The King James Bible - meet and fit
First, I would not recommend the KJV as a pew Bible. I believe that it is not appropriate to expect a congregation with a mix of ages, education levels and English language competency to understand the King James Bible. And I am not particularly interested in attending a church that does not have such a mix.
I actively stand against those who teach the doctrinal position that the King James Bible is the only trustworthy English Bible translation, since this is based on a false premise. The premise is that,
- Because the Gospel is true and necessary for the salvation of souls, the true Bible text has been preserved down through the ages by God's special providence and is found today in the King James Version.
- From the 17th century and into the 20th century the AV preserved the Word of God not only for the English speaking peoples but for all those whom they evangelised. The AV became the Bible of those nations brought to Christ through the great Christian Missionary crusade of almost four centuries. Ian Paisley
However, in the last couple of years I have interacted more with those outside of my own evangelical circle rather than those within. I have found that the King James Bible is used in my seminary course, along with the NRSV, as the one translation most likely to represent the grammar of the Greek and Hebrew reliably. We always refer to the KJV.
I have also found that among my friends and colleagues in my secular workplace, the King James Bible has unique status as a literary Bible, as a Bible which the Jewish community has found acceptable, and one which educated women have a positive response to.
Therefore, at this moment - one never knows about tomorrow, I hold the King James Bible to be the premiere Bible for academic and literary reference. It is also by its style of language and due to the history of its use, acceptable to the Jewish community, women and a wide variety of denominations. On a community level, it is a Bible of inclusion.
However, I also associate on a daily basis with those who will never understand the King James Bible. On an individual level it is not a Bible of inclusion.
For a pew Bible, I would recommend the NRSV. It is relatively literal, it stands within the Tyndale tradition and it is inclusive of women and presents relatively less doctrinal bias than other Bibles. The TNIV is also inclusive of women and retains the style and language of the NIV. I don't own a CEV, but I have so far found it to be an attractive alternative for those of an average reading level, even though it makes little attempt at representing any features of Hebrew poetry in English.
My concerns are to have a Bible that is as accurate to the intended meaning as possible, with as little doctrinal bias in either text or footnotes, that represents the literary features of the original and is true to the English language.
Quite frankly, I think that these are common goals of our bibiosphere and I find the ongoing argument and counter argument delightful.
Note in response to a private email: I know that some will ask if the NIV, NASB and HSCB are not also accurate and literal. However, I am convinced that when "men" and "brethren" were used in the KJV these words were inclusive of women. The underlying Greek and Hebrew was inclusive of women. I am not convinced that this is the case for Bibles translated in the latter half of the last century. I do not see the point of using a pew Bible which makes the status of half of the congregation unclear.