Considering the Tree of Good Bibles

by Rick Norris

Most likely, many are aware of the tree of good Bibles in Ruckman's book BIBLE BABEL (p. 82) or one of the similar trees, lines, or streams of good Bibles in other books by defenders of the KJV. This argument sounds great, but does it prove that the KJV is the only translation that should be used today?

If the tree or root is holy, all the branches are also holy (Romans 11:16). God's Word indicates that whatever is affirmed of one branch of a tree must be affirmed concerning all the branches of the same tree. If one branch must be inspired, inerrant, perfect, incorruptible, or preserved, all the branches must have these same qualities. Would defenders of the KJV claim that Tyndale's, Coverdale's, Matthew's, Great, Geneva, Bishops' Bibles are inspired, inerrant, perfect, incorruptible, and preserved? If they claim one branch (one translation--the KJV) has these qualities, to be consistent and Scriptural they must claim the same for all the branches. Of course, many know that this presents a serious problem since all these branches (translations) are not identical; therefore, they cannot possibly all be inerrant and perfect. How can one branch (the KJV) be the final standard beyond which there is no other for evaluating all the other branches (translations)?

A branch cannot bear fruit of itself (John 15:4). A branch does not bear, produce. or support the trunk or the root (Romans 11:18). A branch is not of the same importance as the trunk of the tree. The branches of a tree (individual translations) have no life of their own and cannot produce fruit if they are separated from the tree of God's Word in the original languages.

If they cut one branch (one translation--the KJV) off their own tree and try to make it different from the other branches, they will only destroy their branch. A branch cut off by itself withes and dies (John 15:6). It is wrong and harmful to cut the KJV off from its underlying texts (Hebrew and Greek) and to attempt to make it superior to them.

A view of Bible translation that makes one exception instead of applying the same standard and principles to all translations on its good tree is a view of translation that is not worth having. If every translation on this good tree is imperfect and errant with one exception, by what different process was this one exception made? Is not an argument for one exception an unscriptural claim for additional or advanced revelation? Is not a view of translation that makes one exception a view based on a type of "situation ethics?" The situation in 1611 was supposedly somehow different than the situation in 1535, 1539, 1560, 1568, or after 1611. The guiding or illuminating of the Holy Spirit for believers was no different in 1611 than it was in 1534, 1560, 1833, 1842, or 1982. Where does God's Word teach that the illuminating of the Holy Spirit makes fallible men perfect in their actions such as translating?

It appears that KJV-only advocates have placed themselves in a serious dilemna: they cannot consistently defend their tree-of-good-Bibles argument, but they cannot cut the KJV off of their tree without harming or destroying it. Is it possible that the man-made KJV-only view is unscriptural?

Any Scriptures verses that defenders of the KJV use to claim that the KJV has to be perfect and inerrant can also be found in the other early translations on their tree. If these verses are being interpreted correctly, then these verses in Tyndale's, Geneva, etc. would also have to mean that these translations had to be perfect and inerrant. It seems that everywhere you turn the arguments of the KJV-only view ends up in contradictions or inconsistencies. Should not a Scriptural view of translation apply the same to Tyndale's, Geneva, and other early Bibles as it does to the KJV? Please think on these things and examine the evidence for yourself. The truth will not harm the Word of God.