“Is ‘King James’ Version the Actual Bible?”
Note: The word “Bible” comes from the Koine Greek word “biblios” and it simply means the same as the word “book” in English. Nowhere in the Bible do we find the word “Bible.” However, it is interesting to note the word “kitab” (Bible in Arabic) appears many times in the Quran, referring to the Bible and the People of the Book (Jews and Christians).
Let me begin by saying that the King James “version” of the Bible is in English. There was no English language until the year 1066 AD when the Normans invaded the Saxons. Therefore the English Bible cannot be anything like what any of the prophets spoke or understood, as it did not exist in their times.
Next, my grandfather, who was a devout and wonderful Christian man gave a gift of the Holy Bible to my sisters and I almost fifty years ago. It was an authorized version of the Bible, being The Revised Standard Version of the Bible which was a revised version of the American Standard Version, published in 1901, which was a version of the King James Version, published in 1611, which was revised and corrected for the first time in 1612, etc. I was very much impressed with the easier to read text and clarification of some of the wording which was presented in this version and began to read the Bible on a daily basis for hours at a time. The removal of the Elizabethton English terms, phrases and expressions made the Bible a more accessible and understandable and intimate Book for me. But that is not all the RSV did for me and many others, as well.
My love and respect for the Word of God increased the more that I spent time reading and understanding the message. The Bible became my most prized and respected book in my life. I often turned to it throughout the rest of my life in times of joy, happiness, sadness, troubles and pain. It was my compass, my road map, my weather vane and my friend. However, there were still some problems with this IMPROVED VERSION of the Holy Bible. It began to disturb and concern me to the extent that I made consultation with my father, who was also an ordained minister and student of the Bible since childhood. Based on his research and background in the origin and sources for modern day Christianity, I began to go deeper into the problems which had plagued my thinking and faith since childhood.
I prayed to Almighty God and then found the answers to some of the problems were spelled out very clearly in the very beginning of the exact same book. I have that book lying in front of me on my desk as I write this article and would like to quote to you from some of the PREFACE page iii and iv:
“The King James Version has with good reason been termed ‘the noblest monument of English prose.’ Its revisers in 1881 expressed admiration of ‘its simplicity, its dignity, its power, its happy turns of express… the music of its cadences, and the felicities of its rhythm.’ It entered, as no other book has, into the making of the personal character and the public institutions of the English-speaking peoples. We owe to it an incalculable debt.”
“Yet the King James Version has grave defects. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the development of Biblical studies and the discovery of many manuscripts more ancient than those upon which the King James Version was based, made it manifest that these defects are so many and so serious as to call for a revision of the English translation. The task was undertaken, by authority of the Church of England, in 1870. The English Revised Version of the Bibles was published in 1881-1885; and the American Standard Version, its variant embodying the preferences of the American scholars associated in the work, was published in 1901.”
“Because of the unhappy experience with unauthorized publications in the two decades between 1881 and 1901, which tampered with the text of the English Revised Version in the supposed interest of the American public, the American Standard Version was copyrighted, to protect the text from unauthorized changes. In 1928 this copyright was acquired by the International Council of Religious Education, and thus passed into the ownership of the churches of the United States and Canada which were associated in this Council through their boards of education and publication.”
“…. decision was reached that there is need for a thorough revision of the version of 1901..””In 1937 the revision was authorized by vote of the Council.”
“Thirty-two scholars have served as members of the Committee charged with making the revision, and they have secured the review and counsel of an Advisory Board of fifty representatives of the co-operating denominations.”
“Each section has submitted its work to the scrutiny of the members of the charter of the Committee requires that all changes be agreed upon by a two-thirds vote of the total membership of the Committee.”
“The problem of establishing the correct Hebrew and Aramaic text of the Old testament is very different from the corresponding problem in the New Testament.”
“For the New Testament we have a large number of Greek manuscripts, preserving many variant forms of the text. Some of them were made only two or three centuries later than the original composition of the books.”
“For the Old Testament only late manuscripts survive, all (with the exception of the Dead Sea Texts of Isaiah and Habakkuk and some fragments of other books) based on a standardized form of the text established many centuries after the books were written.”
“The present revision is based on the consonantal Hebrew and Aramaic text as fixed early in the Christian era and revised by Jewish scholars (the ‘Masoretes’) of the sixth to ninth centuries. The vowel signs, which were added by the Masoretes, are accepted also in the main, but where a more probable and convincing reading can be obtained by assuming different vowels, this has been done.”
“… vowel points are less ancient and [less] reliable than the consonants.”
“Departures from the consonantal text of the best manuscripts have been made only where it seems clear that errors in copying had been made before the text was standardized.”
“Most of the corrections adopted are based on the ancient versions [translations into Greek Aramaic, Syriac, and Latin], which were made before the time of the Masoretic revision and therefore reflect earlier forms of the text.”
“Sometimes it is evident that the text has suffered in transmission, but none of the versions provides a satisfactory restoration. Here we can only follow the best judgment of competent scholars as to the most probable reconstruction of the original text.”
“Many difficulties and obscurities, of course, remain.”
“Where the choice between two meanings is particularly difficult or doubtful, we have given an alternative rendering in a footnote.”
“If in the judgment of the Committee the meaning of a passage is quite uncertain or obscure, either because of corruption in the text or because of the inadequacy of our present knowledge of the language, that fact is indicated by a note.”
“It should not be assumed, however, that the Committee was entirely sure or unanimous concerning every rendering not so indicated.”
“To record all minority views was obviously out of the question.”
“The King James Version of the New Testament was based upon a Greek text that was marred by mistakes, containing the accumulated errors of fourteen centuries of manuscript copying.”
“It was essentially the Greek text of the New Testament as edited by Beza, 1589, who closely followed that published by Erasmus, 1516-1535, which was based upon a few medieval manuscripts.”
“The earliest and best of the eight manuscripts which Erasmus consulted was from the tenth century, and [yet] he made the least use of it because it differed most from the commonly received text; Beza had access to two manuscripts of great value, dating from the fifth and sixth centuries, but he made very little use of them because they differed from the text published by Erasmus.”
“We now possess many more ancient manuscripts of the new Testament, and are far better equipped to seek to recover the original wording of the Greek text. The evidence for the text of the books of the New Testament is better that for any other ancient book, both in the number of extant manuscripts and in the nearness of the date of some of these manuscripts to the date when the book was originally written.”
The words are in plain English. The second paragraph says it all, “Yet, the King James Version has grave defects.
Therefore, we must conclude the “King James Version” is NOT the Actual Bible sent by God to mankind.