With my birthday approaching, my wife offered to buy me a new Bible to replace my old one that was showing its years of study and preaching. But I was so attached to my old Bible with its many portions highlight- ed, underlined, circled, and crammed with personal notes, I was reluctant to relegate it to the bottom shelf with the other Bibles that I’ve worn out over the years. It was definitely time for a new one, so we went shopping and found the right Bible for me – a leather-backed KJV with clear font on a fine, durable paper published by Cambridge University Press. A half-sheet of paper fits well inside the covers, which is perfect to tuck away notes, or a church bulletin. I must say, though, that I found it hard to begin marking it up like my old one, but that soon passed. I’m back to highlighting, underlin- ing, and circling things of interest, as that helps me find them when I’m re-reading or preaching. Above the unique features of personal preference about my new Bible, let me tell you why I bought another King James Version.
The KJV has been in circulation for over four hundred years – since 1611, when it was commissioned by King James I. He, of course, had little to do with its translation, but he did authorize the Puritans of his day to print and publish it in his name to be used in his realm, which was much of the English-speaking world at that time. And did God ever bless it? It was the Bible of refor- mation, of revival and of recurring move- ments of ministry and world missions. Only in these last few decades has it been set aside for a proliferation of other English versions, which to me is sad. Why replace something that God has singularly blessed?
That’s why the Free Presbyterian Church worldwide uses the KJV in every pulpit and in every church meeting. We have no reason to change its sole use in public ministry for the confusion that would come from an as- sortment of Bible versions in our pews. Faith and Bible knowledge do not come from multiplying Bible versions, but from medita- tion and memorization of the Scriptures.
We also need a Bible with all the verses in it. I know that sounds tongue-in-cheek, but it is true. Modern versions are based on a “minority text” with inserted foot- notes stating, “Oldest MSS (Manuscripts) omit.” They don’t delete the words, or the passage referenced by the footnotes, but they may as well have cut them out, for their authority is undermined by those spurious footnotes. If you were to take the scissors and cut out all the places where the modern versions have footnotes stating, “Oldest MSS Omit” you would have a sorry Bible – especially the New Testament.
The KJV is based on the Received Text, which employed practically the same method of collation as the Majority Text. That means when all available copies of the original Scriptures were put together, where there were any differences in any copies, the collators chose the pile with the majority in agreement. In nearly all cases, agreement among copies is found to be in the high 90 percentile. To reject the majority method of collation is to subjectively choose copies according arbitrary criteria.
Think of how this would play out in a court of law. If a jury in a courtroom heard testimony from one hundred witnesses about some event and ninety-eight of those witnesses agreed on the details, while two disagreed, whom would the jury members believe? The two witnesses or the nine- ty-eight? In Bible textual selection, to follow the two would be the minority principle in Bible collation, whereas to follow the 98 would be the majority principle. Because the KJV is based on the majority method of textual collation, every reader can have full confidence that it is translated from a faithful and dependable text.
There is also the majestic language of the KJV or Authorized Version to consider, which far surpasses any other English version. It is beautiful and reverent, helping the reader to handle God’s Word with a sense of awe that is rightfully due to a holy God who calls us to worship Him in Spirit and truth. Even its transla- tors showed reverence by italicizing any word which they needed to insert to aid the smooth reading of a sentence. They believed that every word of God was pure and God-breathed; they knew that they dared not tamper with the inerrant Word of God.
The prose of the KJV uniquely lends itself to memorization and even little children are able to recite its superior language without difficulty. Everybody should have one, or they won’t know what they are missing. In choosing a KJV Bible, I declare with David when he was shown Goliath’s sword, “There is none like that: give it me.”