Every two weeks or so, a conversation about Bible translations pops up on my Facebook feed. In these threads, fortunately, most people show their overwhelming and undying love for the best available translations: the ESV and NASB. I was scrolling through Facebook, and saw yet another thread about Bible translations which asked the very important question, “What is the best Bible translation?”
Several people who commented demonstrated their superior intellect by saying that the archaic, Olde English translation, the KJV, is completely outdated and unintelligible to the modern reader. Others pointed out that it is not based on the earliest and best manuscripts, and should be cast into the pits of hell. It seemed that everybody knew this on the thread, thank goodness. Except for one. As I scanned through the post I realized there was one person who said they read the KJV.
I thought of how crazy it was that English speakers did not have an accurate translation of the Bible until the National Council of Churches published the Revised Standard Version in 1952. I wondered what it was like for this gentleman, who was still reading the artifact that is the King James Version. I thought how strange it would be for a person to intentionally opt out of electricity in their home for candles - because that is what this man was doing!
Thankfully, the rights to the Eighth Wonder of the World were purchased by Crossway, taking the wonderful translation away from the ecumenical nightmare that is the NCC. Crossway put a new outfit on the RSV and published it in 2001 as the English Standard Version. This is demonstrably the most scholarly attempt that mankind has ever taken at translating an ancient language into English.
I wondered what it was like to read Olde English, like the one man on the Facebook post claimed to do, so I opened up the KJV in my computer browser, to see if I could read it for fun. I had read a paragraph of Chaucer in school for an assignment, which was Middle English, so it would be interesting to see if that would help me understand an even more archaic and older form of my mother tongue. I opened up to my favorite passage in Ephesians and started reading from chapter one: verse one.
PAUL, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
After struggling for about an hour to decipher the impossibly archaic language (which I recognized immediately to be Olde English), I was finally able to understand just what it was saying after feeding the words into Google translate. After all that effort, I was exhausted. I now understood why the ESV and NASB are superior translations. I realized it didn’t even matter how good the translation itself was. If I wasn’t smart enough to read it, it was all a huge waste of time! I realized that I still hadn’t had a chance to properly do my devotions yet, and I pulled out my MSG bible, which my seminary textbook, “How to Understand and Interpret the New Testament” had recommended to me. I opened up in the Psalms and read the first chapter.
How well God must like you— you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon,
you don’t slink along Dead-End Road, you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.
Instead you thrill to God’s Word, you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.
You’re not at all like the wicked, who are mere windblown dust--
Without defense in court, unfit company for innocent people.
God charts the road you take. The road they take is Skid Row.
This translation made me feel happy and good, and I appreciated that it did not use difficult words, and instead was very clear that I wasn’t a slinker or a student at smart-mouth college. That’s how the Bible should be. Nice and easy.
I pulled out my phone and opened Facebook and returned to comment on the Bible thread. After reading the KJV, I thought I would have some insight for the person who said they read the KJV (Clearly he was lying, nobody can understand it). I typed on the thread, “Yeah, I’ve read the KJV, it is impossible. Plus it’s completely back-translated from the Latin and not Greek. Definitely stay away from it. I can highly recommend the ESV, NASB,and MSG though!”
Satisfied with my good deed, I closed the app, knowing that I had spared people from taking skid row!
DISCLAIMER: This post is satire
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