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. 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.[1][page needed]

Many King James Bible supporters cite alleged flaws in the modern English translations.[2][3][4] They point to the modern English versions based on what they hold are corrupted manuscripts from the Minority Text [5][6] which originated in Alexandria, Egypt identified with Origen, Westcott-Hort, and Aland,[7] also called the Novum Testamentum Graece or critical text. They believe these Alexandrian manuscripts, such as the Codex Vaticanus, the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus,[6][8] were used by Brooke Westcott and Fenton Hort to create the critical text[9] to undermine the validity of the Textus Receptus.[10]

What is cited as a major reason for many moving away from this translation to newer translations is the outdated readability of the 400-year-old English text contained in this version.[11][page needed] Since languages naturally evolve over time, older translations become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. Advocates for the KJV say that the assumption that the new translators just took the old English Bible and rewrote it with newer, more up to date words is incorrect[12] and that there are more than 60,000 changes in modern renderings beyond the simple changes in vocabulary ("thee" to "you," etc.) greatly impacting core doctrines[6][13] and historicity.[14][15]

Doctrinal corruptions[edit]

King James Version Only advocates believe that the modern translations of the New Testament are based on Greek manuscripts that contain intentional doctrinal corruptions from Gnostic sources in Alexandria which deny or deprecate the deity of Christ, the Trinity, or salvation by grace through faith. Modern Bible translations, such as the New International Version (NIV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), and the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), are changed in this manner and thus are not trustworthy and useful translations of the Word of God.[16][17]

Baptist writer William P. Grady, in a chapter titled the “Synagogue of Satan,” writes,[18]

The average Christian is unaware that the manuscripts from which the modern ‘Bibles’ have been translated are Egyptian in origin; more specifically, Alexandrian. This lack of understanding is exacerbated by little or no knowledge of Egypt’s heretical climate at that time. When these factors are appreciated, the weakness and hypocrisy behind the modern revision movement becomes more readily apparent.

King James Only advocates such as Peter Ruckman, Samuel Gipp, D. A. Waite and others claim that these modern Bible translations such as the NIV, NASB, and the NRSV are based on corrupted text that Christians should avoid and the King James Version (KJV) is based upon “God honoring manuscripts”. The modern translations are based upon only a handful of corrupt manuscripts which come from Arianism, Gnosticism, and were changed to affirm their heresies and errors. Therefore, since nearly all modern translations are based upon these “corrupt” manuscripts, the translations are also corrupt and should be rejected by all “Bible believers.”[19][20]


Many Christians who advocate the use of KJV feel the new translations went beyond mere readability to actually take out or add to the beliefs given by the text.[21]

Christian apologist James White has divided the King James Only movement into five main classifications:[22]

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.[23] 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.[24] 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.[25]
  • "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".[26]

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.[27] 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 influenced its doctrines. Dr. James D. Price's book, published in 2006, gives the same information in a summary.[28]

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).[29] 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.[30]

Jasper James Ray (1894–1985), a business manager, missionary and Bible teacher, wrote a similar booklet entitled God Wrote Only One Bible (1955). [31] [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.[32]

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.[33] Some supporters of the KJVO movement reject Ruckman's position that the King James Version Bible is superior to existing Hebrew and Greek manuscripts,[22] 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."[34][35]

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.[36]

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.[37] 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."[38]

Jack Chick, a fundamentalist Christian best known for his comic tracts is an advocate for the King James Only movement.[39] He wrote a comic called Sabotage advocating the King James Only movement.[40][41][42]

Joey Faust, a Baptist pastor and researcher is the author of The Word: God Will Keep It: The 400 Year History of the King James Bible Only Movement. The book documents an astounding number of KJV Only proponents throughout history. Author Gail Riplinger gives the following endorsement for this book:

"Christians will be using the quotations he discovered throughout the 21st century. You will not find any other book that will better help you defend the fact that those who believe that the KJB is God’s inspired word are among the MAJORITY throughout history. I don’t know of any book I have ever read that so blessed, encouraged and brought such rejoicing to my soul."

In Singapore, the Far Eastern Bible College, led by Dr. Jeffrey Khoo, is a staunch defender of the King James Bible, but clearly distinguishes itself from Peter Ruckman and his views.[43]

Textus Receptus vs Minority Text[edit]

Advocates for the Authorized King James Version (KJV) point to text of the Textus Receptus used for the King James Version, the “majority text”—the form of the Greek text found in the majority of extant manuscripts.[44] They believe the new translations are based on text or versions which have used corrupted manuscripts and are not an improvement over the KJV in their textual basis and translation methodology. They hold that there are basically two streams of selection of source documents. That the KJV is based on the text of which 95-98% manuscript evidence which underlies the Textus Receptus or received text (aka Majority Text), and that only 2-5% of manuscript evidence supports the stream of translations of the New Testament of the Westcott-Hort and the other the post-1844 Greek texts, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus Aland, Nestle-Aland, NA27, NA28.[45][46] The Codex Sinaititus (Aleph) was disfigured by corrections, a few by the original scribe then by others centuries after, by as many as "eight different later writers." [47] The Codex Vaticanus (B) differs greatly from the Textus Receptus throughout the NT. The great Greek scholar Dean Burgon published in 1881 that in the gospels alone, Codex Vaticanus omits 2877 words, adds 536, substitutes 935, transposes 2098, and modifies 1132 making 7578 total changes. Codex Sinaiticus has 8972 changes from the Textus Receptus.[48]

Wilkinson writes in his book Truth Triumphant:

The Protestant denominations are built upon that manuscript of the Greek New Testament sometimes called Textus Receptus, or the Received Text. It is that Greek New Testament from which the writings of the apostles in Greek have been translated into English, German, Dutch and other languages. During the dark ages the Received Text was practically unknown outside the Greek Church. It was restored to Christendom by the labours of that great scholar Erasmus. It is altogether too little known that the real editor of the Received Text was Lucian. None of Lucian's enemies fails to credit him with this work. Neither Lucian nor Erasmus, but rather the apostles, wrote the Greek New Testament. However, Lucian's day was an age of apostasy when a flood of depravations was systematically attempting to devastate both the Bible manuscripts and Bible theology. Origen, of the Alexandrian college, made his editions and commentaries of the Bible a secure retreat for all errors, and deformed them with philosophical speculations introducing casuistry and lying.

Dean John William Burgon pointed out the "two irresponsible scholars of the University of Cambridge"[49] Brooke Foss Westcott and Professor Fenton John Anthony Hort and their "invention" of the new Revised Greek Text that surfaced in 1881 based not on the Textus Receptus text but on what he saw as unreliable manuscripts from the Minority Text. Scholars point to the basic Greek text of Westcott and Hort dated in 1881 is virtually identical with the basic Greek text of the present critical editions being used in the new translations. The simple reason is that they are derived from the same basic, corrupt Greek manuscripts, namely "B" (Vatican) and "Aleph" (Sinai) and a few others that followed them. Many have noted the similarity between the Westcott and Hort Text and that of the Current Greek Texts.

Herman Hoskier:

the text printed by Westcott and Hort has been accepted as `the true text,' and grammars, works on the synoptic problem, works on higher criticism, and others have been grounded on this text." [50]

J. H. Greenlee:

The textual theories of W-H [Westcott & Hort] underlies virtually all subsequent work in NT textual criticism.[51]

D. A. Carson:

The theories of Westcott and Hort . . . [are] almost universally accepted today. . . . Subsequent textual critical work [since 1881] accepted the theories of Westcott and Hort. The vast majority of evangelical scholars hold that the basic textual theories of Westcott and Hort were right and the church stands greatly in their debt.[52]

Wilbur N. Pickering:

The two most popular manual editions of the text today, Nestles-Aland and U.B.S. (United Bible Society) really vary little from the W-H [Westcott & Hort] text.[53]

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. ^ Riplinger, GA, In Awe of Thy Word: Understanding the King James Bible, Its Mystery & History Letter By Letter .
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c
  7. ^ Robert Waltz
  8. ^ Evangelical Dictionary of Theology - Page 1181
  9. ^ H. Schumacher, A Handbook of Scripture Study (B. Herder Book Co.: St. Louis-London 1923), p. 53.
  10. ^ Epp, Eldon J.; Fee, Gordon D. (1993). Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism. Studies and documents 45. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 22. ISBN 9780802827739. Retrieved 2014-07-02. The Westcott-Hort text (WH) of 1881 [...] resulted from a skilful plan of attack and a sophisticated strategy for undermining the validitity of the TR [textus receptus]. 
  11. ^ Facts & Trends magazine, LifeWay Christian Resources, May–Jun 2004 .
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ G. A. Riplinger, New Age Bible Versions (Munroe Falls, Ohio: AV Publications, 1993) p. 1
  17. ^
  18. ^ William P. Grady, Final Authority (Schererville, IN: Grady Publications, 1993), 73.
  19. ^ Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament: Manuscript, Patristic, and Apocryphal Evidence (Text and Canon of the New Testament)
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b White 1995, pp. 1–4.
  23. ^ White 1995, p. 5.
  24. ^ Watts, Malcolm H. (2007). "The Accuracy of the Authorised Version" (PDF). Quarterly Record (Trinitarian Bible Society) 578 (1): 8. 
  25. ^ "The Text of the Bible used", Principles, The Trinitarian Bible Society .
  26. ^ Price, James D (2006). King James Onlyism: A New Sect. James D. Price Publisher. p. 279. ISBN 0-9791147-0-5. 
  27. ^ Wilson, Douglas. "Hearers of the Word". Credenda/Agenda 10 (1). Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-01. 
  28. ^ Price, James D, King James Onlyism: A New Sect (PDF), SG: Truth, p. 4 .
  29. ^ Kutilek 1998, second paragraph: "All writers who embrace…"
  30. ^ Kutilek 1998, 2nd paragraph: "Wilkinson was the first…"
  31. ^ Kutilek 1998, 3rd paragraph: "when J. J. Ray…"
  32. ^ Hudson & Kutilek 1990, 2nd paragraph: "But the overwhelmingly longest…"
  33. ^ Kutilek 1998, 11th and 12th paragraph: "Also in the third generation…"
  34. ^ White 1995, p. 109.
  35. ^ Schnaiter, Sam; Tagliapietra, Ron (2002), Bible Preservation and the Providence of God, Xlibris, p. 364 .
  36. ^ Kutilek 1998, 13th paragraph: "A word needs to be said…"
  37. ^ Riplinger, Gail A. "Settings of the King James Bible" (PDF). Our KJV. 
  38. ^ New age vers. (book review), Answers 
  39. ^ "FAQ's Concerning Bible Versions". Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  40. ^ "Sabotage? - by Jack T. Chick". Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  41. ^ "Comic List". Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  42. ^ '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. 
  43. ^ Jeffrey Khoo. 2011. Non-Ruckmanite answers to Anti-KJV questions. The Burning Bush (journal) 17.1:18-41.
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^ (Scrivener, Pg 93, Vol. I.)
  48. ^
  49. ^ The Andover Review - Volume 1 - Page 458
  50. ^ Herman C. Hoskier, Codex B and Its Allies—a Study and an Indictment, (1914), Vol I, p. 468
  51. ^ J. H. Greenlee, Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism, (1964), p. 78
  52. ^ D. A. Carson, The King James Version Debate, (1979), p. 75
  53. ^ Dr. Wilbur N. Pickering, The Identity of the New Testament Text, (1980), pp. 42.


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