On the King James Bible

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. The KJV is one of two works in the English language that one ought to be familiar with to be culturally literate. The other, of course, is the work of Wm. Shakespeare.

From a Reformed Protestant perspective (I am one such), the KJV suffers some theological dissonance relative to its close cousin the Geneva Bible (1599 edition).

For example, James had his translators remove the word “tyrant,” which the Geneva reformers used to refer to popes and monarchs who would have themselves appointed as head of their national churches.

Also, there are today more accurate translations from the original languages. For example, today’s English Standard Version (ESV)is a better word-for-word version than the KJV (thought-for-thought versions are akin to having training wheels on a bike, and don’t belong in a proper church, but then I’m old-school).

Let’s put it this way: if you want to read the Bible for comprehension, the ESV is easier for us moderns. However, all that said, when I want to feel what God is saying to us through Scripture, as against read Scripture, it’s to my Authorized 1611 KJV I go.


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