Saturday, November 5, 2011

Distinguished Bible scholar Jack Lewis writing on the KJV's legacy

Jack P. Lewis, professor emeritus of Harding School of Theology here in Memphis, has written a short article about the legacy of the KJV, which appeared online this morning on the Commercial Appeal's "Faith in Memphis" website.

The article offers an overview of the history -- and some of the misconceptions -- that surround the provenance of the "Authorized Version":
King James was not a translator. History records no financial contribution by King James to the preparation, nor any official act of approval by King or church. Nevertheless, the KJV has been known as the Authorized Version, meaning it was authorized for use by the Anglican Church. Bible printing in England was a royal monopoly. In America, there is no organization to authorize for Christendom.
Lewis points out as well that, contrary to popular belief, the KJV was in fact the ninth version of the Bible to appear in English, following on the efforts of Tyndale and earlier versions such as the Bishop's Bible and even the Catholic Douay-Rheims.

Lewis also points out that the KJV, though highly esteemed by many, is by no means a perfect translation, particularly for contemporary readers. "The English language also has changed dramatically so that the KJV has 800 words that have changed their meaning. Some like 'prevent' or 'let' now have the opposite meaning."

I had the chance to meet Dr. Lewis several months ago at a commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the King James held at Harding Seminary, and I am pleased to commend to you both his scholarly graciousness and his erudition. You can find the full text of Dr. Lewis's article here.

(My thanks to Scott Newstock of Rhodes College for bringing the article to my attention)

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