Why We Use the King James Version!--General Bible Knowledge
- by David Berg; ML#2356 (DO), March 1980
Tests & Teachers!
1. Well, PTL! I didn't expect to have another class so soon, but would you like a class? Maybe if we have our Bible Study right here at the table we wouldn't stay so long because it's uncomfortable, & you wouldn't get so tired because you wouldn't be so comfortable! What do you think? Amen, Lord, bless our study time. Help quicken their minds & help them to learn, in Jesus' name. PTL! TYJ!
2. I used to tell my class that by the time we finished a subject they would have gone over it seven times!--The first time when they read it in the text book; second time when they recited in class or answered oral questions; third time when they studied for a test; fourth time review before test; fifth time the test; & sixth time when we corrected the papers. I missed one somewhere, but anyhow, we'd go over the same thing about seven times!
3. And in our final review before a test I would give them all the questions that I was going to ask them on the test. (Fam: That's very fair!) I thought, "Why not? These are the things I want them to remember. These are the things that are most important! Why should I try to spring something on them & trick them into failing when what I want them to do is pass! I want them to make good grades, I want them to remember."
4. Some teachers are almost diabolical, it seems like they're just trying to trick you & trying to make you fail! They feel so smart when you don't know the answers. But I was so proud of my kids when they knew the answers, so I tried to make them so simple. And to me, those one-question tests where everything depends on one question were the most unfair thing in the World!--Especially if you just didn't happen to know anything about that & you had to write a whole page on that one thing!
5. I usually gave 100-question tests! Some of the kids thought, "Oh, that's harder, I'd rather just write a paragraph on one question, blah blah!" I said, "No, it's not harder, because I give you one point for every question, & you have a lot more chance to succeed & pass, because you're bound to know some of them!"--And that way we covered more territory & more facts & figures. I had 100-question tests & that way they really had a much better chance of making a good average grade. And then we graded on the curve besides.
6. A test is really not just a test of the students, it's a test of the teacher to see what a good job he did of teaching you! If you don't do well on the test then that's not necessarily your fault. So when we come to the end of this course, when we have an exam, it will probably be 100 questions & cover everything you've learned. Out of that you get a pretty good idea of what you remembered, & I hope you remember it all! In every class I like to review you before we go on to the next one to see if you remember.
Background of the King James Version!
7. The first class I always taught was Bible knowledge, to get you familiar with your Bibles. I figured, "How are you going to study the Bible if you don't know anything about it at all," & I used to start off first of all with the seven reasons why we prefer to study the King James Version. What does "King James Version" mean? (Fam: That the translation was made under the authority of King James.) Right!
8. King James was living in the 16th & 17th centuries, the same time as Shakespeare. About that time the Protestants had pretty well won the victory in England & taken over from the Catholics. England had declared its independence from the Catholic Church & had formed the Church of England with the monarch at its head.
9. Until then the people had not had very much in the way of a Bible in their common language. The Bible used by the Catholics at that time was the Latin Vulgate, which literally means vulgar Latin, the Latin of the common people. But by that time, the common people of England, the Anglo-Saxons & Normans & whatnot didn't speak Latin.
10. Originally in the early days of the Catholic Church, the Latin Vulgate was in the common language of the common people, believe it or not. But as the Roman Empire spread into many other countries with many other languages, instead of translating into those other languages they just kept on having their rituals in the Latin & reading the Bible in Latin, & everything was still done in Latin so that the people in the foreign countries outside of Italy didn't know what was going on. Everything was in Latin whether the people understood or not, & most people didn't.
11. But since the Protestants now had broken away from the Catholic Church, they decided they needed a Bible of their own, in this case in England. There had been several attempted Protestant translations in English. Wycliffe's was the first English Bible, then in the 1500's Tyndale translated a Bible into the common language of the people from the original Greek & Hebrew. John Huss had tried to translate a Bible for the Presbyterians of Scotland, who were a Reformation group, & Martin Luther had already translated a Bible in German, as I recall, in the mid-1500's, for the common people of Germany.
12. It's a funny thing, the French never developed a Protestant French Bible. They still use a Catholic French translation & it's not too good from what I hear. Where it says, "Blessed are the meek," in the French Bible it says blessed are the "de'bonnaires"! Well, it has a great deal different meaning in English. It might mean meek in French, but in English if you want to picture some kind of a Jim Dandy, a real dude, all dressed up swinging a cane with a jolly "Devil-may-care" attitude, that's to be debonair! So it's quite a bit different!
13. But anyhow, there were several versions in existence, none of them perfect, of course, & a good many of them incomplete as they usually had been done by individual men. So I'm sure it was of the Lord that dear King James was approached by the leaders of the English church, who decided that they needed a standard authorised version to use in all of their churches. Instead of this bunch over here using one version, & this bunch over there another translation, they were going to standardise the English Bible for use throughout the English churches.
14. So they persuaded King James to authorise a commission of 47 men, outstanding scholars who were really great literary men who knew Greek, Latin & Hebrew fluently, & they decided that a good new translation was needed in English. So they got together this whole group of Biblical scholars.--Hebrew scholars, Greek scholars, Latin scholars, men who really knew what they were doing--& they worked on this new English translation of the Bible for a good many years.
15. Now you don't have to write all this down, I'm just giving you a little background. There are a few facts & I'll tell you what is really most important for you to remember. Remember the name of King James, of course, & I think it was King James the 1st, as I recall. In the front of your Bible is the dedication written by these men, the translators who dedicated it to King James because he authorised it. And of course he had to foot the bill, too, because somebody had to pay for their room & board while they were working & translating. So it was paid for partly by the church & partly by the government, but the church was the government in those days.
16. They worked on it for five or six years, I've forgotten just how long, until they felt they had it just right, & they went over it & over it. The Hebrew scholars went over the Hebrew of the Old Testament, & the Greek scholars went over the Greek of the New Testament & the translation, & they even compared it with the Latin Vulgate. On your title page it even says, "The Holy Bible containing the Old & New Testaments, translated out of the original tongues: And with the former translations diligently compared & revised."
17. They not only translated it directly out of the original Greek & Hebrew, but they also compared it with other translations like Tyndale's & Wycliffe's & the Vulgate & Huss' & all these different translations which were in existence. They got all the help they could from as many sources as possible, feeling that they had gotten a Bible which was really a good translation, truly authentic & accurate. And when they finally did, they agreed on it & then they presented it to King James for his final approval & to be authorised by the king.
18. That's why they call it the Authorised Version, it was authorised by the King to be used throughout the English churches, or what is now known as the Church of England (or Anglican Church), & in other countries called the Episcopal Church. That was the only English Protestant Church, there were no other English denominations at that time. It was throughout all English-speaking churches, England, Scotland, Wales, etc.
19. Then of course when the church later began to have splits & divisions, they carried the same Bible with them & they used the same Bible just the same. They didn't develop any new translations, & it wasn't necessary because the King James was a good translation. It was accurate, authentic, & it had been agreed upon by a whole slew of excellent scholars & theologians who really knew what they were doing. So I believe the Lord really inspired not only the original, but I'm convinced that the Lord inspired the translators, because it's an excellent translation.
What to Call the Church!
20. King James actually had little or nothing to do with the writing, but a few controversial points were brought up to him & he made a decision on them, along with the Archbishop of Canterbury, such as what to call the church. The translators wanted to use the word "assembly" or "congregation" each time it talks about the church--"the congregation of believers" or "the assembly of believers," which is what the word really meant, "the called-out ones." But the Archbishop of Canterbury told the king:
21. "If you allow them to put in that kind of an interpretation, that will almost totally destroy my authority as the head of the organised religious organisation, & the authority of the church & its buildings. If you give them the impression that they don't have to have buildings or an organisation, that the church is just a group of believers, any believers, that's going to destroy the authority of the organised English Episcopal Church, & with that, it may destroy you!"
22. So King James agreed with the Archbishop that they would continue to call it the English word "church," which literally came from an old English word "kirk," which meant a chapel, a building, & that is one of the few bad things about the King James Version. But of course we know what the word "church" means & what it really is. The word that they were translating was "ekklesia."
23. Ekklesia is a Greek word from the Greek New Testament meaning what? (Fam: The called-out ones!) The word literally means "called out," & when it's used as a noun it means "the called out," those who are called out. And so it means not a building, but what? (Fam: A group of people.)--Right! And I happen to know that the correct pronunciation is ekkl-sia, not ekkles-a, because in Greek when you have a diphthong (two vowels within one syllable) at the end of a word, you put the accent not on the last but the next to the last syllable!
Hebrew, Greek & Aramaic!
24. So anyhow, the Bible was translated first of all in the Old Testament from the Hebrew, & the New Testament from the Greek. The Jews, of course, spoke Hebrew, but because of the recent domination of the Greek Empire they also spoke Greek as the language of culture, philosophy, religion, art & music. But then when the Romans took over, they also spoke Roman, or Latin, which was the language of the law or the government.
25. So most of the early Christians already knew three languages, think of that! The educated ones knew Hebrew, Greek & Latin. And because the Greek language is by far the most expressive, much more even than Hebrew or Latin, they used Greek to write the New Testament in. Like English, it had a lot of words, a lot of expressions. English is actually a combination of many languages that have sort of all gotten bunched up together.
26. So the Old Testament was written in what language? (Fam: Hebrew!) And the New Testament was originally written in what language? (Fam: Greek.) Now some people say also in Aramaic, & some people contend that Jesus actually spoke Aramaic, which they said was sort of the common language or vernacular* of the time. But it's most likely that Jesus, being what you would have called an Orthodox Jew, probably spoke Hebrew. (*vernacular = native language or dialect)
27. Aramaic was a language that was more like Arabic & the Arab language of the day, & because King Herod was an Arab & there were lots of Arabs there at the time, it undoubtedly was a language that was in circulation in Israel even during the days of Christ. King Herod was an Arab & really hated the Jews, & that's why they hated him too. The Romans made him king because they couldn't control the Jews, but they could control the Arabs so they made him king. Well, we're getting ahead of our story, aren't we!
28. Anyhow, the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, & do you know what the Old Testament is? It's the old Jewish history. And the New Testament about Jesus was written in the language of the scholars of the day, which was Greek. And the version we study is known as what? (Fam: The King James Version.) And what kind of translation is that? (Fam: English!) Of what date? (Fam: 1611.) When King James was king of what country? (Fam: England.) And he was a good, fair Christian king.
Catholic Translations!--Latin Vulgate, Douay & Confraternity!
29. So the scholars of King James' day persuaded him that they needed a good standard English translation. Was it the first English translation? (Fam: No.) No, there'd been many before. There'd been many different English translations & many different ones that were in use by the common people. Before the English translations, in what language was the standard Bible of the World under the Catholic Church? (Fam: Latin.) And it was called what? (Fam: The Latin Vulgate.)
30. Now I think that was a very commendable effort on the part of the Catholic Church to put the Bible into the language of the common people who knew neither Hebrew nor Greek. Up to that time only scholars of Hebrew & Greek could read the Bible, so the Latin Vulgate was to the Catholics what the King James is to the Protestants, it was a Bible finally put into the language of the people. The common language of the people in those early Catholic & Roman days was Latin, but it was "vulgar," as they call it, meaning a common type of Latin, & so they called it the Latin Vulgate.
31. It was the principal translation of the Bible right up until very recent times, in fact, up until the time of the Reformation in the 1500s. For a thousand years at least, it was the translation read by the common people. And it's a good translation, not bad at all, & you can preach the Gospel out of a Latin Vulgate.
32. But in competition with the King James Version for the English & other common Bibles that were coming out during the Reformation, the Catholics decided they needed a new Catholic edition, an English translation of the Vulgate for the English Catholics. And so do you know what that translation was & is still in use today? I used to have one & used to preach it to the Catholics. It's called the Douay. It was an English translation by French scholars, & it's very good & still used by Catholics to this very day.
33. The Douay Version is a good translation if you don't read the footnotes, which are all interpretative. Some of them are good, but some of them are not. For example, in Revelation 12, the woman sitting in the heavens with the 12 stars in her crown, her feet on the moon, etc., instead of interpreting that as it should be, as Christ's Bride, the Church in general, they interpret that as being Mary, of course, & a few things like that!
34. They of course interpreted everything to fit their doctrine, but you don't find the interpretation in the actual Bible text, you find that in the footnotes. So if you don't read the footnotes, you can study the Douay & get just as much Truth & Gospel out of it as any other Bible, although I don't think it is as good a translation as the King James, because the Douay was a kind of a hurry-up job to compete with the King James Bible.
35. Instead of having a large commission of many scholars & comparing many translations, they simply translated the Latin Vulgate into English. They didn't translate directly from the Greek & the Hebrew Bibles into the English, they only took the Latin Vulgate, which is already a translation from the Greek & Hebrew translated into Latin. And the Latin Vulgate, although it was a popular translation in the Catholic Church & had been used by the Catholics for hundreds of years, was not a perfect translation by any means. It had a number of actual errors in it which they translated right on into the Douay, sad to say. They were in a hurry to get a Bible to compete with the King James.
36. Since then, in modern times, the Paulist Fathers have translated an excellent, new, modern language translation known as the Confraternity. They are a very good association of brothers & priests who really seem to know the Lord. They are missionaries & evangelists who particularly specialise in trying to convert Protestants to Catholicism, & for that reason they have translated an excellent new modern language translation of the Bible, one of the best. I would say it's even superior to some of the other modern language translations in English.
37. It's known as the Confraternity, "Confraternity of Christian Doctrine," if you want the long name. Confraternity simply means "the brothers together." The Paulist Fathers got together & translated this Bible, & it's in modern English, very good, & it really preaches the Gospel, even in the footnotes. They shy away from all those controversial Catholic doctrines, & they're really excellent in Revelation, Daniel & Bible Prophecy.
38. The Confraternity Version is now an authorised English version of the Catholic Church & has been authorised by the Pope, etc. So if you want to witness to a Catholic from a modern translation that is easily understandable by them & has good footnotes, you can use that! I used to have one myself that I kept right over the head of my bed in the Cruiser. I didn't have the Old Testament since they didn't have it translated yet, I had the New Testament.
39. Since that time, since we left the U.S. almost ten years ago (1989: Almost 20 years now!), they finished their Old Testament translation & now it's in existence & they have a complete Bible, the big thick Confraternity English translation, & it's really a very good one from all I've heard. I don't know for sure about the Old Testament, but I've read a lot of the New Testament in the Catholic Confraternity Edition, & it's good.
40. You say, "But what is the advantage of that? So what? Why tell us that?" The advantage is you can take a Catholic & let him read the verses out of his own Bible on Salvation; whether it be a Douay or a Confraternity, both are just as clear as can be. The same Salvation verses on Salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ are just as powerful & just as true & just as accurate, & you can show a Catholic how to be saved just as much & just as clearly from his own Bible.
41. In fact, some of the translations of the Douay I even like better! For example, I think they caught the spirit of the proclamation of the Angels on Christmas night better than the King James translators. The King James translators said the Angels sang, "Peace on Earth, good will toward men."--Luk.2:14. Well, in a way that was true. Jesus meant "peace on Earth & good will toward men," but the Catholics qualified that & they translated that, "Peace on Earth toward men of good will," which is certainly more accurate, right?
42. So the Catholic translation came earlier than the King James, in the late 1500s, about the time of Martin Luther's competition & the Reformation, & what was it called? (Fam: The Douay.) Translated from what? (Fam: The Latin.) But the Protestant Reformation translation was what? (Fam: King James.) That was the Authorised Version of the English Church at that time & actually it was in some ways a better, more accurate translation--why? (Fam: Because the Douay went from Latin, whereas the King James was translated directly from the Hebrew & the Greek.) Right. They went back to the absolute originals, so it is really a better translation. No translation is perfect, but I think the King James comes as close to it as anything could.
43. And later on the first major new English translation came out, published in 1881, called the English Revised Version. The American Standard Version was published in 1901, & then a Revised Standard Version in 1946. The American Revised Version was a very modernistic, unbelieving product of the high criticism of the Bible, written by guys who were not even Christians, not even believers. My father had a copy & always went to compare it to the King James to show how bad it was. They didn't call Mary a virgin, & had all kinds of things that belittled & minimised the miraculousness & the supernatural things of the Bible.
44. These revisions are used by the modernists & unbelievers of America & England, written undoubtedly to try to subtly undermine faith in God & the Bible, it's pitiful!
3 Main Reasons Why We Use the King James Version!
45. So why do we prefer the King James Version? There are seven reasons, only three of which I require as the most important. (Fam: It's translated from the original languages.) That's one good point, but of course some other Versions claim that too. I would say it's the most accurate spiritually. (Fam: It's the most widespread.)
46. It's the most widespread & familiar version in the English language. When people recognise quotes from the Bible they're usually King James Translation quotes, because it has been the authorised & most popular version amongst English-speaking people since 1611, so that's 369 years, right? That's a long time! So it's the best known, the most familiar & widespread, & the most recognisable. People recognise it if you quote it to them because that's what most of them have heard all their lives.
47. The funny quotations from these other translations are not very recognisable, they're not familiar & they're not as beautiful. Some scholars have said, "Well, maybe the Revised Version translators knew more Greek & Hebrew." Maybe, but they certainly truthfully said the King James translators knew more English, & they knew more about the Lord too. They were far more spiritual men.
48. There were no unbelievers then, there was no such thing as higher criticism, modernism & unbelief in the Church! Either you were a believer or you were tied to the stake & burned alive! So there was no unbelief, no modernists, no skeptics, no higher critics who debunked the Bible all the time & pooh-poohed the Bible & ran it down all the time like the Modernistic preachers do right in the pulpit! Everybody was either a Bible-believing Catholic or a Bible-believing Protestant! You were a Bible-believing Christian if you were a Christian at all!
49. So those King James translators were believing men & most of them were spiritual men. That's why they wanted the translation, it was to get the Word of God to the common people in simple common English. They could have in a lot of cases used fancier English like they did in some of Paul's Epistles, very theological dissertations which are difficult to understand, I agree with Peter, but most of it is very very simple, like the Gospels. If you read the Gospels you'll find most of them consist of one & two syllable words, the whole thing. So has anybody else got some ideas why we like the King James Version?
50. One of the best proofs of the King James translation is in two words--it works! It has been time-tested for hundreds of years, & if you accept what it says & obey it, it works! Amen? We're learning a lot about the Bible & we haven't even cracked it open tonight!--Except you could crack it open & read the dedication to King James. I used to read that when I was a little boy & wonder what all those big high-sounding words meant! You'll find it in the front of every King James Bible, & it begins with the fancy words,
51. "To the most high & mighty Prince James, by the grace of God, King of Great Britain, France & Ireland."--Imagine, at that time they ruled France! "Defender of the Faith, etc. The translators of the Bible wish Grace, Mercy & Peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Great & manifold were the blessings, most dread Sovereign, which Almighty God, the Father of all mercies, bestowed upon us the people of England, when first He sent your Majesty's royal person to rule & reign over us."
52. Boy, they were really buttering up the King, weren't they? After all, he was paying their salaries & paying the bills to get the translation translated, so they had to stay on his good side to keep on getting the money to do the work! That's pretty smart! After all, that's what you need to do, stay on the good side of the boss, right? So that was the best English translation. There had been several before, Tyndale & different ones, but that had been the best one.
53. Well, there's one reason we prefer the King James which you haven't hit yet. I hinted at it when I said that many scholars say that the new translators may have known more Greek & Hebrew, but the King James translators knew more English. And what kind of English? (Fam: It was at the time the English language was spoken & used in its most perfect form.) Most beautiful, & what do we call that kind of English? (Fam: Shakespearean.) Elizabethan or Shakespearean English.--The time of England's greatest glory under Queen Elizabeth & the time of Shakespeare, its greatest classics, & he quoted the Bible freely.
54. The most famous English writer in all of history, David, was a man named William Shakespeare. He wrote a lot of thrilling stories & plays that maybe your teachers can read to you some time. They're very interesting, & they have old-fashioned English like the Bible. If you can understand the Bible, you can understand Shakespeare very well, because it's the same language. Only of course he wrote very voluminously & used a lot more words & a lot of very common words & a lot of what some people think are nasty words!--Very sexy words! Shakespeare was quite a sexy writer & he was very explicit in sexual details.
55. Anyhow, I would say the three things you need to remember the most, the most important reasons that the King James is a good translation, are not even that it's the most beautiful English of any of the translations--which it is--but I would say, first of all, it had the most spiritual translators. In other words, they were trustworthy to get the right spiritual interpretation.--Real believing translators! They didn't dare be unbelievers in those days, they would have strung'm up!
56. It also is the most widespread & familiar, & has been for hundreds of years. When you quote it, people will usually recognise it if they've heard Bible at all. And something else that has to do with time, it's time-proven, it works! It has made England & America the greatest Christian nations on the face of the Earth, or at least they were. It made them the most evangelistic & missionary-minded of all nations on the face of the Earth.
57. They have sent out more missionaries to the rest of the World than any other countries in the World, & they have become the most spiritual & had the greatest religious revivals, Pentecostal spiritual outpourings, revivals of the gifts of the Spirit, all of those things. America & England led the World in Christianity & spirituality, led by the King James Version. Praise God!
58. Now what are the three most important reasons we use the King James Bible? Number one & the most important: (Fam: Most spiritual translators.) It had the most spiritual translators, therefore the most spiritual translation. They tried to get the real spiritual meaning. If it wasn't always exactly literal or explicit according to the language, they got the spiritual intent of the speaker or writer, what he really was trying to express & say. If they would have just translated it literally, it might have said something funny, but they tried to get the point he was trying to get across spiritually.
59. Number two, the King James is the most widespread, familiar & recognisable; & that goes along with the third point, it's time-tested, it works!--For over 350 years now, 369 years from 1611 to 1980. So it's a good translation to use. As I say, there are several other reasons, it's the most beautiful English, etc., but those are not even the most important.
60. Another good reason we use the King James, by the way, is it's no longer copyrighted. One reason they printed those new Bibles was because they are copyrighted, & you have to pay more for them because you've got to pay the publisher & the translators & the new authors of the Bible for their translation & for their copyright. All the new translations are copyrighted & they cannot be reprinted without permission. But the King James Version is what they call "Public Domain," meaning anybody can reprint it, copy it or publish it & they don't have to pay anybody a copyright fee.
61. Well, that's why we use this particular Bible! Do you think you've got that now? Are you sure you got the three main reasons we use the King James? Once again, number one? (Fam: Most spiritual translators.) Number two? (Fam: Most widespread & familiar.) Number three? (Fam: Time-tested, it works!) Right, exactly! Thank God!
With So Many Modern Translations of the Bible Now Available, Should We Abandon the King James Version?"--From The Bible Has the Answer, by Henry M. Morris & Martin Clark
One indication that the Bible is still very much alive, even in these days when so many strident voices are denying its authority, is the continuing demand for new translations, not only in modern English but also in other languages. Parts or all of the Bible are now available in more than 1,500 different languages (twice as many as in 1920).
As far as the English language is concerned, at least 25 important translations & paraphrases have received wide usage in the 20th Century, all in so-called "modern" English, instead of the supposedly archaic 16th Century English of the King James Authorised Version. The need for so many different modern-speech versions, however, is not at all evident (except possibly the need for new profits for the promoters!). Yet still more new translations in English are being produced nearly every year.
A modern-speech version does have certain advantages, of course. The Scriptures as originally given were in the common language of the people & were certainly intended by God to be understood & used by ordinary people, not just by priests & scholars. It is equally important today that all men should have access to the Bible in a language that is meaningful to them. There is no doubt that one or another of the modern translations has been of help to many a person who, for some reason, was not reached by the King James Version.
Nevertheless, there is good reason for continuing to regard the KJV as our basic English version, with the others used whenever appropriate for supplementary reading & study. In the first place, no modern translation has yet met the test of universal acceptability, as has the KJV for more than 350 years. On the contrary, the vast number of modern translations is confusing, each with its own advocates & its own peculiar claims & character.
The once-honoured, & very valuable, practice of Scripture memorisation is now almost a forgotten discipline, & one reason for this must be the confusion over which version to memorise. After all, why should one commit to memory a particular verse of Scripture if even the authorities don't agree on what the verse says?
Furthermore, many of the translators of these modern versions have been men who were not themselves committed to faith in the full verbal inspiration of the Bible. No matter how thorough their knowledge of the original languages & of the Biblical manuscripts may have been, their low view of Scriptural infallibility is bound to be reflected in a certain looseness of translation, which will inevitably corrupt the divinely intended revelation.
The translators of the KJV, on the other hand, were not only scholars of equal calibre to any in the modern era, but also men who regarded the Scriptures as profoundly sacred, with every word placed in the original text exactly as intended by God. This reverence for the text is obvious in the high degree of faithfulness to the original Greek & Hebrew which is characteristic of the King James. It is also reflected in the use of italics in the translation wherever words were added in the English which were not specifically present in the Greek or Hebrew, a practice regrettably not followed in modern versions.
Furthermore, the English of the KJV is not nearly so archaic or difficult to follow as its critics allege. In fact, it is in general written in a much simpler vocabulary, with a higher percentage of one & two-syllable words, than almost any of the modern translations. The honest reader will find it at least as easy to understand as any other.
The King James Version, in fact, is almost universally acknowledged as the greatest of all masterpieces of English literature. To a considerable extent it has, in fact, formed the English language as we know it, because of its wide reading & usage by almost all English-speaking people for more than a dozen generations.
Even its so-called archaic words & phrases are instructive. The "th" endings on certain verbs, the pronouns "thee" & "thou," & similar usages all were employed for valid reasons in the Shakespearean English of the day, permitting much finer distinctions as to person, tense & other grammatical niceties than does the decadent English of our modern speech.
Finally, the King James New Testament, alone of all the English translations, is based on the Greek text known as the Textus Receptus, which is the Greek New Testament used during the spiritual awakenings of the Reformation period. Before the invention of printing, of course, the Scriptures were transmitted by hand copying & circulation. The generally acknowledged & accepted manuscripts were, of course, widely used & so wore out fairly quickly & had to be continuously recopied on fresh papers or parchments.
Great numbers were always current, however, & there was thus a continual self-checking process going on, securing the text against any significant accumulation of copyists' errors. It was from this source that the Greek New Testament known as the Textus Receptus ("Received Text") was compiled. The great majority of the surviving manuscripts agree with this so-called "Byzantine" text, as preserved through the early centuries of Christianity by the Greek-speaking churches themselves.
When a manuscript was prepared which, either through carelessness or deliberate intent, contained significant errors or alterations, it naturally would tend to be discarded when its character was discovered. Unless it was deliberately discarded, however, it would tend to survive longer than others, for the very reason that it was not being used. This is probably the case with the so-called Sinaitic and Vatican manuscripts, as well as certain others, which were discovered in the 19th Century & which were older than any of the still-preserved manuscripts of the Received Text.
These manuscripts contain an amazing number of obvious & careless mistakes & probably even some deliberate alterations. Nevertheless, because of their antiquity, they were accepted by the scholars Westcott, Hort, Nestle & others as the basis for their Greek New Testaments, which were published in the 19th Century & which have in turn served as the basis for all the subsequent modern English translations.
Thus there is good reason to believe that the King James Version is still the most accurate & reliable translation we have. In view of the other considerations noted above, there is certainly as yet no good reason to replace it with some ephemeral modern translation.
Summary of Why We Prefer the King James Version
- It had the most spiritual translators, real believing translators, & therefore the most spiritual & correct translation.
- It's the best known, the most widespread & the most recognisable.--And if you quote it, most people will recognise it & know you're quoting them the Bible.
- It has been time-tested for nearly 400 years, & if you accept what it says & obey it, it works!
- It was written at the time the English language was spoken & used in its most perfect form.
- The English of the King James Version isn't nearly as hard to follow as its critics say. In fact, it is in general written in a much simpler vocabulary, with a higher percentage of one & two-syllable words, than almost any of the modern translations. The King James Version, in fact, is almost universally acknowledged as the greatest of all masterpieces of English literature.
- It is no longer copyrighted, meaning anybody can reprint it, copy it or publish it & they don't have to pay a copyright fee.
- The King James New Testament is the most accurate & reliable of Bible translations.
- The King James Version was not just the work of one man, but the work of a very large conference of the best men of God in England, & every problem was worked out by God's inspiration & the majority opinion.
- The translators decided not to add footnotes & explanatory notes, preferring to let the Word speak for itself.
Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family