3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Read the King James Bible

July 11, 2012 — 21 Comments

Without fail!  It happens every time I talk about bible translations.  Someone approaches me and says they’ve heard that the King James Version is the most accurate translation around.

I’m sorry.  It’s not.

  • I know its the version your family read, you’re church read and the one you’ve studied, memorized and cherish.
  • I know its the most widely distributed translation in English.
  • I know it was accurate for its time.

But it’s really time you shelve the King James Version and pick a new translation!  Here’s why.


1. The KJV is not based on the most accurate manuscripts.

If you read the KJV you’re reading things the Biblical authors DID NOT WRITE.  It’s not that it’s translators were in some secret conspiracy to deceive the masses.  They weren’t.  They were working with the best copies they had at the time.  But these copies had errors – errors which entered the text over 1400 years of hand copying hand copies.

The vast majority of these errors were small and unintentional.  If you’ve ever tried copying a lengthy handwritten document you may have experienced some of the following.

  • errors caused by sight.
  • errors caused by hearing and transcription.
  • errors caused by lapses in memory.

But some copyists intentionally changed the text – a fact that later copiers could not rectify because all they had was the copy in front of them.  It’s similar to the errors created and passed on in the game of telephone.  The famous 4th century Bible translator Jerome said,

They write down not what they find but what they think is the meaning, and while they attempt to rectify the errors of others, they merely expose their own.

These copyists made

  • spelling and grammar changes
  • harmonistic alterations
  • factual corrections
  • conflations
  • and even support for certain doctrines

The later is clearly evident in 1 John 1:7 where the King James reads,

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

It’s great proof text for the trinity.  The problem is that no church writer quoted it when the doctrine of the trinity was being hammered out in the 3rd and 4th century.  The reason is that not one manuscript contained these words until the late middle ages.  It’s an insertion and not at all what John wrote.

And it’s not the only one.

2. The KJV is not the language we speak today.  

The King James Version may sound poetic but it’s not easily understood by the vast majority of modern English speakers.  And it’s not just because of the thees and thous.  You may have heard some of these words.  But can you tell me what they mean?

abjects, afore, agone, amerce, artificer, bethink, bewray, botch, bray, by and by, caul, chargeable, concupiscenece, coping, cotes, cumbered, dissimulation, doleful, durst, emerods, fan, felloe, firkin, froward, gainsay, grisled, holden, holpen, ignominy, lade, lees, lucre, minish, mote, paps, paradventure, platted, quick, remission, requite, shambles, sheepcote, slow bellies, superfluous, thitherward, twain, unction, wimples, wont 

OK, I’m sure you could get close to their meaning if you read them in context.  But are you sure its the right meaning and not just a faulty guess?

You can learn a lot about the English language from reading the King James Version.  But is that the point of reading the Bible?  To broaden our vocabulary?  I don’t think so.

The dedication to the King James version is the same love Catholics have for language of Latin.  It’s traditional.  It’s what we’ve always done.  But stop and ask yourself does it still work?  Is it helpful?  Or are the people in the pews just hearing someone speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:19).

3. There are better versions available!  

It’s perfectly acceptable to read the King James Version IF nothing better is available.  I’ve often read it when it was the only Bible I could find.  But that’s not often the case today!  There are two other translations, the NASB and the ESV which are based upon more accurate manuscripts and that use the King James Word-For-Word method of translation.  While the New KJV attempts to modernize some of the KJV’s language it still does not address the underlying manuscript issues.

What do you think?

Matthew Scott Miller

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Your comments make my day - the good, the bad and the ugly! I read each one and try to respond within a few hours. Please see the about page for the reason behind Logos Made Flesh and, if interested, 25 utterly random things about me.
  • http://google Louise White

    Nah….this article is pickin’ for error. God preserved it for centuries and there are nuggets of beauty tucked in the lilt of the poetic rhytm of it’s style. I read others, but cannot, will not read The Message…garbage, that misses the entire point of holy writ. NIV can be very vague in important places. New American Standard is good and New King James is good…but let’s not throw out the beloved KJV because it ‘sounds’ archaic to the modern ear!

    • http://millemat.wordpress.com Matthew

      Thanks for posting your thoughts Louse! Its good to hear from you.

  • http://google Louise White

    Just playin’ devil’s advocate, Matthew…I have always thought so much of you! God Bless you richly! Louise

    • http://millemat.wordpress.com Matthew

      I love it Louise! I am grateful that you posted. Whether you agree or disagree you’re thoughts are always welcome here. I did think you were being serious though. :). I’m glad to find out that you weren’t.

    • http://millemat.wordpress.com Matthew

      And thank you for the complement! I’m honored to have you as a friend.

  • Mary Burrell

    i started reading the living bible because this holier than thou sister said king james was how God talked. I would never do that to another believer.

  • Desmond Liebenberg

    It is amazing how the Catholics try to get rid of the true manuscripts, and lead people away from the truth. They have altered the bible to suit them and are leading masses into hell, and will never accept the King James version as the true manuscripts that King James collected and copied correctly. The NLV left verses out, because it does not suit the teachings of the Catholics like Acts 8:37, that tells you how to be saved. If you are a catholic you must go read John 14:6 (Mary can’t save you) Acts 4:12 (GOD is speaking about Jesus, read the whole chapter). 1 Timothy 2:5 (The pope is not GOD). The roman church teaches that you can only be saved by works, by GOD said you can only be saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8). GOD send His Son Jesus Christ to this earth and took all the sins of man upon Him, so that you can be saved only by Him, and by no one else. (John 3:16) Jesus is the only one by which you can be saved, not by mary, not the pope, not by partaking in mass, by Jesus only. Believing and trusting him with all your heart, and asking him to come into your heart and live. (Romans 10:13, Acts 16:31, Romans 10:9, 10)

    • Maggie R.

      Im sorry that you have your facts all wrong but as a practicing cradle Catholic let me tell you what you are misunderstanding. We don’t believe Mary can save us. We believe that only God and his son will do so. And how might you ask does that happen well… First off we receive the sacrament of baptism. Second we recieve the sacrment of holy communion. Because only threw receiving the holy Eucharist can we be “saved” but it’s so much more than that. There are many things you must do and not do to be granted a passage to God. We also dont believe the pope can save us. Im not sure where you hear that but it’s quite ridiculous. Remember John chapter 6. Think of this just because you say you accept Jesus in your heart and that now you can say you were saved does not Grant you passage into heaven. I could say that all day everyday but if I do not truly mean it or if I say it and doing it and continue to send it means nothing John chapter 6 explained why we must partake in Holy Communion. In through receiving Holy Communion Jesus Christ is directly quotes saving us every time we receive it. Cuz we believe that that is the body and blood of Jesus Christ. So through the Eucharist Jesus enters us.

      • David Martinez

        The catholic is lost to satan, that why you ignored fatima warnings

  • Elicia Bailey

    Hello Scott.

    I respect your opinion. However, I find it ironic that one of your arguments is that the KJV is not based on the most accurate manuscripts and that it was translated from manuscripts that contained errors. Why? Because you quoted a verse that does not even correlate with its reference. 1 John 1:7 states “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” not “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” That would be 1 John 5:7.

    Furthermore, when a manuscript was prepared which, either through carelessness or deliberate intent, contained significant errors or alterations, it naturally would tend to be discarded when its character was discovered by KJV translators.

    I have read the KJV and I am still reading the NIV. However, I prefer the KJV over the NIV any day. I feel that the NIV is pretty accurate with its interpretations. However, the KJV has been the one that has worked in me and through me spiritually. What I am trying to say is that I had many spiritual encounters while I was reading the KJV and although I have some now while reading the NIV, it is no where close to what I experienced while reading the KJV.

    I tried to read another version after reading the KJV and before starting the NIV, I can’t recall what version it was (I believe it was the NWT). Whatever version it was, let’s just say, I got rid of it. I got rid of it because I noticed a lot of verses were interpreted a lot different than I interpreted them. In fact, they were just the opposite of my interpretations. This is why I say that the NIV has pretty accurate interpretations. Not to say that I am a scholar. But I make sure I understand everything I am reading.

    I disagree with your arguments, respectfully. I have come to my conclusion that the KJV is most accurate on a spiritual level because I have tried reading different versions. I think you ought to read the different versions first before making such an argument on such a controversial topic. It is not wise to google articles of others and base your opinion on some “one” persons research and or opinions. This is what is causing a lack of creativity in today’s society.

    God Bless You!

    • izraulhidashi

      um… You do know there are over 450 versions of the Bible, right? And the Bible is based on nothing more than different interpretations of cave drawings and various scrolls found in other languages. Why would it contain errors? Well, let’s see… Remember the Mayan experts who claimed to know how to read the drawings? And the whole “2012 End of World” Calendar? I’m writing this in 2017. Besides that… If God only wrote 10 rules on 2 rocks…. why is a 990+ page movie script /novel in direct contradiction, being called the word of God? That makes as much sense as creating the world in 7 days. Earth’s been around 4.5 billion years, and man just in the last 200,000 years. That’s a pretty long lunch break…

      • http://logosmadeflesh.com/ Matthew Miller

        Lol! Silly man. You have no idea what you’re talking about. The Bible has nothing to do with the interpretation of cave drawings. The Mayan experts who translated Mayan never claimed that the end of the world would occur in 2012. blah blah blah.

      • David Martinez

        The real bible in hidden in the Vatican secret vault that no church should have. Secrets are never good

    • izraulhidashi

      And there’s the more obvious problem… Ever play the game telephone when you were young? Group of kids sitting in a circle, one starts off whispering something and by the time it gets to the last kid it’s something totally different.
      And that’s only like ..10 kids in 2 minutes time.

      Now imagine playing that same game, but with thousands of people … half who don’t even speak English …. and for thousands of years. Oh, and the kids are grown ups. Most of who are self centered, narcissistic, crazy, selfish manipulators… who would do and say anything to get their way.

      For thousands of years… That game. With unstable mental morons… lol.


  • izraulhidashi

    LOL… nothing about the fact King James was a flaming homosexual huh? eh… who can blame you!? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9b77d137e5aa41e96647b5cad36cd6b8a01e5964b563cf0396de807a55e9fb6e.jpg trying to explain a book denouncing homosexuality is named after a Queen… literally! lol

  • izraulhidashi

    LOL. Nothing about the fact King James was a flaming homosexual? eh… guess I can’t can blame you! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ca57e37f5b0606bfa26ae36708dd0770cd76a70bcf9c8a759e8d7394aa971d36.jpg Who wants to try explaining why a book denouncing homosexuality is really named after a Queen… literally!

    • http://logosmadeflesh.com/ Matthew Miller

      And a pedophile. What’s your point?

  • Nellie Joy Roberts

    Thank you for sharing. Please correct the bible text in your 1st point to 1John5:7 as opposed to the incorrect verse 1John1:7.

  • j

    This might help. I am writing a book and use the KJV. The research I did on the KJV show the dead sea scrolls prove the validity and accuracy of the KJV. Yes there are a few (very few) minor scribe errors and a few(very few) minor translation errors. However, the scrolls the KJV is the only version that is a nearly 100% word for word perfect copy of the most ancient text available today. If you have trouble understanding it get a Strong’s Concordance or try a meaning for meaning book like the CJB. Another good starting point is the AMP.

  • Hollis Bush

    I have like 3 King James Bibles that I’m about to donate to the church right up the street. I don’t know why or how you were able to notice it’s little over emphasis or under emphasis the point is that the KJV is not that great of a Bible. I have an ESV but I also have The Complete Jewish Bible and ISR The Scriptures and all three are in stark differences to the KJV and I no longer read King James bibles except for modern NKJV. My modern NKJV is way better than the KJV but I’ve been looking for bibles that are more relevant and more on the lines of antiquities like the CSB Ancient Faith Study Bible. Due to me receiving Eusebius Church History I’ve been on the lines of a biblical history (which is what the CSB Ancient Faith Study Bible) narrative than on a King James Bible that is why I no longer want it. I’m more likely to buy Brenton Lancelot Septuagint or CSB than another KJV. Another thing that I didn’t like about the KJV was the use of tannin as dragons when it originally meant sea monster, monster, or snake. That’s my little take on KJV.

  • Felicia Vaughn

    Love the topic of your article and the three arguments you made. This idea of KJ only has a strangle hold on the body of Christ. Please, continue cranking out teaching to help all of us come to better spiritual sense!

    Your best point: dedication to the KJV is tradition (we keep doing it because we’re
    used to it) and parallels the Catholics love of Latin. it serves no other
    purpose than tradition

    But, I wanted to ask, have you considered allowing folks who peruse your articles to be able to up or down vote and even comment without having to log in? I didn’t want to log in, but because this is such an important topic and I thought you did a good job, I wanted to say so. However, I think you’d get a better indication of how much traffic you are truly drawing and how more browsers have received or not received your work for the Lord if “logging in” to comment were not required.

    What do you think?