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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Versions

If part of your Christmas tradition is to listen to the Queen’s message on Christmas morning, you will know that Her Royal Highness, Elizabeth II broadcast her message this year from the chapel at Hampton Court. This is the palace where in 1604, King James, as head of the Church of England, convened what has become known as the Hampton Court Conference. This gathering discussed problems pertaining to scripture and the use of scripture by the clergy, particularly as articulated by the Puritans, a group within the Church of England.

It was at this conference that the idea was conceived of commissioning of a new version of the Bible. Consequently, a group of scholars were retained and given the task of translating the Bible anew. They would translate the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) from Hebrew, the New Testament from Greek, and the Apocrypha from Greek and Latin. The 47 scholars worked hard, employing strict scholarly process. They completed their work in seven years, and in 1611, the new Holy Bible was printed for the first time.

King James’ commission was not the first attempt at an English Bible; in fact such efforts are known to have existed as early as the seventh century. This was not even the first try for an “official” English translation, but is in fact the third. The first such effort was commissioned by the Church of England during the reign of King Henry VIII. The resulting work was known as the Great Bible. The second was commissioned in 1568 and was called the Bishop’s Bible. Each Bible had its critics and problems continued to exist. The publication was also not the last such effort. More than 450 different English versions of the Bible are known to have been published over the years.

2011 marks the 400th anniversary of the first printing of what we now know as the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. It was a remarkable achievement of scholarship that has stood the test of time. Much more could be said concerning this important accomplishment, however those comments can readily be found elsewhere. There will undoubtedly be many more comments, both pro and con, made in the coming year. Stay tuned!

Some of you may have things you would like to say yourselves on this matter. As always you are invited to click on the comments button and share them with the rest of us.

Posted by Carman

2 comments:

  1. This year I watched the Queen's Christmas message on youtube because I wasn't sure what time it would be on the TV. As always, I found her message worthwhile and I continue to have great respect for Her Majesty.

    The language of the King James/Inspired Version was the language of my childhood. When other versions came into play, they didn't sound "holy" to me. Somehow "Mary being great with child," sounded much better that "Mary was pregnant," when we were in church.

    Times have changed and so have I. I can't remember the last time I opened either the King James or the Inspired Version of the Bible. Now I use the Inclusive New Testament or NRSV or the Message for the Old Testament. I have several friends who are ministers outside the church and all of them agree that the NRSV is the most scholarly up-to-date translation in English. I know the Message is a paraphase, but sometimes it says things in such a way that it grips the hearer without changing the essence of the message.

    In short, I think we need scripture to be in a language readily understood by the average person (as opposed to a Middle English scholar.) I've been amazed at the new understandings I've had since I've been reading the Bible in contemporary English.

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  2. I quite agree, Robert. I also use NRSV more than any other, including the NKJV, which is King James in more modern English. What is interesting to note is that KJV would actually have been in "modern" English in its day (1611) because it was translated into the language that people spoke and understood. Language has changed, and more modern versions have tried to keep up with those changes while still being faithful to the original meaning according to current scholarship. The KJV has had a remarkable run. It has earned its place on the book shelf.

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