Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible – A New Title to Consider

Perhaps a newly published book contains an uncomfortable subject for us, but it is a significant title that is garnering attention and praise and ought to be paid attention to by us too, whether we praise it or not.

The book is Authorized: The Use & Misuse of the King James Bible, written by Mark Ward and published by Lexham Press (2018), a division of Logos Bible Software, for whom the author works as a Logos Pro.

The publisher gives this description of it and the author’s purpose in writing:

The KJV beautifully rendered the Scriptures into the language of turn-of-the-seventeenth-century England. Even today the King James is the most widely read Bible in the United States. The rich cadence of its Elizabethan English is recognized even by non-Christians. But English has changed a great deal over the last 400 years—and in subtle ways that very few modern readers will recognize. In Authorized Mark L. Ward, Jr. shows what exclusive readers of the KJV are missing as they read God’s word.

In their introduction to the King James Bible, the translators tell us that Christians must “heare CHRIST speaking unto them in their mother tongue.” In Authorized Mark Ward builds a case for the KJV translators’ view that English Bible translations should be readable by what they called “the very vulgar”—and what we would call “the man on the street.”

The contents show us what the author includes in this book:

  • Introduction
  • What We Lose as the Church Stops Using the KJV
  • The Man in the Hotel and the Emperor of English Bibles
  • Dead Words and “False Friends”
  • What is the Reading Level of the KJV?
  • The Value of the Vernacular
  • Ten Objections to Reading Vernacular Bible Translations
  • Which Bible Translation is Best?

In the book Ward both defends the use of the KJV (he grew up on it himself and praises it highly) and criticizes its misuse, arguing that while it is still a very important Bible translation, its language is too difficult and unintelligible for the modern reader. He posits that while there is never going to be a perfect English translation, the contemporary Christian ought to use a variety of translations available today so as to gain the best understanding of the text.

As I make my way through the book, I will give you his thoughts and interact with them. For tonight I give you some opening thoughts of his found in the “Introduction”:

People care about KJV English, and they care about Bible translation. The most popular blog posts I write are about English Bibles. These posts always get social shares and comments, because everybody has an opinion on whether translations should be formal (sometimes summarized as ‘word for word’) or functional (sometimes summarized as ‘thought for thought’) [We ought to be, without shame or compromise, in that first camp – we want a “word for word” translation because every word of God is inspired and counts, also in our translation of it.] Everybody has a passage in this or in that translation that they love or that they object to. Everybody has a favorite English Bible translation, or is on the hunt for one. ‘Which Bible translation is best?’ has a lot of search-engine value, I can tell you. People want to know, because they care.

And that’s why the transition away from the KJV has been the scene of some confusion and even conflict within the church. [And, by the way, that’s where the issue ought to be addressed – in the church, not in Bible societies and other translation organizations that are often driven by the market and not by faithfulness to what God has revealed and how He has spoken to us.] Christians collide over sometimes minute questions of English style, the gender of pronouns, Greek New Testament manuscripts, and even Bible topography. And I’m not necessarily saying they should stop. [I would add, by no means should they stop! These are all significant matters involved in translating God’s word properly.] This is the word of God we’re talking about, after all. People should care.

Amen to that last point! And because we too care, we will pay attention to what this author says about a good English translation, even if we may differ with his conclusions. But let’s at least listen to what he has to say.

Source: Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible – Logos Bible Software

Published in: on February 26, 2018 at 11:01 PM  Comments (1)