Someone asked me recently why the LDS church still uses the King James Version exclusively. My answer was probably a parrot of something I read in the bloggernacle at some point in the past, but I don’t really remember where I got my current view.
My answer was to this effect:
Q1: Why do we use the KJV in the first place?
A1: Because the KJV was the Bible in widespread use at the time of the restoration. We just picked up the KJV by default because it was the Bible used by Joseph Smith and his contemporaries.
Q2: Why do we still stick to the KJV tenaciously after all these years, even to the point of disallowing other translations from use as the basis for Gospel Doctrine classes etc.?
A2: Because the Book of Mormon uses KJV language and we don’t want to do anything to the Book of Mormon language. It would be weird if we started using a plain English translation of the Bible but had a Book of Mormon that still used the KJV English. Since we are not about to “translate” the Book of Mormon into modern English, we can’t officially do it to the Bible either. I don’t think it has anything to do with the KJV being the best, or even a particularly good translation by modern standards.
This is unfortunate in many ways since the KJV is such an obstacle to understanding the Bible for so many people in the church. Personally, I study primarily from an NRSV study Bible printed by Harper Collins, but I know of several people who have been scared away from using a non-KJV Bible for fear of going against the Church’s position on the KJV. It is sad how often we spend hours of in depth Bible study searching out the roots of Greek words just to untangle the first level meaning of phrases when we could simply read a couple of modern translations to accomplish the same thing. Or how often we miss the plain meaning because we don’t know the meaning of the KJV english and we don’t want to spend hours looking things up.
Do you agree with me that our insistence on the KJV stems from our being stuck with KJV english in the Book of Mormon? Do you find that the Mormons you know are open to studying other translations or that they are fairly hesitant?