A Question I Was Asked:

What Happened to the KJV Bible Preface?

The Question:

[All] the Bible translations which I have ever read contained a preface (an introduction and explanation of its scope, intentions etc), but not the King James Version. [Therefore] I wondered why the KJV does not contain a preface. I read somewhere that the original KJV actually had a preface but was removed later, hence all the latest editions of the KJV do not have a preface. I [would] just like to know the reason why the preface of the KJV had to be taken out.

UK Apologetics Reply:

The first question here is: how many people ever actually read a Bible preface? Now, every translation originally contained a preface but sometimes, with the demand for cheaper, paperback Bibles, a preface might be dropped. I just checked a few KJV Bibles (one a paperback) - all had prefaces! I then checked a few other versions: all, save one, had a proper preface. But there should be no difficulty or mystery here, the KJV original 1611 preface may be freely read online here. It is not correct to say that the original KJV had a preface but this has now been removed, you are misunderstanding something here; the preface remains. It is not the preface which some are making a fuss about but the 'The Translators to the Reader,' section which is just a part of the preface. This is now indeed dropped.

The worrying thing about this KJV preface business is that a few (misguided KJV Onlyists), see the removal of the 'The Translators to the Reader,' as some sort of satanic plot. In fact, as several have noted, this section provides real difficulties for the KJV-only people when carefully studied. Go here to see what Theologically Driven has written on this subject. It is also interesting to look at what Ben Rast has written on this general topic:

Contrary to what some in the KJV camp believe, the 1611 KJV was not without errors. In fact, it took several subsequent editions to arrive at the version that is in use today. For instance, in the 1611 edition, Matthew 26:36 said, "Then cometh Judas". Today, the KJV renders that verse as "Then cometh Jesus." This is a rather significant difference! The first edition also contained the Apocryphal books, which were removed in subsequent editions. The 1613 edition inadvertently left the word "not" out of the seventh commandment, thereby encouraging people to commit adultery. This edition became known as the "Wicked Bible." Another edition earned the nickname "Unrighteous Bible" because it stated that the unrighteous would inherit the kingdom of heaven.....In the years since the KJV came about in 1611, and even since the most recent major revisions in 1769, some wonderful discoveries have come to light. In 1859, Count Konstantin von Tischendorf discovered nearly 350 pages of an early Greek text containing all the New Testament works. He discovered this volume in St. Catherine's monastery on Mt. Sinai, and it became known as the Codex Sinaiticus. This Greek New Testament was dated to the mid 4th century AD. Another discovery, the Codex Vaticanus, is a volume of 757 vellum sheets containing most of the works of the Bible and it dates to the early 4th century AD.

Other papyri fragments have been discovered that date to the early 2nd century AD! In fact, literally thousands of pieces of the Bible have been discovered dating earlier than the Byzantine texts that were the foundation of the Textus Receptus. These earlier texts formed the foundation for many of the modern translations in use today, including the NIV and the NASB. Thinking back to the game of Telephone, wouldn't you consider someone who was twice or three times removed from the original messenger a more reliable source than someone who was ten or twelve times removed? If we can't get to the original autographs, we would want to at least get to the earliest manuscripts available. The purpose behind many of the modern translations was the same as the purpose behind the 1611 KJV translation - to provide an accurate rendition of the Bible in the common language of the day. A benefit which the NIV and NASB translators had - which the KJV translators did not have - was access to earlier manuscripts. (You can read the entirety of Ben's article here.)

I am afraid that I am unsympathetic to the KJV Onlyists; they have actively spread mis-information which has split congregations and families too.

Robin A. Brace. July 12th, 2012.