Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Best Cure for KJVOnlyism

kjvI was tooling around at Wal-Mart the other day, picking up some items for the house, when I saw a gigantic display of books over by the DVDs. Upon closer inspection, I was surprised to discover the books were a facsimile of the original 1611 KJV edition, complete with the flowery, Elizabethan “Gothic” font. They’re put out by Zondervan for the purpose of marking the 400th anniversary of the KJV’s publication. It was around 5 bucks and I plan to secure one for myself before they run out, because I am sure these things are going to go fast.


In the most recent edition of As I See It, Doug Kutilek explains the apologetic importance of Wal-Mart selling a facsimile of the KJV.

The Best Cure for KJVOism: A Real 1611 KJV

It has been widely publicized that the year 2011 is the 400th anniversary of the original publication of the so-called “Authorized” or “King James Version” of the Bible in English. This translation has historically been the most widely used, at least since it overtook the previous champion, the Geneva Bible of 1560 (chiefly, at least initially, as a result of the legal suppression of the printing of the Geneva Bible by the British monarchy, in favor of the KJV). It should be noted, however, that the great majority of the editions and copies of the KJV printed and read in the past 400 years have been revisions rather than reprints of the original form of the KJV, with literally tens of thousands of revisions in spelling, punctuation and the use of italics, plus many hundreds in the precise wording of the text, to say nothing of the switch from “black letter” (“Gothic”) type to Roman, the widespread omission of the Apocrypha in the 18th and later centuries, along with the omission of an extended calendar and charts of Biblical genealogies, and most unfortunately, the omission of the extremely important and informative introductory essay, “The Translators to the Readers,” which was in the original edition. In short, most KJV users, particularly those who claim to be “King James Version 1611 Only” in their beliefs, have never actually seen or used a real 1611 King James Version in the original form in which it was issued from the press in 1611.

In the past, there have been from time to time facsimile reprints of the 1611 KJV. In 1833, “The Holy Bible, an exact reprint page for page of the Authorized Version published in the year 1611” was printed at the University Press, Oxford; it was in Roman type (see A. S. Herbert, Historical Catalogue of Printed Editions of the English Bible 1525-1961. London: British and Foreign Bible Society, 1968; p. 377). In 1911, the University Press at Oxford issued two 1611 reprints--the first a facsimile (in black letter) in reduced size of the original 1611 KJV, the other an exact reprint page-for-page but in Roman type, of the 1611 edition, both with introductory essays by A. W. Pollard (see Herbert, p. 458). I have owned a copy of the 1911 Roman type reprint for almost 35 years.

This 1911 Roman type reprint was reissued in the 1970s (or early 1980s) by Thomas Nelson of Nashville, about the time they issued their New King James Version (and for a time Nelson sold the two volumes together in a slipcase). This reprint omitted the Pollard essay (and perhaps other features--I gave my copy to one of my sons a few years ago and cannot check it directly). Later--probably in the 1990s--, Hendrickson Publishing (the publishing arm of Christian Book Discount) also reprinted the1911 Roman type edition (in precisely the form Nelson had). These two recent reprints are easy to find via the internet.

Besides these, there have been over the years several full-sized facsimile reprints of the 1611 KJV by various publishers; my brother has a copy of one made in the 1950s, for which he paid $350, used, a decade ago. Such full-sized facsimiles are rarely met with and are generally rather pricey (in the hundreds or even many hundreds of dollars)

Now, another edition, widely available and quite inexpensive, has appeared, this made by Zondervan and sold at Wal-Mart (and perhaps other retail outlets). The ISBN is: 978-0-310-44029-1. It is a facsimile--an exact reproduction in the original black letter script--of the 1611 edition, but in a reduced size, and with one feature of the original omitted--the thirteen books of the Apocrypha (as noted on p. viii of the Introduction to this new edition). That the 1611 KJV originally did have the Apocrypha can be visually confirmed in this edition on the page containing Malachi 4, where the “catch-word” at the bottom of the page is “APO-“ which points to “APOCRYPHA” which is at the top of the page in the original (and in my 1911 reprint), after which originally followed the complete text of those non-canonical books).

The printed retail price of this Zondervan 2011 facsimile reprint is $7.99, though I have bought several copies at Wal-Mart in Kansas for $4.97 and I have heard it priced about a dollar higher elsewhere (and I suspect they hope to make a profit on the publication of the KJV at that price). I would strongly urge EVERY PREACHER, EVERY CHRISTIAN READER and EVERY CHURCH AND CHRISTIAN COLLEGE LIBRARY to get a copy AT ONCE. If you have any KJVO friends, buy and give them a copy. There is no quicker cure for KJVOism that the direct and extended study of the 1611 edition, introductory material and all.

One finds in the actual, original, genuine 1611 KJV (no doubt “preserved in the form God wants us to have”) an introductory essay that states the translators’ perspective on their own and other translations (they, at least, were decidedly NOT “KJVOnly”). If I could do just ONE thing, I would make every KJVO partisan read carefully those 11 highly informative pages. The original translator’s English Bible text has literally thousands of variant marginal renderings (showing that they did not believe their translation as found in the text was infallibly correct), plus variant manuscript readings, showing that they did not believe that the manuscript reading given in their text was necessarily always right. One will also find numerous places where words are “omitted,” “added” or altered as compared with all modern editions of the KJV, to say nothing of a considerable number of printer’s errors (are these also part of the “perfect preservation” we hear so much about?). And one can discover on the title page of the NT those revealing words: “cum privilegio” (Latin: “with privilege”) which demonstrate the undeniable fact that this translation was COPYRIGHTED FROM THE DAY IT WAS FIRST PUBLISHED (contrary to the gross misrepresentation on this point that is part of the accepted KJVO “wisdom”).

I am quite sure that the quickest “cure” for the absurdity of KJVOism is the close and careful study of the actual original KJV itself. I would challenge--even dare--every KJVO partisan to get this facsimile of the original KJV and study it “cover to cover” and margin to margin, spending a year and more in the process, and try to prove me wrong.



Blogger Highland Host said...

I'd like to add my 'Amen'. I have a 1911 Roman Type edition in a nice binding, and I know that there has been a Roman Type edition issued this year. In both cases with the Apocrypha.

9:43 AM, June 02, 2011  
Blogger Edward said...

Thanks Fred for the post. I can't wait to see the KJVO people respond to this. That is if they do.

9:59 AM, June 02, 2011  
Blogger Peter said...

Although I have seen KJV-only websites online, I don't think I have ever met such a person.

10:48 PM, June 02, 2011  
Blogger Pierre Saikaley said...

A KJO friend of mine once said that his reading of James White's King James Only Controversy came close to shaking his faith in KJO poisition-but he remained KJO anyway. Such is the power of dogmatism and ignorance.

I have the feeling that most KJO people would not be persuaded. Not that they shouldn't try to be convinced anyway.

8:55 AM, June 03, 2011  
Blogger Man of the West said...

Every so often, when I'm in El Reno, Oklahoma, I drive past quite a large Baptist church that has "KJV Only" permanently on their marquee. I have run across, in the past, at least one KJV only church in the Tulsa area. One time, I attended a lecture, quite a good one, from a former professor of petroleum engineering, on age-dating methods, and toward the end of the lecture, he inadvertently made it clear that he was KJV only.

They're out there, and many of them are sincere Christians honestly trying to do what they think is right. One has to be careful in how to respond to them.

6:34 PM, June 03, 2011  
Blogger keo said...

Thanks for the tip. I don't often say "I need to go to WalMart," but this is reason to.

9:11 PM, June 04, 2011  
Blogger Alan Kurschner said...

Hi Fred,

I actually own a leaf from an original 1611, which was from the Van Kampen Collection. Guess which leaf I chose to attain? The one that contains the Apocrypha (2 Mac 8).

You should see the look on the faces of KJV dudes when I show it to them ;)

Oh yea, another thing, the KJV translators were not pretribbers:


Not that you said they were ;-)


6:23 PM, June 05, 2011  
Blogger thomas4881 said...

If you don't read the KJV with a 1611 British accent does that corrupt the KJV?

7:44 PM, June 05, 2011  
Blogger Peter said...

One finds in the actual, original, genuine 1611 KJV (no doubt “preserved in the form God wants us to have”) an introductory essay that states the translators’ perspective on their own and other translations (they, at least, were decidedly NOT “KJVOnly”).

Not only that, but the English reformers commonly made their own translation of a verse they were quoting in a sermon. This includes the old Reformed Homilies, which were required reading in church; I wonder what people thought when they heard Sunday's Bible reading in one version and the Homily from another?

The real reason the KJV lasted as THE version for so long has to do with the historical realities of the English Reformation. They feared the savage Hundred Years' war over religion that permanently wrecked the Empire on the continent.

Like the Lutheran evangelicals before them, the Reformed evangelicals sought a Magisterial Reformation, that of a "godly prince." Now we today are aware of the grave trouble that the union of church and state and covenantalist baptism led to, but at the time, the Reformers used whatever honorable means handy. The state was wielded to root out Romanist holdovers (recusants) on the right and radical anabaptists (religious individualists) on the left.

The English reformers felt that national unity against the international and political Roman "harlot" was a necessity. Thus they used adiaphora, such as a national order of service, and a national Authorised Version of the Bible as means to keep that united front.

But the scholars and reformers themselves kept ad fontes and their writings prove they actually made their own translations of passages for years after the Reformed settlement. Thus to insist on the KJV only is to keep to an anachronism arising from political and religious exigencies long gone.

I have always favored the KJV since that is what I memorized as a little boy and because I like the majestic language, but for study I have used other versions for some time.

Fred here has been very helpful in showing me what happens when enthusiasm for things indifferent is taken too far. We humans become little idol-factories.

2:21 PM, June 07, 2011  
Blogger c.t. said...

Why would a King James Only person (however you want to define such a person) be shocked by an original 1611 AV? You really think a KJV-O doesn't know about font and spelling differences and the Preface and so on? And why the constant attitude that people who are KJV-O (or whatever) are dumb? You sound like leftists talking about Tea Party people. All this, "You should see the look on their face when I show them a leaf from a 1611 and it's from an apocryphal book..." Really? KJV-O people don't know the Apocrypha was included in the original 1611 between the Old and New Testaments? They don't? Really? How long a shelf life will these straw men have for you guys? If you think the only reason people don't agree with you is because they are stupid you are in asinine territory. Again, think of the idiot glow of self-glorified leftists in our world today. Try to convince them they are village idiots. Can't do it. You don't want to be where they are, guys. Wake up.

7:53 AM, June 15, 2011  
Blogger PaulT said...

The KJV is copyrighted. It is in the public domain throughout the world, except the United Kingdom. I recently published a book, using the complete text of Genesis, with comment. I wanted to use two versions. I was able to get permission to use the NKJV for a reasonable sum. But as I lived in the UK at the time, I applied for permission to use the KJV, under 'Crown Copyright'. The price for permission was MUCH more expensive than required for the NKJV, so the KJV edition was never produced.

8:34 PM, June 20, 2011  

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