The King James Only Controversy by James R. White


As a pastor, I frequently find myself discussing with different people the merits of various Bible translations.  Often I run into people who honestly think that the King James Version is the only true translation.  I soon discovered that my simple explanations that all translations are human works and therefore fallible and that language was always changing were inadequate to help them understand why modern translations were very useful as well as trustworthy.  A much more in-depth treatment of the issue was needed.

This book provides such a treatment par excellence!  It is endorsed by an impressive array of leading scholars and teachers including Dr. J.I. Packer, Dr. Gleason Archer, Dr. John MacArthur and Dr. Bruce Metzger.   The book is direct without being unnecessarily derogatory or polemical.  The author shows great respect for the KJV as well.  For example, in the Chapter 8 while discussing passages related to the person of Christ, he gives attention to 1 Timothy 3:16.  He affirms the KJV as having the best translation, in his view, of that passage.   His argument is not with KJV but with those who would staunchly contend for KJV only.  

The book is very thorough.  In fact, this is my one caveat for general readers.   It is so thorough that one needs to have a pretty serious interest in the science of Bible translation itself to read the book through as I did.   However, this same thoroughness makes it an excellent reference as so many passages are covered.  In the back, are Greek word and Bible reference indices to facilitate this use.   Most of the book is written so that the non-Greek student will find it accessible.  However, for those who know some Greek, there is a section in the back with additional textual data.

Chapter eight is an excellent reference on the doctrine of the divinity of Christ as it discusses several of the key texts in detail.   One of the gifts this book has given to me is a greater understanding of the Biblical basis of the doctrine of the divinity of Christ as reflected in the Greek.   What a blessing.

Overall, the author spends a great deal of time helping the reader to understand basic Bible translation issues.  He talks about the issues that relate to manuscripts; four regional text types; papyrus and vellum manuscripts, uncial and miniscule Greek characters.   He also helps the reader grasp a little about the kinds of mistakes that scribes make while copying manuscripts and how that has affected translation history.   Overall, he tries to help the reader see that the supposed trends that KJV Only people call conspiracy are nothing of the kind but can instead be easily understood by even a basic understanding of the skills involved in translation.

The author’s heart is open and his irenic spirit shows as he writes his conclusion.  “My desire is for the peace of Christ’s church.  I truly hope that this work will help to quell restless spirits in congregations who are by their zealousness for a human tradition (KJV Onlyism) causing dissension and discord.  May the facts of the matter rather than the emotions of the moment, convince such people to refrain from disturbing the brethren, and may the church focus instead upon the weighty and important issues that face her (p.250).”

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