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The First Page of the Book of Genesis in the 1611 printing of the KJV

The King James Only movement is a label applied to a wide variety of beliefs concerning the superiority of the Authorized King James Version (KJV) of the Protestant Bible, and often to the Textus Receptus version of the New Testament and the Masoretic Text of the Old Testament, from which the KJV was translated.

The origin of the label "King James Only" is unclear, though as early as 1987,[1] it was being used to refer to claims of exclusivity for the King James Version and the controversy which had been brewing over these claims for almost a decade.[2][3][4][5] American church historian and apologist James R. White states that the phrases "KJV Only" and "KJV Onlyism" are not "insulting" or "inaccurate".[6] However, KJV proponent D. A. Waite states the term is a "smear word".[7][8]



James White has divided the King James Only movement into five main types:[9]

  • "I Like the KJV Best" - Though White lists this group as a division of the King James Only group, this division does not believe that the KJV is the only acceptable version. This faction simply prefer the KJV over other translations because their church uses it, because they have always used it, or because they like its style.[10]
  • "The Textual Argument" - This faction believe the KJV's Hebrew and Greek textual basis are the most accurate. These conclude that the KJV is based on better manuscripts. Many in this group may accept a modern version based on the same manuscripts as the KJV. White claims Zane C. Hodges is a good example of this group.[11] The Trinitarian Bible Society would fit in this division; however, "the Trinitarian Bible Society does not believe the Authorised Version to be a perfect translation, only that it is the best available translation in the English language"[12], and "the Society believes this text is superior to the texts used by the United Bible Societies and other Bible publishers, which texts have as their basis a relatively few seriously defective manuscripts from the 4th century and which have been compiled using 20th century rationalistic principles of scholarship."[13]
  • "Received Text Only" - Here, the traditional Hebrew and Greek texts are believed to be supernaturally preserved. The KJV is believed to be a translation exemplar, but it is also believed that other translations based on these texts have the potential to be equally good. Donald Waite would fall into this category.
  • "The Inspired KJV Group" - This faction believe that the KJV itself was divinely inspired. They see the translation to be preserved by God and as accurate as the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts found in its underlying texts. Sometimes this group will even exclude other language versions based on the same manuscripts claiming the KJV to be the only Bible.
  • "The KJV As New Revelation" - This faction would believe that the KJV is a "new revelation" or "advanced revelation" from God, and can and should be the standard from which all other translations originate. Adherents to this belief may also believe that the original-language Hebrew and Greek can be corrected by the KJV. This view is often called "Ruckmanism" after Peter Ruckman, a staunch advocate of this view.

These latter two views have also been referred to as "Double Inspiration".

These types are not all mutually exclusive, nor a comprehensive summary of those who prefer the KJV. Douglas Wilson, for instance, argues that the KJV (or, in his preferred terminology, the Authorized Version) is superior because of its manuscript tradition, its translational philosophy (with updates to the language being regularly necessary), and its ecclesiastical authority, having been created by the church and authorized for use in the church.[14]


A key early work was Benjamin G. Wilkinson, author of Our Authorized Bible Vindicated (1930).

David Otis Fuller's book, Which Bible? (1970) draws heavily on Wilkinson.[15]

See also


  1. ^ Pement, Eric (March, 1987), Gimme the Bible that Paul used: A look at the King James Only debate,, retrieved 2008-03-27  
  2. ^ Carson, D. A. (1978). The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism. Baker Academic. ISBN 0801024277. OCLC 5122445.  
  3. ^ Walker, Ronald L. (1980). The King James Controversy. Baptist Bible College. ASIN B000HEDHXG.  
  4. ^ Chinn, Douglas S.; Robert C. Newman (1980). Demystifying the Controversy over the Textus Receptus and the King James Version of the Bible. Interdisciplinary Biblical Research. ISBN 0944788033. OCLC 25398454.  
  5. ^ Custer, Stewart (1981). The truth about the King James version controversy. Bob Jones University Press, Inc. ISBN 0890841373. OCLC 8062344.  
  6. ^ White, James (1995). The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations?. Minneapolis: Bethany House. pp. 248. ISBN 1556615752. OCLC 32051411.  
  7. ^ Waite, Donald (2007-02-03), King James Only As Slander #1  
  8. ^ Waite, Donald (2007-02-06), King James Only As Slander #2  
  9. ^ White, James (1995). The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations?. Minneapolis: Bethany House. pp. 1–4. ISBN 1556615752. OCLC 32051411.  
  10. ^ Riplinger, Gail A. (2003). "The Breath and Heartbeat of God". In Awe of Thy Word. Retrieved 2008-03-27.  
  11. ^ White, James (1995). The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations?. Minneapolis: Bethany House. pp. 5. ISBN 1556615752. OCLC 32051411.  
  12. ^ Watts, Malcolm H. (2007), "The Accuracy of the Authorised Version" (PDF), Quarterly Record (Trinitarian Bible Society) 578 (1): 8,  
  13. ^ "The Text of the Bible used by the Trinitarian Bible Society", from Principles (
  14. ^ Wilson, Douglas. "Hearers of the Word". Credenda/Agenda 10 (1). Retrieved 2008-07-01.  
  15. ^ Which Bible? Grand Rapids: Grand Rapids International Publications, 1970. 3rd ed. 1972. ISBN 0-944355-24-2

Further reading

  • Anderson, Robert (1903). The Bible and modern criticism. ASIN B00069Y39O.  
  • Ankerberg, John; John Weldon (2003). The Facts on the King James Only Debate. Eugene, Or.: Harvest House. ISBN 0736911111.  
  • Beacham, Roy E.; Kevin T. Bauder (2001). One Bible Only? Examining Exclusive Claims for the King James Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications. ISBN 0825420482.  
  • Branderburg, Kent (2003). Thou Shalt Keep Them: A Biblical Theology of the Perfect Preservation of Scripture. El Sobrante, Calif.: Pillar & Ground Pub.. ISBN 0974381705.  
  • Burgon, John William (2000). The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel of Mark. ISBN 1589600142.  
  • Burgon, John William (2008). The Revision Revised. Collingswood, NJ: Dean Burgon Society Press. ISBN 1888328010.  
  • Carson, D.A. (1978). The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House. ISBN 0801024277.  
  • Comfort, Phillip W. (2000). Essential Guide to Bible Versions. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers. ISBN 084233484X.  
  • Dewey, David (2005). A User's Guide To Bible Translations: Making The Most Of Different Versions. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press. ISBN 0830832734.  
  • Ehrman, Bart D. (2005). Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. ISBN 0739469843.  
  • Fuller, David Otis (1997). Counterfeit or Genuine?. Grand Rapids: Grand Rapids International Publications. ISBN 0825426154.  
  • Fuller, David Otis (1997). True or False?. ISBN 0944355129.  
  • Fuller, David Otis (1975). Which Bible?. Grand Rapids: Grand Rapids International Publications. ISBN 082542612X.  
  • Holland, Thomas (2000). Crowned With Glory: The Bible from Ancient Text to Authorized Version. San Jose: Writers Club Press. ISBN 0595146171.  
  • Macgregor, Alan J (2004). Three Modern Versions: A Critical Assessment of the NIV, ESV and NKJV. Salisbury, Wiltshire, England: Bible League. ISBN 0904435873.  
  • Mauro, Philip (1924). Which version?: Authorized or revised?. Boston: Hamilton Brothers. Retrieved 2008-07-23.  
  • Paisley, Ian R. K (1997). My Plea for the Old Sword. Emerald House Group. ISBN 1840300159.  
  • Riplinger, Gail (2004). In Awe of Thy Word: Understanding the King James Bible Its Mystery and History Letter by Letter. Ararat, Va.: A.V. Publications Corp.. ISBN 0963584529.  
  • Riplinger, Gail (1993). New Age Bible Versions: An Exhaustive Documentation of the Message, Men & Manuscripts Moving Mankind to the Antichrist's One World Religion. Monroe Falls, Ohio: A.V. Publications. ISBN 0963584502.  
  • Ryken, Leland (2002). The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books. ISBN 1581344643.  

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