Inspiration – Biblefresh

I have heard it said a number of times – often by the dogmatic – that the KJV or AV1611 is the only ‘proper translation’ of the Bible that is inspired by God or valid. I don’t entirely agree with this viewpoint – though there is no doubt it is a good translation, and one that should be used – but the question is whether it should be used exclusively. The Biblefresh initiative, which coincided with the 400th anniversary of the KJV further caused me to take a fresh look at that particular translation – and the BBC and others ran a number of programs and media articles on the history, relevance and importance of the KJV Bible in our history.

KJV – not perfect!

In the end, I will always consider that the KJV has its fair share of difficulties (it can be difficult to read for one thing, and like many other translations was effectively ‘translated’ by a committee of theologians of the time and endorsed/adopted by the then King James) just as with other translations (some may say it has less faults), and that folks are free to read a number of different translations (but not all, I hasten to add – some are simply way off!). However, I don’t think you can assert that it is the ‘only true, valid translated inspired Word of God’. Afterall it has also been translated originally from the Greek and Hebrew – it is still, due to the world’s language limitations therefore not a ‘perfect’ translation, and open to wrong interpretation – even if it is one of the first, and in some ways a bit of a ‘miracle’ that it even happened in the first place. There is no doubt that the KJV is significant in terms of Christian literature let alone being an important translation of the Bible, which has survived for a large amount of printed history.

There’s more than the KJV to choose from

But, here’s the ‘meat’. Today, there are other good translations too that have emerged and been printed (probably the most well-known being the NIV) – can God not work through these too with the same message? I think he is more than capable – the fact that the KJV was ‘one of the first’ taken up around the time of the new era of the printing press is not necessarily a qualification for becoming the only correct and true translation of the Word of God for all-time thereafter. This all begs the question anyway, who are we to put words into God’s mouth and say only the KJV is the ‘correct’ version given by God unlike any of the others?

Holy Spirit guidance is critical

If you consider that the Holy Spirit makes the translated written word alive anyway, then I see no reason in that context why it is not possible to be able to read several different ‘good’ translations and hear what God is saying (the same thing in unity) through the written word by his Holy Spirit as guide. It is, afterall, the Holy Spirit which enables us to know the truth, and makes the written Word living – it isn’t just the written word on its own – if that were the case, surely God could have enabled it so there were no other versions except the absolute ‘correct’ one – lest we get even more confused! I’d be the first to admit, we need discernment given by the Holy Spirit if nothing else because there are several translations, including the KJV – infact I suggest we should be actively seeking this every time we open the pages of any ‘good’ translation of the Bible. Fact is, God has permitted man to make different versions (some good, some bad) and enabled him to mass reproduce in todays world and distribute them – KJV or other good version – and we have to live and cope in a world where this is a reality.

No KJV, no Christian? (No right)

Whichever way you look at it, even if you argue that satan has allowed the distribution of all the other versions in order to cause confusion if you’re a staunch KJV fan, is a person who’s read another version and become a believer not really actually a Christian because they’ve read the ‘wrong’ version? I don’t know if anyone actually would say this, I hope not.

The problem with literal word-for-word

If it were the case that only word-for-word, even verse-for-verse literal translation / understanding were true despite the Holy Spirit, then I would have a lot bigger problem with some of the things I’ve read in Leviticus for example! It’s a tough read. In fact, if you take any particular translation of the Bible word-for-word literally aside from context and study, most critically without permitting the influence of the Holy Spirit to guide you and speak to you today, you’ll quickly get into problems. The OT is full of laws, the NT changes everything – but take the Bible literally word for word, and in some cases verse by verse, or choose some bits and not others to build theology (whichever translation) and its easy to see how some of the false ideas and theology as well as what is considered law and absolute take hold so incorrectly.

It’s an individual choice from the good translations available (not all translations are good/right!)

All that said – there is nothing wrong in having a preferred Bible translation that one reads. What is your preferred translation? Do you think the KJV translation is the only ‘correct’ one? If so, why?

I’m not sure at the moment – I have always liked the NIV and more recently been looking more at the KJV, and comparing the two when I need to for clarity on a subject, but am often re-visiting this issue as there are a number of good translations out there – and more recently a few newer ones have begun to gain popularity.