A Christian who goes by the name Tambora posted this question over at Theology online, asking:
Will Kinney, Do you think the KJV could possibly be improved upon for English speaking folks?
Hi Tambora. This is a good question. I don't always follow along in the Grandstands posts so I don't always know what others are saying or asking about the debate.
But I did happen to see this question and I think it is a good one.
I used to think that maybe we should "update" a few of the more "archaic" words or ones that people may not be familiar with. Words like "let" (when it means "to hinder) or "conversation" (when it means "manner of life") but I no longer see it this way.
Here is why. First, when the Bible critics complain about the handful of words that they think need to be updated, they themselves already know what these words mean? So obviously a new meaning of a word can be learned.
I think the main reason they think the King James Bible should be "updated and modernized" is because they themselves really don't believe there IS such a thing as an inerrant Bible - in ANY language - including their never identified "the" Greek and Hebrew.
If a person really believes that God is still alive and He works in time and history, and that He really has given us an inerrant Bible, then I don't want to be the one who attempts to "change", alter or "correct" this Book.
All bible translations like the NIV, NKJV, NASB, ESV, etc. have lots of words in them that most high school students do not know the meaning of. I will show you a list from the NIV and the NKJV.
If you go into any field of study, music, art, science, medicine, automobile maintenance, forestry, animal husbandry, or just about any thing, you are going to need to learn the meaning of some unfamiliar words.
We shouldn't expect these fields of knowledge to "dumb down" their vocabulary because we don't know what the words mean. We are expected to learn something we did not know before. This is called education.
Lots of words in the King James Bible that some people think are "archaic" are not. They are perfectly good and accurate English words. We have just been dumbed down as a society.
Some people complain about the use of all those pronouns like "Thou", thee, thy, thine, and "ye", but the fact is, these have very distinct and specific meanings that are also seen in the underlying Greek and Hebrew texts.
Most people today do not know this. Do you know the difference between "thou" and "ye"? It is really quite simple. If a word starts with a "t", like "thou, thee, thy" then it is the singular you. God is speaking to one individual. But if we see the words that start with a "y", like "ye", your, and "you", then it is the plural form of "you" and He is speaking to more than one person.
We see this in hundreds of verses in the KJB and it often makes a big difference in meaning. These "archaic" forms are far more accurate than the generic "you".
"thou" is the subject. "thee" is the direct or indirect object and "thy" or "thine" is the possessive form. It is impossible to have a really accurate translation in English without using these words.
Most foreign languages like Spanish, French, Italian, Russian etc. have ways of distinguishing between "you" singular and "you" plural. The only way we can do this in English is through the use of "thou" and "ye". So I most definitely would not change these words at all.
Here is more on the difference between "thou" and "ye"
Why all those "thee"s and "ye"s are more accurate.
It makes a HUGE difference in how one looks at and what a person really believes about The Bible. Most Christians today do NOT really believe that any Bible in any language (including the never identified "the" Greek and Hebrew) really is the complete and inerrant words of God. They don't. And this is an easily proven fact.
Just ask most Christians, and especially the leaders of churches if they really believe the Bible is the inerrant words of God or not. Most will give the knee jerk response of "Well, Yes, of course I do." But when you begin to question them about different verses, or texts or words and meanings, the vast majority will then begin to backtrack and give us the same old song and dance routine about "only the originals are/were inspired and inerrant".
They really don't believe there is such a thing as an inerrant Bible NOW.
I and many thousands of other blood bought, redeemed children of God DO believe God has worked in time and history to give us a real Book, in print between two covers that we can hold in our hands, read and believe every word is the inspired and inerrant words of the living God, and I would not change a single word of it.
So much or our attitude and approach to the King James Bible depends on what we really believe about it. If I honestly believe that I hold in my hands the inspired, complete and infallible words of the living God, then I would not want to take it upon myself to change it in any way.
If it has words in it that I am unfamiliar with, then I will want to simply learn the meaning of those words. And it really is not that hard to do.
It is far easier to learn the meanings of 10 or 20 English words that I may not be familiar with, than it would be to try to learn two completely new and "archaic" languages like biblical Hebrew and Greek (those forms are not spoken today in Israel or Greece)
And not one of today's Bible critics or "modern version" promoters will EVER come right out and tell you WHICH "the" Greek and Hebrew (they all believe the Hebrew texts are wrong in many places) you should be learning anyway. Why? Because they don't really believe that either "the" Greek or the Hebrew are God's inerrant words either. They will never show you a copy of them.
So, to simply answer your question, NO, I would not change a single word of the English text of the King James Bible.
Here are those Vocabulary Tests you can try that are taken from the NIV and the NKJV. See how many you really know the definition of, even with the "helpful hints" I give for the NKJV.
There is much more to my article that just the Vocabulary Test. You might want to read the rest of it too for more of an explanation.
The "Old fashioned language" of the King James Bible - "Archaic and Inerrant" beats "Modernized and Wrong" Any Day of the Week
The "easy to read NIV" Vocabulary Test
abashed, abominable, abutted, acclaim, adder, adhere, admonishing, advocate, alcove, algum, allocate, allots, ally, aloes, appease, ardent, armlets, arrayed, astir, atonement, awl, banishment, battlements, behemoth, belial, bereaves, betrothed, bier, blighted, booty, brayed, breaching, breakers, buffeted, burnished, calamus, capital (not a city), carnelian, carrion, centurions, chasm, chronic, chrysolite, cistern, citadel, citron, clefts, cohorts, colonnades, complacency, coney, concession, congealed, conjure, contrite, convocations, crest, cors, curds, dandled, dappled, debauchery, decimated, deluged, denarii, depose, derides, despoil, dire, dispossess, disrepute, dissipation, distill, dissuade, divination, dragnet, dropsy, duplicity, earthenware, ebbed, ebony, emasculate, emission, encroach, enmity, enthralled, entreaty, ephod, epicurean, ewe, excrement, exodus, factions, felled, festal, fettered, figurehead, filigree, flagstaff, fomenting, forded, fowler, gadfly, galled, gird, gauntness, gecko, gloating, goiim, harrowing, haunt, hearld, henna, homers, hoopoe, ignoble, impaled, implore, incur, indignant, insatiable, insolence, intact, invoked, jambs, joists, jowls, lairs, lamentation, leviathan, libations, loins, magi, manifold, maritime, mattocks, maxims, mina, misdemeanor, mother-of-pearl, mustering, myrtles, naive, naught, Negev, Nephilim, nettles, nocturnal, nomad, notorious, Nubians, oblivion, obsolete, odious, offal, omer, oracles, overweening, parapet, parchments, pavilion, peals (noun, not the verb), perjurers, perpetuate, pestilence, pinions, phylacteries, plumage, pomp, porphyry, portent, potsherd, proconsul, propriety, poultice, Praetorium, pretext, profligate, promiscuity, provincial, providence, qualm, quarries, quivers (noun, not verb), ramparts, ransacked, ratified, ravish, rabble, rawboned, relish (not for hot dogs), recoils, recount, refrain, relent, rend, reposes, reprimanded, reputed, retinue, retorted, retribution, rifts, roebucks, rue, sachet, satraps, sated, shipwrights, siegeworks, sinews, sistrums, sledges, smelted, somber, soothsayer, sovereignty, spelt, stadia, stench, stipulation, sullen, tamarisk, tanner, temperate, tether, tetrarch, terebinth, thresher, throes, thronged, tiaras, tinder, tracts, transcends, tresses, turbulent, tyrannical, unscathed, unrelenting, usury, vassal, vaunts, vehemently, verdant, vexed, wadi, wanton, warranted, wield, winnowing and wrenched.
There are many cases where the NIV uses a harder word than the KJB. Compare the following: The NIV has “abasement” in Ezra 9:5 whereas the KJB has “heaviness.” Isaiah 24:23: “abashed” (NIV) = “confounded” (KJB). Ezekiel 40:18: “abutted” (NIV) = “over against” (KJB). 2 Chronicles 15:14: “acclamation” (NIV) = “voice” (KJB). Isaiah 13:8: “aghast” (NIV) = “amazed” (KJB) Psalm 107:5 "ebbed away" (NIV) = "fainted" (KJB). A personal favorite is “squall” (NIV) instead of “storm” (KJB) in Mark 4:37.
It is funny that I can put together the phrase from the KJB which says; "The very sad green giant was hungry” and in the NIV it would be: “The overweening dejected verdant Nephilim was famished."
Well, how about the New KJV? Can you pass this vocabulary test even with a few of my "helpful hints"? Let's see.
The vocabulary of the New King James Version, along with some "helpful hints".
Abase, abashed, abode, adhere, admonish, adversity, aground, algum, alienate, alighting, allays, allotment, alloy, aloof, alms, amend, amiss, annihilated, anise, antitype, arbitrate, apprehended, archives, armlets, ascertain, asps, attire, austere, backbite, banishment, baths (not to get clean), bdellium, befalls, beggarly, begetting, behemoth, belial, beseech, betrothal, beveled, birthstools, bittern, bleat, booty (not modern slang), borne, breach, brandished (not drunk), bray, bristling, buffet (not a restaurant), buckler (not a belt), bulrush, (not a stampede), burnished, butress (not a chair), calamus, caldron, capital (not a city), carcasses, carnally, carrion (not luggage), cassia, caulkers, centurion (not a 100 years), chalcedony, chalkstones, chaste (not pursued by a runner), chasten, (not related to previous chaste), chrysolite, chrysoprase, circumspect, cistern (not feminine of brethren), citadel, citron, clamor, cleft, cloven (not a spice), commission (not money), commonwealth (not shared money), compound (not a barracks), concede , compulsory, conciliation, concubine (not a tractor), congealed, contemptuously, confederacy (not the South), contingents (not same as large land masses), corban, coriander, countenance (not adding up ants), couriers (not an hordourve), covert, crags, crescents, crest (not the top of a hill), cropped (not food), cubit, custodian (not the one who cleans the school halls), curds, dainties (not effeminate), dandled, daubed, dappled, dayspring, denarii, deposed (not relaxing after a foto op), deride (not same as dismount), despoiled (not really, really rotten), diadem, diffuses (not to disarm a bomb), dilapidation (not the act of standing up), dispensation, disrepute, dissipation, diviner (not a grape grower), docile, dragnet (not a detective drama), dregs, drachmas, dropsy (not clumsiness), dross, dryshod, eczema (God bless you), edict, edification, elaborate, embellish, emitted, enigma, enmity, entrails (not a short cut), envoy, eventide, epistle, ephod, exorcise (not jogging), expiration (not a date on a carton of milk), faction, fallow, famish, fare (not average and not money), fatlings (not piglets), feigned (not passed out), festal, fetched, fidelity (not good sound), figurehead (not a statue of a head), filly, flanges, foreskin, fostered, fowlers (not a baseball term), fuller (not less empty), furlongs (not cat tails), gad, garland, garrison, gaunt, gecko, graven, Hellenists, hew (not a man's name), homers (not baseball), hoopoe (not a garden tool), immutability, indignant, insolence, insubordination, intervene, itinerant, jackdaw, jeopardy (a TV show, but what does it mean?), jubilation, kors (not a brand of beer), laden, lamentations, laud (not Boston pronunciation of lard), lusty, mail (not a letter), mammon, matrix (other than the movie), mattock (not a TV lawyer show), mercenaries, mina (not a type of bird), mite (not a bed bug), moorings, nativity, offal (not terrible), offscouring (not dandruff), omnipotent, onager (Job 39:5 - you won't believe this one!) oracle, pangs, papyrus (not a fruit), paramours, parapet(not a dog and a cat), penitents, perdition, phylacteries, pilfering, pillage, pims, pins (not like needles or bowling- has to do with a chariot), pinions (not a type of nut), plaited (not dishes), platitudes, potentate, potsherd, poultice (not chickens), Praetorium (not a place to pray), prattler, principality, prodigal, proconsul, prognosticators (not people who put things off till later), propitiation, pslatery, prow, pulverize, pyre, quadrans, quiver (not to shake), rampart (not a piece of a truck), ravenous, ravished, raze (not to lift up), reconciliation, recount (not to double check your arithmetic), rend, renown, reprisal, retinue, rifled (does not have to do with guns), rivulets, rogue, salute ( does not have to do with the army), satiate, satraps, scruples, sepulcher, shamefaced, shards, Sheol, shod, shuttle (not a type of bus or spaceship), siegeworks, sistrums (not an affectionate term for your sisters), skiff, soothsayer, spelt (not anything to do with spelling words), straits (not the opposite of crookeds), superfluous, supplanted, tamarisk, tares, tarries, temperate, terebinth, terrestrial, tetrarch, throng (not a skimpy bathing suit), timbrel, tittle (not the name of a book), tresses, usury, vagabond, vassal, vehement, vermilion, verdure, verity, vestments, waifs, wane, wanton (not desiring something), warp (not to bend), wend, wield, winebibber, woof (not a dog or stereo), wrought.
All of grace, believing the Book, and not going to change a single word of it,
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