The Preface To The King James Version And The King James-Only Position -- By: William W. Combs

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 001:2 (Fall 1996)
Article: The Preface To The King James Version And The King James-Only Position
Author: William W. Combs


The Preface To The King James Version
And The King James-Only Position

William W. Combs

* Dr. Combs is Academic Dean and Professor of New Testament at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary in Allen Park, MI.

When the King James Version of the Bible came off the press of Robert Barker in 1611, it contained an eleven-page preface entitled “The Translators to the Reader.”1 This preface is primarily a defense of the new translation, but it also provides important information about the translators’ views on the subject of Bible translation as well as giving the purpose for their new version. It is most unfortunate that this preface is no longer included in modern copies of the kjv, especially since the viewpoints expressed in the preface are clearly at odds with the modern King James-only movement. Because of the importance of the preface and its value to the current debate, it has been printed in full at the end of this essay. The purpose of this essay is to analyze some of the arguments used by supporters of the King James-only position in light of the preface.

The King James-Only Position

Various views of the kjv and the Greek text behind it (Textus Receptus2 ) are sometimes designated King James-only. However, not everyone who prefers the kjv over more modern translations should be classified as strictly King James-only in the sense discussed in this essay. Excluded from this discussion are those who simply prefer the kjv over other versions but do not make it a test of fundamentalism or orthodoxy. Their preference may be based on a variety of concerns but is

generally related to the Greek text behind the NT of the kjv.3 That is, those who on text-critical grounds believe that either the Textus Receptus or the Majority Text is superior will naturally prefer the kjv over most modern versions.4 This position is only marginally King James-only at most. It has sometimes been suggested that this position be termed “only King James.”

The true King James-only position argues that the kjv is the only English version that should be used today because it is the only one that can truly be called the Word of God. Some in this camp make it a test of fundamentalism or orthodoxy. This position takes two bas...

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