Is it time for the English-speaking Church to let the venerable King James Bible retire to Bible-heaven? Why do we use the KJV in the first place? What other Bible translations do you read? I have questions, you have answers.
OK, first things first:
If you want to read about Mormons and the Bible, then read, er Mormons and the Bible by Philip Barlow.
Now, on to my questions.
1. Other Bible translations.
The latest issue of Bible Review has a great run-down of Bible translations. The English standard remains the KJV, a copy of which, according to the author, should be on the shelf of every home in the English speaking world. It’s not just a classic English text, it’s the classic English text. The KJV should be wrapped in silk and treated with awe and respect.
But when thou wantest something a little easier to read, whereto dost one turn? There are literal translations (like the RSV, which I use in class); Jewish translations; non-literal translations (like the Good News Bible). Any favourites out there? Has anyone denounced you as an apostate for using something other than the KJV. (If they do, I can point out examples from recent Ensign’s where other translations are cited.)
2. Mormons and the KJV.
Only English-speaking Mormons use the KJV (obviously). Spanish, French and German Latter-day Saints use an accepted modern translation. Lucky them. Not only does this make the Bible easier to read (is our general lack of Bible literacy a product of the relative inaccessibility of some of the KJV?), but also means that prayers don’t sound so forced. I always feel bad for foreign GA’s at General Conference who have to conjugate all their thee’s and thou’s. Sometimes even for English speakers it can be tortured.
You see, our sacred language is KJV-based, as is (or because of) our modern scripture. If the Church were to move away from the KJV where would that leave the Book of Mormon, whose language is often 16th century? It would be a funny Church where ancient scripture sounded more modern than modern scripture. That’s a big problem, and remains, IMO, the main reason why we retain the KJV. (Yes, the KJV is literal, yes, it was translated by believers, but so are many other Bibles.) In 300 years when we all speak Chinglish, things will have to change…
… 3. In the meantime, though, should we bid adieu to the KJV? Vote now: