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Participatory Study Series Pamphlets

What about the KJV?

A good Bible version is one you read!

Bible Tract:  What About the KJV?

Other formats

What About the KJV? is available in PDF format and Word document format. You can find our permission to print these pamphlets at the Participatory Study Series index.

What About the KJV? a Bible tract dealing with the KJV only issue, front. What About the KJV?, the King James Version or AV1611 and the KJVO position, back thumbnail.
This tract discusses the King James Version and the KJV only movement, along with positive and negative aspects of using the KJV today. It is designed to be printed on 8 1/2 x 14 paper and folded in four.

From Energion Publications
What's in a Version cover

What's in a Version?
Read the book version by Henry Neufeld, editor of the Participatory Study Series. This book is designed to give the lay members confidence in choosing a Bible version for reading or study. 124 pages with glossary and index.

Would you like to have the author of this pamphlet and of the book What's in a Version? teach about Bible translations in your church? Consider these seminars offered by Pacesetters Bible School.

What does KJVO mean?

KJVO stands for King James Version Only. There are a number of positions about the King James Version and its place in the Christian church.

  1. Some people grew up with the KJV and they prefer to read it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.
  2. Some people think the KJV is the best translation available. While this position is technically incorrect, it still does not prevent people from reading the Bible unless it is forced on someone else. It is especially important that folks who prefer the KJV remember that many people cannot understand it.
  3. Some people believe that the KJV is the sole word of God in the English language. Often they also conclude that one cannot even be saved through reading another version or by hearing the gospel preached from another version.

KJVO refers to the third group of people. While this pamphlet will argue that the KJV is not the best translation available today, it is not intended to attack anyone for use of the KJV. The KJV is a fine version, perhaps the greatest single accomplishment in the history of Bible translation. It deserves our great respect.

But it is still only a translation.

Why don't you believe that God can preserve his word faithfully in the English language?

God can do anything. The correct question is what God has done. Believing that God has not performed an act does not believe God cannot perform the act. God could have chosen to make the earth a cube in space. He has not. God could have given the Bible to English-speaking people who would have written it in that language. He did not. He could have preserved it word for word in all manuscripts. He did not. He could have made a single, indisputable text to which all others could be compared and known as counterfeit. He did not.

God has faithfully preserved His message, but He has chosen to do so providentially in preserving many manuscripts and in calling people to translate the Bible for many people in language that they can understand.

When the people returned to their homes, they celebrated by eating and drinking and by sharing their food with those in need, because they had understood what had been read to them.
- Ezra 8:12

What is the basis for the KJV-Only position?

The KJV-Only position is defended by simply claiming that the KJV is the sole word of God, and then attacking other translations by comparing them to the text of the KJV. This is known as circular reasoning and/or begging the question.

There is no text of scripture that speaks about modern Bible translations. There is no scriptural basis for the KJV-Only position at all.

The passages quoted in support of the KJV-Only position refer to the preservation of God's word-but the preservation of God's word is not at issue. The question is where can we find it today?

Why can't we just ignore the KJV-Only argument? What's wrong with the KJV?

The main problem with the KJV today is that its language is archaic and people do not understand it clearly. People also find it hard to read. Claims that the KJV is actually easier to understand than the modern versions are simply ludicrous. The effort to push people back to the KJV is not a movement in favor of the authority of the Bible, but is rather against it. Use of the KJV will reduce, rather than increase the knowledge of the gospel message.

In addition, while the KJV was an excellent translation based on the knowledge of its time, new manuscripts and new linguistic discoveries have been made since then that have clarified many passages that were unclear. None of this means that the KJV is a bad translation. It does mean that there are many translations that are better for modern readers because they are written in clearly understandable language. They use the best tools available to make God's word clear.

Worshiping the LORD is sacred; he will always be worshiped. All of his decisions are correct and fair. They are worth more than the finest gold and are sweeter than honey from a honeycomb. By your teachings, Lord, I am warned; by obeying them, I am greatly rewarded.
- Psalm 19:9-11

I take the KJV-Only position on faith alone. I realize it seems foolish to worldly judgment, but I know in my heart that it's true. Why do you attack my faith?

If you take the KJV to be the sole word of God on faith alone, and for yourself alone, then there is no problem. The problem is when you then condemn someone else for not holding the same view, or try to force someone to study the Bible from the KJV only.

The church is dying for lack of a knowledge of the scriptures, and the effort to make people dependent on a version that they don't understand helps prevent people from studying. Instead of trying to force people to use a version that is archaic, we should be making every effort to making the Bible more available and more understandable.

Who are you to question the translators of the King James Version?

Who are any of the KJVO advocates to question the translators of any of the modern versions? We should be grateful to God for all of the people He has called into the difficult task of making His message available to people in language that they can understand clearly.

Your word is the truth.
- John 17:7

For further information on Bible Translations see:

What's in a Version
What about the KJV? (PDF)
Bible Translations FAQ
Notes on the Major Bible Versions
Choosing a Bible with Study Notes

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Web: Energion Publications (http://energion.com)
E-Mail: pubs@energion.com

This brochure is available in quantity. Contact Energion Publications for more information.

Scripture quotations marked "NKJV&tm;" are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked The Message are taken from THE MESSAGE®. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

All scripture quotations not otherwise marked are taken from the Contemporary English Version, Copyright © 1995 American Bible Society.

Copyright © 1998, Henry E. Neufeld