Why I DON’T Use King James

Long ago I grew accustomed to receiving “hate” emails from KJV fans.  I should have kept them, because I’m sure you would be greatly amused if I posted a list of the names I’ve been called because I use the NIV in this blog most of the time. The first few times I received these emails, I thought that maybe I should reconsider, then I began to find them amusing and even hilarious, but now I’m just bored!

Dear reader, I do not use the KJV because it is written in a language that nobody speaks; it’s just that simple.  In that sense, it has much in common with things that are written in Latin, it’s a dead language that isn’t spoken anywhere, with the possible exception of Ivory Tower professors somewhere.

With that out of the way, I will agree with those who would say that the King James English is beautiful and poetic.  Why should that surprise anyone? After all, it is the language of Shakespeare! Yet ask any freshman student about studying Shakespeare: they have to translate it into modern English before they can follow it! Many of my detractors claim that the KJV is the only accurate translation of the Bible.  While it is my view that the KJV is a fine translation, it is very far from perfect!  The other day, I saw a post that consisted of a list of words and the number of times they were used in the KJV and the NIV.  They were words like “hell” “damnation” and so on, all dealing with judgment and punishment.  The KJV had these word more than the NIV, and judging from the fact that the same blog had another post attacking the NIV for being “politically correct” I’m going to assume that the blogger was trying to show that the NIV is soft of judgment and condemnation.  (I apologize for not having the links here for you to verify this, but this morning I couldn’t find the post again…)

To be honest and fair, however, the KJV would have the word “hell” more often than the NIV because the KJV renders five different words “hell” even though the five different words mean five different things. This is an example of a KJV weakness, not a KJV strength!  Of course the NIV doesn’t have the word “damnation” a single time, it is a word that is no longer in use in the English language, but it means “condemnation, judgment, punishment” and those are the words the NIV uses, depending on context. Here’s a KJV weakness that you might not even want to know about:  The Greek word baptiso is a verb which means “to immerse.” King James was translated in a rough time in history, during the time of the English Reformation.  Those poor translators couldn’t be sure who was going to win out, and the way they handled this word could spell either life or death, so they transliterated it rather than translating it, thus creating a new English word: Baptize.  Now you figure out what it means!  Can you translate “immerse” into “sprinkle”?  We still can’t all agree on that question, can we?

The KJV has its problems, the NIV has its problems; they all have their problems! That’s why many of us study in Greek and Hebrew and then look at the English; KJV fans, the original language is the best, not the KJV.  Still, I like the KJV, I learned this stuff in KJV, I can even speak King James English, but I don’t teach in it because few can fully understand it today.

Over 20 years ago, I was teaching in a church where several of the older members complained about the NIV, saying that they prefer the KJV. “If it isn’t King James, it isn’t the Bible” was the rallying cry.  So being young and eager to please, I announced one Sunday in church that I would be starting a new class that would be all King James.  We would use the KJV exclusively, all teaching would be in King James English, and all questions and comments by participants would be in King James English. ” There is a sign up sheet on the table outside, so be sure and sign up so I will know how many class handouts we will need; and they too will be written in King James English!”

Well of course nobody signed up!  They wanted to hear King James, but they wanted it explained in language they would understand…

In conclusion, if you prefer the King James, by all means use it.  As I have said, it is a fine translation.  But if another person uses a different translation, it really isn’t your place to order them to switch!  It really doesn’t mean they are the “devil’s blogger”!

Yes, that is by far the most hilarious thing I’ve been called for using NIV! 🙂

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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181 Responses to Why I DON’T Use King James

  1. It is not the language that trips me up. It is the manuscript behind the NIV which does. Any serious student of the Word of God will notice that there are HUGE differences between the two Bibles and not just updated/outdated language.

    I’ll give you just one example. In John 7:8, Jesus states he is not “yet” going up to the feast. In the NIV, Jesus states he is “not” going to the feast (NIV states festival). He then goes up to the feast a bit later. When you take out that one word, you make Jesus a liar.

    Don – I am not one who believes anyone who uses something other than the King James is a heretic. However, anyone that I have ever encouraged to do a serious study of the topic has come to realize that there are some MAJOR differences between the two.

    • Don Merritt says:

      I’m afraid that for serious study, one should be using the Greek. As for English translations, here are three:

      Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come. (KJV)

      You go to the festival. I am not[a] going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” (NIV, notice the footnote! It says: Some manuscripts not yet)

      Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come. (NASB)

      Of the three of these English translations, the KJV is less understandable than usual in my view. The NASB is the most literally correct in my view based on reading the actual Greek, and the NIV is the only one that calls attention to the issue you’ve raised, but noting the presence of “yet” ( oupō) present in ‘some texts’. With all due respect, I can’t see that any of these make Jesus out to be a liar. Maybe ‘oupō’ should be in all texts, maybe Jesus changed his mind, maybe he felt the time came later for Him to go (that’s the weakest one) but in no case does any of that make Him a liar, at least in my view, particularly with the NIV footnote.

      • Don;
        While I absolutely agree with your positions regarding the KJV—I personally rely on several versions for an accurate view—I feel compelled to pass this story along as it might be of interest to your readers.
        Years ago before I made the journey to orthodoxy and was subsequently ordained into the Independent Catholic tradition, my wife and I were attending a Southern Baptist church just a few miles up the road from our rural Missouri home. One Sunday, the minister—a stereotypical down home country boy minister, a quality that we admire—announced to the congregation that the service that day would be different; a guest speaker would address us.
        The gentleman—reportedly himself a minister—begin a long tirade about how the KJV and all other translations were apostate in that they changed words and or phrases so that the original meaning(s) were lost, the end effect—as he saw it—was to change God’s Holy word so much as to make it ineffective; or worse.
        After a 20 minute long tirade—seemingly hours long—he had made the argument that the only absolutely factual translation, the only bible worthy to be studied or owned by a Christian, was the one he held in his hand; oh by the way did I mention that he happened to be the publisher of this absolutely infallible translation, and he just happened to have a whole trunk full of these in his car? He concluded that while editing the KJV, that he had received divine inspiration from God so this his bible was superior to those edited by contemporary committees of theologians or any Fathers of the church throughout antiquity.
        As we left that little country church that day; my wife and I shook our heads in disbelief as many of the congregation were forking over cash to this salesman; the price of a single copy being so exorbitant, it was a week’s wages for many of these simple working class country folk.
        In my opinion, it is wise to have several translations, including but not limited to modern language editions. Of course one’s personal library (or at least the bookmark section of one’s internet browser) should also include Greek word meaning reference material as well as diverse commentaries and other reference works so that there is no doubt of accurate exegesis.
        There can be very devout fans of particular translations, and if they want to limit themselves only one; well that is their prerogative. As for me I will always ponder, pray, and seek out diverse opinions as I study God’s word.

        • Don Merritt says:

          I agree with you entirely Pax, and that seems the way most of us who have exegetical training would go in. Of course, in a non-academic setting such as this, I usually teach with a contemporary translation for the reasons stated. I also enjoyed that story! Wow, the “show me” state isn’t quite what it used to be if the folks were forking over the cash that easily; ouch!

      • Hello Bishop,

        I am somewhat aware of Bible translation controversies, but I don’t recognize the guy in your story. Can you share his name or the name of his translation?

      • Sorry, I was referring to Bishop’s story of the man who visited a church and promoted his own ‘inspired’ translation of the Bible and sold them out of his car trunk.

      • jesuswithoutbaggage asked name of the bible salesman/minister; its been more than 20 years ago’ im sorry but i cant remember his name

      • trutherator says:

        Mr. spirituallyrelevant is correct, that the more reasonably accurate quote would be “not yet”. This is not the only place where the difference is so huge, including the NASB which is based on the much better and more self-consistent body of the Majority Text copies. The NIV, meantime, is based on texts much more inconsistent and even contradictory with each other. So which original? The one pulled from the trash in the Sinai monastery, or the one from the libraries in the dungeons of the Vatican? Or the others of the Alexandrian line?

  2. rmwk100 says:

    I’m absolutely astonished and horrified that you’ve received hate mail relating to which translation of the Bible you use! Still shaking my head in disbelief. Sending sympathy and support XXXX

    • Don Merritt says:

      I appreciate that very much. It really isn’t that big of a deal; my own mother has given me a piece of her mind on this subject, as though I were a third grader being silly. I guess some folks just get a little carried away…

  3. Pingback: Why I DON’T Use King James | A disciple's study

  4. Reblogged this on And Then the Darkness Fell and commented:
    Awesome post. Nice explanation without nasty invective. I myself prefer the KJV, but to each his own!

  5. enjoyed your post. Nice to hear an explanation for a preferred translation without the nasty invective. thanks.

  6. pipermac5 says:

    I was raised on the NASB, but I was also raised in a Presbyterian and reformed environment. I still carry a NASB for church, although the church I attend is using the ESV. I also like my NKJV New Geneva Study Bible, as it is very readable.

    I have heard some pretty ludicrous claims from the KJV-only crowd, including that it is the only “inspired” version. My answer to that claim is that the Bible is only inspired in the original writings, and no translations are “inspired”. I have also heard “If it was good enough for Jesus and the Apostles, it is good enough for me.” Sorry folks, but Jesus and the Apostles spoke Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and even Latin, but NOT King James English.

    I have never found the KJV to be particularly “readable”, because that is not how we talk here in the USA, so I can fully understand why you have “dumped” it as well.

    God bless!

    • Don Merritt says:

      I agree with you of course. The truth is, i don’t KJV myself, but I’m used to it. I read old books for fun (really old). Languages and the use of words and phrasing are things I’ve never struggled with, but I have taught for a fairly long time, and I am trained in communication as well as in Theology. It’s the teaching and communicating part that hampers the effectiveness of archaic language, so if people don’t get it, what’s the point? BTW, Martin Luther’s translation is pretty awesome too… but if I used it here to teach, you would be lost unless you speak German!

    • trutherator says:

      I do not know of one single King James Bible defender that uses the “good enough for the apostles” line except as is mentioned in anti-KJB contexts like this one. I’m convinced that one or two anti-KJB pranksters put it on a bunch of forums all the time and of course others pick it up. It’s easier to refute than the points that KJB defenders actually use of course, especially the ones that know plenty of Greek and Hebrew. And history and English.

  7. Jnana Hodson says:

    And you didn’t even get to the words that no longer mean what they did back then. “Prevent,” for instance, meaning to “go before” rather than “obstruct.” It’s a long list.
    The one point where I find the KJV most useful is in distinguishing between second-person singular and plural, which I became aware of when I was around old-order (“thee” and “thou”) Quakers. Is God speaking to a single person at this point or to the multitude? That can be revealing, and something our modern English cannot present easily.
    After that, though, listening to praise songs that mangle “thee” and “you” in addressing the Holy One is like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard. Which is it?

    • Don Merritt says:

      Excellent passage! Can we go through 16 also?

      10 [a]For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, [b]combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

      14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

      This says it all, doesn’t it?

  8. paulfg says:

    ChapLynne uses the KJV – yet when she links to a passage, she (don’t know how) has four versions of the same text displayed on BilbleGateway. I think it is quite neat at times to compare versions. Each brings a flavour of it’s own. All this debate I am reading about here over “The Version” passed me by thankfully.

    Sounds much like more form and tradition to my ignorant ears and eyes.

    >>> The best “context” I ever heard was a minister who scribbles her own notes all over the bible as she reads and uses it. When it becomes so tatty it is falling apart, she dumps it and gets another. In that sense the printed pages are just that – a tennis racket to a tennis pro, a pair of skis to a skiing pro, and a bible to a follower of the way pro. It is the power within – not “the book” or version (which seems to become a little like an idol to some sometimes).

    • Don Merritt says:

      Now Paul, just between you and me, with nobody else peeking: This post is me having a little fun on a dull Monday. Oh, the story is true, but the bringing it into a post is pure fun.

      As for CahpLynne, when I did a guest post for her, she told me that she uses KJV on her blog because there’s no copyright attached to it, so I used KJV on the guest post. As reasons go, that’s not a bad one!

      When it all comes down to cases, you’re right. I have another posts rattling around my head about the Word (as opposed to a book or a translation) The Word is not like other stuff: it’s a living thing.

      • paulfg says:

        Don, just between you and me, next time I go with my first thought: “Quiet day in the Merritt household, Don?”

        On the more serious point, I agree – “The Living Word Within” fascinates me time and again. Version and printed page? Entirely optional. Yet I have seen some who regard handling “without sufficient reverence” the bible itself as a fast way to Hell and Damnation. Keeping God safe (inside and away from me) just like an idol springs to mind.

        Hope your evening is more exciting!!


        • Don Merritt says:

          I’m with you Paul…

          I don’t know if you ever read “Why I don’t debate any more” but you should have been at that debate when I started ripping pages out of the Bible when the preacher told me those verses didn’t count! It was hilarious… but I was a naughty boy! Don’t do that stuff any more…

          • paulfg says:

            That was the first time I bumped into your blog. It is a memorable post – and I can imagine the apoplexy – crowd noises – atmosphere! Part of me was YAY!!

            And the other part was sad. Imagining the pain you carried afterwards. Others carried afterwards. Powerful writing. You seem at peace with that part of your life. I am glad of that. Youth and passion is a wonderful health and safety free zone. Invulnerable.

            (do I sound like a wrinkly?) 🙂

    • pipermac5 says:

      I have a good friend who is a serious student of the Bible, and does a LOT of writing in the margins. He goes through a new Bible every year, and passes his “old” Bible on to someone who needs a Bible. They get both a good Bible and his extensive notes.

    • trutherator says:

      Seeing as how “the Word was made God”, what it actually says it has to be pretty important.
      “God is not a man that he should lie”.

  9. Jason says:

    My grandpa is very critical of my Bible habits. I remind him that I read quite a bit of the King James growing up and just decided to read other versions, as well. This just upset him more.

    I think most of the critiques either come out of a love of the traditional (like my grandfather), fear of the unknown or of change, or ignorance. It seems like most of the hatred/anger comes from the latter category.

    You handled your critics well. Keep it up.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Thanks, I appreciate that! Actually, in each case, I replied and suggested that the original Hebrew and Greek are pretty good for serious study, too. I haven’t gotten any replies yet. As for grandchildren reading the Bible, I’d be thrilled beyond words if my grandkids were reading any translation of the Bible!!

  10. evanpoole says:

    Wow, is King James that important…such small things to keep us from lifting up the real KING!

  11. I began reading the KJV voraciously in the fifth grade. So when I studied Shakespeare in high school and read the footnote references, I wondered why they bothered with such obvious clarifications. But then I noticed the other kids didn’t feel that way.

    However, I switched to the NIV as soon as it was published because I was working with a lot of children and new believers–they didn’t need a Bible they couldn’t read. In addition, by that time I favored the Nestle-Aland Greek text over the majority text.

    • Don Merritt says:

      We’ve had a similar experience with KJV early on and how it helped with English Literature. I too switched as soon as I started teaching, and for the same reasons.

  12. Tom Huff says:

    I’m a kjv kinda guy, but your right. It is difficult at times. What ever your preference is…keep reading it! 🙂

    • Don Merritt says:

      Exactly, that’s all it really comes down to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no KJV “hater” but I don’t teach with it or use it in blogging for the reasons stated, but there’s nothing wrong with it if you can handle the language; if you can, great!

  13. kmcr097 says:

    Just curious: What are your thoughts on the NEW King James Version? I’ve looked at it a few times, and I’m not an expert or anything, but I thought it seemed alright.

  14. Joel Hall says:

    One of my biggest issue with the KSV is the confusion over the use of words like “Unicorn”. I’ve heard various explanations for it, but in the current culture, there are just too many confusing associations. I agree that the best is the original language.

  15. I wish people would get over that KJV thing. It is very well known but I don’t think it is the most accurate. I prefer NASB for accuracy, but like to read the NLT or the NIV for casual reading. I am thinking about using the ESV more. I have heard some good things about it. Any thoughts on the ESV? Anything bad about it?

  16. Elaine says:

    Interesting discussion. I use the KJV and the Amplified a lot , as well as NKJV study bible from time to time and other versions occasionally. The variety of versions helps me a lot in understanding.

  17. vwoods1212 says:

    The things we wrangle with in this body of Christ. lol.vw

  18. crusader1240 says:

    I’m one who uses KJV as a personal preferance (btw I’m 19) but I also enjoy using ESV and amplified versions to cross referance passages during my personal Bible study. I still tend to use KJV in my posts because it’s what comes to mind first as most of the verses I memorized are in KJV. I have received criticism for using “KJV only” though it is not the case. Seems there isn’t really a way to please people 🙂 oh well, good thing I’m looking only for God’s approval.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Exactly! It’s simply a matter of preference which one we use. You remind me of something that is sometimes funny. I have to be careful when I teach to always read my text rather than to recite it from memory. Invariably it starts out in NIV, then in the middle somewhere it morphs into NASB, which is the one I used before NIV came out, and then ends in KJV, which is the one I learned in to begin with; talk about confusing people! I don’t even realize I’m doing it most of the time.

  19. Steve B says:

    I remember a few years back that some people I “debated” cough cough, thought that translations in say Chinese came from the KJV. They were so ignorant it was laughable. One guy reckened that 1Co 13:10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. that the perfect was the KJV.
    That was a facepalm moment.

  20. Hello Don! This is a great post, my friend. I truly enjoyed reading it. Keep on spreading the Good News and ignore those who seek to distract you. 1 Peter 3:8-9 states: ” Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

    Thanks for sharing this remarkable post. God blesses.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Thank you Noel, I appreciate the encouragement very much! I must admit that I have wondered a few times if everybody gets these emails or if I’m just the lucky one… who knows… lol

  21. Great discussion. This is an interesting talk with Dr. James White on KKJV-only-ism, by Todd Friel on Wretched Radio… http://www.wretchedradio.com/podcast.cfm?h=182E7580C1D84EE4E6831F8C3863B3C8&page=1

  22. Don, so sorry you’ve been on the receiving end of hate-email. We all need a lesson on unity in the church, I’m afraid!

    I use several versions, mainly because I like comparing the commentaries and margin notes. I use NASB, ESV, NET and NLT. I tend to agree on the inaccuracies in the KJV and the difficulty in language. The NLT was my very first study Bible, (I’m only 7 years a Christian) but some of the thought-for-thought translation doesn’t do the word-for-word translations justice.

    Thank you as always for an incredibly thoughtful post.

  23. I’d give this verse to the people who send you hate-mail regarding translations. And I pulled it from the King James to make everyone happy: “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.” Titus 3:9

    People who have time to worry about such nonsense could spend time more effectively witnessing or just reading their Bibles. It doesn’t make sense to argue when we’re all just opening our Bibles and trying to get to know God more.

  24. dwmartens says:

    I’m a couple of days late getting to read this, but thought I’d chime in with my recollection of a technician with whom I was working several years ago. Though I’m sure he didn’t know much about the bible himself, he asked me my opinion of his friend’s assertion that the KJV was the best translation. After a brief comment about the origin of the KJV, and how more manuscripts were considered in more modern translations, I asked him about which translation would be best for the Chinese. Finally in the brevity of the conversion, because we were at work, I told him that I thought the best translation is the one you will read.

    After considering what would be the best translation to get my next door neighbors when they were baptized, I heard of a new one called “The Voice.” I downloaded the PDF of the NT that was offered to see if it fit the situation, and decided to buy a copy of it for them, knowing that they were new to God’s Word. I also gave them an inexpensive paperback copy of the NIV. I got a nice verbal thank-you a couple of days later, but I doubt they are reading it; they haven’t asked any questions as I’d hoped, and haven’t been coming to worship services.

  25. nlala971 says:

    Well said. Now that I blogging, I use NIV because it’s the version that people understand. I don’t want my readers to read a “holy” article, I want them to read and understand and see Jesus in my articles. I like KJV but now that I study the Bible, I like to read several versions to get a deeper understanding of the verses. Happy to read this post, it’s really encouraging!

    • Don Merritt says:

      Thank you! I agree with you that we should be thinking about what others will comprehend easily in teaching, writing, blogging. For our own study, multiple versions and/or the original languages are the priority so we can understand to teach it as best we can.

  26. cbloving says:

    As I’m sure some have mentioned, the New King James Version has hundreds of errors, but the more up-to-date authors of the New International Version state that they didn’t get it right either. I use several versions, which is why I love the accessibility of biblegateway.com.

    Funny thing, several years ago when I was in seminary, one of my professors – a First Testament scholar – was adamant about not allowing the NKJV to be used in his class and chastised those who used it. I had the honor of speaking at his wedding several years later. He and his bride selected a scripture for me to read, and I asked them what version to read. After several days of deliberation, they instructed me to read the NKJV! That gave me great satisfaction that even he knew the Spirit of the words transcend the version.

  27. Sarvjit Sohal says:

    Brother Don: It really does not matter what translation one uses, as long as he or she has the Holy Spirit to guide to the truth.

  28. tellthetruth1 says:

    Reblogged this on The love of God and commented:
    I’ve had to dodge all of this in the four years I’ve been a believer. I’ve got several versions of the Bible, my favourite being the Amplified. I honestly believe we should rather be giving thanks that we can have Bibles at all. Imagine what it was like when Bibles were banned to the “lower classes”, or whatever we were called in those dark, and thankfully, long gone days…

  29. Found this very interesting. I am not going to say, “Don! I can’t believe you use the NIV, You heathen!”
    On the contrary, I respect your decision to use the NIV, I mean, even one of my best friends uses it. However, I just wanted to ask you, what about those verses that the NIV omitted, why’d they do that? And, I found this link regarding it. Just wanted to share it with you:
    Have a good week!

    • Don Merritt says:

      Good question. In those exceedingly rare instances, I use the Greek directly and discuss with my students/readers why they did that, while others didn’t. Makes for quite the interesting discussion, actually…

  30. Pam says:

    I use the King James Version because that is the version that my church uses. I enjoy using the NASB. I have personal problems with the NIV, but that is not important here. I understand what you mean about a translation that is readable. I enjoy studying the Hebrew and the Greek words. I usually use the definitions of these languages to translate the verses into English. In other words, I practically write my own translation. Sometimes I use the AMP, but I do not use it that often. I want my readers to understand what I am trying to teach. It is important that I help my students and respondents to understand the point I am making in the research that I have done.

    Thanks for your comments and work with the NIV.

  31. applebywine says:

    I was quite shocked that you should receive such nasty comments about NOT using the KJV. I was brought up with the KJV and I use it alongside other more modern translations. However, when I prepare a sermon I do like to research what a particular word is in Greek as there is a richness and depth that modern translations fall short of. I think our modern language has lost some of that age old richness and depth.
    However…….if you were to view my KJV Bible which I have had for many years, against my NIV, there is no doubt which one I have used! My NIV is falling apart, underlined, noted; every page that had a blank space no longer has one, and now I have attached blank pages so I can note some more! The page edges and corners are all dog-eared but it matters not!
    Personally I would not ‘throw out the baby with the bath water’ as there I times that a particular verse just does not ring right for me unless I read it in the KJV!
    For teaching? I use both….and others too, and always make the verses clear when I speak anyway. Like someone else said ‘Each to their own.’
    It should not make a jot of difference to anyone else what translation you use as long as the essence of the Gospel and the real Jesus is there! God bless you and I hope no-one else decides to decry you!

  32. chaplynne says:

    Reblogged this on ChapLynne's Chat and commented:
    I use the King James Version…but not because I believe it is a better translation, even though some of its lyrical qualities remain unmatched, the accuracy of the KJV did not have the advantage of sources closer to the original writings that subsequent translations have.

    Then why do I use the KJV? copyright. The KJV (not the Authorized KJV) is public domain.

    Since I post massive quantities of Scripture, I cannot afford to pay the fees to post using copyrighted translations. I do use hyperlinks for every single Scripture allowing individuals to immediately go to biblegateway.com and read a more contemporary version–one of which, like Don enjoys, is the New International Version (NIV).
    The NIV is closer to literal-word-for-word translation. The Good News is closer to the conceptual translation.
    What is the difference? I like to use the example of modern translators, like speakers use in foreign countries or the United Nations uses.
    If someone from France were to say, “Mon petit chou.” the literal translation which something like the NIV would use, would translate it– My little cabbage i.e. Mon (My) Petit (Little) Chou (cabbage). But the conceptual translator would say, “My darling” because that is what the French term of endearment more realistically means.
    Like Don, I encourage reading different translations. More importantly, what helps you encounter God in a personal way?
    I love that graphic artists are taking the Bible and making Bibles for kids and teenagers to read.
    I don’t mind which translation you read. As long as you read the Bible.
    Praise God that translations into so many languages is possible. The KJV is not a better translation.
    There are pastors, who say, if the KJV was good enough for Paul, it is good enough for me. (Yes, a pastor actually said that) They show their ignorance, since the KJV was written 1600 years after the Bible was written.
    I trust God. God can work through the ignorance of people. God can work through anything to draw people to the Lord.
    Thank you, Don, for a great post. I laugh at the silliness of people judging others. Ironically, God says nothing about the King James Version being the correct Scriptures. But Jesus very specifically says, “Don’t judge that you be not judged.” KJV 😀
    Good post Don! Preach it brother!

    • It is worth noting, I think, that most Bible publishers are quite liberal in their permission to quote, in print or online. Every version I use (about 30) has a note on the copyright page that explains permissions for quotation. Furthermore, my experience is that, barring an attempt to use their version in a whole new Bible as if it were your own, they all respond quite graciously to requests for permission to quote a little more than the amount of text specified on the copyright page. Bible publishers want their Bibles used in God’s work.

  33. chaplynne says:

    Great post. I reblogged it at chaplynne.wordpress.com with additional comments. I use KJV, but I also use the others. We can learn much from the nuances in the different translations. Thanks, Don. Another great blog.

  34. Pingback: Why I DON’T Use King James (Reblog from LifeReference WordPress Blog) | The Holy Bible -- New International Version 1984

  35. Connie says:

    Great post. I’ve had that experience too (I use many different versions for different reasons). Truth is, none of the Bibles we have are the “original language” and so … let’s seek the heart of God together. I’m enjoying your blog. Thanks for being here 🙂

  36. I am impressed by your reasons for not using the KJV, because I have the same thoughts. I love the KJV for aesthetic reasons, not because it is a better translation.
    I do cling to it in one way, however, that I cannot escape. As a child, I memorized so much Scripture in the King James Version that this text is what comes to mind first. In fact, I have software with digital versions of many Bibles, but when I search, I search the KJV. After I find the verse, then I bring it up in the other translations for better understanding.
    Not being a scholar in either Hebrew or Greek, I don’t read the original, but I do use the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament and the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament to help me get closer to the original.

    • Don Merritt says:

      I must smile as I read this! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve searched NIV for something and found it instantly in KJV because I couldn’t remember how NIV phrased it!

      Thanks Katherine!

  37. Don, I can certainly appreciate your perspective about which translation to use. I try to use whatever will make the most sense in the context for which I am using it. That means, I use a variety of translations because I really want to make the intent of God’s Word clear, so there can be no misunderstanding. I also believe that when we have a relationship with God, the translations we use don’t matter–we have a straight line of communication with Him.

  38. I am in agreement with Mary. Despite the translation, God’s message of redemption through Jesus Christ finds its way into human hearts. While I choose the NJKV for primary exegetical work, I make use of most mainstream translations. I feel the King James is rich reading but it is difficult for most folks with a high school education to read and understand. When I give out Bibles, I try to match a translation with their reading skills. It frustrates me to see folks struggle to grasp the essence of scripture.

  39. Hopewell says:

    Thank you for visiting my blog which led me to yours. This post is hysterical, and reminds me of the my first Bible (a KJV) I received at 13 years old. Too bad I couldn’t understand a word of it! Oh, I highlighted and underlined in it, like a good Christian girl should (lol) but it was hard to read and even harder to take in. But time is a funny thing, and now I read the NKJV as my first choice, supplemented by about 4-5 other translations for their different colors and perspectives. But after reading your post, maybe I will quit quoting from the NKJV? Be blessed!

  40. nowstuffnow says:

    The poetry of the King James is fine. But what concerns me about some of the books included in the Old Testament, is that they are about priests practicing occult ceremonies (Synagogue of Satan?). & have sweet nothing to do with the impending arrival of Jesus.

  41. I enjoyed your article. I like the New King James Version, but use an Interlinear Bible to try to find out the original Hebrew or Greek word, and how they translated it. I agree that using multiple translations is best! Maybe one of these days I will take a course in Hebrew or Greek. God Bless!

  42. balaam says:

    I blog using ESV. Does this make me more or less of a “devil’s blogger” than you?

    I find the notes in my ESV study Bible particularly good. I also use my wife’s NIV and my NRSV as backup.

  43. peggywright says:

    Thanks for visiting my blog. I appreciate the view you’ve given here. I was raised on KJV and think KJV. But I have been reading and studying from other translations for years because it is easy to understand. It’s sad that we in the family of God must argue about translations. Let just read the Scripture. love God and love our neighbors, including those who don’t use KJV.

  44. Pingback: Works in Progress | The Life Project

  45. pj says:

    thanks for liking my post and thanks for yours. i had to memorize many kjv passages as a kid in christian school. Didn’t get the meaning til much later in life with an updated version of the bible. curious: what seminaries have you been connected with? Blessings, Brother!

  46. wsforchrist says:

    Interesting post. It may be a “heart” thing. If God is speaking to a person’s heart in one particular version, including the King James, then I respect their point of view. I use a number of versions when I research for my blog, including the Amplified version, which went back to the original languages and tried to amplify the meaning of terms and words. Thank you for sharing. The Bible is a living book, full of the inspiration of God and can speak to each person individually.

  47. I agree with you Don. Today I was talking with two Christian friends about some KJV problems. One is the issue that you point out; that the word “hell” appears in incorrect places in the KJV. In the OT, the word Sheol, and in the NT, the word Hades. Both should be rendered “world of the dead”, at least imo. To translate them as hell is extremely misleading.

    The second issue is with the non-scriptural additions that appear starting in I John 5:7. John is actually not even referring the Trinity in this verse. He is bringing our attention to the water (of baptism), the blood (of the cross) and the Spirit (Holy Spirit) which testify as one. The scribe in the 15th Century (?) who inserted the wording about the Trinity, completely misunderstood the proper meaning of the verse.

    I normally read the New KJV, so I don’t mind the language all that much. But folks who think that the King James is the only version to be read are simply wrong.

    regards … Dave

  48. I haven’t read all the many and varied comments on this topic but I find it strange and mildly amusing that this should even be a point of discussion in 2014. I live in Australia, a ‘less-Christian’ country than the US, where getting people to read the Bible at all is a challenge. Understandable and accessible translations that are good ones (and a lot are!) are vital. I use the NIV (put together by a very distinguished and reputable team of translators) for my own reading and study, but with children, whom I teach for religious education classes, I use the CEV (Contemporary English Version) which has a suitable Reading Age level. No, it’s not a perfect translation but it is readable and allows kids who would never open a Bible to read some. The KJV would be a complete turn-off. I like your non-use of the KJV, Don.

  49. Joan Uda says:

    I use the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version), which is not the best known or hugely popular version, and my Hebrew Bible (OT) professor in seminary, Kent Richards, called it largely a “wooden” translation. But Dr. Richards also told us that its main virtue is that it’s an actual translation, and is a lineal descendant of the KJV, with corrections made to “obvious errors” in the KJV, and is not merely a rendering or rewriting of other translations. The NRSV was made using the newly discovered ability to translate ancient Hebrew because scholars had learned to translate a sister language (the name of which I can’t remember right now). For one thing, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other older manuscripts helped biblical scholars to learn these ancient languages.

    • Don Merritt says:

      There’s nothing wrong with NRSV as a translation, but “wooden” is probably accurate as a characterization; they seem to me to have chosen rather neutral language where they had a choice to make.

  50. trotter387 says:

    The Bible is a living text, understanding the translation you have access to is critical, language that is out dated or structured in an unfamiliar way is the same as having to look at the pictures in your daily newspaper because you can’t follow the report.
    To study the bible effectively we need to trust the translators, understand the level of access they have had to original manuscripts and then review the consistency of the translation.
    English has changed a great deal, as have Latin, Greek and Hebrew so the challenge is to ensure that we understand what we are using.
    I’ll give you and example: My mother asked me to make a small cabinet for the bathroom so I got the wood and tools I thought I needed. At the start my rip saw was effective in sizing the pieces, it did the job but the finish was poor, inexact and lacked the cleanness required. My Grandfather a Master Cabinet maker gave me a precision tool (my cabinet saw – which I still use) – it was still a saw but the effect was brilliant. My mother still has the cabinet 40 years later.
    A study bible and the right resources are critical to an effective understanding there are a reasonable selection out there and they do not cost a great deal.
    The KJV has its problems but it does explain some of the erroneous thinking and literalism of some preachers.

    Really enjoyable thread thank you

  51. gerardsixdays says:

    I heartily agree. Though myself an Afrikaans speaking person, I prefer the English, but surely not the King James. I have read reviews about how one must use only the King James. Logically that is wrong. Why not leave it to the believer to ask the Holy Spirit. Excellent article.

  52. scythewieldor says:

    Astounding volume of feedback. I got my wife a NASB in 1980. I thought it was the best. I’ve watched it change from edition to edition. Having studied KJV for decades, I have a sense of where the boogies are. I like RSV & Young’s Literal a lot. My dilemma: I have a growing suspicion of anything that interprets from the Masoretic.

  53. Have you had any experiences with the NRSV? I’m not the type to push another to change translations, but to me it is kind of the best of both worlds.

  54. Brother Dale says:

    As always, the KJV controversy stirs up lot of reaction. I’ve read a lot of comments against the KJV-only; not so many in support. The one thing I did not hear, however, was about the underlying texts, which is where the actual controversy stems from. It’s not the language or the exact rendition of each word, but the things that are missing in many of the other translations that is the heart of the problem. That has its own debate, between which texts and which scrolls. Then throw Wescott and Hort in the mix and it really gets fired up!
    I honestly believe that the answer lies, not in intellectually dissecting the issues, but in being led by the Spirit of God. Perhaps that is something that was better understood by previous generations. We have developed a culture that is bent toward scholasticism over such things as nebulous as allowing the Spirit to lead you, nevertheless, I have found that the Spirit of God is never wrong even when it seems to lead in unsuspecting directions. I would rather answer to God for following the Holy Spirit than having tried to figure it out for myself.
    In the final analysis, however, God was able to speak through the mouth of a jackass. I’m sure He can use whatever translation you have.

  55. Messenger At The Crossroads says:

    Glad you posted this, but I didn’t see it till now. I use the KJV in my blogs simply because it’s common domain and I’m not infringing on anyone’s IPR’s. Just playing it safe. My favorite reading and study Bible is actually the NASB. However, that said, as a kid in the Lutheran School (Fred Flintstone & I were in the same class) all we had was KJV until the NIV (I think?) was available, and memorized many verses from the KJV, something I’m deeply grateful for. I also love Shakespeare and that sort of thing, so it’s not difficult for me to navigate through it at all – more like just another dialect. Yet what’s really, really important is that everyone needs to find a Bible translation or even a paraphrase that you can relate with. The Holy Spirit will do the rest – whatever needs to be done to bring you spiritually up to speed, so to speak.

  56. nuvofelt says:

    Throughout my walk with The Lord I have used a number of versions. KJV – moved on to NIV – settled for Amplified – discovered NLT. Now, I allow Him to direct my reading. I mostly publish verses from NLT because I want non-believers to understand the significance as well as a believer. How sad that people feel the need to argue over such a thing.

    Thanks for being a regular visitor to my ‘thoughtful’ blog

  57. Thanks for checking out our blog at horizontal church.

    More even than your fine spirit and your intelligent handling of the KJV controversy, we admire your patience and energy answering all these comments. Whew!

    I still use a KJV concordance because back in Sunday School days we memorized scripture from the only translation available. HOWEVER, Other than the fact that the best apparatus the KJ translators had was the textux receptus, and that many earlier and better mss have shown up since then, I think the KJV vocabulary is most troubling. A favorite example is II Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,” rightly dividing the word of truth.”

    In one verse we find three troubling words. “Shew” triggers my spell check alarm; “divide” might give some moderns the idea we should be cutting up our Bibles; but the most troubling is “study.” Many sincere people will quote this verse to back up our need for constant Bible study. While I love to study the Word, my fine lexicon says the appropriate translation of the Greek, spoudazo is “be zealous or eager, make every effort..” For the Elizabethans I’m sure “study” had that meaning.

    You were very kind NOT to quote the rationale we’ve heard from some, “If it was good enough for Paul, it’s good enough for me.”

    Thank you for your fine work in the kingdom.

    P.S. I was fortunate to have studied Greek under Bruce Metzger, who you may have heard of. More than being a fine scholar, he was a remarkable Christian gentleman, who stood firm, in a liberal seminary, for the authoritative Word of God.

    • Don Merritt says:

      I appreciate your comments, insightful and interesting. This post has had an interesting life, one I wouldn’t have expected and is almost as surprising as the fact that there even IS a ‘controversy’ about KJV versus other translations… simply amazing!

  58. I’ve been thinking about your surprise at this issue and wonder if….THE KIJ debate might be the tip of the iceberg of a far greater issue, ie. the factious spirit that clings to traditions that divides the church. “We have never done it that way before.,” is another manifestation, perhaps. Didn’t Jesus and Paul often run into that spirit? This may be more than an inconvenient pain in the neck. It’s possible it helped put Jesus on the cross and was a constant hindrance to Paul’s work (Acts 15, 1, for example) It’s why Hebrews was written.

    I have done a lot of work on the Greek word, stoicheia, which suggests Paul viewed traditions that stir up controversy come from spiritual powers in high places. (Colossians 2: 8 8 “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from THE SPIRITUAL POWERS OF THIS WORLD (stoicheia) rather than from Christ.” (NLT)


    • Don Merritt says:

      Don’t tell anyone, but I think that’s it entirely. In fact, I’ve even blogged about it in the past. The whole tradition thing can get way out of hand some times…

  59. Wade Phelps says:

    I like the openness and honesty of this article. I think the most effective way to study God’s will in scripture is to dig deep into all the different translations available. Thank you for your service to God

  60. I don’t hate anyone Don for using whatever Translation they want to but I have been made fun of for using the K.J.V which is the closest to the original that we have in use today, poetic yes but also the most accurate.

    Most of the other Translations being compiled much later and by those from different cultures and languages have more of man’s errors, words or their meanings have been changed over the years and with small particles being added too which were not in the original Greek or Hebrew, they have caused error but except for Cults Translations our modern Translations and Concordances were not meaning to deceive but they have caused confusion.

    The N.IV have also used readings from the Apocalyptic books to compile their Translation and so have others who used the NIV’s source as a reference, these Books were mostly based on legends, fables and hearsay and is why it was not accepted by other Translations. I also know the NIV in their new Translation changed a important word which was confirmed by other Scripture, yet they said they were inspired by the Holy Spirit in their first Translation but The Spirit does not change His mind, I still use the N.IV as a reference sometimes and others too.

    Regardless of the Translation we use, the Scriptures tell us (see below) that there will be no True understanding unless we read God’s inspired words, His thoughts not mans by the empowering of The Holy Spirit and with God’s wisdom, both of which we are to ask for in Christ Jesus (James1:5-6) and He will also show us Translation error, it is Jesus who leads us into all Truth not man.

    1 Corinthians 2:9-16 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that Love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with Spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are Spiritually discerned. But he that is Spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the Mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? but we have the Mind of Christ.

    Being Baptised in water including Sprinkling does not save us but it does show our Identity in Jesus Christ as His Baptism showed His Identity in The Father, when we confess our past sins we are believing He is our Lord and Saviour and so also believing we are forgiven. But to be Born Again we must be Baptized by The Holy Spirit.

    John3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is Born of the Spirit is Spirit.

    Mark 1:8 8 I indeed have baptized you with water but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

    Christian Love from us both – Anne

    • Don Merritt says:

      Hi Anne, nice to hear from you again!

      I’m sure tyhat we’d agree that for getting at the truth, there’s nothing that beats the original Greek and Hebrew. Clearly, as I think I mentioned in my post, the KJV is a fine translation, once you get used to the archaic English and learn the vocabulary. Blessings to you both!

      • It is also good to be in touch with you again Don , thank you for the Like, I’m pleased you appreciated my message, some I’m sure would feel it’s too convicting.

        To be honest, I have also had some heated discussions, theirs not mine, with those who claim we can only use the K.J.V because it has been kept pure but it’s God’s Truth that is kept from being polluted not any one Translation and when all are read by the empowering of The Holy Spirit His Truth will be understood but yes as you agreed the K.J.V has a lot going for it in regard to accuracy.

        When I was leading Woman’s Bible Studies, I had no ruling on what Translation was used, as Wade said, I feel it makes for good comparison and can lead to much Truth being shared but if asked I would always suggest the K.J.V

        Blessings – Anne

  61. I mostly agree with the points you make in your post. The language in the KJV is sometimes difficult to understand (as is Shakespeare), but the KJV is the most familiar version. So, when I quote the Bible I always use it. I have to explain what particular passages mean sometimes, but I think the familiarity of the KJV outweighs its occasional opaqueness.

    Best wishes,

  62. oogpister1 says:

    Interesting discussion. If you want the best manuscript brush up your Greek and use the UBS4 from which most modern translations are made (New Testament). I use around 30 Bibles at a given time and about the same number of commentaries when I do some of my work. Anybody looking for a modern language and literal translation could also consider the HCSB (Hollman Christian Standard), the NET (New English Translation) and the ESV (English Standard Version). Anybody wanting a modern translation free of copyright may also consider the WEB (World English Bible). For those looking for a Bible for English second lanuage speakers may consider the ERV (Easy to Read Version) and it is available in other languages for semi literate people. This is in addition to established translations like the NASB, NIV etc. American English in some American translations to can irritate language purists like myself but that is a personal gripe.

  63. paulfg says:

    March 31st quiet day in the Merritt household. June 30th and still this post is live and getting comments. I am at a loss for words.

  64. Omg Don…what a brilliant stunt with the announcement and handouts, etc! I just LOVE that clever approach. Talk about being wily as a serpent and innocent as a dove! 🙂

  65. Don:

    I used to rely exclusively on the KJV, but people said that other translations were incorrect. I prefer the Holman Christian Standard Bible. However, I often use a second or third translation if a passage is hard for me to comprehend. I also use Greek or Hebrew Interlinear Bibles to get a better understanding of certain words. I just wish I spoke Greek or Hebrew, but foreign language study for me is embarassing at best.

    God Bless.

    – Dave

    • Don Merritt says:

      Well Dave, not everyone is a linguist, that’s for sure. Personally, I prefer the original languages for the tough parts too, but a comparison of translations will normally lead us to the right conclusion, as you have said.

  66. Pingback: Circular Arguments – Part Three | Just me being curious

  67. I agree that there are some translations that could have been made stronger in NIV. Having noticed that, I have made KJV as my main reference although I read NIV to better understand the language. I won’t be sending you hate mails though and surely, I don’t think of you as the devil’s blogger. In fact, I always share your posts on our page as they are too insightful not to get shared.

    All glory to God!

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