King James Only Historiography
He laid down a challenging question:
Dear Gentlemen, I have taken the liberty to address a number of you today in hopes that you will answer a simple question for me straightforward and honest. I will be using your e-mails for an article I'm working on concerning the origin of King James Onlyism from a King James only perspective. So, if you are so inclined, I would appreciate the answer to the following:
-In 3 sentences or less, What is your definition of King James Only?
A definition of King James Onlyism in three sentences or less? I took the challenge and responded by writing,
The aberrant belief that the King James Bible, first published in 1611, is the only reliable language translation which adequately conveys God's written revelation.
Any language translation prior to and after the publication of the KJV 1611 is either insufficiently translated or is translated from original language manuscripts alleged to have been intentionally corrupted by heretical individuals.
Moreover, any revision of the KJV 1611 text by either updating the English language and re-translating verses and passages for the sake of accuracy and clarity is viewed as corrupting God's Word and in some cases, introducing error into the Bible.
That's a simplistic definition that over looks other significant factors, but I believe it is sufficient for Jeff's purposes.
Since I responded to his inquiry, he and I have been exchanging emails and the reason for his inquiry is research he is gathering for an article he plans to write on the historical background to King James Onlyism.
It is generally understood - and I believe rightly so - that King James Onlyism of the variety Jeff holds dear to his heart has its beginnings with a Seventh-Day Adventist, Benjamin Wilkinson, who wrote Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, the first book defending KJV onlyism. I believe this fact has been firmly documented and established.
Wilkinson was the first one to suggest Psalm 12:6,7 speaks to perfect preservation of manuscript copies and translations, as well as translational inerrancy. He also was the first person to suggest Psalm 12:6,7 teaches that the King James Bible is the 7th purified translation in a line of godly translations. Many of his errors concerning English translations can be viewed here.
Wilkinson's work went into obscurity after it was published in the 1930s, but two fundamentalists, J.J. Ray and David O. Fuller, gave his material new life by republishing his arguments, and in the case of Fuller, republishing the entire book except the portions supportive of Seventh-Day Adventist theology.
As an independent Fundamental Baptist holding firm to King James Onlyism, having an Adventist cultist as your founding father is unnerving to say the least, so according to Jeff's emails, he is attempting to debunk the connection between KJV onlyism and Wilkinson by demonstrating an historical defense for KJV onlyism by Christian scholars before Wilkinson even wrote.
Jeff claims to have documented evidence of King James Onlyism extending way back into the early 1800s, and even cited for me some authors who defended KJV onlyism in their day. Men like John Henry Todd, William T. Brantley, Arthur Coxe, Christopher Anderson, and William R. Williams. I readily confess I haven't heard of these men or the various works they produced. But, I think Jeff believes their obscurity to KJV-only critics like myself and, say, the guys writing at the KJV-only Resource Center, will work to his advantage, because he considers these authors to be unexpected witnesses for his cause who are thought will shut all the mouths of non-KJV Alexandrian apostates who believe Wilkinson is the "father" of modern day King James onlyism.
Now, I have always maintained there were men writing in the 1800s who were opposed to textual revision of the King James text, especially any new translation involving the use, at that time, of newly found manuscripts which departed in readings from the widely held Received Text used to translate the KJV. Many of those opponents of new translations were voicing their opposition against a perceived encroaching modernism that manifested itself in the utilization of higher critical methodology that denied the infallibility and authority of the biblical revelation. The King James was viewed as being the translation of the orthodox believer and any departure from its use could possibly expose the Christian community to theological error.
However, these early opponents to new translations cannot rightly be called King James Only. Many of them wrote in favor of revision of the King James text and some of them even favored the publication of a new translation depending upon the circumstances of how that translation would be commissioned. Modern day King James onlyists like Jeff would reject either one of these possibilities claiming they are unnecessary and would corrupt the Word of God.
I eagerly look forward to reading Jeff's research, though I have read similar attempts by other KJV-onlyists to demonstrate KJV-onlyism before Wilkinson. David Cloud, for instance, wrote an article defending David O. Fuller against the charge he took his KJV onlyism from the writings of Wilkinson. Yet the individuals Cloud cites as being KJV defenders were not KJV-only in the sense he is KJV-only, and certainly not in the way Jeff is KJV-only.
What I believe Jeff needs to show us are 19th century equivalents holding to the perspective of Pete Ruckman, Gail Riplinger, David Sorenson, and Sam Gipp. Such things as,
1) Individuals who defended what I term inerrant translational exclusivity, or the concept God's perfect, preserved revelation is found only in one biblical translation, the KJV 1611.
2) Documenting the KJV notion of two lines of Bibles: a preserved line of good Bibles that culminates in the publication of the KJV, as opposed to a corrupted line of bad Bibles that culminates in the modern "perversions."
3) And individuals who would refuse any meaningful revision of the KJV text and who defended the KJV reading as being infallible and never in need of being corrected. For example, an 18th and 19th century scholar who insisted the word "easter" as it is rendered by the KJV at Acts 12:4 is the inspired reading and to revise the text to correctly read "passover" places an error onto the biblical text. See my paper on this subject here.
Jeff is certain he can provide for us these pre-Wilkinson KJV onlyists. I remain unconvinced he can.
Labels: Answering KJV Onlyism