AND ENGLISH BIBLE VERSIONS
By Doug Kutilek
In my ten years of ministry in Romania, I have often met Romanian Christians with varying degrees of knowledge of English. Many had obtained from various sources one or another English Bible version, with the aim of both increasing their knowledge of Scripture and their knowledge of English. Without exception, those who employed the KJV found its language often incomprehensible, due to its often obscure, archaic and obsolete vocabulary as well as its frequently obtuse and complex syntax. When those same persons later came into possession of a translation into modern English, usually the New International Version, their uniform verdict was that it was much more comprehensible and useful to them in their quest to increase in Bible knowledge as well as in the knowledge of English.
Unfortunately, elements of the “King James Only” movement have infected Romania in the past decade. I speak particularly of a number of independent Baptist missionaries sent from the U.S. who have sought to impose their views on the Romanians, in some cases trying to force them to add to their church confessions of faith an article claiming the KJV as the infallible final authority for all faith and practice. This has naturally enough created schisms in several Romanian churches, and undermined the Romanian believers’ confidence in the standard Romanian translation which has been uniformly used by all Baptists there for the past three-quarters of a century. In short, it has robbed them of confidence in the only Bible most of them can read or understand. What an evil consequence!
As I have insisted elsewhere, the very reason for the existence of any Bible translation is to communicate clearly and accurately in words understood by the intended readers the meaning of the words of Scripture in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek which words are beyond those readers’ ability to understand. In short, since the intended readers cannot read or understand the Scriptures as originally written, translations are made to bridge this gap. To the degree that a translation fails to communicate in words understood by its intended readers, it fails in its very purpose for existence. As long as a translation that is frequently incomprehensible, not due to the nature of the Bible’s content, but solely due to the translation’s use of out-dated words and syntax -- as long as such a translation, I say, is imposed on readers, they will be deprived a fuller, better, and more accurate knowledge of the word of God. This is doubly regrettable since other versions at least as accurate (and often more accurate) and regularly more intelligible are readily available.
For my part, when a Romanian desires an English Bible, I invariably make sure that he obtains an NIV, not a KJV, since the former, not the latter, will serve them far better. And, by the way, when an American seeks a recommendation for an English Bible, I regularly recommend the NIV, NASB, or NKJV, and not the KJV.