52 percent of Americans read the King James or the New King James Version

4108 reads

There are 20 Comments

TylerR's picture

Editor

I love the KJV - it is the most beautiful translation in the English-speaking world

  • KJV - Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity 
  • NET - "Futile! Futile!” laments the Teacher,“Absolutely futile! Everything is futile!”
  • NIV - “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

There is no comparison. Beautiful language. 

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

is the phrase "superfluity of naughtiness" from James 1:21. I don't know what it means, but it sure sounds poetic! 

Ron Bean's picture

My favorite English translation is the 1599 Geneva. Partly because I love the English language (run-a-gate for renegade is picturesque) and partly because the footnotes are wonderful. Not everyone shares my love for that style of English and some find it hard to comprehend, so I preach from a version that's easier for the average hearer to comprehend in a public setting.

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

TylerR's picture

Editor

I like it. Seems very similar to the KJV. I like their rendering of Gal 2:21, which is my favorite verse against works salvation:

  • Geneva - "I do not abrogate the grace of God: for if righteousness be by the Law, then Christ died without a cause"
  • KJV - "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

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?

Larry's picture

Moderator

Call me skeptical, but i doubt 52% of church goers read any Bible (KJV or otherwise), much less 52% of Americans.

I also imagine that those who do read the KJV do so probably because it's the one the have around the house from "the old days" (i.e., from childhood, family Bible, grandma's Bible, etc), or it is the cheapest one (it usually is). In other words, I doubt it is a studied conclusion that led them to the KJV or NKJV.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Not necessarily. The NIV is extremely popular, and has been around for 40 years. That's more than long enough to make the NIV the "old family Bible" of choice for at least two generations of Christians. And yet . . . the KJV wins. 

I think a lot of it has to do with the beauty of the translation. The NIV is like reading an office memo from God. 

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?

Greg Long's picture

Last week during family devotions, my son's tablet's Bible app was having problems (or maybe it was our wi-fi), and the only Bible version that would load was the default, the KJV. So when it was his turn to read from 1 Samuel 17, he read from the KJV. It might have been the first time in his 14 years that he had ever read the KJV. Here's what he read:

28And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.

"Why camest thou down hither?"? He laughed because he couldn't hardly understand what he was reading.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

pvawter's picture

I suspect one reason why the kjv wins in online searches is that it is the default version for many popular Bible sites and apps. That doesn't make it the preferred version, just the most tolerated.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Dost thou mock the KJV?!

  • How can't you just love the phrase, "I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart!" 
  • How can't you appreciate at the imagery of Eliab's anger being "kindled?" 

I'd rather read great literature like the KJV than an inter-office memo with all the vibrancy of stale cardboard. I do really like the ESV, though. I think they did a good job with that translation. 

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?

James K's picture

I would rather read an accurate translation.  I will leave the poetic style on the same level as type of binding and red letter editions.  No one speaks that way.  It is adding a layer between the reader and the translation that ought not be there.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Greg Linscott's picture

I understand and appreciate the KJV, like Tyler. At the same time, the reality is that there are people like Greg's son who will find the language a hindrance (even though they probably could understand it if they concentrated... there would be some level of "decoding" required). Another major consideration these days are the non-native English speakers, who don't need the exposure to great literary language as much as they do understanding of the Scripture and (secondarily, but still significant) furtherance of English skills that they will use in other contexts.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

TylerR's picture

Editor

I could see myself switching to the ESV a while down the road. 

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?

Ron Bean's picture

Sometimes paraphrases can prove interesting and make one smile. I was preaching on Matthew 19 a while ago and decided to read it in The Message; a version I was unfamiliar with. Verse 10 made me laugh our loud.

Matthew 19:3 One day the Pharisees were badgering him: “Is it legal for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?”

4-6 He answered, “Haven’t you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other, male and female? And because of this, a man leaves father and mother and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming one flesh—no longer two bodies but one. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.”

7 They shot back in rebuttal, “If that’s so, why did Moses give instructions for divorce papers and divorce procedures?”

8-9 Jesus said, “Moses provided for divorce as a concession to your hard heartedness, but it is not part of God’s original plan. I’m holding you to the original plan, and holding you liable for adultery if you divorce your faithful wife and then marry someone else. I make an exception in cases where the spouse has committed adultery.”

10 Jesus’ disciples objected, “If those are the terms of marriage, we’re stuck. Why get married?”

11-12 But Jesus said, “Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked—or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.”

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

josh p's picture

If you ever want to read a version that will make your head spin check out the Cotton Patch sometime. That thing is downright irreverent. Naselli had a blog post about some of the stranger versions a while back. There is even "mild" swearing.

Steve Picray's picture

I remember when I was saved at the age of 16.  Although I did spend three years going to Grandview Park Baptist School (elementary school), I did not grow up attending church, and I did not understand much of the "King James" English.  My Bible was the Bible that my father had given me, which was a NASB "Open Bible" (a study Bible), and I still have it.   After I trusted Christ, I became a member of my local GARB church.  The pastor used the KJV. He jokingly referred to my "New American Standard Perversion" but the funny part to me was that every time he preached and read a KJV word, I would look in my Bible for the translation from the KJV.  Example: He preached Romans 7:8. He said "concupiscence." I looked down and saw my Bible said "lust."  About then he would say something like, "concupiscence simply means lust."  I always wondered:  why am I reading God's word as translated twice?  Why do I have to have God's Word translated from the Greek/Hebrew into 1789 English, and then into modern English by my pastor.   I saw parallels between that and the blowback from the Church when the Tyndale Bible was first published.

All that being said, If someone asks me what Bible I prefer, I still say I prefer the NASB for my personal devotions.  When I teach in my local church, I use the KJV because that is the version the church has decided to use.  I think the KJV is the most poetical, but not the most clear in today's language.  If pressed, I would hope that churches could move from the KJV to the NKJV, which I also use. 

My favorite KJV phrase:  it's a tie between James 3:10b "My brethren, these things ought not so to be." and Matthew 6:34c "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."   These sound so much more authoritative for some reason, than their NASB counterparts "My brethren, these things ought not to be this way." and "Each day has enough trouble of its own."

But don't even get me started on "The Message." Ugh.

pvawter's picture

Maybe we should start another movement - the ESV Only movement. Then we could browbeat others into using it because we say so!
I that might explain at least a bit of the KJV's "popularity."
Having grown up using the KJV (not within a KJVO setting), I still quote verses from it occasionally, and I did read my old King James a couple of weeks ago after my son spilled a drink on my desk and got my NKJV wet.

RickyHorton's picture

I teach the high school class at church and we have been going through Acts.  I typically use the KJV because that is the official version we use for preaching/teaching, but we reference other versions most every service and class.  When we came to Acts 22, I meant to read it out of the ESV but forgot and read it out of the KJV.  We got to verse 25 where it says, "And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion...."  After that, I lost the class!!!!  Talk about using words differently than we use them now!

mmartin's picture

Can't wait for my "NIV Only" video to go viral on youtube.

Steve Picray's picture

mmartin wrote:

Can't wait for my "NIV Only" video to go viral on youtube.

Speaking from a strictly Hebrew and Greek standpoint, the NIV isn't a very good translation.  It changes word order and flirts with dynamic equivalence.