One of the criticisms of the King James Bible is the use of italics. Those italicized words represent the fact that those words were not in the original. The KJV critics say they added words, getting rid of the true original. But this is not true. When translating something into another language, sometimes adding words is necessary to make a sentence make sense because of the changes between grammar and syntax.
Let’s look at an example to get some context.
Zechariah 11:12-13: “And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.”
In this passage, the word “pieces” is italicized. This shows the amount of silver. Isn’t that important information? It could be 20 bags without it! If the word “pieces” wasn’t added, how would we know what the amount of silver?
A word-for-word translation would be literal jargon. They had to add words to make it make sense. It’s common sense and an essential aspect of translation. A straight word-for-word translation is not possible as it would come out a mess. Part of translation involves piecing things together in the language that the text is being translated into because the words do not match up one for one between languages.
If we look at the Gospel of Matthew, we can see why distinguishing the amount of silver in Zechariah 11:12-13 was so important.
Matthew 27:9: “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value.”
“Pieces” is not italicized in this verse, but the apostle Matthew used the italicized word because the value it represented was important. This is clear evidence of the value of the italicized words.
Let’s look at another example.
Habakkuk 1:5: “Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told you.”
”You” is italicized in this verse. It’s important because it tells us who the person is. Without this word, we wouldn’t know who the subject of the sentence was.
Acts 13:41: “Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.”
Luke revisits the verse from Habakkuk, using the italics from the referenced verse. Those italicized words are essential and corroborated by their use later on in the Scriptures.