Friday, December 16, 2011
Reformed Forum on the 400th Anniversary of the KJV
I am a fan of the Reformed Forum broadcast. In late November, they did an episode with Carl Trueman on the 400th anniversary of the KJV. It covers a lot of the same ground as Trueman's Westminster Library talk on this topic, but it is still worth hearing.
I do question the repeated charge that James was a "homosexual." This seems to be anachronistic. I am not claiming that James was a saint, but I am guessing there has probably been a "modern" misreading of signs of friendship and affection between James and his courtiers. My guess is that this has been gleefully promoted by those who have wanted to take the shine off the KJV. I would like to see a historian trace the roots of this charge, including when it first surfaced. My guess is that it is relatively recent. As Trueman acknowledges, James was, after all, quite happily married.
I appreciate Trueman's appreciation of the KJV, but he also exhibits some of the annoying schizophrenic tendencies of contemporary evangelicals when discussing this classic Reformation translation (cf. Leland Ryken's The Legacy of the KJB). On one hand, he praises its unequalled majesty, but on the other he claims it is outdated and archaic. Why is the KJV so appropriate to read at weddings, funerals, and formal occasions, but not as a regular part of Lord's Day worship or in private devotion? Is there an occasion where reverence is more vital than in ordinary Lord's Day worship? For those who celebrate Christmas liturgically, for example, I feel sorry for churches that will abandon the KJV rendering of Luke 2 which describes the shepherds as being "sore afraid" (KJV v. 9) for the pedestrian renderings of modern versions which describe those same shepherds as being "filled with fear" (ESV v. 9). The examples, of course, could be multiplied.
The discussion also failed to touch on the central issue of text. The KJV (like all the vernacular translations of the Reformation era) is based on the traditional text (MT of OT and TR of NT), while the modern translations (except for the NKJV) follow the modern critical text. I'd love to see this overlooked topic addressed on the Reformed Forum.