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The Bible in American Life$
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Philip Goff, Arthur Farnsley, and Peter Thuesen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190468910

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190468910.001.0001

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“Thy Word Is True”

“Thy Word Is True”

King James Onlyism and the Quest for Certainty in American Evangelical Life

(p.154) 13 “Thy Word Is True”
The Bible in American Life

Jason A. Hentschel

Oxford University Press

This look into King James Onlyism, an intraevangelical movement come of age during the cultural turbulence of the mid-twentieth century, offers a case study of American evangelicals’ widespread struggle to come to terms with historical consciousness. Front and center here is the influence of inherited traditions on biblical interpretation. Incorporating new ethnographic research, this chapter argues that King James Only evangelicals’ defense of the Authorized Version as the one, truly trustworthy English translation reflects the same fundamental desire for certainty evident in contemporary arguments for biblical inerrancy. As a result, this chapter continues the recent trend of blurring the lines between evangelicalism and fundamentalism. A range of King James Onlyism’s responses to the perceived rise in hermeneutical subjectivism and subsequent collapse of biblical authority is covered, including the movement’s conspiratorial rhetoric, foundational appeal to providential preservation, and thoroughgoing critique of modern textual criticism.

Keywords:   King James Onlyism, King James Only, evangelicalism, fundamentalism, historical consciousness, certainty, subjectivism, inerrancy, biblical authority

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