A Short KJV Detour (Part 4)

This is the final part of our evaluation of the arguments used to support the King James Only position. We will return to the issue of charismatic gifts tomorrow:



There is no evidence that the TR resulted from a revision and is thus a secondary text type. This is the supposition on the part of Westcott and Hort to account for the Byzantine text, of which the TR is a portion.


True. This revision is discounted by most scholars today and is the most obvious error in the entire Westcot-Hort theory.



Textual critics are all rationalists and therefore incapable of desiring God’s truth or determining to preserve it. God would not use liberals, such as Westcott and Hort, to rediscover and resurrect true texts.


Not all textual critics are rationalists, nor are they unbelievers. To assume this is guilt-by-association in its purest form. It is simply not true that scholars necessarily deny the orthodox foundations of the Christian faith when they investigate all of the manuscript data to resolve textual variants. There have been many godly men, including Westcott, Tregelles, Tischendorf, Robertson, and Machen, who worked on these issues years ago. More recently, a group of committed believers worked on the New International Version, including such godly men as Laird Harris, Charles Ryrie, Gleason Archer, Kenneth Barker, John Davis, S. Lewis Johnson, Ken Kantzer, Homer Kent, Meredith Klein, Alfred Martin, Leon Morris, Barton Payne, Merrill Tenney, and Leon Wood. The issue of the King James Version versus modern translations of the Bible cannot be equated with the issue of fundamentalism versus modernism. By the way, few people today, believers or unbelievers, embrace all of the Westcott-Hort theory of textual criticism.


Controversial claims have been made for the inerrancy of the King James Bible. The supporters of the “God wrote only one Bible” theology have mistakenly equated the 1611 King James Bible with the original manuscripts of the New Testament written in the first century. It is true that God wrote only one Bible, but it is also true that it was not the King James translation.

What approach should be used to determine the variant which accurately represents what God originally wrote? It is the opinion of the elders of Grace Community Church that the “balanced eclectic” approach is best. It gives equal weight to both internal and external evidence and it gives unbiased consideration to the various manuscript families without claiming one is better than another.

The argument that defends the Byzantine tradition by appealing to the fact that most manuscripts in the Greek New Testament represent the Byzantine text type is logically and historically weak. It is not a truism that a majority of manuscripts necessarily preserve the best text.

The argument that defends the Byzantine text by appealing to the providence of God is theologically false. The determination of the best variant in an individual case is not a theological issue alone, but is primarily a textual issue.

Textual arguments that depend on adopting the “textus receptus” and then comparing it to other text types are guilty of bias. To condemn a modern version because it does not include something that is included in the TR, or it adds something which the TR does not add, is to argue that the modern versions and their translators are guilty of adding to or subtracting from the true text. It could be equally true that those who translated or copied the TR were the ones who added or deleted text.

There is no necessary connection between the adoption of the Byzantine Text or the King James Version and the inspiration of Scripture. There are equally godly, scholarly men on both sides of this issue, all of whom strongly embrace the historic, orthodox understanding of the inerrancy and infallibility of the Scriptures. Adoption of the TR or King James Version should never be made a point of theological orthodoxy or ecclesiastical fellowship.

Bible versions such as the New American Standard Bible and the New International Version have been translated by godly men of demonstrated academic repute from the very best manuscript evidence that is available today. Incidentally, the manuscript evidence that is now available is far superior to that which was available to the King James translators in 1611. It should be noted that the New King James Version recently published by Thomas Nelson is not an improvement over the KJV. While the original intent was to do new translations from the Byzantine, or Majority, Text, what ultimately happened in the midst of the commercial endeavor was merely to change the English text by modernizing a number of archaic words.


The following quote from the helpful brochure published by Grace Theological Seminary and written by its president, Dr. Homer A. Kent, Jr., is a fitting capstone to this discussion of textual variants:

It needs to be remembered that the differences between the Alexandrian and Byzantine text types are not nearly as great as might be supposed. If one could remove the old English style from the King James Version so that the comparison would be fairer, the differences between these text types can be seen by noting the difference between the King James Version and the American Standard Version. The gospel is crystal clear in either version. It is regrettable that an issue is being made over this matter in evangelical circles, especially when some extremists are making one’s attitude toward the King James Version an article of faith, and unwarrantedly raising suspicions against those who do not. The issue is forcing many Christians to make a choice where they lack the necessary knowledge and skill to do so. How much better it would be to thank God that His Word has been preserved intact for centuries, and that the wealth of manuscripts assures us that none of the words have been lost. In a few cases, we may not be certain which of several variants is the original, but our problem is an embarrassment of riches, not of loss.

By. Pulpit Magazine