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1611 to 2011 - 400 years of the King James version

400 years ago back in 1611 AD, the King James Bible was translated, representing a major step in bringing the Word of God to the general populace. This website explores some of the issues of translation, the central characters involved in the history of our English Bibles, and provides reasons why despite being so old, the King James Bible represents the most reliable English Bible for the 21st Century.

The King James Bible was succeeded by what became known as the New King James Bible, the translators of which expressed their approval of the manuscript they were updating:

“The King James translators were committed to producing an English Bible that would be a precise translation, and by no means a paraphrase or a broadly approximate rendering. On the one hand, the scholars were almost as familiar with the original languages of the Bible as with their native English. On the other hand, their reverence for the divine Author and His Word assured a translation of the Scriptures in which only a principle of utmost accuracy could be accepted ...

... The translation was extraordinarily well done ...

... Students of the Bible applaud the timeless devotional character of our historic Bible ...

(Preface to The New King James Bible)

This is a testimony as to the accuracy of the King James version, even from those who wanted to update it.

Outdated English?

The role of a translator is to ensure an accurate rendering of the original text.  Some criticize the use of the King James version, claiming that it’s language is out dated, or “archaic”. However, as the articles on this web site seek to show, the language is not so much outdated English, but is reflective of the structure of the original tongues.

Sometimes an example of outdated English is indicated in the use of “thee” and “thou” instead of “you” and “your”. The claim is that these words are old English, and should be updated for a modern audience. However, the King James version often uses the words “you” (2011 times) and “your” (1305 times).  This indicates that the translators were not simply utilizing the language of the day in using “thee” and “thou”, but were making a deliberate choice not to use “you” and “your” in particular places. The reason for this can be seen when we investigate the meanings of these words. In common usage, the words “you” and “your” can be either singular or plural.  However, the “old English” is more accurate: the words “thee” and “thou” are singular, and the words “you” and “your” are plural. This explains why the translators have chosen to use these words: it is to express a singularity as distinct from plurality.

In our day, the words “thee” and “thou” have not been replaced by newer terms, rather the meaning of the words “you” and “your” has been expanded to include them. This shows that the King James version language is not so much outdated, but is rather being more accurate than the modern vernacular.

For further articles dealing with this and other issues of translation please follow the links to a range of articles.

 

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