MODERN VERSIONS OF THE BIBLE
AND THE "KING JAMES ONLY" CONTROVERSY
A "TRUTH SERIES" PUBLICATION
COPYRIGHT, CARL GALLUPS, JUNE1998
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
At Hickory Hammock Baptist Church we affirm the beauty of, the usefulness of, the inspiration of and the obvious blessing that the Lord has bestowed upon The King James Version of the Bible.
We DO NOT, however, say that it is the ONLY version of the Bible that is acceptable for teaching, preaching, reading and proclaiming as the ONLY, TRUE Word of God. (As a particular movement know as the KING JAMES ONLY group does.)
If YOU are a staunch advocate of the KING JAMES ONLY GROUP, then please, be courageous enough, wise enough and intelligent enough to KEEP READING. After all, if you are solid in your belief, then you should have no fear of what you might read here. If on the other hand, you are afraid to keep reading, you must ask yourself, WHY do I really believe what I believe? Also, you might discover something you didn't know. The Lord may use it to better equip you to be a servant of HIS WORD. Isn't that what you REALLY want? PLEASE KEEP READING!
There are several Christian, scholarly, Biblically accurate versions of the Bible. And, may I draw attention to the word "VERSION" as in King James "Version". The Christian versions that I would recommend to anyone wishing to read and study God's word with literary, linguistic, historical and archeological accuracy would be the King James Version, The New King James Version, The American Standard Version or The New International Version. I consistently teach and preach from the NIV. I will often make reference to the KJV or other versions in my teaching and preaching. However, we do not insist that everyone use the NIV or other modern translations exclusively. We encourage people to use a scholarly, proven, Christian translation of the scriptures that they like and to read it, study it, memorize it and live it!
To be perfectly honest, I WOULD caution any one from relying upon paraphrased editions like the LIVING BIBLE or THE MESSAGE for an accurate, scholarly study of God's word because these versions are simply paraphrases, that is, they are the reworded interpretation of the scriptures subject to the translator's personal theology. They are extremely easy to read and often popular with children and new Christians, but would be very confusing in scripture memorization or consistent, solid, theological doctrine building.
To me, the bottom line to modern, scholarly versions (NKJV, NIV, NAS) is this; I can hand these versions, along with the KJV to someone and confidently proclaim, "here is the BIBLE, this is the Word of God." I can feel absolutely confident that the Christian message, theology, doctrine, principles and precepts are uncompromised and unchanged in any of these proven versions. I am absolutely confident that any of these versions will, can and have led people to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
For many years, I have preached and taught from the NIV (although I continually read and compare with the KJV and other versions). In all of my comparisons I have never noticed anything (without Biblical, sound explanation) that caused alarm to me concerning the accuracy or doctrine as translated in the NIV, NAS or NKJV.
I have, for years, offered the polite challenge for folks to use whatever version they wish in following my preaching and teaching and to please notify me of ANY mistake, concern or heresy that they may think they see in the NIV as they follow it in the KJV or another version. My challenge has been that if they do find such in the NIV, I will quit using it and use another version. Not a single person (and many that I preach to prefer the KJV) has EVER shown me a discrepancy. That's a lot of eyes for a lot of years scrutinizing the scriptures without a SINGLE concern being raised and/or Biblically proven!
Since 1989, I have been an International Youth Evangelist for the Southern Baptist Convention Sunday School Board. I have preached to countless thousands of youth, pastors, teachers, youth ministers, youth workers and church representatives all over the Untied States and Canada. I have taught adult conferences and doctrine studies at these events and have always used the NIV. I have never had a single concern raised to me by the thousands of folks who followed my teaching and preaching with the KJV. On several occasions, in these conference settings, I have encouraged people to notify me if they found a doctrinally compromised scripture in the NIV translation. Not a single one has EVER been brought to my attention.
I might add that in my years of preaching in conference, church and revival settings, I have witnessed thousands upon thousands of professions of faith and changed lives as a result of preaching the Word of God and the Gospel and Jesus from a modern, scholarly translation.
It is obvious that the Lord blesses and honors the teaching and preaching of this Word from other scholarly translations as well as the KJV. In addition, I cannot begin to count the vast numbers of people who have told me they are READING the Word of God now, Praise the Lord!
I think it would be wise for a person who is sold on the idea that the KJV is the ONLY version or the only TRUE WORD OF GOD to remember the REASON for its founding and inception. The KJV was translated from the Latin version, The Vulgate. This version was being used in the churches throughout England.
The major complaint of the people was that they did not understand it, it was not in their language. King James ordered a new Version of the Bible to be written in the common language of the people. You can read this fact in the front of any KJV 1611 edition Bible.
The KJV translation received much "flack" in its time because it was not considered the "True Word"! It was, in its day, a NEW, MODERN, COMMON LANGUAGE translation. It had departed from the traditional Latin version that "everyone knew" was the "true Word of God." Imagine that! The King James Version suffered from the attacks of the "VULGATE ONLY MOVEMENT!"
KJV and MODERN TRANSLATIONS: A PROBLEM WITH "WORDS"
Word meaning and usage then, (1600's), has changed a lot over four hundred years. For example, do YOU know the meaning of theses KJV words; churl, cockatrice, collops, hoised, wimples, suretiship, sackbut, habergeon, nitre, tabret, implead, etc.? These are just a small fraction of the many words that are completely foreign to our language and culture. When the KJV preacher comes to these words, he often has to stop and explain the meaning of them, if HE KNOWS THEM. Why is a modern translation condemned for translating these words into modern, understandable, useful language when the KJV preacher does it regularly?
Surprisingly, many people do not know that the KJV is a bit more "common" or "vulgar" than perhaps our current church culture would prefer. For example, the KJV regularly uses words like piss, pisseth, whore, bastard, ass, dung, etc. It is difficult to preach to an audience of children, or adults for that matter, using the KJV without a bit of quick explaining and blushing.
These words were not considered vulgar in the 1600's, just "common". Which is exactly what the KJV translators and the people wanted. The modern, scholarly translations of today do the very same thing the KJV translators were attempting to do. They seek to put the Word of God into the common language of the people of today without compromising the true Word of God or its doctrine and theology.
Following is one example of what I have been discussing. In the KJV in I Kings 21:21, the Bible reads, "I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall." What a shocking statement to make!
What in the world does that mean? Very simply, in the 1600's in England, a common slang expression for a male person was "one who pisses against the wall." The word piss was used commonly (not vulgarly) for the word "urinate", which we would use.
In the public urinals of those days the men would urinate against a wall. The urine would run down the wall into a trough. It would continue through the trough and outside into a cesspool. Thus, the common expression of the day.
How does the NIV translate this verse? Like this, "I will cut off from Ahab every male from Israel." THIS is the way ALL the early, original texts have it. NONE of the originals have the word PISS in it. So why does the KJV? Which would YOU prefer I preached from on a Sunday morning with your children present?
I also find it amusing that those who consistently preach from the KJV are continually having to stop and "reword" or "reinterpret" passages such as the one just illustrated in order for the people to understand what it means and to limit the offensiveness of it to modern Christian ears. Often, they translate it EXACTLY like it is stated in the NIV or some other modern version! Have they just committed blasphemy like they accuse a preacher who simply preaches the clear word of God from a modern, scholarly translation? If the Holy Spirit can inspire that KJV preacher to "reword" the phrase from the KJV, why can't the Holy Spirit inspire the modern version translators to select the CORRECT and TRUE rendering for the translation? Something to think about, isn't it?
It is interesting to note that the KJV contains several "unfortunate" translations of the words, as well. I use the word "unfortunate", because I would not say they are blasphemous, just unfortunately, incorrect. The unfortunate translation does not, however, change vital doctrine so I am not accusing it of not being the true Word of God.
For example; the phrase Holy Ghost is found throughout the KJV. The word GHOST is NOT in the original manuscripts. The proper translation is SPIRIT. The word, ghost, was commonly used to describe a spirit or the spirits in 1600 England. However, GHOST was not the best or correct pick of words to describe the original Hebrew and Greek rendering. Today's modern versions make this correction. The children of our churches today have a much more Biblical and correct understanding of the Holy Spirit of God, rather than a Holy Ghost", when a modern, scholarly translation is used.
Another example of an unfortunate translation in the KJV is found in Acts 12:4 "intending after EASTER to bring them out." The correct translation is "intending after PASSOVER to bring them OUT." The word EASTER is a distinctly PAGAN word and has no place in the Christian vocabulary, much less in the Word of God, to describe a sacred day of the Lord. Nor is the word found in the original rendering of the Greek manuscripts. It was an unfortunate choice of the KJV translators attempting to make a "common" translation.
The word "PASSOVER" is found 29 times in the New Testament. In 28 places the KJV translates it as Passover. In this one case, it is unfortunately mistranslated as EASTER. It is interesting that many people do not know that the KJV itself underwent several revisions in its early years because of a few translation errors such as this and unintentional doctrinal compromises that were picked up on by the scholars of the day. This "EASTER" translation was apparently missed and survives today in the KJV.
There are several other examples like those above. But, please remember, my attempt here is not to discredit the KJV, but merely to show you that EVERY "version" or "translation" (including the NIV, NAS, NKJV) has its problems when making decisions about modern word choices.
This is why it is wise to STUDY the Word and use several translations in your studies to arrive at the best rendering and understanding of the message of God's Word. I would advise any serious and sincere student of God's Word not to rely exclusively on any one translation as their sole authority of the best understanding of a particular word or passage.
DO THE MODERN TRANSLATIONS TAKE AWAY
FROM THE "DEITY" OF JESUS?
Be very careful when making the argument or listening to someone make the argument, "well, the NIV (or NKJV or NAS, etc.) LEFT OUT SOME WORDS in their translation that TAKE AWAY THE DEITY OF JESUS!
People making this argument are often referring to several places in the KJV New Testament rendered, "The Lord Jesus Christ said
" Some of the newer translations simply say, "Jesus said." Upon first reading you might say, "hey, look, the new translation DID leave a word out. It DOES take away the words CHRIST and LORD. This is unacceptable, they HAVE taken away the DEITY of Jesus!" But wait, what is really happening here?
Whenever one sets out to make a modern, scholarly translation of the Scriptures, one must first decide what the STANDARD will be. The NIV translators for example did not use the KJV as their standard but rather chose to examine actual early Greek and Hebrew copies of the scriptures. They attempted to get as near to the originals as possible by examining THOUSANDS of copies and to also compare them with later translations of the Greek and Hebrew. They determined that they would be as true as possible to what was ACTUALLY found in the consensus of reliable, early documents.
The people with the KJV ONLY MOVEMENT that use words about the modern translations like; added, deleted, took away, changed, etc., are assuming that the KJV is THE STANDARD for any translation after it. This simply is not so, nor would it be wise when so much more translation evidence exists NOW than when the KJV was translated!
In the passages illustrated above, the words Christ and Lord were NOT FOUND in the early documents! The KJV translators ADDED these words when they made THEIR translations. Certainly the KJV translators were not "wrong" in referring to Jesus as CHRIST and LORD, but nether were the NIV translators "wrong" in translating EXACTLY what was in the early texts (obviously good enough for the HOLY SPIRIT in the original rendering of the scriptures!)The translators of both versions had a judgment call to make. Neither one of them were wrong. The NIV translators did not "leave out" ANYTHING! The KJV translators simply added words that were not in the original manuscripts.
It is interesting that when the KJV ONLY folks make this argument, they fail to mention, either because of convenience or lack of knowledge, that there are SEVERAL instances in the NIV and other modern translations that the deity of JESUS is strongly AFFIRMED (as it was in the original manuscripts!) but this affirmation is NOT FOUND IN THE KJV! A little fairness should be called for in this matter of "taking away the deity of JESUS." I think it is highly unfair and a bit silly to suggest that ANY serious, scholarly, Christian translation of scripture has made a purposeful attempt to take away the deity of Jesus!
DO THE MODERN VERSIONS TAKE AWAY THE "BLOOD" OF JESUS?
Often the KJV ONLY advocates will refer to Colossians 1:14 in the NIV when making this argument. The phrase "through his blood" is not found in the Colossians text in the NIV. The reason is simple. It is not found in the MAJORITY of Greek manuscripts, including the majority of the BYZANTINE tradition! (The KJV ONLY movement refers to the Byzantine tradition of its translation) According to the information citied by the UBS 4th Edition Greek text, the earliest Greek manuscript to contain it is from the ninth century, and the earliest Church Father to cite it in this way is from the late fourth century.
Even a brief, intelligent review of the situation, coupled with a minimal collection and understanding of the FACTS, demonstrates clearly that there is no "conspiracy" involved in the modern translations to "take away the blood." Remember, the NIV translators did not use as its STANDARD the KJV! It could well be argued that the NIV translators TOOK AWAY the words that were not in the originals in the first place!
You can well imagine that there has been a lot of confusion, hurt and controversy caused by people who simply do not know what they are talking about, attempting to defend a highly emotional movement. Please do not let Satan get YOU caught up in something so destructive to God's work.
It sounds so righteous and good to "take a stand" and declare that you are defending the Word of God and that there is only One VERSION that is God's Word. (I might also add, it is a bit too EASY, requiring no study, research or factual knowledge). But it simply is not so. As illustrated with the above material and the evidences of God's mighty moving and changed lives using different scholarly translations.
Please remember that there are people all over the world who are lucky to get their hands on ANY reliable translation. Some have given thier very lives to
have a ripped out page from ANY translation of the Word of God. Many translations are in different languages of the world in an attempt to reach as many people in different cultures and societies as possible. Certainly, the KJV would be totally unreadable and useless in attempting to bring someone in such a culture to knowledge of Jesus Christ. Some, in the KJV ONLY movement have been so ludicrous as to proclaim that if one is not saved using the KJV, even if they speak a different language of the world, that they are not REALLY SAVED! Lord, please forgive us.
It is very easy in the comfort of 20th century AMERICA to take an English translation filled with beautiful prose and flowing old English speech patterns and IDOLIZE it and then declare it to be the ONLY WORD OF GOD. But, how ridiculous! This is the same mistake that the proponents of the Latin Vulgate made!
Jesus, nor his disciples, nor ANY of the Bible writers spoke in the KJV language. They spoke Greek, Hebrew and/or Aramaic. Jesus, nor the Bible writers, EVER said the words thou, thy, verily or pisseth! These are TRANSLATIONS or VERSIONS of the actual words spoken by our Lord and His followers. If THEY never spoke them, how can we make any intelligent argument that these words are the ONLY TRUE WORD OF GOD? Please do not lose sight of this important fact!
Again, please understand. I affirm the beauty and inspiration and usefulness of the KJV. I encourage people who prefer the KJV to USE this version! I have no desire to attack the KJV. I have only found it necessary, since some of the reliable, modern versions have been unduly attacked by the KJV ONLY MOVEMENT, to point out the "concerns" with KJV.
Again, this is only to show, that EVERY VERSION HAS ITS TRANSLATION PROBLEMS, but that, NONE of the scholarly, reliable, Christian, versions compromise the WORD OF GOD! Every one of them affirm; the gospel message, that Jesus is God, that Jesus is Lord, that the blood of Jesus covers our sin, that Jesus is the ONLY way to be saved, that one must be born again to become a child of God an so on. Not a single doctrine or precept is compromised in any of the Christian versions of the Bible.
My prayer is that this brief publication has helped you understand this controversial issue and perhaps has inspired you to get a good version of the Bible and read it, study it, love it, share it and LIVE IT!
To be a proponent of the KJV ONLY movement does not necessarily make one more spiritual or enlightened. In fact, you may now see how it COULD be argued that if one holds to his position that he might be considered to be truly LESS knowledgeable. Let us not make the mistake of the Pharisees that Jesus points out in John 5:39 (NIV)
"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life."
To be fair, there are other concerns that the KJV ONLY movement has with modern translations. I believe that they are just as unfounded as the examples that I have addressed in this publication and can easily be proven to be so. There are many people, much more intelligent that I who have written extensively on this subject. I would advise you to do more reading and study if this is still a major concern that you have. Let the Lord lead you in reaching an enlightened, Godly conclusion.
Let it be said, that at Hickory Hammock Baptist Church, we love the WORD OF GOD, and we exalt exclusively the LIVING WORD of God, Jesus Christ! We encourage people to use whichever Christian, reliable, scholarly translation that they would like an we do not, nor do we allow other members to DEMAND that everyone use the version of a particular person's choice.
I desire for there to be an atmosphere of HUNGER for God's Word in God's house among God's people. Under the anointing that the Lord is gracious enough to give me, I will preach, teach, shout, proclaim and do my best to LIVE that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!!!
I will constantly educate myself on the new versions of God's Word that He blesses us with and I will preach and teach from the version or versions that clearly lay out the TRUTH of the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that ALL might hear, understand and BELIEVE!
A humble servant of His Majesty, Jesus Christ,
Carl Gallups, Pastor
RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING AND VIEWING
THE KING JAMES ONLY CONTROVERSY Dr. James White (a very in depth, fair and scholarly look at this issue. A MUST for anyone desiring to have a good resource in their library on this topic.)
JOHN ANKERBERG SHOW tape series "Which English Translation of the Bible is Best For Christians to Use Today?"
(A lengthy, but extremely interesting and enlightening documentary of this controversy. The film collects editors, and proponents of the various translations and brings them together in a scholarly, round table, discussion of the KJV controversy.)
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