King James Onlyism

When I was a fundamental Baptist, we had a sub-group among them who believed the King James Version was the only Bible.
Here are a few of their reasons they believe the KJV is the only Bible:

1.The King James Version is a literal translation.
2. The King James Version is perfect.
3. No translation can claim to be the word of God except the King James Bible.
4. Modern translations have removed words and verses from the Bible.
5. Essential doctrines are in jeopardy in modern translations.
6. Red-letter editions of the Bible highlight the exact words of Jesus.
7. Chapter and verse numbers are inspired.

I realize now these claims are ridiculous, but how does a layman, unlearned in Biblical translation history answer these claims?

I actually enjoy reading the KJV. But King James Only (KJO) has lots of problems. I have some thoughts.

  1. The King James is a literal translation in terms of the approach being literal versus dynamic. But there are other literal translations.

  2. The King James is not perfect. Every version has always contained some errors that were later corrected. If perfect means it accurately reflects the intended message then you have to know what the message is. You have to have perfect knowledge of the message. This claim could only be true if some person were granted the grace of knowing perfectly God’s will regarding Holy Scripture. That is a very bold claim.

  3. I guess that follows from point #2 and a claim that God withheld inspiration from other translators. What is the evidence for this claim that God withheld inspiration from others?

  4. The original King James included the Deuterocanonical books in a section they labeled the Apocrypha. I imagine most KJO folks don’t use a version with the Apocrypha. So in a very literal sense their version has removed words from the very Bible they say is perfect.

In the early versions there was also included a list of feast days including, if memory serves me, the Assumption and other Marian feasts. Does this not jeopardize the claims of KJO folks who claim a special inspiration for this translation?

  1. I don’t think this is objectionable. Translations could express an idea in a way that poorly reflects doctrine. But this presupposes a knowledge of what true doctrine is. It is a circular argument to say we know true doctrine from the one true translation, the KJV.

You also have the problem of how do you know what essential doctrine is. Who determines that? Is there an inspired list of essential doctrine?

  1. I’m not an expert but there were no quote marks in the original manuscripts. It might be difficult to know with certainty that specific words were said by Jesus.

  2. What proof is there of this inspiration? One thing is certain the inclusion of these can affect how one interprets the words.

The KJO claim is like many Protestant claims that boil down to you couldn’t be a Christian until hundreds of years after Christ’s death. You had to be born at a certain time in history and in a land lucky enough to use a certain language. In this case English. The Catholic Church has the much more sensible position that one can be a Christian in any age and speaking any language.

Besides what Exnihilo said, you might add that the KJV and the New KJV still have the Johannine Comma:

1 John 5:7-8
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

Modern bibles have omitted this verse, as it is now believed it was a corruption of a Latin bible and is not found in the oldest Greek texts.

KJV Only people are quick to accuse Catholics of “idol worshiping” but the way they view the KJV translation really elevates that Bible to the status of an idol, in my opinion.

The Nightmare World of Jack T. Chick

The Attack

Chick’s defense of the King James Version of the Bible. According to this tract, the devil and the Catholic Church vigorously opposed the KJV and even murdered some of its translators. In its place they have sought to provide modern translations based on corrupt manuscripts for their own evil ends. All modern translations except the KJV are evil and the product of a Catholic conspiracy. A key objective of the conspiracy is to insert “the Apocrypha” (i.e., the deuterocanonical books of Scripture) into the Bible.

Themes: Anathema, Bible Corruption, Inquisition/Death to Non-Catholics

huh…? That’s an uh dunno what to think on that remark .

Pax Christi!

Chapter and verse numbers were invented by medieval monks, I believe. Really, really Catholic ones.

God bless.

The KJV is my preferred translation. I don’t believe its the only valid one, but it does have several things going for it

Its been in use for 400 years, showing that it is a robust and well used translation over an extended period of time.
It is well known to have been very meticulously translated.
Being a document written 400 years ago, it is free from any potential modernist corruption.
It is free from any additions such as footnotes, making it easier to concentrate on the Word of God.
It is written in beautiful language (in particular if you read the Gospels in the KJV version you will notice many familiar expressions).
Also, it takes more effort to read, which you can use as a form of penance! :smiley:

Last one is clearly a joke, but the KJV is a very good translation and should not be dismissed.

actually the idea is from St. Jereome in response to Pope Damasus request who thought of the idea of numbers and chapters to help easily study and memorize passages. And yes St. Jerome was very Catholic. Also a known fact the KJV was also lead in helping the formation the translation by St. Emmasus .

That is quite interesting I had never heard that before.

Stephen Langton, early 13th century, is the first I know to actually put chapters into the bible and it is the same system we still use to this day. The verses were added in the 16th century.

The chapter divisions and verses numbering scheme and the phrase “The Gospel According to …” are all traditions of men of do not fall under the protection of inspiration.

I wonder if KJO crowd could build a time machine if they would go back and give a copy of the KJV to Jesus and His Apostles?

Uhhh, not really Peter.
I actually heard a KJV-onlyist say this back in my fundie days.

More than one translation is inerrant, the modern ones do Not jeopardize true teachings , and my fav is the NIV .

I think the fundies would be shocked if they knew that the KJV had the same amount of books that we have :wink:

The Catholic bible was around about 1100 years before the KJV and is still in use today. I think the Catholic bible fits your description better

You are correct they typically are shocked. I have spoken to many protestants about this and they know as well as Catholics that there is a Catholic Bible and a Protestant Bible. That is the whole of the understanding. It is amazing that too often protestants do not understand that the subject of different bibles has to do with 7 books in the old testaments and some verse’s in Daniel etc. They often think we have a completely different bible and are shocked when they find out they are the same.

Maybe they are thinking of this…

In a way, there’s a reason why some people idolize the KJV - as prose, it’s so much better than alternatives, Catholic or Protestant, for the last few centuries. The New American Bible is almost pathologically bland. Most Catholic or Protestant versions have no memorable phrases that will ever become part of the cultural memory of anywhere. The KJV often talks to or about God as if He were divine. The moderns refer to God almost as chairing a committee meeting.

The greater problem is not that a few people are (understandably) excessively exalting one translation, but that so many Christians keep putting up with banal, ambiguous, horizontal language in so many other bibles, none of which face the danger of ever being idolized. The translators of the KJV would not have compiled the banal English translation of the Mass that was used from about 1969 until it was repaired a few years ago.

I wish I had the G K Chesterton quote handy, but in essence he said that while the modern translators certainly knew more Hebrew and Greek than the KJV translators, the KJV translators had a much better grasp of the English language.

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