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A Modern King James Bible

[Image: Photo taken by author of a river in the woods. Intended for mood and backdrop only.]Years ago when I embraced the Christian faith I always struggled with interpreting the Bible. My struggle deepened as I matured in my philosophy of anti-statism and philosophical anarchy. I realized that many of the accepted modern biblical interpretations were statist in foundation, and therefore, rooted in a desire to control the lives and capture the labor of other people. I address those specific concepts fully in my seminal work To Alter or to Abolish. I expanded those thoughts in a collection of essays in my book Tyranny of One, Tyranny of All. With respect to Judeo-Christian principles, I expanded that thesis in my book God is an Anarchist.

Before those specific struggles, however, I toiled with the meaning of those ancient texts with respect to several controversial topics. Bear in mind that all English versions of the Bible, including the original King James version, and all subsequent versions, are translations. That means the original Hebrew and Greek texts are subject to human interpretation, both in language and historical context. Being dissatisfied with depending upon how other people have interpreted those ancient words, several years ago I developed a Microsoft Word template and associated macros to perform a global search and replace and update the original King James Bible. I provide the results here.

I offer a modernized King James Bible. Some people might respond that the New King James Bible already provides a modernization of the original King James Bible. To some extent this is true. Unfortunately, the New King James version is copyrighted and not available on the web for free. I wanted a modernized version available to all people that is freely distributable. Humans grow and mature as social creatures only when knowledge is easily exchangeable. Additionally, the authors and scholars of that version maintained the same modernist foundations as the translators of the original King James version.

What do I mean by modernist foundations? A final motivating element in my decision to create my own Bible was reading Genesis Unbound by John Sailhammer. I recommend this book to all inquiring minds, regardless of beliefs. In summary, Sailhammer argued that the first two chapters of the book called Genesis are not about the creation of the universe but about the preparation of the Promised Land. Subtle but plausible and scholarly changes to how a few words are translated modifies the perspective. From that springboard I soon had my own Bible, one that was less entrenched in controversy.

Exactly what did I revise?

  1. Words ending in eth are updated to end in s.
  2. I deleted the est for all such words ending with that suffix.
  3. Some words, such as art being used as a verb, are updated to are.
  4. Old English words such as athirst are updated to thirsty.
  5. Additional words are updated, such as betwixt, meat, and twain are updated respectively to between, food, and two.
  6. I modernized the spelling of certain words.

So much for the uncontroversial revisions.

For the sake of clarity and honesty, I do not speak or understand the ancient Hebrew or Greek languages. I created my modernized King James Bible using the Strong’s Concordance numbers. With modern software and computers, the updating and translating was relatively straightforward. The entire project required only a few months. Nonetheless, I modified a handful of words that some people might reject or resist because these modifications tend to remove the Bible from several modern controversial debates. That is, the debates likely will continue, but with these few modifications, using the Bible as a foundation to support those arguments is no longer practical.

  1. I modified all occurrences of the Hebrew word eretz (Strong’s Concordance No. 776) from earth to land.
  2. I modified all occurrences of adamah (Strong’s 127) from earth to ground.
  3. I modified all occurrences of yabbashah (Strong’s 3004) from dry land to dry ground.
  4. I modified all occurrences of shamayim (Strong’s 8064) and shamayin (Strong’s 8065) from heaven or heavens to sky and skies.
  5. I modified all occurrences of ereb (Strong’s 6153) from even to evening.

Consider the effect of these subtle modifications. Genesis 1:1 becomes, “In the beginning God created the sky and the land.” Genesis 7:6 becomes, “And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the land.” Genesis 7:12 becomes, “And the rain was upon the land forty days and forty nights.”

Why did I revise these handful of words? As Sailhammer noted in his scholarly effort, the ancient Hebrew likely did not possess a perspective about the universe that developed only since the 15th and 16th centuries. The ancient Hebrew probably did not understand the size of this planet. The western hemisphere likely was unknown to the ancient Hebrew. Therefore, although ancient Hebrews probably used the word earth (eretz and adamah), they likely did so with a limited and localized perspective and worldview.

Likewise, although ancient Hebrews probably used the word heaven or heavens, they likely had no concept of what lay beyond what they could see only with the naked eye. The ancient Hebrew probably did not understand the vast distances of the universe. Therefore, heaven and sky were synonyms. That is, the ancient Hebrew could mentally envision something poetically called heaven but could only physically see a sky. Without the advantages of modern knowledge this likely would have been the “simplistic” perspective of the ancient Hebrew.

I also modified some potentially controversial words.

  1. I revised all occurrences of Yahweh (Strong’s 3068, 3069) from Lord and God to Yahweh.
  2. I revised all occurrences of õishshah (Strong’s 802) from wife and wives to woman and women.
  3. I revised all occurrences of torah (Strong’s 8451) from law to instruction.
  4. I revised all occurrences of zanah (Strong’s 2181) and porneia (Strong’s 4202) from fornication to prostitution.
  5. I revised all occurrences of taznuwth (Strong’s 8457) from fornication to harlotry.

A more comprehensive list of all modifications is available here.

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For myself, please understand and accept that I no longer have a dog in the fight. For many years I have been and today remain intellectually agnostic about the existence of God and the meaning or impact of the Biblical texts. To be agnostic merely means to be without knowledge. Simply put, I do not pretend to know one way or another. I am not interesting in discussing these topics or arguing with you. I address my thoughts in my book God is an Anarchist.

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You can download the text in Rich Text Format (RTF). In addition to the modifications described previously, the documents contain the Strong’s Concordance numbers, verse numbers, and chapter headings all as hidden text. For Microsoft Word users, the hidden text can be toggled easily using the Show/Hide button located in the Standard toolbar. For OpenOffice users, use the equivalent Nonprinting Characters toolbar button.

Disabling the hidden text is useful for meaningful study because the document then provides a better simulation of the original manuscripts without the distraction of the arbitrarily assigned chapter headings and verse numbers.

I have created PDF files. The PDF documents do not contain the Strong’s numbers, verse numbers, or chapter headings. Conversely, PDF documents are more suited for portability across operating systems and platforms.

The files are formatted for standard 8½x11 inch paper and use two columns. The downloads are free. Merely select the link to download.

I offer no support for the documents, but I appreciate comments and messages regarding typographical and editorial errors, which undoubtedly exist.

Old Testament Book: RTF (2.30 MB) PDF (7.7 MB)

New Testament Book: RTF (957 KB) PDF (3.2 MB)