Is the King James Version the Best English Translation?

7 Factors to Consider when Comparing the KJV with Modern Translations.

There is a powerful faction of well-meaning Christians who believe and teach that the King James Version is the only uncorrupted English translation of Scripture. 

Their explanations are very convincing to the average Christian who has not studied the historical and linguistic background of Scripture translation.

I will let the authorities in the links below explain the details because they are experts in these areas, but let me summarize some important background:

1. The original texts of Scripture (those Moses, Paul, and others wrote under the anointing of the Spirit) are called autographs, and none have survived. If it were important that we have those autographs, God would have protected them. He didn’t.

2. What we have are copies of the autographs, written by human scribes who sometimes made mistakes when copying the original text. The newer the copy, the more scribal errors it contains because it was a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy, etc. instead of a copy of the original.

7 Factors to Consider when Comparing the KJV with Modern Translations.3. Most of these scribal errors are insignificant and don't change the meaning of the text. By comparing multiple manuscripts and relying on the accuracy of the older manuscripts, we can be confident that our present Bible accurately represents the autographs.

4. When KJV was written, some of the older copies of Scripture had not yet been discovered. So the King James translators used the newer copies of Scripture with more scribal additions (words and phrases added to the text). None of these additions detract from the message. But they are not Scripture even though they are part of the KJV text. 

5. That’s why King James Only teachers are able to compare texts and claim that modern translations have omitted words. In truth, the KJV includes words not found in the older, more accurate manuscripts. This doesn’t make the KJV corrupted. It simply means that certain details of its wording are based on scribal changes and errors, not Scripture. Since God allowed the newer manuscripts to be our only source for years, I'm sure He was not concerned about these insignificant differences in them. But He also allowed the older manuscripts to be found so we could make our translations more accurate. 

6. To claim that an English translation of the Bible written in the 1600’s is the most accurate version for modern Christians means:

     A. God is limited in His ability to communicate. He is stuck in time, only able to express Himself in archaic words that no longer have the same meaning to modern readers.

     B. God anointed the translators of the KJV but refuses to anoint any other translators even though it would make His Word more understandable to the modern reader.

7 Factors to Consider when Comparing the KJV with Modern Translations.
7. Translations use different methods, but each major English translation seeks to transmit the message accurately. One of my professors in seminary was Dr. William J. Larkin who translated Acts in the NLT. I have never met a more humble, godly man who knew Scripture so intimately and accurately. He read from the Greek New Testament in our classes, translating as he spoke. He would never have been part of any translation team that did not seek to accurately represent God’s Word.

Note: Paraphrases of the Bible are not translations. Translations are made by a team of Bible scholars. Paraphrases are written by a single author who is attempting to put the Bible into words that he feels a particular group will easily understand. He may or may not consult the original languages of Scripture. Paraphrases should not be studied as your main source of Scripture and everything in them should be tested against a genuine translation because sometimes the author has an agenda. Popular paraphrases include The Message, The Living Bible (not the same as the New Living Translation), and The Passion Translation (not really a translation).

I regularly see  comments on social media from KJVO believers claiming that anyone who posts in modern translations is seeking to pervert the gospel. I have no desire to debate anyone. My goal is to inform those who are confused, those who are open to researching the evidence of God-fearing Bible scholars. 

I don’t think KJVO teachers are intentionally trying to be divisive. I believe most of them are well-meaning and sincere. But they are also misinformed. 

For those who are willing, please read the articles linked below. I have included a short excerpt from each:

Is Your Modern Translation Corrupt? Institute for Christian Research

"The importance of the topic should not be underestimated. While the vast majority of conservative Christian scholars completely reject the KJV Only position, the emotionally charged rhetoric of KJV Only advocates causes unnecessary concerns among many believers."

Is the King James Bible the Only Reliable Bible? By Billy Graham

7 Factors to Consider when Comparing the KJV with Modern Translations."Some people prefer the King James translation because they have been familiar with it, often from childhood. Others prefer modern translations because they are more easily understood. Also, modern translators have the advantage of using many older Greek manuscripts of the New Testament discovered since the King James translation was made. Most scholars consider these older manuscripts more reliable than the few later manuscripts available to those who translated the King James Bible."

What is the King James Only Movement? Got Questions

"Our loyalties are to the original manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments, written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Only the original languages are the Word of God as He inspired it. A translation is only an attempt to take what is said in one language and communicate it in another. The modern translations are superb in taking the meaning of the original languages and communicating it in a way that we can understand in English."

Why I Do Not Think the KJV is the Best Translation Available Today - 

"Those who vilify the modern translations and the Greek texts behind them have evidently never really investigated the data. Their appeals are based largely on emotion, not evidence. As such, they do an injustice to historic Christianity as well as to the men who stood behind the King James Bible. These scholars, who admitted that their work was provisional and not final (as can be seen by their preface and by their more than 8000 marginal notes indicating alternate renderings), would wholeheartedly welcome the great finds in MSS [Greek Manuscripts] that have occurred in the past one hundred and fifty years."

The King James Only Controversy – The Gospel Coalition

Regarding the KJV Only claim that modern translations delete verses from the Bible: "Based on the older and more reliable manuscripts, the modern translations have simply sought to reflect what was contained in the original manuscripts. It is just as serious to add to Scripture, as it is to take away from Scripture."

Is the King James Version the Only Good Translation? - Eternal Perspectives Ministries (Randy Alcorn)  

This article addresses the fact that all translations have verses or phrases that could be better translated, but the translation teams of the modern translations are seeking to share Scripture accurately. KJV Only teachers claim that modern translation teams purposely mistranslate. 

"Such comparisons are not becoming nor loving, especially to those translators that are Christian brothers. I choose to think the best of why a translator seemingly mistranslates. For example, why did the translators of the KJV translate “Easter” in Ac. 12:4 (the word is lit. “Passover” and is in every other place in the KJV “Passover” Strongs number 3957)? Was it because that translator was a secret worshiper of the fertility god “Oster” (cf. “Easter” was a fertility goddess similar to the Biblical Ashtar)? Or was it more likely that the translator was trying to now give a Christian context for the time of year such a festival is held? Think the best of the translators and spend your energy trying to discover WHY they translated something different."

For a video explaining all of our English translations: Can I Trust Bible Translations?

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