By Eric Johnson
For Latter-day Saints, the King James Version (KJV) is the official Bible of their church. This version was first put together in 1611 by translators commissioned by King James of England; the 1769 version is currently used, which was update of the 17th century language from 150 years before. When Joseph Smith was asked to compile some of his beliefs in what is known as the Articles of Faith, he claimed that the Bible had limitations as it was only true “as far as it is translated correctly” (Article 8).
Without getting into a long discussion about the efficacy of the Bible or even the King James Version, there is no doubt that there is archaic language in the KJV. For modern people, the “thees” and “thous” of this version along with no-longer-used verbiage and awkward grammatical constructions can make understanding God’s Word almost impossible.
There is nothing sacred about this particular version, though it certainly was a fine translation for its day. With that said, we believe modern translations of the Bible can be helpful for a modern reader to understand just what the writers meant 2,000+years ago. Some of the better translations include the English Standard Version, Today’s English Version, the Holman Standard Version, the New International Version, and the New American Standard Version. Any of these are very useful for comprehension. If you would like to read the Bible on-line, there are many sites that provide good translations, including www.biblegateway.com.
We encourage you to read the Bible as a little child, bringing no preconceived notions to the table. Perhaps start with the gospel of John and read about the life of Jesus. Reading just one chapter a day for three straight weeks will allow you to accomplish this wonderful goal! The New Testament epistles can also be helpful, including Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians. The Book of Hebrews explains how the Old and New Testaments go together hand-in-hand. See what has been written in the Bible and compare it with your current belief system. You might walk away amazed.
Read more answers to common questions here.