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:
- An archaic word in the AV is corrected and then the same word is inserted elsewhere.
- An archaic word in the AV is retained exactly as it appears in the AV.
- An archaic word in the AV is retained but in a different form.
- An archaic word in the AV is corrected and a different form of the word is inserted elsewhere.
- A simple word in the AV is replaced by a form of an archaic word.
- A simple word in the AV is replaced by a more difficult word or phrase.
- The base or root form of a word in the AV is unnecessarily lengthened.
- An archaic word in the AV is replaced by an even more difficult word.
- 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.