Which Version

Having faith that God has preserved His Word in the church throughout the ages leads to the acceptance of the Received Text as the most reliable Greek New Testament. But for those who cannot read Greek, a translation is necessary.

Looking over the English Bible versions available, you will find that the only versions using the Received Text as the basis for the New Testament are those of the King lames tradition. 61 Foremost in this tradition is the KJV itself.

As we have seen, for over 300 years the KJV has built the faith of its readers, it is a formal translation profitable for studying doctrine, and both its Old and New Testaments are based on text-types that have been providentially preserved through the ages by the priesthood of believers. Truly, it best fits our biblical description of the Word of God.

This does not mean, however, that the KJV is a perfect translation. One weakness is its readability.62 Although this difficulty has often been exaggerated by detractors of the KJV, it is true that its English has not been updated since 1769. Thus it contains archaisms. This is not a problem for those who have grown up reading the KJV, but its language may discourage others. For those who struggle with the English of the KJV, the New King James Version 63 is to be recommended.

Compared to the deficiencies of the Greek text 64 followed by most modern versions, the weaknesses of the KJV 65 are very minor. The New Testament of most modern versions is based on an Egyptian text rejected by Christendom 1,500 years ago. 66 While we can acknowledge the good points of modern versions and appreciate their usefulness for reference and commentary, 67 there is no more reliable English study Bible than the KJV. The KJV translators not only provided an accurate English translation 68 of the best manuscript tradition, but they masterfully rendered the English in a literary style befitting the dignity of Sacred Writ.69 Although publishers have hoped to multiply their profits by producing a version which would replace the KJV, it still remains the most trusted Bible for the majority of English-speaking Christians.

As we stand in these last days of earth's history, our faith in the Word of God must be strong. We must confidently turn to the Scriptures for guidance and be able to present its saving truths to others clearly While other versions often make the most relevant truths ambiguous, the King James Version resoundingly affirms them. No other version speaks so convincingly of last day issues. Certainly there was a divine purpose at work in the production and preservation of such an authoritative transcript of Holy Writ. As we study the Holy Scriptures, may each of us individually be assured that "the word of our God shall stand for ever" (Isaiah 40:8). And may we accept its wondrous truths not only intellectually, but make them a dynamic, meaningful part of our everyday lives.


1. "Bible Illiteracy Plagues Youth," Group, (November/

December, 1984), P. 27 as quoted in Ted Letis, "An Open Letter to the International Bible Society and the Zondervan Corporation," (April 29, 1985).

2. The New Testament Student and Bible Translation (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1978), p. 155 as quoted in Letis, "An Open Letter."

3. "The Revision of the New Testament," Dublin

4. Don F. Neufeld, "Supernatural or Human Beings?" Review and Herald (February 10,1977), p. 14.

5. Gerhard F. Hasel, Understanding the Living Word of

God (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assoc., 1980), p. 104.

6. JB and NIV are also considered formal translations but are admittedly freer, less literal. (See Hasel, pp. 104-105.)

7. Wilber N. Pickering, The Identity of the New Testament Text (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1980), p. 16.

8. The Masoretic Text has been recognized as the most carefully preserved and transmitted Hebrew text-type. (See Hasel, pp. 92-93.)

9. Also known as the Textus Receptus, Traditional Text, Greek Vulgate, Ecclesiastical Text, Syrian Text, Koine (Common) Text and often used synonymously with Majority Text.

10.1 am using the term Critical Text to refer to the majority of Greek texts produced in recent years. These texts as a whole differ from the readings of the Received Text.

11. Sakae Kubo and Walter Specht, Which Version Today? (Washington, D.C.), p. 8.

13. Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968), p. 47.

15. Ira Maurice Price, The Ancestry of Our English Bible, 12th ed. (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1940), p. 150.

17. Frederick Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1958), p. 202.

18. Herman C. Hoskier, Codex B and Its Allies (2 vols.; London: Bernard Quaritch, 1914), II, p. vi.

19. John Burgon, The Revision Revised (London: John Murray, 1883), p. 12.

20. F.H.A. Scrivener, A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, 4th ed. (2 vols.; London: George Bell and Sons), II, p. 120. Also Kenyon, Handbook to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (2nd ed.; Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1951), p. 308, states that Vaticanus is "disfigured by many blunders in transcription."

21. F.C. Cook, The Revised Version of the First Three Gospels (London: John Murray, 1881), p. 172. Also Burgon, p. 13.

22. George Salmon, Some Thoughts on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (London: John Murray, 1897), pp. 52, 155. Also Ernest C. Colwell, Studies in Methodology in Textual Criticism of the New Testament, Vol. IX (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1969), p. 54 says "The Beta text-type (Hort's 'Neutral') is a 'made' text, probably

Alexandrian in origin, produced in part by the selection of relatively 'good old mss.' but more importantly by the philological editorial know-how of Alexandrians."

24. Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Christianity (New York: Harper & Row, 1975), pp. 147-152.

27. T. C. Skeat of the British Museum has suggested that Vaticanus was a "reject" among the fifty copies. (See Metzger, pp. 47-48.)

30. Edward Hills, The King James Version Defended, 4th ed. (Des Moines: The Christian Research Press, 1984), p. 134 writes, "Egypt during the early Christian centuries was a land in which heresies were rampant. So much so that, as Bauer (1934) and Van Unnik (1958) have pointed out, later Egyptian Christians seem to have been ashamed of the heretical past of their country and to have drawn a veil of silence across it. This seems to be why so little is known of the history of the early Egyptian Christianity." Hills also suggests that Gnostic and docetist influences explain many of the peculiar readings of the Alexandrian Text. (See pp. 136-138, 143.)

32. Benjamin G.Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated (Washington, D.C., 1930), pp. 19-22.

33. Dr. Warfields Collection of Opinions and Reviews, Vol. II, p. 21 as quoted in Wilkinson, p. 229.

37. Hills, pp. 172-175, 186-188. (Predominating in the Syriac Peshitta and Gothic.)

38. Colwell, pp. 48-49. Also Gunther Zuntz, "The Byzantine Text in New Testament Criticism," The Journal of Theological Studies, XLII (1942), p. 55.

39. John Burgon, The Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels Vindicated and Established, completed by

Edward Miller (London: George Bell and Sons, 1896), pp. ix-x cites Miller's investigation regarding the witness of the patristic quotations. (Also see Pickering, pp. 65-76 for discussion concerning this.)

40. H. Sturz, The Byzantine Text-type and New Testament Textual Criticism (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1984), pp. 53-131.

42. The Italic Version. (See Wilkinson, p. 35.)

48. "Hort organized his entire argument to depose the Textus Receptus. While still a student at Cambridge, twenty-three years old, Hort clearly indicated in a letter the identity of the villain: 'I had no idea till the last few weeks of the importance of texts, having read so little Greek

Testament, and dragged on with the villainous Textus Receptus. ... Think of that vile Textus Receptus leaning on late Mss.; it is a blessing there are such early ones. ...' (December 29 and 30, 1851)" Colwell, p. 158 quotes Hort's letter published in Arthur Fenton Hort, Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort, I (London and New York, 1896), p. 211.

49. H.F.D. Sparks, On Translations of the Bible (London: the Athlone press, 1973), p.7.

50. Edmund Beckett, Should the Revised New Testament be Authorised? (London: John Murray, 1881), p. 37.

52. Luther Weigle, The English New Testament (New York & Nashville: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1949), p. 96. Also Burgon, The Revision Revised, p. 24.

56. Pickering, p. 129, Kirsopp Lake, R. P. Blake and Silva New, "The Caesarean Text of the Gospel of Mark," Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 21(1928), pp. 347-

349 suggests that scribes "usually destroyed their exemplars when they had copied the sacred books."

57. Kenyon, Our Bible, p. 173. Colwell on p. 106 records, "Kirsopp Lake described Hort's work as a failure, though a glorious one."

60. Including such scholars as Rendel Harris, Conybeare, Kirsopp Lake, G. Zuntz, H. Greeven, R. M. Grant, K. W. Clark, Frederick Kenyon, and K. Aland as quoted in Hills, pp. 66-67.

61. Includes KJV, NKJV, and KJVII. The latter, however, is no longer readily available.

62. This is not to suggest that translations should be written in colloquial language. Contrary to a commonly held view, the New Testament was not written in the uncultivated dialect of the marketplace. (See Nigel Turner, Christian Words [Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1981], p. xiii.) Neither was the original KJV written in the contemporary English of its day. (See Hills, pp. 218-219.)

63. The NKJV is an excellent compliment to the KJV.

64. The Greek text is of primary importance in choosing a Bible version. See Kubo and Specht, Which Version Today?, p. 8. Also Alex Roberts writes "It is of the utmost vital importance to be assured of the trustworthiness of the text Without this everything else must be comparatively worthless." Alex Roberts, Companion to the Revised Version of the English New Testament (London and New York: Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co., 1881), p. 34.

65. Of lesser significance than readability are a few places where the KJV could have been more literal in a consistent translation of verb tenses and articles.

67. There are places where modern versions more clearly and in a few cases, more accurately translate the same Greek found in the Received Text. (The NASB is particularly helpful due to its consistently literal renderings. See Kubo and Specht, So Many Versions? [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983], p. 338.)

68. "Making the King James Version Even Better," Adventist Review, July 5, 1979, p. 13 says of Dr. Arthur Farstad, New Testament editor of the NKJV, "He admitted that he had been biased by his studies at various seminaries in the direction of accepting the view that the KJV contained numerous inaccuracies in translation. He now has reversed this conviction, concluding instead that the initial KJV translators worked with extreme accuracy, selecting valid options in the Greek text." [Emphasis supplied.] Also John Skilton wrote "[The A.V.] is a conscientiously close translation. While not a literal, word-for-word rendering which is insensitive to English idiom and style, it is faithful to its text and is remarkably successful in conveying the sense of that text into good English." John H. Skilton, "The King James Version Today," in John H. Skilton, ed., The Law and the Prophets (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1974) p. 104 as quoted in Letis, "Hugh Broughton Redivivus," The Majority Text: Essays and Reviews in the Continuing Debate.

There have not been significant advances in the understanding of biblical Greek since the KJV was translated. The discovery of secular papyri has not been as beneficial in Christian word study as once hoped. (See Turner, pp. xii-xiii.) Also Cadbury commented, "It would be a mistake to exaggerate the extent to which such revised judgments of the language can be actually recorded in translation. ... Improved knowledge of the original is often mainly a matter of slight nuances ... than such as to necessitate one English rendering instead of another." Henry J. Cadbury, "The Vocabulary and Grammar of New Testament Greek," in An introduction to the Revised Standard Version of the

New Testament (The International Council of Religious Education, 1967), p. 105 as quoted in Letis, The Majority Text.

69. Skilton, p. 107 as quoted in Letis, The Majority Text says "The Authorized Version had a remarkable sense of appropriateness, felicity, and effectiveness of expression. It had the instinct and feeling of genius for music and rhythm. It could discover the 'inevitable' word or phrase for a given context. Its style admirably reflected the dignity, majesty, and sublimity of the original."


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