Recently I connected to Mark Ward on Twitter. Our paths crossed several times on the social media platforms of Facebook and Twitter. Most notably for me, however, was our connection via Facebook. Two fellow graduates from a small Bible college we attended, and a former professor and pastor, engaged in an online debate about New Testament textual criticism. I enjoyed the debate. The men exchanged their views with attention to detail while maintaining a godly demeanor. The same, however, could not be said of the comment section.
In the comments, though, laid a pot of god in two separate posts on Mark Ward’s blog, By Faith We Understand. The first post that Mark shared was “An Evaluation of the Work of Charles Surrett on the New Kings James Version,” posted on 6 January 2020. The second post that Mark shared was, “An Evaluation of the Work of Charles Surrett on Preservation,” shared on 9 January 2020. Though perhaps lengthier than the average blog, Mark’s attention to detail and irenic spirit was helpful for the discussion. He raised some issues to which, as of yet, I have failed to see any significant rebuttal.
This post is not about the topic of New Testament textual criticism, nor is it about Mark’s evaluation of Charles Surrett’s work on preservation, good though they are. It is in regard to Mark’s book, Authorized: The Use & Misuse of the King James Bible. After some brief interaction via social media, Mark graciously provided a copy of the book to me. In acknowledgment of his character, he asked for a fair review (not necessarily a positive one). That is the purpose of this post.
First, I grew up in a King James-only church, graduated from a King James-only college, and served in a volunteer role at a King James-only church. I took one class on New Testament textual criticism while at this King James-only college, so much of the discussion that takes place in Mark’s book was quite familiar. Second, I transitioned away from King James-only churches, colleges, and roles. I feel that this is fair to put up front before diving into my review of the book.
The Content of the Book
The book sets out to discuss, as the name implies, the use and misuse of the King James Bible. Mark begins the book with a discussion of some of the history of the King James version. Over half of Bible users still use the King James Version, and Mark does an excellent job of representing the value this translation has provided. He also notes what we lose when we leave the KJV. As I mentioned, having been a part of a KJV-only church and college, I appreciated this. Mark Ward does not downplay the importance or the value of the KJV. He also presents many reasons for using the KJV, even today.
However, there are some issues with the KJV that prove difficult. Mark provides several examples of the difficulties involved with the use of the KJV. I found his use of “false friends,” of which Mark writes, “But I’m also referring to those “false friends,” words that are still in use but have changed meaning over time, such as halt, commendeth, convenient, wait on, and remove.” I was surprised at several of these. I had used the KJV since I became a Christian, I went to a church that used it, and the college from which I graduated used it. It was humbling to see how many words I didn’t know the meaning of, which is precisely why Mark recommends, and wisely so, that we also use other translations. This section provides the majority of the work.
Another significant aspect of Mark’s work is the response to “Ten Objections to Reading Vernacular Bible Translations.” I have heard these arguments from my KJV-only proponents, and I appreciate the time, detail, and manner in which Mark answers these objections.
Mark also discusses the benefits of using multiple translations. He briefly addresses the issues of textual criticism, but wisely encourages those to follow the principles of Proverbs 18:13. In his discussion on the different translations available, Mark writes, “I hate to see Bibles becoming symbols of division: “I am of Crossway!” “I am of Zondervan!” “I am of B&H!” I appreciate that sentiment because there is much pride attached to the use of certain versions. I personally enjoy the ESV, but I also enjoy preaching and teaching from the NASB. And one more final point before moving on: Mark encourages people to use the Bible their pastor preaches.
Finally, Mark ends the work with a call to action. He encourages readers to pursue the reading of Scripture in a variety of translations. He rates them from formal to functional, and challenges us to “Get a translation you’ve never read before and read it all the way through.” I intend to do this with the NIV.
Who Would Benefit From This Book?
Anyone who loves the Bible! Seriously, this book would prove quite helpful for anyone, KJV-only or not, as it helps present the benefits of the KJV as well as other translations. Mark takes time to unravel the difficulties attached to this older translation without treating it contemptuously.
Those who enjoy one particular version (such as ESV or NASB, for example) would do well to read this. It helps clear up the idea of a “perfect translation” and encourages the use of a variety of translations.
Furthermore, those who are KJV-only would do well to consider carefully Mark’s words. They are written from a desire to help, and as such, they should be received in that manner. Without forfeiting their love, appreciation, and commitment to the KJV, it would help the Kingdom of God if they became more open and accepting to those who use other versions.
All in all, Mark’s book is well worth your read.
 Mark Ward, Authorized: The Use & Misuse of the King James Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2018).
 Ward, 74.
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 Mark Ward, Authorized: The Use & Misuse of the King James Bible, ed. Elliot Ritzema, Lynnea Fraser, and Danielle Thevenaz (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2018), 126.