Deception behind The King James Controversy Exposed
In 1995, James White, a Scholar in Residence in the College of Christian Studies at Grand
Canyon University penned a book entitled, The King James Controversy (Minn.,1995, 2nd ed.,2009). His premise was to
attack the idea of “King James Onlyism” and proclaim God’s preservation of Scripture through
modern translations that he believes to be more credible than the Authorized King James Version
that has ministered to English-speaking people for almost 400 years. On page 248 of his book,
“King James Onlyism is a human tradition. It has no basis in history. It has no
foundation in fact. It is internally inconsistent, utilizing circular reasoning at its core, and
involves the use of more double standards than almost any system of thought I have ever
These are pretty strong words from a man who seeks to prove his point via
deception after deception, exaggeration after exaggeration, and misrepresentation of evidence
after misrepresentation of evidence. A case and point is White’s treatment of John 7:53-8:11 on
page 262 of his work.
It is apparent that White takes his list of manuscript evidence straight out of the UBS4.
However, he fails to include an asterix with mss. 1424. According to the UBS’ abbreviation
system, the asterix refers to the original hand of the manuscript. Apparently, 1424 has the
pericope in the margin. White does not want anyone to know that.
White includes Codices L and Δ in his list of evidence, but he fails to mention that both mss.
exhibit a blank space after John 7:52. It is clear that the scribes were aware of the fact that
they were leaving something out.
White argues that the pericope is absent from the majority of Lain versions. This is simply
untrue. It is found in the Vulgate tradition and numerous mss of the Old Itala dating back to
the second century. The UBS4 lists four italic mss hostile to the pericope, but seven plus the
Vulgate that include it. White’s majority does not exist. Besides, there are thousands of
Latin mss. that have not been examined by anyone, especially James White.
White claims that the pericope is missing from the majority of Syriac mss. also. However,
he fails to mention that it is found in the Palestinian Syriac and numerous later mss. of the
Peshitta and the Harclean Syriac (even the UBS4 admits this). The pericope is also found in
certain mss. of the Philoxenian Syriac. White’s assertion is misleading.
White argues that the pericope is missing from the majority of lectionaries. Most assuredly,
White has never seen an ancient lectionary in his life. John Burgon, on the other hand,
personally handled over sixty of them. According to him, the passage was found rubricated
in every one of them.. In other words, there were liturgical directions that instructed the
reader to skip from 7:52 down to 8:12. This is hardly an omission of the pericope, for the
pericope served no purpose on Pentecost Sunday when John 7:37-52; 8:12 was read. White
also conveniently fails to mention that the Church selected nine out of the twelve disputed
verses to be read on October 8. This reading, according to Burgon goes all the way back to
the earliest of times in the Christian Church.
White gives more credence to ten minuscules that place the pericope in different place in the
Gospels than he does to the hundreds of them that retain the passage in the traditional place.
His use of the exclamation point at the end of the sentence containing the aforementioned
assumption indicates that he considers these witnesses to be great evidence against the
passage. What White doesn’t promulgate is that the four mss. that place the pericope after
Luke 21:38 come from a common archetype and are known for reworking the Scriptures
(e.g. Luke 22:43 is removed and thrust into Matthew 26 between verses 39 and 40. White
claims, “such moving about by a body of text is plain evidence of its later origin and the
attempt on the part of the scribes to find a place where it ‘fits.’” This situation proves
nothing of the sort save that a few irresponsible scribes wished to remove the passage from
the Pentecostal Lesson because they believed it to treat the sin of adultery too leniently. Or,
perhaps the mss. they were copying did not include the passage, but the scribe wished to
include it where he had space (e.g. at the end of Luke or John).
White says that some scribes included the pericope after John 7:44. It is apparent that White
gets this information from Metzger who get it from Eberhard Nestle. In a footnote, Metzger
promulgates that Nestle mentioned some Georgian mss. that placed the pericope after John
7:44. However, Nestle provided no specific mss. How do we know Nestle did not just
make this up out of thin air.
White says that John 7:52 and 8:12 go together. Are we to believe that “out of Galilee
ariseth no prophet” is immediately followed by “Then spake Jesus again to them saying”
without a word of explanation. As Edward Hills asserts, “Such impressionistic writing
might possibly be looked for in some modern author. It is unthinkable in the simple
narrative of John.” 68 Besides, what does White do with the fact that Jesus is nowhere in the
vicinity in 7:45-52? Also, what is the purpose of the word “again” in 8:12? Without the
pericope, there is no “again.”
White says, “aside from issues of vocabulary and style.” What issues is he referring to? Of
course, White gives absolutely no examples to back his claim. J.P. Lange, a scholar far more
learned than White, says that the pericope exhibits the same “mystic twilight” that is
common in John’s Gospel. 69
White says, “The story of the woman taken in adultery interrupts the flow of the text.”
How? The average reader does not see this.’
White says that it is a “near certainty” that the pericope is not an authoritative part of the
Bible. His “near certainty” is based upon one-sided evidence that is promoted with no
White claims that the story itself represents an oral tradition about Jesus that came to have its
part in the Gospel of John over time. There is no concrete evidence for such a tradition
whatsoever apart from the Gospel text itself. If all of this is true, why would a scribe insert
the passage right in the middle of the passage preached from on the most important Sunday
of the year--Pentecost?
White does not provide a single sliver of documentation for the claims he makes on the
pericope. Is the reader supposed to believe what he says simply because he says it.
Apparently, White never consulted writers such as John Burgon, J.P. Lange, or Edward Hills.
It is interesting to note the striking similarity between White’s words and those of Bruce
Metzger in his Commentary on the Greek New Testament. White uses the term “earmark”
as does Metzger. 70 This word is so uncommon that it is very doubtful it came from White’s
vocabulary when Metzger was obviously sitting right in front of him.
Concerning internal evidence surrounding the pericope, White writes, “aside from issues of
vocabulary and style.” Metzger writes, “the style and vocabulary of the pericope differ
noticeably . . .” 71 White writes, “interrupts the flow of the text.” Metzger writes, “it
interrupts the sequence.” 72 Concerning the external evidence, White takes his list of
witnesses straight out of Metzger. Also, he writes, “Both A and C most probably did not
contain the passage, though both are defective in this section of John . . .” Metzger writes,
“Codices A and C are defective in this part of John, but it is highly probable that neither
contained the pericope.”73 What is going on here? White is taking information from
Metzger, changing a few words, and offering no documentation. That is called “plagiarism”
Mr. White, not scholarship.
Conclusion: Fifteen counts of misrepresentation of evidence have been cited on one page of
White’s book, The King James Only Controversy. This fact is scary. One can only wonder
how much White bends the truth in the other 285 pages. This work is not scholarship. It
seeks to trash the King James Bible through deception. Believe James White if you will, but
I choose to believe God’s promise in Psalm 12:6-7. “The words of the LORD are pure
words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O
LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”