Monday, October 29, 2018

The King James Version was my basic Bible from the time I started carrying one to church as a teen until the seventies.  Most who lived through the sixties and seventies remember the strong attachments some churches and individuals had for that version.  Some congregations had strict rules, “In the classroom and pulpit, only the King James and American Standard were allowed.”  If one quoted from the Revised Standard Version or New International Version, eye brows were raised, and criticism was leveled against such as heresy.

I remember in the mid-fifties that the American Standard Version was produced with a “red” cover.  It was quickly labeled as a “Communist Bible.”  It was anathema for some!  What was interesting about those congregations that accepted only the KJV and the ASV, is that the ASV was more closely aligned with the NIV than it was with the KJV.  Both translations used older manuscripts than the KJV was produced from.  The ASV was touted as the translation that was closer to the Greek New Testament than the KJV.  It was also interesting that the RSV Old Testament was more accurately translated than the KJV.  Those facts were usually ignored by KJV disciples.

In the eighties Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee sponsored a discussion format where two preachers would show why the KJV was a better translation than the NASV and NIV and two would show why the latter were better than the KJV.  No one could be found to take the KJV side, although some in the audience had questions during the discussion part.

Some lamented the passing of the “thee” and “thou” language in preaching, teaching, singing, and prayers.  One preacher wondered how congregations would be able to sing songs that contained that archaic language when performed with the modern “you” and “your.”  Some believed prayer using “thee” and “thou” to address God was set in stone by heaven.  They believed “you” and “your” were an abomination and demonstrated disrespect for Almighty God.  It is not wrong to address God in the 1611 language, but it is sinful to treat those who do not use it as though they were infidels.  The use or non-use is a choice of the one praying and in the realm of personal conscience.   Each should respect the other’s choice of expression.

Despite the newer translations, most continued following the KJV habit of not translating certain words.  This “decision” to not translate those words has resulted in traditions being created which followers saw as “a this saith the Lord.”

In many translations, Jesus’ cousin, is referred to as “John the Baptist.”  The word “Baptist” was capitalized as if that was John’s last name.  The same was done with Jesus Christ.  “Christ” is a title or work not Jesus’ last name.  Some came to see John as the founder of the Baptist Church.  Some continue to believe that.  The KJV through the NIV continued to refer to him as “John the Baptist.”  One church thought he founded the Baptist Church and Jesus became a member.  The quote created was, “The Bible was written by Baptists, to Baptists, and for Baptists.”  All of this because of capitalizing “Baptist” and refusing to translate it!  The International English Bible (IEB) is one of the few English translations that renders the word “Baptist” correctly.  Matthew 3:1, “During those days, John (the one who immersed people) . . .”  The expression “Baptist” (baptistes) indicated John’s work.  He baptized or immersed people.  In fact, he immersed Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17).  If the KJV had translated the word, perhaps the incorrect idea that baptism is sprinkling, pouring, or immersion would never have materialized.  Can you imagine someone claiming that “immersion is sprinkling, pouring, or immersion” if the King James committee had translated the word instead of anglicizing it?

Some believe the expression “Christ” is Jesus’ name.  It is the English translation of the Greek word “anointed one” or the Hebrew word for “Messiah” or “anointed one.”  If translated, would the expression “Christian” not mean “One belonging to the Messiah” or “One belonging to the anointed one”?  If that Greek word had been translated, we would not say, “He is a Christian,” but rather “He belongs to the Messiah.”  Wouldn’t Paul’s statement in Romans 16:16 not be rendered as “the churches of the anointed one” or “the churches of the Messiah”?  The English word “church” has its own jaded history.  The Greek word ekklesia is actually “assembly” or “congregation” in English.  If that had been rendered correctly, then “churches of God” or “churches of Christ” would be “assemblies” or “congregations of God” or “assemblies” or “congregations of the anointed one,” or “assemblies” or “congregations of the Messiah.”

Translation slips are interesting!