Why is the KJV still selling in high numbers

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Robert J Hutton, Jul 24, 2002.

  1. Robert J Hutton

    Robert J Hutton
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    Warm Christian greetings!

    I was recently speaking to a lady who runs a Christian bookshop near my home town who stated that they still sell good numbers of KJV Bibles.

    I have often puzzled over this; if the KJV is so archaic, and is not relevent for modern man why is it still selling in high numbers? why has it not been relegated to the dust shelves in antique shops?

    I am not looking to aggravate anyone or stir up trouble, neither am I trying to score points (I use the KJV). I am genuinely seeking sensible answers to a pertinent question.

    Kind regards

    Robert J Hutton
     
  2. jmbertrand

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    It 'sells' because it is a superb translation and perhaps the greatest masterpiece of the English language. For many people, its language is 'biblical English,' and they would sooner die than part with it. One doesn't have to be a believer to feel this way, either. The Literary Guide to the Bible, edited by Frank Kermode, chose to use the KJV in acknowledgment of its literary splendor, and includes an article by Gerald Hammond that makes a more persuasive case than any KJVO has for retaining the Authorized Version.

    As hard as it might be for some to grasp, a person might believe that the Critical Text is superior to the TR, that modern translations are easier to understand than a seventeenth century one, and still prefer the King James Version. In fact, I know far more KJV readers who fall into this category than those who choose it for ideological reasons. Their loyalty derives from the value of the translation itself, not from the supposed pitfalls related to the alternatives.

    Mark
     
  3. Justified

    Justified
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    Robert,

    It could be because there seems to be Royalty associated with the name. As with the LORD Jesus, King of Kings, etc.

    It could be that even Catholic's, have heard about the KJV and/or KJB.

    It could be that with the year associated with it, that it lends itself toward a more reliable and trusted Bible.

    It could be that the Lord leads His people to the KJV and/or KJB.

    I find that this is really something, considering that I have found in my travels through out the US, and stopping at so called "Christain stores", that most of them will have a couple of King James Bibles, and a menagerie of NIV's, and a lot of the other MV's.
     
  4. GrannyGumbo

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    My daughter (Farmer's Wife) got me to "searching" out all the different KJBibles in my home this a.m. to read Joshua 19:2-6. Now in some, it says in v.2 Beersheba 'and' Sheba, in others it uses "or", which would agree better with v.6 "thirteen" cities. So we're thinking there must be someone messing with things!... 'but what I'm writing about is this: in one of my little papers I get, an owner of a Christian bookstore says there is a STRONG bias in the Christian book-selling industry AGAINST the King James Bible(his words). And then goes on to list a whole bunch of different King James study Bibles available, which I wasn't even aware of...My, my the things I learn! (But the Bible is STILL King James!;)
     
  5. Kiffin

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    I agree with Mark, the KJV is still the most majestic translation. It's translation of John 3:16 is still the best of any translation. The popularity of the KJV can even be seen in the sales of the NKJV which still retains the Classic KJV feel. Most people in my Church use the NKJV, the KJV would be second, then the NIV. I believe the NIV is the number one selling Bible but the KJV is still king since more homes probably have the KJV 1769 Than the others.
     
  6. Clay Knick

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    Mark,

    That was a very well-written response to the
    question.
     
  7. Clay Knick

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    I wasn't raised on the KJV, but read the Bible in
    the RSV as a child. After a revival in the
    youth group I became familiar with the KJV after
    listening to some preachers who used it. It did
    not seem too terribly different from the RSV.
    There is a reason for that of course, the RSV is
    a revision of the KJV! When I went to college and
    theological school the RSV was the text we used in
    every class. But I never forgot the KJV (neither
    did my professors) and I treasure the Cambridge
    KJV my parents gave me when I was seventeen. In
    fact I still use it.

    The KJV is a beautiful and evocative translation.
    For many people it still "the" Bible because of
    how it sounds. The KJV has had such great impact
    on the English language and the theological
    vocabulary of the church. People seem to trust
    it and I often see people comparing the modern
    versions they use with it.

    The KJV remains number two on the CBA Booksellers
    best-selling Bibles list every month. There are
    many people who want it. I just hope they use it
    and read it. The KJV translators never believed
    that they had come up with the final translation;
    just read their preface or any history of the
    KJV. Alister McGrath's book on the subject is
    great.

    I still use the KJV in my ministry. I refer to it each weekk when I study and often use it on
    special occasions like Christmas. It seems to
    fit well into funerals. A lot of the people in
    the church I serve still use it and many who don't use it know it and respect it.

    I know this is a long answer to why the KJV still
    sells. But Mark's answer hits the nail on the
    head: the KJV just sings.

    But there are other good options out there today
    like the ESV, NIV, NASB, NKJV, and RSV just to
    name a few.

    Clay
     
  8. TomVols

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    According to the numbers I've seen, the KJV is not the highest selling version anymore. Still, even if it was, that doesn't validate it anymore than a high number of sales of the NIV or some other version would necessarily be an indicator of its usefulness. It just means people are buying them :D
     
  9. Robert J Hutton

    Robert J Hutton
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    Warm Christian greetings!

    Response to TomVols:

    I'm not suggesting that the continual high sales of the KJV "validates" it, I'm simply asking why, if it is so "archaic" and "irrelevent", it is still selling. If people are buying it they must like it!

    I'm not surprised that the NIV is the best seller. When one considers how much money and effort is expended on advertising it it should be the best seller. However, I note that booksellers will often seek to "push down" the KJV and not promote it. This makes it's continual rate of sales all the more remarkable.

    Kind regards

    Robert J Hutton
     
  10. TomVols

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    I haven't seen that. In fact, Zondervan (the oft maligned marketer of many NIV Bibles) is pushing their KJV Study Bible right now. I think there will always be a market for the KJV among KJV onlies and TR onlies, but the reason the KJV is not further down than it is has to do with the glut of new translations I believe. And I didn't mean to intimate that you thought the sales of a version validated it, btw. [​IMG]
     
  11. Graceforever

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    Good job men….. I’m not ashamed to say that I believe that the KJV is the very inspired word of God…

     
  12. Jamal5000

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    Robert,

    From my experience, the KJV still sells high numbers because of its incalculable reputation.

    For example, within my church, members use the KJV because their parents used it, not because of any superior translational philosophy/methodology. Their parents used it because their grandparents used it. In other words, they use the KJV because of tradition. This tradition goes so deep that many people I know only recognize the KJV as the only "real" Bible. They do not completely trust the modern translations no matter how much validity you bring to their scholarship and translational integrity.

    People I know that use the KJV get uncomfortable reading God's Word using different words: it just "doesn't feel right" to them.

    I do believe, however, that the KJV's popularity will wane due not only to the availability of the NIV but also due to more fluently literate translations like the NASB and the ESV.

    In Christ,
    Jamal 5000 [​IMG]
     
  13. HankD

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    Dear Graceforever,

    While I would agree with you that the KJV IS the Word of God, it is so by the fact that it is a translation derived from the Preserved Text. The English text is not inspired by God.

    2 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

    God did not move the KJV translators to speak English Scripture into exisitance neither were they "holy men of old". Isaiah (for instance) spoke in Hebrew and not KJV1611 English.

    The Greek and Hebrew words which God has preserved for us are the inspired words of God.

    As usual, my opinion, of course.

    HankD

    [ July 26, 2002, 04:42 PM: Message edited by: HankD ]
     
  14. Helen

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    The newer translations are just that -- relatively new. Many of us were raised knowing only the King James, and thus the portions that were memorized were memorized in King James English. So even though I will often study from different Bibles, should someone ask me to recite the 23rd Psalm, for instance, out comes the King James version from my head!

    My husband, Barry, and I do Bible studies daily when we are together (we currently have a transPacific double continent marriage, but things are finally getting settled!) he uses both the King James and the New King James and I will use the NIV (gasp!). We have found that each of the versions has something going for it. Sometimes the King James will simply be more accurate for a word translation. Sometimes the NIV will express the original intent more clearly. It tends to go back and forth in terms of what the original writers might have intended, but usually on very minor issues! Still, it gets interesting.

    Since we're both 'old folks' now (he is 60 and I am 54), the King James is 'old home week' for us both, but we also both recognize that when we pull out the Concordances, the LXX, and various commentaries by those well-studied in Hebrew and Greek, that the dear King James is just as subject to the biases of that time as our versions are to the biases of our time. It's a difficult job, translating, and the differences make it very interesting to see if we can dig deep enough to find out what the original intent of the phrase under discussion might have been.

    Doesn't mean we're right -- it just means that we enjoy digging and discussing.

    But in the long run, the clear and distinct message of the Bible comes through in King James English, modern English, Japanese, French, Swahili, and every language and dialect it has been translated into. This is at least part of what has to be meant by the preservation of God's Word. Through His Word, despite the translation difficulties into various languages, God reaches out and touches the hearts of people and they respond to Him in repentance and faith.

    Now, THAT'S what preservation is all about, I think; not about these everlasting arguments on this forum!
     
  15. HankD

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    But Helen, Ive learned more from these dunnybrooks about certain subjects
    than my four years in Bible College.

    Besides - It's a guy thing!

    We lick our wounds and all is well (I know, that doesn't make it right).

    Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

    HankD

    [ July 26, 2002, 09:45 PM: Message edited by: HankD ]
     
  16. Chris Temple

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    I believe J. Mark answered the question pretty conclusively. :D
     
  17. Clay Knick

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    I don't think the KJV will ever go away.
    I sure hope not. It has hung around for
    almost 400 years and has endured after
    the explosion of English translations
    in the 20th Century. It still sells
    well among CBA Booksellers.

    Now I do wonder if people read it
    and if they do how well do they
    understand it? I've had quite a
    few people over the years tell me
    that they quit reading the Bible
    when they tried to read through
    the KJV, especially when they read
    the OT.

    I use the KJV when I study, just
    to see what it says. It is
    beautiful. I use it mostly in
    funerals, rarely from the pulpit,
    except perhaps at Christmas. I
    often read the Psalms in the KJV.

    I see the KJV staying around for
    a long time. It should be fun to
    see what the publishers do in
    2011 when the AV/KJV turns 400.

    Clay
     
  18. onevoice

    onevoice
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    It sells well because it is the only Bible that continues to revere the blood of Christ and doesn't polute the word of God. I worry a great deal for those who translated (and publish)many of the popular "Bible" translations today.

    Revelation 22:18 (KJV)
    18For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
    19And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
    20He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
     
  19. Japheth

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    Well said,onevoice.
     
  20. longshot

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    And I thank God for those translations. I fully back up your right to your opinion. If you believe the MV's come from inferior manuscripts, fine. If you believe they do not do justice to the English language, fine. If you even say the KJV was inspired in and of itself you have the right to that opinion. However sir, please do not refer to the "Bible" versions that I and my family prefer (ESV, NIV) as being polluted. Thanks.
     

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