My mother loved the Bible. She loved teaching the Bible and preaching the Bible. When I was very young she taught preschool children in Sunday school and Vacation Bible School. As time progressed she moved up to older children, then youth, and finally adults. She studied some throughout the week, but Saturday evenings were devoted to lesson preparation. She would open her commentary and her Bibles on her bed and kneel beside them and study. She had every English translation available: King James, New American Standard, Revised Standard, New International, Living Bible, Good News For Modern Man, and multiple copies of some of them. She had parallel translations and interlinear Hebrew and Greek copies. There would be copies of the popular study Bibles, and Naves Topical. Squeezed in between them would be one volume commentaries such as Ellicott’s and Matthew Henry’s. She read and prayed over every one of them every week.
Fast forward several decades and my mother is visiting with us. After the Sunday morning service, following a great meal, we are talking, she complements my sermon and continues “Son, why don’t you preach out of the King James Bible.”
I responded with an informed critique of King Jimmy’s appropriateness for our times. In short, there are more accurate translations that reflect the English language as we currently speak it.
“Now Son, you know the King James is the real word of God.”
I replied, “Momma, you’re the one who taught me to read other translations. You read every translation known to the English speaking world when you prepared your Sunday School lessons.”
“Son, you know good and well I only read those Bibles to help me understand what the King James was saying.”
I love the King James Version of the Bible. It is poetic in rhythm, style, and form. It is simply beautiful. Unfortunately, it is based on less than the best ancient manuscripts and it uses an archaic vocabulary, much of which is lost on the modern reader. It gives me great pleasure to quote the KJV on those occasions when it offers the better translation (i.e., the one I prefer) in that forgotten Shakespearian style. I especially cherish my mother's KJV Bible stuffed with notes and marked on every page.
And that’s my view from somewhere close to Polk County.
November 30, 2010