King James Bible in National Geographic

We here at Better Bibles often say disparaging things about the KJV. There are several reasons.

Elizabethan English is hard for modern English speakers to understand, because English has changed so much. (The sticklers will point out that the KJV was written in Jacobean times, but I will respond that the translators were being self-consciously archaic, so the language is more Elizabethan than Jacobean. But the point remains either way.)

Their use of the Majority Text because they didn’t understand textual transmission is problematic.

While the translators may have, from time to time, used wonderful English in the passages they fully understood, they were very literal in the passages they didn’t fully understand, particularly where metaphors and indirect reference are involved. (You can’t now, nor could you then, use the English word walk to mean ‘live, conduct one’s life’.)

Nonetheless the KJV casts its shadow across every word of Scripture in English. We memorized from it. It echoes in our heads, even when we are reading contemporary translations. And its effect on the cultures of the English speaking world are so profound that one can hardly image English without it.

So it’s worth checking out the article in the December National Geographic on the King James Bible on the 400th anniversary of its publication.

USA Today: Has the Geneva Bible made a huge comeback?

Geneva Bible title pageDavid Ker claims that

Those who actually read the Bible prefer the KJV.

But in fact the passage he quotes from an article in USA Today seems to say something different:

82% of those who read the Good Book at least once a month rely on the translation that first brought the Scripture to the English-speaking masses worldwide.

That translation was of course the Geneva Bible, massively popular in the British Isles and the new American colonies in the late 16th and early 17th centuries – and there were no “English-speaking masses” anywhere else at the time. I see that the 1587 Geneva Bible is available for the Amazon Kindle for a mere £2.08, here in the UK. But I was surprised to see the suggestion that it had massively outsold all other Bible versions put together, even among the restricted sample in question.

But perhaps David is simply misleading us with his post. (Normally I would point out factual errors in a blog post in a comment on the post. But as he closed comments on this post before I even had a chance to read it, I have no choice but to make my comment in a separate post.) After all, the title of the USA Today article is “Bible readers prefer King James version”, so perhaps that is the version it is meant to be about. But then the article gives statistics apparently about a different version. Perhaps it is simply that the USA Today reporter is confused and ignorant of her subject matter, and doesn’t know that it was only in the late 17th century, in the wake of huge state intervention in the church, that the KJV became dominant.

David also fails to note a very important point, that the survey was apparently restricted to the USA. I suppose one would expect that from USA Today, but since David chose to quote the words “the English-speaking masses worldwide” he really should have made it clear that the sentence in which these words are found refers only to a small part of these masses.

Actually there is a more serious problem with the USA Today article, which was pointed out by Kenny who was lucky enough to get to comment on David’s post. According to the press release from LifeWay, the actual survey results are that

more than half of all American adults (62 percent) own a KJV Bible. … A full 82 percent of Americans who read the Bible at least once a month own a KJV.

But USA Today has changed “own a KJV” to state that that is the version that the 82% “prefer” and “rely on”. The fallacy is clear when one reads on in the press release to find out that

Americans who read the Bible at least once a month own an average of 5.8 Bibles.

Very likely for most people these multiple Bibles are in various versions. So it is presumptuous and indeed quite false to suggest that 82% of those Americans prefer or rely on just one version. Among my collection of several different versions, I own a KJV which was my mother’s confirmation present, and another which I had at school, but I rarely read either. Kenny’s story is similar, and so very likely is that of huge numbers of Christians among “the English-speaking masses worldwide”, and even of quite a few in the USA.

I wouldn’t expect anything better from USA Today. But here at BBB we really should try not to spread further this kind of misinformation.

Those who actually read the Bible prefer the KJV

Although there are two dozen English-language Bibles in many contemporary translations, the King James Version reigns even more supreme among those who actually read their Bibles: 82% of those who read the Good Book at least once a month rely on the translation that first brought the Scripture to the English-speaking masses worldwide.

USA Today: Bible readers prefer King James version

Thanks to Dan H. for sharing this interesting story on our Share page:

Far from finding the stilted archaic language to be a stumbling block, these devout readers find the KJV language to be “beautiful” and “easy to remember.”

Why look for a Better Bible when the best Bible has been with us all along?

I’d like to offer three alternative explanations for the popularity of the KJV in this study:

1. King (James) Kong in the land of the dwarves: If you look at the total number of Bibles purchased and read you would probably see that the King James is monolithic but surrounded by many translations serving diverse markets.

2. It’s Number One because it’s Number One. Long tradition has assured that the King James is well-loved and widely used. For centuries there was really no number two.

3. It’s free. Because the King James is public domain, it is widely reproduced simply because publishers don’t have to pay licenses or royalties for its use.

In January I spent several weeks reading the King James for my daily Bible reading. It was interesting. It was quite often “beautiful and majestic.” But in the end it was more like a language puzzle than a devotional exercise. I switched back to my Contemporary English Version which is quite often neither beautiful or majestic but it is clear. And based on the best scholarship and the best manuscripts. And translated with an aim at speaking to a diverse world of “englishes.”

I’m glad to hear that people are reading the Bible regularly. And I’m happy for them if they enjoy and find spiritual profit in reading the KJV. However, I feel that an archaic translation based on poor manuscripts is going to very often lead readers astray with regard to the actual intended meaning of the text.

Hi-tech meets the KJV

So I haven’t been too anxious to post while I’m in the middle of teaching a class about English Bible translation because I don’t want the students reading my reactions online. I’ll have things to say next semester.

However, I got something for my birthday last month that has revolutionized my life — an iPhone.

My older son asked me if I wanted one, and since my Sprint contract had lapsed, and my Palm Treo was dying, I said yes — little expecting how much different the iPhone experience is from the Treo. Two things are of relevance to this audience.

No, not the one where you can watch the GPS blue dot follow you down the freeway on Google maps. (Don’t try this while driving.)

First, I don’t have to lug around Bibles anymore. They have a free app that brings you 21 versions. While listening to the sermon you can check what the other translations say. I don’t have to make notes and wait until I get home and get on the computer. Very, very handy.

Second, I get to listen to Scripture, instead of just reading it. And that’s what I want to talk about. It turns out that all the spoken Scripture that we had around the house was on old cassette tape collections (some more than 20 years old with missing tapes). Because of the inconvenience, we had long ago ceased listening. But a couple years back, I bought some CD’s of the NT on sale. They were on sale because they are Alexander Scourby reading the KJV.

In the 1940’s Scourby recorded the whole Bible for the blind. See the Wikipedia article here.

Now as you may well have surmised, I’m no fan of the KJV. I respect it for its place in history. I memorized from it, because that’s what we did in those days. But it is not suitable for everyday home use.

Nonetheless, I loaded it on my iPhone and started listening while I walk our dog, Pixie. I was amazed. Of course I know that Scourby had one of the most listenable voices in the history of recorded sound. But what surprised me was how easy it is to understand the gospels and how hard it is to understand the epistles.

And if I, as a linguistics professor who regularly teaches the English  vocabulary course, and has an extensive knowledge of the history of English, if I am having trouble understanding something, what about ordinary folk.

The problem seems to be that while I can work out what the author likely meant — for example, conversation in I Peter for behavior, lifestyle. It eats up too much of my attention to keep making the mental jumps. Even after hours of listening, the odd morphology (like –eth for –s: wanteth for wants) is the only thing that’s fully automatic. I still have to work to get

Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles … (I Pet. 2:12a)

to come out as

Live your life among non-believers honorably … (RAR)

(Compare this with some other contemporary translations:

… having you behavior seemly among the Gentiles … (ASV)

Always let others see you behaving properly … (CEV)

Keep you conduct honorable among the Gentiles … (ESV)

Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles … (HSCB)

… and maintain good conduct among the non-Christians … (NET)

Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles … (NASB)

Live such good lives among the pagans that, … (TNIV)

etc. )

That use of mental band width keeps me from simply hearing God. Listening to Scripture becomes an exercise in mental gymnastics, not an enterprise of the heart.

Since we at Berkeley Covenant are in the middle of a sermon series on I Peter, I decided I’d listen to it over and over because that’s a good way to get Scripture into your heart. But I find there is a problem. Because the language is so hard to process, I end up caught on particular wordings, and tuning out 5 or 10 seconds worth while I work out what a particular phrase is supposed to mean. Listening to a translation in Biblish, as beautiful as it sounds read by Scourby, just doesn’t work.

This is why I’m so passionate about getting a translation that speaks to the heart of English speakers.

comparing the five leading versions

ESV Blog has just posted a chart comparing the five leading versions. Here it is:

Note that none of the versions listed as being “word-for-word” are, in fact, word-for-word translations. A truly word-for-word translation would be an interlinear translation. Each of the versions listed in the chart changes word order from the original biblical texts, as well as making other changes to try to make the translation more usable by English readers. I think what the ESV folks actually mean when they say “word-for-word” is:

  1. There is greater concordance of words within the KJV, NKJV, and ESV than within the NIV or NLT.
  2. There is a higher degree of formal equivalence within the KJV, NKJV, and ESV than within the NIV or NLT.
  3. There is an attempt to translate each word of the original biblical text with some word or words in English.

There is no word-for-word English Bible version published today. Such a translation would essentially not be readable by English speakers, even though it would have English words. For instance, here is a true word-for-word translation of John 3:16:

Thus for he loved the God the world that the son the only/unique he gave so that every the one believing in him not may perish but have life eternal.

As you can see, that actual word-for-word translation does not match, word-for-word, any of the five versions featured in the ESV Blog chart:

For God so loved the world,  that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (ESV)

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (NLT)

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (NKJV)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)

What differences, if any, do you sense among the five versions in the chart for the translation of John 3:16?

WLBA 8: KJV conclusion

If you want to read something effusive about the language of the King James Bible then I recommend this short commentary on the Psalms by Kathleen Norris who writes about,

    “the music of the language in the ear, the pleasurable mouth-feel of words spoken aloud.”

I am more interested in the King James Bible as a shared document, a consensual text. This Bible was conceived in the reign of Elizabeth I, created during the reign of James I and came into general use during the Restoration period in England, the 166o’s . It was not the Bible of Shakespeare or of the founding colonies of the United States.

The value of the King James Bibles as literature is established. But its acceptance may originally have more to do with what it was not – the Bishop’s Bible on the one hand, or the Puritan’s Geneva Bible on the other.

James commented,

    Could never yet see a Bible well translated in English; but I think that, of all, that of Geneva is the worst. I wish some special pains were taken for an uniform translation, which should be done by the best learned men in both Universities, then reviewed by the Bishops, presented to the Privy Council, lastly ratified by Royal authority, to be read in the whole Church, and none other.

And resolved,

    That a translation be made of the whole Bible, as consonant as can be to the original Hebrew and Greek; and this to be set out and printed, without any marginal notes, and only to be used in all churches of England in time of divine service.

The new Bible was drafted by a committee of 47 men, from both Cambridge and Oxford, half of whom were of Puritan and half of Episcopal persuasion. It was technically a revision of the Bishops’ Bible; the translators were handed out copies of the Bishops’ Bible to write on and revise. Ecclesiastical words were to be followed and no marginal notes were to be included, except to explain the Hebrew or Greek words.

I find the fourth instruction to be of particular interest,

    When a Word hath divers Significations, that to be kept which hath been most commonly used by the most of the Ancient Fathers, being agreeable to the Propriety of the Place, and the Analogy of the Faith.

The King James Bible is not a shared text by chance. A consensus was carefully created. The translators came from the two opposing camps, the highest scholars were consulted, the interpretive commentary was eliminated, and tradition was to be followed. There was no role for innovation or private interpretation.

The full set of instructions can be read here. Consensus was created through the choice of the translators, the process of translation, the ground rules which were laid down, and especially through the omission of the marginal notes. It was not by chance but by intent that this Bible became the standard translation of the scriptures for 4 centuries.

However, the King James Bible did not enjoy immediate success. It was intended to contribute to internal peace and nationbuilding in its own era. It was planned as an irenicon, a thing of peace. But the second decade of the 17th century led to the third and England was immersed in bloody combat culminating in the execution of Charles I. Cromwell’s Bible was naturally the Geneva Bible, the text of the reformers.

It was only during the enforced uniformity of the Restoration under Charles II that the King James Bible became the accepted text. And the rest is history.

I would argue that although the King James Bible did not provide instant peace, it has nonetheless become a shared text because of the qualities invested in it by the strict instructions of the king.

We would do well to consider these qualities. A Bible should bring together scholars of different communities. It should exclude all notes except commentary on the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words. It should avoid innovation without consensus. If the translators know that there is no consensus on a particular translation then it should not be included. If there is an innovative translation that has the consensus of the scholarly community then this should be included with explanation and support.

Tradition does not prevent new meanings coming into the translation but provides the wording for an obscure original when there is no new consensus. By a carefully agreed upon process, a text could be created which would not surprise and cause undue consternation.

In a new translation today, I would look for agreement with the current lexicons and grammars, support by the most well recognized scholars, consensus across community boundaries and honouring tradition where new theories are not yet generally accepted. Above all interpretive translation would be largely excluded or well footnoted. Sadly, many new translations fall short of this.


Wilba; the Woman’s Literal Bible Assessment. I don’t know why I accidently scored the King James Version as a 3 out of 4. It is definitely a 4 and is the only other Bible besides the TNIV to score 4 out of 4 on the Wilba. I knew that in my subconscious and once declared that if I had a Bible version of my own, it would be called the “Queen Jamie”. But that is open to misinterpretation. Scratch that.

Rom. 16:1 servant KJV
Rom. 16:2 succourer
Rom. 16:7 of note among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 have power on the head
1 Tim. 2:12 usurp authority

To succour is “to assist or aid a person in danger or distress.” “Succourer” translates the Greek word prostatis. I don’t know what lexicon this is but, by following the Strong’s numbers, something I don’t do very often, at the NET Bible site I found prostatis defined as:

    1) a woman set over others
    2) a female guardian, protectress, patroness, caring for the affairs of others and aiding them with her resources

This word is derived from proistemi which the NET Bible translates in the following way -“manage 2, leadership 1, managers 1, engage 1”. It can also mean “to stand before in rank.”

Just as it is difficult to interpret “have authority over” as “be under authority” so I find it difficult to intepret, “leading and caring for others” as “being in a subordinate role.”

I think there is something rather lovely about the word “succourer” instead of “benefactor” or “patron”. Did Paul need financial assistance and someone to believe in him, or did he need to be rescued from danger, and fed, and cared for and protected?

This is reminiscent of Psalm 46:1

    God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble

“Help” here is ezer, the same word which is used for Eve. So woman is supposed to provide strength and refuge. From Eve to Phoebe. This does not suggest an authoritarian hierarchy. Wife or sister, woman is not a subordinate assistant but an ally.

A Woman’s Bible

I am not going to pretend that I am able to give a dispassionate review of a contemporary evangelical Bible. I can only present my point of view. I may sink myself in oblivion when reading the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Pagnini Psalter and Alter’s David Story. I can allow myself to be lost in those texts and reflect on how God is revealed and humankind responds. I can become Mary and Martha and Michael and the psalmist.

But sometimes I experience the epistles as a series of proof texts. There are enough sermons and studies and papers which take one verse and through a series of supposed syllogisms decide the boundaries which shall restrict woman, and the role she shall play, always responder, never leader.

Therefore, the handful of verses which enable some to come to these conclusions must be separately plucked off the vine and tasted. Each Bible version must be able to defend its decision. Why stray from tradition, why provide an interpretation and not a literal rendering, and why choose this sense and not that one from an array provided in the lexicon?

So I simply decided to do it – to evaluate the different Bibles according to how they translate 5 verses concerning women. Rom. 16: 1 and 2 are rated as one verse, then Rom. 16:7, 1 Cor. 11:10, and 1 Tim. 2:12.

But aren’t I simply driving in a wedge, opening the chasm further with this kind rhetoric? I think not. The chasm was there and widening. The preaching against the TNIV continues. The distrust is embedded.

In fact, I don’t and haven’t advocated any particular style or version. My major concern has always been that of intense regret that there seems to be no Bible that the evangelical Christian community can share. No Bible has replaced the King James Version in that respect. I find this incredible, but I believe it is so.

Dr. Grudem will not use the TNIV, not because of its gender language, but because of its translation of 1 Tim. 2:12; and others won’t use the ESV for its undefended use of the Junia hypothesis.

I long for some kind of openness. I dream that there is some way that those on the opposing sides of this debate can resolve their differences and come together and agree on at least one common Bible.

I had always believed that it would have to be a literal Bible, close to formal equivalence, but I am not sure. It should either represent the traditional understanding, or have a note to explain why it departs from tradition. It should accord with the current accepted lexicons and grammars, and critical text. It should duly represent those things about which we have scholarly consensus. It should have nothing too controversial.

I am convinced that this is something that we can come together on.

Gender language itself no longer seems to me to be the critical factor in this debate. I note that Dr. Grudem allows his name to be associated with the NET Bible, and Dr. Packer warmly recommends the NLT2. Bibles with inclusive gender language include the NRSV, TNIV, NLT2, NET, CEV.

But Dr. Grudem raised the issue of 1 Tim. 2:12 and I think that shifts the focus. Dr. Grudem writes,

    The TNIV in particular has changed the translation of many of the key passages regarding women in the church, and I would find it almost impossible to teach a Biblical “complementarian” view of the role of women in the church from the TNIV. It has gone further in supporting an evangelical feminist position than any other translation . . .

    To take one example: in 1 Timothy 2:12 the TNIV adopts a highly suspect and novel translation that gives the egalitarian side everything they have wanted for years in a Bible translation. It reads, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man” (italics added). If churches adopt this translation, the debate over women’s roles in the church will be over . .

I would like to examine this thesis and see if the TNIV has indeed changed the translation of many of the key passages regarding women in the church. Dr. Grudem writes “many” – and I can only think of 4 or 5. If I have missed any, I would appreciate a little prodding.

This series is also a response to frequent commenter, Glenn, who has asked me many times to interact more with Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth, 2004. I’ll try but I won’t go into any long detail – unless asked, of course.

So, I shall blog about how each translation handles a few key verses. I hope we can then develop criteria on which we can agree, and establish what we think would be best translation of each verse, to bring about greater fellowship between Christians of different stripes.

Update: Metacatholic has a post on a related post here. Naming the books we have in common Different topic but same concept. How can we hold something in common?

Lunchroom chat and a Woman’s Bible

Last year I mentioned a few conversations I have had at work over lunch. When the chat dies down, I will sometimes just turn to a colleague and ask her what Bible(s) she has used. Since I work in a public school with a staff from a mixed background, Catholic, Jewish, atheist, Buddhist, this can be interesting. So far, I have had some in depth conversations about the Good News Bible, and the King James Version, the only two which seem to be widely recognized.

Today I asked a colleague whom I knew to be an evangelical,

“What Bible do you use in your house church?”

“Oh, we all use something different – I don’t know, well, you know, NRV and The Word.”

I nodded sympathetically and waited.

“By Eugene Peterson.”

“Oh yeah, the Message.”

“Yeah, that’s it. I have a Woman’s Bible, maybe NRV, hmmm, NIV? It has all these little boxes, devotions, for women and all that. Oh, I love it.”

“Not the TNIV?”

“How would I recognize that?”

“Well, if it had brothers and sisters in it.”

“Oh, no, I don’t mind something not being gender inclusive. You know the best Bible for the sheer poetry is the King James Bible. Yes, that is the best.”

And I would have to agree. The King James version offers not only poetry but in places a more literal translation. I still stubbornly hold to the idea that the literal and non-interpretive style of the KJV serves women well. Other literal Bibles are also good for women. I was also familiar with the Young’s literal translation. Maybe it is my familiarity with these translations that makes me so uneasy at some of the Bibles I start out to review here. I am simply taken by surprise!

Here is the question – which modern Bibles are closest to a traditional and literal interpretation for the following verses? I have provided the KJV, Young’s literal version, the Emphasized Bible, Luther Bible, and Latin Vulgate for comparison. Is it just me, or are Bibles in this century more selectively interpretive in these verses.

Rom. 16:1


servant KJV
ministrant YLT
minister EB
im Dienste Luther
in ministerio Latin

Rom. 16:2


succourer KJV
leader YLT
defender EB
Beistand Luther
astitit Latin

Rom. 16:7

ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις

of note among the apostles KJV
Junias – of note among the apostles YLT
Junias – of note among the Apostle EB
Junias – berühmte Apostel Luther
nobiles in Apostolis Latin

1 Cor. 11:10

ἐξουσίαν ἔχειν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς

have power on her head KJV
[a token of] authority upon the head YLT
to have permission EB
eine Macht auf dem Haupt haben Luther
potestatem habere supra caput Latin

1 Tim. 2:12


to usurp authority KJV
rule YLT
have authority over a man EB
daß sie des Mannes Herr sei Luther
dominari Latin

I don’t think readers realize that when I noticed that the NET notes didn’t mention “leader” for προστάτις, I was genuinely surprised because we used the Young’s Literal Translation as a reference Bible when I was young. Some may talk about my having a “preferred” interpretation but I am displaying legitimate concern when a traditional and literal understanding is not even referenced in notes.

But I want to ask which modern Bible would be a candidate for the most traditional and literal translation with regards to these verses? Which ones are the farthest removed from tradition? I have only checked a handful so far. Believe it or not!


I’m going to score these Bibles out of 4, counting Rom. 16: 1 and 2 together. If we look at the accepted text base and lexicons which are contemporary with these Bibles, they would all score 3 out of 4 for being literal.

Young’s Literal Translation – 2 1/2 out of 4,
Emphasized Bible – 2 out of 4,
King James Version – 3 out 4,
Luther – 2 out of 4,
Vulgate – 3 out of 4

ESV 2001 – 1 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – servant
Rom. 16:2 – patron
Rom.16:7 – well known to
1 Cor. 11:10 – a symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – exercise authority

TNIV 2001 – 4 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – deacon
Rom. 16:2 – benefactor
Rom.16:7 – outstanding among
1 Cor. 11:10 – have authority over her own head
1 Tim. 2:12 – assume authority

HCSB 1999 – 2 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – servant
Rom. 16:2 – benefactor
Rom.16:7 – outstanding among
1 Cor. 11:10 – [a symbol of] authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – have authority

NET – 1996 – 2005, 0 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – servant
Rom. 16:2 – great help
Rom.16:7 – well known to
1 Cor. 11:10 – symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – exercise authority

NLT 1996 – 2 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – deacon
Rom. 16:2 – helpful
Rom.16:7 – respected among
1 Cor. 11:10 – wear a covering on her head to show she is under authority
1 Tim. 2:12 – have authority

CEV 1995 – 3 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – leader
Rom. 16:2 – respected leader
Rom.16:7 – Junias (male) highly respected by
1 Cor. 11:10 – sign of her authority
1 Tim. 2:12 – tell men what to do

NRSV – 1989, 2 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – deacon
Rom. 16:2 – benefactor
Rom. 16:7 – prominent among
1 Cor. 11:10 – symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – have authority over a man

NIV – 1978 – 1984, 0 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – servant
Rom. 16:2 – great help
Rom. 16:7 – Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 – symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – have authority over a man

NASB – 1960 – 1995, 0 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – servant
Rom. 16:2 – helper
Rom. 16:7 – Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 – symbol of authority on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – exercise authority over a man

RSV 1 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – deaconess
Rom. 16:2 – helper
Rom. 16:7 – Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 – veil on her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – have authority

ISV – 2003 – 1 out of 4

Rom. 16:1 – servant
Rom. 16:2 – has assisted
Rom. 16:7 – Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 – authority over her own head
1 Tim. 2:12 – have authority


Rom. 16:1 – in the ministry
Rom. 16:2 – has assisted
Rom. 16:7 – Junias among the apostles
1 Cor. 11:10 – a power over her head
1 Tim. 2:12 – use authority over the man

Matt. 22:16 – Does God care for no one?

In Matt. 22:16 the Pharisees sent emissaries to Jesus to ask about paying taxes to Caesar. They began by saying:

Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any [man]: for thou regardest not the person of men. (KJV)

Teacher, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men. (RSV)

I have boldfaced the wordings I am concerned about in this post. The KJV and RSV use some meaning sense of the word “care” which I am unfamiliar with. I am not even able to find it in my dictionary.

Someone reading either of these wordings could get the idea that God doesn’t care for people. And yet most of us know, at least cognitively, that he actually does. Some of us have memorized that great verse, 1 Peter 5:7:

Casting all your care upon him [God]; for he careth for you. (KJV)

Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. (RSV)

1 Peter 5:7 makes it clear that God does care for us. So, I assume, that the word “care” is used with a different intended meaning in Matt. 22:16 from its use in 1 Peter 5:7 in the KJV and RSV.

The ESV only mildly revises wordings of the RSV which do not have to do with removing perceived liberal biases in the RSV. But Matt. 22:16 is one place where the ESV makes ordinary good literary revision of the RSV:

Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.

The ESV retains the word “care” but it now has a meaning which all English speakers today know. Notice also that the ESV increases the accuracy of the RSV: the ESV has “anyone” instead of RSV “man.” “No man” is no longer an accurate translation of the Greek indefinite pronoun oudenos for most English speakers.