Can Matthew Henry Help You Understand KJV English? Yes and No.

"I recently read a promoter of exclusive use of the King James Version who argued that if anyone has trouble understanding KJV English, they can just go to Matthew Henry’s commentary for all the explanations they need. I was skeptical. I still am." - Mark Ward

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David R. Brumbelow's picture

Simple solution:

When you have trouble understanding the King James Version, just read the same passage in the New King James Version.  Problem solved. 

David R. Brumbelow

TylerR's picture

Editor

Find a modern translation! Problem solved ... forever.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Mark_Smith's picture

Just grab a NKJV. Or, if you are really bold, throw caution to the wind and read a NASB, CSB, or ESV, or gasp, NIV.

 

TylerR's picture

Editor

I preach from ESV and do devotions with NET, which I've always really liked.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

I guess there are times when I drag reference books out to study my Bible, and I'm glad I have them, and there are times when different translations are a God-send when I'm reading a difficult passage in one translation, but it strikes me that "learning Jacobian English via Matthew Henry" (or using modern translations) really only works when one knows he's got a problem.  

From experience, I can state as well that a lot of people figure out they've got a problem with one translation predominantly when another translation is put before them--whether it be a more modern translation or a simpler translation.  Many others realize they're misunderstanding Scripture when their pastor explains where a given set of words is difficult to translate and gives the sense in Greek or Hebrew.

All in all, this seems like something of an emergency bandage for the reality that Jacobian English is very different from modern.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jim's picture

Sometimes I feel that we are raising a generation of ESVonlists as if it's the perfect translation (this is not addressed to anyone in particular) [and I use the ESV as my primary Bible]

 

Mark_Smith's picture

Jim wrote:

Sometimes I feel that we are raising a generation of ESVonlists as if it's the perfect translation (this is not addressed to anyone in particular) [and I use the ESV as my primary Bible]

I hear you Jim. I use the ESV sometimes, but I find it rather stilted. To be honest, I am not that happy with it. I actually prefer the older NASB or the new CSB. Try the CSB for something fresh. At times you'll read it and discover something in Scripture you didn't realize. The only thing that keeps me from wholeheartedly endorsing the CSB is there are some passages that I think it translates oddly just to be different.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Mine brethren speaketh much truth on this thread.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

G. N. Barkman's picture

I do family devotions from the ESV, daily Bible reading and sermon preparation from the NASB (mostly), and preach from the NKJV.  I often consult the KJV because I know some in my congregation use it exclusively, and I need to know what it says so I can help them understand the obscure language.  Those who use a variety of translations know there is no one version which is always best in every passage.  I thank God for the multiplicity of good translations available to English speaking Christians today.  I recommend that every believer use more than one translation.  It will greatly enrich your understanding of God's Word.

G. N. Barkman

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Most of those of us who are KJVP are likely my age (boomer) or older, and as we die out, this will cease to be much of a question.  Except for the rabid KJVO types (who thankfully are growing smaller in number), most of us who prefer the KJV for most things still use many other translations.  I've read the prophets in both NIV and NLT, because even to someone raised on the KJV, the prophets can be obscure in any case, and it's only worse in KJV English.  My wife, whose 1st language is German, uses mostly the ESV, though she sometimes compares it with other English versions when not using German translations.

Putting aside the textual issue, I can see the problem myself when reading the Bible in German.  I can generally understand Luther, but the modern versions are much more readable for me, which is why I'm not at all concerned that my church generally uses the ESV, even though it doesn't "feel" as much like the scriptures to me as the KJV does.  I can see it's much better for the younger people and even for many my age who frankly don't even read much Shakespeare any longer, let alone the KJV.

I still don't prefer it when really familiar passages (like, e.g. the Christmas story) are read in modern versions, as it grates on my ears, but I've noticed that each year it bothers me less.  I can continue to use the KJV for me personally while realizing that my generation might be one of the last.  God has allowed his words to be translated so that everyone can understand, and I'm certainly not going to stand in the way of that, even if I feel the modern versions have lost some of the majesty of the KJV.  If I were still to be alive, it would be interesting to me to see future generations have the same argument we're having, except between the ESV and whatever else finally replaces it.

Dave Barnhart