Listen:  96 Question 1

I use the King James Version most of the time because I have been using it for many decades and am most used to it.  However, I also use the Greek New Testament and the Hebrew Old Testament alongside of the English KJV because there are a number of places where the KJV is clearly deficient and the Greek and Hebrew versions take us a major step closer to the original manuscripts of the Bible.

But first, let us take a brief look at the history of the English Bible:

In the Second Century, AD, the Latin Vulgate Version was produced.  This was a Latin translation made from the Septuagint version of the Old Testament and the original Greek of the New. This appears to have been England’s first Bible, having been brought to that then pagan land by early Christian missionaries. In the fourth century, this version was revised by Jerome who had access to ancient Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament.

In 1382, the first English Bible was made. The first translation of the whole Bible into the English language was made by John Wycliffe. It was made from the Latin Vulgate and took him about 22 years to complete.

The first printed English Testament came in 1525. Following the invention of the printing press in Europe by Gutenberg about 1450, William Tyndale published the first printed New Testament in English. He translated much of the Bible out of the Hebrew and Greek rather than the Vulgate.

In 1611, The “Authorized Version” or “King James Version” was produced. This is a translation based on the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. It was commissioned by King James I and prepared, in five years of careful labor, by some 50 Church of England and Puritan scholars. It has been revised several times since then, in 1629, 1638, and 1769, so that a modern copy of the King James Version is quite changed from the original 1611 edition.

The New Translation by John Nelson Darby was produced in 1881. God was pleased to enable this man of God to translate His Holy Word most faithfully from the best Hebrew and Greek sources into English, French, and German. This translation is unexcelled in its close adherence to the most authoritative manuscripts, many of which were unknown to the King James translators. It is remarkably superior to the King James Version in many respects, including its much narrower and consistent selection of English words to express the same Greek or Hebrew word. To the serious Bible student who desires an English translation that most accurately renders the inspired Word of God, this translation by J.N. Darby is highly recommended.  On the negative side, since this is pretty much a word for word translation of the Greek and Hebrew texts, it is more difficult to read and understand than the KJV.

As mentioned earlier, there are a number of places where the KJV is clearly deficient.  A notable example, which gives an incorrect impression about the way of salvation, is Romans 8:1 which says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”  Notice in your Bible that the words, “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” are in italics.  These words are found in a few Greek manuscripts but are not found in most of the manuscripts.  Notice that these same words appear also in verse 4, where all of the manuscripts are in total agreement.  So perhaps when a manuscript of the New Testament was being copied in the early Christian centuries, a scribe mistakenly copied the words from verse 4 into verse 1.

An area in which the KJV consistently fails to capture the Greek words inspired by the Holy Spirit lies in purposely translating a Greek word found two or more times in the same passage with different English words.  This is a habit that is still being taught in our high school English classes, namely, trying not to use the same noun or verb more than once in the same paragraph.  We are taught to use synonyms instead.  This is what the King James translators did over and over.  Here is an example from 1 Corinthians 13:8-11 in the KJV, “Whether there be prophecies, they shall failwhether there be knowledge, it shall vanish awaythat which is in part shall be done awaywhen I became a man, I put away childish things.”  In this passage, the same Greek word, katargeo, is translated “fail,” “vanish away,” “done away,” and “put away.”  Clearly, the Holy Spirit had a message to give us by using the same word four times in the space of four verses, but the message gets lost in the KJV.

So which English version is best?  There is no clear answer to that question.  The KJV is still the most popular English version and certainly is among the best.  But neither the KJV nor any other version are perfect.  If our listener can take lessons in Biblical Greek and Hebrew, that will help immensely in your study of the Bible.  But even then, there are some variations among the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, and there are sometimes different opinions among Bible scholars as to the exact meaning of particular Greek and Hebrew words.  The best thing is to read the Bible through and through, over and over again.  That way, if we encounter a verse that doesn’t make sense, or seems to disagree with other verses, we can interpret it in the light of the message of the entire Bible.  (96.1) (PC)