Evaluating the King James Version (KJV)

History:

The King James Version

Public Domain in the US- Crown Publishing in the UK

Published by Zondervan Publishing

First translated in 1611  – Final revisions came in 1769.

Key #1: Concept Behind the Translation

The first concern of the translators has been the accuracy of the translation and its fidelity to the thought of the biblical writers. They have weighed the significance of the lexical and grammatical details of the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. At the same time, they have striven for more than a word-for-word translation. Because thought patterns and syntax differ from language to language, faithful communication of the meaning of the writers of the Bible demands frequent modifications in sentence structure and constant regard for the contextual meanings of wordsBut among all our joys, there was no one that more filled our hearts, than the blessed continuance of the preaching of God’s sacred Word among us; which is that inestimable treasure, which excelleth all the riches of the earth; because the fruit thereof extendeth itself, not only to the time spent in this transitory world, but directeth and disposeth men unto that eternal happiness which is above in heaven. – Preface to the KJV

Plain English:   The translators started from scratch and translated this document from the original languages.  In 1604, King James of England commissioned a translaiton to be made from the original languages and brought into English.  These translators undertook the responsiblity and in 1611 published this Authorized Version.  The name continued to be the Authorized Version for several years until finally coming to be known as the King James Version.

Key #2: Readability

The KJV is written on a 12th grade reading level.   Vocabulary will be written at this level.  The language is Old English which requires the reader to try to be able to understand the syntax.

Key #3: Understandability

Revisions were made to update the language as time has progressed.  The latest of these revisions came in 1769.  These updates have always been language updates to help the reader.  The processing of ye and thou as words in the translations require a person’s ability to understand to be very high.

Key #4: Reliability

This translation exists as one of the oldest.  The copyright belongs to the English Crown.  As such, this translation has been protected by the crown.  King James commissioned this version and gave the translators instructions that would help the Bible conform to the Church of England.  He squashed any marginal notes.  He found some of the marginal notes in the Geneva Bible offensive.  For instance, the notes praising the civil disobedience by the Hebrew midwives was offensive to King James.

Key #5: Relateability

The nature of the age of the English keeps this translations at arms length for some readers.  However, for some, this translation was the first they read.  The poetic nature of the language allows for easy scripture memorization.

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for this post. Just one thing came to mind. I think the KJV falls under Early Modern English, rather than Old English which predates 1066.

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