Thank you for your letter. I am always interested in the latest attacks on the word of God.
Pulling out Ezekiel 24:7 shows me the desperation to which these fellows are driven to attack the King James Bible. It is so obviously a printing error in the 1611 edition that it hardly needs defense. However, I will do so for those who need it.
Any particular copy of the King James Bible does not have to be error-free for the Bible to be the infallibly preserved Bible in the English language. Typographical errors continue to occur in Bibles today even with our superior computer checking and long-term correction of errors. If any particular copy of the Bible is found to have a misprint, we simply correct it in the next printing or in the text of our particular copy of the Bible.
The error in the 1611 edition of the King James Bible in Ezekiel 24:7 is clearly a misprint which was spotted and corrected so early that there can be no honest opposition to this truth. First, let's eliminate the other possibilities.
- It is not a textual problem--by this I mean that there is no difference in the Hebrew text that would cause them to translate without the "not." The Hebrew Masoretic text used for the translation of the King James Bible has the Hebrew word "lo", meaning "no" or "not". I also checked several modern translations. They all have the negative so there is no problem with a different Hebrew text.
- It is not a translation problem. There is no reason to believe that the King James translators translated this passage which clearly has a "not" without the negative. In fact, the early correction (1613) proves that this was an error in the first printing.
- It is not a doctrinal error. One of the interesting things about the printing errors in the King James editions is that they are either so benign that hardly any difference can be discerned in meaning or they are so obvious (as in this case) that they are simple to correct. One early edition had "Printers have persecuted me without cause" in Psalm 119:161. This is not something to lose our religion over. Rather, it is amusing to consider what "printers" have done to the Bible. Correct it in the text (write the correct words in) or in the next printing but don't glee over your superiority to the Bible God has given to us. One other thought: even though the Ezekiel 24:7 example is the opposite of what it should be, I would challenge anyone to try and teach any false doctrine from the misprint.
What is it then? It is a printing error. Either the handwritten copy of Ezekiel handed to the printers had the not inadvertently left out or the printers themselves failed to see the not when they laid out the type. I believe that the Lord preserved His word through the translation process, but I do not believe that He kept the hundreds of people involved in the process from making any mistakes. These few and minor errors would be corrected over a period of time.
A simple word like "not" is very easy to leave out when making a copy of something. However, it is also very easy to put back in when the mistake is discovered. This was done in 1613--only 2 years after the original printing! So, for the last 389 years (out of the 391 since the original King James printing), we have had the correct printing in Ezekiel 24:7--the one that certainly matches the translation decision of the 1611 translators.
Attacking the King James Bible on the basis of such printing errors shows a profound hatred for the Bible used by God for the saving of more souls, the sending of more missionaries, the establishing of more churches, the strengthening of more believers and the stirring of more revivals than any other edition of the Bible in any language for the last 2,000 years--including those in the original tongues. I actually feel sorry for people like that.