KJV Only?

Some time ago I drove by a church where I read on the sign, “KJV Only.”  This of course, caught my attention!  And I wondered, “Why such a bold declaration?”  It dawned on me that only the church crowd would know what this abbreviation meant, much less care.   

In recent years, battle lines have been drawn both for and against he authorized King James Version(KJV) of 1607.  It is STILL the most popular translation of the Bible.  Its eloquence is STILL unmatched and the King’s English is STILL intriguing.  But along with its beauty comes weaknesses in its construction.  The English language has evolved dramatically since 1607, so to say that the KJV is the only right translation does not take into account language antiquity issues.

When Queen Elizabeth of England died in 1603, King James VI of Scotland took the throne as King James !.  At that time three popular versions of the Bible existed:  The Geneva Bible, The Great Bible, and The Bishop’s Bible.  In January, 1604, the Puritans asked King James I for a new translation.  Work on the new Bible began in 1607 with 47 translators who met twice each day.  The King James writers immediately recognized translation problems.  In the KJV, the italicized words are actually “extra” words inserted to make the meaning clearer.  These words are not actually found in the Hebrew or Greek language. These words were included to make certain passages read more smoothly in English.

Yes, by all means, keep your KJV.  It is a noble work.  However, keep in mind that languages evolve.  In other words, many words take on new definitions, or fade completely into oblivion.  If you wish, compare today’s New King James Version with the 1607 KJV.  You will find many differences, mostly because the King’s English is obsolete.  People don’t “believeth” anymore; they simply “believe!”

Now, as to the KJV being the only acceptable version of the Bible, let me quote Jesus when Peter spoke out of turn on one occasion:  “I have somewhat to say unto thee!”  

God has used righteous scholars down through history to translate the Scriptures.   And each one comes with its inherent strengths and weaknesses.  Why?

1.           Because translators do not draw from the original manuscripts, and
2.           Because anything man touches becomes automatically imperfect!
Please remember, however, today’s more notable translations for the most part, are dependable.  Any given translation of the Bible is probably fine to read and/or study, as long as the central components of God’s plan of salvation are left intact.  If in doubt about a given translation, ask someone who is schooled in the Word before you buy it.
A wonderful breakthrough in biblical translation came between 1947 and 1956.  Of course, God had His hand in this miracle!  A Bedouin sheepherder threw a rock into a cave and subsequently heard a noise like the breaking of pottery.  He then came upon several old parchments.  
Final discoveries revealed a collection of about 900 documents, including texts from the Hebrew Bible in eleven caves in and around the ruins of the ancient settlement of Khirbet Qumran on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea in the West Bank.  These Dead Sea Scrolls held great religious and historical significance, as they included the oldest known surviving copies of biblical and extra-biblical documents.
From this wonderful finding came many of the translations we enjoy today.  God has preserved His Word!  While we may not have the original manuscripts, these Dead Sea manuscripts generally date between 150 B.C. and 70 A.D.  Contemporary translators of God’s Word then, are able to provide works that are indeed closer to the original manuscripts.
Yes, the KJV is wonderful, but to say it’s the only translation we should use is built on a faulty premise.   Many good translations line the shelves of Christian bookstores and online book sales.   I personally love and use the New International Version.  Others love the New American Standard.  Some stick with the New King James Version.  And of course, a good number rely on the original KJV.  As previously mentioned, all of them have their strengths and weaknesses, but let me encourage you to be versatile.  “Study to show yourself approved unto God…”  Compare the different translations and enjoy the many insights the Holy Spirit has given Bible scholars.  After all, HE’S THE REAL AUTHOR AND TEACHER!



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