What is the KJV only movement? Should we only use the King James Version of the Bible?
Simply put, the King James only movement (also called the KJV only movement or KJV onlyism) believes the King James Version is the only version of the English Bible people should read today. There are many varieties of this movement, but the main theological argument stems from the type of Greek text used to translate the New Testament.
King James only supporters claim that the Textus Receptus or Received Text of the Greek New Testament is the most accurate version of the Greek text. Since the King James Version used this Received Text, then it is the only suitable translation. However, there are numerous reasons why modern translations do not limit themselves to only the Textus Receptus. First, numerous additional Greek manuscripts have been discovered since the publication of Textus Receptus in the 1500s. Second, some significant early manuscripts have been discovered, including the Codex Sinaiticus, the earliest surviving complete New Testament. Regarding the Old Testament, the numerous copies of Old Testament writings from the Dead Sea Scrolls also provided new information to better assist in translation of the Old Testament.
Theologically, it is also important to note that the only inspired text of the Bible was the original text of Scripture. No translation was or is inspired in the way the original manuscripts of Scripture were. An honest assessment of the existing materials is necessary and the most accurate translations possible should be made to allow modern readers the ability to study Scripture for themselves.
That said, there is a reason many have argued for the use of the King James Version. It stands as one of the most remarkable achievements of the English language. Its publication united the English speaking church and has influenced culture at all levels. Yet even the 1611 King James Bible has undergone significant updates since its original publication, many due to the changing nature of the English language.
In the twentieth century, the publication of the New King James Version sought to provide a modern rendering of the King James Bible that continued the tradition of its predecessor. Other literal translations such as the New American Standard Bible (NASB) and English Standard Version (ESV) have also provided a literal translation in modern English, although utilizing the full range of original language texts in their research.
While the King James Version provides an excellent translation that has withstood the test of time, it is not the only helpful English translation and is certainly not "inspired" as the original manuscripts of the Bible. In addition, the numerous discoveries since the publication of the 1611 King James Bible should be fully investigated to help understand every nuance of the Bible to its fullest since Scripture is literally "breathed out" by God (2 Timothy 3:16).
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