Antiquarian Anabaptist

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Why I prefer the AV Bible

Critics of the Authorized Version often appear to be more than a little disingenuous.  Some make an issue of minor variations in words and say that Peter, Paul & Jesus did not always quote from the same version of the Old Testament.  It is commonly accepted that Old Testament quotations in the New Testament come from the Septuagint, the Greek translation then in general use, and not from the original Hebrew.  To the best of my knowledge, this was the only version of Scripture quoted by New Testament writers.

Differences between NT quotations of passages from the OT and the actual OT reading in the Authorized Version are simply due to the fact that the OT in the AV is translated directly from the Hebrew, while the NT writers were using the Greek translation.  This also explains the variations in the spelling of names: Joshua, Elijah, Miriam and Jacob in the Old Testament become Jesus, Elias, Mary and James in the New Testament.  There is no great big issue here.

In some cases the divinely inspired writers gave a new meaning to Old Testament Scriptures.  Matthew 2:23 “He shall be called a Nazarene” is considered by commentators to be a reference to Isaiah 11:1, where Messiah is referred to as the “Branch” which in Hebrew is “netser”, combined with an allusion to the OT concept of a Nazarite.  There is obviously a play on words going on here, not an unusual thing in Hebrew.

At least one critic claims that the difference between Nazarene in the New Testament and Nazarite in the Old Testament is a flaw in the AV translation.  But this difference was not created by the AV translators, it exists in the original Greek text.  The critics are really taking issue with the interpretation of the OT by Jesus and the apostles.  There is a greater difference in spelling in English than in some other languages.  In French, the David Martin translation uses Naziréen for both, the Louis Segond translation uses Nazarien and Nazaréen.

Critics point to many cases like this, which they consider to be discrepancies, but which are very minor in nature.  The major issues that many of us have with the newer versions they ignore completely.  They ignore the accusation that all the new translations over the past 150 years have been made from corrupted Greek texts.  They ignore the question of missing phrases and verses in the newer translations.

Another disturbing thought is that the profit motive may be a major reason for the multiplicity of new translations.  A new translation can be copyrighted and earn royalties for years to come.  I doubt that there would be so many translations if it wasn’t for this factor.

The AV translators believed they were dealing with the divinely inspired Word of God and had a godly fear of tampering with it.  Evidently the recent translators do not share that view.   These translations are greatly diminished in meaning and majesty.

Adam Nicolson, in his book about the translation of the Authorized Version, entitled God’s Secretaries, makes the following observations:

“This Bible was appointed to be read in churches (and thus had no illustrations for study at home) and so its meaning had to be carried on a heard rhythm, it had to appeal to what T. S. Eliot later called ‘the auditory imagination’, that ‘feeling for syllable and rhythm, penetrating far below  the conscious levels of thought and feeling, invigorating every word’.”

“The characteristic sound of the King James Bible. . . like the ideal of majesty itself, is indescribably vast and yet perfectly accessible, reaching up to the sublime and down to the immediate and the concrete, without any apparent effort.  The rhetoric of this translation has, in fact, precisely the qualities which this psalm [8] attributes to God: a majesty that is mindful of man.”

“Again and again, the seventeenth century phrases seem richer, deeper, truer, more alive, more capable of carrying complex and multiple meanings, than anything the twentieth century could manage.  It happens in linguistic history that languages lose aspects of themselves, whole wings of their existence withering, falling off, disappearing into the past.  Has it now happened to English?  Does English no longer have a faculty of religious language?”

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