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#1 Darrel Manson

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 11:16 AM

I'd have thought we would have a topic on this (either here or in literature), but I can't find one.

Here's an article urging tossing out all the "illiterate modern stuff". I don't agree with it. I could argue for modern translations from some of the same examples he uses. But there is really a sense in which we (or at least those of us who use the "ims") lave given up lyricism for meaning. Sometimes it's nice to have the scripture be as poetic as the grace it conveys.

#2 Christian

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 12:00 PM

In honor of the anniversary, I've started a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year project with my Daily Walk KJV Bible.

#3 BethR

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 01:08 PM

BBC Radio 4 "Story of the King James Bible"--available for 6 more days as of today Jan. 4.

#4 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 02:37 PM

Here's an article urging tossing out all the "illiterate modern stuff". I don't agree with it. I could argue for modern translations from some of the same examples he uses. But there is really a sense in which we (or at least those of us who use the "ims") lave given up lyricism for meaning. Sometimes it's nice to have the scripture be as poetic as the grace it conveys.

He does have a point though -

That the KJV is almost universally neglected by the dumbed down modern Church of England should come as no surprise. It is a scandal nonetheless. For the KJV is the hallmark of religious English. The modern versions are illiterate and theologically inferior because the tawdry verbiage in which they are expressed cannot bear the weight of what scripture is actually saying.

The King James Version somehow managed translate Scripture the most beautifully and sometimes the most simply. I don't think this means you have to throw out the modern versions. I use a more modern version myself (the ESV) for the majority of personal use. But I don't see any problem with a church encouraging the use of most translations, but preferring the use of the King James for public reading.

To this day, I feel as if a crime has been committed when someone reads aloud a modern translation instead of the King James for passages like Genesis 1, most of the Psalms, Matthew 5:1-12, Matthew 6:5-15, Luke 2:1-20, John 1, and I Corinthians 13. I didn't find these passages any harder to understand as a 8 year old because they were read to me in King James than if they had been read to me in NIV, RSV, etc. If you appreciate beauty and love the English language, then you should value when something is worded just perfectly. And if you've been given no love for the English language, and have no interest in appreciating the King James (or the works of Shakespeare even), it is only by someone else actually reading something like the KJV's Luke 2 to you that you have any chance at all.

William F. Buckley wrote a column back in 1977 when the Church of England started ditching the King James and the old Book of Common Prayer -

... The other morning, the Church of England issued its rewording of the Lord's Prayer. Now the head of the Church of England, at least titularly, is the Queen of England. One would think that sometime before the British Court worried about anachronisms in dealing with God, they would accost anachronisms in dealing with the Queen of England. But while she continues to be addressed with all the euphuistic pomposity of Plantagenet prose, they are modernizing the form of address appropriate to God. One continues to refer to the Queen as Your Majesty, and as "Ma'am"; but for God, "Thee" and "Thou" are - out. The Lord's head has been placed on the Jacobinical block.

It now goes not, "Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed by Thy name" - but "Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your Name." Granted, they have left the capital letter in "Your," which must have been done after grave debate in the relevant councils. But clearly it was felt that "Thy" was simply - too much. Who does He think He is? The Queen of England?

It goes on, "Your will be done on earth as in Heaven."

One wonders what has been gained by that formulation over the traditional formulation, which read "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." There is transparent here something on the order of a Parkinsonian imperative: A venerable passage will be reworded by a rewording commission insofar as a commission to reword possesses the authority to do so.

Is it suggested that more people will understand the phrase in the new formulation? In the first place, we are hip-deep in the aleatory mode when we say, "Thy will be done," since we all know that it is very seldom done; and, indeed, some of us would go so far as to say that it is most unlikely that it is being done by the Royal Committee on the Vulgarization of the Book of Common Prayer when they take such a sentence as "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven" back from the alchemists who worked for the Lord and for King James, and beat it into the leaden substitute which they have now promulgated.

One wishes that were all; but there is no sin of omission for which we might be grateful. "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" has been changed to "Do not bring us to the time of trial, but deliver us from evil." Why? For the sake of clarity? (That is the usual answer.) I know, because every sense in my body informs me, and every misinclination of my mind, what is temptation, from which we seek deliverance. But "the time of trial?" That sounds as if the Supreme Court is in session.

Perhaps it was ordained that the Episcopalians, like their brothers the Catholics, should suffer. It is a time for weeping, and a time for rage. Do not go kindly into the night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. That would be the advice of this outsider to my brothers in the Anglican Church. They must rage against those who bring upon Christianity not only indifference, but contempt.




#5 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 04:59 PM

Ach! There is little option for me at all. We use the KJV ceremonially at church. My favorite still stands, The New Jerusalem Bible largely because it still has some modern beauty. In the New Testament that is. In the OT, "righteousness" was done in by the clunky "saving justice" which ruins the flow of every Psalm. It also juggles OT passages and verse sequence. And it is out of print except for a hardcover edition. Catholics now have other, more leaden contemporary translations just like the rest of us.

There is yet to be a proper equivalent to the KJV. I have a copy of Lattimore's New Testament which is pleasant enough and takes some chances with a word here and there. OTOH, think about it. English poetry soared to the skies for hundreds of years inspired by and sometimes in reaction to the KJV. Is there much modern verse that really flows and aspires to transcendence today? I'll bet that some of you will have examples in mind, but is such work ubiquitous enough to give us any hope that a proper attempt in the spirit of the KJV is possible? Are there men and women of faith also supremely gifted in language in sufficient quantity and theological agreement to work together on such a project (with and/or without gender neutral options)? Plain "just the facts, ma'am" newsprint verbiage, or obsequious and slavish verbal "accuracy" a la NASB seem to be the preferences of those who care about modern takes on the scriptures.

Edited by Rich Kennedy, 04 January 2011 - 05:01 PM.


#6 Crow

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 05:25 PM

When I go back and read from the King James Bible, I am struck by the beauty of the wording, and how it flows. I think that is something that is lost in the modern church, that we have become so practical in our approach to everything that we have lost the sense of simply the beauty of the words of scripture. That is what I want to rediscover.

Edited by Crow, 04 January 2011 - 05:37 PM.


#7 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 07:05 PM

I got a book about the making of the KJV for Christmas a few years ago -- God's Secretaries, I think it was called? Anyway, I never got around to reading it, but I see it on my shelf every now and then. Maybe this would be a good year in which to read it.

#8 Thom Wade

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 10:57 AM

Truthfully...the only thing I think of with the KJV is how I worked in a Christian bookstore...and there were lots of KJV only customers, and if you had the audacity to speak positively on a non-KJV, the customer reacted as if I had said, "Have you ever considered worshipping Satan? Let me tell you about it." I never had that trouble with fans of other versions.

#9 Jason Panella

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 10:59 AM

Truthfully...the only thing I think of with the KJV is how I worked in a Christian bookstore...and there were lots of KJV only customers, and if you had the audacity to speak positively on a non-KJV, the customer reacted as if I had said, "Have you ever considered worshipping Satan? Let me tell you about it." I never had that trouble with fans of other versions.


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#10 mrmando

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 11:03 AM

BBC Radio 4 "Story of the King James Bible"--available for 6 more days as of today Jan. 4.

Really fantastic ... thanks for posting it.

#11 BethR

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 11:40 AM

From the William F. Buckley column quoted above:

One continues to refer to the Queen as Your Majesty, and as "Ma'am"; but for God, "Thee" and "Thou" are - out. The Lord's head has been placed on the Jacobinical block.

It now goes not, "Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed by Thy name" - but "Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your Name." Granted, they have left the capital letter in "Your," which must have been done after grave debate in the relevant councils. But clearly it was felt that "Thy" was simply - too much. Who does He think He is? The Queen of England?


I'm a bit surprised at language maven Buckley going on in this vein. He's right that we lose something when we stop referring to God as "thee/thou," but it's not, as he seems to think, respect. Rather, it's intimacy. Just as in French (tu-toi) & Spanish (? I'm not as familiar), the English 2nd person sg. pronouns were originally the more intimate address, while "you/your" were for relative strangers and/or the highly respected. That's why it's always "Your Majesty," not "Thy Majesty"--or look at this exchange between Shakespeare's King Henry V and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Jesus instructs us to address God as "Abba," Father--but many have pointed out that a better translation might be "Daddy"--entitling us to "tu-toyer" Him. Of course, since nobody who speaks modern English uses thee/thou except maybe old-style Quakers, the distinction has completely fallen out of the language.

Moral of the story: everyone should study the history of English, whether they read KJV or not.

Personally, reading a translation like the Good News Bible makes me feel stupid. But if it gets the job done, OK.

Edited by BethR, 05 January 2011 - 11:45 AM.


#12 M. Leary

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 12:04 PM

I'm a bit surprised at language maven Buckley going on in this vein. He's right that we lose something when we stop referring to God as "thee/thou," but it's not, as he seems to think, respect. Rather, it's intimacy.


Awesome comment.

I don't mind the KJV at all as a translation, I simply prefer a different Greek textual tradition than the one used as its source text.

#13 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 01:57 PM

I'm a bit surprised at language maven Buckley going on in this vein. He's right that we lose something when we stop referring to God as "thee/thou," but it's not, as he seems to think, respect. Rather, it's intimacy. Just as in French (tu-toi) & Spanish (? I'm not as familiar), the English 2nd person sg. pronouns were originally the more intimate address, while "you/your" were for relative strangers and/or the highly respected. That's why it's always "Your Majesty," not "Thy Majesty"--or look at this exchange between Shakespeare's King Henry V and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Great point. Although Buckley is focusing more on which is the more musical or aesthetically pleasing form of address as a sign of respect, you're right. "Thee/Thou" is more intimate and close than "You." I remember this being demonstrated most clearly for me with Hamlet, with careful explanations of how it works for those of us, like myself, who are more slow on the uptake.

I think it's no coincidence that the more intimate English forms of speech are also the most pleasing to the ear.

Truthfully...the only thing I think of with the KJV is how I worked in a Christian bookstore...and there were lots of KJV only customers, and if you had the audacity to speak positively on a non-KJV, the customer reacted as if I had said, "Have you ever considered worshipping Satan? Let me tell you about it." I never had that trouble with fans of other versions.

You mean, like the guy singing this song?
[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuyDpmk191k"]http://www.youtube.c...h?v=kuyDpmk191k[/url]

Hilarious. Although I bet your personal experience also includes seeing Charlie Brown's Christmas. The recitation by Linus at the end? KJV.

Edited by Persiflage, 05 January 2011 - 01:59 PM.


#14 Thom Wade

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 02:01 PM


Truthfully...the only thing I think of with the KJV is how I worked in a Christian bookstore...and there were lots of KJV only customers, and if you had the audacity to speak positively on a non-KJV, the customer reacted as if I had said, "Have you ever considered worshipping Satan? Let me tell you about it." I never had that trouble with fans of other versions.

Ah, but I bet your personal experience includes seeing Charlie Brown's Christmas. The recitation by Linus at the end? KJV.


Sure. It is not the first thing that springs to mind though. The crazy "If the KJV was good enough for Jesus? It's good enough for me!" crowd is. :)

Personally, I find the "poetic" nature of the KJV more than a bit overstated...but I suspect I am in the minority on that here. :)

Edited by Nezpop, 05 January 2011 - 02:02 PM.


#15 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 02:14 PM

The crazy "If the KJV was good enough for Jesus? It's good enough for me!" crowd is.

You responded too fast for me, I orginally forgot to include a song that a KJV-only friend sent me years ago.

I have friends who believe the KJV is the only English translation that is the Word of God. Arguing with them is always great fun. Problem is, when I try to explain to them that I personally find the KJV version superior to other versions aesthetically speaking, they don't understand me and tell me I'm missing the point.

#16 mrmando

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 02:25 PM

You mean, like the guy singing this song?
[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuyDpmk191k"]http://www.youtube.c...h?v=kuyDpmk191k[/url]

Weird. The pastor looks like Bill Clinton!

#17 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 05:05 PM

When I first cast about for modern translations, I was wrestling with archaic syntax and wierd punctuation for passages I had problems with. Once I became an Anglican in a parish using an archaic Prayer Book (designed to complement the KJV) I realized the intent of what still seems like lousy punctuation. The same thing is in the old Prayer Book, apparantly meant as breathmark notations for corporate reading. I don't begrudge anyone's avoidance of the KJV. I "get it" about the old and elegant language. My wife doesn't, for example. She needs translation of Shakespeare and practically any archly written English (by today's standards).

As to the song, I'm not sure that it is done tongue in cheek. Hence, not funny!?

#18 mrmando

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 05:25 PM

As to the song, I'm not sure that it is done tongue in cheek. Hence, not funny!?

It is most definitely NOT meant to be tongue-in-cheek. If you go to av1611.org, the site run in part by Texe Marrs, an evangelist and avowed former rock musician who mercilessly attacks all popular music, all CCM, and all modern Bible translations, you'll find that the group who sings this song is one of the few musical artists that Marrs recommends.

Edited by mrmando, 05 January 2011 - 05:26 PM.


#19 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 07:22 PM

As to the song, I'm not sure that it is done tongue in cheek. Hence, not funny!?

It is not tongue in cheek, and therefore it is funny.

"So if you go to buy a Bible,
Please take this sound advice,
Take nothing but the old King James,
'The others may sound niiiiiiice.'"

The "KJV only" crowd are just a minority who manage to stay pretty sheltered from the majority of other Christian churches out there (and from the majority of church history).

What much more concerns me is that those you use the old KJV at all are turning into a minority. That is what perhaps this 400th anniversary can help slow down.

#20 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 07:33 PM

I am uncomfortable with making sport of the sincere views of siblings in Christ, no matter how absurd. Heh, I also deal with a different sort of KJV only crowd every week. Not all of us in the parish are KJV only. Ironically, one of my friends and fellow parishioners is a Classical languages professor at Wayne State U. up the road. He reads from his Greek New Testament and resents the KJV's inaccuaracy and overly gaudy and florid language. I think that Leary might agree. The almost-Catholics also go along grudgingly, but only because it mates well with the Prayer Book we use. I like the KJV. I certainly don't study out of it. I collect translations as a hobby in order to overcome my lack of facility in Greek and Hebrew.