Monday, October 08, 2012

The Oxford and Cambridge Editions of the KJV

When I recently picked up my used R. L. Allan KJV (Oxford Edition) Bible, it got me interested in the differences between the Oxford and Cambridge editions of the AV.  Slight differences, mainly in spelling and punctuation, arose in each stream (and apparently even in various editions within the same stream).  I am not sure if the differences reflect distinctions between the revision prepared by F. S. Paris and H. Therold of Trinity College Cambridge in 1762 and the revision prepared by Benjamin Blayney of Herford College, Oxford in 1769, or if they merely reflect publishing differences between Oxford and Cambridge printings of the Blayney edition which Alan J. Macgregor calls "the final revision" which "gave us the essentially the AV we have today" (Three Modern Versions, p. 95).  Maybe someone with more knowledge than I on this topic will let me know.

I found this note on a dicussion board that points to some of the more significant differences between the two editions:
Oxford [O] Cambridge [C]:

Josh. 19:2 and Sheba [O] or Sheba [C]
2 Kings 19:23 the Lord [O] the LORD [C]
2 Chron. 33:19 sins [O] sin [C]
Neh. 1:11 O Lord [O] O LORD [C]
Ps. 148:8 vapours [O] vapour [C]
Jer. 34:16 whom he [O] whom ye [C]
Nah. 3:16 fleeth [O] flieth [C]

Another difference is in the use of the apostrophe. Oxford has an apostrophe in some words "their's" (Matt. 5:3), "your's" (Luke 6:20) while the Cambridge does not.


This, of course, gives KJV-Onlyists fits, and it makes clear the problem with defending the inerrency of an English translation versus the infallibility of the immediately inspired original text from which faithful translations are made. From browsing the internet, it seems that there are at least some KJV-Onlyists who defend the Cambridge stream as the purest.
The same person who posted the points above provides a chart in another post with some of the differences between the Oxford and Cambridge editions of the AV:

A Chart for comparing Oxford and Cambridge KJV Editions

Scripture Reference

Oxford KJV

Cambridge KJV

Genesis 15:13
Genesis 26:20
Genesis 46:12
Deuteronomy 11:24
Joshua 13:18
Joshua 19:2
and Sheba
or Sheba
Joshua 19:19
1 Samuel 31:2

2 Samuel 21:21
1 Kings 8:56
2 Chronicles 33:19
Ezra 2:2
Ezra 4:10
Psalm 107:27
wit's end
wits' end

Psalm 148:8
Proverbs 20:25
Proverbs 20:29
Ecclesiastes 8:17
Jeremiah 34:16
whom he
whom ye
Amos 2:2

Naham 3:16
Matthew 2:7
Matthew 4:1
Mark 1:19
Luke 6:20

1 Corinthians 4:15
Revelation 2:6
Revelation 21:10



AJ said...

Dr. Riddle,

Sometimes I wonder if I fit into the "KJV-onlyists". I certainly do prefer the AV, but do not consider the English translation to be without error. When I read Chapter 1 of the 1689, "and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic". I lean to the idea that the "pure" and "authentic" text is the TR (though I am wary to be dogmatic). Where I find differences, I tend to favor the TR as trump over other. Does this make me a "TR onlyist"? If not how does it differ?

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Hi Armand,

I think you have touched on a key distinction. The KJV-Onlyist believes that the KJV as an English translation was immediately inspired and is thus inerrant. I agree with the 2LB Confession, however, which says the Scriptures were inspired in the original languages of Hebrew and Greek. One may highly value the KJV as a faithful translation and as a cultural and literary treasure and perhaps even determine to use it exclusively in public worship and private devotion, but this is different than classic KJV-Onlyism as I understand it.

If the original texts are the key, then what are those texts? Like you, I prefer the traditional text of Scripture long affirmed by the church's use and the basis of all Reformation era translations. This would namely be the Masoretic Hebrew text of the OT and the Greek Textus Receptus of the NT. These were the texts that the framers of the Confession refer to as having been kept "pure and entire" in all ages. This does not mean, however, there is no place for textual criticism and study, just not of the kind pursued by modern text criticism.

I have, in fact, been accused of being a "TR-onlyist" (as well as erroneously as a KJV-Onlyist). Maybe "TR-preferentialist" would be better. I'll think about it.


Victor Leonardo Barbosa said...

Even the good choice of the Receveid Text as Standard Greek Text don't excuse us the use of a moderate(and Biblical) textual criticism, in passages like John 1:28, James 2: 18 and Revelations 16:5.

God Bless pastor Jeff. Keep on Keeping on.

Greg Wright said...

I am a KJV onlyist for the very reason that it has been shown to be blessed of God.For 400 years, millions of people have been saved because of it. God did not use the Luther Bible or any other to sail the 7 seas. Over a thousand translations into other langauges were done by missionaries straight from the KJV and not the Hebrew & Greek because they had faith that the KJV was the very Word of God. There is more I could say on the genuine revivals in history from KJV preaching. In summary it has produced the fruit.
What is the fruit of of the modern versions? A brief summary is:
1. Carnal worship music
2. Antinomiasm
3. Rise of Arminiasm
4. False Charismatic beliefs
5. Ecumenism which destroys the importance of studing bible doctrine
6. The acceptance of the false Roman Catholic Religion
7. New Age beliefs and practices are in many churches
8. Rise of Gnosticism
9. Rise of Mysticism
10. Many unsaved people think they are saved by having just said a "sinners prayer".

There is more I could say, but this summary should suffice on the point I am making.

Greg Wright
New Zealand

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Hi Greg,

Though I greatly admire the KJV and used it in ministry and personal devotion, the problem with the KJV-only position is that inspiration applies to the original texts not to translations--even excellent ones like the KJV.


Unknown said...


As a fellow KJV-only believer interested in the issue, I must ask: as an opponent to antinomiasm, how do you interpret Romans 4:5 - "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."

I believe that we are saved by believing in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.

Jared Songster

Melvyn Hills said...

I believe that the majority of Puritans took the Geneva Bible across the Atlantic... obviously a less political (ie divine right) version. Which of course was a significant issue in UK history during the 17th century and the establishment of what we generally call democracy

BibleBeliever said...

Inspiration has to be for more than the original text. When Paul said that they had 0 original manuscripts of the Old Testament scriptures. They only had copies. Also, if you look up the word "translation" in the bible (yes it's in there) you will see that a translation can also be inspired. If it is an accurate translation into a language from the originals, then it's just as inspired as the original because it's still Gods words.

BibleBeliever said...

If only the originals are inspired, why did Paul even tell Timothy that? They had no originals of the Old Testament in Paul's day. How could Jesus promise that one jot or tittle would pass away if only the originals were inspired. Jesus didnt have the originals in His day. If you do a study of the word "translation" in the Bible you will see that a translation can be inspired. For example, when the New Testanent translates the Hebrew or Arabic words into Greek, its inspired and yet it's a translation. If the translation is accurate to what God actually said then it's just as inspired as the originals.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Bible believer, I would point you to the Second London Baptist Confession (1689) chapter 1, paragraph 8 for my view on this. The Bible was immediately inspired in the original Hebrew and Greek. This does NOT mean we must have the autographs. Paul did not have the autographs but he did have faithful copies (apographs). Read also in the confession 1:8 about the use of translations. Yes, translations (like the Greek Septuagint-LXX) of the OT were used in the NT (as were citations even from secular writers; cf. Titus 1:12), but this does not mean that the entire LXX was inspired. Translations are useful to the degree that they accurately convey the meaning of the immediately inspired originals.

Pastor Barry said...

I'm not a scholar, but as such I feel my contribution is valid, only got to std 7 in school, did an apprenticeship and worked as a motor mechanic, never read one single book my entire life, then at 39 yrs of age one of my customers led me to Jesus, first time I heard the gospel, even though I grew up in church, so I went to church and purchased a KJV, first book I ever read, have tried all others, the King is anointed, currently have a Oxford from the forties, simply love it, love and blessing from South Africa

Billpmadscot said...

Hi Barry, well said, but as soon as you open the Word you are a scholar, led by the Holy Spirit.....🤓 Hello from sunny Ireland

WritetheVision said...

Dear Dr. Riddle,

'The KJV-Onlyist believes that the KJV as an English translation was immediately inspired and is thus inerrant.'

The KJV translators were not moved upon by the Holy Ghost in the same way the Apostles were. However, they were given guidance by the Spirit of God during the translation, thus GIVING THEM THE UNDERSTANDING for a perfected translation by Holy Ghost inspiration, "for there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding” (Job 32:8; II Timothy 3:16) KJV.

The King James Bible is an inspired translation in as much as the original autographs were divinely preserved by God’s Providence and promises (Psalms 12:6-7) KJV.

As far as the Oxford and Cambridge differences I think this paper may be helpful called the "Cambridge vs. Oxford Fallacy" at.....

WritetheVision said...

'Yes, translations (like the Greek Septuagint-LXX) of the OT were used in the NT'

The LXX has been proven a work of 'REVERSE ENGINEERING.'

John Owen said, "THE APOSTLE TOOK NOT HIS WORDS FROM THE TRANSLATION OF THE LXX, BUT HIS WORDS WERE AFTERWARDS INSERTED INTO THAT TRANSLATION..... no reason can be assigned why the LXX - IF ANY SUCH LXX THERE WERE - who translated the Old Testament, or any other translators of it, should so render the words of the Hebrew text." Exposition Of Hebrews, Vol I, Exercitation V. pp.66-69 (CAPS are mine)

Scott Jones also has PROOF POSITIVE of this 'reverse engineering of the LXX at

I recommend "The Septuagint Fallacy: An Indictment of Modern Criticism" by W.I. Phillips (1918).

Pastor Brett said...

Pastor Jeff,
I am thankful for your work. I agree with you 100%. Ruckmanism is the difference. You are clearly not a follower of Peter Ruckman.
As for the differences between textual traditions, the codex sinaiaticus is the big question mark. The manuscript was discovered by Tishendorf, in a monastery that has been protected by Islam for over 1,000 years. Knowing that Islam hates Christianity, and desires to conquer; they do so by division. Jesus said that a house divided against itself could not stand. Divide and conquer? (Luke 11:17).
1Cor. 14:33 "for God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints." I know that the context deals with spiritual gifts, but the simple truth shines...God does not cause confusion! So who does? Where does division come from? There has never been such great division in the church, such as the version issue. A Muslim will berate the word of God, accusing it of being "tampered with". In my many debates with Muslims, I have have made it clear; I trust only one book...the KJV. I have no confusion where the versions are concerned.
The St. Catherine's monastery also has a Mosque in it's courtyard and a quarter moon symbol on a front pillar. If that does not alarm the believer, my job becomes more difficult. I believe Islam created that document. Conspiracy theory??? I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I do know true Islam. I know that the believer will either submit to the will of Allah or die! After 31 years of in depth study, I am absolutely certain of these things and will defend the Byzantine/KJV text until God returns.

Anonymous said...

Hello I just want to add that I’m a new Christian, reading these conversations inspire me greatly, mostly in knowing that there are many so full of passion for Gods Word. And no I’m not a scholar but with the Irish brothers words I could be considered as such. Thank you and God bless

Unknown said...

I am a KJV "onlyist" in the sense it is the only one I read, study and trust 100%. I will use other versions for reference on occasion. I personally don't care what anyone else reads. I don't care if it's Cambridge or Oxford (I have Cambridge because I like their bibles). When read aloud as intended in church I have yet to hear the difference in capitalization or apostraphies. I haven't had any of these "fits" you speak of. The KJV I trust is the one in my hand. End of story.

Andrew said...

Jeff, your article hits on an interesting subject regarding the history of the printing of the Authorized Version. Allow me to comment a little bit on this, if I may.

It turns out that over time, various minor formatting updates, as well as some corrections, were made to the text of the 1611 translation. Most of these corrections were of the sort that corrected basic typographical errors (typos), some of which took longer (for various reasons) to be noticed and cleaned up. Some of these corrections, albeit not very many, were such that brought the text into closer alignment with the TR, and also in most cases, the Bishops' Bible and Geneva Bible as well. As an example of the latter type, in Mark 5:6, the 1611 printing of the KJV originally read "he came," but this was later corrected to "he ran." This agrees better with the TR as well as the Geneva and Bishops' Bible as well. Now, for Mark 5:6, it is hard to say for sure whether the 1611 reading "he came" originated as an accidental misprint (maybe the 1611 royal printer misread the master copy that the 1611 translators gave him, as at numerous other places), or whether it was a legitimate correction made to the text based on checking the Greek and Hebrew that was effected in future editions of the KJV, including ours today.

But it should be noted that this particular correction, in Mark 5:6, and the vast majority of such corrections, were made in editions of the KJV that were printed from between 1611 and 1638. By 1638, most of them had been made. The 1638 edition of the KJV is the second major revision, after the 1629 revision, that was printed by Cambridge. The most glaring mistakes of the first printing of the Authorized Version (for example, the repeat of a sentence in Exodus 14:10 or the accidental omission of the phrase "yet he shall not find it" in Eccl. 8:17) had been purged and corrected out of the text by 1638. And it is interesting to note that the KJV translator John Bois is known to have been involved in the 1629 revision, while the 1638 revision was overseen by Samuel Ward in collaboration with many of the original translators, so this can be said to be their more carefully represented product. Or at least, the product of those of the KJV translators who still remained in the 1630s.

What I find very interesting, by the way, is how a pattern exists of several unique English-language readings in the 1638 revision that are different than the 1611 edition, that seem to reflect the Geneva Bible more than the Bishops' Bible. For a few examples: Exodus 21:32 “shekels” → “shekels of silver”, Leviticus 26:13 “reformed by” → “reformed by me by”, Mark 10:18 “there is no man” → “there is none”, 2 Corinthians 9:5 “not of covetousness” → “and not as of covetousness”, Revelation 1:4 “Churches in Asia” → “churches which are in Asia”, Revelation 5:13 “honour, glory” → “and honour, and glory”. In each of these cases, the 1611 edition was more similar to the Bishops' Bible, but the 1638 revision was more similar to the Geneva Bible in its English phraseology. (Although in general, the KJV is a combination of both.)

It is well known that the king James I gave a monopoly on printing the translation of 1611 to the royal printers. This monopoly was only broken in the year 1628 when the license was given to Cambridge University, and Cambridge quickly undercut the royal printers with much cheaper and more accurate printings. Maybe these changes can all be explained by coincidence. But on second thought, could the above changes, though, possibly be a kind of "last laugh" by the translators who preferred certain Geneva readings to be in the text? And what about the restoration of the phrase "yet he shall not find it"? One wonders. (Note: These words, in Ecclesiastes 8:17, were first restored to the text in the 1629 Cambridge edition.)

Andrew said...

What's more interesting still is that further corrections were made in subsequent generations. This process continued all the way until around the year 1900, which is when the text came to represent essentially what we have today. However, in essence, what we have is still the same translation as the original translation. The 1762 revision never reached a wide audience due to a fire destroying the warehouse of Benjamin Dod where most of the copies were being stored, but the revisions contained in the 1762 revision were significantly followed by the 1769 Blayney revision in most places. Dr. Blayney also added a great many more updates, bringing the text into conformity with resources such as Samuel Johnson's 1755 Dictionary of the English Language. Blayney mentioned consulting the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts as well. So, in general there seems to have been a continual process of checking and making minor corrections to the Authorized Version which proceeded through subsequent generations as well.

In your article, the 1 Kings 8:36 and 2 Chron. 33:19 differences seem to be more accurate to the received text in the Cambridge editions. But these two differences are at least arguably orthographic in nature, similar to the choice of word capitalizations made over time; and certainly, the difference in Psalm 148:8 falls in this category. The difference in Jeremiah 34:16 is more substantial. This is a minor mistake that was introduced by the 1769 revision, and subsequently corrected by later editors of the KJV, bringing it back to the correct 1611 reading. It should certainly read "whom ye had set."

Interestingly, the Cambridge and Oxford editions historically had certain word spelling differences, such as those noted here in your article. It is possible to trace the history of the text used today through the 1762 edition (Cambridge) and the 1769 edition (Oxford), and then through the 1817 (Oxford) edition, and then back to the Cambridge editions again starting in 1835. If you look at Webster's translation, which was his attempt to lightly revise the KJV in the year 1833, you will see that it still has the Oxford spellings.

In addition to the "whom he had set" reading, the Oxford KJV editions also contain the following readings: "travel" instead of "travail" in Numbers 20:14, "take you up" instead of "take ye up" in Joshua 4:5, "travel" instead of "travail" in Lamentations 3:5, "spirit" instead of "Spirit" [capitalized] in Matthew 4:1 and Mark 1:12, "son" instead of "Son" seven places in Matthew, thrice in Mark and twice in Luke. Two commas are also removed from Daniel 5:10 and the parentheses in Ephesians 6:2 are gone. These are all changes that existed in the 1769 edition, that were later changed back, but only in the Cambridge stream of KJV editions. Later Oxford editions removed the capitalization of "Spirit" in Revelation 11:11, among other changes.

Besides these, there is another common KJV edition made in the 20th century, which is called the "Concord" Cambridge edition. This revision combines readings from those two streams. It can be identified by its use of the Oxford spellings "enquire" instead of "inquire," "razor" instead of "rasor," and the word spelling "counsellor" rather than "counseller," while following Cambridge elsewhere (i.e. "gray", "axe", "wondrous", "flotes" instead of their alternate spellings). This "Concord" edition also ends Jeremiah 32:5 with a period instead of a question mark, as the Oxford editions do. (Grammatically, a question mark is better, given the context, but it's a very minor difference.)

I would agree that most of this is orthographic. While interesting, it is not something to be overly concerned about. I do tilt toward the 1900 format of the Cambridge edition.