Monday, July 20, 2009

Tribute to the KJV

The following is smattering of quotes from notable examples of piety and/or scholarship as to the merits of the Authorized, or King James Version of the Bible.

Ashbel Green, Lectures on the Shorter Catechism of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, Vol. 1, pp. 52-53:

The author is not willing to close this extended note, in which he has attempted to correct what he conscientiously believes to be an error in the common English version of the New Testament, without remarking, that he is not among those who believe that version to be very faulty, and of course to need very frequent corrections. On the contrary, he considers it as one of the very best translations that ever was, or ever can be made; and he has never seen any other English version, even of a single book of this part of the sacred volume, which, taken as a whole, he thought equal to the vulgar version. Yet to suppose that this version, the work of fallible men, is absolutely perfect, is an extreme on the other side. Nothing but the original is perfect. If it can be shown that, in a few instances, the eminently learned, and upright, and pious men, who formed the vulgar version, have, through that imperfection which cleaves to every thing human, not given the best rendering of a particular phrase or passage, let this be candidly shown; and if it be satisfactorily shown, a service is certainly rendered to the cause of truth. Whether this has been done, in the present instance, let competent judges decide.

William S. Plumer, Commentary on Romans, p. 20:

Some of the older English versions from quaintness, if not from elegance, do often give the sense in a striking way. But none have, as a whole, been comparable to the authorized English version. Its amazing mastery of our mother tongue, its pure Anglo-Saxon diction and its very careful rendering of the true idea of the author still place it far above all competition.

George Bernard Shaw, The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, pp. 62-67:

In all these instances the Bible means the translation authorized by King James the First of the best examples in ancient Jewish literature of natural and political history, of poetry, morality, theology, and rhapsody. The translation was extraordinarily well done because to the translators what they were translating was not merely a curious collection of ancient books written by different authors in different stages of culture, but the Word of God divinely revealed through his chosen and expressly inspired scribes. ... In this state of exaltation they made a translation so magnificent that to this day the common human Britisher or citizen of the United States of North America accepts and worships it as a single book by a single author, the book being the Book of Books and the author being God. Its charm, its promise of salvation, its pathos, and its majesty have been raised to transcendence by Handel, who can still make atheists cry and give materialists the thrill of the sublime with his Messiah. Even the ignorant, to whom religion is crude fetishism and magic, prize it as a paper talisman that will exorcize ghosts, prevent witnesses from lying, and, if carried devoutly in a soldier’s pocket, stop bullets. ... As to Bible science, it has over the nineteenth-century materialistic fashion in biology the advantage of being a science of life and not an attempt to substitute physics and chemistry for it; but it is hopelessly pre-evolutionary; its descriptions of the origin of life and morals are obviously fairy tales; its astronomy is terra centric; its notions of the starry universe are childish; its history is epical and legendary: in short, people whose education in these departments is derived from the Bible are so absurdly misinformed as to be unfit for public employment, parental responsibility, or the franchise. As an encyclopedia, therefore, the bible must be shelved with the first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica as a record of what men once believed, and a measure of how far they have left their obsolete beliefs behind.

The Continuators of Matthew Poole's English Annotations:

After this, King James coming to the crown, being a prince of great learning and judgment, and observing the different usage of some words in his age from the usage of then In King Henry VIII or in Queen Elizabeth's time, and also the several mistakes (though of a minute nature) in those more ancient versions, was pleased to employ divers learned men in making a new translation, which is that which at this day is generally used. With what reverence to former translators, what labor, and care, and pains they accomplished their work, the reader may see at large in their preface prefixed to those copies that are printed in folio, and in their epistle to King James in our Bibles of a lesser form; of which translation (though it may not be with its more minute error) yet I think it may be said that it is hardly exceeded by that of any other church.


  1. Love the Plumer quote, Andrew! I have benefited greatly over the last year, changing to the primary biblical in take from the KJV.

    By the way, my blog address has changed, so if you want to change it (or just remove the old one in your sidebar), that'd be great!

    Blessings to you and yours, Friend!

  2. Josh -- It is good to hear from you, brother. I'm glad you liked that quote. Rev. Winzer posted part of it once and I added it to my collection.

    I have deleted the Puritan Pub and Reformers & Puritans links and added The Calvinist Vent. Thanks so much.

    Blessings to you and Chloë, brother!