Why We Use the King James Version
Glenn Goodwin

 

None of the people in the Bible spoke in English; not one book in either the Old or New Testaments were originally written in English. The Old Testament was originally written primarily in Hebrew; and the New Testament in Greek. But since we cannot read those languages, we need an English version. There are four reasons that the King James Version is the best possible English translation of God's Holy Word. The Word of God is true, and is infallible. Translations of that Word, however, are subject to many errors. Therefore it is important that we find an English version which minimizes the errors of translation. There are many versions of the Bible in English: The Revised Standard Version, The New International Version, The Living Bible, The New King James Version, and more. But the original King James Version is superior. It has a four-fold superiority over every other version ever published: it used superior text, superior translators, superior technique, and superior theology.

Let's consider each of these four areas. Superior Text The Old Testament was written in Hebrew. The Jews have been called of God to preserve the Old Testament scriptures. Romans 3:1-2. They preserved it in the "Masoretic Text." "Masoretic" means "to hand down." The Ben Chayyim Masoretic Text was used by the King James translators. That text had been scrupulously preserved by generations of Jewish scribes and scholars. They were sworn to preserve the text without error in re-copying the sacred Scriptures. The Ben Chayyim Masoretic Text was the standard Hebrew text then, and for the next 400 years. But most other English translations are based upon other, more modern, Hebrew texts – typically the Ben Asher Text. This new Hebrew has between 20,000 to 30,000 changes from the Ben Chayyim Text. But the text used by Jesus, and validated by Him as the truth – Matthew 4:4, did not need thousands of changes. Jesus unreservedly quoted the Old Testament. He offered no textual criticism whatsoever. If corrections were needed, surely Jesus would have pointed this out. The Masoretic Hebrew Text was authorized by Jesus, and the authors of the New Testament. The King James Version of the New Testament is based upon a superior Greek text. Nearly all modern versions used the Nestle/Aland Greek New Testament, 26th edition. (How sure can it be if it needed 26 editions?) The King James translators used the Textus Receptus, or the Traditional Received Text. The other widely-used Greek New Testament is the Westcott-and-Hort text, which deviates from the Textus Receptus in more than 5600 places. But the oldest known manuscripts from the early church, dating between 33-100 A.D., use the Textus Receptus, as do manuscripts from the period 100-312 A.D.

More than 90% of the 5255 ancient manuscripts available point to the Textus Receptus as the true Greek text of the New Testament. It is far better to use a translation based upon the true Word of God as it was written in its original languages, than to use a modern translation based upon inferior original text. Superior Translators The men who translated the King James Version were an extraordinary group of scholars. No modern version has ever assembled such a group of well-known experts to do the actual work of translating from Hebrew and Greek into English. Altogether, 57 men were involved in this work. Each was skilled in ancient languages. The committees who have been involved in translation of modern versions usually contain one or a small number of bona-fide scholars, plus a number of recognized theologians – so those "big names" can write an introduction or recommend the translation for purchase. Independent investigators agree that there has never been a translation since the KJV where such a renowned group of scholars actually did the translating. Superior Technique The King James translators used an amazing technique to assure the accuracy of their version.

They divided into six companies who met either in Oxford, Cambridge or Westminster. The Old Testament section of the Westminster Group translated Genesis through II Kings; the OT section of the Cambridge Group translated the books of I Chronicles through Ecclesiastes; while the OT section of the Oxford Group translated Isaiah to Malachi. There were New Testament sections at Westminster and Oxford, and an Apocrypha section at Cambridge. (The Apocrypha was never intended to be included as scripture but was included for history only.) There is a two-fold superiority in the technique used by these groups of translators. First, each translator had to write out, in his own hand, a translation of the books assigned to his section. Then all persons in that section compared the translations. After that, the translations were sent to the other groups and compared. Finally, a committee of two members of each section reviewed the final product. Secondly, the translators used the verbal equivalence technique. That is a word-for-word translation of the actual Hebrew and Greek words. Virtually every modern translation uses the dynamic equivalence technique.

That is, they translate what they "sense" the original language means, rather than its actual words. This non-literal translation is open to debate as to the true meaning of the original words. We believe that the original Hebrew and Greek words were inspired by God – and should translated literally. Every word that God inspired is vital. Superior Theology Every translator is affected somewhat by his basic beliefs about God. For example, the King James Translators were all Trinitarians, so they usually translated pronouns applicable to the Holy Ghost as "he." However, the King James translators scrupulously avoided including their belief systems. The review of each persons work by all the others and the word-for-word verbal equivalence technique made this less of a problem. The translators of the more modern versions are not ministers in the Body of Christ. They are typically not even Spirit-filled, fundamentalist preachers with intimate knowledge of Hebrew and Greek. They are liberal theologians who cannot help but have their core beliefs influence their work.

The more wrong their core beliefs, the more error in their translations. The King James Version is not perfect. It is a better English translation of the original Scriptures than anything else available to us. This is why we base our teachings on that version of the Bible. We may occasionally supplement from other texts for clarity, or even go back to the original language for better understanding, nonetheless, our basic book is the King James Version.

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