A person identifying himself as J B has added a comment to my video post Why I Hate the KJV. It contains so many examples of the misinformation and invalid reasoning presented by KJV-Only Advocates that I couldn’t resist commenting.
I don’t know how you can say the KJV “communicated the scriptures wonderfully to the people of it’s time, over time that language has changed.”
You know, for a moment I thought the comment might be from one of those folks who thinks I give the KJV too much credit. But it turns out that J B thinks that communicating effectively is not an attribute to be desired in a translation.
First you don’t seem to know much about the KJV, at the time it was translated (the 17th century) the “people of it’s time” did not speak the English of the King James Bible, (often referred to as “Kings English.”)
First, I want you to note that at this point J B seems to think knowledge is valuable, as he accuses me of lacking it. Hold that thought. We’ll come back to it later.
Second, what is it with KJV-Only folks and “scare quotes”? Does J B imagine that there were no people at the time of the KJV translation?
Third, I am well aware of the type of language used, but I tend to measure things a little more objectively. I don’t imagine how people would understand a particular dialect, I observe. The rate at which the KJV gained dominance indicates, I believe, that it communicated well.
I am happy to note, however, a KJV-Only advocate actually admitting to archaic language in the KJV. Many of them try to pretend it is relatively close to modern English. But however archaic it was when the translation was made, it is more archaic now. If you place a high value on the failure to communicate, I suppose this is a good thing.
Most language develops for the purpose of communication. There is a dialect of English, politician-speak, which is designed to employ words whilst preventing the readers or hearers from comprehending them, but that’s a special case.
The KJV was translated into this already “archaic” form of English because it was the most perfect form of English, our language is not getting better over time it’s getting worse.
This is rather interesting. What makes a language “perfect”? Would it not perhaps be communication? I have never seen the characteristics of a perfect language. Would a theoretically perfect language structure and vocabulary, but which was not used by anyone be perfect, whilst also being useless?
And on what basis does one say that our language is getting worse? I know that language curmudgeons regularly complain about it, but I give that about as much credence as I do the complaints of people who use computers and the internet to wish they could go back to the “good old days.” Presumably they don’t want to die of the same diseases that people did back in the “good old days” or have the life expectancy of that time.
That old language is of very little use to me in my daily life. The “perfect” English lacked any vocabulary with which to describe this computer at which I’m typing. It lacked terms for large numbers of items in my daily life.
Perfect for what? Presumably perfect for people who think language exists in a vacuum and who don’t care what is done with it. Language is a tool. It’s quality or lack thereof depends on how well it accomplishes that task.
Yet “the people of it’s time” didn’t seem to want a more modern “version” of the Bible, they were merely interested in a more perfect Bible.
Well, actually the people of that time didn’t really have much to say about it. The king wanted a Bible to help unify the church. Various other people had quite a variety of ideas. And the Bible was not immediately accepted by those same people. Like many others, they did not find it easy to accept a new translation easily.
Also the KJV is the most widely used Bible today even more so than it was when it was translated so I don’t quite understand how you can consider those in the 17th century “people of it’s time” and not the people of our time who use it more widely.
Oh, so that’s the purpose of those scare quotes. The “people of its time” are those who were living at the time it was translated. I know you want to extend its time, but wishing doesn’t make it so.
The time of the KJV has not passed, neither of those two groups then or now speak King James English, and both groups have the KJV so how it can be the Bible of their time and not the Bible of our time just doesn’t make sense.
It makes sense to those who acknowledge facts. You can, of course, imagine it to be anything you want.
The other thing that you mentioned is that you study the Bible in “it’s original languages” which I believe I can easily conclude as Greek and Hebrew.
Well, those and Aramaic. Part of the Bible was written in Aramaic, and I read that too.
A lot of people say that you really should learn Greek and Hebrew to understand the Bible more clearly.
Those are smart people. Not everyone needs to know Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew, but they are valuable. Those are the languages in which the prophets and apostles wrote.
I don’t understand why I should study Greek and Hebrew when God has already preserved His Word in English, God had the foresight to know that the common World language would be English.
A little earlier you were complaining that I know little about the KJV, though actually you are wrong on that point. But there you seemed to think knowledge was valuable. Here you seem to think knowledge is not valuable. Odd, isn’t it?
You see, nobody could tell just how well God’s Word was preserved in the English of the KJV unless someone read the languages in which the Bible was originally written. The KJV translators used the manuscripts at hand, their language skills, and all the resources they had at hand, and they translated. Do you or any other KJV-Only advocate understand what that means? I doubt it. Translation is hard work. Translation always loses some aspect of the source. Even the best translation is not and never can be equivalent to the original.
When you say that God has preserved his word in English through the KJV you are doing at least two extremely arrogant and stupid things:
- You cut yourself off from the Christian community. As a KJV-Only advocate who makes this claim you should no longer call yourself a Christian. I rarely say this, but Christianity has been built on many centuries of tradition. The Bible itself is the result of things that were passed down from the early church. You are free to grab hold of anything you want and call it God’s one true word, but this claim cuts you off from that community.
- You make the claim that the English speaking world is specially privileged by God. Even though I am appalled by the first point, I find this one even worse. You and I, who speak English, are not one bit better spiritually than the least tribesman who speaks an as yet unwritten language. God has no more desire to communicate his message to us than to him. The incredible arrogance of claiming that our language has set us above everyone is astounding. If a claim could be made for the privileging of any language it would be the one spoken by the prophets or apostles through whom God spoke.
If I’m having a hard time understanding the English Bible wouldn’t it make more sense to study English?
And suddenly you think understanding is important. Now get this: If studying it in an archaic form of English is better than studying it in Greek, then studying it in a modern, comprehensible form of English is better than studying it in archaic English.
You need to decide which it is on these points. Are you interested in communication or in having the scriptures in an allegedly “perfect” language? Are you interested in knowledge or do you condemn it?
The only thing learning Greek & Hebrew does is allow each individual to translate God’s Word the way he sees fit and not accept it as God intended.
But God intended to present his word in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. At least I believe God does what he intended to do, and that’s what he did, so I assume he intended it.
You, on the other hand, want to replace that with an English translation. What originally astonished me about KJV-Only advocates is the way they try to claim to truly respect God’s Word, and yet at the same time have no concern with the accuracy of translation. Whatever the KJV did is OK with them, no matter how wrong. That’s not respect.
It’s more confusing to me to “purchase multiple English versions” because I do not “read the source languages,” especially now when the majority of modern translations have been continuously revised within the last 20 years.
I’m sure you don’t want to be confused with facts, but the fact remains that no translation conveys everything in the source language. That’s why people keep trying.
How would I know the version I’m currently using is going to be relevant to the next generation, I would be perpetually upgrading to the latest version.
Actually you can be quite certain that at some time in the future any version you’re using will become dated and require revision. Language changes. When it changes enough, people no longer understand it as well as they should. Thus revision is needed.
The people of 17th century England not only had the Bible in it’s “original languages” they also had “multiple English versions,” the whole reason they took on the task of translating the Bible, was so that English speaking people would have a “more exact Translation of the Holy Scriptures into the English tongue;” (quoted from the Epistle Dedicatory which was written by the translators themselves) so going out and buying “multiple English versions” is taking a step backwards not forwards.
You should read “From the translators to the reader.” That gives many of their ideas of how to translate and also their comments on the resistance to new translations.
Just because the English language has become more and more watered down over time doesn’t mean we should water down God’s Word to match it so that it will be more relevant to the world.
First, you have yet to establish what a “perfect” language is and in what way English has been “watered down.” Second, it is not an issue of relevance, but of comprehension. We do not water down the scriptures by translating them, nor do we make them any more or less relevant. We make the relevance that is there understandable.
The world rejects the Word of God because His Word is Holy and it convicts them of their sin. Changing His Word to be more relevant to the world allows the world to be comfortable in their sinful state and does not bring true repentance of sin.
Which applies quite well to any well-done translation of the Bible.
I will leave you with something I found on the the University of Virginia’s website while trying to look up a free online RSV bible.
The Bible, Revised Standard Version
We regret that we are unable to host the Revised Standard Version of the Bible on our website any longer. We were recently contacted by the National Council of Churches of Christ (http://www.ncccusa.org/), who own the copyright for the Revised Standard Version of the Bible in the USA. They have asked us to remove the text from our website, and we have complied with their request. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
The King James Version of the Bible may still be accessed on our website at http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/kjv.browse.html.
The KJV was translated to be freely available to all men, while all other versions were created to be under the control of men. What right do we have to hinder others from freely accessing the Word God for our own greedy gains? Apparently a lot if you own the copyright.
We follow with the standard complaint about copyrights. But the KJV was originally published under a license granted by the crown. That was as close to copyright as it got in those days. Modern translators are no different on this point. I see no reason why they should not be compensated for their work. Surely you can afford the cost of an electronic copy of the RSV.
The arguments for the KJV-Only position never seem to change; they just get stated in different words.