Learning to thrive in the new life Jesus offers us – 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

7 things you may not know about the King James Bible

7 things you may not know about the King James BibleFor Anne’s friend.

The King James Version of the Bible is a great translation and has helped countless thousands of people to find and know God, to receive his gift of salvation, and to effectively serve him and his people. The Bible was beautifully written by some of the best scholars of the day, and its reputation as fine literature is deserved.

Some Christians today maintain that the KJV is the superior English translation. Some Christians and churches are so enamoured with the KJV that they refuse to use, or give credit to, any other translation. The stance of these Christians has been referred to as King-James-Onlyism .

The KJV is an excellent English Bible and if you can easily understand it there is no real reason to change to another English translation. However, one of the biggest shortcomings for most people is its dated language.

The KJV uses many archaic words: words such as “jangling”, “subtil”, “privily”, and “holpen”, etc. And it uses archaic expressions that are unfamiliar to modern readers and audiences. For instance, how many people readily understand “Charity vaunteth not itself”? The earlier editions of the KJV also used spelling that is outdated, such as sunne for “sun”, which can be confusing for some readers.

Furthermore, the edition of the KJV that is still commonly used contains several words which have changed in meaning over time. Words such as “flowers”, “suffer”, “vile”, “conversation” and “quit” convey a very different meaning to modern readers than was intended by the translators. (See Lev. 15:24KJV; Matt. 19:14KJV; Phil. 3:20-21KJV; 1 Cor. 16:13KJV, etc.)

The fact that the KJV uses the word “unicorn” nine times (see here and here), and “satyr” twice (Isa. 13:21KJV; Isa. 34:14KJV), is also problematic, as unicorns and satyrs are regarded as a mythological creatures rather than the real animals—wild oxen and goats—which are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and in more contemporary translations.

Apart from its dated language, there are a few other shortcomings of the KJV. KJV-only people seem unaware of these shortcomings. Moreover, many accept incorrect statements that are frequently made about the KJV. The following paragraphs contain seven pieces of information that some KJV-only Christians may not be aware of.

(1) The KJV was not the first English translation. 

A few King-James-Only Christians believe that the King James Bible was the first English translation of the Scriptures. This belief is incorrect. John Wycliffe’s Bible was translated from Latin into English and hand copied in the 1400s. In 1526, almost 100 years before the KJV was first published, William Tyndale’s English translation of the Greek New Testament was published. “After Tyndale’s, a number of other versions were produced. Among them were the Coverdale Bible, the Matthews Bible, the Great Bible [authorised by Henry VIII], the Geneva Bible, and the Bishops’ Bible.”[1] In fact much of the KJV borrows heavily from earlier English translations, especially the Bishop’s Bible.

(2) The KJV has been through several editions.

Some King-James-Only Christians believe that the King James Bible perfectly preserved the Scriptures for all time. If this is the case there would have been no need for further edits. The current edition of the KJV is different from the original 1611 translation and several other early editions. “The KJV Bible we use today is actually based primarily on the major revision completed in 1769,  158 years after the first edition.”[2]

(3) (4) King James authorised the new Bible translation for political reasons.

King James believed that a single ‘authorized version’ was a political and social necessity. He hoped this book would hold together the warring factions of the Church of England and the Puritans which threatened to tear apart both church and country. Most of the translators, however, were clergymen belonging to the Church of England, but at least some had Puritan sympathies.[3]

King James issued over a dozen rules that the translators had to follow. He disliked the Geneva Bible, the Bible used by the Puritans, because he believed that some of the commentary in the margin notes did not show enough respect for kings.[4] James’ new translation was to have no commentary in the margins.

King James favoured the hierarchical structure of the Church of England and wanted the new translation to keep words that supported a bishop-led hierarchy. In keeping with James’ preferred views on church government, he specified, “The old ecclesiastical words [are] to be kept; as the word church [is] not to be translated congregation.” (I personally believe that congregation is a better translation in some instances.) King James also ruled that only his new Bible could be read in England’s churches. The translation rules of King James can be found here. The political motives of King James had a direct influence on the translation of the KJV.

(4) The translators of the KJV 1611 were untrained in Koine Greek. 

Koine (“common”) Greek is the original language of the New Testament. Koine Greek had been a dead language for over a thousand years when the KJV was published for the first time in 1611. The KJV translators of the New Testament were scholars of Classical Greek, but they didn’t even know what Koine Greek was. Some believed that the Greek language of the NT was a unique, Spirit-inspired dialect.[5] It was not until the late 1800s and early 1900s, when tens of thousands of papyri documents were discovered, many written in Koine, that we could begin to understand the language more fully.[6] Unlike the translators of the KJV, modern translators of the New Testament are scholars of Koine Greek.

(5) The KJV translation of the NT is based on relatively recent Greek manuscripts.

As well as relying on previous English translations, the 1611 edition of the KJV relied on a critically edited Greek text that was “for the most part based on about half a dozen very late manuscripts (none earlier than the 12th century AD).”[7] These late manuscripts include editions of the Greek New Testament by Erasmus,[8] as well as Robert Estienne’s (a.k.a. ‘Stephanus’) edition (1550) and Theodore Beza’s edition (1598). Unfortunately, one of the manuscripts Estienne and Beza used for their Greek editions contained a few “corrections” that downplayed the importance of women in the church.[9]

(6) The early editions of the KJV are not based on the Received Text.

Many KJV advocates claim that the KJV was translated from a Greek text known as the Textus Receptus (TR) and that the TR is especially accurate and inspired. However, the TR did not exist in 1611 when the first King James Bible was published. The first TR was written in 1633. The current version of the TR was produced in 1894 by Scrivener. Conversely, most modern translations of the New Testament are based on critical Greek texts which take into account much more ancient, and much less-handled, Greek manuscripts. A few of these Greek manuscripts date from as early as the third century.

(7) All early editions of the KJV contained the apocryphal books.

While not a necessarily shortcoming, the 1611 version, and all other editions of the KJV that were published for the next fifty years, contained the Apocrypha. Protestant Christians do not regard the apocryphal books as uniquely inspired and authoritative. The 1666 edition was the first edition of the KJV that did not include these extra books. (Article six of the Thirty-Nine Articles, ratified in 1562before the KJV was first published, explains the Church of England’s position on the canonical and apocryphal books.)

Other Criticisms and Considerations

One of the criticisms levelled at some modern English translations is that the New Testament was translated from the Westcott and Hort Greek New Testament. However, more recent translations, such as the 2011 edition of the New International Version (NIV), are based on the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland/United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament which is a critical text that takes into consideration all known Greek manuscripts (and ancient lectionary quotes) of the New Testament.[10] Any criticism of the Westcott and Hort text, or the men themselves—and much of the criticism has been misleading and outright slander—has no relevance whatsoever to the latest edition of the NIV and other recent translations.

Another criticism of newer translations is that some words and phrases, and even a few passages, that are included in the KJV, are absent in newer translations. These are not omissions. Rather, these words and phrases are additions in the KJV. These additions are absent in the more ancient Greek manuscripts. Most modern translations still acknowledge the traditional additions in some way (e.g. in margin notes, in footnotes, or printed in a different font, etc). (More about the additional verses in the KJV here.)

The King James Version is an excellent translation, but many of the recent English translations are better. I mostly read the New Testament in Greek, but the English Bibles I use, roughly in order of preference, are the Common English Bible (CEB), the NIV (2011), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), and the King James Version (KJV).  Most of the other, better-known English translations are fine too.

It is most important that we read a Bible that we can understand. The New Testament was originally written in common, everyday Greek—a language that almost everyone in the Roman Empire (the world of the New Testament) could easily understand. We need modern English translations of the Bible that modern audiences can easily understand.

7 things you may not know about the King James Bible


Endnotes

[1] Rick Wade, The Debate over the King James Version, Probe Ministries International, 1998  (Source)

[2] Jack P. Lewis, The English Bible From KJV to NIV: A History and Evaluation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1984), 39.

[3] This paragraph uses information from N.T. Wright, The Monarchs and the Message: Reflections on Bible Translation from the Sixteenth to the Twenty-First Century, presented at SBL in 2011 (Source)

[4] “For example, a note in the margin beside Exodus 1 said the Hebrew midwives in the time of baby Moses were right to disobey the Egyptian king’s order to kill newborn baby boys. And a note beside 2 Chronicles 15 criticized King Asa for not executing his idol-worshipping mother.” Stephen M. Miller and Robert V. Huber, The Bible: A History (Oxford: Lion Hudson, 2003) 178.

[5] Greek scholar Bill Mounce writes, “For a long time Koine Greek confused many scholars. It was significantly different from Classical Greek. Some hypothesized that it was a combination of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. Others attempted to explain it as a “Holy Ghost language”, meaning that God created a special language just for the Bible. But studies of Greek papyri found in Egypt over the past one hundred years have shown that this language was the language of the every day people . . .” The Basics of Biblical Greek (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993, 2003) 1.

[6] Before the discovery of the papyri documents in Egypt and elsewhere, the only thing available in Koine Greek was the New Testament. But now we have numerous letters, business receipts, census statements, novels, and other writings that were written in the language of the New Testament. We can now compare the language of the New Testament with these other writings to see how words were used in the first century. Among the discoveries were ancient manuscripts of the biblical texts that were older than the manuscripts used by the KJV translators.

[7] Daniel Wallace, The Conspiracy Behind New Bible Translations at bible.org.

[8] Erasmus was a Roman Catholic priest. He dedicated the first edition of his Greek New Testament to the Pope. (I include this bit of information for those who wrongly claim that the newer English translations are unduly influenced by Roman Catholicism. See also endnote 10.)

[9] Robert Estienne, also known as Stephanas, based his text on the works of Erasmus, but he also used a text known as the Codex Bezae. Theodore Beza primarily based his text on the Greek New Testament of Stephanus, but he may well have also used the Codex Bezae which was given to him and bears his name. (This book is also known as Codex Cantabrigiensis as Beza later presented it to the University of Cambridge.)

“Several scholars have observed the apparent anti-feminist tendencies of the writer of the Codex Bezae. The reviser represents the western tradition dating back to the second century, and clearly reveals the trend of thought among his contemporaries by rephrasing the received text of Acts 17:12 to read: ‘and many of the Greeks and men and women of high standing believed.’ The smoother reading serves to lessen any importance given women in Luke’s account of the conversion at Berea, and proves to be a typical alteration of Bezae in Acts.”
Lesly Massey, Women and the New Testament: An Analysis of Scripture in the Light of New Testament Era Culture (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 1989) 46-47.

Acts 18:26 is another text that was altered by a scribe with “anti-feminist tendencies”. In the Codex Bezae, Aquila’s name is first and Priscilla’s second. Stephanus adopted this reading in his Greek edition. More reliable Greek manuscripts have Priscilla’s name first.

[10] Barbara Aland editorThe 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland text was edited by eminent scholars Barbara Aland (Protestant), Kurt Aland (Protestant), Ioannes Karavidopoulos (Greek Orthodox), Carlo Martini (Roman Catholic), and Bruce Metzger (Protestant).

Image Credits: Page decorations are copied from the 1611 King James Bible as is the image of the frontispiece below. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

7 things you may not know about the King James Bible

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Posted December 18th, 2013 . Categories/Tags: Bible Translation and Interpretation, Church History, , ,

Unkind, judgemental, bizarre, and off-topic comments will be deleted.

74 comments on “7 things you may not know about the King James Bible

  1. Don Johnson says:

    A nice summary. In section 3 you wrote: “Most Christians do not regard the apocryphal books as uniquely inspired and authoritative.” I think you mean most Protestant Christians, as Catholics and Orthodox have their own slightly different set of what they call Deuterocanonical books and which Protestants often term Apocrypha.

  2. Marg says:

    Thanks Don. I’ll edit that sentence. I’ve had a few conversations with Catholic Christians and some certainly do hold a few of the extra biblical books in high regard. And the Greek Orthodox Church regard the Septuagint, which contains the Apocrypha, as Scripture.

  3. You left out the Douay-Rheims Bible.

  4. Marg says:

    Thanks for this, Dustin. I took the easy way and used a quote rather than compile a list of Pre-KJV English translations myself. The quote implies that not every English Bible was listed, but I’m happy that the Douay-Rheims has been highlighted in the comments section (at least.) I don’t know why the Douay-Rheims wasn’t included in the quote. A Protestant oversight perhaps.

  5. One of the issues with the KJV primacy debate is that both sides are militant anti-Catholic. They mitt claim a word succession through the Vaudois/Waldensian groups. But they think nothing good can come from Rome. Hence the the D – R, and even the Bishop’s Bible Coverdale and Cambridge, are suspect.

    Personally I prefer the translations that focus as much on the encoding as the decoding. In other words, translations that ensure the words are understandable to most readers without needing a church dictionary. Koine after all is common Greek; the language of the streets. But many translations are in high English, with lots of loaded terminology, and far to many transliterations.

    My congregation, though well educated, comes from 14 native languages. To load them down with a translation that requires translation itself, or one that is bound by higher critical presuppositions that ignores patriotic citations, creates a different challenge.

    Lots of fun . . . most of which is had at the cost of those to whom we have been tasked with revealing Jesus’ cross and redirection to.

  6. Marg says:

    I like how you describe the KJV as “a translation that requires translation itself.”
    I agree. We need a Bible that is written in common, everyday English, just as the New Testament books were originally written in common, everyday Greek.

  7. I’ve been deaing with people whose faith is in translators they don’t know the names of, translators who died 400 years ago. It is ironic, because there were at least three excellent English translations at that time.

    You see – faith in the KJV – which isn’t even one of the first five translations into English – isn’t faith in God, but in the men who translated it. Most people who back the KJV do not agree with these men and their doctrinal positions, nor in their assumptions about scripture. But they claim apostolic inspiration for these men, when it comes to translation.

    Compare the KJV to the Coverdale Bible, to the Great Bible, to the Bishops Bible, even to the Douay Rheims. Learn Greek and Hebrew and Latin and compare the KJV to the Greek. Ask why they transliterate the word sometimes, and translate it other times. Ask why their perfected work had to be corrected and retranslated. Ask why the KJV continued replacing YHWH with Adonai, and why that might matter. As to that matter – explain why spoudason is translated as “study” in the passage quoted above?

    Sorry the KJV is a translation of word of God, and one which should be tested – like any other.

  8. Marg says:

    Pastor Dustin, You make some excellent points.

    I too found it ironic that Mark would choose to quote 2 Timothy 2:15. Either the word “study” has changed in meaning over the past few centuries, or the KJV translators didn’t grasp what spoudason means.

    By using this verse Mark illustrates that the KJV can actually be misleading if we don’t understand the antiquated language, or if we rely on translators who did not understand Koine Greek.

  9. Dawson Williams says:

    Hello and thank you for the article. Lately, I have been contemplating why the “church” seems so ineffective and anemic. I have come to a conclusion that perhaps you can help me with…God never intended for His people to be in an ultra-organized. “society” if I can use that word. In fact, I am almost of the belief that the gathering of large groups of people in a “church” facility is almost un-scriptural and certainly not what Our Lord intended. My question is this- did King James prefer the word “church” instead of “congregation” or, better yet, “assembly” as used in Young’s Literal Translation, so that the church could be controlled, in a certain sense, from top to bottom? Having taught in a public school for many years, I have witnessed first hand the absolute corruption that comes with people who are not involved in the day to day affair of education providing what they consider as “oversight.” Generally, they seem to be power hungry people making a good sum of money for doing nothing more than creating confusion. Is the church the same organism?!!!! I only provided that thought so you can better understand my original question concerning the use of the word “church” instead of “congregation or assembly.” Thank you for considering this!

  10. Marg says:

    Hi Dawson, In answer to your question: Yes. The word “church” can carry the imagery of opulent ecclesiastical tradition and elite authority. This is what James wanted to maintain. “Assembly” or even “community” do not convey these images. The word “congregation” nowadays carries its own ecclesiastical baggage but would have been a valid term to use in the 1600s.

    King James’ motives for the publication of a new Bible translation were purely political. Like many rulers he believed that only a hierarchical, top down, method of leadership, with political and judiciary might, would bring control to the church and his country.

    King James’ view of the church was different to the view that you and I seem to share. I think the assembly of Christians can take many shapes and forms, but if we only meet in large gatherings and only attend “performances” we are missing out on the true fellowship and collaboration of church as a holy community.

    I have written about authority in the church here. And I plan to post an article in a day or two about Jesus’ views on leadership and community as recorded in the gospel of Matthew.

  11. Dawson Williams says:

    It is so cool you replied so quickly and kindly. I admire the “tone” in your writing- confident but without arrogance. I’ll be sure to read more of your writings and thanks again. BTW, I listened to an excellent series on “church” authority once and the teacher pointed out that discipline is always used in the plural. For example, except for when John was writing a tender correspondence, the word “elders” is used, not elder. It almost makes me thing there is no such thing as a “senior elder” or “lead elder.” We already have one, after all, the Lord Jesus Christ. A two-headed body is a monstrosity. Thank you again so much!

  12. Marg says:

    Hi Dawson, thanks for the compliment. I appreciate it. 🙂
    Your comment about us already having one elder, the Lord Jesus Christ, preempts my new post: http://newlife.id.au/christian-living/jesus-teaching-on-leadership-and-community-in-matthews-gospel/

  13. […] 7 Things you may not know about the King James Bible […]

  14. Interesting article.I was raised on the KJV so to speak,I do find it does have faults and it actually mis translates certain words.

    One word is WORLD..it has several meanings
    Kurios- this word is used for God and Jesus but actually applies to Sir,Master or one in authority.

    I always hear the bash about the NIV Nearly Inspired Version

    • Marg says:

      Sorry for the delay in replying.

      The Greek word kosmos does have meanings other “world”. However, I don’t know of a specific instance where the KJV translates kosmos incorrectly. What verse were you thinking of, Steven?

      Also, the Greek word kurios can mean sir, master, lord, or LORD, and is used in the New Testament for ordinary people as well as for Jesus and God.

      I don’t like the 1984 edition of the NIV, but I rather like the 2011 edition.

  15. Monte Botts says:

    Often wondered why they changed the “Name of Joshua” the Old Testament “Chosen Vessel” by Moses, to the Name of “JESUS” in the New Testament? (Acts 7:45, Hebrews 4:8)….? Would that be considered a “Error” in the Translation of the Authorized King James Version Text? For a “KJV Only advocate”, with the Perfect Version? I stay to the KJV Holy Bible, it hasn’t failed me yet! But, I do see the Translators appears to kind of got carried away changing IESOUS, into JESUS every time? All the way through the New Testament Text. Seemingly not carrying about the Old Testament Name of “Joshua”, was not the same person as “JESUS of the New Testament”? Which goes to show JESUS Original Name in Hebrew was “Yehoshua/Yoshua/Joshua” Which I guess can be a Shadow of JESUS, as “Joshua” leading them into the Promised land; as a Type of JESUS; leading us back to Heaven; with HIS Blood Atoning, Death, and HIS Resurrection Power given unto us?

    • Marg says:

      Hi Monte,

      The Old Testament was originally (and mostly) written in Hebrew, and the English word “Joshua” is a translation of the Hebrew word Jehoshuah.

      The New Testament was originally written in Koine Greek, and the English word “Jesus” is a correct translation of the Greek word Iesous (which is itself a translation of the Hebrew word Jehoshuah.)

      The translators were faithful to the Greek text of the New Testament when they translated Iesous into English as “Jesus”. However the KJV translators were not faithful when they translated the Greek word Iakōbos into “James” instead of the more correct “Jacob”. Unfortunately, other English translations have continued the tradition of translating Iakōbos into “James”.

      • Pastordt says:

        Marg,

        That’s a nice ex post facto apologetic, but it doesn’t quite bear fruit. Luke 3:29 is a great example of the inconsistency. What makes it worse is these are not translations, but transliterations. A translation would be Peter – Cephas. A transliteration is to try and pronounce the word in the same language – like Iesou-Jesus, Joshua. or baptismos-baptism.

        • Marg says:

          The King James directly transliterates Iōsē as Jose in Luke 3:29KJV. Iōsē is a textual variant found in the Greek manuscript(s) used by the King James translators.

          In most other Greek manuscripts, the Greek word is the genitive form of Iesous, and other English translations have translated this as Joshua because that is the name of this particular person as it appears in English translations of the Old Testament.

          I think it is reasonable and sensible to call Old Testament Joshuas “Joshua”, when referring to them in the New Testament, even if the Greek word in the NT is only roughly equivalent.

          I completely take your point about transliterations. But I’m not sure how many people understand that word.

          You sure seem to know a lot about the King James Version. 🙂

      • Tom Howard says:

        Funny, the Geneva Bible which is much older than the KJV use;s the name Jesus in said verse’s Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8. So, Jesus is Joshua and Joshua is Jesus. Same or inter changeable.

  16. Marg says:

    Hi David, One of my main points is that the KJV uses outdated language. Unicorn is a case in point. No modern English translation that I know of uses the word unicorn because in modern English a unicorn is a mythological creature, not a real one. I do not know of any educated English speaker who refers to rhinos as unicorns.

    As to the word “revisions”: We may have a different definition of that word, but for the newer editions to have been produced, I imagine that the editors used older editions which they worked on and edited (i.e. revised).

    What I don’t understand is the hostile attitude of some people who have commented on this post. (The nastier comments have been deleted.) I presume that the people commenting here are my Christian brothers and sisters, and have a keen interest in the Bible as I have, but I have never encountered such rudeness and arrogance from some who have commented here. Seriously, what’s with that?

    Do some Christians really think they can persuade someone to their way of thinking by insulting them?

    You certainly haven’t been the rudest, but why did you say “and you know it!” How can you – or why do you – presume that I, a total stranger to you and a sister in the Lord, am being dishonest? Or that I know more than I claim to know? Or that I have some sinister or subversive motive? Where is the brotherly love? Or meekness?

    I am not determined to find fault with the KJV. I use a newer edition of the KJV and I think it is an excellent English translation, even if some of the expressions are still archaic. However some people claim that the 1611 edition is the best, and my point is that an English translation that is difficult to understand with archaic spellings as well as archaic vocabulary is not the best translation for most modern English-speaking Christians.

    I have written this post with honesty and I think the reasons for my concerns about the KJV are clearly expressed. I will look into the word “revision” and, if I have used it incorrectly, I will change it.

    • Tom Howard says:

      I agree Marg , • Ephesians 4:32
      “And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” John also comments 1 John 4:11, “1 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”
      No condemnation to any, its just the world that can creep in and cause us to lose that vision of God. For God is Love. Lets endeavor to live Godly. Titus 2:11-14.

  17. DaveH says:

    Thanks for the article and discussion. I believe and use only the KJV, but I do recognize the hostility among some in my crowd and it serves to destroy any credibility their arguments may have. If they (we) believe that they (you) are in the wrong, then screaming louder doesn’t make the argument stronger – just more offensive. For instance, when sharing our faith with unbelievers we do not deride them for their sin – after all, they know no other path than the natural road of self-will. We speak the truth in love (or ought to). Eph 4:15

    That said, I do believe it is an issue of authority, as mentioned above. That is, what did God say? Do we have a trustworthy “Word of God” we can reliably stand on and preach? This is authority in the sense of a standard. If God says one thing in the KJV, then another in the NCT or what have you, which is to be trusted? AVers are criticized for putting faith in those scholars, but aren’t you putting faith into the scholars and translators behind the books/translations you like? I feel like asking Pilate’s question: What is truth?

    Reading above I see you don’t subscribe to the idea that we all need to know Greek in order to understand God’s word. So we all rely on translators. And with some of the original Greek words having many potential translations, who decides which is right? Is it not subjective? But then, perhaps that’s your point about the King James. So I ask again, what did God say?

    To sum up, if there is doubt about even the smallest portion of God’s word, then it casts doubt on the whole of it. Which brings us to the nature and character of God. If He is who He says He is (and we can rely on that description) could He not, and would He not, be capable of preserving the book revealing His will for man? He did it once in Greek, why not again in English?

    I’ve sat through much of the teaching offered by those on “my” side regarding the scholarship, translations, history, etc. But I don’t believe one should need an intense education in the subject in order to have faith in God. So these are questions I seek to answer to settle my mind. What my heart knows of God, however, compels me to trust in things that are concrete. Faith is substance according to Hebrews 11. God is big and powerful, transcending human invention, and certainly not limited by it. I believe that.

    • Marg says:

      Hi Dave,

      My main point is that much of the language of the KJV, even that of the more recent editions, is dated, and that some of the words in the KJV no longer convey an accurate meaning, simply because the meanings of some words have changed over time.

      That languages change over time is true of English and it is true of Greek, which brings me to another main point. Our understanding of Koine Greek has improved immensely in the last 100+ years with the discoveries of ancient Koine papyri. The translators of the KJV did not have the benefit of the insight these papyri have brought to our understanding of 1st century Koine. They did not even know that Koine was a real language, let alone the lingua franca of the Greco-Roman world in New Testament times. All the KJV translators knew was Classical and Medieval Greek. And they got some meanings wrong.

      I still think that the KJV is a good translation but, if we take some of the texts at face value, they give the wrong, misleading meaning. And some phrases are needlessly beyond the comprehension of 21st century readers (e.g. Acts 28:13KJV)

      I agree that we don’t need an intense education to have faith in God, that is why people who do not read Classical Hebrew and Koine Greek need a Bible translation that they can easily understand.

      I believe that God continues to preserve his Word. I also believe that God wants his people to have access to a Bible that is as easy to understand as possible.

  18. DaveH says:

    Thanks for replying. I also agree that there are archaic words and phrases in the AV. And I do suspect that, contrary to the assertions of some in the KJV-only crowd, it would not be sinful to update the language to some degree. (But how far to take it? And now we’re back into subjective territory.)

    I also see your point about the differences in the Greek. But it begs the question: did Christians have the accurate word of God in 1611 or earlier? Do we have it now? There are 400+/- translations available in the 21st century. Many, many disagree with each other on key points and in foundational scriptures. How do we reconcile this?

    My main point and question is this – and I don’t believe it is necessarily at variance with yours, but a critical consequence of your position that must be addressed: do we have God’s preserved word now? Is there something I can point to, in my language, and unequivocally assert that it contains the very words of God in truth, without error?

    I don’t ask these questions to provoke argument. But we need to know where we stand as believers, and on what we stand. An unbeliever walks into a bookstore seeking truth, and finds it wrapped up in the opinions of scholars – thousands of them. If almost everything we understand about God, the Devil, sin, righteousness, Heaven, Hell, judgment and mercy is in the Bible, then I have to think that God wouldn’t leave the preserving and translating thereof to man alone, and leave it to such ambiguity.

    • Marg says:

      In answer to your question. Yes, we do have God’s word preserved now. It is preserved in the ancient Hebrew (and Aramaic) texts of the Old Testament, and Greek texts of the New Testament, that are without punctuation. (I do not regard the Masoretic pointing as especially inspired. My Hebrew is poor, But I believe they made some errors.)

      I do not believe that the Apocryphal books of the Greek Old Testament (that were included in first few editions of the KJV) are at all inspired or authoritative. They do not constitute the the Word of God.

      My every day New Testament is the Greek USB4. The differences between the Greek and English (in most reputable English translations) are slight and mostly negligible.

      God has left the preserving and translating of his Word in the hands of his people. The books of the Bible were written by men, and I know that God continues to use his people to preserve, translate, publish, and teach it.

      Someone has said, “The Bible is 100% divine and 100% human.” I see his point. Just like most ministry, the Bible is a collaboration of God with his people.

      The words in the Bible are God’s revelation to humanity. And I believe that this revelation is the bedrock of our faith and the keys to the Kingdom that we, as a community, have been authorised to administer (Matthew 16:16-19).

      Yet, any translation whether into English, German, Mandarin, or Swahili, etc, is a compromise as each language has it’s own grammar and idioms which do not always have a direct correspondence between the original language and its translation; and so it is difficult to translate precisely.

      The church’s job is to interpret the Scriptures in community.

  19. You mention UNICORNS—I read that there Were Unicorns in those days. The unicorns mentioned in the Bible were Not the Mythical Creatures we think of today– the Horse with the One Horn- I read that they more like a Rhinoceros–now extinct. In fact, I pulled up a Video, where people were Making Fun of the Bible. They mentioned that No Remains, no Bones of unicorns were found. they weren’t looking for an animal, like a Rhinoceros.

    • Marg says:

      Hi Peggy, My point is that the Hebrew Bible does refer to an animal like a rhinoceros, or maybe they are in fact rhinoceroses. These were real animals, but the King James Bible does not convey that message to modern readers.

      The King James Bible refers to these creatures as unicorns, which, as you say, we think of as mythical creatures. So the KJV is conveying wrong information to the reader.

      Someone reading the King James Bible today, and taking it at face value (i.e. literally) will incorrectly believe that the Bible is talking about unicorns.

      We are not living in “those days”. We are living in the 21st century, and we need a Bible translation that speaks our language. Not a Bible where too many words now mean very different things to what the original translators intended.

  20. judy says:

    I use various translations.

    However, the assumption that there are older, less handled documents that are valid is incorrect reasoning. No one seems to ask WHY are these few scripts still readable while thousands have disappeared through USE. When you find a stain on a family heirloom you don’t throw it out…you keep it and it generally outlasts the items that were used regularly and that were perfect for use. It has been established that the so called oldest manuscripts had numerous corrections. When scribes fail so many times, they just set the manuscripts aside and start again. No one uses these faulty documents and so they remain to this day. That is a very plausible explanation for their existence. Especially so, regarding the ending of the book of Mark, we really err in thinking that the oldest manuscripts leave off the ending verses and that this is more accurate…it is unreasonable to accept that they have omitted the resurrection and are yet acceptable.

    Another point is the regulations for translation that require 20% of the text to be altered in order to obtain a copyright…what if they don’t have 20% that needs altering? What do they do then? Just make stuff up?

    The KJV is the only non-copyrighted version of the Bible. No one makes money on it. How would this affect those who desire to gain financially from their project? Would they resent the KJV?

    Finally, I have taught children from JK to grade 8 and found that when they are taught the KJV and instructed about the meanings of words, their education is enhanced and they ACTUALLY have no trouble with understanding what it means. They memorize it easily and remember it FOREVER. It is their parents who balk at having to learn new words, YET sometimes I have found the NIV to be less clearly understood, and even to use more difficult words where simpler words would have sufficed.

    As those of us who started with the KJV know, it lends itself far more readily to memorization BECAUSE of the language. Try it yourself and you will see you remember the words more quickly than you do other versions. It is the poetic and melodic nature of the language.

    However, the gender issues need to be addressed and any additions that have been made (without the required italics) need to be corrected, and if political considerations were removed I believe it would be a tremendous translation to enhance the general population’s knowledge of the English language.

    Many great writer’s such a Shaw claim their knowledge of English was greatly enhanced by having to read the KJV even though they might not have believed the content. They are grateful for the KJV and Shakespeare for the wonderful heritage of the old English language that often says much more with less words. Which quotation do you prefer, in the end:

    “I am in blood/ Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,/ Returning were as tedious as go o’er.”

    “I have stepped so far into blood that I should try and wade back: going back would be as difficult as going on with it.”?

    And just try to remember the second quotation! and the adaptation misses the point…he is not saying that he SHOULD try and wade back, but that IF he tried to wade back it would be just as difficult.

    Well just don’t throw out your KJV…it is a great reference to check up on the other translations…and get a Greek-Hebrew lexicon as well to check up on all of them!

    • Marg says:

      Just briefly:

      ~ There are very good reasons why many manuscripts disappeared and went into hiding and got lost, and these reasons have been widely discussed and documented. The Muslims invading Turkey is just one of these reasons. And it wasn’t just biblical manuscripts that were lost; the Didache and other texts of the Apostolic Fathers, etc, – texts that were used widely by early Christians – were lost and rediscovered only the last couple of centuries. We have the commentaries and lectionary notes of early Christians to guide us as to what texts they were using.

      ~ People did not usually destroy old, worn out, faded or stained manuscripts, if they could be reused. People in antiquity did not have the same appreciation for ancient artifacts as we do today. But if manuscripts were not usable they were discarded, or placed in some dark corner of a monastery, where a few have been rediscovered. On the other hand there are some terrible stories about the callous, careless destruction of manuscripts.

      ~ I can’t imagine why anyone would resent the King James Bible just because it is out of copyright in many parts of the world. In the UK, it is still under copyright.

      ~ One of the problems with the King James Bible is that too much of the vocabulary is not part of everyday English, and needs to be learned. Plus there is a danger of assuming that some passages mean something when in actual fact it means something quite different because the meanings of words have changed. For example “suffer the children” seems to be easy to understand, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with suffering.

      ~ I want a translation that conveys the original authors intention as closely as possible. Most of the writers of the Bible were not “Shakespeares”, so it doesn’t make sense to me that we should change or beautify their language.

      ~ Tyndale’s translation and the King James Bible have had a phenomenal effect on the English language and improved it markedly. There is no doubt that the King James Bible was a great translation and has been a tremendous asset to the kingdom. I am extremely grateful for the legacy of the King James Bible and I have no intention of throwing it out. I use it regularly.

  21. Bill says:

    Maybe the King James version has stood so long because it is so archaic and hard for some to understand in this modern English world. If you’re the only one who can understand Gods word, you have full control. Hmmm…

    • judy says:

      Bill, you can’t be serious…it may be archaic but there are plenty of us who can understand the message…even children can understand it if they are taught the words…just like understanding any other book…you need to know the vocabulary and the grammar and then you are off…and many children are reading in kindergarten…We still have Shakespearean productions today and when produced properly we all understand the message as well even if we don’t know every word…

      Now if it were in Arabic (like the Koran until recently) that would be different.

      • Bill says:

        Oh no doubt there are plenty who understand the KJV of the Bible, and just as many or more who don’t and just trust in the interpretation their church leader gives them. Church leaders have been trying to control people for thousands of years.
        History and the Bible itself proves this! I can see where the King James version could be a tool for this today givin it’s history, how it came about and how much original agenda and mistranslation is still in it.

  22. Tom Howard says:

    In the early 70’s, those who looked after my young soul instructed me to read “King James” above all the other ‘s that were available. So, now I have many’s verse’s memorized and could not see starting over. I have great command of the word and share it with no comprehension difficulty by my ‘hearer’s’. As 1 Timothy 4:15,16(KJV)admonishes, ” Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
    Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that ‘hear’ thee.”
    Also, the cadence of the archaic version is well suited for singing. Of which I have memorized several scriptures this way.
    I do often leave off the thee’s and thou’s as I share, which is easy to do. Thus bringing it, some what, up to date. Thanks

    • judy says:

      Exactly…

      But the point is well made in that until the Reformation Bill’s concerns were very valid…as it was Forbidden to read the Bible and to translate it into the ‘modern tongue’, leaving interpretation entirely up to “The Church”…which proved dangerous and false indeed.

      It is exactly the same situation in Islam where until VERY recently it was required that the Koran be read in Arabic, alone, a language few understood…and so we have the mess in Islam that exists today, like the Latin mass, millions of people not having a clue what is being said as the ‘holy book is read’, being told what to believe by various men each with his own axe to grind, stirring people up to follow themselves in their personal and arrogant sense of entitlement and love of control.

      We must be very grateful to the very brave men who risked life and limb to translate the Roman Catholic Bible into the ‘vulgar’ tongue so that a ‘plough boy’ could read and understand God’s message for himself. The history of Tyndale and others reads like an adventure and a crime novel…and we must also remember King James view of women and power that also influenced the further translations…remember King James was obsessed with ‘witches’ and wrote a book about them…called “Demonologie” or something like that…what do you expect then from the translation paid for by a man who feared women? And Knox who wrote “The Monstrous Regiment of Women”…the attitude of men towards women at that time was both ludicrous and terrifying for it has carried on down to this very day.

      • Tom Howard says:

        True,thank God for Tyndale.
        The raking the King over the coals is not that justifiable as if you study the Geneva Bible (which is much older than the KJV) one will see that there was not much changed. Talk about plagiarism, Ha! But who would dare charge His Majesty?
        The Geneva was the Cadillac of version’s, as they were the first to put chapter and verse’s to the Holy scrip.
        I use the Geneva for my ‘back up’ version
        This is the one they brought over on the Mayflower.

        • Bill says:

          Well Tom if the two translations are close enough (never read the Geneva)that in your opinion it’s plagiarism at it’s best, that blows the whole theory about the King James version being the inspired word. Or was it the Geneva? or neither?

          • Tom Howard says:

            Remember, Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So, their wasn’t much to do but copy it word for word, which scribes, for centuries, have been doing. And as far as the King James being the inspired word of God, It is.
            Obviously I took liberty using the word plagiarism just to get a point across that The King’s “view of women and power” could not be in the King James Bible since it(the Geneva Bible) preceded the King James translation by 51 years.The King wasn’t even born yet!

          • judy says:

            neither in my view.

            only the original documents rate that distinction…I think there is enough evidence that translators have tampered with the originals to suit their own ends(even in sermons we often hear speculation and variations)…

            It was in observing the deliberate mis-translation of the Chinese Bibles to suit culture that opened the eyes of Katharine Bushnell to study the original languages and write “God’s Word to Women” 100 Bible studies for women to open their eyes to what had been done to them…no wonder Luther threw the ink jar at the Devil while he was translating…the temptation is very great and culture is insidious…

  23. Bill says:

    My comment was really toward the King James only crowds insistence that only the KJV was inspired, and that it’s the only true Bible. I think we’ve showed others came before it. What was inspired for the different Bible versions was the original message only. Not what language or time period you translated it in, not someones extra beliefs or agendas and not the name you put on the final book.

  24. Tom Howard says:

    Judy, so sad that men do such as was done to the precious Chinese. My cousin is half Chinese.”Katharine Bushnell and Gods word to women” I am not familiar with(no wonder right!). But, the word I am. Just remember and I know you do, the warning of Peter 2 Peter 3:16. Speaking of insidious, that is.
    Look at this; Peter could and would not warn of the twisting of Scripture if it was not already firm (or untwisted) now would he?
    Here is the other 3:16, Besides John’s 3:16, 1 Timothy 3:16.
    We can and must trust His word as was such delivered to us.

  25. Marg says:

    Some info about another authorised English Bible translation. The Great Bible, first published in 1539, was authorised by king Henry the VIII.

    The Great Bible relied heavily on the work begun by Tyndale. In fact, Coverdale’s Bible (1535), Matthew’s Bible (1537) which was approved by Henry VII, the Great Bible, the Bishop’s Bible (1568), and the King James Bible (1611) all borrow much material from William Tyndale’s translation of the New Testament and Genesis from Greek and Hebrew into English, as does the present version of the King James Bible.

    Ironically Henry VIII, who authorised the Great Bible, had condemned William Tyndale simply because Tyndale wanted to translate the Bible into English.

    Some years after Henry VIII authorised the Great Bible, he put restrictions on its use. Edward the VI, who is said to have read twelve chapters of Scripture a day, ordered that the restrictions concerning the use of the Great Bible be removed. It was during Edward’s reign (28th of January, 1547 – 6th of July, 1553) that Protestantism was established in England.

    This article on wikipedia provides a brief overview of the Bibles mentioned in this comment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Modern_English_Bible_translations
    You may like this article also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_James_Version

    P.S. The image below is the title page of the Great Bible (1539) showing Henry VII handing out the Verbum Dei (Word of God)
    Title page of the Great Bible

  26. Marg says:

    Hi Judy,
    The apocryphal books were written during the intertestamental period and first century, and most were originally written in Greek not Hebrew. They are not considered canonical by Jewish people and present-day Protestant Christians. The Greek Orthodox Church regards the Apocrypha as canonical as did the 1611 King James translators.

    As well as the apocryphal books (which roughly correspond to the deuterocanonical books accepted by Roman Catholics,) there is pseudepigraphical literature dating from 400BC-1AD that is also alluded to in the New Testament.

    There are many allusions, rather than direct quotes, from these books in the New Testament. For example, compare Hebrews 11:35b with 2 Maccabees 7:1-29. Hebrews 11:37 makes reference to the Martyrdom of Isaiah. References and allusion to the apocryphal books of Enoch occur several times in Jude and 2 Peter (Jude 4,6,13,14–15; 2 Peter 2:4;3:1). Perhaps the best known non-biblical allusion is in Jude 9 which comes from a story found in the Assumption of Moses.

    The writers of the New Testament also quoted from, or alluded to, current rabbinical teaching and pagan literature. Paul refers to Menander’s Thais 218 in 1 Corinthians 15:33 Aratus’ Phaenomena 5 in Acts 17:28, and Epimenides’ de Oraculis in Titus 1:12-13.

    This link is to sayings of Jesus which have some semblance to apocryphal writings. Some are a bit of a stretch, but others seem valid.

    Several early church writers make references to apocryphal books and even commend some of them.

    I have no problem with the New Testament authors quoting such sources. It is like us today quoting from secular literature (such as Shakespeare), or from well-known Christians (such as Dietrich Bornhoeffer or Tim Keller) to make a point, except that the New Testament writers were uniquely inspired by the Holy Spirit.

    • judy says:

      OK GUYS…LOOK WHAT I JUST FOUND AT THE SALVATION ARMY STORE ONLINE for all interested:

      1611 KJV: 400th Anniversary Edition
      9780310440291

      $8.79
      Celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Version Bible with this value-priced, commemorative replica! Experience the original design and beauty of this masterpiece as these digitally re-mastered pages transport you back in time to read the greatest story ever told.

      For the first time since the original King James Version rolled off the presses, see and experience an exact, page-by-page, digitally re-mastered replica of the original 1611 printing in an economically priced edition. This replication contains the lavishly illustrated genealogy of key biblical figures—from Adam and Eve to Jesus. Enjoy the beauty of decorative initials, the original classic font, and the complete preface entitled “From the Translators to the Readers” found in the original. There are only two differences between this special 400th anniversary edition and the original 1611 KJV—it does not contain the deuterocanonical books and has been reduced from its massive 12″ x 16″ pulpit-sized folio to this manageable keepsake. Now you can embrace the elegance, majestic style, and rich cadence of the first printing of the 1611 King James Version Bible.

      Product Information:

      Format: Hardcover
      Dimensions: 8 x 5.25 inches

      Available to order from:

      http://store.salvationarmy.ca/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=12407

      Cheers!

  27. Bill says:

    I just popped back in here to see how this topic has progressed, and to read all the comments since I’ve been gone.

    I just wanted to say thank you Judy. I’ve read your comments since I’ve been away, and Its nice to see someone comment with the same feeling, background and views toward the Holy Scriptures that I have.

    Keep the faith.

  28. melina says:

    When I read the bible I read an easy modern translation like the ESV, but when I study I use the KJV and anything else I can get my hands on to enable me to correctly discern the true meaning of a word.

    I abhor some newer translation like The Message and the 2011 NIV but am aware people are answerable to God, each one, for their choices whether that be choosing to live ignorantly or seeking wisdom.

    However, what bothers me is the possible erosion of faith that might come from the Christian community’s arguing and debating whether a particular bible is the ‘real’ word of God. To someone seeking God we might present as a group of infighting skeptics not even convinced of the truth and validity of our own precious word.

    Are we being diverted from the real battle by these skirmishes?

    • Marg says:

      You make an excellent point, Melina. The debates over Bible versions can be heated and political, and look horrible and petty to an outsider looking in. But it concerns me that many Christians choose to use a Bible version that is difficult, and potentially misleading, to read. I believe God wants his word to be comprehensible to the “plough boy”, to quote Tyndale.

      The author of The Message never intended his work to be treated as a Bible translation. I rarely use it and would never suggest it is a translation or even a paraphrase.

      I do use the NIV 2011 though, and I wonder why you abhor it. I’ve come across some verses in the NIV where I disagree with the translators’ choice, but there are many other verses that I think are excellent, insightful translations. I feel the same way about the translation of the KJV – there are some inspired choices and other less inspired choices – however the KJV is hard to read overall because of its dated language.

      • Bluey says:

        James said: “I do not know why you say the kjv is hard to read.”
        I can’t answer for anyone else but this was my experience. I was converted while in prison. I began reading “Good News For Modern Man”. I tried reading the old blue covered Gideons King James Bible but it was just too hard to understand.
        After some months, I’d read my Good News For Modern Man, many times. I only had it in the New Testament. I decided that I’d reada the Old Testament and I only had access to it in the King James Bible. I resolved to not move to another verse until I understood the verse I was reading. This went reasonably well until I got to Genesis 25:29.
        It said “And Jacob sod pottage:”
        I had no way of finding out what it meant. I was stuck. I had to move on. Eventually I found out that “sod pottage” meant “boiled soup”, or “boiled stew”.
        There are lots of difficult passages for new converts. Especially for those who have restricted access to other help.

        • Marg says:

          Thanks for this comment, Bluey. It describes very well the difficulties that many English speakers (and readers) have with the King James Bible. It was written to be understood in the 1600s by common folk, but language has changed a lot since then. I wouldn’t have known what “sod pottage” is either.

  29. Brian F says:

    I definitely appreciate this article. I’ve grown weary of hearing that the KJV is the only English version that is “divinely inspired.” I wonder if German/Latin/Spanish/Portuguese/etc. translations have this kind of madness.

    I do have one concern, though. I find that comparing the NIV with the KJV to be slightly off. I agree that the NIV is a perfectly good Bible. In fact, my day-to-day reader is the NIV. However, the NIV contains a mixture of “thought-for-thought” along with “word-for-word” translation methodologies; Whereas, the KJV is “word-for-word” only. The same is true with the NASB and ESV. As such, I, personally, cannot recommend the NIV for a deep-dive into the Word. For Bible study, I always suggest a “word-for-word” translation (ESV is my favorite), as it makes it much easier to do a cross-reference between the Greek and the English. In order to have a deep understanding of scripture, you need to have a decent knowledge of the Greek.

    For people who are just looking for a Bible that is eas(y/ier) to read, and that is very accurate to both the Hebrew and Greek, I usually recommend the NIV. For younger folks (early-to-mid teens) who are just starting to get into the Word, I usually point them to the NLT as it also has a decent balance between “thought-for-thought” and “word-for-word,” although I always implore them to “upgrade” to the NIV once they’ve read through using the easier to understand/watered down NLT.

    Besides that single, tiny, complaint, this article is definitely spot on.

  30. phillips says:

    he also wrote the bible of Demonology. i think he wrote that book 15 years before the revise bible Sure tells you alot about him and his belief

  31. Beth says:

    I enjoy the kjv and use it often. For everyday I use the nkjv, I love the formal beauty of both.
    Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed this article to me it’s fascinating.

    • Staci says:

      My pastor goes by the NLT, NIV , translations of the Bible on Sunday morning and I have the NKJV and I can keep up with his messages just fine . On my phone is where I use the other translations . My relationship has grown so much more because I can understand the other translations better because it’s how we talk in these days and times without all the bad language so its easier to understand and all the books are there and the stories are the same.

  32. I thought this was a well thought out and articulated column. I did take note of a lot of passion on both sides. I have also noticed that recently the NIV has begun to soften some of its language around controversial social subjects, for example the way women are referred to in scripture. This is unfortunate. I prefer the NASB, a good friend of mine who pastors a Lutheran Church in our community is a big fan of the ESV. I believe that either will serve a sincere individual very well.

    • Marg says:

      Thanks for your comment, Richard. Yes, the passion is astonishing. This is the only post on my website where I have put a warning about comments; I’ve had to delete some very nasty ones, supposedly written by Christians.

      I really like the NASB too. Have you got an example of where the NIV has softened or compromised a verse about women?

    • judy says:

      Same comment as Marg :”I have also noticed that recently the NIV has begun to soften some of its language around controversial social subjects, for example the way women are referred to in scripture.”…what do you mean by ‘soften’ and what controversial social subjects do you mean? I like the way women are referred to in scripture…like strong, aggressive people who would die for the gospel…and people who are in direct contact with God rather than the church ideal that infers that God has to go through human mediators to get to women. But the KJV also has the same way of referring to women…so what do you mean?

      • richard says:

        one example specifically is that when Jesus attended the wedding in Cana, as his mother asked him to turn the water into wine, I have noted that the NIV translates the answer from Christ as “dear woman” when that is an addition to the words that Christ used. While this is acceptable to many as the NIV attempts to communicate the intent of the message, this is not a true word for word translation, and I prefer to leave the thinking to individuals, not solely to experts.

        • Marg says:

          I actually think the translation choice of “dear woman” is spot on in John 2:4.

          It sounds terse and disrespectful, even rude, when an English speaking person addresses a lady (let alone his mother) simply as “woman”. But Jesus wasn’t being terse or disrespectful in John 2:4. He was addressing his mother in a respectful and warm manner.

          When translating from one language to another, we need to faithfully translate the actual meaning. A word for word translation can be misleading. I know some people who mistakenly think Jesus was being terse with his mother. This is a shame.

  33. Marg says:

    This comment is in response to an email I received from Mike, a reader who wrote:

    Your point about the TR not existing until after the 1611 KJV is not accurate. The TR as we know it was produced by Erasmus in 1516 (?) It was the Greek text he produced to support his Latin translation of the Bible. It became know as the TR much later.

    I responded with this long quote (taken from here) which I thought might be helpful in the ongoing discussion here.

    Next, what is meant by the term, “Received Text”? This name was first applied to a printed Greek text only as late as 1633, or almost 120 years after the first published Greek New Testament appeared in 1516. In 1633, the Elzevirs of Leyden published the second edition of their Greek text, and that text contained the publisher’s “blurb”: textum ergo habes, nunc ab omnibus receptum, or, “therefore you have the text now received by all,” from which the term textus receptus, or received text was taken, and applied collectively and retroactively to the series of published Greek New Testaments extending from 1516 to 1633 and beyond. Most notable among the many editors of Greek New Testaments in this period were Erasmus (5 editions: 1516, 1519, 1522, 1527, 1535), Robert Estienne a.k.a. Robertus Stephanus (4 editions: 1546, 1549, 1550, 1551), Theodore de Beza (9 editions between 1565 and 1604), and the Elzevirs (3 editions: 1624,1633, 1641). These many Greek texts display a rather close general uniformity, a uniformity based on the fact that all these texts are more or less reprints of the text(s) edited by Erasmus, with only minor variations. These texts were not independently compiled by the many different editors on the basis of close personal examination of numerous Greek manuscripts, but are genealogically-related. Proof of this is to be found in a number of “unique” readings in Erasmus’ texts, that is, readings which are found in no known Greek manuscript but which are nevertheless found in the editions of Erasmus. One of these is the reading “book of life” in Revelation 22:19. All known Greek manuscripts here read “tree of life” instead of “book of life” as in the textus receptus. Where did the reading “book of life” come from? When Erasmus was compiling his text, he had access to only one manuscript of Revelation, and it lacked the last six verses, so he took the Latin Vulgate and back-translated from Latin to Greek. Unfortunately, the copy of the Vulgate he used read “book of life,” unlike any Greek manuscript of the passage, and so Erasmus introduced a “unique” Greek reading into his text. Since the first and only “source” for this reading in Greek is the printed text of Erasmus, any Greek New Testament that agrees with Erasmus here must have been simply copied from his text. The fact that all textus receptus editions of Stephanus, Beza, et al. read with Erasmus shows that their texts were more or less slavish reprints of Erasmus’ text and not independently compiled editions, for had they been edited independently of Erasmus, they would surely have followed the Greek manuscripts here and read “tree of life.” Numerous other unique or extremely rare readings in the textus receptus editions could be referenced.

    In this connection, it is worth noting that the translators of the King James Version did not follow exclusively any single printed edition of the New Testament in Greek. The edition most closely followed by them was Beza’s edition of 1598, but they departed from this edition for the reading in some other published Greek text at least 170 times, and in at least 60 places, the KJV translators abandoned all then-existing printed editions of the Greek New Testament, choosing instead to follow precisely the reading in the Latin Vulgate version. No edition of the Greek New Testament agreeing precisely with the text followed by the KJV translators was in existence until 1881 when F. H. A. Scrivener produced such an edition (though even it differs from the King James Version in a very few places, e.g. Acts 19:20). It is Scrivener’s 1881 text which was reprinted by the Trinitarian Bible Society in 1976. This text does not conform exactly to any of the historic texts dating from the Reformation period and known collectively as the textus receptus.

    Furthermore, a careful distinction must be made between the textus receptus (even in its broadest collective sense) on the one hand, and the majority text (also known as the Byzantine or Syrian text) on the other. Though the terms textus receptus and majority text are frequently used as though they were synonymous, they by no means mean the same thing. When the majority text was being compiled by Hodges and Farstad, their collaborator Pickering estimated that their resultant text would differ from the textus receptus in over 1,000 places; in fact, the differences amounted to 1,838. In other words, the reading of the majority of Greek manuscripts differs from the textus receptus (Hodges and Farstad used an 1825 Oxford reprint of Stephanus’ 1550 text for comparison purposes) in 1,838 places, and in many of these places, the text of Westcott and Hort agrees with the majority of manuscripts against the textus receptus. The majority of manuscripts and Westcott and Hort agree against the textus receptus in excluding Luke 17:36; Acts 8:37; and I John 5:7 from the New Testament, as well as concurring in numerous other readings (such as “tree of life” in Revelation 22:19). Except in a few rare cases, writers well-versed in textual criticism have abandoned the textus receptus as a standard text. (Source)

  34. […] The Greek word tapeinōseōs in Philippians 3:21 describes our earthly bodies as “lowly” or “humble”. The King James Version translates this word as “vile”. The meaning of “vile” has changed over the few hundred years since the KJV was written. While “vile” was a reasonable translation in the 1600s, our present understanding of “vile” (as something despicable and nasty) is not what the Apostle Paul meant to convey. […]

  35. Tom Howard says:

    Yes, both the 1560 and the ,much easier read 1599 Edition. Published by Tolle Lege Press, Geneva Bibles say, “passover” in Acts 12:4. King James did not error, he falsified, as its very obvious, calculated change. I still love KJV, but appreciate the Bible our forefathers brought over on the mayflower too! They did not bring the newer 1611 KJV on their 1620 voyage. Maybe they just loved their (at that time) 60 year old bibles, better.Or they knew better!

  36. I tried to find a “copy” of the Wycliffe, at several book store. NO GO. So…the only way I could SEE it…was to GOOGLE it. The english in this version, is also difficult to understand. (For those in the 21st century. IF I had a Wycliffe…I would surely take the time, to pray first, and then “study” it, to the best of my ability. I do NOT have any trouble understanding KJV…simply because the Holy Spirit IN me…translates the “meaning” of certain words or verses, to my heart.

  37. Steve Badger says:

    Wow! Christians are still beating this old drum? This reminds me of the “lordship salvation vs free grace” debates of a few decades ago. That issue was argued in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1600s by both pastors and lawyers!

    I offer a few observations after reading all of the posts this afternoon.

    1. Marg: you have done a superlative job moderating this blog! You must be the silver standard of patience (only one Person is the Gold Standard, our Savior and Lord, Christ Jesus). Marg, you motivate me to be more patient. How long can you keep moderating this discussion and maintain your patience? As long as it takes….

    2. Alister McGrath’s book is excellent: In the Beginning. He explicates the great accomplishments of the KJV, does not bash those who think it is the best translation for all English readers, and explicates reasons why any modern English translation of the Bible should be better for us. McGrath is a polymath. He helped me appreciate the greatness of the KJV.

    3. A knowledge of James Barr’s The Semantics of Biblical Languages would be useful to most participants. Moises Silva’s Biblical Words and their Meaning is more accessible to readers than Barr’s book. Barr gives us insight into both translation theory and Interpretation difficulties.

    4. I am amazed at how far the zeal of some commenters on these pages so far surpasses their knowledge. Many have no understanding of the difficulties involved in translating from any language to another language–let alone from Biblical Hebrew or from Koine. Sigh.

    5. Would a separate discussion on translation theory be helpful to some participants?

    I agree with the writer who said Christians need to be more involved in demonstrating the love of Christ to our lost world than debating our favorite translations of the Bible.

    Marg, I don’t agree with all you wrote. [I say that so you know that I read your responses “critically.”] I grew up on the KJV, and read it from time to time just to see how people used English in England long ago.

    And the awkward English in the NASB is really useful only to those learning/studying Hebrew or Greek–not to North American readers today.

    Those who believe God’s Holy Spirit gives Christians understanding as you read the KJV, should read only the Hebrew or Greek expecting the same divine revelation.

    This whole discussion reminds me of how some Christians like to study the book of Revelation–just so they can argue with other Christians about how best to interpret the end times.

    Do you think anyone has changed his/her position on this issue? Or is everyone close-minded regarding KJV Only?

    God bless you, Marg. Just keep serving Christ.

    And if you delete or edit this post, I’m okay with that. I just wanted to salute your incredible Christlike patience.

    May you have all of the fruit of His Spirit in equal abundance! Steve

    • Marg says:

      Thanks for your comment, Steve.

      I have no desire to cause more division in the church over what is sadly a contentious issue for some. I have deleted (or not allowed) the more odd and/or more aggressive comments which have at times tested my patience. It is a concern to me that this is the only page on my website that contains cautions about what people may post in the comments section.

      I agree that the KJV is a great translation. I also agree with your comment about the NASB.

      Hoping for peace and wholeness in the church.
      Shalom
      Marg

  38. Marg says:

    COMMENTS ARE CLOSED.

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