Why the King James Bible?

Why do Fundamentalist Christians prefer the King James Bible? Why don’t they use the New International Version?

Becasue if it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for them. :slight_smile:

j/k…seriously, I think the reason is that the language in KJV, while archaic, rings with more authority than the NIV. Plus, there’s the whole issue of being raised with one text, and then being given a ‘new and improved’ scripture doesn’t sit well with traditionalists.

Remember, if it has lasted for more than a century (some would say 50 years), ‘that’s the way it’s always been’ in the minds of many.

I meant to say the NIV or the New Revised Standard Version. I know some people have problems with the way the NIV was translated.

I think its because most people were brought up with a certain bible. I’m just troubled that there are so many different versions of the word of God.

In fairness, we should probably ask the people, themselves. On the web site of the notorious (at least to the SDMB) Jack Chick, there is an entire page dedicated to a defense of the KJV.
Bible Versions

I will note that the answers are not provided by Chick, but by a couple of other people.
I find that the claims range from interpretive points on which we simply disagree through distortions of historical events to outright silly (and occasionally dishonest) claims. However, this page presents their side rather than our versions of their side.

Here is a short version of the decision from the Good Samaritan Bible Church. I find its historical claims seriously flawed, (but they would view my perspective as equally erroneous).

Now, beyond the details of their criticism, it should be noted that the very foundation of Fundamentalism is the rejection of the efforts that eventually led to the RSV, the NIV, the Jeruslaem Bible and the other various translations.

In the late nineteenth century, a number of archeological discoveries coincided with breakthroughs in techniques in linguistic analysis and other literary critiques which inspired a number of scholars (professional and amateur) to begin speculating that with enough effort, we could discover the “real” historical Jesus. In this milieu, a number of people published widely read works that questioned the divinity of Jesus and the historical record of the Gospels. This caused a reaction among a number of other people who felt that such examinations and speculation were subversive and anti-spiritual. (To be fair, many were, although many other scholars continued to see the Gospels as divinely inspired, but not necessarily divinely written.)

The reaction eventually led to the statement of The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth beginning in 1910. Among their absolute stands was the accuracy of the KJV with a correspondent attack on any attempts to change it or re-translate the Bible under the guidance of the people who were now in “error” regarding Scripture.

there is a difference in the Greek texts- the KJV NT is translated from the Greek Textus Receptus of the Byzantine tradition which is SLIGHTLY more Trinitarian & referring to Jesus as God than those texts of the Alexandrian tradition which serve as the basis for many of the modern translations. I do prefer the Textus Receptus but I don’t think the Alexandrian texts & their translations are anything sinister or heretical.

The KJV has been, while revised over the centuries, an enduring classic of English literature for almost 400 years. That does count for something. S (I prefer the New KJV & also the Catholic New Jerusalem Bible.)

It depends. On the one hand, you have people who prefer it because they grew up with it and they’re comfortable with it. Nothing wrong with that, of course. For example, at my church the pews have the KJV. However, we often use the NIV version to read or study from, and the version I read from now is the NRSV, which I like a bit better for purely subjective reasons.

But on the other hand, you have the Authorized Version 1611-type people who (erroneously, IMHO) believe that the Bible was meant to be read in the KJV. The FAQ on that website has a bit more information about their beliefs.

The KJVonly crowd claim that there are omissions and changes in the modern English translations, and they “prove” their point by doing side by side comparisons of verses or phrases taken out of context. It is clear, however, that the original sense and meaning in the modern translations is the same.

The Textus Receptus was compiled from what were probably the best Greek manuscripts that were available at the time. However, older manuscripts have been discovered in more recent times, and most of the modern translations are taken from those older manuscripts, which presumably would be closer to what the authors originally wrote.

Over time, errors would creep into the text- something one translator inserted as an explanatory note was erroneously copied into the text of the scripture by a scribe copying the text. Or someone would be copying a text that contained a quotation from awell-known OT scripture, and unconsciously include the entire passage, things of this nature.

The KJVonlies are operating under the assumption that the Textus Receptus was divinely inspired, and that the KJV is a divinely inspired translation. They claim that differences in wording and phraseology of a particular verse constitute doctrinal errors.

I’m actually kinda fond of the KJV. It’s great poetry. But it is far from the most reliable translation of the Holy Scriptures. It was probably the best available for the first coupla hundred years after it was put together, but the discovery of older and better Greek and Hebrew manuscripts have made for more reliable translations.

FWIW, most “evangelical” Christians I’ve known–in England, no less–didn’t accept the KJV as the “only” acceptable Bible translation. Some didn’t accept it as a valid Biblical translation at all. There seemed both in the US and the UK among those types to accept the NIV as, well, gospel.

Thea Logica, it’s interesting that some “KJVonlies” are claiming that the KJV is a divinely inspired translation, as, to some extent, the seventeenth-century translators were trying to step away from that. Early English Protestants were very skeptical of RCC claims that the Vulgate was divinely inspired, and early translators such as Tyndale and Coverdale took pains to stress that their works were based on the best scholarship, rather than divine inspiration. The translators of the Authorized Version continued this line of thinking.

Hmm… Mark preaches out of the New American Standard, NIV is in our pews… but KJV is quite welcome. Those who use KJV around here, do so because of familiarity.

It’s true I was raised with the KJV. I just don’t feel comfortable using the other ones. Most in my church use the NIV but there are a few of us who still use the KJV. An interesting site on the subject:


What it says makes sense to me, though many Christians might see it differently.

I read on Texe Marrs’ site that important words were taken out of the KJV, so it would be less Godly.
Texe iis exciteable though ,and not all that legit.

Myself, I like the New Revised Standard Version,which says things in different ways.

You are right that others will see it differently, but that is proabably because of all the clear errors in James L. Melton’s little polemic. For example:

Actually, we don’t have any evidence that any of the New Testament was translated directly from the Hebrew, because all the passages that quote from the Old Testament appear to actually quote the previously translated Septuagint. (And the Septuagint has several differences from the Hebrew, which leads to multiple whole separate lines of debate.)

He also resorts to the worst sort of casuistry in this section:

The reason that “ninety-five percent” of the Greek manuscripts look like the King James Version is that most of the Alexandrian-descended texts were lost when Islam replaced Christianity in North Africa and the Middle East. (This certainly does not automatically make the Alexandrine tradition superior, but the “ninety-five percent” claim is an accident of history, not a legitimate claim for superiority.) In addition, the claim of “alterations to meet the demands of Roman Catholic tradition” is simply a baldfaced lie. (To use Melton’s rhetoric: Does God need His Word defended by a liar?) Some of the differences between the Alexandrine and Antiochan versions may have been driven by theological concerns (although they are few and far between), but such “alterations” would have occurred before the “Catholic Church” arose as an entity.
Melton’s dismissal of the Apocrypha (while the case can be argued on other grounds) is simply not supported by his appeal to Luke 24:44, because the battle over the Apocrypha is explicitly over what “psalms and other writings” were accepted by the earliest Christians. (And excluding the Septuagint–the source of the Apocrypha–is partiicularly amusing considering his earlier claim about “translations” from the Hebrew.)

For the first time in my SDMB experience, I was lead to regret the lack of a :gobsmacked: smiley…

Grim - speechless

Subtle differences in translation are a very big deal to some people. Religious wars have been fought (with a great many casualties) over the way individual words and phrases should be interpreted.

To this day, traditionalist Catholics get in a twist over whether or not Jesus had siblings. A lot of Christians try to tone down the blatantly anti-materialistic message of the “camel through the eye of the needle” sermon with creative interpretations. It all comes down to the translation, which must come to grips with metaphors, symbols, and cultural references completely foreign to readers of the target language.

In all fairness to King James and his scholars, he ordered the translation in order to have an authorized, accurate translation for public usethat was not slanted polemically, to replace the assortment of questionable translations available at the time. The Tyndale, for example, was heavily influenced by the Lollard movement; the Douai, by Roman Catholic theology. The two most objective translations, which influenced the wording used by the translators, were the Coverdale and Bishops’ Bibles.

And his translators used what was considered the best, most authoritative source at the time – the Textus Receptus. Modern scholars are inclined to give more weight to older texts, not known to Western scholars at the time, particularly the uncial codices. Anyone who have ever read Gould’s defense of Ussher’s chronological scholarship will not need to be cautioned aginst looking down on people of the past for working from the best they had.

Tyndale was no Lollard, he was a Lutheran, and indeed David Daniell, the leading scholar on Tyndale, has referred to Tyndale’s expository material on the Bible as “reconstructed Luther.” Furthermore, while the “Lollard Bible” (probably better known as the “Wycliffite Bible”) was a crude translation of the Vulgate, Tyndale translated from Greek and Hebrew texts, totally ignoring the Wycliffite text. Daniell believes that, if there is a Bible text which Tyndale follows, it is Erasmus’ Greek New Testament. As for Coverdale’s Bible, most modern scholars believe that it is really close to that of Tyndale, with a few minor changes largely influenced by German Bibles and Erasmus’ Novum Instrumentum.

The biggest English influence on the KJV was neither the Coverdale nor Bishops’ Bible (the Bishops’ Bible had fallen into some disfavor by the 17th century as “too Calvinistic”) but the first “authorized” Bible, the Great Bible of 1535. It was the words of the Great Bible which populated both the Prayer Books of 1549 and 1552, and which influenced the Elizabethan psalmists such as Sternhold and Hopkins. While the translators of the King James Version necessarily focussed upon the best Greek and Hebrew scholarship of the day for content, there were some fairly deliberate borrowings of phrase from the Great Bible.

What does gobsmacked mean?

I prefer the New King James myself. It retains the phrasing of the days of yore while giving the text a grammatical facelift to make it easier for today’s generation to digest.

Duke is, of course correct. I worked from memory, and said “Tyndale” when I meant “Wyclif(fe)” :smack: and misremembered the Great Bible as the Bishops’ Bible, a completely distinct work. (Anyone who can access a 1662 British or 1928 or earler American Book of Common Prayer can read the Book of Psalms in “Coverdale” [actually Great Bible] translation. Ten of them (23, 27, 42, 46, 90, part of 196, 116, 121, 130, and part of 139) are in the Traditional Language Burial Service.)

Thanks for the correction!