How would KJV users respond to this argument

Discussion in 'Translations and Manuscripts' started by John Yap, Jul 17, 2019.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. John Yap

    John Yap Puritan Board Freshman

    [Not regarding manuscripts but regarding KJV language]

    "The Gospels were written with simple everyday language, Tyndale's translation was also so that the commonfolk would understand. It would go against the inspired writers and the tradition of translations to use antiquated Scripture translations in the church."
  2. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    I have heard it argued by literary folk (who certainly were not Christians) that the grammar of the KJV is simpler than modern English translations and lends itself to memorising. The sentences are simpler. And the language, overall, is more beautiful which also lends itself to memorising.

    As to the use of "old-fashioned" language like "putteth" instead of "put" &c. I don't see that as much of a hindrance. One quickly gets used to it. There are the occasional words which are either obsolete or have a different meaning today, which would need to be looked up, but words like "justification" and "sanctification" and "atonement" all have technical understandings which one has to learn. It also uses the correct pronouns.

    I don't accept that the modern English translations are de facto easier to understand. There are still passages which are as hard to unpack in the modern translations as they are in the KJV with the added disadvantage that they are not as faithful a translation as the KJV. And the issue of translation, ultimately, is the point. If one believes the KJV to be the most faithful translation, because it's a formal translation of the most reliable text, then that trumps all other considerations. There are phrases and words in the KJV which one would rather rendered differently, or which can be hard to follow, but these are small points.

    We must also acknowledge the fact that this objection to the KJV's language is a product of the dumbing down of our language and of ourselves. If we therefore adopt modern translations to accommodate this where do we stop? When does the integrity of the text prevent us from reducing it any further to the lowest denominator of modern English usage? People argue we shouldn't use words like "justification" because people today don't understand them. So whilst I accept that the style of language in the KJV is not in keeping with modern English, I think we leave ourselves on very unstable ground if we reject the KJV because of this. Scripture should lift us up, in many ways; we should not pull it down to us.

    I'm also not sure what "tradition" of translation it goes against? The Vulgate? I would also strongly reject the suggestion the KJV is a barrier for the commonfolk to understand the Scriptures. People from all strata of society have done just fine with the KJV for hundreds of years either reading it themselves or hearing it read/preached from.

    I say this as someone who never used a KJV in any serious manner until 2011 (I was born in 1984). I grew up using the Good News and NIV. My transition to the KJV was not hard, once I became convinced of the superiority of its translation and was using it in worship and private devotions.
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • List
  3. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    I use the KJV every day. I would say this:
    "If you prefer a more modern translation, go for it."
  4. B.L. McDonald

    B.L. McDonald Puritan Board Freshman


    I'm in strong agreement with much of your post, but would politely push back a bit on the above. I write this as one who prefers the KJV. Is it possible the objection some have to the KJV's language is not so much a product of the "dumbing down" of our language (and of ourselves), but rather the "changing" of our language?

    When you take a look at the Bible translation reading levels here, yes there is a wide range in reading levels among modern translations, but there are plenty of modern versions (i.e. NRSV, NASB, ESV, etc.) that are still written at a higher reading level. With regards to your example of words like "justification" I did a quick check via Bible Gateway to see how the CSB, ESV, NIV, NKJV, and NRSV translate Romans 4:25 for example and all five translated δικαίωσις as "justification." I think when talking about the use of language your fear that the drive to adopt modern translations somehow does damage to the integrity of the text is overstated a bit.

    Leaving out discussions on manuscripts and keeping strictly to the use of language, I'm primarily concerned as to whether the reader can comprehend what it is he/she is reading and I do think the Bible can be communicated at different reading levels and in the modern tongue without sacrificing the original meaning of the text.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2019
  5. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    My point about words like "justification" was not to say that modern translations are currently removing or altering those words. It was to make the point that there are those who think even these technical Biblical words should be avoided and that this is related to the critique of the KJV, but not necessarily a feature of current modern translations but that that thinking could infect furture translations.

    I have no interest in discussing manuscripts but I do reserve the right to make the argument that the particulars of the KJV translation is the ultimate standard by which I must judge this question because of my view of the KJV and because there is currently no other translation which meets the same standard (and no I don't believe the NKJV does). I accept this is not directly related to the question and am happy not to make any more of it except to say that questions to do with readability are very subjective and we need an objective ground for the translation we use.

    Certainly the Bible can be communicated on different reading levels. This happens in Sabbath school classes every week and in children's books. But do we not teach our children from the youngest age with the actual Bible as well? I see no reason why teaching them from infancy using the KJV results in the KJV being more of a barrier to understanding Scripture than using any other translation. The church does not replicate the world. Preaching is not a usual mode of communication one encounters in the world. Prayer is not a usual mode of communication found in the world. These are things one must learn and one must become accustomed to.
  6. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I like the old timey language. As a grammar teacher I can see the drawbacks in not having the King's Speech. On the other hand, words have changed meaning. The word "prevent" in 1 Thess. 4:15 doesn't mean what we mean today by "prevent," and that's not a result of apostasy or dumbing down. Language changes.
  7. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    “Fetched a compass” (Joshua 15:3, 2 Kgs 3:9) actually means travel or turn around.

    what is the meaning of “chambering” (Rom. 13:13), “champaign” (Deut. 11:30), “charger” (Matt. 14:8— it is not a horse), “churl” (Isa. 32:7), “cielcd” (Hag. 1:4), “circumspect” (Lxod. 23:13), “clouted upon their feet” (Josh. 9:5), “cockatrice” (Isa. 11:8), “collops” (Job 15:27), “confection” (Exod. 30:35— it has nothing to do with sugar), “cotes” (2 Chron. 32:28), “covert” (2 Kings 16:18), “hoiscd” (Acts 27:40), “wimples” (Isa. 3:22), “stomacher” (Isa. 3:24), “w?ot” (Rom. 11:2), “wist” (Acts 12:9), “withs” (Judg. 16:7), “wont” (Dan. 3:19), “surctiship” (Prov. 11:15), “saekbut” (Dan. 3:5), “the scall” (Lev. 13:30), “scrabbled” (1 Sam. 21:13), “roller” (Lzck. 30:21— i.e., a splint), “muffler” (Isa. 3:19), “froward” (1 Peter 2:18), “brigadinc” (Jer. 46:4), “amercc” (Deut. 22:19), “blains” (Lxod 9:9), “crookbackt” (Lev. 21:20)

    Some more:

    And Mt. Sinai was altogether on a smoke (Exod. 1^:18).

    Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing I Ps. 5:6).

    “For example, while one finds the KJV translating the Greek phrase pneumata hagion at Luke 11:13 as “Holy Spirit,” the very same phrase is translated “Holy Ghost” at Luke 2:25. It is interesting to note as well that the KJV always capitalizes Holy Ghost, but does not always capitalize Holy Spirit, i.e., Ephesians 1:13, 4:30, and 1 Thessalonians 4:8, where each time the KJV has “holy Spirit” (239 n.10).
  8. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    I can guess at some of these because they come either from French (cieled, cockatrice) or are derived from Old English (churl), but many I only know from familiarity with the KJV! For plenty others I would need to see the footnotes.

    I prefer to use the KJV, and I'm raising my son with the KJV; my wife, whose first language is not English, can follow along just fine, with some explanation here and there. But I know plenty of people for whom the KJV would be too challenging. Or they might associate it with stiff traditionalism (rightly or wrongly). Why should I insist that they use it?
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2019
  9. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    They would probably respond by asking for support for your propositions, and then question your conclusion. (Four books out of 66 and one translator out of hundreds?)

    Then they would ask for a definition of 'antiquated' and who has the authority to dictate which versions are 'antiquated'.

    In conclusion, they might argue that when the English speaking church unifies around a more accurate and majestic version, they would gladly switch.

    But that will not happen soon, they would say; for according to Barna, the KJV is still the most widely read and heard version by far.

    The above argument might steer a new Christian away from the KJV, but it has no effect on those who have already fallen in love with it.
  10. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Cue: Edward.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2019
  11. JimmyH

    JimmyH Puritan Board Junior

    Since my first Bible, in 1976, a New Scofield KJV, I used an NIV to better understand passages that were confusing to me. In the ensuing years I've pretty much come to know the definitions of archaic lexeme in the KJV.

    I continue to use various translations to compare one to another. I don't lock myself into any specific translation. I'm reading 'How To Choose A Translation For All That It's Worth', by Gordon Fee, and Michael Strauss right now, and loving it BTW. It has reinforced my decision that various translations are the best practice for those who cannot read the Bible in the original languages. The practice is recommended my Fee/Strauss.
  12. Chad Hutson

    Chad Hutson Puritan Board Freshman

    In a recent conversation with an earnest lady who was having difficulty understanding Romans, I encouraged her to read the ESV or NASB alongside her KJV. She has alerted me that this has helped her greatly, removing some of the obstacles of language to help her then focus on the majesty of the message. I was raised on the KJV and agree that there is an elegance to it that is hard to duplicate with modern language translations. Nevertheless, I grew tired of double-interpreting in the pulpit (translating from old English to current English before hermeneutics). I use the NKJV during sermons, but ESV, NASB, and KJV during study.
    Please understand that in our area, with so many fundamentalists who are KJV only, that draws scorn and ridicule from other preachers. They believe that all other translations are heretical at best or demonic at worst.
    Alas, as I sit here typing I am looking at two old KJV Bibles that are nearly worn out sitting on my desk. I am reminded that my beloved grandfather (with the Lord now for 25 years) only had a 4th grade education but understood the KJV!
  13. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    Thus demonstrating why the KJV should be permanently retired.
  14. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    Which of course would mean embracing a less reliable translation. Which was my point. One can argue about these things but at the end of the day one has to have an objective standard by which one chooses a Bible translation.

    Here's an example. I've been listening to a lot of James White stuff recently. Think he's great on a lot of things. Great apologetics debates. And he's taking a very courageous stand on critical race theory. But I listen to him on this issue- Bible translations/texts- and despite all his learning and his deep commitment to the Truth of Scripture, at the end of the day he cannot tell me what the Word of God actually is. He cannot say "this is the authentic, complete, final text of Scripture". Not even in the original languages and he certainly cannot point me to an English translation of the Bible and say "that is the true, reliable Word of God which you can read and trust and ground your faith and doctrine upon absolutely and without reservation". Just the other day I came across his arguments against the account of the woman taken in the adultery. And his argument against Luke 23:34. This was two cases in just one afternoon I came across. Just the latest two.

    He has criticised liberals with whom he has debated for not bringing a Bible with them to the debates (Lynn, Spong), makes a lot out of that. And yet he doesn't believe that everything which is in that Bible on his table should even be there! His whole approach to this issue is saturated with skepticism. It may be a skepticism tempered with belief, or despite belief. But it is still skepticism and a skepticism at odds with Scripture's own testimony as to its preservation by the providence of God.

    So we can dump the KJV. We can opt for modern translations which are "easier", which aren't a "barrier", and we can keep producing ever more translations which are ever easier to "understand" but all that will accomplish is an ever greater doubt in the reliability of what we're reading. We need objective standards. If the KJV isn't the most reliable translation then all these concerns over comprehension make a good case against using it. But if it is these considerations must be put aside.
  15. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Discussion about quality of bible translations? I feel another 13 pager coming on.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Funny Funny x 1
    • List
  16. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    What are some of the drawbacks you think of? The first that come to my mind are the more precise personal pronouns and verb endings (e.g., “-eth” for third person singular and “-est” for second person singular).
  17. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Second person plural. And using thee and thou gets em thinking about direct objects, etc.
  18. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    All other English translations are automatically less reliable than the KJV? What happened to your objectivity?

    It seems to me that modern translations are more reliable, if only because modern translators have many, many more manuscripts and parts of manuscripts to work from than they had in the early 17th century.

    Besides, at least in the New Testament, how much "translating" did the KJV translators actually do, seeing that about 90% of the KJV New Testament is actually Tyndale's New Testament imported almost entirely into the KJV? By 1611, Tyndale's English was about a hundred years old then. His English included all those supposedly wonderful "thees" and "thous" that, by the early 17th century, were already beginning to slowly disappear from English.
    • Like Like x 2
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  19. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    To be fair, that criticism cuts both ways, as someone could then charge the KJVer for adding to the Bible. We've been over these issues on PB and it's not as simple as "He wants to take stuff out of the Bible."
  20. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Just to be clear, the OP specifically said this thread is not about manuscripts.
  21. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Which brings us back to current language. Take a girl who has spent the past 5 years listening to Taylor Swift, or some guy who has Bieber Fever. Now tell him that he can only read a bible that has these words in it:

    what is the meaning of “chambering” (Rom. 13:13), “champaign” (Deut. 11:30), “charger” (Matt. 14:8— it is not a horse), “churl” (Isa. 32:7), “cielcd” (Hag. 1:4), “circumspect” (Lxod. 23:13), “clouted upon their feet” (Josh. 9:5), “cockatrice” (Isa. 11:8), “collops” (Job 15:27), “confection” (Exod. 30:35— it has nothing to do with sugar), “cotes” (2 Chron. 32:28), “covert” (2 Kings 16:18), “hoiscd” (Acts 27:40), “wimples” (Isa. 3:22), “stomacher” (Isa. 3:24), “w?ot” (Rom. 11:2), “wist” (Acts 12:9), “withs” (Judg. 16:7), “wont” (Dan. 3:19), “surctiship” (Prov. 11:15), “saekbut” (Dan. 3:5), “the scall” (Lev. 13:30), “scrabbled” (1 Sam. 21:13), “roller” (Lzck. 30:21— i.e., a splint), “muffler” (Isa. 3:19), “froward” (1 Peter 2:18), “brigadinc” (Jer. 46:4), “amercc” (Deut. 22:19), “blains” (Lxod 9:9), “crookbackt” (Lev. 21:20)
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2019
  22. KSon

    KSon Puritan Board Junior

    Or, to your point, passages such as 2 Corinthians 6:11-13 can be a tad challenging for some when seeking to understand:

    O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.
  23. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    I am not sure how that could be achieved, or why. It's still a good translation and it remains popular. If people want to use the KJV, why not let them?
  24. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    The KJV is more reliable than modern translations because it is a formal translation of the TR. None of the modern translations can claim that (nor do most of them want to). That is an objective standard of distinction.

    Again I've no interest in getting into a manuscript fight. That's not the focus of this thread. You can disagree with me about the TR that's fine but my standard is the TR and that is why I said that this policy of the KJV's translation trumps all concerns about comprehension.

    Tyndale's translation is not really relevant. I've no problem with a lot of his translation ending up in the KJV. I've never argued the KJV is inspired or fell from Heaven. This is an issue of translation policy.

    The "thees" and "thous" are grammatically correct. That's why we use them.

    These are all objective considerations: it is your rather emotional response which is subjective.
  25. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    That formally begs the question on the priority of the TR. That is a logical fallacy.
  26. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    Well the difference, surely, would be that I believe everything in the KJV should be there whereas he doesn't believe everything in his Bible should be. In other words I can hold a KJV and say without equivocation: this is the Word of God. Can he hold up an ESV and say that?
  27. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Easy. Yes. I just did.
  28. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    No it's not because we're not debating manuscripts. We're talking about what standards we must use in evaluating bible translations. I said that we need to fall back on objective standards. The texts from which a Bible is translated is a pretty objective standard. You or others are free to disagree that the TR is the authoritative text but since the question of the op was how would a KJVer respond to the question put then, for the sake of the argument, I think I'm allowed to assume this point. I am a KJVer and my answer is that whatever barriers to comprehension the KJV may have (and which one user, in the response to whom I made the point about James White, used as reasons to dump the KJV) the fact that I believe it is the most reliable translation overrules those concerns.
  29. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    Well that's strange because on his show he has said the account of the woman taken in adultery shouldn't be there. So that would be a lie then.
  30. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I assume you were talking about White. I wasn't. That again begs the question on whether it should have been there in the first place.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page