Revered as it is for its poetic language, renowned as it is for its weighty contribution to everyday English, and respected as it is for its scholarly accuracy, the language of the King James Bible is not the way that we speak in the twenty-first century. The English of 1611 is simply not the English of 2011. So when I have a friend who wants to know more about the Bible, I choose not to give her a KJV.
1. I want my friend to know that the message of the Bible is for today. Through reading its pages, Christianity should become clearer to her. Unless my friend is an English literature professor, the language of the KJV does more to keep the meaning veiled than open its plain truth to the average reader.
2. I want the Bible to speak for itself to my friend. If she has to use the KJV, I have to do a lot of explaining just to help her unravel the vocabulary. Wouldn’t it be better if my friend could focus on the message of the text instead of puzzling over archaic words?
3. I want to avoid the appearance of a being part of a cult. Many cults prefer to use the KJV such as the Mormons and Christian Science. Could that be because they want their followers to consult “inside” experts on the true meaning of that archaic language?
4. I want my friend to keep reading the Bible. If the version I give her is too hard to understand, my friend is likely to give up before she gets to the good stuff.
So what version would you give to yourinquiring friend? And why?