Bible Versions Questions and discussion about the Bible version issue.

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Old 07-19-2008, 08:01 AM
Bible Bob
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Default Italics Fiasco in KJV

When I first read the Bible in the King James Version, I was struck immediately by the inappropriateness of the italicized words. With a doctorate in English Literature I knew exactly what italicization meant, should mean and, should not mean.

Inasmuch as I loved the word of God and loved the KJV version of the Bible I wanted to love all of it without any reservation. Especially, as I do believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, properly translated, and properly interpreted.

The more I researched the matter the more alarmed I became. Not only was the italicization all wrong from the viewpoint of grammar, but it was also an artistic disaster. The natural iambic pentameter poetry of the beautiful KJV was being ruined by the interjection of the italicized words not really intended to be there.

And of course my greatest concern was the stumble it was creating in regard to conversion and salvation of the lost. The Bible, because of the traditions of men, was in danger of becoming a laughing stock. Galations clearly gives us the warning that "the traditions of men make void the word of God". Here was a glaring example of just that.

It further alarmed me that I had the utmost difficulty even finding research to shed light on the subject. Nearly everything I read seemed to be of two sorts:

One, was the well meaning "defenders" of God's word. Sad to say, most of them were so ignorant that their defense of the KJV was mostly an offense against, not only the Bible but human intelligence.

The others were, predictably, those who in their hearts hate God and the word of God and use any pretext to try to drag both down. With these the italicization mess suited their purposes just fine.

I felt, and still feel, that I was in neither camp, but an honest truth seeker along the lines of Christ Himself who asked us to be Christlike in all things. This position is always the hottest because both the mistaken believers, (the Pharisees) and the mistaken unbelieving heathens have the loudest voices and tend to dominate the market place of ideas in world of religion.

With great difficulty I finally did track down most of the truth of the italics situation, and will here present the bare-bones of it:

Translation of the Bible is a thousands of years long process involving many languages and many translators, mis-translators, along with a host of ignorant and malevolent interpreters of the word of God.

The English portion of this long train of translations now involves more than 30 extant translations of the Bible into English done over a period of the last 700 years.

In one sense they are all good, and as a scholar I welcome them and their existence and relevance, though I disagree with much that many of them do. I say let a thousand flowers bloom and God's people can then sort them out.

I hate monopoly and would be monopolists of every sort and so does God. He allowed sin into the world so there would be a competition of ideas even between Himself and his enemies. The NIV juggernaut would be a current case in point.

In attempting to reconstruct how we got into the italics mess, I found that the wonderful inspired scholars who did the work of the KJV had many pressures on them, not least of which was that of the king and his bureaucrats and such.

There was pressure on them from the beginning to make the Bible easier to read for the lazy and poorly schooled, and the addition of most all of the italicized words was pointedly in response to that pressure.

But, the key issues to understand about their adding these italicized words is that they DID NOT add them as italicized words in the first place. The fact is, they added them as NON-ITALICIZED words.

In some cases they put them in quite small caps inside of brackets. This format can be found in the surviving pulpit Bible of 1611 that the Library of Congress has in its vaults, where I examined it.

In other cases they put these "italicized" words in plain reduced size Roman letters as distinct from the larger gorgeous Gothic script that they used for the rest of the Bible.

In any case, the resulting contrast encouraged the reader to skip-over the italicized words as though they were optional. In short, they de-emphasized the "italicized" words, and conspicuously DID NOT emphasize them as italicization presently encourages.

Then along comes the famous revision of the KJV that occurred in 1769 done by the Oxford scholars. It is this edition that most everyone uses today thinking wrongly that it is faithful to the 1611 edition. It is not. The Oxford scholars just made things much worse when they added about 5 times as many italicized words as the 1611 contained, most of them totally unneeded. The result is a kind of dumbing down of the Bible to pander to popular taste.

Well, where does that leave us Believers today? What should we do, and how should we deal constructively with this mess, especially in light of the fact that partly because of this italicization mess we are now being saddled with the NIV, which is riding us like a rented mule.

I say, bright light tends to disinfect things, and the bright light of truth needs to be employed here to the long term benefit of the KJV, which I love and use every day.

We, the best of us, in the church world, need to educate ourselves on this issue, write on it, and teach and preach on it until it loses its capacity to hurt us, the KJV, and the Word of God.

We need to admit the errors of the past, and do what we can to rectify them and make people aware of them. This is all I am trying to do.

I'm not calling for a revision of the KJV, though that might be an option, if anyone can be trusted to do it, but we can't just ignore this either.

I, myself, have started doing a newly arranged version of the KJV that omits nearly all the italicized words, and those that it keeps are un-italicized. Additionally, I am doing this version in poetic stanzas to help with focusing our modern short attention minds on the brilliance and beauty of the original KJV's Shakespearian language.

It is truly amazing how eliminating 98% of the italicized words and slowing down the pace of presentation, improves the flow of truthful meaning from the inspired authors and translators to the modern mind.
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Old 07-19-2008, 06:46 PM
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Diligent Diligent is offline
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I only need to make one example to prove the utter foolishness of this approach to Bible revision (aka corruption):
2Sa 21:19 And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver's beam.
I've underlined the italic words that "don't belong there." The funny thing is that if you are a translator that doesn't understand Hebrew, and accept your notions about the inappropriateness of supplying these words in translation, and so you eliminate them -- you end up with a Bible version that any sunday school kid knows is wrong. (Which, BTW, is exactly what many of the modern translations do.)

Now, maybe you would include these italicized words among your "2%" that are "okay," and maybe not. The bottom line is nobody should trust you to mess with their KJV.

The administration of this forum will not suffer long any poster pushing his own private translation of the Bible. You are the third or fourth to come here with a "new and improved" method of giving us the "bible" that we've been "lacking" for nearly 2000 years. Go sell it on ebay -- I won't tolerate it here.
Old 07-19-2008, 08:30 PM
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bibleprotector bibleprotector is offline
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"Let me take this opportunity to state, as my deliberate opinion, that the Text of 1611 is, in consequence of its incorrectness, quite unworthy to be considered as the Standard of the Bibles now printed; and to express my conscientious belief, that to revert to that Text, as the Standard, would be productive of serious evils."

"For accuracy of printing, the Oxford edition of 1769, superintended by Dr Blayney, Regius Professor of Hebrew, at Oxford, is much esteemed."

Concerning italics: "when a translation, from Hebrew or Greek into English, is attempted, it is frequently quite impossible to convey, to the English reader, the full signification of the Original, without employing more words than the Original contains. When therefore our Translators distinguished particular words in the manner already described, they did not intend to indicate any deviation from the purport of the Original any diminution of its force. Their first object undoubtedly was to express in intelligible English what they believed to be the full signification of a sentence".


Look at 1 Samuel 2:3,

"Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth ..."

Now, what error would be done by eliminating the italic word out of that statement!
Old 07-19-2008, 09:17 PM
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Brother Tim Brother Tim is offline
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Bible Bob, you are a fake. Your arguments are false, and your intentions are false. I am publicly asking Brandon to shut you down now, as there is nothing beneficial in allowing you to post again.

Your falsehoods include but are not limited to:

"Not only was the italicization all wrong from the viewpoint of grammar, but it was also an artistic disaster."
This is purely opinion at best, as the English grammar in fact demands the inclusion of the italics, and artistic presentation has nothing whatsoever to do with the Scriptures' truths.

"...the stumble it was creating in regard to conversion and salvation of the lost." I have never found any evidence that either the salvation of any has been hindered, or that there has even been serious criticism of italics in general. The reality is that the translators have been respected in their honesty to the text by using italics.

"One, was the well meaning "defenders" of God's word. Sad to say, most of them were so ignorant that their defense of the KJV was mostly an offense against, not only the Bible but human intelligence." Speaking as one of the ignorant ones, I find you very offensive.

I will offer but one final evidence of your falsehood:

"... improves the flow of truthful meaning from the inspired authors and translators to the modern mind."
1. The "authors" were not authors, but writers.
2. They were not inspired, their words were.
3. The truthful meaning is intended primarily for the spirit, not the mind.

Strike three, you're out!
Old 07-20-2008, 12:56 AM
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Biblestudent Biblestudent is offline
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I'm impressed with your "gift of discernment", Brothers!
Old 07-20-2008, 01:23 AM
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chette777 chette777 is offline
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without the Italicized additions by the translators we would be confused, and we could not believe God preserved his word for us today.

but seeing that these additions are in fact Gods way of preservation for clarity to His word. we reject all who would oppose it.

Way to go Brother Tim
Old 07-20-2008, 10:46 AM
Posts: n/a

Wow, you think the italics are harmful, but it's OK with you to put words in the text UNITALICIZED, that aren't in the original language? Well, the modern versions must be very agreeable to you then because they do that too. It's dishonest. The KJB translators were faithful to the text and honest with the reader in italicizing additional words that are necessary to convey the sense in English.
Old 07-23-2008, 01:47 AM
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PB1789 PB1789 is offline
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Diligent:---Bingo! Nail-on-the-head! Glad you caught it (him) quick.
Old 07-23-2008, 01:50 AM
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PB1789 PB1789 is offline
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Connie:--- Well said! Good Post.
Old 08-04-2008, 09:31 AM
peopleoftheway peopleoftheway is offline
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Romans 10:20: "But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me."
Isaiah 65:1 "I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name."


Criticism of the King James Bible compared to the flaws of the new versions tips the scales to the Word Of God the KJV.

In the name of the Almighty, the LORD Jesus Christ.

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