Not long ago I had this conversation with a fresh convert to born again Christianity about Bible translations where he was thrilled to inform me that he bought his first Bible –the King James Version (KJV) upon the advice of more mature Christian mentors that he had at his local church.
What’s interesting about it is the reason why he chose the KJV over other translations is because it is the oldest English translation (I mean 1611!), and that it is closer to the original manuscripts. Personally I have nothing with the KJV I also grew up reading it, in fact I even when I was being discipled by a ‘mature’ Christian church mate I was given a series of Bible studies (mostly from articles written by C.I. Scofield) about how the KJV is the English equivalent of the inspired Word of God.
I am no expert at the area, but now that I’m older I realized that such is a audacious (at worst outrageous!) claim. Since if we were to talk about inspiration we are to talk about Scriptures in the original manner upon which they were delivered –that is in their original language that is why in this fashion we can say that the inspired Bible is that of its text in the original: Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic languages.
So as far as having the best English translation goes I would rather trust the acumen of biblical scholars among them Gordon Fee a New Testament scholar from Regent College in Vancouver, Canada who is known for his expertise in New Testament textual criticism.
In a the book How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (co-authored with Douglas Stuart), he dealt with the problem of Bible translations, with regards to the KJV and the New King James Version (NKJV) he writes:
“The KJV for a long time was the most widely used translation in the world; it is also a classic expression of the English language. Indeed, it coined phrases that will be forever embedded in our language, (“coals of fire,” “the skin of my teeth,” “tounges of fire”). However, for the New Testament, the only Greek text available to the 1611 translators was based on late manuscripts, which had accumulated the mistakes of over a thousand years of copying. Few of these mistakes –and we must note that there are many of them –make any difference to us doctrinally, but they often do make a difference in the meaning of certain specific texts. Recognizing that the English of the KJV was no longer a living language –and thoroughly disatissfied with its modern revision (RSV/NRSV) –it was decided by some to “update” the KJV by ridding it of its “archaic” way of speaking. But in so doing, the NKJV revisers eliminated the best feature of the KJV (its marvellous expression of the English language) and kept the worst (its flawed text).
This is why for study you should use almost any modern translation rather than the KJV or the NKJV.1”
Fee, Gordon How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth 3rd Edition(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007) p. 40