Other Than the KJV?

In Bibles on July 18, 2008 at 2:52 PM

For as long as I have been a Christian, there has been controversy regarding which version of the Bible is holy and true. For many, there is no other Bible than the one used by their father’s father’s father. Even today, there are some who believe if you don’t use a particular version, you are endangering your lives and filling your minds with false doctrine.

There are no apologies from me for my personal preference being the King James Version (KJV). I love this version, and always have. There is no doubt some of the words are no longer used in today’s world, but that doesn’t bother me in any way. The text flows smoothly for me, and seems to be alive, which it is. This version still has an enormous following today, and will continue for a long time to come.

While browsing the net a few months ago, I came across an interesting site and began reading some of the posts. It wasn’t long before this became a daily reading necessity. Mark Bertrand’s Binding Design and Binding Blog offers a wealth of information about high-end Bibles, along with some other offerings, such as high quality journals and out of the ordinary Bibles. If you have never visited this site, do yourselves a favor and drop by. Be forewarned, though, as you might just be tempted to acquire one or more of the Bibles he has so ably reviewed.

Winding my way through the afore mentioned blog, I came across a Bible version that was totally unfamiliar to me. The English Standard Version (ESV) seems to be quite popular, and after reading several important passages on the ESV site, I began to see why. There is an Introduction to the ESV Bible that should answer all your questions about this wonderful version. From the introduction:

The English Standard Version (ESV) Bible is a new, essentially literal Bible translation that combines word-for-word precision and accuracy with literary excellence, beauty, and depth of meaning.

A pastor friend of mine showed me another version I had not read before, the New American Standard Bible (NASB). This version is published by The Lockman Foundation. He told me he had been using this version for quite a while in studying the scriptures and preaching, too. Again, after looking at several key passages, I found this version quite pleasing and readable. There is some useful information about the NASB on the site. You may also look up scriptures there, and read to your heart’s content.

While talking with another pastor friend last night, I discovered one more version that really appeals to me. The New Century Version (NCV) is easy to read, and suitable for young readers, too. There is some excellent information at the Bible Research site relating to this version. As my pastor friend pointed out, this version reads so beautifully, specifically including grandchildren in the promises of God. Look at how Psalm 103:17 is rendered: “But the Lord’s love for those who respect him continues forever and ever, and his goodness continues to their grandchildren.”

I know children’s children is the same as grandchildren, but the NCV makes the connection very plain. My wife and I have grandchildren and we make sure they are included in our Bible discussions. They are our heritage, and the Word of God applies just as much to them as the rest of us.

Now, what is so significant about reading and studying versions other than the time-tested KJV? I have been a Christian long enough to be grounded and settled in God’s Word, and can read the others without confusion. The other versions mentioned in this post have their own personalities and unique features; it’s not difficult to find a sense of joy and satisfaction in each of them.

There is a book called God Only Wrote One Bible by Jasper James Ray, which is an apology for the KJV. I don’t know how many times I’ve read that book; I’ve bought and given away more copies than can be recalled now. I’m not sure the book is still in print. Anyway, at one point in my life, I believed like the author. “If it’s not the KJV, you better not read it” There are some interesting points brought up by Mr. Ray, and if you can find the book, you would probably enjoy reading it.

We are to go into all the world, making disciples of all people. There is no telling the number of people who have come to know Jesus Christ as Savior through the power of evangelizing with the KJV. I can remember a man witnessing to me as we were both working at a department store in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He quoted scriptures using the KJV. After coming to Christ at an old established church one Easter Sunday morning, I was presented with a brand new Thompson Chain KJV Bible. I still use it today, though the print has somehow shrunk a little.

If I can use the ESV, NASB, NCV or KJV to effectively speak the message of the Cross, then I have done my part. Certainly, the Lord has already anointed His Word and expects us to speak to others, declaring His love for mankind. I don’t want to use a watered down version that destroys the majesty and deity of God; there are some versions that seem to do just that. We must be discerning in what we read and what we speak.

I may just begin using one of these other versions as I preach the glorious gospel of Christ; there is no doubt, however, the KJV will be my main Bible. My aim is to speak the truth in love with the power of God’s eternal Word. What do you think?

  1. I think that having a main bible is just fine, as it enables someone to build an familiarity with it; however, as you well know, some take it to a doctrinal level and insist that God has inspired only the KJV. Glad you don’t.

  2. There is something so beautiful, profound and special about the KJV – it’s like Shakespeare, no correct that, Shakespeare is like it! However, I do not believe it is the only “right” version. There is much value in other translations. And a few other translations, as your post pointed out, have very reliable and sound scholarship behind them.

    • Actually William Shakespeare had more of an influence on the av1611 than people realize. The language in 1611 was already progressing past the King’s English. The written prose of Shakespeare had an impact not only in plays and sonnets but on the writer’s of the KJV. In William Tyndale’s day, English was still a primitive language with the majority of the citizens either speaking Latin or illiterate.

      • Hey, Daniel. This is your first time here, but someone you are very familiar with has visited before. You raise some interesting points. We must be reading some history along the same lines. Thanks for dropping by with your thought-provoking words. Come again any time.

  3. I love the KJV. I was raised on it and can recognize when someone is misquoting or “revising” God’s Word when I hear it. Because I learned from one version, I know a counterfeit when I hear one. I mainly study with my KJV along with Strong’s Concordance & the Interlinear Hebrew-Greek-English Bible. Any version is okay, I guess, as long as it does not take away or add to the Word. Some versions written take out the Blood of Jesus, the Virgin Birth and even the Cross. They are so watered down, as you said, that people’s spirits cannot be pricked to conviction and salvation. The Word is not just for our pleasure of reading, but to bring mankind to salvation. I am so burdened for souls. Thank you for the excellent reading you have provided. You are gifted in writing; well versed and well written.

  4. @Brenda: You know very well we had one of the same teachers, and I can still recall some of my early lessons. Thank God for a foundation rich with the majesty, beauty and power of the KJV. I can still remember a hunger for God’s Word as we all worshiped together in that little country church.

    I’m thankful the Lord has allowed me to be grounded enough to be able to draw inspiration and victory from many sources. This is my cry: “Psalms 119:89: For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.”

  5. i recently picked up an esv bible and really enjoy it. I also sometimes take a peek at the ntl version…but my main preaching and study bible is the kjv version.

    i find some of the agenda’s that come with some of the “modern” translations a little distracting sometimes and the kjv just sounds so good.

    brother, your blog is really a blessing and i’m going to subscribe right now!

  6. One of the things I love about how God communicates with us through his Word is that he’s not limited by language. For the devout Muslim, the Qu’ran ceases to be the word of Allah when it is translated out of Arabic. Not so the Bible: translated into any language under heaven, it remains God’s Word; as was once said by someone smarter than me, it continues to speak because it addresses not just the ear, but the soul.

    Language, especially the English language, is always in a state of flux. That’s why English versions, like the ESV, keep popping up. The translators (in most cases; one would hope, in every case) have a heart to reach a new generation of people with the life-changing power of the Scriptures.

    Bible translation is nothing new: the Jews knew that if they didn’t translate the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek (the Septuagint, we call it), they would be unlikely to gain even a hearing, let alone any new converts, as Greek became the known world’s language.

    It was the church that messed it up! When the Latin Vulgate came into vogue, it got institutionalized, and the church experienced several very dry generations. Those who have likewise institutionalized the KJV do the same disservice to the Kingdom.

    I rejoice with anyone who has a favourite Bible version, no matter which of the accepted versions it may be (I’m excluding, for example, the “New World Translation”). Hopefully, if it’s a favourite, it will be read! And if it’s read, watch out: God will take hold of the heart. It doesn’t get any better than that.

    Jeff (who admits to a strong preference for the New Living Translation) 🙂

  7. Thanks, everyone, for your comments. Whatever version you choose, IMHO, it is most important to allow God’s Word to not only speak to you, but also lead you to a deep relationship with the Lord. The Word of God is alive, and brings salvation, health, victory, hope and more than this comment can describe.

    Read, ingest and meditate on God’s Word daily. You absolutely can’t go wrong with this formula.

    III John 1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. (KJV)

    III John 2 Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. (ESV)

    We feed our souls with God’s Word.

  8. You may want to compare separate English and non-English translations at

  9. Biblical Events Timeline…

    I have always conceived of the God of the Bible as an engineer before he is a king. Unlike any other king, he is the maker of his realm, and as a perfect being, he must clearly put perfect thought into perfect design and then into perfect form. I admit…

  10. I became a believer with the NIV. My mom, KJV. One of my pastor’s loves the ESV. My Wife and I also like the NCV. Thanks for this overview and your take on each of the versions mentioned in your post Ron. Very interesting read.

  11. You’re welcome, Ric. Glad you stopped by. The more I read the NCV, the more I like it. I thought it was going to be my daily reading Bible, but the KJV keeps calling, and I’ve got to answer.

  12. Personally I think people should find the version that they understand and are able to get the most meat of the best. My choice of version is the New Living. It is practical, but not to “out there” as far as terminology. It speaks to me, that’s all I can say to people who are against different versions.

  13. Rachel,

    Thanks for dropping by. You are always welcome here on this little slice of the web. I believe you hit the nail on the head when you said “It speaks to me.” We so desperately need the Word of God to speak to us and do a special work in us.

  14. I imagine that one of the problems with the KJV is that today’s readers don’t understand the meaning of many of the 16th-century English words in it. That’s probably a good place for a footnoted-edition to explain all of that. I have a NRSV from Oxford University Press that does that. I’m sure some publisher has done the same thing for the KJV. I’m no expert, so I’ll leave that to all of you.

  15. @ Steven: Thanks for dropping by; glad you’re here. There are many helps in modern KJV Bibles which do a good job of explaining much of the old language. There is always the possibility of readers using parallel Bibles, which some think to be quite handy.

    Another possibility is the New King James Version, which takes out the “thees” and “thous”.

    Anyway, come again as often as you want.

  16. I like reading the NIV but at church they us to read King James during service and bible study. I have two NIV books now. I like to read the commentary in my NIV bibles. I do read the king James and see how they differ. I think the important thing is that you read the Holy Bible regardless of the publisher. It’s important to be a hearer and do(er) of God’s Word.

  17. […] plenty of versions to choose from. In fact, there are four which interest me quite a bit. My post, Other Than the KJV?, lists the ones I prefer above others I’ve […]

  18. Hi preacherpen,

    Thanks for your comments on the TNIV Reference Bible on my site.

    You might be interested in the link below about my appreciation of the KJV: I posted it today and then came back and read your post here and really resonate with your comments.

  19. I too have a Thompson Chain in KJV and love this Bible I also have many, many others you have mentioned here one of which is the ESV study bible and is an exceptional study bible.
    Great blog post!

    • Thanks for dropping by, Glenn. I’m in love with the KJV but have been gravitating to the ESV for quite a while now. I have two R. L. Allan and Sons ESV1 editions – one in British Tan and the other in Chocolate Brown. These have become my favorite bibles.

  20. In referencing the Bibles you have mentioned here, I use them all. I am still amazed at how so many evangelicals embrace the NIV. Plain and simple: it is a terrible translation! It almost seems as if there were so many fingers in this pie that it cannot decide which translative format it should adhere to. The formal equivalence contains “archaic” words not fitting to a modern translation and the dynamic equivalence is “too” modern. In short, the NIV just does not seem to get along with itself. I, like you, still embrace the KJV 1611 which coincidentally enough was influenced by the most prolific writer of the the time and all time, William Shakespeare. Most English speaking people’s had drifted away from that form of King’s English decades before the text was written with the exception of the arts. Regardless, it is a masterpiece!

    • Yes, the KJV was a masterpiece when it was written and is still one today. I totally agree with your assessment of the NIV and have no use for it. Some may find it helpful, but not me.

  21. The modern “bibles” are translated from catholic sources. Christians should know the cult of the dead woman is satanic in origin. If you want to put your soul in the pages of the modern perversions, no skin off my nose. But I’m telling you, when you start saying a version that says satan is equal w/ Jesus is just as good as the KJB, you’re in danger of being an accomplice to those who bust Rev 22:18-19 which say not to add nor take away from the scriptures. The perversions do exactly that! No wonder amerikan Christianity is in the dumper.

    • 4DaTruth,

      Thanks for dropping by and leaving your comments. Do you have a web site or Facebook page?

      You are the typical KJV-onlyist who apparently puts more stock in the textus receptus than is necessary. Reading your comment makes me think you care more about the KJV than the word of God; you have put that precious KJV on a pedestal rather than God’s eternal word.

      I don’t really think you read all of my post. I didn’t mention anything about a version saying Satan is equal with Jesus. It simply was not there. I have never read that in any of the versions mentioned in my post. You and your ilk are dreaming when you make accusations like that, at least pertaining to the versions mentioned here.

      The last time I checked, the blood of Christ still saves, heals, delivers, mends, sets free, flowed down Calvary and a host of other things God wanted it to do. Guess what, that blood is still to be found in any of the versions I described in my post. I thank God for reading about that precious blood quite recently as I turned the pages of my ESV. Thank God for the blood. 4DaTruth, if you had your way, that blood would be turned into something worthless and of no affect; sadly, many of your ilk have already done that. I don’t care where I read about that precious blood of Christ, it’s still powerful enough to take care of my needs.

      What is “amerikan Christianity?” Do you mean American Christianity? If that’s what you mean, I would have to partially agree with you. You are totally, 100% incorrect in your assumption, however, regarding why so many American Christians are weak. I submit to you one of the reasons is they’ve fallen away from their first love. Many need to run back to Calvary for a fresh encounter with Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Weak because of a bible version? Delusional, to say the least.

      You know, 4DaTruth, I used to be just like you: no discernment, set in my ways, little knowledge and no compassion for others who didn’t walk as I thought they should. You and others just like you are one of the reasons the KJV-only debate rages on. Did you even read what I wrote?

      Listen, the most important thing is having a genuine, living, ongoing relationship with the Lord. I humbly submit to you there are many who will not read the KJV but will read something which speaks to them. Are you ever so feebly trying to assert those people either can’t be saved while reading another version or God can’t possibly speak to them unless it’s through the KJV? I hope you know better than that. God can speak through a donkey, use the wind to talk through or anything else he so chooses. Do you not think God is big enough to use another version?

      Walk in the Spirit; quit thinking you alone have the answers. Please, do some research before throwing Revelation 22:18-19 into the mix.

  22. I agree with you completely. When I was young I was saved at a baptist youth camp. I was given a King James Bible and told to read it. Not much disciplining. I could not understand it and put it away. I also fell away. 25 years later I came back to Jesus in a grown up desperation and He was there in the pages of a NCV. I read it twice and graduated to the Niv wich I found weak. I went on to the KJV and it is my main study and preaching bible. Like most ministers I have many “editions”. study, reference, specialty etc. I totally agree any bible that speaks of repentance and salvation through the Blood of Christ and His Resurrection is a useful translation. Even the king James has translation issues (the second believeth in Jn.3:36 is best translated “obey” as it is a totally different Greek word).
    My point in agreement is, get the Word and read it. Then live by it. Translation is up to YOU.


  24. I believe that God’s Word is truly living as explained in Hebrews 4:12.

    There are some who are adamant that the King James Bible is the only true translation of scripture in line with 2 Timothy 3:16 and no other translation is God’s Word.

    They are so firm in this belief that all they want to do is argue about how some of the other versions are “from the devil.”

    People who care more about the King James Bible than the Word of God are those “who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit” as described in Jude 1:19 and having the appearance of godliness but denying its power. To do this is to deny the power of God and his Holy Spirit. It is satanic.

    One of the translations that is attacked most viciously is The Living Bible which is a paraphrase. While I prefer a more literal translation like New King James, English Standard Version or NASB I will not put God in a box.

    Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10:16-18) I will tell you that it was The Living Bible wherein God produced a living faith in me one summer when I was about 19 years old. I was born again while reading this paraphrase “of the devil” and my life was never the same again.

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