The Elephant in the Room

Before we get to the aforementioned discussion of the NIV 2011, I wanted to make a brief mention of Biblical manuscripts. (I know that the vast readership of Hiding His Word — all 3 of you — have simply been on the edge of your seats unable to eat or drink until the NIV 84 vs NIV 2011 discussion is published, but if you can contain yourselves just a few more days . . . Thank you.)

You may have noticed in my comparison of versions I made no mention of the King James Version (a.k.a. the Authorized Version for those on the other side of the Atlantic) or the New King James Version in the previous discussion, other than the passing reference on the spectrum diagram. The impact of the KJV on Christianity, the English language, and Western culture in general is incalculable. The number of souls saved through the use of this translation and the number of godly men and women through the centuries who have walked with their Lord with it hidden in their hearts, again, are beyond estimation.

That said, as you no doubt know well, there are many who try to frame this great translation as the only translation of the Word of God to be used in English. This is a (ridiculously) contentious debate that I am not going to enter into other than making this brief mention: there is absolutely no scholarly merit to the arguments of those who argue that the Textus Receptus (the manuscript that the KJV/NKJV is based on) is superior to the critical Greek texts developed over the past 100+ years based on a much wider and older selection of manuscripts.

If you prefer the KJV or NKJV by all means, use it! My goodness, we’re talking about the Word of God. No translation perfectly renders the Greek into English, and for all its imperfections, the KJV is a monument of scholarship in the history of Bible translations.

That said, for all its value to past (and current) church history, we recognize that the English language has changed since 1611, the availability manuscripts is far greater than it was in 1611, and our understanding of koine Greek has improved since 1611. (Incidentally, the “1611” edition of the KJV was itself updated and corrected numerous times in the decades after its 1611 publication.)

Enough of this. I just felt that the discussion wasn’t complete if the KJV wasn’t at least touched on. It was the elephant in the room, that needed to be spoken to.

And now we can proceed.


About Neil Burleson

I serve as a missionary in the country of Papua New Guinea.
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