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The King James Version of the New Testament was based upon a Greek text (the Textus Receptus) that was marred by mistakes, containing the accumulated errors of fourteen centuries of manuscript copying. It was essentially the Greek text of the New Testament as edited by Beza, 1589, who closely followed that published by Erasmus, 1516-1535, which was based upon a few medieval manuscripts. The earliest and best of the eight manuscripts which Erasmus consulted was from the tenth century, and yet he made the least use of it because it differed most from the commonly received text; Beza had access to two manuscripts of great value, dating from the fifth and sixth centuries, but he made very little use of them because they differed from the text published by Erasmus. We now possess many more ancient manuscripts of the new Testament, and are far better equipped to seek to recover the original wording of the Greek text. The KJV was translated about 400 years ago in England. Considering that time and that place it is a superb piece of biblical scholarship — the Jacobian English is magnificent. However the translators only had available about a dozen ancient manuscripts compared to about seven thousand available today. They also did not have the advantage of another 400 years of biblical scholarship. By today’s standards, much as we might respect it, it is not a first class translation.

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