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Jabe73's avatar

Why do most conservative Christians believe the Authorized (King James) Version Bible is the most reliable translation?

Asked by Jabe73 (4010points) September 26th, 2010

I am aware of several types of bibles including: the Septuagint, Vulgate, Luther’s German Bible, Revised Standard Version, New International Version, Young’s Literal Translation, Douay Rheims Bible and several other versions as well. Why do the majority of conservative Christians consider the Authorized (King James) Version Bible the most accurate translation of the true word of God?

I am aware there may be a few Christians on here who may be somewhat knowledgable on this subject as well as many atheists/agnostics (many of whom were former Christians themselves). Trying to keep the answers on topic I guess what I am looking for here is what evidence is there that the AKJV Bible may be the most accurate translation of the word of God compared to other translations of the bible?

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34 Answers

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ETpro's avatar

Excellent question. Here is my best guess.

augustlan's avatar

I assume it’s the one they’re most familiar with. Perhaps the only one they’re familiar with. Like many aspects of religion, you believe what you believe because you grew up in the faith, using a particular version of a holy book.

lillycoyote's avatar

I don’t fully understand the issue myself. Christians have had over 2000 years to make Christianity one of the most theologically complicated and simultaneously theologically simplistic religions in the world, but if you can figure any of it out, good luck. There are KJV only fundamenalists and when you get yourself straight on this one you can start figuring out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Or maybe that one has already been settled. The above link is a place to start, but only a place to start unless there is someone here who can give you a very good answer.

Edit: Despite the great knowledge and many talents of the people on Fluther, there don’t seem to be any truly knowledgeable or unbiased religious scholars here. Sorry, folks, but that’s just the way I see it.

Jabe73's avatar

I“ve tried to research this topic myself by using the internet and through reading several books but outside of certain religious individuals who are biased with a certain belief system I have not found any reliable answers, just opinions. I have noticed if you look up the term “Christianity” or even basic topics like “what happens when you die?” several dozen (at least) conservative Authorized (King James) Version only bible thumping websites seem to overtake most of the other viewpoints on these types of subjects.

You would think the Septuagint would be the most accurate since (from what I’ve heard) is the oldest known translation of the bible (in Greek I believe). The biggest case for the evidence of the AKJV bible’s reliabilty seems to be that the texts written in it are very similar to the oldest known translations (written in other languages) from the oldest known books. Conservative bible scholars also like to use the Dead Sea Scrolls for evidence as well that the AKJV of the bible is the most accurate interpretation of the word of God.

I have a (at least) century old Authorized (King James) Version Bible that I’ve been reading. I do not have any other bibles in my possession at the moment to compare anything with. I thought of ordering several of these primary versions of the bible. The Authorized KJV can be very hard to understand (unlike the NIV) because of the old english used in it. If the easier to understand translations from some of these other bibles are said to not be trusted then how can you ever know what any bible is saying then? What are non-english speaking Christians supposed to read to “save their souls” then?

Jabe73's avatar

@lillycoyote I think there are some here who can give a good run at a good answer here. People can only state their opinions for a question like this to begin with. I will admit I am confused myself on this. It seems even quantum physics may be easier to understand than this topic.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Jabe73 I will certainly agree that Quantum Physics may be easier to sort out, explain and understand that the 2000+ years of the permutations of and on Christian theology.

And if there are people here who can give you a good run on an answer to your question I stand ready, willing and able to be humbled, apologetic and to immediately crawl under a rock in shame and humility for my arrogance in even suggesting that this community may not up to the task. I mean that. I really do. While I don’t relish or enjoy being called on my arrogance, my patronizing and my pontification I am generally willing, though not always and even when I am, somewhat grudgingly, I must admit, to take my licks, to pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again, as long as I am given enough time to heal the wounds to my ego, and what poses as my intellect, and gain strength to fight another day.

Jabe73's avatar

@lillycoyote I wasn’t shooting you down here and you are for the most part likely correct here. I do not think I am allowed to mention users specifically here but I know of at least one atheist on here who could answer this question reasonably if they would log on and see this question. Yeah I didn’t expect too many to be able to answer this and that one Christian that asked that one question I do not believe will be back on here again.

BarnacleBill's avatar

The King James Version has been the Protestant version of the Bible since 1611. It has withstood the bastardization of contemporary Protestant versions. The Catholics use the New Jerusalem Bible, as prior to 1966, Catholics bibles were all in Latin (this is probably where the notion that Catholics don’t read the Bible stems from.)

More contemporary Protestant bibles are interpretations of the King James, and not new translations of the Latin, which is probably why the King James is preferred.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Jabe73 If you are interested in Bible translations, purely as an intellectual exercise or because the Bible and Christianity have been possibly the most influential force in Western Civilization for the past god knows how many years, then you might find The Unvarnished New Testament very interesting and worth your time, if you don’t know of it already. I don’t know if there is an Old Testament equivalent to this. I wish there was, and if you ever discover one, please let me know.

Kraigmo's avatar

I saw a video by Pastor Steven Anderson on Youtube, and he is as fundamentalist as they get. He said that the original King James Bible is the only authoritative Bible. He also said that the original Greek and Hebrew bibles don’t matter because God created the King James Bible for his favorite country, America. And that God divinely planned for the English King James Bible to become the authoritative version all along.

I’m sure the pastor would disapprove of how I paraphrased his words.

It’s funny how people like him have a King James scripture to back up everything, except for their belief in the concept of “King James Only”, which they concoct in their minds for convenience and tradition.

lillycoyote's avatar

As an aside, and as a completely unrepentant and unapologetic apostate and as a non-christian the only thing I think KJV has going for it is the poetry of it. Purely as a piece of literature, the KJV is by far the superior translation, IMHO.

Jabe73's avatar

@ETpro I read that link you posted. Here is a website (just one small example of so many like this one that exist on the internet) that states their reasons but you will have to scroll to the bottom since there are several different links on this topic. I will admit this website is way way way over the top. I can’t give enough “ways” here.

I have found this to be an absolutely disgusting shame that there are so many similar “Christian” websites like this one that are so full of hate and arrogance and yet by far seem to drown out most other websites with opposing viewpoints. They must have excellent funding.

I have to get to bed now.

Harold's avatar

I actually have no idea, but I have had people walk out of a worship service I was conducting when I dared to say other versions were better!!

There are many modern versions translated from the original texts (NIV, New KJV, to name a couple), so it is wrong to say KJV is the most accurate.

Personally, I use The Message to read, and the New KJV to study. I also like my old Living Bible.

Nullo's avatar

I wouldn’t say that they necessarily do; the New International Version has actually been the most common in the churches that I’ve been to.
Those who do prefer the King James often do so because the idea is that there was less of an opportunity for special interests to tamper with it. Another popular reason is that the KJV focused on translating the words (rather literal), and the NIV would instead try to present the same idea.
Most Christians will have no problem with a given translation, unless it’s a Watchtower Bible or somesuch.

JustmeAman's avatar

Well the sad thing is there are other versions of the Bible. They each do not say the same thing. I accept the KJV more than others because that is what I was taught as I grew up though I don’t hold any of them perfect by no means.

filmfann's avatar

My sister is definitly a conservative Christian, and she doesn’t care of the KJV.
I think she likes the Rheims, but I should ask.
I am reading the RSV, and am not happy with some of the translation.

JustmeAman's avatar

The many different versions or translations of the Bible do not agree with each other and the meaning is lost. If each different Christian religion uses a different set of instructions then there is no cohesion of the Christian religion. Come to think of it that is exactly the way it is. That is why there are so many different Christian belief systems.

Qingu's avatar

@Jabe73, I’m not sure the premise of your question is actually true—that is, I don’t think most conservative Christians believe the KJV is the most reliable. I don’t have any statistics to back me up, but in my experience talking to conservative Christians, most of them prefer the ESV (which is a newer translation).

Now, Jack Chick is famous for claiming that the KJV is the only “true” version of the Bible in English, but I wouldn’t say Jack Chick is representative of conservative Christians.

For conservative Christians who do prefer the KJV, I don’t think this preference is based on anything rational or scholarly with the text. The KJV was a fine translation for the time, but its prose is incredibly dated by today’s standards and it often gives the wrong impression (for example, God does not speak in the “royal we” in Genesis.) Jack Chick seems to believe that the KJV is a “magical” translation, which is of course nonsense.

Other Christians (and non-Christians) seem to prefer the KJV because they actually like the archaic ye olde English language, though in my opinion the language is incredibly distracting since it’s not what the original Hebrew and Greek sounded like.

Nullo's avatar

Nothing beats the KJV for reading aloud.
But the language is pretty old, older than most people can really cope with – occasionally there will be words whose meanings have nearly become the opposite of what they once were. That’s all well and good if you’re prepared for it, but most people aren’t.
I’ve been hearing good things about the NASB as a study Bible, and I use an ESV most of the time.

Sandydog's avatar

As someone who studied theology for 3 years I can say that the King James is not exactly accurate a translation.
Different christians will forever argue amongst themselves which is the “best”, but usually from a very subjective point of view. Most conservatives from my experience would go for the NIV

Aster's avatar

I can answer it. “Most” , as you say, conservative Christians believe the KJV to be the most reliable version because they believe it is the oldest known translation and , they believe, the least tampered with.

filmfann's avatar

I talked to my sister, and she likes the New International Version.

Nullo's avatar

Interestingly, the Italian Nuova Diodati reads like a word-for-word translation of the KJV, despite being translated from Hebrew and Greek texts sometime in the 16th century, and revised 388 years later.

ETpro's avatar

Personally I like the NIV for accuracy to the early texts in a readable form. The translators went out of their way to stay true to actual meanings from the time of the writers. But the beauty of the prose from the AKJV is just hard to beat. When I, as an agnostic, want to quote the bible, I generally look for the verse I want from there instead of the more modern English.

Jabe73's avatar

@ETpro Unfortunately the NIV has been demonized by many conservative Christians. That website I posted is just one of many thousands of such websites. They actually believe the NIV and other translations were really inspired by Satan himself to discredit the AKJV bible. Take a look at some of the things they say and know there are many more like this one. This is what motivated me to ask this question. Maybe I’m relying to much on the net here for my info but it definately seems these types of websites by far outnumber and overrule most of the others.

Nullo's avatar

@Jabe73 Some of us like to call it the “Nearly Inspired Version.” :D

Really, though, it’s important that you don’t misconstrue things. This here is a forum discussion on the matter. Many of the participants are likely conservative enough to be called Conservatives.

The NIV makes for decent casual reading. A serious study of the Scriptures usually involves several translations and a concordance. A really serious study will involve the original Hebrew and Greek, as well.

Jabe73's avatar

@Nullo The biggest arguments I’ve heard about the NIV is that the easier translations do not match the older english ones from the AKJV and many have said the NIV (among several others) actually deny the deity of Christ. I didn’t read your link yet when I wrote this response.

ETpro's avatar

@Jabe73 So I see. Looks like they are 9/11 Truthers to boot. Must be pretty scary living in a world where there are som many Antichrists running around.

mattbrowne's avatar

Because they like to believe in simple unambiguous truths. Only one faith is the true faith. Only Jesus can save you. Only one translation is the true translation.

Academic methods such as

seem scary and too complex. But it is a fact that every word, every phrase and every sentence depends on a historical context. We can only try to approximate what the Hebrew and Greek original really means. Languages do change over time. Our way of thinking changes over time. No translation is 100% exact. Even today.

Nullo's avatar

@mattbrowne If you think about it, there can only be one true faith: all religions say that it’s them, and they’re very obviously different faiths.
Most Christians will prefer academic methods such as

because it works within the framework of their faith, instead of being forced to assume the untenable position that all faiths are equal.

Jabe73's avatar

@Nullo That’s the problem, there is no evidence that any faith, denomination or religion is the only correct way. It all comes down to individual interpretations passed down over the years (many of which cannot be verified). We do not have the original bible texts. We have no way of really knowing what books should have made the bible and which ones not. I have even found a website that sells a new version of what they claim should have been the real translation of the New Testiment.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Nullo – I agree with @Jabe73. It’s not true that all forms of religion say that they represent the only one true faith. An example is my own faith (Liberal, Protestant Christianity in Germany). Another example is Hans Kueng’s form of Catholicism (which differs from the one promoted by the Vatican). The following text is worth reading and the approach doesn’t mean that all faiths are equal, but it means that none of them can claim to be the only true faith:

Here are some key messages:

“We condemn aggression and hatred in the name of religion. We affirm that a common set of core values is found in the teachings of the religions, and that these form the basis of a global ethic. We affirm that this truth is already known, but yet to be lived in heart and action.

We do not consider ourselves better than other women and men, but we trust that the ancient wisdom of our religions can point the way for the future. By a global ethic we do not mean a global ideology or a single unified religion beyond all existing religions, and certainly not the domination of one religion over all others. By a global ethic we mean a fundamental consensus on binding values, irrevocable standards, and personal attitudes.

The spiritual powers of the religions can offer a fundamental sense of trust, a ground of meaning, ultimate standards, and a spiritual home. Of course religions are credible only when they eliminate those conflicts which spring from the religions themselves, dismantling mutual arrogance, mistrust, prejudice, and even hostile images, and thus demonstrate respect for the traditions, holy places, feasts, and rituals of people who believe differently.

For representatives of religion who stir up prejudice, hatred, and enmity towards those of different belief, or even incite or legitimize religious wars, they deserve the condemnation of humankind and the loss of their adherents.”

CorneliusHerkermer's avatar

Some Christians today maintain that the KJV is the superior English translation. Some Christians and churches are so enamored with the KJV that they refuse to use, or give credit to, any other translation. The stance of these Christians has been referred to as King-James-Onlyism .

The KJV is an excellent English Bible and if you can easily understand it there is no real reason to change to another English translation. However, one of the biggest shortcomings for most people is its dated language. So basically when all’s said and done, many claim that the King James Bible is the most accurate and only accurate Bible more out of a sense of tradition than anything.

Something many or perhaps most people don’t know is that the KJV is not a Protestant Bible at all. It is an Anglican Bible. The Anglican Church’s King James Bible took decades to overcome the more popular Protestant Church’s Geneva Bible.

One of the greatest ironies of history, is that many Protestant Christian churches today embrace the King James Bible exclusively as the “only” legitimate English language translation… yet it is not even a Protestant translation!

It was printed to compete with the Protestant Geneva Bible, by authorities who throughout most of history were hostile to Protestants… and killed them. While many Protestants are quick to assign the full blame of persecution to the Roman Catholic Church, it should be noted that even after England broke from Roman Catholicism in the 1500’s, the Church of England (The Anglican Church) continued to persecute Protestants throughout the 1600’s.

Protestants today are largely unaware of their own history, and unaware of the Geneva Bible (which is textually 95% the same as the King James Version, but 50 years older than the King James Version, and not influenced by the Roman Catholic Rheims New Testament that the King James translators admittedly took into consideration). Nevertheless, the King James Bible turned out to be an excellent and accurate translation. Is it “the” most accurate? I would have to say no.

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