Some Thoughts on the “archaic” Language of the King James Bible.
“Should we dump the King James Bible because of archaic language?”
Short video (2 1/2 minutes) by Jack McElroy and David Daniels
Hi all. What I find to be interesting and I think is a very significant "coincidence" is that the KJB critics, the Bible agnostics and the unbelievers in an inerrant Bible often complain about the "archaic" language of the King James Bible and they tell us "We don't talk that way today. We need a bible in modern English we can all understand."
IF a Christian REALLY believes the Bible is the infallible words of God, then the "old fashioned language" is not an issue at all. Sure, the King James Bible has some words that are older or have different meanings than we may be familiar with.
But people are learning new vocabulary or new meanings to English words all the time in any field of study, be it sports, biology, the sciences, mathematics, medicine or just about anything imaginable. If you are interested in something, you learn the meaning of the words that are found in this field of interest. Even when you start using the computer we have to learn some new words or different meanings to words we already knew - Words like "mouse", IPad, "Kindle", Office, Word, "paste".
When we ask the King James Bible critics and those who complain about "that old fashioned, archaic language" to show us what they think IS the inerrant words of God, they usually end up referring us back to "the" Greek and "the" Hebrew (although they don't tell us WHICH "the" Greek and "the" Hebrew they refer to.)
Well, both "the" Greek and "the" Hebrew that were used to translate the Bible into other languages are themselves "archaic" forms of the language.
The people who speak modern Hebrew and modern Greek do NOT speak the way biblical Greek and Hebrew are written.
The spelling is different. The vocabulary is different. The way they are spoken is different. But they CAN understand the biblical Greek and Hebrew - the Greek with a bit more practice and training. Modern Greek is really quite a bit different than biblical Greek.
But think about this. It is the same with the English text of the King James Bible.
It is slightly "archaic" with all those "thee, thou, thy, and ye"s in there, but this is actually far more accurate than the generic "you" of today's modern English.
See "Why all those "thee"s and "ye"s are more accurate."
Yet English speaking people can understand the language of the King James Bible and know what it says.
The Hebrew speaking Jews and the Greek speaking Greeks of today can understand the older and more archaic forms of their own languages, and no Bible believing Hebrew or Bible believing Greek would even THINK of "updating" or abandoning their Hebrew O.T. or their Greek N.T.
Do you see the pattern here? God sees the end from the beginning and he knew that his true words would be preserved in a slightly "archaic" form in the last days.
This is actually a good thing. When we read the King James Bible, it is written like no other book. We know just from the sound of it, that it has been around for a long time. It contains timeless truths. Eternal truths.
And the fact that it does not read like today's newspaper is a good thing. It has the sound of authority and you have to stop and think about what it is saying. The words begin to sink down into your mind and heart.
Linguistic scholar A.T. Robertson made the following important observation about the King James Bible: "No one today speaks the English of the Authorized Version, or ever did for that matter, for though, like Shakespeare, it is the pure Anglo-Saxon, yet unlike Shakespeare IT REPRODUCES TO A REMARKABLE EXTENT THE SPIRIT AND LANGUAGE OF THE BIBLE" (A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, p. 56).
The KJB is far easier to memorize and quote from than the modern speech versions are, precisely because it IS different and it has a musical cadence to it. The King James Bible was written to be read out loud. They did it this way on purpose.
And when the preacher or Bible teacher stops quoting God's words and begins to give us his own words and thoughts, we can immediately tell the difference between the two, just because of the way it is sounds and it spoken.
I believe these are GOOD things and God's own deliberate pattern.
Think about it.
"He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." Luke 8:8
For more on this, See Archaic and Inerrant" beats "Modernized and Wrong" Any Day of the Week.
What about that archaic word WOT and WOTTETH?
The old English word “WOT” is found 10 times in the King James Bible. Six times in the Old Testament (Genesis 21:26; 44:15; Exodus 32:1, 23; Numbers 22:6; Joshua 2;5) and 4 times in the New Testament (Acts 3:17; 7:40; Romans 11:2, Philippians 1:22).
“And Abimelech said, I WOT not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day.” Genesis 21:26
“And now, brethren, I WOT that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.” Acts 3:17
The verb “wotteth” is found one time and is used in Genesis 39:8 - “Behold, my master WOTTETH not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand.”
It simply means TO KNOW. It comes from the English verb “TO WIT”, which in turn means “to know”.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary - wot - present tense first and third person of WIT.
Oxford Dictionary - wot - archaic to know.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary - WOT, verb intransitive To know; to be aware.
Not only does the King James Bible use this older word WOT meaning “to know” but so too do the following Bible translations. I won’t list all the times they use it; just an example or two.
Wycliffe bible 1390 - “for we WOT not, what hath befallen to this Moses” (Exodus 32;23), Coverdale 1535 - “Abner sayde: As truly as thy soule lyueth O kynge, I WOTE not.” (1 Samuel 17:55), The Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549, the Bishops’ Bible 1568 - “where is Habel thy brother? Which sayde I wote not: Am I my brothers keper?” (Genesis 4:9), the Geneva Bible 1599 - “But he denied before them all, saying, I WOT not what thou sayest.” (Matthew 26:70) and others, The Revised Version 1885 - “And now, brethren, I WOT that in ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers”, The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907, The Clarke N.T. 1913 - “WOT ye not what the scripture saith of Elijah?
What About the archaic word "carriages" as used in Acts 21:15 and 1 Samuel 17:22?
Acts 21:15 “we took up our CARRIAGES”
“And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.” Acts 21:15
What are “carriages”?
Daniel Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
5. That which is carried; burden; as baggage, vessels, furniture, etc.
“And David left his CARRIAGE in the hands of the keeper of the CARRIAGE.” 1 Samuel 17:22.
Webster’s Dictionary 1913
Carriage - Noun. 1. That which is carried; burden; baggage.
“David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage.” 1 Samuel 17:22
“After those days we took up our carriages and went up to Jerusalem.” Acts 21:15
Easton Bible Dictionary - carriage
The phrase in Acts 21:15 “We took up our carriages” it means “We packed up our baggage.”
It is admittedly an archaic usage of the word that means “baggage, or burdens to be carried”.
It is not a wrong translation. You just have to learn the older meaning of this word and then you understand it.
And you don't "need to carry a dictionary around with you when you use the King James Bible" either, as some bible agnostics mock. Just as you don't need to carry around a dictionary when you talk about art, or cooking, or mechanics or physics, or carpentry. If you are not familiar with a certain word, you look it up once, learn the meaning of the term and go forward.
Not only does the King James Bible use the word “carriage” to mean “that which is carried, a burden to be borne, goods, or baggage” but so to do Wesley’s New Testament 1755, The Bill Bible 1671, and The Bond Slave Version 2012.
The “archaic” English word “to ear” meaning “to plow, or cultivate”
Articles on some “archaic” words.
Thou and Ye
Why those "thee"s and "ye"s are more accurate.
1 Peter 3:1 "Likewise ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands: that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the CONVERSATION of the wives: While they behold your chaste CONVERSATION coupled with fear."
Philippians 3:20 "For our CONVERSATION is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ."
“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:14
“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now LETTETH will LET, until he be taken out of the way.” 2 Thessalonians 2:7
James 5:11 - "the Lord is very PITIFUL, and of tender mercy."
1 Thessalonians 4:15 KJB - “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not PREVENT them which are asleep.”
Example vs. Ensample - Is there a real difference?
See also "Neesings, Habergeon and Leasing"
What About The English Word BEWRAY, as in “…for thy speech BEWRAYETH thee.” Matthew 26:73?
What about that archaic word “listeth”?
Here is a handy online site that lists the meanings of the words found in the King James Bible that some people may not be familiar with.
King James Bible Wordlist & Definitions