I was brought up in a tradition that claims the King James Version is not only the best Bible, but also the only accurate English version there is. What do you have to say about that?
I would flatly deny both claims. The translators' understanding of Hebrew grammar was good but not great. You may recall that their translation enterprise (1605-1611) was three centuries before the first of the Dead Sea Scrolls was discovered (1947). Moreover, their magnum opus was also nearly three centuries before the great papyrus finds in Egypt in the late 1800s that shed so much light on N.T. Greek. (Before this time, some scholars and churchmen supposed that Koine was actually a divine language, since no known extant specimens of it gave evidence that it was ever in use as a human language!) The second edition of the KJV, in fact, corrected some 500 errors!
In addition to the much improved understanding of Greek and Hebrew since the 17th century, the textual basis of modern English translations has considerably broadened. Many of the KJV manuscripts--those from which they revised the various English Bibles of the day in the light of the medieval manuscripts to hand--were only a century or two older than then KJV itself! Now the oldest complete N.T. manuscripts date to the 4th century, and the O.T. manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls are over a thousand years older than the oldest known O.T. manuscripts extant in the early 1600s!
Also of note, the original KJV included all the O.T. Apocrypha. So when someone's attitude is, "If it was good enough for Jesus and the apostles, it's good enough for me," ask him if he means the original KJV, with the Apocrypha, or the later version!
Let me recommend that you consult Jack P. Lewis, The English Bible from KJV to NIV (2nd Ed.) This weighs not only the KJV, but a number of other Bibles written from 1611 to the late 1900s. If you want something less technical--and by the way this is a bestseller--please see Adam Nicholson, God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible (New York: Harper Collins, 2003). Another interesting way to learn about this is to listen to David Bercot's audio message.
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