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Bible Tribalism: Authorized the Use and Misuse of the King James Bible – a Book Review

September 13, 2021 0 Comments

The topic of Bible Translations can quickly grow heated. Many fall into the trap of thinking their favorite translation is the best and only one, and they tend to divide others by sticking with their own translation tribe. In Mark Ward’s book, Authorized the Use and Misuse of the King James Bible, he talks about the high value the KJV still plays today, some things to be careful of when reading it, and the trap of KJV onlyism (KJV-Only).

I recently won a copy of Authorized the Use and Misuse of the King James Bible by Mark Ward from a fellow Christian YouTuber Dwayne Green If you are looking for great Christian Content on YouTube, then be sure and check out his channel.

If you have followed any Bible translations on Social Media, it does not take long for the topic of KJV Onlyism to come up. KJV Onlyist are those who believe that the King James Version (KJV) is the one and only true translation of the Bible. They often refer to it as the “Authorized Version” which originated from King James’ authorizing the Bible for the use in the Church of England. Some even believe the translation is superior to the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic texts. I have seen more than one post on Social Media referring to the modern translations as demonic or New Age

One of the keys that I like about Ward’s book is he does not take on a frontal assault against KJV Onlyism. He presents a balanced approach to the goodness of the KJV, and covers areas one should handle with care when reading the translation

The book is only 154 pages so it makes for a quick and easy read but still covers a lot of ground. It is recommended by D.A. Carson, John MacArthur and others.

What if we lose the KJV?

In the first chapter Ward discuses the important things we lose as fewer people pickup the KJV. One of those is the ease of memorizing scripture when the entire church reads and studies the same translation. Today, even when a Pastor teaches from a single modern translation many in the congregation may be reading something different.

“Given all the things we’ll lose if we, the English-speaking church continue to give up the KJV we’d better have a very good reasons for giving it up. Weighty Reasons.” – Mark Ward

Dead Words and False Friends

Mark then moves onto some cautions one should consider when reading the King James Version. The first are, “dead words.” Dead words are words that are no longer used in modern English. A couple examples are trow and collop.

Another type of word to be aware of are, “false friends.” These are words that may still find use today but there meaning is vastly different than their use in the KJV in the year 1611. Examples are unicorn, which did not refer to a mythical horse with one horn. Another is spoil which did not mean to go bad, but meant to rob or plunder. The problem with false friends is the reader thinks they know the correct meaning so find no need to check their definition.

“Objections to the readability of the KJV are not beside the point. They are the point. We need to examine the KJV English to discover whether its difficulties outweigh all the values of retaining it.” Mark Ward

Let me state again that KJV onlyism is not the only form of Bible Tribalism. Fans of other translations can fall into this same trap.

I grew up hearing the Bible preached from the King James Version, and it was taught to me in Sunday School. I still hear it in my head when reading a more modern translation, and often turn to it to compare text as I prepare my sermons. Like Mark Ward, I think our modern translations are easier to understand the proper meaning of the text, but we must still hold the KJV in high regard and it deserves a solid place in our Bible Study toolbox.

We need God’s word in our language, not in someone else’s – Mark Ward

“But I believe that tribalism – the belief that a group’s chosen translation is one of many marks of its superiority over other groups – needs to stop. All Bible-loving-and reading Christians need to lean to see the value of all good Bible translations…. People who are KJV-Only need to stop seeing the translation work of godly, careful brothers and sisters in Christ such as Doug Moo of the NIV, Wayne Grudem of the ESV, and Bill Mounce of both – as threats, and instead as gifts.” – Mark Ward

In addition to Mark Ward’s YouTube Chanel he also has a Blog

As I mentioned before be sure and take a look at Dwayne Green’s YouTube Channel – he has a couple videos where he interviewed Mark Ward

To get your own copy of Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible click here (affiliate link)

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Filed in: Book Review, Faith, Life, YouTube

About the Author:

I am enthusiastic about helping others discover their purpose and grow into a deeper relationship with Jesus. It is great to see their eyes light up at their “Ah Ha!” moment when they discover they were created for something more. My hope is that this blog will help encourage and inspire you along your way. Join the conversation and take the time to share with me your own story. I have been married to my beautiful wife Janice for over 30 years. We currently live in McDonough Georgia with our daughter. Our two boys have left the nest and we have two wonderful grand kids. Of course we cannot forget about our dog Bear.