This issue, more than any other issue in the church, often brings out worst, most unchristian responses by many people. Dr. White does not join in and make fun of people, attack straw men, or even say anything disparaging about the King James Bible. He elevates it as a fine translation of God's word and tries to show through greek texts and church history that the other translations also likewise well made by gospel-based Christians, with no motive other than glorifying God. If you approach his book without an axe to grind, you will find that it will do two things. First, it will give you a new appreciation for the King James Version and all of the scholarship that went into its creation. Second, it will show the benefits to be gained from looking at the newer translations. In the end, it is a great appeal for unity in the church where should not to be division. I am grateful for my time spent reading this book.
I agree with the review given by Irgafriel of Upland, CA. I have nothing against the KJV or those who use it as their main translation as I use it myself, but it is not my preferred translation that I use. I have a facsimile of the 1st Edition of the 1611 KJV as well as the KJV that is current circulation today and the NKJV. I also have 12 modern translations that I use for verse comparison as well as several pre-KJV English translations back to Wycliffes Bible of 1388.
I tend to agree with Mr. White that the majority of Christians today have little or no knowledge of where the Bible come from or how it was transmitted over time (which is sad) as was the case with my encounter with two KJV proponents. They were told they had a 1611 KJV (which they did not have) and they also believe the KJV was the first English Bible and that King James had the original language manuscripts. Before my encounter with the KJV proponents I had a limited knowledge of the history of the Bible, since my encounter with them I have done my research on both the history and that of textual criticism. Mr. Whites book is very thorough and brings everything together nicely concerning this subject.
I would recommend the two following books for those who want deeper understanding the history of the Bible and the manuscripts involved, A Pictorial History of Our English Bible by David Beale and Intro to New Testament Textual Criticism by J. H. Greenlee
I have the 1995 edition of this book and I have turned to it numerous times as a resource for additional information on specific passages. This is not an overly technical book and yet it thoroughly presents an overview of the manuscript issues as well as specifics on many passages in dispute. The Scripture index in the back of the book makes it easy to look up certain passages that one may be dealing with to find notes, comments, and possibly the manuscript variant sources which can be researched for further study.
It is written in Whites easy to read style and yet it firmly supports the adequacy and superiority of the modern translations. If you are dealing with this subject at all this is an extremely helpful resource.
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.