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Question 152

Q: My father and brother are strict King James Version only, and think anyone else who isn’t is terribly wrong and liberal. If I were to tell them that I read and study other translations, they’d lose respect for me. I currently have to hide my other translations every time they come to visit. Should I confront them about this issue, and if so, how? 

Asked by: Steven


A: Well Steven, ultimately I can’t answer that question for you, because only you know the dynamics of your father, brother, and family, and what kind of a situation would arise if you were to confront them.

I think you should, but I mean that’s a judgment call that you need to make. Let me say this, there are those who believe that the King James is the only Bible we should use. I believe that they are very wrong. The King James, of course, goes back many centuries. It was a very good translation and influenced English literature.

What needs to be understood is that translations are not inspired by God. And because language changes over time, new ways, better ways of saying something helps new generations understand God’s Word. The King James Version of the Bible certainly served its generations, but we do live in a different age.

There’s something else that needs to be understood. There are many scholars who dedicate their lives to finding the most accurate manuscripts of the New Testament. By “finding” I don’t mean that they’re out looking for them. I mean that they have the hundreds and hundreds of manuscripts and they compare them, they contrast them, they do studies of them to find the very best manuscripts available.

What constitutes a good manuscript? It’s a manuscript that, as far as possible, goes back to the original. And so most scholars today believe that we have improved the accuracy of the text since the King James Version through many years of scholarship. That’s one reason why we need new translations: there are minor changes, and I emphasize, minor changes, in the text.

Furthermore, there are some very contemporary ways to say the same truth. You find this, for example, if you have a more contemporary translation of the Bible. Now, I personally use two or three different Bibles. Some are much more directly, what shall I say, literal from the text, others are paraphrases, or translations that are much more contemporary. You can benefit from them all.

I’m sorry that your brother and father have made such a big issue of this. I would ask you to be cautious and careful, but at sometime after you’ve read a book on the subject—and there are many books out there that are good—maybe what you should do is you should sit down with them and have a long talk. But that’s up to your judgment, Steven. God bless you.

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