More KJV Only Foolishness

by James May[1]

 

King James Only literature is notorious for poor research, unfounded assumptions, dogmatic nonsense, and just plain old foolishness. This lack of factual accuracy is not confined to matters directly related to defending the alleged perfection of the King James Bible, but also extends to side issues as well. Any extensive reading of KJV literature will demonstrate that, as a general rule, such writings are sloppy in regard to grammar, punctuation, spelling, the reproduction of quotations, logic, and the presentation of supposed facts in the defense of the false position. Unfortunately this has not diminished their influence among large groups of conservative Christians. It may be hoped, however, that the continual exposure of undeniable, factual errors in King James Only literature will, over time, take its toll and enlighten the minds of those at least who have open hearts and are willing to hear the truth.

 

While searching for some unrelated information recently in Mickey Carter’s King James Only book, Things That Are Different Are Not The Same, a book which is subtitled, “The truth about the battle for the preserved King James Bible”, this author stopped to ponder the following words:

 

There is a strange mathematical structure that runs through the Bible just as there is in nature, a uniform design all the way from Genesis to Revelation. For example, in the verses of the genealogy of Christ found in Matthew 1, in the original language the number of words in the vocabulary of the genealogy can be evenly divided by seven, God’s number of perfection. The number of words beginning with a vowel can also be evenly divided by seven. The words beginning with a consonant can also be evenly divided by seven. Also evenly divisible by seven are the number of letters in the vocabulary of the genealogy. Is it a coincidence?[2]

 

We should acknowledge immediately that the truth of Carter’s arguments in favor of the KJV do not hinge on the truth of this paragraph. Here he is defending the miraculous character of the original text of Scripture, not that of a particular version. An analysis of this material, however, may serve as a warning against assuming the reliability of other statements which he makes. There are two circumstances which  make this paragraph a most interesting test of Mr. Carter’s book. First, the truthfulness of the four claims that are made here can be determined with absolute objective certainty. These statements are either true or they are false, and the issue has nothing whatsoever to do with anyone’s opinion of the matter. Secondly, it is very easy to check the statements. Any person who can recognize Greek letters and distinguish between vowels and consonants can obtain a copy of the Textus Receptus and determine the facts. The ease with which this matter can be examined also removes any excuse from Mr. Carter for failing to tell us the truth here. Before considering whether the four statements made in the above paragraph are true or false, three preliminary matters should be covered.

 

If the genealogy of Christ in the Gospel of Matthew does indeed contain the mathematical pattern suggested by Carter, it is surely a most surprising occurrence. The chance that any one of the four claims considered individually is true is one in seven. It is easy to understand that as the genealogy was being written by Matthew, as each letter was individual recorded, once every seven letters the total number of letters would be evenly divisible by seven. This simply means that the chances are one in seven that the total number of letters would be evenly divisible by seven in the total genealogy. For the sake of simplicity, we will assume that each of the four counts given by Carter is an independent issue; that is, the divisibleness of the total number of vowels has no dependence upon the total number of consonants, which has no dependence upon the total number of words, which has no dependence upon the total number of letters. Under this assumption, the likelihood of all four of the counts being evenly divisible by seven is one over seven raised to the fourth power, or one over 2,401. The chance, however, that one of the four counts would be evenly divisible by seven is 46 percent.[3] In other words, we should not be surprised if any one of the four courts is evenly divisible by seven; we should be very surprised if all four are evenly divisible by seven. So what is the truth of the matter?

 

Before this question can be answered, we must know the verses included in the genealogy. Carter does not tell us which verses he examined in his study. Matthew 1:1 is an introduction to the genealogy; Matthew 1:2-16 is the genealogy proper; Matthew 1:17 is a summary of the genealogy. This leaves us with four possible ways that the genealogy might be considered: Matthew 1:1-16, Matthew 1:1-17, Matthew 1:2-16, or Matthew 1:2-17. We will examine all four possibilities.

 

Carter fails to tell us which Greek New Testament he used for his count. It is, however, a very safe assumption that he bases his claim upon the Textus Receptus, and in particular upon the Textus Receptus which underlies the King James Bible. The KJV translators used a number of editions of the TR in their work. For this reason, there was no exact “KJV TR” until one was compiled and published by F.H.A. Scrivener in 1894, a mere 283 years after the publication of the KJV itself. This is the form of the TR which is defended and distributed by the Dean Burgon Society. It is also the TR from which the following table was constructed:


 

 

Verse

Words

Vowels

Consonants

Letters

1

8

4

4

45

2

18

11

7

89

3

21

8

13

89

4

15

6

9

79

5

21

8

13

86

6

18

6

12

84

7

15

6

9

69

8

15

9

6

71

9

15

9

6

71

10

15

7

8

75

11

13

6

7

73

12

14

3

11

86

13

15

8

7

80

14

15

7

8

69

15

15

7

8

76

16

15

9

6

72

17

29

9

20

166

 

 

 

 

 

1~16

248

114

134

1214

1~17

277

123

154

1380

2~16

240

110

130

1169

2~17

269

119

150

1335

 

 

The table is plain enough: Reading across the first row, verse one of Matthew contains 8 words; 4 of the words begin with a vowel, 4 begin with a consonant; the 8 words contain a total of 45 letters. The second half of the table sums up the first half: Verses 1 through 16 of Matthew contain 248 words, 114 of which begin with a vowel and 134 of which begin with a consonant. The 248 words contain 1214 letters. The falseness of Carter’s claim can now be easily seen. If he considered the genealogy of Matthew to be contained in verses 1 through 16, none of the numbers which he claimed are evenly divisible by seven, not the number of words (248), not the number of words beginning with a vowel (114), not the number of words beginning with a consonant (134), and not the total number of letters (1214).

 

It is not likely, however, that most people would consider the genealogy to consist of verses 1 though 16. The full genealogy, including both the introduction and summary, is contained in verses 1 through 17. Unfortunately for Carter, these verses provide no solution. Only the number of consonants (154) is evenly divisible by 7 (154/7=22). Remembering that there is a 46% chance that any one out of the four items would be divisible by 7, this discovery is anything but remarkable.

 

The same conclusion applies to verses 2 through 16. This section contains what might be called the genealogy proper, with no introduction and no summary. Only the total number of letters (1169) may be evenly divided by 7 (1169/7=167). Carter is still in trouble.

 

Finally, we consider Matthew 1:2-17. It would be odd if these verses were the ones that should be considered “the” genealogy, but we are willing to try. Once again, only one of the four numbers may be divided by 7. There are 119 words in these verses that begin with a vowel, and 119/7=17. Carter’s claim that in the genealogy of Matthew the total number of words, the total number of words beginning with a vowel, the total number of words beginning with a consonant, and the total number of letters may all be evenly divided by 7 is nothing but foolishness. Unfortunately, such foolishness is not rare in King James Only literature.

 


PRINTER VERSION

[1] Copyright 2006, James Richard May. This paper may be reproduced in its entirety for free distribution. All other rights reserved.

[2] Mickey Carter, Things That Are Different Are Not The Same (Haines City, FL: Landmark Baptist Press, 1993) pp. 31-32.

[3]The mathematics is a little too involved to show in this paper.