Question of the day: archaic words & modern translations.

It’s been four weeks now since I started a series of questions put forth by Dr. Sam Gipp in His book “The Answer Book.”* By now, you should be getting pretty well-acquainted with Dr. Gipp’s approach to these issues. As I said before, the point of these questions is not to start a Baptist War, but rather encourage everyone to engage in a discussion and learn from and among fellow believers.

I don’t want you to rely on “he said, she said” or even unconfirmed history. Read your Bible, study accurate accounts of History, pray about it, and take what you don’t understand by faith.

I will post Dr. Gipp’s written answer to the question tomorrow, so be sure to check back on here for the answer to today’s question.

Here’s the question for today…

Aren’t there archaic words in the Bible, and don’t we need a modern translation to eliminate them?

Thoughts?  Opinions?  Scriptures to back your position?

*All material from “The Answer Book”© is used on Grow Up! with permission received directly from Dr. Sam Gipp.


Posted on June 13, 2011, in Question of the Day and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I understand the argument from both sides. On one side there is the fact that our culture is so illiterate that changing archaic words equates to nothing more than “dumbing down” the Bible. On the other side, there is the valid concern that the Bible was never meant to be a literary classic, but a letter, or at worst a history book.

    I firmly believe that if anyone took only half a minute and used some decent study tools, they could quickly determine the true meaning and usage of any archaic word. On the other hand, should that really be necessary for the new believer? Frankly, how would they know which words were archaic or unclear in a modern context? How would they even know that “the husks that the swine did eat” were not referring to corn husks, but carob tree pods? In those cases, what is wrong with changing the word to reflect a clearer, more exact representation of the truth?

    What I find truly ironic is that so many, without any thought, blast the need for a clearer translation, while at the same time hate Shakespeare because “he’s too hard to understand!” Is there no middle ground on this issue?

  2. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15

    One thing that drives me crazy is that people use the excuse that KJV is hard to understand, so a modern version is necessary. People can argue what they want, but it WAS written at a fourth grade level. Maybe it isn’t today’s fourth grade level because we have dumbed down our society with all the technology we have and the short cuts (I see it in the classroom every day at the college). Besides that, the Bible is meant to be studied out. It is not meant to be picked up, skimmed, understood, and put back down. He wants us to delve in deep. He wants us to cross-reference. It is good to keep a good dictionary close (i.e. Noah Websters 1828 edition). You can get most dictionaries online too. Unfortunately, Americans as a whole (not always individually) have the tendency to quit things easily! We need to have meat in our Christians walks, not just milk, and that involves study.

    Hebrews 5:12-14

    12For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

    13For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

    14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

    Archaic words sometimes have a deeper meaning than the translations we use too. For example, in John 3:16, it says God’s only begotten Son. Some translations have removed the begotten and left it as Son or only Son. Jesus is NOT God’s only Son because those who are saved are God’s children. Jesus is God’s natural Son, however. This is one of many examples.

    • Amen, can I add with a dictionary it is good to have a Strong’s Concordance. It takes a couple tries to figure out how to use it, but when you get the word number and look it up in the lexicon in the back it makes it quite clear as well. For instance, when words change popular usage. Look up “nations” in your concordance and you’ll find it’s a little different than we use it today, because of the time period. Just a thought, good points by all here.

    • Mitchell Killian

      riseup0201 ,
      I actually find it rather ironic that you use 2 Timothy 3:15 to justify the idea that the words of the King James translation should be “studied” and shouldn’t be updated to reflect modern usage. Many think that “study” in this passage does mean that we are to get out our dictionaries, our concordances, etc. and should apply our minds to investigate God’s Word. However, that isn’t what “study” means here. According to Thayer’s Concordance, it means: “to exert one’s self, endeavour, give diligence;” Strong’s: “to make effort, be prompt or earnest;” and this was an accepted meaning of “study” back in the day (The third definition of the intransitive verb “study” in Webster’s 1828: “To endeavor diligently”). Modern translations reflect this meaning. (NKJV: “Be diligent to present yourself;” NASB: “Be diligent to present yourself;” ESV: “Do your best to present yourself”) However, that’s not how modern readers understand the word. Yet because the word itself is common in the English language, readers will not have an accurate understanding of what the passage really means just as I didn’t for many, many years. Other examples could be brought up such as “mansions” in John 14:6 or “prevent” in 1 Thessalonians 4:15.

      • Exactly!

        The difficulty is that many KJVO supporters don’t even realize that they’re misunderstanding the English used in the KJV. They recognize the majority of words and (incorrectly) assume that all their meanings must be the same as they are in current English.

        What’s even more bizarre is when they use the first definitions out of Webster’s 1828 dictionary to support their 2011 understanding of 1611 vernacular.

      • Mitchell Killian

        That should be John 14:2 not John 14:6 above. Whoops!

  3. I think our government should mandate that all public and private documents revert back to the archaic language of the KJV authorized edition, including personal correspondence – i.e. letters to and from loved ones. That would be a great step forward in restoring clarity of thought and meaningful communication. Think of the endless possibilities.

  4. I don’t even understand the purpose of this argument, honestly. It’s always set up from the bias point of view that 17th century English is, for some completely unknown reason, supremely more accurate than 21st century English.

    Since “400 years ago” seem to be the magic number of holiness, maybe instead of King James’ translators translating the Bible into their modern day English (which apparently is “wrong”), they should’ve translated it into 13th century Old English?

    • Whoa, whoa, whoa, Brandon! Stop now before you start speaking heresy. Don’t you know that the KJV is the version that corrects the older? You see, long before the modern version, the KJV was the original NIV (New Inspired Version). The Holy Spirit actually breathed the words again, but this time in 1600’s era English. All other translations before, and after, were man-made. So, you see, Brandon, the reason we can now hold this belief that the KJV English is the best, most correct language is because, since the Spirit, the Father, and Jesus are One, and since the Spirit inspired the translators like none since, it stands to reason that KJV English is the language Jesus spoke!

      Now, if you think I went overboard in the above comment, you may be right; but I’ve heard it explained like that before.

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