Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

12 Feb 2018

Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible

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Mark Ward, a personal friend, has written a very helpful book on the King James Bible debate. Initially, you might think that the horse has been sufficiently beaten. Surely there is nothing new under the sun, and in terms of this debate, what can Ward offer that White, Carson, or Beacham & Bauder have not already offered?

In answer, I would argue that Ward approaches the conversation from a different angle than the other books in this market. He addresses himself to the common person in the pew, and he does so with a unique twist on an old argument.

Many have noted that the language of the KJB is no longer the language of English speaking people. Most KJB folks recognize this, and they suggest the use of a dictionary. Ward, however, highlights that a dictionary–even the OED–is not enough. This is because there are not only words in the KJB that have gone out of use (e.g., collop, bewray, and broid), but there are words which have changed meaning. These words Ward calls false friends, because they appear to be familiar, yet they are not. Such familiarity means that a reader will not know he must look at a dictionary. These words, through no fault of the translators, deceive modern readers into believing the Bible says something other than it says. This is serious. If we believe the Bible is the Word of God, then how significant are these false friends? Ward thinks they are quite significant, and I agree.

Now you may be thinking, “only non-educated KJB readers would fall prey to these false friends.” Or, you may say, “I agree there may be a couple of these, but not many.” Ward shows that both are false. In reference to the first, he has put together a web page to quiz people concerning whether they accurately understand the KJB. I encourage you to take the quiz. As for the second concern, he makes a hefty list in the book of 25 false friends, which he indicates is not exhaustive.

Many might think Ward’s book is unnecessary, but I think he has identified a unique spin on an old argument that makes his book compelling.

*A longer review of this book will be published, Lord willing, in our upcoming journal.

5 Responses

  1. Fred Moritz

    And the quiz is a “false friend”! I took the quiz and scored 9 of 10. I selected “demonstrates” for the meaning of “commendeth” and was told I was wrong. The BibleWorks 9 edition of Arndt and Gingrich lists “demonstrate” as one of the lexical meanings of sunistemi. I found that funny.

    1. Tim Miller

      My wife and I had the same discussion last night. We also believed that demonstrates was an acceptable way of expressing the meaning in that verse. Of course, Mark is probably right to say that the KJV translators meant “showcase.”

  2. Good Drs., I worded the questions carefully: I did not ask what the Greek meant but what the English word meant. So, yes, Tim is right: I was focusing on what the KJV translators meant, not so much on what Paul said (though, to be clear, I think the KJV translators gave a viable translation of συνίστημι in Rom 5:8).

    Dr. Moritz, you’ll have to read the book to catch the purpose behind the quiz. I’m trying to introduce a major new category into the discussion over the KJV: “false friends.” I am thereby implying that Elizabethan English and our English can be usefully regarded as different languages—even though quite obviously there is a great deal of overlap. People are accustomed to thinking that they can merely look up in a dictionary any archaisms they run across; those who are unwilling to do so are regarded as lazy. I’m arguing that modern readers will not always know when to look up words, because the KJV contains many “false friends,” words we assume we know but which meant something different in 1611.

    The KJV translators could have chosen the word “demonstrateth” or the word “sheweth,” but they did not; they chose “commendeth.” And after looking at the OED for what “commend” could mean in 1611, I argue in the book that it basically meant “showcase.” It’s a more specific word than “demonsrates” or “shows.”

  3. Fred Moritz

    Thank you, sirs, for your replies. Dr. Ward, I understand your reasoning. I’ll get the book. I understand that our English and that of 1611/1769 can be viewed as different languages.

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