Better Bible Study Tip #31: The Bible Was Not Written In Shakespearean English

Over several centuries the King James Version of the Bible has been the most widely used translation in the world. Of all the popular English translations, the KJV is most certainly the most elegant. It has a beautiful, lofty, and poetic feel to it. Despite it’s archaic way of speaking, it remains surprisingly readable.

For many people, when they think of the Bible, they think of the beautiful and lofty language of the KJV. This isn’t entirely a bad thing. When it comes to daily Bible reading, it can be a good practice to have a favorite translation and stick with it. Consistency and familiarity can aid in memorization.

But for better Bible study, it is good to remember that the Bible wasn’t written in high, lofty, special language. The New Testament was written in “common” or koine Greek (pronounced “koinay”). There have been numerous archeological discoveries of Greek manuscripts that have been discovered that show that the version of Greek used in the New Testament was the same kind of Greek people would use in other forms of communication at that time. It was just the normal language. The same could be said for the Hebrew and Aramaic texts in the Bible. They were simply written in the common languages of their day.

When Jesus taught, He used common language. When Luke documented the history of the early church, he did so in common language. When Paul wrote his letters, he wrote as a common person writing to common people. Yes, they were respectful and reverent towards God. Yes, their words are special by virtue of being inspired by the Holy Spirit. But they used the common vernacular of their day.

Although every translation has it’s pros and cons, this is one advantage of newer translations that try to put the Bible into everyday English. For Better Bible Study, remember that the Bible was written by common people for common people and it used common language.