This post is a challenge and a commentary.
Why not use the Authorized Version of the Bible, i.e. the King James Version?
Is the Language too hard?
The usual response that the language is too difficult is bogus. Thousands of children read and understand KJV Bibles, and virtually all Christian children in America for the first 200 years of its settlement by Chrstians. The entire 18th century of English-speaking children grew up on the King James Version, as did most of the 19th century. Only in the 20th and 21st centuries did alternative versions provide any serious encroachment on the Authorized Version.
Is the Greek source weak?
Another response is that the KJV relies on the Textus Receptus, and that the Textus Receptus is inferior to modern critical texts, because the Textus Receptus did not take into account a handful of earlier manuscripts that have been discovered subsequent to the finalization of the Textus Receptus.
Nevertheless, while there are differences between the Textus Receptus and earlier manuscripts, it is an open question about whether the earlier manuscripts are more reliable. Indeed, it is well known that they differ as much among themselves as between themselves and the Textus Receptus.
Is the translation quality suboptimal?
Perhaps the most interesting critique is the one that asserts that there are translation inaccuraces or suboptimalities in the KJV. The KJV was an improvement on earlier English translations, and the presently accepted version reflects about 250 years of Greek and Hebrew scholarship. Nevertheless, there may be room for improvement.
Here's the challenge: Identify categories of translation inaccuracies in the KJV.
I'll start: I think the biggest areas where the KJV may contain inaccuracies are:
- The use of the article. Article usage is very difficult to tranfer between languages: Greek does not use articles the same way English does. A number of critics, particularly Granville Sharp have asserted that they have identified either unnecessary ambiguity in the A.V., or inaccuracies in the A.V. when it comes to the translation of the article. This issue will be dealt with in a separate post or posts. Suffice to say that there are at least some reasons to disagree with Sharp in at least some instances, but there may be other instances where Sharp was as clever as his family name suggests.
- The use of prepositions. Like articles, prepositions can be difficult to translate between languages. One of the particularly difficult prepositions in Greek to translate into English may be the Greek preposition en, which is often rendered "in" in the KJV. In the 20th century, and perhaps earlier, questions have been raised about whether "by" would be a better translation of many of those instances.
- Italicization. In certain places, words are placed in italics. The choices of which words to italicize and the sense conveyed by italicization, in some cases could be improved.
- Specific examples. There are certain words for which the KJV translators seem to have made a mistake. These include, most notably, the translation of Pascha in Acts 12:4 as "Easter." The translation appears to be based on showing deference to the Bishop's Bible translation.
I challenge the readers of this blog to identify other errors and alleged errors in the A.V. Let's review them and see what can be improved.