Back when I was working as a youth pastor at my Fundagelical Church, a special music group was invited for a Sunday evening service. I was expecting a group of twenty-somethings playing contemporary Christian music. That’s not what we got.
What we got was the Libby Family Band. They were a group of six: three siblings and their spouses. I expected guitars and drums; what I got were a group of Salvation Army marching band retirees. All of them were in their eighties; they played trumpets, trombones, tuba, and a big bass drum. They were still using the Salvation Army marching band songbook.
The strangest part of the evening’s entertainment was when the head of the family announced to everyone, as part of his sermonette, that the problem with churches today, (This was the early 90s) was the use of any translation other than the Authorized King James Bible. The Libby family were part of the King James Only Movement.
I sat there listening to the um-pah-pah of the marching band and hoped they didn’t spot my heretical New International Version translation. I also had to stifle a giggle. Truthfully, I had to stifle a lot of giggles.
Many Fundagelicals love them a King James Bible. There are two basic reasons
- King James only people claim that the collection of text used to translate the Bible into English, called the Majority Text, is more accurate than the “corrupt” Alexandrian Text used to create all modern translations.
- KJV only people claim that the actual translation of the Bible into English for the 1611 edition was divinely inspired and represents the actual words of God and are as accurate as the original Greek and Hebrew text.
So let’s deal with the first reason. The Majority Text is more accurate than the Alexandrian Text. Modern translations don’t rely upon only on the Alexandrian Text. They rely on a collection of thousands of text and text fragments. Many of these texts were found in the 19th and 20th century and are older than the Majority Text. In comparing documents, it is assumed that the older text preserves a more accurate rendition of the original.
As for the second reason, it might be interesting to note that the Majority Text and the 1611 authorized edition included the books of the Apocrypha. However, Fundagelicals seem to delete these divinely inspired translations in their copies. Also, most King James Bibles sold today are not the 1611 version; they are the 1769 revised edition.
As for the accuracy of the translation consider these verses:
God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.
God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.
His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them, he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.
Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?
Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee?
Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.
But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.
And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.
Yep, that’s nine times in the 1611 authorized King James Version that unicorns are mentioned. Most KJV Bibles have a footnote that explains unicorns are wild oxen. My question is: if the translation was divinely inspired and preserved the very words of God, why do you need footnotes? God said it; I believe it; that settles it. Bring on the unicorns!