Editions of the KJV and the Apocrypha

Standardization

There have been many printings of the King James Version (KJV). The first printing was in 1611. Early printings contained many typographical errors due to printing errors. Major attempts to standardize the text were conducted in 1629 (Cambridge), 1638 (Cambridge), 1762 (by Dr. F. S. Paris, published by Cambridge), and 1769 (by Dr. Benjamin Blayney, published by Oxford). The 1769 Oxford edition exhibits updated spelling and grammar, and is a trustworthy edition that is widely used today. Dr. F. H. A. Scrivener conducted the most meticulous and highly regarded standardization of the KJV from 1866 to 1873. The 1873 Cambridge edition of the KJV is the product of a thorough purification process. The differences between the 1611 printing and the 1873 edition are due to corrections of obvious printing errors (including words that were accidentally omitted), the standardization and updating of spelling, and the updating of punctuation and paragraph marks.[1]

Removal of the Apocrypha

The Apocrypha was included in early printings of the KJV. Protestants of the time were deeply engaged in debates with Catholics over doctrine, so Protestant pastors and theologians had to be well-acquainted with the Apocrypha which formed the basis of several Catholic doctrines. Some books, such as Maccabees and Sirach, are quoted in the Talmud; so familiarity with the Apocrypha can be helpful to understand Judaism during the time of Jesus Christ. The fulfillment of some Old testament prophecies, such as those in Daniel, can be confirmed by the historical information in the Apocryphal books such as Maccabees. Despite its inclusion in the KJV, the translators did not consider the Apocrypha as part of scripture. Whereas Catholic Bibles included the Apocryphal books mixed with scripture, the KJV separates the Apocryphal books and labels them with the irreverent generic running head, “Apocrypha” (which means “obscure”). King James himself said, “As to the Apocriphe bookes, I omit them because I am no Papist” (Book I:13, Basilicon Doron). The Apocrypha is no more inspired than are other things that might be included in today’s editions of the Bible, such as study notes, book introductions, devotional tips, etc. The Apocrypha is not included in most publications of the KJV today.

Unofficial revisions

There have been several unofficial revisions of the KJV, such as the revisions by the American Bible Society in 1860 and 1867, and revisions in the 1967 Scofield Bible. These revisionary processes are to be distinguished from the standardization process of Dr. Scrivener. Dr. Scrivener intended to purify the KJV so that it would reflect the translators’ intended text (in updated style and spelling) whereas these revisions attempt to improve the work of the translators. From 1611 to 1873 the state of printing had improved significantly. We can trust that Dr. Scrivener’s 1873 edition accurately reflects the original manuscripts of the KJV translators.


[1] John R. Kohlenberger III, Preface to the King James Version 1873 Edition.

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