Is the King James Version the Only Bible that a Christian Should Read?
by Rich Deem

This page is not an exhaustive look at the King James only controversy. However, I have been confronted with the "error" of my ways by a few web visitors who insist that the King James English Bible is the only version a Christian should read. This page mostly consists of a series of links to other (more thorough) pages.

A few introductory comments are in order. The Bible was written over a period of approximately 1500 years in three languages - Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Therefore, English (King James or other) is not one of the original languages of the Bible. Therefore, all English translations of the Bible will suffer somewhat from differences in languages, differences in idiomatic expressions, etc. Different translations tend to aim for either word for word (more difficult to understand) or thought for thought (less "accurate") representation of the original language. Most translations (including the King James version) substitute "inaccurate" translations of certain words so that the thought will be understandable to our culture. For example, Revelation 2:231 contains the Greek word nephros, which literally means "kidneys." However, the English sounds pretty weird when Jesus says, "...I am He who searches the kidneys and hearts..." The word refers to the deepest emotions and affections of man,2 and is more understandable in our culture when translated as "thoughts" or "mind."

Why did the translators of the King James Bible translate it into the common English of the time? They said that they wanted to make a version that everyday common folks (of the time) could understand. Obviously, King James English no longer qualifies as being the common language of our time, and would probably be rejected by those very translators if they were alive today.

Well, shall we get started? Here are the links.

  1. The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations? Minneapolis, Bethany House Publishers, 1995.
  2. Metzger, Bruce M. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2005.
  3. Aland, Kurt and Barbara. The Text of The New Testament an Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism. Grand Rapids, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995.
  4. Wurthwein, Ernst. The Text of The Old Testament: An Introduction to the Biblia Hebraica. Grand Rapids, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995.
  5. Metzger, Bruce M. A Textual Commentary of the Greek New Testament. Stuttgart, United Bible Societies, 1995.

References Top of page

  1. 'And I will kill her children with pestilence; and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. (Revelation 2:23)
  2. From the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:

(1) The kidneys owe their importance in the Bible partly to the fact that they are imbedded in fat, and fat of such purity that fat of the kidneys was a proverbial term for surpassing excellence (Deu_32:14 margin). For the visceral fat was the part of the animal best adapted for sacrificial burning, and hence, came to be deemed peculiarly sacred (Lev_7:22-25; 1Sa_2:16). Accordingly, the kidneys with the fat surrounding them were burned in every sacrifice in which the entire animal was not consumed, whether in peace (Lev_3:4, Lev_3:10, Lev_3:15; Lev_9:19), sin (Exo_29:13; Lev_4:9; Lev_8:16; Lev_9:10), or trespass, (Lev_7:4) offerings; compare the "ram of consecration" (Exo_29:22; Lev_8:25). So in Isa_34:6, "fat of the kidneys of rams" is chosen as a typical sacrificial term to parallel "blood of lambs and goats." (2) The position of the kidneys in the body makes them particularly inaccessible, and in cutting up an animal they are the last organs to be reached. Consequently, they were a natural symbol for the most hidden part of a man (Psa_139:13), and in Job_16:13 to "cleave the reins asunder" is to effect the total destruction of the individual (compare Job_19:27; Lam_3:13). This hidden location, coupled with the sacred sacrificial use, caused the kidneys to be thought of as the seat of the innermost moral (and emotional) impulses. So the reins instruct (Psa_16:7) or are "pricked" (Psa_73:21), and God can be said to be far from the reins of sinners (Jer_12:2). In all of these passages "conscience" gives the exact meaning. So the reins rejoice (Pro_23:16), cause torment (2 Esdras 5:34), or tremble in wrath (1 Macc 2:24). And to "know" or "try the reins" (usually joined with "the heart") is an essential power of God's, denoting His complete knowledge of the nature of every human being (Psa_7:9; Psa_26:2; Jer_11:20; Jer_17:10; Jer_20:12; The Wisdom of Solomon 1:6; Rev_2:23). See FAT; PSYCHOLOGY; SACRIFICE. Compare RS2, 379-80, and for Greek sacrificial parallels Journal of Philology, XIX (1890), 46. The anatomical relations are well exhibited in the plate in Sacred Books of the Old Testament, "Leviticus."

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Last Updated January 9, 2006


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