Back when I started blogging on a regular basis, I was directed to a KJV onlyist website called, Bible Discernment. The inappropriately named website is crudely designed with seizure inducing flash animation and neither teaches the Bible nor discernment in any meaningful fashion. In fact, it really hasn’t changed much, if at all, since encountering it back in the mid-2000s.
The owner, who remains pretty much anonymous, which is typical of a lot of those sites, compiled a list of questions to ask those who read modern Bible versions. (That’d be me.)
Our “Bible Discerner” believes he has put together a list of silver bullet questions that will just shut the mouths of non-KJV onlyists and if they are asked any one of those 33 questions, they will close their modern Bible version, bow their heads, and with proverbial tail stuck between their legs, make a hasty retreat for the nearest exit.
Never being one who ignores a thrown gauntlet, I answered every one of our challenger’s questions. Along with providing my answers, I will also take the opportunity to ask our KJV onlyist questions he is afraid I will ask in response.
Let’s begin, shall we?
1) Have you done research on the KJV/other version controversies yourself?
Yes I have. I would further add, probably more so than the average KJV onlyists who tend to only read literature published from within their own circles, just as I did when I was a practicing KJVer.The question is meant to “expose” some alleged fatal-flaw in the arguments of the non-KJV onlyist. It is suggested that a person reads and uses a modern Bible version (MBV) because he or she doesn’t know any better and is blindly following a favored teacher or what was taught at the Bible college where the person attended. Many KJV onlyists believe this about the non-KJV onlyists. It is assumed they are ignorant, but this is merely a strawman objection. I would throw back a question to our KJV onlyist:
Have you done research on the KJV-MBV controversy in sources OTHER THAN KJV publications? Have you read, for instance. the research found at such sites as The King James Resource Center?
I would venture a guess that you have not, or only selectively.
2) If you are not in favor of using the KJV, and if you are in favor of using Modern Bible Versions, are you sure you understand the major points about the philosophical/theological position you are advocating?
Well, if I have done my own research as I acknowledged under the first question, then yes, I am quite aware of the philosophical-theological position I am advocating. It is called biblical Christianity.
You see: It is being suggested by the question that if a person reads from and recommends study in a MBV, then that person is advocating some alternative Christian faith or a devil inspired philosophy. Moreover, it is implied with the little phrase are you sure that if I am using a MBV, then I may be ignorant that I am using a new age Bible version. However, if we were to dig a bit under the revisionist top soil the KJV onlyist has laid down as the “fact” of how our English Bibles came about, it will reveal that much of it is contrived and has nothing to do with the facts.
A question in response: If you are not in favor of using any MBV and will ONLY use the KJV, are you aware of the Anglican theology that lies behind its production and the church-state politics that forced its translation?
3) Have you thought through the premise that – if you insist on using Modern Versions only – you must accept to go against 95% of the Bible Manuscripts that have been used by the Christian Church throughout the centuries (until 1904) ?
4) Are you aware that the KJV is still supported by 95% of the Bible Parchments and Manuscripts which exist all over the world?
When you read their apologetics, KJV onlyists will present the idea that the KJV is translated from a biblical text that is supported by 95% of the evidence. The claim suggests, particularly to those uninitiated in the subject of textual criticism, that the MVs are translated from entirely different manuscripts that present an entirely different Bible.
A few things are important to note.
First, when he makes that claim, what is in view here is the New Testament documents, not the Old Testament documents. That is because we have more copies of the NT documents than we have of the OT. The NT is different in that the manuscripts are many and wide spread from many areas of Asia Minor and North Africa.
Secondly, the “95%” figure is never clarified. It is cited rather blindly, because KJV apologists assumes the priority of the manuscripts that circulated in and around the Byzantine empire. Those manuscripts share many similar characteristics and are called the Byzantine family, because the Byzantine Christians did such an excellent job of copying and maintaining them. They produced so many of them that it became the dominant family of manuscripts in numerical quantity, and the ones from which the Reformers did much of the earlier translating work into English. Hence, that family has the nickname of the Majority Text. But the title of “majority,” contrary to what the KJV onlyists claim, does not equate the best.
Third, later manuscript finds in the 1700 and 1800s of older biblical texts helped to revolutionize the textual criticism of the NT. One of the things those new finds did was to push back the original reading of the NT in the Greek language to the 2nd century, nearly 200 years after the first NT documents were written. Those new finds also uncovered some different readings than what was in the current textual apparatus of the day, the Received Text from which the KJV was translated.
Those different readings, however, didn’t alter the message of the Bible, nor did they take away or weaken any key doctrines of Scripture as KJV onlyists would have people to believe. Thus, when textual critics of the NT wanted to provide a new translation of the NT, they determined to use some of the different readings because they were considered closer to the originals.
King James only apologists will often confuse the Received Text with the Majority Text as being one and the same. They are not. The Received Text is a working translational apparatus that was edited from manuscripts in the Majority Text family. The Received Text also has gone through at least 26 revisions since it was first published in the early 1500s by Erasmus.
When Erasmus edited his first Greek text that became known as the Received Text, he used just a handful of incomplete manuscripts for his work. Many KJV onlyists are unaware of that fact. Additionally, the KJV translators used a variety of other sources for their translation work, which was really a revisionist work of the former Bishop’s Bible. That included the Latin Vulgate, the Septuagint, and other ancient translations of the Old and New Testaments.
Hence, a couple of questions a person can ask a KJV advocates is: Do you know the difference between the Majority Text and the Received Text? Do you know the first handful of Received Text editions were based upon just a small amount of manuscripts? Did you know that the KJV translators did not use the Received Text exclusively, but used many other textual sources for their translation work?
5) It is true that the KJV translators relied on the manuscripts that were available in their own day and time. And it is also true that more Bible manuscripts were found since the early 1900s, than in all of the other centuries combined. Here is the key question: Are you aware that almost all these ancient manuscripts – those found in the 1900s – have accomplished, is to support, authenticate and validate the King James Version of the Bible?
6) In other words, despite finding many more manuscripts of the Bible since the KJV was translated, more than 95% [sic] the new manuscripts found in the 1900s continue to support the King James Version, and disagree with the Modern Version. Are you aware of this?
First of all, I am not sure what the author has in mind when he writes about ancient manuscripts found in the 1900s. The bulk of the ancient manuscripts in question that are the focus of so much KJV only scorn were discovered in the 1800s, not the 1900s. To give the author the benefit of the doubt, he may have in mind the “19th century,” not the 1900s, but I could be wrong about that.
Anyhow, he makes the claim that all of those manuscripts supposedly support the Received Text that underlies the KJV, but that is not entirely accurate. Again, his claim suggests that the MBVs present an entirely different NT than what is found in the KJV, but that is only wildly inaccurate, if not outright dishonest.
The manuscripts on which the MBVs are based are almost identical in content as those manuscripts that were used to put together the Received Text. However, there are maybe 10% where the modern texts dissent in reading the same. What textual critics have done, and with good reason, is to side with those dissenting readings that differ with the Received Text in a variety of places because those manuscripts are hundreds of years older and closer to the original writings than those that were used to translate the KJV. King James apologist make a big deal over those dissenting readings by asserting that they introduce heresy or take away important biblical doctrine. But that is exaggerating the facts.
What’s more, most KJV advocates ignore the fact that the Received Text has unique readings in the book of Revelation that are not found in any other NT manuscripts, even within the Majority Text. The main reason for that anomaly is when Erasmus edited his Greek apparatus, he had only a few incomplete manuscripts to utilize. He did not have a complete copy of Revelation and had to translate the last six verses from the Latin Vulgate into Greek in order to complete the book. Many of those unique readings stayed within the Received Text and were even translated into the King James. A key instance is Revelation 22:19 which reads “book of life” rather than what is found in the original Greek, “the tree of life.”
7) Are you aware that Modern Versions Reject the Greek Text which underlies the English King James Version, and that this is really what the crux of the matter is – about the King James Version Debate?
That is not true. Those who translated what became the modern versions did not reject the Received Text just because it was orthodox and they were sinister heretics wishing to corrupt the Christian faith as is suggested by the question. They chose to edit a newer apparatus that utilized the readings they believed better reflected what was originally written by the biblical authors. The issue for them was purity to the original text, not corrupting the Bible or throwing away the King James.
8) Do you realize that the Protestant Greek New Testament Textus Receptus, was used not only by the English speaking world in the KJV, but also by almost all other countries in the spread and propagation of the Bible – until 1904?
I personally would like to see his documentation on the Received Text holding sway until 1904. Westcott and Hort’s text was published in the mid-1800s and began to be used in the translation of the Revised Version in the 1880s. Before then, several other textual scholars like Johann Bengel, began editing his own NT text as an alternative to the Received Text.
The author also fails to take into consideration the popularity of the Latin Vulgate, which was used by many Protestants, like John Wycliffe and his Lollard friends, as a base text for their translations.
9) Do you therefore understand that to disagree with the Textus Receptus, is to place yourself against the true history of the Protestant Historical Teaching (in the choice of the Bible Versions that they recommended)???
Our author must believe that is a vital question because he places three question marks at the end. At any rate, he is selective in his history regarding English translations, because before the King James was translated the number one preferred translation for Protestants was the Geneva Bible. All the Protestants preferred it because it had been translated in Geneva, the heart of the Protestant Reformation and was the first true study Bible with Reformational footnotes.
When King James authorized the publication of the new Bible that would carry his name, he specifically ordered that it not have footnotes and that it reflect no Reformed theology. In a manner of speaking, it was a counter-Reformation Bible. I wonder if our KJV proponent is aware of this fact?
10) Have you really stopped to think about the Motives WHY someone might [from a spiritual point of view] have an interest in getting modern Christians to reject the Bibles that upheld their Churches and their Doctrines for nearly 2000 years?
There are a number of statements of misinformation with this question.
First is the idea of questioning someone’s motives from a spiritual point of view. Why is it automatically assumed that there are diabolical motives behind anyone who wants to update and revise the Bible based upon the latest finds and textual criticism? Their motives could be for the sake of purity and integrity in maintaining God’s Word.
It is also speculative to claim those nameless “someones” want to get modern Christians to reject the KJV. That borders on being conspiratorial in nature and wrongfully equates the KJV as being the only Bible that upholds the doctrine in the church.
Moreover, by asserting that the KJV is the one doctrinally pure Bible, the author has erroneously made the claim that the Received Text has always been in existence since the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. Does he really believe it has been around for 2000 years? Basically he is saying that if you refuse to use the King James Bible, you are rejecting the Bible in whole. Never mind the fact that there were numerous other foreign language translations for the first 1500 years of the Church, then Erasmus edited his NT, and then that NT edition went through numerous revisions and wasn’t even called the “Received Text” until 1633, nearly 20 years after the KJV was first published. This question places the author in the precarious position of defending a falsehood and making his faith look foolish.
Those are the first 10. I’ll tackle the next group coming up soon.