IS THE KING JAMES BIBLE IN ERROR
TO REFER TO THE HOLY SPIRIT AS "IT"?

By Will Kinney

 

Is referring to the third person of the of the blessed Trinity, as "itself" and major error in the King James Bible, which borders on blasphemy?

Doug Kutilek is a well known critic of the KJB.  He has both printed and posted an article on the internet, which harshly criticizes this supposed error in the King James Bible.  Mr. Kutilek states: "Any honest evaluation of the King James Version leads to the conclusion that it has numerous defects as a translation, some major,  most minor.  But of these defects, among the most serious, quite probably the worst of the lot, is its occasional use of the English pronoun "it" to refer to the Holy Spirit."  He also states: "I will plainly state my opinion on the matter: I think that here the KJV comes dangerously close to blasphemy, if it does not in fact actually wander into it."  He closes his article with these words.  "Those who imagine that the KJV...is faultless and error-free are compelled to address the matter."   

The purpose of this article, is to do just that - address this matter.  Mr. Kutilek�s objections to the use of "it" or "itself"  in referring to the Holy Ghost  are both hypocritical and ignorant.  Hypocritical because there are many versions, including the modern ones, that use "itself" in either the very same verses or in the same manner.   And ignorant because apparently Mr. Kutilek does not know  the proper use of his own English language.

There are four verses in the KJB that he criticizes.  John 1:32; Romans 8:16, 26 and I Peter 1:11. We will examine these verses with other translations and then look at examples in the nkjv, niv and nas versions.

However, first, we shall look at how our English dictionaries define the use of the words "it" and "itself".  The Random House Webster�s College Dictionary of 1999  lists under the second definition of  "itself"  - "used to represent a PERSON or animal understood, previously mentioned, about to be mentioned, or present in the immediate context."  Examples given are:  "Who is it?  It is John. " "Did you see the baby?  Yes, isn�t it cute."  " the cat likes to sun itself in the window."  The Websters 1967 Collegiate Dictionary  defines "it" as "a PERSON or animal whose gender is unknown or disregarded."  The Father and the Son are clearly masculine, but the Spirit is sometimes refered to as masculine and sometimes as neuter, not because He is neuter, but rather because the gender is disregarded or not taken into account in that particular context.

The first verse is John 1:32 .  And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending like a dove, and IT abode upon him."

Other Bible versions that agree with the KJB in their use of  "it" are Tyndales first edition, the Geneva Bible of 1599 and 1602 ( I have copies of these), the Bishop�s Bible, Darby, the ASV of 1901, the Douay of 1950,  Henry Alford�s translation, Youngs, the English Revised Version of 1881, the 21st Century KJB,  Williams New Testament  1937,  Lamsa Translation  1933, Daniel Websters Bible translation 1833,  the 20 th Century New Testament,  Weymouth  translation,  the RSV and the NRSV of 1989.  So you can see the KJB is not alone in its proper understanding of the English language.  It is Mr. Kutilek that is in error.

The second verse is Romans 8:16   "The Spirit  ITSELF beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God."

Versions that agree with the KJB are the 21st Century KJB, Alford�s,  Bishop�s Bible, Darby, Websters and the NRSV.

The third verse is Romans 8:26   "But the Spirit ITSELF  maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

Again the 21st Century KJB,  Alford�s translation, The Bishop�s Bible, Darby, Websters and the Geneva Bible of 1599 and 1602 agree with the KJB.

The fourth verse is I Peter 1:11 "Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ  which was in them did signify, when IT testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ , and the glory that should follow." Versions that have "it" here are Alfords, the Revised Version of 1881,  the ASV of 1901, Websters,  Berkeley, Basic Bible in English and the NRSV of 1989.

So we see that many Bible versions which both predate and follow the KJB have used it and itself to refer to the Spirit of God.  This is perfectly acceptable English.  Mr. Kutilek apparently is unaware of this.

The nasb and niv have two interesting and parallel verses in the new testament.  Both Matthew 12:45 and Luke 11:26 speak of a "spirit that takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than ITSELF".  Here is a case of a spiritual entity that can see, hear, speak  and has a personality, yet the gender is disregarded in the nas and niv, and is referred to as "itself".  This spirit was not an inanimate object, but rather a spiritual being with a distinct personality.  The same thing occurs in the KJB, nkjv, niv and nasb in  Luke 8:29  "For he had commanded the unclean SPIRIT to come out of  the man.  For oftentimes IT had caught him."

Here again is a spirit that talks, reasons, hears and knows  that Jesus is the Son of God and that torment awaits him.   This is clearly a personality and yet all the above mentioned versions refer to him as an "it".  The gender is disregarded, and this is perfectly acceptable English.

All of the modern versions, like the nkjv, niv and nas use "itself" when referring to both animals and groups of people.  The nkjv has the donkey itself -Hosea 8:9, the goat itself- Lev. 16:22;  Israel itself -Judges 7:2;  Numbers 23:9  speaks of "a people dwelling alone, not reckoning itself among the nations, and Zech. 12:12 "the family of the house of David by itself."

All Bible versions at times  speak  of Jesus Christ as being a thing or something neuter.  In Matthew  1:20  the angel of the Lord says to Joseph: "fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for THAT WHICH is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost."  Notice the angel does not say "he", but "that which",: it is neuter both in Greek and in English.  In Luke  1:35  the angel says to Mary "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also THAT HOLY THING which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."  That holy thing is neuter, yet we all know that Jesus Christ is a person, in fact, God manifest in the flesh.

The book of I John opens with a reference to Jesus Christ, yet it refers to Him as a thing.  "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life."   Yet Christ  is not a thing, but a person.   In I John 5:4 we are told: "WHATSOEVER is born of God overcometh the world."  This is a neuter.  Are we to assume that everyone who is born of God is a thing?  

Mr. Kutilek�s objections to the KJB, upon further analysis, are seen to be unfounded and based on ignorance. God�s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  He has revealed Himself to us in His inspired words, and He has faithfully kept  them for us today in the English language of the King James Bible.  Don�t let some self important, unbelieving scholar try to take them away from you.

 

 

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