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?