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“King James only” arguments?

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© 2001 by David W. Daniels


Question: How do I show which Bible is correct to those who refuse to hear “King James only” arguments?


Answer: The key is to show them how the broad evidence of history tells us which Greek text is correct. It then becomes easy to know which Bible we can trust. First, please remember the simple fact that there are two streams of Bible history. The first line comes straight from the Apostles and people of Antioch. To date, 5,702 manuscripts, and the broad evidence of history support that line.


The Broad Evidence of History


This evidence for this stream spans from some of our oldest manuscripts to some of the least ancient. Thesemanuscripts are in agreement with those of the persecuted believers, such as the Vaudois in the Alps northwest of Italy. They received the Scriptures from apostolic groups from Antioch of Syria about AD 120 and finished their translation by AD 157, according to Calvin’s successor, Theodore Beza. These manuscripts influenced one of the greatest events in Christian history: the Protestant Reformation.


The Polluted Stream


The other stream comes from questionable sources. About the time of Christ, a Jewish man named Philo decided to blend pagan Greek philosophy with Judaism. The so-called “Christians” who came after him in Alexandria were not much better. Though they talked about “Jesus” and “Christianity,” they did not believe that Jesus was God. They also did not believe that the Old Testament detailed literal events. It was a school in this pagan city that decided to write their own copies of the Bible.


The problem is that they changed the Scriptures, while saying they were copying them. They used the heretic Marcion’s Lord’s Prayer in Luke, for example. (See Question 43, “Is the Lord’s Prayer in Your Bible?”). From there it goes downhill.


In truth there are only a handful of semi-complete “Bibles” from Alexandria, Egypt. The only other texts from there are literally pieces of paper. The grand total of manuscripts is only 44. Of those 44, only 3 are taken very seriously: the Sinaiticus (Aleph), the Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus (B ).


But there is a very big problem. It is rare that these three ever agree. Between Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, for example, it is extremely difficult to find just two successive verses that agree.


Look at the Lord’s Prayer in Luke again. Between codices Aleph, A [Alexandrinus], B [Vaticanus], C [Ephraemi Rescriptus] and D [bezae Cantabrigiensis] there is no agreement in 32 out of 45 words. That means these major books only agree in 13 out of 45 words!


A Visual Image


Here’s one way to explain the difference between the manuscripts. Imagine a stadium with 5,746 people. 5,702 of them are in harmony, agreeing with one another and enjoying themselves. But there are also 44 other people. These are not like the first. They dislike the crowd around them and slander their words when they can. But they have another problem: they also disagree with each other.


Which group would you rather listen to? The one with people in one accord, or the one that is filled with discord? The one that knows what it is saying, or the one that cannot agree on what it wants to say? The answer is obvious.


Where Do the Two Streams Lead?


A tree is known by its fruit. Where, then, do these two streams of Bibles lead?


The Alexandrian manuscripts fell into disuse, and many were relegated to a desert trashcan. A number of “scholars” tried to make the expensive codices better by changing the words to be more like the other stream, but they finally gave up. Those are the many corrections we see in the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.


But where do the Alexandrian manuscripts lead? Straight to the Roman Catholic institution. They were used by Constantine with the help of Eusebius. They became the basis of the Apocrypha and many incorrect readings in the Roman Catholic Bible. They were used to dominate and subject true believers under a false religion. This was the Bible of the persecutors.


Alexandrian Bibles are legion. Such are the NIV, TNIV, NAS, CSB, ASV, ERV, TEV, GNB, Living, NCV, ISV, RSV, NRSV, etc., but also Catholic Bibles as the New American Bible, the Jerusalem and New Jerusalem Bibles. The Antiochian manuscripts (from which we got the King James Bible) continued to be used and were passed down by faithful Christians from generation to generation. The Vaudois, for example, passed them down faithfully by even having their children memorize whole books of the Bible. These faithful people hand-copied little Bibles they could fit in their heavy garments. They were ready to give an answer, literally “in season and out of season”!


And where do the Antiochian manuscripts lead? Straight to the Protestant Reformation. Wesley and writers of the Geneva Bible actually saw the Vaudois as a “pre- Reformation” group, even as the “two witnesses” who were protected by God in Revelation. (See pp. 115-116). That is how much they were indebted to these faithful.


Antiochian Bibles are easily recognizable. They are the Bibles of the Reformation: the Reina-Valera (Spanish), Diodati (Italian), Statenvertaling (Dutch), and all the other Protestant Bibles published between the 1530s and 1600s. In English they are the Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthew’s, Great Bible, Bishops Bible, Geneva and King James.


The fruit, for example, of the King James Bible in English is easily discernible. Look at many English-speaking Protestant denominations that were formed in an effort to get “back to the Bible.” The King James Bible was the starting point. The pilgrim Puritans in the USA switched from the Geneva to the King James in their next generation, despite the fact that they had used the Geneva since the 1560s. And ironically, the churches and Christians called “extreme Fundamentalists” and “rightwing extremists” are simply the churches that did not leave the fundamentals.


There are two kinds of churches: those that left their founding doctrines and those that stuck to them. There are also two kinds of Bibles: those that follow corrupt and perverted Alexandrian texts and/or Roman Catholic doctrine, and those that follow the line of preservation through godly and persecuted Christian brethren. The choice is obvious.

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While I appreciate the KJV and do favor the line of transmission you outlined above I think you have to be careful that you do not give the impression that the KJV is a safeguard against error and falsehood? As one who can speak with a great deal of knowledge from the Greek text I would have to respectfully disagree with your survey of the text types that underlie the various translations? I use a critical text and a TR text interchangeably and have no conflicts in coming to sound and saving truth? So I am puzzled by your statements? In fact most orthodox Teachers I have studied under use the Nestle Aland 27th Edition Greek text? I know of no false or heretical doctrines held by these godly men? My Pastors have always used this Greek text when doing exegesis of a passage they intend to expound?

DA Carson a world renown Greek scholar not only uses the critical text but the NIV as his bible of choice? What doctrinal errors has he imbibed upon because of this? When I say error I mean that which brings into question a true genuine faith? Every major Protestant doctrine is there or should we say, every kernel of saving truth is preserved in the Alexandrian text as it is in the Byzantium tradition, or as you call it the Antiochian bibles?

The only bible that really matters is the Greek bible not necessarily the translations, lest of course you choose to use the New World translation that deliberately distorts John 1: 1. and other passages that teach the deity of Jesus Christ even though they translate John 3: 16 better than most of the standard English bibles? There is a difference between translation methodology and what Greek text is being translated?

You can have the best text and still have a poor translation? So there are two separate arguments one not necessarily having to do with the other? For example the NIV takes far too many liberties with the Greek and becomes in many ways not a translation but an interpretation? So I would take umbrage with the translation not the original language from which the translation is taken? At any rate I think the Greek text of the KJV and the early Early English bibles is a sound and worthy text in contrast to those who would denigrate the TR"s history all together! But I cannot see how such extant evidence can sustain your overall argument? I can however, understand why you would prefer the KJV and its forerunners since it has a proven and powerful record of its blessing in the hand of our Lord for his Church and people.

AT Robertson probably the Greatest American Greek Scholar and an orthodox believer favored the critical text over the Byzantium again assuring us that God's providence was never restricted to one particular group of regional manuscripts. Even Charles Spurgeon welcomed the Revised Version that was based on the Alexandrian tradition eventually becoming the ASV 1901.

As a side note the Reformed Baptist;s of the last 40 years or so began with men who used for the most part the ASV and the NASB? What conclusion can we draw from this? I think only one, that God has indeed preserved His holy word and not in just one set of manuscripts which all have textual variants that need to be examined? I personally prefer the Literal Translation of the Holy Bible published by Sovereign Grace Publications but I read all of the primary English versions who apply a formal equivalence methodology in translation. I do consult Ken Wuest and JB Phillips or Lattimore when I want to get that special nuance that may be in the original that cannot be truly captured in a literal translation. We should never limit ourselves to experiencing the fullness of the unsearchable richness of the word of the living God when he has blessed us with so many avenues of opportunity. If we pray for wisdom and guidance surely we will not be denied. Blessed be His name.

Affectionately in Christ,

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None of what you said Zoe disproves the facts which William showed in his post with comparing the Alexandrian text history with the historical stream of texts originating from Antioch.


One can also quote just as many scholars that did not or do not use the Alexandrian texts. Actually, I have no doubt more Christian scholars of history can be found having used the Textus Receptus or "Majority Texts".

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My brilliant post has apparently been lost, but to sum it up, the answer to everything is 42.


What I said is that I agree that the difference between the major bodies of manuscripts are big. The variation isn't enough to change doctrine. My preference for the KJV isn't so much the underlying Greek texts, it's the liberties taken by modern translators. The KJV was created by Christians who wanted to preserve God's word. Many modern translations are created by academic teams whose commitment to the Bible is questionable, and who think they know better than the Bible, therefore they take the liberty to "correct" the Bible, particularly to remove from the Bible the "biases" that offends the modern Liberal.

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The 1611 Authorized KJV has more to it than just a simple translation from a group of Christian scholars. God's Hand is revealed in the work.


One of the ways God's Hand is revealed in the KJV translation is by the precision of 'symmetrical structures' preserved from the manuscripts. These type of structures are not found in any other form of known literature. The structures are proof of a Divine Hand in God's Word, and the 1611 KJV preserved them very well.


Here's an example:


The subject flow below is marked with alphabetic letters starting with "A". Each new subject in the text will follow the next alphabetic letter, like "B", "C", and so on. Notice how the subject of the text produces a specific symmetrical outline, with a vertical alternation and repetition of the subject flow eventually going back to the start at "A".


A. Gen.6:9 - Noah before the flood.

...B. 6:11 - Noah's family.

.....C. 6:11-13 - The Earth corrupt.

........D. 6:14-22 - The making of the Ark.

...........E. 7:1-24 - Noah entering the Ark.

...........E. 8:1-19 - Noah leaving the Ark.

........D. 8:20 - The building of the Altar.

.....C. 8:21-9:17 - The Earth replenished.

...B. 9:18-27 - Noah's family.

A. 9:28-29 - Noah after the flood.



What would someone simply paraphrasing those events in their own words do to those symmetrical structures? It would be a pretty accurate way to know that man got away from the subject flow structure God put into His Word, which would be a sign of additions or subtractions.


A new believer may ask, "But the KJV is so difficult to read...; can't I get a translation closer to today's modern speech?" Then the 'corruptors' come along ready to oblige, adding and deleting until those original symmetrical structures are gone in their new and improved translation; hey, but it's easier to read.


My suggestion then is, read whatever Bible translation you want at your own risk. But like a technical repair manual, wouldn't you rather have one that is as accurate as possible from the start? Or do you like using a corrupted repair manual because it's easier to understand, but then are forced to eventually get the accurate manual once you found out the corrupted version misled you, and didn't provide a fix.

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