The King James Only Debate (part 1)

As I have said from the beginning of The Preacher’s Library, this is not a book review blog. I have written scores of book reviews, and hope to eventually have them all posted at The Preacher’s Library here. Some of them can be found at my Vance Publications website. I am currently reading a review copy of The King James Only Debate: Can You Trust the Modern Scholars? that the author, Michael Hollner, kindly sent me upon my request. Because of the subject matter, and because of my expertise in the area, I think it would be a good idea to review this book at The Preacher’s Library. But because I am reading so many other things right now, I have decided to publish my review in parts instead of waiting until I finish the book, since I have no idea when that will be.

In this first installment, I want to describe the book and give my overall first impressions. I appreciate those who write in defense of the Authorized Version, and especially those, like Michael Hollner, who are not Independent Baptists. However, I don’t always appreciate everything they write. I’m afraid that such is the case with The King James Only Debate. The title of the book is based on that of two other books: The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations? (1995; updated and expanded, 2009), by James R. White; and The Scholarship Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Professional Liars? (1996), by Peter S. Ruckman. Throughout the book, Hollner denigrates Dr. White and praises Dr. Ruckman (but he calls him “Pete” on p. 26).

The King James Only Debate is the most poorly put together book I have ever seen. There is no title page. When you open the book, the title of the book (without the subtitle) appears at the top of the first page followed by a 2×5 inch image of a crown over the text “The King James Version 400th Anniversary” (even though the anniversary was in 2011) over an open Bible followed by what seems like a preface on pages 1-11. But it is not actually a preface because the book’s preface actually runs from pages 13 to 28 (but it is referred to as an “introduction” on p. 22). On page 12 appears the copyright information that would normally be on the verso of the title page. The copyright date is 2018, but there are several places in the book which say that the book includes updates made in October of 2020. However, on page 438, “the 2021 update” is mentioned; on page 439, the value of money in 2019 dollars is given; on pages 440 and 451, the year 2021 is mentioned; and on page 441, the year 2018 is mentioned. The table of contents doesn’t show up until page 29. Not only is there no title page, there are also no footnotes, endnotes, bibliography, index, or page headers. This means that you never know which chapter you are in. At least there are page numbers at the bottom of each page. The most annoying thing about the book is that there is barely a quarter of an inch of space at the top of the pages above the first line of text. There are numerous typos in the book as well as formatting issues like the excessive use of words in all caps and the use of both straight and curly quotation marks, even on the same page. Although the book contains 451 pages, instead of the paragraphs being indented, there is a line space after each paragraph. This makes the book appear larger than it is. Many of the quotes in the book are not documented, or are taken from secondary sources.

The King James Only Debate contains sixteen chapters: 1. The King James Advantage. 2. Missing Verses and Words. 3. Attacks on Doctrine. 4. Answering the Critics. 5. Inspiration/Preservation. 6. The “Originals Only” Heresy. 7. New Versions & Prophecy. 8. New Versions & Poetry. 9. Words/Evidences/Questions. 10. The Two Big Lies. 11. The Manuscript Vault. 12. Foreign Translations. 13. The Dog and Pony Shows. 14. The Septuagint Fallacy. 15. Oxford/Cambridge Fallacy. 16. A Fair Warning. However, only three of these chapters (1, 3, 4) actually have the same title as that listed in the table of contents.

The publisher of the book is the author and his ministry, Write the Vision Ministry, in Winter Springs, Florida. The author claims to be “an independent thinker and not a follower of any man or of any denomination” (p. 6). He is “not a Baptist, church of God, Assembly of God, or of any other denomination” (p. 6). He is “not a follower of Ruckman, Gipp, Riddle, Waite, Riplinger, or of any organization” (p. 6). He calls himself “a non-denominational Christian” who has “come out of several Pentecostal denominations” (p. 6). He wrongly states that the “KJV debate” “all started with Gail Riplinger’s book in 1993 entitled the ‘New Age Bible Versions'” (p. 25). His incorrect use of the word “entitled” instead of “titled” and his putting a book title in quotes instead of italics are just two examples of just how sloppy this book is. Hollner admits that he is “not a professional writer” (p. 9). However, he thinks very highly of his book: “This book is unique due to modern technology, and in showing photographic evidence of the ancient manuscripts” (p. 25). “The photo evidence gives our book the unique advantage above all others, for as of today in October 2020 (and the original print in 2018), we have not found a more researched and exhaustive product on the market in showing so many ancient manuscripts” (p. 28). The author hopes that his book “will also receive proper reviews from honest hearted Bible believers” (p. 26). This is my intention. Stay tuned for the second installment.