For the first 274 years of the KJV (including most notably the 1611 version) the KJV included the apocryphal books. So if the 1611 version is inspired why don't the Protestant KJV-1611-Only crowd consider them canonical?

  • 1
    Not that I doubt most KJV only people do reject the apocrypha, but it wouldn't hurt to have an explicit quote from one saying so.
    – curiousdannii
    Aug 11, 2018 at 13:15
  • @curiousdannii Definitely would help.
    – matheno
    Aug 12, 2018 at 3:18

2 Answers 2


Interesting question (which gets an up-vote from me), and although I am not a “King James Version Only” Protestant, I was curious enough to go looking for a possible answer. Here is part of what I found...

King James (VI of Scotland and I of England) authorised his translation in 1604 and it was completed in 1611, 85 years after the first translation of the New Testament into English appeared (Tyndale, 1526). In the preface to the 1611 edition, the translators of the Authorized Version, or King James Version, state that is was not their purpose “to make a new translation . . . but to make a good one better.”

While many people claim that the 1611 KJV is the only “true” translation, rarely are they actually in possession of the 1611 Authorized Version of the KJV. Rather, they have the more readable 1769 Oxford version. This version does not contain the Apocrypha.

The KJV Only movement claims its loyalty to be to the Textus Receptus, a Greek New Testament manuscript compilation completed in the 1500s. To varying degrees, KJV Only advocates argue that God guided Erasmus (the compiler of the Textus Receptus) to come up with a Greek text that is perfectly identical to what was originally written by the biblical authors. However, it seems that the Apocrypha included in the 1611 version came from a different source:

“Although the New Testament was translated from the Textus Receptus (Received Text), the Apocrypha was translated from the Greek Septuagint (LXX), except for 2 Esdras, which was translated from the Latin Vulgate. In 1769, the Oxford edition, which excluded the Apocrypha, became the standard text and is the text which is reproduced almost unchanged in most current printings.” Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/King-James-Version-KJV.html

It is worth noting that not all of the books of the Apocrypha are included in Catholic Bibles and that it was not until the Council of Trent in the mid-1500’s that they were officially added. Here is a brief extract from an article on this subject:

”The books of the Apocrypha include 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, Prayer of Manasseh, 1 Maccabees, and 2 Maccabees, as well as additions to the books of Esther and Daniel. Not all of these books are included in Catholic Bibles. The Roman Catholic Church officially added the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonicals to their Bible at the Council of Trent in the mid 1500’s A.D., primarily in response to the Protestant Reformation.” Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/apocrypha-deuterocanonical.html

Two possible reasons, then, why the KJV Only movement may reject the Apocrypha even though it was included in the original 1611 version:

First, they may not be attributed to Erasmus and the Textus Receptus. Second, it wasn’t until the mid-1500’s that the Roman Catholic Church officially added the Apocrypha to the canon.

However, since I am not a KJV Only advocate, I can’t speak for them. All I can do is present some background information that may have a bearing on your question.

  • 5
    Well the OT isn't part of the TR either, but I haven't heard of any KJV-only people who reject it! But you could be onto something in that they may consider the LXX suspect or unreliable in general.
    – curiousdannii
    Aug 11, 2018 at 14:09
  • 3
    The 1611 KJV Old Testament was translated from the Masoretic Hebrew text, but I don’t know enough about that in relation to any deuterocanonical books that may (or may not) appear in the 1611 KJV O.T. to make a comment. The KJV Only view seems to be that they are loyal to the Textus Receptus, which pertains to the New Testament.
    – Lesley
    Aug 11, 2018 at 14:20
  • The Textus Receptus (the "TR") wasn't coined until 1633 by printers Bonaventure and his nephew Abraham Elzevir. Notwithstanding, TR has been retroactively applied to the Greek New Testaments that have been derived from Erasmus' third edition. Also, the KJV NT was not an original work of translation. Quite a bit of the KJV was retained 1602 Bishops', and borrowed from Tyndale, Coverdale, Great, Geneva, and even the Rheims NT. Jul 2, 2019 at 15:59
  • @Ruminator - What an unexpected birthday surprise! I trust you are well.
    – Lesley
    Oct 9, 2022 at 14:42

For the first 274 years of the KJV (including most notably the 1611 version) the KJV included the apocryphal books. So if the 1611 version is inspired why don't the Protestant KJV-1611-Only crowd consider them canonical?

The authors of the KJV did not consider the Apocrypha to be canon. Their inclusion in the work never carried any such implication. I suppose then the question should be reformulated - do they think that the entire KJV was inspired or only the canonical books? The latter seems to be the case, and as the original authorship of the non-canonical ones was not deemed to be inspired, it is hard to see why a translation would be inspired either.

The authors of the KJV put the Apocrypha into an intertestamental section (following Luther's example) and titled it "Bookes called Apocrypha".

The very word "Apocrypha" implies non-canonicity. Those who consider the works canon don't call them "apocrypha".

The Church of England's stance today, as well as in 1611, is as it was in 1571. Article Six of the Thirty-Nine Articles stated of the Apocryphal books:

And the other books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine

So although the books are not considered useless, they are clearly non-canonical, and in fact, the term "Holy Scripture" only includes the canonical books:

In the name of Holy Scripture, we do understand those Canonical books of the Old and New testament

Again, presumably, the notion of inspiration applies only to scripture itself, not to what are in effect appendices.

Wikipedia is misleading in stating (at the time of writing), "The British Puritan revolution of the 1600s brought a change in the way many British publishers handled the apocryphal material associated with the Bible ... The Westminster Confession of Faith, composed during the British Civil Wars (1642–1651), excluded the Apocrypha from the canon." This wrongly implies that the Apocrypha were previously canon. Nevertheless, there was clearly strong anti-Apocrypha feeling in some circles, and this was part of the reason for the foundation of the Trinitarian Bible Society as a breakaway from the British & Foreign Bible Society.

Pro-KJV-Only websites contend:

  • "Many critics of the perfect Bible like to point out that the original King James had the Apocrypha in it as though that fact compromises its integrity. But several things must be examined to get the factual picture. ... The Apocrypha was accepted reading based on its historical value, though not accepted as Scripture by anyone outside of the Catholic church. The King James translators therefore placed it between the Old and New Testaments for its historical benefit to its readers." ( https://www.chick.com/information/article?id=did-king-james-contain-apocrypha )
  • "While it is very true that the KJV originally did include the Apocrypha, although it began being removed in 1666, the Apocrypha was never deemed part of scripture." ( https://www.followintruth.com/why-did-the-kjv-originally-include-the-apocrypha )

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