The KJV Translators Said THAT?!?

Brian Tegart*

Most KJV-only supporters say the KJV translators were inspired, otherwise they too were prone to human error. Most KJV-onlies also have very strong opinions about other translations of the scriptures both prior to and after the KJV was produced. However, it seems the KJV translators themselves would disagree with KJV-onlyists and the entire KJV-only position.

"The Translators To The Reader" is the preface of the original KJV published in 1611. In it I find some of the best arguments against KJV-onlyism around. What makes these arguments even stronger is that they came from the KJV translators themselves.

As you read these quotes, ask yourself: Are these things that men under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit would say about a divinely inspired word-for-word inerrent Bible?

If you're interested, you can read the entire preface here.

Here's some of what the translators themselves said...

...about producing a new translation
...about alternate versions
...about word-for-word inspiration and alternate translations
...about an inerrant, infallible translation (the need for correction of a translation)
...about the need for Scripture in vulgar (common), everyday language, not some archaic language or dialect
...about the Greek Septuagint

Note: I have used modern spelling of these quotes to make them easier to read.

...About producing a new translation

"It is welcomed with suspicion instead of love, and with emulation instead of thanks: and if there be any hole left for cavil to enter,(and cavil, if it does not find a hole, will make one) it is sure to be miscontrued, and in danger to be condemned."

...About alternate versions

"Now to the latter we answer; that we do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession, (for we have seen none of theirs of the whole Bible as yet) containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God." (emphasis added)

...About word-for-word inspiration and alternate translations

"For is the kingdom of God to become words or syllables? Why should we be in bondage to them if we may be free, use one precisely when we may use another no less fit, as commodiously?"

"Some peradventure would have no variety of senses to be set in the margin, lest the authority of the Scriptures for deciding of controversies by that show of uncertainty, should somewhat be shaken. But we hold their judgment not to be sound in this point." (emphasis added)

" hath pleased God in his divine providence, here and there to scatter words and sentences of that difficulty and doubtfulness, not in doctrinal points that concern salvation, (for in such it hath been vouched that the Scriptures are plain) but in matters of less moment, that fearfulness would better beseem us than confidence..." (emphasis added)

"There be many words in the Scriptures, which be never found there but once, (having neither brother or neighbor, as the Hebrews speak) so that we cannot be holpen by conference of places."

"doth not a margin do well to admonish the Reader to seek further, and not to conclude or dogmatize upon this or that peremptorily?"

"For as it is a fault of incredulity, to doubt of those things that are evident: so to determine of such things as the Spirit of God hath left (even in the judgment of the judicious) questionable, can be no less than presumption." (emphasis added)

"Therefore as S. Augustine saith, that variety of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures: so diversity of signification and sense in the margin, where the text is no so clear, must needs do good, yea, is necessary, as we are persuaded." (emphasis added)

"They that are wise, had rather have their judgments at liberty in differences of readings, than to be captivated to one, when it may be the other." (emphasis added)

"...we have not tied ourselves to an uniformity of phrasing, or to an identity of words, as some peradventure would wish that we had done, because they observe, that some learned men somewhere, have been as exact as they could that way." (emphasis added)

...About an inerrant, infallible translation (the need for correction of a translation)

"Yet before we end, we must answer a third cavil and objection of theirs against us, for altering and amending our Translations so oft; wherein truly they deal hardly, and strangely with us. For to whomever was it imputed for a fault (by such as were wise) to go over that which he had done, and to amend it where he saw cause?"

"But the difference that appeareth between our Translations, and our often correcting of them, is the thing that we are specially charged with; let us see therefore whether they themselves be without fault this way, (if it be to be counted a fault, to correct) and whether they be fit men to throw stones at us: O tandem maior parcas insane minori: they that are less sound themselves, out not to object infirmities to others. [Horat.]"

...About the need for Scripture in vulgar (common), everyday language, not some archaic language or dialect

"Indeed without translation into the vulgar tongue, the unlearned are but like children at Jacob's well (which is deep) [John 4:11] without a bucket or something to draw with; or as that person mentioned by Isaiah, to whom when a sealed book was delivered, with this motion, "Read this, I pray thee," he was fain to make this answer, "I cannot, for it is sealed." [Isa 29:11]"

"But we desire that the Scripture may speak like itself, as in the language of Canaan, that it may be understood even of the very vulgar."

...About the Greek Septuagint

"But, when the fulness of time drew near, that the Sun of righteousness, the Son of God should come into the world, whom God ordained to be a reconciliation through faith in his blood, not of the Jew only, but also of the Greek, yea, of all them that were scattered abroad; then lo, it pleased the Lord to stir up the spirit of a Greek Prince (Greek for descent and language) even of Ptolemy Philadelph King of Egypt, to procure the translating of the Book of God out of Hebrew into Greek. This is the translation of the Seventy Interpreters, commonly so called, which prepared the way for our Saviour among the Gentiles by written preaching, as Saint John Baptist did among the Jews by vocal." (emphasis added)

"It is certain, that that Translation was not so sound and so perfect, but it needed in many places correction; and who had been so sufficient for this work as the Apostles or Apostolic men? Yet it seemed good to the holy Ghost and to them, to take that which they found, (the same being for the greatest part true and sufficient) rather than making a new, in that new world and green age of the Church, to expose themselves to many exceptions and cavillations, as though they made a Translations to serve their own turn, and therefore bearing a witness to themselves, their witness not to be regarded." (emphasis added)

"The translation of the Seventy dissenteth from the Original in many places, neither doeth it come near it, for perspicuity, gravity, majesty; yet which of the Apostles did comdemn it? Condemn it? Nay, they used it...which they would not have done, nor by their example of using it, so grace and comment it to the Church, if it had been unworthy the appellation and name of the word of God." (emphasis added)

* Article used with permission of the author Brian Tegart. Brian has a number of articles on the subject, see his website at: