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The King James Only Controversy

I recently had the pleasure of reading James R. White’s newly revised book The King James Only Controversy.

I had originally bought this book because I had been exposed to some of the arguments that came from the KJV Only camp (those that claim all modern Bible translations are corrupt and the AV 1611 is the only Bible which can be considered the word of God) and wanted to learn more about the issue.

As it turns out, the book provided me with more than I had expected … I think it is a valuable resource for a few different reasons.

Obviously, as the title describes, the book deals squarely with the accusations and positions of the KJV Only advocates. White does a good job in explaining the spectrum of belief that exists and seems careful not to lump all such advocates as being equally radical. Throughout the book he makes a point of differentiating between arguments that are particular to certain individuals from those which are advocated more generally.

Not only does he deal with the accusations head on, but he soundly refutes them at every turn. He is effective at not only showing the facts that back up his refutation, but at exposing the faulty logic employed by those arguing against the modern translations.

However, I think this book is made all the more valuable by how White is able to clearly and effectively explain how it is that we can know that the New Testament text we have today is reliable.

Right at the beginning (well, the third chapter) White says the following:

I am also convinced that (1) Christians should have a knowledge of these things [manuscripts, text types and textual variants] whether or not they are interested in the KJV Only controversy, and (2) any Christian who can read and understand the Bible is able to follow the discussion of texts and translations as long as a few definitions are provided right at the start. p.41

In this I agree … I think we benefit greatly by understanding exactly how this book we call the Bible has been handed down to us from previous generations and how it has been made available to us in our own language.

White went on to explain one of the main reasons we should be interested in this, regardless of our desire to know about the KJV Only controversy itself:

We live in a day of unprecedented attacks upon the Bible’s validity, and the New Testament in particular. Especially through online medium, every possible kind of theory about how the Bible allegedly has been corrupted is promoted as absolute truth by those who oppose the Christian faith. Professors from community colleges to universities stand before their classes and regularly pontificate about the corruption of the New Testament text. There simply is no option that would allow a believer to hide away from such an onslaught. We must face it directly if we wish to have the opportunity to proclaim the message of Christ in our day. p.42

James White makes this information accessible and is able to provide a solid understanding of how the NT text has been transmitted to us today.

I highly recommend this book.