By Dr. Frank Logsdon
As a pastor, I write this for the people in our church. On occasion, I have been asked why we, in our church, use the outdated King James Version. To answer that, we must touch on some complex and technical subjects. I, accordingly, have attempted to simplify the manner to a degree that most can understand.
In Proverbs 22:28 the Bible says to "Remove not the ancient landmarks which thy fathers have set." A landmark is a surveyor's term and refers to a benchmark or property marker. Today, in most jurisdictions, it is against the law to move or alter a survey landmark.
Christianity has its foundations in an authorizing and governing document. That document is the Bible. Any attorney will understand the critical nature of altering an authorizing and governing document. Because the Bible is in every sense the final and absolute foundation of what we as Christians believe and practice, it only is prudent that we be concerned that the foundation is sure and the benchmark has not been altered.
For almost two millennia the church of Jesus Christ accepted a set of Greek and Hebrew texts that were received by virtually all gospel preaching, Bible believing churches of whatever group. This text was called the Received Text (or Textus Receptus in Latin). Down through the centuries biblical scholars and church leaders had assembled the existing Greek and Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible. From that compilation, the vast majority were in virtual agreement. These formed the basis of the Received Text.
In the year 1611 A.D., King James I of England was influenced to provide a common Bible for the English speaking world. Hence, he authorized a translation of the Bible into English that came to be known as the Authorized Version or as it is more commonly known, the King James Version. King James selected a committee of Greek and Hebrew scholars from the Church of England. These men were "low church" individuals with ties to the Puritans and later the Pilgrims who emigrated to America. They worked from the text of the Greek and Hebrew testaments that had been received" or accepted by virtually all branches of gospel preaching, Bible believing Christians from the apostolic era to that time. Their product, the King James Version of the Bible, has been, until just recently, the universal standard for Bible believing Christians of the English speaking world.
Enter Textual Criticism
Textual criticism is an academic discipline in which scholars study existing Greek and Hebrew biblical manuscripts. Prior to the advent of the moveable type printing press in 1455 by Gutenberg, all copies of the Bible were hand copied by scribes and were called manuscripts. Because they were individually produced by human hands, they were prone to mistakes in manual copying.
Textual critics study the various extant (existing) manuscripts and note any discrepancies that may have occurred between different copies. Then, by comparing them, a majority consensus is established. Should a misspelled word be found, or should a word have been accidentally added or omitted from a given manuscript, the textual critic endeavors to by consensus establish the correct reading.
A major theory of textual criticism is that some later manuscripts were copied from earlier ones, therefore, the earlier manuscripts are presumed to be a more accurate source of the Scriptures. (The presumption is that scribal errors would accumulate in later copies). Hence, textual critics give much more credence to early manuscripts than to later copies even if the later be greater in number.
The problem with this theory is that the early church had great reverence and respect for their "accepted" or "received" manuscripts of the Scriptures. Accordingly, when a given copy of the Scriptures became tattered and worn, it was carefully copied and then burned Hence, there are virtually no copies of me earliest manuscripts used by the churches.
However, there is evidence that certain cults and sects within early Christians followed the opposite practice. They preserved their manuscripts regardless of condition. Therefore, the crucial premise of textual criticism - that the oldest manuscripts are always to be preferred to more recent copies is critically flawed.
Manuscripts Aleph and B
ln the latter half of the 19th century when textual criticism perhaps was at its zenith, two ancient manuscripts were found in the Mediterranean world that would come to revolutionize the work of the textual critics. A manuscript was "found" in a Roman Catholic monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai in the Sinai desert. It came to be known as Manuscript Aleph and it also was known as Codex Sinaticus ("codex" being a Latin word for a bound volume).
About the same time another ancient manuscript was "found" in the library of the Vatican. It became known as Manuscript B or Codex Vaticanus. Both of these manuscripts were determined to have come from the 4th century A.D. and are considered the oldest basically complete copies of the New Testament to exist. Hence, they were considered by the textual critics to be the mother lode of ancient Bible manuscripts.
It is noteworthy that both of these manuscripts were "found" in Roman Catholic libraries. (The Roman Catholic Church historically has never given great credence to the Scripture or its teachings). Moreover, the Codex Sinaticus had been produced by scribes of the Alexandrian sect in early church history. The Alexandrians were a heretical cult similar to the modern Jehovah Witnesses. They held major doctrinal deviations pertaining to the person of Jesus Christ. Notwithstanding the questionable source of Codex Sinaticus, it became the premiere source for future textual criticism.
Drs. Westcott and Hort
Two British textual critics championed these newly found manuscripts. Their names were Dr. B. F. Westcott and Dr. F. J. A. Hort. They represented a branch of the Church of England which was enamored with the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. Westcott and Hort in their writings showed a keen friendliness to Roman Catholic theology, occult spiritism and German Rationalism otherwise known as modernism. They, by no stretch of the imagination, could he considered fundamentalists s the term was later coined and used. Rather, if they lived today, their theology and philosophy (as evidenced by their writings) would be called liberal, humanistic, sacramental and even have occult overtones.
Drs. Hort and Westcott together collated and Text o f the New Testament. The "new" Greek text was in contrast with and in distinction to the text mat had been received by virtually all Bible believing . churches for the preceding 19 centuries. In the last 100 years it has been re-edited by Nestle, Aland and others, and today is generally referred in as the critical text. 11 represents less than 1% of existing manuscripts.
From this critical text and its direct predecessor, the Westcott and Hort Text, virtually all modern translations and versions of the Bible have been translated into English.
WE BELIEVE THAT THE CRITICAL TEXT IS CORRUPT! Not only are its origins and associations suspect, the actual text itself is full of deletions and dilutions of the time honored Scripture received by translations based upon the critical text have diluted reference to the blood of Jesus Christ (e.g. Romans 3:25, Colossians 1:14, Revelation 1:11, Luke 22:20 et al), the Deity of Christ (e g Jude 4, Revelation 1:11). the inspiration of the Scriptures (e.g. 11 Timothy 3:16), and salvation by faith (e.g. John 3:36) to mention a few. Space does not allow us to list the numerous instances of serious dilution or deletions of major doctrinal truth in modern versions, but it is lengthy. There are thousands of textual changes
If a survey benchmark has been moved or altered, all surveying after that point will be distorted. And because the critical text is in our view corrupt. any version of the Bible translated from it is suspect.
The venerable King James Version of the Bible is not copyrighted. It is considered a public domain publication of the Word of God. However, virtually all modern versions are copyrighted. As any author or publisher knows, a copyright is for protection of commercial rights. It means that no one else may market their Bible without paying the publisher or at the least receiving written permission to do so. Does not the Apostle Peter refer to some in the last days "making merchandise of you" regarding the things of God (II Peter 2:3)?
Moreover, a number of the modem versions (based upon the critical text) have used less than precise methods for translation. Some have used a literary device known as "dynamic equivalence". This is a fancy term that essentially means some translators have taken the liberty to come up with what they think are modern equivalents for specific words in the manuscript text rather than precisely translating the specific words of the text. In effect, this is a running commentary on the part of the translators, injecting into the translation what they think a given passage means, rather than rendering a precise translation of what the scriptural writers actually wrote. There is nothing wrong with Bible commentaries. However, to insert personal bias under the guise of translation is not only Iess than a faithful rendering of the text, it is deceptive.
In at least one case, a popular version bas bad the honesty to indicate m its subtitle mat it is a paraphrase. Unfortunately, unwary minds often look at such a Bible paraphrase as the Bible nevertheless. Some versions have used vulgar and crude terms m their translations They have seemed oblivious to the unique purity of purpose of the Scripture.
As mentioned above, cardinal New Testament doctrine such as the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the Deity of Christ and the inspiration of Scripture is routinely diluted m recent translations based upon -me critical text. That should give pause for concern!
The Godly Heritage of the KJV
In viewing the distortions, deletions, corruptions, dilutions, changes and questionable associations of the critical text and its resultant modernist translations, we will stick to the venerable King lames Version of the Bible that our forebearers so faithfully used. It is an ancient landmark
Down through the centuries, it has been the Bible used for every major revival to sweep across portions of the English speaking world. It was the Bible of tbe Pilgrim forefathers of this nation. And. it has been God blessed wherever it bas been used. It is based upon the ancient text which bas been, until just recently, the universally accepted text of the Scriptures from the time of the apostles.
Modern versions bave been marketed extensively as being easier to read than the archaic, old fashioned KJV Bible. However, recent computerized document analysis programs have objectively revealed that the King James Version of the Bible is in far easier to read than the NIV or the NASB. The Fleisch-Kincaid research firm has, through computerized analysis, sbown that the KJV vocabulary has fewer syllables per word than the NIV or the NASB. Furthertmore, the KJV has less complex sentences than the NIV or NASB. In reality, the KJV is easier to read than its modern counterparts in the manner of vocabulary and syntax.
There is undisputed eloquence and beauty in the King James Version. Moreover, the English language was at its zenith in the early 17th century for poetic beauty and eloquence. Interestingly, one of the major criticisms of the King James Version is actually a strength. People unacquainted with proper English complain about the use of "thee" and "thou" etc. in the King James text.
However, as anyone who knows linguistics will attest, many languages have at one time had a common level which was spoken on the street and a higher or formal level that was used in reference to royalty and God. The usage of "thee" and "thou" etc. in old English is a form of higher English that no longer is commonly used. It originally was used in formal situations where deference and respect to nobility, royalty and Deity were appropriate.
Unfortunately, our contemporary American English usage of "you" and "yours" etc. makes no allowance for such deference and brings all of our Ianguage back to the lower level. The King James Version respectfully and appropriately refers to God and other notables as "tbee" or "thou" in accordance with their due respect. Most modern language translations have diluted that deference.
Upon investigation, I wrote my dear friend, Mr. Lockman, (editor's note: Mr. Lockman was the benefactor through which the NASB was published) explaining that I was forced to renounce all attachment to the NASV (same as the NASB).
You can say that the Authorized Version (KJV) is absolutely correct. How correct? 100% correct . . ."