What About Those Printing Errors in the 1611 Holy Bible?
By: Will J. Kinney
Pastor David F. Reagan has written an excellent article about The Myth of Early Revisions of the Authorized King James Holy Bible. In his article he discusses the conditions of the printing process in 1611, and shows how the so called revisions are actually only examples of updating the spelling of words and the correction of minor printing errors.
His article can be seen here - Myth of Early Revisions
Pastor Reagan rightly says: "We need to establish one thing from the out-set. The authority for our preserved English text is not found in any human work. The authority for our preserved and infallible English text is in God! Printers may foul up at times and humans will still make plenty of errors, but God in His power and mercy will preserve His text despite the weaknesses of fallible man."
Dr. Donald Waite also has written a booklet titled The Authorized Version 1611 Compared to Today's King James Version. In this booklet Dr. Waite discusses the "thousands of changes", and he clearly shows that the vast majority of the changes have to do with changing the printing type from Gothic print to Roman, and updating the spelling of such words as Sonne to Son, and sinne to sin, seede to seed and blesse to bless.
There are also a number of minor printing errors such as omitting or duplicating a word, or mispelling a simple word. These are things like "the shearer" to "his shearer" (Acts 8:32); "sacrifice" to "sacrifices" (1 Peter 2:5) ; and "made a" to "made thee a" (Isaiah 57:8).
In his book, Dr. Waite lists the words that had been changed if you could HEAR the difference. You cannot hear the difference between "sonne" and "son"; "weepe" and "weep"; "owne" and "own".
First, the facts... The King James Bible contains 791,328 words. Since the first King James Bible rolled off the press in 1611 to the King James Bible you buy off the shelf today, there have been - are you ready - there have been a grand total of 421 word changes! That's it!
From 1611 until now, the King James Bible has undergone a grand total of 421 word changes, amounting to only five one-hundredths of a percent of the text! But that's not all. It gets better.
Out of the 421 total changes amounting to only five one-hundredths of a percent, the following should be noted -
TOWARDS has been changed to TOWARD 14 times.
BURNT has been changed to BURNED 31 times.
AMONGST has been changed to AMONG 36 times.
LIFT has been changed to LIFTED 51 times.
YOU has been changed to YE 82 times.
Out of a grand total of 421 changes from 1611 to the present, almost 300 of the 421 are of this exact nature!
We see that 214 of the 421 changes of the changes are from 5 simple words. Towards was changed to toward (14 times); Burnt changed to burned (31 times); Amongst to among (36 times); Lift changed to lifted (51 times); and You was changed to Ye (82 times). As you can see, the text itself was not changed and the meaning is exactly the same in both cases, but Mr. Waite included these among the 421 "translational changes". Of these 421 changes in form, 136 of them are, according to Dr. Waite, "substantial".
Of these 136 examples 46 are changing the letter Y, which used to be employed at times in place of "the". So where the 1611 said "Y", the change now reads "the". Another change not usually mentioned is that the original 1611 would use the ampersand, or the "&" sign, but that was later changed to the common word "and".
Of the remaining 90 "substantial changes" all of them are simple printing errors of the nature I mentioned previously. Other examples among these remaining 90 changes are: "thy people" to "the children of thy people" in Ezekiel 3:11 (easily a printing error of skipping three words); "wayes" to "ways" 2 Kings 22:2; "wee shall" to "for we shall" Romans 14:10. All of these are easily explained as minor printing errors; the text itself has never changed.
The biggest printing error occured in Exodus 14:10 "and...afraid" where 21 words were accidently omitted due most likely to the printer's eyes having skipped from one "and" to the next "and".
At a Bible club I belong to, one Christian brought up two examples he thought were textual changes rather than spelling errors. He said to me: "Brother Kinney, if you will continue to look at Dr. Waite's excellent booklet you will notice on page 20, item numbers 0144 and 0177 where "GOD" was changed to "LORD" twice. (Once in 2 Chronicles 28:11, and again in Isaiah 49:13) On page 21, item number 0067 where "LAMBE" was changed to "RAM." (Numbers 6:14) I am sure you do not dismiss those as corrections of printer's errors. They are actual word changes. How do you address those actual word changes in view of your position on the perfect nature of the KJV?"
To which I answered: "These two examples are really quite easy to explain. I believe they are simple printing errors. The words God, Lord, GOD, LORD, are found with what a printer might consider monotonous regularity throughout those passages. It would have been quite easy for a tired and weary printer to skip over or misread the word God and put Lord instead, or vice versa. The fact is that out of the thousands of times the words "Lord, LORD, God, and GOD" occur in the Old Testament, only twice did this easily explained printing error occur."
"As for the second example, the verse in question - Numbers 6:14- actually contains three printing errors. I will highlight the printing errors in capital letters. Also notice the old style spelling of some words, which later were updated, and which the critics love to number among their "thousands of changes". In the reprint of the original 1611 Bible, put out by Thomas Nelson Publishers, it reads: "And he shall offer his OFFRING unto the LORD, one hee lambe of the first yeere without blemish, for a burnt offering, OFFERING, and one ewe lambe of the first yeere without blemish, for a sinne offering, and one LAMBE without blemish for peace offerings."
You will notice here the three printing errors in this one verse. The printer mispelled offering once as "offring", he also repeated the word "offering, offering", and instead of reading "lamb", "lamb" and "ram", he accidentally printed "lamb, lamb, lamb". The word "lamb" occurs twice already in Numbers 6:14, and the third time the original 1611 misprinted the word "lamb" for "ram", which is in the Hebrew and in the present day KJB editions. This mistake would have been quite easy to do for the printer who was hand setting the type. He most likely saw the word "lamb" twice already and mistook "ram", which shares both the "a" and the "m", with the word "lamb".
As you can see, there is no deliberate change in the text or meaning from 1611 to the present. To compare these extremely minor changes in spelling and accidental printing errors of no real significance, to the wholesale changes in both text, meaning and translation that occurs in the modern versions is totally unjustified. There is no reasonable comparison at all.
Throughout the history of Bible printing there have been some rather humorous examples of errors that have occurred. It should also be noted that there have been printing errors, even with today's advanced technology, in the NASB, NKJV, and NIV as well. Here are a few of the printing errors that have occurred in various King James Bible editions.
A 1631 edition became known as the “Wicked Bible” because the seventh commandment read, “thou shalt commit adultery.” The printer was fined 300 pounds.
The printer of the "Fool Bible" had to pay 3,000 pounds for this mistake in Psalm 14:1: “The fool hath said in his heart there is a God.”
In 1653, there was a misprint in I Corinthians 6:9 that read, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall inherit the kingdom of God” and one in Romans 6:13 that read, “"Neither yield ye your members as instruments of righteousness unto sin." This Bible became known as “the Unrighteous Bible.”
In 1716, the “Sin On Bible” commanded, “Go, and sin on more” in John 8:11.
In 1717, there was a misprint in a heading for the “parable of the vineyard,” which called it the "Parable of the vinegar." This Bible was called “the Vinegar Bible.”
In 1801, Jude 16 stated, "these are murderers" instead of “murmurers”, and Mark 7:27 stated, “let the children first be killed” instead of “filled.” This Bible was nicknamed “the Murderers Bible.”
In 1820, Jesus says, "Who hath ears to ear, let him hear" in Matthew 13:43, and this was called “the Ears to Ear" Bible.
In 1823, Genesis 24:61 states "Rebekah arose, and her camels", instead of "her damsels," in “Rebekah’s Camels Bible.”
The cause for all of these defects may be found in “the Printers' Bible” (1702), which states in Psalm 119:161, "printers have persecuted me" (instead of “princes.” have persecuted me). If ever there was a misprint that carried a lot of legitimate meaning, this is it. "Printers have persecuted me."
The whole "Printing Error" complaint the biblical relativists bring up, is really a non issue. What I mean by this is that if every single copy of the King James Bible that has ever come off the presses read exactly the same with no minor printing errors found in any of them, it still would not change their opinion that the KJB is not the inspired, inerrant word of God. It is brought up as a smokescreen; not as a serious issue concerning the ultimate truth of Scripture and its preservation.
I know of people who studied the issue of 1 John 5:7 and considered the historical, textual and grammatical evidence for it being the true, God inspired Scripture. They became convinced it should be in the Bible, and they became a King James Bible believer.
Likewise I know of another person who compared the meaning of Revelation 19:8 in the KJB and the NKJV, and since he was well grounded in sound doctrine, he became a KJB believer and rejected the NKJV. But these decisions had to do with the truth of Scripture, not minor mistakes in the printing process.
Most people who reject the KJB as being the inerrant, preserved words of God in English, do so for other reasons than printing errors. They have done so because they went to a seminary where they were taught that no Bible in any language and no text, be it Hebrew or Greek, is the inspired words of God. Or they visited some anti-KJV only website where they were told something like: "The KJV is not based on the best texts", "God forbid" is wrong, or "1 John 5:7 does not belong in the Bible." They most likely assumed that all KJB Bibles read the same since the very beginning; it wasn't till later they learned of the minor printing errors and now they toss this up as a smokescreen. Like I said, if someone is convinced the KJB is not the inspired word of God, no matter if all copies in its long history read exactly the same, his mind would not be changed by this fact. It is a non-issue of no importance.
If one adopts the view that printing errors negate any Bible version or Hebrew or Greek text, from being valid or true, then you end up with no inspired, inerrant Bible anywhere on this earth. That too is carrying the argument to its logical conclusion. Guess who wants you to think this way?
Another member at one of the internet Bible clubs brought up this very common objection. He asked: "Why did God guide the hands and minds of the KJV translators to produce a perfect Bible, only to have it corrupted by printers? I'll await your answer."
To which I answered: Hi..., excellent question. Here is what I believe about this. The production of the KJB mirrors exactly what happened in the case of the originals and all good copies of the correct texts.
God inspired the originals. Scribes then copied these originals into other manuscripts but all of the correct line of good copies introduced "printing errors", inversion of word order, slight omissions, and such like. God's word was not lost but needed some degree of purification as a result of the human element.
God has preserved His inerrant words Providentially, not miraculously. He did not keep every copyist from making "printing errors", but He guided in such a way as to purify the text and bring it back to its original state.
It seems you would have to admit that the stated purpose of modern scholarship is to accomplish this same end. They believe they need to examine the evidence, purge the texts of errors and false readings, and try to restore the texts to their original state.
Yet their results are exceedingly flawed, and some even admit it is hopeless. Witness the textual differences between the ESV, the NASB, and the NIV. Literally hundreds of words from the texts themselves are different between the ESV and the NASB.
The scholars today, all of whom have the same training and access to the same information, all come up with very different conclusions, and the various, conflicting bible versions reflect these differences.
My belief is that God has kept His promises to preserve His inerrant words, and He has already providentially guided certain chosen men through this same "scholarly process" to select both the correct texts and the correct meaning for those texts. After all, only God really knows which readings are His and which are not.
The KJB believer first looks to God and His promises to preserve His words, and believes that God has done what He said He would do.
The "No Bible is Inspired" group, or the biblical relativist, seems to think that he and his buddies are capable of "restoring" what God never lost, and denies that God has already preserved His words in the King James Bible, or any other bible.
This is the fundamental difference in our approach to the doctrines of inspiration and preservation. We KJB believers are convinced God has done what He said He would do. The Bible of the Month Club member thinks it is still an ongoing process and his results are getting more scattered and divergent as time goes by. The Nestle-Aland, UBS Greek texts, upon which most modern versions are based, continue to change every few years, and the modern versions have introduced hundreds of variations into the Old Testament Scriptures. They often reject the Hebrew readings in favor of the alleged pre-Christian Septuagint, Syriac, Samaritan Pentateuch, or Vulgate texts. Just look at the differences between the KJB, NASB, and the ESV in this regard.
The "Probably Close Enuf" side ends up with no inspired, complete, inerrant, sure words of God, and maximum uncertainty. = "Yea, hath God said...?"
The King James Bible believer is convinced he has the inerrant words of God and enjoys maximum certainty and rest in the fulfilled promises of Almighty God. = "Thus saith the LORD".
The King James Bible we have today is the same as the one in 1611. Even the American Bible Society, which promotes and publishes most modern versions, wrote, "The English Bible, as left by the translators (of 1611), has come down to us unaltered in respect to its text..." They further stated, "With the exception of typographical errors and changes required by the progress of orthography in the English language, the text of our present Bibles remains unchanged, and without variation from the original copy as left by the translators" (Committee on Versions to the Board of Managers, American Bible Society, 1852).
I hope this helps you to better understand the nature of the so called "thousands of changes" that have occured in the King James Bible since 1611 to the present.
(Used With Permission)