|by C.J. Chase|
The LORD is my shepherd...
Glory to God in the highest,...
For God so loved the world,...
I'm going to guess that most people reading this blog answered with
...I shall not want.
...and on earth peace, good will toward men.
...that he gave his only begotten Son,
...which art in heaven,
Interestingly, these famous verses begin with the same phrase in multiple translations of the Bible -- but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that somewhere between few and none of the readers here quoted the New International Version ("The LORD is my sheperd, I lack nothing."), the Holman Christian Standard Bible ("The LORD is my shepherd, there is nothing I lack.") or the Good News Translation ("The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.").
This year marks the 400th annivesary of the Authorized Version -- more commonly called the King James Version (KJV) -- of the Bible. For 300 years, the KJV was the translation used in English-speaking Protestant churches across the world.
Then in the late 20th century, an explosion of new translations ignited "translation wars" only slightly less bloody than the "worship wars" of the same time period. Just like the hymns-vs-praise music controversy, churches grappled with whether they should stay with the familiar KJV or switch to a translation more accessible to the modern ear.
Have you ever been to a worship service where the pastor or reader read from one version, the Bible in the pews was a different version, and the Bible you brought from home was yet another? And then there is the fun of being in a Bible study where everyone goes around the table reading a verse, and you discover everyone in the class has a different version. It's enough to make one long for the days of uniform KJV usage despite the thees and thous.
|King Jame I of England|
The Geneva Bible caused James the most distress. During the reign of Mary I (known to history as "Bloody Mary"), many English Protestant leaders fled to John Calvin's Geneva to avoid persecution and execution. There, they completed the first English translation directly from the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.
Burgeoning literacy and inexpensive printing put the Geneva Bible in the hands of ordinary people. With a price of about a week's income for a lower-class laborer, nearly everyone could afford his own Bible. A 1579 law in Scotland even required all households with sufficient means to purchase their own copy of the Geneva Bible. The Geneva was also the first English language Bible to number verses.
Marginal notes authored by John Calvin, John Knox, Miles Coverdale, and Theodore Beza made the Geneva Bible the first English "study Bible." These marginal notes lent the Geneva version a decidedly Calvinistic slant and made the version decidedly unpopular among the Church of England's senior level clergy. Worse, as far as the king was concerned, some of the notes were downright seditious to a man who believed in the divine right of kings.
What to do? Order his own translation, of course! The Authorized version drew heavily on the Geneva Bible, but without the offending marginal notes or Calvinist slant. By the end of the 1600's, the KJV overtook the Geneva version as the Bible of choice for English-speaking Protestants -- aided, of course, by the fact that King James even made ownership of the Geneva Bible a felony.
But the "damage" had been done. The Geneva Bible continued in print until 1644 (nearly half a million Geneva Bibles were printed) and in use for decades thereafter. It gave rise to a movement within the Church of England called the Puritans and a belief among the English people that the king was subject to the people, and not the other way around. James's son Charles I lost his struggle with Parliament (and his head) over the divine right of kings issue, and no English king has publically subscribed to that belief since.
English colonists at Jamestown brought Geneva Bibles with them, as did both the Pilgrims and Puritans in their colonies further north. In fact, the Geneva Bible was the principle version used in colonial America throughout the 17th century. One can easily see how a people who believed God doesn't require obediance to tyrants would later rebel against a tyrannical government.
Sadly, most English speaking people are unaware of this bit of Bible history and how it affected world history. Even Biblegateway.com doesn't include the Geneva Bible in its list of English translations.
However, for grins, I'll give it to you. Here is Psalm 23:1 from the Geneva Bible: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." Looks familiar, huh?
So which translation do you use? Do you have a favorite? Do you do like I do, read one translation for content and yet keep the KJV for its familiarity and poetry? What translation do you use when you assign your children to memorize verses?
After leaving the corporate world to stay home with her children, C.J. Chase quickly learned she did not possess the housekeeping gene. She decided writing might provide the perfect excuse for letting the dust bunnies accumulate under the furniture. Her procrastination, er, hard work paid off in 2010 when she won the Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Manuscript and sold the novel to Love Inspired Historicals. Redeeming the Rogue is an August, 2011 release. You can visit C.J.'s cyber-home (where the floors are always clean) at cjchasebooks.com