Monday, October 12, 2009

King James Version: Elizabethan English?

I wanted to explore the idea about whether the King James Version actually was Elizabethan English. Elizabethan, of course, refers to Queen Elizabeth, who reigned until she died in 1603. To understand what was the language of the day, we should consider the writings of William Shakespeare, who died in 1616. The last of Shakespeare's works to be printed were finished in 1609. So Shakespeare wrote in "Elizabethan English." The translators were done with the KJV in 1611. Shakespeare's works are still being performed all over the English speaking world and hold up in attracting an audience. People still go to watch Shakespeare.

You can see all of Shakespeare's works online here. The first work that you can click on happens to be his comedy, All's Well That Ends Well.
That title sounds like a familiar modern colloquialism, doesn't it? Here's the first substantial line in scene one from that Shakesperean play:

You shall find of the king a husband, madam; you,
sir, a father: he that so generally is at all times
good must of necessity hold his virtue to you; whose
worthiness would stir it up where it wanted rather
than lack it where there is such abundance.

I don't see "thou" or "thee" in that passage. It looks like "you," "you," and "you." Here is the first line from Act I, Scene II, of The Comedy of Errors:

Therefore give out you are of Epidamnum,
Lest that your goods too soon be confiscate.
This very day a Syracusian merchant
Is apprehended for arrival here;
And not being able to buy out his life
According to the statute of the town,
Dies ere the weary sun set in the west.
There is your money that I had to keep.

Again, we see "you," "your," and "your." Where is the "thou" and the "thy" and the "thee"? I see a "give," a "buy," and a "set," instead of a "givest," "buyest," and "settest." Well. I move to the history category and click on The Life of King Henry the Fifth and paste for you a lengthy line by the Canterbuy in Act I, Scene I:

Hear him but reason in divinity,
And all-admiring with an inward wish
You would desire the king were made a prelate:
Hear him debate of commonwealth affairs,
You would say it hath been all in all his study:
List his discourse of war, and you shall hear
A fearful battle render'd you in music:

I read "you," "you," "you," and "you." No thou or thee. Now tragedy and Romeo and Juliet. Here's some text from Act I, Scene I:


No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir.


Do you quarrel, sir?


Quarrel sir! no, sir.


If you do, sir, I am for you: I serve as good a man as you.

Again, I see a "you," "you," "you," "you," and "you." For instance, in the line by Gregory, I don't read, "Dost thou quarrel, sir?" Not there.

This is enough of a sample size for me to see that Elizabethans didn't talk and then Shakespeare most often did not write like the English we read in the King James Version. And the works that I chose were written before the King James Version was written. They are more ancient English than the King James.You will read that what you are reading in the King James is Elizabethan English. Someone wrote: "The King James Version was produced in the Elizabethan period of Early Modern English, and so it uses forms of the verbs and pronouns that were characteristic of that period." When you read Shakespeare, you are reading Elizabethan English and you do not read the same language as the King James Version. So the above quote is not true.

This didn't take deep research and study. We can know this kind of information very easily. We have no reason to be ignorant about it. The King James translators didn't write words like "dost" and "thy" and "thou" and "taketh" because that is how people spoke at that time. For the most part, they didn't. So what is the King James Version style all about? What were the King James translators trying to do? I believe that Steven Houck gets it right and says it as well as I would want to say it when he writes these four paragraphs:

They were so concerned about it that they even took over the very phraseology of the Hebrew and Greek. We find in our Bibles, all kinds of Hebrew expressions and concepts that are not natural to the English way of speaking. In fact, it can even be said that the English of the King James Version is not the English of the 17th century, nor of any century. It is an English that is unique, for it is Biblical English-an English formed by the Hebrew and Greek of the Bible. It is Biblical English because the translators were more interested in being faithful to the originals than in making their translation in the street language of the day, as do translators today.

That they sought an accurate translation is further indicated by the fact that they italicized every word that did not have a corresponding word in the original. How many modern Bible versions do that? Moreover, to insure the fact that the reader understands the meaning of certain original words, they added 4,223 marginal notes that gave the literal meaning of the original words, and 2,738 notes with alternate translations. The result is that in the King James Version we have an accurate translation that puts the others to shame.

A Majestic Translation

In the third place we must note the fact that the translators gave the King James Version a majestic quality that raises it high above all other translations. They recognized God to be GOD-a God of glory and majesty. Therefore, they were careful to translate His Word in such a way that it would be filled with His majesty. That is another reason why the English of the King James Version is not the English of the 17th century. The translators deliberately chose words and phases that were no longer used in general conversation even in their day in order that they might set this book apart from all others. All you have to do is compare the language of the dedication to King James in the front of your Bible with the Bible itself and you will see the difference immediately.

Many tell us that the King James Version is no longer useful because its language has become obsolete, but what they do not realize is that its language is not a type of English that was ever spoken anywhere. Oh, it was such that the people could understand it, but it was, nevertheless, a particular language deliberately chosen to make the King James Version a version that reflects the reverence and respect which is due unto its Divine Author. In that respect, they succeeded too, for there is no version that even comes close to the beauty and majesty of the King James Version.

Our culture doesn't think like this today. I believe it is a problem when we start talking about translations that we are so obsessed with the ease for men, rather than translating the Bible in a respectful, elevating fashion out of reverence for God. We don't have that type of formal language today. Anyone interested in what I'm talking about should read John McWhorter's Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of Language and Music. At the end of the first chapter McWhorter writes:

A society that cherishes the spoken over the written, whatever it gains from the warm viscerality of unadorned talk, is one that marginalizes extended, reflective argument. Spoken language, as I will show in the first chapter, is best suited to harboring easily processible chunks of information, broad lines, and emotion. To the extent that our public discourse leans ever more toward this pole, the implications for the prospect of an informed citizenry are dire. The person who only processes information beyond their immediate purview in nuggets is not educated in any meaningful sense. On the contrary, this person is indistinguishable in mental sophistication from the semiliterate Third World villager who derives all of their information about the world beyond via conversation and gossip. And a culture that marginalizes the didactic potential of written-style language in favor of the personal electricity of spoken language is one whose media becomes ever more a circus of personalities rather than a purveyor of information and guide to analysis.

As I write this, I already hear the Tyndale quote being thrown at us, that we need a Bible that even the plowboy can understand. Plowboys didn't know Latin, the language of scholarship. Tyndale wasn't saying that the Bible should be translated into plowboy rhetoric or tongue. No way. He was saying that the English needed a Bible in their own language---English.

I write this post because of major disinformation on a widespread level about the nature of the King James English. It is not Elizabethan English. When you hear that, understand that it isn't true. It was written in a kind of English especially for the Bible itself that would give us the best possible representation of Holy Scripture in the English language.


Lamblion said...

I think this post has a great deal of relevance and is a facet of translation that goes wholly overlooked, and yet is wholly important.

When you read the "Preface To The Reader", written by Miles Smith, one of the KJV translators, you find the same things with regard to "you" as in your illustrations from Shakespeare.

While we know that these forms were in use earlier, eg., from the writings of Tyndale, etc., so we also see that later, in the years following the KJV, that men such as Owen, Bunyan, Baxter, and so on, also adopted the inflected forms of English to match the KJV.

In other Words, the KJV was extremely influential in shaping the English language in this respect as well as so many other respects.

But the overall, overriding, overarching factor in all of this, is the fact that the translators of the KJV were given a profound -- dare I say supernatural (yes, I do dare say supernatural, and no, I am not claiming second inspiration) -- indeed, the translators were given a profound and supernatural skill in making the Hebrew and Greek come alive and accurately represent the very voice of God in Christ Jesus.

As some linguists noted in "The Literary Guide To The Bible" --

"All these examples can be seen to have doctrinal or theological implications, but they also have one distinct literary implication: that the Authorized Version's translators were artful and, in the best Renaissance sense, witty, contriving to make what they wrote have a variety of meanings. In their view the translator's task was not to assume that there is one clear meaning to which the text should be reduced, but instead to open out the text to include as much as possible... Many modern versions eschew anything which smacks of imagery or metaphor... The loss is measurable not only in terms of aesthetics but also in terms of meaning. Particularly in the narrative sections of the Bible the Authorized Version emerges from comparison with twentieth-century versions as more attractive and more accurate... At its best, which means often, the Authorized Version has the kind of transparency which makes it possible for the reader to see the original clearly. It lacks the narrow interpretive bias of modern versions, and is the stronger for it... Through its transparency the reader of the Authorized Version not only sees the original but also learns how to read it." pg 663-665

continued in next comment...

Lamblion said...

The greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit that ever occured -- in the entire history of the world -- occured in the Apostolic age and in the age of the Traditional Text, and specifically in the age of the KJV's reign and dominance.

There is a reason for that. There is a reason why the Reformers, Puritans, and Great Awakeners deserted the Latin Vulgate/Critical text and adopted the Textus Receptus/Traditional text.

As John Burgon noted in Revision Revised --

"But then it speedily becomes evident that, at the bottom of all this, there existed in the minds of the Revisionists of 1611 a profound - shall we not rather say a prophetic? - consciousness, that the fate of the English Language was bound up with the fate of their Translation... Of all this, the great Scholars of 1611 showed themselves profoundly conscious... Verily, those men understood their craft! 'There were giants in those days.' As little would they submit to be bound by the new cords of the Philistines as by their green withes. Upon occasion, they could shake themselves free from either. And why? For the selfsame reason: viz. because the Spirit of their God was mightily upon them." pg 188 & following.

And Burgon was only noting what Miles Smith himself noted in his Preface --

"And in what sort did these assemble? In the trust of their own knowledge, or of their sharpness of wit, or deepness of judgment, as it were in an arm of flesh? At no hand. THEY TRUSTED IN HIM THAT HATH THE KEY OF DAVID, OPENING AND NO MAN SHUTTING; THEY PRAYED TO THE LORD THE FATHER OF OUR LORD... neither did we disdain to revise that which we had done, and to bring back to the anvil that which we had hammered: but having and using as great helps as were needful, and fearing no reproach for slowness, nor coveting praise for expedition, we have at length, THROUGH THE GOOD HAND OF THE LORD UPON US, brought the work to that pass that you see."

The sum of it all is the fact that the KJV has produced more genuine spiritual fruit and more genuine truth than all the books of all the ages combined, including the Hebrew and Greek, and one must be willfully blind to miss it.

Unknown said...

"In the first place, the English of the King James Version is not the English of the earky 17th century. To be exact, it is not a type of English that was ever spoken anywhere. It is biblical English, which was not used on ordinary occasions even by the translators...The King James Version, he [W.A. Irwin] reminds us, owes its merit, not to the 17th-century English - which was very different - but to its faithful translation of the original." [Hills, Dr. Edward F. "Chapter 8: The Textus Receptus and The King James Version," The King James Version Defended. Des Moines, Iowa: The Christian Research Press,(C) 1984, pg. 218]

Spot on as usual Pastor B.

Robert said...

William Shakespeare - Sonnet #18

Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And Summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And oft' is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd:
But thy eternal Summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

I agree with your general point regarding the readability of the king's English, but your point regarding Shakespeare is poorly grounded. There are hundreds of examples of "thee" and "thou" in his plays and poems.

I'd also be curious as to your opinion on the often-rumored contribution of Shakespeare to the translation of the Psalms...urban legend or fact?

Kent Brandenburg said...


You'll find the same kind of language in Macbeth, so the Elizabethan era used such language, but it wasn't because they had it in their normal vocabulary. They didn't talk that way on a regular basis. It was a special written language and especially as it applies to the KJV, sanctified from everyday speech.

d4v34x said...

"Thou has frighted the word out of his right sense, so forcible is thy wit . . ."

Benedick, from Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare.

My question would be, why, if the source text does not demand the use of "a special written language . . . sanctified from everyday speech" would we believe it to be good practice to translate it into such?

In other words, if, when Peter condemned Simon in Acts 8, the greek words KJV translated "thy" and "thee" in "thy money perish with thee" are just the normal everday words First Century people used for "you" and "your" we have no business translating them as anything other than "you" and "your".

We need not *add* any layer of "speciality" or "sanctification" that the Holy Spirit didn't inspire in the original autographs.

Bobby said...

Apparently some need to understand that thou, thee, thy, thine are singular while you and ye are plural. The translators of the KJV stayed true to the text by translating the pronouns in this way. It would help if people understood English.

D4v34x, the translators were translating accurately and that is why they used "thy" in Acts 8. Simon was guilty of desiring to use the gifts of God for personal gain, MUCH LIKE THE TRANSLATORS OF THE MODERN ENGLISH VERSIONS.

d4v34x said...

Bobby, my point is the translation isn't accurate unless either both the greek word for "thy" (in the passage I reference) and the English "thy" were both the language of the day, or both the greek word for "thy" and the english word "thy" were both an elvated, formal word.

The argument brother Brandenburg (via Houck) seems to have made is that regardless of the formal or casual inflection/intonation of the original manuscripts (or our copies thereof) it is good translation practice to couch the entire translation in a special, elevated, formal style.

My counter is that if the Holy Spirit didn't inspire in such a style, we ought not translate in such a style.

The plurals and singulars are as irrelevent to my argumentation as they are to modern speakers of the English language. Elizabethan, Victorian, Esotericformal-- it's all archaic.

Mike Aubrey said...

Kent, you write, "This didn't take deep research and study."

Clearly, because if you had done a little more research on the history of these pronouns & forms, you would have found that they are *more archaic* than Elizabethan English by at least a century. The *only* reason they're in the 1611 AV is that Tyndale used them when he made his translation in the 1500s. And during that time, they very much were normal & natural English.

The other issue about accuracy to the Greek text, well, I really don't know what to say. Greek doesn't make the pronominal distinctions that this era of English made - "thou" was used for common people where as "you" was historically used only for those who were superior to you. "You" came into English via the French Norman conquest -- since the Normals were the rulers, their pronoun was for superiors. Tyndale used "thou" in his translation *because* he wanted a translation for the common people. So it is somewhat ironic that now we treat the AV as if it is the exact opposite.

The reason that we on occasionally see Shakespeare use "thou" in his writings as well as "you" in other places -- particular Macbeth as you noted -- is that "thou" continued to be a dialectal variant. And actually, it continues to be used in pockets of Scotland.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Here's what others (David Daniell, William Tyndale: A Biography. Yale, 1995. And David Daniell, The Bible in English: Its History and Influence. Yale, 2003.) said about Tyndale (so we've got to take your word for it):

As William Tyndale translated the Bible into English in the early 1500s, he sought to preserve the singular and plural distinctions that he found in his Hebrew and Greek originals. Therefore, he consistently used thou for the singular and ye for the plural regardless of the relative status of the speaker and the addressee.

That contradicts what you just said. Should we believe those two Yale scholars, who wrote books on it, or believe you?

And then these people (Hardy M. Cook, Hardy M., 1993, "You/Thou in Shakespeare's Work". Clara Calvo, 1992, "'Too wise to woo peaceably': The Meanings of Thou in Shakespeare's Wooing-Scenes".
Mazzon Gabriella, 1992, "Shakespearean 'thou' and 'you' Revisited, or Socio-Affective Networks on Stage".) disagree with you about Shakespeare:

Like his contemporaries William Shakespeare uses thou both in the intimate, French style sense, and also to emphasize differences of rank, but he is by no means consistent in using the word, and friends and lovers sometimes call each other ye or you as often as they call each other thou, sometimes in ways that can be analysed for meaning, but often apparently at random.

I found that idea to be the case, contradicting what you said in Shakespeare. And actually reading Shakespeare seems to be primary source type research, unlike your seat of the pants style.

English once drew a clear distinction between the singular and plural forms of the second person pronoun. Thou and thee were the subjective and objective forms of the singular second person.

Gary said...


Believing that the KJV is the only bible that is perfectly preserving God's exact words, is ok by me. It is an act of faith on your part that God's hand was giving the translators the perfect infalliable wording (word by word no chance of another word substitution).
The only problem that I have with your belief, is that those who do not hold to KJVO are not saved.
Does that mean that the Christians of the first 1600 years are in Hell, because they did not have the TR or KJV. What about all of the other Bibles that were translated into other languages(but the TR wasn't used) . Do only the English speaking people stand a chance for salvation!?! Is it possible that the Jehova Witnesess are right about only 144,000 going to heaven? AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

I compared the Roman Road To Salvation with the KJV and the NIV. I chose the NIV for this example, because it is a thought for thought, just like alot of the foreign translations. I found that there was no difference between their meanings. The core beliefs (Trinity, Christ's Divinity, resurection, saved by grace, etc.) are all in the NIV.


I apologize, because I think that I'm a little off from your topic, but Lionlamb struck a nerve in me with his KJVO salvation.

Oh and for the record, I love the KJV. I just don't think that it's necessary for salvation.

Lamblion said...

Quite frankly, Gary, your assertion concerning me is not only totally false, but your question is also totally ignorant, and is nothing but the same old ignorant question that has been repeated by feeble-minded detractors ad nauseum.

With regard to another comment, maybe I misunderstood what was being stated above, but to assert that the Greek doesn't distinguish between singular and plural forms, OR between formal and informal forms, if that was what was being asserted, is just pure bunk.

English is derived originally from Indo-European through West Germanic through Anglo-Frisian through Old English down to the times of 1611, and was accordingly closely aligned with the same types of inflection as the languages it came from, just like German, which also makes a distinction between singular and plural pronouns, and which also makes a distinction between formal and informal forms.

And of course, as any Greek schoolboy knows, Greek today still makes these distinctions, both singular and plural, and formal and informal. Of course, the other myth about native Greeks not being able to understand the Greek NT, which they happen to have grown up on, and which any seventh-grade Greek schoolboy can read through without a hitch, is just a further extension of the ignorant myth that surrounds this whole issue.

The fact is, it is totally INACCURATE to render a singular or plural pronoun as indistinguishable simply because the target language has become so much less complex than it originally was, so that it can no longer function on the level of the Hebrew and Greek, as Old English could, but as modern English cannot.

A Greek and Hebrew soul in biblical times expected to distinguish between these forms, and any translation which fails to transmit these forms has to that degree failed to accurately transmit what God has actually said.

And the cases where this is significant are LEGION, not to mention all the other blunders by modern Anglo-Greek "experts" who can't even pronounce Greek properly, let alone speak it, as well as the entire textual issue, which only a man more blind than all the Pharisees combined could fail to see.

Thomas Ross said...

Dear Pastor Brandenburg & readers of these comments,

Greetings all. (BTW, for some reason the comment box didn't let me post my entire comment at once, so it is broken into two.) As those who know me are well aware, I am unquestionably KJV-only, and I have no problem with the English of the KJV. I think it is an excellent translation and one that we should continue to use as our only English version. I agree that it is beautiful and majestic, and that it has a tremendous impact on the English language. I would like to point out a few things about the article, however, that, in my view, may not be the best way to argue for the truths I have just indicated above.
The “thee/thou/thy” information mentioned is true in that those distinct pronoun forms were retained because of the Hebrew/Greek difference between the second person singular and the second person plural. I would be very hard pressed, though, to see how “hast” and “takest,” etc. are somehow closer to Hebrew and Greek than “has” and “take” are. The reason “dost” and “hast” and “takest” is in there is because that is the verb form that goes with the thee/thou/thy rather than the ye/you. That is why there is no “you hast” but only “thou hast,” no “ye dost” but only “thou dost,” etc. So those examples are all simply products of employing thee vs. you. This one difference from the commonly used language of the 17th century does not somehow mean that everything in the translation was not early modern English. And even here, thee/thou/thy was still in the common lexical stock of the people of the day.
The only thing left here is the “eth” at the end, and people were using that in the 17th century. I have no problem with “taketh” instead of “takes,” but I don’t see how it is any closer—or farther—from the Hebrew or Greek. As for the KJV being Biblical English, that is true in so far as it is a literal translation of the Hebrew OT and the Greek NT. One could say that any literal translation today is “translation English,” and, based on the same sort of reasoning, one could argue that a literal translation made in 2009 is not in modern English because it is a special “Biblical/translation English.” In the same way, the LXX is Koine Greek, but it is different from other Koine because it translates the Hebrew OT (oftentimes not all that well, but it translates it nonetheless).
I don’t see how any of the above proves that the KJV is not Elizabethan or Early Modern English. It was Early Modern English that has had its lexical stock and syntax influenced by the fact that it is translating Hebrew and Greek documents which have different syntactical structures than normal English does.
On another note, surely we are not saying that everyone in the sixteenth century spoke or wrote the way Shakespeare did, or that if something does not sound like Shakespeare, it is not Early Modern English. I cannot think of anyone who has ever written English who wrote the way Shakespeare did, and I am sure that Shakespeare himself did not speak the way he wrote.
Concerning the quote, “The translators deliberately chose words and phases that were no longer used in general conversation even in their day in order that they might set this book apart from all others,” I have seen no evidence for this other than the useful thee/thou vs. ye/you distinction.
Concerning the quote, “what they do not realize is that its language is not a type of English that was ever spoken anywhere,” this is true, because nobody speaks in a literal translation of the syntax of another language. Nobody has every spoken the language of the LXX, or of the Latin Vulgate, or of the Spanish Reina-Valera, etc. English people do not speak in the syntax of Hebrew and Greek. If this statement is meant to prove that the KJV is a literal translation, it is successful. If it is meant to prove something more, I don’t see how it is relevent.
I fail to see any disinformation in the affirmation that the KJV is Elizabethan English.

Thomas Ross said...

Concerning what LambLion wrote, I disagree with the statement that “In their view the translator’s task was not to assume that there is one clear meaning to which the text should be reduced, but instead to open out the text to include as much as possible.” I think that is a product of the modern Zeitgeist rather than anything found in the KJV. If the preface to the KJV said somewhere that there was not one clear meaning in the text, but many meanings, and the text should be opened up to as many meanings as possible, then I would believe that that was their view—however, that would also require that they rejected the Protestant doctrine of the perspecuity of Scripture, so I very, very highly doubt that anything of this sort will ever come to light, since the KJV translators held a high view of Scripture (although there were likely translators among them who held to very serious errors in other areas, including believing in the Anglican doctrine of baptismal regeneration), including the fact that it has one clear meaning.
Also, the Holy Spirit was not outpoured at any time other than in the book of Acts, because the outpouring of the Spirit is synonymous with Spirit baptism, which ceased by the time Ephesians was written—by then there was but one baptism, immersion in water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Please see my analysis of Spirit baptism at my website.
By the way, the KJV preface is harder to read than the KJV text. It is closer to the simple language of the plowboy than the preface is.

Thomas Ross said...

Finally, the statement by LambLion, in his first two posts, that “the KJV has produced more genuine spiritual fruit and more genuine truth than all the books of all the ages combined, including the Hebrew and Greek, and one must be willfully blind to miss it” is Ruckmanite error. All the fruit of the KJV is because it is an accurate translation of the Hebrew and Greek. If one must be willfully blind to deny that the KJV has more genuine spiritual fruit than the Greek and Hebrew, then the Lord Jesus Himself must have been in error, for He said that we are to live by His Greek and Hebrew words (Matthew 4:4), and it is those words which are what enables believers to grow (John 17:17). It is also interesting that LambLion says that one must be “willfully blind” to reject the very odd idea that more people have been saved since 1611 with the KJV than have all saints in history from Abraham’s day down to 1611, and since 1611 in all other language groups—combined. Only so can there have been more spiritual fruit from the KJV than from all other books, including the Greek and Hebrew words that will last forever, which were written in heaven (Psalm 119:89), and which will last longer than heaven and earth (Matthew 5:18). Alas, I suppose I am willfully blind to believe the verses that reject LambLion’s Ruckmanism, and wilfully blind for not thinking that in nearly 6,000 years of God’s work on earth there have been more people saved and strengthened by the Word in the original and in translations other than the KJV than there have been in English in the last four centuries. (Or, let me hope, rather that LambLion misspoke—but then perhaps we should be careful before we make affirmations about who is willfully blind—and not shoot our mouths off at other times as well, and call people "totally ignorant" when we ourselves make comments that are exceedingly questionable intellectually, James 3:8.)
The KJV does not, at this time, need to be changed, and we should not use any other English version. It is an incredibly good translation. Let us defend it Scripturally and accurately.
By the way, I am very busy right now teaching undergraduate and graduate Greek from the Words of the Textus Receptus that were directly breathed out by the Holy Ghost—which the KJV was not—(on which I believe Pastor Brandenburg is in agreement with me, although not LambLion, I suspect) so I may not have time to reply to responses to my comment. Feel free to respond to me if you like, but don’t hold your breath if I don’t respond to you.
May the grace and peace of Christ be with you all, as you love and obey the glorious Words of God.

Thomas Ross said...

BTW, I had to change my post from two comments to three because of some strange thing with the comment box, which kept rejecting my comment, saying it was html (??)

Kent Brandenburg said...


I'm fine with your taking the time to deal with Lamblion and I agree with your surmisal.

However, as you dealt with what I wrote, can I agree with you?

I see a couple of points only that you are making directed toward me.
1. I believe they wrote in written language elevated above the typical oral speech, which is what I'm calling Elizabethan English. You can see that in Shakespeare. So they expected people reading their translation to be up to speed with how they wrote. Were they more likely to hear something closer to that in that day? Yes. But what you are reading isn't how it came out of their mouth, as seen in the Shakespearean record.
2. The "Elizabethan English" phrase is being used as a shot at the English being ancient, almost as if it is a different language than what we have today. I'm saying that the King James English wasn't exactly what was spoken by Elizabethans. You seem to agree with that, but you don't mind keeping their pejorative. That's fine; just like I keep the KJVO pejorative. We can read the early modern English and find something not far off of what we have in written speech today with few exceptions.

PS Ferguson said...

Here is an excellent defense of the KJV/TR by Rev Ivan Foster of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster.

He deals with the decline in Fundamentalism and the attack on the KJV from 15 mins into. He rejects the NKJV as flawed also.

Lamblion said...

First off, I didn't say that the translators said that there job was to open out the text, as Thomas erroneously concluded.

Rather, that was a quotation from a group of linguists, as was clearly noted.

Thomas also errs in his statment with regard to the KJV transltoras Preface and their general overall scheme, as they themselves stated --

"...we have not tied ourselves to an uniformity of phrasing, or to an identity of words, as some peradventure would wish that we had done, because they observe, that some learned men somewhere, have been as exact as they could that way. Truly, that we might not vary from the sense of that which we had translated before, if the word signified that same in both places (for there be some words that be not the same sense everywhere) we were especially careful, and made a conscience, according to our duty. But, that we should express the same notion in the same particular word; as for example, if we translate the Hebrew or Greek word once by PURPOSE, never to call it INTENT; if one where JOURNEYING, never TRAVELING; if one where THINK, never SUPPOSE; if one where PAIN, never ACHE; if one where JOY, never GLADNESS..." Translators To The Reader

In fact, the whole Preface refutes Thomas. He should try to read it sometimes. As Burgon also noted...

"The Translators' of 1611, towards the close of their long and quaint Address 'to the Reader,' offer the following statement concerning what had been their own practice - 'We have not tied ourselves' (say they) 'to an uniformity of phrasing, or to an identity of words, as some peradventure would wish that we had done.' On this, they presently enlarge. We have been 'especially careful,' have even 'made a conscience,' 'not to vary from the sense of that which we had translated before, if the word signified the same thing in both places.' But then, (as they shrewdly point out in passing,) 'there be some words that be not of the same sense everywhere.' And had this been the sum of their avowal, no one with a spark of Taste, or with the least appreciation of what constitutes real Scholarship, would have been found to differ from them." Revision Revised

Moreover, Thomas has yet again erred in his assertion that I stated, " reject the very odd idea that more people have been saved since 1611 with the KJV than have all saints in history from Abraham’s day down to 1611..." when I in fact never stated such a thing, never implied such a thing.

My comment in context, as anyone who is capable of reading without jaded eyes can see, was on the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, not the number or souls saved.

Finally, with regard to fruit, the Hebrew and Greek in Jesus' day were not yet placed into a single book, as was done later, which is clearly what I was referring to, which is why I actually used the term "book" and furthermore, Thomas sets up a stawman by saying that I have no care for the Hebrew and Greek, (in fact, I am certain that I know more Hebrew and Greek in my little finger than Thomas does in his whole body), when I have always been insistent about the KJV being an accurate representation of the Hebrew and Greek.

I could cover this in much more detail, but in short, Thomas needs to actually learn how to read English, let alone the Hebrew and Greek.

Claymore said...

This has been an interesting debate. I have to agree with Thomas Ross that saying more people have been saved from the KJV is a gross misrepresentation. Indeed, if it were not for the vanity of James I, the King James would not have been translated (the other option than this translation was the Geneva or "Breeches Bible"). I would have to ask how elements of Luther's translation, supposedly inferior to Ruckmanites, ended up in the KJV (Shewbread, for instance). In addition, numerous spiritual men such as Duncan Campbell were saved without knowing much, if any, English (Duncan Campbell's native tongue was Gaelic). If the KJV is necessary for salvation, woe to anybody who speaks no English.

As to the so-called obsolete words of the KJV, I think Dr. Waite said (though I cannot verify it; perhaps some of you may) that the "thee/thou/thy/&c" were obsolete long before Lancelot Andrewes and the other translators translated the KJV, but they were still well-understood.

BTW, can anybody tell me if the NKJ's underlying text in Jude 1 uses the word "agapesmenios" rather than "Hagiasmenois"? That would be the surest way for me to tell if it was a Gnostic revision rather than truly received from the apostles.

Christian said...

One correction:
PS Ferguson said...

Here is an excellent defense of the KJV/TR by Rev Ivan Foster of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster.

He deals with the decline in Fundamentalism and the attack on the KJV from 15 mins into. He rejects the NKJV as flawed also.

This is not a sermon preached by Rev Ivan Foster of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, but instead it was preached by Dr. H. T. Spence President of Foundations Bible College, and Pastor of Foundations Bible Collegiate Church.

For Claymore:
Your question about Jude 1 I will presume refers to Jude 1:1 where the KJV says, "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ and called:". I further presume that you are concerned with the Greek word that has been translated "sanctified", agiasmenois. This verse has a variant in the Westcot/Hort text where it is instead the Greek word agapamenois which would likely be translated "beloved." One will notice that these two words are similar in spelling, but not in meaning.

I assure you that the NKJV translates using the word "sanctified" which would likely indicate that the text they used here included the word agiasmenois as was used by the KJV translators. It is, however, noted in the footnotes that there is a variant with the following simple quote: "NU beloved".

This however does not conclusively verify what text they consistently used in the whole translation. It only verifies the veracity of their claim to be using the traditional text in this one place and their commitment to communicate some of the variants from other texts.

For His glory,
Christian Markle

d4v34x said...

This week I was helping my 8 year old daughter memorize her (KJV version) verses for Wednesday night Bible club. One was Hebrews 13:7, which the KJV renders, “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”

She was struggling with both memory and comprehension because, I would argue, of both the syntax and the archaic term(s). Yet brother Brandenburg (via Houk) say this teaches her something about the majesty of God and the sanctity of His word. Or perhaps they would say that one day she will appreciate this elevated, archaic language for those reasons.

Either way they would say that the difficult reading above is somehow preferable to something like the NASB rendering, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” which allows the meaning that God intended (assuming the same original greek words in both source texts—but this isn’t a preservation argument, it’s a stylistic superiority argument) to enter her heart with fewer intermediaries like dictionaries, parental explanation, or books entitled Most Everything You Need To Know To Read The Authorized Version. (Ok, some hyperbolic humor there with that last one.)

What this comes down to for me, and ought to for everyone else here is very simple: if the language the writer of the book of Hebrews employed in this passage was everyday conversational language and not some style of Greek never actually spoken or written like that but set aside for scripture only, then why do we praise a translation that mars the style of the originals?

Furthermore, why will no commenter actually address this?

Kent Brandenburg said...


I'm sorry that I had not addressed that. I do operate this blog in more of my spare time and sometimes comments are coming faster than I have time to look at. But you have stuck with it and I think that's what it takes to get an answer sometimes. I hope it is worth it for you.

I have four kids who all have learned the KJV. My own opinion, which is what I think the level of this part of the discussion is, is that both of those are not going to be easy for a little kid to understand, so you have to explain either of them. For instance, how do you remember those who are over you? What's that? Remember? Like making sure to remember a gallon of milk on the way home? Will this require having a picture of them up in my room so I can keep them in long term memory? It's going to have to be explained. What will happen? The child will learn. Dumbing the translation down to something more conversational and colloquial may make it easier to understand, but will it be the understanding that we wish they would have.

Examining the translation myself, the NASB adds two conjunctions "and," which are not in the verse. It also leaves out the relative pronoun, translated "whose" in the KJV.

You've got the word "conversation" in the KJV, yes, which means something different today, but you can explain that, and your child will get it.

Gary said...


In the last post you said:

"Nevertheless, he who doesn't know that modern "bibles" proclaim a false Jesus and a false gospel is he who is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Period....."
"Indeed, one is FATALLY, and I do mean FATALLLY, deceived."

Also your statement that my question is "ignorant" and "has been repeated by feeble-minded detractors ad nauseum" is a good debate technique, but just shows that you don't have an answer to the question.

Once again I do agree that we are probably not of the same Spirit, because my Spirit is telling me that your doctrine is not biblical.


Maybe after this series you could do something on the doctrine of Salvation. God Bless.

Lamblion said...

You mean I don't have an answer to your ignorant question about where the KJV was before 1611?

An ignorant question that only someone who is totally ignorant of the entire issue would ask, so ignorant that it demonstrates how ignorant it truly is for a person to be?

Yes, a mere child in understanding in this issue has answers to your question.

Perhaps if you read more carefully and maybe did about sixty seconds worth of investigation you wouldn't make such an ignorant assertion.

Instead of making naked assertions which you can't back up, which is nothing short of bearing false witness, but which the log in your own prevents you from seeing, go and learn what Traditional Text/Textus Receptus means. That's where the KJV was before 1611, just as it came off the scribe's pen from the autographa, first in Hebrew, then in Greek, and then in numerous other languages and was in that spread accross the entire world before 1611.

And of course, anyone who is not totally ignorant of this matter and who is engaged in this debate knows the issue about the difference between the Traditional Text/Textus Receptus and the Latin Vulgate Text/Critical text, which are the people that my statements concern, as is clear for anyone who understands even the rudiments of context.

No, we don't have the same Spirit, because the Spirit of Jesus Christ gives those he indwells a sound mind, which you clearly do not possess, not even remotely.

Anonymous said...

I think Gary and LambLion need to hug.

d4v34x said...

lamblion, two things: Brother Brandenburgs initial blog post really wasn't about TR vs CT or preservation. It was primarily about translation stylistics. Or so it seemed to me.

Secondly, for some reason I keep thinking of 2 Timothoy 2:24-25, "And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;"

That's always been a really convicting principle for me.

Lamblion said...

Maybe you should also consider the Scripture that states "Them that sin rebuke before all." 1 Timothy 5:20

or maybe you should also consider the Scripture that states, "A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject, Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself." Titus 3:10-11

Ad infinitum, for there are more commands of this type than the other.

Gary in the previous thread stated that he read my website, and then, he proceeded to engage in an ad hominem and make false assertions.

If he HAD read my website, he's either deceitful or delusional, for his false assertions have been answered in spades on my website.

With regard to this thread not being about the TR, then once again I answer that I am not the one who forced the issue. Rather, it was once again the false assertion of the Gary about where the KJV was before 1611.

Gary said he read my website and then came here and made ignorant, false assertions. I am reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus...

"Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth." John 9:41

Gary said...


Lamblion is right, I'm the one that went off topic and I apologize. I was just shock that he would make the statements that I quoted from Kent's previous post. His quotes were basically saying that if you were not KJVO then you were not Christian, because the Holy Spirit would surely show you the errors of the modern Bibles. Please read the quotes and tell me if I'm wrong. I know that I probably had to much fun with him, but in the end I was just trying to tell him that the core doctrines of the faith can be seen in the modern Bibles like the NIV.

I question his soundness of doctrine( Go to his web site) and Spirit for I do not see the fruit of the Spirit within him.

I guess the Ruckmanite way is love God, love KJV, and love thy neighbor (if he agrees with you)

I apologize again for being off topic and will try to do better in the future. God Bless.

Gary said...


I apologize for the last statement. If one of us is in fatal error, I pray that God exposes and opens our hearts to correction. May we meet in Heaven to give each other that hug that anonymous spoke of. God Bless.

Gabe Manea said...


I hope you are not a pastor or any type of teacher! Your comments are extremely mean spirited! You are not God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit to speak with the authority you do and you should repent otherwise not even KJV is going to save you!

Rose said...

What good is reading the King James Version if you don't understand it. Lots of adults did'nt even graduate 8th grade! & Many Kids and Teens don't understand it or wan't to go through the headache of trying to comprehend it. Also some people can't even understand todays english. Should they be deprived of the Bible? I think not =]

Anonymous said...

Thank you Kent Brandenburg for your post. It helped me alot and was very informative. Your post was a root from which I googled other things and learned a lot more.

Anonymous said...

Correct, the KJV uses thee and thou according to the Greek and the Hebrew usage (singular and plural) which was no longer how English used it. English now used them as familiar and formal, as does modern French and German, and only secondarily as reference to number.

Most cultures historically prized verbal transmission of knowledge, and those who never learned to write, or learned later in life, were able to understand and memorize vast amounts of complicated knowledge, as shown by testing of non-literate cultures today. It is only we who learn to read who lose that ability, and become suited only to soundbites.

The Hebrew Torah is still recited weekly, rather than simply read quietly, and a proper study of the original Hebrew shows it originated with an oral culture; the many alliterations and word plays of the Hebrew that are lost in the Greek, Latin and English would have aided the verbal memory.
The KJV, written at a time when most people were illiterate was clearly designed to be read aloud, else what good would a single ploughboy get from it? It attempted, as best as possible, to retain a rhythmic speech pattern that would enable the masses to memorize it, and many could quote it by memory, especially key passages and the psalms.

Likewise, Shakespeare's audience was largely illiterate, and yet there are repetitions of ideas, plays on words or reversals from earlier scences...these puns and jokes would have been pointless unless the audience were capable of holding that earlier verbal information in their heads in order to "get the joke" 5 scenes later.
To forget the oral roots of Bible, is to fail to make sense of practices like the Hakhel, the gathering of the people every seven years to hear the Torah recited in its entirety. Could any literate people today be expected to retain important information if only refreshing their memory with a re-reading every 7 years?
The memory areas of the brain are right next to the hearing areas, both in the Temporal Lobe, and not with the visual centre. We are designed to get our information verbally.

Anonymous said...

There is no way a person can read John chapter three and not know they must be born again. It doesn't matter if its the KJV,NASB,ESV or NIV. Remember we let scripture interpret scripture and we always use context to help us understand individual verses.

Will Kinney said...

Hi all. A brother asked: "I'd also be curious as to your opinion on the often-rumored contribution of Shakespeare to the translation of the Psalms...urban legend or fact?"

My response: You are referring to Psalms 46. I have also heard some anti-KJB people say that Shakespeare had his name put into this Psalm in the KJB. However this is a totally bogus claim and easily shown to be wrong.

Here is my article on this.

Psalm 46 and the alleged Shakespeare connection

In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, it can often be said of the anti King James Bible critic, “What a Maroon!”

Brian said...

If you look at polls other translations get more sales but the KJV is still the most read translation.

Unknown said...

Shakespeare still does not fully use kjv english.
It says:
"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"

instead of:
"SHALT I compare thee to a summer's day?"

not similar to the kjv.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the average Englishman did not use thou and thee everyday after the Middle English period. The translators of the King James used English that was archaic.

Charles Edward Miller

Katherine Witherell said...

Lol that's because the subject of the sentence is "I" so the verb is "shall". If the subject was "thou" it would be "shalt"

practic said...

Precisely. Genesis 3:15: "it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

Anonymous said...

Do note that Shakespeare uses lots of thee/thy/thou, you just weren't looking in the right places.

Thee/thy/thou are the informal in English, similar to tu/vosotros in Spanish. This comes from older languages social conventions about when to use plural vs singular (which is also why kings traditionally refer to themselves as "we.") Traditionally they would be used only with close friends and family or, occasionally, to put social inferiors in their place. You will see them used in this manner in Shakespeare, and paying attention to it reveals a subtext about what's going on in the scene that might not otherwise be apparent.

In a similar vein, there's a lot of you/your in the KJV. The choice between the two modes is based on the singular/plural in the source texts they were working from and reflects the cultural norms of those materials. Like with Shakespeare this does give insight into the subtext of the social interactions that are lost with translations to modern English. The Bible spans a much longer time period than Shakespeare however so interpreting the extra information is not as straightforward. The New Testament has a nearly Elizabethan usage of the pronouns. The Old Testament it's a little more muddled.

Kent Brandenburg said...

"Thou was essentially extinct in standard English usage by the 1700s. One of the main reasons thou survives at all is Tyndale's translations of the Bible into English in the early sixteenth century. In his translations (for which he was condemned to die at the stake in 1536), Tyndale returned to the simpler convention of Old English, consistently using thou in singular usage and ye in plural usage. As Tyndale's work became the foundation for the King James version of the Bible in 1611, thou was preserved for posterity."

Then there's this:

"A speaker could use the familiar thou to address their social inferiors or to indicate friendship and intimacy.

When some one of high rank addressed someone of lower rank (King to subject, parent to child, husband to wife, teacher to student), they would use thou. The subjects, children, wives, and students — on the other hand — would address their betters as you.

The hierarchical use of thou made it an excellent way to put someone in their place, condescending to or insulting them. Calling someone thou, implied — all by itself — that they were inferior.

But thou could express intimacy as well as superiority. Close friends, romantic partners, husbands and wives (in private) would all use thou to address each other.

Speakers also addressed God as thou, signaling a deep spiritual intimacy between the believer and the deity.

The thou-forms are thou, thee, thy, thine, thyself"

Unknown said...

Your entire article is based on a fallacious permits because you reference modern-language adaptations of Shakespearean works which indeed originallyoused forms of speech correlating directly to the KJV Holy Bible.

Kent Brandenburg said...


This is why it is convenient to be confrontational and anonymous. Very convenient to sit behind your keyboard. Why not state your name? "A fallacious permits"?

Here is the original Henry V, Act 1 Scene 1:

Hear him but reason in divinity,
And all-admiring with an inward wish
You would desire the king were made a prelate:
Hear him debate of commonwealth affairs,
You would say it hath been all in all his study:
List his discourse of war, and you shall hear
A fearful battle render’d you in music:

Hmmmm. Just what I quoted. Romeo and Juliet, Act 1 Scene 1, original:

No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I
bite my thumb, sir.
Do you quarrel, sir?
Quarrel sir! no, sir.
If you do, sir, I am for you: I serve as good a man as you.

Hmmmm. Just what I quoted.

Your conspiracy theory is wrong. But you'll remain anonymous and keep throwing in artillery shots.