Month 8:20, Week 3:5 (Chamashee/Teruah), Year:Day 5939:227 AM|
2Exodus 2/40, 4th Sh'mittah - Year 49/50
Global Judgment - Day #T-72
Gregorian Calendar Sunday 1 November 2015
Revisiting a Biblical Version Issue
Introduction: Best, Preferred or Only?
It's been a few years now since I did a comprehensive evaluation of the King James Version-Only (KJV-Only) doctrine, the belief that the 1611 or first edition of the King James Version (KJV) or 'Authorised Version' (AV) is the one and only authentic preserved Word of God in the world today and that all other versions since are corrupt and part of a New World Order (NWO) conspiracy to destroy the Bible and help ussher in the reign of Antichrist. This study is not for those who either think the KJV is the best or preferred version, which I have absolutely no problem with, but with those who insist it is the only one which God endorses.
My Position in a Nutshell
I personally love the KJV and uses it from time-to-time in my devotionals, articles and sermons. I regard it as not only the Davar Elohim (Word of God) where it is translated correctly but as one of the world's great literary masterpieces. It has been the instrument of much good and in the promulgation of the Kingdom of Elohim (God) in the English-speaking world. It was the version I was raised on, it is the version from which I have committed to memory most of the passages I use in my everyday conversation and witness and it is one of the versions I have taught my children from. I do not, however, endorse the claim that it is an infallible translation nor do I believe other versions are all of the devil, a position I consider preposterous and harmful to the work of spreading the Besorah (Gospel).
Had I Lived 400 Years Ago...
Had I lived four centuries ago and had my common speech been Jacobean English, and if I had had the knowledge of the Scriptures that I have today, I would have advocated for a revision of the KJV in order to correct its errors, because errors of translation it most definitely has. However, we don't live four centuries ago and the English language has evolved. Despite the claims, hype and bravado, it is not an easy version to understand and it's a fact that many KJV-Onlyers sneak-read modern versions when they can't understand the old Jacobean of their 'easy-to-understand' KJV. If the Davar Elohim (Word of God) can't be understood, then it isn't much use. I want to understand all of it and if I, with a British classical (Latin- and Greek-based) education struggle with it, then I am pretty sure there are others who struggle too. I would be willing to wager that the majority of ordinary KJV-Only folks don't understand large portions of the KJV (though no fault of their own) because the English is so archaic.
In addition, knowing what I do about Hebrew-roots, had I returned to the early 17th century,I would also have advocated the removal of non-Scriptural words like , "God", "Christ" and "Jesus" and replaced them with "Yahweh", "Elohim", "Messiah" and "Yah'shua", respectively (to name but four substitutions) since none of the former are in the original language of Scripture.
The Importance of Communicating
However, as all messianics know, there has been tremendous resistance even today in our more open and tolerant society to changing words that have for so long become a part of our English language. Were you to go down a street today and ask someone if they believed in 'Elohim' they probably wouldn't know what you were talking about unless they were a Jew, a messianic or a scholar. It is important that we be able to communicate the Besorah (Gospel) which is why, when I use Hebrew terms unfamiliar to most English-speakers, believers as well as unbelievers, I always put the more familiar term - even though it is inaccurate - in parentheses after the correct one. Thus I will speak of "Elohim (God)" both to be able to communicate which those who don't know, in order to educate those who don't know, and to show Deity the proper respect. It may appear clumsy and require extra effort but that is what education is all about. And I am an educator first and foremost.
Between Ignorance and Rebellion
In saying this I am leading to what I consider to be an important point which I hope will become clear as I unfold this exposition. There are those who will call Yahweh, the true name of our Heavenly Father, either "LORD" or "Jehovah". The ignorant are, of course, forgiven. Then there are those who will call Him these things even when they know they are not His Names, even when they know they are pagan names, and even when they know they are insulting to Him. These people are plain stubborn, intractable and rebellious. And there is really no other way to describe them, especially if they are ministers and deliberately keep their congregations in ignorance. If we are commanded to call upon the Name of Elohim (God), then obviously we need to know what it is and what it means.
Grace During the Struggle
At the same time you cannot fault people for using the 'traditional' (though incorrect) forms in order to communicate with others who either do not know the emet (truth) or who are still unsure of their course of action in respect to them. Balanced against emet (truth) is always respect for free agency and the kind of grace that Yahweh extends to us because we are struggling and perhaps still not responding appropriately. We need to treat others in the way we would wish to be treated in either the days of our ignorance or in the days of our struggle to change. And people struggle for all sorts of reasons beyond our ken that we have no right to judge.
A Christmas Illustration
To give you an illustration. I belonged to a Christmas-celebrating church (three, in fact, during my life). The first I left because I was not spiritually regenerated and eventually sank into atheism. The second was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a cult (Mormon Church) because it claimed to be the one-and-only-true-church on the face of the earth, thus claiming that it alone could dispense salvation and that there was no hope in eternity for those in other Christian churches because they were all corrupt (so Joseph Smith's god told him). It was during my brief three-year membership there that I researched Christmas, discovered it was pagan and contrary to biblical teaching, and decided with my wife that we would no longer celebrate it.
The Tract I Wrote That Changed My Life
I wrote my very first tract explaining why I could no longer celebrate it, said that I respected the right of those to continue doing so if that is what they chose, and that I otherwise continued to uphold the church I was a member of. That pamphlet caused a storm and I was told to basically recant or face the consequences. Subsequent investigations into many of the teachings of that church revealed to me that they were false too (too many to go into here) and the end of that episode of my life resulted in excommunication.
Naďve About Cults
My only regret now is that I did not voluntarily remove my name from their church records but I was still convinced then that the church in question was the one-and-only-true-church but that the modern version of it had apostacised, needed to reform, and I was determined to do what I could to change things. I was, of course, terribly naďve and idealistic and had little or no understanding then of what cultism was (even though the accusation of cult had been levelled against that church by outsiders) or that the church in question was badly infested by a 'religious spirit' or 'demon'.
Excommunicated from the Cult But Still in the Spirit
Many of you know about church I am speaking of. It is not alone in its 'one-and-only' claims. It, along with other denominations (like the Catholics), claim to possess the exclusive authority from their god to represent Christianity. The history of all of these was, and is, rife with totalitarianism, abuse, persecution and even murder. That is why they are rightly called cults. They suppress reason, they insist that all the thinking has been done for their members, and that all they must do is unquestioningly accept dogma or otherwise go to hell. Indeed, when I was finally excommunicated I was told I had lost the Holy Ghost and was on my way to hell. The funny thing was, I discovered that I still had the Ruach (Spirit), that I was still in relationship with Yahweh through His Son, and that I was continuing to bring forth the fruits of the Ruach (Spirit) so I knew I had been lied to. Not only that, but prophecies I had made whilst in that church subsequently came to pass and the persons in question could not deny it. But they were trapped by their 'onlyism' and could no longer spiritually grow. Their only hope was to get out of the cult and to start doing their own thinking and searching as I had done.
How Cults Protect Themselves
All cults protect themselves up by a claimed (yet false) authority that cannot be opposed. It's what our English kings claimed until Charles I lost his head. Kings had an automatic 'divine right' to rule autocratically in God's name, they insisted, no matter how badly they behaved. Systems that have a foundation of lies need force or mind-control to maintain them. Today's ruling élites are expert at that, are they not? We have been fooled into believing that paper money is real money when there is nothing of value (like gold) to back it up any more. But when people stop believing in it, it will collapse. The same is true of false religion which does not like to be scrutinised even though it is more than happy to scrutinise, criticise and mock religious systems competing with its own counterfeit. The emet (truth) is always able to defend itself and needs neither force nor trickery to prop it up.
James R. White Shakes the KJV-Only Apple Cart
Just look up 'KJV-Only' online and you will be surprised just how much mockery and slander KJV-Onlyists use against those who use modern versions. It's appalling. And someone who has taken the greatest brunt of slander is undoubtedly Reformed minister, James R. White, whose masterful book, The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust Modern Translations? completely dismantles the KJV-Only claims. I should point out that White, like myself, loves the KJV! What he's against, as I am, is the irrational, unscriptural and unprovable claim that the KJV is the only true Bible in existence and that the KJV was 'the Bible Jesus used' - yes, there are KJV-Onlyers who claim this even though, as we shall see, the hybrid text created by Erasmus upon which the New Testament part of the KJV translation was based, was itself full of errors, and contained things which neither He nor the apostles ever said.
'The Spirit Told Me So'
I have to say here and now that I am not a cessasionist as, for example, Baptists are. I believe that all the spiritual gifts are freely available to believers - according to their particular gifting - provided they have been spiritually regenerated (born again), live by emunah (faith) and obey the mitzvot (commandments). I also believe - and know from considerable experience - that may who say 'God told me this' or 'the Holy Spirit told me that' aren't necessarily hearing from 'God' or the 'Spirit'. So long as the flesh has any kind of sway in our lives, there will always be the possibility of being deceived either by our own flesh or by the whispering of demons. So when someone says, 'God told me this, it disagrees with what you believe, therefore you are wrong', all the avenues for an intelligent, reasoned and mutually respectful and advantageous discussion have been closed. The question is then begged: Is this how Yahweh wants believers to conduct their business with one another? Clearly not, if you believe the witness of Scripture, because we are admonished to reason (use our thinking faculties - Is.1:18) and to search the Scriptures as the Bereans did. (The Bereans, incidentally, did not use theEnglish KJV). The guidance we are to receive and obtain does not consist of only one tool - the Ruach (Spirit). We have also been given the written Davar (Word) and the two must go hand-in-hand.
An Illustration Using the Gender of Deity
So if I claim, 'the Spirit told me that God is an 'it' rather than a 'He'', I can rebuke that person as deceived and a liar because the Scripture clearly says Elohim (God) is our Heavenly Father and is therefore masculine, not feminine or neuter, however politically incorrect or however anathema to liberals that may be. And I can prove it from Scripture either in Hebrew, Greek or English because all (save the most modern gender-neutral politically correct) versions say so unambiguously. But if someone comes and says, 'God just told me the Holy Spirit is a male personage' (as practically all Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, Mormons and others teach) - and if they then back that up using the KJV or any number of other Protestant or Catholic versions, then there's a problem, particularly for the KJV-Onlyers who insist that their translation is error free. (Most Messianics, Jehovah's Witnesses, and others believe the Holy Spirit is an impersonal 'it' because they don't believe in the Spirit's personhood ... and some Bible versions back up their position, of course).
The Reactions of Those Who Won't Repent of Falsehood
I use this as an illustration of the difficulties one can have if you are defending a particular Bible version (like the KJV) as infallible or a Church tradition (such as the Trinity) as infallible, because what happens when you show irrefutable proof that the Ruach (Spirit) is both a person and female, it causes, first, spiritual paralysis and then - as the thoughts bounce off an 'only' dogma - such as KJV-Only, Trinity-Only, or Only-True-Church - a spiritual reaction occurs that manifests in a cluster of reactions that can include anger, hostility, name-calling, slander, threats of fire-and-brimstone, and personal crisis of faith (to name a few). You know what I mean. When something you hold dear and cherish is challenged and shown to be false, you can react by either repenting in humility or by reacting with pride and going into major defense-mode using the weapon of accusation to deflect the opposition away from your own falsehood. It's amazing how quickly the fruit of the Ruach (Spirit) disappears when a false doctrine is suddenly defended in the light of emet (truth) contradicting it.
Eating Crow and Growing Up
I know. I have had to eat crow in my life many times. I resisted many times with all the usual cultic symptoms. I have had to change my doctrines again and again until properly corrected and submitted. I remember well the day I was witnessing for the LDS cult I belonged to. I was in my own home and had invited some investigators and an Anglican guest (remember, I had previously been Anglican) to a talk I was giving. After the talk was over, the Anglican asked me, matter-of-fact (so I had no wriggle-room), whether I believed that he, as an Anglican, was beyond the pale of salvation because he did not accept our dogmas and therefore did not have the Holy Spirit. I replied, 'Yes', and then I heard the Ruach (Spirit) say to me, clearly and distinctly, 'Liar!' I was in shock. I blushed. I was ashamed of my arrogance. But I remained in denial for another couple of years. Why? Because the 'Spirit' (so I thought) had witnessed to me earlier that the church I was in was the 'only true church' so its claims had to be right. Right? Wrong!
Exposing the Burning-in-the-Bosom Myth
I had had an emotional experience - a burning-in-the-bosom - which, I had been assured, was how to know whether I was experiencing the 'Holy Ghost' or not because that's what one of their non-biblical holy books (the Book of Mormon) said. Not until three years later when I asked an as-yet unconverted Italian investigator whether he had ever experienced the 'burning-in-the-bosom phenomenon did my bubble pop when he responded that he had...whenever he looked at pornography! That was the day the existential illusion that had guided my life for three years in that cult was destroyed and I realised that feelings had to match the Davar (Word/Bible) and not the other way round or else they were wholly unreliable.
Feelings Do Not Equal the Spirit
I learned one of the most important lessons of my life that day, namely, that the Ruach (Spirit) does NOT equal feelings. I learned that feelings and impressions were the common experience of both emet (truth) and falsehood and not to use them as a measuring stick. That's not good news for the lazy, for it takes no effrort to have an emotional response, because it forces them to do some hard, sweaty spadework in the Scriptures requiring much patience and persistence. That's a part of spiritually maturing and it's one reason I never became a Pentecostal or Charismatic and felt more attracted to the Baptists who were more Word-centred.
Dealing With a Female Holy Spirit - Tradition vs. Sound Exegesis
I mentioned that the Ruach haQodesh or Holy Spirit was a female Person, something the KJV (and therefore all KJV-Onlyers by default) vehemently denies. The Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit is, for them, always a 'He', the third person in the Trinity, and they can prove it...from the KJV, of course. And the trouble is, the Ruach (Spirit) is a 'he' if you translate from the Latin spiritus (which is masculine in gender), the Latin that influenced Christianity for over a thousand years before the Reformers came along and started translating from the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek for themselves.
He, She or It?
The problem was - and still is - the Greek for 'Spirit' or 'Ghost' is pneuma which has a neutral gender. So when you translate pneuma you are forced - if you are honest - to refer to the Spirit as an 'it'...which is why the Jehovah's Witnesses, most Messianics and the Armgstrongite 'Churches of God' consider the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) to be an impersonal force from the Father and Son and not a Person. And by the time the Reformers came to start translating the Scriptures afresh they faced a dilemma - the accepted Godhead dogma was that the Holy Ghost was a He because of the influence of the Latin Vulgate (translated by Jerome) which was the Roman Catholic Churches 'KJV' - it was the 'only' authorised, and therefore infallible, version for a very long time. They believed it to be inspired because the Catholic Pontiffs said so. Not until later did they start producing other versions in the vernacular (Douay, Jerusalem, NAB, etc.) to counter the busy printing presses of the Reformation. The trouble is, Protestantism accepted the Trinity doctrine of the Latin Catholics uncritically, along with a number of other wrong teachings, never completing the Reformation. So although the Greek testified the Ruach (Spirit) was an 'it', they continued to refer to the Ruach (Spirit) as a 'he'...because of tradition. They just simply weren't prepared to rock the boat and upset too many people because of the danger of a militant and angry Catholic Church. (We all know how violent the Counter-Reformation was). Religious spirits (demons) had both the church and its translators in their thrall, at least as far as certain doctrines and teachings were concerned.
The Messianic Reformation and Restoration
Fast forward four more centuries to the 21st century - to our day - and a new 'reformation' and 'restoration' is underway, led by messianics. They are starting to translate Aramaic and Syriac versions of the new Testament (Trimm/HRV, Roth/AENT, etc.) and to make them available to a wide readership. Most messianics, though, are still hidebound by tradition, in their case, Jewish tradition which both rejects the Trinity and the personhood of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). They too have their religious spirits (demons) to overcome and they are in the thick of it still. Many Messianics have defaulted to Catholic/Protestant Trinitarianism, either not wanting to get embroiled in Godhead controversy or for a number of other reasons. Others take the Jehovah's Witness or Armstrongite line, again for a variety of reasons which we won't go into here. Then one translator (Trimm) dares to translate the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) using the true gender - She - the way its actually written in Aramaic, but balks, refusing to take the last and final step in admitting She is a female Personage in the Godhead (for whatever personal reasons), insisting the Ruach (Spirit) is female gramatically only and no more (he has kabbalistic reasons for doing this). So he ends up defaulting to what amounts to the Greek 'it', as he belives the Ruach (Spirit) is impersonal, and always refers to Her in the lowercase as the impersonal 'set-apart (holy) spirit' like the Jehovah's Witnesses in their New World Translation (NWT). But if you accept the Ruach (Spirit) is a Person, as Scripture clearly testifies (and as Trinitarians got right), and not just an impersonal force, then you are forced to the position that the Ruach haQodesh is female and our Heavenly Mother.
Prejudice Takes Time to Overcome
Few dare say so, for a variety of reasons again, but the Scriptures are clear. And any version that contradicts this fundamental truth is, by definition, in error...at elast as far as that emet (truth) is concerned. Does that invalidate the whole translation? Only if you believe it is infallible, and then you face a choice - to be honest or to go into denial and empower a religious spirit - a cultic spirit. All but one of my translations refer to the Ruach as 'he' or 'it' but I don't throw them out for that reason. That would be foolish. Never throw out the baby with the bathwater. Some emet (truth) takes a long time to be accepted because of deeply engrained prejudices.
Fighting for a Dogma's Life
Now I could give you hundreds of examples of erroneous translations in the KJV (I will give some later). To a KJV-Onlyer, that is tantamount to attacking the whole translation, the witness of centuries, and God Himself, which of course is ridiculous, since 'God' nowhere puts His imprimatur on it. But you are forced to defend it, and your God, in that way if you believe it is infallible. This, and other errors, then forces KJV-Only apologists into all sorts of complicated intellectual and emotional convolutions that remind me of the early astronomers who were in denial that the sun was the centre of the solar system rather than the earth, and who were forced to invent all kinds of bizzare and nonsensical theories (epicycles) to explain the strange kinky movement of the planets and stars across the night sky in order to hang onto the lie they believed. False dogma forces you into all kinds of crazy scriptural acrobatics that appear foolish to all but those employing them because they are fighting for their dogma's life. When your life's energy is so intertwined with a false dogma, it is hard and painful to separate the two.
It is Human to Err
Many accuse me of being a liberal (see What is a Liberal Christian?) so I have to categorically state for the record that I do absolutely believe in the infallibility and inspiration of Scripture (the Protestant Canon) but not an English, German, Russian, Chinese, Greek or any other language translation of it! I believe the original autographs to be infallible - the Hebrew and Aramaic autographs, not the Greek translations, even if I do believe there is value in studying Greek and other translations of the New and Old Testaments since that language was so widespread in the early messianic community (church). Many a KJV-Onlyer, in a desperate defence of his (or her) position, stoops to character assassination, calling me 'New Age', 'Antichrist', etc.. The thing is, I know in Whom I am trusting, I know I have been spiritually regenerated (born again) but I also know that I, like all Bible translators and commentators, are fallible and make mistakes. It is human to err. Only those nevi'im (prophets) and apostles who penned Holy Writ were lifted above the distortions of the flesh.
Equally Applying Weights and Measures
Once you start applying equal weights and measures to all translations, including the KJV, you discover that the translators were fallible (even if they were really good) and that there are errors in all versions even if, arguably, some versions are better than others (which clearly they are). But even that is subjective to a degree. I use many, many versions, from the Coverdale and KJV to arguably the best modern scholarly version, the NRSV (New Revised Standard version). I give no version carte blanche and accept all valid criticism, including criticism of the KJV and NRSV. I am indebted to nearly all the versions I have read, they have all enriched me in my knowledge of the Davar Elohim (Word of God).
A Conspiracy of Modern Translators?
This article is really in response to a good friend and street evangelist who is a KJV-Onlyer. He asked me to watch a KJV-Only video in exchange for his reading my articles, which I did, though none of the material in it was new to me. We have had a good relationship up to this time but the KJV-Only stance has now become a stumbling block when it shouldn't. He is concerned about the preservation of Yah's true Davar (Word), as am I. He is concerned about mutilations of the text as well as ommissions of whole verses...as am I. But to then invoke a 'conspiracy' or 'plot' on the part of all modern translators is, to me, absurd, even if I absolutely don't deny that there are members of translation committes who may have dark spirits operating in them, who beyond question have doctrinal biases which they try to get into the translations and are serving the enemy's agenda without always realising it. But that's true of all translators to one degree or another. More dangerous than translators are, in my view, commentators with their biases footnotes, such as in the Scofield Reference Bible which has corrupted millions.
The KJV Translators' Agenda
The KJV translators had an agenda other than to just improve on the versions that had gone before (Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthew's, Great Bible, Bishop's Bible, Geneva Bible) using the best Hebrew and Greek manuscripts that were available to them at the time. And that agenda was to justify the Divine Right of Kings (it is, after all, called the 'King James' Version - it's named after a monarch), to entrench the State (Anglican) Church and to defend neo-catholic dogmas like child-baptism by replacing the more accurate 'immerse' of the earlier versions with the more ambiguous 'baptise'. So, yes, there was a KJV agenda, beyond a doubt. And whilst most of the translators were quite excellent in their fields, there was at least one bad apple amongst them that we know of, namely Richard 'Dutch' Thomson who was known as a "debauched drunken English Dutchman who seldom went to bed one night sober" . So when KJV-Onlyers criticise the NIV because the stylist was a lesbian, they need to remember Mr.Thomson too, and King James (almost certainly a homosexual) and the warning of 1 Corinthians 6:10 - "Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God" (KJV).
The High Anglicans of the KJV Translation Committee
If you do a detailed study of articles on the KJV online you might be surprised to find who is opposed to it and why. One website  I came across that was hostile to the KJV criticised it for being too Arminian and not Calvinistic enough, accusing the translators of being high-churchmen (Anglo-Catholics) with idolatrous (Catholic) beliefs. But this is the problem you face in any translation based on the work of a committee - they are all fallible human beings with doctrinal biases and denominational allegiances of one sort of another. Many KJV-Onlyers criticise modern versions because they have Catholics and people from other denominations on their committees whilst failing to address the problem that all the translators on the KJV committee were members of the Church of England promoting an exclusively Anglican agenda! The Anglican Bishops of that time all testify, sycophants that they were, that King James spoke by the power of inspirtation! Read the Preface to the KJV which accompanied all KJV Bibles and a more idolatrous document you will not find in the preface to any other Bible. These Bishops, who had acquired their office in the usual way of all state churches, praised their monarch as a Roman Catholic-type 'saint'. Do you really suppose, then, that the scholars assembled to create the KJV weren't selected on the basis of Anglican criteria?
We can critcise modernists by pointing out their vices (and they are no doubt very real - some were known occultists). Calvinists criticise the KJV committee because some (Overall, Bois and Richardson) were known Arminians who believed in a universal atonement (as actually I do, and not a few evangelicals). Indeed, some critcise John Overall for not devoting 100% of his time to the translation work instead of visiting the sick of his parish, as though this were some disqualifier. Some KJV-Onlyers criticise Richard Bancroft for making 14 more changes to the KJV after the final editing had been done - do KJV-Onlyers claim this was inspired too? And if so, on what grounds? And the Calvinists criticising the KJV team for being Arminian then accused them of being "unregenerate" (not born-again) and use this to assert the KJV is uninspired, an equally preposterous claim! (Talk about 'Calvinist-Only'!) You see, even the Calvinists have their 'only' problems - they often lump Arminians and Catholics together as gross heretics and therefore unregenerated heathen. (I hasten to add I am not a Calvinist even if I respect many Calvinist preachers and writers like Spurgeon and Piper).
The Greek Text of the KJV
Now we come to a rather crucial issue because KJV-Onlyers make the assumption that the Greek text used by the KJV translators was perfect, as it would have to have been if a perfect English translation was to be made from it. The Greek text in question is demonstrably inferior in many places. The man who edited the text was a Roman Catholic priest and humanist named Erasmus. (A humanist in the 16th century is not the same as a humanist today. Erasmus was generally tolerant of other viewpoints, and was particularly interested in the humanities. Although he was a friend of Melanchthon, Luther’s right-hand man, Luther did not care for him). He was under pressure to get it to the press as soon as possible since (a) no edition of the Greek New Testament had yet been published, and (b) he had heard that Cardinal Ximenes and his associates were just about to publish an edition of the Greek New Testament and he was in a race to beat them. Consequently, his edition has been called the most poorly edited volume in all of literature! It is filled with hundreds of typographical errors which even Erasmus would acknowledge.
The Unreliability of Erasmus' Compilation
Two places deserve special mention. In the last six verses of Revelation, Erasmus had no Greek manuscript (MS) (he only used half a dozen, very late MSS for the whole New Testament any way). He was therefore forced to 'back-translate' the Latin into Greek and by so doing he created seventeen variants which have never been found in any other Greek MS of Revelation! He merely guessed at what the Greek might have been. Secondly, for 1 John 5:7-8, Erasmus followed the majority of MSS in reading "there are three witnesses in heaven, the Spirit and the water and the blood." However, there was an uproar in some Roman Catholic circles because his text did not read "there are three witnesses in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit." Erasmus said that he did not put that in the text because he found no Greek MSS which had that reading. This implicit challenge, viz., that if he found such a reading in any Greek MS, he would put it in his text, did not go unnoticed. In 1520, a scribe at Oxford named Roy made such a Greek MS (Codex 61, now in Dublin). Erasmus' third edition had the second reading because such a Greek MS was ‘made to order’ to fill the challenge! To date, only a handful of Greek MSS have been discovered which have the Trinitarian formula in 1 John 5:7-8, though none of them is demonstrably earlier than the sixteenth century.
Erasmus Was No KJV-Onlyer
It is significant that Erasmus himself was quite progressive in his thinking, and would hardly be in favor of how the KJV-Only advocates have embraced him as their champion. For example, every one of his editions of the Greek NT was a diglot—Latin on one side and Greek on the other. The Latin was his own translation, and was meant to improve upon Jerome’s Latin Vulgate — a translation which, as I have already said, the Catholic church had declared to be inspired. For this reason, Cambridge University immediately banned Erasmus’ New Testament, and others followed suit. Elsewhere, Erasmus questioned whether the pericope adulterae (the story of the woman caught in adultery [John 7:53-8:11]) and the longer ending of Mark (16:9-20), etc., were authentic.
The Comma Johanneum
That is a very important point. It illustrates something quite significant with regard to the textual tradition which stands behind the KJV. Most textual critics today fully embrace the doctrine of the Trinity (and, of course, all evangelical textual critics do too). And most would like to see the Trinity explicitly taught in 1 John 5:7-8. But most reject this reading as an invention of some overly zealous scribe. The problem is that the KJV is filled with readings which have been created by overly zealous scribes! Very few of the distinctive KJV readings are demonstrably ancient. And most textual critics just happen to embrace the reasonable proposition that the most ancient MSS tend to be more reliable since they stand closer to the date of the autographs. I myself would love to see many of the King James readings retained.
Scribal Insertions Do Not Change the Basic Theology of Salvation
The story of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53-8:11) has always been a favorite of mine about the grace of our Master, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). That Yah'shua (Jesus) is called Elohim (God) in 1 Timothy 3:16 affirms my view of Him (cp. also John 3:13; 1 John 5:7-8, etc.) But when the textual evidence shows me both that scribes had a strong tendency to add, rather than subtract, and that most of these additions are found in the more recent MSS, rather than the more ancient, I find it difficult to accept intellectually the very passages which I have always embraced emotionally. In other words, those scholars who seem to be excising many of your favorite passages from the New Testament are not doing so out of spite, but because such passages are not found in the better and more ancient MSS. It must be emphatically stressed, however, that this does not mean that the doctrines contained in those verses have been jeopardised. My belief in the deity of Messiah, for example, does not live or die with 1 Timothy 3:16. In fact, it has been repeatedly affirmed that no doctrine of Scripture has been affected by these textual differences. If that is true, then the KJV-Only advocates might be crying wolf where none exists, rather than occupying themselves with the more important aspects of advancing the Besorah (Gospel).
Three Revisions, 100,000 Changes
The KJV has undergone three revisions since its inception in 1611, incorporating more than 100,000 changes. Which KJV, then, is inspired and error-free?
Words Whose Meaning Have Changed
300 words found in the KJV no longer bear the same meaning. For example, "Suffer little children…to come unto me" (Mt.19:14, KJV). "Study to shew thyself approved unto God" (2 Tim 2:15, KJV). "Suffer" in Matt 19:14 means "permit"; "study" in 2 Tim 2:15 means "be eager, be diligent." See the Oxford English Dictionary (the largest unabridged dictionary of the English language) for help here: it traces the uses of words through their history, pinpointing the year in which a new meaning came into vogue. Should we really embrace a Bible as the best translation when it uses language that not only is not clearly understood any more, but in fact has been at times perverted and twisted?
Example of a Translation Error
The KJV includes one very definite error in translation, which even KJV advocates would admit. In Matthew 23:24 the KJV has "strain at a gnat and swallow a camel." But the Greek has "strain out a gnat and swallow a camel." At the very least, this illustrates not only that no translation is infallible but also that scribal corruptions can and do take place-even in a volume which has been worked over by so many different hands (for the KJV was the product of a very large committee of over 50 scholars). There are other mistakes in the KJV which persist to this day, even though this translation has gone through several editions. For example, the KJV in Hebrews 4:8 reads: "For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day." This sounds as though Yah'shua (Jesus) could not provide the eternal rest that we all long for! However, the Greek word for Yah'shua (Jesus) is the same as the word for Joshua. And in the context of Hebrews 4, Joshua is obviously meant. There is no textual problem here; it is rather simply a mistake on the part of the translators, perpetuated for the last 400 years in all editions of the KJV.
Pride Over Spirituality
When the KJV was first published, it was heavily resisted for being too easy to understand! Some people revere it today because it is difficult to understand. I fear that part of their response is due to pride: they feel as though they are able to discern something that other, less spiritual folks cannot. Often 1 Corinthians 2:13-16 is quoted with reference to the KJV (to the effect that "you would understand it if you were spiritual"). Such a use of that text, however, is a gross distortion of the Scriptures. The words in the New Testament, the grammar, the style, etc. - in short, the language — comprised the common language of the first century. We do Yahweh a great disservice when we make the Besorah (Gospel) more difficult to understand than He intended it. The reason unspiritual people do not understand the scriptures is because they have a volitional problem, not an intellectual problem (cf. 1 Cor 2:14 where "receive", "welcome" shows clearly that the thing which blocks understanding is the sinful will of man).
KJV vs. Luther
Those who advocate that the KJV has exclusive rights to being called the Holy Bible are always, curiously, English-speaking people (normally isolated Americans). Yet, Martin Luther’s fine translation of the Bible into German predated the KJV by almost 100 years. Are we so arrogant as to say that Yahweh has spoken only in English? And where there are substantial discrepancies between Luther’s Bible and the KJV (such as in 1 John 5:7-8), are we going to say that Yahweh has inspired both? Is He the author of lies? Our emunah (faith) does not rest in a singular tradition, nor is it provincial. Vibrant, biblical Christianity must never unite itself with provincialism. Otherwise, missionary endeavor, among other things, would die.
The Cardinal Doctrines are in All Versions
Let me repeat an earlier point: Most evangelicals — who embrace all the cardinal doctrines of the emunah (faith) — prefer a different translation and textual basis than that found in the KJV.
Has the KJV Added or Subtracted Scripture - or Both?
Finally, though it is true that the modern translations 'omit' certain words and verses (or conversely, the KJV adds to the Davar Elohim/Word of God, depending on how you look at it), the issue is not black-or-white. In fact, the most recent edition of a Greek New Testament which is based on the majority of MSS, rather than the most ancient ones (and thus stands firmly behind the KJV tradition), when compared to the standard Greek New Testament used in most modern translations, excises over 650 words or phrases! Thus, it is not proper to suggest that only modern translations omit; the Greek text behind the KJV omits, too! The question, then, is not whether modern translations have deleted portions of the Davar Elohim (Word of God), but rather whether either the KJV or modern translations have altered the Davar Elohim (Word of God). I contend that the KJV has far more drastically altered the scriptures than have modern translations. Nevertheless, I repeat: most textual critics for the past 250 years would say that no doctrine is affected by these changes. One can get saved reading the KJV and one can get saved reading the NIV, NASB, etc.
KJV-Only Books Hostile to Modern Translations
With the recent publication of several different books vilifying modern translations, asserting that they were borne out of conspiratorial motives, a word should be mentioned about this concocted theory. First, many of these books are written by people who have little or no knowledge of Greek or Hebrew, and are, further, a great distortion of the facts. If you have ever read books on textual criticism you will not fail to notice such illogic, out-of-context quotations, and downright deceptions about the situation as in these recent books.
Known Heretical Manuscripts
Although it is often asserted that heretics produced some of the New Testament MSS we now have in our possession, there is only one group of MSS known to be produced by heretics: certain Byzantine MSS of the book of Revelation. This is significant because the Byzantine (Received) text (Textus Receptus) stands behind the KJV! These MSS formed part of a mystery cult textbook used by various early cults. But KJV-Only advocates constantly make the charge that the earliest MSS (the Alexandrian MSS) were produced by heretics. The sole basis they have for this charge is that certain readings in these MSS are disagreeable to them!
When one examines the variations between the Greek text behind the KJV (the Textus Receptus) and the Greek text behind modern translations, it is discovered that the vast majority of hundreds of variations are so trivial as to not even be translatable (the most common is the moveable nu, which is akin to the difference between 'who' and 'whom'!).
Emotion, Not Proper Evidence, Guides the KJV-Onlyers
When one compares the number of variations that are found in the various MSS with the actual variations between the Textus Receptus and the best Greek witnesses, it is found that these two are remarkably similar. There are over 400,000 textual variants among NT MSS. But the differences between the Textus Receptus and texts based on the best Greek witnesses number about 5000 — and most of these are untranslatable differences! In other words, over 98% of the time, the Textus Receptus and the standard critical editions agree. Those who vilify the modern translations and the Greek texts behind them have evidently never really investigated the data. Their appeals are based largely on emotion, not evidence. As such, they do an injustice to historic Christianity as well as to the men who stood behind the KJV. These scholars, who admitted that their work was provisional and not final (as can be seen by their preface and by their more than 8000 marginal notes indicating alternate renderings - it's time they were published in the KJV), would wholeheartedly welcome the great finds in MSS that have occurred in the past one hundred and fifty years.
The Dead See Scrolls and the Masoretes
What do these great finds include? For a start, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) which contain a Tanakh (Old Testament) far older than the Masoretic Text doctored by anti-messianic Talmudic Jews to deflect us from properly understanding messianic passages that point unambiguously to Yah'shua (Jesus) by changing a letter here or there, adding false pointing and removing the Divine Name, replacing it with 'Adonai' ('Lord', a pagan Greek loan word, from the god Adonis) and adding the invented word 'Jehovah' (a combination of YHWH/Yahweh and the vowels from Adonai). The Old Testaments of all Protestant and Catholic Bibles are based on this Masoretic mutilation, including the KJV! So based on this alone, the KJV Tanakh (Old Testament) cannot be 100 per cent inspired.
Hebraic vs. Greek New Testaments
There is worse (for the KJV-Onlyers and all modern Protestant Bibles, for that matter) and it hearkens back to what I said earlier, namely, that the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew (Matthew) and Aramaic (most of the rest), the languages of Yah'shua (Jesus) and the apostles. This Hebraic New Testament does not agree in every point with the later Greek translations of them which form the basis of nearly all orthodox Christian and many Messianic Bible translations. No serious student of the Bible can ignore the Aramaic and Syriac versions, which are far older than the Greek, as well as being the language(s) in which the New Testament revelation was received - the original ground texts or autographs! If you know nothing about the Aramaic New Testament, please see the excellent Preface to The Hebraic-Roots Version Scriptures/HRV which will give you a helpful overview. Another useful translation is the Aramaic English New Testament/AENT (Roth), cited earlier. Of course, neither of these messianic translations is error-free either.
Having said all of this, I am concerned by some of the very bad and misleading translations in versions like the New International Version (NIV). Rather than dissuade people from reading all modern translations (some paraphrases and politically-motived ones are awful and should be avoided like the plague - like the homosexual-friendly 'Queen James Version/QJV') by telling them there is only one true version (the KJV) when there is not, is to publish pamphlets and booklets containing extracts of bad translations so that those unaware of translation issues can be informed and make reasoned judgments based on facts and not emotion. Indeed, in our early days we began revising badly rendered NIV passages . As the NIV was eventually dropped by us as being too corrupted, revisions of NIV translations were stopped because better messianic versions had become available.
Which Version Should I Use?
Which versions, then, are safe to use? Like the KJV translators, my testimony is that there is profit in many translations, not just one or two. I would definitely get examples of both Protestant (KJV, NKJV, NASB, AmpV, ESV, NRSV, etc.) and Messianic versions (HRV, AENT, CJB/JNT, ISRV, OJB, etc.), and preferably editions with extensive footnotes detailing alternative readings. Don't be put off by translations that have one or two crazy or outrageous passages - just be aware of them, correct them and tell others about them. Avoid paraphrases and politically-correct versions for accurate doctrine. See our Bible Versions website and especially, In Search of a Bible: Which Translation Should I Use?.
I think it should be obvious, even from these few examples (there are plenty more that I don't have time to address today, like the KJV use of mythical unicorns and Easter instead of Passover) that the KJV is not the best available translation however excellent it may otherwise be. It has no basis for claiming to be exceptional and distinct from all the others, let alone to being an infallible or 'authoritative' translation, King Jimmy's claims notwithstanding. All of us have a tendency to make mountains out of molehills and then to set up fortresses in those ‘mountains.’ We often cling to things out of emotion, rather than out of true piety, and call that the 'Spirit' telling us this or that. That the KJV-Onlyers most certainly do. I have grown too long-in-the-tooth to fall for the appalling scholarship and emotionalism of the heresy of the KJV-Only cult. And as such we do a great disservice to a dying world that is desperately in need of a clear, strong voice proclaiming the Besorah (Gospel) of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) when we give it any credence and in so doing lose our spiritual balance and invite in fanatical religious spirits to spoil our witness.
 Augustus Toplay, Works
 KJV-Only Hypocrisy
 A small number of Bible revisions were made in the Olive Branch period and have been included in that book: OB 59 (Mark 9:38-39, NIV), OB 43 (Mark 12:18-27, NIV), OB 51 (Acts 2:32-36, NIV), OB 324 (1 Tim.3:1-13, NIV) and OB 88 (Rev.7:6, NIV), with some prophetic commentaries in OB 346 (Is.6:9-10, NIV) and OB 426:11-19 (Rev.3:18-22, JNT). A great many more have been made since the publication of the Olive Branch. As it is not certain whether or not these will be included in the Olive Branch, Vol.2, or published as a separate collection or as part of a New Covenant Version of the Bible, they are being kept separate for the time being:
#990405A: Restoration of Matthew 17:20 (NIV)
#990405B: Revision of Mark 1:2 (NIV)
#990405C: Revision of Mark 8:26 (NIV)
#990405D: Revision of Matthew 6:13 (NIV)
#990405E: Revision of Matthew 5:44 (NIV)
#990405F: Restoration of Mark 11:25 (NIV)
#990405G: Revision of Mark 13:33 (NIV)
#990405H: Revision of Mark 14:24 (NIV)
#990405I: Restoration of Mark 15:28 (NIV)
#990405J: Revision of Luke 2:29 (NIV)
#990405K: Revision of Luke 9:54-56 (NIV)
#990405L: Revision of Luke 11:2-4 (NIV)
#990405M: Revision of Luke 11:11 (NIV)
#990405N: Revision of Luke 14:5 (NIV)
#990405O: Revision of Luke 15:21 (NIV)
#990405P: Restoration of Luke 17:36 (NIV)
#990405Q: Revision of Luke 23:42 (NIV)
#990413: Revision of 1 Corinthians 12:1 (NIV)
 Travis Agnew, 9 Reasons I Don’t Read the KJV
 See the many articles on the KJV-Only website of this ministry
 James R. White, The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust Modern Translations?