I do not have an axe to grind, this subject is not a hobby horse of mine and I will not debate the issue. If I were to be asked if I were "King James only," I would reply, "I am not King James only, I am King James best."
I have always read, studied and memorized Scripture from the King James version and I will have to have a better reason than, "It is easier to read," to change to another version. I am going to give you my personal opinions.

If God went to the trouble to inspire His Word, then it is logical that He would preserve His Word through the ages for His people to use. Inspiration would be of no use without preservation.

The main reason I stay with the KJV is because of the manuscript from which it was translated.

As I am sure you already know, the New Testament was written in Greek and the KJV is a translation from Greek into English. I have read that there are 5,255 Greek manuscripts in existence today. (That makes the New Testament the most well documented ancient literature in history.) None are complete, some are fragments containing only a few words and none are in perfect agreement. However, the vast majority of the variations are inconsequential, like spelling, word order, etc., which are not translatable. 

These manuscripts have been divided into two major groups, the Alexandrian text-type, which means manuscripts whose text is most similar to Christian writers active in Alexandria, Egypt, in the 3rd and 4th centuries, and the Byzantine text-type. Forty-five of the manuscripts are of the Alexandrian text-type and 5,210 are of the Byzantine text-type. It is easy to see why the Byzantine is sometime called the "Majority Text."

Before the KJV, the Wycliffe translation, the Bishops Bible, the Cloverdale Bible, the Tyndale translation and the Geneva Bible were all translated from the Byzantine family of texts. Also before the KJV, the Spanish, French, Dutch and German Bibles all came from the Byzantine family of texts. 

That all changed in 1881 when two men, Brooke Foss Wescott and Fenton John Anthony Hort edited a new Greek New Testament. Their Greek text did not come from the Byzantine texts but from the Alexandrian texts. They relied most on the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus, two of the Alexandrian text-types.

The Vaticanus remained unnoticed in the Vatican library (hence the name Vaticanus) until 1475 when it was found by textual scholars. However, scholars were not able to examine it until 1843. It was published in 1858. This manuscript is missing 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon and Revelation. It has been dated to the 4th century and is held to be one of the oldest manuscripts in existence. Westcott and Hort relied heavily on the Vaticanus for their Greek text.

The Sinaiticus was discovered in a monastery on Mt. Sinai (hence the name Sinaiticus) in 1859. This manuscript has also been dated to the 4th century. It contains all the books of the New Testament. However, 14,800 corrections have been found in the Sinaiticus that were made by nine correctors, believed to be made in the 6th and 7th centuries. 

The Vaticanus and the Sinaiticus are far from being identical. There are reported to be 3,036 differences between the readings in Vaticanus and Sinaiticus in the Gospels alone.

The Alexandrian and Byzantine text-types are at least 85% identical and many of the variations are trivial. However, there are substantial differences between the two. Navida Shahid, in an article on the Codex Sinaiticus said, "The differences found between the text of the Codex Sinaiticus and the NT as perceived by Christians today, are nearly shocking." And, "The evidence of the Sinaiticus proved to be very disturbing for many, especially, at one point, 20th century Theologians found the witness of the Codex Sinaiticus so disturbing, that they were forced to re-consider, the central doctrine of the Christian faith itself: The resurrection of Jesus Christ himself."

To give you some idea of the differences between the Alexandrian and Byzantine text-types, Westcott and Hort's Greek text does not include Matthew 17:21; 18:11; 23:14; Mark 9:44, 46; 15:28; 16:9-20; Luke 17:36; 23:17; Acts 8:37; 28:29 and Romans 16:24. (I just checked the NIV and none of these verses are there.) Besides these whole verses there are many, many phrases and words that do not appear. 

Almost every translation since the Westcott and Hort Greek text in 1881 has been made from their text or a revision of their text. 

I still use the King James Version because I believe that the Byzantine text-types are correct and that the Alexandrian text-types are corrupted.

I still use the King James Version because I believe that a Bible you can study must be a word-for-word translation. Some of the modern translations are word-for-word translations and some are paraphrases. In a paraphrase the translator reads a passage in the Greek text and then writes what he thinks the writer meant. This becomes a commentary and not a Bible. There is a big difference between reading the Bible, like a newspaper, and studying the Bible, like a textbook.

    Many people say they do not like the King James Version because of the words like "thee" and "thou." The Greek of the New Testament was a more precise language than our English. For example, in English the word "you" can be singular or plural in the objective or subjective case. In order to make the meaning very clear, the King James translators used some terms we do not commonly use today.

        Personal pronouns beginning with "t" are singular: thou; thy; thee; thine.
        Personal pronouns beginning with "y" are plural: ye; you; yours.
        Thou -- designates the subject of a verb.
        Thee -- designates the object of a verb.
        Ye -- designates the subject of a verb.
        You -- designates the object of the verb.
        Verbs ending in "est" indicate the second person singular (the one spoken to).
        Verbs ending in "eth" indicate the third person singular (the one spoken about).

The KJV translators sometime added words to make a smoother reading. They wanted to make sure everyone understood when they added words not in the Greek text, so they put them in italics. 

There are some words in the KJV that have changed meaning since 1611. It is usually easy to get their meaning from the context. In case you need it, for a dollar you can buy the booklet "The King James Bible Companion" that will give you a list of the archaic words and their modern day meanings. It is small enough to keep in your Bible. You can get one from our book store or order it at WWW.chick.com.

Why study Greek and Hebrew? I do not use the Greek and Hebrew I know to correct the KJV. I use it similar to the way I would use a dictionary. It often adds depth and color to a word or a verse or sometime to a whole passage. But, if you do not know one word of Greek or Hebrew, you can still study the KJV and arrive at the same conclusions.

These are my reasons for using the KJV and I don't think I will be changing any time soon.


by Raymond McAlister
May 2006