Authorized: An Interview with Mark Ward


This year, Mark Ward published his book Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham, 2018). In this book, he makes the argument that Christians deserve a Bible translation in their own common, everyday language - they deserve a vernacular translation:

The KJV beautifully rendered the Scriptures into the language of turn-of-the-seventeenth-century England. Even today the King James is the most widely read Bible in the United States. The rich cadence of its Elizabethan English is recognized even by non-Christians. But English has changed a great deal over the last 400 years—and in subtle ways that very few modern readers will recognize. In Authorized, Mark Ward shows what exclusive readers of the KJV are missing as they read God’s word.

In this interview with SharperIron, Ward explains what his book is about, and why this issue of a vernacular translation is a critical, but often overlooked part of the “bible version” debate that has raged for so long in some Christian circles.


Nice work on the interview and video, Tyler.

For me the journey started when I was at BJU and found the NASB on the bookstore shelves. Dr. Custer was recommending it occasionally in those days. I picked one up and started reading and could hardly put it down!

As for ministry settings: I can’t remember the last time I taught or preached to a group where everyone was clearly using the same translation. In most cases, it’s been obvious that they were not, because I have people read. At times it seems like a bit of extra work in sermon prep and delivery, because — if you’re paying attention to words and phrases — you have to occasionally pause to explain differences in wording that are likely in the audience. So you have to be familiar with those differences.

But on the whole, it was more work in my preaching from KJV days, explaining what a passage is really saying, vs. what it seems to be saying in no-longer-current English.

I suspect that KJV tends to be more favored where the pulpit work is less interested in careful exposition. (And it’s definitely the favorite where there is more interest in cherry picking and spring boarding to pet peeves and hobby horses!)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

This is one of the most beneficial books I’ve read in a long time. If you haven’t read it, shame on you! Any of us who have been caught up in English translation discussions need what Mark Ward has given us.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Tyler, I have to say you did an excellent job with this. Really appreciate it.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Thanks. I didn’t get to about half my questions, but that’s the way these things go. It’s awkward doing an interview via video or phone; you lose something intangible when you’re not face to face. Video or internet interviews often take about twice as long to cover the same ground. It’s that way with investigations, and it’s that way with these interviews, too. Still, it wasn’t bad.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.