If it was test question, I’d of gotten it wrong. Or at least backwards. For those of you that read your Bibles regularly what version do you use? Turns out when most American pick up their Bibles to read, most pick up a King James Version. Second place? New International Version. In fact it’s not even a contest. KJV: 55% to NIV’s: 19%. After that the numbers for other versions slip into the single digits. I’d of guessed NIV first (by a wide margin) and KJV second.
But here is my question, why? I mean, I don’t hear people talking in King James vernacular any more. Not a lot of “thees” & “thous”. But it’s not just a vocabulary issues but the way sentences are structured is different too. Even in formal business letters we don’t communicate in KJV language, new books don’t use it either. So what gives?
Here is my best guess. Two factors: 1) The largest group of people who are committed to reading the Bible regally are older and may have grown up with it (the full version of the NIV came out in 1978). 2) The ever growing desire people have to be rooted in something meaningful. The KJV has roots (first published in 1611). The language and tone of it oozes with history. People know that Christianity is not a new religion, hearing the old language may help people feel like it’s more authentic. For all the gifts that modernity have given us, it has also come at a price. People are more mobile than ever (on average Americans move every 6 years). More children come from broken homes, even in stable homes children tend to move away from the town where their parents live. These factor also distance us from our grandparents. For centuries these nuclear family ties have fostered personal identity and helped us to understand our primary roles in the world. Many cultures (like the Navajo) have a bond with the land that they and their ancestors are from. The lose of all these thing make me believe that in way we are cultural drifters, swept along my ever changing winds, hoping our anchors will find a solid hold… somewhere. The KJV has a nostalgic feel that may help answer that desire we have to be connected to history and something that is original in a way newer translations don’t. That’s my guess. What’s yours?
2 thoughts on “1611 verse 1978.”
This is definitely a shock and I’m curious what the results would be for those who attend church on a regular basis, and those who “pick up their Bibles” randomly. If they’re counting someone who opens their Bible every day, attends a Bible Study, and goes to church every Sunday, as equal to someone who brushes off the dust of their KJV Bible to recall something they remember their grandparents telling them one day, then I’d say this survey is skewed as a result of the American tradition. It would not be a statement about what the Christian Community is gravitating towards, as much as it would be about where our Christian Community has come from.
It does help to know how much the South contributes to these results. Whether it was at Calvary Chapel in Orange County, or Sierra Community Church in Tahoe, the reaction I’ve received from people that learn I use KJV is strange curiousness, bordering on suspicion.
I started with NKJV, but shifted to KJV when I began reading more classics and Shakespeare. There are many great philosophical moments in the classics and Shakespeare, but it’s most exciting to read how the authors can illustrate life’s more regular and mundane episodes in the most beautiful and profound ways the English language has to offer. It’s indulging a superficial instinct to be dazzled and entertained at the presentation, rather than the meaning of the content.
Moving from non-Biblical great works, to the Word of God, and now you’re flooded with the most the important content that has ever hit paper. As more time was spent in NKJV, and the more I found content that touched reason, emotion, and Truth, the more I kept asking, “I wonder how that is illustrated in the KJV.” I soon came to find that combining the Book that reveals all Truth, with the indulgence of Shakespearian dazzling presentation, is the epitome of the written word.
Funny when I wrote this, Eric as an example of a KJV user didn’t cross my mind. Think of how rare it is to find someone like him! What percentage of people his age read and study classic literature (almost daily) & not for a college/masters program… but just because? It’s because there are so few Eric’s (whom I highly esteem) that I’m surprised at the number of KJV readers. But just goes to show… Eric is WAY ahead of the rest of us on this trend too!
Thanks for the adding to the conversation!