Which is a pretty contentious  question, and an odd one to ask as an atheist. My question is: what are the strengths and weaknesses of the different English translations of the Bible?

Readability, enjoyability of that read (poeticness would be a factor if it was a word) and a certain amount of consistency to the source material are all factors. I'm mostly interested in the Old Testament: It's got some pretty cool stories, I celebrate Jewish holidays with my Jewish friends and I want to know what's going on, and it's a little bit about making fun of Christians.

I haven't found any satisfactory answer on the interwebs or on the nexus. There's too much information that I can't adequately filter and, besides, I want you know you lovely peoples opinions.


(Something I've heard: Richard Dawkins likes The King James Version because of the poetic Elizabethan Prose)


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I'm with Dawkins on this.  The King James version wields language like a flaming sword, it's just astonishing to me.  Ecclesiastes, Psalms, Proverbs and especially good ol' Revelations.  I've tried reading other versions but they just don't have that "epic" feel that I get from the KJV.





I know this is sort of a necro post, but another x2 on the OKJV. The NKJV changed several things, including removing references to unicorns.


Job 39:9-12

King James Version (KJV)

Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?

10 Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee?

11 Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? or wilt thou leave thy labour to him?

12 Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed, and gather it into thy barn?


Job 39:9-12

New King James Version (NKJV)

“Will the wild ox be willing to serve you?
Will he bed by your manger?
10 Can you bind the wild ox in the furrow with ropes?
Or will he plow the valleys behind you?
11 Will you trust him because his strength is great?
Or will you leave your labor to him?
12 Will you trust him to bring home your grain,
And gather it to your threshing floor?


Errr, not sure what you're driving at. Maybe unicorn has a more poetic vibe to it, but the translation of the NKJV as wild ox is more accurate. It's unclear exactly what animal is meant by the Hebrew re'em (rendered as unicorn in KJV), but going by the description of a wild untamable beast with horns, it's more likely referring to an ancestral form of cattle, most likely the auroch.

The King James is a beautiful literary work, but it is not the most accurate translation we have by any stretch of the imagination -why would it be, given that we have several centuries of Biblical scholarship to draw from now?

Most modern translations are far more accurate, though it comes at the expense of poetic value. It guess to each his own.

Of course the morons at AIG think unicorns actually existed (because they have this weird idea that the KJV is the infallible translation of God) but, like everything else they say, it's rather hard to take it seriously.

It was to highlight the unreliability of different translations of the Bible. There are also those that believe Unicorns did exist in the literal sense, as illustrated by the link I provided to answers in genesis. Plus it makes it more interesting reading it as unicorn than aurochs.

I would highly recommend you get both a regular King James and The Message Bible.  Don't get the New King James, Revised King James, or whatever other translation they sell at Wal-Mart, get the original text of the original King James translation from the 1500's, it shaped modern literature in a way that can only be compared to Plato and Homer.  The Message Bible is translated by a Canadian professor who puts the verses into modern slang, very interesting reading for the Psalms.  There are several websites where you can look at both these texts free, and some even where you can put them side-by-side, Christians will do anything to make the Bible more accessible.

KJV.  I used the book of Isaiah and the word "piss" on a xtian who was determined to convert me.  She claimed that there are no "curse" words in the bible.  I gave her a list of text that had the word piss in it.  She was so highly upset that she crossed out piss and wrote waste.  I gave it back to her and told her that I quoted the King James Version, not some sanitized bible that kept people like her ignorant and lost.


She sat down and cried and said, that she could not believe that G'd would allow man to put that word in the bible.


Makes a great weapon against maroons.


For consistency to the source material, a study of scholar Jason Beduh (Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of ...) found that the Bible translations by the Jehovah's witnesses - the Watchtower editions - are the most reliable.


This is because the Jehovah's witnesses are non-Trinitarians, and where Trinitarian translations of the Bible tend to 'creatively translate' passages in the older gospels that don't fit well with the concept of the Trinity, the Watchtower simply translates them accurately.

Well I obviously never did a comparative analysis myself, so I can't comment, but it seems to me like the problem there may have been the magazine rather than the actual Watchtower translations.

That said when a modern word is used in a translation that's not meant to imply that that was actually the word used (obviously not, since it's a translation), it's used to express the various connotations that an ancient Greek word has. And sometimes a modern English word does that better than older words. Obviously the word 'embryo' won't have been in the Bible, but if the text is talking about an early prenatal state, it actually makes sense to translate it as embryo.

Jason Beduhn went over the more problematic passages in terms of Trinitarian theology and found that the Jehovah's Witnesses were quite consistent though. If there really were cases where they were injecting scientific connotations were not exist, I think he would have noticed that.

bible comes in versions ????

All of them are bad. They have the bible online -- if you really want to read it. It will make you a stronger atheist.

I agree, KJV is the best version for consistency. Its funny how such a derivative piece of fiction got so many remakes. 

When it comes to consistency to the source material, that's really not true though. The KJV is several centuries old; modern Bible translations have the advantage of centuries of scholarship into Ancient Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic.

The KJV is probably the most poetic version, but for the same reason it's also one of the least close to the source material by modern standards.




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