The King James Version has shaped the church, our worship, and our mother tongue for over 400 years. But what should we do with it today?
The KJV beautifully rendered the Scriptures into the language of turn-of-the-seventeenth-century England. Even today the King James is the most widely read Bible in the United States. The rich cadence of its Elizabethan English is recognized even by non-Christians. But English has changed a great deal over the last 400 years—and in subtle ways that very few modern readers will recognize. In Authorized Mark Ward shows what exclusive readers of the KJV are missing as they read God’s word.
In their introduction to the King James Bible, the translators tell us that Christians must “heare CHRIST speaking unto them in their mother tongue.” In Authorized Mark Ward builds a case for the KJV translators’ view that English Bible translations should be readable by what they called “the very vulgar”—and what we would call “the man on the street.”
This lightly written and frequently amusing book gently hides the competent scholarship that underlies it. For those who are convinced of the superiority of the KJV, whether for stylistic, cultural, pedagogical, theological, or traditional reasons, this is the book to read. Mercifully, Dr. Ward does not pummel his readers or sneer at those who take another position. Patiently, chapter by chapter, example by example, he makes his case—all of his work geared toward fostering more and better Bible reading. Highly recommended.
—D. A. Carson, research professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Mark Ward’s Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible is a cogent, concise, clear, and helpful book on the subject of Bible translations. It is full of information about how language changes and doesn’t change, and full of wisdom about how Christians should respond to these processes. The book is useful both for beginning Bible students and for linguists.
—John Frame, professor of systematic theology and philosophy emeritus, Reformed Theological Seminary
Authorized is a little book that packs a punch. It deals with a common issue in a helpful, humorous, and respectful way. It is worthy of any Christian’s time.
—Tim Challies, author, blogger
Just because you know all of the words in an old sentence of English doesn’t mean you know what they meant when they were written. Mark Ward shows us, with a light but authoritative touch, that if we want the Bible to speak to us the way it did to those alive when it was written, we must adjust the vocabulary with meanings only scholars can make out—a revelation of a new kind.
—John McWhorter, associate professor of linguistics, Columbia University; host of the Slate podcast Lexicon Valley
“The biggest problem in understanding the KJV comes from ‘false friends,’9 words that are still in common use but have changed meaning in ways that modern readers are highly unlikely to recognize.” (Page 31)
“1. WE LOSE INTERGENERATIONAL TIES IN THE BODY OF CHRIST” (Page 6)
“English speakers are looking for the wrong thing when we look for best. We need to look instead for useful. Does that sound too pragmatic? Let me clarify. We need to ask: Which English Bible translations are useful for preaching? Which are useful for evangelism? Which are useful for reading through in a year? Which are conducive to close study? How about for reading to kids? For memorization?” (Page 127)
“when you quote the KJV, you don’t have to tell people you’re quoting the Bible. They just know” (Page 10)
“. WE LOSE SOME OF THE IMPLICIT TRUST NON-CHRISTIANS HAVE IN SCRIPTURE” (Page 13)
...now watch the new movie based on Authorized. Mark Ward builds a case that our Bibles should be readable by what we would call “the man on the street.” He shows what exclusive readers of the KJV are missing as they read God’s Word. Watch the movie with a free trial to Faithlife TV Plus.
Mark Ward received his PhD from Bob Jones University in 2012; he now serves the church as a Logos Bible Software Pro. He is the author of multiple high school Bible textbooks, including The Story of the Old Testament and Patterns for Christian Living. His dissertation focused on the “religious affections” of Paul.
Terry Nolan Purtell