5 Questions to ask KJV Only advocates

from Covenant of Love site

The Book

Over the years I’ve had my fair share of run-in’s with KJV Only advocates. And not once has it been a pleasurable experience. They are often aggressive, forceful and argumentative. Through my experience I’ve discovered that the best defence in this case is a good offence. Don’t argue back, but you can turn the tables by asking a few questions and then walking away. Just get them thinking. Put the ball in their court and then leave it alone.


1. Did you know that the KJV in print today is a 1769 edition?

This will come as a shock to most KJV Only advocates you meet on the street. They are convinced that they are using the original 1611 edition. You can easily show them simply by directing them to the copyright page of their own Bible. This matters because if the KJV is the only Bible we should use a fair question is, which KJV Bible? The KJV went through literally dozens of editions between 1611 and 1769, the first being as early as 1612!

2. Did you know that the KJV has the record for the longest copyright in history?

An argument that is sometimes employed is that God’s word should be freely made available to every person. But modern translations are copyrighted while the KJV is not. But, in fact, the KJV was copyrighted from when it was first published in 1611 all the way until the late twentieth century. In other words, the KJV was copyrighted for almost three hundred and fifty years!

3. Did you know that the TR is based on seven incomplete and fairly recent manuscripts and the Latin Vulgate?

As the argument goes, the KJV is based on the Greek Text known as the Textus Receptus (because it was considered the “received text”). Since the TR is “received” it must be authorized (by God). At that time in the Western Church (Rome/Protestants), there were almost no Greek Texts in extent. This goes back to when the Western and Eastern Churches split. The West wanted nothing to do with the East or with its Greek New Testament. The East wanted nothing to do with the West or its Latin Bible. So when the Humanist named Erasmus went about to make a fresh Greek text he could only get his hands on seven pieces of Greek manuscripts, all fairly recent. None was complete. To fill in the blank he used the Latin Vulgate. By contrast, modern translations rely on well over 5000 Greek manuscripts dating back almost 1000 further than the manuscripts which the TR used.

4. Did you know that the KJV Bible itself was not and is not Authorized?

This is a huge point. KJV Only advocates often claim that the KJV was authorized by the crown of England and that, they say, proves that God approved of it above all other translations. In point of fact, it is the printers that were authorized, not the text. Because the KJV was copyrighted, only specific publishers were “authorized” to print it. The text was dedicated to King James, but it was never formally endorsed by the crown.

5. When comparing the KJV to other translations, why do you assume that the KJV is the standard when today’s translations rely on Greek texts that are much order and much loser to the originals than the KJV’s TR?

This is a fair question. The assumption is this: if there’s a difference between the NIV and KJV the NIV “must have deleted” a word or a verse. But why? If it relies on Greek manuscripts that go back almost 1000 years further than the one the KJV uses, can’t we equally charge the KJV with having “added” to God’s word? Furthermore, if we say that because the KJV is older than modern translations it should be the standard, a fair question is still to ask why stop at the KJV? Why not the Geneva Bible, the Bishops Bible or the Great Bible? All English translations what preceded the KJV.

It’s a well established fact that sacred texts expand over time. “Any sacred text is more likely to accumulate additions than to lose parts which might be authentic” (pg. 21). And yet that fact along should challenge us to take the risk if we want what was actually recorded and not what was added in later by scribal error or some other addition. Being accused of having deleted something of the text is a necessary risk we have to be willing to take if we want to get back to the originals as the Reformers and the KJV translators themselves wanted.

[By the way, the best book you’ll ever buy on the history of the Bible is The Book: A History of the Bible by Christopher De Hamel. I highly recommend it!]

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 )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: