We live in a world where “newer means better.” At least, that’s the assumption. Why buy an old used car when the new models are more gas-friendly or have better features? Why watch TV on an older 19” model when a flat screen 40’, 55”, or 85” model is available? The argument that “newer is better” may be true sometimes, but it is not universally true.
How does that rationale work with Bible translations? I’m not going to argue the merits of one translation over another because there are many good translations; however, I do want to point out that one translation is 412 years old and it remains extremely popular.
The King James Version.
With all the good translations available (and seemingly a new one coming out every few years), you’d think the KJV would be relegated to the back shelf. But, no, the Kong James Version and the New King James Version continue to hold their own.
You’d think the KJV remains popular because of older adults. After all, so many of them grew up with the KJV. It’s the one translation they had access to for so long. The KJV is the one they studied, memorized, and heard over and over again. That’s true, but the popularity of the KJV is not limited to older adults. Younger adults are embracing it too. Among self-described Bible readers, 55 percent prefer to read the KJV, and 40 percent use it during a worship service.
Surprised? Consider this insight from one of the publishers with B&H Publishing.
“Better than any other Bible translation, the KJV conveys a sense of majesty and formality. The language is beautiful and mysterious to modern readers. The KJV is completely outside our experience. This may actually serve to sober the reader, inviting them into serious engagement with the text of Scripture.” [Source]
The Bible Studies for Life curriculum understands this love for the KJV, and all four of its adult resources are offered with KJV text.
- The Adult Personal Study. The KJV translation may be old, but the format in which we read and study it can be quite contemporary. The Adult Personal Study Guide offers such an approach. Participants are encouraged to read the Personal Study Guide prior to meeting with their group. The group facilitator then leads the group to consider the biblical truths they’ve read and leads them in a robust discussion.
- The Senior Adult Personal Study. This is the same study found in the Adult Personal Study Guide, but with three distinct differences: (1) larger font; (2) more text; and (3) images and questions geared toward those age 70 and up.
- The Daily Discipleship Guide. The Daily Discipleship Guide is unique in two ways. (1) It is written by young adult leaders for young adults; and (2) the study begins when the group meets. After the group study and discussion, each participant continues the Bible study through five daily readings. The goal is to keep discipleship from being limited to one day a week; instead, the participants spend time daily in study and growth. It is daily.
- Advanced Bible Study. This is a supplemental commentary that goes deeper into the meaning of the passage.
All four Bible study options are also available in the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) and come with a Leader Guide to aid the group leader in facilitating the group Bible study. For groups in which some participants prefer the KJV and others prefer the CSB, they can still meet and study together.
If you love the King James Version and value its rich text, let Bible Studies for Life lead you into a deeper understanding and application of God’s Word.
Lynn H. Pryor is the publishing team leader for Bible Studies for Life. A resident of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Lynn serves as the discipleship director in his church. He offers a weekly blog tied to these studies at lynnhpryor.com.