On May 2, this year, the King James Bible will be 400-years old. I’m 35. The KJV is the first Bible I ever read as a boy. The first Bible I ever memorized from. And it doesn’t matter how many newer Bibles I’ve tried to memorize from, a residue of the KJV Bible shows up. Yes, it has had that lasting impact on me as well.
Perhaps this is also why I took note of the following from John Hobbins (which was made here):
It’s important to me that we understand that the Bible is a weird book that teaches things at great odds with the way we believe and the way we do things. A quaint translation like RSV or ESV helps in making that understood. The conclusion many people draw from reading a translation that sounds familiar is that the text is on their side. An unintended consequence, but still: translation FAIL.
I also have ecclesiological reasons for sticking to a translation in the King James tradition. For example, when I preach on the Beatitudes, it’s important to me that the diction is, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Even though literally no one knows who “the poor in spirit” are unless it is explained to them.
Sometimes I wonder why a Bible translation like the English Standard Version (ESV) has left certain texts from the King James Bible virtually unchanged (Psalm 23; Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer; Matt. 16:13-18; 22:21, and so on). But I’ve since gotten it.
It’s that lasting impact.