“If It Ain’t King James…”

I had a question from a friend the other day about the King James Version of the Bible.  Maybe like you, this person had read a sign that said, “If it ain’t King James it ain’t Bible” and wondered where that sentiment came from.

There are many people who believe that the King James Version is the version that Jesus used or that Paul used or the only one that true Christians should use.  Here the brief rundown of how it came to pass.  King James I of England put together a group to write an English version of the Bible due to some possible discrepancies.  They started work in 1604 and finished in 1611.

Most advocates of the King James only version of the Bible are also rabid anti-Catholics, which is rather ironic. You see, the King James version was translated from Greek texts which use the Latin Vulgate version as a corrective. The Latin Vulgate was held in Roman Catholic hands for centuries. It is the Catholic version of the scriptures these KJV advocates defend! Yet these same anti-Catholics prefer the King James version to any modern version where Protestant scholars have actually gone back and found the most ancient texts that had none of the later Latin, Roman Catholic additions [not that there were many]. The point is, would you rather have a text held and passed down through monkish hands, dominated by the Roman hierarchy? Or would you rather have the most ancient Greek texts, untouched by Roman hands?  -ScholarsCorner.com

This translation was finished actually before Protestants broke away from Catholics in the Protestant Reformation.

One reason the version is used so much is that it doesn’t have a copyright on it.  So when the Gideons want to produce the Bibles in mass, they don’t have to pay copyright fees on the KJV where they would the NIV or another translation.  The ministry is great, but some people have a hard time reading because our culture doesn’t easily understand “thee” and “thou” so much anymore.

Translations are translations.  They are someone’s interpretation of a language.  As I did studies on the biblical languages, I found that the most accurate texts that reflect literal, word for word translations are the New American Standard or the English Standard Version.  For a great dynamic equivalent (trying to find parallels in a new language), I would recommend the New International Version.  Free translations like the Message are great to serve as a commentary, but they are not as close to the actual wording of the original.

Hope you learned something new today, and just a reminder Body of Christ – keep the main thing the main thing.

6 thoughts on ““If It Ain’t King James…””

  1. I’ve never understood why a translation written in the 1600s is one that many still stick w/today when there are so many other translations out there that (I think) convey the word of God to us more clearly and in words easier to understand. What could possibly be wrong with that? I grew up with the King James version, as most people my age probably did, and still quote verses in that translation b/c that’s how I memorized them long ago. But when I’m reading the Bible, I choose the version that I most easily can understand.

  2. Travis, I am so glad you addressed this! I have been called many things by people who thought I was a heretic for using text out of another translation when speaking. I am big fan of the NASB personally, but also enjoy the New Living Translation because that is the translation used for the Recovery Bible. I find it refreshing to read and memorize scriptures in various translations because I get a new spin on an old verse. And our God is certainly capable of using any translation He wants! Awesome post!

    • Be careful there. When we start adding something to the Word, we are in danger of Revelation 22:18: For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

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