Why is the King James Bible still so revered?
The answer here.
I am no biblical scholar, but I have a background in the arts. (The visual kind) The King James Bible is a part of a Patrimony, a sort of Gesamtkunstwerk, or a “Total” work of art, when combined with Hymnody, Architecture, and Ritual, in conjunction with other sensory stimuli, like the taste of the bread and wine, and the smell of incense.
While the Holy Bible itself is already rich as a mini-library of histories, letters, poems, sayings, and prophecies, and bound together by Salvation History, this particular version is enhanced by the addition of the Meter, of a particular typeface, and language that is distinguished as sacred even to this day.
Nice! Indeed Donald Brake, (PhD, from DST), knows the history of the English Bible, I have his grand book: A Visual History of the English Bible (Baker, 2008).
Even as an Irish Catholic I grew up reading two Bibles, the KJV (given to me by my Evangelical greatgram), and the Catholic Douay-Rheims (basically an English version of the Latin Vulgate). I still have both copies. But the KJV won the day, for serious Bible reading and memory!
Btw, just a note, but I buy and give away the NKJV Bible to people and new Christian converts, it still has much of the beauty and cadence of the Big “Jimmy”! And I have seen people therein learn to read and come to have a great desire for God’s Word! As a pastor we can seek to give no greater desire: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin agsinst thee.” (Ps. 119:11)
I may have said this before, but it bears repeating. The King James translation of the Bible may be a good translation or even the best but it is still not as accurate as both the Old and New Testament in the original languages they were written in. The Hole Spirit inspired the people who wrote the books in Hebrew and Greek but not in any of the languages they were translated into.
All of the translations try to pick one word to translate the word in the original language to the language they are translating the Bible into and one word, often doesn’t do it. As an example, there are 3 different Greek words that are all translated as “love” in the English. The Greek words are “eros: or erotic love; “Philia”, or family affection; or Agape which some say is unconditional love but that misses the point. Agape is a decision to always act in the best interests of the other person and that decision is irrevocable, like the traditional Marriage vow of “until death do we part.”
In the English translation John 21:15-17, Jesus asks peter 3 times if Peter loves him and all 3 times Peter says he loves Jesus. In the Greek, the actual conversation Jesus asked, “Peter do you agape me? Peter replied, Lord you know I Philio you”, Jesus asks again, “Peter do you agape me? and Peter responds, Lord you know I philio you. The 3rd time, Jesus asks, “Peter, do you Philio me? Peter responds, Lord you know I Philio you. and Jesus says, Feed my sheep. When you use the original Greek words it gives a much different meaning. There are many places in the Bible that are like this, that you can’t get the real meaning of what was written without going back to the original language.
Because of the truth of what I have just written my conclusion is that there are English translations of the Bible that vary in accuracy but none of them come close to the accuracy of the original language. No matter what translation you read you need to use some resource to get the meaning of the original teaching of Jesus or Paul in the original language. Strong’s Concordance is excellent but I use the website, because it is just as reliable but it is easier and quicker.
God bless all who seek to know the true meaning of God’s scriptures and live by them. Amen.
Absolutely, but I also understand that several versions of the Bible exist for various reasons, like explaining the Bible to children, missionary purposes, (Because some cultures lack words that Greek, Latin, English, or Hebrew have, or those cultures have words that we can’t find in the original to express an altogether foreign concept to the writers of the original.) So we can’t at all diminish those other versions, if they have become central to the way the people came to experience God and Christianity… But then again, I also believe that people who do use a different version of the Bible have to take a look at the originals, to correct erroneous interpretation based on the limitations of localized versions.
I view localized versions as training wheels; you can technically have them attached forever, and it’s not going to do harm. In the case of the King James Bible, that’s one pretty set of training wheels. But some people make the mistake of thinking the training wheels are all you need.
Unless the majority of us can read Hebrew, Latin, or Greek or even Aramaic, (or if they’re taught once again at various levels of education) we’d have to depend on the local, training wheels versions.
In the UK, the KJV Bible and, indeed, the Book of Common Prayer are part of the cultural heritage as literature, as are the works of Chaucer, Shakespeae, Milton and many others. But, sad to say, this is a language comprehensible only to an educated minority in numerical declne.
So, once one accepts the proposition that worship should be conducted in a language which the congregation can understand, one has to look for a lectionary comprehensible to the majority of worshippers.
Missionaries taking the Good News to other countries have long relied on the Bible Society which thus far has around 290 translations available on its digital library. If we wish to re-evangelise the UK (where a majority of the population is only nominally Christian) then even a vernacular version such of the RSV Bible may already be comrehensible only to the minority.
The Bible Society is involved with a project to produce a version of the bible in Jamaican Patois and I believe the Gospel according to Luke is completed in which the passage on the Annuciation begins:
“De angel go to Mary and say to ‘er, me have news we going to make you well ‘appy. God really, really, bless you and him a walk with you all de time.”
It may not be too long before we will have to be thinking of a bible in patois if we are to reach some of today’s youth – such is the state of English public education.
One of the amazing things about the KJV is that for a Text from the Medieval Age (the TR, or Textus Receptus), it is still being read and as has been said, it still is a great English Text for memory! As long as English is being spoken, it will be a Text that will be read and loved! And btw, I note too, that many Americans love and read it!
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