King James Only?

 A book review by Dr Robert L. Sumner as appeared 
in The Biblical Evangelist June 2000

We had the opportunity of reading this book in manuscript form and encouraged the author to go ahead with the publication. While it doesn't break new ground, it does offer the conclusions in a more condensed space, which the average reader will appreciate. He has also written with the layman in view, wanting to help him understand the issues, so reader are not confronted with a lot of technical jargon (which is certainly important in its place, but a nuisance to the untrained church leader.)

Dr. Joyner opens by examining the translators of the King James Version and showing that their position would be repudiated by the KJV Only men of our day. It is a good chapter. He shows that they, if living today, would renounce almost every argument the KJV Only men bring up. He is not only right, he proves it. In his second chapter he argues that the KJV as a translation is not perfect and offers a score of examples of its imperfection. In the third chapter he follows the same theme, giving examples of the KJV's imperfections - and he shows how, in both chapters, later translations have corrected the errors.

The aim of his fourth chapter is to show that historic Fundamentalism did not claim inspiration or perfection for any translation, including the King James. He quotes freely from out Bible Translation book to establish this fact. His fifth chapter establishes the dependability and reliability of modern translations like the New International Version and the New American Standard Bible (which he feels are the two best [p3] today). Also in his 5th chapter, "Which Bible?" he looks at the silly claims of Peter Ruckman and William Grady that our final authority is in the KJV. His 6th chapter is a very brief evaluation containing his answer to the "Which Bible?" controversy. His 7th chapter argues the need for modern translations to supplant the nearly-400-year-old KJV.

Dr Joyner uses a little stronger language in his 8th chapter and argues that KJV Only people have "lied" to us, offering Gail Riplinger as an example; he calls her a heretic - and for good reason, in our judgment (any woman who thinks God wrote her book and she merely acted as His secretary is no different than Mary Ann Morse Glover Patterson Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, so-called). In this chapter he also deals with the question of omitted verses (showing that, in reality, the opposite is true, i.e., the KJV added verses without good manuscript authority), the issues of the Alexandrian Manuscripts and the alleged heresy of Wescott and Hort, plus the  anti-Baptist/pro-Catholic influence in the KJV.

The next two chapters deal with the KJV's obsolete words and archaic expressions, offering many examples. In chapter 11 he answers some of the pet arguments of the KJV Only people, showing how inane most of them really are. He closes with a brief 3-page conclusion. However, he also offers, as an Appendix, the full Author's Preface to the 1611 version (called "The Translators To The Readers"), updated from the Elizabethan English to make it more readable, plus samples from the original 1611 showing how difficult it would be for today's readers to follow.

One minor criticism: he charges KJV Only people with "making a lot of money appealing to the ignorance of God's people." That I disagree with their position is obvious; whether they are "making a lot of money" is not for me to say-perhaps they give it all to Ethiopian famine relief or for missions in Madagascar.

Closed minds will not want to read this book. Open minds will welcome it. Pastors may want to obtain copies to give lay people who inquire about the controversy. The author has put the price into the monetary range of everyone who would like a copy.

Dr Robert L. Sumner
Editor - "The Biblical Evangelist"