King James Version or which. . .

My father in his latter days returned more and more to the King James Version, even leaving the New King James and going back to the beloved text he knew from his childhood.  For all that, his house is a treasure trove of English translations including some I have never consulted in twenty years.

People sometimes ask me about my preferred translation, and I will admit to hedging. They usually get a mini lecture on the spectrum of English translations available and what I perceive to be their varying strengths.  They are all- well- they are all translations, not originals. Translation is both art and science.  Scripture particularly,  being the Word of God, is always fresh,  glinting with new glimpses of the Almighty and new insights brought by his Spirit. It, most particularly, eludes the “ultimate translation.”  Certainly it should be accurate, natural, and esthetically pleasing but there are many ways to turn a phrase and subtle shadings that can be used to highlight nuances.  You cannot usefully say everything.  Efforts like the “Amplified Bible”, or the “Twenty-Six Translation New Testament” become cumbersome and distracting beyond bearing.

This morning I picked a slim red hard-bound New Testament off my shelf and started reading.

The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: A translation from the Latin Vulgate in the Light of the Greek Originals by Monsignor Ronald A. Knox

The Preface to the first Canadian Edition might be thought to be a trifle off-putting to a grand-daughter of a member of the Loyal Order of Orange:

“In the fourth century St. Jerome, encouraged by Pope St Damasus, translated the Bible from the then extant Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Known as the Vulgate this was the one and only Latin version among those current at the time which the Ecumenical Council of Trent declared to be authentic. It was translated into English and, appearing in 1582 became known as the Rheims version. It’s publication in France was the work of exiles, who set about their task while the reformers in Elizabethan England were occupied in trying to overcome the very foundations of the Church.  (Huum) The Rheims version had been revised several times when the Hierarchy of England and Wales, giving expression to the general agreement that the new translation of the Vulgate was desirable and not a little overdue, commissioned Mgr. Knox in 1939 to undertake this great work.”

Out of that came this Canadian School edition.  The preface ends with a quote from Pope Pius XII which I can hardly take exception to,

“Christ, the Author of salvation, will be better known, more ardently loved, more faithfully imitated by men, in so far as they are moved by an earnest desire to know and meditate upon the Sacred Scriptures, especially the New Testament.”

I began reading in Romans rather than the begats of Matthew and came to verse nine-

“and first I offer thanks to my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, whose faith is so renowned throughout the world.  The God to whom I address the inner worship of my heart, while I preach the gospel of his Son, is my witness constantly. . .”  (Romans 1:8,9)

It was that phrase, “the God to whom I address the inner worship of my heart,”  that caught my attention; both because it struck me as esthetically pleasing and because it seemed different.

I checked the NIV   “God, whom I serve with my whole heart.”  Several others were closer to the literal Greek, “whom I serve with my spirit, or in my spirit, or even “to whom I offer the service of my spirit.”  All are accurate to the basic meaning.

But today I am rolling the phrase,  “God, to whom I address the inner worship of my heart,” through my mind and am delighting in the flavour.

Keep a gallon of Foremost Vanilla Ice-cream in the Freezer, by all means. But every so often try a mango sherbet, or dill pickle yogurt, and savour.


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