Why Did Pastors Discard the KJV?

Discussion in 'Translations and Manuscripts' started by Brian R., Sep 23, 2013.

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  1. Brian R.

    Brian R. Puritan Board Freshman

    Hello, All. First timer here.

    I recently made the switch from the ESV to the KJV for practically all of my reading, family worship, etc. And I don't regret it for a second. I totally love the KJV now. The Puritan Board was very helpful in this transition, as I studied up on Greek manuscripts, textual criticism, etc. for the first time in my Christian life.

    Lately, in listening to older sermons (1990s) I've been pleasantly amazed at how often the preacher, who's using a modern translation, tells his congregation the old KJV actually had a more accurate translation here. It almost seems as if he's been forced to use the NIV and he knows it's not the best.

    Question: What happened back in the 80s and 90s to cause so many pastors to jump from the KJV to the NIV or other modern translation? Just curious if any of you might provide some informative historical feedback. Thanks.
  2. Rev. Todd Ruddell

    Rev. Todd Ruddell Puritan Board Junior

    This Pastor has not abandoned the Authorized Version.
  3. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    My dad was a pastor when the NIV came out. He switched from the KJV to the NIV for one simple, compelling reason: his congregation (mostly not very educated and many non-native English speakers) could understand it far, far better.

    By the way... If the KJV is a more accurate translation than the NIV in many spots, I don't get why that's a compelling reason to switch away from the ESV, which is language-wise probably a closer cousin to the KJV than to the NIV. I get that one may have source-text reasons.
  4. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    All three, KJV, NIV, and ESV are very good translations.
    (Not the latest NIV, stay away from that, use pre-1980 NIV).

    One of the unfortunate consequences of so many versions now is that people do not have a common version to read, memorize and it probably is diminishing Bible memorization.

    But those three translations (older NIV) are good, suitable for reading, memorizing and reading.
  5. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Senior

    There are many advantages to the KJV, even beyond textual issues, that readers of modern versions are missing out on. I do understand, however, that many who are unaccustomed to the language of the King James may find it hard to understand, which is probably why so many pastors have moved away from it. As far as the NIV, I am not a big fan mainly because of the translation philosophy behind it, which leaves too much room for translator interpretation. That being said, I think all the hoopla surrounding the NIV 2011 is way overblown. It is simply not that much different than the 1984 version, and so I don't understand why so many people who gladly used the 1984 version are all of the sudden condemning the 2011 version.
  6. Caroline

    Caroline Puritan Board Sophomore

    I grew up on the KJV, but I don't use it now. What happens when you have poorly educated or English-as-a-second-language people and an old-English book is a lot of misunderstanding. Some of the strangest interpretations of the Bible I ever heard resulted from people not understanding KJV. At some point, it becomes like the question of why people stopped using Latin. Sure, it is fine if someone is fluent in Latin (as it is fine if someone is familiar with King James English). Otherwise, it is a barrier to understanding the word of God. If the ESV is a good translation and people understand it better, then they rightfully make a change. But if you want to read King James (or Latin) and can understand it well, then carry on.
  7. Brian R.

    Brian R. Puritan Board Freshman

    These are helpful comments. Thanks, everyone! And bless you, Todd. Keep up the good fight!
  8. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    Let me also comment, the KJV has served well for 400 years.
    When it says it, it often says it best with a poignancy and vicissitude that is unmatched. It's a great way to improve one's command of the language as well.
    And, I still do much of my memorization in it.

    But the NIV and ESV are useful for Bible reading and study in a group, etc.
  9. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    The seed can be traced to Scofields notes! (along with every other evil plaguing the modern evangelical world) ;)
  10. Claudiu

    Claudiu Puritan Board Junior

    In all seriousness, do you think that had any effect?
  11. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

  12. joejohnston3

    joejohnston3 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Actually our family made the switch recently from ESV to KJV for similar reasons and all the good feedback from PB and Joel Beeke and others that have a sound reasoning. We have been very happy with the switch and do not plan on using anything else in the future. I am also very anxious for the Joel Beeke KJV Study Bible!!
  13. Claudiu

    Claudiu Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks for passing that on.

    So you think that pastors left the KJV because they were also departing from Scofieldism (considering that they were so closely related in many circles)?
  14. Claudiu

    Claudiu Puritan Board Junior

    I'm just trying to figure out how Scofield plays into all this. I think there may be something there, but can't quite connect the dots.
  15. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Senior

    For better or worse, both Dispensationalism and the KJV came to be associated with a certain type of fundamentalism, and the tendency is to throw the baby out with the bath water.
  16. Paul1976

    Paul1976 Puritan Board Freshman

    The Bible is inspired. Translations are not. Any translation is, among other things, at best a compromise between being literal and being more readily readable and easily comprehensible. No translation will ever be "best" simply because it will either be literal, but cumbersome and awkward to read, or it will be overly translated and (by necessity) inject a degree of the translator's interpretation, or it will be a "jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none." I see translations as tools, some more appropriate than others, depending on how I want to approach the text.

    What I describe above summarizes the best approach to translation and what limits how good a translation CAN be. Some translations do not even rise to this level. To my mind, ANY barrier that limits a translation team's ability to produce the best translation the can based on their goal (such as very literal or very approachable) will result in a less-than-ideal translation.

    Include, for example, the additional goal of interjecting politically correct gender-inclusive language into a translation, and you have an additional barrier to producing the best translation possible. While I think it could be legitimately argued how severe a limitation this would be, and to what extent a translation would suffer as a result, I think it is clear that the translation would at least suffer to a degree. This is the difference between the ’84 and ’11 NIV and why I personally prefer the ’84 version.

    In my mind, the KJV has two major barriers to being a good translation: it's age and source material. The English language has changed drastically in the last 402 years, as any student who has studied the works of Shakespeare can attest! This is an absolutely huge and completely unnecessary barrier to put between people and God’s word. Studying scripture is not easy – why make that more difficult with an archaic translation? I believe it also presents a barrier to evangelism. How often do we see Christians ridiculed for speaking in archaic English when we should be being ridiculed for clearly preaching Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. Someone made an excellent point about most crazy translations and cults coming out of the KJV, and there is truth to that. It’s much easier to either miss or distort the meaning simply because the wording is so archaic.

    The second objection is the source document. Relatively few of the original Greek manuscripts now available were used (recall the Catholic church banned everything but the Vulgate!). Newer translations have better manuscripts available and are undoubtedly closer to the original. I know there will be objections to this, but I do believe the more researched manuscripts are at least generally closer. Besides, if you really like the received text, just use the NKJV and at least avoid objection #1.

    Someone above mentioned that the NIV is a less good translation because it’s less literal and more interpretive. I would disagree. It’s a less good translation for careful analysis. That doesn’t mean it isn’t good for applications where you would prefer a more approachable translation, such as reading aloud or listening in a car. I realize the NIV is probably an inferior translation for how most people here use translations, but that doesn’t make it a bad translation overall.

    The best argument I’ve heard personally for retaining the KJV is that it’s battle-tested. There is an element of wisdom to this, but I think some of the older translations (NASB) that are equally literal are sufficiently battle tested as to be safe at this point. Besides, there is also wisdom to the expression “never bring a sword to a gunfight.” Simply being battle tested does not mean a weapon (to follow the original analogy) is not obsolete.

    So why are pastors abandoning the KJV? I honestly believe they are coming to their senses.
  17. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    I always find it funny when people say that it is 'hard to understand' (though I understand that with ESL folks in attendance). It is not hard to understand, it is indeed more accurate. If there are contextual clues lacking, for instance, and the NIV says 'you', I know I can look to my KJV/Geneva and see whether or not they use 'ye' and then I will know if it is an individual or multiple people being addressed. I also find it odd to see how some want the Bible constantly updated in the vernacular when our language is dumbing down on one hand and becoming more vulgar on the other day by day. I remember hearing one preacher lament this and then point to the evening news, so to say 'see, not even the pagans are doing this - the broadcast news is in standard English, not the vernacular of the day, with its F-this and F-that; why do we want to do that to the Bible?'
  18. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Try going around to the unchurched and ask them to explain this phrase in their own words and see how many understand:

    "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face"
  19. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Agreed, but we are not going to the unchurched with a canned KJV sermon with at test at the end, but with our own selves, face to face, witnessing and discipling. I am not one for using the assembly of believers as an outreach tool, and simplifying it week in week out in case someone wanders in - the Saints need meat, not milk. Otherwise, there is a whole host of things that even the NIV would make mysterious - the trinity? How would the unchurched view that? Even in 4th grade English?
  20. Claudiu

    Claudiu Puritan Board Junior

  21. SinnerSavedByChrist

    SinnerSavedByChrist Puritan Board Freshman

    :rofl: Too funny :D
  22. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    A study on changing attitudes towards educational methodology, especially in the department of English, will explain the parallel changes in Bible translation. The days of stiff scientific philology gave us the RV. Later the tendency towards technical terms, stylised sentences, and purpose-built English led to the RSV. Then the movement towards self-expression and lack of grammatical and syntactical form has produced translations like the GNB and NIV.

    To this might be added, from a philosophical point of view, the "Honest to God" and "New Reformation" movements of the 60s and 70s, which placed a greater emphasis on understanding than on the thing to be understood. As this movement influenced Bible translation individual relevance became more important than formal meaning. The reader became the reference point for interpretation. Translations then became geared towards the way specific demographic groups could understand the words for themselves. The idea of a single translation based around a common English that could be read by all was then abandoned. Translations must henceforth be made to suit specific cultures and trends.

    Like the commercialism and technological mindset of much of present-day society, the Bible is translated with the specific intention that it should be discarded and replaced by something more appealing.

    The AV is a multi-generational translation which one commits to reading for a lifetime and shares with people of different ages and places, and does so in a sense of continuity with those who have gone before. It was made to be read over and over again; not to be mastered at once. To the degree one values the ideal of "the common English Bible," faithful and true, the AV will meet with a hearty welcome.
  23. Free Christian

    Free Christian Puritan Board Sophomore

    I came across a Bible translation compare site Bible Verses by Comparison, Read Verses Using All Translations Side by Side where you can select a verse and have it compared with others. Some of the interesting comparisons I saw were Zechariah 13 v 6, Colossians 1 v 14, Micah 5 v 2, Mathew 9 v 13, Mathew 20 v 20, Mathew 25 v 35 and 1 Peter 2 v2. Zechariah was interesting as it had from "Wounds in thine hands" to "wounds on your body", "wounds between your arms". Ok, all wounds but why on earth so different? I like the KJV but do agree that it is high time it had just the hard to understand words in it changed. Not everyone is highly schooled or has a great command of the English language. As I understand the WCF says the Bible should be in the known native language, or as it says "translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come' If I am to be honest, the language of parts of the KJV is not the common, or "Vulgar" language of my own country. But too, is trying to understand a hard to understand word anywhere near as bad as reading a translation that changes words for no valid reason or omits them for the same?
  24. KaphLamedh

    KaphLamedh Puritan Board Freshman

    Caroline, English is my second language and I have to say that KJV is the easiest to read in my opinion. Then maybe NASB and after that ESV & HCSB. Maybe I have heard so many sermons preach from KJV so it has became the Bible in English for me. There are some archaic words, but do I read whatever English translation, I need dictionary sometimes.
  25. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    When the Dispensation of the AV was over the Dispensation of the NIV commenced. God is now dealing differently with the church according to a different set of mss. revealed through the magisterium of textual scholars.

    Seriously, Scofield was more than popular, that’s all I was trying to say. His notes had a huge impact on the church, we cannot separate his theological notes from his textual notes like Sco does the church and Israel.

  26. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Senior

  27. jandrusk

    jandrusk Puritan Board Sophomore

    The reason in my opinion has been the "dumbing" down of our culture from having to think critically or heaven forbid you have to look a word up in the dictionary. A good point of reference on this position is a book by T.David Gordon, titled, "Why Johnny Can't Preach. It's a good read and the data that he provides is insightful into a number of issues with our culture's short attention span.

    Why Johnny Can't Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers: T. David Gordon: 9781596381162: Amazon.com: Books
  28. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Perhaps in your church. Fortunately, there are saints in our church that need milk, as well as those who need meat.

    Perhaps it is a Dutch versus Scots view, but I'd consider the lack of folks 'wandering in' as a sign of an unhealthy church.

    I don't think that 'trinity' appears in either the KJV or the original NIV.
  29. JoannaV

    JoannaV Puritan Board Sophomore

    The Scofield thing reminds me of the church I grew up with. They were unorthodox and supported KJV usage. Then in the early 90s they moved to mainstream evangelicalism (eg accepted the Trinity!) and adopted the NIV. So there's another example of the KJV being abandoned along with false beliefs.

    There are all kinds of reasons why a preacher may have been "forced" to use the NIV. For example, often churches have pew Bibles and whatever version they are is the one the church is stuck with as the standard version. (Unless they really want to change.)
  30. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    I'm praying Zondervan will release the original NIV into the public domain. That would be an huge blessing to the Lord.
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