The "King James Version" Hasn't Changed
By Dr. Bruce D. Cummons| Pastor Emeritus, Massillon Baptist Temple, Massillon, Ohio
"I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy loving kindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." Psalm 138:2.
"The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever." Psalm 12:6,7.
One year ago, in the February issue of the Baptist Reporter, I carried an article entitled, "A Critique of the ‘New King James Version.’"
Thomas Nelson Publishers had sent me a copy of the "New King James Version" as a "Reviewer’s Copy." Since this was mailed to me specifically as a "Reviewer’s Copy," I supposed Nelson Publishers wanted me to "review it!" This I did, in the copy, "A Critique of the New King James Version."
A gentleman wrote to me from Nelson Publishers, and was quite unhappy with my "review!" Understandably so! Had I published the NKJV, I would have been unhappy with the review also. But I was strictly honest, whether the review was liked or not!
In the letter of criticism received from Nelson Publishers, they promised to send me a reprint of the original King James Version of 1611, set in modern type to make it easier to read. Their purpose in sending me this reprint of the original KJV of 1611 was to show me that there was a vast difference between the original KJV of 1611, and the copy I preached from each Sunday, and read from each day, which purports to be the KJV of 1611.
Since the claim was made that my Bible was so different from the original KJV of 1611, and since there has been (supposedly), some four or five revisions of the KJV of 1611, I anxiously (seriously!) awaited the "reprint of the KJV of 1611!"
Finally, the "reprint of the original KJV" arrived, and I cleared my desk, closed my study door, cancelled everything for the afternoon, and began to read this Bible.
I do not mean to imply one word of sarcasm in what I am reporting to you! I am being as serious as I’ve ever been in my life. I longed to see a reprint of the original KJV of 1611! I wanted to seriously compare the original (reprint) with the KJV I have been reading out of since a child, and preaching out of for over 35 years.
I love by Bible! I read it constantly. January, February, and March of 1983, I had already read my Bible through, from Genesis through the Revelation. So, when I received this reprint of the original of the KJV from Nelson Publishers, I began to read the Bible through again, from their claimed "reprint of the original!"
Let me quote from Nelson Publisher’s own words, in their letter as well as in the advertising material sent with this Bible. I don’t want to be misunderstood.
From Nelson Publisher:
"Nelson’s reprint of the King James Version of the Bible is a faithful reproduction of the original text set in modern type-face for readability."
And in another place: "Original text in modern type."
"Original spelling, punctuation, and grammar."
"Original preface, ‘The Translators to the Reader.’"
The claims are that of Nelson Publishers!
Granted, as we would expect, and already knew, words were spelled somewhat differently than today in many cases. For example, "son," is spelled "sonne." "Keep," is "keepe." The letter "u" and "v" look the same. An "s" could be mistaken for an "f," such as "The Booke of Pfalms." But the words are the same as in my current KJV! Praise the Lord!
Granted, again we knew this, that in the first edition of the KJV of 1611, the Apocrypha was included, but not as a part of the text, or of the Word of God. In fact, the translators of the KJV explained that the books of the Apocrypha were "writings or statements of doubtful authorship, authenticity, or authority," and were known to be spurious, non-canonical books. These were books outside the Hebrew Bible, and were fictitious and false. They were not printed to be accepted as part of the text, or of the Bible!
So, I read on, and on, and on, with my own copy of the KJV on the desk, and the "reprint edition of the KJV" beside it. I compared verse after verse, word by word, chapter after chapter through the Old Testament, and on through the New Testament. Every spare moment I could manage was spent in reading the reprint edition, with my own KJV alongside.
I took the reprint edition to staff meetings, and I would read and have them follow in their Bibles. I took the reprint edition to my pulpit and told the congregation to call out and stop me if I read differently than their copy of the KJV.
Finally, with tears of joy and praise unto my Lord, I cried out, "It’s the same! It’s the same word. Some letters may look differently from ours today and some words may have an extra "e" or slight difference in spelling, but it is the same word! He has ‘preserved His Word’ and we have it in the KJV of 1611!"
Of course, I knew this and believed this all the time, but it was wonderful to see the evidence before my very eyes, and to verify what I have been preaching and teaching all these years.
What are these "five revisions" they speak about and write about? Evidently, they are spelling changes and updating of letter styles if Nelson Publishers is telling me the truth that they sent me a "reprint of the original KJV of 1611." For I declare unto you that they are the same, identical Bibles!
So, I wrote to Nelson Publishers thanking them for the "reprint edition of the original KJV of 1611," set in modern type for easy readability, and said, "You have just about turned me into a shouting Baptist! Thank you!"
I haven’t heard from them since, but don’t talk to me about "revisions." The "New King James Version," is not the same. It has been changed, and different words substituted that even change the meaning, so once again, stand by your old KJV of 1611! It is the Word of God!
And again, seriously, I am grateful for the copy of the "reprint of the original KJV of 1611, set in modern type." I am enjoying it a great deal, for it's the same Bible I have been reading all my life!