The Inherent Presupposition(s) of KJV-Onlyism

*Many readers have likely seen the July 10th clip circulating the internet which asserts that the NIV “removes” many passages “from the Bible.”  Not surprisingly, the post has gained much traction by KJV-only advocates {hereafter KJVO} – that is, those who affirm that the KJV alone constitutes “the word of God.”  And, any other translation of the original languages is a supposed “perversion” of God’s Word.  

*While such outlandish assertions really do not merit scholarly analysis, the outright misinformation in the post needs to be addressed.  In this piece I will briefly demonstrate the factual errors and inherent assumptions made by the original author of the article (this is not intended as an attack on anyone who may have reposted or linked the initial article) – and then I will post a rejoinder paper written by my esteemed Elder and friend, J.R. Ensey.

*First, the author makes the assertion(s) that the NIV has “removed” certain words and passages out of “the Bible” – which, obviously, means the KJV.  Hence, the writer assumes his conclusion before ever leaving the gate {i.e., “circular reasoning”}.  However, I am wondering which KJV he is calling “the Bible” since there have been numerous redactions and revisions since the 1611 KJV?  The KJV used by most today is known as the 1769 Blayney Revision, and there are two versions of this KJV revision – the Oxford and the Cambridge – which differ from one another in various places.  Which one of these two KJV’s does the original writer of the article claim as the solely “inspired word of God?”    

*Further, since KJVO’s like the author of the post typically argue that the “original KJV” is what all churches should use, I assume he uses the Apocrypha in his lessons {i.e., Roman Catholic deutero-canonical books (e.g., I Maccabees, Bel and the Dragon, I Esdras, etc.)} since it was not omitted from the KJV until 1885 A.D.  Indeed, the Apocrypha was a part of the KJV for 274 years before it was “removed.”  Hence, unbeknownst to the writer of the article, the “removal” charge is equally leveled at the KJV, not to even mention the numerous additions of the KJV {with virtually zero manuscript support – shall we discuss the Book of Revelation?}.  

*And, I assume that the original author of the clip never consults “Strong’s” concordance regarding the original languages since a 400 year old English version is apparently sufficient?  If the writer has ever been heard to say, “This Greek word means ___________” – then he has just abandoned the KJV.  What about the Chinese, Ethiopic, Japanese, Yugoslavs, etc.?  Do they all need to learn the Elizabethan English of the 1600’s to be saved?  Was no one saved prior to 1885 when the Apocrypha was “removed” from the KJV?  Did no one have the “true word of God” prior to 1611?  

*Clearly, those that make such baseless assertions have very little {if any} background in the discipline of textual-criticism, know nothing about the ancient Greek MS finds of the late 1800’s in Egypt, nor understand the history of the transmission process.  Moreover, it has been well-noted that those who actually do have some background in textual-criticism have been found guilty of sloppy research methods regarding ancient papyrological dating. 

*Before posting Elder Ensey’s article below, let me hasten to state that if someone wishes to solely use the KJV that is certainly their prerogative.  In fact, I always preach from the KJV myself!  There are places the KJV is rather lacking in its renderings {e.g., Phil. 2.6}, and there are places the KJV is absolutely excellent in its translation choices {e.g., Phil. 2.7}.  

*The point of this article is not at all to tear down the KJV, but rather to point out that no translation is absolutely flawless due to the nature of translating from an ancient language (i.e., the sender language) into a contemporary dialect (i.e., the receptor language).  And, sadly, there is such a thing as “Translation Idolatry.”  However, the core doctrines of the church remain untouched in any reputable translation {e.g., KJV, NASB, NET, ESV} and in this we can certainly rejoice and forge ahead!

*In addition to the data presented in this article, I would also point readers to this link which further explicates the NIV translation choices.

*While I could certainly continue ad-nauseum – {been researching this issue for numerous years now and have taught on this topic in numerous places} – the links below should suffice to any sincere seeker of biblical truth.  Note:  The YouTube links below are strictly educational debates and/or academical lectures on this issue:


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**Elder J.R. Ensey’s paper below in full-text {used with permission}.  In some instances I have bolded and underlined Elder Ensey’s salient points for emphasis:

This brief article is submitted in response to a July 10 Facebook posting that was read by many people, including some of our folks here in Living Way Church. It concerned the topic of Bible translations.  The purpose of this response is not to uphold or corroborate the NIV renderings, but to bring balance to the topic.

1.  The poster on FB said: “The NIV is published by Zondervan but is now owned by HarperCollins, who also publishes the Satanic Bible and the Joy of Gay Sex.”

Wow, that sounds ominous—as though H-C is really into the gutter of the publishing industry.  It is stated in a way that readers would put the NIV in bad company.  Zondervan has been owned by HarperCollins for 27 years. H-C is owned by Rupert Murdoch who owns FoxNews. HarperCollins is a conglomerate publishing firm with a number of publishing houses, including Zondervan, in their stable of publishing firms.  One of them is Avon Publishing that in 1969 published The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey who died in 1997.   He was an occult nutcase in California.  It was not a “Bible” but simply a collection of essays about his experiences and teaching in his cult of Satanism.  He merely named his book The Satanic Bible.  But reading the FB post one would think that it was a Bible-like book inspired by Satan.  It is a classic example of guilt by association {a formal logical fallacy}.  

Four years ago, HarperCollins also bought Thomas Nelson Publishers in Nashville.  Both Zondervan and Thomas Nelson publish KJV Bibles.  By the poster’s logic, all KJV Bibles should be considered tarnished by being published by a company owned by HarperCollins.  Sadly, most readers won’t take the time to find out the truth but will accept what some Facebook posting says.

2.  The poster said: “The NIV has ‘removed’ 64,575 words from the Bible.”  That is roughly 8% of the 773,692 words in the KJV, including the italics.  Sounds like whole sections of the Bible have been unilaterally excised by unbelieving villains.  How deceptive such statements are.  Actually, thousands of words have not been “removed” from the Bible—one translation simply uses fewer words to say the same thing.  Let’s look at the truth below.

Many thousands of words were added to the KJV as italics.  They were not a part of the biblical text, merely added to smooth up the text for English readers.  Also, the Byzantine text family, from which the KJV was translated, was known to be an “expansive” text, i.e., the Byzantine scribes/copyists freely added words to the text, drawing some from the margins of earlier copies of manuscripts, and adding them when they appeared in other places in the text.  Words were brought in from the Vulgate and from Roman Catholic liturgical readings.  When newer versions do not include the added words they are accused of “omitting/removing/leaving out words” from “the Bible.”

The word count statistic is obviously published and quoted to make it sound like modern versions are arbitrarily leaving out words or passages they don’t like, perhaps affecting doctrines.  In applying the word count principle used by the KJV advocates, it should be noted that there are some verses where the NIV has more words than the KJV.  Does that mean that the KJV has “left out” some words of the Bible?  No, but KJV loyalists do not want the same standards applied to the KJV they insist on for later versions.  

Allow a simple illustration:  In II Timothy 4:17 in the KJV Paul states that he was delivered out of the “mouth of the lion.”  The NIV and other translations render that phrase as “the lion’s mouth.”  That is saying the same thing with only 75% of the number of words.  Apply that principle over the entire Bible and it probably amounts to thousands of words.  It is also interesting that Hebrews chapter 11 in the KJV only has approximately 920 words, while the NIV has approximately 952.  By the poster’s standards, some words have been “left out” of the faith chapter by the KJV translators.  Overall, the NIV has approximately 92-94% of the number of words the KJV has, counting the KJV’s italicized words.  Saying the same thing with fewer words does NOT mean something has been “left out” that was in the original Bible.

Remember:  “the Bible” is not a 17th century version, but the inspired words put down by the writers of Scripture 2000+ years ago.  The KJV is merely one in a line of English translations done in Elizabethan England over 400 years ago.  Approximately 80% of the KJV was borrowed from Tyndale’s Bible, with other sections, words and phrases taken from the Bishop’s Bible and the Geneva Bible.  As early Greek manuscripts were scarce then, they used the 1550 Stephanus and 1598 Beza editions of what would become the Textus Receptus for the basic Greek text.

The NIV is condemned for having fewer words to express the Greek in English, but is it OK for the KJV translators to “leave out” words entirely from Greek text?  Apparently so, but if modern translators leave out words contained in the KJV translation, it is called heresy.  That makes absolutely no sense at all.  Where is the consistency?

For example, the KJV clearly omits “Jesus Christ our Lord” in Romans 1:4, when it is plainly there in the TR Greek New Testament.  Jude 25 in the KJV omits “through Jesus Christ our Lord,” a phrase found in the NIV, ESV and other modern versions because of its Greek manuscript support.  My edition of the Textus Receptus (Stephanus 1550) has it in the footnotes.  Wycliffe had the phrase, as did the Cranmer Bible and the Rheims prior to 1611, but the KJV translators did not include it. By the poster’s logic, the 1611 translators were heretical modernists and liberals trying to intentionally delete references to Christ’s ministry as Mediator.  The KJV also “omitted” the phrase kai esmen, “and so we are” (ESV), “and that is what we are” (NIV) from I John 3:1.  Were the KJV translators attempting to deny that we are actually children of God?

When you hear that some new version has “omitted” something from “the Bible,” think about it. The sword cuts both ways.  What can be charged against the contemporary versions can also be charged against the KJV.  In reality, no charges need to be filed—just try to understand the process of textual criticism and the difficulty of translating from one language to another with nearly 6000 Greek manuscripts to consider.  No doctrines have had to be scrapped because of any variants in the Greek texts.

The poster suggested in print to hand someone a current Bible, such as the NIV, and say, “Find these verses:  Matthew 17:21; 18:11; 23:14; Mark 7:16,” knowing those particular verses would not be found in the body of the text, only in footnotes.  However, even Mark 7:16 is labeled in the Textus Receptus as doubtful.  Perhaps he meant to add Luke 17:36, a verse that obviously does not belong in the Bible.  Even the KJV translators expressed as much in the margin of the 1611 KJV.  It doesn’t belong because it appears only in D and a few late manuscripts, and absent from virtually all early manuscripts, even from the Textus Receptus (1550 Stephanus).  This seems to corroborate the perception that the KJV actively pursued an “expansion of piety.”  

However, to KJV apologists, versions lacking the words have “excised” them from “the Bible.”  Have you ever wondered why there are no marginal notes in modern KJV Bibles?  Many notes included by the translators that they were not sure about certain renderings, didn’t know what certain words actually meant, and put in the margins what contemporary Bibles put in footnotes.  But the marginal notes have been removed.  Also removed from modern KJV Bibles is the important Preface where the translators expressed their opinions about the need for further translation work, and why they made certain renderings.  It is on the Net and it makes good reading.

Back to the scriptures “left out.”  Regarding Matthew 17:21, it is considered by virtually all textual critics to be an assimilation from Mark 9:29, a copyist’s practice called “parallel influence”—importing a verse or phrase from another place in the text to make them match.  Luke 18:11 is an assimilation from Luke 19:10; Matthew 23:14 from Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47.  Mark 7:16 is usually footnoted in the contemporary versions because of its absence in a number of early manuscripts, and seems to be borrowed from Mark 4:9,23 where it functions as the “conclusion” to an important teaching of the Lord.*  In Mark 9:44,46 the phrase “where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched” was inserted in later manuscripts to match v. 48.  Many manuscripts do not contain the two earlier verses, therefore they are often omitted or footnoted in contemporary versions.

That same “hand a Bible” exercise could be played like this:  Hand someone a KJV and ask them to try to find “Jesus” in Acts 16:7, or in Acts 24:24, or Romans 1:4, 8:34, or find the “cross” in Colossians 2:15, or find “salvation” in I Peter 2:2, or “nor the Son” in Matthew 24:36, or find “the holy One” in Revelation 16:5—in the Greek but omitted completely in the KJV.  Or, hand someone any Greek New Testament, including the first two editions of the Textus Receptus, and say, “Find “the three heavenly witnesses” of I John 5:7,8.  That phrase appears in no Greek Bible text before the 16th century.  Or hand someone a Majority Text (representing the inclusions in a majority of Greek manuscripts) and say find Acts 8:37.  Not there.  That is why it is “missing” or footnoted in contemporary Bibles.  Rather than play these word games, let’s sit down at a table and look at the original language Bible manuscripts and arrive at the real reason there are variants in them that have to be considered.  These silly word games ultimately prove nothing.

{* See James White, The King James Only Controversy (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1995), p. 155.}

3.  The poster said that there were 45 complete verses “removed” from the Bible (i.e, the KJV).  The ones the poster was referring to could probably be easily identified, but he did not list them.  Why?  To say some verse or phrase was “omitted” without providing an explanation borders on deception. It creates the image of someone unilaterally cutting scriptures out of the Bible that contradict their theology.  “Conspiracy is afoot” is the thought they wish to instill. If the poster will provide them, we will be happy to show the reasoning behind the variants.


4.  The poster specifically listed four words he said were “removed” from the NIV. It sounded like the whole concept behind each word was excised, as though God Himself and the whole experience of Calvary were removed.  They want readers to think the worst.

  • “Jehovah” – This is a manufactured word appearing in the Middle Ages as an outgrowth of the hesitancy to pronounce the real name of the Lord YHWH.  It appears seven times in the Old Testament, including in the compound names like Jehovah-Jireh, but none in the New Testament.  It is spelled “Iehovah” in the original KJV because the letter J was not in common use in that era.  For the sake of time let me share with the reader what the Wikipedia says about this word:
  • Jehovah (/dʒɨˈhoʊvə/ jə-HOH-və) is a Latinization of the Hebrew יְהֹוָה, one vocalization of the Tetragrammaton יהוה (YHWH), the proper name of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible.  This vocalization has been transliterated as “Yehowah”,[1] while YHWH itself has been transliterated as “Yahweh.”[2] יְהֹוָה appears 6,518 times in the traditional Masoretic Text, in addition to 305 instances of יֱהֹוִה (Jehovih).[3]  The earliest available Latin text to use a vocalization similar to Jehovah dates from the 13th century.[4]

Most scholars believe “Jehovah” to be a late (c. 1100 CE) hybrid form derived by combining the Latin letters JHVH with the vowels of Adonai, but there is some evidence that it may already have been in use in Late Antiquity (5th century).[5][6]  The consensus among scholars is that the historical vocalization of the Tetragrammaton at the time of the redaction of the Torah (6th century BCE) is most likely Yahweh, however there is disagreement.  The historical vocalization was lost because in Second Temple Judaism, during the 3rd to 2nd centuries BCE, the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton came to be avoided, being substituted with Adonai (“my Lord”).

“Jehovah” was popularized in the English-speaking world by William Tyndale and other pioneer English Protestant translators,[7] but is no longer used in mainstream English translations, with Lord or LORD used instead, generally indicating that the corresponding Hebrew is Yahweh or YHWH.[8][9] 5.

**Footnotes to above article:  {1.  GOD, NAMES OF – 5. Yahweh (Yahweh) – Bible Study Tools. Retrieved 19 November 2014.  2.  Preface to the New American Standard Bible;  3.  Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon;  4.  Pugio fidei by Raymund Martin, written in about 1270}  5.  Roy Kotansky, Jeffrey Spier, “The ‘Horned Hunter’ on a Lost Gnostic Gem“, The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 88, No. 3 (Jul., 1995), p. 318.  Quote: “Although most scholars believe “Jehovah” to be a late (c. 1100 CE) hybrid form derived by combining the Latin letters JHVH with the vowels of Adonai (the traditionally pronounced version of יהוה), many magical texts in Semitic and Greek establish an early pronunciation of the divine name as both Yehovah and Yahweh”  6.  George Wesley Buchanan, “The Tower of Siloam“, The Expository Times 2003; 115: 37; pp. 40, 41. Quote from Note 19: “This [Yehowah] is the correct pronunciation of the tetragramaton, as is clear from the pronunciation of proper names in the First Testament (FT), poetry, fifth-century Aramaic documents, Greek translations of the name in the Dead Sea Scrolls and church fathers.”  7.  In the 7th paragraph of Introduction to the Old Testament of the New English Bible, Sir Godfry Driver wrote, “The early translators generally substituted ‘Lord’ for [YHWH]. […]  The Reformers preferred Jehovah, which first appeared as Iehouah in 1530 A.D., in Tyndale’s translation of the Pentateuch (Exodus 6.3), from which it passed into other Protestant Bibles.”  8.  English Standard Version Translation Oversight Committee Preface to the English Standard Version Quote:  “When the vowels of the word Adonai are placed with the consonants of YHWH, this results in the familiar word Jehovah that was used in some earlier English Bible translations.  As is common among English translations today, the ESV usually renders the personal name of God (YHWH) with the word Lord (printed in small capitals).”  9.  Bruce M. Metzger for the New Revised Standard Version Committee. To the Reader}

**  “Calvary” – This word was translated from the Greek kranion, meaning “the skull.”  It came into the KJV from the Catholic Latin Vulgate. Wycliffe, who translated the Latin Vulgate into English in the 14th century, rendered it “calveri,” from the Latin “calvaria.” Tyndale picked it up at Luke 23:33 (the only place it appears) and it was carried forth in the 1611 KJV as “Calvarie,” still clinging to the Latin.  It is spelled “Calvary” in modern KJV editions, but contemporary versions correctly use the English translation of the Greek word:  “The Skull.”

**  “Holy Ghost” – This is the 17th century rendering of “Hagios Pneuma”—literally, Holy Spirit. Holy Ghost was a term introduced by Wycliffe in the 14th century as “holi goost.”  Tyndale used the same term.  In 1582 it appeared as “holy Ghost,” and in 1611 as “Holy Ghost.”  The technically correct rendering of Pneuma is “Spirit.”  Wherever “Holy Ghost” appears in the KJV, most contemporary versions use Holy Spirit.  So the words you mentioned have not really disappeared, dear poster, only an archaic rendering.

**  “Omnipotent” – This word appears once in the New Testament (Revelation 19:6).  It is translated from the Greek pantokrator – meaning “Almighty.”  The KJV translators, in their 1611 Preface to the KJV, confessed the practice of rendering the same Greek term in different ways for the sake of “varietie.”  Therefore, they rendered the same Greek term as “omnipotent” in Revelation 19:6, but as “Almighty” in II Corinthians 6:18.  God is omnipotent, but that is just another word for “Almighty.”  The “variety of words” approach can be useful in certain cases, but it confuses some readers.  Renowned Greek linguist, Dr. William Mounce says, “Theos ho pantokrator” in Revelation 19:6 is literally “God the Almighty.”  To be clearer and more accurate, hardly any contemporary versions use “omnipotent.”  Please don’t be confused when you don’t find these words in your KJV.

This is submitted as a reminder that not everything one reads on Facebook is worthy of forwarding or repeating.

Respectfully, 

JREnsey

2 comments on “The Inherent Presupposition(s) of KJV-Onlyism

  1. Some of this article is missing the point made by more “reasonable” KJV activists, which I myself and one of. Use of comparison and contrast is always an added benefit with other translations but one would be remiss to not warn of the dynamic (functional) equivalence vs the literal (formal) equivalence methods of translation. The NIV is a translation that utilizes both methods of translation and, again, this article does not address the very important issue of codices and manuscripts from which many of the “modern translations” originate. I find this a little negligent on part of the discussion because it sincerely has merit. Ignoring this, as well as neglecting any historical mention of the journey of Westcott and Hort and their effects of translation, once again, fails to paint an entire picture. I agree, some take the subject of KJV to a great extreme, but (as I stated already) this article fails to mention many of the particular important aspects of Bible translations. Instead, this article, rather than avoiding authorial bias, turns the prism of the topic to radiate one particular light, resulting in a seemingly logical presentation that lacks the true nature of academic research. I some things that were written…appreciate several of the other articles as well, but this prism turns and indeed reflects MUCH more than what is presented.

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    • Perkins says:

      First, I actually had a hard time following your thought-flow due to all the typos. For example, it was not clear if you were defending KJV-Onlyism in your post when you (erroneously) state, “Some of this article is missing the point [even though you offered no counterpoint] made by more ‘reasonable’ KJV activists, which I myself and one of.” Or, “I some things that were written”? A bit difficult to follow what you’re attempting to communicate in these rather incoherent posts.

      Second, there is no such thing as a “literal equivalence method of translation.” Anyone who has actually translated knows that a “literal equivalence” is virtually impossible due to Greek word order, idioms, the Greeks usage of the article, etc. Might I suggest you take the time to actually take some classes from Dr. William Mounce on this issue? They are free on-line.

      Actually, this article goes into great detail regarding the various MS traditions & codices – as do the links provided in the same article (?). Had you actually taken the time to read the links referenced in this article prior to offering your critique you would’ve known this. In fact, you seem to confuse texts when you seemingly lump W&H w. all “modern translations” (I appealed to the standard NA28 texts [Munster, Germany]).

      Further, I am well aware of the Alexandrian text-types that modern translations such as the NIV are rendered from – and, again, every bit of this is covered in detail in the confines of this article (?). These text-types are far older than the inferior & much later TR (i.e., Textus Receptus).

      But what I *really* found ironic, is your (again, erroneous) charge that the article “lacks the true nature of academic research” – when your own blog is tagged as “exegetical” – and yet I have not seen a shred of actual “exegesis” on your blog (I’ve been there before Bro. H.), esp. your “exegesis” of Galatians. Merely quoting a commentary does not qualify as “exegesis.”

      Exegesis-proper involves original language phrasing, sentence diagramming, syntactical considerations, etc. – none of which you seem to understand (you don’t even mention any of this in your article entitled “3 Simple Steps to Deeper Bible Study”).

      I realize you like to style yourself after this fashion, but, honestly, can you even read the Greek language w.out the aid of helps, or the “manuscripts” you attempt to chide me over? How many classes have you actually taken in Greek (I’ve had 3 semesters & some subsequent exegesis [w. 95% accuracy] – before you ask)?

      If you think the article is flawed then please offer genuine early MS evidence that will categorically overturn the data presented in this article. I recently contributed to a book just released by Elder J. R. Ensey on this very topic – and the book greatly exposes the outright misinformation that has been put out by recent KJV-Onlyists in our movement. Or, I can send you my e-mail dialogues w. renowned text-critic & Greek scholar Dr. Daniel Wallace for further clarity on this topic (although there is plenty enough factual data presented in this article).

      In sum, respectfully Bro. H., it is you who needs to do more research into proper research methodology before critiquing what you clearly do not understand – and your “exegetical” blog, overall writing skills, etc. make this very clear (as others have also noted). Thank you for writing anyway!

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