Monday, February 28, 2005

Story of the King James Bible

This article is the second part of the Meridian Magazine series about the Bible as literature, the first part of which I posted earlier this month. I have read the Bible in three languages, but the 1611 King James Version is the only English edition with which I am familiar. I realize it has largely fallen out of favor with modern Bible readers, but when I purchased my first Bible at age 15, it was a KJV; and from that day up to the present, I have never seriously contemplated using any other. It appealed to my sense of history, as well as my love of the English language, which has been immeasurably enriched by this majestic and poetic translation of the Word of God. One is hard-pressed, for example, to imagine the speeches of Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King without the influence of the familiar KJV cadences; and speaking for myself, it is far easier for me to imagine Christ saying "Damsel, I say unto thee, Arise," than to picture him curtly ordering, "Little girl, get up!" The KJV is the official version of the Bible in my church, a fact for which I, for one, am grateful. I realize some of my fellow-members of this group will respectfully disagree with me; but this is my view, and fortunately, there are plenty of modern Bible translations out there to accommodate everyone's taste. After all, when all is said and done, it is more important that it be read at all, than it is to read a particular translation, however venerable and revered it might be.

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