Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Continuing Influence of the KJV

Like the local blogger at Sententiae, I too grew up with the language of the King James Bible ringing in my ears, and not just at church three times a week but during most days out of church, as my mother read it to me and I read it for myself on a daily basis. That language seeped deeply into my own vocabulary, syntax, and (Lord knows!) tendency to call down fire from Heaven.

The language of the King James translation was bolstered by an education at a West Texas Baptist college which required us to take religion courses. I was all too willing. Also annoying, probably, to the professor, because I could quote substantial swatches of scripture right along with him. My favorite in college -- my mantra, actually -- became Philippians 2:12:
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Which actually, because it prompted a certain doctrinal independence, got me into a little hot water as a budding apostate.

"Gradual School" at the Morman-deep University of Utah brought me to one of the best college courses I ever remember taking, "The Bible as Literature" with the great Jack Adamson. Much of what I learned in eight total years of college, the part worth remembering, I learned from this man.

When the iVoteValues crowd erupted in 2004, associating the reelection of George W. Bush with the Will of God, I took the opportunity to re-read all four books of the Gospel, trying to get the actual King James version of the words of Jesus back into my head as antidote to Rev. Richard Land's version and Jerry Falwell's version of who Jesus was and what his example taught us. I did not find that George W. Bush rose in human stature as a result.

Meanwhile, am I alone in keeping this website bookmarked on my computer? The fact that it wants to default to more modern translations when I search the Scriptures, I choose to ignore, since it does give me the option of searching that 400-year-old (this year!) piece of towering English literature, the KJV.


brotherdoc said...

You may know that William Tyndale was (w/o acknowledgment) the guy whose translation was used most by the KJV team. Listen to an interview on NPR the other day on this topic:

shyster said...

yes, Doc, and for his hard work he was strangled and burned at the stake.

Opinionated said...

Love the poetry, but prefer the modern translations when I'm studying what was REALLY said - either the RSV of my childhood (it was new and my mother was enamoured with it)or the Oxford Annotated.

Andrew Joyce said...

I know this is a little late, but I too grew up with the KJV, and it's still the only version I read. I'm not from Watauga county, but my Moms side of the family is (though now my Mom and Grandparents are now dead)Momma read us the Bible everyday, and as we got older, we read it too. My grandma did the same when my Mom, aunts and uncles was growin up, my greatgrandlarents did the same with my Grandma and her brothers and sisters