one translation--the KJV) off their own tree and try to make it different from the other branches, they will only destroy their branch. A branch cut off by itself withers and dies (John 15:6). It is wrong and harmful to cut the KJV off from its underlying texts (Hebrew and Greek) and to attempt to make it superior to them.

A view of Bible translation that makes one exception instead of applying the same standard and principles to all translations on its good tree is a view of translation that is not worth having. If every translation on this good tree is imperfect and errant with one exception, by what different process was this one exception made? Is not an argument for one exception an unscriptural claim for additional or advanced revelation? Is not a view of translation that makes one exception a view based on a type of "situation ethics?"

The situation in 1611 was supposedly somehow different than the situation in 1535, 1539, 1560, 1568, or after 1611. The guiding or illuminating of the Holy Spirit for believers was no different in 1611 than it was in 1534, 1560, 1833, 1842, or 1982. Where does God's Word teach that the illuminating of the Holy Spirit makes fallible men perfect in their actions such as translating?

It appears that KJV-only advocates have placed themselves in a serious dilemna: they cannot consistently defend their tree-of-good-Bibles argument, but they cannot cut the KJV off of their tree without harming or destroying it. Is it possible that the man-made KJV-only view is unscriptural?

Any Scripture verses that defenders of the KJV use to claim the KJV has to be perfect and inerrant can also be found in the other early translations on their tree. If these verses are being interpreted correctly, then these verses in Tyndale's, Geneva, etc. would also have to mean that these translations had to be perfect and inerrant. It seems that everywhere you turn the arguments of the KJV-only view ends up in contradictions or inconsistencies. Should not a Scriptural view of translation apply the same to Tyndale's, Geneva, and other early Bibles as it does to the KJV?

Please think on these things and examine the evidence for yourself. The truth will not harm the Word of God.

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

The above article was posted on this Web site August 29, 1998.

Bible Versions Controversy: KJV-Onlyism
Bible Versions Controversy

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