Tuesday, April 26, 2011

NY Times Article on King James Bible

An interesting article from the New York Times on the King James Version (Authorized Version). As most of you know, this year is the 400th Anniversary of the KJV. You can read the article here.

(Thanks to ceflynn for the link.)


Jonny said...

It is really weird how the Catholic Mass translations are referenced throughout the article, as if the two were somehow related. Does the author not realize the KJV is a protestant Bible translation?! Shouldn't it actually mention that the translators acknowledged the Septuagint and the Vulgate in the original KJV preface, which can account why there are many traditional interpretations in the KJV?

I think it is crazy that publishers are printing all these 400th anniversary reprint editions of the King James Bible, as if the modern one is not archaic enough already. The KJV I think that is most helpful is the Nelson center-column reference edition, which defines the hundreds of archaic words that have changed or lost their original meaning. I also have the KJV "apocrypha" from Cambridge, and I wish it included this feature as well.

I do reference the KJV occasionally when doing word studies using the Strong's reference system. Aside from the source texts being poor sometimes from a critical perspective, it does seem to be accurately translated. I also sometimes use the KJV in comparison when reading the Douay-Rheims, although it often seems that the Deutrocanonicals are from totally different sources in the KJV, D-R and RSV.

Colleague said...

I'm definitely celebrating the 400th anniversary! In addition to reading Adam Nicolson's excellent account on the making of the KJV entitled "God's Secretaries" and a number of other books related to the affect which the KJV has had on the English language and Western society, I am stocking up on the 400th anniversary editions. I am particularly looking forward to receiving the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible: Personal Size when that is eventually released.

Theophrastus said...

Although I have not seen it yet, I am cautiously optimistic about the new Norton Critical Edition of the English Bible (KJV) forthcoming later this year (ISBN 039397507X and 0393927458). Perhaps you are familiar with the Norton Critical Edition series — it is a standard series of annotated volumes used in literature classes. The editors working on these volumes are top-notch, and the blurbs are impressive at least:

Robert Alter: “The Norton Critical Edition of The English Bible, King James Version, appearing on the four hundredth anniversary of the great translation, is a real gift to the English-reading world, making this classical version freshly accessible. The introductions to the different biblical books are apt and often illuminating; the generous annotation clarifies archaic terms, corrects translation errors, and provides insight into the texts; and the appended critical and historical materials give readers a wealth of relevant contexts for both Old and New Testament.”

Harold Bloom: “Herbert Marks demonstrates in this work that he is now the foremost literary exegete of the King James Bible and of the Hebrew Bible that it translates.”

If the work is up to the standard of the better volumes in the Norton Critical Edition series, I expect this will become the standard secular teaching text on the King James Bible, and because of its explanation of archaic terms and phrases, may prove useful for ordinary readers as well.

(I should mention that additional materials and notes that the Norton Critical Edition of the Writings of St. Paul [ISBN 0393972801] make it the best secular one-volume guide to the subject, although it uses the TNIV translation of the Epistles and Acts and Elliott’s translations [ISBN 0198261810] of the apocryphal works related to Paul.)

Jonny said...

Here is a KJV with Deuterocanonicals and cross-references available to pre-order for this June. It also has the self-pronouncing text all too uncommon nowadays.


Colleague said...

Cambridge is also re-releasing its New Cambridge Paragraph Bible in a more "personal" size also available with the Apocrypha. This might seem to be the more preferred choice due to its single-column format, which is increasingly preferred nowadays, but it's an unfortunate fact that its editor, David Norton, has modernized spellings and archaic forms, thus creating yet another New King James Bible. In his introduction to the Penguin Classics version, he states that it was his agenda to restore the 1611 text for a contemporary audience, but contemporize he has and restore he has not.

It seems that the Cambridge Cameo with Apocrypha will be the closest thing to a true, authentic reproduction of the 1611 text aside from the facsimile of the 1833 Oxford rendition as published by Hendrickson Publishers.

Theophrastus said...

I have the an edition of the KJV Cameo you mention -- it was published earlier this year and then recalled for missing the last page of 2 Maccabees.

I'd recommend getting the Penguin edition mentioned by Colleague. (I like the Penguin better than the Oxford World's Classics paperback.

Oxford sells a much nicer version of the 1833 KJV and Nelson sells an average quality one too. You can also buy a facsimile edition (I only own the cheapest one, currently sold at $179 -- it is more than adequate) or a reduced-facsimile that is missing the Apocrypha. I wouldn't normally recommend the last item (and it is the only version I mention in this post missing the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals), except that it is super cheap being $8 at Amazon (and reportedly $5 at Walmart).

And, in fact, although I didn't set out to be a collector, I somehow own every Bible I have mentioned above. I suspect that when the Norton Critical Edition (which I mention above, vol 1, 2) comes out, it will replace the Penguin (ironically, edited by a guy named Norton!) for being my go-to edition.