What about those italicized words?
A Defense of Rom. 11:4
by Martin A. Shue
Recently in an online debate my opponent accused the Authorized Version of “adding” to the words of God at Romans 11:4 because the words “the image of” are in italics. This is certainly not a new charge against the Authorized Version (AV). Down through the years many have made similar allegations against the AV because of their use of italics in some verses. Most often these allegations are made due to ignorance on the part of the accuser of the Greek language and the lack of understanding of just what is involved in translating from one language to another. I shall demonstrate with some specific examples of what I am talking about by and by.

While you have most assuredly heard many critics condemn the AV for using italics you have probably never heard these same critics attack the many hundreds of modern versions which are guilty of the very same practice. The big difference is that the AV translators where honest in their translation and let you, the reader, know when words were supplied in order to make more clear the implicit sense of the Greek. As I said, all translations employ this practice but unlike the AV they do not use italics to inform you of where words have been supplied by the translators. This, in my opinion, is a very deceptive practice on their part. However, this should come as no surprise since a large portion of their work is based on deception. Were these translators to put their added words in italics some of the more dynamic equivalent translations would consist of mostly italicized words. This is one of the reasons they don’t indicate to you when they have added words not in the Greek to the text.

As I indicated above there are a number of problems in translating from one language to another. Perhaps you can remember back to high school or college when you studied a foreign language. If you will remember when you were doing your homework exercises the foreign language, say French, didn’t always make sense in English when literally translated. Hence, it was often necessary to ‘add’ an English word or two to complete the sense of the sentence and in order for it to make sense in English. The same is true when translating from Greek to English. For example, the Greek phrase “o luon” can be translated a couple of ways. It can be rendered as “the man who loses” or it can also be rendered as “the one who loses”. However, it literally means “the losing”. The reason it can be rendered “the MAN who loses” is because the noun “luon” is masculine in Greek. So, you see, where this to actually be translated the noun “man” could stand in italics because it was ‘added’, so to speak. Although we have to ‘add’ an additional noun to describe the gender in English the Greek phrase would have been perfectly preserved because in Greek the gender is understood in the masculine noun, “luon”.

Another reason for the use of italics is because in rare occasions the Greek and Hebrew texts extant are missing words themselves. Perhaps a couple of illustrations would benefit us at this point. The first place we want to look is Acts 1:13. In Acts 1:13 we read the phrase “and Judas the brother of James” (KJB). Notice that the phrase “the brother” is in italics. The New International Version (NIV) (as well as most modern versions) translates this as “and Judas son of James.” As indicated earlier, the AV informs you when they have ‘added’ words to the text; however, the NIV does not make this distinction for you. It should be noted that the Greek does not have “the brother” nor does it have “the son”. The Greek (any Greek text) reads “kai Ioudas Iakobou” (literally: ‘and Judas of James). This is where our bumbling modern translators have erred. They have assumed that Judas was ‘the son of’ James because he was “of James”. However, being the giants they were, the translators of 1611 compared Scripture with Scripture to obtain the proper reading. In Jude 1 we encounter a very similar phrase: “Ioudas....adelphos de Iakobou” (literally: ‘Judas/Jude...brother of James’). Now, so as not to confuse our readers, it should be noted that the English names ‘Judas’ and ‘Jude’ are the same name. So, as you can see a simple comparison of Scripture with Scripture reveals the true nature of the relationship between the Judas and James of Acts 1:13. It also shows why it is necessary to ‘add’ words to clarify the text in English. We pass on.

Another well known example of this can be found in 2 Sam. 21:19. The KJB reads in part, “...where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite...”. Again notice that “the brother of” is placed in italics. Thus indicating that these words are not found in the underlying Hebrew text. The NIV (as well as most modern versions) renders this portion of the verse, “...Elhanan son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite...”. It is plain to see the obvious problem that arises with the two different translations. So, which was it--did Elhanan kill “the brother of” Goliath or did he kill “Goliath the Gittite”? Much discussion has surrounded this verse; however, time does not allow me to delve into these controversies. (For more on this verse see our article “Who Killed Goliath”). Let me just briefly state that many, when trying to defend this farcical reading of the modern versions, claim that Elhanan did in fact kill a man named “Goliath” but it was a different giant than the one David killed. This is simply absurd, unfounded and cannot be proven in any way. Once again the secret to understanding this verse lies in a simple comparison of Scripture with Scripture. If you have a study Bible look at this verse and see what the cross reference is. In every study Bible I checked the cross reference is 1 Chron. 20:5. This is where we find the parallel passage to 2 Sam. 21:19. 1 Chron. 20:5 reads as follows, “and Elhanan the son of Jair slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite”. The NIV even reads, “Elhanan son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite”. Here we are informed of the missing Hebrew from 2 Sam. 21:19, viz. Elhanan killed “Lahmi the brother of Goliath”. These words are not in italics because they are actually found in the Hebrew of this verse. So how could the Hebrew of 2 Sam. 21:19 be missing? Adam Clarke addresses this very question in his commentary of this verse. Commenting on the reading of the modern versions Clarke writes:

“Here is a most manifest corruption of the text, or gross mistake of the transcriber; David, not Elhanan, slew Goliath. In 1 Chronicles 20:5, the parallel place, it stands thus: “Elhanan, the son of Jair, slew Lahmi, the brother of Goliath the Gittite, whose spear-staff was like a weaver’s beam.” This is plain; and our translators have borrowed some words from Chronicles to make both texts agree. The corruption may be easily accounted for by considering that ‘oregim’, which signifies weavers, has slipped out of one line into the other; and that ‘beith hallachmi’, the Beth-lehemite, is corrupted from ‘eth Lachmi’; then the reading will be the same as in Chronicles. Dr. Kennicott has made this appear very plain in his First Dissertation on the Hebrew Text, p. 78, etc. (Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary, The Old Testament, Vol. 2, 2 Sam. 21:19).”
So, once again we see that the good hand of God guided the translators of the KJB so that His preserved words can be found in the KJB and not the existing Hebrew text.

As an aside on this verse---many defend this verse by claiming that 2 Sam. 21:19 and 1 Chron. 20:5 are two different events. This is a rather comical thing when you consider the reading of some of these modern versions. A few of the modern translations actually import words from 1 Chron. 20:5 but yet leave the atrocious blunder that Elhanan killed Goliath. Allow me to illustrate what I am talking about. The Bible In Basic English (BIBE) renders this verse, “And again there was war with the Philistines at Gob, and Elhanan, the son of Jair the Beth-lehemite, put to death Goliath the Gittite, the stem of whose spear was like a cloth-worker's rod.” Instead of following the Hebrew of this verse which reads, son of “ya'arey 'oregiym” (Jaareoregim) the BIBE actually follows the Hebrew of 1 Chron. 20:5--”ya'uwr” (Jair). But instead of giving the correct reading based on 1 Chron. 20:5, which they clearly know to be the parallel passage, they blindly follow in the footsteps of the other corrupt versions. It is absolutely amazing to see the scholarship [sic] that is behind these modern versions. Their final product is proof to all that they obviously don’t know their craft very well.

Now we will look at those examples I mentioned at the beginning of the article and we shall see the hypocrisy of those that criticize the KJB for its use of italics. As unbelievable as it may seem in the very verse (i.e. Rom. 11:4) in which my opponent accused the KJB of ‘adding’ to God’s words will we take our first example. Romans 11:4a reads, “But what saith the answer of God unto him?” in the KJB. The NIV reads, “And what was God's answer to him?” and the NASV reads, “But what is the divine response to him?” (note: The NKJV also reads “divine response”). It is interesting to note that there is no word in any Greek text for the words “God” or “Divine”. However, these words are ‘implied’ by the Greek. Literally the Greek reads, “alla ti legei autw o crhmatismoV”. The last word in the previous phrase is ‘chrematismos’ and it carries the idea of 1) an answer from God or 2) a divine response or revelation. So, in order to accurately preserve the Greek in this sentence to word “God” or “Divine” must be ‘added’ to the English text. We shall quickly look at another example, found in Matt. 2:12, using the same word as in Rom. 11:4. The KJB reads, “And being warned of God”; the NASV reads, “And having been warned by God”; the NIV reads, “And having been warned in a dream”; the NKJV reads, “Then, being divinely warned”. Notice that of these four translations only the NIV fails to properly insert the word “God/Divine” (see also Matt. 2:22). By this omission the NIV has completely botched the entire meaning of the verse. To proceed however.

We will now look at a few more examples before we deal with Romans 11:4. While criticizing the KJB for ‘adding’ words to the text that are not literally found in the underlying Greek text our modern version promoters seem to look the other way when their versions are guilty of the very same thing. It is funny how it is so ‘wrong’ for the KJB to do this but when pointed out that their favorite version does the very same thing it is acceptable. A few examples:

I could very easily enlarge the above list many times over. However, for the sake of brevity I will offer only these three examples. We have still got a lot to cover so I don’t want to overburden you with examples. The above verses demonstrate how the NIV and NASV add words to the Biblical text without any Greek manuscript witness whatsoever. In our next set of examples we want to look at verses where words need to be added in order to complete the sense of the underlying Greek. Just as we discussed at the beginning of this article it is necessary at times to add words to the text in order to cause the Greek make proper sense in English. Again, a few examples to demonstrate what I am talking about: As before this list of examples could be multiplied many times over. For this last section we want to look specifically at Rom. 11:4 and the italicized words of this verse. My opponent in the recent debate claimed that the KJB had ‘added’ to the words of God by adding the phrase “the image of” to this verse. His claim was that no Greek text extant contains the phrase in question. On this he is right. In trying to make his point he further stated that “the image of” was not even implied in this verse; therefore, it should not have been placed in the text. In this section of this article we want to address this question and see if my opponent was right in his assertion.

The Greek text is somewhat ambiguous in the verse under discussion, viz. Romans 11:4. One reason it is ambiguous is because anytime Baal is mentioned in Scripture there is some debate as to what it is referring to. The god Baal existed in many different forms in many different nations. In fact, the Holman Bible Dictionary had this to say concerning the worship of Baal, “ Baal worship was as diverse as the communities in which he was worshipped. Each locality had its own Baal, who was named after the city or place to which he belonged. Baal was considered the owner or possessor of the land on which his followers lived.” Because of this fact you often encounter many derivatives of the god Baal. For example, in Num. 25:5 we see Baalpeor (lord of Peor); in Judges 8:33 we see Baalberith (lord of the covenant, Baal god in Shechem); 2 Kings 1:2-16 we encounter Baalzebub (lord of flies), the god of Ekron; and Judges 3:3 we find Baalhermon (lord of Hermon), Baal god worship near Mt. Hermon. The more specific reason the Greek phrase is unclear in this verse is because of a strange practice on the part of the Biblical writers. The Greek text (any text) reads “th Baal”. Here we see the unusual practice of using a feminine article (th) with a masculine noun (Baal). I would like to point out at this point that in the LXX (Septuagint), a Greek translation of the Old Testament, they freely interchange the feminine article (th) and the masculine article (o) when referenced to the masculine noun Baal. Although some have speculated as to why this was done no one knows for sure why this practice was employed. The most widely accepted explanation of why this was done is due to the fact that the god Baal existed in so many different forms (as mentioned above). One belief is that the god Baal either existed in both sexes in different forms or that Baal had no distinguishable sex at all. Another hypothesis as to why Baal has so often a feminine article attached to it is that Baal, in many instances, was actually an image of a young heifer, or in the form of one. This is reasoned because of how Tobit 1:5 reads, it is said, “Now all the tribes which together revolted, and the house of my father Nephthali, sacrificed unto the heifer Baal." Literally this reads, “te baal te damalei” or "to Baal the heifer". Despite the fact that images were often used to represent the god Baal it is also true that often no image at all was used in many forms of Baal worship. Baal was often worshipped as both the sun-god and storm-god. Again, the Holman Bible Dictionary gives these words concerning this form of worship, “He [Baal] was worshipped as sun-god when the people wished to express thanks and gratitude for light and warmth and fertility. Worship of Baal as storm-god took place to appease the destructive nature of Baal, demonstrated by drought and storms that devastated the vegetation of the worshipers. The efforts to appease Baal whenever adverse conditions prevailed culminated in the sacrifice of human beings, usually the firstborn of the one offering the sacrifice.” So, we see that although in many instances images were adopted in Baal worship it is also true that many worshipped Baal without images. Again, I point all this out to show the ambiguity that surrounds the false god Baal.

Although the word Baal is found 63 times in the Old Testament (not including the many derivatives of this name) it is found only once in the Greek New Testament. As demonstrated above in many places the Greek language is an elliptical language. This simply means that often words have seemingly been omitted from a sentence; however, from the structure and context of the sentence it is plain to see that the words are implied (see our examples above). So, when one is translating from Greek to English one has to be careful to take this fact into consideration. Thus it is in this present verse that we have words that are implied due to the sentence construction of the Greek. As mentioned before, the translators of 1611 made it their practice to compare Scripture with Scripture. Unlike our inept modern ‘scholars’ the translators of 1611 proved their great knowledge of the Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testaments, over and over again by comparing Scripture then giving the proper rendering. An example of their skill in doing this lays before us. In this verse Paul is rehearsing for us the events of 1 Kings 19. Specifically verse 4 refers to 1 Kings 19:18, where we read, “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.”. Now, it is clear from this verse that the god Baal that was being worshipped in this particular locality was represented by an image. For God says that they had not “kissed him”. It is evident by the verse Paul is referring to that these people were bowing before and kissing ‘the image of’ Baal. It is also evident by the Greek that something needs to be ‘added’ (remember: feminine article with a masculine noun) in the English translation. Therefore, the feminine article (Gr. te) directly implies “the image” (Gr. eikon), which is feminine in Greek, and has been supplied to complete the sense of the sentence.

What I am about to show you will reveal the total hypocrisy of those that attack the KJB. James White in his book, The King James Only Controversy, states “This book is not against the King James Version...I oppose KJV Onlyism, not the King James Version itself (White, p. VI).” Despite these hypocritical statements White proceeds to fill 271 pages of typed print with direct assaults on the “King James Version” and NOT on “KJV Onlyism” (as White terms it). What is even more hypocritical about his book is that the very things he condemns the KJB for doing the modern versions he is promoting are doing the exact same things. Such is the case of my opponent that accused the KJB of “adding” to the words of God in Rom. 11:4 (viz. the image of). I would like for you to look with me at Acts 19:35. Here we read, from the NIV, “The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: "Men of Ephesus, doesn't all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven?” (NASV “of the image”; NRSV “of the statue”; TEV “of the sacred stone”; NLT “whose image”; KJB “of the image”). I have listed the readings of these versions for your convenience because I want us to pay particular attention to the last part of this verse. The Greek reads, “tes megales theas Artemidos kai tou diopetous” (note: Westcott/Hort; Nestle/Aland omit “theas”). This would literally read, “the great goddess Artemidos(Diana) and of that fallen from Zeus(Jupiter)”. As you can readily see there is no Greek word for “image”, “statue”, or “sacred stone”. Just like before all the versions have added some words to complete the sense of the sentence. Although there are no Greek words for “image”, “statue” etc. these words are implied in the Greek sentence. Therefore, they have been ‘added’ by the NIV, KJB and other modern versions as well. The point I am trying to make is that here we have a very similar instance as the one in Rom. 11:4 yet I didn’t hear my opponent condemning the modern versions for “adding” image, statue, stone etc. to the text here in Acts 19:35. It is clear from those that attack the KJB that what they consider a ‘grave error’ in the KJB is ‘acceptable’ when done in the plethora of modern versions. The foregoing example I purposely saved for last to show you the utter hypocrisy of those that would attack the KJB.

In my opponents zealousness to discredit the KJB he boldly stated that no other English Bible before or after 1611 reads the way the King James Bible does (i.e. the image of). Once again he erred in his eagerness to point out error in the KJB. At least two (2) other pre 1611 English versions read as does the KJB. There may be others but I am certain of these two. They are:

Cranmer 1539- But what sayth the answer of God vnto him? I haue reserued vnto my selfe seuen thousande men, ehych haue not bowed the knee to the ymage of Baal.

Geneva 1557- But what sayth the answer of God to hym? I haue reserued vnto my selfe seuen thousand men which haue not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.

We will end our study of the italicized words in the KJB at this point. This is by no means an exhaustive study or presentation on the italicized words in the KJB. There of course is much more that could be said; however, this should give you a good enough understanding of this issue to properly understand and/or defend the KJB from those that charge the translators with “adding” to God’s words. I trust you have found this article informative and beneficial. As you most certainly know, nothing has been ‘added’ to the words of God in the King James Bible. That is why you can trust it as the very words of God.