Errors In The King James Version? -- By: William W. Combs

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 004:1 (Fall 1999)
Article: Errors In The King James Version?
Author: William W. Combs

Errors In The King James Version?

William W. Combs*

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


For those of us who believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, the subject of errors in the Bible is not something that is normally confronted head on. That is, one does not generally preach a sermon or teach a class entitled “The Errors in the Bible.” We normally associate that kind of language with liberals who reject the authority of Scripture. But notice the doctrinal statement of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary on the issue of the Bible: “We believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament canon, which, being inerrant in the original manuscripts, is the final authority on all matters of faith and practice and any other subject on which it touches.” This statement is explained more fully in an amplification of the Seminary’s doctrinal statement entitled “Inspiration & Preservation of Scripture,” a pamphlet published in 1996. There we say that

It is the original text (words, script, autograph—graphe, 2 Tim 3:16) that partakes of inspiration proper. All other texts, copies, reproductions, translations, and versions partake of inspiration in an indirect, linear fashion from previous copies and translations to the extent that they reproduce the text of the original manuscripts. We hold that only the autographs of Scripture are inerrant and that copies and translations of Scripture are inerrant insofar as they are true to the inerrant autographs. Thus any translation or version of Scripture in any language is the Word of God if it accurately reproduces what is in the original manuscripts.

Thus, our Seminary statement limits inspiration primarily to the original manuscripts. We go on to say in that same pamphlet: “We do not hold that the Word of God is to be found exclusively in one English translation or any one translation in any other language since all such have mistranslations, miscopying, or misprinting, however minor, and are not therefore inerrant.” Thus, translations can be said to be inspired

in a limited, derivative sense, but they cannot be said to be inerrant in any full sense. The theological truth that drives us to these conclusions is something that is said earlier in the pamphlet: “We hold that inspiration is a direct miracle of God by which human authors and human languages were employed by God to give human beings His revelation in written form (2 Tim 3:16;...

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