Let me start this and state from the outset, that I do not have any issue with the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. This is not an anti-KJV post but rather one to balance some of the arguments the KJV-only proponents have used to ridicule and malign some of the modern translations such as the NASB, NIV, ESV etc.
Just so it is clear, my position is this: that the version of Bible you use (be it KJV, NASB, NIV etc) is a personal preference and it will not affect your ability to live a godly life, your walk with the Lord, or your ability to win souls to Christ. Most of the modern translations are extremely accurate to the original texts in their original languages of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic.
The argument that the KJV is the only perfect version of God’s Word is incorrect and most of the arguments used to support that position are wrong, or disingenuous. The passage below is one of those used to argue the superiority of the KJV.
Isaiah 14:12 in a couple of different translations says the following:
KJV: How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
ESV: How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!
NASB: How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!
NIV: How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
The argument from KJV-only supporters is that the modern translations use the same or similar title here in Isaiah that is used to describe Jesus in 2Pet 1:19. Surely only a Bible inspired but Satan and men who wish to diminish the deity of Christ etc would do this, argue these people.
Clearly, when we read the modern versions and compare them with the KJV, there does seem to be difference of some kind. One refers to Lucifer (KJV) and the other clearly refers to a morning star or a day star. So which is right?
In this passage, the modern translations have been faithful to the original text. The literal reference for the Hebrew word, heylel is morning or day star. The literal reference is to Venus which shines brightly in the sky in the morning as one of the last stars to vanish with the sun.
So how was it that the KJV came up with “Lucifer”? Well it turns out that the translators did not know what to do with this word as this is the only place it appears in the Old Testament. So they simply inserted the word from the Latin Vulgate translated: “lucifer”. The verse in the Latin Vulgate (translated by Jerome) is: quomodo cecidisti de caelo lucifer qui mane oriebaris corruisti in terram qui vulnerabas gentes. Notice the underlined word, “lucifer”…notice that it is not a proper noun – as in a name (with an upper case “L”). It is not this way because the word is the Latin translation of the word for “morning star”.
So the translators of the KJV were unsure of what the Hebrew word, heylel said and thus borrowed the Latin word and put it straight in their Bible translation. The 1611 edition of the KJV had “day star” included in the marginal notes as well.
So the next thing to discuss is what Isaiah 14:12 is saying and how that relates to the passage in 2Pet 1:19. Isaiah is primarily referencing the King of Babylon here. Indirectly it includes the devil who inspired and motivated the king. The passage that Isa 14:12 is included in, is a clear reference to an earthly man.
The Hebrew word and the Greek one in 2Pet 1:19 (phosphoros in Greek) are often used to refer to kings or emperors or pagan deities. So, 2Pet 1:19 is written, So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. In this Peter is essentially using a word used to describe false pagan deities and using to describe the real God. What he is writing is that when the day dawns and the real God arises in your heart. He contrasts this against the false ones he no doubt dealt with time and time again.
There is no rule which states that the same or similar word needs to refer to the exact same person every time it is used in the Bible – especially when the context clear says otherwise. There are many instances of this occurring in the Bible (including the KJV).
So, in this instance of Isaiah, the modern translations are actually the more accurate and true to the original manuscripts. The KJV-only advocates poorly understand the history involved in the development and translation of their version when they raise this a one of their many proofs of the reasons why the KJV is the only perfect and reliable version available.
May God bless you all.