Thanks to Jonathan for passing this one along.
Posted by Darrell
And also, nice Hitchhiker’s Guide reference! Did you wear your towel the other day, Darrell???
Always. Never leave home without it.
I am glad that our dear leader is such a hoopy frood.
I couldn’t figure this comment out – then I just now read the hover text. Doh!
2nd, pays to watch storage wars
If the KJV is so clear, why does it take the MOG at least 45 minutes to explain one verse?
So much truth to this.
I once caught the MOG using the NASB to explain the KJV text. Word for word.
Now THAT is a good example of why it is a good idea to use a modern version – they are more understandable and say the same thing with modern word usage!
Our MoG is KJVO, but as soon as he launches into his sermon he “rephrases” it for everyone… using NKJV!!!
A fifth or sixth grader from the 1600′s. I would venture a thought and say that its probably beyond mog’s understanding as well. MOG likes it because the congregation has to rely on his interpretation and can add lib. I may be out of line but every time I hear mog talk kjv only I want to shove the family size kjv up their pompous ass.
I think there is a LOT of truth to your statement, if it is so clear then why do they have to spend so much sermon time telling you what that archaic word means. And yes, I think it makes them feel important and it DOES leave the window open for them to twist Scripture and tell you it says something that it doesn’t. Some examples that come to mind are the “grape juice” argument, the “britches” argument, the whole separation argument and more, too much more than my pre-caffeine brain can’t think of.
The trouble is that the claim is based simply on the number of syllables per word (the KJV tends not to use polysyllabic latinate words), not on vocabulary. The KJV contains a vocabulary that is now quite archaic. In addition you have the archaic verb forms, all of which mean something, but most people have no idea what they mean. I have heard people praying in KJV language (or so they thought) mangle those verb endings because they have no idea what they mean.
So many verses are misunderstood because the KJV allows mennogid to interpret words and verses any which way they please.
If the congregation actually had a Bible in their common language they would not be so easy to dupe.
I completely agree.
“We need more atheists, and nothing will get you there faster than reading the damn bible.” — Penn Jillette, author and topical commentator
Heaven oh Heaven…how did any one get saved before the King James was printed???? My sixth grade, straight A’s honor roll student (proud mama bragging, sorry) cannot understand the KJV. She doesn’t go to Fundy school, so maybe that is what’s wrong??? She has a modern pre-version. If it helps her to understand what God has to say to her, then that’s what she needs. It wasn’t until I was her age or older that I realized that Jesus did not speak Shakespearean English….
Intellectualism and spiritual pride: these are all sins that hinder people’s understanding of the simple Word of God!!! Have you ever asked yourself if your daughter is too smart? Maybe she (and you) need to get off your high horse and come to the TRUE Word of God (not the NIV ESV NLT perversions). Then you will understand the simple truth it contains.
but, but, but… Dr John, you need to get off your Shetland Pony of small minded fundieness and mount up behind a Clydesdale of intellegence.
The Three Horses of the Fundie Intellectual Apocalypse!
WIN!! I like you, Don!! Is this “win a pony day?” I always wanted a pony.
That’s parody right? DOCTOR J.D.III? I mean… Nobody’s really THAT stupid… Oh wait, this site wouldn’t exist…
Oh I am sorry. I forgot we were supposed to be worshiping the KJV instead of Jesus Christ.I guess all KJVers tend to forget that originally this version was deemed blasphemous. If you want a “true” version of the Bible, we should all probably be fluent in Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic. God speaks to people in ways they can understand Him. As a Father to his child. Your rebuttal is a pathetic attempt to rile me up. I know your kind. I was one for almost thirty years.
Intellectualism and spiritual pride? You mean like that one guy who said that if only knew what he knew,and if I only had the spiritual insight that he had, then I would agree that the KJV is the only translation of the word of God? Perhaps I should let go of my sense of superiority like that guy?
Welcome back, Dr. David! I presume your middle name is Poe?
Good morning,George! That was supposed to be a reply to Dr. Jonathon David III waaaaay upthread; but you knew that, didn’t you?
This looks like it comes from that site Jesus is Lord dot com.
All I can say to them is to repeat Jesus’ words: “Why call you me ‘Lord, Lord’, and do not the things that I say?” This tract is arrogant not humble, rude not loving, aggressive not peaceable.
One thing that is often forgotten in this (one sided?) debate by my fundamentalist friends is that the Bible is here to point us to Christ.
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me… (John 5:39)
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he (Jesus) interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27)
The bible is not and end to itself. It was given to us to lead us to THE Word.
If we read it, argue about it, pick and choose our favorite proof texts that support our preconceived ideas, and rant about our preferred interpretations without seeing that it is prmarily about Christ, then we have sadly missed the point and would be better served by calling ourselves biblicists and not Christians.
KJV-onlyism is a dangerous distraction that has led many of my loved ones to smug Christless Phariseeism, not to a life of repentance and worship of Jesus Christ.
Polished Shaft, You just preached one of the best sermons I’ve ever read (or heard). We need to preach and live this one with no apology. Although if stoning was legal, you would be in serious trouble.
I’d give you a hearty AMEN, but it might cause too many to twitch. Well done.
I’ll do it.
(Not to be confused with “Hay-men!”)
That is more exposition than one will find in a year of IFB sermons. Well said!
I love how fundies stick their heads in the sand and tell themselves that the KJV is the exact same as it was when it was originally translated back in 1611. The truth is it has been revised several times for better understanding in the common language. I believe that as long as we get the point of what the verse is trying to say then that is good enough
Anyone for the “Sin Bible?”
“Thou shalt commit adultery.”
There are about 6000 revisions to the KJV since it was first published. And the KJV included the Apocrypha until not terribly long ago.
KJV-only is the excuse the fundies need to avoid the difficulties of learning Greek and Hebrew. It’s a shrine to their stupidity and ignorance. So of course many of them worship at it.
I do think that’s the psychology going on here. KJV-Onlyism lets its followers feel smart for being able to read early Modern English, instead of feeling ignorant for not being able to read Greek or Hebrew.
Because none of us has ever heard a sermon in which the preacher completely butchers words and phrases from the King James…
Yes, isn’t it funny? They claim that the KJV is easy to read and understand, then demonstrate they have no idea what it means. The irony is quite delicious, and one of the few things (that and my stubborn refusal to quit) that allowed me to finish Riplinger’s last.
Even today the written English language from across the pond is different. I ended up with a copy of Stephen King’s The Stand from England. I made it about 2 pages in and decided it was unreadable. I had no trouble with the US version.
The Stand is one of my favorite books ever.
and is now available in comic book format!
A few years ago, I looked a British vs. American editions of a couple of the Harry Potter books. It was quite interesting what terms the editors chose to change and which ones they chose to leave alone.
If the changes were just terms in the Stephen King book. I could have dealt with it. It was something else, it just did not flow for me.
Yes, a 5th to 6th grade level – for a 5th/6th grader living in the 1600s…
Bassenco, you’re so right about them not wanting to study the difficult greek and hebrew languages. Norris Belcher from the church of the open door in westminster maryland actually preacher a sermon titled “shut up, you dont speak greek”. It is an obvious display of his clueless stupidity about translation. You’ve got to check it out.
I’ve known fundies from both extremes on the spectrum when it comes to Biblical languages. The ones who are prideful about the fact that they don’t have anyone in their congregation that knows any Greek or Hebrew sometimes tend to be a reaction against the other extreme (not that that makes it right).
The other extreme is those who are so arrogant about their knowledge of Greek and/or Hebrew that they consider anyone who reads a translation as being unable to truly understand God’s Word and so they need them to tell them what to think and believe. As if God is constrained by a small number of now-dead languages when it comes making His thoughts understood. Of course, it isn’t just fundamentalists that fall into this group.
“Shut Up, You Don’t Speak Greek.”
Now, THAT’s an appealing title for a sermon. Using rudeness in the title isn’t enough; he also, straight-up, tells the congregation that they’re ignorant.
“Belcher” somehow sounds like an appropriate name for this guy . . .
Do you know of him? Have you had any personal experiences with him or his “church”?
Went to PCC with his daughter, Lauren. She was a peach. Nearly ran me over in her sports car and flipped the bird at me when I yelled that she should slow down. Nice.
I did once write a piece of fiction in which a minister addressed a room full of Fundies who had spent the rest of the story being bigots from the text ‘Ye know nothing at all.’ I liked that.
I never tire of the marketing attemps
When as a fundy you are exposed to various and sundry conspiracy theories about the liberals, one-world-government, chem trails, and 9/11, KJVO is actually fairly rational in comparison.
Pretty amazed how the author of this “tract” managed to be rude, demeaning, and spiritually abusive all at once.
Saying that the Holy Spirit will help you understand the KJV implies that if you don’t understand it, then you don’t have the Spirit. Making one’s salvation hinge on whether or not they understand the KJV is cruel.
I am sure that I will be corrected if I’m wrong, but the verses cited have nothing to do with understanding ANY scripture, including the ones available at the time, but rather they point out that the Holy Spirit will be in close fellowship, revealing truth. I believe that John indicated the same in his epistles.
These frauds who push KJVO have nothing of the Spirit and reveal that truth daily.
The arrogance of the tract is so typical. “My way of interpreting things is right, and anyone who digresses is either lazy, stupid, spiritually inferior, or an apostate. I don’t need to engage in any type of reflective thinking because God told me so–and that settles it!” There have been other churches who refused to modernize the language. The Catholic Church stuck to Latin for how many years. They switched to modern languages, and now under this new Pope, they are reverting back to the use of words and terms that nobody understands. Can anyone figure out what “ineffible” means during a service without the aide of a dictionary or even a footnote? The Russian Orthodox Church has stuck to the Old Church Slavonic just as the Greek Orthodox Church has stuck to the Konai Greek. Nobody understands what is going on in church. People have attempted to modernize the language, and they are beaten down. In pre-revolutionary Russia (about 1916), a Protestant missionary organization polled the Russians as to the meaning of the Trinity. The most common answer was Christ, the Virgin, and John the Baptist.
Someone has told me that the numbers in these extreme fundy churches are dwindling and that churches are closing at the same rate that they are in the supposedly “more liberal” mainline denominations. I have not been able to verify the numbers. Can anyone shed light on this?
Most Orthodox churches in the U.S. conduct their services in English. I can’t say what they do in Russia or Greece.
As to decline in membership and attendance of Fundamentalist and Evangelical churches in the U.S., see “The Fall of the Evangelical Nation,” by Christine Wicker (a book I’ve recommended before).
I was referring to churches in Greece and Russia, but in the United States, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is pushing for Greek in the services, and within the Russian Orthodox Church in the US, several of the large city churches still do things in slavonic. Check the cathedrals in Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago, for instance, and you will find that the primary service on Sunday is in a language other than English.
And in Egypt the Copts conduct most of their services in Arabic rather than Coptic. I understand the desire for an ecclesiastical language, as it has cropped up again and again in the history of the church. Part of the explanation is that liturgies were commonly not revised very often and so tended to lag behind linguistically. I was brought up in a Prayer Book Church, and my parents felt that it was quite wrong to address God in the same language that one would use to talk to the milkman. The same thing has happened in the churches that do not have a printed liturgy; the KJV language has become liturgical.
The new English translation of the mass was embarked on over ten years ago at the request of John Paul II, not Benedict. It was a painstaking and international process, meant in part to create one English version rather than numerous ones around the world. The changes are actually not as extensive as you imply. And while some things have been made more complex, some have been made simpler and shorter.
I was not a fan of the changes and could have lived without them. But at least represent the reasons and extent of them fairly.
The problem with the old translation was that 1) They were heretical 2) They were not even translations, they were loose paraphrases. Almost all of the prayers were pelagian or semi-pelagian: All or most references to grace, sin, repentance, concupiscence, etc,that were in the latin missal were removed. Several of the prayers referencing the Trinity flirt with the idea that the names of the persons of the Trinity are titles of the same God. Some references to the Virgin birth are removed, some references to the deity of Christ are removed. Most biblical allusions and references are translated out.
2) The idea in 1972 was to translate the concepts, not the words. Unfortunately, they did neither. As I said, concepts relating to sin, repentance, and grace were not translated at all. Several other very, very Catholic concepts (the hierarchal priesthood,the sacrificial nature of the mass, the merits of saints,etc.) There was also a tendency to tell God to do things rather than ask him.
Lastly, I’ll admit it’s true that the vocabulary can be high, but it’s nothing approaching unreadable. Some of the words so often objected to are basic words used by all Christians for common doctrines (Atonement, incarnation,confession,etc,)
I teach 5th and 6th grade English…they don’t get it. Even the ones who want to understand it will struggle with KJV. Heck, my pastor stuggles to read aloud from it!
I must confess that I have never had any trouble with the KJV English, probably as the result of being the son of a history professor and being brought up in the Church of England on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. I can speak and write King James English perfectly, and I know what every KJV word means.
HOWEVER, I am fully aware that I am in this respect a rarity, and that most people find the language of the KJV difficult. In addition, I am a Protestant free Churchman who recognises that the point of vernacular Bible translation is to bring the word to the people, and therefore shutting up the Bible in the KJV despite the fact that it was not written in that language is absurd.
Well in that case you are the only one that will understand this: Beeves armholes and emerods canker the bald locust before horseleach broilered the calves of our lips (Hate that!) and cast the same in his teeth burning ague and chalkstones! Besom liers girt the hasty fruit while lapwing helve the hindmost apothecary. The ambushment cauls chapiter from ambassage and his flesh pots freckled spot the mallows. Then nergal mufflers astoneid the fathting flagons mincing mete, maw and assupim. Afterwards the college oil tree was neesings, plaiting pleasant plants and rereward ribband.
Perfectly? Wow, I’m impressed. My hat is off to you, sir.
Boy, you just can’t make this stuff up…
I once asked a visiting missionary what Bible version to recommend for Germans. I was serious about the question. I don’t remember if he was a missionary to the military in Germany, or why I asked him. He didn’t know right off the bat, but emailed me later to use the Luther Bible. Which begs the question – which one? I have one that’s over 100 years old, and a modern revised one…. they are far from being identical.
How many adults really understand “I shall not want” as “I shall not lack” – I really think most understand it as “thou shalt not covet.”
And “helpmeet” isn’t even a word. It’s a “help meet for him”, or a “helper suited for him”. Helpmeet, yeah, no problem understanding the KJV. Marvin Smith (bless his heart), once read about the “men who wrought righteousness” in He. 11:33, and commented “I want to wrought righteousness.” I want to wrought?? Got your tenses mixed up there a little.
And finally, my husband made a good point yesterday, I think. Reading ” All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17 KJV)
he wondered where that informal fundy title (MoG) originated, when the KJV very plainly says right there that a student of the word = the man of God.
According to the KJV the man of God is not just that guy with the mike (who is still hollering, just in case the mike isn’t doing its job). Or else it IS the fundy MoG, (“Timothy was written to a you preacher” argument) but then I don’t need to read it for myself, he can just tell me what he thinks – AND THE FUNDY MOG IS THEN FURNISHED UNTO ALL GOOD WORKS, and the rest of us can lean back and watch him work. I like that scenario best.
anyhow, hope y’all had a really gay weekend.
Timothy was written to a YOUNG preacher, not a you preacher, sorry….
I’ll read through the comments later, but I found this handy chart a while ago that gives the reading level of various Bible versions. It lists the KJV at a 12th grade level. http://www.apbrown2.net/web/TranslationComparisonChart.htm
At least I think that’s a 12th grade… since some are listed as 7.4, 2.9 and 6.3…
There are numerous ways of rating reading levels of texts. Length of sentences (the scale by which the KJV is easier to read than some other translations) is one. Difficulty of vocabulary, complexity of sentences, and average length of words are some of the others. By how familiar or unfamiliar the words are (with the meanings they have in the KJV, that is), there’s no way the KJV is an easy-reader.
Not to mention the verb conjugations that don’t even exist in contemporary English. …
One gets the feeling that the aim in this case was not so much to discover how difficult the KJV was to read but to find a way to represent it as easy to read. In other words, start with the conclusion you wish to arrive at.
I have no doubt that you are correct. The whole thing reeks of barely-disguised question begging.
My dad has often used this argument. He’d say, “I don’t know any teenagers who can’t understand it.” I’d say, “You don’t know any teenagers!” It drove me crazy. My husband was a youth pastor for eight years and worked with teens all the time, especially ones from economically disadvantaged families as well as ESL speakers and they could NOT understand the KJV well nor did they read it much.
Given my post below, I would just like to say that I absolutely agree with you that there are some individuals who truly cannot understand the English of the KJV. However, I do think that “I don’t understand it” is, by itself, a fairly weak argument for a reasonably well-educated first-language speaker of English to make. However, your point raises another important issue, which is that KJV-worship is, at its heart, racist in many respects.
I don’t know any Mongolians who can’t understand the KJV, either.
I don’t know any Mongolians.
Come to think of it, I don’t know any Martians who can’t understand it …
The whole “I don’t understand it” thing strikes me as a straw man argument anyway. It is used to misrepresent the position of those who use more recent translations. More recent translations are, comparatively speaking, more understandable to modern speakers of English. That does not mean that those who acknowledge that simple fact are making any representation about their ability to understand the KJV. I can say that a Harry Potter novel is more “understandable” than Chaucer, but that does not mean that I cannot understand Chaucer. However, it also does not mean that I would expect a sixth grader to understand J.K. Rowling and Chaucer with equal facility.
Furthermore, most people I know use the word “understandable” in this context to refer to their ability to understand the Bible itself, not the underlying English. Thus, a more modern version may very well make it easier for someone to understand what a given passage of Scripture has to say. The KJV translation of that passage may be less adequate to convey the meaning to a modern reader. Again, no one that I know is alleging that they cannot understand the KJV as text. They are simply acknowledging the fact that a more modern translation, with its clearer text, makes the underlying passage more understandable as well.
The whole “I don’t understand it” thing really bugs me. Unfortunately, it’s been thrown around so much that people who don’t use the KJV sometimes repeat that argument just to get the KJV-worshipper off their back. E.g., “I don’t understand all the thees and thous.” I think the very ability to make a statement like that in English renders the statement self-refuting, with the inevitable result that the KJV-worshipper smugly sits back and thinks “Yes, they are just lazy ignoramuses.” (I have heard a conversation like that go down on more than on occasion including one memorable exchange between my fundie parents and agnostic uncle.)
There are plenty of good reasons to prefer other versions to the KJV. I think that when those of us who use other versions repeat a threadbare argument like “I don’t understand it” instead of giving an intelligent reason for using another version, it serves us right to incur the contempt of KJV-worshippers. Even though, as I said, we don’t usually mean that we can’t understand the English text as such. I personally think that it is unfair to disrespect the weak arguments of KJV-worshippers if I am not prepared to present better arguments in support of my position. I also hate KJV-worshippers the satisfaction of validating their presumption that I don’t use the KJV because I am stupid.
I’ve actually never used the “I don’t understand it” argument, especially since I majored in English!
But for people who don’t read much anyway, the KJV can be intimidating, and I don’t want anything to obstruct people hearing God’s Word, even a beloved translation.
Have you read Chaucer in its original Middle English? Just asking. Cause Harry Potter is just a teeny bit easier than Middle English.
Yes, that was the point.
I’ve read both Chaucer and Shakespeare in the original (I was an English major). But that doesn’t mean I find them as easy to read as J.K. Rowling.
Yep, I’ve read both Chaucer and Shakespeare in the original. Interestingly, we have Chaucer to thank, in part, for the fact that we have the Bible in English, given Chaucer’s embracing of the vernacular. But neither Chaucer nor Shakespeare used the KJV, so we know they are in the hot place. And, of course, we know J.K. Rowling will be joining them, (although the Scripture quotations in Harry Potter are KJV, I think, and if so she is doubly damned for hearing AND rejecting the TRUTH) so I thought the comparison was apt. I tend to see the Harry Potter series as partaking of the English literary tradition to a greater degree than perhaps many others might, so I relish any opportunity to juxtapose Rowling with other great English writers.
Yes, amyrose, I have. That’s why I always roll my eyes when someone says that the KJV is written in old English. Not sure what you’re trying to say since I agree with Deacon’s Son’s post.
Deacon’s Son, come on over to the forum. We have a book section; I’d love to hear some of your ideas about Harry Potter.
Not all English that’s old is Old English.
Here’s some Old English (circa 800-900):
þe hie ær drugon aldorlease
lange hwile. Him þæs liffrea,
wuldres wealdend, woroldare forgeaf;
Beowulf wæs breme (blæd wide sprang),
Scyldes eafera Scedelandum in.
Here’s some Middle English (circa 1390):
Fair was this yonge wyf, and therwithal
As any wezele hir body gent and smal.
A ceynt she werede, barred al of silk,
A barmclooth as whit as morne milk
Upon her lendes, ful of many a goore.
Whit was hir smok, and broyden al bifoore
And eek bihynde, on hir coler aboute,
Of col-blak silk, withinne and eek withoute.
Here’s early Modern English from the King James Version (1611):
And the Lord said vnto me, Say vnto them, Goe not vp, neither fight, for I am not among you: least ye be smitten before your enemies.
So I spake vnto you, and you would not heare, but rebelled against the commandement of the Lord, and went presumptuously vp into the hill.
And the Amorites which dwelt in that mountaine, came out against you, and chased you, as Bees doe, and destroyed you in Seir, euen vnto Hormah.
And ye returned and wept before the Lord; but the Lord would not hearken to your voyce, nor giue eare vnto you.
46 So yee abode in Kadesh many dayes, according vnto the dayes that ye abode there.
Obviously, these kinds of English are not the same.
For better comparison purposes.
Old English (Wessex Gospels, c. 990):
Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum,
Si þin nama gehalgod.
to becume þin rice,
gewurþe ðin willa,
on eorðan swa swa on heofonum.
urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us todæg,
and forgyf us ure gyltas,
swa swa we forgyfað urum gyltendum.
and ne gelæd þu us on costnunge,
ac alys us of yfele. soþlice.
Middle English (Wycliffe’s Translation, 1380):
Oure fadir that are in heuenes
halwid be thi name
thi kingdom cumme to
be thi wille don
as in heuen and in erthe;
ȝif to vs this day oure breed ouer other substance
and forȝeue to vs. oure dettis,
as we forȝeue to oure detours;
and leede vs nat in to temptacioun,
but delyuere vs fro yuel. Amen
(Noting, of course, that both of these were probably translated into English from Latin.)
Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
sanctificetur Nomen Tuum;
adveniat Regnum Tuum;
fiat voluntas Tua,
sicut in caelo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie;
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris;
et ne nos inducas in tentationem;
sed libera nos a Malo.
Two of my favorite memories from college: praying the Latin version with my Latin classmates at the Protestant college I attended first two years and praying the Old English version at a Beowulf symposium at the Catholic college I attended second two years.
(Yes, I really did grow up fundie; dad really is an IFB deacon. My parents believe to this day that I went to these colleges out of rebellion, particularly Catholic U.)
I’m not sure this is the argument most people on this forum would use, though. I certainly have never said such a thing. I grew up using the KJV, and majored in English Education, so it is quite clear to me. But I’ve worked with many, many inner-city kids who struggled to read even something on par with Harry Potter. For them, “certain lewd fellows of the baser sort” (one of my favorite lines) and “superfluity of naughtiness” and similar phrases and verses absolutely are impossible for them to understand. There are also quite a number of people in our immigrant–friendly nation to whom English is a second language and the KJV unintelligable. It is on behalf of these types of people that I would use the argument that the KJV is hard to understand; not on my own account.
Finally, I’m not sure I see the phrase “I don’t understand all the thee’s and thou’s” to be self-refuting. Rather I would interpret that as the speaker choosing some archaic words which he can remember and articulate to stand for all the archaic words and phrases in the KJV: and it would only make sense that he should choose words he can easily remember and pronounce to do so. I would think most people who struggle with the antiquated language would also struggle in the heat of argument to remember specific phrases that frustrate their understanding, such as the something “presently appearing” or Ezra being “astonied” or why we’d need carrying into “hoary” hairs.
I hate to admit it, but the more I write on forums or comment sections (this site being a notable exception) the more saddened I am at the general inability to think among the American population, which comes out in the inability to express one’s self clearly in English. As an English professional, I lament it and labor to fix it when I can. As a Christian, however, I’m only concerned with overcoming it or working around it to make spiritual truth clear. The KJV is nothing but a hindrance in this respect.
Interesting how English dropped the “ge” antecedent to mark the past but the Germans kept it (ie. gesungen).
I have a story about worshiping the KJB that I just have to share. We have a very old fundy vice principal at our school who runs the (required) English Bible study for the church. We also have a very intelligent and talented young woman, who majored in both Biblical Greek and Latin. One morning, the old man was preaching during Sunday School in the typical IFB fashion. He was doing some scripture-twisting for the ages, when the young woman raised her hand, told him that what he was saying and how he was translating a few of the words was not what was being said in the original texts. He asked her what version she was using, and she replied that she was using the original Greek texts, to which he replied, “Well, I wouldn’t trust that, it isn’t the King James!”
She just sat there looking stunned. She had never dealt with a KJVO fundy before. Just goes to show you how important his Bible version was to him.
“If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for …”
Reminds me of the time I went home from college for Christmas and went to my parents’ church. The pastor was teaching Sunday School and was trying to say that Santa Claus was Satanic because “Santa” and “Satan” are spelled with the same letters. He actually called me out (because I was the smarty pants college student, you know) and asked me if I thought he was right. I said, well seeing as how “Santa” comes from Latin and “Satan” comes from Greek/Hebrew, I don’t think so. (NB: I was a classics minor.) There was a long awkward pause and then he finally said, “Well, it’s still something to think about.” “Yup, haymen,” bleated the sheeple.
Also, the part where “Santa” means “saint,” or “holy.”
“The King James Bible I can’t understand it
How old are you?”
Wow…condescending right out of the gate. Classy, fundies.
I’m amazed how this “ad” attempts to convince or appeal to the reader to read KJV only by being repugnant. “Ooh, verbal abuse?! Can’t wait to go get my copy of the KJV! Look how much it transforms the reader in to a loving Christ-like person.”
Yes, insulting my intelligence and/or education level is a really effective way to get me to read your book.
If I was the devil, and some people think I am, I would invent a 350 year old Bible translation and get thousands of people to believe that it is the only inspired one. Then I would get those people to condemn and argue and fight and spend all their time fighting over why every other version is perverted. And then I would sit back and laugh at all the idiots.
too late, the read devil already did that
“real Devil” dang it George!
And my last comment on it is a quote from the KJV,
“SUPERFLUITY OF NAUGHTINESS.”
I’m sure I’ve read the phrase, but it’s never leaped out at me until now.
Thank you, Bob M. I’m now going to try to work that into everyday conversation at least three times a day.
I literally read that verse this morning! (I’m reading two translations of James – KJV and NLT.)
BTW, here’s another quote from James.
The KJV says, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”
The NLT says, “He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.”
For me, it resonates more that I am a “prized possession” than a “firstfruit of His creatures.”
You’ve gotta love a Bible that contains phrases like “superfluity of naughtiness.”
That doesn’t mean it’s the most accurate translation, of course, but it sure has class.
My favorite KJV description is from Acts 17:5;
“certain lewd fellows of the baser sort”
Definitely a commonly used everyday phrase.
Next time we form softball teams, mine’s going to be named Certain Lewd Fellows of the Baser Sort.
That is the proof text for fundy sermons against SFL
Another proof that the KJV has a wonderful turn of phrase every now and then. Many of them have actually passed into English idiom, such as “a thorn in the flesh” and “a land flowing with milk and honey.” It is however not necessary to retain the ones that did not, however great they may sound.
Popular phrase at the seminary I attended. It’s just great. Doesn’t actually convey what was intended in modern English, but it sounds wonderful.
HA-HA-HA-HA-HA! THEY PUT A HYPHEN IN “PERVERSION!” GET IT? “PER-VERSION?” HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA! THAT’S FUNNY!
Another note I would like to add: My Mother, who is a lover of history, went through a period of reading through the English monarchy. My names and my siblings’ all bear the names of English queens and kings which my Mom said wasn’t at all intentional but rather subconscious since she was reading so much English history. About a year ago, I decided it would be fun to read about it myself as sort of a throw-back to my names and my Mom’s subconscious name-choices. In my research, I read King James, of The King James Version, was an alleged & documented homosexual. It is noted by many of the time and in the courts that he preferred the private company of the men of the court and didn’t desire to marry but did so for the sake of the crown. It is documented he even had a secret passageway connecting his bedroom chambers to that of his favorite male lover. (This made me think of Hyles’ secret door to his lover.) Just something that I found incredibly interesting since this is the version fundies hold to be THE truth and yet it was commissioned by a documented/noted/suspected homosexual.
The plot thickens…
This tale about King James has been debunked, by the way.
That is not what I have been given to understand ever. He was pretty flagrantly flagrant. Though possibly bisexual not strictly gay.
GR, in historical circles we have what is known as “primary sources” – this would be writings by one who experienced the times under investigation. If we have two or more independent sources that report the same thing, we usually conclude that the agreed upon matter is as close to fact as we can get (depending upon the historian’s method and presuppositions). In the case of king James, we have multiple original sources that say plainly that he was romantically involved with other men (e.g. Esme Stewart, Robert Carr, and George Villiers) – so much so that a popular “one liner” of the time ran something like “Elizabeth was king, now James is Queen. So, I’m not sure what has been “debunked”, but in either case, the sexual practices of the king who patroned the translation hasn’t really got to do with the quality of the translation.
Yes. It is my understanding that students of British history in England are well aware of King James’s sexual preferences. Here in America, it’s a lot easier to avoid that information since KJI isn’t a major player in American history. And Fundies notoriously ignore inconvenient facts anyway. I had a graduate professor who was honestly shocked when a fellow graduate student mentioned in an acting class that Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for being a homosexual. She had apparently never heard that. How this professor got through a bachelors and masters in literature and performing arts without knowing this is beyond me. I can only attribute it to willfully ignoring the clues/facts that didn’t line up with belief system.
Wow. It would be pretty hard to know anything at all about Oscar Wilde without knowing that he was imprisoned for homosexuality. It wasn’t just a footnote to his life and his writings; it was the event that ruined (and for most purposes ended) his career and probably contributed to his early death.
I know, right? I’m pretty sure that my jaw actually dropped when she reacted with genuine surprise and stated that she hadn’t known that.
The translators of the King James Bible (The 1611 mind you with the Apocrypha)must be rolling in their graves now.
Yes. Once I read their preface to the readers, I realized that they would be horrified at the way some fundies worship their translation and call all others perversions.
Only vaguely related, but a guest speaker on Sunday made me mad. He said that we should not only read the Bible, we should “believe it without question”. Uhhhhh. Dude. Holy damaging advice. You shouldn’t believe ANYTHING without question!
Anything that cannot stand up to examination cannot stand up.
Truth is, first of all, true.
There are two things about Flesch-Kincaid that KJV-onlyist like to ignore:
1) F-K was developed to judge the readability and grade level of contemporary English, so the results are always going to be skewed when you apply to any text that is not contemporary English. And the KJV, even the updated versions are definitely not contemporary English.
2) The F-K algorithm works with the average number of syllables per word and the average number of words per sentence. It does not and cannot evaluate the difficulty of understanding archaic words and phrases. It assumes, largely correctly in contemporary English, that longer words + longer sentences = high reading difficulty/higher grade level. That said, there are plenty of longish sentences with longish words that would easily be understood by a 4th grader and plenty of shortish sentences with shortish, archaic words that would highly difficult for an adult to understand, particularly an adult unfamiliar with Shakespearean English.
tl;dr: Using Flesch-Kincaid to determine the grade-level understandability of the KJV is a misunderstanding of what’s it’s made to do and how it works. In sum, either ignorant or disingenuous.
I think I said this before, but you could use this formula to find that a text in Chinese requires a lower reading grade-level than a text in English. Not what the system was meant for, and definitely a false result as it applies to (most) native English speakers.
“… my siblings all bear the names of English queens and kings …”
I just feel sorry for your brother, AEthelred the Unready.
Whoops, that’s supposed to be a reply to the comment by EliACas.
For 1 year, I taught a church history class for a lot of people here in Asia where I work. In the middle, I realized I would need to do a lesson or two on the KJV controversy, because KJV-only heretics were coming over and telling them they had to use it here, too, since it’s the only “pure seed.” Whenever anyone objected, the standard line was “Well, it’s not your native language and you can’t understand all the nuances of this argument, so you’ll just have to trust us and use it.” So I decided to arm these folks by telling them about the controversy. In the process, we dealt with this Flesh Kincaid reading level idiocy. Here is what I wrote, and discovered through my own test:
When examined closely, the calculations of these programs are worthless, because Flesch-Kincaid Readability Tests are designed to count only the number of words in one sentence and the number of syllables in one word. The KJV’s difficulty does not lie in the number of words in a sentence—it is the difficulty of those words and their arrangement within the sentence. Here are the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease Definitions:
90–100 easily understandable for an 11-year old student
60–70 understandable to an average adult
0–30 understandable to a highly educated adult
The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level estimates the grade level of education necessary in order to understand a sentence by counting the words and syllables. For example, I can write a sentence that is very high on this scale, meaning that Flesch-Kincaid believes it to be very difficult:
Yesterday, I traveled around the city, walking through gardens and looking at shopping centers, while I talked to my mother about problems in my sister’s university.
—Reading Ease: 37.2 (well-educated adult)
(Naturally all my students, including those who were not native English speakers, could understand that sentence perfectly).
Consider another example, however, which according to the Flesch-Kincaid program is very easy:
What, and didst thou wend thy way yonder?
—Reading Ease: 100 (easiest possible level)
—Grade 0.8 (lower than first grade)
(No non-native speaker had any idea what this meant, and some native speakers weren’t sure.)
As you can see, Flesch-Kincaid is useful only when comparing passages that have the same kind of language.
Secondly, the assertion that the King James is easier to read than modern translations when compared on the Flesch-Kincaid is simply a lie. I cannot say whether the KJV-only supporters who say this are lying purposefully, or are just passing on incorrect information because they don’t know better. The test can be easily manipulated on purpose, but it can also give a false reading if these three things are not remembered:
1. You must use a passage of more than 200 words in order to get an accurate reading.
2. You must take out verse numbers and footnote letters or you will get a false reading, as the computer tries to count those letters as a kind of word.
3. You must compare the same passages.
I chose five random passages from the Bible by the “close-your-eyes-and-flip method: one from Law (Numbers 18), one from History (II Kings 22), one from Poetry (Psalm 80), one from Prophecy (Isaiah 63), and one from Epistles (I Peter 3). All the passages were more than 200 words, and I took out all verse numbers and footnote letters from all the passages. I compared the ESV, KJV, NIV and NASB. Here are the overall averages:
ESV was easiest, with 81.02
NIV was second, with 80.6
NASB was third, with 80.32
KJV was last, with 70.16, more than 10 points lower than the leader.
NIV was lowest, at 5.5
ESV was second, with 6.2
NASB was third, 6.3
KJV was last, 7.8 (quite a difference from the 5-6th grade level claim)
When we look at individual sections, we learn even more. The scores were somewhat similar in the History (II Kings 12) and Epistles (I Peter 3) sections. However, in the Prophecy section (Isaiah 63), the scores were very different:
Reading Ease Grade Level
ESV 90 2.3
NIV 89.1 2.3
NASB 87.2 3.5
KJV 80.9 6.1
In the Law, the scores were again very different. The modern versions all scored similarly in reading ease and grade level, while the KJV was significantly higher.
ESV 74.8 8.1
NASB 72.8 8.7
NIV 72.8 7.8
KJV 63.4 11.6
Again, we notice a problem in the Poetry section:
ESV 100 1.3
NIV 97.2 1.3
NASB 97.1 2
KJV 90.3 4.1
Sorry for the length, but that “5-6th grade” thing is a lie, and I’m sick of hearing it. Someone messed with those numbers, and now they all repeat the same lie, hopefully through ignorance.
Knowing that a certain Gail Riplinger is connected with this business, it would surprise me in the least that the thing is a lie. I have documented at great length taht Mrs. Riplinger would not know what the truth was if it jumped up and bit her. So of course she’s manipulated the figures; probably looked carefully until she found a work result that fitted her desired conclusion and then suppressed all the conflicting data, as is her wont.
Excellent post – thanks for the research and details!
What grade level is a college text book, like third grade level? I find those much easier to read than the KJV. Fundies have this disconnect. I wonder what grade level Beowolf was written at? Taking into account that far fewer people could read then I bet it was just as easy as KJV. I think fundies should try reading that in its original and tell me how they fare with it. None of those “But it is a different language!” excuses, it is in the english family tree just like the KJV, they are just being lazy.
Just discovered this jewel today: Psalms 12:6-7 Is constantly used by the KJVonly’s to demonstrate the superiority of the the KJV. “The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”….Of course nowhere in these verses does it indicate that this is speaking of a 17th century English translation, and if you study the context, even in the KJV itself, it is clearly speaking about people (NIV says “and protect us from such people forever”)……I checked my 1611 and right by “them” in v-7 it has a small cross, indicating a margin note, the note says “Hebrew, I, Him, every one of them”
I love it!
hm, the “proof texts” for KJVO that I always heard were often the threats from the end of Revelation–you know, about adding or taking away one word from Scripture. (or jot, or tittle, which everyone knows are words for commas, after all, this theory helps us to establish lots of sermon points ever so conveniently and it makes us sound smart too). Funny how the KJV translators managed to sneak all those punctuation marks into the text without getting stricken by lightening . . .
The original texts didn’t have punctuation, spaces between words, breaks between sentences, or, in the Hebrew texts, vowels.
I don’t think most Biblical literalists understand how much interpretation and even guessing is needed to simply read such texts, let alone translate them to English.
…and remember, “rightly dividing the word of truth” means…ahh… believing in dispensationalism!
Of course. Right? I mean, it’s so obvious.
Furthermore, “study to show thyself approved,” that means to _study the bible a lot_.
exactly. Because, you know, a jot is a little mark, and a comma is a little mark, therefore, a jot is a comma! Totally logical. Seriously, I have heard whole sermons propped up by the comma placement in a particular verse.
And don’t forget, “forget not the assembling of yourselves together” means that you better be there Sunday night, Wednesday night, Sunday morning, and to choir practice on Fridays, lest the Spirit smite you verily for waxing cold (like the church at Laodicea).
The archaic 1600-1700s language is certainly a problem. The Bible should be able to be read and understood ON ITS OWN, without needing a library of reference books and dictionaries or an advanced degree in English to understand it. God’s Word needs to be accessible to everyone in their own language, and English from 300-400 years ago is not our language today.
But I think that most serious problems are those areas where, instead of outright lack of understanding, cause misunderstanding. Places where modern vocabulary or sentence structure gives one impression, but the actual vocabulary or structure of the KJV actually means something else. The “appearance of evil” in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 is a good example of this. It really means to avoid evil whenever it appears, but too many people accept the fundamentalist interpretation that it means “don’t do anything that anyone might ever think is even vaguely connected to something evil, even if their assumption makes no sense” because it does appear to be suggesting something like that in the KJV (not denying that many pastors exaggerate even the KJV, though).
Its not even a question of the Greek/Hebrew text behind the translation in this case. The KJV was an excellent translation that served Christians well in its day. The translators wanted a Bible that any person who was able to read could understand, not just the clergy and the educated. Why is this such a hard concept for some Christians to understand today?
because the KJV is so much easier for IFB pastors to twist into what they want it to mean. They’ve already done the “hard work” of “figuring out” what certain phrases mean (like the ‘appearance of evil,’ for example,) and those interpretations are serving them well in the goals they are pursuing. They want to separate and dominate their followers; their interpretation of this verse enables them to prevent their followers from behaving in an even marginally mainstream manner, thus cordoning them off from the rest of the world and making them easier to control. Same thing with the “peculiar people” phrase-they want their people to be literally peculiar; that is, totally unlike the rest of society, so that they are easier to control. Whereas “peculiar” in more modern translations would mean simply “special,” not “intentionally weird.”
The bottom line is that they like their interpretations of many verses–interpretations that they have taught their congregations to accept–and they don’t want to rethink any of this.
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