Tuesday, February 02, 2010

2011: Four hundred years of the KJV

Next year is the four hundredth anniversary of the KJV. The 2011 Trust is up and running and organising some celebrations and debates. There is also something planned in Cambridge (more on that later). Perhaps we should have some special ETC posts to prepare. Any volunteers?


  1. Interestingly enough, the Romanian Evangelical blogosphere has recently been swept by a big debate on a new Romanian version of the Bible (called "Fidela", that is "Faithful") made under the supervision of an American missionary which is a KJV-only supporter. To my great dismay, the new version is a wooden translation of the KJV into Romanian. It sounds awful, despite the 8 years of work that went into making it (according to the preface).
    So KJV is alive and kicking, with offspring in very unlikely places (i.e. Romania).

  2. The more I read the KJV the more I think it's a great translation. I particularly like my Hendrickson reprint of the first edition of 1611 (with typos and funky spelling). Though I think that the translation reached its finest in the 1760s, there are some texts in which the original 1611 is better.

    It's therefore certainly something to celebrate. Obviously the textual basis now needs some improvement, but given the passing of 400 years and all the discoveries since then the KJV is still doing reasonably well.

    I would propose that we have a competition with various sections:

    -quaintest phrase in the KJV
    -most elegant phrase in the KJV
    -biggest textual blunder
    -most amazing anticipation of modern learning
    -finest example of seventeenth century philology
    -most misleading translation
    -most misunderstood phrase
    -phraseology that most deserves to be reintroduced into modern translations

    We'd obviously need nominations and then votes. However, I'm not volunteering to administer this!

    A brief word on handling KJV-O supporters: I don't see it as particularly fruitful to attack the KJV. After all, the KJV is a translation that is way above average (for its time, etc.). The chief problem is the wrong analysis of church history amongst KJV-Os. Problems in TC just flow from that.

  3. For best-known malapropism, I offer "strain at a gnat." Unlike so many of the well-known phrases in the KJV, this was not carried forward from any previous translation, nor was it even a printer's error, but was a unique creation of the KJV committee themselves.

    And in true Talmudic fashion, the phrase has been ardently defended and expounded upon by a generation of KJV scholars.

  4. Andrew Wilson2/03/2010 1:33 am

    I think my favourite quaint phrase in the KJV is found in Nehemiah 13:26:

    'Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin.

  5. Over in the TC-Alternate group's files, I have made available the KJV's Preface, "The Translators to the Reader," rephrased into Merkin, that is, American English.

    I also wrote a reply to Dr. Daniel Wallace's online essay about the KJV -- not to defend the mistakes in the KJV, but to correct some false claims that promoters of some other translations rather frequently use against the KJV. The KJV is not the worst translation out there, and a person who is serious about Bible-study will probably find it easier to unearth the message of the New Testament writers in the KJV than in some pre-interpreted modern paraphrases (such as The Message, which is a nifty book, but is simply not a Bible).

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  6. A couple of my favorites...

    "candle" (KJV) for lychnos (Mt 5:15, etc). When Goodspeed made his "American Translation," the NY Times critized him for rendering this as "lamp"... as if Goodspeed erroneously thought they had electricity in Jesus' day. England used candles (not oil lamps) when Tyndale translated it "candle" and it ended up in the KJV.

    Also 2 Thess 2:7, "let" (KJV) for katechō. As Metzger pointed out, "let" was a Janus word that could mean "restrain/forbid" (as still is true in tennis) or "allow/permit" (normal usage today). If readers are unaware of this change in meaning in English of "let" they come to the opposite conclusion of what 2 Thess 2:7 is saying.

  7. I'd have to give the "most quaint phrase" some thought; off the top of my head I think the prize goes to Jeremiah 24:2's "very naughty figs."

    But is that as bad as the microscopes and telescopes in "The Message" paraphase?

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  8. Wow, the naughty figs are in Geneva, Bishops, Coverdale and Tyndale too.