Today’s Christian & the Church’s Bible: A Time to Return to the Authorized Version by Theodore P. Letis, PhD

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Today’s Christian & the Church’s Bible: A Time to Return to the Authorized Version by Theodore P. Letis, PhD

About the Book

Christians today have access to a wide variety of Bible translations suited to any temperament. However, the competing textual theories of various specialists, and the pragmatic concerns of the Bible marketing industry have left many overwhelmed by choice as they seek a reliable version of God’s Word.

In this informative booklet (formerly titled A New Hearing for the AV), the late ecclesiastical historian Dr. Theodore P. Letis helps those lost among an overabundance of Bible translations return to the reliability and trustworthiness of Christendom’s most celebrated and accepted Bible - the Authorized Version, also known as the King James Version.

His study highlights the superiority of the Authorized Version’s underlying text, translation technique, and English usage. He also shows its link with our past and how it is a unifying factor for the present as he cuts a compelling case for its continued use in homes, churches, and schools.

For those seeking discernment in such matters, Dr. Letis’ teachings are a fresh call directing young pilgrims, as well as seasoned saints, back to the “old paths” of biblical Christianity.

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About the Author

Theodore Letis

Theodore P. Letis (1951-2005) (PhD, Edinburgh University; MTS, Emory University) was director of the Institute for Renaissance and Reformation Biblical Studies, president of the University of Edinburgh Theological Society and a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the American Academy of Religion, and the American Society of Church History. He authored The Ecclesiastical Text: Text Criticism, Biblical Authority and the Popular Mind and was editor and contributor to The Majority Text: Essays and Reviews in the Continuing Debate.

This book was published in partnership with Kept Pure Press to furnish the Kept Pure in All Ages Conference with fresh materials to advance its mission.

Learn more here.

Special thanks as well to Christian M. McShaffrey and the Letis family for allowing us to help them publish this book.

Learn more about the traditional text of the Bible:

1. The Scrolls and the Parchments
2. The Revised Version of 1881-83
3. Biblical English
4. Thees and Thous
5. The “Language of the People”?
6. Historical Ethos: The Forgotten Factor
7. The Modern Approach to Translation (Utilitarian)
8. The Renaissance/Reformation Approach to Translation (Theological)
9. Historical Cycles and the Modern Situation

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Paperback 92 pages | 4.72 x 7.48 
eBook PDF and EPUB Formats About eBooks
ISBN (paperback) 978-1-953855-53-4
ISBN (PDF) 978-1-961495-00-5
ISBN (EPUB) 978-1-953855-77-0
Cover Design The Greater Heritage
Library of Congress Control Number 2023909319
REL006080 Biblical Criticism & Interpretation / General
REL006000 Biblical Studies / General
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Read an Excerpt

From Chapter 4 – Thees and Thous

The issue of specific archaisms in the AV is one that has been abundantly over-labored but should be addressed. Though more may exist, Hills offers only seventeen serious examples of words which have changed meaning since 1611.¹

Nevertheless, almost every modern version justifies its existence on the basis of these archaisms; and certainly it must be admitted that there is something to be said for updating obsolete words. Why is it, though, that we do not feel such a compulsion with regard to Shakespeare’s works? The answer is probably that while all should be literate in Shakespeare, there are probably many who never will be.

Holy Scripture should be made as accessible as possible, to all levels of literacy. Hence, the appearance of a masterful updated edition of the classic AV now allows anyone with a desire to use the old Anglican Bible to do so, less the archaisms.

The 21st Century King James Version is an exact reproduction of the AV with accurate, modern equivalents for all the several archaisms found throughout its last revision.² The complaint of difficult archaisms is no longer available for those who want to impatiently dismiss this sacred classic.

Moreover, there is actually an advantage to the antiquated pronouns that modern translation advocates are either uninformed about, or else rather quiet regarding.

Late in the twentieth century, Thomas Nelson, knowing a market when they saw one, made an attempt to update the old workhorse of both high church liturgists, as well as low church fundamentalists, but also gave way like the Revised Version before it, this time in the Old Testament text, and by ditching the Tyndalian/Elizabethan second person singular/plural distinctions (i.e., the thees and thous) in their “New” New King James Bible.

Dr. Mikre-Sellassie, a United Bible Societies translation consultant, rehearsed in an article he wrote for The Bible Translator in April of 1988 (pp. 230 -237), why the “thees” and “thous” cannot be dispensed with in good conscience.

While many marketing-types think these terms are the shibboleth by which consumers will judge whether a Bible is “modern” or not (while trying to make up their minds at the shelf of their local religious bookstore), it is no justification for erasing the important grammatical function these terms actually fulfill. I shall let him speak in his own voice:

Translators, and especially those in common language projects, may find it strange and surprising to hear a consultant recommending use of the King James Version for translation . . . . The archaic English pronouns of the KJV distinguish number in the second person pronoun in all cases, as shown in [the accompanying] table. Thus the KJV can certainly render an important service to those translators who do not have any knowledge of the source languages of the Bible and therefore work only from an English base, in easily distinguishing between “you singular” and “you plural.”³

Hence, it is impossible to communicate this important grammatical point without Elizabethan/Biblical English terms, as found in the AV and as retained in the KJ21.



(1) Hills, The King James Version, pp. 217-218.
(2) The 21st Century King James Version (Gary, South Dakota: 21st Century King James Bible Publishers, 1994).
(3) Ammanuel Mikre-Sellassie, “Problems in Translating Pronouns From English Versions,” The Bible Translator vol. 39 (April 1988): pp. 230-237.