written by Andrew Corbett


1. To establish that there are sincere concerns about modern English translations.
2. To likewise establish that modern English translations are proving to be far more popular than the King James Version Bible.
3. To overview the broad concerns that some have about apparent discrepancies in modern translations.

 For almost the entire history of the English Bible, the King James Version has proven to be the most widely accepted and read version throughout the English speaking world. It has formed the basis of hymns, choruses, and poems, often being quoted verbatim. It has had a litany of other reference tools built around it, such as, the Strong’s Concordance, the New Englishmen’s Hebrew Concordance, the Wigram’s Greek Lexicon, and the Matthew Henry Bible Commentaries. It has been the undisputed standard of popular Bible translation for most of the past four centuries.

 We shall examine the development of the King James Version in proceeding chapters. Suffice to state that it was during a rather turbulent political and ecclesiastical period in the early 1600s, that King James I of England authorised the proposal of the translation of the Bible into the vernacular of the common people. He appointed 54 men, drawing on England’s two main centres of learning, Cambridge and Oxford. They were instructed to follow the Bishops’ Bible, a previous English translation. They also drew on other previous English translations for reference.

 The finished result was published in 1611, and dedicated to King James in his battle with the Roman Catholic Church. Most literary historians regard the King James Version as a high point in the history of translated Biblical literature. It has served the English speaking Christian community for nearly 400 years. One Bible commentator has said of the King James Version-
“It was finished after 7-8 years of diligent work. It has been the most popular and accepted version of the English speaking world from that day until now. There have been several revised versions since then, and a number of Bibles in the so-called modern English, but none have been as well accepted and as lasting as the King James Version and perhaps never will be.”
 The language of the King James Version is now regarded as classic English. Its poetic portions are ranked along side Shakespeare for its use of the English language.

 Without doubt, the King James Version of the Bible has been the most influential translation in the English speaking world. It is estimated that up to 160,000,000 English speaking Christians still use the King James Version as their primary source of Scripture reading.  But its popularity is now waning fast. The modern era has witnessed a vast array of fresh translations of the Bible into English. There are now translations that attempt to put the original language into modern language. There are other translations that seek to put the original meaning into modern meaning. While these two different approaches result in different translations, they both purport to be God’s Word.

 To add to the confusion, modern marketing has produced Bibles for children, youth, women, men, singles, and students. So prolific are the new Study Bibles that one scholar has said-

Judging by book-store catalogues, these appear to be extremely successful. While there have always been reference and commentary Bibles this century, there has been an amazing deluge of them in recent times. Again these are proving very successful. As a pastor in a local church I see people bringing into church services a wide selection of these modern Bibles which reinforces the anecdotal evidence that they are increasing in popularity.

 The Bible is still the best selling book around the world. No doubt, modern translations and marketing methods have helped to perpetuate this. Large sales of the Bible also shows us that there is a modern hunger for God’s Word (despite what mainline church attendance may indicate) and the fact that many of these Bible sales are “Study Bibles” of one kind or another, seems to confirm this. But do the prolific number of modern Bible translations hold to the original integrity of God’s message to man?

 Over the last few years serious allegations have been made against certain modern translations of the Bible. Most of these allegations have come from some parts of the Evangelical sector within the Christian community. The most common assumption made by those casting these allegations is that the King James Version is the only legitimate English Bible. They claim that the integrity and purity of the original manuscripts is only captured and preserved by the King James Version.

“The TEXTUS RECEPTUS, original Greek text from which the Authorised King James Bible was translated, has been the target of critics since 1611. Yet copies of it substantially exist today without error. This is the Bible you can trust. All this talk about older and more dependable manuscripts, like the theory of evolution, hangs upon an UNPROVEN HYPOTHESIS”

 According to the proponents of this argument, all modern translations are based on faulty and corrupted manuscripts. These manuscripts are faulty because they have deliberately omitted elements of the original text. They are corrupted because they have been deliberately altered in certain ways, especially in regard to essential Christian doctrine. One concerned critic of modern translations states that there is a simple litmus test to apply to modern translations-

 Mr Clarke, of the Bible Truth and Trinitarian Bible Societies, claims that modern translations have deviated from the true word of God in at least 6,000 places.  He lists in his booklet various examples of what he calls deliberate deviations from the truth of God’s Word. He is not alone in his concerns.

There is therefore a genuine need to examine the process of Biblical translation into the English language. The purpose of such an examination is to examine the claims of the ‘King James only’ proponents, and to investigate the integrity of modern translations. This paper is a step in that direction.

Chapter 2 [PDF version]

© 1999, Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania, Australia

The print version of the entire book is available from Pastor Andrew Corbett, PO Box 1143 Legana, Tasmania, Australia, 7277 for just $A10 (plus postage) or an e-book format is available for $5.50 sent by email(including GST). For further enquiries contact Pastor Andrew Corbett

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