Mormons and the King James Bible

According to an article by Grant Hardy in the SLTrib (19 Feb 2011):

The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible has a long and storied history, but the LDS Church is entering a period when the drawbacks of that 400-year-old translation will become more and more apparent, for several reasons (the reasons are shortened here):

  • The KJV is not as accurate as many other modern translations
  • The archaic language of the KJV is difficult to understand
  • The KJV is no longer the common Bible of English-speaking Christians
  • Some of the verses Mormons used to support doctrine are odd renderings or even mistranslations

One solution would be to continue with the KJV as our official Bible, while allowing the supplemental use of careful, respectful, widely accepted translations such as the New Revised Standard Version.  It is often possible to grasp the meaning of the KJV after reading the same verse in modern translation.

Grant further commented on the issue in a paper titled:  The King James Bible and the Future of Missionary Work (Jun 2010, accessed on the Internet):

The KJV is no longer the dominant Bible of the English-speaking world, and the only denominations that still hold exclusively to that 400-year-old translation are Latter-day Saints and a few marginal fringe groups (if you think “snake-handlers,” you wouldn’t be far off).  The Gideons, famous for providing free bibles to hotel rooms, recognize that King James English no longer speaks to Americans and have consequently started distributing modern language translations.  Even the proudly fundamentalist Bob Jones University has a disclaimer on its website clearly stating that it does not agree with the King James Only position.  The obstacles to effective communication will be compounded as we become a more international church.  When American Latter-day Saints employ arguments that depend on peculiar readings of the KJV, these will not make sense when translated for Mormons who read the Bible in their native tongue.

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3 Responses to Mormons and the King James Bible

  1. Pingback: In Defense of the King James Version | Tired Road Warrior

  2. rogerdhansen says:

    In an email to Grant Hardy (21 Feb 2011), I wrote the following conerning his paper:

    “Your paper seemed tilted toward placating the Christian right (fundamentalists). I’m not sure that should necessarily be our core audience when we look at other translations of the NT. I think we are too defensive about being Christian and trying too hard to look like conservative Christians. In so doing, I think we end up down playing some of our unique and interesting doctrines.”

    Grant responded (email dated 21 Feb 2011):

    I actually agree with your criticisms. I’m not entirely satisfied with the paper I wrote. In an attempt to persuade the most conservative Latter-day Saints, I ended up using proof-test style examples (something I don’t really believe in). I also thought that it might be important to counter suspicions of faithless translators–a majore point made by J. Reuben Clark–and the NIV is a good example of a translation done by devout Christians. But if I were writing the paper now I would lean less toward placating the Christian right (and their Mormon allies). I think the NRSV is more neutral, ecumenical translation that would better suit a variety of LDS needs and still allow us to teach our unique doctrine.

  3. erik says:

    Is Baptist considered a “fringe group?”Are they snake handlers? There are many Baptist churches that still stand by the KJB.

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