Title: Authorized – The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible
Author: Mark Ward
Genre: Theology / Translation Theory
Rating: 5 of 5
“If the King James Version was good enough for the Apostle Paul, then it’s good enough for me!” Obviously, this statement is (mostly) a caricature of the KJV-Only or KJV-Superiority positions. However, it demonstrates that when it comes to discussing the merits of various English Bible translations, reasonableness and graciousness far too often take a backseat to emotional appeals and exaggerated claims (from both sides).
This book is probably the most gracious, even-handed discussion of the King James Version that I have ever read. It starts with a thoughtful chapter on “what we lose as the the church stops using the KJV” – mostly a sense of historical value, continuity, uniformity, and grandeur when it comes to the language.
The author then goes on to talk about what we gain by having the Bible translated into modern vernacular. He discusses the biblical rationale behind having vernacular translations. For example: the New Testament was originally written in vernacular Koine Greek rather than grand/archaic Classical Greek, the Apostle Paul repeatedly speaks of the necessity of communicating in easily understandable language , the KJV itself was intended to be a vernacular translation back in 1611, the continuously changing nature of language, etc. He answers common objections and shows the reliability and spiritual value of many modern language translations (e.g. the ESV & NIV) without disparaging the historic value or scholarship of the KJV.
He does not go into detailed scholarly arguments about manuscripts and textual families since this is a popular level book (and those arguments are tremendously overblown). However, he does provide this website as a resource to show the slight differences between the different editions of the Greek New Testament that underlie the KJV and more modern translations.
If you are curious about Bible translation or think that the KJV is the only “definitive” English Bible translation fit for mature Christians I urge you to read this book. If you are interested in a slightly more scholarly approach that does go into manuscript/textual issues I would also highly recommend The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism by D. A. Carson. It is quite a bit older (1978), but the general principles discussed in it still hold true.
A closing quote from the book:
I want to change the paradigm we’ve all been assuming. Stop looking for the “best” English Bible. It doesn’t exist. God never said it would. Take up the embarrassment of riches we now have. Make the best use of our multi-translation situation, because it’s truly a great problem to have. (p. 137)