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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A New Affection for the King James Bible

Just in time for the four hundredth anniversary of the King James Bible (or Authorized Bible, which was completed in 1611), I have finally recognized this treasure for what it is.

I have had little regard for the King James version of the Bible for most of my life. My first Bible, given to me in Sunday School, was bound in imitation leather, imprinted in gold lettering with my given name, and contained the Holy Bible in the King James Version. I didn't give the translation much thought, except that I knew it was different from the New American Standard Bibles my parents had--I loved tracing the swirls in the lettering on the front of Dad's NASB during the sermon--and mine said "King James Version" on the spine.

When I was still a youngster, the New International Version was published. Soon I had a beige-colored NIV hardback children's Bible, with a nice picture of Jesus on the front. I became an NIV devotee and my first Bible was relegated to the shelf.

True, my private Christian grammar school insisted we get New King James Bibles and I memorized plenty of verses out of that translation, but for church and any devotional reading, I used NIV.

The KJV just struck me as old-fashioned and out-dated, so when a college New Testament professor lectured on some of the shortcomings of the King James translation, it confirmed my preference for NIV. My no-need-for-KJV attitude grew stronger in reaction to the strand of Christendom that insisted on only the KJV. After studying the history of the Biblical translations and manuscripts in college, I couldn't see how anyone could insist that only the KJV was inspired.

These days I prefer a literal translation and I love the English Standard Version, even as our children use NIVs for all of their devotions, memorization, and study. The only KJV we have in the house is my very first Bible, saved after all these years for sentimental reasons.

So why the new affection for the King James Version? I am not coming back to it for my primary devotional and study text. For that I am sticking with ESV or NIV. But, I'm drawn back to it for the love of its English. I finally have appreciation for the beautiful, old English I once disdained.

After spending December studying Shakespeare with the kids, which served to train our ears to the hear the melody of Elizabethan English, we then came to the age of King James and his famous Bible translation. Coincidentally, we read quite a bit of King James Scriptures for our Advent study of Handel's Messiah. And, as so often happens, we quite by accident stumbled across this podcast by Albert Mohler and Leland Ryken about the King James Bible. On top of that, I happened to read this article by Lynn Bruce, which extols the virtue of reading the Authorized Version for its literary value.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness,
Prepare ye the way of the LORD,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low:
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough places plain:
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together:
for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
The voice said, Cry.
And he said, What shall I cry?
All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth:
because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it:
surely the people is grass.
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth:
but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
Isaiah 40:3-8


Laura at By the Bushel said...

Hello Mrs. Edwards, hope you and yours are well. I have all my life heard my father preach from KJV, yet it didn't have the same stale ring. I can hear his immediate paraphrase, clarity statement immediately following. It has strengthened my thought on many an occasion when I might have been inclined to relax my brain. I now read NKJV, although I was also given that NIV of which you speak, with Jesus on the front. I also was given the brown one OT/NT. My mother read & still reads JB Phillips version... she was the rebel. :) I'm sure however we'll both agree what a blessing to have an abundance of copies & opportunity to read the written Word. Thankful too I'm sure. Read on sister in Christ. Be blessed.

Mrs. Edwards said...

Good to hear from you, Laura! What a wonderful heritage to grow up hearing your father preach from KJV. What a blessing!

Funny how that NIV cover is such a strong memory for me.

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