Halt! Hast thou waxed weak scum or art thou leasing a muffler?
This FAQ article is in response to periodic complaints that we are not exclusively using the KJV translation of the Bible. Because we try to reply to every email, and the explanation takes a long time, we have put it all together here:
First, lets cover some of my history and how that I arrived at this point of view. My passion for the word of God began in the early 1980s shortly after I got serious with Jesus. I had prayed every night for as long as I can remember, but I did not know who God was. It was just mechanical repetition. Then He came into my life and turned me upside down.
Suddenly I wanted to make up for everything that I had ever done wrong. I repented and prayed and fasted and set out to memorize the entire Bible. I was baptized at least three times. In a river, in a pool and something liken to a ditch. I was a Southern Baptist at the time and we thoroughly believed in baptism. (I still do.)
I had a King James Version “Authorized Edition” and I read it cover to cover, even the dictionary at the back. It was not enough to just read at night, I had to go to work and could not read while up on an extension ladder painting, so I needed something else.
Somehow I got my hands on a King James Version “Bible on Cassette” read by Alexander Scourby, on forty-eight cassette tapes. I had a portable player and I listened to that Bible all day long at work. It was joyful, but eventually the batteries would start to die and old Alexander read slower and slower until he stopped reading at all. Sometimes the tape, or Alexander, got tangled up and he would read the Bible backwards to me. He often sounded like he was drunk. Those were the days.
Anyway, I started carrying three sets of rechargeable batteries with me to work, and I wore them down until the charge only lasted a few minutes. Eventually I had a stack of worn out Walkmans that loved to eat my beloved Alexander. My tapes looked like they had been through a war, and lost. They were dirty, grimy and painted.
Later Compact Discs became available and I upgraded to a CD player on my side. The only audio Bible on CD at that time was the New International Version on fifty-five compact disks, narrated by Stephen Johnston, which I bought for a hefty price. I was leery of it at first coming from the KJV, but desperate for the word, and after listening through it a few times I found that they agreed on most things. It was a huge improvement, but anytime you bumped the player, it skipped a few verses.
Eventually the invention of multi-disk cd players expanded my adventure even more. I bought a Pioneer fifty disc CD changer and was able to load all but five CDs of the Bible into it. The other five I rotated in and out and took to work with me as I systematically worked my way through the Bible each week.
I now listened to the Bible twenty-four hours a day. All day at work in my headphones, in the car on the way there and back, then all night at home with my CD changer that was on repeat. I placed speakers throughout the house so you could listen to it in every room.
It took three days for me to go completely through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, then it repeated. After some months of this, I knew what was in the Bible but I had not gone far on my quest of memorization. You could, however, start almost any sentence in the Bible and I could safely finish the paragraph.
I feel that I amused God at times with my zeal. I would fast for a week at a time and listen to the Bible twenty-four seven. I did see some fun miracles in my life, but that did not build a relationship, and in the end, that is all that matters. You can do everything that I did, and not even be saved. It takes spending quality time with the Lord and prayer to build a meaningful relationship.
Eventually I got my hands on a computer and after mp3 files were invented, I ripped all fifty-five of those CDs to mp3 files with a Windows 95 machine. I then replaced the OS shell with “Winamp” so that the computer booted straight up and started playing the Bible. There was no start menu or icons, just an mp3 Bible player that looped continuously. It was probably one of the first dedicated mp3 players in existence.
I connected that computer to my existing speaker network and the Bible now played from my computer workshop, and into the house through every room. Whether I was at my workbench in the shop, in the bathroom taking a shower, or laying in bed, I could always hear the Bible being read.
The homemade NIV mp3 files served me well for years, but I wanted to improve on it. You could not even buy the Bible on mp3 for another five years or so. Finally, they started selling it on mp3 and I varied my listening.
When it became available, I purchased the NKJV Bible narrated by Stephen Johnston “Fully Dramatized”. It was ok during the day, but listening to the sheep and goats bleet and baa at night while trying to sleep was bothersome. Also the action music was a bit much when watching a movie.
The Amplified Version narrated by Steven B. Stevens had great potential, but proved laborious. It was extremely detailed and when he was done, you certainly understood what he was saying because he seemed to repeat it like six times. I love studying the amplified, but it can be laborious to listen to.
Then there was the English Standard Version narrated by Max McLean. It was a newer “Word for Word” translation released in 2002. This was a very polished release. The narration contained very few mistakes when compared with some of the others. It was pretty easy to listen to, though my wife said that Max sounded angry at times, especially around the crucifixion.
I got a copy of Johnny Cash narrating the NKJV New Testament, and it is terrific. He is laid back and reads slowly enough that you can follow him while letting the words sink in. I wish that he would have released a full narration of the entire Bible.
After getting married, I moved to pillow speakers at night and I have worn out so many now that I have started building my own. I started out buying them, but they seemed fragile and developed electrical shorts in the wiring. So I built a custom one that was a bit on the heavy duty side with a row of small speakers embedded in plywood. It was durable, but I have moved onto slimmer, thinner, better versions.
Our current audio Bible system is a custom “His and Hers” pillow speaker system with dual volume controls. I built it from a thin sheet of plastic that you insert inside your pillow case and it uses a small transducer that gently vibrates the plastic. The result is a very smooth sound and broad coverage with no dead spots. It is powered by an iPod with a playlist on repeat.
The audio Bible that we listen to now is the full ESV arranged in chronological order. Between Numbers and Deuteronomy, I inserted the NIV New Testament. After Ezekiel I inserted the NKJV New Testament. This way we listen through the New Testament in ESV, NIV and NKJV and the Old Testament once in ESV on each pass through. It has played for years and usually every night while laying in bed, I listen to the Bible being read. Many of my writings come to me during this time.
I gave you all of that history, not to build myself up, but so that you would understand what I am about to write. The Bible to me is a lifelong passion. I have given up on memorizing the entirety of the book, and after almost thirty years, I feel that I know hardly anything about it anymore.
The Bible is an inspired masterpiece and layered, deep, intricately detailed and I have merely scratched the surface. But there are some things that I have learned along the way and you could say that I now have a basic understanding of the differences in various Bible translations.
We have had people write us and tell us that we are “going to hell” because we do not use the “King James Version” exclusively in our writing, so I wanted to clarify why I believe that we are not. At one point in my life, I felt that way too, but I was merely repeating what I had heard from a country preacher. I had not really looked into it in depth.
These days, I like to reference all translations available and compare them. I check a concordance and consult the original Hebrew and Greek. I then choose what I think is the clearest translation for that verse and use it. It may be the KJV, the ESV, the NIV, the AMP, maybe even the message.
I have a worn NKJV Bible that I carried through my years in seminary and still use in my morning devotions. I love that Bible. God speaks to me through that Bible. But it is merely a translation just like all of the rest.
The KJV has become a religion in itself. There are many Bibles older, and newer than the KJV but somehow ALL of the rest of them are viewed as bad. I have never seen anyone that complained about us not using the KJV ever change their mind. If that applies to you, I do not expect you to either because I believe that it is a spiritual force behind it. I have become tired of writing things like this over and over so I am going to write it once and then just send people a link to this article.
If you want me to use the KJV and can make a convincing argument then you might persuade me, but I want facts and not feelings or what you heard from someone else. If you are up to it, read on, but if this makes you angry then you should ask yourself why my not using the KJV makes you angry when you can still read it all that you want. Let’s go over some details as to why I do not strictly use the King James Version:
– God did not write the ten commandments in stone using English. I don’t think that Moses or the Israelites could have read it. He probably wrote them in Hebrew (Exodus 24:12).
– Jesus didn’t use the KJV. He stood in the temple and read from the book of Isaiah, but it was not the KJV (Luke 4:16 ). It was written 1600 years later. Also, Jesus did not speak English.
– Paul and the other Apostles did not use the KJV either. Paul did not write his books in English. God took care of them anyway.
– The KJV was originally released with 80 books and contained the “Apocrypha.” They were removed about 160 years later leaving the 66 books that it now has. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_James_Version
– It was “Authorized” by King James, not God Himself. The “Authorized Version” label means nothing today.
– All English versions of the bible are just translated from the original Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew text. None of the writers of the Bible spoke English, because it did not exist yet. It was Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.
– There are many translations older than the KJV including the Wycliff, Tyndale, Martin Luther’s and several others. There are many translations newer, and with the help of technology today, more accurate.
– There are between 6,000 to 7,000 different languages in the world. Why would God require everyone in the world to be able to read Old English in order to understand His word? Doesn’t He want to reach Russia and China as well? “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations (Mark 13:10).” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language
Without getting angry and defensive, can you show me verses in the KJV that are more accurate than the ESV? Occasionally, I will use the KVJ, but when I do it will be because that verse is particularly well written in the KJV and not because it is the only one that we use. If God Himself did not use the King James Version, I do not feel particularly bound to it.
I know that many people love the KJV, and I do love the KVJ flow and poetry, but to the unlearned sometimes it just does not make sense in today’s world. Many people that subscribe to the Daily Word are not career Christians, and even then, only about 2% of Christians have read the entire bible once.
I think that the KJV is a decent translation, but nothing more and to be honest, it can be downright confusing to new believers:
* “They Rent their garments” (Acts 14:14) today would mean renting a tuxedo and not “They tore their clothes”.
* “Divers places” (Matt 24:7) today means under water, and not “Various places” like it used to.
* “Leasing” (Psalm 4:2) now refers to a property contract and not “Lying”.
* “Pill” (Gen. 30:37) today is something that you swallow, not “Peel”.
* “Quick” (Num. 16:30) today would mean fast, not “Alive”.
* “Mail” (1 Sam. 17:38) now means, well postal mail or email, not “Armor”.
* “Muffler” (Isa. 3:19) is something to quieten a car, not a “Ladies Veil”.
* “Paddle” (Deut. 23:13) today would refer to a boat paddle, not a “Nail”.
* “Prick” (Num. 33:55) well, I won’t even go there but it is not a “Briar”.
* “Quit” (1 Sam. 4:9) would mean to stop something, not “Commit to it”.
* “Rereward” (Num. 10:25) just sounds made up…
* “Scrabble” (1 Sam. 21:13) today is a game, not “Scratching”.
* “Scum” (Ezek. 24:6) does not mean “Disease” today.
* “Snuff” (Jer. 2:24) usually refers to dipping tobacco.
* “Waxed” (2 Sam. 3:1) today could refer to waxing a car or hair removal, but not “Grew”.
There is a religious spirit in the church that works hard to keep the people stupid. It has always been there. To continue to view the KJV as the most accurate translation for the twenty-first century makes me laugh. The same spirit that burned people at the stake for first translating the scriptures from Latin is at work here. Yes, the “Latin Vulgate” used to be the real “Authorized Version” and people killed each other to protect its reign. Every other translation was considered “Heresy” in 600 AD.
John Wycliff translated the scriptures from the Latin Vulgate into English in the 1380’s. The Pope was so angry about his translation of the Bible into English, that 44 years after Wycliffe had died, he ordered his bones to be dug-up, crushed, and scattered in the river.
John Huss came after him and believed that people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language. Huss was burned at the stake in 1415, with Wycliffe’s manuscript Bibles used as kindling for the fire.
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs records that in the year 1517, seven people were burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic Church for the crime of teaching their children to say the Lord’s Prayer in English rather than Latin.
William Tyndale was a genius and considered the “Architect of the English Language” and was fluent in eight languages. He released an English translation of the New Testament in the 1530’s. The church declared it contained thousands of errors as they torched hundreds of New Testaments confiscated by the clergy, while in fact, they actually burned them because they could find no errors at all. One risked death by burning if caught in mere possession of Tyndale’s forbidden books. The “Church” hired bounty hunters to try and find him.
Until now, printing an English Bible would get you killed. The first “Authorized” English Bible came by King Henry. It was not that King Henry VIII had a change of conscience regarding publishing the Bible in English. His motives were more sinister… but the Lord sometimes uses the evil intentions of men to bring about His glory.
King Henry VIII had in fact, requested that the Pope permit him to divorce his wife and marry his mistress. The Pope refused. King Henry responded by marrying his mistress anyway, (later having two of his many wives executed), and thumbing his nose at the Pope by renouncing Roman Catholicism, taking England out from under Rome’s religious control, and declaring himself as the reigning head of State to also be the new head of the Church. This new branch of the Christian Church, neither Roman Catholic nor truly Protestant, became known as the Anglican Church or the Church of England. King Henry acted essentially as its “Pope”. His first act was to further defy the wishes of Rome by funding the printing of the scriptures in English… the first legal English Bible… just for spite.
From a very interesting article on the Bible timeline: http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/
Here is a Timeline of Bible Translation History:
1,400 BC: The first written Word of God: The Ten Commandments delivered to Moses.
500 BC: Completion of All Original Hebrew Manuscripts which make up The 39 Books of the Old Testament.
200 BC: Completion of the Septuagint Greek Manuscripts which contain The 39 Old Testament Books AND 14 Apocrypha Books.
1st Century AD: Completion of All Original Greek Manuscripts which make up The 27 Books of the New Testament.
315 AD: Athenasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, identifies the 27 books of the New Testament which are today recognized as the canon of scripture.
382 AD: Jerome’s Latin Vulgate Manuscripts Produced which contain All 80 Books (39 Old Test. + 14 Apocrypha + 27 New Test).
500 AD: Scriptures have been Translated into Over 500 Languages.
600 AD: LATIN was the Only Language Allowed for Scripture.
995 AD: Anglo-Saxon (Early Roots of English Language) Translations of The New Testament Produced.
1384 AD: Wycliffe is the First Person to Produce a (Hand-Written) manuscript Copy of the Complete Bible; All 80 Books.
1455 AD: Gutenberg Invents the Printing Press; Books May Now be mass-Produced Instead of Individually Hand-Written. The First Book Ever Printed is Gutenberg’s Bible in Latin.
1516 AD: Erasmus Produces a Greek/Latin Parallel New Testament.
1522 AD: Martin Luther’s German New Testament.
1526 AD: William Tyndale’s New Testament; The First New Testament printed in the English Language.
1535 AD: Myles Coverdale’s Bible; The First Complete Bible printed in the English Language (80 Books: O.T. & N.T. & Apocrypha).
1537 AD: Tyndale-Matthews Bible; The Second Complete Bible printed in English. Done by John “Thomas Matthew” Rogers (80 Books).
1539 AD: The “Great Bible” Printed; The First English Language Bible Authorized for Public Use (80 Books).
1560 AD: The Geneva Bible Printed; The First English Language Bible to add Numbered Verses to Each Chapter (80 Books).
1568 AD: The Bishops Bible Printed; The Bible of which the King James was a Revision (80 Books).
1609 AD: The Douay Old Testament is added to the Rheims New Testament (of 1582) Making the First Complete English Catholic Bible; Translated from the Latin Vulgate (80 Books).
1611 AD: The King James Bible Printed; Originally with All 80 Books. The Apocrypha was Officially Removed in 1885 Leaving Only 66 Books.
1782 AD: Robert Aitken’s Bible; The First English Language Bible (KJV) Printed in America.
1791 AD: Isaac Collins and Isaiah Thomas Respectively Produce the First Family Bible and First Illustrated Bible Printed in America. Both were King James Versions, with All 80 Books.
1808 AD: Jane Aitken’s Bible (Daughter of Robert Aitken); The First Bible to be Printed by a Woman.
1833 AD: Noah Webster’s Bible; After Producing his Famous Dictionary, Webster Printed his Own Revision of the King James Bible.
1841 AD: English Hexapla New Testament; an Early Textual Comparison showing the Greek and 6 Famous English Translations in Parallel Columns.
1846 AD: The Illuminated Bible; The Most Lavishly Illustrated Bible printed in America. A King James Version, with All 80 Books.
1863 AD: Robert Young’s “Literal” Translation; often criticized for being so literal that it sometimes obscures the contextual English meaning.
1885 AD: The “English Revised Version” Bible; The First Major English Revision of the KJV.
1901 AD: The “American Standard Version”; The First Major American Revision of the KJV.
1952 AD: The “Revised Standard Version” (RSV); said to be a Revision of the 1901 American Standard Version, though more highly criticized.
1971 AD: The “New American Standard Bible” (NASB) is Published as a “Modern and Accurate Word for Word English Translation” of the Bible.
1973 AD: The “New International Version” (NIV) is Published as a “Modern and Accurate Phrase for Phrase English Translation” of the Bible.
1982 AD: The “New King James Version” (NKJV) is Published as a “Modern English Version Maintaining the Original Style of the King James.”
1990 AD: The “New Revised Standard Version” (NRSV); further revision of 1952 RSV, (itself a revision of 1901 ASV), criticized for “gender inclusiveness”.
2002 AD: The English Standard Version (ESV) is Published as a translation to bridge the gap between the accuracy of the NASB and the readability of the NIV.
Here is an article by Christian Books.com explaining the accuracy of Bible translations:
Look at the chart above and you will see that the NASB, Amplified, and ESV Bible are the closest to the original word for word translation. The KJV is like number 6.
Remember it would be fine to just say: “I prefer the KJV”. Just do not insist that everyone else has to use it because it is what Jesus used.
Don’t tell people that they are going to hell because they do not use the same Bible translation as you.
Why do you use the World English Bible (WEB)?
In our weekly Bible study, I record the Bible to audio for those that have trouble reading the Bible, or are visually impaired, or so that you can listen to it while on the go. For over three months, I tried to get permission to use a Bible translation for this project and it became a lot of legalistic drama. I am sad to say that men have taken the word of God and are now selling the rights to even quote it.
To sum it up, we cannot legally use the ESV, NIV, AMP, NKJV or any modern English translation without paying lots of money, if at all. From what I can gather, the NKJV (Zondervan) wants $10,000 up front and $10 per copy distributed. The ESV and others will not respond to our permission requests, though it is required. (The ESV finally did respond after three months but their requirements were too restrictive and therefore unacceptable.) I do not want to use Old English text to try and reach today’s youth, so we need a translation that is modern English, but free to use as we need. After prayer, I came across a project that was created just because of this copyright problem.
The World English Bible (WEB) http://ebible.org/web/webfaq.htm. The World English Bible translation is based on the ASV (1901) and was created because there are no modern English Bible translations that you can freely use without copyright entanglement. The WEB was created copyright free and is in the public domain from the start. You can use it all that you want, include the entire Bible on your website, record it to audio and use it for derivative works with absolutely no restrictions, and you do not have to get permission from anyone to do so.
We want to freely share the word of God around the world and we need to use a Bible translation that allows us to do that. This is so much more what Jesus envisioned when He told us to spread the Gospel, freely you have received, freely give. In my studies and personal reading each morning, I still use the ESV, AMP, NKJV, and NIV along with a Strong’s concordance and Tyndale’s commentary because I can use that at home personally, and legally. I just cannot share it on the web, but we are an online ministry so that creates a problem. So for my audio recording and probably for much of my devotional and teachings, I will be using the WEB translation. Please note that you can and should, read your own Bible and do what it says to do, so this does not change your translation. So far in my reading, I have found the ESV and the WEB very similar in translation but free from the legal issues.
I hope that this article on Bible translation has been helpful to you. If you are an avid KJV defender, I understand, I have been there.
Thank you for reading.