Sunday, April 17, 2011

And a very happy birthday to the good old King James Version!

Today is as good a day as any in 2011 to wish a very happy birthday to the venerable King James Version, or as the KJV only folks will put it, the AV1611.

The KJV has given me some pretty good moments in my life and the several decades I've been a pastor. I'd like to remember a few of them as I wish the KJV a happy birthday.

The first Bible I owned was given to me when I moved from some ancient SBC Sunday School classification, primaries, I think, to another long dead one, Juniors. It had very nice pictures. I still have it.

When I finally got saved as a young adult, no reflection on the wonderful people who taught me Sunday School, I went out and bought a KJV, sans pictures, my former picture Bible being a bit of biblical faux pas in my new circle of friends.

When I was ordained, I was given a nice KJV with impossibly tiny print but ridiculously large margins. Seems my pastor liked to put his outlines in the margins and wing it with just those few notes. I never could get a sermon down to a dozen words or so.

Alas, I got used to the Bible in something other than the Kings english and used the New American Standard Version for the first 14 years I was a pastor; however, I worked hard at stifling my feelings of intellectual and spiritual superiority while using it. At the time, I thought that everyone knew (or at least every intellectually and spiritually superior person knew) that the NASB was more accurate; hence, only serious Bible students used it.

Back in 1996 I switched over to the New International Version. Hey, I like to understand what I'm reading and some of the NASB syntax is tortuous. People who are intellectualy and spiritually superior will just have to deal with it.

I once had a curmudgeonly old guy as a deacon. He would occasionally say stuff like, "Preacher, why don't you get rid of that thing and get a real Bible." He meant the Bible of Paul and Silas, KJV, of course. I would reply, "Tell you what, Joe, I not only already have one but I'll use it at your funeral. How about that?" He would mumble and grumble as he walked away. Well, he died. I kept my promise. I miss him.

Then there were those deacons whose prayers were always in KJV english, "Thou, O Lord..." But, give me a dozen of those rather than one who prays as if God is his hip-hop BFF.

The KJV has been valueable if only for the entertainment provided by the KJV-only crowd. My prof would call them 'willfully ignorant.' He was right but it has been fascinating to listen to them before you have to ban them from your blog.

I still don't feel right reading the 23rd Psalm or the Lord's Prayer out of anything but the KJV. Truth be told, I've still value my nice picture KJV, the first Bible I ever bought as a new Christian, and my ordination Bible.

So happy birthday, KJV.


Stephen Fox said...

The KJV is a good one. I got a lesson recently about Joshua 9:4-5 from a KJV fan.
Serious students of the matter will have a thorough reading of Adam Nicolson's God's Secretaries under their belt, at a minimum the James Wood Review in New Yorker.
And Dr. Thornton, while I'm checking your blog here, forgive me but got to get in a plug of Emory's Joe Crespino book In Search of Another Country. Attempting to explore all the implications of Crespino's insight with Harry Dent's daughter Ginny Brant and Blogger Howell Scott. Have brought it to David Rogers attention as well.

William Thornton said...

Have a very nice Easter week, Stephen. Come over for bbq soon.

Jonathan S. Jenkins said...

Nice article Plodder! Both my baptism and ordination Bibles were KJV, and I still do most weddings and funerals from it. I agree about those KJV only guys too but I have a pastor in my area who's like that but he loves me still even though I am using a "cut rate" Bible, and i'd rather hang with him than some of those self righteous NIV new age guys. Love the blog!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday KJV!

William ... I started out much the same way and switched to the NIV and now sometimes New KJV. However, when reading the 23rd Psalm and John 3:16 ... I still like the KJV. Blessings!
<><Ron F. Hale