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KJV Four Hundred Year Celebration

KJV Four Hundred Year Celebration

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Published by Rafael Rodriguez
A brief discussion of the Greek text underlying the 1611 version of the King James translation of the New Testament, how it differs from modern critical editions of the Greek New Testament, as well as an appreciation for the legacy and tradition of the KJV 1611.
A brief discussion of the Greek text underlying the 1611 version of the King James translation of the New Testament, how it differs from modern critical editions of the Greek New Testament, as well as an appreciation for the legacy and tradition of the KJV 1611.

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Published by: Rafael Rodriguez on Oct 27, 2011
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04/29/2012

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The Greek Text behind the King James Version
p. 1Rafael Rodríguez, PhD King James Quadricentennial CelebrationThursday, 27 October 2011 Johnson University
[1]
 
T
HE
G
REEK 
T
EXT BEHIND THE
ING
J
AMES
V
ERSION
 
1. Introduction
As far as I know, I have never owned a King James Bible. Even growing up in a very traditionalLutheran church, we typically had copies of the Good News Bible in the backs of the pews orstacked in the corner of our Sunday School classrooms. I did acquire a copy of the New KingJames Version when I took the Gideon Bible out of a hotel room I once occupied. And I receiveda second copy of the NKJV just a few weeks ago when my family and I came home and foundthat someone had left a Bible on my front porch. (
I’m still trying to figure out what was being
implied.) At any rate, my only real experience with the King James Bible has been when somewell-intentioned Christian brother or sister has tried to convince me that the King James is theonly faithful, inspired, infallible English Bible. Perhaps not surprisingly, I
haven’t had much
incentive to become well acquainted with either King James or his Bible.But this really is unfortunate. As
this week’s
chapel services have clearly demonstrated,the language, imagery, and theology of the King James Bible have profoundly affected ourculture, from the English we speak to the literary heritage that enables us to express our deepestand profoundest emotions. The King James Bible certainly deserves our respect and admiration.We simply shouldn
t let the zealousness of some of its more enthusiastic readers diminish ourappreciation for this text and its 400-year tradition of expressing the Word of God to English-speaking followers of Jesus. It would be unfortunate if we dismissed the King James Bible asoutdated, obsolete, or irrelevant.Dr. Linton has asked me to prepare a twenty-minute discussion of the Greek text behind
the King James Bible. This, too, is unfortunate. I can think of thousand things I’d rather 
talk 
 
The Greek Text behind the King James Version
p. 2Rafael Rodríguez, PhD King James Quadricentennial CelebrationThursday, 27 October 2011 Johnson University
about than [
1a
] the Greek text of behind the King James Bible. Like . . . [
2
] Shel Silverstein, for
example. I was at McKay’s one day, looking at all the textbooks I had used in class that students
had sold back at the end of the semester. But my oldest daughter quickly got bored with that andwanted me to read to her. I found a copy of 
Silverstein’s
Falling Up
, so she and I sat down toread together. After just a short while we came upon
the poem, ―Pluggin
g In,
 
which I’d like to
recite for you. [*ahem*]:[
2a
] Peg plugged in her ’lectric toothbrush,
 Mitch plugged in his steel guitar,Rick plugged in his CD player,Liz plugged in her VCR.
Mom plugged in her ’lectric blanket,
 Pop plugged in the TV fights,I plugged in my blower-dryer
 — 
 Hey! Who turned out all the lights?And t
hat’s when I realized: My daughters will grow up and never know what a VCR is, or a
videotape, or just
tape
! For them, music has always been digital, and
old 
music comes on littleshiny
discs. ―Tape‖
is something
you use to keep a younger sibling’s mouth shut.
 [
3
] Speaking of VCRs and videotapes, are you aware of the analog videotape format warof the 1970s? (This, too,
is something I’d rather talk about than
[
3a
] the Greek text behind theKJV!) In 1975 Sony released the [
3b
] Betamax video system, which played [
3c
] sixty-minuteBetamax tapes. A year later, JVC released their [
4
] Video Home System (or VHS), which playedthe [
4a
] three-hour VHS tapes with which most of us are familiar. With a higher resolution,Betamax was, arguably, the superior video format. But, just like the King James Bible, I have
never owned a Betamax VCR, and I suspect a majority of you in this room haven’t either.
Butwhy not? Why did we (or our parents) prefer an inferior video format when a superior option
was so readily available? The simplest answer is ―recording time.‖ Since Betamax tapes were
only sixty minutes long, they were insufficient for recording movies or things like football
 
The Greek Text behind the King James Version
p. 3Rafael Rodríguez, PhD King James Quadricentennial CelebrationThursday, 27 October 2011 Johnson University
games. The three-hour VHS tapes, on the other hand, could accommodate up to two movies on asingle tape. By the time Sony responded with a longer-playing Betamax tape, VHS had alreadytaken a dominant share of the market, and Betamax never managed to catch up. By the mid- tolate-1980s the format war was over. VHS had won; Betamax, despite its technical advantagesover VHS, had clearly lost.[
5
]
2. The Greek Text behind the KJV
[*sigh*] Well . . . I suppose Dr. Linton is rethinking his decision to ask me to speak in chapel.Perhaps, for his sake if not for ours, we should talk a little bit about
 — 
say it with me
 — 
[
5a
] theGreek text behind the King James Bible.
Let me say first of all that, when we speak of a ―Greek text behind the King James Bible,‖ [
5b
] we’re only talking about the New Testament, which(unlike the texts of the Old Testament) were written in Greek. So we’re actually talking about the
Greek behind the
 New Testament 
of the King James Bible. Does that make sense?
Second, once we’ve got
it in our heads
that we’re only talking about a
 part 
of the KingJames Bible (granted, the part that matters, right, Drs. Cook and Reece?), we need to decide how
we’re going to talk about the Greek text behind the KJV.
(Again, all of this is
for Dr. Linton’s
sake; personally,
I’d rather discuss just about
anything
else . . . for example, [
6
] the mating habitsof Japanese beetles.) One option might be for me to spend twenty minutes giving you detailedcomparisons of the Greek text behind our modern translations (the NIV, ESV, NASB, etc.) andthe Greek behind the KJV. So, for example, you would be titillated to know that, [
7
] whereas thecritical Greek text of John 1.16
reads, ―
For 
from his fullness we all have received, even graceupon grace,
‖ the same passage in
[
7a
]
the Greek text behind the KJV reads, ―
 And 
from his

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