WARNING! A CONTROVERSIAL SUBJECT
I love to study the word of God; I love God's word. I have spent a great many years studying the pages of God's holy word, because I believe in the word of God. I usually read the King James Version, however I have also used other versions. As a serious student of the word of God I need to get as big a picture of the meaning in the word of God as possible.
However according to some people who call themselves “KJV Only” the only version Christians should read is the KJV 1611 version. According to the “KJV Only” people, the KJV version is the only inspired word of God and any other version is not the word of God. Not only that but that the people who read or teach from other versions are endangering their salvation by using versions not inspired by God. They have gone so far in their fanaticism as to call other versions satanic inspired.
That being said let me say that I totally disagree with their statements and beliefs. I believe other versions also are the word of God. For a long time I steered away from this debate and hesitated to throw my hat into the ring because of its controversial nature and the ugly accusations that fly in this debate. The first of many accusations against someone who objects to the “KJV Only” position is that he is an attacker of God's word.
First of all I want to make it perfectly clear that for years I have defended the word of God many times and I have refuted many cultists doctrines and atheists attacks upon it. So please nobody accuse me of being an attacker of God's holy word, for that is a lie. If I was an attacker of God’s word I would be out there burning Bibles or denying the Bible. Another reason I didn't want to enter this debate was because I did not want to provide more ammunition to the enemies of God's word. And also I do not want any weak Christian to have doubts concerning the veracity of the word of God. I am therefore issuing this warning; this is an advanced teaching “strong meat” that should not be read by babes in the Lord for they might choke on it, not being able to chew on it.
So let’s make it perfectly clear that what is discussed in here is not the veracity of the scriptures, but the correctness of the translation of those scriptures. Much to the chagrin of the “KJV Only” crowd the word of God was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, and not in 1611 English.
I shall present some arguments that others have already presented, plus a few more of my own. I organized this article in what I believe is a very detailed outline, that will present these arguments in the clearest and strongest possible way.
If ever there was an article I hated to write this is it, however I consider it moral cowardice to evade a topic that needs to be addressed. There comes a time when certain legalisms must be confronted. One of the current legalism or doctrine being imposed upon the saints of God is that people must use only the KJV or else they are going to hell.
I believe the Bible to be completely free of factual error. I believe it to be the word of God. But my belief only applies to the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts; it does not apply to translations of the Bible, like the KJV (King James Version).
Of course people who worship the KJV will be mighty upset with me for saying that and they might even accuse me of being a traitor, a new ager and who knows what else. They might not even listen to what I am about to say but here it goes anyway.
Despite the dangers of my character being attacked and being labeled with some nasty words, I will proceed and say that I think it is time to ask a few hard questions of the KJV advocates.
This might surprise some people but actually there is more than one KJV Bible. The original KJV came out in 1611, yet it was revised every few years there were major revisions in 1613, 1629, 1638, 1644, 1701, 1744, 1769 and 1850. That is at least 8 major revisions of the KJV to choose from not to mention all the minor revisions that happened along the way.
01. Why should there be any revisions at all? If the KJV of 1611 is the word of God why should it need to be revised? A book that is divinely inspired has no need for any revisions whatsoever.
02. Which KJV is the inspired? The original or one of the many revisions that have come along, perhaps it is the last revision made in 1850?
03. Why should the 1850 be the last revision to it? Why stop there? Unbeknown to most people even after the 1850 revision, many minor additional changes in punctuation, capitalization, and spelling have been made. Many hundreds of changes in words, word order, possessives, singulars for plurals, articles, pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions, entire phrases, and the addition and deletion of words. Of course none of the next editions have been called a “revision”. Those minor changes can be seen in the 1885 Oxford edition, University Press, 2005 Cambridge edition.
04. Who publishes the "inerrant KJV"? Oxford? Cambridge? Nelson? They all have their own KJV version and each differs slightly from the other two.
Adherents of the "KJV Only" doctrine insist the "Authorized" KJV translation is inspired because it is authorized.
05. God has never authorized or commanded any translation of the scriptures in the Bible. Look from Genesis to Revelation for any command for a translation. So, where is this authorization in the Bible? Who authorized this translation?
06. If there was to be a future great or perfect translation; would not there be a prophecy about it. Are there any prophecies predicting a future translation?
07. If there is no authorization in the Bible where else did they get it? Where outside the Bible is there any authorization for its translation?
08. Did any of the apostles or even the “Apostolic” fathers mention such doctrine, Where is such authorization from Peter, Paul, any apostle or even from one of the Post-apostolic fathers?
09. Just where is it written that a specific translation would be inspired, Where is it written that the KJV of 1611 is inspired? I have a copy of an original 1611 KJV and it does not contain such claim of inspiration.
10. Since God has never commanded any translation, then why should God be under any compulsion to inspire any translation?
11. Such a doctrine of inspiration would have been a well known doctrine, so did any church in the 17th Century made it a matter of faith? There are no records claiming the KJV of 1611 being inspired in any documents of that era.
12. A man of God or a great prophet would have surely spoken of such a translation. Did any individual of the 17th century ever proclaimed such inspiration? Well we know of none so far.
13. We have plenty of records from the 17th Century, then why did not anyone not even the translators themselves mention such an idea. Why no one mentions such inspiration?
14. None of the translators of the other English versions ever claimed such inspiration. Tyndale's , Coverdale's , Matthew's , the Geneva  . . . If not then why not?
15. If none of the prior English translators ever claimed divine inspiration. Why should the KJV translators be any different?
16. If we must possess a perfectly flawless bible translation in order to call it "the word of God"? How do we know it is “perfect”? What is the standard or measurement we use?
WHAT ABOUT BEFORE?
The KJV Only people have a big dilemma with time.
17. Since the KJV was written in 1611, what about the 16 centuries before then?
18. Does this mean that God was waiting for 16 centuries before giving Christians his pure holy word, why did he have to wait for so long?
19. So according to this theory God waited until a king named "James" reigned before perfectly preserving his word in English. Why?
20. Paul the Apostle never heard of the KJV, was he without God's word?
21. The early Christians had no KJV, which is according to “KJV Only” crowd is the "only pure word of God". Are all the early Christians lost?
22. If the KJV is "God's infallible and preserved word to the English-speaking people," did the "English-speaking people" not have "the word of God" from 1525-1604?
23. There was a great Protestant Reformation between 1517 and 1603; did it take place without "the word of God"?
24. God is everlasting, and eternal, he is not trapped by time. Does God transcend time or is he somehow stuck in the year 1611?
The fact that the KJV is an English translation and most of the world speaks other languages is a big problem for the “KJV Only” advocates.
25. Where does the Bible teaches that God's word must be in only one language?
26. There are thousands of languages in the planet, Why should English be the chosen language of God? Why not Chinese after all there are more Chinese in the world than any other race of people?
27. Christians in other nations do not have the KJV, are they doomed?
28. Do the millions of Christians worldwide must learn English in order to have the word of God? One “KJV Only” person went so far as to say said that, “Yes the whole world has to learn English if they wanted to be saved.”
29. Do they realize that the apostle Paul did not know English, and neither did millions of early Christians? So then according to the KJV only crowd it is obvious that neither Paul nor the early Christians were really saved since they did not have the real word of God? But wasn't Paul the one who wrote the epistles in Greek?
30. What about the other translations. Matthew wrote his gospel once in Hebrew and perhaps also in Greek. Was Matthew wrong in writing his gospel in two languages?
31. If God gave us the KJV as an inspired English translation, why would God not repeat the process again in other languages? Or is God somehow limited to the English language?
32. So according to KJV Only crowd, God supervised and guided their translation, but not that of other languages? What makes the English people so special?
33. Some KJV Only advocates have pointed that many of the translations in other languages have errors, so they admit that there are errors in other translations, but what makes them think that the English KJV translation itself has no errors?
HEBREW, GREEK? OR PERHAPS OTHER?
The "KJV Only" people have a big problem here. God gave us the Old Testament in Hebrew, and the New Testament in Greek, not English.
34. Since God gave us the Scriptures in Hebrew and Greek, Why change it?
35. Wouldn't it make more sense to say that the whole world had to learn Hebrew and Greek; that is if they wanted to be saved?
36. Learning Hebrew or Greek has never a requirement for getting saved, why no such requirement? Why was there no requirement for people to learn Hebrew or Greek, so they would have the “real” word of God?
37. God gave the scriptures in Hebrew, where is it that he has asked anyone to translate the scriptures into any other language?
38. If God's word must be poetical or special, why did the Apostles not choose classical Greek which was the language of the learned poets? But instead used the common language of the people which was Koine GREEK?
39. The KJV crowd has gone so far as to state that their translation can "correct" the inspired originals, do the Hebrew and Greek originally "breathed out by God" need correction or improvement?
40. Since Jesus spoke Aramaic and Hebrew, wouldn't it make more sense to write the New Testament in Aramaic or Hebrew, to get the real words of Jesus instead of a Greek translation of his words? Wouldn’t we all then have to learn Aramaic and Hebrew in order to be saved?
41. Do you not know that the jot or tittle are features of the Hebrew language not the English? So according to Matthew 5:18, in what language did Jesus Christ teach that the Old Testament would be preserved forever? In Hebrew which is the only language that has the jot and the tittle. Listen KJV Only people, the English language does not have the jot and the tittle, no it does not.
42. If Jesus said that the Word of God would be forever preserved in Hebrew, has he somehow changed his mind since then?
43. Did God lose the words of the originals when the "autographs" were destroyed?
44. Were the Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible lost or corrupted for 16 centuries?
45. Did God had to somehow miraculous restore his lost words in the 1611 KJV?
THE KJV BETTER THAN GREEK?
This is a silly game that the “KJV Only” people play when shown erroneous or not quite correct translations of the KJV Bible from the Greek text. They actually claim that the translation is more correct than the text being translated. This is ridiculous; it is like saying that a copy of the Mona Lisa is a better masterpiece than the original Mona Lisa.
46. Do you believe that the Hebrew and Greek used for the KJV are "the word of God"? So why not rely on them instead of the translation?
47. Why do KJV only advocates believe that the English of the KJV is clearer and more precise than the original Greek language manuscripts?
48. When there is a difference between the KJV English and the TR Greek, why should anyone believe that the Greek was wrong and the KJV English is correct? Shouldn't it be the other way around?
49. How about the ultimate example of "translation worship" (Rejecting the original in favor of the translation). Is it not ridiculous to suggest that when the TR disagrees with the KJV that Greek TR has errors, but the KJV doesn't?
50. If the KJV is better than the original Greek manuscripts, shouldn't all minister and Bible scholars throw out all their Greek dictionaries?
51. If the KJV is better than the original Greek manuscripts, should there not be an old Elizabethan English dictionary in every minister's theological library? Instead of the recommended Greek dictionaries?
52. If the KJV is better than the original Greek manuscripts, then why do many of the “KJV Only” churches allow their Bible students and minister to study their Greek dictionaries?
53. The ultimate irony to me, is that many preachers who are “KJV Only” have many Greek dictionaries, why do they even have them? After all according to the “KJV Only” crowd the KJV is inspired, so what need is there to study the Greek words?
54. Are there not word pictures in the original Greek words that the English cannot easily convey? Jas 2:19 "tremble"; Greek: PHRISSO, indicates to be rough, to bristle. is a powerful word picture of how the demons are in such terror that their skin is rough with goose pimples.
55. What about the Greek words that convey multiple or varied meanings? Notice how in the Greek language the word love can be translated as "agape" or "phileo", which clearly differentiate about the type of love. Since the English language lacks this rich diversity of expressive words it simply uses the same word for both, love, because it is unable to translate the original word.
56. Or let us take a look at the Hebrew language. In 1 kings 18:40 the English simply says that Elijah Slew the Prophets of Baal, but the actual Hebrew word is that he cut off their heads. Isn’t this a more complete picture of the punishment they got?
The translators of the KJV were without doubt very learned men, but they were men trapped in their era and the knowledge of that era. Many of the translators of the Bible had never visited the Holy Land, were ignorant of ancient customs and many facts of the land. They were not botanists nor zoologists so they did not understand many of the things the Bible spoke about. They translated from what limited knowledge they had.
57. Are we to believe that the translators’ limited knowledge of the customs, geography and nature of the land did not affect how they made the translation?
58. If the KJV translators were inspired of God in their work, why did they not know it? Why none of them ever said that their translation was inspired?
59. Were the KJV translators "liars" for saying that "the very meanest [poorest] translation" is still "the word of God"?
60. Did the KJV translators mislead their readers by saying that their New Testament was "translated out of the original Greek"? [Title page of KJV NT] Were they "liars" for claiming to have "the original Greek" to translate from?
61. If the translators had the original Greek, was it somehow lost after 1611?
62. The translators were not some kind of special holy men, just look at the Epistle dedicatory they gave to King James; where they praise the king as "most dread Sovereign . . .Your Majesty's Royal Person . . ." Is this not obvious and shameless pandering and courting the favor of the King?
63. Would you contend that the KJV translator, Richard Thomson, who worked on Genesis-Kings in the Westminster group, was "led by God in translating" even though he was an alcoholic who "drank his fill daily" throughout the work? [Gustavus S. Paine -- "The Men Behind the KJV" Baker Book House/1979/pgs. 40, 69]
PROBLEMS OF THE KJV
There are many problems with the KJV and those problems stem from the limitations of the era when the KJV was translated. The translators of the KJV were learned men, but their incomplete knowledge and culture limited them. They were products of their times and the KJV; "their product" shows it.
64. Is it not obvious that the KJV speaks in the Elizabethan language that was actually outdated even in 1611?
65. The Textus Receptus, from which the KJV was translated, was based on half a dozen small manuscripts. Is it not a fact that after 1850 (when the last revision to the KJV was done) thousands of new manuscripts were discovered?
66. Is it not true that of the manuscripts used to translate the KJV none were earlier than the 10th century? Is it not true that many more ancient manuscripts have since been discovered?
67. How can you accept that the Textus Receptus is perfect and error free when Acts 9:6 is found only in the Latin Vulgate but absolutely no Greek manuscript known to man?
68. How come in Rev 22:19 the phrase "book of life" is used in the KJV when absolutely ALL known Greek manuscripts read "tree of life"?
69. If the Textus Receptus is the error free text, then why are the last 6 verses of Revelation absent from the TR, yet present in the KJV? Did you know that for these verses, the Latin Vulgate was translated into English - a translation of a translation?
70. How can we trust the TR to be 100% error free when the second half of 1 Jn 5:8 is found only in the Latin Vulgate and a Greek manuscript probably written in Oxford about 1520 by a Franciscan friar named Froy (or Roy), who took the disputed words from the Latin Vulgate?
71. The Comma Johanneum (1 John 5:7) is a part of the KJV. Yet this was widely rejected by most Biblical scholars even Erasmus the creator of the Textus Receptus (TR) rejected it as spurious and did not included in his next editions. How come no Bible not even the Catholic ones have included it since 1901?
72. Which reading is the verbally (word-for-word) inerrant scripture — "whom ye" [Cambridge KJV's] or, "whom he" [Oxford KJV's] at Jeremiah 34:16?
73. Which reading is the verbally (word-for-word) inerrant scripture — "sin" [Cambridge KJV's] or "sins" [Oxford KJV's] at 2 Chronicles 33:19?
74. Most people are not aware of this, but the translators added extra words to complete a sentence or explain a verse, these extra words are in italic in the KJV. Isn't this adding to the word of God?
75. If the “KJV Only” supporters believe fully in the word-for-word inspiration of the KJV, why would the extra italicized words be necessary?
76. Some people think that God chose King James as authorizer of the KJV because he was a special holy person, but many books and encyclopedias attest to the fact that King James was a practicing homosexual all of his life. Was his lifestyle consistent with a “special” calling by God?
CHANGES IN THE KJV?
If something were perfect then it doesn't need to change at all, any change to it would only make it less perfect. Yet the KJV has thousands of changes since the original edition was published.
77. If the original KJV translation was guided and supervised by God; then why changes had to be made to it? Did somehow God not got it right the first time?
78. Why did there had to be the revisions of 1611, 1629, 1638, 1644, 1664, 1701, 1744, 1762, 1769, and 1850?
79. The KJV translators used marginal notes showing alternate translation possibilities? If the English of the KJV were inspired of God, there would be no alternates! Why were there alternates translations in the original 1611 KJV?
80. The Apocrypha, which is made of many books was a part of the original KJV, but it is no longer there. Is taking many books out of the Bible not a major change?
81. Why do "KJV Only" advocates reject the apocrypha, since the original 1611 version contained the apocrypha?
82. All the marginal notes, along with the Apocrypha, the opening Dedication to James I and a lengthy introduction from "The Translators to the Reader." Are removed from modern editions of the KJV. Why these changes?
ERRORS IN THE KJV?
If something is perfect then it has no errors, but it is well known that the KJV translation has errors
83. The most powerful and irrefutable evidence against the KJV being translated under inspiration is that the very first edition of the original KJV came with thousands of errors? (KJV- 1611 edition; BoM- 1831 edition) How do "KJV Only" advocates explain that?
84. The translators made mistakes in the chapter summaries in the 1611 version. Wouldn't God have inspired these as well?
85. If God supervised the translation process so that the KJV is 100% error free, why did God not extend this supervision to the printers? It is well known that many of the printers made mistakes and later had to reprint entire editions.
STRANGE READINGS IN THE KJV
There are some readings that read strange in the KJV and show the limitations of the KJV. Below are some samples.
86. Why would the Holy Spirit miss-guide the translators to employ the use of mythical creatures like "unicorn" for wild ox, "satyr" for "wild goat", "cockatrice" for common viper, when today we know what are the real names of these creatures?
87. How about homosexuals chosen by God? Luke 17:34
88. Is it possible that the rendition "gay clothing," in the KJV at James 2:3, could give the wrong impression to the Modern English KJV reader?
89. Is the Holy Spirit an "it" according to John 1:32; Romans 8:16, 26; and 1 Peter 1:11 in the KJV? [Again — you may not go the Greek for any "light" if you are a “KJV Only” believer!]
OBJECTIONS TO OTHER VERSIONS
Some "KJV Only" defenders have resorted to attacking other versions in their zeal to protect the KJV.
90. They claim that none of the modern versions have the authority of the church. Well neither did the KJV, it was authorized by a king of England. Just which church authorized this translation?
91. They claim God inspires none of the modern versions. Well they have not proven their own version to be inspired by God. If they have proof, where is it?
92. The "KJV Only" advocates claim that the KJV has no copyright unlike the other modern translations. That the publishers of the new bibles are wrong for copyrighting the work of each translation. This only shows their ignorance, for the KJV does have a copyright, here is the copyright that appears in some KJV Bibles.
"All rights in respect of the Authorized (King James) Version of the Holy Bible are vested in the Crown in the United Kingdom and controlled by Royal Letters Patent. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, or stored in any retrieval system of any nature without written permission." So is this or is this not a copyright?
93. The "KJV Only" advocates point out that all modern translations have mistakes, but that is irrelevant, because we maintain that all translations have errors. Do they realize their accusation is invalid because even the KJV version has errors?
Some KJV Only defenders have tried to get around the problems of the KJV by claiming some sort of gradualism. They claim that God gave the word of God in different stages. With the KJV revision of 1850 being the last stage.
94. Where is gradualism in the Bible?
95. Why would God resort to gradualism?
96. Did God supernaturally "move His Word from the original languages to English" in 1850?
97. Why would God stop at the year 1850?
98. We do not dress like people in the 17th century, we do not eat like them, and we do not speak like them, so why should we still read like them? Or is God not capable of speaking in the modern English language? Is he somehow culturally trapped in 1850?
99. Why cant' the newer translations be part of this gradualism?
THE KJV AS A BARRIER?
The KJV Only people do not understand that just like the Catholic Church put a barrier to the common people by requiring that the scriptures be written in Latin and actually killing people for translating the scriptures into other languages; so do they put a barrier for common folk to hear and understand the word of God by insisting that we use an outdated version for today's common people.
100. The New Testament was first written in the language of the common people, why should we now choose a version, which is hard to read even by educated folks? In defending the KJV's use of archaic language, does anyone really think it is a good thing that a person must use an old English dictionary just to understand the Bible in casual reading?
101. If God gave us the KJV as an inspired English translation, in the language of that era; why would God not repeat the process again in today's Modern English language? Or is God somehow not able to do today what he supposedly did in the year 1611?
THE BIGGEST ARGUMENT AGAINST THE KJV ONLY STANCE
The biggest argument against the KJV Only crowd is actually their main argument. If the KJV of 1611 is the only word of God, then how come none of the KJV Only crowd uses the original KJV of 1611? That is right! The KJV proponents themselves do not use the original KJV of 1611. How do I know? Because I have a copy of the original KJV of 1611 and I have never heard a KJV Only proponent use the exact wording in the original KJV of 1611, this tells me they themselves do not actually believe their own argument, otherwise they would demand that all their followers stick to the original KJV of 1611.
TRANSLATION ERRORS IN THE KJV
Here is a partial listing of King James Version translation errors:
II Kings 2:23, should be "young men", not "little children."
Malachi 4:6 should read ". . . lest I come and smite the earth with utter destruction." "Curse" doesn't give the proper sense here. Same word used in Zechariah 14:11.
John 13:2 should be "And during supper" (RSV) rather than "And supper being ended" (KJV).
Acts 12:4 has the inaccurate word "Easter" which should be rendered "Passover." The Greek word is pascha which is translated correctly as Passover in Matthew 26:2, etc.
I Timothy 4:8 should say, "For bodily exercise profiteth for a little time: but godliness is profitable unto all things . . . ."
Hebrews 4:8 should be "Joshua" rather than "Jesus", although these two words are Hebrew and Greek equivalents.
Hebrews 4:9 should read, "There remaineth therefore a keeping of a sabbath to the people of God."
I John 5:7-8 contains additional text which was added to the original. "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." The italicized text was added to the original manuscripts. Most modern translations agree that this was an uninspired addition to the Latin Vulgate to support the trinity doctrine.
ADDITION ERRORS IN THE KJV
No language can be translated word for word into another language. Hebrew and Greek idioms often do not come through clearly into literal English. Thus, beginning in 1560 with the Geneva Bible, translators initiated the practice of adding italicized clarifying words to make the original language clearer. The fifty-four King James translators did the same. Often, the added italicized words do help make the meaning clearer. At other times, the translators through their doctrinal misunderstandings added errors instead.
In Revelation 20:10 the italicized "are" is incorrect and "were cast" in italics would have been more appropriate. Another instance is John 8:28 where Jesus said (KJV), "I am he." The "he" is in italics and was not actually spoken by Jesus, completely obscuring the fact the Jesus was claiming to be the great "I AM" of the Old Testament, John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14.
In Luke 3:23-38, the italicized words "the son" are not in the original Greek. Actually, Luke gives the fleshly descent of the Savior through Mary, while Matthew gives the legal descent through Joseph.
Matthew 24:24 should not have the italicized words "it were". These words do not appear in the original text but were added for clarity.
I Timothy 3:11 has "their" in italics, which is not implied in the original.
II Peter 2:5 should not have "the eight person" This is obviously a misstatement, because the group on Noah’s ark was composed of eight persons.
I John 2:23 has "[but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also" in italics. This is an addition based upon the Latin text and not in the original Greek.
Luke 23:43 has been erroneously used by some to claim that Jesus went straight to heaven at His death. The original Greek did not have punctuation marks as we do today. The KJV states, "And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." The comma should not be after "thee", but "today." The believing malefactor would be with Christ in the paradise of the redeemed when he was resurrected far into the future, not that same day.
THE SHAKY FOUNDATION OF THE KJV
The KJV translation is founded upon the Textus Receptus. Many don't seem to know or understand that the Textus Receptus is not one single text but different ones.
The man who edited the first text was a Roman Catholic priest and humanist named Erasmus. He was under pressure to get it to the press as soon as possible. He was in such a hurry that he took existing manuscripts, corrected them, and submitted those to the printer.
Consequently, his first edition has been called the most poorly edited volume in all of literature! His first edition of the Textus Receptus was filled with hundreds of typographical errors that even Erasmus would later acknowledge. Erasmus knew that he had made many mistakes, so he created new editions, to correct the errors he made in the first one. Later under pressure from Rome he added the comma johanneum in his third edition, but took it out in his fourth edition and the later editions.
Later on Robert Stephanus (Estienne), third edition became one of the two "standard" texts of the TR. This was followed by Theodore de Bèza, the Protestant reformer who succeeded Calvin. Beza followed closely the work of Erasmus.
It is Beza's edition of 1598 and Stephanus's edition of 1550 and 1551, which were used as the primary sources by the King James translators. These "Textus Receptus" which were used by the KJV translators, had hundredths of variations among them. The Translators had to choose what they considered the best reading. So the KJV was actually a mixture of the work of Beza and Stephanus.
Most scholars are pretty much in agreement about the Old Testament. They consider the current Hebrew text to be an almost exact copy of the original, for the Hebrew Scholars developed elaborate and meticulous RULES for transcribing. They were extremely precautious and had built many safeguards into the transmission of the holy text.
The Levites decreed that when a person was making a new text, he had to copy the original page with such exactness that the number of words on a page could not be changed. These scribes were only allowed to copy only a certain amount of text per day, lest any tired scribe introduce an error into the scriptures.
The scribes were extremely meticulous and decreed that each line on a new page had to be the exact same as the line on the old page. If the original page had 288 words, then the page being copied had to have the same 288 words, not a single mistaken letter was allowed in the text. If the first line on the original page had nine words, the first line on the copy page had to have nine words. Therefore the scribes were not allowed to copy sentence for sentence or even word for word. They had to copy letter for letter.
After a page was copied, each letter was counted and compared with the original by a different scribe. Not a single letter mistake was allowed. These scribes were such extremist when it came to the spelling of the scriptures that any copy that contained a single letter out of place was destroyed.
After a scroll was finished it was checked by another third person who would check to see what the middle word was on the page and then would count the phrases.
These are just a few examples of the great detail that went into ensuring the accuracy of the Scriptures. If that was not enough there were many more steps taken in the process. Some highly learned men have said that without a doubt the Old Testament is at least 99.9% true to the original! So there is not much debate about its accuracy, although there is some debate about its proper translation.
Unfortunately the early Christians were not as careful with the preservation of the scriptures as the Jewish Scholars had been, because after many of them were gentiles without the scribal traditions or rules like the Jewish scribes. The early Christian scribes sat down and copied the text, but there was no one over their shoulder meticulously checking their accuracy. This is the reason there are many variations in the scriptures, but usually these variations are of a minor importance, most of them are simple misspellings and variations of a word.
Example of bad transcription:
"There was tme when man belived in gods of stoune and metal, they used glod and sliver to make thier gods". If I were to send this message to anyone, they would think I am an uneducated person, but they would have no problem understanding my message.
The bulk of the discussion centers on the New Testament. We have more than five thousand manuscript copies of the Greek New Testament, but no two of them agree completely. So here there are two discussions the first one deals with its accuracy. Scholars have endless debates about which is the correct or closest reading to the original. The second point of discussion is the translation. How should a word or phrase be translated has been the cause of countless arguments and debates.
Of course the KJV Only defenders insist that the KJV has both, the correct text and the correct translation. But it has already been proven that the KJV does have errors of translation, and by including the comma johanneum it gives strong reason that it also has erroneous texts.
If the KJV has errors does it mean that the word of God is not pure? No, all it means is that the translators made a mistake in translation. The word of God (Original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts) still remains pure.
If a translation has errors does that mean it doesn't have the word of God? No, it still contains the word of God.
If a translation is not 100% accurate does it mean it is not able to save a lost soul? No, the word of God is powerful regardless if it is not 100% sharp.
Do you need the whole word of God to be saved? Nope some Christians never had a complete Bible yet were faithful to what the Lord gave them. In some places Christians only had the gospels writings available yet they were followers of Christ, without having the full New Testament writings.
If neither the KJV nor any other one version is absolutely inerrant, how could a lost sinner still be "born again" by the "incorruptible word of God"? [1 Peter 1:23]. Because the word of God is able to work despite the limitations of men.
God is not limited by time or place, so why do some "limit" "the word of God" to only ONE "17th Century English" translation? That can only be read and yet seldom understood in the English speaking countries?
The word of God has the same power weather spoken in Elizabethan English or in plain Modern English.
Which Bible then should we read, I believe you should read whatever version you can understand best. If you don't mind the thees and thous and a few ancient words, then I heartily recommend the KJV. If you have trouble understanding it then I suggest the NIV.
Is the KJV of 1611 the word of God? Sure it is, but so are the other versions, for all of them are translations of the same word of God.
Which version do I read?
Well as a preacher and theologian I read from them all, I read from the KJV, the NKJV, NIV, the NASB, the Amplified version, La Reina de Valera (Spanish) and just about any other version.
Why do I read all the different versions of the Bible? Because I want to get all the richness of the word of God, I want to understand all the nuances of the word of God. I want a more complete understanding of the meaning of certain texts. I often read a verse in different translations and sometimes I even check the meaning of some Greek words.