Why the KJV?

I had a conversation with a Rabbi a while back on the source text for the NSV. He advised me not to use the KJV. I actually agreed with him, it would be better and easier not to use the KJV as a source. However, I wanted to retain the feeling of the KJV as much as possible, for familiarity with Christians. I also wanted to prove a point.


Most modern English Bible translations are based on bogus versions of the Scriptures.Unfortunately, no English translation of the Bible has been made using the Byzantine text-type manuscripts of the New Testament since the King James Version (KJV) in 1611. The others are all based on the eclectic Greek New Testament manuscripts and various Hebrew Old Testament texts. The bottom line is that manuscripts which the Orthodox Church did not use or copy have been elevated above those texts which the Church has preserved by modern and contemporary Scripture scholars and translators. Sadly, but perhaps significantly indicative, is the fact that the scholars who put together those eclectic critical texts decisively reject the Byzantine (that is to say, Orthodox) text-type, claiming that the Byzantine text was corrupted by Orthodox copyists eager to conform the text of Scripture to Orthodox theology as it developed over the first several centuries of the Church’s life. — from “Which English Translation of the Bible Should I Use?” by Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver

So the point is that there is a reason why the KJV is so popular among Christians — it represents one of the weakest takes on the Hebrew Scriptures (since their Hebrew Scriptures are Church-maintained versions such as the Septuagint, and do not represent what has been passed down in the Jewish community), and, their Greek is a Church-maintained version of the scriptures. These are specific claims of value — and value indeed, because now we have a document which represents the views of the church in a way that is perhaps more authentic than any other translation, in spite of the historical accuracy or textual authenticity of the scrolls that were used to translate the KJV.

That is not to say the KJV is an entirely inaccurate translation — though in many places it is clearly inaccurate, and this may be shown by returning to the original Hebrew — for the most part the New Testament is the target for the Church, and the so-called “Old Testament” is mainly left alone. To the point, in many bibles, even protestant-endorsed translations, you will find that the text of the Old Testament is markedly different than what is quoted in the New Testament.

In any case, I think the KJV represents a significant challenge, and the least of it is to provide a progress marker. When you start running into a lot of archaic language, that’s when you know the section hasn’t been reviewed yet.

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