If we lose the KJV we’ll lose access to the Puritans

Discussion in 'Translations and Manuscripts' started by Jeri Tanner, Apr 14, 2018.

  1. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Puritan Board Sophomore

    I slowly began to use the KJV often, now primarily. It occurs to me often as I read that a lack of familiarity with its words and style, among other things, will make the writings of the Puritans inaccessible to people. I’m thankful there are those who maintain the KJV’s cause and importance. This is not a thread to debate its merits, I just wanted to point this out and say that I think every Christian family should train their children to read, understand, and appreciate the KJV, for important historical reasons if nothing else (though better if it’s for other good reasons as well). It seems to me to be an indispensible element of good Christian training in the English-speaking world.
     
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  2. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    You could largely accomplish the same results by studying Shakespeare.
     
  3. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    I agree with you, Jeri.

    Your observation reminded me of an atheist English professor I knew who said familiarity with the King James Bible was essential to understanding English literature and culture. He was dismayed at the sudden fall in Biblical literacy.

    It seems odd that a liberal non-believer can see things we might miss, but there it is.
     
  4. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I think you have a good point. It’s like schools not teaching cursive. Soon people won’t be able to read the Constitution.
     
  5. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Puritan Board Sophomore

    Why be satisfied with ‘largely accomplishing’ by way of a godless source, when you could fully accomplish with God’s word? Anyway, I’m not sure you’re right; I’d think that the theological ramifications of thoughts expressed with unfamiliar wording wouldn’t be made clear by familiarity with Will.
     
  6. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Puritan Board Sophomore

    It is like that. Not only the Constitution but many other original documents from historical times.
     
  7. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    That's a good bit beyond your original

    and

    although you left yourself a bit of an opening with your

     
  8. jwithnell

    jwithnell Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    It helps to have a KJV out when reading people like G Vos too.
     
  9. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    In my family, we do our reading from a more modern translation. My wife and I made that decision not so much so that the kids could understand the Bible readings (for a 400-year-old translation, the KJV is remarkably easy to understand), but to show that God's Word comes in everyday speech. We didn't want to leave the false impression that the truths of God are removed from ordinary life and use some obscure, sacred way of speaking.

    But we have tried to instill some appreciation and familiarity with the KJV also, for the sort of reasons Jeri mentioned. It's good to be in touch with those spiritual roots and to feel comfortable interacting with those forebears and their way of speaking. Occasionally, I will read the day's passage in the newer translation first and then read it again in the KJV. The kids find it interesting and kind of fun. I sometimes read a few thoughts from an old commentator, which means there's KJV in the commentary text. Or if I come across a verse I remember in the KJV from childhood, I will recite it and we might talk about how it sounds different—often how beautiful it sounds in the old style, occasionally how odd it sounds to us today.

    My kids like Shakespeare too. Maybe there's some connection. For sure, we are language geeks.
     
  10. Doulos McKenzie

    Doulos McKenzie Puritan Board Freshman

    I love the KJV just as much as the next guy. it is has become the translation I have been using for daily reading for about 4 months now. That being said, I usually take me ESV or CSB to Church because for many people in my circles the language is a stumbling block. This is why I think the answer to preserving the Puritans is not the KJV but rather simply updating the language of the Puritans. Right now the English language is changing so rapidly that with in the next century the language of the puritans will be almost unrecognizable to the average reader. As much as I LOVE the archaic writings of the Puritans, it is a big stumbling block to most readers in the 21st century.

    Just my :2cents:
     
  11. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Puritan Board Sophomore

    I understand that the argument is to update everything. But it’s not updated yet! And I had rather read the Puritans as they wrote, and keep in touch with our historical roots, as Jack mentioned.
     
  12. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks for acknowledging my opening. :)
     
  13. Doulos McKenzie

    Doulos McKenzie Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree. I mean I would also prefer to read Paul as he wrote but I haven't learned ancient Greek yet. ;) A For many today Middle English is a foreign language. So although my preference would be to read them the way they wrote, I also realize that that is almost impossible for most people in the current era.
     
  14. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I am helped when someone updates the more difficult Puritan writers, most notably Owen, who was a great thinker but a weak writer in English. Walter Marshall's The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification also comes to mind.

    The better writers among the Puritans need no updating yet, and may last for several centuries to come. For example, I am constantly amazed at how Thomas Watson's writing remains crisp, easy to follow, and wonderfully quotable today.

    The lesson: Write plainly and directly, using short sentences and common words.
     
  15. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The reasons to update things such as Confessions and Puritans would be the same reason why we have modern translations. We should update the English style to reflect current expression of speech as they are now being used and understood.
     
  16. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    All Christians should have and at least once in a while use the KJV, for it is the single most important English translation ever made, and the most influential version ever published.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
  17. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Now you've done it!! :worms:
     
  18. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Done what?
     
  19. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Puritan Board Sophomore

    No inflammatory claims in this thread, please!
     
  20. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    The thesis of the OP is not true. I have not read the KJV regularly for 14 years, yet I read the Puritans all the time. Since I am reading books by old theologians, I do not mind that fact that they use old language. Conversely, I have no desire to read the Bible in anything other than modern English. You may as well argue that we need to be familiar with the LXX to read the Eastern Fathers or with the Latin Vulgate in order to read Thomas Aquinas.

    Besides, it is interesting that even Reformation Heritage Books has a series of short modernised Puritan writings in order to make them more accessible to people in the contemporary world. It is also significant that the Davenant Foundation has started translating (yes, that is what they call it) Richard Hooker's Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity out of olde English and into modern English. Reading stuff in olde English is fine for scholars and antiquarians, but probably not for the average man on the street - at least not when they are starting out their theological reading.
     
  21. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Amen to that sentiment. The point of writing is to be understood, not simply to write loads. My friend and John Owen biographer, Professor Crawford Gribben argues that Owen learned to develop a much more simple style as he matured. He knows because he read Owen's writings in chronological order, and that also seems to conform with my (more superficial) knowledge of his works. One lesson that I have learned as I have got older is that less is often more.
     
  22. Von

    Von Puritan Board Freshman

    I thought most of the Puritans preferred the Geneva translation.
     
  23. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Puritan Board Sophomore

    Did you read the KJV regularly 15 years ago?
     
  24. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Puritan Board Sophomore

    The KJV is in modern English. I realize it contains words unfamiliar to us now, or that have changed in meaning, and some sentence structures that are unusual. Thus the hope that Christian families will teach their children to read it. As an adult, it’s pretty easy to figure out any passage with a difficulty along those lines.
     
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  25. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    From what I can gather, that is a bit of myth. Surely the Westminster divines referred to the AV in the footnotes of the standards.
     
  26. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    In which case, it is not modern English. I have never heard or read anyone in the modern world speak or write in a similar language to the AV. Besides, I go to a church with a lot of international students. If you were to ask them whether or not they recognised the AV as modern English, I think you can guess what answer they would give you.

    I did, but if your thesis is true then I should have lost the ability to read the Puritans as well. If you want to keep using the AV, I am not stopping you or discouraging you from reading it. I just don't think that this argument holds water.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
  27. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Sophomore

    I read the Puritans before using the KJV. Google can be a good helper with old English.
     
  28. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Sophomore

    As for cursive, I'm not too sure why we need it anyway. It's the same English, just written in a less legible way typically.
     
  29. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Puritan Board Sophomore

    Not modern in the modern sense; it was translated in the Modern English
    era.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_English
    Thanks!
     
  30. JimmyH

    JimmyH Puritan Board Junior

    Funny thing, my older sister had a copy of Hamlet laying around when I was a kid. I tried to go through it but quickly lost interest. Then PBS played the 1939 academy award winning film of Hamlet with Lawrence Olivier. This stimulated my interest and I bought an Annotated Shakespeare. Wasn't long before I could read him fairly well.
    When I began reading the Bible, at 36 years old, is was the KJV, with the NIV as a backup if I got stuck. I've introduced various English translations of the Scriptures into my reading but the KJV is still the main source.
    Reminds me of a quote from Merle Miller's Plain Speaking, An Oral Biography of Harry S Truman. Miller asked the former president what he thought of the new translations of the Bible, and President Truman replied, "They took the poetry out of it." That is not why we read the KJV, but it is a wonderful asset to our studies. Praise the Lord for William Tyndale.
     

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