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Is 17th-Century British English Holy?
July 28, 2016
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
Over the last few years I have become aware of a tendency among King James Bible defenders to exalt 17th-century British English to the level of divine holiness.

For example, the following changes are made in some editions of the KJV:

afterwards - afterward
alway - always
apparelled - appareled
armour - armor
armoury - armory
asswage - assuage
astonied - astonished
behaviour - behavior
baken - baked
broided - braided
cloke - cloak
colour - color
defence - defense
emerods - hemmorhoids
endeavour - endeavor
ensample - example
favour - favor
fulfil - fullfill
grisled - grizzled

heretick - heretic
Holy Ghost - Holy Spirit
honour - honor
houghed - hocked
inhabiters - inhabitants
inclose - enclose
intreat - entreat
labour - labor
marvelled - marveled
musick - music
neighbour - neighbor
odour - odor
reproveable - reprovable
Saviour - Savior
shew - show
spue - spew
stedfast - steadfast
subtil - subtile
succour - succor
throughly - thoroughly
to day - today
to morrow - tomorrow
traffick - traffic
traveller - traveler
valour - valor
vapour - vapor
wilfully - willfully
worshipped - worshiped

I have been amazed to find articles warning about this type of change, with the claim that this is adding to or diminishing from God’s Words. The following passages are used to justify the warning: Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:5-6; Revelation 22:18-19.

My friends, this is pure nutcase Ruckmanism/Riplingerism. It is nonsensical and makes all King James Bible defenders look ridiculous.

The only difference between “neighbour” and “neighbor” is that one is British spelling while the other is American. These are the same exact words with the same exact meaning.

The only difference between “ensample” and “example” is that one is 17th-century spelling and the other is 20th-century. The words are the same.

Thousands of “changes” of this nature were made in the King James Bible between 1611 and 1769.

These consisted largely of corrections of printing errors, typographical changes, and spelling updates. They were done by the British publishers of the KJV and can be grouped into two time periods.

There were changes made between 1613 and 1639, largely for the purpose of correcting printing errors. The revisers included Samuel Ward and John Bois, two of the original translators. “Some errors of the press having crept into the first edition, and others into later reprints, King Charles the First, in 1638, had another edition printed at Cambridge, which was revised by Dr. Ward and Mr. Bois, two of the original Translators who still survived, assisted by Dr. Thomas Goad, Mr. Mede, and other learned men” (Alexander McClure,
The Translators Revived, 1855).

Another major update of the KJV was made between 1762-69 to correct any lingering printing errors and to update the spelling, enlarge and standardize the italics, and increase the number of cross-references and marginal notes. The revision was begun in 1762 by Dr. F.S. Paris of Cambridge University and completed in 1769 by Dr. Benjamin Blayney of Hertford College, Oxford University. “The edition in folio and quarto, revised and corrected with very great care by Benjamin Blayney, D.D., under the direction of the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford, and the Delegates of The Clarendon Press, in 1769” (Alexander McClure,
The Revision Revised).

Other than the correction of printing errors, following are the major types of changes that were made:

1. The use of italics was more standardized and its use expanded.

2. Spelling and punctuation were updated.

For example, old English had an “e” after the verb (i.e.,
feare, blinde, sinne, borne). The old English also used a “long s” in places. The long s looked like an f except the horizontal line extended only to the left of the vertical. Thus the word “also” looked like “alfo” in the early editions of the King James Bible. The old English also used a “u” for the “v” (euil instead of evil).

Consider, for instance, how 1 Corinthians 14:9 was written in 1611: “So likewise you, except ye vtter by the tongue words easie to be vnderstood, how shall it be knowen what is spoken? For ye shall speak into the aire.”

Or Genesis 1:1-2: “In the beginning God created the Heauen, and the Earth. And the earth was without forme, and voyd, and darkenesse was vpon the face of the deepe: and the Spirit of God mooued vpon the face of the waters.”

Other types of spelling changes that were made were as follows:

“towards” changed to “toward”
“burnt” changed to “burned” “amongst” changed to “among”
“lift up” changed to “lifted up”

The 1769 edition of the King James Bible is the one that has been published as the standard KJV Bible ever since. It is the one we all use. None of us use the exact, word-for-word, letter-for-letter 1611.

If it is wrong for publishers of the KJV today to change “neighbour” to “neighbor,” then it was wrong for the publishers in the 18th century to change “feare” to “fear.” It is exactly the same type of “change.”

Those who think the 17th-century British words in the original KJV are holy and unchangeable are wrong to use an edition of the KJV that was revised in the 18th century, as the standard edition was.

They need to get an original KJV and use it and print it and not change one letter.

copyright 2013, Way of Life Literature

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