Problems with Some Bible Translations, including the King James: A Blast from the Past

    In my Introduction to the New Testament undergraduate class this semester, I have told the students that they can use most any Bible translation they want, but I prefer the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), and I do *not* want them using either a paraphrase or the King James.  Some of them want to know why, and so I explain to them.  Here is a post on the topic from almost exactly five years ago.  (Note: I’m ...

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Does It Mean What It Says? More Problems with the King James

In my previous post I pointed out that the King James Version sometimes uses words and phrases that no longer make sense to most speakers/readers of the English language today.  That obviously makes it use complicated.  Why would you want to use a study Bible that doesn’t communicate in common English – or in this case, in English that no longer makes sense?   I can understand – and heartily support – those who want to read the King James for ...

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Problems with the Language of the King James Version

In my Introduction to the New Testament class this semester, I talked on the first day about which Bible translations I would allow students to use for the class.  The basic answer: most any modern translation would be fine (though I myself prefer the New Revised Standard Version), but I would not allow paraphrases (which are not actually translations from the original Hebrew and Greek, but are simplifications of previously existing English translations and as a result can be highly ...

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Leading up to the King James Translation

The King James Version (KJV) is right hailed as one of the great classics – arguably *the* great classic – of English literature.  But most people have no idea where it came from and how it came into existence.  And so I am going to take a side-path (OK, a tangent) in my thread to devote a few posts to the KJV, also known as the Authorized Version (AV).

To start with, contrary to what a lot of people think, the ...

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Where Did the King James Bible Come From?

What were the King James Bible translators actually translating?  You may not have known it from the previous two posts – but that is what I have been getting at, when talking about the first published edition of the Greek New Testament by Erasmus, and the subsequent editions.    The King James is deservedly considered of the greatest classics ever produced in the English language.  There can be no doubt about its enormous influence on English literature and the English language ...

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The First Greek New Testament

In this thread on Bible translation, I have been talking about what it is translators of the New Testament actually translate.  In order to answer the question, I have had to explain how we started to get printed editions of the Greek New Testament, including the first to come off the printing press, the Complutensian Polyglot (discussed in yesterday’s post).  Today I take the discussion a step further, to talk about the first published (not the first printed!) Greek New ...

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The Oldest Printed Versions of the Greek New Testament

I have started to explain what it is translators of the New Testament actually translate.  They do not translate just one manuscript or another; they translate what they take to be the “original” text as it has been reconstructed by textual specialists (some of whom are the translators themselves).  These reconstructions can be found in printed editions of the Greek New Testament.

To make sense of what the translators actually have in front of them when they are translating, I need ...

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What Kind of a Text is the King James Bible?

Introduction: On January 24, 2013, the traveling exhibition Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible opened at the William H. Hannon Library at Loyola Marymount University. The keynote talk for the opening: “What Kind of a Text is the King James Bible? Manuscripts, Translation, and the Legacy of the KJV” was presented by Dr. Bart Ehrman, James A. Grey Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at UNC Chapel Hill and New York Times bestselling author.

In this lecture ...

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Textual Problems with the King James: The Trinity

I’ve mentioned several problems with the King James Version in previous posts.  Arguably the most significant set of problems has to do with the text that the translators were translating.   Here I’ll stick with what I know the most about, the text of the New Testament.   The brief reality is that in the early 17th century, Greek editions of the New Testament were based on very few and highly inferior manuscripts.   Only after the King James was translated did scholars ...

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More King James Curiosities

A terrific and detailed discussion of some of the problems of the King James as a modern translation can be found in Jack Lewis’s helpful ,The English Bible: from KJV to NIV.    Among some of the more interesting points he makes are the following.

Words used in the KJV that we have no clue about today (well, most of us):  almug, algum, chode gat, habergeon, hosen, kab, lugure, neesed, ring-straked, wimples, ouches, cracknels…. He lists dozens more.

Phrases: ...

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