Why I DON’T Use King James- Redux

Here’s another one that I’ve mentioned in recent posts, I may as well share this as well, from March of 2014…

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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7 Responses to Why I DON’T Use King James- Redux

  1. For a long time, I was one of those King James only people. Then I learned to appreciate the other translations and the gifts they present to us in their words clarifying in ways the King James cannot.

  2. DWMartens says:

    When I’ve been asked by someone what I think of the KJV, and which bible version I think is best, I try to remember to tell them that the best version is the one you will read, that draws you closer to the Savior!

  3. I’ve studied so many translations it sometimes makes my head spin. I’ve even studied the Watchtower (Jehovah’s Witness) “Bible” though it is NOT a translation and surprise, surprise, I can find the plan of Salvation in all of them! Like the Watchtower version they probably didn’t mean for that, but I believe the Holy Spirit, the inspiration behind the translation the KJV was even based on meant for that so that man cannot use the excuse, they didn’t know or couldn’t know!
    Yes there are differences in some, but the Glorification of God the Father, the Deity of Christ Jesus and His atoning grace and mercy and the workings of the Holy Spirit are STILL in the different translations I tend to use. I like the NKJV and the NASB but lately for Psalms and Proverbs, I have loved the simple English found in the New Living Translation. It is no longer a paraphrase but a true translation and yes, Salvation and the Deity of Christ is found throughout!
    Great post brother. The more I read your articles, the more I realize we truly are Brothers unified in Christ Jesus! Thanks for this! God Bless.

  4. jeanannwhd says:

    I agree. There are so many other choices that personally, NIV is second to my last of KJV !
    But you are absolutely right. For those who think it is the only “true” one , by all means keep reading it ! And I bet theirs isn’t marked on one single page! Typically those who think that also don’t mark up their pages! But mine!!? Hi lighters, pens, pencils, stickers all in there!
    Enjoyed your read!

  5. Pingback: Why I DON’T Use King James- Redux — Life Project Blog – QuietMomentsWithGod

  6. Great post. I’m not a big fan of the KJV either. While I can read and understand it quite well, I would rather read the Bible in a dialect more similar to the one I use in normal conversation. Hence, I prefer the NASB and the ESV–both fairly literal translations, both committed to preserving the original meaning, etc.
    PS–I wonder how all those KJV-only folks will feel if they get to heaven and King James I isn’t there?

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