Saturday, September 22, 2012

The King James Bible for Lutherans

I'm calling it now. It's an enigmatic concept, but bear with me. We tried reading the Common English Bible for the public reading of Scripture in worship during Lent of 2012, and found it a reasonable contemporary translation (although lots of folks didn't like the contractions).

I've been convinced by Robert Alter's review in the The New Republic that I need to invest in the new Norton Critical Editions of The English Bible King James Version.

I have a feeling that our congregation(s) might enjoy it as well, to hear the language of the King James in worship.

I know, this is going to sound strange coming from a Lutheran. People suspect we like the NRSV the best, or maybe The Message. But Alter's review, plus other kinds of developments in translation work in the last couple of decades, have me convinced that a serious scholarly resource on the bible as literature, and with the King James as the literary text, is an incredibly formative and important step.

Anyone else want to try it with me?


  1. Lutheran Confessions: The King James Bible for Lutherans: I'm calling it now. It's an enigmatic concept, but bear with me. We tried reading the Common English Bible for the public reading of Scri...

    I started reading your blog at about the time you started your experiment with the Common English Bible. Was wondering how it was going? So, the contractions bother people. Not surprised. When we come to a worship service most of the people in my congregation are looking for something formal, dignified, different from the world outside.

    So now going to the other end of the spectrum?

    I followed right up to the last sentence. OK, so you look at the Bible in English, King James version as a literary text. Yes, it has a cadence and majesty that sounds good when read aloud. But then, What? spend some significant part of the sermon time, or put a commentary in the bulletin, to explain all the archaic language? Just a suggestion, give it just a couple of months - or until after Christmas, and give us an update

  2. Yes, when we did the CEB, some folks felt like perhaps we shouldn't do it for all the lessons, but just selectively. We could do the same with the KJV. Do one of the three readings from KJV, depending on poetry and fit.

  3. Why not use your Bible Study Groups or your Adult Education Program to experiment with various or new Scripture translations? Luther taught that the mass is the place for people to hear the Word proclaimed in a language they could understand; and receive, physically, and be nourished spiritually, by the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This is why people come to church. Luther understood this.

    It seems to me your church must be some sort of intellectualized study group, trying out new ideas -- led by you. Shouldn't the focus be Christ and His Word?