Divine Typefaces

In 1953, W. Noble King offered the argument that the italics in the King James Version are an essential part of translation.

You notice that in the King James Version certain words, and phrases, and clauses are in Italics, and other areas of the Bible are not. The areas in Italics were added by the translators when they believed that the English language called for further explanation for the sake of clarity. Thus, words and thoughts added by man, and words and thoughts given by God are distinguished from each other. In the King James Version, we thus know what was given by God, and what was added by man. However in the Revised Standard Version no such differentiation is made, or deemed necessary, as all areas alike are inspired by genius.

King interprets the italics in the KJV as amplifications of the kind one will see in the Amplified Bible, extra explanatory glosses. He suggests that the translation process can reproduce God's words in English. By placing some words in italics, the translators indicate (in King's analysis) which words are divinely inspired and which words are human accommodation to modern readers. By forsaking this convention, he argues, the translators have given the whole thing over to "man's genius" rather than God's.

What a peculiar argument! Find this and many other gems in his article "Revised Standard Version Considered."