KJV-Only: The Exclusivity Argument

One of the fundamental assumptions of my book, What’s in a Version? is that the Bible should and can be available in any language. Thus the initial chapter starts by asking just what questions onbe might ask if one was deciding how to produce a translation for people who don’t have one.

Advocates of the KJV-Only position, however, argue for exclusivity, i.e. the KJV is the one and only form in which we have the true Word of God. In any argument with them, one comes back to this point. A particular reading or translation cannot possibly be right. Why? Because it’s not what the KJV says.

Fred Butler at Fred’s Bible Talk claims this is the most fundamental argument of the KJV-Only position, and all the other arguments come back to it.

He takes a lot more time with this than I would. In fact, in my book I didn’t bother with the KJV at all. But I think he’s right. He’s also right about the implications. If one follows this argument to it’s logical conclusion, it means that almost all Christians at all times have not had the real Word of God available to them. It also means that those who don’t speak English must either go without or must learn English.

In any case, it’s an interesting article for those who want to take time on this issue.

Churches Rejecting the NIV2011

According to the Christian Post, some major churches are rejecting the NIV2011. Their concern is over accuracy, and particularly “literal accuracy.”

The article cites Pastor Gregg Matte of Houston’s First Baptist Church, and Andrew Werley, pastor of Houston’s Jersey Village Baptist Church.

“I believe the TNIV or the NIV 2011 revision has drifted from what I would consider a true literal translation,” said Werley.

It appears that the most important issue for these readers is the gender language used in these translations. What interests me most is the use of “true literal translation.” The NIV itself was not a literal translation, even insofar as such translation is possible

Of course, truly literal translation is not a possibility because words do not have a one-to-one correspondence between two different languages. Thus it was common in Greek to refer to a group of men and women as adelphoi. A generation ago, the primary way of referring to such a group in American English would have been “brothers.” But today, it is common to refer to such a group as “brothers and sisters.”

So today, “brothers and sisters” is just as literal as “brothers” was a generation ago. What’s more, “brothers” is less literal, always providing one cares about how the word will be understood by the modern audience.

Unfortunately, most debates about Bible versions do not hinge on one’s understanding of language, but rather on theological points. There are those who prefer that the Bible be more male oriented than it is. For these people, the accuracy of the reference is secondary, whether they admit it or not.


Sermon on Bible Translations (History)

John Brunt was one of my professors for my undergraduate program in Biblical Languages at Walla Walla University. He’s now a pastor. The embedded sermon is the beginning of a series.

The reason I’m including this here is because he goes through some of the history of translation. Many errors regarding Bible translation result from not understanding the background. I think this is a worthwhile basic introduction.


Give Me The Bible from Azure Hills Church on Vimeo.

(HT: Spectrum)

Debating the KJV and Textual Theories

Erik DiVietro suggests respect and coexistence.  While I commend his effort, not to mention his various posts, which are both informative and respectful, I think this is a topic that will always get heated.  The KJV Only position, and those that are perceived to be close to it will tend to bring out a great deal of heat.

On a related matter I’d suggest a bit better distinction from folks on my side between the KJV-Only position, and the various related positions regarding the New Testament text, such as the TR best or Majority Text, or Byzantine text positions.  While I’m solidly committed to the eclectic approach myself, there is a very large difference between a KJV-Only position and these more nuanced approaches.

Interview with Ed Blum on the HCSB

The HCSB is not one of my favorites, but in many ways it is not a bad translation.  This interview with general editor Dr. Ed Blum is quite helpful.

I would underline Dr. Blum’s comments on reading the introduction.  The majority of questions I’m asked about Bible translations and  most of the information I put on the charts in my book as well as at MyBibleVersion.com can be gotten from those introductions.

I was disappointed by the limited response to the question about “optimal equivalence.”  It sounds to me like “marketing speak” rather than a method of translation definitely distinct from other methods.  The introduction includes this statement:

The HCSB uses optimal equivalence as its translation philosophy.  When a literal translation meets these criteria, it is used.  When clarity and readability demand an idiomatic translation, the reader can still access the form of the original text by means of a footnote with the abbreviation “Lit.”

That’s a good goal, but I think it is one pursued by many other translation committees.  I can see it as a distinction from what is done with the NASB on the one hand and The Message on the other, but in many other versions I think the differences can be explained by disagreements over just when an idiomatic translation is demanded or when a “literal translation meets these criteria.”

(HT:  Dave Black Online)