Examination of Archaic Language in the Authorized Version

Prefatory Notes

As we examine some of these words found in the KJV, remember that there are 788,258 words in the KJV. So while some of these words may be unfamiliar to some, they may not be found very frequently. In other words, if a given word is only found once or twice in the entire KJV it does not mean that it is used very frequently and thus will not be encountered often. The point here is that when many list supposed archaism in the KJV they imply that these words are so saturating the text that one would be lost as to being able to coherently read and understand the text. By bringing into perspective how often these words are used will help clarify whether this would be the case or not.

Also take note of the number of letters and syllables for any given word. It should be noted that words tend to be harder to learn when they are more complex and contain more syllables. In other words, even if a given word is unfamiliar, it should not be very hard for most people to learn if it is only a single or double syllable word.

Another thing to be aware of is that when these words are examined, the immediate context will be examined for clues as to its meaning. Often times when the word stands by itself it looks very foreign, but when the word is read in context the basic meaning is sometimes implied or defined in context. How often have we been presented with a word that we were asked to define and found ourselves struggling to define it? Yet when read in a sentence with a larger context we get the sense of how the word is being used. I will attempt to show when the immediate context defines words in question. Learning to observe such patterns can be helpful in future studies.

So the approach I have taken will follow this basic outline: First I will quote the verse(s) which include the word in question. If the word is used numerous times a few select examples will be given followed by a possible reference list of other examples. I have underlined the words in question for the sake of ease. Second, I will make a couple of factual observations such as how many times it is found in the KJV and how many syllables and letters it contains. Third, I will examine the immediate context for clues as to its basic meaning. Fourth, I will define the word using a significant dictionary such as Webster’s 1828 noting any precise meaning(s) of the word followed by a brief comparison of the Hebrew or Greek word it is representing. Fifth, I will briefly examine how the KJV renders the Hebrew or Greek word in other passages. Sixth, I will note how older translations rendered the word. Translations such as the Geneva Bible, the Bishops’ Bible, the Coverdale Bible, and Tyndale’s will be consulted. Seventh, I will note how popular modern versions of the Bible render the word with brief comments. Comments may include observing (1) when a modern version retains a supposed archaic word, (2) when a word may to more or less of a degree fail to capture the same sense and thereby failing to be simply a modernization but instead a different translation of the word, and (3) when the word is translated in a possibly acceptable modern word for a modern translation. I will try to avoid straining at gnats and be as factual as possible. Modern versions consulted include the New American Standard Version (NASV), New International Version (NIV), English Standard Version (ESV), New King James Version (NKJV), Amplified Version (AMP), New Living Translation (NLT), Holman Christian Standard Version (HCSV), New Revised Standard Versions (NRSV), English Revised Version (ERV), and the American Standard Version (ASV).

My purpose of this study is to (1) defend the Authorized Version in examining the charge laid against its words, (2) encourage a return to study it more closely instead of fleeing from it by gaining more knowledge of its words, and (3) to be of use for comparing diverse versions to test the common claim that modern versions are merely the KJV with updated language.

Groupings: The words will be divided into four groups: (1) Transliterated Words, (2) Words Deemed Archaic that are still being used by one or more of the major modern versions of today, (3) Words Deemed Archaic yet the definitions are found in a common dictionary, (4) Words which are difficult to find except consulting an older or more thorough dictionary.

Sub-Groupings: Words will be ordered from most frequent use to least frequent.
This page was last updated: 2/3/2017
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