King James Bible

One of the difficulties for believers to wrestle with is what to think about all the different Bible translations. Many people resolve the issue by choosing to adopt the King James Version as the Bible, or at least as their Bible. This answer is easy to grab, since from the American perspective it feels like the oldest Bible. It was the translation every older American grew up with. It was the version they used when the Mayflower landed. Some people incorrectly believe it was the language of Paul.

The King James was translated in 1611. It was a remarkable translation for its time, but it was not the only translation of its time. The fact that this one was accepted and used to a greater degree, was primarily based on it being the last of the Bibles authorized by the British crown.

The problem with the King James is that we have now had over 400 years of finding better manuscripts and of scholarly review. The first means that we have found small, very small, corrections we can make to the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic texts the Bible is translated from. The better opportunities for scholarly review means today’s translations are checked and rechecked in ways that were unimaginable back then.

Notice that I said the changes were very small. I have never seen a textual variation which changed the message in any significant way. I believe God has been protecting the transmission of His Word, allowing some basic human error back when the Bible was hand copied, but preventing the corruption of His message.

God’s Word is the message rather than a single translation. We tend to think of the Bible as whatever translation we happen to be reading. But it is also being read in Italian, Chinese, Spanish and many more. The fact that there is more than one English translation is no more troublesome than the fact that there are translations in so many languages. Since we believe God so loved the world, means the whole world, then it’s only logical His Gospel would be available to all of us.

But some people have a strong attachment to the KJV. So a couple of textual theories have been put forward to justify the idea that the KJV is the only valid English translation.

One of these is that the majority of Greek texts are roughly the equivalent of the KJV text. This is not exactly true. But even if it was it would not be a good way to choose the best text. In the course of history a certain text might be copied thousands of times. If it has an error in it, then there will be thousands of texts with that error in place. The age of the texts is a better criteria than numbers. The idea of a majority text in scholarly circles means something entirely different and this use is a misunderstanding of it, and it was not the text available to translate the KJV

Another of these theories is the idea of a received text. Some believe God was protecting His Word by giving one single correct Greek text which then was used to translate the KJV which is therefore the only correct English text. This also doesn’t really work out as a claim for the Greek or for the English. Notice that the King James we grew up with is not the one that is for sale on the shelves today, and that the 1611 version was totally different than either. Publishers update the language in small ways. Even today if you buy a KJV from different publishers it is likely to be updated in slightly different ways.

I tell you all of this to help you avoid getting stuck on the idea that the KJV is the only good English translation. It is a good translation, but at many points the language is archaic enough that people have a hard time understanding it. Instead of adopting a single translation as the perfect Bible, accept that God’s Word is the message behind the words. By accepting a reasonably translated modern version you will likely get more out of it than you will from a translation that is stuck in centuries old language you did not grow up with. Updated language is especially important in ministry to young people. Remember, they don’t teach Shakespeare in schools anymore, so today’s youth have no context for the ancient language.


7 thoughts on “King James Bible

    • I’m sorry but I don’t really understand what you mean. All three of the ancient languages of the Bible. Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek were originally written with the words written without division. Or in other words, there are no spaces between words. I was reminded of this while researching Codex Laudianus, that is E^a (38). This text contains both Latin and Greek, with a supposed emphasis on the Latin, and is the earliest known manuscript to contain Acts 8:37. Unfortunately it is also a very confused text sometimes agreeing with Eastern, Western, Byzantine, Alexandrian and so on. (I know you didn’t ask all that but its on my mind since I was just looking through the research.)

      If instead you mean something else by words that separate or language of science and division then feel free to clarify with me.

      • Better to say language of unity. Each word honoring all aspects of creation. Abwoon has both male and female sounds. Aramaic is very much related to the sound or vibration of the word. In languages such as Aramaic this is very much the case. To tone the words of a great teacher is to open ones self to the presents of that teacher.

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