Biblical English (Dr. Phil Stringer)

One of the most frequently heard criticisms of the King James Bible is that it is based upon or either referred to as the Elizabethan or Jacobean English language, so it is therefore, out of date with modern English. However, literature which has flowed from this period: the writings of Shakespeare, Johnson, King James himself for example all prove that they are dramatically different in style and prose than the KJB. The later writings of the translators themselves show that they wrote very different than the way that they translated the Bible. Just look at their preface and compare it with the translation itself.

Doctor Edward F. Hills wrote of the Biblical English in the KJB and said, “…the English of the KJV is not the English of the early seventeenth century. To be exact, it is not a type of English that was ever spoken anywhere. It is Biblical English which was not used on ordinary occasions even by the translators who produced the KJV….Even in their use of thee and thou the translators were not following seventeenth century English usage but Biblical usage, for at the time these translators were doing their works these singular forms had already been replaced by the plural you in polite conversations.”

O. T. Allis also stresses this truth when he says: “IT IS QUITE OBVIOUS THAT THE AV DID NOT ATTEMPT TO MAKE THE USAGE OF THE HEBREW AND GREEK CONFORM TO THE USAGE OF THE ELIZABETHAN OR EARLY JACOBEAN PERIOD IT SIMPLY FOLLOWED THE BIBLICAL USAGE DESPITE THE FACT THAT FOR SOME THREE HUNDRED YEARS THE TREND HAD BEEN INCREASINGLY AWAY FROM IT.”

A. T. Roberson makes the same point when he wrote: “No one today speaks the English of the Authorized Version or ever did for that matter for though like Shakespeare it is the pure Anglo-Saxon yet unlike Shakespeare it reproduces to a remarkable extent the spirit and language of the Bible.”

I might also add my agreement to Dr. Stringer’s booklet, “Much of the KJB was not easy for the people of 1611 to understand. That is because the translators were not interested in an easy translation, they were interested in an accurate one.” The translators stated their purpose this way, “…that out of the Original Sacred Tongues, together with comparing of the labors both in our own, and other foreign languages of many worthy men who went before, THERE SHOULD BE ONE MORE EXACT TRANSLATION OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES INTO THE ENGLISH TONGUE.” (Emphasis added).

Ah, so, they were not looking for an easy read, user friendly, marketing technique, putting the Bible of their then every day language, rather they wanted to honestly translate the word(s) of God. Too bad “scholars” of today do not follow the KJB translators actions.

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