REVIEW of the 21st Century King James Version by Fr. Michael B. Davidson

Review of the KJ21 Bible
Fr. Michael B. Davidson, Vicar
Church of the Holy Spirit
Fairhope, AL 36533


I trust God is using the 21st Century King James Bible (KJ21) publishers to preserve the grandeur of the original King James Version of 1611, which has been universally accepted as, "Probably the most beautiful piece of writing in all literature of the world" (H.L. Mencken). In fact, Professor William Lyon Phelps has said, "Priests, atheists, skeptics, agnostics and evangelists are generally agreed that the Authorized Version of the English Bible is the best example of English literature that the world has ever seen."

Until becoming involved in the Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC), I did not feel like I was in church: No symbols, no special dress, no smells, no bells, no art. I often felt like I was in a seminary classroom. Most glaring of all, my public reading of the Bible made me feel like I was reading the daily newspaper. Even the Lord's Supper was watered down grape juice and crackers!

In my zeal to communicate the good news to God's people, I had "...dug a pit for my soul," now suffering from literary deprivation. Then one day I saw an ad in a Christian magazine on the KJ21 Bible. My first thought was, "Not another one of these modern translations." So I moved onto something else. However, I could not get this ad out of my mind. Soon I was reading this new update and attempting to have copies sent to my Bishop, Rev. Dale Howard, and others in the CEC, including Archbishop Adler.

The special revelation of God's Word in written form, is surely meant for all the nations (Genesis 10:32). God loves all people groups according to Acts 12:26. It is my contention that God providentially and sovereignly ordained the King James version to capture the soul and heart of the English-speaking people of the world. The Authorized Version lifts one out of the pit of bland sameness in everyday speech, and brings the mind into the very presence of God. Hearing the King James version, and now the KJ21, releases the power to call forth faith and authority in our lives. That is why at a time when most Bibles on the market tout modern, easy-to-understand language, the KJ21 retains the traditional wording of the King James, updating only archaic and outdated words.

I like to compare the King James Version/KJ21 with writing with a fountain pen, which requires more deliberation and time than writing with the more modern, plastic ball points. The KJ21 retains the 400- tradition of beautiful, poetic and powerful English. But you may say, "Why all this fuss about English?" English is the closest thing today to a universal language. Upwards of 350 million people speak it as their first language, with many more than that using it as a second language. It has the largest vocabulary of any language (550,000 separate entries in Webster's Third New International Dictionary). English has become the diplomatic language of the United States and the standard language of science, technology, business and communications.

Therefore, the King James, and now the KJ21, serves as a standard of excellence for the whole English- world. The Authorized Version of 1611 was the culmination of some 100 years of preparation that involved the intensive study of the Hebrew and Greek text. The five Greek editions of Erasmus, the four of Stephanus, the nine of Beza, provided the translators with a refined text representative of that which was in the majority of manuscripts and had been acknowledged (John 16:13) by God's people through the centuries. There were no fewer than seven preparatory English translations behind the original King James 1611 version: Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthews, Great, Taverners, Geneva and Bishops. The authorized translators themselves were men of unparalleled scholarship, representing the combined intellectual might of Oxford and Cambridge. But far more important, they were men marked by a holy awe and deep reverence for the Word of God.

It is the desire, then, of the updaters of the King James version, the KJ21, to preserve the highest standard and the highest use of the English language that the world has ever known. It is surely not an accident of literary scholarship, but an act of God's providence that after nearly four centuries, so little can be found to be archaic in this translation. Certainly there are profound differences between current and Elizabethan English, but the Authorized Version is not Elizabethan English. A comparison will show there is a great difference between it and the wordy, affectatious Elizabethan style. The King James version was a landmark in the development of English prose. Its elegant, yet natural style had enormous influence on the English-speaking writers. This partially explains why the Authorized Version is ever fresh and lucid while other writing from that period is quite difficult to read. Therefore, it is basically a misconception that the English of the Authorized Version is Elizabethan. To be exact, it is not a type of English that was ever spoken anywhere. It is Biblical English, which was not used on ordinary occasions, even by the translators who produced the King James Version.

The importance of language should never be underestimated. Radical feminists, homosexuals and socialists have realized that at the ground level of the cultural war is the battle for dominance in the use of language. These groups have made great strides in capturing the English language and using it to promote their own political and social agenda. It should come as no surprise that many modern Bibles are full of left-, "politically correct" language. Thankfully, the KJ21 updaters have in no way changed Bible language to reflect current liberal political and social biases. Nor has any gender neutral language been used, which occurs in nearly all other modern versions. In this media age, whoever controls the language controls the people. Why then should conservatives be forced to use the language of the left to convey important Biblical truths?

In summary, the KJ21 providentially preserves the greatest expression of the Bible in the English language. It is the only Bible available that marks liturgical reading for those who follow the liturgical calendar. This is a great tool for comparison with assigned lectionary readings. For example, see the Common Lectionary, Romans 1:1 - 7, 16 - 17. The assigned reading omits important passages. Also, by leaving in the "thees" and the "thous" of the King James Version, one is able to quickly understand the proper grammatical tense being expressed. Lastly, the KJ21 seeks to preserve the meaning of the Authorized Version and keep it from being altered to conform to current social and philosophical trends, which are alien to the spirit of the King James Version and the truth of God.

I recommend this Bible to priests, to deacons, to all in the Charismatic Episcopal Church, to all who love the beauty of the King James Version, but who want an accurate update. The KJ21 Bible will be an answer to prayer and will definitely "deliver your soul out of the pit" of literary mediocrity. It is the "fountain pen" of Bible reading: unique, elegant and trustworthy.

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