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If we look at 1 John 5:7-8 in the KJV, we find the following:
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost:and these three are one.And there are three that bear witnessin earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
Compare this, for instance, to the ESV, which corresponds to all modern translations:
“For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.”
The question, “Why the difference?,” marked out in bold type in the first quotation, makes for a fascinating story and is perhaps the clearest example of why some words found in the KJV are not included in our modern translations.
Just yesterday a reader named Scott, from Salt Lake City, Utah, wrote me with a question that offers a helpful launch point for this blog post. A fan of the NLT translation (which I have done work on), Scott has “a KJV enthusiast friend” who challenged him to take a look at Mark 6:11, which he did. This is how Scott’s email to me continued:
I am a fan of the KJV as a religious and literary masterpiece. As Geddes MacGregor points out,
“In respect of both equipment and method, . . . the translation was made according to the highest standards of scholarship and the most advanced knowledge of the day.”
An amazing collection of scholars—most of the best of England’s biblical savants—were able to produce a work that made an impact on the world for four centuries, and that is something to be celebrated.
In my last blog post I discussed "Augustine's Angst" over words in Jerome’s Latin translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew, words that didn’t line up with the beloved Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament). Most of us can identify with Augustine. In the 1970s, when I was a high school student, I was greatly puzzled by the omission of the words “in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” (1 John 5:7, KJV) in my new “modern” translation!
Augustine of Hippo stands tall as one of the greatest churchmen and theologians of Christian history, and he is one of my personal heroes. It is hard to express how deeply indebted to him we are today. Yet, between AD 394 and 405 he and another church luminary, Jerome, corresponded about various matters, including Augustine's concerns about Jerome's translation of the Old Testament from the Hebrew original. I think in this rare case, Augustine got it wrong.
About 88% of Americans have a Bible in their home, and when they reach for their Bibles, more than half of them are still reaching for the King James Version (KJV). Although the NIV tops Bible sales each year (KJV and NKJV are number 2 & 3), only 19% of Americans own that modern translation, and other modern translations take much smaller slices of the Bible sales pie.