Jamesian stew (2): see, taste, and comprehend

I’m sincerely glad when anyone *really* reads or studies the Bible.  Serious study of Bible texts is also part and parcel of every week of my life.

Now, it’s not that I know it all — far from it — it’s that I’m trying to be as intent as I can be, with the tools I have available, about getting the message . . . about hearing God.

In recent weeks, I have had the opportunity to teach on Mark’s gospel, on Paul’s 1st letter to the Thessalonians, and on 1Corinthians 4:1-5.  Part of this study has involved some comparison of versions, along with vocabulary and structural highlights from the original Greek.  There have been KJV Bibles in my presence, 🙂 but I’ve spent precisely zero minutes criticizing the version!

But neither have I spent much time dealing with 400-year-old language when that language frequently obscures the text more than it aids understanding.  There is too much to get into in the text without feuding.

Sometimes the chosen version matters more than others; yet where there is a choice to be made, there simply is no defensible, remaining reason to use the KJV alone for study purposes.

100 or 200 years ago, yes.  50 years ago, maybe.

But not today.

It is with respect — to old friends and new friends, to octogenarians and neophytes, and to folks from selected Baptist, CofC, Pentecostal, and other KJV-only churches — that I re-assert with gusto that the KJV is decidedly inferior to most other translations.  I think we all know that, deep down.  Anyone who thinks otherwise these days is, frankly, either

  • uneducated (and this is intended as a statement of mere fact, not a slam or a guess as to IQ level)
  • unable to separate denominational dogma from reality (read:  listens uncritically to preachers or pastors)
  • undyingly clinging to something not worth clinging to

The right to use various Bible versions ought to be a guaranteed right.  ACLU agenda addition¹ or not, it is my purpose to educate, to move folks toward being able, and to encourage them to release those grips . . . not because I think I know it all, but because not one of us knows and lives scripture enough.  I want to play a role in removing barriers and enabling our comprehension.

[To be continued]

¹ Would the ACLU consider biblical-version freedom to be a civil liberty, a right of every believer?  🙂


2 thoughts on “Jamesian stew (2): see, taste, and comprehend

  1. John Eoff 02/09/2015 / 6:22 am

    Brian, a year or two ago I would join you in complaints about the KJV, and still would from a limited standpoint. Certainly the restraint that the king put upon the translators which enhanced the institutional concept of the way and the demanded transliteration of words to comply with the institution’s theology is deplorable and has caused a lot of misunderstanding. However, on the other hand it translates some words much more accurately than most later translations and the errors of the latter have affected understanding of content adversely. My preference for study is one or more of the available Greek-English interlineal translations.


    • Brian Casey 02/09/2015 / 7:40 am

      John, Understanding is in the eyes of the understander, I guess! I’ve actually pointed to one or two KJV translations lately that are better than, say, the ESV or RSV or NASB. But that doesn’t mean the language itself is justifiable very often. It only means that that committee happened to get a thing or two right-er than 20C or 21C committees. (Aside: I’m attending a committee meeting in 3 hours, and this one has gotten some things right, too, but has been hampered by too many people with different communication styles trying to say the same things in different ways.)

      Yes, to be sure, an interlinear can keep one on track. There’s more contra-KJV to be said (two more installments!), but I think that almost any non-Greek-reader can be helped by comparing two or more different translations in his own language. Since substantial portions of the KJV’s language are not written in my language, really, I rarely turn to it for a comparison.


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