THAT KJV-ONLY THING
I am not now, never have been, and will not become a KJV-only adherent. The websites I've found defending that view are tragically divisive. I remember one which called the NIV "Satan's masterpiece." Right...
I recently learned however, the historical reason why the stance has been taken. While I can not agree with KJV-only, there is one line of their reasoning worth pondering: Majority vs Early. Many of us carry Bibles with a lot of *asterisks* or footnotes which inform us "early manuscripts do not include this phrase" or "later manuscripts include the phrase..." Being all scientific and enlightened, I always assumed the "early" manuscripts were right, and the "later" manuscripts were wrong. After all, the early manuscripts are closer to the source, therefore purer and lacking the insertion of additional text.
HERETICS vs HICKS
The KJV-only crowd too often accuses "modern" translations of heresy. Those who know enough to respond will too often argue the KJV crowd is just uneducated. As it turns out, both sides include intelligent believers worth hearing. The KJV crowd gets their scripture from a tradition of manuscripts which Christianity used almost exclusively for over a thousand years and has trusted since the early centuries. It appears post-Nicene scholars might have carefully considered and rejected the Greek manuscripts which underly most modern translations.
The manuscripts which now comprise the "early" category were not in widespread use from at least 800AD until 1881. Does that make them wrong? No.
The manuscripts which support the King James, the "Authorized Version," the NKJV, and Young's Literal are manuscripts which have very few early Greek copies still in existence. Does mean they are wrong? No.
WHAT IS AT STAKE?
Regardless of whether one chooses one of the now mainstream versions or an NKJV, our translations have doctrinal agreement with each other. One's view of the Trinity or the centrality of the cross will not change. I am personally accustomed to translations based on the "early" manuscripts. I recently started consulting a translation based on the "majority" manuscripts, and I have found two benefits in it. First, I simply enjoy the richness of the wording. It includes a few more phrases and words to which I am unaccustomed and which I appreciate. Second, I enjoy not having asterisks, distracting me with textual questions which I might not need to resolve.
For those who have the desire to research, I recommend John Burgon's "The Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels," followed by Bruce Metzger's "The text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration." Burgon is a little heavy-handed for his side of the argument. Metzger is far more heavy-handed with his side. The truth likely sits somewhere between the two. I'm currently sifting through Frederick Nolan's "An Inquiry into the Integrity of the Greek Vulgate or Received Text of the New Testament." He certainly wins the award for simplicity of book titles.
I doubt I ever would have explored a majority-based translation if I had not discovered the incomparable Desiderius Erasmus!
"That KJV-Only Thing" by Matthew Bryan was first published at www.matthewbryan.net on February 15th, 2014. All rights are reserved.