Across the front of the auditorium of Midway Baptist Church in Mount Airy at the 1998 Southeast King James Bible Conference, Jewell Smith's collection of ancient manuscripts and old Bibles were on display. KJV-only advocates often try to link the KJB to the early English Bibles and claim that they provide evidence for their KJV-only view. Thus, the implication is that this impressive collection of old Bibles and manuscripts supports the claims of KJV-only advocates.
In a new booklet on sale at this conference, Norman Hopkins wrote: "Leading up to the KJV there were six good and correct Bibles written" (Right Bible, p. 7). If there were already six good and correct Bibles available [actually there were more than six], why was another translation needed to add to the supposed confusion of having more than one translation in English available? The six good and correct Bibles according to Hopkins are the following: Tyndale's, Coverdale's, Matthew's, Great, Geneva, and Bishops' (p. 7). Which edition of Tyndale's is the on this list: the 1526 N.T. or 1534 N.T.? There are many differences between the two. Does Hopkins mean the 1535 Coverdale's Bible or the 1538 Coverdale's N. T.? Why are the 1539 Taverner's Bible, 1557 Whittingham's N.T., and other English translations before 1611 not on this list?
Other KJV-only advocates that were not speakers at this conference have written similar statements about the early English Bibles. David Cloud wrote that the predecessors of the KJV were "the same basic Bibles." He noted: "they were based upon the same Greek text and employed the same type of translation methodology" (For Love of the Bible, p. 48). D. A. Waite observed: "The Geneva Bible was based on the Traditional Text/Textus Receptus as was the Great Bible, the Bishops' Bible, and the Coverdale Bible" (Foes of the KJB, p. 38). Peter Ruckman wrote: "We will not condemn them [Tyndale, Wycliffe, or Geneva]. They have substantially the same Greek and Hebrew text as the King James Bible" (Bible Babel, p. 2). Mickey Carter claimed: "There were no doctrinal differences" between the early English Bibles and the KJV (Things That Are Different, p. 125).
Before these early "good and correct" Bibles can be accurately claimed as evidence for the KJV-only view, they should be read and examined. Have KJV-only advocates actually read or carefully examined these early English Bibles? An actual comparison of these Bibles would indicate many surprising differences. There are differences in number of words, in meaning of words, in whether a noun or pronoun is used, in use of italics, etc. Sometimes the early English Bibles have fewer words than the KJV, and sometimes they have more words than the KJV. These same type of differences are labeled "serious defects" in any translations after 1611. For example, D. A. Waite labeled these same type differences as "not faithfulness in translation," "not accuracy in translation," "not reliability in translation," but as "diabolical dynamic equivalency" (NKJV compared to KJV, pp. xi-xiii).
Check out the evidence for yourself. The KJV added whole verses, clauses, and phrases that are not found in some of the early English Bibles. Compare Mark 11:26, Mark 15:3c, Luke 17:36, John 8:6, John 8:9c, John 19:38c, James 4:6b, 1 John 2:23b, Revelation 18:23a, and Revelation 21:26, and see for yourself. The KJV does not have over one hundred words found in the Great Bible in the book of Acts alone. In one of the Psalms, the Great Bible has three whole verses that are not in the KJV. On what authority did the KJV translators remove so many words from the Great Bible and add so many words to the earlier English Bibles such as Tyndale's and Matthew's?
Why were these early English Bibles included on their good list, stream, or tree of Bibles if they do not have the correct words and were not the Word of God? Is this fact of omissions, additions, or both along with many other differences in Bibles on their own good tree or list discussed by KJV-only advocates? Is the actual evidence used, ignored, misused, or suppressed? Please examine these early English Bibles offered as evidence for the KJV-only view, and find how the actual facts conflict with their claims.