Learning Activity 25

The King James Version of the Bible

After completing Learning Activities #23 and #24, I am sure there are some of you who are wondering why this web site uses the KJV of the Bible when it seems to have so many translation difficulties. I have dedicated this Learning Activity aside to answer that question.

The origins of the KJV took place in England in 1604 when the king at that time empowered a group of men to generate a new translation of the Bible because “those which were allowed in the reigns of Henry the eighth, and Edward the sixth, were corrupt and not answerable to the truth of the Original.”

Fifty-four men were appointed to accomplish this work and forty-seven were known to have taken part in the actual translation. The basis for the translation work was the Received Text, also known as the Textus Receptus, which was assembled by Dessiderius Erasmus in 1516 using the Greek manuscripts that were available to him. The translation work was completed and published in 1611. The original work was revised in 1629, 1638, 1762 and 1769.

In the past two hundred years, there have been discoveries of older manuscripts that were not available to the 1604 translation group. The most notable of the recent documents are the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Codex Sinaiticus which have assisted scholars to get closer to the original text of the Bible (as we have no originals, rather copies of copies).

In addition, since the KJV, our knowledge of the Hebrew and Koine Greek languages has improved, therefore some recent scholarship has resulted in an improvement in some of the more modern Bible translations.

No translation is perfect and there is no one best translation, each having some advantages and at the same time drawbacks. At the present time there are over five hundred different English translations of the Bible!

The following rationale was used in determining that the KJV would be used in the materials on this web site.

A. The King James English is difficult to understand in some places.

B. The fruits of modern discoveries and scholarship are not included in the translation, but modern supplemental study aids may be used to bring the best of these findings into our study of the Scriptures.

C. Although all men bring some of their personal doctrine into their Bible translation work, the KJV, even though not completely free of such activity, tends to have a minimum of such outside interference (in our humble opinion).

D. There are large numbers of Christians, and even entire church groups, who refuse to use any Bible translation other than the KJV. It is our hope that a small percentage of these Christians will come to read and believe portions of what we say needs to be improved in the KJV and thereby have a more realistic approach to using their KJV in the matters of importance in their daily Christian walk.

After considering the above rationale, and after extensive reading and study in other modern translations, we chose to use the old KJV in our web site materials. Occasionally the old KJV translation is so bad for explaining a particular topic that I will use another translation that more accurately reflects the Greek wording. In those cases when I write that particular Learning Activity I will indicate which translation I am using at the beginning of the Learning Activity document.

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