I had the privilege of attending the Together for the Gospel 2016 conference in Louisville, KY. I joined 10,000 fellow believers and several very dear friends in times of preaching and song. One of the exhibits at the T4G bookstore was “The Museum of the Bible.” This displayed several aged books from church history, including one owned by Martin Luther and an original printing of Calvin’s Institutes. The youngest display peaked my interest most: a 1611 copy of the King James Bible.
Here is a blurry picture:
The King James Version is a literary marvel. I own a copy myself and am very grateful for its rich history. Yet there are some who claim the KJV is the only viable English translation of Scripture. The English Standard Version, New American Standard Version, Holman Christian Standard Version, etc. are “New World” translations – the fruit of ungodly efforts to pervert the truth of God. We generally call this conviction “KJV Onlyism.” Popular proponents of this include Steven Anderson and Kent Hovind. This post does not robustly rebut KJV Onlyism, but I would like to demonstrate a fundamental flaw in it.
Look closer at the picture above – the bottom-left corner.
Catch that footnote?
It’s a footnote! The picture is blurry – it reads: “Or, one that hath right to redeeme.” This footnote is similar to those found in modern translations of the Bible. It informs the reader of alternate viable translations. This footnote (one among many) is evidence that the KJV translators believed their efforts could be improved upon. “The Greek says this… or, it could be saying this…” If the KJV is the only viable English translation, then why did its translators believe that it was errant?
If the translators were alive today, certainly they would recognize the superiority of some modern translations, which have taken advantage of older Greek Manuscripts and greater understanding of Greek grammar (ex. the Granville Sharpe Construction). The translators would recognize their superiority because their utmost concern was to translate into English what the Greek and Hebrew actually meant.
For more info, check out James White’s comments here.