Glossary of Terms

by Luke Wayne
Return to King James Onlyism

The following terms often come up in King James Only discussions. It is worth learning what they mean in the context of this discussion.


Armenian: The language of Armenia. An Armenian alphabet developed in the early 5th century, at which time Bible translation in that language began pretty much immediately. While some fragments exist from as early as the sixth and seventh century, the Armenian translation is primarily preserved in copies from the 10th century and afterward.

Archaic: Words which were once common but are now rarely if ever used.

Authorized Version: This is the term used for the KJV in England and by some KJV Only advocates. The term refers to the fact that the KJV was not a private enterprise but was formally authorized by the British crown. Technically, the KJV is the third authorized version after the Great Bible and the Bishop's Bible, however today the term "Authorized Version" refers specifically to the KJV, and is just another name for it.

AV: Abbreviation for "Authorized Version," another name for the KJV

Beza, Theodore: A biblical scholar in 16th century Geneva and successor to John Calvin whose work on the Greek New Testament would later influence the KJV.

Bible corrector: A pejorative used in some corners of the King James Only movement to denote someone who appeals to the original Greek or Hebrew to explain the meaning of a difficult word or phrase (thus "correcting" the Bible by using words other than those of the KJV to translate the verse).

Bishop's Bible: The second Bible translation authorized by the English crown and the immediate predecessor to the KJV. It was originally published in 1568 and went through several revisions before being replaced by the KJV in 1611.

Byzantine Text: A large group of primarily medieval manuscripts from the churches and monasteries of the Byzantine empire. The Byzantine family of manuscripts make up the majority of all of our surviving Greek New Testament manuscripts, though they come from a fairly small area where Greek remained the dominant language on through the middle ages.

Comma Johaneum: The longer form of 1 John 5:7-8 found in the Latin Vulgate, the Textus Receptus, and translations like the KJV, but not found in Greek manuscript tradition and thus not included in most modern translations.

Coverdale Bible: A 1535 English translation of the entire Bible by a man named Miles Coverdale.

Coptic: The ancient language of the Copts, or the native people of Egypt. Likely one of the earliest languages into which the New Testament was written, a number of manuscripts and fragments have survived in Coptic from a fairly early date.

Dynamic equivalence: An approach to translation in which one tries to best reflect the ideas and meaning of the text rather than staving to translate each word in the original language with one equivalent word in the new language. It is thus a "thought for thought" rather than "word for word" translation.

Erasmus, Desiderius: A scholar and Roman Catholic priest who compiled a small group of late Greek manuscripts to publish the first printed Greek New Testament in the early 16th century.

Ethiopic: The ancient language of the people of Ethiopia, also known as Ge'ez. It is not known when the New Testament was first translated into Ethiopic but all of our surviving manuscripts are from the 11th century or later.

Formal equivalence: A approach to translation in which one tries to translate each word in the original language with one equivalent word in the new language and, as much as is possible given the different systems of grammar, maintain even the word order. Stated simply, it is an attempt at a "word for word" translation.

Geneva Bible: An English Bible translation first published in 1560 and the most successful predecessor of the KJV. The Geneva Bible was the first English translation translated entirely from the original languages, the first translation carried out by a joint committee rather than by one lead translator, and even the first English Bible to include verse numbers.

Georgian: The language of the Georgian people of eastern Europe. We do not know when the Bible was first translated into Georgian, but our earliest manuscripts come from the sixth century. These, however, are small fragments. We do not have substantial manuscripts from before the ninth century.

Gothic: The language of the Goths, an ancient Germanic people. The Bible was apparently translated into Gothic during the fourth century. Very few manuscripts have survived, the most substantial of which is a gospel text from the sixth century.

Great Bible: The first formally sanctioned or authorized English Bible commissioned and approved by the Brittish crown. It was published in 1539.

Estienne, Robert: See "Stephanus"

Hexateuch: The first six books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua.

KJVO: An acronym for "King James Version Onlyism."

Latin tradition: The range of readings in the New Testament text found in the Old Latin manuscripts, the Latin Vulgate, and quotations in the Latin Church Fathers.

Latin Vulgate: A Latin translation of the Bible from the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament which was produced by Jerome in the fourth century. It became the dominant version in the west for over a thousand years. We have some 10,000 manuscripts of the Vulgate from throughout Western Europe.

Majority Text: The term is used in two distinctive ways. It can mean the readings found in the majority of manuscripts or it can refer to the family of manuscripts that comprise that majority. In the latter sense, it is roughly synonymous with the Byzantine Text.

Masoretic Text: The traditional Hebrew text of the Old Testament preserved by and used in Rabbinic Judaism. It is named for the Masoretes, Jewish scribes and scholars between the 6th and 10th centuries AD who collected detailed information on the Hebrew text and copied it meticulously.

Matthew Bible: A Bible translation published by John Rogers under the pseudonym "Thomas Matthew" in 1537. It primarily relied on the previous work of Tyndale and Coverdale, though with some editing and updating. It was later used as the starting point for the translation of the Great Bible.

Old Latin: Ancient Latin translations of the Bible from before the Jerome's Vulgate or readings in later manuscripts that appear to go back to those translations rather than the Vulgate.

Old Syriac: Ancient Syriac translations of the Bible from before the Peshitta or readings in later manuscripts that appear to go back to those translations rather than the Peshitta.

Pentateuch: The first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

Periphrastic: A loose summery or roundabout way of restating something. Having the nature of a paraphrase.

Peshitta: A relatively early translation of the Bible into Syriac that eventually became the most widely used text by Syriac-speaking Christians across the eastern world. The Old Testament may go back as early as the 2nd Century. The date of the Peshitta New Testament is much more debated but probably goes back to the 4th or 5th century.

Septuagint: An ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament produced by Greek-speaking Jews prior to the time of the New Testament. It was often quoted by the New Testament authors and remained the Old Testament text of the Christian churches for many centuries.

Slavonic: Often called "Old Church Slavonic," the Slavonic language is an ancient Eastern European language into which the Bible was translated in the 9th century. It is a relatively late ancient translation and so is generally considered less significant in textual studies. It remains the official Bible of most traditional Slavic Orthodox churches.

Stephanus: The Latin name and of Robert Estienne, a scholar of the 16th Century that continued the work of Desiderius Erasmus in developing the printed Greek New Testament. Stephanus added textual notes conveying the variant readings among the manuscripts and invented basically the system of verse numbers that we still use today. His work was subsequently continued by Theodore Beza.

Syriac: A form of Aramaic that was widespread in the ancient near east and beyond. The Bible was translated into Syriac at a very early date, and Syriac manuscripts often come up in text critical discussions.

Textual Criticism: The systematic comparison of various manuscripts of a document (most often the Bible) to carefully determine which reading reflects the original.

Textual Variant: An instance where manuscripts read differently from one another, typically because of copying mistake in one or more of the available copies.

Textus Receptus: Latin for "received text," the term refers to a series of Greek New Testaments published in the 16th Century and afterward and printed on the newly invented printing press rather than hand copied by a Scribe. The text was based primarily on the handful of late manuscripts which were then available to the scholars involved. The various editions of the Textus Receptus are what the King James Translators primarily relied on to produce their English New Testament, as did modern translations like the New King James Version (NKJV) and the Modern English Version (MEV).

Tyndale, William: The first person to translate portions of the Bible into English from the original Greek and Hebrew (earlier English Bibles were derived from Latin translations). Tyndale published translations of the entire New Testament, the Pentateuch, and the book of Jonah. He was put to death by the English crown before he could finish his Old Testament translation. His translation heavily influenced many translations after him, including the KJV.

Vulgate: See "Latin Vulgate"

West Saxon Gospels: Manuscripts of a 10th-century translation of the gospels from Latin into an early form of English.

Wycliffe Bible: A 14th-Century translation of the entire Bible into Middle English from the Latin text. Though it bears Wycliffe's name, most scholars do not believe that Wycliffe was the actual translator, through the translation came about because of the movement Wycliffe started and was associated with his teachings.