Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Why I Like the KJV

I'll admit it frankly: I prefer the King James Version translation of the Bible. I have used it since childhood at home and church.

I certainly am not of the group which believes that the KJV is somehow inspired in a way which other English translations are not, nor do I believe that it is free of translational error. [The original text, of course, is inerrant.] I have no argument with those who use other legitimate English translations in their own study of the Word.

Here are some reasons why I prefer the KJV:

  • It is accurate. Not perfect, nor completely "up-to-date" in our 21st century, but on the whole, it is an accurate translation. The translators strove for a word-for-word translation to the greatest extent possible, and that is what they got. Could other translations be more accurate or more up-to-date? Possibly. But I think the KJV—especially if it comes with good study aids—is plenty accurate for our use today. [As for the use (or non-use) of the Textus Receptus in English translations....I'll leave those arguments to the scholars.]
  • It contains beautiful language. No modern translation even comes close to the "beauty" of the way the KJV language comes across. It is difficult to read Psalm 23, or the Christmas story of Luke 2, or even John 3:16 in any other translation—it just doesn't "sound as good," even if it may have technical advantages. Even phrases like "and Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived" (Gen. 4:1) are discreet yet adequate enough to get the idea across.
  • It is the "standard." No other literal word-for-word translation has been more popular than the KJV over the last, oh, 250 years or so. Even the unsaved world often recognizes it as "the Bible," and would be hard-pressed to recognize other translations. Nearly everyone in the English-speaking world who wants a KJV Bible has one, or can get one easily.
  • It is not copyrighted. I understand why modern translations of the Bible are copyrighted, but there is a certain repugnance to slapping a copyright on what is claimed as the "Word of God," so that you can make a profit on it. Legitimate? I guess so. Honorable? Not so much.
I also do not buy into that "it's hard to read" argument. The reading level of the KJV may be higher than the newspaper or your favorite magazine, but I have two children who could read it fairly well by the age of 8 (with the exception of some of its vocabulary—but every 8-year-old has gaps in vocabulary). The Puritans of Massachusetts put a heavy emphasis on teaching reading for the express public purpose of teaching children to read the Bible at a young age. They succeeded.

And, yes, even I have used other translations from time to time as reference or for study. I also have my Greek New Testament—which is a great study help, once you learn some Greek.

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