Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happy birthday King James Bible

My favorite translation of the Bible is 400-years-old. The King's book contains the Queen's English... the English of Shakespeare's era. It isn't perfect, but it gets the job done.

People tell me I ought to embrace the newer translations. I tell them "Thou art a fool, and I bite my thumb at thee." I was raised listening to and reading the KJV, so when the time came for me to study the Bard's classics in school, there was no learning curve for the language. I could simply focus on the story while others around me struggled. But more importantly, a point I keep stressing is that traditions connect us to the past. When I read a passage from the newer translations, they tend to feel colder, sillier, and much more removed from the source. Jesus shouldn't sound like a surfer; His words should sound authoritative. God should sound like James Mason.

Probably my favorite verse in the Bible comes from Psalm 30. Here it is from the King James Version:

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."

Contrast that with ASV's, "Weeping may tarry for the night..." Tarry? Seriously?

Then there is the dreaded NIV's bland, "Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning" which not only sounds like an accountant wrote it, but joy and rejoicing are distinctly different things. 

Lest we forget the version known as "The Message" which tells us, "The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter." This version increased the crying jag so your face will now be buried in a pillow over multiple evenings, then it dropped joy altogether in exchange for fits of hysterical laughter. 

The KJV told it beautifully and simply. You'll have a bad day, but joy will come. On a day like today, it is a verse I needed to read. Have patience. Have faith.

Happy birthday King James Version.


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