Inconsistencies in KJV Only Reasoning

Baptist theologian James White’s book, The King James Only Controversy, is a great resource for those who want to study this topic.  I’ve referred to White’s book on this blog more than once, showing how the militant KJV only logic is neither historically nor logically sound.  Here are two more examples of this.

First, White notes that many militant KJV only advocates are opposed to textual footnotes and alternate readings in the non-KJV translations.  However, this position is unhistorical, since the 1611 KJV had a total of 8,422 marginal notes.

The 1611 KJV Old Testament marginal note breakdown is as follows: 4,111 notes express the more literal reading, 2,156 give alternate translations, and the rest give other notes.  The New Testament breakdown is as follows: 112 marginal notes express a more literal reading, 582 give alternate translations, the rest give other textual notes.  Here’s how White summarizes: “KJV Only works are filled with attacks upon the modern translations for noting that certain verses are not found in ancient manuscripts or that some manuscripts read differently, yet you will search these works in vain for the same denunciation of the KJV’s textual notes.  The inconsistency speaks volumes” (p. 123).

Second, another argument given by White is to ask the KJV only crowd this question: “Which KJV?” (p. 124-125).

“The KJV carried by the average KJV Only advocate today looks very different than the edition that came of Robert Barker’s press in 1611.  Not only do many printings of today’s KJV lack the marginal notes and references, but the form and the wording of the text has undergone change over time.  Editions with textual changes came out as soon as 1612 and again in 1613, followed by editions in 1616, 1629, and 1638.”

“Does the modern edition of the KJV differ significantly from the 1611?  That depends upon how one defines significantly.  For the general audience seeking merely to understand the KVJ’s textual tradition, no – most revisions have dealt with small matters of spelling, punctuation, etc.  But for those who assert the KJV’s absolute inerrancy, the question looms large: which KJV?  Note some of the changes that have taken place over the years as indicated by Scrivener: ‘The LORD’ to ‘the LORD thy God’ at Deuteronomy 26:1; ‘Manasseh’ to ‘the children of Manasseh’ at Joshua 13:29; ‘seek good’ to ‘seek God’ at Psalm 69:32; ‘inherit God’ to ‘inherit Gad’ at Jeremiah 49:1; ‘Thou art Christ’ to ‘Thou art the Christ’ at Matthew 16:16; ‘there is no man good, but one’ to ‘there is none good but one’ at Mark 10:18; ‘approved unto death’ to ‘appointed unto death’ at 1 Corinthians 4:9; and ‘hath not the Son’ to ‘hath not the Son of God’ at 1 John 5:12.”

“Are these changes important?  Surely they present a sticky problem for the radical KJV Only proponent.  How are textual changes like this to be handled? How can one determine the ‘right’ reading, when the KJV is made the absolute standard?  Of course, the non-KJV Only believer has recourse to Greek and Hebrew manuscripts.  But once a person has invested the English translation with inspiration itself, that route is no longer a consistent option.”

White makes other solid arguments against the KJV only position in this book.  I realize that probably not all of our readers are interested in this topic, but if you’ve wrestled with this or discussed this with somebody, I highly recommend it: The King James Only Controversy.

shane lems
hammond, wi

One Reply to “Inconsistencies in KJV Only Reasoning”

  1. I don’t think a KJV only position is sustainable. Having said that I used the NASB for years and then the ESV. I’ve finally found myself back at the KJV. Both NASB and particularly ESV are vulnerable to modern revision and are vulnerable to modern errors and inclinations. The KJV is equally vulnerable to error but its errors are not those of my era. The errors of my era are the one to which I am most vulnerable. The KJV was not under attack by feminism and its subsidiary error, sodomy normalization. This makes it a valuable tool in this day and age.


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