Versions Less Readable than the King James Version (KJV)?
G. A. (Gail)
Riplinger and other King James Version Only (KJVO) proponents have
claimed that scientific tests have been conducted which prove the
readability of the KJV is equal or superior to that of modern
translations, something that anyone who has ever read the KJV might find
difficult to believe. The truth is that more tests have been performed
showing the opposite result. Dr. Arthur Farstad, Executive Editor
of The New King James Version New Testament, discussed several of
these in his The New King James Version in the Great Tradition
(Nelson, 1988, pages 2-4), which concluded, as would be expected, that
the KJV was more difficult to understand than modern
It simply cannot be denied that there are many, many places where
the KJV is anything but clear due to its 400 year old language. Indeed
the archaic nature of the KJV was the very impetus for the New
King James Version.
it was the KJV translators themselves who stated in their original
preface that the very purpose of their translation was to provide God’s
Word in a readable and understandable fashion. They recognized and
accepted the translation work that had been done before them. So then
how can anyone logically argue that they would object to modern
translations being done today for the same purpose?
this yourself. Here are a few examples of words from the KJV that have
passed completely out of use and convey no meaning to readers today:
almug, neesing, chode, tabret, habergeon, cieled, purtenance, aceldama,
sackbut, blains, wot, trow, churl, ambassage, crookbackt, "collops of
fat", "wimples," "hole’s mouth," "ouches of gold," "naughty figs," and
"fetched a compass" (which does not mean to go find a compass but "to
These were the words chosen by KJV translators in 1611 to signify the
meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words. Translators now simply find
English words in use today that more accurately convey the meaning.
Errors on the NKJV
even critical of the New King James Version (NKJV), claiming that
it is just as biased and error ridden as modern versions. But those who
worked on the NKJV are appalled at her charges. For example, Dr. James
R. Price, the Executive Editor of the NKJV Old Testament, stated the
As former Executive Editor
of The New King James Version Old Testament, I have
first-hand knowledge of the facts concerning the NKJV, the people who
worked on it, the reasons why certain changes were made in the wording
of the old King James Version, and the reasons why it was decided to
produce the new version in the first place. This information is not
secret, as you have stated, but has been made public…. I have read
carefully what you have published about the NKJV, and am greatly
concerned because everything you wrote about the NKJV is either false
or inaccurate. Consequently, you have rendered a gross disservice to
the NKJV, its editors and translators, to its publisher, and to your
unsuspecting readers. If what you have written about the other new
versions is equally invalid, then your disservice is even greater.3
In his letter
he cited numerous illustrations of Riplinger’s errors of fact regarding
the NKJV. In her first edition, Riplinger wrongly claimed that the NKJV
followed the Westcott-Hort Greek text and a non-traditional Hebrew text
rather than the Greek and Hebrew Textus Receptus (p. 105, 475,
494). In fact, the NKJV followed the Greek text of the Textus
Receptus throughout the New Testament and "anywhere the NKJV appears
to differ from the Greek text used by the KJV translators, it is because
it has corrected the KJV departures from the Textus Receptus.
Consequently, the NKJV adheres more closely to the Textus Receptus
than does its predecessor the KJV".4
Riplinger’s treatment of the NKJV is characteristic of her treatment of
the NIV and NASB as well. To illustrate, on page 455 of Riplinger’s
text, New Age Bible Versions, she claims that in Isaiah 26:3 the
NASB has deleted "the key words, ‘on Thee.’" But Riplinger’s argument
that the NASB has deleted these key words is false. Here is Riplinger’s
The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.
badly distorted what both the NASB and KJV state. All one has to do is
compare the verses. Here is what the NASB and KJV actually state:
The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is
stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.
Riplinger has claimed that key words are missing when they are not. Her
use of the period after the word "peace" indicates the sentence ends at
this word when, in fact, it does not. This kind of mis-citation is
evident throughout New Age Bible Versions.
point. Riplinger’s own translation of the KJV does not place the words "on
thee" in italics. But every King James Bible has them in italics.
The King James translators did this so that the reader would understand
that the words "on thee" were not in the original Hebrew, as is
also true for the words "him," "is," and "whose." Thus she has claimed
"key words" were deleted that never were in the Bible to begin with.
In conclusion, a careful comparison of these verses from the NASB and
the KJV indicate that they teach exactly the same thing, and again that
Riplinger is wrong.
There is more.
James White shows how Riplinger consistently misquotes authoritative
sources. For example on page 546 of her text she quotes Westcott and
Hort’s Introduction to the New Testament in the Original Greek.
The manner in which she cites them, using ellipses, makes them teach an
extremely radical view of the Greek manuscripts Aleph & B.
Riplinger cites Westcott and Hort’s Introduction to the New
Testament in the Original Greek as follows, "[R]eadings of Aleph
& B should be accepted as the true readings… [They] stand far
above all documents… [are] very pure… excellent… and immune from
By her use of
ellipses, Riplinger has distorted what Westcott and Hort actually said
which was "…readings of Aleph/B should be accepted as the true
readings until strong evidence is found to the contrary,…"5
In fact, Westcott and Hort were actually talking about errors in
Aleph/B. When Riplinger cites them as stating that these manuscripts
are "very pure and excellent" she is again misquoting because the words
are not referring to Aleph/B but the parent text of
Aleph/B. Also, the words "and immune from corruption" cannot be
found in any of Riplinger’s citations in her footnote. In fact, several
of the pages cited by Riplinger in her footnote have nothing relevant to
her excerpt or argument.6
Riplinger also misquotes NIV editors, R. Laird Harris and Edwin Palmer,
and translators Herbert Wolf and Larry Walker.7
is even more, but this should be enough to warn thinking Christians that
Gail Riplinger’s book, New Age Bible Versions, is fatally flawed
and misleading. Those who have bought a modern translation to understand
the Word of God more clearly should not be discouraged by what she has
said. In the future, Christians who have trusted Riplinger’s book,
New Age Bible Versions, will hopefully realize the need for a more
critical approach to such sensational claims.
if you are a Christian who uses the King James Version, if you
understand what you read and are comfortable with it, then by all means,
continue to use it. The KJV, despite the kinds of minor problems which
occur in any translation, is still a fine Bible. What if you are a
Christian who uses a modern translation? You also should feel free to
continue reading a good modern translation. Don’t be deterred or
intimidated by those who would tell you that you do not have the Word of
God in your hands.
1 James D. Price, letter to
Gail Riplinger (undated; copy on file), p. 55, James White, New Age
Bible Versions Refuted (Phoenix, AZ: Alpha and Omega Ministries,
1994), p. 219.
2 We have given the meaning
of these words in the attached Appendix.
3 Price, p. 1, emphasis
4 Ibid., p. 3, emphasis
5 White, p. 82.
6 Ibid., p. 83
7 G. A. Riplinger, New
Age Bible Versions (Munroe Falls, OH: A V Publishers, Second
Edition, 1993), pp. 2, 89, 90–92, 165, 292, and original material
cited by her.
These words, found in the
King James Version, are no longer in use today.
A large leguminous tree native to India and Ceylon. 1
Neesing— An old
word for sneezing, the plural of which appears once in KJ, in the
chapter about Leviathan (Job 41:18): 2
Chode—(past tense of
chide) rebuke. In [some] passages, it has the obsolete
sense of contend, wrangle, or scold, with loud and angry words.3
of "taber," thus a small drum, timbrel, or tambourine. KJ uses "tabret"
8 times and "timbrel" 9 times, as translations of the Hebrew toph;
RSV uses "tambourine" 5 times and "timbrel" 12 times. (The word "tabret"
is probably wrong in Ezekiel 28:13 and is certainly an error in Job
Habergeon— a short,
sleeveless hauberk or coat of mail. 5
spelling of CEIL, CEILING. "Cieled" is used four times in the obsolete
sense of having walls lined or paneled with wood. 6
form of "appurtenance," and means whatever pertains or belongs to
something larger or of more consequence. 7
Aceldama— field of
Sackbut—a bass trumpet,
an early form of the slide trombone. 9
Blains— An old word for
a blister or large pustule 10
Wot— The Old
English verb "wit" means to know or to find out. ... present tense, "wot,"...
past tense, "wist... 11
Trow— an archaic word
for think, believe, be of the opinion that.12
Churl— the translation
of a Hebrew adjective which means hard, severe, stubborn, rough, rude.
Ambassage— an old form
for "embassy" which appears in Luke 14:32. The same Greek word is used
in Luke 19:14, where KJ translates it by "message." 14
"Collops of fat" —
collops are slices of meat, rashers of bacon, or thick folds of fat
upon the body 16
Wimples — cloak, shawl17
"Hole’s mouth" — The
sides of the deep gorge.18
"Ouches of gold" —
ornaments fit to display jewels or precious stones. 19
"Naughty figs" —
"Naughtiness" is really bad in KJ; it means downright wickedness. …The
"naughty figs" that Jeremiah saw in his vision (24:2) were simply "bad
figs," so bad that they could not be eaten. 20
"Fetched a compass" —
to turn, take a roundabout course, make a circuit. 21
1Ronald F. Youngblood,
general editor; F.F. Bruce and R.K. Harrison, consulting editors,
Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary :[computer file], electronic
edition of the revised edition of Nelson’s illustrated Bible
dictionary, Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997,
2Ronald F. Bridges and
Luther A. Weigle, King James Bible Wordbook [computer file],
electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
8James Strong, New
Strong’s guide to Bible words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos
Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.
9 King James Bible
15 New Strong’s guide to
16 King James Bible
17 New Strong’s guide to
18Jerry Falwell, executive
editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors,
KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library
System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.
19 King James Bible