Did the KJV Need Updating?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Chris Temple, Jan 15, 2002.

  1. Chris Temple

    Chris Temple
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    First, this is long, so forgive me. We do not usually allow lengthy posts, but in this case I plead to make an exception.

    Does (or did) the KJV need updating of language? Many thought so not long after the KJV was first published in 1611. The current KJV we use is the 1769 Blayney update.

    Noah Webster is considered one of the finest linguists in American history. He updated the KJV in 1833 because of archaisms and errors in the AV, and this was less than 100 years after the Blayney update. Surely, the AV is even more outdated now 170 years after Webster!

    The following is part of Noah Webster's introduction to his 1833 update of the AV. His reasoning and scholarship is sound.

    *******************
    PREFACE.
    ————

    The English version of the sacred scriptures, now in general use, was first published in the year 1611, in the reign of James I. Although the translators made many alterations in the language of former versions, yet no small part of the language is the same, as that of the versions made in the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

    In the present version, the language is, in general, correct and perspicuous; the genuine popular English of Saxon origin; peculiarly adapted to the subjects; and in many passages, uniting sublimity with beautiful simplicity. In my view, the general style of the version ought not to be altered.

    But in the lapse of two or three centuries, changes have taken place, which, in particular passages, impair the beauty; in others, obscure the sense, of the original languages. Some words have fallen into disuse; and the signification of others, in current popular use, is not the same now as it was when they were introduced into the version. The effect of these changes, is, that some words are not understood by common readers, who have no access to commentaries, and who will always compose a great proportion of readers; while other words, being now used in a sense different from that which they had when the translation was made, present a wrong signification or false ideas. Whenever words are understood in a sense different from that which they had when introduced, and different from that of the original languages, they do not present to the reader the ‘Word of God’. This circumstance is very important, even in things not the most essential; and in essential points, mistakes may be very injurious.

    In my own view of this subject, a version of the scriptures for popular use, should consist of words expressing the sense which is most common, in popular usage, so that the ‘first ideas’ suggested to the reader should be the true meaning of such words, according to the original languages. That many words in the present version, fail to do this, is certain. My principal aim is to remedy this evil.

    The inaccuracies in grammar, such as ‘which’ for ‘who’,’ his’ for ‘its’,’ shall’ for ‘will’,’ should’ for ‘would’, and others, are very numerous in the present version.

    There are also some quaint and vulgar phrases which are not relished by those who love a pure style, and which are not in accordance with the general tenor of the language. To these may be added many words and phrases, very offensive to delicacy and even to decency. In the opinion of all persons with whom I have conversed on this subject, such words and phrases ought not to be retained in the version. Language which cannot be uttered in company without a violation of decorum, or the rules of good breeding, exposes the scriptures to the scoffs of unbelievers, impairs their authority, and multiplies or confirms the enemies of our holy religion.

    These considerations, with the approbation of respectable men, the friends of religion and good judges of this subject, have induced me to undertake the task of revising the language of the common version of the scriptures, and of presenting to the public an edition with such amendments, as will better express the true sense of the original languages, and remove objections to particular parts of the phraseology.

    In performing this task, I have been careful to avoid unnecessary innovations, and to retain the general character of the style. The principal alterations are comprised in three classes.

    1. The substitution of words and phrases now in good use, for such as are wholly obsolete, or deemed below the dignity and solemnity of the subject.
    2. The correction of errors in grammar. 3. The insertion of euphemisms, words and phrases which are not very offensive to delicacy, in the place of such as cannot, propriety, be uttered before a promiscuous audience.

    A few errors in the translation, which are admitted on all hands to be obvious, have been corrected; and some obscure passages, illustrated. In making these amendments, I have consulted the original languages, and also several translations and commentaries. In the body of the work, my aim has been to ‘preserve’, but, in certain passages, more clearly to ‘express’, the sense of the present version.

    The language of the Bible has no inconsiderable influence in forming and preserving our national language. On this account, the language of the common version ought to be correct in grammatical construction, and in the use of appropriate words. This is the more important, as men who are accustomed to read the Bible with veneration, are apt to contract a predilection for its phraseology, and thus to become attached to phrases which are quaint or obsolete. This may be a real misfortune; for the use of words and phrases, when they have ceased to be a part of the living language, and appear odd or singular, impairs the purity of the language, and is apt to create a disrelish for it in those who have not, by long practice, contracted a like predilection. It may require some effort to subdue this predilection; but it may be done, and for the sake of the rising generation, it is desirable. The language of the scriptures ought to be pure, chaste, simple and perspicuous, free from any words or phrases which may excite observation by their singularity; and neither debased by vulgarisms, nor tricked out with the ornaments of affected elegance.

    As there are diversities of tastes among men, it is not to be expected that the alterations I have made in the language of the version will please all classes of readers. Some persons will think I have done too little; others, too much. And probably the result would be the same, were a revision to be executed by any other hand, or even by the joint labors of many hands. All I can say is, that I have executed this work in the manner which, in my judgment, appeared to be the best.

    To avoid giving offense to any denomination of Christians, I have not knowingly made any alteration in the passages of the present version, on which the different denominations rely for the support of their peculiar tenets.

    In this country there is no legislative power which claims to have the right to prescribe what version of the scriptures shall be used in the churches, or by the people. And as all human opinions are fallible, it is doubtless for the interest of religion that no authority should be exerted in this case, except by commendation.

    At the same time, it is very important that all denominations of Christians should use the same version, that in all public discourses, treatises and controversies, the passages cited as authorities should be uniform. Alterations in the popular version should not be frequent; but the changes incident to all living languages render it not merely expedient, but necessary at times to introduce such alterations as will express the true sense of the original languages, in the current language of the age. A version thus amended may require no alteration for two or three centuries to come.

    In this undertaking, I subject myself to the charge of arrogance; but I am not conscious of being actuated by any improper motive. I am aware of the sensitiveness of the religious public on this subject; and of the difficulties which attend the performance. But all men whom I have consulted, if they have thought much on the subject, seem to be agreed in the opinion, that it is high time to have a revision of the common version of the scriptures; although no person appears to know how or by whom such revision is to be executed. In my own view, such revision is not merely a matter of expedience, but of moral duty; and as I have been encouraged to undertake this work, by respectable literary and religious characters, I have ventured to attempt a revision upon my own responsibility. If the work should fail to be well received, the loss will be my own, and I hope no injury will be done. I have been painfully solicitous that no error should escape me. The reasons for the principal alterations introduced, will be found in the explanatory notes.

    The Bible is the chief moral cause of all that is ‘good’, and the best corrector of all that is ‘evil’, in human society; the ‘best’ book for regulating the temporal concerns of men, and the ‘only book’ that can serve as an infallible guide to future felicity. With this estimate of its value, I have attempted to render the English version more useful, by correcting a few obvious errors, and removing some obscurities, with objectionable words and phrases; and my earnest prayer is, that my labors may not be wholly unsuccessful.

    N. W.

    New Haven, September, 1833.
     
  2. Chris Temple

    Chris Temple
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    Hmmm ... no comments from KJV perfectionists? :cool:
     
  3. MarciontheModerateBaptist

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    Chris,

    I completely agree with you. You make very solid points. I have posted elsewhere that KJVers do not read the original 1611 edition. A KJV only position is untenable simply because language changes. That's not a bad thing - it's a necessary thing. Thank you for your in depth post.

    Daniel Payne
     
  4. Kellisa

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    There will always be those that think they can improve on the Word of God for whatever reason. I personally read the KJV 1611 and have never found anything I did not understand that could not easily be understood by referring to an English dictionary.
     
  5. MarciontheModerateBaptist

    MarciontheModerateBaptist
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    Kellissa,

    You do not read the KJV printed in 1611 unless you are really good at reading Latin characters mixed in with English characters..

    Daniel
     
  6. Kellisa

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    Then I read the Authorized King James Version and am very happy with it and have never had a problem understanding.
     
  7. MarciontheModerateBaptist

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    It's not the original 1611 edition though - so you really do not read the original King James Version.

    Daniel
     
  8. Siegfried

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    Kellisa,

    I believe your last post is a valid position, and I hope no one would criticize you for your preference.

    Personally, I prefer other versions, but I have a firm conviction not to compromise biblical truth.

    Chris Temple,

    Webster's statement reminds me of the translators' preface to the 1611 KJV, in respect to their expressed intention merely to improve on the work of those who had gone before, while accepting the possibility that someone would have reason to do the same to them.
     
  9. Chris Temple

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Siegfried:
    Chris Temple,

    Webster's statement reminds me of the translators' preface to the 1611 KJV, in respect to their expressed intention merely to improve on the work of those who had gone before, while accepting the possibility that someone would have reason to do the same to them.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Yes, agreed. And that is why we have the ASV, NASB, NKJV, ESV ...

    [ January 17, 2002: Message edited by: Chris Temple ]
     
  10. Kellisa

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    I read the Authorized King James Bible, sorry for any confusion. I believe that it is the complete Word of God. I need no other translation.
     
  11. MarciontheModerateBaptist

    MarciontheModerateBaptist
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    I have nothing against Kellisa's preference. Her statement that she reads the KJV (and I think she assumes it is the original) is misguided, though.

    Daniel
     
  12. Kellisa

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    FYI, I have used other translations when I was younger and attended a chruch that accepted all translations. From what I have gathered over the years, that church has many unstable Christians. Not saying they don't have any desires or do not desire to be godly people, they are just simply misled by all the worldliness in the church. Many of them are not grounded in the truth, as I was not when I attended. I wasn't even saved. It just seems to me by what I have seen, (no offence to the guy who said he uses other translations but does not compromise) that nothing is ever for sure. I can't accept something as the truth from God when I see that important scriptures have been left out completely. Not changed or altered but left out. How can that be truth?
     
  13. MarciontheModerateBaptist

    MarciontheModerateBaptist
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    Do you have any idea why they were left out?

    Daniel
     
  14. Kellisa

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    I am assuming because some man did not deem them necessary or it ran contrary to what they thought was needed.
     
  15. MarciontheModerateBaptist

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    No. Because the newer translations utilize older manuscripts which are more reliable. This is not a bad thing at all. Please understand - I am not saying the KJV is not trustworthy. It is simply based on manuscripts that were available in 1611. We have more manuscripts today.

    Daniel
     
  16. Kellisa

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    But if many of the modern translations change things, wouldn't those that accept these new translations be saying that our forefathers did not have the inspired Word of God.
     
  17. MarciontheModerateBaptist

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>But if many of the modern translations change things, wouldn't those that accept these new translations be saying that our forefathers did not have the inspired Word of God.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I understand your hesitancy, and I think where we may part on this issue is our definitions of inspiration and innerancy. The inspired Word of God has to do, in my opinion, with God relaying his eternal truth to us individually. His truth has been relayed through the experiences of Christians with his written word throughout the centuries. In academic circles, this is called neo-orthodoxy, and it is not very well looked upon in this forum. But I think in taking into account the new findings of older manuscripts, a neo-orthodox view of revelation is the one that holds up the best. Revelation ultimately does not rest on our translation, but on God's Spirit revealing himself to us presently.

    Daniel Payne
     
  18. TomVols

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    Kelissa brings up an interesting point about newer versions being different from the KJV. But the KJV was markedly different from previous versions also. So can't the same charge be made against the KJV that people now make against the MVs?
     
  19. DocCas

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by paynedaniel:
    I have nothing against Kellisa's preference. Her statement that she reads the KJV (and I think she assumes it is the original) is misguided, though.

    Daniel
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>Daniel, you keep making these false charges without bothering to get the facts. You have been corrected twice now and you continue to make the same false charge, even when you know it to be faise. Please stop or I will begin deleting your posts. See http://www.baptistboard.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=4&t=000113&p=6 third post down.

    As to your charge that the 1611 edition was printed in "Latin" type, you could not be more wrong. The 1611 edition was printed in Germanic script, also called "black type" and, with just a very little practice, it is quite easy to read. A much harder bible to read is the Wycliff, which was hand illuminated, using Germanic script, and is much more difficult, but still, any person with moderate intelligence and reading skills can read it with just a very little practice.

    So, once again, and for the last time, let's lay this straw man to rest.

    [ January 17, 2002: Message edited by: Thomas Cassidy ]
     
  20. DocCas

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by paynedaniel:
    No. Because the newer translations utilize older manuscripts which are more reliable. This is not a bad thing at all. Please understand - I am not saying the KJV is not trustworthy. It is simply based on manuscripts that were available in 1611. We have more manuscripts today.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>The above is a mis-representation of the facts. The MSS used by Erasmus to compile his Greek NT reflect the readings of the vast majority of the extant Greek MSS. Some of these readings can be shown to be vastly older than the so-called "oldest and best" MSS of the Alexandrian textform. Erasmus also had at his disposal MSS which followed the Alexandrian textform, and rejected their readings as unreliable. Frederic Kenyon, writing in his book "Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts" says, on page 133, "A correspondent of Erasmus in 1533 sent that scholar a number of selected readings from it [Vaticanus], as proof of its superiority to the received Greek text." Erasmus compared the "superior" reading of Vaticanus to the readings of the Byzantine textform and reject the Vaticanus readings as unreliable. His edition of 1535 did not contain these readings.
     

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