Book Review: “The Legacy of the King James Bible” by Leland Ryken

The Legacy of the King James Bible: Celebrating 400 Years of the Most Influential English TranslationThe Legacy of the King James Bible: Celebrating 400 Years of the Most Influential English Translation by Leland Ryken

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In an age when it seems sometimes as if there are as many Bible translations as there are denomination, Leland Ryken comes along to remind us of the worth of the preeminent English Bible translation of the past four hundred years. In this the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, Ryken tells us who preceded it in the way of English Bible translation, how the KJV came to be, the literary value of the KJV, and its influence over the past four hundred years in everything from the courtroom to the CD player.

I bought this book for a few reasons. 1) I am a pastor of an independent Baptist church, of which many members use the King James Bible. The former pastor taught from it for over 50 years, and the environment of churches around us is very KJV-friendly, and even KJV-only to some extent. 2) Knowing Ryken’s previous work in the way of English Bible translations, I knew that a) he was not KJV-only, and b) he would approach this task with the utmost respect, attempting to convey the value of the KJV while rightly acknowledging what has been lost in the plethora of new translations that exist. Ryken has succeeded in his task.

I heartily recommend this volume for those interested in Bible translation, and beyond that, I would recommend it for any believer who needs a reminder about the value of proper Bible translation. My translation of choice is the New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, because I believe it to be the most accurate, most literal, word-for-word English translation available. The NASB, while not using the same Greek text as the KJV, is in the KJV family when it comes to reverent translation method (something for which many newer versions are found wanting). Because of that, I am happy to recommend this book for the believer to gain an appreciation for the King James Bible that in 2011 may be lacking.

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Author: Matt Privett

Christian. Husband. Father. Pastor.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: “The Legacy of the King James Bible” by Leland Ryken”

  1. Sounds like a good an interesting read. Working in a book store there rarely is a day that goes by that someone doesn’t say something about the superiority of the KJV and atrocity of modern translations. I can respect the guys who like the KJV for the Greek text, but just those that insist that its the only liable and oldest translation, its tempting to give a lecture. If I get the chance I’ll pick it up.

    1. I moved about 2-1/2 hours north when coming from Louisville to Dayton and, while I knew it was more common up here, the prevalence of the KJV has surprised me. I have no qualms with anyone who prefers the KJV. I have serious qualms with those who prefer it while bashing other solid translations and those who prefer them. In reaction to those types of people we have a tendency to react against the KJV. Ryken does a good job of putting forth the excellent qualities of that translation while admitting that he himself does not read from it first anymore. A worthy read.

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