Why King James


Dear Members:

A friend of mine once septical of Christiantity has taken to going to churh with his wife. Being married I expected to see him less. However, I see most invitations I get are to their church, with no sense they would recipracate and go to Mass.

As Vatican II indicated I will leave his fate up to Jesus, I am just glad he doesn’t see him as some ancinet talkshow host as he once did and believes in a risen lord. There is a big however, however. He is insistant on basing his whole study of scripture on the Kings Jamses Bible. Don’t these folks know about its political history and the role it played in unifiying the thrones of Scotland and England. It didn’t fall out to the sky.

My argument is if you are going to be Protestant, use one of the new language versions. Would one study flight school or medicine using Shakesperean English. This is in essence what comprise the King James bible. It is just a tad newer.

Furthermore, these folks are big on missionary work . Yet in langauges such as German or Spanish excessive use of archaic forms outside of the theatre is seen as putting on airs or not being with it. In essence the language is not universal to modern times and does not translate well. Make note I am not saying use a Catholic Bible, although with magistarium being a reality it is the best thing. I am only saying why are these folks so wedded to a Bible they need a minister to understand when there are more moder Protestant Bibles? It is like the fact that the Islamic faith believes it must be preached in Arabic, when most of its adherents do not speak Arabic. Ironically one of Martin Luther’s big pushes was for a Bible in the vernacular. Their approach, the Kings James adherents makes ecumenical conferences much more difficult and will eventually place them back before the time of Luther when only the ministers , with all their human flaws as any one speaking outside of magistarium would do, will increasingly return to the errors of non comprehension and elitism. Seeking arguments of the good kind to present to my friend as I do not pretend to be a King Jmaes version scholar.




Tell him you prefer the Douay-Rheims Bible. Same era English, has all 73 books and more accurate.
I’ve had such people tell me that they use KJV because it’s the one the apostles used.

At which point I always have to ask just which one of the apostles spoke English. :shrug:


If they insist on using a Protestant Bible, I would suggest the NASB. It is a very literal translation, based on original manuscripts in Hebrew and Greek that are older than the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts used for the KJV. I have an NASB, and I know it is used by many Protestants. It is formal equivalence, which means word-for-word, not thought-for-thought such as the NIV.


At which point I always have to ask just which one of the apostles spoke English.

It was Shakespeare, the beloved bard.

I telemarketed animated Bible videos in college, and we started selling a movie based on NIV’s Matthew. I had a woman turn me down when I mentioned the NIV; she said the KJV was the only one she uses because “it’s the Word of God.”




I would turn down NIV too.:eek: I don’t like dynamic equivalence translations. I don’t like NAB either. In terms of Protestant Bibles, I like KJV, NASB and ESV. In terms of Catholic Bibles, I like Douay-Rheims, RSV-CE and NRSV-CE (in spite of the inclusive language found in NRSV-CE).


I am getting a sharper picture of the HIstory of the Kings James Bible. I hadn’t known about the Tynsdale. It causes one to ask why change. (When a king such as James pushed it it was probably as much about politics as faith as they were closer together in a public manner in those days.

The linguistics issue concerns me about MAry. There is this apparentl literate Docotr Scott on PAXchannel who goes into great deatail bringing translations forward. Probably to the King James Version I admit I am not a close viewer of the program. However, this business about Mary being “Full of Grace”, I know she is she has been there for me. What language, I suppose it is ancient Greek, is being twisted. this is the kind of thing I want to tell my friend that tells me it is not a version I want to study. In this pluralistic society I do not want to tell him he is wrong and going to hell. I do not beleive that is how Vatican II oriented our dealings with Protestants. I just want to strengthen my knowledge and faith. Above, save for the complexities of hierachy with our Eastern Orthodox brethen, these other churches do not believe in the literal and hence the real nature of sacraments. NOt that Catholics don’t have this problem too, but I think a self determing view of scripture. most I know who do this use the King James. Well everyone involved is divorced. In fact they tend to look at me as not fittting in for being single and childless. The divorce business beelongs in another section. I only cite it to suggest that they see the parts of the Bible they want to see. There is also a lot of misitering to people in their “Church”, but rejection of single mother, alcoholics, etc. It reminds me of two things. “Faith without works is dead” They don’t want to hear that. And, “Tax collectors and sinner will be getting into heaven before you.” They seem oblivious that those who hide behind a book they are using to judge perhaps even hate, are probably being blocked by archaic langauge, bad translation, and hate filled so called “ministers.” Now I know this is not every Protestant church. However, enough of them exist to primarily judge, and the Kings James Bible, using English they can’t otherwise use, and based on poor translatations at that. Well I will be polite and say I do not find it an effective version for me. If someone is offended by that. Then they are not ecumenical and should admit they have an agenda of judgement not fellowship. And or they are using the ook the KJV to underscore and project psychological angers and fears. This is the beautifulthing about magisterium. Sure anyone can point to a defective prioest. through out history there have been bad, bishops, cardinals and popes. However, the Holy Spirit prevails.

Finally I would tell the King James crowd. What keeps your next paster form being a new Charles Taze Russell? A new Joseph Smith. People I am sure they abhor. And God forbid the David Koresh’s or Jim Jone’s of this world? Of course most of these King James readers are not extreme. HOwever, they are always one pastor away from saying this is how the book is really read. Becasue the language is archaic and poorly translated it is not a good Bible to even try to self evaluate. I was glad to see a reader mention better based Protestant translations. I imagine these internal arguments are dealt with, probably initiated by the King James Bible readers , as something has happened to lead the readers of new translations astray. It is always about self justification and not about living a Christian life. “It is not those who say Lord Lord, but those who do the will of myy Father.” I found the few times i have been at a study, quoting form a KJV That this passage from teh Gospel of John or the one form James about works makes the KJV crowd wince. In sum they have one sacramental form, all thought not a true sacrament. They worship theidea of Jesus by worshiping the Bible. They do not worship God in the three persons of the Trinity because their book worhship prevents it.

Thanks for letting me vent.

MA 1965


No, I wouldn’t study aviation or medicine using such a text, but last I checked, religious studies differed radically in their point and purpose from aviation and medicine.

There are reasons other than the purely symbolic why people dress up for Catholic Masses and Protestant services; why they feature incense, vestments, etc. Religion is not merely aesthetic, but aesthetics are not trivial, nor are they irrelevant to matters religious. It is fitting for God’s word to be expressed with a united mixture of accuracy and beauty. All other things being equal, I’d rather my church didn’t hold services in a quonset hut, I’d rather my pastor or priest didn’t wear Bermuda shorts, and I’d rather my Bible didn’t read like an internal business memo or a modern self-help manual (I’m talking to you, NIV).

One thing to remember about the KJV: its language was deliberately archaic when it was written. Take a glance at the Jacobean English written elsewhere at that time, and note how much closer it is to our own. In religious texts, an elevated, archaising tone has generally been considered appropriate in European languages and culture. (Perhaps many contemporary Germans and Spaniards do see archaising Bibles as “putting on airs or not being with it,” but this pretty much describes those countries’ default attitude towards religious faith, period.)


The Catholic Church used the Douay-Rheims Bible for Mass until very recently, and it has archaic language very similar to the KJV.


I have studied enough about Wester European languages to know that something such as writing in the thow form in Old Scriptin German has much deeper social impliacations than in English. People are not even taught AlteSchreibe, it has implication with the Third Reich. Old Spanish has implication of times when regional languagessuch as Catalan wher punished for being spoken in public.

In oth cases to prest a literal King James vis a vis how Gerrman or Spanish was being spoken is going to being seen as ) A you must kow tow to me the knowlegable foreign missionary ( and there was a lot of that in missionary history) as well as B) I don’t understand ths book and am not going to trust you to tell me what is says. After all Spanis and German Catholics have very good modern translations. I imagine their Protestanst do too. As far as Catholics they are encouraged to read Bibles they can comprehend.


MA 1965


Fair enough, but the connotations of Old Spanish are sort of an historical accident, which don’t apply to English or other languages. As for the German Fraktur writing, A) I’m pretty sure that not even the foamiest Catholic polemicist has been able to tie James I to the Third Reich, so that’s all a bit moot, and B) Fraktur is a script, not a language dialect. If I proposed printing and reading the Bible in an old blackletter font, the point might be more germane. Whatever the implications of typeface, the vernacular of Luther (for example) isn’t considered to be a sign of cryptonazism…

Naturally, the sort of missionary work one does might have to guide one’s choice of translation. I’m not opposed to non-King James Bibles or to modern translations; I just find that people who promote them often try to contrast them with the KJV in ways that are unfair or uninformed (though not maliciously).

And I confess to considering the Authorised Version, despite its old-fashioned language, pretty darned comprehensible. Maybe I’m just an oddity.


KJV-only is one of those things that you probably can’t understand unless you actually believe it yourself. It has nothing to do with it being the most accurate translation, and the “beauty of the language” argument is a cute cover up. Essentially, these people believe that the KJV translation was inspired, just like the original manuscripts. There are books devoted to the subject that show how modern translations are translated inentionally to downplay the divinity of Christ, when in fact the changes in translation are corrections of distortions and innaccuracies in the KJV.

I work at a non-denom Christian bookstore in a very fundamentalist area, and we hear once a week how wrong we are to be carrying any translation other than KJV.

Almost as much as we hear how wrong we are to be carrying St, Christopher medals. :smiley:


I once saw a bumper sticker that read, “If it ain’t the King James Version, it ain’t the Bible.” I wanted to ask the person what the people read before the KJV was created, and about those who don’t know English read. :rolleyes:


I don’t speak Hebrew fluently but I know enough to have a qualified opinion on the Old Testament parts. I would say that the King James is the best translation into English. Stylistically it is very good, and it is very faithful to the Hebrew, and it doesn’t try to make silly ideological points. It uses inclusive language where appropriate - “children of Israel” not “sons”, though the Hebrew is masculine there is no neutral form. It doesn’t do so where that would strain both the original text and the language. As for archaism, the Hebrew has some archaic forms, such as “anochi” instead of “ani” for I. Since we don’t have a large corpus of non-biblical Hebrew from the period we can’t say whether it is as archaic as the King James in flavour.


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