Updated King James Version for PocketBible

Title_PageWe’ve just updated the text of the King James Version we use in PocketBible. Whether you’re a devoted reader of the KJV or only have it installed because it came bundled with your copy of PocketBible, you should welcome this move to a more pedigreed version of the text.

Laridian has long been criticized for the perceived lack of attention we’ve paid to our KJV text by those for whom the accuracy of this text is a major issue. The previous version of our text was from an unknown source and contained American spellings and modern replacements for many archaic words. In some cases, these aspects of the text went unnoticed but in others they were very apparent and called into question the quality of the rest of the text.

The most commonly cited problem was our use of the word thoroughly in 2 Timothy 3:17, where the original 1611 KJV uses the archaic word throughly. While it is the case that the word throughly is defined as “thoroughly; completely”, there are some who feel the original word conveys some additional meaning that is lost by the change to thoroughly. This, despite the fact that Vine’s Expository Dictionary says “For THROUGHLY see THOROUGHLY” and even Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary says “For this, thoroughly is now used”.  This is just one example, though arguably the most significant, of about 100 spelling changes between our previous edition of the KJV and our newest release.

A Little History

The Authorized or King James Version of the Bible was the result of a project to revise the text of the Bishops’ Bible, which was the Bible of the Church of England at the turn of the 17th century. In 1604, a committee of fifty-four men were appointed to undertake the revision. Work was delayed until 1607, by which time only forty-seven of the original appointees were available to work on the project. The instructions given to the translators were to alter the text of the Bishops’ Bible as little as possible and to use the text of Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthew, Whitchurch, or Geneva when those translations agree more closely with the original Hebrew and Greek texts. The editors worked in several teams, each tackling a portion of the books of the Bible. When the work was complete, representatives of each group oversaw a final editorial pass through the text and two men worked closely with the printer to supervise the first printing in 1611.

A number of factors made it impossible for any two early print runs of the KJV to be identical. First, the printing technology at the time required that a single page be created by laying out individual pieces of type (each representing one letter, punctuation mark, or space) to create a form. Once the entire print run for that page was completed, the type was reclaimed to create the next page. By necessity, then, the second and subsequent printings of the Bible had to be re-set from scratch using the original documents or the previous printing as a guide. While errors in the previous printings could be corrected at this time, the resetting of every page made it possibile for new errors to be introduced. In 1725, printers at Cambridge University came up with the idea of making a plaster mould of an entire form, then using this to cast a metal stereotype or cliché from which identical subsequent prints could be made. This helped reduce the errors from constant resetting of the text.

A second source of variation in the text was the lack of a standard English orthography (spelling). Most people in the 16th and 17th centuries experienced reading vicariously — the actors in Shakespeare’s plays repeated his words on stage, and the clergy read the Bible aloud to the congregation. As long as the words could be pronounced in a way the hearer could understand, the spelling of the word on the page was irrelevant. It would be another 150 years before the idea of “standard” spelling and even the concept of a dictionary of the English language would come about. In the meantime, there might be two or more different spellings of the same word within one printing of the Bible (or any book for that matter).

To complicate this further, and because correct spelling simply wasn’t an issue, typesetters would add or remove letters from words to make them fit better on a line of type. This introduced another opportunity for variation.

Even after stereotyping made it possible for one publisher to maintain consistency between printings of the same book, each publisher created their own forms and thereby introduced their own changes into the text. Publishers also felt free to add or remove footnotes, change punctuation, and revise the spelling or word usage for their particular audience.

The result of all of this is that we have literally hundreds of different versions of the King James Version text on bookshelves around the world, created over a period of more than 400 years by dozens of publishers using a variety of printing techniques. Each of these is labelled “King James Version” and none come with a list of how they differ from the printing before them, let alone the original 1611 text.

The Age of Electronic Publishing

In the late 20th century it became possible for anyone with a high-speed scanner and optical character recognition software to create an electronic copy of the King James Version text — and they did. Our previous King James Version text was the product of one such person’s efforts. We don’t know which of hundreds of available versions of the KJV text they used, but we know it had Americanized spellings (honorable for honourablerazor for rasorcounseller for counsellor, etc) and modern proper names (Jeremiah instead of Jeremy or JeremiasNoah instead of NoeIsaiah instead of Esaias, etc.). It also used a number of modern words in place of their archaic counterparts (the previously cited thoroughly in place of throughlyprivately in place of privilyfood in place of meattwo in place of twain, etc.).

Laridian’s Historic Position

Because the KJV has been around for 400 years; because it lived through every significant improvement in publishing since moveable type; and because we could find no two KJV Bibles (especially from different publishers) which agreed with each other, we took the position that there was no “best” KJV text. In every case cited by a customer, we could find an example of a KJV Bible from a major publisher that agreed with our version and another that agreed with them.

Lacking an obvious answer to the question “Which KJV is the KJV?” short of the 1611 text (which nobody reads since it uses “u” for “v”, “j” for “i”, and something like “f” for “long s”, rendering it virtually unreadable), we turned to two authoritative sources. First was Cambridge University, which is the steward of the Crown’s copyright on the King James Version in the United Kingdom. During a conversation over a meal, I asked if they had electronic files for the “official” King James Version — assuming there was such a thing, perhaps in a vault buried deep under London. Had I not been paying for their dinner, I would’ve been laughed out of the room. They repeated much of what I’ve stated above, and added the fact that every publisher over the years has made their own “corrections” and changes to the text, including Cambridge itself. They could offer me no advice other than to use one of their more recent printings (for which they had no electronic files). Since that would carry no more weight of being “the” KJV than the one we already had, that seemed like a waste of time.

I next turned to Dr. Peter Ruckman, perhaps the most well-known authority on the “KJV Only” position. Dr. Ruckman argues not only that the KJV is the only accurate English Bible in existence, but that it supersedes the original Hebrew and Greek texts in any question over interpretation of the Word of God. According to Dr. Ruckman, translations of the Bible should be made from it, not from Hebrew and Greek. I wrote Dr. Ruckman a letter asking for his recommendations for an “official” text of the King James Version that would satisfy the requirements of his most vocal followers for an accurate text. Dr. Ruckman scrawled “IDIOT” over my letter and sent it back to me, with the comment “any Gideon Bible”. I pulled my Gideon Bible off the shelf and found it to be a modern English version, not the KJV at all. Of course, I don’t believe Ruckman was making the case that the Gideons were the Keepers of the Authoritative King James Version Bible Text, but rather that I could literally grab any KJV Bible off the shelf, even the free Gideon Bible I found in a hotel, and use it in our software.

When the appeal to authority failed, we simply settled into distributing the KJV that we had and left it at that.

The Pure/Standard Cambridge Edition

Once or twice a year we are contacted by PocketBible users who have a serious problem with our KJV (usually citing the use of thoroughly in 2 Tim 3:17) and encouraging us to publish “the” KJV (and threatening us if we don’t). None of these users have ever been able to point to a definitive, authoritative source for this text, but recently we were directed to two sources: The Pure Cambridge Edition (PCE) at www.bibleprotector.com and Brandon Staggs’ Common Cambridge Edition at av1611.com. Both of these sites claim to have done extensive research to produce an electronic edition of the text that matches that in use by Cambridge University Press around 1900-1910, down to the last punctuation mark, capital letter, and use of italics.

We downloaded these texts and compared them to each other. They differ in about a dozen places, none of which are anywhere near as significant as the use of thoroughly for throughly in 2 Tim 3:17. After looking at some other similar sources, we settled on a version of the text that draws mostly from the Pure Cambridge Edition except in a couple places where we felt the Common Cambridge Edition was better. (In particular, we hyphenate Elelohe-Israel and Meribah-Kadesh instead of creating the “camel-case” spellings EleloheIsrael and MeribahKadesh used in the PCE, and we chose to leave out the footers THE END OF THE PROPHETS after Malachi 4:6 and THE END after Revelation 22:21.)

It was fairly trivial to convert this text to PocketBible format. The hard part was merging Strong’s numbers into it, but we’ve done that to create an updated version of our King James Version With Strong’s Numbers product as well. This has the additional benefit of bringing these two texts into agreement with each other, as even our own KJV and KJV/Strong’s texts had disagreed in a number of places.

Lessons Learned

We’ve gained a new appreciation not just for the King James Version in this process, but also for the history of the English language and printing technology. The myriad variations on the KJV text had led us to “give up” and settle for what was easy. However, this project created the desire to produce something of historical validity and significance, even if it can’t be said to be “the” KJV.

While we don’t agree with those who argue that the KJV is the only English Bible we should be reading, we do agree that it has historical significance and that we should provide a version of it that meets with the approval of those who put it on a taller pedestal than we do. We believe this edition of the KJV for PocketBible meets that standard.

We’re considering publishing some earlier editions of the KJV just for their historical value. While we don’t find reading the 1611 text to be particularly edifying, we do find it interesting. For example:

“And as Moses lifted vp the serpent in the wildernesse : euen so must the Sonne of man be lifted vp : That whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue eternall life. For God so loued yͤ world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne : that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue euerlasting life.”

I’m particularly intrigued by the shorthand rendition of the word “the” in “God so loued yͤ world”. This comes from the Early Middle English spelling of “the”, which was þe (the archaic letter thorn followed by e). When printed in the common black letter or gothic font, thorn looked very similar to y, and printers (especially in France where thorn did not exist in their alphabet) would substitute the letter y. When needed to make the words better fit on a line, the e would be placed above the y as you see here. (Another example is the word thou which was often shortened to yͧ.) It’s easy to imagine how yͤ became “ye” in “Ye Olde Book Shoppe”, and why “Ye” in this context should be pronounced with a “th” sound like “the”.

Anyway, I digress….

You can simply download the KJV from within PocketBible if you’re running PocketBible on a platform that supports that feature, or, if you have PocketBible for Windows Desktop, go to your download account at our site to download a new installation program for the KJV or KJVEC (KJV with Strong’s Numbers).

22 Replies to “Updated King James Version for PocketBible”

  1. I notice that the verse spacing is different from the previous version, there isn’t a way to get paragraph spacing with all the verses running together and a space between paragraphs. It now puts a gap between each verse unless you check the preference to put each verse on a new line, then the gap between verses goes away. I liked the old way better 🙁

    1. The KJV has traditionally been printed with each verse on a new line. We chose to retain this characteristic rather than impose someone else’s idea of where paragraphs begin. This and other choices we made are disclosed in the Preface.

      1. Fortunately I didn’t update all my devices so was able to copy the old version back. I really liked the paragraph view, I have a Cambridge print bible with paragraph marks in it that I have used for years. For now I’m going to keep the old .lbk file around in case I have to reinstall. Thanks for all the work you do I really love PocketBible, I rarely pick up a print Bible anymore.

  2. Noticed that even with the “Words of Christ in Red” setting turned on His words are still in black in this new update. Can you push out a update with Christ’s words in RED? Thanks.

    1. Read the Preface. Printing words of Christ in red was a late addition to the text, and there is not an agreed-upon specification of which words should be in red. It is not a feature of the KJV text. It is something publishers add. And it’s not clear from the text where quotations begin and end. So we would be adding our interpretation on top of the translators intent. The whole idea of this update was to avoid that.

  3. Thanks for doing your best to get it a “right” as you can. And thanks for the full explanation. I hope those who it is important to are pleased with it.

  4. This was a wonderful post on many levels. Thank you for the work you put into this and thank you for explaining the issues involved. I really appreciate how you did this.

    A devoted eclectic text reader

  5. Craig and Laridian family, thanks for your efforts in making for peace. May our brothers and sisters you’re hoping to pacify be taken by your example over any other thing.

    I haven’t updated, and do not intend to, however, if someone does and prefers their previous version, is there a way to back out of the update?

    1. Terry,

      There’s not a way to go back to the old version of the text. You can choose not to update, but if you ever have to re-install the app, you’ll end up getting the new version.

  6. When you said you wanted to use a more “correct” or standard text for the KJV for Pocket Bible, did you intend to go back to the 1611 version with all its archaic spellings and Elizabethan wording, or are you using the 1629 and/or 1638 revisions done by Cambridge, or did you intend to start from the Cambridge University revision of 1760 or the Oxford University revision of 1769, now considered by many to be the authoritative edition?

    According to Wikipedia’s article on the King James Version (and cited sources), “the two Cambridge editions of 1629 and 1638 attempted to restore the proper text – while introducing over 200 revisions of the original translators’ work, chiefly by incorporating into the main text a more literal reading originally presented as a marginal note.” The types of problems Craig described in printing had already led to many errors in two decades. Even in the first printings Ruth 3:15 had “he went into the city” in one edition and “she went into the city” and another. And, of course there is the famous Wicked Bible that left the word “not” from “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

    By the mid-1700s, spelling had become more standardized and scholarship had advanced. The Oxford and Cambridge editors “sought consistently to remove those elements of the 1611 and subsequent editions that they believed were due to the vagaries of printers, while incorporating most of the revised readings of the Cambridge editions of 1629 and 1638, and each also introducing a few improved readings of their own.”, according to Wikipedia. The 1769 Oxford edition had about 24,000 differences compared with the original 1611 edition, but most of these were spelling and punctuation changes. The editors did have an older version of the “Textus Receptus” to work from than what the 1611 editors had. So, there were some word changes as well. As Wikipedia notes, Genesis 2:21 “in stead” (“in that place”) was standardized to read “instead” (“as an alternative”). Of course, the 1769 edition did not have Americanized versions of words.

    My KJV Bible I received in 1959 uses “throughly” in 2 Tim.3:17. But comparing 1 Cor 13:1-3 in my Bible with the examples in the Wikipedia article, it appears that my Bible is based on the 1769 Oxford edition. I suspect that is the case with most KJV Bibles today, at least those printed by reputable publishers in the 20th century.

    I suspect a lot of the issues with electronic versions are due to 1) scanning errors and 2) word processors that flag “misspelled” words. I know from personal experience that problems with the quality of the printed page and the quality of the scanning software (and lack of sufficient editing) can introduce problems that were not in the printed text.

    So, is part of the issue whether people want the 1629/1638 edition instead of the 1769 edition? Is the 1769 edition too “modern” for some people? My personal preference would be for the 1769 edition as it corrected a lot of archaic spellings and words that would make reading the Bible by people today more difficult. Of course, as Craig noted, finding a good electronic copy can be an issue. Craig notes that the file he worked with is based on text from about 1900. One question is whether this copy, from Cambridge, has any significant differences from the Oxford 1769 version. I suspect not.

    1. Cambridge and Oxford are both official publishers of the KJV. I chose to use the Common/Pure Cambridge Edition because it has been carefully compared to a known good version of the text from an official publisher, and more than one KJV-Only advocate blessed it. As you and I have both separately described, there are hundreds of variations on the KJV to choose from and few of them have any better credentials than the others. This includes the 1769 edition.

  7. Man, I do love learning stuff! I hadn’t thought through all the differences in the typesetting every time you tried to make a new printing.

    So… now that you’ve got this problem solved to everyone’s satisfaction you’ll have time to get back to implement regex in your searches. 80D

    1. What platform are you on, Ken? The new Mac program does a pretty good job of finding what you didn’t know you were looking for without expecting people to learn regular expressions. The same code is running on Android. And PocketBible on Mac and iOS support some relatively powerful searches, though not full regex searches.

  8. Thank you for the amount of work and expense put into this. As one who is only KJV, I am very appreciative of the effort and the spirit in which you have delivered this update. Ruckman’s response does not surprise me. Having read some of his works, this is consistent with his tendency to be haughty rather than helpful.

    1. Yeah, poking fun at Dr. Ruckman is like shooting fish in a barrel. It’s pretty easy and there’s not much joy in it. 🙂

  9. Criag,

    I just want to express my personal appreciation to you for providing the KJV free of charge to us, your customers. It’s truly a good service, and thanks for all the trouble in finding the updated edition.

    Though I rarely use the KJV myself, I flip to it when visiting a church that uses it. Sometimes there’s a particular verse in the KJV, I must admit, that says it with such style as does no other English version.

    Many thanks!

  10. Have loved the historic backdrop and discussions. It is amazing how through all the fumblings of man God produced a translation that has changed the world (thanks to the Holy Spirit)

  11. Would you consider making your previous KJV version available as the “KJVLR” version (or something like that)? That way we can put the two side by side and compare them ourselves. It’s fine making this updated KJV version the new default for KJV, but there are a number of aspects of the previous KJV version that would be nice to continue having.

    1. If there was anything special about the previous version, I would consider doing that. That is, if this was a matter of switching from an Oxford edition to a Cambridge edition, or if we had switched from an 1885 edition to the 1769 edition, I could see it. The problem is that we don’t even know what our previous KJV was. And there were two of them — our KJV was different than our KJV with Strongs.

      Now, if what you want is paragraphs and words of Christ in red, that’s worth considering — if we can find a pedigreed source in each case.

  12. I downloaded the KJV text files from the websites cited by Craig. I also reviewed the appendices in the Guide to the PCE.pdf file from the Bibleprotector.com site. I spot checked several of the examples from the Guide PDF file with my 1950s KJV version.

    In both the Pure Cambridge Edition and the Common Cambridge Edition, the main changes appear to be reverting to older spellings of words, using the 1611 edition instead of the more current spellings that were introduced in the 1800s and early 1900s. For example “vail” from 1611 has replaced the more modern “veil.” “Jubile” is used intead of “Jubilee.” “Counsellers” is used instead of “counsellors.” “Rasor” is used instead of “razor” when referring to shaving. “Basons” is used instead of “basins.”

    Another major difference is in the spellings of some names and places. In both these situations, these changes should not significantly affect reading. However, I cannot see how using a modern spelling would adversely affect the meaning of a verse.

    One major effort by the Pure Cambridge Edition is with the word “spirit.” For example, current versions of 1 John 5:8 use “Spirit.” But the PCE has changed it to “spirit.” Actually, I think this is correct in the context of verses 7 and 8.

    Are there other changes where “modern” words have been replaced with “older” or different words that might have different meanings. I cannot say that. There are many places where the PCE used later versions of words rather than the 1611 edition (“establised” from the later 1600s instead of 1611’s “stablised”).

    The primary objective of those doing this research appears to be to get to a “standard” or “more correct” edition of the KJV. It should be noted when reading the websites cited that in both cases, the researchers strongly object to newer translations and consider the KJV as the only valid translation. That does not invalidate the need for a standard text for the KJV.

    In my opinion, I would have preferred to keep the modern spellings when it did not affect the true meaning of the verses. Only where there might be a true difference in meaning (Spirit vs. spirit) would changes be needed or appropriate.

    However, I certainly understand why Craig took this approach. I think we all agree that some unnecessary or incorrect changes were introduced (not just simple modern word replacements), especially in recent decades with electronic files. Even though I prefer newer translations, I want a good KJV for reference and comparison. But to get those corrections that are really needed, we are lsoing more modern spellings that would benefit current readers.

    1. Thanks for the analysis, Bruce. You’re correct that it uses older spellings in many cases. And it addresses (I won’t say it always “fixes”) problems related to the capitalization of the word “spirit”.

      Several years ago we built a home theater. Faced with having to choose AV equipment from among multiple bids, all claiming to be the best, I decided to exclusively use THX-Certified equipment (down to the audio cables) and a THX-Certified installer. It cost more, but it allowed me to know I had equipment that met a standard set by someone (George Lucas) who knew more about the subject than I did. You can show me a better amplifier and that’s fine. I know mine is very, very good.

      My observation of the two websites is that neither explains why the 1900-1910 text from Cambridge was chosen (as opposed to the Oxford text, or earlier/later texts). The advantage from my perspective as a somewhat disinterested party is that someone who cares about the text has done the research and decided they like this particular text. Someone can argue that their 1769, 1883, 1950, or 2014 edition of the KJV is better, but going with the Pure/Common Cambridge Edition allows me to say “ours is very, very good”.

      Despite the claims of certain of the advocates of the KJV, there still is no single edition of the KJV that is “the” KJV. In many cases, that doesn’t matter. For example, whether you shave with a “razor” or “rasor” is irrelevant. We know what you mean. Our goal was to use a text that a) used the word “throughly” in 2 Tim 3:17, b) retained the translation error “strain at a gnat” in Matthew 23:24, and c) had more than one KJV-Only advocate backing it. By not causing an eyebrow to be raised at 2 Tim 3:17, we eliminate 99% of the complaints we get about our KJV text. And I figure if you can get any two Christians to agree on anything, you go with it and don’t ask questions. 🙂

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