30 November 2011

King James: 400 years old but is he still the "only one"?

I was ruminating with my dad today about Bibles. A while back he introduced me to a neat website you can check out here which led to our discussion. He asked if I have a translation of choice and in thinking about it I realized that I really do not. I grew up on the New International Version and so a lot of the verses I have memorized are that translation though I do not tend to read that one much anymore. I sometimes prefer my New Living Translation, sometimes I want to read my New King James and other times I wish I had a New American Standard because I enjoy that when looking up certain text online. I do however have a translation I DO NOT prefer and in fact, it tends to turn me off. That is the old King James. I believe the reason for the King James Bible at the time was great. He wanted the common man to be able to read The Word in the language of the people. What has always bothered me as an adult is the great "hanging onto", so to speak, of this translation. King James wanted the Bible to be read AND understood by the common person and we do not speak the same way as they did 400 years ago. Therefore why do so many adhere to this translation as "the only one"?
I also must defer to Jesus on this point because, of course, His opinion on the subject is really the most important. Did He say anything that I could relate to this matter? Did He do anything that causes me to believe He may just agree with me on this point? Let me see what I can find. . .
Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?
Matthew 15.1-3 NASB

To me this is a wonderful example of the "hanging onto" of the King James Bible. If we are so bent on not allowing a modern translation to be used by our pastor, church or congregation for the sake of tradition that we alienate people who do not understand the language how are we following the command of the Great Commission?

What else might Jesus say that relates to this subject?
But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 22.34-40 NASB

To me this relates in that He is explaining what is most important. More important than what translation we read, what type of music we sing, whether the sermon is topical, expository or a bit of both. What is important is that we allow ourselves to be tools of Christ's love in order to reach the lost of the world. If that means putting our King James Bible aside and pulling out our New Living Translation to be better understood by one who has never read the Bible how can this be a bad thing?! I have heard the arguments that Bible translations have been "watered down" and "meanings get changed". I think that is all a bunch of nonsense, if the Holy Spirit is working we could really be reading (please read with exaggeration and humor) Dr. Seuss and the person would be hearing about Jesus and His love. I am not suggesting we be foolish but instead that we have already been foolish in the "hanging onto" of the old King James. Of course, this Bible had it's place in our history and it was and is a wonderful thing but we must be reasonable and practical, as well. It is not the only Bible that has been God-breathed:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
II Timothy 3.16 NASB

*On another note regarding Bibles in general I highly recommend this particular entry from the aforementioned blog.

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