The 400th anniversary year of the King James Version is now over, but it is still interesting to ponder what the world would be like without the profound influence of that translation of the Bible not only on Christian worship and practice, but on the language, metaphors, and poetry of the English Language. As one believer is said to have stated, “if the King James Version was good enough for the Apostle Paul, it’s good enough for me!”
Over at Christian Century, Mark Noll, Professor of History at Notre Dame University, suggests what the impact might have been if the King James Bible had never existed. Some of the costs he imagines are “awkwardness” in corporate worship and problems with Bible memorization. On the other hand, the promises might well have included less of an inclination in Protestant Christianity to believe that the Bible offers a singular message. Furthermore, the KJV provided a perspective on slavery and servanthood that allowed supporters of slavery in the Americas to argue that slavery had divine sanction. Continue reading
Its overall importance stands somewhere with the occasional “Know Your Cuts of Meat” quiz on David Letterman’s late night show, but the Tennessean offers a chance to “Test your knowledge of versions of the Bible.”
Unless you have an encyclopedic recall of every verse of every version, you may well have some trouble with some of the questions, though the King James Version is pretty easy to spot.
The value, as I see it, is to encourage readers to pay attention to the fact that all our English language versions are translations, and not only is there disagreement about how to translate the original Greek and Hebrew, there are differences of opinion about how English itself has evolved as a language over time. How can we best render the Hebrew and Greek of two or three millennia ago to the English of four hundred years ago or of today?
(In case you’re wondering, I managed 6 correct answers out of 10.)
A news item notes that more than 30,000 people in the United Kingdom celebrated the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible by hand-copying the text of the New Revised Standard Version. The collection was presented to the Annual Methodist Conference in England this week.
They had no lack of participants-
One scriptorium, located outside London’s Westminster Central Hall, attracted so many people that participants were limited to writing one word per verse of the New Revised Standard Version, the Bible chosen for the initiative. Contributions were made in several languages, including English, Chinese, and Welsh, as well as in Braille.
One church leader noted that it was a way of deepening the encounter with the text and people had to slow down to writing speed.
You can read the full article here.
What difference do you imagine it would make in how you read the Bible if you were to copy portions out in your own hand?
Using anything but the King James Version,” said Chris Huff, the church’s pastor, “is like shaving with a banana.”
You may know by now that this year marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. For many (not including the writers and editors of BibleWorkbench), the KJV is the only valid translation of the Bible.
The rather vivid quote above comes from an article in the Chicago Tribune, which also quotes a parishioner of Pastor Chris Huff’s church as saying: “When I’m looking for a church, the King James Bible is non-negotiable.”
Now, I’ll confess that I ran across this report by way of another website I read regularly- Get Religion, which offers careful critique of the ways that religion is represented in the media. Contributor Sarah Pulliam Bailey is not pleased with many of the unsubstantiated statements made by the writer.
What do you think of the King James Version? Is there a version that you consider essential in your own faith journey? What is it that appeals to you about it?