Notes on the King James Version

by Larry Nixon

The King James Version (hereafter "KJV") of the Bible is without a doubt the greatest piece of literature ever produced in the English language. We are most fortunate to have such a magnificent volume as part of our English-language culture.

The KJV is entirely reliable as a source of teaching about salvation, proper worship, the nature of the church, Christian living, and any other Bible doctrine on which our salvation depends.

However, as much as we may love the KJV and though it is entirely trustworthy to use as a basis of our salvation, there are some things we must keep in mind. The KJV is not the original Bible manuscript? it is but a version of the original, and a very good version.

The KJV dates from 1611 A.D., not from the times of the prophets and apostles. If we were to desire to know what was said in the original version of the Bible, we would have to study the ancient Hebrew, Chaldean, and Greek languages, because those are the languages in which the original manuscripts were written.

They were not written in English. Therefore, any English translation must of necessity be called a version because it is not the original.

The translators of the KJV were totally honest and did an excellent job of conveying to English-speaking peoples the meanings of the original languages. However, King James himself may not have been so honest.

As head of the Church of England (known as the "Episcopalian" church in America), the king desired to retain the religious phrases of his time in the translation. He called these terms "ecclesiasticisms."

Thus we have such renditions as "baptism" in place of immersion and "church" instead of called-out or assembly, which are the actual meanings of the original words. Over the years we have come to accept these terms.

On the part of some Christians today there seems to be almost a superstition concerning the KJV. They accept this version and no other, because it is the "Authorized Version." However, this designation is given because it was authorized by King James of England, not by God (as some people seem to think!).

There are other good versions, and let us fairly evaluate Bible versions on the basis of their accuracy and faithfulness to the original text, and not upon personal prejudice against anything "new." But for magnificence and beauty of expression in the English language, the KJV stands alone!

Original article appeared at Arkansas Churches of Christ

Copyright ©1998 by Larry G. Nixon
Copyright © 2003 Arkansas Churches of Christ

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