Excerpted from "Understandable History of the Bible" ©1989 Samuel C. Gipp. Reproduced by permission
From Chapter 9: The Authorized Version
In this chapter we will be looking at some of the common misrepresentations of the Authorized Version. Many of these misrepresentations are unintentional. Most of the comments against the Authorized Version are, in fact, simply repetitions of what the commentator heard from a pulpit, read in a book, or learned in a classroom.
Most of the fervency against the Authorized Version is not so much due to a conscious hatred against the Book, as much as it is a show of one's education. This fact, which is a conscious malice, is then coupled with the "flesh" or "natural man," which may be an unconscious malice, to form a constant antagonism toward the true Word of God. This "old nature" exists in every person, even Christians. It will not change until the rapture. This nature manifests itself in an innate desire not to submit to the authority of God.
Satan realizes this and uses it to his own advantage by giving the flesh ammunition to fight a battle which it naturally wants to fight. The sad result of this spirit of judgment is that the Word of God never really gets a fair trial.
Inspiration vs. Preservation
Today it is widely taught and accepted that God wrote the originals perfectly, but that there is no perfect translation. Yet, there is no scripture that teaches any such thing! This teaching is based on logic, man's logic. Christian educators of today say that it is absurd to believe that God could use sinful men to translate His Word perfectly. Such a supposition of a perfect translation is no more absurd than the teaching that God used sinful men to write the Bible perfectly in the originals! Every argument for innerrant, infallible inspiration applies also for innerrant, infallible preservation. It is the same God!
If a believer in perfect inspiration says that God overpowered the writers' ability to make a mistake, the believer in perfect preservation can also state that God overpowered the translators' ability to make a mistake. It can also very happily be pointed out that a man who claims that God preserved His Words can at least PRODUCE what he claims to believe in!
Put Up or Shut Up
I personally believe that God has perfectly preserved His Word in the King James or Authorized Version. I can at least produce a King James Bible to show what I believe in. Any person who claims that God inspired the original autographs perfectly, cannot produce those original manuscripts to prove it! I do not believe that the King James Bible is a new inspiration. "Inspiration" starts with a blank sheet of paper, a man of God, and God. I am saying that the Authorized Version is every word of God that was in the original autographs, preserved to this day. "Preservation" starts with God's manuscripts, a man of God, and God. The end result of both is the same: the perfect Word and words of God. It only makes sense.
Many of today's preachers and self-proclaimed scholars slam their fists down on their pulpits in simulated "righteous indignation" while holding a Bible over their heads and loudly proclaim, "This Book doesn't 'CONTAIN' the word of God, it IS the Word of God! Perfect! Infallible! Without admixture of error!" to the delight of the audience. But ask them, while out of their pulpit, if they believe that THE BOOK IN THEIR HAND is truly without error, and they immediately go into a song and dance routine about "just a translation OF the Bible" and say something about "Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven." Try pressing the issue, and they will question your authority to do so (Matthew 21:23), and if you persist you will be labeled a "Ruckmanite."
All for simply believing that this "godly man" really believed what he had said when he was performing behind his pulpit!
We have studied the history of the MSS, of the New Testament, and the historical plans and attempts to overthrow God's preservation of His Word. We have seen that the vast majority of MSS and of historical evidence points to the Authorized Version as God's preserved Word. Still, there is an air of antagonism against the Authorized Version. Strange as it may seem, the only things which Roman Catholics, apostates, Protestants, and fundamentalists can agree on is that the King James Bible should be eliminated! This striking truth in itself should be enough to shock born-again Christians into scrutinizing their position to make sure of which side of the fence they are on. When we find ourselves aligned with Satan's church against Scripture, we find ourselves in a very dangerous position. This is especially true when we consider what the result would be if these groups were successful in abolishing the King James Version. The elimination of the Authorized Version finds us without a Bible, at which time we find Rome rushing to the rescue with her 1582 Jesuit translation, and the anti-God Local Text of Alexandria. Knowing that no fundamentalist would consciously use a Roman Catholic Bible, the Roman Church has obliged us by changing the cover to Revised Version, American Standard Version, Good News for Modern Man, the Living Bible, the Amplified Bible, the Jerusalem Bible, the Common Bible, the New International Version, the New Scofield Reference Bible, and many more. The story is true; the names have been changed to protect the guilty.
Sowers of Discord
Rome realized that there is not one of these new Roman Catholic translations which will ever replace God's Authorized Version. Her plan is to get any one of these translations to replace the Authorized Version in any group of Christians. Let the fundamentalists use one of the Revised Standard Version's "twin sons," the New American Standard Version or the New International Version. Convince the young people that they cannot understand the "thees" and "thous" in God's Authorized Version and hand them a "Good News for Modern Man" or a "Living Bible." Promote each new translation of the Local Text of Alexandria, Egypt, as "thoroughly reliable" or "more accurate," until the Authorized Version is removed from the hearts of Christians little by little.
How many young "preacher boys" have had their faith in God's PERFECT Word trampled and destroyed while they sat in independent, fundamental Bible colleges where they thought that they were safe?!
How many found themselves, upon graduation three or four years later indebted to their "alma mater" for teaching them what the "originals really said" and in so doing saved them from being drawn into that group of "King James fanatics," that "lunatic fringe," that "cult"?
They found themselves leaving college with the confidence (?) that the Book under their arm was NOT perfect, and thanking God for the school that had shown them that!
The only person happier than they were was the Pope. After all, who wants someone who speaks with authority? (Mark 1:22)
Many Shall Come
It must be remembered at this time that every new Bible is introduced as being "better than the Authorized Version." It may also be noted that every false prophet is introduced as "better" than Jesus Christ. Mohammed had supposedly come to finish the work which Christ began. Charles Manson claimed that he was Jesus Christ. Sun Nyung Moon claims to have to finished the job which Jesus Christ failed to finish. Jim Jones claimed to be Jesus Christ. The Beatles claimed to be more popular than Jesus Christ.
Notice that Jim Jones did not claim to be Mohammed. Notice that Moon did not claim to be the replacement for Buddha. All of the false prophets attack Jesus Christ. Notice that the Good News for Modern Man does not claim to be better than the American Standard Version, but it does claim to be better than the Authorized Version. Notice also that the New International Version does not claim to be better than the American Standard Version; it claims to be better than the Authorized Version. A false prophet can always be recognized, because he attacks the true prophet. A false Bible can be recognized, because it attacks the true Bible.
The Super Sack Philosophy
LET ME ALLEGORIZE FOR A MOMENT. The claims of the new Bibles are strikingly similar to the claims of the famous "Super Sack" grocery bag which has swept the country. The bag producers wanted to cut production costs. The "old reliable" double bag was just about indestructible when it came to doing its job, but it was too costly to produce. The manufacturers came up with the idea of producing an inferior product but calling it "superior."
It has happened to us all. One day, on a trip with our wives to the grocery store, we picked up our groceries and noticed the bag. It wasn't a double bag! "They've made them cheaper," we thought. Then we noticed an official looking statement on the side: "This new Super Sack is made from a new high strength paper. There is no double bagging needed."
"Well," we realized, "then it isn't an inferior product after all. It's new and better. That's good to know."
We "bought the pitch." In our trusting, childlike manner, we believed that the "Super Sack" was better than the "old reliable" double bag, just because someone told us that it was.
"This new Super Sack ... no double bagging needed."
How many times have these words echoed through my head as I heard a horrifying, tearing sound. I watched as the cans rolled across the grocery store parking lot. I watched the flour break open in the back seat of the car. After getting the survivors into the car, we headed for home.
"This new Super Sack ... no double bagging needed."
We hear that sound! We watch broken eggs as they pour their contents out into the driveway. The cereal has broken open, and now the neighbors dog picks up our last package of hamburger. We make a wild dash for the house, leaving a trail of canned goods, broken jelly jars, and spilled milk in our wake. We arrive at the back door holding nothing more than a large piece of brown paper with words on the side reading: "This Super Sack is made from a new high strength paper. There is no double bagging needed."
At times like that, standing there, surveying the damage, I can hardly frame the proper words with which to thank the manufacturers for blessing me with this wonderful, new, improved "Super Sack."
This "Super Sack" philosophy has existed in the field of Bible translations for years.
Every new translation published appears first with a giant "media campaign" directed at the Christian community. This campaign is designed to tell the Christians that they "need" this new translation, because the Christians do not know it. This is not an overstatement but is proven true by the Preface to the New American Standard Version of 1963. The last paragraph in the Preface begins with this statement:
"It is enthusiastically anticipated that the general public will be grateful to learn of the availability, value and need of the New American Standard Version." (Emphasis mine.)
The Lockman Foundation has admitted translating a Bible that the general public doesn't know that it needs! It is intended for the general public to realize that they "need" this Bible when they read the advertisement. This is just like a laundry detergent.
The Sales Pitch
Let us look into the way in which this "Bible advertising" works.
We read a few Christian periodicals and observe that a new translation has been published. It is, of course, compared to the Authorized Version. The "mistakes" of the Authorized Version are revealed to show us the "need" for a new translation. Next, this new translation is unveiled with exclamation of "thoroughly reliable," "true to the Original Greek," and "starting a new tradition." We read but are skeptical.
We proceed to the "Bible" book store to look over this new translation. After having the "sales pitch" from the man behind the counter, we leave carrying a grocery bag (Super Sack) full of "new," "modern," "easy to read" translations in which we are assured that "all of the fundamentals can be found." On the way home, we decide to try out these "more accurate," "Christ exalting" versions.
The Let Down
We meet a Jehovah's Witness. In the following discussion we try to convince him that Jesus Christ was not a created God. He shows us John 1:18 in his "New World Translation." It reads that Christ was the "only begotten God." We snicker. "That's just your version," we say, reaching for a New International Version. To our amazement it also reads "only begotten God!"
Being fully embarrassed, we change the subject to the trinity. "I John 5:7!" we exclaim. Now we've got him! We turn to I John 5:7 in the "Good News for Modern Man." "There are three witnesses," it says.
Our Jehovahs Witness asks, "So, what does that teach?" We stammer, "Wait a minute," as we reach for a New American Standard Version. "And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth."
"So how is the trinity taught from that verse?" he demands.
With our face glowing red and phrases like "thoroughly reliable" and "faithful to the originals" spinning through our head, we desperately grab a New King James Version.
"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one." I John 5:7.
"There it is! There it is!" We exclaim, "See there, the Trinity!"
"Read the footnote on it," he states calmly. "Out loud!"
"The words from 'in heaven' (v. 7) through 'on earth' (v. 8) are from the Latin Bible, although three Greek mss. from the 15th Century and later also contain them."
"You see," says our adversary, "it doesn't belong there."
Thankfully he hasn't got any more time to talk, and he leaves.
We tear our "Super Sack" slightly as we pick it back up and head for home, not quite understanding what has taken place. In our mind we hear the Bible store salesman saying, "But I can find the fundamentals in these new versions."
In an attempt to boost our own morale, we try to lead a man to Christ. We tell him the simplicity of conversion. We relate to him how easy it was for the Ethiopian eunuch. We open a Revised Standard Version to show it to him. We read Acts 8:36 and then the next verse, verse 38. "Wait just a second; I seem to have skipped over a verse," we say apologetically.
We read verse 36, then carefully run our finger across the line to the next verse, verse 38! There is no verse 37! This eunuch never believed on the Lord Jesus Christ!
"Excuse me," we apologize. "I seem to have picked up the wrong Bible." We lay down the Revised Standard Version and pick up the New American Standard Version. We read again. This time we arrive at verse 37.
It says, "See footnote."
"No thank you!" we say to ourselves.
Having lost his train of thought, our lost friend walks off shaking his head and wondering why Christians don't know their Bibles better.
Of all things, we run into an infidel before we can reach the safety of our home.
"Jesus Christ was not God in the flesh," he states.
"Oh yes He was!" we retort confidently, happy to have the opportunity to redeem ourselves for the bad showing earlier. "Look at I Timothy 3:16."
We pick the Living Bible.
"But the answer lies in Christ, who came to earth as a man...."
"There's no 'God' in that verse," he declares.
The statement of the salesmen comes to mind again. "But I can find the fundamentals in these."
"Where?" we ask ourselves returning to the Revised Standard Version.
"He was manifested in the flesh...."
"Where is God?" demands our infidel. We wonder the same thing!
"He appeared in human form," says the Good News for Modern Man.
"He who was revealed in the flesh," states the New American Standard Version.
"Where is God?" demands our infidel with finality.
"I don't know. I really don't know," we reply with our heads down in sorrow.
We drag our wounded spirits home. Words cannot describe our "gratitude" to the Lockman Foundation and all the rest of those "godly, conservative scholars" who gave us these "accurate, reliable, true to the original" translations. We hear a horrifying, tearing sound as we reach the back door.
The next morning the garbage man finds a garbage bag full of brand new, unused "Bibles" covered by a large, torn piece of brown paper with the words on the side saying: "This new Super Sack is made from a new high strength paper. There is no double bagging needed."
No thank you, we will stick with our "old, reliable" King James, 1611.
The story has been an allegory, but the philosophy it describes is very true.
We shall now look at some of the complaints against the Authorized Version. Remember, being able to "find the fundamentals" in a version is not enough. This was the claim of the corrupt Revised Version! As Wilkenson points out, "There are many who claim that the changes in the Revised Version did not affect any doctrine."
The problem with this statement is that even if the major doctrines can be found in these new Roman Catholic Bibles, these doctrines always appear in a watered down form.
Yes, the blood of atonement can be taught in spite of the removal of the word "blood" from Colossians 1:14. The doctrine of the blood atonement is found in other passages. The danger is this. Where the Authorized Version teaches a given doctrine in maybe thirty different places, the New American Standard Version may teach the same doctrine in only twenty. The New International Version may only teach this doctrine in fifteen passages. The next "new and improved" version may teach it only three or four, until it is reduced to only one passage. How then can we teach a new convert this "major" doctrine from only one passage?
All of the doctrines, which today's fundamentalists claim to be able to "find" in these new translations, have been taught to these same fundamentalists through the use of a King James Bible. How will the next generation of Christians learn pure doctrine from a watered down Bible? How can we even call something a "major" doctrine which is taught only in one or two verses?
Remember, Satan is not worried at all about what people think of Jesus if he can just keep us from being able to prove that He was virgin born, shed His blood for our sins, rose from the dead, or is coming back physically. Without scripture to prove the above, Jesus was just a man.
The new Bibles have no blood in them, no Lord, no second coming, nor other vital doctrines. In other words, the new Bibles have all of the convictions of B.F. Westcott.
"The Scholar Scam"
Many Christian educators, (especially scholars) claim that the scholarship of today is greater than that of the days of King James. How can they say such a thing? How can men who say that the Bible teaches that everything will get worse and worse with time claim that education is the exception? We see the signs of apostasy all around us. They are evident in world economic systems. They are evident in educational systems. They are evident in the apostasy of religious groups which were formerly loyal to the Bible. They are evident in the worldly learnings of many once separated Christian colleges. Are we to believe that "scholarship" has avoided the "downhill progress?" That is far from being realistic.
Scholar for scholar, the men on the King James translating committee were far greater men of God than Westcott, Hort, or any other new translator. They were not only educated in a powerful, anti-Roman atmosphere, but they looked at the MSS which they handled as the Holy Word of God. They state such in the Dedicatory to King James:
"So that if, on the one side, we shall be traduced by Popish persons at home or abroad, who therefore will malign us, because we are poor instruments to make God's holy Truth to be yet more and more known unto the people, whom they desire still to keep in ignorance and darkness; or if, on the other side, we shall be maligned by self-conceited brethren, who run their own ways, and give liking unto nothing, but what is framed by themselves, and hammered on their anvil...."
As can be seen, they considered themselves "unworthy instruments," for these were humble men.
Compare the words of the King James translators to the pride of the anonymous Lockman Foundation:
"The producers of this translation were imbued with the conviction that interest in the American Standard Version should be renewed and increased. Perhaps the most weighty impetus for this undertaking can be attributed to a disturbing awareness that the American Standard Version of 1901 was fast disappearing from the scene. As a generation "which knew not Joseph" was born, even so a generation unacquainted with this great and important work has come into being. Recognizing a responsibility to posterity, the Lockman Foundation felt an urgency to rescue this noble achievement from an inevitable demise, to reserve it as a heritage for coming generations, and to do so in such a form as the demands of passing time dictate. It is enthusiastically anticipated that the general public will be grateful to learn of the availability, value and need of the New American Standard Bible. It is released with the strong confidence that those who seek a knowledge of the scriptures will find herein a source of genuine satisfaction for a clear and accurate rendering of divinely-revealed truth."196
The mysterious Lockman Foundation seems not only to believe that they have done us a great service, but seems also to feel that we "ignorant" members of the general public should be grateful to them for their "clear and accurate" translation. Of course we are grateful. We are just as grateful to the Lockman Foundation as we are to the manufacturers of the "Super Sack." Their products seem to be equal in quality.
As stated earlier, the translation of the King James Bible was achieved at a "parenthesis of purity" in English history. It was produced during a brief period following the overthrow of Roman authority and prior to the apostasy of the Church of England. It was translated in the era when the still young English language was at its height of purity. Dr. McClure succeeds in aptly describing this esteemed company of translators:
"As to the capability of those men, we say again, that, by the good providence of God, their work was undertaken in a fortunate time. Not only had the English language, that singular compound, then ripened to its full perfection, but the study of Greek and of the Oriental tongues and/or rabbinical lore had then been carried to a greater extent in England than ever before or since."
"This particular field of learning has never been so highly cultivated among English divines as it was at that day. To evidence this fact, so far as necessary limits will admit, it will be requisite to sketch the characters and scholarship of those men, who have made all coming ages their debtors. When this pleasing task is done, it is confidently expected that the reader of these pages will yield to the conviction, that all of the colleges of Great Britian and America, even in this proud day of boastings, could not bring together the same number of divines equally qualified by learning and piety for the great undertaking. Few indeed are the living names worthy to be enrolled with those mighty men. It would be impossible to convene out of any one Christian denomination, or out of all, a body of translators on whom the whole Christian community would bestow such a confidence as is reposed upon that illustrious company, or who would prove themselves as deserving of such confidence. Very many self-styled "improved versions" of the Bible, or of parts of it, have been paraded before the world, but the religious public has doomed them all, without exception, to utter neglect."197
As Dr. McClure has already stated, to fully appreciate the depth of true scholarship present at the translation of the King James Bible, it is necessary to investigate the character of the individuals on the translating committee. His excellent book, Translator Revived, will be the primary source of the following brief biographical comments.