I was stunned to read yesterday that the most popular and fastest growing Bible Translation is the King James Version. According to research carried out by the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University:

  • When Americans reach for their Bibles, more than half of them pick up a King James Version (KJV).
  • The 55 percent who read the KJV easily outnumber the 19 percent who read the New International Version (NIV).
  • The percentages drop into the single digits for competitors such as the New Revised Standard Version, New America Bible, and the Living Bible.
  • The KJV also received almost 45 percent of the Bible translation-related searches on Google, compared with almost 24 percent for the NIV, according to Bible Gateway’s Stephen Smith.

Respected historian Mark Noll, an adviser for some of the research, said:

Although the bookstores are now crowded with alternative versions, and although several different translations are now widely used in church services and for preaching, the large presence of the KJV testifies to the extraordinary power of this one classic English text.

Skewed Statistics
A bit more reading behind the scenes revealed that there was no option in the survey to choose the New King James Version, which makes it likely that many who use that version chose the KJV as the next best option. That would fit with previous research which found that 52% used either the KJV or the NKJV (split 38% KJV and 14% NKJV).

Despite the flawed methodology and the incomplete reporting, it’s staggering that the KJV is still so dominant. Although some of the congregations I preach in use the KJV, I was under the distinct impression that such churches were in a tiny minority now. Perhaps such false impressions show the power of skillful marketing.

But it still raises the question, why so many Christians and churches have stuck with the KJV when there are so many alternatives and when it is laboring under the huge disadvantage of ancient English that sounds so strange to modern, and especially to unchurched, ears? Some answers might be:

1. Tradition: Many Christians were brought up with the KJV and love the familiarity of it. The language is part of their spiritual vocabulary and reminds them of many sermons they heard throughout the years. It would be interesting to see an age breakdown of the KJV users. I suspect the majority of them would be in the older age group who naturally tend to be more conservative and resistant to change.

2. Suspicion: Some of the modern versions employed scholars who were decidedly liberal in their theology. Questions have been raised about some of the KJV translators as well, but it’s far easier to identify modern scholars and to uncover their theology (or lack of it).

3. Division: Many churches have been divided by the clumsy and careless introduction of a modern version. Even when it’s done prayerfully and wisely, it often has the painful effect of driving a wedge between members and even driving some away. Although some pastors and elders have identified that using the KJV is a factor in the loss of their young people, they fear losing their older members  or provoking their “louder members” by changing. This results in numerous churches where the pastor and the vast majority of members are using modern versions at home and yet when they come together for public worship they are using a version that few of them ever read.

4. Superstition: I know very little about the KJV Only Movement, and it’s not monolithic either, but there are some who put the KJV pretty close to, if not on the same level as, the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Some will even call it “inspired” and argue that it should never be updated in any way. This almost “magical” view of a Bible translation fits the dictionary definition of superstition: “a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge.”

5. Association: I know many people who have no objection to a modern Bible translation in principle. However, they look at the churches that have adopted modern translations and see that many have not only given up the “old version” but have also given up the “old doctrine.” The new Bible version seems to be part of a liberalizing package that’s associated with many unwelcome “guests.” Of course, often the doctrine went first and the Bible was simply the last bastion  to fall, but it often looks like the loss of the old Bible produced the loss of doctrine and also of reverent worship and prayer.

6. Accuracy: Some of the popular versions, like the NIV, deliberately moved away from a literal word-for-word translation of Scripture to more “dynamic” or “readable” renderings which often read more like an interpretation than a translation. Even though the KJV is harder to understand, a large number of Christians still prefer a literal rendering and to do their own interpreting.

7. Red Letters: Many KJV churches have investigated moving to the NKJV in order to reduce the whiplash of change. However, it is almost impossible to get NKJVs without Christ’s words being in red, which raises another set of awkward theological questions.

8. Vision:  Or lack of it. Some churches simply want to preserve the status quo and have no desire to reach beyond their own church community to people and cultures that have no hope of ever understanding or learning the KJV language. It’s extremely difficult for those of us brought up with the KJV to realize how hard it is for those without that background to learn a new language in order to learn what the Bible teaches.

9. Conviction: As far as I know, there is no credible modern translation that (a) holds to the Received Text and (b) to a literal translation of Scripture. The NIV meets neither. The ESV meets the latter requirement but not the former.

The NKJV meets (b) and almost meets (a). Although it uses the Received Text for the New Testament, it also incorporates readings from the Majority Text and the “Critical Text” (or NU) in the margins/footnotes (see below).

These are not just preferences or traditions, but biblical convictions about the preservation of Scripture and the nature of Scripture. Of course, there is a third biblical principle of (c) readability or perspicuity. KJV advocates often minimize or ignore this principle because that can’t find a Bible translation that combines (a) and (b) with (c). In that sense, some conservative Bible societies have royally failed the church.

10. Confusion: Perhaps the single biggest reason behind the refusal of so many to adopt a modern version of Scripture is the footnotes that litter the pages of modern New Testaments, casting doubt on many parts of the God’s Word. I know many Christians who detest this and resist changing translations because of the psychological effect of these footnotes. Many ministers also hate having to explain these alleged textual variants in sermons.

It’s all very well for scholars and academics to do their clever stuff with variant readings, and some of us do need some Bibles with these footnotes. However, the vast majority of Christians just want a clean and clear Bible version, without question marks, qualifications, or thick black lines and brackets around cherished passages.

I know there is a deeper issue at stake here – which text of Scripture is being translated. However, regardless of which text is the basis of the translation, if the scholars had simply made their decision and translated accordingly without adding all the textual notes (or at least with far less), the uptake of accurate modern versions among the Christian community would have been much wider and faster and united.

  • Sean McDonald

    In all fairness, it should be pointed out that the New King James Version (NKJV) is based upon the Received Text. It includes readings from the Critical Text and the Majority Text in the margins; but the “main text” (the part that everybody reads) is the Received Text. If you compare it with the AV on any “disputed text” (Acts 8:37; 1 John 5:7, etc.), you will find this to be the case. I say this as one who only uses the AV.

  • Cliff

    Dr. Murray,

    You stated in point #9 “As far as I know, there is no credible modern translation that (a) holds to the Received Text and (b) to a literal translation of Scripture. The ESV and the NKJV meet the latter requirement but not the former.” Of course the NKJV is indeed based on the TR.


    • David Murray

      I’ll amend that section to make it clearer. While the NKJV does use the TR, it also incorporates readings from the critical text and majority text. I should have used more precise language.

      • http://alastairmanderson.wordpress.com Alastair Manderson

        The NKJV deviates from the Masoretic Text of the Old Testament with altered readings in certain place. While it follows the TR 99.9% of the time, it also deviates from it time to time http://www.tbsbibles.org/pdf_information/130-1.pdf
        So this isn’t a noticeable change – but it is a change. The question is, whether this change is correct or not.

  • Victor Leonardo Barbosa

    Hi Pastor David!
    I’m not a north-american christian, but I think that even with some vocabulary problems, the KJV is the best translation (together with the old Geneva Bible) in English avaliable today. Of course there are good points in other translations like NKJV and ESV, but the principle of translation adopted by the AV follows the theology of the translators and consistency with the doctrine of the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. Also I think the reformed view about the Receveid Text (endorsed by John Owen and Edward F. Hills) is better that the view of those who hold a Majority Text’s position or a Critical text’s position(the worse, in my opinion).

    Concerning the language and other things like archaic words, I think that the Lloyd-Jones lecture and Joel Beeke’s article give a good response to these questions:



    God bless you!

  • scott

    I wonder if this is my own mistaken notion, but is it possible that there is something in the KJV that makes it in some places easier to read? Perhaps 1) a familiarity, 2) not actually as hard as often touted 3) contains the source of many common idiomatic phrases 4) modern translations have their own difficult sentences, 5) appreciation for the beauty of the language – especially in the Psalms – where some other versions lack in this beauty of language.

    I was surprised also with the results of this study.

    A couple of years ago while attending a local church retreat, the speaker, a native from Cameroon, was lamenting the English lack of separate pronouns to show 2nd person singular and 2nd person plural. He might have appreciated the KJV ability to show this.

    Thanks for walking us through this.

    • David Murray

      Yes, Scott, in a strange way and in some ways, the KJV’s very unique English can make it easier to memorize, especially for those brought up with it.

      Yes English does lack the ability to distinguish between 2nd person singular and second person plural. I don’t know if being able to distinguish that using Thee/Thou is worth all the additional -est endings on the verbs and the convoluted sentence structure that sometimes results.

      • adjJ

        ‘Especially for those who grew up with it’ is a personal qualifier. It is not rooted in fact—The fact is, the KJV IS easier to memorize simply because it makes up so much of Modern English. When someone dies, and you go to a funeral, you don’t read the back of the bulletin and see:

        The lord is my leader, he directs me
        He makes to rest in green fields…etc etc…–this sounds horrid

        Instead, they remember this:

        The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want
        He maketh me to lie down in green pastures etc etc…

        BTW, I am 30, did NOT grow up in church, as a baptist, or even get saved in a baptist church that used the KJV. I read at a collegiate level, and have no issue reading the KJV, I find it amuzingly easy. 2nd person pronouns ARE in fact closer to the original languages, and more accurate by far for relating who is being spoken to in a particular context. Both Greek, and to a lesser extent, Hebrew do this (As well as Germanic languages (like English until the 15th century) and Latin Languages (Spanish, French, Italian, etc..) TO THIS VERY DAY. MODERN english is the only language of the ancient language families that does NOT recognize 2nd person pronouns today. Ye You Your The Thy Thine ARE in fact, more accurate.

        See spanish for a good example:


        ALL of these to conjugate for pronouns as to who or with what level of respect people are being spoken too.

        I find it ridiculous to argue against the KJV on the basis of ‘difficult language’ but then for the high society types to go sit through a 6 hour production of Mac Beth and pretend like theyunderstand it all. IF you can understand Shakesphere (College reading level) then you CAN read the KJV (average of 7th grade reading level) Another thing to consider is the degradation in our reading in America. As the educational system has been dumbed down, the literacy of the average person has too. Many studies suggest that the average american today reads at 7th grade level–100 years ago it was 11th grade….to argue that the KJV is more difficult to read in light of this makes no sense. Could it be, just could it be, the KJV is the Bible God has blessed? That thought NEVER enters a bible correctors mind.

        Again, not arguing, just suggesting some contrasting view points…

  • Nick

    David I would really appreciate an additional post explaining why you regard the Received Text as superior to other editions of the Greek text.

    • David Murray

      Sure Nick. I’ll try to get to that in the coming weeks.

      • Brett Maragni

        Did you ever follow up on this? I’ve searched your blog for a post on the Received Text (which I also think is superior, even though I preach weekly from the ESV), but couldn’t find it.

  • Bill Noonkesser

    Dr. Murray,

    Great post. So how do we get one of the conservative Bible societies to do something about this? I would love to see a “modern” translation using conservative principles of interpretation and the received text.

    “KJV advocates often minimize or ignore this principle because that can’t find a Bible translation that combines (a) and (b) with (c). In that sense, some conservative Bible societies have royally failed the church.”

    • David Murray

      Many have tried. But so far, only crickets.

  • Marcia

    Thank you for such a balanced approach to a rather contentious issue. I am a KJV reader myself, but
    have often wondered whether it is an appropriate choice for all persons in all situations. Just this week, our children’s memory work for Sunday School held little meaning until I explained that “conversation” really meant “conduct.” We keep a NKJV on hand just for that purpose!

    In line with #4 on your list: http://ninetysixandten.wordpress.com/2007/03/05/collective-howls-of-derision/

  • Kate Genoff

    Maybe because KJVs are the ones you can pick up at Sam’s Club and Costco which buy in bulk what people who grew up going to church 30 years ago remember as the Bible. Before I was a Christian I bought KJV Bibles at stores like that. But I didn’t read them. Once I became a Christan and started actually reading it, I got an ESV. Is there a difference in translations found between the people who buy a Bible and the people who read the Bible?

    • David Murray

      Good question Kate. I would imagine so. Survey was of general public, so the results are probably not going to be the same as the Christian community.

  • Mark Moerdyk

    Thank you so much for this thoughtful reflection on Bible Translations! In your closing, you mentioned that the deeper issue at stake is which text of Scripture is being translated. I would find it really valuable, if we could have offer your insights as to why the Received Text is preferred–if that is in fact the case.

    • David Murray

      Sure Mark, that will take me some time to get to but I’ll let you know when I post on it.

  • David Murray

    A friend has also pointed out that the survey group was the general public and that the first option for which Bible version they used was the KJV, which probably most have at least hear of. Also note that the Living Bible was in the survey which has not been in print for years. The same friend pointed out that the KJV is in the public domain so there are no fees, licenses, etc. Anyone can print it. Websites can use it as a free default, etc.

  • David Murray

    Sure Mark. That will take me some time to get to, but I will let you know when I post on it.

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  • Justin Dillehay

    Dr. Murray,
    Thanks for the post. I always enjoy your blog.

    I grew up reading the KJV, and became KJV-Only for a few years in my late teens, during which time I read a lot of David Cloud, D.A. Waite, etc. Later I came to reject these views, but it gave me exposure to their arguments at least. In the spirit of full disclosure, today I normally use the ESV as my reading Bible, though some years I will read the NIV.

    I sympathize with many of the reasons you give above. I also appreciate your acknowledging the issue of clarity in translation, and how this needs to be factored into any discussion of translation.

    The only point I would really take any issue with is your tenth point:

    “Confusion: Perhaps the single biggest reason behind the refusal of so many to adopt a modern version of Scripture is the footnotes that litter the pages of modern New Testaments, casting doubt on many parts of the God’s Word. I know many Christians who detest this and resist changing translations because of the psychological effect of these footnotes…It’s all very well for scholars and academics to do their clever stuff with variant readings, and some of us do need some Bibles with these footnotes. However, the vast majority of Christians just want a clean and clear Bible version, without question marks, qualifications, or thick black lines and brackets around cherished passages.”

    Perhaps my experience with this has simply been different from yours. In my experience, the response to textual footnotes has usually been, not doubt about the Bible, but uninformed anger against the translators for including them–as though they were simply making them up out of thin air. But while this may be zeal for God’s Word, too often it is a zeal that is not according to knowledge.

    The fact is, the original KJV also included marginal notes, with at least some of them giving variant readings (though not as many, obviously, since they were dealing with far fewer manuscripts, hence far fewer variants). Not surprisingly, given human nature, people made the same complaints about textual footnotes then that they do today. But I would agree with the defense of such footnotes offered by the KJV translators themselves:

    “Some peradventure would have no variety of senses to be set in the margin, lest the authority of the Scriptures for deciding of controversies by that show of uncertainty, should somewhat be shaken. But we hold their judgment not to be so sound in this point. For though, whatsoever things are necessary are manifest, as S. Chrysostom saith, and as S. Augustine, In those things that are plainly set down in the Scriptures, all such matters are found that concern Faith, Hope, and Charity. Yet for all that it cannot be dissembled, that partly to exercise and whet our wits, partly to wean the curious from loathing of them for their every-where plainness, partly also to stir up our devotion to crave the assistance of God’s spirit by prayer, and lastly, that we might be forward to seek aid of our brethren by conference, and never scorn those that be not in all respects so complete as they should be, being to seek in many things ourselves, it hath pleased God in his divine providence, here and there to scatter words and sentences of that difficulty and doubtfulness, not in doctrinal points that concern salvation, (for in such it hath been vouched that the Scriptures are plain) but in matters of less moment, that fearfulness would better beseem us than confidence, and if we will resolve, to resolve upon modesty with S. Augustine, (though not in this same case altogether, yet upon the same ground) Melius est dubitare de occultis, quam litigare de incertis, it is better to make doubt of those things which are secret, than to strive about those things that are uncertain. There be many words in the Scriptures, which be never found there but once, (having neither brother nor neighbor, as the Hebrews speak) so that we cannot be holpen by conference of places. Again, there be many rare names of certain birds, beasts and precious stones, etc. concerning which the Hebrews themselves are so divided among themselves for judgment, that they may seem to have defined this or that, rather because they would say something, than because they were sure of that which they said, as S. Jerome somewhere saith of the Septuagint. Now in such a case, doth not a margin do well to admonish the Reader to seek further, and not to conclude or dogmatize upon this or that peremptorily? For as it is a fault of incredulity, to doubt of those things that are evident: so to determine of such things as the Spirit of God hath left (even in the judgment of the judicious) questionable, can be no less than presumption. Therefore as S. Augustine saith, that variety of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures: so diversity of signification and sense in the margin, where the text is no so clear, must needs do good, yea, is necessary, as we are persuaded. We know that Sixtus Quintus expressly forbiddeth, that any variety of readings of their vulgar edition, should be put in the margin, (which though it be not altogether the same thing to that we have in hand, yet it looketh that way) but we think he hath not all of his own side his favorers, for this conceit. They that are wise, had rather have their judgments at liberty in differences of readings, than to be captivated to one, when it may be the other
    -Miles Smith, “Translators to the Reader” (AV 1611)

  • Michael Snow

    Yes as your No. 1 “Tradition” notes, AGE, I would suspect, is a major factor. But I really don’t trust these statistics. (e.g. as in your note about the absence of the NKJV).

  • http://www.brandonschmidt.me/ Brandon Schmidt

    I think some of the popularity may also be a matter of volume. Unlike more modern translations, the King James is in the public domain. This means it can be printed at a much reduced price, since they don’t have to pay for copyright usage.

    This is why the KJV is used as a free giveaway Bible, with the Gideons and others groups distributing countless copies throughout the States. And when that many free copies of one translation are distributed, it will be in the hands of a much larger portion of the population.

    • AJ

      In the last 10 years, you would be hard pressed to find Gideons placing the KJV (which is NOT copyrighted) and instead using the NKJV. (Copyrighted by Thomas Nelson publishers–which also hold the copyright to the ‘Joys of Gay Sex’ and the ‘Satanic Bible’ ) Not arguing , just pointing out something.

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  • Steven Bradley

    While a bit more difficult to understand, the King James Version has an elegance about it that is simply missing in most of the modern versions. Even the New King James, with its close adherence to KJV style and sentence formation, is no comparison for elegance and eloquence. When I was in school (LONG time ago), the new versions were just coming out. I still have one of the first complete NASB bibles, retired now, and I used the NIV for years for preaching. I finally reverted to the King James, since for all its weaknesses it retains an eloquence and familiarity that doesn’t exist in other versions. The marketing folks are fond of quoting sales numbers, and I can certainly see the value of that, but when almost all the English-speaking world is familiar with one version, that version will be ascendant, especially if there are so many “hooks” to it in the common speech.
    “all things work together for good…”
    “Skin of my teeth…”
    “Can the Leopard change his spots…”
    “All thy waves and billows are gone over me…”
    “the LORD is my shepherd…”
    “I am the way, the truth, and the life…”
    In other words, it’s not availability, or even tradition alone. It’s the sheer power of the translation, and the rhythm and poetry and beauty that has not been excelled, and the way the words roll off the tongue that has never been duplicated. I think, in fact, that the translators often refuse to make their versions eloquent, and that is one of their great defects.

  • poopytoo

    I just think the language is beautiful.

  • Leslie

    The language of the KJV was already antiquated in 1611, but it was retained because the translators (revisers) realised that it surved the useful devotional function of subliminally reminding the reader that this wasn’t just another text.

  • e.tardsis

    Did you know that there are even actual translations of the KJV in other languages? Here are some:
    KJV (Bibelen Guds Ord) in Norwegian http://www.hermon.no/netbibelen/
    King James Version in Dutch http://www.koningjacobusvertaling.org/info_english.php
    French version http://www.kingjamesfrancaise.net
    Thai KJV http://www.thaipope.org/thaibible.html
    So the KJV isn’t only popular in the English speaking world!

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  • John Smith

    Read the NIV from 1983-2000, borrowed a copy of KJV in 2000 and Kerrrrbang I started to realise that what God was saying was not optional. For me the KJV calls a spade a spade and I have very little trouble understanding is simplicity. I dislike poetry per se , however, I can handle the almost poetic continuity of the KJV from the Old Testament through to the New.

    I know that God was not addressed as thee or thou in the Old Testament (make no mistake they showed reverence though), however in today’s climate of cringe worthy false familiarity towards God, there is miraculously a framed narrative of respect and otherness which the KJV has vouchsafed for us.

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  • American White Dude

    The KJV, at the end of the day, is thought of as The Bible. Any new translation is and always will be held against it.

  • Bro. Nick

    As the British Evangelist Rodney ‘Gipsy’ Smith said – ‘An unlearned man depending upon the Holy Ghost is mightier than a host of academics without Him.’
    I am only a high school graduate, nearly 70 years old, and have been a “born again CHRISTian since shortly after 9/11/01. By faith – I now “know the certainty of the words of truth” – and my personal choice is to use only the Holy Bible [KJV] – for I dogmatically “believeth” that which is written in “the scripture of truth” in Proverbs, Chapter 30 [KJV]:
    [5] Every word of God is pure:
    he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
    [6] Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

  • http://www.onlineenglishteacher.com Philip

    Things that are different are not the same.

    Maybe because the KJV is 100% correct?

    • montag

      No translation is ever 100% correct, but I certainly agree that the KJV is a wonderful translation. The 1611 translators did a phenomenal job!

      • http://www.onlineenglishteacher.com Philip

        Give 1 example of where the KJV was not translated correctly.

        • montag

          I can give you more than one. Take a look at this:


          Please don’t misunderstand me, Philip. I absolutely LOVE the King James Version. All I am saying is that NO TRANSLATION of the Bible is 100% correct.

          • http://www.onlineenglishteacher.com Philip

            To clarify, are you saying that all the supposed errors on this page are valid criticisms? If so, I can take one and try to prove otherwise.

  • Rumi Lover

    Another major reason is that many schools make the students buy the KJV as part of their English literature course. This adds to the number of prints and sales of this version.

  • Adele Davis

    Interesting article. One reason you failed to mention for the numbers that still read the KJV, is that many of us grew up and have taught our children to memorize scriptures. It seems to still be the preference of the majority to go to the KJV when memorizing and reciting verse.

  • Jerry-Kathy Weinhausen

    This post addresses point nine in the article. Since this article was written, a new translation has been released that utilizes the Masoretic Text for the Old Testament and the Received Text for the New Testament. It’s called the Modern English Version (MEV). Unlike the KJV translators who consulted vulgar translations in addition to the Hebrew and Greek during their work, the MEV was produced only using the Hebrew and Greek. The MEV does for the NKJV what the NKJV did for the KJV. I find it a very enjoyable read. I’m a strong KJV-preferred user but I make room for other modern translations. The MEV is my favorite among the modern translations. Give it a try. I think you’ll like it. – J

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  • Jeffrey Wright

    How about,
    …its a free text and the copyright is not owned by any
    …its wrote using 8th grade vocabulary instead of 12.5 like the NIV
    …its not missing verses
    …it still has the “blood” and “Christ” in it.

  • Mickey 007

    You got #2 right.
    We always state further investigation is needed.
    If there is further investigation you will find that the main reason is #2 and which elite group is behind this. They will call you a Conspiracy Theorist, that is only to push you away from the truth.

  • Samuel Garcia

    C. for readability is not a Biblical principle:
    I Samuel 9
    9 (Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to enquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and
    let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a Prophet was
    beforetime called a Seer.)
    10 Then said Saul to his servant, Well said; come, let us go. So they went unto the city where the man of God was.
    11 And as they went up the hill to the city, they found young maidens going
    out to draw water, and said unto them, Is the seer here?

    Note the Bible still uses the archaic ‘seer’ when the modern word ‘prophet’ was available. Readability in expense of true accuracy is secondary. The fact that the KJV is English is the readability part.

    As for “magical” and “superstitious” belief, how different is it from believing the originals were inspired by God? Isn’t that “magical”? Who says God stopped maintaining His Word when the originals were inspired? Do you believe in a Deistic God?

    Acts 5
    38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
    39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

    • barak bratcher

      well said,, well said!!!

  • http://www.markandlauraward.com/blog/ Mark Lee Ward Jr

    Dr. Murray,

    I was stunned by precisely the same study and for precisely the same reasons (and when I looked at their survey questions I had precisely the same doubts about the study’s methodology). But the study, because it had the names of Noll and Pew behind it, provoked me to write a whole book, *Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible* (http://amzn.to/2r27Boz)—and I’m sad I somehow missed your post during my preparation for the book, because I agree with much of your analysis and found several new points of insight. I find myself in particularly passionate agreement with your points about readability, and that’s what I focused my book on. I argue that Paul’s repeated connection between edification and intelligibility 1 Cor 14 demands translation into the current vernacular, and I show how not only dead words but “false friends” (features of Elizabethan English that moderns don’t realize we’re misunderstanding) cause today’s readers to trip.

    However, I have a genuine question for you, because you’ve got much more pastoral experience than I: I have concluded that footnotes about textual variants are precisely what we need in order to inoculate the English-speaking church against some divisive X-Onlyism in the future, whether that be NIV-Onlyism or whatever else the future may bring.

    A few reasons:

    • If laypeople aren’t told that the manuscript tradition is imperfect, they may start to assume that it’s perfect—and then become alarmed and defensive when they’re told the truth (like our KJV-Only brothers are doing right now). It seems to me that the standard evangelical line that “there are very few meaningful, viable variants and none affect doctrine” is better than silence. Even the KJV-Only position that the Textus Receptus is the properly “preserved” text of Scripture requires textual criticism of some kind, because there are different editions of the Textus Receptus (Erasmus, Beza, Stephanus, Scrivener). Without the ability to land on a perfect text, an ability the Bible itself doesn’t afford us, we’re stuck doing textual criticism.

    • The 1611 KJV itself actually included a dozen or so textual notes across the testaments and into the Apocrypha (https://byfaithweunderstand.com/2018/04/13/eleven-places-where-the-1611-kjv-has-textual-critical-notes/).

    • There are a few places, such as 2 Pet 3:10 (εὑρεθήσεται vs. κατακαησεται—see https://kjvparallelbible.org/2-peter-3/), where textual variants are important for interpretation, if not generally for doctrine. Psalm 22:16—”like a lion my hands and my feet”—is another. Do we really want lay readers to be kept from the evidence of the MS tradition at these places?

    No solid evangelical, no believer in inerrancy, likes the idea that there are textual variants. But if we ignore them and let laypeople ignore them, we’re asking the Lord to give us a different world than he gave us. He knows best, and what he gave us were great copies—with some variants.

    So, are you sure “the vast majority of Christians” *need* “a clean and clear Bible version, without question marks, qualifications, or thick black lines and brackets around cherished passages”?

    Thank you for your ministry: my pastor just finished up his ThM with PRTS and links me to your pieces on a regular basis. And my wife just read your book *The Happy Christian.*

    • David Murray

      Hi Mark, Good to hear from you. I noticed your book recently and hope to read it. I agree with you on the need to educate the church about the existence and significance of textual variants, especially because of the shock that many experience when they come across them after many years of ignorance. I suppose we differ though in how to do that. Perhaps a general introduction at the front of Bible translations that could offer a brief explanation with some examples would suffice rather than littering the pages of Scripture with innumerable instances that most lay-people have no idea what to do with and most of which are not materially substantive. Perhaps textual variants could be incorporated at vital points in the text itself but nowhere near the degree in most modern translations. Of course, scholars, pastors, teachers would probably want more than this, but we’re talking about the majority of people in the church. I look forward to reading your book. It’s needed.

      PS. Hope your wife is happier :)

      • http://www.markandlauraward.com/blog/ Mark Lee Ward Jr

        Stumbled on this in my bookmarks and wondered if you saw my strategies for appealing to the KJV-Only here:


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      • Willie Howard

        Jesús mentioned Satan’s name in the bible, his name is Barack Obama, the one that came from out of no where, like trump said, where did he come from nobody knows him,

      • Willie Howard

        that would make president Biden the antichrist, it says he’s a Politian.

      • Willie Howard

        the last antichrist will be a prince from Europe announced by king Charles soon

  • Lawrence Phillip

    In July 2017, I returned to the Lord, after an absence of close to 40 years: it was a miracle, and very dramatic. The 1st Bible I purchased right awsy was an NIV. Within weeks, I had also purchased KJV, as I could not relate to NIV — although I had never read an English Bible before: of course, I had completed a Master’s degree in English Literature in 1981, my primary (and the only) contact from those last spiritual encounters had been my father’s sermons in the Urdu language.

    The NIV encounter did not evoke the same resonance that I remembered from my father’s Urdu sermons. Over the next year since, I have purchased copies of most other popular versions, spending on the average 3-5 hours a week.
    After going back, and forth, my primary Bible is the KJV, with NKJV on the standby. But, mine has been a different kind of journey with the Lord: I have come a long way since; but, I would not have made it so far if I had not started— and persisted.
    Once a believer gets his / her feet wet, the Lord takes over the journey. Once a believer gets to partake of the Grace, the choice of version shall automatically be sorted out.
    Now, the question (and the challenge) is to get the new believers to get their feet wet.

    How do we do that ?

  • Roman Andronicus

    I have a pastoral question I need help with. It comes from a book I am reading called “Concealed From Christians For The Glory Of God – The 1611 KJV” and the book is full of miracles that only appear in the KJV. Also, it only uses the Bible to show from its self-revelation how God intended to finish the Bible in the destination language of English.

    So my question (among many) has to do with the cover of this book where the 3 times it says “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God” the addresses add up to 1611 up and down and left to right. You can see the book cover at the website http://www.concealedfromchristians.com or anywhere on line practically to see what I am talking about. It’s quite amazing to see.

    The book is intense and even frightening at times that we have thrown out the Bible God finished (the word of God KJV) because we don’t recognize it just like the Jews threw out Jesus (the Word of God) because they didn’t recognize Him.

    So my question is why does the Bible do this and say 1611 in this haunting way?? Please help explain this away for me so I don’t have to believe God finished the KJV. There has to be some way that I can deny this miracle (and hopefully all the others that fill the book) so I await to hear your help… thank you.

    I’m scared because all the Bible translations do this same thing and add up to 1611 on the main 3 verses about the inspiration of the Bible. It’s like they are all confessing which one is the hidden truth. Please help. thank you again.


  • http://www.spokenenglishclub.com Spoken Englishclub
  • Mr Kish

    The most important thing is not mentioned

    The newer translations of the Bible have missing verses and have many changes which go against orthodox Christian teaching.

    The King James supports orthodox Christian teaching in its entirerity which is why I use the King James myself.

  • https://www.wabstalk.com Wabs Talk

    Nice article…about KJV
    It’s really inspiring
    To know more visit – https://wabstalk.com

  • eric bauman

    This is really spot on. Also the NIV was written by a lesbian, and filled with inerrancies. Thanks for writing this article. I have included an article I wrote that you may enjoy.

  • Arpit saxena

    Very well written, really enjoyed the blog and the way of explanation. Since it’s about language and translation, you might also like French Language Literature.

  • http://www.toppersmind.com/french-course-delhi.html Toppers Mind

    This article is very useful. this is the first time i have heard about this version of BIBLE.
    RegardsFrench Classes Delhi

  • Gorilla

    I’ve struggled on the question of Bible translations for a while, but can’t get past the fact that a number of verses in the KJV are completely missing from modern translations based on the Critical text, e.g.

    Acts 8:37 (Philip telling the Ethiopian eunuch to believe on Chris before Baptism) and 1 John 5:7 (an important verse on the Trinity). If you’re not familiar with the KJV or NKJV and only read modern translations, I’d encourage you to go and research these verses.

    These verses were either originally written down by Luke (who authored Acts) and John or they weren’t. If the Bible is 100% the Word of God, then both the KJV (based on the Textus Receptus) and modern translations based on the Critical text can’t both be right. They can’t both be God’s infallible Word.

    Considering the debates about Baptism and the Trinity in older ages of Christianity, it’s entirely plausible that these verses were either deleted or added to try and score theological points. My conclusion is that I’d rather stick with the KJV and perhaps one day find out they shouldn’t have been there than switch to a Bible without them and one day find I’d chosen to disregard part of God’s Word. Also, the Critical text is based on a far smaller number of manuscripts which, while much older, disagree with each other in over 3,000 places. Hardly fitting with the doctrine of God preserving his Word! The KJV however is based on the Textus Receptus, which has a vastly superior number of manuscripts that agree with each other, albeit not as old.