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Explaining differences between KJB editions

PostPosted: 27 May 2014, 17:58
by bibleprotector
If you have read in any detail about the King James Bible Only issue, you would have heard about the different editions. If the King James Bible is true, how can there be differences in editions?

At the Missing Verses website, they employ this argument with typical ignorance and deception. They state, “The Differences Between KJV 1611 and KJV 1850”.

By reading that, it seems like the version from 1850 is different to the version from 1611. However, the facts are that the same version of 1611 is published today, despite all the edition differences.

A man named Scrivener wrote about this in 1884, and often his words are quoted, “Most readers will be aware that numberless and not inconsiderable departures from the original or standard edition of the Authorized Translation as published in 1611, are to be found in the modern Bibles which issue from the press by thousands every year.”

If we are to take Scrivener’s word for it, today’s King James Bible must be vastly different to what was first printed in 1611. But that is not the case.

In 1611, printing was done by a hand on a press, and typography was not accurate. Sometimes a letter was printed upside down, sometimes words were missed. Because the handwritten corrections were difficult to follow, and doubtless read by candlelight, all kinds of small mistakes appeared in the printing. In one place half a verse was printed twice in a row.

If you look at a copy from 1611, you would notice that the spelling is often quite different to what we are used to. The spelling altered as well, even in the same verse! Besides using a different typeface, you would also notice that the letters did not always look the same, sometimes “u” was used for “v”, and so on, so that some words could look quite different.

Moreover, the first printing from 1611 had the Apocrypha inserted between the Old and New Testaments.

Over the years, as the King James Bible was reprinted, printer’s errors were fixed, spelling was standardised, and editing took place, so that the King James Bible from 1611 could appear to be very different to present editions. However, this does not mean that the King James Bible has actually changed, as we shall see in a moment.

Now, it is important to note that important editing took place at certain times, creating standard editions which influenced other editions after them. When the Cambridge Press began printing a corrected edition in 1629, it was a great improvement to previous editions printed by Barker of London. Years later, when Oxford produced a corrected edition in 1769, this was eventually followed by all the other publishers.

At times, people would attempt to alter the King James Bible, such as the American Revisions of the 1850s. However, these were not influential, nor were they of the proper tradition. Moreover, these types of editions exhibited many changes which were contrary, and which were already rejected by believers at those times.

If someone is trying to compare the 1611 edition with an American Revision edition of 1850, they are comparing the first edition to a wildly extravagant revision. This is obvious, because if the 1850 American Revision was compared to an edition printed by Cambridge or Oxford from the same time, there would be a huge gap between them and the American Revision. Thus, it is deceptive to compare the 1611 to the 1850 American Revision, which in no way represents proper editions.

When Scrivener was studying different editions a few years later, he produced his own edition which was similar to and radical like the American Revision. Scrivener’s book, which described how there were so many differences in historical editions, was actually designed to promote his work, as though his edition was a sensible correction of the King James Bible.

Scrivener wrote, “Some of these differences must be imputed to oversight and negligence, from which no work of man can be entirely free; but much the greater part of them are deliberate changes, introduced silently and without authority by men whose names are often unknown.”

Many of his statements were designed to imply that the King James Bible was a hopeless mess. But not knowing who or when something was edited does not count as evidence against the King James Bible. Moreover, even though editing had not always been uniform, it had altogether worked toward the better presentation of the English Bible.

Scrivener had to admit that there were improvements in editing, “Now, if such alterations had been made invariably for the worse, it would have been easy in future editions to recall the primitive readings, and utterly to reject the later corruptions. This, however, is far from being the case.”

But he went on to accuse the editors for making unjustified changes, even though he proceeded in his own edition to make numerous changes, including some gross ones. “Not a few of these variations, especially those first met with in Cambridge folio Bibles dated 1629 and 1638, which must have been superintended with much critical care, amend manifest faults of the original Translators or editors, so that it would be most injudicious to remove them from the place they have deservedly held in all our copies for the last 250 years.”

What Scrivener meant was that changes from 1769 were, in his view, not careful or better. He felt that he should “undo” the improvements from 1769 and make his own changes.

Someone might say that some words were altered in spelling, and some were not. However, there is a very good reason for this. In any example, such as “besides” and “beside”, we are dealing with two different words with two different meanings. For whatever reason they were not always being printed accurately, it was only until after 1769 that the right usage was found in each place. But with this, or other examples, the modern scholar might object. Perhaps he feels that some places which have one word should be the other, or perhaps all places should have just one word. This was exactly the type of approach Scrivener had, and which others like him have today.

Now, there are other problems with Scrivener’s approach and work, but we will not detail them here. Instead, we should examine some of the places where the Missing Verses website feels that the King James Bible is different today.

The fact is that there are no changes to the King James Bible’s underlying text, nor to the actual translation. All the differences can be explained when comparing the first 1611 printing to the Pure Cambridge Edition (PCE) of today.

1 John 5:12
(1611) Hee that hath the Sonne, hath life; and hee that hath not the Sonne, hath not life.
(PCE) He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

Besides differences in spelling and punctuation, there is an important difference in words and meaning. The words “of God” were not printed in 1611. This seems like an important difference, until we realise that all kinds of words were omitted by the printers accidentally in 1611, and that the correct reading was there in 1629. Moreover, the correct reading already existed in the English Bible Version which was being used before 1611. Thus, it should be easy to see that the translators did intend the words “of God” to be present. However, as often happens in cases like these, modern editors might attempt to argue that the translators did not intend to have the words “of God”. This type of arguing based on doubt basically makes the Bible subject to human errors and limits God’s Providence in history. Since some translators were involved in editing the King James Bible in 1638, and since the words “of God” were retained, this is a very strong indication that “of God” belonged all along, and it was a printing error which took a few years to be corrected.

1 Timothy 1:4
(1611) Neither giue heed to fables, and endlesse genealogies, which minister questions, rather then edifying which is in faith: so doe.
(PCE) Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

The word “godly” was accidentally omitted by the printers in 1611, even though the previous copies of Scripture had the word. It was corrected in 1638.

John 15:20
(1611) Remember the word that I said vnto you, The seruant is not greater then the Lord: if they haue persecuted me, they will also persecute you: if they haue kept my saying, they will keepe yours also.
(PCE) Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

If this was not a typographical error, in substituting “the” for “his”, it would be well within the bounds of editorial convention to make this regularisation. If any issue is raised concerning the case of the letter “L”, there are various examples where nouns and titles have capitalisation which does not match the standardised usage, and the lowercase rendering was the intended meaning, especially since it is so rendered prior to 1611.

Matthew 12:23
(1611) And all the people were amazed, and said, Is this the sonne of Dauid?
(PCE) And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?

The alteration was to bring the meaning in line with the expression of standardised English. Any appearance of meaning change is completely superficial, as the correct diction as now supplied was the intended meaning all along.

Ezekiel 24:7
(1611) For her blood is in the middest of her: she set it vpon the toppe of a rocke, she powred it vpon the ground to couer it with dust:
(PCE) For her blood is in the midst of her; she set it upon the top of a rock; she poured it not upon the ground, to cover it with dust;

The omission of the word “not” was a typographical error, already corrected in 1613.

Isaiah 49:13
(1611) Sing, O heauen, and be ioyfull, O earth, and breake forth into singing, O mountaines: for God hath comforted his people, and will haue mercy vpon his afflicted.
(PCE) Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.

Ruth 3:15
(1611) Also he said, Bring the vaile that thou hast vpon thee, and holde it. And when she helde it, he measured sixe measures of barley, and laide it on her: and he went into the citie.
(PCE) Also he said, Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city.

The word “she” was accidentally printed “he” in 1611. This was already corrected in 1611.

1 Corinthians 12:28
(1611) And God hath set some in the Church, first Apostles, secondarily Prophets, thirdly Teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helpes in gouernmets, diuersities of tongues.
(PCE) And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Clearly a typographical error resulted in the word “in” being inserted instead of a comma.

All these examples do not give any real grounds that the King James Bible has in any way altered significantly, nor does the editing which has taken place, in the correction of printers’ errors, standardisation of the language and other regularisation amount to any real change in the underlying text or translation. Therefore, it amounts to nothing but fogging to attempt to discredit the superiority of the King James Bible with accusations against it of this nature.