Some people have their reasons for preferring or only using the King James (also known as the 1611 Authorized) Version of the Bible. Dr. James White makes it clear that he has nothing against the KJV or people who like using it. But his book "The King James Only Controversy" focuses on that group of people who go beyond preference to insistence, to the point of considering all other translations as corrupt. These individuals believe that if you use other translations you are rejecting the true Word of God. People who hold to this extreme view are known as KJV Only advocates. White insists that even the translators of the KJV would disagree with this view. In the Preface to the 1611 AV, the translators state, variety of translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures.
Dr. White begins his book with this statement: "I am sincerely convinced that if most Christians had a solid grasp on the history of the Bible, and were familiar with at least the broad outline of how translation is undertaken, the KJV Only issue would be more of a slight disagreement than a full-blown controversy."
Dr. White begins by providing a fair amount of detail about the early history of Bible translating and discussing the challenges of translating from the original Greek and Hebrew. Next White explains the use of and differences between word-for-word translations and translation for meaning, and includes examples. He does go into some detail about text-types and families; some people may find this a little dry, but I found it interesting and helpful.
White then discusses several outspoken King James Only advocates and the problems with their position. Dr. White sums up the problems associated with the KJV Only position this way:
"King James Onlyism is a human tradition. It has no basis in history. It has no foundation in fact. It is internally inconsistent, utilizing circular reasoning at its core, and involves the use of more double standards than almost any system of thought I have ever encountered."
The KJV translation has its share of problems; Dr. White provides many examples where the meaning is unclear or where the translators were inconsistent or made a poor choice when translating a particular word or phrase. As language changes and develops, it makes sense to update the language in the Bible to make it more accessible to the modern reader. If you prefer the language of the KJV, by all means continue to use it. For those who like the language and flow of the KJV, the New King James is also a good choice. The translation is very close, but passages that are vague or unclear in the Old KJV have been revised for the sake of clarity.
The King James Only Controversy will be especially helpful to you if:
- You have ever wondered whether the King James Version is superior to other versions, such as the New American, New International, or even the New King James.
- You know or have engaged in discussions with people who are convinced the KJV is the only version that is truly the Word of God.
- You are looking into Christian schools, homeschooling curriculum, or Sunday School curriculum. While some Bible curriculum chooses to use the KJV, some are coming from the KJV Only camp.
This book is a real eye-opener and a breath of fresh air. It's very well thought out and not a difficult read at all. After doing battle with the King James Only people , I really appreciate the positive reviews here. I do understand that not everyone agrees with James White and that's fine but to be attacked because I read not only the KJV but also the NKJV, NIV and NLT just doesn't make sense to me. There is a lot of anger and hostility in the KJV only camp. As Mr. White states, Christians led a pretty enjoyable life in the 1500 years before the KJV was published. I wonder if the KJV people were attacked when that Bible came out? Anyway, I highly recommend this book, even if your a KJV person. God Bless!
Some have commented that they don't like how the author makes claims about those in the "KJV-only" camp, but one must not ignore that the criticism toward them has been largely deserved by them. He does not engage in name-calling nor hateful language...he simply states what he has seen, heard and experienced. One must also not ignore the horrible condemnations and criticsm that he has gotten from them because he disagrees with them. He is far more courteous and polite than they are. While he is able to back up his case with facts, the KJV-only camp will usually resort to name-calling and claims of secret conspiracies. He also presents his case very well. He doesn't argue against the 1611 KJV...he is pro-KJV...just not KJV "only." He presents things from history that are plain and self-evident...things that can be discovered by anyone willing to take the time and actually take a look for themselves. The end result is a new appreciation for the Bible and the sacrifices and work it took for us to have an English translation so that even a "plowboy" can understand it.