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Say I want to quote from the bible in something I'm writing (think the famous passage in Pulp Fiction). What bible version should I quote from?

I've done some research but only ended up more confused than before - KJV, NIV, NAB... every website seems to have a different opinion.

What I want is to quote passages from the bible in a way that is recognisable to readers familiar with the different editions. Maybe there isn't that much difference between them (except the one which is in Old English - KJV?)

I'm also interested in knowing whether the answer to this question changes if we're talking about the US or the UK. Ideally I'd like to have the most generic version possible.

Edit: The intended audience would be religious people, already familiar with the bible.

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    Do you care whether or not you have to cite your source? If you don't want to cite, there may be certain versions you wish to avoid. For example, check out the NIV's requirements. The KJV is public domain, and thus bypasses any requirement for citation. – called2voyage Apr 20 '17 at 16:18
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    If you want to faithfully quote the bible to a specific audience, you would be best served by figuring out which bible your audience is most familiar with – or which bible your characters would be most familiar with, if you are writing fiction and want your characters' choice of quotations to convey a deeper background. – Dacio Apr 20 '17 at 17:52
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    Old English looks like this: "Hƿæt! ƿē Gār-Dena in ġeār-dagum, þēod-cyninga, þrym ġefrūnon, hū ðā æþelingas ellen fremedon." – Lightness Races with Monica Apr 20 '17 at 18:39
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    @called2voyage Just a technical note: the KJV does have a copyright, which is held by the Crown of England and chartered to Cambridge and Oxford. They have granted permissions that are pretty lenient for most cases. – Jed Schaaf Apr 20 '17 at 19:06
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    You say most of your audience is religious people. Which religion (or flavor therein)? It matters. – Monica Cellio Apr 20 '17 at 19:30

17 Answers 17

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First, the KJV is most definitely not in Old English, a tongue that had not been spoken for centuries when the KJV translation was done. It is written in modern literary English. Modern English has been with us for several centuries now, so there have been many shifts in vocabulary and diction since the translation was done. However, differences in vocabulary and diction do not constitute a different language. The English of the KJV is still very much understandable to modern audiences.

The KJV is certainly the most literary of translations, the most beautiful in its language. For that reason it is the default choice for literary purposes. It will be familiar to English audiences because of its central role in the history of English literature, and to American audiences because of its widespread continued use in evangelical churches.

There are two main reasons that the KJV is not used as a standard study or liturgical bible in many churches today. The first is that its translations were not always accurate. Knowledge of the original languages has improved since the time the translation was done, leading to more accurate translations.

Second, there is a feeling in many church circles that the literary language of the KJV makes it inaccessible to most modern people. I think this is demonstrably false, and many of the attempts at making a "language of the people" translation have fallen by the wayside over the years because, frankly, they were just ugly and clumsy. The use of such versions in literature would only really be appropriate to place the story in a particular time or community where there were popular.

More accurate alternatives to the KJV fall into two classes, new from scratch translations, and modernized corrected versions of the KJV, such as the RSV and the NRSV, both of which try to preserve the essential beauty (and familiar phrases) of the original while correcting translation errors and modernizing some of the language.

If you are concerned about striking a balance between beauty and modern diction, or if you care about accuracy of translation, you should probably look at the RSV or the NRSV as your sources.

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    Hmm... +1 for most of the answer, but I'd disagree regarding the accessibility of KJV to modern audiences, particularly the younger audiences and those who didn't grow up in a church where KJV or ASV were used frequently (and who haven't read much e.g. Shakespeare.) You'd be surprised how many people don't even know how to properly use thee/thou/thine. A lot of the word usage is archaic, too. Even if the word still exists, the meaning isn't necessarily the same. A well-read person won't have much trouble with it, but "most modern people" aren't that well-read. – reirab Apr 20 '17 at 18:49
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    @reirab All well and good in theory, but if you look at what most ordinary people who have a preference in bibles care about, their preference tends to be the KJV. You have to remember that ordinary people who don't care about the bible will never look at, so their preferences are irrelevant. But the ordinary people who do read it look on it as the most important book ever written, as, to one extent or another, depending on their creed, a book written by God. They want elevated language. They want is set apart. They are willing to work for the meaning. – user16226 Apr 20 '17 at 18:57
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    The KJV is inaccessible to most modern people. I use it as an example of language change. The words, syntax and concepts are so foreign to today's readers as to be incomprehensible. Modern versions, including the now slightly dated 'Living Bible' and 'Good News', are not clumsly and ugly. – S. Mitchell Apr 20 '17 at 20:12
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    @Mark Can you pass the Do you speak KJV? test? Do you think most modern English speakers could? For the purposes of the OP it's unlikely problems like those would arise, but they are real differences between the English of the KJV and the English we use today. – curiousdannii Apr 21 '17 at 4:08
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    @Shane There are zero translations of any text over 2000 years old that most people can understand every word and passage of without scholarly help. While it obviously has its obscure passages, the vast majority of the KJV is perfectly comprehensible today, as it evidenced by its preeminent popularity. It is not what I would use for scholarly purposes, but we are not talking about scholarly, devotional, or exegetical purposes here, all of which would be off topic. We are talking literary purposes. And the KJV remains the literary gold standard of English translations. – user16226 Apr 21 '17 at 18:14
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If you just need a 'generic' bible quote a widely used version like the KVJ as suggested in several other answers is a reasonable default.

However, if you're writing fiction and are using quotations in the context of a character who has a specific denomination you should find out which translations are popular with the characters church. For example, a Catholic is unlikely to be using the King James Bible due to the history of how the Church of England split away. For an English speaker in the US it's likely to be one of these approved translations.

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    +1 for positioning the answer in terms of what the fiction requires. – Beanluc Apr 20 '17 at 21:08
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This gets back to a basic problem, in that there really is no such thing as The Bible; only translations compiled from various copies (which may or may not be consistent with each other).

Using the King James Version, as most (all?) the other answers suggest, is usually a reasonably good compromise, so its not bad advice. The KJV has a lot of problems, some pretty bad, but it has the advantage of being almost instantly recognizable, and of at least annoying everyone equally.

However, there are some important instances where you don't want to use it. For instance, probably the most recognizable passage to the general public (even when they don't know its from The Bible) is 1 Corinthians 13: Paul's "Ode to Love".

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant...

Nobody uses the stock King James translation for this, passage, because it made the utterly bizarre choice to translate the Greek ἀγάπη ("agape") as "charity" (rather than "love" as seen above).

So to be honest, what I do when I want a passage for public consumption is go to Bible Gateway for that passage, and use the dropdown menu of translations to pick the one that works best for my purposes. I try to start with NRSV because I'm partial to that one, but honestly let the best-written translation win.

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    I don't know many who quote "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up", but I do know many who quote "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." – called2voyage Apr 20 '17 at 16:21
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    @called2voyage "Charity" has a (now archaic) definition as a synonym of "love," which is why it was used by the translation committee for the KJV. The modern meaning still has undertones of the original in how it means "help or money given voluntarily to those in need." – Jed Schaaf Apr 20 '17 at 18:55
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    @JedSchaaf - That does appear to be the case. The point remains though that, unless you want to dive down into this in your writing, you are far better served by quoting some other translation that doesn't use archaic terms with inappropriate modern meanings. Better to use the translation that best serves the point you are trying to get across in the quotation. – T.E.D. Apr 20 '17 at 19:01
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    Yeah, various editions (certainly including KJV) have translations that are bizarre, wrong, and occasionally intentionally false. If you care about accuracy and don't understand the source languages yourself, check multiple translations with different religious affiliations. If you just care about something that sounds nice, just pick your favorite in each case as this answer suggests. – Monica Cellio Apr 20 '17 at 19:33
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    +1 for "go to Biblegateway.com and use the drop down to find something that sounds right". – BradC Apr 20 '17 at 20:31
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First of all, this is a much deeper and more contentious question than you probably anticipated, especially if your audience takes the Bible very seriously. See this answer here on Christianity.SE that attempts to break down some of the ways that English translations differ, and the reasons behind them.

For your purpose, though, it sounds like your major goal is for the wording to be recognizable. In that case, I'd recommend the KJV:

John 1:5 (KJV) And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

or perhaps the new KJV, which updates some of the more obviously antiquated words without changing much else:

John 1:5 (NKJV) And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

The NIV is also very popular, especially among modern protestants and Evangelicals:

John 1:5 (NIV) The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

(The NIV footnote indicates that word could also be translated "understood". This is clearly not a trivial difference.)

Frankly, though, most mainstream modern translations should sound very similar. A few further thoughts:

  1. If you're attempting to make an actual theological point, then you should probably be asking this on Biblical Hermeneutics.SE.
  2. If you're putting the verse into the voice of a character in a novel, the time and place that character lived might determine your choice for you (a revival preacher in the 1800s would undoubtedly be using the KJV).
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    I deliberately quote the KJV when I want certain passages to be recognized. On the other hand, the NKJV is rarely used as far as I can tell. – Joshua Apr 20 '17 at 21:01
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Advice that I was given when younger is that when generically quoting the Bible in English, one should always use KJV or NKJV since they're the most widely-known English translations. As it was explained to me, KJV is culturally-accepted as "the Bible" among English-speakers, even by those who don't recognize its authority.

This is advice I've taken to heart; I'm Roman Catholic, but I generally quote KJV, unless I'm specifically speaking with or writing for a Catholic audience. Reasons include:

  • It's (usually) recognizable to English speakers.
  • For many English-speaking Christians (especially in the United States), this is the only English translation of the Bible that they will recognize as having any authority.
  • Frequently, English-speaking non-Christians will also have a passing familiarity with its text.

To see why, look at the same, commonly-known verse (John 3:16) from several different translations:

KJV:

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.

NKJV:

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.

NIV:

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.

RSV:

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

Douay Rhiems (Catholic)

For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.

New American Bible (Catholic)

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

When looking at the verse, the most familiar translation is likely KJV or NKJV (again, I'm Roman Catholic, and it is for me, as well). This will reach the largest audience.

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Speaking as an American who has limited familiarity with any version, I suggest King James, because that's the one the general American public would hear the most in passing outside a church context.

Also, the antiquated diction will immediately clue in your readers that you're quoting something old, whereas a more modernized version might not prompt the recognition.

  • Thanks - but edited my question to clarify that I expect readers to be religious and be familiar with the Bible. So the context should be clear for them. – ggambett Apr 20 '17 at 14:45
  • Not all quotes have an antiquated diction, as this comment pointed out. – Wildcard Apr 22 '17 at 1:28
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It really doesn't matter.

That is why you're getting some fairly different answers. Some churches will favor one version. Other churches will favor another version. Unless you have a target audience more specific than "familiar believers", you're not going to have a single version that absolutely trumps all others in popularity.

For a while I felt like NIV was fairly popular. I've heard an NIV translator (on a radio show) describe it as a "living document". I've seen less emphasis on NIV in more recent times, perhaps because the NIV has released a new version so the latest release has been a bit less familiar to people who started becoming familiar with the 1985 version years ago.

The biggest drawback I know of with the NIV is that it is legally encumbered with restrictions quoting it. If that doesn't matter, you could use that. If such restrictions are undesirable, you could check out WEB.

But once you select a version, strongly consider not sticking to just it. Run a bible verse through Google, and quickly see some of the translations using BibleHub. Sometimes one translation will be more clearly written for a specific verse. Or, maybe the word choice just fits your purpose better (even if your purpose is nothing more specific than "sounding elegant and beautiful).

Some readers are likely to benefit from citations that mention what version is quoted.

So, to summarize my recommendation (of which translation to use) in ten words or less: Don't limit yourself to using just one.

  • Despite my answer starting with "It doesn't matter", I do offer this one tip. If you want to go for authentic biblical accuracy, one version you don't want to use is Pulp Fiction's rendition. (Further discussion.) – TOOGAM Apr 21 '17 at 5:55
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Short answer: If in doubt, use KJV. Not that it is the most authoritative, or the most easily understood; but it is well-known, and has the advantage of being in the public domain, as was noted in an earlier reply. I don't know about how things are in England these days, but in parts of the USA, the KJV has a certain cultural status, for reasons too debatable to be discussed here.

Longer answer: A translation of the Bible, or for that matter a translation of any work of literature, may be under copyright protection. This is true, even if the original work is from antiquity.

This is why various online sites, which allow you to download the entire text of various bibles for free, do not have every version.

However, a short quote from a particular, copyrighted version, could still be used under "fair use" terms, at least in the USA. If you are writing (say) a work of fiction, and wish to begin each chapter with an epigraph using a few lines from a particular version, I would NOT call that fair use.

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As a student from the UK taking Religious Studies, we almost inevitably use the King James version. It's the most familiar to people in the UK, even if they aren't religious.

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    I'm Portuguese but I took British and American literature studies in College and all references to the Bible (in British and American books referring to literary works of the 20th century that we studied) were to the King James version. – SC for reinstatement of Monica Apr 20 '17 at 14:56
  • My school used the RSV in R.E. lessons. The plural of anecdote is not data. – Peter Taylor Apr 25 '17 at 6:31
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If your work in progress is fiction, I would suggest the question could only be answered by the character quoting it. Which version do they seem like they would quote?

As many have already said, the language of the KJV can be both flowery and poetic. A scene between two people declaring their affection for each other can be enhanced by such. It can also be harsh and authoritative. I would probably have the protagonist quoting the KJV, personally. Perhaps the old man/old woman who appears to give sage advice or words of warning would use the KJV to everyone else's NIV. However, in normal conversation between two people, it might seem ostentatious (in a modern setting) to use 400 year old phrasing and conjugation. Perhaps the NIV or ESV or even the CEV would work better there. I would avoid paraphrases (The Message, The Living Bible). If you want to have a character paraphrase a verse, you should do it in their style.

Some people might suggest picking one version and sticking to it throughout the book for continuity's sake. I don't necessarily agree. Different people are going to read the versions that work best for them and would thus be more likely to quote in those versions. Personally, I usually quote from the NIV or use my own paraphrase, but sometimes the KJV is just the right sound for the job. If all of your characters go to the same church, they will be more likely to all quote from the same version.

This is just my two cents. Hope it helps.

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KJV: "Thou shalt not kill." A modern-language, accurate translation would be "You won't kill."

For better or worse, KJV has been the major first (Early) Modern English bible translation of influence and its impact on literature and thinking is immense.

If young people want to make up mock commandments, they cast them in horribly ungrammatical simulations of Early Modern English corresponding to KJV language.

So quoting KJV gives you an ambitus that is these days actually associated with biblical language more so than with Shakespeare or other sort-of contemporary writings.

In contrast, if you tell the people of today something like "Ealle gesceafta, heofonas and englas, sunnan and monan, steorran and eorðan, ealle nytenu and fugelas, sǽ and ealle fixas, and ealle gesceafta God gesceop and geworhte on six dagum; and on ðam seofoðan dæge hé geendode his weorc, and geswac ða and gehalgode þone seofoðan dæg, forðan ðe hé on ðam dæge his weorc geendode." they probably won't have any biblical associations and will not be able to create even horribly wrong mockups of the same.

By the way, that one is actually Old English. Early Modern English most English speakers can deal with well enough at least when reading or listening (with modern pronunciation). Middle English (like Chaucer) is already sort-of tricky (the following quote concerns religious matters but is not exactly biblical):

Hold up thy tayl, thou sathanas!--quod he;
--shewe forth thyn ers, and lat the frere se
Where is the nest of freres in this place!--
And er that half a furlong wey of space,
Right so as bees out swarmen from an hyve,
Out of the develes ers ther gonne dryve
Twenty thousand freres on a route,
And thurghout helle swarmed al aboute,
And comen agayn as faste as they may gon,
And in his ers they crepten everychon.
He clapte his tayl agayn and lay ful stille.

I would not recommend quoting this to a congregation, by the way. Particularly not in modern translation. It talks about a special place in hell reserved to priests.

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    A more accurate translation is “Don't commit murder”, intentionally distinguished from manslaughter, government sanctioned killing, self defence, etc. It does not apply to all killing in general. A proper modern translatin doesn’t just use current pronouns, but is more careful to understand the original language as well. – JDługosz Apr 23 '17 at 5:30
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    I would have to disagree with the first line of this answer. Thou shalt is much closer in meaning to you must than to you will. So you won't kill is a decidedly inaccurate translation. This is a commandment, not a prediction, and it means you must not kill. – Dawood says reinstate Monica Apr 24 '17 at 7:49
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This is mentioned in a comment that I followed up on, but I thought it should be made explicit and given as a possible Answer.

As detailed in TruthByGrace.org:

Admittedly, Quentin Tarantino, the writer and director of Pulp Fiction, dreamed up this quotation as a re-imagining of several Biblical themes, and reworked them as a monologue that he believed best expressed the drama intended for the movie scene.

That is, if you indeed want to be like the famous passage in Pulp Fiction as you state, you are not limited to real, existing translations or even real verses. Make up whatever you need to “sound dramatic” or otherwise introduce themes and motives in your story.

If no translation is exactly to your liking, make a mash-up of your own. If it’s too long, edit it. Make what works best in your story, in that specific context.

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Older translations are public domain, newer translations are often under copyright, and may have publishers who charge for quotations. The King James Version is the best known and is widely considered the most beautiful translation, but is neither the most accurate nor the easiest to understand.

If you feel brave enough, you might want to compare several translations, and then create your own paraphrase. This is called a "rendition" --the Message Bible, for example, is not actually a translation but rather a rendition. The advantage is that you don't have to worry about copyright, and you can shape the sound of the words. However, you will need to be pretty scrupulously accurate if you don't want your paraphrase to draw unwanted controversy and attention.

  • In the specific case of The Message, the author did claim to have translated it from the Hebrew and Greek, making it a true translation, compared to something like the original Living Bible, which was paraphrased from another English translation. – curiousdannii Jan 19 at 4:03
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What is called the "King James Version" these days is actually the "Authorized Version of 1769." It is/has been the standard for quotations for a long time. The KJV is understood to be the source when a Bible text is given without footnotes. It persists today because it is in public domain and because it is still familiar to persons who have grown up memorizing Bible verses and the like. It does use a slightly different set of Greek manuscripts as its basis.

All non-KJV quotations are footnoted or mentioned as the translation in use at the beginning of a book or article (to avoid so many footnotes). Attribution by the translation's acronym in parenthesis is often used in more ordinary writing where there are few or no other footnotes. As an example, "Jesus started crying." John 11:35 (CEV)

The Revised Standard (1940s & 1950s) and New Revised Standard translations (1989) have many similarities to the KJV and thus still seem familiar to those who used the KJV. Persons who can handle Shakespeare can handle the KJV. I find this a good benchmark for deciding when and how to use the KJV.

Most Christian opponents continue to use the KJV for rhetorical reasons, in my opinion.

Most modern Christians use a modern translation or paraphrase. It is wise to analyze your target audience if you can. Also, most modern Christians are comfortable with consulting one or modern translations when they encounter the language clarity problems with the KJV. [After all, what are neesings?]

The ESV (English Standard Version) has become popular with a great many younger Christians, especially college grads and students in the last few years. Many of this same demographic and a bit older like "The Message," because of its modern language. I do not recommend quoting from it as a general practice because its readers are very much used to turning to it when they encounter other translations -- unless The Message's modern language helps you make your point, LOL.

NIV is the most common modern translation in the US because of their marketing over the last thirty years or so.

Speaking for myself I find that NRSV, ESV and CEV (my personal favorite for devotional and public use, but not scholarly use) are the ones I have loaded in my phone to have in my pocket.

I do not recommend quoting from the Living Bible or the New Living Translation (though they are very popular with many somewhat older Christians) because they are paraphrases, not translations, and have some problems as a result. These readers, too, are very definitely used to consulting their modern translation when encountering others.

Hope this helps.

  • It's probably worth noting that the KJV isn't in the public domain in the UK, with the right to distribute still under royal prerogative. In practice this isn't going to cause most authors a problem with short quotations, but sizeable chunks of text published commercially might cause problems. – origimbo Apr 21 '17 at 18:25
  • There should be no copyright problems with quoting any versions so long as it's only a few verses here and there: that's considered fair use. – Michael Kay Apr 22 '17 at 7:06
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    @MichaelKay, in the UK there's no such thing as fair use. Instead there's fair dealing, which isn't the same. So if UK-specific copyright is a relevant factor, it's important to understand the difference. – Peter Taylor Apr 24 '17 at 8:33
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I'd recommend the NIV. If you put "RSV" or "NIV" after your quote, your audience will know what you mean.

The archaic forms "thee, thou, thy and thine" were the more informal terms at the time, used for friends and meant to show the closeness to God that Christians enjoy. "You and your" were formal and have gradually replaced the older terms, perhaps as a result of the boom in newspaper reading of the steam age. They are still commonly used in Yorkshire, sometimes corrupted to "dee" and "daa", especially in the Barnsley area.

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So I will try to explain a bit, but try to keep things as "non-religious" as possible. Obviously, because of the topic, it's gonna be tricky.

First is why are there so many versions. And while a proper study of such a thing is not really needed, a good "overview" is. "The Bible" is actually a collection of writings by different people. That's why you get "The first book of Moses" etc. in the titles of the books. For example Genesis is called "The First Book Of Moses: Genesis" or some translation close to that. But the bible has many human authors (and religions believe 1 divine author, via various means). But the original documents, are not in english (or any modern language) but in the language spoke by their authors at the time. Many "sources" for the bible are either Greek or Hebrew.

At some point in time (depends on the version), someone said, lets translate this to something more modern. The catholic church believed that only thru proper study could you understand what the bible was trying to say, so for a long time they were apposed to any "public" translation.

Then stuff happens and the KJV is produced. A massive undertaking, even today, with what is widely regarded as "the best" over all translation capturing the "meaning" of the text.

However as more people learn Greek and Hebrew, and as more original (or just closer to the original) bit of the Bible are found we start noticing areas in the Bible that really don't make as much sense as a new translation.

So, again stuff happens and New versions of the Bible are produced that have a "better" or "more accurate" translation. However, this is where the problem comes in. In the Bible, we are tought that adding to or subtracting from the Bible is bad. Do these new translations "fix" misunderstanding or create more misunderstandings.

All languages evolve, and as English evolves some of the words in the KJV have fallen out of use, or have very different meanings they they did at the time the KJV was translated. Worse yet, the translations for the KJV were done, from still other translations, and not in them selves 100% correct.

All of that comes down to the "correct" version is going to depend ALOT on the person reading the Bible, and their religion's beliefs. Some will wind the KJV flawed, others will find other versions flawed. The truth is that there is no right answer. There is no single "Master Version" of the Bible. The choice of which Bible you use in your religious studies is as personal as which religion you follow.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2014/march/most-popular-and-fastest-growing-bible-translation-niv-kjv.html?paging=off

According to this site the KJV is by par the most pervasive in the US, followed by the NIS. So if your going for that iconic Bible quite then the KJV is probably your best bet. It's been around the longest, and everyone should recognize it's "sound".

"And the heavens opened. And he smote him. Cast him down upon the sands. And he cried out. Why hast thou not heeded my word. Thou are dead."

Sounds Bible-ly. It's not but with a healthy amount of "Thou and cast, a smote or two and a few misplaced Ands, anything can sound like it came from the bible.

"Thou wilt go forward unto McDonalds, and there thou will find 10 chicken nuggets. Shall you eat thy nuggets there you will surly die. But shall you return to wenst you came, and bath the nuggets in the sauce of BBQ, thou shall have tasty dinner." Again totally bogus but sounds about right (sorry not good at this but you get the idea)

Simularly, and these are actual quotes.

  • O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever. Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
  • Oh give thanks unto Jehovah; for he is good; For his loving kindness endureth for ever.

Or

  • And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
  • Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.

To me the first sounds more "Bible-y" while the second sounds kinda lame. The first is the KJV and the second is the ESV.

0

It depends on the mood you want to convey, and which interpretation you want to express.

I would suggest you look at a parallel bible web site where you can read several translations side by side and pick the most suitable.

e.g., http://biblehub.com/ezekiel/25-17.htm

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