New Versions of the Bible

Though I’ve read the NKJV (New King James Version) of the Bible for many years now I still find myself being drawn back to the good ‘ol King James Version of the Bible. There’s so many new versions out there that are coming out every few years that it becomes confusing.

Many today say that the King James is archaic and hard to understand. When my 10-year old son wants to read the Bible with me I’ll give him a choice by saying, “what version do you want to read? We’ve got the NIV, Message, or the King James.” Every time my son wants to read the King James. He can understand it fine. Even with the “thee’s” and the “thou’s” there’s something majestic about KJV that commands respect when you hear it and you know you’re hearing the very words of God.

I can’t say I’ve as dogmatic as some on the subject, but I can say that the King James sure has stood the test of time and is Bible that I love for more reasons than one. The other versions are just a bit too watered-down for me and seem to be adding to the Word more than what is right.

If we add another 20 versions of the Bible in the next 20 years will anyone even know what “God’s Word – The Bible” is anymore?


12 thoughts on “New Versions of the Bible

  1. I have blogged on this subject a few times. The main thing is you read what helps you understand God’s word the best and if you feel like that is the KJV then that is what you should read. At the same time the KJV has many words that are incomprehensible – See this post for a short list of tough words in the KJV.

    It is difficult to say that reading the KJV you are reading the very words of God, you have to read Greek and Hebrew to get exactly that but I know what you are saying. I love the fact that you read to your kids. God bless you for that. I just thought I would mention that some of the newer versions are just fine. I would recommend the NRSV as the best out there. God bless,


  2. Thanks for posting a comment!

    I read over the list on your blog. I agree some words in KJV are diffucult to understand without doing a little digging in a dictionary. But the same conversation could be flipped by checking out some difficult words in the modern translations. Just take for example the New International Version…

    The NIV uses some “hard-to-understand” words too.

    Num. 31:50…….NIV= armlets………..KJV= chains
    1 Kings4:22……NIV=cors……………..KJV= measures
    Jer. 46:20………NIV=gadfly……….…..KJV= destruction

    So, you’d have to agree that in regards to “hard-to-understand” words it is a 2-way street.

  3. It is a 2-way street, however, one street is a bit longer than the other…The difference is that in the KJV there are literally hundreds of these – in the range of 500-600. In the NIV there are probably less than 50. I think I will go with the NIV for day-to-day reading. That is not to mention the fact that the KJV translators did not have the best manuscripts at the time. They did the best with what they had.

  4. Getting into Manuscripts would be opening a different can of worms, but to stick to the readability – the King James is at a Grade 5 Reading level, whereas the NIV is at an 8th Grade level. The KJV street might not be as long as it looks.

  5. Feed the Fire,

    Can you tell me where you got those numbers? Is that something someone told you or did you read that somewhere?

    I have run grade levels on the difficulty of the KJV vs. the NIV using the Flesch-Kincaid method. My results matched that of Clinton Arnold and are as follows from easiest to hardest:

    NIV – 7.8 grade level
    NKJV – 9.0
    NASB – 11.0 grade level
    KJV – 12.0 grade level

    See the link I posted above for more on that.

  6. According to the Flesch-Kincaid the KJV is at a 5th Grade reading Level. This must be on some sort of average. I’m sure if you were to take certain verses in either NIV or KJV the averages could go up.

    But here’s a quote from Rudolf Flesch, himself…

    “The best example of very easy prose (about 20 affixes per 100 words) is the King James Version of the Bible: . . .” (Rudolf Flesch, The Art of Plain Talk, p. 43).

  7. I picked out 10 random chapters from a variety of different genres of biblical literature to see how it matched up. Here is what I found:

    Gen 1: KJV – 7.0 & NIV – 5.6 (Lower = NIV)
    Lev 11: KJV – 7.2 & NIV – 6.8 (Lower = NIV)
    2 Kings 22: KJV – 8.5 & NIV – 9.5 (Lower = KJV)
    Psalm 87: KJV – 4.3 & NIV – 7.0 (Lower = KJV)
    Proverbs 17: KJV – 6.5 & NIV – 5.5 (Lower = NIV)
    Hosea 8: KJV – 5.8 & NIV – 4.6 (Lower = NIV)
    Matthew 19: KJV – 7.2 & NIV – 6.0 (Lower = NIV)
    Acts 11: KJV – 6.6 & NIV – 7.1 (Lower = KJV)
    Romans 6: KJV – 6.0 & NIV = 5.8 (Lower = NIV)
    Revelation 6: KJV – 5.8 & NIV – 6.2 (Lower = KJV)

    These are all the ones I tested and not hand picked. It is closer than I thought but it appears the NIV has a slight edge. The face validity of this would be in favor of the NIV. Hand a 10 year old a verse in the NIV and KJV and see which one they understand more often…I would guess the NIV.

    Thanks for mentioning those numbers and the link. I really appreciate it.

  8. Interesting how they rate. I appreciate your love for God’s Word. I’m just laughing a little bit, because I just showed my 10-year old son your comment, and he said, “What? I would guess the King James Version!” It’s funny, because he’s the one that likes it so much.

    Your comments are challenging me though to dig even deeper.

    [Iron sharpens iron.]

  9. As I was typing that I remembered that you had a 10 year old son you read the KJV to and I was laughing to myself as well! Why didn’t I phrase that in a way more favorable to my argument?!? 😉 Have a great day.

  10. Pingback: Bibles and Airports » New Versions of the Bible FEED THE FIRE!
  11. The Bible is not to just be read, it is to be studied. Search the word and ponder the scriptures, this is how God is able to reveal to us his word. It is always amazing to me how people will go the “extra mile” to achieve great things in their lives. Students spend hours studying for final exams, Athletes spend months of hard physical rigors to achieve a dream, business men work long hours to be successful at their job. Why then do we as Christians give up so easily on understanding the word of God? If you don’t understand it continue to study it. Dig in search the scriptures. Don’t let satan lie to you and tell you that it is too dificult. Each time we have a “rewrite” of the word there is a loss of integrity. Grab your NIV and KJV and compare John 5: 1-5 Do you see any differences?? Don’t you think that what is missing just might be a little important???????

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