Saturday, May 4, 2024

Punching Holes In King James Only Conspiracy Narratives

        One assertion that we regularly hear from King James Version only advocates is that the Roman Catholic Church has been an influential force behind the production of numerous corrupt Bible translations. They are alleged to be part of an effort to discredit that particular archaic translation. It has been claimed that modern translations of the Bible are part of a broader conspiracy by Rome to gradually manipulate innocent and unsuspecting people into converion.

Two noteworthy passages that have been placed into brackets of modern Bibles would be Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11. The claim advanced by King James only theorists leaves us with a nagging question, however. If the Roman Catholic Church was plotting to undermine the authority of the King James Translation, then why does it accept those passages as inspired Scripture, despite them being included in textual brackets?

        Following is a footnote from the New American Bible Revised Edition on the text of Mark 16:9-20:

        "This passage, termed the Longer Ending to the Marcan gospel by comparison with a much briefer conclusion found in some less important manuscripts, has traditionally been accepted as a canonical part of the gospel and was defined as such by the Council of Trent."

        Following is a footnote from the New American Bible Revised Edition on the text of John 7:53-8:11:

        "The Catholic Church accepts this passage as canonical scripture."

        The New American Bible has been formally sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church for distribution and edification in faith. Moroever, it contains footnotes which plainly indicate to us that Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11 are accepted as inspired Scripture in Roman Catholicism. Yet, King James only proponents refer to these two passages to illustrate how critical scholars want to undermine the credibility of the King James Version.

         It would definitely seem counterproductive for scholars commisioned by the pope to produce new translations of the Bible to outrightly affirm the texts that they are attacking to be divine revelation. That stretches credibility. A much more fair and reasonable explanation for bracketed texts in modern translations is the reporting of manuscript findings. Rather than the use of critical scholarship resulting in the removal of passages from the New Testament, it has been shown to have grown slightly over the centuries.

         The moral of the story is that we must be responsible when expressing disagreement with other groups of people. There are bonafide conspiracies, as well as elaborate myths. What both have in common is that they merit exposure. The claim that the Roman Catholic Church has produced counterfeit Bible translations for the purpose of diminishing the authority of the King James Version does not hold water.