Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Is Your KJV Bible Missing Bits?

Writers of all kinds who are culturally literate have most often either read the Bible or at least read books in which phrases from the Bible are quoted. It’s part of being an educated person. 

But as you probably aren’t willing to learn Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek to read the Bible in the original, you will need a translation. And the long-time reigning king of English language Bible translations is the King James Version, called the KJV for short. 

The KJV was also the Bible authorized to be read in Anglican churches in England back in the days you couldn’t safely be anything BUT Anglican in England. So another name for it is Authorized Version, also AV. 

There is a dispute between Catholics and most Protestants, and between the ancient Jews who translated the Septuagint, an ancient Greek-language Bible, and medieval and modern Jews, over which books belong in the Bible. The dispute is over some books that are called Deuterocanonicals or Apocrypha, depending on which side of the dispute you are on. 

These books were included when the first Christian Bible, with both a New Testament and an Old Testament, was compiled. At the time of the Reformation when Protestantism was invented, ‘Reformers’ such as Luther and Calvin grumbled about the Deuterocanonical books. 

But Luther translated them into his German Bible translation all the same, and the King James translators did also. They were only removed later, by the British Bible Society, perhaps because not believing those books belonged in the Bible made it cheaper to print Bibles.

But those parts of the KJV were known for a long time in England, and a lot of the writers we are taught to think of as ‘great’ grew up having these ‘extra’ Bible books read to them at church and at chapel in their schools. 

The missing KJV books are available in a separate volume called ‘The Apocrypha KJV,’ which I used for years until I got a really nice leather-bound complete KJV. There are also paperback KJV Bibles with Apocrypha.

The thing that writers, particularly, need to know about Bible translations is that all the newer, trendier Bible translations are copyrighted works, and you need permission to quote from them. 

For indie writers and bloggers, though, it may be too hard to get permission, especially if all you want to do is quote one little thing. The KJV Bible, being old, may be freely quoted. 

I personally prefer the KJV because I grew up Protestant reading the KJV, and did not become Catholic until much later in my life. Most of my Bible knowledge came from the KJV, and I prefer it. I couldn’t imagine using a modern version for memorizing a Bible verse, for example.

For the English-speaking writer who does not have a religious preference, the KJV has been the version with the most literary influence. The old-fashioned language of the KJV strengthens your command of the English language, and prepares you to read Shakespearian English. 

To learn more about the history of the ‘missing’ books of the KJV Bible, read ‘Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger’ by Gary G. Michuta.

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