When it comes to God’s Word, true Christians should be on the same page. However, in this fallen world that we live in, this is not so. People that call themselves followers of Christ seem to argue over everything under the scorching sun, including which version of the Bible is best to read. Many will tell you that the KJV is the only version that you’re going to need, but is it?
I’m no Bible scholar or anything, but I love research and history, and I made a few notes regarding what I thought was interesting.
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Early languages of the Bible
In Exodus 34:27, we see God commanding Moses to write down His words. On record, Moses was the first author to write down the biblical record. He spoke Hebrew, therefore, he recorded God’s words in said native language. However, not the entire Old Testament was written in Hebrew. A few chapters in the prophecies of Ezra and Daniel and one verse in Jeremiah was written in Aramaic. In the ancient world, Aramaic displaced a lot of other languages; it was so popular that it became the common spoken language in Jesus’ time.
Although some Aramaic words were used by the Gospel writers in the New Testament, it was written in Greek, which was the language of scholarship during that period. The New Testament was composed during that period from 50 to 100 AD. Around 300 BC, a translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Koine Greek began, completing around 200 BC. This translation was called the Septuagint.
Image via The Logos Academic Blog
The first English Bible, a timeline
Before 1536 – it was forbidden to produce a Bible in English. In 1536, Henry VIII made it legal to translate the Bible into English.
1525 – Wycliffe’s Bible is known as the earliest version of the English Bible, but it contained only the New Testament. It was also the first printed version of the NT. He made some controversial translation choices, yet, his work was the foundation that will pave the way for later translations including the KJV.
William Tynsdale was killed before he could complete his translation of the Old Testament.
1539 – The Great Bible became the first authorized version of the Bible in English. This Bible was based on an earlier version begun illegally by William Tyndale. It was edited and adapted by Miles Coverdale.
1560 – The Geneva Bible was the first Bible in English to add numbered verses, based on the work of Stephanus (Robert Estienne of Paris). This Bible was produced by the English religious reformers, who fled to Geneva when Mary Tudor succeeded to the throne in 1553, and returned the Church of England to the Roman Catholic faith.
1568 – The official Bishops’ Bible was published after flaws were found in both the Great Bible and the Geneva Bible. Despite the flaws, the Geneva translation remained the most popular English Bible of that time.
1611 – The King James Version arrives on the scene.
Image via kjvbibles.com
Is the KJV still relevant today?
Let me be honest for a minute. I really dislike the old Elizabethan English of the KJV. Whenever the Bible was translated, it was translated into the language that the culture speaks and writes in. When the KJV was translated, it was written in the everyday spoken and written English language of the people, which was 400 years ago. I believe that Bible translations should be updated and revised to upkeep with the times. The outdated English can be a pain for many to read, but the modern translations are not perfect, as many contain mistranslated verses.
As for me, I use the KJV, but I also read from other translations from time to time, such as the ESV and NIV. It has been said that the New American Standard Bible (NASB) is the most accurate word for word English Bible translation, but I’ve never used it, so I can’t comment on that claim. Although its English is archaic, I think that the KJV is still relevant today, as it was 400 years ago, and I’ll be using this translated version going forward where the Bible studies are concerned.