MY POSITION ON THE KING JAMES BIBLE

Updated January 30, 2006 (first published January 9, 1997) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, fbns@wayoflife.org) -

My position on the King James Bible is a matter of public record. Some persist in misrepresenting me, though. I am amazed, in fact, at the lies which are being spread about what I am alleged to believe about the KJV. It might be profitable to publish answers to a couple of the questions that have come to me in regard to this subject. The following questions are compiled directly from ones we have received --

QUESTION: “IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT YOU ARE NOT A ‘KING JAMES MAN,’ BUT ONLY A RECEIVED TEXT MAN. MY OWN CHURCH STOPPED SUPPORTING YOU BECAUSE SOMETHING YOU HAD WRITTEN ALLUDED TO THE FACT THAT THE KJV WAS NOT PERFECT AND HAD SOME THINGS THAT NEEDED TO BE FIXED (NOT A QUOTE). THIS HAS ALSO COME UP ON THE E-MAIL ‘FUNDAMENTAL LIST’ ALSO. I DO NOT THINK THAT YOU SHOULD WASTE TIME DEFENDING YOUR POSITION EVERY TIME THAT SOMEONE CONCOCTS A QUESTION TO YOU. BUT THIS IS ALLEGEDLY ACCORDING TO SOMETHING YOU SAID. I THINK THAT IT WOULD BE GOOD IF YOU COULD SIMPLY GIVE A SHORT AND EXACT ANSWER TO THIS.”

D.W. CLOUD: I have answered this many times. My final biblical authority is the King James Bible itself. I do not correct the King James Bible and I do not support any corrections of it. I do not believe it needs to be fixed. I have never corrected the King James Bible with the Greek or the Hebrew. At the same time, I know that God gave the Scriptures in Hebrew and Greek. The holy men of old who spoke by the Holy Spirit (referred to in 2 Peter 1:21) were speaking Hebrew and Greek. Those are the languages God chose. I am not going to stand here and say God made a mistake and that it is wrong for men to go directly to those languages to find the inspired Word of God.

Does this mean I believe the KJV is in some sense insufficient. In no wise. I believe 2 Timothy 3:16-17 refers not only to the original giving of the Scriptures but to the fact that the copies and translations are inspired, as well, as long as they are accurate. Obviously Timothy did not have the original manuscripts which came from the hands of the Bible writers. I believe therefore that the King James Bible is the inspired Word of God.
I have made all of these things plain in my public writings, and my writings are readily available. The
O Timothy Computer Library contains every article from O Timothy magazine from 1984 to present. I challenge any man to find me correcting or questioning the King James Bible in O Timothy since its inception 14 years ago. It is true that my understanding of the issue of Bible texts and versions has grown stronger through the years, but I have never been a corrector of the KJV and it has always been my final authority. There are more than 170 articles on Bible texts and versions in the O Timothy Computer Library, and all of them exhort the readers to have complete confidence in the KJV.

In the
Way of Life Encyclopedia of the Bible & Christianity, which we first published in 1994, I described my position on texts and versions in several articles. That study tool is unique in that it is based strictly upon the Authorized English Version, and there is not a hint anywhere within this 500-page volume of changing or correcting the AV. I dedicated the Way of Life Encyclopedia with these words: “Dedicated to Dr. Bruce Lackey (1934-1988), who, as a Pastor and as the Dean of Tennessee Temple Bible School, helped a generation of preachers to understand and love the Word of God. No man helped me more in this most crucial area of life. Though he read his beloved Greek New Testament [Received Text] every day, he never caused his students or his congregation to question the God-honored English Bible. He was a Bible teacher, not a Bible critic.” I dedicated the volume with these words because Dr. Lackey’s position is my own. I do not correct, criticize, or question the Old English Bible; I preach and teach it.

In the book
For Love of the Bible: The Battle for the Authorized Version and the Received Text from 1800 to Present, which we published in 1995, I stated my position as follows: “I believe the King James Bible is an accurate and lovely translation of the preserved Greek and Hebrew text of Scripture. I do not believe the King James Bible contains any errors. I believe that God had His hand upon the KJV in a special way because of the singular role it would play in the transmission of the Word of God during a long and crucial epoch of church history. In contrast with the modern English versions, I believe the KJV is based upon a superior underlying text; it was produced by superior translators; it incorporates superior translation techniques; it demonstrates a superior theology; it embodies a superior English; it was created in a superior era; and it has a superior history. I believe the King James Bible is the inspired Word of God because it accurately translates the inspired text.”

QUESTION: “WHEN THE AV SAYS ONE THING AND THE RECEIVED TEXT SAYS ANOTHER, WHICH ONE IS YOUR AUTHORITY? A MESSAGE ON THE INTERNET RECENTLY STATED, ‘BROTHER CLOUD IS NOT A KING JAMES MAN. WHILE IT IS THE ONLY “BIBLE” HE USES, VIRTUALLY ALL HIS WRITINGS CONTAIN “CORRECTED” PASSAGES FROM THE ORIGINAL GREEK (NOT AN OPINION, GO TO HIS WWW PAGE AND READ IT FOR YOURSELF). BROTHER CLOUD IS A TEXTUS RECEPTUS MAN, BUT HE BELIEVES THE KING JAMES COMMITTEE DID A POOR JOB.’ IS THIS CHARGE TRUE?”

D.W. CLOUD: These statements are not true. The AV is the authority. My writings definitely do not contain “corrected passages from the original Greek.” That is pure unadulterated nonsense, and the man who wrote those lies will answer for them one day. Further, I don’t see that there are contradictions between the Received Text and the AV. If someone asks what edition of the Received Text do I believe is perfect, my answer is the King James Bible edition of the Received Text is perfect. That was the position taken by Dr. Edward F. Hills, who had a Ph.D. in the field of textual criticism from Harvard, back in the 1950s. Note the following quote from his book The King James Bible Defended.

“The King James Version is a variety of the Textus Receptus. The translators that produced the King James Version relied mainly, it seems, on the later editions of Beza’s Greek New Testament, especially his 4th edition (1588-9). But also they frequently consulted the editions of Erasmus and Stephanus and the Complutensian Polyglot. According to Scrivener (1884), out of the 252 passages in which these sources differ sufficiently to affect the English rendering, the King James Version agrees with Beza against Stephanus 113 times, with Stephanus against Beza 59 times, and 80 times with Erasmus, or the Complutensian, or the Latin Vulgate against Beza and Stephanus. HENCE THE KING JAMES VERSION OUGHT TO BE REGARDED NOT MERELY AS A TRANSLATION OF THE TEXTUS RECEPTUS BUT ALSO AS AN INDEPENDENT VARIETY OF THE TEXTUS RECEPTUS.

“The King James translators also placed variant readings in the margin, 37 of them according to Scrivener. To these 37 textual notes 16 more were added during the 17th and 18th centuries, and all these variants still appear in the margins of British printings of the King James Version. IN THE SPECIAL PROVIDENCE OF GOD, HOWEVER, THE TEXT OF THE KING JAMES VERSION HAS BEEN KEPT PURE. NONE OF THESE VARIANT READINGS HAS BEEN INTERPOLATED INTO IT. ...

“This comparison indicates that the differences which distinguish the various editions of the Textus Receptus from each other are very minor. They are also very few. According to Hoskier, the 3rd edition of Stephanus and the first edition of Elzevir differ from one another in the Gospel of Mark only 19 times. Codex B, on the other hand, disagrees with Codex Aleph in Mark 652 times and with Codex D 1,944 times. What a contrast! ...

“BUT WHAT DO WE DO IN THESE FEW PLACES IN WHICH THE SEVERAL EDITIONS OF THE TEXTUS RECEPTUS DISAGREE WITH ONE ANOTHER? WHICH TEXT DO WE FOLLOW? THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION IS EASY. WE ARE GUIDED BY THE COMMON FAITH. HENCE WE FAVOR THAT FORM OF THE TEXTUS RECEPTUS UPON WHICH MORE THAN ANY OTHER GOD, WORKING PROVIDENTIALLY, HAS PLACED THE STAMP OF HIS APPROVAL, NAMELY, THE KING JAMES VERSION, OR, MORE PRECISELY, THE GREEK TEXT UNDERLYING THE KING JAMES VERSION. This text was published in 1881 by the Cambridge University Press under the editorship of Dr. Scrivener, and there have been eight reprints, the latest being in 1949. In 1976 also another edition of this text was published in London by the Trinitarian Bible Society. We ought to be grateful that in the providence of God the best form of the Textus Receptus is still available to believing Bible students (Edward F. Hills,
The King James Bible Defended, The Christian Research Press, 1973, pp. 218-223). [The King James Bible Defended is available from Bible for Today, 900 Park Avenue, Collingswood, NJ 08108. The entire book is also on the web at http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/kjvdefen.htm]

The AV translators did not pull readings out of thin air. They based their translation on the text which they felt was the preserved Word of God in that particular passage. Sometimes it was Hebrew text. Sometimes Greek. Sometimes a translation in another language. I always allow the KJV to determine the proper text for me.

I founded a project in the 1980s to translate the Bible into an Asian language. One of the principles that I established for that project was that the translation would be from the KJV. The translators could use various tools to dig into the meaning of the AV, but the final authority would be the KJV itself and not some lexicon or commentary. Absolutely no textual departures from the KJV would be allowed. That has always been my position. After the project was well on its way, one of the men working on the translation went to England and took training with Wycliffe and appeared to be taking the project in a different direction from its founding principles. In 1996 I wrote a letter to him expressing my concerns. I believe this defines my position very clearly for all to see, so I will excerpt the letter publicly as follows:

Letter from David Cloud to a Bible translator, March 5, 1996:

“Today I received your letter of February 7 and was surprised by some of the things you said. I quote from your letter -- ‘I am not a devotee of the KJV. Yes, it is a good and faithful translation; yes, we agreed to use it as basis for translation and are using it still; but I am not willing to follow it blindly. Years ago I disagreed with ------- who was unreasonable in his devotion to and defence of the KJV Bible. Have you become like him?’

“I am shocked by this statement from you. I thought you knew my position from many years ago. I really can’t remember exactly what ------- believes about the KJV, but my position in regard to the KJV has not changed since I have known you. You are correct in saying that ‘we agreed to use it as basis for translation.’ That has been the agreement from the beginning. Otherwise I would have had nothing to do with such a project. Under this agreement, I don’t believe you should be questioning the KJV. If it is not clear in some passage, you must attempt to understand it correctly, but that is not the same as questioning it and attempting to correct it. I don’t believe it needs correcting. I believe that if you follow it, you will not go wrong and will have nothing to answer for at the judgment seat of Christ. That has been my faith from the beginning. And it is a position of faith based on God’s promises to preserve His Word. What other Bible in any language has God used so mightily?

“My conviction is that the modern eclectic text is corrupt and the KJV and the TR is the preserved Word of God. It was this conviction that caused me to be burdened about the Nepali Bible situation and to seek the Lord’s face about a new Nepali translation and finally to travel to the Bhutan border and to be able to convince --------- to join with such a project. If I had lacked this conviction, I would have been content with some of the work the Bible Societies were doing. I would not have had the conviction that there is only one preserved Bible. The position of most men today is that all of the Greek texts and all of the major translations contain the Word of God and that all of them are basically sound. I reject that. The Received and Masoretic Text is the preserved Greek and Hebrew Text and the Authorized Bible is the only accurate and authoritative translation in English from this text. That has been my position ever since I have known you. Surely you have read my books on the subject. I first printed my booklets entitled “Myths about the King James Bible” in 1986. ... Please read these things carefully and prayerfully. I have never been more convinced that I am right about an issue than this one” (Letter from David Cloud to a Bible translator, March 5, 1996).