Reviewing “Which Bible Would Jesus Use?” [3]

faithbookChapter 1: Why The Lord is Forced to Choose Only One Bible

I have taken up the task of reviewing KJVO apologist, Jack McElroy, and his book called, Which Bible Would Jesus Use? See Part 1 for the background

With this post, I come to the first chapter.


McElroy opens his first chapter by imagining a scenario in which Jesus Christ would visit your local church. As Jesus walks through the crowd to attend the service, you notice He is carrying a Bible and you wonder which version He prefers. McElroy then explains that in his book, the reader will learn why Jesus can’t use all the modern Bible versions, or even just some of them, and that He is currently using just one.

He goes on to prove his assertion by providing a number of passages from both the OT and NT that conflict between popular Bible version like the ESV, NAS, and the NIV.

For example, the ESV states in Ecclesiastes 8:10, Then I saw the wicked buried. They … were praised in the city, but the NAS states, So then, I have seen the wicked buried … they are soon forgotten in the city. Another example is found in Luke 10:1 where the ESV reads, After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others… but the NAS reads, Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others.

McElroy also cites a number of evangelical leaders like Al Mohler, John Piper, Paige Patterson, and even John MacArthur, who endorse many of those conflicting translations. MacArthur, for instance, recommends both the NAS and the NIV. However, that only confuses matters because he says that both the NAS and the NIV are “accurate” when there is documented differences between those two versions.

McElroy now sets up what he will discuss in the next couple of chapters when he explains how he will expose the “dirty little secrets” of textual criticism.


missingAll KJVO literature will have a section that presents side-by-side comparison charts that mark out conflicting verses among the various modern Bible versions. Usually the charts and tables are cataloged according to doctrines the KJVO apologists claim are adversely affected by the translations of modern versions.

J.J. Ray wrote a little book called, God Only Wrote One Bible, as early as 1955, and Barry Burton published a classic KJVO book called, Let’s Weigh the Evidence, still available at Jack Chick’s website. Both supposedly demonstrate numerous alterations in the modern versions attacking biblical doctrine like inerrancy, salvation by faith alone, the deity of Christ, and the virgin birth by either changing the way a verse reads or by total omission. Both books set something of a standard for verse comparison charts that have been copied by KJVO apologists over the years.

There are a couple of important things to keep in mind when considering those comparison charts as I move through interacting with McElroy’s examples.

First, KJVO apologist present them with the presupposition that the KJV is the Word of God alone and any deviation from the way it reads indicates an intentional corruption of Holy Scripture by either sinister forces or unwitting, compromised individuals. Thus, when the modern version sides with another reading of a biblical text that translates the verse differently than what is found in the KJV, it is concluded that heretical men chose those textual readings for the reason of intentionally distorting God’s Word for evil purposes.

What those “evil purposes” are usually remain in the realm of speculation on the part of the KJVO apologist presenting the evidence of corruption. It could be anything from the advancement of a secret Roman Catholic agenda designed to destroy Protestantism by casting doubt on Sola Scriptura, or it could be as fantastic as secretly working to subvert evangelical churches so as to make them more pliable to theological error and the ushering in of Antichrist.

Secondly, KJVO apologists ignore the context as to the reason why modern translators chose to use particular readings for their modern version. If any reasons are discussed, they are always bad. As we will see in upcoming chapters, modern textual critics and translators are considered liberal and the deniers of the inspiration of God’s Word, so they can’t be trusted because they have a nefarious agenda. Any evangelical translators who do affirm the inspiration of Scripture, yet still use modern versions, are considered compromised or pandering to “academia.” Never is there any genuine attempt to explain to the reader a balanced perspective for why translators translated a passage the way they did.

That is essentially what McElroy is trying to do with his first chapter. He lays out a number of verses taken from both the OT and NT, and then attempts to demonstrate that there are extreme differences between translations. So much so that it is implied that modern versions teach an alternative Christian faith.

However, if we were to take a step back and evaluate his “evidence” with a bit of sober-mindedness apart from the manufactured grid of his KJVO apologetic, one will quickly discover that he is misdirecting his readers just a bit.

Let me start with McElroy’s opening example. After telling his imaginary story of Jesus visiting your church with a big Bible under His arm, he cites Exodus 36:19 which reads in the KJV, And he made a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering of badgers’ skins above that. He highlights the phrase “badger skins” and then lists out how Exodus 36:19 reads in the NIV, NASB, ESV, and the New NIV. All of those translations translate the word for “badger skins” in the KJV as, “hides of sea cows,” “porpoise skin,” “goatskin,” and “durable leather,” respectively.

So in other words, according to McElroy, a profound disconnect exists between all those translations. They can’t ALL be correct as he proclaims. The reader is left with the impression that the doctrine of inspiration and inerrancy is at stake. But is it really?

What he is not telling his reader is that there really isn’t any corruption in the biblical text at all. Oh certainly there are differences in translations, but translational differences don’t count as textual corruption or even variant readings. All OT texts say the same thing in the original Hebrew language. But as seen in the previous post, McElroy rejects the concept of the “original” text which really just introduces still another presupposition one must accept unquestioningly for his system to work.

The phrase translated as “badger skins” is tachash ore and checking any Hebrew lexicon, the words are rather generic that mean some sort of leather or animal skin. The phrase may or may not mean “badger skins.” It is even mentioned in Exodus 26:14, where the same description of the tabernacle is given.

How the word is translated is left up to the translator’s discretion. McElroy doesn’t even bother to explain which one is correct. The reader now has the impression that all those kinds of leathers are presented in various readings of the OT at Exodus 36:19, but that’s not the case at all.

Let’s consider the citation of Ecclesiastes 8:10. McElroy partially cites the verse as it is found in the ESV and the NASB, but let me cite the verse in its entirety from those versions:

ESV: Then I saw the wicked buried. They used to go in and out of the holy place and were praised in the city where they had done such things. This is also vanity.

NASB: So then, I have seen the wicked buried, those who used to go in and out from the holy place, and they are soon forgotten in the city where they did thus. This too is futility. 

whatSo here we have a major contradiction, right? The ESV says the wicked will be praised in the city whereas the NASB says they are soon forgotten? What on earth? One translation has them being praised but the other has them forgotten?

Again, what is not mentioned here is that a variant does not exist in the Hebrew. However, because this section in Ecclesiastes has been historically difficult for translators to interpret, there have been emendations to the text to help with understanding what it means. McElroy mentions how the ESV sides with the Latin Vulgate and the LXX rendering of the verse, “were praised,” but the LV and LXX are also translations of the Hebrew. Those translators had the same difficulty with interpreting the text as modern translators do, hence the reason they chose the translation they did and the reason why the ESV chose to side with those translations.

Even the earlier English translations before the KJV recognized the interpretive challenge. For example, the 1549 Matthew’s second edition translates Ecclesiastes 8:10 as,

For I have oft seen the ungodly brought to their graves, and fallen down from the high, glorious place in so much they were forgotten in the city, where they had in so high and great reputation. 

So the verse is not a matter of a corruption of God’s Word, but which interpretation best understands what Solomon is saying and capturing that in the receptor language. Either one of those translations could be legit, because they are attempting to understand the meaning of the text so as to convey that in the translation. (This article provides a bit of background to the interpretive challenge of Ecclesiastes 8:10: The Doings of the Wicked in Qohelet 8:10).

Let’s go to the NT and consider a verse that is a result of a textual variant.

McElroy notes Luke 10:1. In the KJV the passage states that Jesus sent out 70 men to preach the Gospel. A few modern versions, particularly the NIV and ESV, will have 72 instead of 70. The question then is which one is correct?

Honestly, KJVO apologists exaggerate the variant (as they do most of them found in the Bible as we will see), but there is solid textual evidence for both readings as Jeffrey Miller reports in his article on the subject, Two or Not Two. Even the 1541 Great Bible recognizes the possibility of the variant when it translates “Seventy (and two)” adding the two in parenthesis.

I believe 70 is the correct reading, but I understand why 72 is found in a number of manuscripts and ancient translations and it doesn’t worry me one bit if a modern version reads 72 instead of 70, nor do I conclude God’s Word has been corrupted by heretics nor do I believe it is no longer inerrant.

McElroy discusses 5 other examples in the first chapter and everyone of them is easily explained when one steps back, lays aside the KJVO interpretive filters, and takes Barry Burton’s advice to weigh ALL the evidence. The specter of a corrupted Bible dissipates into the air.


19 thoughts on “Reviewing “Which Bible Would Jesus Use?” [3]

  1. So far, I’m thinking there’s nothing really new. As you have pointed out, N.I.V., N.A.S.B., N.E.B., and ALL the King Jim versions are ALL translations. For the King James, that Roman Catholic priest, Erasmus, did a pretty good job; but he had difficulty with translations too. Erasmus recognized the authority of the pope, emphasized a middle way with a deep respect for traditional faith, piety and grace, REJECTED Luther’s emphasis on faith alone. Erasmus remained a member of the Roman Catholic Church all his life,

  2. It has always amazed me the KJVO crowd thinks that devout Roman Catholic priest Erasmus was doing God’s work but that Baptist, John McArthur, has been doing the devil’s work. I wonder if they’ve thought this out.

  3. Senecagriggs

    Did you read my post on Erasmus on Freds first review?
    Trust me I thought it out.

  4. Fred

    The whole point is which translation would Jesus bring in an English speaking church today not which Hebrew edition he would bring in the church. McElroy’s point is valid.
    I could see the Athiest smiling to read what you wrote.

  5. Fred

    I wish you had as much love and respect for the KJB as you do for lexicons.

  6. This is for balanced bible believer and anyone else who is interested. I wonder if Fred would kindly allow me some tongues and interpretation on his blog? Of so, here goes using the old Luther bible:

    Dieser ists der da kompt mit Wasser vnd blut Jhesus Christus Nicht mit wasser alleine sondern mit wasser vnd blut. Vnd der Geist ists der da zeuget das Geist warheit ist. Denn drey sind die da zeugen auf Erden Der Geist vnd das Wasser vnd das Blut vnd die drey sind beysamen.

    Which, being interpreted, meaneth (my own translation):

    This is he who comes with water and blood, Jesus Christ. Not with water alone, but with water and blood. And the Spirit is the one who witnesses, the Spirit is the truth. There are three who witness on earth. The Spirit, the water and the blood, and the three are together.

    The RSV of this passage is

    This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth. There are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree.

    Now the 1545 Luther bible, which was translated from the Textus Receptus, the disputed words in the King James version – “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” – are missing. Modern versions miss them out or put them in a footnote.

    My question is, even using the TR as the basis, does God have one word for the English-speaking world including the missing phrase, and another one for the German-speaking world without it? It’s not as though the difference is due to a modern Greek text being used, both come from the TR, but even there there are minor variations in the manuscript tradition. iirc, there are 157 differences between the continental TR and the English TR.

    Does this affect Christian doctrine or belief? No, but to refuse to face these differences is in my opinion to commit intellectual suicide. Did God directly inspire the AV, but not Lulther?

  7. BBB states,
    The whole point is which translation would Jesus bring in an English speaking church today not which Hebrew edition he would bring in the church. McElroy’s point is valid.

    Several things here in your comment that have always been troubling for me regarding KJVO worldview.

    The fact is that God chose to use language to communicate with humanity. Even after the tower of Babel, men still regained the ability to communicate with each other through the learning of their new languages. That’s because God in His grace desires for men to not only fellowship with each other, but with Himself.

    KJVO apologists, by the very fact that they insist God’s true and pure word is ONLY to be found in the the KJV, restrict the access of God’s revelation to the nations. In a way, it is close to being true racism, if not Western elitism. When you write that the whole point is which translation would Jesus bring into an English speaking Church, the next question should be, if it is the KJV, which translation would he bring into a Kurdish church? Or a Chilean church? They don’t speak English nor do they care to learn.

    The fact of the matter remains that God, in His sovereignty, chose to give His initial (original) revelation of Himself first to a group that spoke and wrote exclusively in Hebrew. Later He revealed Himself to the globally redeemed people by the use of Greek. Both those languages capture what God original wanted men to know of Himself. He has seen fit to preserve the copies of those original revelations by the means of faithful people who cared about their transmission, and I would add, its translation in all the languages of every tongue and tribe and people of the world.

    I wish you had as much love and respect for the KJB as you do for lexicons.

    Let’s flesh that out a bit.

    My love and respect is for God’s Word, not to the exclusivity of the KJV as a final translation.

    God’s original word was revealed in Hebrew.

    The specific text McElroy cites is Exodus 36:19. The word used to translate “badger skins” in the KJV does not particularly mean “badger skins.” The translation of “badger skins” is an educated guess on the part of the men of the KJV company who translated Exodus.

    The word could very well mean sea cow, an animal that flourishes in the Red Sea, or goat skins, another animal that flourishes in the Sinai Peninsula, or it is some other unknown animal that produces a durable leather used by men. The fact that the word in question could possibly mean any one of those terms does not mean the word of God is only correct as far as the KJV renders the word or that God’s Word has been corrupted because any one of those other examples could be it. The KJV is not particularly accurate with its translation. That doesn’t mean it is wrong either. The doctrine of inspiration is hardly touched by such an uncertainty regarding the exact leather skins used to construct the tabernacle, though I am sure KJVO apologists will opine how every little sniggling detail has to be correct in their minds or Jesus will cry.

    The point of citing a lexicon is that I want to know exactly what God originally stated and be as accurate as can be when reading and conveying God’s Word. That is not denying God’s Word, but it is affirming and defending God’s Word.

  8. Fred,

    A few things. First, you invite the freak show that is Ruckmanism down into the mud with you. What’s ironic is that you have the same presuppositions. You are both in the mud trying to figure out how to get a Bible that was lost. Both of you believe it was lost in the original text. Their crazed solution is that God reinspired in English. You, on the other hand, contend for not having it, having a suitable percentage of it, of having enough of the concepts to practice what is most essential. Neither inspires great confidence.

    Second, you speak in this comment about “worldview.” I would agree that Ruckmanites don’t present a biblical worldview, but neither do you. At the root of a biblical worldview, the true view of the world, is one truth. There is only one story. There aren’t two words. You don’t get to go to a buffet table of words and choose the one that is the word, canonizing the word on the spot. At the root of your view is that there is more than one truth. You just have to pick the variant that best suits your position. In the end, you hold sway over what the Bible is. You canonize right as you speak. Next week, with new evidence, it might be another word instead. There is no wonder we are in the postmodern swamp even in churches today where doctrine is dumbed down to the lowest common denominator, everyone able to have his own doctrine, his own beauty. Fundamental to it is your worldview, Fred.

  9. It occurred to me that Jesus wouldn’t actually need a bible, he knows the entire contents of it by heart! After all, he is the author.

  10. Ken,

    God did not inspire Luther or the Translators of the KJB. As far as 1 John 5:7 is concerned I am pretty sure the Luther Bible I gave to my friend had it. When Luther first published his translation he did not include it. Just like Erasmus.
    I defend the KJB as the official English Scriptures. I will be honest. My focus is my mother tongue. I hope there are Germans who care about the Holy Scriptures in a pure and complete form in German. And to your point about Jesus wouldn’t need a Bible. Well I don’t think you get the point of the McElroy’s book. Which Bible would he quote from? Plus Jesus read from Isaiah.


    You don’t love the KJB, I do. What Lexicon do you use? What version do you carry to church? What proof do you have from Scripture that “The fact of the matter remains that God, in His sovereignty, chose to give His initial (original) revelation of Himself first to a group that spoke and wrote exclusively in Hebrew. Later He revealed Himself to the globally redeemed people by the use of Greek?”
    I don’t know what Bible I would give to a Kurd. I haven’t checked.

    Did you not read that I have a mother from Mexico? I gave her a Bible from Local Church. Riplinger sells Foreign Bibles.

    But this is all off topic. The focus is which Bible would Jesus use in an English speaking church today.


    Great points about Fred you hit the nail on the head minus the whole Ruckman stuff. What is Ruckmanism anyways?
    What do you believe?

  11. Shelby writes,
    You, on the other hand, contend for not having it, having a suitable percentage of it, of having enough of the concepts to practice what is most essential. Neither inspires great confidence.

    Really? That’s my position? Okay. And so I suppose you believe your particular “third way” is the right way? Can you lay that out for me please?

    There is only one story. There aren’t two words. You don’t get to go to a buffet table of words and choose the one that is the word, canonizing the word on the spot. At the root of your view is that there is more than one truth.

    Really? I am advocating more than one truth? Possibly more than two? Please, show me where I have done that. You keep insisting this is the way I am, but have yet to prove it.

    Moving along,
    You just have to pick the variant that best suits your position. In the end, you hold sway over what the Bible is.

    You mean like Erasmus and all the TR people? Even William Tyndale?

    BBB writes,

    What Lexicon do you use?
    A similar one that the KJV translators used. Do you think they never used lexicons? Or that the holy ghost just “inspired” them in some automatic writing way?

    What version do you carry to church?
    Currently I carry the NASB.

    What proof do you have from Scripture that “The fact of the matter remains that God, in His sovereignty, chose to give His initial (original) revelation of Himself first to a group that spoke and wrote exclusively in Hebrew. Later He revealed Himself to the globally redeemed people by the use of Greek?

    Romans 3:1,2 “What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.”

    Q: What were those oracles of God?
    Q: And what language were they conveyed?

  12. Fred,

    It seems that the others would prefer to not answer my questions I ask them:(
    I am glad you answered my questions. Though you still haven’t addressed your false view of the KJB not being on the Mayflower and King James and his relationship with the Pilgrims.

    When you respond to Shelby about “variants,” and how that you are following in a tradition of Erasmus and William Tyndale I must confess that I believe God’s hand was upon those men and that there was a time and need for it. God is not behind you picking and choosing your variants. Trust me Christianity is going to become more corrupt as more Christians adopt your approach.

    What lexicon did the KJB translators use? (Lexicons were rare back then) I don’t mind the Kings translators using a lexicon, but I can assure you the lexicons of today are created by men of questionable motives and beliefs that most likely influenced there lexicons for the worst.
    I believe the translators were guided by the Spirit of God just like their predecessors. I don’t see “automatic writing way,” in the scriptures. (It is totally possible that Paul and the apostles and prophets could have edited their originals.) One thing is clear “inspiration,” does not stop at the originals like your Pastor teaches.
    I like to describe the KJB translators process in two ways.
    1. [Luk 1:1-80 KJV] 1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, 2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; 3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, 4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
    2.The Holy Bible: containing the Olde Testament and the New. Newly translated out of the original tongues: and with the former translations diligently compared and revised: by His Majesties speciall commandement.

    You carry the NASB to church. I wonder what edition? I recommend Vance’s book on the NASB Update
    Here is a photo of a list of “archaic” words from the NASB. I hope it shows up on the post.

    You bring up Romans 3:1-2. The reason I ask for scriptural proof is because you believe that God only wrote in Hebrew and Greek. Romans 3:1-2 says nothing about God only giving us his spoken word in Hebrew and Greek. God uses many languages (Acts 2). This obsession with only Greek and Hebrew manuscripts or writings is not founded on scripture. Paul could have easily written a Latin copy of one of his epistles and the text could have been just as alive and given by inspiration of God as a Greek copy.

    You ask, “what were those oracles of God?” The oracles of God that Paul was referencing are
    1. The Old Testament and any message spoken but not written down that was given by God to a man or women to be given to the Jews and Gentiles.
    You ask, “and what language were they conveyed?”
    2. Primarily Hebrew, but also Aramaic, Egyptian, Chaldean, “Syrian,” and most likely other neighboring languages.
    Romans 3:1-2 doesn’t address what language was and is solely used for the New Testament.

    The truth is you believe that in order for a Christian to understand and know the scriptures completely that they must know Hebrew and Greek. This is not supported anywhere in Scripture.
    What I believe is that if an ENGLISH speaking Christian wants to find and study God’s complete word in English he only needs to look to the KJB.

    This is part of the coronation of the King and Queen of England. I believe it goes back to William and Mary. Guess what Bible they are holding and using? Yup, the KJB.

    V. The Presenting of the Holy Bible

    When the Queen is again seated, the Archbishop shall go to her Chair; and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, receiving the Bible from the Dean of Westminster, shall bring it to the Queen and present it to her, the Archbishop saying these words:

    Our gracious Queen:
    to keep your Majesty ever mindful of the law and the Gospel of God
    as the Rule for the whole life and government of Christian Princes,
    we present you with this Book,
    the most valuable thing that this world affords.

    And the Moderator shall continue:
    Here is Wisdom;
    This is the royal Law;
    These are the lively Oracles of God.

    Then shall the Queen deliver back the Bible to the Moderator, who shall bring it to the Dean of Westminster, to be reverently placed again upon the Altar. This done, the Archbishop shall return to the Altar.

  13. I’m uncomfortable with any line of reasoning that starts with “what would Jesus do?” IMHO, any such thought process borders on heresy because it puts the questioner in the shoes of Jesus. The seconnd problem is one that was already raised by a commentor above. Jesus is the Word.

  14. I also find it slightly interesting that the KJVO adherents claim that the heretical versions such as the NASB, ESV, etc. lead to all kinds of heresies. But you don’t see any examples of churches or anybody else basing their theology on these supposed heretical translations. As far as I can tell, the heresies that exist today existed in Apostles’ days.

  15. Hi Fred,
    There are a lot of books on the Bible version debate.
    Thanks for considering my book, WHICH BIBLE WOULD JESUS USE?––The Bible Version Controversy Explained and Resolved worth of the time and effort it takes to write a review.
    If you’re interested, you can find more information about me here:

  16. Pingback: Answering the Claims of KJV-Onlyism | hipandthigh

  17. Pingback: Reviewing Jack McElroy’s Which Bible Would Jesus Use? | hipandthigh

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