***Paging Mark Ward*** Archaic Words Appear in the KJV AND in the Most Popular Modern Versions

This last Father’s Day my wife bought me Laurence Vance’s Archaic Words and the Authorized Version printed in 2011. Vance’s argument is simply, the Authorized Version/ King James Version is no more archaic than every day magazine articles and popular modern versions of the Bible.

To demonstrate this case, Vance offers an evaluation of hundreds of “archaic” words found in the Authorized Version. In each evaluation he observes how many times an archaic word appears in the Authorized Version and then goes on to observe how many times the same or similar word appears in a sample of modern versions (i.e., NKJV, NIV, NRSV, and NASB). Finally, he ends each entry with a direct quote from a modern magazine or news article showing that the word in question is currently used.

If you follow our blog, you know that we find the particular work of Mark Ward to be largely without merit because of its elementary observations and one-sided scholarship. Seeing that Ward wrote his book Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible about a decade after Vance’s work I searched Authorized to see if Ward interacted with Vance at all given the fact that the topic of their books intersect at multiple places. Unfortunately for Ward, Authorized does not even footnote Vance’s work let alone interact with it. It’s like the more you look at Ward’s book the more unbelievable it becomes. Kind of like this video:

After 400 pages of proving his point, Vance offers an epilogue which I will now quote at length.

Does the AV contain archaic words? Certainly. But perhaps a better question would be: Do contemporary publications like Time, U.S. News and World Report, the Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and the New Republic contain archaic words? As we have seen throughout the body of this work, they unquestionably do. Also without dispute is the striking revelation that modern, up-to-date Bible versions like the NRSV, NASB, NIV, and NKJV likewise contain archaic words. We have seen these facts demonstrated in a number of ways:

  1. An archaic word in the AV is corrected and then the same word is inserted elsewhere.
  2. An archaic word in the AV is retained exactly as it appears in the AV.
  3. An archaic word in the AV is retained but in a different form.
  4. An archaic word in the AV is corrected and a different form of the word is inserted elsewhere.
  5. A simple word in the AV is replaced by a form of an archaic word.
  6. A simple word in the AV is replaced by a more difficult word or phrase.
  7. The base or root form of a word in the AV is unnecessarily lengthened.
  8. An archaic word in the AV is replaced by an even more difficult word.
  9. A somewhat difficult word in the AV is replaced by a more arduous word.

So the fact that the AV contains archaic words is just that, a fact that should be accepted. For just as no one revises Shakespeare or Milton, but instead learns the vocabulary necessary to understand those particular works; and just as a certain vocabulary is necessary to understand science, medicine, engineering, or computers; and just as no one ever cancels their subscription or writes a letter to the editor of a contemporary publication to complain that it uses archaic words; and just as no one ever complains about archaic words surfacing in modern Bible versions; so to read and understand the Bible one must be familiar with the vocabulary of the AV instead of dragging it down to one’s own level by revising it. Does the AV contain archaic words? Certainly. Should we therefore replace it with something else? Certainly not.

Laurence M. Vance, Archaic Words and the Authorized Version (Pensacola, FL: Vance Publications, 2011), 431-432.

5 thoughts on “***Paging Mark Ward*** Archaic Words Appear in the KJV AND in the Most Popular Modern Versions

  1. I love this book by Vance, I’ve owned a copy for several years and refer to it often. One of my favorite features is the appendix that shows where very clear, simple words in the KJV are turned into much harder, even outright strange words in modern versions. After perusing it, it is simply impossible to accept the claim by modern Bible translators and publishers that their purpose is to produce a more readable/understandable version.

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    1. Come on, Mark. You did a ~40-minute video holding Vance to a strict definition of “archaic” and then ended your video by saying that people know the KJV is archaic simply by the way it sounds [e.g., savor vs. taste]. What is more, in Appendix 4 of Vance’s work he seems to take your by-the-way-it-sounds approach and notes a slew of places where modern versions employ words we rarely if ever use in common conversation.

      I mean, who uses abate, hoarfrost, fuller, and wanton in everyday language? What is more, there are no less than five or your False Friends retained in the modern versions he cited. Is Vance’s claim that the KJV is no more archaic than modern versions a reach? You say unequivocally, yes, and yet he is clear that the OED is not the standard. In fact, he writes on the first page of the preface, “…the word archaic, as it is employed in this book, is painted with the same broad brush that is used to paint the Authorized Version with the charge of being archaic” [vii]. Could he be more clear, and yet you assert the OED as the standard for “archaic” where he does not.

      No doubt he has in view the very thing you propagated in your video by starting with the OED [which Vance uses but clearly does not see as “the standard” for the definition of archaic in his work] and then moving to the end of your video by construing “archaic” in terms of by the way a word sounds to the modern reader. This is a very broad spectrum of definition which Vance acknowledged and you employ in your video. Furthermore,

      In sum, your argument is quite the strawman [Fallacy #1] when it assumes the OED as the standard from the beginning only to broaden the definition of archaic in the last 5 minutes of your video while not acknowledging that such a broadening is exactly what Vance was treating. I can find nowhere in Vance’s work that he claims the OED as the standard. If it is there, please point me to the page. Rather I find that Vance lists no less than 13 different dictionaries in his Bibliography. If Vance does not use the OED as his standard, then you spent 40 minutes stawmanning Vance’s argument and that to the highest order. Certainly, you understand that your argument in this regard is neither charitable nor scholarly.

      Even further your argument has yet to deal with the archaisms, broadly construed, in other English versions of the Bible. Nor does it seem that your argument is robust enough to delineate degrees of archaism which clears some versions of the charges of being too archaic while indicting others [i.e., the KJV] of being too archaic. Currently, your argument regarding archaisms, dead words, and False Friends is one-sided and biased in favor of modern versions. Your argument as it currently stands is a classic example of special pleading [Fallacy #2], which for our readers benefit is defined as, “an argument in which the speaker deliberately ignores aspects that are unfavorable to their point of view.”

      Acknowledging archaisms, dead words, and False Friends in the modern versions is unfavorable to your viewpoint, but it still needs to be acknowledged and sufficiently dealt with in order to avoid special pleading. Of course, you know this so why hasn’t your argument sought to overcome such a defeater?

      It is always a joy to interact with you, Mark. Perhaps one day when you are on the east coast we could talk in person. I think it would be profitable and informative for us both and I also think we would need to set a timer, if only for the sake of our wives and children.



  2. On this post, I’m content at this point to let people read what you’ve written and what I’ve written (and put in that video) and come to their own conclusion. I, for my part, am not sure whether or not you watched the video I just shared.

    I am looking for new arguments I haven’t handled before, and I think you’re getting closer with your other post (and this comment) on the list of archaic words found in contemporary versions. I do believe I’ll answer that on the other post. I also think your argument that false friends amount to only a tiny percentage of KJV English is new(ish!), weighty, and worth handling. That will probably get some attention from me at some point. That’s the kind of engagement I’ve been hoping for for four years.

    Liked by 1 person

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