Book Review: Authorized—the Use & Misuse of the King James Bible

Every so often I try to write a brief book review on a book that interests me. Because I have written in some detail about the King James Version, I was sent Authorized: The Use & Misuse of the King James Bible, written by Mark Ward. Mark received his PhD in NT Interpretation at Bob Jones University, and currently works for Faithlife. He works in a variety of capacities, one of which is being an academic editor for Lexham Press. He also blogs at By Faith We Understand.

Authorized is an interesting take on the KJV Only issue because it approaches the issue from an English language perspective. Most books that deal with the KJV deal with mistranslations or inadequate manuscript support. However, the approach in this book is to have a serious discussion about some of the problems of reading the KJV in English.

Reading the KJV in English poses some significant problems to those trying to understand it. For example, Ward talks about 1 Kings 18:21 which reads, “How long halt ye between two opinions?” (KJV). However, the idea of “halt” has changed over 400 years, and no longer means to limp (which was the actual intent behind the original translation). Similarly, Romans 5:8 says, “God commendeth his love.” However, as Ward points out, if you ask most people what “commendeth” means, you will not hear the idea of showing or demonstrating (which is the intended idea). The point is that words have changed over 400 years in the English language, and reading the Bible in the KJV can actually hinder someone’s ability to understand God’s Word in certain passages.

In writing this book, Ward engages in a congenial and amicable way. Having been raised to appreciate the KJV he speaks as one who understands both the benefits and difficulties of using the KJV. His approach is not to bash those who read the KJV, but to simply have a conversation about some of the challenges of reading the KJV. Here is a look at the table of contents:

  1. What we Lose as the Church Stops Using the KJV
  2. The Man in the Hotel and the Emperor of English Bibles
  3. Dead Words and “False Friends”
  4. What is the Readings Level of the KJV?
  5. The Value of the Vernacular
  6. Ten Objections to Reading Vernacular Bible Translations
  7. Which Bible Translation is Best?

I enjoyed reading this book as it was a totally different take on an issue I have studied from many different angles. This is a short book (only 140 pages), but it is a helpful approach to the discussion of the potential downsides to using the KJV in a contemporary context. This book is available on Amazon as paperback and kindle, or you can purchase it through Logos.

Peter serves at Shepherd's Theological Seminary in Cary, NC as the professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages. He loves studying the Bible and helping others understand it. He also runs The Bible Sojourner podcast and Youtube channel.

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