why not King James only

There is a small but vocal minority of Christians who claim that the King James Bible is the only Bible which should be used. Some even go so far as to claim the other Bibles are evil. I have long rejected this view, although I exclusively quote from the King James in my writings. I use the King James because the Textus Receptus, the Greek New Testament from which the King James is translated, is very close to the majority Greek text, the text is copy-right free, and very widely accepted. There is, however, some distinct problems with the Textus Receptus/ King James Bible. DC Parker writes:

The printed text of Revelation got off to a very bad start. It is a well-known story that Erasmus had only one manuscript available to him in Basle and that it lacked the last six verses of the book. He therefore had recourse to translating his Latin text into Greek. The resultant text of course has only accidental similarities with the forms of text present in the manuscripts (apart from his memories of any Greek manuscripts which he might have seen previously). It is perhaps less generally known that Erasmus suffered from a more general difficulty in using this manuscript: it is a commentary manuscript of the kind which contains the biblical text within (and indistinguishable from) the commentary text. The result was that Erasmus was frequently unable to find the necessary Greek text (or the text which he expected on the basis of his Latin text) and made a retroversion on each such occasion. What is more surprising is that much of this retroversion survived in the Received Text. (An Introduction to the NT Manuscripts and their Text 227-228)

The Textus Receptus, although very similar to the majority text, is not the best representation of the majority of texts. In fact, the English translation also suffers, in turn, from its own translators:

Num 23:22 God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.

Job 39:10 Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee?

Deu 33:17 His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.

Psa 92:10 But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.

Isa 34:7 And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.

The King James references “unicorns” nine times. Although this leads to some Christians advocating the existence of Unicorns this is more likely a mistranslation of Reym H7214, meaning wild ox. Even more telling is the King James reference to Satyr:

Isa 13:21 But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there.

Isa 34:14 The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.

The Satyr, a half-man half-goat creature, similar to a fawn in the fictional Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis and represented by the Greek god Pan in folklore, should not be interposed into the Bible. The same word, elsewhere translated as goat or demon or hairy man is, for no apparent reason, translated as a mythical Greek concept.

Other problems with the King James only advocates is that Paul, Jesus and other apostles tend to quote from the Septuagint (an imperfect Greek translation of the Old Testament).

The Septuagint is so mistranslated, it brings Platonism directly into the Bible. Tellingly, the translators change God’s statement about himself (“I am who I am”) into one of Platonic concepts “I am he who is” or “I am one”.

If Jesus, Paul and the other apostles do not mind using imperfect texts, then modern Christians should not be so picky either. However, this does not mean when discussing theology, the imperfect text should always take precedence.

About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
This entry was posted in Bible, Textual Criticism. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to why not King James only

  1. Pingback: the new and old king james | reality is not optional

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s