Book Review: Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible

36026861Today I decided to do something I have not done in a while, read a whole book in a day. For a while, I have wanted to read Mark Ward’s Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible. Today, I finally sat down and accomplished this task.

The debates surrounding the King James Bible vs. other English translations have been raging for decades. There are very heated and passionate discussions on the topic. Some of these discussions are rational and biblical but many are not. So in a very real sense, Dr. Ward is brave for tackling this topic head-on. But he is also to be commended in the very sincere, rational, biblical, and respectful way that he has approached the debate.

First, the book is easy to understand. It is written in plain language and not bogged down with tons of Greek and Hebrew. In fact, I honestly don’t remember reading much, if any, Greek and Hebrew in the book itself. That’s not the focus of the book. The focus is whether or not the King James Bible is still the best translation to use for the modern English reader.

Without giving away too much information, you should really buy the book, Dr. Ward takes the approach of looking at the English language itself. For example, he explores dead words that are used in the KJV. He is fair in stating that yes, we can look these words up in dictionaries, but points out that you need special dictionaries that include these words to begin with.

But the bigger issue Ward points out is what he calls “false friends.” False friends are words that we do not understand but do not realize we do not understand them. What is meant by this is that the words meant something significantly different in 1611 than what they mean today. He goes through quite a few examples of these in the book making a compelling argument for needing a fresh translation.

Dr. Ward also examines ten common objections to using translations other than the KJV. He explores these in detail and breaks down the argument and gives logical rebuttals to each of these arguments. These are arguments such as the new translations use corrupt manuscripts, they dumb down the English language, or the problem isn’t really that big.

All in all, Ward does a superb job of explaining why we should not ditch the KJV but also should not expect it to be the primary English translation used in every day study. This book should be required reading for people looking for a good English translation and I give Authorized a five star rating!

You can read Dr. Ward’s blog and see his other books at By Faith We Understand.