The King James Version And The Texts Upon Which It Is Based

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen

The theme of this posting

      My theme is “The King James Version And The Texts Upon Which It Is Based.” Most readers of the English Bible are at least somewhat familiar with the King James Version.  The King James Version’s Old Testament is mostly based upon the Hebrew Masoretic text, and its New Testament is mostly based on the Greek Received Text
My goal in this posting.
    My goal in this posting is to point out that there are significant differences between the King James Version and the texts upon which it is based. These differences prove we cannot say the translators always followed the Masoretic text or the Received text.
Proof the translators did not always follow the Masoretic text or the Received text
    We can see many of the differences between the King James Version and its textual base by paying close attention to the use of italicised words in this translation. The italicised words prove it does not always follow its textual base. Some examples are given below.  Sometimes I copied the verses from this website: Sometimes I copied them from my own King James Version.
2 Samuel 21:19
     One example is 2 Samule 21:19, given here in its context: “15 Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint. 16 And Ishbi-benob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David. 17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel. 18 And it came to pass after this, that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of the giant. 19 And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, a Beth-lehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. 20 And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of great stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant. 21 And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea the brother of David slew him. 22 These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.”
     Note that verse 19 has three  words in italics (the brother of ) because they were not in the text from which the translation was made. These words seem to have been borrowed from 1 Chronicles 20:5, in which verse they are not in italics. If the King James Version’s translators had translated the text just as it is, the verse would say Elhanan slew Goliath. But we know from 1 Samuel 17:1 – 54 that David slew him. Therefore, this defect in the Masoretic text was dealt in this way by the translators.

Matthew 12:31
     Another example is Matthew 12:31, which says this: “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.”  Note the italicised word “Holy” in this verse. It was added by the translators because the verse would seem very strange if it referred to “blasphemy against the Ghost,” so they added the word “Holy” to make it sound better. Therefore, it says “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.”     But, instead of adding the word “Holy,” they could have done what they did with the Greek word for “Ghost” in many other verses in the King James Version New Testament. That is, they could have translated it as “Spirit.” This was done, for example, in Mark 1:12, which says “And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.” The verse would then read this way: “but the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven unto men.” He is “the Holy Ghost” or “the Holy Spirit,” but that is not what the Greek text of this verse says. It simply calls him “the Spirit.”
1 John 2:23
Another example is 1 John 2:23, given here in its context. It says this: “22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. 23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. 24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.”
      The ten italicised words in verse 23 were not in the text from which the King James Version was made. But the translators felt they had compelling reasons to add them to their translation. It is not my intention to question the italicised words. Rather, it is to give an example of the fact that the King James Version New Testament sometimes departs from its textual base. If the translators had felt the Received Greek text was just as it should be, they would not have added the words in italics.
2 Peter 1:21.
     Another example is 2 Peter 1:21. The verse says this: “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
     This verse is an important proof text for the doctrine of the divine origin of the Bible. It relates to 2 Timothy 3:16, which tells us that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” These verses and others teach us that we should believe that the Bible is the Word of God.
     But what I want to point out is that in 2 Peter 1:21, the Received Text of the New Testament does not say those men were “holy men of God.” It simply says they were “men of God” who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. No doubt, they were holy men. But the Greek text does not say that. If one looks up the word “holy” for this verse in the Strongest Strong’s Concordance, it says “NIG, which means “Not in Greek.” The Greek Received Text itself proves it does not say the men were “holy men of God,” but simply “men of God.” Here is the verse from this Greek text: οὐ γὰρ θελήματι ἀνθρώπου ἠνέχθη ποτέ προφητεία ἀλλ’ ὑπὸ πνεύματος ἁγίου φερόμενοι ἐλάλησαν οἱ ἅγιοι θεοῦ ἄνθρωποι. (This quote from the Received Text was taken from this website: It is the same as my own copy of this text. ) For some unknown reason, the added word, “holy,” was not italicised in the King James Version to indicate it was not in the Greek text.
What, then, is a good view of the King James Version, and of the texts from which it was made?
    The facts above prove that the King James Version sometimes differs from the Hebrew and Greek texts from which it was made.   What, then, is a good view of these facts about these Hebrew and Greek texts? It is that they are generally reliable texts. What, then, is a good view of  the King James Version itself? It is that it is a generally reliable translation. There are weaknesses in both the texts and the translation, but they are generally reliable. In spite of any weaknesses, both the texts behind the King James Version, and this version itself, are the Word of God.
What did King James and the translators think of most Bible translations? Of their own translation? 
     What follows is taken from the preface of the 1611 KJV. The whole preface is also available online at  It is proof that King James and his translators did not believe anything but the original writings of the Bible were perfect. It also is proof that they did not think a translation had to be perfect for it to be considered the Word of God.  Read carefully the first and last sentences.      
“An Answer to the Imputations of Our Adversaries”
“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. As the King’s speech, which he uttereth in Parliament, being translated into French, Dutch, Italian, and Latin, is still the King’s speech, though it be not interpreted by every Translator with the like grace, nor peradventure so fitly for phrase, nor so expressly for sense, everywhere. For it is confessed, that things are to take their denomination of the greater part; and a natural man could say, Verum ubi multa nitent in carmine, non ego paucis offendor maculis, etc. A man may be counted a virtuous man, though he have made many slips in his life, (else, there were none virtuous, for in many things we offend all) [James 3:2] also a comely man and lovely, though he have some warts upon his hand, yea, not only freckles upon his face, but also scars. No cause therefore why the word translated should be denied to be the word, or forbidden to be current, notwithstanding that some imperfections and blemishes may be noted in the setting forth of it. For what ever was perfect under the Sun, where Apostles or Apostolic men, that is, men endued with an extraordinary measure of God’s spirit, and privileged with the privilege of infallibility, had not their hand?”
Statements by E. F. Hills about the King James Version 
     E. F. Hills was a dedicated and well-educated Chrsitian man who was a  strong advocate of the King James Version. He wrote a book called, “The King James Version Defended,” which I have read very carefully. I have also carefully read his book called “Believing Bible Study.” In it, Hills covers some of the same material as in the book “The King James Version Defended.” What follows are some quotes from the third edition of this book, published in 1979 by The Christian Research Press. They support what was stated previously in this posting. An online edition of the book can be read at
     On page 216, Hills wrote: “As the marginal notes indicate, the King James translators did not regard their work as perfect or inspired, but they did consider it to be a trustworthy reproduction of God’s holy Word, and as such they commended it to their Christian readers.”
     On page 217, Hills wrote: “Two editions of the King James Version were published in 1611. The first is distinguished from the second by a unique misprint, namely, Judas instead of Jesus in Matthew 26:36. The second edition corrected this mistake and also in other respects was more carefully done. Other editions followed in 1612, 1613, 1616, 1617, and frequently thereafter. In 1629 and 1638 the text was subjected to two minor revisions. In the 18th century the spelling and punctuation of the King James Version were modernized, and many obsolte words were changed to their modern equivalents. The two scholars responsible for these alterations were Dr. Thoams Paris (1762), of Cambridge, and Dr. Benjamin Blayney (1769), of Oxford, and it is to their efforts that the generally current form of the King James Version is due.”
     On page 220, after giving the textual sources of the King James Version’s New Testament, Hills wrote: “Hence the King James Version ought to be regarded not merely as a translation of the Textus Receptus but also as an independent variety of the Textus Receptus.”
     On page 221, Hills wrote: “Sometimes the translators forsook the printed Greek text and united with the earlier Englsih versions in following the Latin Vulgate.”
     On page 221, Hills wrote: “Similarly, at 1 John 2:23, the King James translators followed the Great Bible and the Bishop’s Bible in adding the clause, he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also, and in placing the the clause in italics, thus indicating that it was not found in the majority of Greek manuscripts or in the earlier editions of the Textus Receptus.”
     On page 221, Hills wrote: “The differences between the various editions of the Textus Receptus have been carefully listed by Scrivener (1884) and Hoskier (1885).”
     On page 224, Hills wrote: “Also, as we have seen, sometimes the several editions of the Textus Receptus differ from each other and from the King James Version. And, as we have just observed, the case is the same with the Old Testament text. Here it is hard at times to decide between the kethibh and the keri and between the Hebrew text and the Septuagint and Latin Vulgate Versions. Also, there has been a controvery concerning the headings of the Psalms. In other words, God does not reveal every truth with equal clarity. In Biblical textual criticism, as in every other department of knowledge, there are still some details in regard to which we must be content to remain uncertain.”

6 thoughts on “The King James Version And The Texts Upon Which It Is Based

  1. Richard kean

    Hi Pastor Oyen.
    Thank you for your informative web site!
    I have a question that can’t seem to find an answer to, and was hoping that you might have that answer.
    The question is. In Genesis 1: 26 & 27 it has the words ” Them ”
    I have look in Strong’s and find no number for that word. It’s not italicizes in any bibles I have.
    The question is. Was “Them ” added by the translators ?
    Also why did they uses the word “Man ” for Adam, when the Hebrew says Adam ?

    Thank you again. Your web site is straight forward and I enjoyed it much !

  2. bkoyen Post author

    I am glad you like this blog spot. To answer your questions, let me make two points: 1) The footnotes that are found on the following website will be helpful. Look on the left side of your screen and choose “OT,” then click on “Genesis,” then click on chapter 1 and find verses 26 & 27. Then, click on numbers 54 & 55 and read the notes that appear on the bottom of the page. Here is a link to the website: It might take awhile to learn how to use the website, but it is worth the effort. 2) The word “Adam” is a transliteration of the Hebrew word sometimes translated as “man.” In the King James version, the Hebrew word is given several translations into English. We do not know why the translators of the King James Version did what they did in many verses, but we do know they felt they had good reason for doing so. And this would be true of any reliable Bible translation. Here is one of many examples of the variety of ways that words from the original languages are translated in the KJV: in 1 Thessalonians 4:3 we find the word “sanctification,” and in verse 7 we find the word “holiness.” Both words come from the same Greek word.One other point: if you study the King James Version, you need to get what is called the “Strongest Strong’s Concordance.” It is a big improvement in a number of ways over other editions of Strong’s Concordance of the KJV.

  3. Richard kean

    Thank you for responding to my question. I know what you are saying and I agree. The problem I see is, sometimes adding the pronoun “them” dose change the meaning . Also were the word “Man ” is use in the first part verse 26 in Genesis 1, it’s a adjective How can one change a noun to a adjective here? When the word, “Adam” is a noun, Its as though the King James people were correcting the writer of Genesis. I don’t believe that was their intention but, like you said in your article. The translators did not think they were infallible.
    When we read down in that verse. The Hebrew use the adjective ” Man.” To describe what Adam is. Now some will think this is not very important and is no big deal but I think it is because, God is talking about the same Adam in all of these chapters and not mankind. There was no mankind at that time it was just Adam, ( “The Man ” ) and then Eve.
    Thank you so much for reading my reply. I am by on means a expert on Hebrew or come close. So I ask these questions in sincerity and respect. If this is in error I stand in correction.

    1. Richard kean

      The reply I gave on Aug.4th I was incorrect . I said that the word ” Man” was a adjective( must had one of those moments. ) I still however think in Gen. 1: 27-28 the translation of the word “Man” should have been Adam.
      It would have stay-off a lot of confusion between chapers one and two.
      I love the K J V. It’s the one I use 90% of the time! but in this case they should have use Adam not Man.

  4. bkoyen Post author

    The book called “The New Treasury Of Scripture Knowledge,” edited by Jerome H. Smith, has a helpful note on Genesis 1:28 (and also on many other verses in the Bible).This is a very valuable book for Bible study. Do not confuse it with the old book called “The Treasury Of Scripture Knowlege.” This one is based on the old one, but “The New Treasury Of Scripture Knowledge” is much more helpful than it. Here is what the note says on the word “them” in Genesis 1:28: “Figure of speech Prolepsis or Anticipation B914: anticipating what is going to be, and speaking of future things as present. Notice here the reference to ‘them’ in anticipation of the creation of Eve which is not mentioned until Ge 2:20 – 23.” ( The code B914 means it refers to page 914 in Bullinger’s ‘Figures Of Speech Used in the Bible’.) Like you, I am not a scholar of the Biblical languages. But much help is available from the books of those who are such scholars.

    1. Richard kean

      Thank you for the information you provided about the N T 0 S K. It was really helpful in my search for the “Them” in King James. It is what I suspected. That the first chapter of Genesis is describing what God was going to do in the second chapter. I don’t agree with most commentators that say that the second chapter is an appendix to the first. I have come to believe that it is a continuation of the first. I understand their thinking here in that they in away were trying combat the idea of two creation accounts. That some have postulated. I also believe that Eve was formed quite some time after Adam for a very good reason.God wanted some time for Adam to get to know his Maker. If God had made them together Adam would have been too enamored with Eve for that relationship to come to fruition. The tree of Knowledge of Good and evil was not Adam’s test but Eve’s, Adam’s test was Eve. The Bible is very clear on this and I think this point has been miss for many century’s .
      God has always tested man on these grounds. It’s a choice between Him and the thing we love the most.
      I know I have been a little lengthily in this comment and thank you for bearing with me. I just want you to know what a help this has been. Believe me I have search the web to no avail and you are the first that has shown any interest in helping. I don’t ask for any one to agree with me but I would say check it out.


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