Friday, September 12, 2008

King James Only?


I believe that the King James Version is the only trustworthy English translation. I found this declaration in many statement of faith I browsed in the Internet. They think that other versions of the Bible especially the modern ones are perversion of the word of God. They doggedly hold to this belief that trying to explain to them that KJV translators worked from an inferior Greek text constructed from a few late Old and New Testament manuscripts and that the later versions are based from older manuscripts that more likely reflect the original text would more likely to be ignored.

The irony here is that their fixation with KJV actually violate the intent of the translators who wanted to continue the ongoing ministry of making the Bible understandable to ordinary people.

They themselves expected opposition from those who refused to break with the tradition. They wrote:

For was anything ever undertaken with a touch of newness or improvement about it that didn’t run into storms of argument or opposition?... [King James] was well aware that whoever attempts anything for the public, especially if it has to do with religion or with making the word of God accessible and understandable, sets himself up to be frowned upon by every evil eye, and casts himself headlong on a row of pikes, to be stabbed by every sharp tongue.

So the church should always be ready with translations to avoid the same kind of emergencies [i.e., the inability to understand because of a language barriers.] Translation is what opens the window, to let the light in. It breaks the shell, so that we may eat the kernel. It pulls the curtain aside, so that we may look into the most holy place. It removes the cover from the well, so that we may get to the water…In fact, without a translation in the common language, most people are like the children at Jacob’s well (which was deep) without a bucket or something to draw the water with….
Furthermore, Duval and Hays in their book Grasping God’s Word mention two major obstacles contemporary readers are facing when they are using the KJV.

First as I mentioned earlier is that the translators of the KJV worked from inferior Greek text constructed from a few, late New Testament manuscript. Since the KJV first appeared, many older manuscripts have been discovered, and scholars contend that these older manuscripts are much more likely to reflect the original text. In contrast to the Greek text on which the KJV is based, scholars today are able to translate from a Greek text that draws back on more than five thousand New Testament manuscripts, some dating back to the second century.

Second, KJV is using archaic English words and phrases. In addition to the use of obselete terms such as “aforetime,” must needs,” howbeit,” “holden,” peradventure,” and “whereto,” the KJV is filled with out-of-date expressions that either fail to communicate with contemporary readers or mislead them entirely.

Undoubtedly, KJV was a good translation for the early 1600s because it was written for people during that time. But I think that many people who are using this version know KJV was revision. Everybody would have a hard time understanding even a page of the original 1611 version for its archaic English that used different spelling in our modern day English.

People who are using the 1769 KJV edition are unknowingly admitting the necessity to revise a translation. Thousand of changes had been made between the 1611 and 1769 version that they are literally different Bibles.

Why not continue the process of revision by drawing on the latest in biblical scholarship and using language that today’s readers can understand? Anything less seems to violate the intent of those who translated the original King James Version.

Duvall and Hays, Grasping the Word of God: A Hands On Approach to Reading, Interpreting and Applying the Word of God, 163-64.

1 comment:

Just a friend said...

"KJV was a good translation for the early 1600s because it was written for people during that time."

Often repeated misinformation. The KJV was NOT written in 1611, Elizabethan English. Compare the KJV to Shakespeare (or even to the KJV introduction); the language is very different. Note the different usage of 2nd person pronouns.

The KJV is still a very good translation. The revisions between the 1611 and 1769 are almost entirely spelling. There are also a few corrections is wording and punctuation, but it is not a new translation.

Yes, there are a few obsolete words, like "aforetime," but face it...they're usually not hard to figure out. An if you need help, just do what you normally would when you read any book...look it up. Just type it into Google, and there you go.

The real difference between the KJV and newer versions is that they are based on completely different manuscripts. The new manuscripts are extremely sloppy and missing many verses. Don't take my word for it, see for yourself: http://www.codex-sinaiticus.net/en/manuscript.aspx?folioNo=4&inputControl=420&lid=en&quireNo=36&side=r&zoomSlider=0