King James Only movement

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The First Page of the Book of Genesis in the 1611 printing of the KJV

The "King James Only movement" advocates the superiority of the Authorized King James Version (KJV) of the Protestant Bible. This phrase is disputed and has been described as a term meant to discredit the group of supporters that use this translation to the exclusion of all others. For instance, KJV proponent D. A. Waite states the term is a "smear word."[1][2]

Adherents of the movement hold that the King James Version of the Bible is superior to all other English translations, with some teaching that it is the greatest English translation ever penned, needing no further enhancements.[3][page needed] It is believed by many that the King James Version has influenced the direction of Christianity more greatly than any other English Bible. Some Christian and Protestant church leaders will use no other translation of the Bible for their individual studies and public preaching. Many King James Bible supporters also cite flaws in the modern English translations.[4][5][6][7] They also call into question the manuscripts that the newer versions are translated from.[8] The major reason for many moving away from this translation to newer translations is the outdated readability of the 400-year-old English text contained in this version.[9][page needed] Since languages naturally evolve over time, older translations become more difficult to understand as the language evolves and becomes increasingly different from the older version. Opponents of the King James Only movement propose that this natural evolution of language demands that a Bible translation will eventually need to be replaced by a newer version.


James White has divided the King James Only movement into five main classifications:[10]

Church sign indicating that the congregation uses the Authorized King James Version of 1611.
  • "I Like the KJV Best" – Although White lists this point of view as a subdivision of the KJVO group, this is disputed by some. This group simply regards the KJV as a very good translation and prefers it over other translations because the church they attend uses it, has always used it or prefers its style.
  • "The Textual Argument" – This group believes that the KJV's Hebrew and Greek textual base is more accurate than the alternate texts used by newer translations. Many in this group might accept a modern Bible version based on the same Greek and Hebrew manuscripts used for the KJV. White claims Zane C. Hodges is a member of this group.[11] Hodges considers that the Majority Text "corrects" the Received Text. The World English Bible is an example of an English translation that uses the Majority Greek text.
  • "Received Text Only" – This group holds the position that the traditional Greek texts represented in the Textus Receptus are supernaturally (or providentially) preserved and that other Greek manuscripts not used in this compilation may be flawed. The KJV is viewed as an exemplary English translation that is based on this Greek grouping of Bible manuscripts put together by Desiderius Erasmus, but it is also believed that other translations based on these texts have the potential to be of equal quality. The views of the Trinitarian Bible Society fit into this TRO division. The Trinitarian Bible Society does not believe that the Authorized Version (KJV) is a perfect translation, only that it is the best available translation in the English language.[12] The Society believes this text is superior to the texts used by the United Bible Societies and other Bible publishers, which use texts that incorporate as their basis a relatively few manuscripts from the 4th century, and some going back to the early 2nd century.[13]
  • "The Inspired KJV Group" – This faction believes that the KJV itself was divinely inspired. They view the translation to be an English preservation of the very words of God and that they are as accurate as the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts found in its underlying texts. Often this group excludes other English versions based on the same manuscripts, claiming that the KJV is the only English Bible sanctioned by God. They believe that this English translation should never be changed.
  • "The KJV As New Revelation" – This group claims that the KJV is a "new revelation" or "advanced revelation" from God, and it should be the standard from which all other translations originate. Adherents to this belief may also believe that the original-languages, Hebrew and Greek, can be corrected by the KJV. This view is often called "Ruckmanism" after Peter Ruckman, a staunch advocate of this view.

Note: These last two views have also been referred to as "double inspiration".[14]

These classifications are not mutually exclusive nor are they a comprehensive summary describing those who prefer the KJV. Douglas Wilson, for instance, argues that the KJV (or, in his preferred terminology, the Authorized Version) is superior because of its manuscript tradition, its translational philosophy (with updates to the language being regularly necessary), and its ecclesiastical authority, having been created by the church and authorized for use in the church.[15] The KJV's wide availability, popularity and public domain status also come into play in addition to any theological preference.


The history of the King James Version Only (hereafter KJVO) movement can best be described by a genealogical outline of writers whose books have not only given birth to the movement but also have influenced their doctrines. Dr. James D. Price's book, published in 2006, gives the same information in a summary.[16]

Benjamin G. Wilkinson (1872–1968), a staunch Seventh-day Adventist missionary, theology professor and college president, wrote Our Authorized Bible Vindicated (1930) in which he attacked the Westcott-Hort Greek text and expressed strong opposition to the English Revised Version New Testament (ERV, 1881).[17] He was the first to apply Psalm 12:6–7 to the King James Bible, claiming that the reference is a prooftext for divine preservation of the Scriptures.[18]

Jasper James Ray (1894–1985), a business manager, missionary and Bible teacher, wrote a similar booklet entitled God Wrote Only One Bible (1955). [19] [a]

Regular Baptist pastor David Otis Fuller (1903–1988) edited a book entitled Which Bible? published in 1970. It is an anthology by authors such as Robert Dick Wilson (1856–1930), Zane Clark Hodges (1932–2008) and others. Almost half of the book is dedicated to the ten out of sixteen chapters from Wilkinson's Our Authorized Bible Vindicated.[20]

Peter Sturges Ruckman (1921–), a Baptist preacher, wrote a series of uniformly bound commentaries on various Bible books, topical books on Bible-related subjects and books related to Bible text and translation issues. At least some of his books are characterized by harsh criticism of almost everyone involved in textual criticism, such as Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1851–1921), Archibald Thomas Robertson (1863–1934), Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–92) with the likes of Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918) and Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878–1969). The Christian's Handbook of Manuscript Evidence (1970) is among them. Ruckman was influenced by JJ Ray's God Wrote Only One Bible, and Ruckman's The Bible Babel (1964) is nearly identical to Ray's 1955 book.[21] Some supporters of the KJVO movement reject Ruckman's position that the King James Version Bible is superior to existing Hebrew and Greek manuscripts,[10] and criticize Ruckman because "his writings are so acerbic, offensive and mean-spirited that the entire movement has become identified with his kind of confrontational attitude."[22][23]

Edward F. Hills (1912–81) works Believing Bible Study (1967) and King James Version Defended (1956, 1973) are commonly cited to give support to the KJVO's position, although Hills personally never supported such KJVO positions.[24]

Gail Riplinger (1947–), known for her book New Age Bible Versions and a number of other works, has also addressed in some detail the issue of differences in current editions of the King James Bible.[25] However, a lengthy critical review of her book New Age Bible Versions, originally published in Cornerstone magazine in 1994, authored by Bob and Gretchen Passantino of Answers In Action, described the book as "erroneous, sensationalistic, misrepresentative, inaccurate, and logically indefensible."[26]

Jack Chick, a fundamentalist Christian best known for his comic tracts and advocate for the King James Only movement.[27] He wrote a comic called Sabotage advocating the King James Only movement.[28][29][30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The relationship of Ray's booklet to Wilkinson’s text is documented in Hudson, Gary (Spring 1991), "The Real Eye Opener", Baptist Biblical Heritage (article) II (1) .


  1. ^ Waite, Donald A (2007-02-03). "King James Only As Slander" (1). 
  2. ^ Waite, Donald A (2007-02-06). "King James Only As Slander" (2). 
  3. ^ Riplinger, GA, In Awe of Thy Word: Understanding the King James Bible, Its Mystery & History Letter By Letter .
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Facts & Trends magazine, LifeWay Christian Resources, May–Jun 2004 .
  10. ^ a b White 1995, pp. 1–4.
  11. ^ White 1995, p. 5.
  12. ^ Watts, Malcolm H. (2007). "The Accuracy of the Authorised Version" (PDF). Quarterly Record (Trinitarian Bible Society) 578 (1): 8. 
  13. ^ "The Text of the Bible used", Principles, The Trinitarian Bible Society .
  14. ^ Price, James D (2006). King James Onlyism: A New Sect. James D. Price Publisher. p. 279. ISBN 0-9791147-0-5. 
  15. ^ Wilson, Douglas. "Hearers of the Word". Credenda/Agenda 10 (1). Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-01. 
  16. ^ Price, James D, King James Onlyism: A New Sect, SG: Truth, p. 4 .
  17. ^ Kutilek 1998, second paragraph: "All writers who embrace…"
  18. ^ Kutilek 1998, 2nd paragraph: "Wilkinson was the first…"
  19. ^ Kutilek 1998, 3rd paragraph: "when J. J. Ray…"
  20. ^ Hudson & Kutilek 1990, 2nd paragraph: "But the overwhelmingly longest…"
  21. ^ Kutilek 1998, 11th and 12th paragraph: "Also in the third generation…"
  22. ^ White 1995, p. 109.
  23. ^ Schnaiter, Sam; Tagliapietra, Ron (2002), Bible Preservation and the Providence of God, Xlibris, p. 364 .
  24. ^ Kutilek 1998, 13th paragraph: "A word needs to be said…"
  25. ^ Riplinger, Gail A. "Settings of the King James Bible" (PDF). Our KJV. 
  26. ^ New age vers. (book review), Answers 
  27. ^ "FAQ's Concerning Bible Versions". Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  28. ^ "Sabotage? - by Jack T. Chick". Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  29. ^ "Comic List". Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  30. ^ 'A Critique of the King James Only Movement', James R. White, chapter in Translation that openeth the window : reflections on the history and legacy of the King James Bible. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature. 2009. p. 200. ISBN 1-58983-356-2. 


Further reading[edit]

  • Anderson, Robert (1903). The Bible and modern criticism. ASIN B00069Y39O. 
  • Ankerberg, John; Weldon, John (2003). The Facts on the King James Only Debate. Eugene, OR: Harvest House. ISBN 0-7369-1111-1. 
  • Beacham, Roy E.; Bauder, Kevin T (2001). One Bible Only? Examining Exclusive Claims for the King James Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications. ISBN 0-8254-2048-2. 
  • Carson, D.A. (1978). The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House. ISBN 0-8010-2427-7. 
  • Comfort, Phillip W. (2000). Essential Guide to Bible Versions. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. ISBN 0-8423-3484-X. 
  • Dewey, David (2005). A User's Guide To Bible Translations: Making The Most of Different Versions. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. ISBN 0-8308-3273-4. 
  • Macgregor, Alan J (2004). Three Modern Versions: A Critical Assessment of the NIV, ESV and NKJV. Salisbury, Wiltshire, ENG, UK: Bible League. ISBN 0-904435-87-3. 
  • Mauro, Philip (1924). Which version?: Authorized or revised?. Boston: Hamilton Brothers. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 
  • Paisley, Ian RK (1997). My Plea for the Old Sword. Emerald House Group. ISBN 1-84030-015-9. 
  • Ryken, Leland (2002). The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books. ISBN 1-58134-464-3. 

External links[edit]

Pro King James Only

Anti King James Only